Yasodhara





On the next morning the Buddha took his bowl and set out to beg

his food.



And the news spread abroad: "Prince Siddhattha is going from

house to house to receive alms in the city where he used to ride

in a chariot attended by bis retinue. His robe is like a red

clod, and he holds in his hand an earthen bowl."



On hearing the strange rumor, the king went forth in great haste

and when he met his son he exclaimed: "Why dost thou thus

disgrace me? Knowest thou not that I can easily supply thee and

thy bhikkhus with food?"



And the Buddha replied: "It is the custom of my race."



But the king said: "How can this be? Thou art descended from

kings, and not one of them ever begged for food."



"O great king," rejoined the Buddha, "thou and thy race may claim

descent from kings; my descent is from the Buddhas of old. They,

begging their food, lived on alms."



The king made no reply, and the Blessed One continued: "It is

customary, O king, when one has found a hidden treasure, for him

to make an offering of the most precious jewel to his father.

Suffer me, therefore, to open this treasure of mine which is the

Dharma, and accept from me this gem:"



And the Blessed One recited the following stanza:



"Rise from dreams and loiter not

Open to truth thy mind.

Practise righteousness and thou

Eternal bliss shalt find."



Then the king conducted the prince into the palace, and the

ministers and all the members of the royal family greeted him

with great reverence, but Yasodhara, the mother of Rahula, did

not make her appearance. The king sent for Yasodhara, but she

replied: "Surely, if I am deserving of any regard, Siddhattha

will come and see me."



The Blessed One, having greeted all his relatives and friends,

asked: "Where is Yasodhara?" And on being informed that she had

refused to come, he rose straightway and went to her apartments.



"I am free," the Blessed One said to his disciples, Sariputta and

Moggallana, whom he had bidden to accompany him to the princess's

chamber; "the princess, however, is not as yet free. Not having

seen me for a long time, she is exceedingly sorrowful. Unless her

grief be allowed its course her heart will cleave. Should she

touch the Tathagata, the Holy One, ye must not prevent her."



Yasodhara sat in her room, dressed in mean garments, and her hair

cut. When Prince Siddhattha entered, she was, from the abundance

of her affection, like an overflowing vessel, unable to contain

her love.



Forgetting that the man whom she loved was the Buddha, the Lord

of the world, the preacher of truth, she held him by his feet and

wept bitterly.



Remembering, however, that Suddhodana was present, she felt

ashamed, and rising, seated herself reverently at a little

distance.



The king apologized for the princess, saying: "This arises from

her deep affection, and is more than a temporary emotion. During

the seven years that she has lost her husband, when she heard

that Siddhattha had shaved his head, she did likewise; when she

heard that he had left off the use of perfumes and ornaments, she

also refused their use. Like her husband she had eaten at

appointed times from an earthen bowl only. Like him she had

renounced high beds with splendid coverings, and when other

princes asked her in marriage, she replied that she was still

his. Therefore, grant her forgiveness."



And the Blessed One spoke kindly to Yasodhara, telling of her

great merits inherited from former lives. She had indeed been

again and again of great assistance to him. Her purity, her

gentleness, her devotion had been invaluable to the Bodhisatta

when he aspired to attain enlightenment, the highest aim of

mankind. And so holy had she been that she desired to become the

wife of a Buddha. This, then, is her karma, and it is the result

of great merits. Her grief has been unspeakable, but the

consciousness of the glory that surrounds her spiritual

inheritance increased by her noble attitude during her life, will

be a balm that will miraculously transform all sorrows into

heavenly joy.





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