The Blossom of Buddha

A Novel of the Life of Gautama Based on the Pali Canon and Other Buddhist Scriptures

Book I: The Prince

Louise Ireland-Frey

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ISBN: 978-1-57733-208-4, 392 pp., 6 x 9, paperback, $19.95

Also by Lousie Ireland-Frey:
Blossom of the Buddha
Book II: The Homeless One
Book III: The Master
O Sane and Sacred Death

"Let thy Soul lend its ear to every cry of pain like as the lotus bares its heart to drink the morning sun.
Let not the fierce sun dry one tear of pain before thyself hast wiped it from the sufferer's eye.
But let each burning human tear drop on thy heart and there remain; nor ever brush it off until the pain that caused it is removed.
These tears, O thou of heart most merciful, these are the streams that irrigate the fields of charity immortal.
'Tis on such soil that grows the midnight blossom of Buddha...."
The Voice of the Silence

In Aryavarta, a northern province of ancient India south of the Himalayas, is the Roseapple Land called Jambudvipa, green with forests and jungles in the wet season, hot and dry in the hot season, chilly in the cold season. The land was sparsely settled twenty-six centuries ago, the tribes usually keeping to their own borders without much tension. Each tribe had its own chief city, connected to the cities of the other tribes by the great rivers and by overland trade-routes for ox-carts and horsemen.

Civilization was centered in the great city of Baranasi, now called Banaras, on the holy river Ganga. The religion was the True Religion of the Vedas. The caste-system was solid. Marriage between blood relatives was held to be far preferable to mixing castes in marriage. The tribe of the Sakyas and that of the Koliyas north of the Ganga were friendly neighbors and intermarried freely.

Thus it was that brother and sister of the Gautama clan of Sakyas married their cousins, sister and brother of the Kacchana clan of Koliyas. The son born to the Gautamas is the boy of this story. He married the girl born to the Kacchanas, his double cousin. Although inbred biologically, the boy had no physical defects. Instead, he exhibited signs of greatness from earliest childhood. This book is the story of his boyhood, youth, and early maturity, his human questionings, frustrations, and hard decisions.

In adulthood his teachings expanded beyond all castes and classes, and in this present time his reverent followers number many millions all over the world.


"It is difficult to find a work that expresses what the philosopher or religious leader went through on a personal level: the doubts, anxieties, and at times total discouragement. The Blossom of Buddha does this in a very real way and hence brings a much deeper meaning to the life of Buddha." H.G. Rosenberg, S.D., psychoanalyst

"As I have been reading your work I realize that you know your subject deeply. Also I am impressed with the excellence of the English through which you convey your thought ... rereading parts of your manuscript, I am more and more convinced that you have done a fine piece of work.... I read a part of it to [my wife] last night and she became enthusiastic over it." Rev. Charles G. Girelius

"We feel the urge to tell you how deeply affected your wonderful story on the Buddha has left us ... time did not exist when deeply immersed in the story. which reaches beyond surface words and leaves a radiance of glory." Dr. and Mrs. Dwight

"I am impressed with the quality and the sensitivity of the writing.... The language is consistent and sensitive. There is a Biblical simplicity in the words and the way you have composed them which enhances the dignity and seriousness of the story of the evolvement of a human able to move beyond the usual human condition. The tone is both simple and lofty as is appropriate for the subject of the novel. You might call it an historical novel, since the story is based on historical material which was enhanced when the materials were not available... The logic of the interpolated parts is clear It has adventure, romance, agony. ecstasy, and awe. ... All in all, it is a powerful piece of writing and should be published." Hazel James Jones, Ph.D.

Table of Contents

Frontispiece: Genealogy of the Sakya Nobility
Foreword: "Will, Wisdom, Love" - a modern interpretation

1. Born to Two Who Love Each Other
2. A Brother, a Horse, an Elephant and a River
3. "We Must Seek the Great Truths"
4. At Twelve, Leaving Childhood
5. Sixteen: The Age of Discretion
6. Love, Heartbreak, New Love
7. Bridal Garlands
8. The First Sign: Senility
9. The Second Sign: Disease
10. The Third Sign: Death
11. The Fourth Sign: Monkhood
12. The Great Renunciation



On this day, a quiet cloudy day late in the hot season, Queen Maha-Maya sat by a window of her apartment and looked out into the courtyard. The scene was familiar and well-loved, but today as on many other days the queen did not really see it, for her mind was elsewhere. In a few days the Varsha would begin: the season of the rains. Grass and other growing things would shoot up in wild exuberance. Fertility and life would overrun the earth. Fertility and life - when she herself was barren.

Very soon she would celebrate the twentieth anniversary of her marriage. Twenty years ago how glad and proud she had been to be chosen by her cousin, the young king of the Sakyas! How eagerly had she planned her life with her husband and the strong sons she would give him! But she had given Suddhodana no child in all those years. Often and often had she prayed to Brahma, the Creator; but the ways of Gods1 are mysterious, and her prayers went unanswered. The king was still without an heir, even by his other wife and his concubines.

The queen sighed, her eyes drifting down from the pointed leaf-prongs of a little palmetto to the shimmering fish pool below. A wisp of air riffled the water barely enough to stir the reflection and then passed on

Maya had grieved silently at the coming of the first concubine five years after her marriage, for she loved her husband deeply. Not only did she feel the anguish of a woman who has to share her husband's love with another, but she felt keenly her own failure in the wifely duty of conception. Because of this failure she had tried to accept the presence of the other woman graciously, as a penance: had tried to please Brahma by being kind toward this newcomer, whom she kept from resenting only by constant guard over her thoughts. Besides, she told herself, the king had taken the woman mainly because she was the daughter of one of the chief counselors, and not because of love, even though Sarasvati was in those days very beautiful.

A year passed after Sarasvati came, and there was a baby girl to gladden the women's quarters and the heart of Suddhodana. Maya had waited in fear lest he forget her in this new happiness and in his natural gratitude toward the mother of the child. How great was her joy, then, when Suddhodana came to her a few days after the birth and said, smoothing her dark hair, "And thou, O soul of my soul, hast shown no envy nor unkindness even in these days. I know it wounds thy heart that another instead of thee has borne a child to me, for thou wouldst give me anything, even thy life, if it would please me. Is it not so?"

Maya had been unable to answer, for gladness that he had understood. She hid her face in his cloak and wept.

"Hush thy tears, my queen. We shall pray again and always that my son and successor shall be born of thee. And even though I had a dozen sons of other women, would I therefore cease to love thee?"

So Maya's grief had been lightened a little.

After the seventh year, Maya had requested the king to take to wife her sister Prajapati, in hopes that the girl, ten years her junior, might give him an heir. It happened that the High Council of the Sakyas approved a second queen for their king, for he had recently led them to victory in a war against a rebellious border province, proving thus his exceptional worthiness and manhood. So Prajapati became the second wife; but, alas, it seemed that she, too, was barren.

Finally, only four years ago, Suddhodana had taken another concubine - Lakshmi, young, proud, superlatively beautiful. She kept aloof from the other women, though without doubt she was lonely in the palace. In a moment of jealousy Sarasvati had described her as a haughty pink flamingo, disporting herself in all her finery about the courtyard to attract attention. Actually, however, Lakshmi appeared not to care whether or not she was noticed. She kept to herself, walking in the courtyard when no one else was there, or singing in her apartments as she busied herself with bits of embroidery or practice on the lute.

Lakshmi, too, had given the king a daughter; and Sarasvati had born three more that lived. The last, much younger than the others, was but a suckling babe.

Each time, Maya had endured an agony of waiting all the long months when it was not known whether a man-child would be born. Each time it was another girl. Maya was relieved, and ashamed of her relief. After each birth she had gone to the temple and offered choice fruits to Brahma, praying, "Lord Who Createth, guard the life of this little newborn one and make her to become a joy to her father. If it be Thy pleasure also, send my lord a son..." She swallowed, "...send my lord a son by me."

It turned out to be the same prayer every time. Often she had tried to ask that her sister or one of the concubines might bear the king a boy if she herself were truly barren; but when she had spoken the first words, she would hear in memory her husband whispering, "We shall pray again and always that my son shall be born of thee" and she could not go on.

Today Maya sat musing on these things. She marveled wistfully that the Gods appeared to pay no heed to the king's virtues. Surely a ruler like Suddhodana was worthy of many sons. It must be that none of his women was worthy. Her thoughts flickered over them: Sarasvati was a gossip, bitter of heart from some deep sorrow. And Lakshmi...

Suddenly Maya stopped. What concern of hers were the other women? She began to search the depths of her own heart.

Could it be that her own secret selfishness was the hindrance? For in spite of all efforts, she still longed to have Suddhodana, her beloved, to herself. It pained her that he took pleasure in Lakshmi's beauty, and she could never control a pang of envy when he made merry with Sarasvati's daughters. Neither could she prevent a hidden satisfaction that the king preferred herself to Prajapati. In all visible ways she was kind and generous and friendly to the others, as a Chief Queen should be to her inferiors, yet in her heart there lurked ungenerosity. Yes, perhaps this was the hindrance.

Blue Dolphin, 2008

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