As a young person in the prime of his youth with a very bright future ahead, it was not easy to renounce everything to become an ascetic. Prince Siddhartha overcame all obstacles to pursue the path of finding the truth. Read the following article for more details.
After witnessing the four sights: old age, sickness, death and an ascetic; Prince Siddhartha became increasingly thoughtful and sorrowful. That made King Suddhodana so worried. He feared that the Prince would become a monk as the hermit seer’s prophecy. So he decided to find his son a spouse to keep him staying. Princess Yasodhara of the neighbouring country, a woman of great beauty and virtues, was selected. Prince Siddhartha and Princess Yashodhara treasured each other so much. There were connections from many past lives between them. They lived a happy life together in the imperial palace. However, the Prince still held on to a burning desire to become an ascetic. When he turned 19 years old, his wife gave birth to a son. Loving his son very much, he knew that having a child would be another big obstacle to his dream of becoming an ascetic. Therefore, the Prince named the baby Rahula, meaning obstacle.
Prince Siddhattha knew: if he didn’t leave soon, the bound of secular life would increasingly tighten on him and it would only be more difficult for him to leave. On the eighth day of the second lunar month, King Suddhodana held a grand dinner in which the Prince also joined. Late at night, when the party was over, the singers and dancers were so tired after performing that they slept over the palace floor. Some slept with drool dripping from their mouths, some with lipstick smudged on their pale faces and untidy clothes. As the Prince went through that room, he saw those people lying like corpses, reminding him of the dead person he had seen a few years ago. The Prince felt an immediate disgust and was determined to leave, lest secular life bind him further. The Prince ordered his charioteer Chandaka to prepare the horse Kanthaka. Then, he went back to his room to see his wife and son for the last time. At that time, Princess Yasodhara was lying in her room holding the child and waiting for her husband to return. When the Prince opened the door, the Princess knew that it was her husband, but she had a hunch that he would come to say goodbye to her. Yasodhara knew her husband’s will, she didn’t prevent him but wanted him to fulfill his wish. So the Princess turned her face inwards into the room, closing her eyes. Because if she looked at the door and had interaction with her husband, it may be difficult for him to leave. That was real love, selfless love. That was a huge sacrifice. The Prince looked at his wife and son one last time, closed the door and left.
When Prince Siddhartha had gone far away from the capital city and reached the river Anoma, he stopped and told Channa that he had been leaving the capital to become an ascetic. It was nothing short of great renunciation. The Prince was in the prime of his youth with a very bright future ahead: A beautiful wife, a lovely son, a palace, a throne, and people’s expectations. However, he willingly forsook everything to go seeking the truth of life all by himself. He was determined to find something that could save all sentient beings from suffering.
The Prince used a sword to cut his hair, put on mendicant clothing, and gave all of his royal attire to Channa. The charioteer was extremely sad. Even the horse Kanthaka of Prince Siddhartha reacted strangely — it roared three times and died on the spot. Channa insisted on following the Prince, but he refused and asked the loyal servant to return to the palace to inform the King.
After that, Prince Siddhartha embarked on the path of finding the truth…
He wanted to find out what the truth of life was; why we were born not to enjoy happiness, but to endure predefined sufferings from old age, sickness, and death. Moreover, on the journey of old age, sickness and death, we also endured many other sufferings from love, affection, anger, hatred, and shame, etc. The Prince also wondered whether the death was the end? Why wasn’t life everlasting? Why did we die? If death was the end, what was the meaning of life? What did it mean to be a king and then die? If so, a king and a beggar were in no way different from each other; doing good deeds or evil deeds would be the same because we all die in the end. The Prince pondered on the truth of life and existence. Thus, he was determined to find the truth. He went into the deep forest with an alms bowl and a robe to seek enlightenment.