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The Gospel of Buddha

A modern retelling of the Buddha's work and life.

Chapter 29 - Rahula, The Son

MANY people in Kapilavatthu believed in the Tathagata and took refuge in his doctrine, among them Nanda Sidhatthas half brother, the son of Pajapati; Devadatta, his cousin and brother in law; Upali the barber; and Anuruddha the philosopher. Some years later Ananda, another cousin of the Blessed One, also joined the Sangha.

Ananda was a man after the heart of the Blessed One; he was his most beloved disciple, profound in comprehension and gentle in spirit. And Ananda remained always near the Blessed Master of truth, until death parted them.

On the seventh day after the Buddhas arrival in Kapilavatthu, Yasodhara dressed Rahula, now seven years old, in all the splendor of a prince and said to him:

"This holy man, whose appearance is so glorious that he looks like the great Brahma, is thy father. He possesses four great mines of wealth which I have not yet seen. Go to him and entreat him to put thee in possession of them, for the son ought to inherit the property of his father."

Rahula replied:

"I know of no father but the king. Who is my father?"

The princess took the boy in her arms and from the window she pointed out to him the Buddha, who happened to be near the palace, partaking of food.

Rahula then went to the Buddha, and looking up into his face said without fear and with much affection:

"My father!"

And standing near him, he added:

"O samana, even thy shadow is a place of bliss!"

When the Tathagata had finished his repast, he gave blessings and went away from the palace, but Rahula followed and asked his father for his inheritance. No one prevented the boy, nor did the Blessed One himself.

Then the Blessed One turned to Sariputta, saying:

"My son asks for his inheritance. I cannot give him perishable treasures that will bring cares and sorrows, but I can give him the inheritance of a holy life, which is a treasure that will not perish."

Addressing Rahula with earnestness, the Blessed One said:

"Gold and silver and jewels are not in my possession. But if thou art willing to receive spiritual treasures, and art strong enough to carry them and to keep them, I shall give thee the four truths which will teach thee the eightfold path of righteousness. Dost thou desire to be admitted to the brotherhood of those who devote their life to the culture of the heart seeking for the highest bliss attainable?"

Rahula replied with firmness:

"I do. I want to join the brotherhood of the Buddha."

When the king heard that Rahula had joined the brotherhood of bhikkhus he was grieved. He had lost Siddhattha and Nanda, his sons, and Devadatta, his nephew. But now that his grandson had been taken from him, he went to the Blessed One and spoke to him. And the Blessed One promised that from that time forward he would not ordain any minor without the consent of his parents or guardians.

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