THE PRINCE SAW THE FACTS
When the Prince reached manhood the King decided that it was time he married, for he thought that if the Prince had home ties, such as a wife and children, he would not want to leave and become the Buddha, but would instead become the great King.
In the East, in those days, a prince who desired to marry must first prove his bravery and strength. The King, accordingly, invited the princes and warriors from many parts of the countries to meet the prince in wrestling, shooting matches, in swimming contests and many other manly sports, and in all of them the Prince came out victorious.
When the games were over, the Princesses who were present walked before the prince that he might choose from among them a wife suited to his position. The young maidens walked with downcast faces. They were shy and nervous, the Prince could scarcely get to see whether they were beautiful or not. At the end of the procession walked a lovely young girl, and as she passed the prince she gave him such a roguish smile that at once he fell in love with her and chose her for his bride. Her name was Yoshodhara, daughter of King Koli. Their wedding was celebrated for one whole week, with much rejoicing.
After the prince had been married about one year, he asked the king to give him permission to go into the city and see how the people lived beyond the palace gates. The King was worried and he feared that the prince would see things which would make him sad, for many people were poor and sickly and he had tried to keep such things away from his son’s eyes. However, he could not refuse and gave orders that the streets should be decorated and that the people should keep a holiday on that day, wearing their brightest and best clothes, so that the prince should only see joy and happiness all around.
Early one morning, three days later the prince set forth to see the city of Kapilavvatthu. Flags were flying from all the houses and the streets were decorated with garlands of flowers. Everyone seemed bright and happy, and the people thronged the streets to watch the Prince ride by. There were all dressed in their best clothes and shouted loving greetings to him from every side.
“What a beautiful place this earth is” exclaimed the Prince, “everyone is so happy!”
Just as he said this, his glance fell upon an aged man standing at the side of the road. The old man’s eyes were sunken and watery, his limbs were shaking and he could scarcely stand.
“Why is he shaking like that, what makes him look so strange”, asked Siddharda.
“That is an old man,” answered the attendant. “All who live long enough become like that.” The prince said nothing, but his face grew sad and wistful.
They rode on for some time in silence when suddenly a young man by the side of the road threw up his hand with a loud cry and fell upon his face on the ground. The people around rushed to his aid and helped to raise him up.
“Oh!” exclaimed the prince, “what is the matter with him?”
“He has been taken ill”, the people answered.
On they rode again, returning to the palace by a new way. Down a sidestreet, came a strange procession man bearing a stretcher and woman walking behind and wailing. “Whatever are they doing?” ask the prince.
“ It is a funeral.” Answered Channa, the attendant “ the young man upon the stretcher is dead and they are taking his body to be burned.
The Prince could bear no more and rode swiftly to the palace. But coming to the gates he stopped, for there by the roadside sat a monk, barefooted, dressed in a yellow robe, a begging bowl in his hand.
“ Why do you beg for by the roadside?” asked the Prince, and why do you dress in such a fashion?”
“I have renounced the joys of earth”, answered the monk, “I am seeking for a way of salvation, a way of escape from the sufferings of life, for peace can only be found by giving up the world.”
When the Prince heard the words of the monk, he knew in his heart that he too must wander homeless and lonely, until he found the answer to all pain and sorrow; until he found a way by which these sufferings should cease for all time.
As he entered the gates of the palace a servant met him with glad news that a son had been born to him. This, however, only made the Prince unhappier, for he knew that it would be much harder now to leave his home and loved ones.
Xem thêm: Học tiếng anh Phật giáo