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The Illustrated Jataka & Other Stories of the Buddha by C.B. Varma


087 -  Suddhodana   

Introduction | Glossary | Bibliography

Suddhodana was the king of Kapilavatthu and known in the history as the father of Gotama Buddha. He happened to be his father in numerous births, e.g., Katthahari, Alinachitta, Susimaa, Bandhanagara, Kosambi, Mahadhammapala, Dasaratha, Hatthipala, Maha-Umagga and Vessantara Jatakas.

The Buddha visiting Kapilavatthu after his Enlightenment

He belonged to the dynasty of the Sakyan. King Sihahanu and Kacchanaa were his parents. He had four brothers namely, Dhotadana, Sakkodana, Sukkodana and Amitodana; and two sisters, namely, Amitaa and Pamitaa. Maya, the mother of Siddhattha Gotama was his chief consort; but after her death her younger sister Pajapati became his chief consort.

When Gotama was born and the sage Asita visited the king’s court and placed the newly born baby’s feet on his head, he, too, was surprised and worshipped the baby. He worshipped him for the second time at a ploughing ceremony, when the baby seated under the Jambu tree was absorbed in meditation.

As the soothsayers had predicted that the baby would either be a recluse or a suzerain king, he took special care to refrain him from those sights, which could inspire him to renounce the worldly life.

When Gotama became a sage and the news of his Enlightenment was reported to him he sent a messenger with ten thousand companions to bring Buddha to Kapilavatthu. But the messenger and his companions never returned as they preferred to become monks and stay with the Master. The king then sent the messengers for nine more times but no messenger ever returned, because they all became the followers of the Buddha. Finally, the king sent Kaludayi, a friend of the Buddha, who was born on the same day when the latter was born. He, too, became a monk but kept his promise to extend the king’s invitation to the Master.

On invitation of Suddhodana, when the Buddha visited Kapilavatthu and stayed in Nigrodha Arama; he went on his usual rounds of begging, When this news was reported to the king that his son was begging in the streets of his kingdom he was terribly upset. When he met and sought an explanation from the Buddha and when the Buddha told him that there was nothing unusual for a Buddha to beg he was satisfied with the answer. His satisfaction made him a Sotapanna (‘Stream Enterer’; to be born in the world for the maximum of seven times).  He became a Sakidagami, (one who could be born for the maximum of one more time) when he heard the Buddha’s discourse after his meals in his palace, where he had invited him. Further, he became an Anagami (Never-Returner to the worldly birth) after hearing the Buddha’s Mahadhammapala Jataka. Further, he became an Arahata (one who has attained the fourth stage of the spiritual evolution; and has destroyed all worldly fetters) on his death-bed when the Buddha came flying to teach him.

Suddhodana, thus, died as a lay Arahata.

 

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