Buddha Shakyamuni — the founder and leader of Buddhism — was a real figure in history. He possessed sublime virtues and wisdom that have touched and enlightened many beings, leading them to the end of suffering. The path that the Buddha walked was the path to true happiness.
Everyone was looking forward to the appearance of the Prince
King Suddhodana got married to two sisters, Queen Maya and her younger sister — Mahaprajapati. King Sudhodana and Queen Maya were longing for an heir — despite their old age, they had not yet had any children to succeed the King. Therefore, they did a lot of charity work and helped the poor.
High-ranking officials in the kingdom were also eagerly awaiting the birth of the Prince, so they went to address this to the King and the Queen, stressing the importance of having an heir.
Queen Maya got pregnant after a strange dream
After the Star Ceremony, Queen Maya held a charity for the poor. Then she returned to the palace and rested, and had a dream about a snow-white elephant with six tusks holding a very beautiful lotus. It flew down from the sky and entered the Queen’s right side. Afterwards, the Queen smelt a strange fragrance. She woke up and told King Suddhodana about that dream. The King invited soothsayers to interpret the Queen’s dream. They said that the Queen would conceive a special prince. And indeed, she got pregnant after a long time of longing for a child.
Finally, Lord Buddha – a great man came to world
In ancient India, it was a custom for women to return to their homeland to give birth. When Queen Maya was on the way from Kapilavastu to her motherland, she stopped by a beautiful forest called Lumbini. The Queen got off the carriage and walked in that garden towards a Sala tree. When she clung to a branch of that tree, she went into labour. Prince Siddhartha was born at that moment. Buddhist texts say when the Queen gave birth to the Prince, many strange things happened: birds chirped, flowers bloomed, clouds moved magically in the sky and heavenly music rang.
Immediately after his birth, the Prince took seven steps and at each step, a lotus flower bloomed to receive his feet. At the last step, the Prince pointed one hand towards the sky and one hand towards the earth and said: “Between heaven above and earth beneath, only I am the Honoured One“. Seven days after giving birth to the Prince, Queen Maya passed away and was reborn in the Tushita heaven.
The Prince was raised and nurtured by his aunt, Queen Mahapajapati. Queen Mahapajapati was Queen Maya’s younger sister, and also the wife of King Suddhodana. She also had a son — Nanda but she didn’t look after him, she gave her son to her nanny and looked after Siddhartha. That is, the Prince had a blessing — everyone loved him.
Thay Thich Truc Thai Minh shared: “Prince Siddhartha is much more precious than gems and gold. Everyone in the palace, even the servants, loved him and was happy for his appearance. Indeed, there are people whose appearance brings joy and happiness to many people.“
32 major and 80 minor marks of Prince Siddhartha
When the Prince was born, King Suddhodana ordered the people to hold celebration parties for several months. Everyone was happy about the birth of the Prince. The King also invited soothsayers to examine his son’s physical characteristics. Firstly, he invited Asita, a one-hundred-year-old ascetic dwelling in the Himalayas, to the palace. When Asita saw the Prince with 32 major and 80 minor marks, he was extremely amazed and immediately made prostrations to the Prince. He said to the King: “Your Majesty, this is a special Prince. He will be a great man. If he remains in the secular world, he will become a Wheel-Turning King ruling the four-continent world. If he chooses a religious life, he will attain Buddhahood and save all sentient beings”.
Asita then laughed happily, but suddenly he cried. King Suddhodana asked: “Why do you laugh and then cry?” Asita replied: “Your Majesty, I laugh because I am happy for you and the country to have a wise and discerning prince. However, I am sad because I am too old, I’m going to die. I will not receive the tutelage of the Prince”.
The King continued to invite five Brahmin soothsayers to examine his son’s physical characteristics. All of them said that the Prince was the most special human in the world whose features were incomparable to others. In particular, one of those five people — Kaundinya asserted that the Prince would become an ascetic when he grew up.
After listening to the prophecies, the King named the Prince Siddhartha, which meant “fulfilling all wishes”.
King Suddhodana saluted prince Siddhartha for the second time
One day, on the occasion of the Ploughing Festival (the beginning ceremony for a year of farmers), Siddhartha followed his father to the fields. The scenery seemed serene: the spring weather was pleasant, flowers were in bloom and birds were singing. While everyone was enjoying the bustling festival, the little Prince was not. He chose a place under a tree and sat in a full lotus position with half-closed eyes. He focused on his breath, concentrated his mind and entered the first Jhana — the first level of meditative concentration. When King Suddhodana saw his son in deep meditation, he respectfully saluted the Prince.
Exceptional virtues and wisdom of Prince Siddhartha
Young Siddhartha was a precocious child. As a Prince, he was well-taught in both knowledge and martial arts. Thay Thich Truc Thai Minh shared: “Despite being a young 6-year-old boy, the Prince quickly acquired all his masters’ knowledge after just a short time and rivalled them, if not surpassing them. In terms of his martial ability, he was second to none. In an archery competition, while the other archers shot through 3 copper plates at best, the Prince’s arrow pierced 7 ones. Then you could tell how talented he was.”
Although he was a crown Prince with such talents, he was very compassionate. He showed loving-kindness towards everyone, even his servants. Also, he kindly treated and took care of animals, such as a wounded dog, a rabbit or a bird, etc.
Through his compassion and wisdom, the Prince was truly a perfect and special person.