Why Did Buddha Leave His Home – Compiled entirely from the Pali canon, this unique biography provides the oldest authentic account of the Buddha’s life and revolutionary philosophy.
Ancient texts are translated here in polite and dignified language. A framework of narrators and voices connects canonical texts. Vivid memories of his personal servant Ananda and other disciples bring the reader into the presence of the Buddha, whose example provides deep inspiration and guidance on the path to liberation.
Why Did Buddha Leave His Home
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Here is the biography of the Buddha according to the Pali Suttas, which are considered by some to be our earliest records:
There are no further details about his childhood. It tells us that the Buddha was very wealthy, having a separate house for each season and eating only the best foods (Sutta on Refinement, AN 3.38). The Buddha tells us that in spite of this reformation he was so shocked and humiliated by the humiliation of “old age, sickness and death” that these too would befall him. “Don’t I want to be saved from old age, sickness and death?” he asked himself.
He told us that he left home when he was young. No mention is made of his father’s efforts to protect him, or of his shock at seeing “the four sights” after a life of ups and downs sheltered from them. He noticed aging, disease, and death like everyone else, but he had a deeper than average reaction to them.
Not only is there no mention of a wife or child when the Buddha talks about his renunciation, but he seems to indicate that he still lives at home with his parents: “Therefore . . . As a young, black-haired youth in the prime of life with the blessings of youth – and my parents reluctantly crying with tears streaming down their faces – I shaved off my hair and beard, put it on. ocher robe and left home life for homelessness. (The Sutta on The Noble Search, MN 26).
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The absence of a wife or child is amazing. Without the claims of the later tradition, we assume that the Buddha left home as an unmarried youth.
John S. Strong, professor of Asian studies at Bates University and author of several books on Buddhist mythology, also pointed out the reference to “my parents.” “What happened to his mother when she died a week after he was born?” Strong asked.
The Suttas clearly identify one relative, the monk Nanda, as the Buddha’s cousin, his maternal cousin (Ud 3.2). The difference in this identification only furthers the absence of a similar identification when other characters are mentioned who are believed to be relatives of the Buddha. Neither Rahula nor Mahapajapati appear with any kinship information. And there is no mention of Buddha’s ex-wife.
In the suttas filled with supernatural details, we find some more wonderful nature additions from the material behind. It is in this passage that the Buddha learns that his father was a prince named Suddhodana, who, after descending from the Tusita Paradise to be born with the bliss of the gods, uttered prophecies of fate to a Brahmin at his birth. Here we learn about his miraculous birth, the fortunes that sprouted in his infant footsteps, and a few minutes later he reveals who he is.
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We first hear that Rahula was ordained as a child and sent by his mother, simply called “Rahulamata” (Rahula’s mother), to join the Buddha in the Kulavaga, which explains every precept in monastic law. The stirring words, “Go and receive your inheritance” (this is a warning of the pain that ordination of a child can cause to parents). This story seems to indicate that Buddha was the father of Rahula. It must be based on a known, old tradition, but that tradition may still be hundreds of years after the Buddha’s death (this one was written within 500 to 1000 years of his death).
The first complete biography of the Buddha, written by the poet Asvaghosa in the first century CE. Lalitavistara, a Mahayana/Sarvastivada biography of the third century AD. Mahavastu from the Mahasamgika Lokottaravada, which probably dates to the fourth century AD. and the Nidhanakata from the Theravada tradition in Sri Lanka, composed by Buddhaghosa in the fifth century. Most of our ideas of the Buddha legend come from these works.
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It may have been intended to show the Buddha’s inferiority complex and pressure him to fulfill his tribal obligations, softening criticism of the young religion as it moved into mainstream India. This explanation is supported by the version of the Buddha-to-be-home-ascended from the monastic code literature of the Mulasarvastivadans, an early Buddhist school. In this discourse quoted in Strong’s
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, Buddha had no son yet when he decided to leave. Siddhartha pauses to make love to his wife on the night of his departure, “lest the other princes say Shakyamuni was ‘not a man’ and wanders ‘inattentively’.” . . His wives (the Bodhisattva entered his bedroom) and thinking, ‘Now let me ‘pay attention’ to Yasodhara,’ he did so and Yasodhara became pregnant.
“Part of what it takes to call someone a saint is that he fulfills the pattern. This person is supposed to be a man, a person with the sexual intelligence to produce children. The legends highlight his masculinity,” said Strong. “There were really pressures on the culture of paying attention to family matters. The Buddha had to have a son because he had to fulfill his duties to his clan.
Maybe the Buddha needed to have a son, and once he had a son he needed to marry the wife he left. The originally formless “Rahulamatha” becomes Bimba or Gopa or Yasodara in various traditions. Once imagined, she becomes the epitome of pathos and drama.
In one of her discourses, she imitates his pretensions based on reports that she was born at the same time as the Buddha and that her father-in-law’s spies followed him when he left home life. She fasts and sleeps on the ground, and the fetus in her womb goes into suspended animation, when it is born as “Rahu” under the constellation of the Dragon, it is called Rahula, not because its father looks like him.
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(obstacle), like other versions. When the Buddha regularly re-eats and
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