Birth of the Prince | Story of Lord Gautama Buddha
A serene feeling flows across the house at sunset. All at home are getting ready to worship the Buddha. Mother prepares the oil lamp. Little Vishaka is cheerfully plucking flowers to offer the Buddha. The flower tree is covered with beautiful white flowers. “The tree appears to be smiling too” Vishaka thought, “why are these flower trees so beautiful? I think these flowers blossom to be offered to the Buddha.”
Bimsara, Vishaka’s brother, always returns home well in time to take part in family devotions. He freshens himself up to prepare to worship the Buddha.
Bimsara pulled out some joss sticks and handed them to his mother.
“Mother, these joss sticks are really good aren’t they?”
“Yes my dear, your father has brought one of the best. But these will never be able to match the fragrance of the supreme virtues of our Buddha. Nevertheless, we offer this fragrance to our Buddha to reflect upon His great virtues. Look my son! Look how nicely your sister has arranged the tray of flowers…..oh it’s beautiful!”
Vishaka smiled joyfully. The mother lit the oil lamp. The glow of the oil lamp was very soft and smooth. It radiated a soothing light. The beautiful small white statue of Buddha glowed brightly from the light of the lamp. The burning joss sticks spread a very pleasant fragrance. Everybody jointly offered the tray of flowers to the Buddha by touching it. Mother, with utmost faith and happiness, offered the flowers to the Buddha.
Then, the three of them knelt down and worshipped the Buddha, touching their foreheads on the floor. They chanted “Sadhu” thrice. They took refuge in the Noble Triple Gem in this manner.
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa
Homage to the Blessed One, the Exalted One, the Supremely Enlightened One. Homage to the Blessed One, the Exalted One, the Supremely Enlightened One. Homage to the Blessed One, the Exalted One, the Supremely Enlightened One.
Buddhan Saranam Gacchami Dhammam Saranang Gacchami Sangham Saranam Gacchami
I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in the Dhamma, I take refuge in the Sangha,
Duthiyampi buddhang saranang gachchami Duthiyampi dhammang saranang gachchami Duthiyampi sangang saranang gachchami,
For the second time, I take refuge in the Buddha, For the second time, I take refuge in the Dhamma, For the second time, I take refuge in the Sangha,
Thathiyampi buddhang saranang gachchami Thathiyampi dhammang saranang gachchami Thathiyampi sangang saranang gachchami,
For the third time, I take refuge in the Buddha, For the third time, I take refuge in the Dhamma, For the third time, I take refuge in the Sangha,
When you take refuge in the Noble Triple Gem, it is nicer to recite the stanzas clearly, loudly and rhythmically. Then it’s pleasant to hear. And also it creates confidence in you. There is nothing greater in this world than the Noble Triple Gem for us.
Accordingly, the mother and the two children recited stanzas clearly, loudly and rhythmically. Then they firmly recommitted themselves to the five precepts they have been observing;
I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from killing beings. I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from taking things not given. I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from sexual misconduct I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from false speech I undertake to observe the precepts to abstain from intoxicants.
Let these virtues of mine including my refuge in the Noble Triple Gem help me on my upward path in this life! Help me to be well disposed in the happy worlds on my demise! And help me to attain Nibbana !
The worship of Noble Triple Gem follows next. There you contemplate the virtues of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha with whom you have taken refuge. The three of them worshipped the Buddha chanting “Itipiso bhagava arahan”, whilst recollecting the unmatched virtues. Then they worshipped the Dhamma by reciting the six great qualities “Swakkatho bhagawatha Dhammo....”. After that they worshipped the Sangha by reciting “Supatipanno bhagavato savaka sangho....” whilst remembering the great virtues of the maha Sangha, the disciples of the Buddha. They then offered flowers, light and incense in the name of the Buddha.
It is good to know the paritta – protections – by heart. And also know the meanings of paritta such as Karaneeya metta sutta, Maha Mangala sutta, Ratana Sutta, Dhajagga sutta, Damsak pavatum sutta, Atavisi paritta. Having recited the paritta the family engaged themselves in Metta meditation (meditation of loving kindness) and Anapanasathi meditation (being mindful of in-and-out breathing). The calm and tranquillity you gain as a result of engaging in such meditation even for a short while is wonderful. At the time of meditation the entire house becomes very calm, very quiet indeed. Generally the complete programme of evening worship takes about an hour.
That day was a Wednesday. Every Wednesday is a Dhamma discussion day. Their father had proposed to have a discussion on Dhamma every Wednesday soon after the evening reverence. But, that day the father could not come on time. May be he got caught up in traffic. Therefore mother took his place.
“Ok children…would you mind if I start off our Dhamma discussion today, as your father seems to be getting a bit late?”
The children agreed with a smile. Then the mother started the Dhamma discussion.
“Children! May I ask you a question….But I prefer Bimsara answer the question first”.
Then Bimsara listened keenly with his eyes wide open.
“Children! You have taken refuge in the Triple Gem now. Can you tell me why you do that?
“I know….I know…” Vishaka responded promptly by raising her hand. “No … Vishaka! Let’s give your brother the chance”.
Bimsara wondered for a moment and then sprang up with the answer.
“Hm..hm.. Buddha is the Enlightened One, He is the greatest of all the people in the world. So we seek refuge in Him.”
Mother looked at her son affectionately. She caressed Bimsara’s head and said;
“My son, it is most appropriate and deserving to speak of the compassionate Buddha as the “Supreme Buddha”, instead of just “Buddha”. Without referring to the Buddha as Supreme Buddha all the time, we can use “The Buddha” which implies “Supreme Buddha”, or in Sinhala “Budhurajananwahanse” or in Hindi "Bhagavan Buddha ji". The best and the correct way to fulfil our lives was taught by the Buddha. So, we should always address Him with reverence. It’s not proper to address the Buddha in a fashion appropriate for others. Therefore, it is always best to use words that show respect.”
Bimsara agreed earnestly.
“Yes mother, I understand. The Buddha is the greatest person in this world. The One who showed us the correct and righteous path. That is the reason we take refuge in the Buddha”.
“Very good son”.
Then mother looked at Vishaka. “Now… my little daughter, tell me another reason why we take refuge in the Buddha?”
“Mother, the reason why we take refuge in the Buddha is because the Buddha teaches us how to be free from our cycle of births and deaths (Samsara). That is the path to Nirvana.”
“Sadhu! Sadhu! My little daughter is excellent. That is the absolute truth. There is a very significant meaning in taking the refuge in the Buddha.
In reality, we have no idea about the gravity of our lives. We spend time entertaining ourselves. You engage in studies. You do exams. But we don’t understand the reality of life. Our life is such, that we are born over and over again and die over and over again in the cycle of samsara. We are sojourning in samsara. It’s similar to walking in pitch darkness without a light. We don’t know where we are heading.
Only the Buddha gives us light to see the reality of life, to see the real danger that we are in and teaches us how to be free from it.
The Buddha shows us how to identify the good from the bad. And what should and should not be done. The Buddha teaches us how to identify good friends and bad friends. And how to know wholesome acts from unwholesome acts. We learn from the most compassionate Buddha.
If we are unaware of this, we will get into trouble. We would not know how to choose right from wrong. We would do wrong things, thinking it is right. We might even do bad and dangerous things, thinking that is what we must do. We might associate with bad people believing they are good. Eventually, our lives would encounter lots of troubles.”
“So mother! are there people who face such situations?”
“Yes my son, look at the terrorist leaders. Their lives are disorganized. These people do not value human life. They put themselves and others in grave danger. But good people can easily recognise these harmful people in society. No matter who does it, what is wrong is always wrong.
So my children! Our Gauthama Buddha showed us the correct path with so much compassion towards us. Without the teachings of the Buddha we will never be able to understand our life. That is exactly why we take refuge in the Buddha. The world being endowed with a Buddha is such a rare occurrence.”
A question came to Vishaka’s mind. “Mother…..why is it that we are unable to walk at the time of birth? But Prince Siddhartha is said to have done so, didn’t he?”
“Oh that is a very interesting question! Let me explain it this way. We have all done different good things at different levels in our previous lives, as a result our abilities are different from each other. Haven’t you heard about people who have unbelievable skills? There was a person who could pull a train tied up to his hair. There was another wonderful person who could pull an aeroplane only by his teeth. And also there was a little girl called Sophia. She spoke six languages when she was hardly two months old.
So my children, do not doubt the miraculous things that happened in the life of the Buddha. In fact the biggest miracle in this world is the birth of the Buddha"
"I am sure you know the Vesak full moon poya day. On Vesak poya the moon is at its nicest. Queen Mahamaya of the Kingdom of Kapilawastu in India was expecting Prince Siddhartha. On that particular day Queen Mahamaya wanted to visit her parents in the kingdom of Devdaha. The path to Devdaha kingdom went through the Sal tree park in Lumbini which belongs to Shakya tribe.
Ah! the beauty of the Sal park was fascinating! All the Sal trees were in full bloom. Even at a distance the Lumbini Sal park was a breath-taking sight.
That day Queen Mahamaya was travelling in a palanquin. She was observing the surroundings through the curtains in the palanquin. Then she noticed this amazing garden full of Sal flowers. The moment she saw the beautiful garden she was fascinated and enchanted. She was tempted to walk in the garden and got the people to stop the palanquin. Accompanied by the ladies in waiting, the Queen strolled in the Sal park.
She was feeling extremely happy. She joyfully experienced the environment. Humming birds were singing round about. The squirrels were running from one branch to the other, squeaking merrily. The butterflies, in their natural rainbow colours, were moving from flower to flower. The gentle breeze was laced with the fragrance of the Sal flowers. Thus the fragrance covered the entire Sal park.
Queen Mahamaya was completely taken by the amazing beauty of the Lumbini garden. She walked around the bushes full of flowers. Then she noticed a particular Sal tree full of flowers, and walked towards it. Then she felt like touching one of the lower branches of that tree and raised her hand. It was so amazing children, the moment she raised her hand, the Sal branch, as if to fulfil her wish drooped down towards her. That moment she felt a certain discomfort in her abdomen.
The female attendants drew curtains encircling her. The divine scent of flowers filled the air. The little birds peeped from their nests. Lullabies were sung. My dear children..!…At that moment Prince Siddhartha, an aspirant Buddha, the most supreme human being in the world was born.
My goodness! The beauty of that little Prince was beyond all imaginations. The eyes were as blue as blue sapphires. The lips were as red as cherry blossoms. The cheeks were as pink as roses. The body had a golden hue. The colour of the sole looked like lotus petals.
My children, an inexplicable miracle occurred at that moment. Two water spouts issued from the earth instantly. One was a spring of cold water while the other was a spring of hot water. When the maids tried to bath the Prince, he smiled beautifully. He then wriggled from the hands of the maids and jumped away.
It was so unbelievable. The baby Prince was smiling and walking without any assistance. He took seven steps. When the Prince kept his little feet on the ground, lotuses sprang up from the ground. They blossomed in beautiful formation. The baby Prince stepped on the flowers, created by every step. Seven lotus flowers blossomed with the seven steps.
At the seventh lotus flower this little Prince stood up. He then raised his right hand. The index finger was pointed towards the sky. Then in his natural, lovely child’s voice the prince chanted a brilliant verse.
Vishaka, I suppose you know that verse. Why don’t you chant that verse.
No, let us all chant that verse together”
“ Aggo hamasmi lokassa, Settho hamasmi lokassa, Jettho hamasmi lokassa, Ayamantima jati Natthidani punabbhavo’ti….”
The meaning of that verse is as follows.
Supreme in the world, that is me, Virtuous in the world, that is me, Senior most in the world, that is me, This is my last birth, Never will it happen again, I will not be born again!
My dear children! What an amazing event, the birth of the Buddha to this world..!!
What a wonderful happening…!!!