Growing Up

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Chapter Three: Growing Up

From the moment the Bodhisattva was born, the prosperity of Kapilavastu increased not only in wealth measured in gold, but in elephants, horses, and allies, and as regularly as the rising waters of a river in springtime.  The king acquired treasure of all kinds -- more than he could have ever imagined: Wild elephants that not even Padma, supporter of the earth, could ever have subdued came obediently to his side.  And herds of horses: strong and wild ones with flowing manes, and also gentle ones bedecked with golden trappings filled the city streets.  Fat, docile cows giving excellent milk, with healthy calves by their sides stocked his kingdom.

Peace and harmony also increased.  His enemies first became indifferent; indifference grew to friendship, friends became united and where there once had been opposing sides, now there was unity.

The rains came when they were needed and from gently rising winds out of clouds bedecked in wreaths of lightning, and not with pounding hail and thunderbolts.  There were abundant harvests even without ploughing, and even old plants increased in vigor and quality.

Even at that precarious moment which is childbirth, pregnant women had their babies in good health, in safety, and without illness.

And people who in usual circumstances would reluctantly lend money only with secure collateral, now did not refuse anyone even those of slenderest means.

There was no violence or murder -- not even domestic disputes, and no one even went back on their word, or lied, or slandered others.  It was like the days of The Mahabharat all over again, a time when duty and self-restraint were the norm as in the days of Yayati

Religious people were more motivated than ever to perform sacred works.  They sponsored or helped build gardens, temples, and retreat hermitages as well as  bathing pools, lakes, and groves.

Now the citizens no longer worried about famine, fear, and sickness, and life was heavenly. There was no infidelity in marriages since husbands and wives were so content.  No one played around just for the fun of it; no one was greedy and no one claimed to be a spiritual teacher just for financial gain.  Certainly, no one injured any living being just for the sake of traditional religious obligations.

Everywhere, fraud, theft and robbery had disappeared. There were no incursions by enemy powers and the king's dominion was in peace -- at rest from all foreign interference.  There was only prosperity and plenty, and the cities in his realm were as healthy as the forests.

So you could say that when his son was born, it was just as in times of old when Manu, Child of the Sun, ruled India. There was joy and gladness everywhere, and righteousness ruled the land.  Evil had been vanquished.  Sin did not exist.

The king had named his son Sarv'arthasiddha meaning "complete attainment of accomplishment" because his arrival had been so fulfilling both for himself and for his land.   But sadly, Queen Maya died, as if in some ancient myth when the gods grant glory in exchange for tragedy, but at least she had lived to see her newborn son,  and she went to heaven, as if the great joy he had brought her was sufficient for a whole lifetime.  So the queen's sister adopted the boy who was truly like a child of the gods, treating him as her very own with all the affection and tenderness of a natural mother, and she was the one who raised the young prince.


The prince grew up smoothly and flawlessly as the sun rising on an eastern slope, a fire fanned by the wind, or like the gradually waxing moon.  And his friends brought him presents of sandalwood paste, gorgeous strings of precious stones and little wheeled carts pulled by golden deer.  He had other toys suitable for his age, like elephants, deer, and horses made of gold, oxcarts with teams richly decorated, and silver and gold chariots.  But though he had all the toys a child his age could want, he did not much play like an ordinary boy for he was serious, neat and clean in his appearance; wise and dignified in manner.

When he was mature enough, the young prince learned in only a few days all the knowledge and the various skills suitable for one of his status -- things that generally took a good many years to master.

But the king his father, recalling the great seer Asita's prediction that his boy's destiny lay in pursuit of transcendental happiness, tried to undermine that future by introducing him to various sensual pleasures.  From a family of unblemished moral excellence, he sought and obtained a bride for him, a girl renowned for her beauty, modesty and gentle bearing who was called, after the goddess of good fortune, Yasodhara.  And the prince, the apple of his father's eye (just as Sanatkumara [eternal prince] was Brahma's) delighted in the company of the Sakya princess -- like Lord Indra with his own bride, Saki.

The king, worried that his son might see some distressing or troubling thing, had a sort of sanctuary prepared for him in the recesses of the palace, far from the bustle of everyday life. Siddhartha spent his time in those royal chambers gorgeously decorated especially for him to suit the changing seasons "like heavenly chariots upon the earth, and bright like the clouds of autumn" where performers entertained him whenever he liked.

Dancers gorgeous as the heavenly nymphs in Shiva's shining palace on Mount Kailash swayed and swirled to the beat of their fingertips' striking the soft-sounding tambourines with golden rims.   The women delighted him with their mild voices, their beautiful strings of pearls, their playful intoxication, sweet laughter, and flirtatious glances. 

In the arms of these women well-skilled in the ways of love and reckless in pursuit of pleasure, he felt as if he were falling from the roof of a pavilion, to land as gently as a saint alighting from a heavenly chariot.


The king, meanwhile, was behaving in a very restrained and modest fashion for the sake of ensuring his son's prosperity, stirred somehow by the destiny which had been predicted for him, delighting in poised and virtuous behaviour.

He was not at all self-indulgent nor taking delight in any of the states of consciousness.  He exercised self-control at all times and was exemplary in his virtue.  He did not try to out-do anyone, studying only that which was beneficial to others and he wished well to one and all, not only his own subjects.

He regularly performed the fire puja that was the ritual obligation of his people, praying for his son's long life.  He also offered oblations to the sacred fire, donating money and cattle to the priests.  He went on pilgrimage to bathe at holy places in order to purify body, mind and spirit, and drank the soma-juice as enjoined by the Vedas.  And this heartfelt ritual induced in him the happiness of perfect equanimity.

He only said nice things but yet, not trivialities -- he was honest but never tactless; not complaining nor criticizing, and he neither flattered nor slandered anyone. 

He did what needed to be done, making no distinction between what was pleasant and what was not.  In business, he sought to profit without cheating, but at the same time, he did not overly value sacrifice.

When a petitioner offered a gift, he accepted graciously without pretext.  At the same time, he did not tolerate the arrogant approaches of two-faced schemers.

"... he took away the one, and protected the seven; he abandoned the seven and kept the five; he obtained the set of three and learned the set of three; he understood the two and abandoned the two."  That is, he observed all the precepts and principles of virtue, and the norms of mindful and righteous behaviour as codified in the aphorisms of his culture.

As the land's highest authority, even though a guilty person had been sentenced to death, he did not cause the sentence to be implemented but practiced clemency.  He refrained from scolding and only gently admonished, yet he tried to see that the criminal was reformed.  He was merciful, and saw that no corporal punishment was inflicted.

He performed the great religious vows prescribed by the ancient Rishis.  He set aside long-cherished hostile attitudes and acquired a glory redolent with the fragrance of virtue.  He gave up all former habits or practices involving defilement.

He did not squander the taxes levied in the traditional amount of one-sixth of an income, but acted as the custodian of the people's resources.  He had no wish to covet another's property.  He had no desire to mention the wrong-doings of his enemies, nor did he brood over past wrongs in an attempt to fan any embers of wrath in his heart.

With such a righteous man for a monarch, the servants and citizens followed his example, just as in meditation by stilling the mind, we control our senses.



In due course of time, by the son of Shuddhodana there was born to fair-bosomed Yasodhara who truly was as glorious as her name, a baby boy named Rahula, with a face like the sweet shining moon the eclipse demon's [Rahu] enemy.

Then the king who himself had so longed for a son and heir, was exceedingly delighted, and he rejoiced at the birth of his grandson just the same as he had when his own son was born.  He even exclaimed at the fact that he felt that way all over again, and at the end of the ritual period, he meticulously performed once more all the appropriate religious rites just as if he readying himself for the ascent to heaven.

As the famous kings did in ancient times, he practiced austerities wearing only simple white garments, and he made the traditional offerings, but only in ways that involved no injury to living creatures.

His reputation shone gloriously, the consequence of his nobility but also of his religious austerities, and he was renowned for his devotion to family, his fine conduct and wisdom, and his enlightening attitude as brilliant as the sun.

Having offered worship, this glorious man muttered repetitions of Vedic texts to Swayambhu [Brahma, God, the Self-manifesting] for the protection of his son, and performed various complex ceremonies just like the god Ka at the beginning of time when he wished to create living beings.

He set aside all weapons and pondered the Shastras.  He meditated and underwent various penances.  Like an enclosed hermit, he rejected all sensory pleasures, regarding his kingdom only as a father does his child.

He only endured the kingdom for the sake of his son, and his son for his family's sake. And endured his family for the sake of the glory of his dynasty, and that reputation -- only for the attainment of heaven.  He only aspired to heaven for his Soul's sake, and even that, only for the sake of Dharma [ie. cosmic duty.]

And in that righteous way, he practiced the various rites the way all pious people had done since their inception, asking himself only one single thing, "Now that he has seen the face of his son, how can my son be prevented from going away to the forest? "


Prudent kings of this world wishing to guard their prosperity, bring up their sons to behave circumspectly with regard to the ways of the world, but this king, though loving religion himself, kept his son from religion and set him loose among all objects of pleasure.  

Now all bodhisattvas, those beings of finest nature -- after tasting the pleasures of the world, depart to the forest as soon as a son is born to them.  However, this bodhisattva was specia.  Though all his past karma had completely played out, even when his culminating motivation had begun to germinate -- he went on pursuing worldly pleasure.  Right up until the time of his Attainment of Supreme Wisdom.


Note:  See The Laws of Manu (ca. 1500 BCE) that codifies caste, ritual and civil laws. 

SiddharthaSarv'arthsiddhi is usually contracted to Siddhartha. The young nobleman would later on in his life be referred to, in India, as Shakyaputra Shramana, or "The Shakya son who is an ascetic." 

NEXT: Chapter 4Springtime Excursions & the Three Sights 


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