The Buddha's first visit to His relatives

Buddhistdoor Global | 2010-02-28 |
Source: by Premasara Epasinghe, Daily News (Sri Lanka)

In the annals of Buddhism, many important events relating to the life of the Gautama Buddha took place on Medin Full Moon Poya Day. Therefore, many Buddhists pay homage to the Buddha on this Poya Day. Devotees engage in religious activities throughout the day.

According to the calendar, this year's Medin Full Moon Poya Day falls today, February 28.

The significance of Medin Full Moon Poya is mainly due to the fact that it was on this important day, after the Buddha's Enlightenment, seven years after he left the Royal Palace as Prince Siddhartha, that he visited his relations in Kimbulwathpura, the kingdom of his beloved father King Suddhodana. It was a moving tale.

After a lapse of six long years, the Gautama Buddha's father, King Suddhodana heard the happy news that his son had attained Enlightenment and was preaching His doctrine and philosophy at the Veluwanarama, Rajagahanuwara.

King Suddhodana, longing to see his beloved son, sent an envoy with a retinue of 1,000 to invite the Blessed One, the Buddha to his kingdom of Kapilavastu now known as Nepal. However, to the disappointment of King Suddhodana of the Sakya Dynasty and his relatives, the envoy did not return. He entered the Buddha's Order and did not convey the message.

King Suddhodana never gave up his mission. On nine successive occasions, he sent nine courtiers and 9009 delegates to Rajagaha, to cordially invite the Buddha to Kimbulwathpura. Contrary to the King's expectations all of them joined the Buddhist Order and never conveyed the message to the Buddha; none of them returned.

At this juncture, King Suddhodana finally sent Kaludai, a playmate of Prince Siddhartha (the Blessed One). Kaludai agreed to take up this Mission Impossible, provided he would be allowed to enter the Order. He too listened to the Dhamma of the Buddha and attained Arahatship.

However, unlike the other envoys, Kaludai conveyed the message to the Buddha and persuaded Him to visit His aged father Suddhodana and relatives in the Sakya Desaya at Kimbulwathpura.

The rainy season ended. The environment was beautiful. Flowers bloomed. The Blessed One accepted his father's invitation. The Buddha and a retinue of 20,000 monks covered a distance of 60 yodun and reached the city of Kimbulwath. King Suddhodana and members of the Royal Family, the blue-blooded relatives of Prince Siddhartha, made all arrangements for the Buddha to stay in a resplendent Aramaya constructed at the Park of Nigroda, named Nigrodarama.

The proud and haughty senior Sakyans went to receive the Buddha, but did not venerate Him; they advised the juniors to worship and venerate the Blessed One. He with His Divine Eye, realised what the Sakyans were contemplating. To dispel the haughtiness and arrogance of the Sakyans, the Buddha performed the twin or double miracle - Yamamahapelahara.
What is Yamamahapelahara?

The Buddha used the twin-miracles only when it was essential. The Enlightened One possessed the power to cause a stream of fire to issue from one part of the body and a stream of water from another part of the body at the same time. The power to issue such streams together at the same time from the eyes and nostrils was the result of His having accomplished Thejokasina and Apokasina .

The father of the Enlightened One, King Suddhodana, saluted Him witnessing the miracle.

Then, all the other haughty Sakyans paid Him due respect and worshipped the Buddha.

He alighted from the sky and sat on the prepared seat. They all took refuge in the Triple Gem - the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. The Buddha preached the Vessantara Jataka to King Suddhodana and his relatives, the Sakyans.

As no one invited Him for Dana (lunch), the Buddha went from house to house in the streets of Kimbulwathpura with the bowl in hand, seeking alms together with His disciples.

King Suddhodana was very upset, as begging for alms disgraced the Royal Family. Remember, royal families never beg in the street for food, Suddhodana uttered.

Oh! Dear King, this is the usual custom of our lineage, the Buddha replied.

Ours is a Warrior Lineage. You belong to that category. People of the Mahasammatha lineage never go begging. It is an insult to our lineage, said King Suddhodana.

Yes! Dear king, you belong to the royal lineage. But I belong to the Buddha lineage, said the Blessed One.

Later the Buddha addressed his beloved father thus:

Dhamma Chare Sucharitam
Na Tam Duccaritam Care
Dhammacari Sukham Seti
Asmin Loke Paramhita

Fare in Dhamma coursing well; in evil courses do not fare; who dwells in Dhamma is happy; in this Birth and the next.

Alms and preaching

King Suddhodana attained Sowan, the first of the four paths or stages leading to Nirvana. The King took the bowl from the Buddha, took them all to the palace and served them meals - dana. After the meal, the Blessed One preached Anumevenibana (Lead a Righteous life, not one that is corrupt; the righteous live happily both in this life and the next.)

King Suddhodana, listening to this sermon, attained Sakurdagami, the second stage in the path to attain the bliss of Nirvana. Queen Maha Prajapathi Gothami attained Sowan, the first stage in this path.

When the Exalted One preached Anumevenibana, all but Princess Yasodhara came to pay respect and reverence to the Buddha. She remained in her apartment, assuming the Buddha would pay her a visit, if she is sincere, genuine and virtuous. On hearing this, the Buddha handed over His bowl to King Suddhodana, and accompanied by His two chief disciples, Sariputta and Moggallana, entered Princess Yasodhara's chamber.

Princess Yasodhara

It was a very moving scene. Yasodhara clasped the Buddha's ankles and placing her head on His feet, worshipped Him. King Suddhodana highly commended her beautiful daughter-in-law. The Buddha cited the Chanda Kinnara Jataka , popularly known as Sandakinduru Jataka to illustrate how much affection Yasodhara had towards the Buddha, not only in this birth, but also in previous births.

After the demise of King Suddhodana, both Yasodhara and Maha Prajapathi Gothami attained Arahatship.

On the second day of the Buddha's visit to Kimbulwathpura, His stepbrother Prince Nanda's consecration, marriage and housewarming ceremony took place. Guided by his respect and affection for the Buddha, Prince Nanda followed Him and ordained himself.

On the seventh day at Kimbulwathpura, Prince Siddhartha's (the Buddha in lay life) only son, Rahula followed the Blessed One to the temple and he too was ordained. King Suddhodana was heart broken.

He requested the Buddha not to ordain any child without the permission of the parents or guardians. The Buddha agreed to this suggestion and pronounced a rule, not to allow any child or youth to enter the Order without the prior permission of parents.

For Sri Lankan Buddhists, Medin Full Moon Poya is particularly important as it marks the climax of the Sri Pada pilgrimage season. Medin Poya is woven with these important highlights from the life of our Blessed One.
May the Triple Gem Bless and Protect You!

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