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King Bimbisara

Siddhattha had cut his waving hair and had exchanged his royal

robe for a mean dress of the color of the ground. Having sent

home Channa, the charioteer, together with the noble steed

Kanthaka, to king Suddhodana to bear him the message that the

prince had left the world, the Bodhisatta walked along on the

highroad with a beggar's bowl in his hand.

Yet the majesty of his mind was i
l-concealed under the poverty

of his appearance. His erect gait betrayed his royal birth and

his eyes beamed with a fervid zeal for truth. The beauty of his

youth was transfigured by holiness and surrounded his head like a


All the people who saw this unusual sight gazed at him in wonder.

Those who were in haste arrested their steps and looked back; and

there was no one who did not pay him homage.

Having entered the city of Rajagaha, the prince went from house

to house silently waiting till the people offered him food.

Wherever the Blessed One came, the people gave him what they had;

they bowed before him in humility and were filled with gratitude

because he condescended to approach their homes.

Old and young people were moved and said: "This is a noble muni!

His approach is bliss. What a great joy for us!"

And king Bimbisara, noticing the commotion in the city, inquired

the cause of it, and when he learned the news sent one of his

attendants to observe the stranger.

Having heard that the muni must be a Sakya and of noble family,

and that he had retired to the bank of a flowing river in the

woods to eat the food in his bowl, the king was moved in his

heart; he donned his royal robe, placed his golden crown upon his

head and went out in the company of aged and wise counselors to

meet his mysterious guest.

The king found the muni of the Sakya race seated under a tree.

Contemplating the composure of his face and the gentleness of his

deportment, Bimbisara greeted him reverently and said:

"O samana, thy hands are fit to grasp the reins of an empire and

should not hold a beggar's bowl. I am sorry to see thee wasting

thy youth. Believing that thou art of royal descent, I invite

thee to join me in the government of my country and share my

royal power. Desire for power is becoming to the noble-minded,

and wealth should not be despised. To grow rich and lose

religion is not true gain. But he who possesses all three, power,

wealth, and religion, enjoying them in discretion and with

wisdom, him I call a great master."

The great Sakyamuni lifted his eyes and replied:

"Thou art known, O king, to be liberal and religious, and thy

words are prudent. A kind man who makes good use of wealth is

rightly said to possess a great treasure; but the miser who

hoards up his riches will have no profit.

"Charity is rich in returns; charity is the greatest wealth, for

though it scatters, it brings no repentance.

"I have severed all ties because I seek deliverance. How is it

possible for me to return to the world? He who seeks religious

truth, which is the highest treasure of all, must leave behind

all that can concern him or draw away his attention, and must be

bent upon that one goal alone. He must free his soul from

covetousness and lust, and also from the desire for power.

"Indulge in lust but a little, and lust like a child will grow.

Wield worldly power and you will be burdened with cares.

"Better than sovereignty over the earth, better than living in

heaven, better than lordship over all the worlds, is the fruit of


"The Bodhisatta has recognized the illusory nature of wealth and

will not take poison as food.

"Will a fish that has been baited still covet the hook, or an

escaped bird love the net?

"Would a rabbit rescued from the serpent's mouth go back to be

devoured? Would a man who has burnt his hand with a torch take up

the torch after he had dropped it to the earth? Would a blind man

who has recovered his sight desire to spoil his eyes again?

"The sick man suffering from fever seeks for a cooling medicine.

Shall we advise him to drink that which will increase the fever?

Shall we quench a fire by heaping fuel upon it?

"I pray thee, pity me not. Rather pity those who are burdened

with the cares of royalty and the worry of great riches. They

enjoy them in fear and trembling, for they are constantly

threatened with a loss of those boons on whose possession their

hearts are set, and when they die they cannot take along either

their gold or the kingly diadem.

"My heart hankers after no vulgar profit, so I have put away my

royal inheritance and prefer to be free from the burdens of life.

"Therefore, try not to entangle me in new relationships and

duties, nor hinder me from completing the work I have begun.

"I regret to leave thee. But I will go to the sages who can teach

me religion and so find the path on which we can escape evil.

"May thy country enjoy peace and prosperity, and may wisdom be

shed upon thy rule like the brightness of the noon-day sun. May

thy royal power be strong and may righteousness be the sceptre in

thine hand."

The king, clasping his hands with reverence, bowed down before

Sakyamuni and said: "Mayest thou obtain that which thou seekest,

and when thou hast obtained it, come back, I pray thee, and

receive me as thy disciple."

The Bodhisatta parted from the king in friendship and goodwill,

and purposed in his heart to grant his request.