King Suddhodana , Buddha’s father, was the king of Kapilavatthu. He belonged to the Sakya clan. His queen Maha Maya was childless for a long time until one day she dreamt of a white elephant coming out from the right side of her abdomen. Queen Maya died soon after and the infant was looked after by her sister, Maha Pajapati, who was also married to the King.
On the 5th day after Buddha was born, 8 renowned holy men were invited to the naming ceremony. On examining the infant, 7 predicted that he would be either a world monarch or a Buddha. Only 1 of them (Kodanna) declared that he would be a Buddha only. King Suddhodana wanted his son to be a universal monarch instead of a Buddha. He thus shielded the Prince from the realities of life (birth, age, disease and death) by building him 3 palaces, one for the hot season, one for the cold season and one for the rainy season. But this did not stop the Buddha from renunciation after seeing the four sights.
When the Buddha’s father King Suddhodana heard that the Buddha was dwelling at the Bamboo Grove at Rajagaha, he asked one of his trusted ministers to bring the Buddha to him. A total of 9 were sent but all were converted and attained stream entry and lose interest in worldly matters, including conveying messages. The King finally called the Minister Kaludayi, agreed to his becoming a disciple of the Buddha but had his undertaking that in any event he would bring the Buddha to his home town. The Buddha finally set forth on his journey to Kapilavatthu in the company of 20,000 monks.
After Buddha performed the “Twin Wonder” and the King saluted Him immediately with all Sākyas Buddha preached the Vessantara Jātaka to show that a similar incident took place in the presence of His relatives in a previous birth.
When Buddha went for alms round, King Suddhodana found it disgraceful and asked why he did that. Buddha advised “Be not heedless in standing (at doors for alms). Lead a righteous life. The righteous live happily both in this world and in the next.” Hearing this, the King realized the 1st stage of Sainthood, took the Buddha’s bowl and conducting Him and his disciples to the palace and served them with food.” At end of the meal, Buddha exhorted the king to lead a righteous life,and not one that is corrupt. The righteous live happily both in this world and the next.” The king attained 2nd stage of Sainthood (Sakadāgāmi) while Pajāpati Gotami attained 1st stage of sainthood.
On a later occasion, Buddha preached the Dhammapāla Jātaka to show king Suddhodana that in a previous birth too he refused to believe that his son had died although he was shown a heap of bones. He attained 3rd stage of Sainthood (Anāgāmi). The King explained that when the Buddha renounced the world, it was severely painful to him. When his other son Nanda was ordained, he felt the same pain. When his grandson Rahula was ordained, it was even more painful for him. He therefore, requested that the Buddha refuse to ordain a son who has not got the approval of his parents for his ordination. The Buddha acceded to the King’s request and set up a vinaya rule on this. On his death-bed, the King heard the Dhamma from the Buddha the last time and attained Arahantship. After experiencing the bliss of emancipation for 7 days, he passed away as a lay Arahant when the Buddha was about 40 years old.
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