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pletely acquainted with all events, past and future, and will therefore be able to preach the Law, even for our sakes, and determine how we and all sentient creatures may escape the entanglements of sorrow and pain.' On hearing this, O King! I came hither to see for myself this beautiful child I"
[A long conversation then follows between Suddhodana and Asita, during which the latter speaks of the impossibility of the child ever becoming a Chakravartin, as the astrologers predicted, and as evidence points out eighty personal signs on his body.] These signs refer to the colour of the nails, the shape of the knees, the mode of movement, the scent of the body, and so on.1]
[Kiouen IX contains 6150 words and cost 3.075 taels].
"Maharaja, if, in addition to the thirty-two superior signs, there be also present on the person these eighty inferior ones, know for a certainty that the possessor of these will become a perfect Buddha, and preach the Law." Asita, having spoken thus to the King, began to revolve in his mind at what age the Prince would arrive at complete emancipation, and re considering, he perceived by the powers of his intuition that it would be when he was thirty-five years of age, that then he would be completely inspired, and begin to preach the Law for the good of men. And then Asita, seeing plainly that he would not be alive when this took place, began to weep, and exclaimed in his grief—" Alas! woe is me I"—whilst the
1 One of these signs is this. "The hair curly, and turning to
the right in imitation of the figure ~^ •" From this it seems
that the figure in question, viz., of the Swastika, is the symbol of the sun's apparent movement, from left to right. (For a very curious instance of this ancient practice of turning sun-ways, vide Joyce, "Irish Names of Places," Second Edition, p. 29.)
Another sign is "the fleshy projection at the top of the cranium like a mountain," and again "the top of his head so sublimely high that no man can trace it;" but the Chinese edition adds—" These three signs are wanting in the original." For an account of these signs vide M. B., 367 ss.
tears coursed down his cheeks; and then the King and the Queen, the great Ministers, and all the Sakyas wept with him. Then the King, whilst the tears filled his eyes and flowed down his cheeks, sorrowfully inquired of the Rishi, "Oh! Asita! were not all things carefully attended to? Did I not fulfil my duty on the birth of this my child? Were not the signs and portents propitious that now you weep and lament thus? Tell me, oh, Rishi! why you are thus afflicted?" Then Asita replied, seeing the King's grief, as follows: "Be not cast down or sorrowful, oh, King! for in truth I see no unpropitious circumstance whatever connected with the birth of the child; but, on the contrary, every sign and circumstance is in the highest degree favourable; but because I perceive that owing to my age I shall not be privileged to listen to the declaration of the Law, which at the appointed time he shall proclaim to the world; on this account I weep I" And then for the sake of the King he repeated the following Gatha:—
"By grief and regret am I completely overpowered,
Not to meet Him when he shall have attained Supreme wisdom!
Not to hear the words of Him thus born miraculously!
What loss—what damage—is mine!
Alas! I am old, and stricken in years;
My time of departure is close at hand;—
Reflecting on this strange meeting at his birth
I rejoice and yet I am sad!
Maharaja! greatly shall this redound to the glory of thy race!
What happiness from the birth of this child shall ensue!
The misery—the wretchedness of men, shall disappear;
And at his bidding peace and joy shall everywhere flourish."
"Maharaja! This is the reason why I weep, because of the thousands who shall find deliverance from this sorrow, and who shall be delivered from the consequences of their errors and sins, and arrive at perfect wisdom through the preaching of this your child, and that I shall not be found amongst these. But it is as the udambara flower which appears only once in myriads of myriads of years, so with the Buddhas, and that I should witness the birth of this child, the future Buddha, and not benefit by his teaching; this is why I weep, &c,"
[Then Asita begs Suddhodana to explain all the circumstances of the birth (which have already been related). Suddh6dana having first respectfully offered to the Rishi twenty suits of raiment, only one of which Asita accepts, complies with the request.] And so Asita, having heard from the father of the child an account of these miraculous occurrences was filled with joy, and, rising from his seat, began to withdraw from the palace; step by step he advanced to the door; holding Narada by the right hand he took him by the left shoulder and flew away through the air, bearing his body along with him, and finally alighted at the village of Avanti, in South India. Then Asita addressed Narada as follows: "Be it known to you, my child, that a Buddha has come forth, and been bor n in the world; you ought, therefore, to become a disciple and practise the purity of a Brahmachari, so as to obtain after a period the inestimable benefit of so doing, and secure for yourself Rest and Peace.
Then again Asita reflected as to the place where Siddhartha should obtain final illumination, and where he should begin to preach, and he perceived that the first would take place in Magadha and the second at Benares. Then Asita further reflected that he would impress the question of Buddha's birth on the mind of Narada in this way, he would take him to Benares and prepare a Vihara for him to rest in, and thrice every day and thrice every night repeat in his hearing the tidings of Buddha's birth, and urge him to become his follower, and so secure rest to himself.
And so he did; and after thus living to a good old age he died full of years. But Narada, overpowered by worldly vanity, on account of the great fame which he had acquired as the disciple of Asita, was unable to attain to the knowledge of the three previous gems, or to say this is Buddha, this is Dharma, this is Sangha.
Then Suddhodana, hearing of Asita's death, spake thus to all the counsellors of his empire, "Know ye my fears that the words of Asia will surely be accomplished, and this child will assuredly attain to supreme wisdom. Assist me then, great ministers, and let us endeavour to prevent this result by such expedients and precautions as are advisable for the purpose." To whom the ministers replied: "Doubt not, Maharaja ! but that our words will be accomplished, and that your son will become a Chakravartin. But at any rate, to prevent the possibility of any misadventure, let the ab use such expedients as are necessary, and multiply around the young prince as he grows up every worldly allurements, and so gradually draw him to love his home and family pleasures so that he shall have no desire to stray to the hills and desert places or to practice austerities and become a hermit." Then Suddhodana, although his heart was filled with apprehensions that the words of Asita would yet be accomplished, nevertheless resolved to follow the advice of his ministers and use every expedient to avert it. He, therefore, summoned all the Sakya princes and warned them not to say a word to the young Prince when he grew up about the prediction of Asita, and then he called his ministers, and ordered them to release all prisoners throughout his empire, and to liberate every beast and creature that was bound. Moreover, he requested them to summon all the Brahmans throughout the kingdom, to receive from him offerings and gifts, so that in every temple and at every altar there might be held religious services on behalf of the child's future welfare.
Then the ministers convoked the Brahmans, according to the king's command, from the four regions, 32,000 in all, who entering the Palace of Suddhodana, each received the appointed offerings during seven days, with a view to secure for the young prince the merit of such unbounded charity, as the Gatha says— "The heart of Suddh6dana filled with joy Desired to secure for the prince great merit. He ordered, therefore, his assembled ministers To loose every captive in his empire, And then arriving suddenly at his right mind, He desired above all things to act according to the Law, So assembling the 100,000 milch kine, With golden-tipped horns and silvered hoofs, Young in years and of brilliant b each with her calf behind her; Her skin glossy, rich in milk, At each squeeze of the hand yielding a pint; And preparing, moreover, endless rare and costly jewels, Gold, silver, grain and all such presents, For the sake of securing good fortune to the prince These all he presented to the assembled Brahmans.5'
[Kiouen X contains 6,090 words and cost 3,045 taels.]
1. The Prince Royal now being seven days old, his mother the Queen Maya, being unable to regain her strength or recover the joy she experienced whilst the child dwelt in her womb, gradually succumbed to her weakness and died.
[But some of the old Masters say that this is a universal rule with the mothers of all Buddhas, that they should thus die on the seventh day after the birth of their child. For how could they bear to see their babes become ascetics ? Whilst others say, that seeing all the wonderful miracles attending the birth of their child, they die of joy.]
Maya, having thus finished her earthly course, was translated at once to the Trayastrinshas heavens, where she was surrounded on every hand by countless Dovas who attended her, and whence from time to time she descended to earth to comfort Suddhodana, and assure him that her joy was now equal to that she experienced during the period of her gestation, and that he should on no account grieve for her, and added this Gatha— "Freed from all partialities,
Persevering without interruption,
Ever thinking aright
Without confusion from first to last.
His appearance pure as gold,
His faculties perfectly under control,
My son can declare the law/
And is worthy of all honour." Maya having uttered this Gatha disappeared, returning to her celestial abode. Suddhodana, after this vision, immediately assembled all the Sakyas and addressed them thus: "Now that this babe has lost his mother, who is there we may select to take her place, and act as a foster mother to the child?" Then 500 recently married Sakya females replied: "II II am able to take charge of the babe." To whom they replied: "All ye are too young, Mahaprajapati alone is fit for this charge, and so they all agreed to