07/25/06 - siddhatta gotama

In today's excerpt - twenty-nine year old Siddhatta Gotama, embarking on the quest that would lead him to become the Buddha, leaves his wife and newborn child:

"One night toward the end of the sixth century B.C.E., a young man called Siddhatta Gotama walked out of his comfortable home in Kapilavatthu in the foothills of the Himalayas and took to the road. ... His father was one of the leading men of Kapilavatthu and had surrounded Gotama with every pleasure he could desire: he had a wife and a son who was only a few days old, but Gotama had felt no pleasure when the child was born. He had called the little boy Rahula, or 'fetter': the baby, he believed, would shackle him to a way of life that had become abhorrent. He had a yearning for an existence that was 'wide open', and as 'complete and pure as a polished shell,' but even though his father's house was elegant and refined, Gotama found it constricting, 'crowded' and 'dusty.'

"... It was a romantic decision, but it caused great pain to the people he loved. Gotama's parents, he recalled later, wept as they watched their cherished son put on the yellow robe that had become the uniform of the ascetics and shave his head and beard. But we are also told that before he left, Siddhatta stole upstairs, took one last look at his sleeping wife and son, and crept away without saying goodbye."


Karen Armstrong




The Penguin Group


Copyright Karen Armstrong, 2001


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