A Novel of the Life of Gautama Based on the Pali Canon and Other Buddhist Scriptures
At the birth of the royal son of the Sakya clan of Kshatriyas in northern India some 2600 centuries ago, wise men were called to consult the stars regarding the child's fortune. Exclaiming over the astrological signs, the wise men prophesied that the babe would become either a Universal Monarch, governing all the great continents, or a Universal Teacher, teaching all nations. A group of eight wise men learned in the bodily signs predicted the same two possibilities, depending on whether the boy saw Four Signs sent by the gods: a sick man, an old man, a dead man, and a monk. The eighth and youngest prophesied that only one future was indicated: The boy would become a Universal Teacher.
The child's father, King Suddhodana, resolved that his son should never see any of the Four Signs and instructed the palace household to keep all knowledge of these from the young prince. As the prince grew older, however, he became more and more frustrated with his imprisonment, for so he felt it.
Eventually he did see the Four Signs, responding to each with deep emotional turmoil. When the king refused to allow him to go free to seek the remedies for sickness, old age, and death, the prince managed to escape by night with the aid of his charioteer and his old horse. Knowing nothing of the outside world except for the little that the monk had told him and what his charioteer had added, the erst-while prince set out alone to seek the answers to mankind's sufferings and to find the remedies, leaving his cousin-wife and baby in the care of the palace.
Now he starts a new phase of life as a Homeless One, a mendicant, a wandering beggar.
"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
Introduction to Volume 2
1. On the Road
2. At Vaisali with the Hermit in Red Bark
3. The Trances, the Tortures, the Plague
4. The Infinities and Leaving Arada Kalama
5. At Rajagriha with Rudraka Ramaputra
6. Old Age and Rudraka's Doctrine
7. The Opposites, Karma, and How a Soul Grows
8. Sakya Visitors, Cycles, and the Ninth Condition
9. Six Men Near Uruvilva
10. The Accomplishments and the Laws of Cause,Change, and Cessation
11. Strivings by the River Nairañjana
12. After Six Years - Enlightenment!
A twig snapped and the Wanderer opened his eyes. Near him stood a woman holding an infant, a thin little girl of eight or nine years beside her, waiting for him to notice them. The little girl carried a dish.
"Speak," nodded Siddhartha, feeling at once that he should have addressed them by some title.
The woman came forward quickly. Her face was drawn and starved-looking, but the face of the baby, as she knelt and turned back the covering, was far more so. It looked as if the child were already dying, its eyes sunken and half-closed, its cheeks hollow and bloodless, its tiny nose pinched. A prickling coldness crawled up Siddhartha's spine.
Dumbly the mother held out the baby, and the erst-while prince, not knowing what a monk should do, took the little bundle gingerly. Instantly the mother was transfigured, first with amazement and then with a terrible joy.
"Ah, the holy one takes my son! He holds him! Surely this is a sign that my son will recover! Oh, master, heal my son, I beg you. He has had an illness of the bowels for many days and we have paid the priests and physicians all we have but they have not helped him. If the holy one has compassion on him - my only son - he will gain great merit. And we will give the holy one anything he desires - anything!
Siddhartha sat petrified, holding the child. Many sensations assaulted him at once: The sight of the tattered garments worn by the woman and her daughter; the sour stench of the ancient cloth that had been soiled repeatedly by the baby's sickness; the torrent of words pouring into his ears; the weight - the pitifully insignificant weight - of the skinny little body in his arms. Suddenly it seemed to him that this was his own son Rahula, here gasping weakly for breath. He had never held any infant but his son, and now here was this baby in his arms. All at once he understood the mother's anguish; his own anguish merged with it at the thought of Rahula. The child must not die! Yet had not the mother said that the priests and physicians were powerless? He himself knew nothing of sicknesses. Uncertain whether the gods have power, powerless himself, sure of no help in any world, what could he do? His heart ached for the mother and the baby, and it was the dry bitter aching of impotence.
Frantically he sent his mind rushing hither and thither, and out of the past it brought a memory, a day when he was a small boy, playing with one of Sarasvati's daughters. She had been unwell a few days, and now her doll had the same trouble. The little girl was treating the doll with a medicine made from ... from ... was it not a clay? A powdered clay in water? Yes, a white clay which she said a trader had sold to her mother. It was the one scrap of information concerning illness that Siddhartha knew.
He looked at the woman before him. "Know you," he asked slowly, "where there is a pure white clay?"
The little girl answered. "Clay? There is a pink clay, but I have not seen white, holy one."
"Then bring the pink clay, little daughter. It may have some virtue."
The girl placed her dish on the ground beside him. "Deign to eat, holy one. It is an offering to gain merit." She dashed away.
The mother too began to urge him, "Yes, eat, master, so that the gods may see our charity and give us the life of our son."
Siddhartha gladly relinquished the infant to its mother.
Here then was food, without the necessity of begging. Yet somehow he had lost his hunger. He could still smell the soggy blanket around the infant and see the bony faces and limbs of mother and child.
"Mother, take the good food and make rice-milk to nourish the boy. He has more need of it."
But the woman burst into tears. "No, no, master! Be pleased to accept our poor offering! How can we acquire merit if the holy one refuses our gift? And anyway the little one can not eat. Do not refuse, O master!"
Siddhartha began to understand. This was, in its way, like an offering to the gods in a temple, an offering of charity for the gaining of merit toward future happiness or favor. The young mendicant took up the bowl and ate. It was filled with golden rice. His appetite began to return. He finished the bowlful, then rose to rinse his mouth at the stream. He wondered whether he should thank the woman or whether thanks would be improper. As he resumed his seat, placing the dish on the ground near her, he compromised with an inclination of the head.
His eyes went back to the sick baby. How little was he pre-pared for any work of healing, sheltered all his life from the sight and knowledge of sickness!
A moment later the little girl staggered up, her hands scooped full of pale rust-colored mud. Completely winded she sank to the ground, gulping huge painful breaths of air. The mother rushed to her, then turned again to the bhikshu.
"How shall he eat it, holy one? How much?"
Siddhartha looked at the reddish clods. Phah! Could there be healing in this mud? What if it were not the proper remedy for this sickness? He looked back at the infant. It desperately needed treatment of some kind; there could be small harm in trying.
"It would perhaps be well, mother," he said doubtfully, "to mix a little of the clay with water and give it drop by drop. Water or rice-milk, perhaps."
"How much, master?"
The Wanderer was at a loss. He regarded the tiny, bony body of the child. How small it was! Fright struck at him that whatever he might suggest would be too much. Yet the baby was too ill for half-measures, and the mother waited for an answer, her eyes dilating with fear and hope. Siddhartha controlled his momentary panic with an effort.
"Mother, I do not know. Perhaps the pink clay has less virtue than the white, I can not tell. You must give a little, then watch to see if he is better - half an hour, perhaps - and if not, give more."
"Holy one, I beg you, pray the Preserver for His mercy! Pray for His compassion on my son!"
The bhikshu bent his head. With another obeisance and smothered expressions of gratitude the woman hurried away, her daughter following with the clay and the empty dish.
Blue Dolphin, 2008
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