Life Leading Up to Siddhartha Gautama's Awakening
It is thought by many that the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, was born having this title and did not have to endure any hardships throughout his life. Despite these thoughts, Siddhartha Gautama was not born the Buddha, but had to find his own way to achieve enlightenment and become the Buddha. Before and after Siddhartha's birth, Siddhartha's mother and father knew that their son was special and had two paths in life that could lead Siddhartha into being a great king or a Buddha, a remover in the world of the veil of ignorance. In an attempt to steer Siddhartha's life to the path of the great king, his father, King Suddhodana Gautama, used health and beauty to shelter Siddhartha from the outside world of suffering, pain, and death. Only after twenty-nine years did Siddhartha want to venture out beyond the walls of his sheltered world and into the city, but little was it known that Siddhartha would get his first glimpse of the world of suffering through the four sights (Smith 84). Once Siddhartha has renounced all worldly things, his begins his long, hard journey towards enlightenment, which ends while Siddhartha sits underneath the Bodhi tree.
Before Siddhartha's birth, his mother, Queen Maya, had a dream where a radiant white elephant entered her womb as she sat on a divine couch prepared for the queen by the gods. Queen Maya awoke and summoned sixty-four eminent Brahmins and the Brahmins examine her dream and told Queen Maya, "A son is to be born to you. And if he lives the household life, then he become a universal monarch, but if he leaves the household life and retires from the world, he will become a Buddha, the awakened one (Mitchell 14-15)." After ten lunar months, Queen Maya gave birth to a son, but not in the usual way. The son, as Donald S. Lopez writes it, emerged from under the right arm of Queen Maya and unlike other newborns, the child was able to walk and talk immediately. A lotus flower blossomed under the infant's feet at each step, and then the child announced that this would be his last lifetime (37). King Suddhodana Gautama, the infant's father, summoned Asita, a Brahmin of dignified mien, to see the child. While holding the infant, Asita began to weep and sighed deeply; this caused King Suddhodana distress, so King Suddhodana asked Asita, "Why has the sight of my son caused you grief and pain?" Asita, as in Paul Carus's writes, answers King Suddhodana's question thoroughly:
" The King, like the moon when full should feel great joy, for he has acquired a wondrously noble son. I do not worship Brahma, but I worship this child; and the gods in the temples will descend from their places of honor to adore him. Banish all anxiety and doubt; the omens manifested indicate that the child now born will bring deliverance to the whole world. The wheel of empire will come to him. He will either be a king of kings to govern all the lands...