the silence of that moonlit night (it was the full-moon day
of July, Âsâlha) such thoughts as these arose in
him: "Youth, the prime of life, ends in old age and manís
senses fail him at a time when they are most needed. The hale
and hearty lose their vigour and health when disease suddenly
creeps in. Finally death comes, sudden perhaps and unexpected,
and puts an end to this brief span of life. Surely there must
be an escape from this unsatisfactoriness, from ageing and death."
the great intoxication of youth (yobbana-mada), of health
(ârogya-mada), and of life (jivita-mada)
left him. Having seen the vanity and the danger of the three
intoxications, he was overcome by a powerful urge to seek and
win the Deathless, to strive for deliverance from old age, illness,
misery, and death not only for himself but for all beings (including
his wife and child) that suffer.n7
It was his deep compassion that led him to the quest ending
in enlightenment, in Buddhahood. It was compassion that now
moved his heart towards the great renunciation and opened for
him the doors of the golden cage of his home life. It was compassion
that made his determination unshakeable even by the last parting
glance at his beloved wife asleep with the baby in her arms.
at the age of twenty-nine, in the flower of youthful manhood,
on the day his beautiful Yasodharâ had given birth to
his only son, Râhula, Prince Siddhârtha Gotama,
discarding and disdaining the enchantment of the royal life,
scorning and spurning joys that most young men yearn for, tore
himself away, renouncing wife and child and a crown that held
the promise of power and glory.
cut off his long locks with his sword, doffed his royal robes,
and putting on a hermitís robe retreated into forest solitude
to seek a solution to those problems of life that had so deeply
stirred his mind. He sought an answer to the riddle of life,
seeking not a palliative, but a true way out of suffering,to
perfect enlightenment and Nibbâna. His quest for the supreme
security from bondage, Nibbâna (Nirvâna), had begun.
This was the great renunciation, the greatest adventure known
he sought guidance from two famous sages, from Alâra Kâlâma
and Uddaka Râmaputta, hoping that they, being masters
of meditation, would teach him all they knew, leading him to
the heights of concentrative thought. He practised concentration
and reached the highest meditative attainments possible thereby,
but was not satisfied with anything short of Supreme Enlightenment.
These teachersí range of knowledge, their ambit of mystical
experience, however, was insufficient to grant him what he so
earnestly sought, and he saw himself still far from his goal.
Though both sages, in turn, asked him to stay and succeed them
as the teacher of their following, the ascetic Gotama declined.
Paying obeisance to them, he left them in search of the still
his wanderings he finally reached Uruvelâ, by the river
Nerañjarâ at Gayâ. He was attracted by its
quiet and dense groves, and the clear waters of the river were
soothing to his senses and stimulating to his mind. Nearby was
a village of simple folk where he could get his alms. Finding
that this was a suitable place to continue his quest for enlightenment,
he decided to stay. Soon five other ascetics who admired his
determined effort joined him. They were Kondañña,
Bhaddiya, Vappa, Mahânâma, and Assaji.