Siddhartha Gautama’s Early Life – Was it an essential part of the bigger puzzle?

Siddhartha Gautama is popularly known as Buddha. He is said to have lived in the 5th Century BC.

But in this post, we are concerned about his life, prior to achieving enlightenment. Much before he even set out on the path of achieving enlightenment. Much before he became a Buddha.

“Suddhodana (Siddhartha’s father) invited eight Brahman scholars to read the future and all of them gave a dual prediction that the baby (Siddhartha Gautama) would either become a great King or a great Holy man”

First off, how do people do that? How can one predict the future of a person so accurately? I am not talking about the King part, it was evident as he was born into a Royal family. But theΒ  prediction of becoming a ‘Holy man’ came out to be exactly true!

The question here is, were the people predicting his future helping the King to attain knowledge of the future so that he could control it better using that knowledge, or was that knowledge a way that would inevitably lead to the exact predetermined results?

The King thought it was the former.

“His father, wishing his son to be a great King, is said to have shielded him from religious teachings and from the knowledge of human suffering”

So, Siddhartha Gautama was practically given everything he wanted. His needs were fulfilled and he should have lived a relatively luxurious life (by the standards back then) without the knowledge of suffering. After all, he was the son of a King.

But why shield him from suffering? Why keep him ignorant of the worldly facts?

Obviously, the King wanted his son to become a Prince and get used to the luxuries of being a Prince, so that the possibility of his becoming a Holy man becomes increasingly remote.

Does that ring some bells? πŸ™‚

“At the age of 29, Siddhartha left his palace to meet his subjects. Despite his father’s efforts to hide from him the sick, aged and suffering, Siddhartha was said to have seen an old man.

When his charioteer explained to him that all people grow old, the Prince went on further trips beyond the palace. On these, he encountered a diseased man, a decaying corpse and an ascetic.

These depressed him and he initially strove to overcome aging, sickness and death by living the life of an ascetic. Gautama then quit his palace for the life of a mendicant”

We’re all familiar with people who are deprived of happiness, seek happiness. But why do people who are deprived of pain, actively seek it?

Destination Infinity

PS: Quotes taken from Wikipedia article on Gautama Buddha.

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13 Replies to “Siddhartha Gautama’s Early Life – Was it an essential part of the bigger puzzle?”

    1. Yeah, SM. Great stories do not happen without pain. But we can never come to accept pain and still want our stories to be great!

      Destination Infinity

  1. Nice recount & well written, Rajesh. Seeing the king actions, reminds me of this quote “You meet the fate on the very path you take to avoid it”

    You have raised an interesting question. The answer i can think of is that “irrespective of it being happiness or pain, they are just states of extreme nature. Like the positive & the negative. So, in order to retain balance, both of it has to be present or experienced in equal measures. If one of them is void, by the universal laws of nature, we tend to explore it or seek it out to fill the remaining void.”

    I assume you have read the book Siddhartha. It has its own learning very relevant to this post. πŸ™‚

    PS

    1. Brilliant reply.

      And thanks for that book recommendation. I was not aware of it. I will read it when possible.

      Destination Infinity

  2. Good one…

    The thing which puzzles more than the prediction of sidhartha’s future is the birth of jesus… everything predicted or explained through his mother Mary’s dream. Do you agree that?

    Every king closely associate or follow his holy man’s advice. since sidhartha also aware of such teachings, I feel there is no surprise that he went to attain nirvana.

    Importantly we cannot judge/assume things from our limited understanding/knowledge.

    1. I don’t know the story about Jesus’s birth or his mother Mary’s dream. Perhaps I need to get to know a little more about that before replying.

      This part is absolutely right – We cannot judge / assume things from our limited understanding/ knowledge, in-spite of the little knowledge provided by Wikepedia! That’s why I left the readers with questions.

      Destination Infinity

  3. On these, he encountered a diseased man, a decaying corpse and an ascetic.
    Gautama could have chosen to be within the four walls of his home and avoid seeing the painful reality. But he didn’t.
    It just became a reason/path for him to move towards his ultimate destiny anyway. πŸ™‚
    What do u think?

    1. Well, what if: He was exposed to pain from earlier on, in his life? Would he still taken a similar step or would he have lived a normal life?

      Destination Infinity

      1. He could have, but he could have got used to it as well. I mean, it could have become normal.

        My point of the post is: The King played an important part in the making of Buddha, in-spite of wishing for the opposite. As someone said, we’ll meet destiny in the path we set to avoid it!

        Destination Infinity

  4. Rajesh,

    It is easy to seek pain and get pain, that is why people don’t go for it. Just commit a crime and you will get a lot of pain.

    Story of Sidhartha is very good. But he was not seeking the pain. He was seeking the ultimate happiness. Happiness that stays with you regardless of material comfort.

    But I often wonder and may be you can tell me – how did we recover these stories of 5 BC.

    1. Its true that Siddhartha was seeking happiness for everyone, but he was doing it by actively seeking pain. You’ll understand if you read the Wikipedia biography entry.

      Most of these stories are transmitted orally. In fact, the first recorded version of Siddhartha’s story was five centuries after he lived! That too in poetic form.

      Destination Infinity

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