Rediscovering the Buddha: Legends of the Buddha and Their Interpretation

By Hans H. Penner | Go to book overview

3
The Birth and Early Life
of Gotama

At the beginning of our aeon the future Buddha continued to live in the heavenly domain known as Tushita, and because of the results of past karma he had the ability to know that his last rebirth was about to take place. He knew the time was right because the age of human life in our aeon was neither too long nor too short; in fact, it was the age in which human beings lived to about a hundred years. Observing the four great island-continents that encircled Mount Meru, he chose Jambudipa, that is, India and Kapilavatthu, for the place of his birth. He also chose the warrior caste, the caste that gave birth to the great universal ruler, as his proper rank and announced that his father would be King Suddhodana, king of the Sakyas and a descendant of the solar race; Queen Maya would become his mother.

At that time in Kapilavatthu the festival of the full moon day in the month of Asala (June/July) was about to be celebrated. Queen Maya, participating in the preliminary rituals of the festival, prepared herself for the night and then entered her bedchamber. As she slept she had the following dream: Four great kings came and raised her together with her bed to the Himalayas. Their queens came and bathed, anointed, and bedecked her with fragrant flowers. They prepared a heavenly bed for her with its head to the east and laid her upon it. Then the future Buddha in the form of a white elephant approached from the north, circled the bed three times, and appeared to enter her side. Feeling no pain, she received the fruit of the womb, just as knowledge united with mental concentration bears

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