site logo

The Buddha's Father

The Buddha's name became famous over all India and Suddhodana,

his father, sent word to him saying: "I am growing old and wish

to see my son before I die. Others have had the benefit of his

doctrine, but not his father nor his relatives."

And the messenger said: "O world-honored Tathagata, thy father

looks for thy coming as the lily longs for the rising of the


The Blessed One consented to the request of his father and set

out on his journey to Kapilavatthu. Soon the tidings spread in

the native country of the Buddha: "Prince Siddhattha, who

wandered forth from home into homelessness to obtain

enlightenment, having attained his purpose, is coming back."

Suddhodana went out with his relatives and ministers to meet the

prince. When the king saw Siddhattha, his son, from afar, he was

struck with his beauty and dignity, and he rejoiced in his heart,

but his mouth found no words to utter.

This, indeed, was his son; these were the features of Siddhattha.

How near was the great samana to his heart, and yet what a

distance lay between them! That noble muni was no longer

Siddhattha, his son; he was the Buddha, the Blessed One, the

Holy One, Lord of truth, and teacher of mankind.

Suddhodana the king, considering the religious dignity of his

son, descended from his chariot and after saluting his son said:

"It is now seven years since I have seen thee. How I have longed

for this moment!"

Then the Sakyamuni took a seat opposite his father, and the king

gazed eagerly at his son. He longed to call him by his name, but

he dared not. "Siddhattha," he exclaimed silently in his heart,

"Siddhattha, come back to thine aged father and be his son

again!" But seeing the determination of his son, he suppressed

his sentiments, and desolation overcame him.

Thus the king sat face to face with his son, rejoicing in his

sadness and sad in his rejoicing. Well might he be proud of his

son, but his pride broke down at the idea that his great son

would never be his heir.

"I would offer thee my kingdom," said the king, "but if I did,

thou wouldst account it but as ashes."

And the Buddha said: "I know that the king's heart is full of

love and that for his son's sake he feels deep grief. But let the

ties of love that bind him to the son whom he lost embrace with

equal kindness all his fellow-beings, and he will receive in his

place a greater one than Siddhattha; he will receive the Buddha,

the teacher of truth, the preacher of righteousness, and the

peace of Nirvana will enter into his heart."

Suddhodana trembled with joy when he heard the melodious words of

his son, the Buddha, and clasping his hands, exclaimed with tears

in his eyes: "Wonderful is this change! The overwhelming sorrow

has passed away. At first my sorrowing heart was heavy, but now I

reap the fruit of thy great renunciation. It was right that,

moved by thy mighty sympathy, thou shouldst reject the pleasures

of royal power and achieve thy noble purpose in religious

devotion. Now that thou hast found the path, thou canst preach

the law of immortality to all the world that yearns for


The king returned to the palace, while the Buddha remained in the

grove before the city.