Monday, March 9, 2009

Story Of the Buddha And Buddhism ( Part 5 - 8 )

Part 5

Birth of the future Buddha in the Lumbini grove

Queen Maha-Maya carried the Future Buddha in her womb for ten months; and on the full moon day in May (Vesak) she said to King Suddhodana- "I wish, O king, to go to Devadaha, the city of my family". The King approved and caused the road from Kapilavatthu to Devadaha to be made smooth and adorned, and sent her with a great retinue. Between the two cities there was a pleasure grove of sal trees, called Lumbini Grove. She entered the grove for a rest. And at this particular time, this grove was one mass of flowers presenting a very pretty scene. She went to the foot of a great sal tree and reached out her hand to seize hold of one of its branches. She was at once shaken with the pains of birth. Thereupon the people hung a curtain about her, and her delivery took place while she was standing up. At that moment came four Mahabrahmas (higher gods) with a golden net; and, receiving the Future Buddha with it, they placed him before his mother and said, "Rejoice, O Queen! A mighty son has been born to thee".

Part 6

Wedding ceremony of Prince Siddhattha

When the Future Buddha was sixteen years of age, his father King Suddhodana sent official intimation to his relatives asking them to send their daughters to be married to his son. There arose the following discussion among his relatives, who were Rulers of their own states: "Siddhattha is of handsome appearance but is not well trained in any manly art". They did not, therefore, comply with the request of King Suddhodana. The King told his son what his relatives had said about him, when the Prince agreed to show his proficiency as the best bowman of the day. Consequently the most distinguished bowmen of the city were assembled in the palace grounds. The Future Buddha placed them at four different points and directions round him while he stood in the centre. He then said to them "You must shoot your arrows at me all at the same time". When the signal to shoot was given, the four archers shot their arrows at him all at once. The Prince defended himself by shooting and arrow which flew like lighting and hit all the four arrows coming in his direction. He thus exhibited his skill, such as none other bowmen could equal. His father's relatives then sent their daughters, beautiful maidens, of whom the Prince chose Princes Yasodhara whom he married by celebrating a grand wedding.

Part 7

Just before his great renunciation, the future Buddha went to the chamber of princess Yasodhara to see his son

When the Future Buddha was 29 years of age he went to the park and saw the Four Signs, namely, an old man, a sick man, a dead man and a monk, whom the higher goods had fashioned. He was afraid to continue to live a worldly life and his mind turned ardently to retiring from the world. He said to himself, "It behooves me to go forth on the Great Renunciation this very day". At that very moment he received a message that a son had been born to him.

He then returned to the palace and lying on this couch, fell into a brief slumber. When he awoke he saw the female musicians sleeping round him in disgusting condition. The spectacle seemed like a cemetery, and filled with loathing for his worldly life, he made up his mind to renounce the world at once. He ordered his courtier China to saddle his horse Kathaka. He then walked to the chamber of Yasodhara to look at his son for the first time.

Part 8

Mara, the evil one, persuading the future Buddha to turn back on the point of his departure from the city

Coming away from Yasodhara's chamber, the Future Buddha descended from the palace and rode on the mighty steed, Kanthaka, already saddled and bridled for the journey, with Channa holding on by the tail. He issued forth on the Great Renunciation and arrived at midnight at the great gate of the city. At this moment came Mara, the Evil One, with the intention of persuading the Future Buddha to turn back; and standing in the air, she said, "Sir, go not forth! On the seventh day from now the Wheel Treasure will appear to you. Sir, turn back!"

The Future Buddha replied as follows: "Mara, I know that the Wheel Treasure was on the point of appearing to me; but I do not wish for sovereignty. My sole desire is to become a Buddha and save the world of gods and men". He then departed from the city in great splendor surrounded by higher and lower deities on all sides, the divinity that guarded the city-gate having opened it for them