An Incredible Prince | Story of Lord Gautama Buddha
Well! It was the following Wednesday. The children were very happy. They loved to hear about the Buddha during their Dharma discussions.
“Please, mother! Can you continue that story? So mother, did the Prince not go to school like us?” Vishaka asked while moving closer to her mother.
“Why not Visaka, the little Prince attended school just like you and studied. But that school was not an ordinary school. Even today it is the same, isn’t it? The children of the Royal families do not study in ordinary schools. Instead, they are being taught at privileged schools. Similarly, our Prince Siddhartha attended the school for the Royal family. Prince Siddhartha was the heir to the throne.”
Bimsara was eagerly waiting to ask a question. “Mother, is it true that the little Prince was given a name after they checked his horoscope?”
“No Bimsara, the people today are very ignorant. When they want to believe in something, they would fabricate a story to suit their belief. That is the method they use to convince others to believe what they believe.
There was no horoscope reading of the Prince. What really happened was, King Suddhodana, the father of the little Prince, organized a royal naming ceremony in order to choose a name for the Prince. He invited one hundred and eight Brahmin scholars to the Palace. During those days, there was a special science which predicted the future of a person by looking at that person’s body signs. There were Brahmins who were experts in this science.
The Brahmin experts who came to the royal naming ceremony happened to be the masters of this science. They observed the Prince thoroughly. They were amazed by the beauty of our little Prince. They were fully absorbed in observing the Prince’s little mouth, beautiful eyes, tiny teeth, soft hair, and the tiny little soles. They carefully examined every hair on the hands and legs of the little Prince. Then they finally brought to the attention of the king;
“Oh! My lord! It is time for you to be jubilant. You are the father of a future Emperor, not only of India but of the whole world. This dear Prince is a Supreme person. That is true my Lord! This Prince is blessed with thirty-two very extraordinary body signs that appear only on a body of a very distinguished person. If someone possesses these amazing body signs, that person’s future can take two paths. However, these two paths are entirely different from each other. If such a person lives a normal life, he will definitely become the Emperor of the whole world. He will rule the world righteously. There will be no wars during his time. Peace and harmony will spread throughout the world. But if such a person renounces the domestic life, he will definitely become a Samma Sambhuddha without any help from anyone.”
Yet there was a young Brahmin in that group who was the wisest of them all. He got up and raised his finger and said in an uncompromising manner;
“My Lord! Please look at my finger..! There is only one finger, not two… Similarly, this Prince has only one path ahead of him, not two. It will be recorded in history that this royal Prince shall be the foremost human born in this eon and no one can stop that. He shall become the spiritual guide of all humans and gods. This Prince will never remain in lay life. He will definitely accomplish the state of Samma Sambuddha.”
“So mother! Do these extraordinary body signs appear on other people’s bodies as well?”
“Yes, they do my son... But certainly not all thirty-two extraordinary body signs. If someone gets all thirty-two extraordinary body signs, then he will either be a Monarch of the universe, or he will be a Samma Sambuddha. ”
“Mother! Do those body signs appear without a reason? ”
“No, my daughter! None of those symbolic signs appear without a reason. never have those surfaced as a result of praying either. Our Samma Sambuddha possessed those signs on His body owing to the various meritorious acts done in his previous lives. This was confirmed by the Buddha Himself in Lakkhana sutta of Digha Nikaya.”
“Mother! Wasn’t it hermit Kondagngna who raised only one finger?”
“Yes, you are right, that was him. It was the same Kondagngna who had the rare opportunity of becoming the first disciple of the Buddha. So my children, that day our little Prince was awarded the most beautiful name in the world.”
“I know that name..I know that name,” said Vishaka joyfully with one hand raised up high.
“Ok! Vishaka, tell us that name.”
“Siddhartha” Vishaka exclaimed loudly.
“Yes, very good Vishaka, and do you know that the name ‘Siddhartha’ has a very significant meaning. The one who does enormous good and is virtuous in the world is the meaning of it.”
“But mother… we call the Buddha, the Gautama Buddha?”
“Ah! That is a very important question Bimsara. Although the Prince was given the name Siddhartha, he became well known as Gautama since it was his family name. The name ‘recluse Gautama’ was very popular and admired throughout India during that time. So, children, the King Suddhodana was deeply disturbed after the naming ceremony. He started to think hard.
“No, no… it can’t be. My little prince could enable the Shakya family to thrive. He will be the Monarch of the world. Yes..! I shall somehow lead the prince to become that. He would renounce lay life only if he becomes unhappy and frustrated. Nothing that disappoints the prince shall be left to be seen either in the palace or in the city. Only pleasant things that make the Prince happy, shall be left.”
The Prince received an excellent education offered only to royal families. He received the best knowledge of subjects such as different languages, judicial and constitutional law, logic, governing rules, history, literature, philosophy, archery, swordplay, music, art, knowledge of Veda manuscripts.
And also, the Prince had extraordinary capabilities that other children did not have. The Prince could remember anything that was taught only once. He could understand the lessons at once. And he was never proud as other royal members. He was very modest and kind. And he was remarkably generous. The other princes went hunting for fun. They killed innocent animals. But Prince Siddhartha did not approve of hunting. He never hurt any animal. He was never unkind to anyone. He treated everyone with love and kindness. He always smiled and was always friendly with everyone. Hence all who were at the palace loved him dearly.”
“So mother, didn’t Prince Siddhartha have any brothers or sisters?”
“Yes, Vishaka, the Prince Siddhartha had one step brother and one step sister. When Queen Mahamaya died on the seventh day from the Prince Siddhartha’s birth, her sister Princess Prajapati Gautami, become the Queen. Queen Mahamaya was reborn in the happy world called Thusitha. The Queen Prajapati Gautami gave birth to a son and a daughter. The daughter was Princess Nanda. The son was Prince Nanda. Nevertheless, Queen Prajapati Gautami looked after Prince Siddhartha with more love and care than her own children. Hence, the Prince Siddhartha grew up with grace and radiance like a full moon.”
My children, you too should do your studies well like Prince Siddhartha. You must not spend too much time on playing and watching TV. Instead, you should make studying as interesting as playing.
“Ah! One day a fascinating thing happened. Have you heard about the sowing feast?” asked the mother.
“Mother, is it the plowing festival?”
“Yes! That’s right. In ancient days the King was regarded as the owner of the earth. So the King had to initiate the plowing in his country. Keeping with the tradition, King Suddhodana got ready to start plowing the vast paddy fields of the Shakya clan. This particular incident took place when the Prince was still a baby.
The sowing feast started. The King, using the golden plow, started plowing with a couple of buffaloes. The conch was blown. The royal musicians started playing the drums and trumpet. The ceremony started magnificently. Many in the palace participated in this occasion. The little Prince was also brought to the place in a palanquin. He was put to sleep under the cooling shade of a massive Jamun tree by screening the shade with curtains. Everyone’s attention was totally drawn by the plowing ceremony.
Suddenly, the little Prince woke up and looked around. There was no one near him. The Prince’s attention naturally caught on his breathing. He sat comfortably, closed his eyes. And very mindfully concentrated on his breathing in and breathing out.
My children, something incredible happened at that moment. The mind of the Prince was concentrated on his breathing. The little Price achieved a high level of concentration and his body became so light. His mind became very calm and tranquil. The body started to rise little by little from the ground. Now the Prince was seated in the sky and meditating.
Suddenly, the attendants remembered the Prince. They came running to the Jamun tree shade and looked for the Prince. He was not to be seen. Abruptly they looked up and saw the Prince meditating in the sky very calmly. They shouted at once, “The Prince is in the sky”. Everyone came running towards the Jamun tree. The King too came running to see this miracle. The Prince came down slowly, smiling. The King was overwhelmed with joy and admiration. He worshiped the little Prince. “My precious son, I am your father!”
Bimsara and Vishaka were listening to the mother with great astonishment. They were very happy. “So my children..! It’s enough for today. Ah…There your father is coming.”