Chapter Two: The Father's Concern
"My lord, do not be concerned at these marvelous events. Sons
always surpass their fathers," said the advisors, each one giving a better
example than the last from the myths, legends and history of the
"Also, at different times and places extraordinary accomplishments
occur, and age is no factor, for what is not achieved here by the father will
later be achieved there by the son."
So the king's anxieties were assuaged, and he accepted the
congratulations of his trusted brahmin advisors dismissing all worry from his
mind and allowing himself to enjoy the celebration.
Well-pleased, he rewarded them with honours and riches saying, "As you
have said: May he become a ruler of the earth, and when he reaches old age,
enjoy his retirement in the woods, as is the ideal."
Now, the great seer Ashita the king's personal guru, as a result of his
extraordinary spiritual accomplishment and merit, was drawn by The Embodiment of Ultimate Doctrine at the palace of the Sakya king. The
old man entered the women's quarters where everyone was delighting in the birth
of the young prince. The king bowed to him and offered refreshing water both for
his feet and for his cup, and expressed honour at the visit. He asked his
The sage, his large eyes wide with wonder, spoke solemn words in a deep
voice. He praised the king for his generosity and sense of duty, and
compared him to the ancient religious rulers who rejected material wealth,
preferring instead to strive for loftier goals.
And in that context, he asked the king to pay close attention to what he had to
say: A heavenly voice had spoken saying that the newborn child was born
for the sake of Supreme Knowledge. This was corroborated by certain
auspicious signs, and the guru referred to the child set up for all to
admire, Banner of the Sakyas, as if he were Indra's [King
of Gods'] own brilliant standard.
In his highly emotional state the king could hardly keep his balance, but he got
up and took the baby up in his arms from where he lay nursing, and showed him to
the holy ascetic.
In that way the great seer, amazed, got to see the foot marked with a wheel, the
webbed fingers and toes, the circle of down between his eyebrows, and the signs
of a constitution like that of an elephant.
In his mind he saw the image of the Great Goddess [Parvati]
holding her son, Skanda, and he stood with tears of devotion beaded on the tips
of his eyelashes, and sighing he looked up towards heaven.
Now, seeing Asita all teary-eyed, the king became upset out of concern for his
son, and with clasped hands and body bowed, he asked in a voice broken and
choked with tears, "Oh wise and precious master, my son has all these
auspicious marks and his birth was a miraculous one, and you have prophesied a
transcendent future for him -- so why are you in tears? Won't he have a
long life? Surely he cannot be born for my sorrow -- I obtained this
Handful of Water with great difficulty. Surely it is not Death who gets
to drink it !"
"And please let me know that my lifetime accomplishments are not all in
vain. Is the chief prize of my family secure ? Shall I die happy
knowing my son will inherit his father's kingdom?? Even in sleep, I always
keep one eye open to watch over him ... . Surely this young shoot of my
family line will live to have children himself? Speak quickly, my lord, I
am very eager to know. "
In sympathy for the king with his feelings of impending doom, the sage
"Don't worry, King, for all that I have said is absolutely true.
I don't get the feeling that anything bad will happen to him, but I am just
distressed because of my own disappointment. It is time for me to depart
[this world] and this child who will eventually learn
that hard-won mystery that is The Means to the End [of
Suffering] has only just now been born.
For, having given up his kingdom, indifferent to all worldly things and
attained the highest truth by strenuous application of effort, he will shine
forth like a Sun of Knowledge and destroy all darkness of illusion in the
And as the Vessel of Knowledge, he will save this foundering ship of a
distressed world that is being swept helplessly through the ocean of misery
atop the foam of sickness, tossing about on the waves of old age as it rushes
steadily towards the dreadful torrent of death.
This world of thirsty living beings will drink from the flowing stream of
his Law all bubbling with the Foam of Wisdom, contained between banks of
strong moral principles, delightfully refreshing with contemplation and as
sprinkled with religious precepts as with a flock of ruddy
He will announce the Way Out to wanderers suffering in sorrow and all tangled
up in sense objects, lost on the trails through the jungle of worldly
And, like a great cloud delivering monsoon showers at the end of the hot
spell, by the Rain of Dharma he will gladden the crowds in this world that are
being burned up by the fire of desire that is continuously refueled with
With a smart hammer-blow of the Dharma that is so hard to find, he will
break down the door whose bolt is desire -- whose two leaves are ignorance and
delusion -- so that the living can then escape.
He, King of that Supreme Law, when he has attained highest knowledge, will
achieve liberation from its shackles for the world now overcome by misery
lacking any place of refuge, and enveloped in its chains of delusion.
So do not sorrow for him ---that reaction belongs rather, kind sire, to the
pathetic world of human beings who through illusion, the pleasures of desire
or of intoxication refuse to hear his Perfect Law.
And that is the reason why I am weeping; for I have just missed getting to
know that Excellence. Even though I have accomplished all the stages of
contemplation, my life is still merely a failure since I have not heard his
Law, and so I consider even to dwell in the highest heaven a misfortune."
Having heard that, the king with his queen and his friends stopped feeling so
sad, and began to cheer up, thinking, 'What a great son I have,' as if he
were the one who was great.
But although he let his heart be influenced by the thought, 'He will travel by
the noblest of paths' -- for in all honesty he was not at all averse to religion
-- yet still he was alarmed at the prospect of losing his child.
Then the sage Asita departed on the wind just as he had come, and everyone stood
up to watch reverentially as his figure took flight.
Then feeling more confident, he noticed his saintly nephew, son of his
younger sister, and filled with compassion the king earnestly enjoined him
to pay attention to what the sage had said, and to consider what it all meant.
Well, the monarch now well-pleased at the birth of a son, gave himself up to
the period of purification and then caused his son to go through the usual
birth-ceremonies in a manner befitting that family. So that when the
ten-day period of ritual isolation was over, with his thoughts kept under
restraint but filled with excessive joy, he offered up for his son the
most elaborate sacrifices to the gods including all the mantras, offerings and
appropriately auspicious ceremonies.
He donated to the brahmin priests on behalf of his son's benefit, a hundred
thousand perfect dairy cows along with their golden-horned, strong and healthy
And finally, with his anxious mind under control and having performed all kinds
of ceremonies which cheered his heart, at an auspicious moment on a fortunate
day, he joyfully determined to re-enter his city.
Then the queen with her baby, having worshipped the gods for good fortune, got
into a costly ivory palanquin a-blaze with gems and filled with all kinds of
With his wife and her child accompanied by faithful old attendants entering
first, the king proceeded into the city while crowds of citizens joyfully
saluted them, just like Indra entering heaven being saluted by the
The Sakya king entered his palace just like Lord Bhava [Ecstasy, Shiva] when he
was delighted at the birth of his son Kartikeya, and beaming with joy he
gave orders for lavish celebrations while generously bestowing all kinds
So to celebrate the good fortune of the birth of the king's son, that city named
for Kapila was host to all the people of the surrounding countryside and was
full of joy. Just like the city of Kubera, Lord of Wealth, when it was
crowded with heavenly nymphs [Skt. apsaras] on the
occasion of the birth of his son, Nalakubera.
< Kubera, a.k.a.
Vaishravana, Lord of Wealth
NEXT: Chapter 3: Growing Up
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