The Name Of Siddhartha

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Growing up with no knowledge of suffering until seeing it with my own eyes, I wanted to find a cure for it. My birth name is Bodhisattva, but I was given the name of Siddhartha, he who has accomplished his aim. I was born 563 BCE in Lumbini, Nepal into a Kshatriyan family, I was a prince.

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My father, Suddhodana, was the king of Nepal, chief of the Shakya clan. My mother was queen Mahamaya, but I do not know much about her since she died a few days after I was born. So, I was raised in the palace by her sister, Mahapajapati. I lived a luxurious life. When I had come of age and reached sixteen years old, I was married to the beautiful princess, Yasodhara, and once our child was born, he was named Rahula.

One day, when I was twenty-nine years old, I was curious about the world outside of the palace walls. I wanted to see the land and the people. I told my charioteer that I wanted to go out to the park. As usual, my father ordered his ministers to keep watch of me. The charioteer drove the carriage out towards the park. When we arrived at the park, I saw a man. Not just any man: he was old, aged and advanced in years, white-haired, his body marked with spots, broken, bent forward, leaning on a staff, and going with tottering limbs. I asked my charioteer who the man was. He told me the man is called old, exhausted by age. I then question my charioteer if I, too, am subjected to old age, he tells me that everyone is. He said that we are all of a kind that grows old.

I could not believe what I had seen. The man looked so old, I had never seen anything or anyone that advanced in years. I requested my charioteer to drive me back to the palace immediately. What I had seen that day led me to question myself: What is this? What is the cause of this? Is there a cure? These questions ran through my mind the rest of the day.

A few days later I decided to go out to the park once again. Will I find another man of old age? Or is there a different kind of man this time? Just as before, my charioteer drives out to the park. Then I saw an ill man, his eyes and voice unlike other men. I asked my charioteer the same question from the other day. He said I, too, am subjected to fall ill. Days after I saw a man who has ended his days. I learned that this was death and I, too, am subjected to death.

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