Balangir : 14 October 2020 : Siddharta Gautama was born as a Kshatriya, the son of Śuddhodana, “an elected chief of the Shakya clan”,whose capital was Kapilavastu, and who were later annexed by the growing Kingdom of Kosala during the Buddha’s lifetime.
Gautama was the family name. His mother, Queen Maha Maya (Māyādevī) and Suddhodana’s wife, was a Koliyan princess.
Legend has it that, on the night Siddhartha was conceived, Queen Maya dreamt that a white elephant with six white tusks entered her right side, and ten months later Siddhartha was born.
As was the Shakya tradition, when his mother Queen Maya became pregnant, she left Kapilvastu for her father’s kingdom to give birth. However, her son is said to have been born on the way, at Lumbini, in a garden beneath a sal tree.
Buddha is believed to have been born on a full moon day. Various sources hold that the Buddha’s mother died at his birth, a few days or seven days later. The infant was given the name Siddhartha, meaning “he who achieves his aim”.
During the birth celebrations, the hermit seer Asita journeyed from his mountain abode and announced that the child would either become a great king (chakravartin) or a great holy man.By traditional account, this occurred after Siddhartha placed his feet in Asita’s hair and Asita examined the birthmarks.
Suddhodana held a naming ceremony on the fifth day, and invited eight Brahmin scholars to read the future. All gave a dual prediction that the baby would either become a great king or a great holy man. Kaundinya , the youngest, and later to be the first arahant other than the Buddha, was reputed to be the only one who unequivocally predicted that Siddhartha would become a Buddha.
Siddhartha was brought up by his mother’s younger sister, Maha Pajapati. By tradition, he is said to have been destined by birth to the life of a prince, and had three palaces (for seasonal occupation) built for him.
His father, King Śuddhodana, wishing for his son to be a great king, is said to have shielded him from religious teachings and from knowledge of human suffering.
When he reached the age of 16, his father reputedly arranged his marriage to a cousin of the same age named Yaśodharā . According to the traditional account, she gave birth to a son, named Rāhula.
Siddhartha is said to have spent 29 years as a prince in Kapilavastu. Although his father ensured that Siddhartha was provided with everything he could want or need, Buddha felt that material wealth was not life’s ultimate goal.
At the age of 29, Siddhartha left his palace to meet his subjects. Despite his father’s efforts to hide from him the sick, aged and suffering, Siddhartha was said to have seen an old man. When his charioteer Channa explained to him that all people grew old, the prince went on further trips beyond the palace. On these he encountered a diseased man, a decaying corpse, and an ascetic.
These depressed him, and he initially strove to overcome aging, sickness, and death by living the life of an ascetic.
Accompanied by Channa and riding his horse Kanthaka, Gautama quit his palace for the life of a mendicant .
Read Part – 2 .