Place Where Buddha Grew Up – 1.Birth And Childhood
|Birth Of Siddhartha|
- The hero of our story is Prince Siddhartha, the Buddha-to-be, who lived more than 2,500 years ago. His father was the Rajah of the Sakya clan, King Suddhodana, and his mother was Queen Maha Maya. They lived in India, in a city called Kapilavatthu, in the foothills of the Himalayas.
- Siddhartha’s parents belonged to the Indian warrior caste. They lived in a great palace in their capital city of Kapilavatthu, beneath the majestic mountains of the Himalayas. Queen Maha Maya was beautiful, intelligent and good. King Suddhodana was honoured and respected because he ruled well. Both of them were admired and loved by the people they ruled.
- After many years, Queen Maha Maya became pregnant. She and her husband were very happy about it. On the full moon day in the month of May, she gave birth to a boy in Lumbini Park, while she was on her way to see her parents. Five days after the prince’s birth the king asked five wise men to select a name for his son. They named him Siddhartha. This name means “the one whose wishes will be fulfilled”.
- There had been much rejoicing at the birth of the prince, but two days after he was named, Queen Maha Maya died. Everybody was shocked and felt very sad. But the saddest person was, of course, her husband King Suddhodana. He was worried, too, because his wise advisers had predicted that if the prince saw someone old, someone sick, a dead person, and a monk, he would want to leave the palace and become a monk himself, instead of being a prince.
- The Queen’s sister Prajapati Gotami took care of the baby prince with as much love as if he were her own son. Prince Siddhartha was a healthy and happy boy. He liked to learn and found it easy to study, and was the cleverest in his class and the best at games. He was always considerate to others and was popular among his friends.
- The prince was kind to everyone. He was gentle with his horse and other animals. Because he was a prince his life was very easy, and he could have chosen to ignore the problems of others. But he felt sympathy for others. He knew that all creatures, including people, animals and all other living beings, like to be happy and don’t like suffering and pain.
- Siddhartha always took care not to do anything harmful to any creature. He liked to help others. For example, one day the prince saw one of the town boys beating a snake with a stick. He immediately stopped the boy, and told him not to hurt the snake.
- One day, Siddhartha was playing with his friends in the palace garden. One of the boys was his cousin, Prince Devadatta. While Siddhartha was gentle and kind, Devadatta was by nature cruel and liked to kill other creatures. While they were playing, Devadatta shot a swan with his bow and arrow. It was badly wounded. But Siddhartha took care of the swan until its wounds healed. When the swan was well again, he let it go free.
- Then Siddhartha noticed various other creatures around him. He saw a lizard eating ants. But soon a snake came, caught the lizard, and ate it. Then, suddenly a bird came down from the sky, picked up the snake and so it was eaten also. Siddhartha realised that all these creatures might think that they were happy for a while, but that they ended up suffering.
- Siddhartha thought deeply about what he saw around him. He learned that although he was happy, there was a lot of suffering in life. So he felt deep sympathy for all creatures. When the king and the maids noticed that the prince was not among the crowd, they went to look for him. They were surprised to find the prince sitting with legs crossed, in deep meditation.
- The king did not want his son to think about deep things in life too much, because he remembered that the wise men had predicted that his son might one day want to leave the palace and become a monk. So, in order to distract him, the king built Siddhartha a beautiful palace with a lovely garden to play in. But this did not stop the prince from thinking about the suffering and unhappiness that he noticed around him.