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A THOUSAND HOURS OF ENTERTAINMENT
WITH THE WORLD'S GREAT WRITERS
BY JOHN L. STODDARD
CHICAGO AND BOSTON
GEO. L. SHUMAN & CO.
THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.
Boston Bookbinding Co., Cambridge, Mass.
Edward L. Hinton Coll.
(From "THE ROMANTIC LEGEND OF SÂKYA BUDDHA")
THE BIRTH OF BUDDHA
BÔDHISATWA having thus been born without any assistance or support, he forthwith walked seven steps towards each quarter of the horizon; and as he walked, at each step, there sprang from the earth beneath his feet a lotus flower; and as he looked steadfastly in each direction his mouth uttered these words: first looking to the east, he said, in no childish accents, but according to the very words of the Gâtha, plainly pronounced, “In all the world I am the very chief; from this day forth my births are finished.” Bôdhisatwa having been born, the attendants looked everywhere for water; hurriedly they ran in every direction, but found none; when lo! before the very face of the mother there suddenly appeared two beautiful tanks, one of cold, the other of hot water, which she mixed as most agreeable to herself, and used. And so again from the midst of space, there fell two streamlets of water, cold and hot, with which the body of Bodhisatwa was washed. Then all the Devas brought a golden seat for Bôdhisatwa to occupy, which done, he refreshed and washed his body with the grateful streams of water.
At this time, there was a great minister of state (kouesse) whose family name was Basita, and his private name Mahânama. He, in company with various other ministers and Brahmans, went together to visit the Lumbini garden. Having arrived there, and standing without the gates, at that time Basita addressed the ministers and said, “Do you perceive how the great earth is rocking as a ship borne over the waves? And see how the sun and moon are darkened and deprived of their light; just as the stars of the night in appearance! And see how all the trees are blossoming as if the season had come - and hark! whilst the heavens are serene and calm - listen! there is the
roll of thunder! and though there be no clouds, yet the soft rain is falling; so beautifully fertilizing in its qualities! and the air is moved by a gentle and cool breeze coming from the eight quarters -- and hark to the sound of that voice of Brahma so sweetly melodious in the air, and all the Devas chanting their hymns and praises ! whilst the flowers and sweet unguents rain down through the void !”
Then a minister answered Mahậnama and said, “These things are so ! yet it is nothing extraordinary; it is the nature of things (earth) to produce such results !” Another said, “No doubt these things are very wonderful and not to be accounted for." Thus they deliberated together on the point. All at once, from the garden, there came tripping along a woman who came forth from Lumbini and stood outside the very gate where Basita and the Brahmans were in consultation; on seeing whom, she was greatly rejoiced, and could not contain herself for very gladness of heart; and so she cried out, "Oh! ye sons of Sakya! hurry away as fast as possible to Mahârâja.” Then the ministers replied, seeing her high spirits, “And what news shall we give him when we see him; what does your manner signify is it good tidings or bad?” To whom she replied, “Oh! Sakyas! it is wonderfully good news !" "What is it, then," they said; "come ! let us know.” Then she continued, “The queen has borne a son! oh! so beautiful and such a lovely child ! a child without peer on earth! and the Devas are scattering flowers about him, and there is a heavenly light diffused round his person.” The great ministers having heard these words, their hearts were filled with joy, and they could not contain themselves for gladness of heart !
At this time, the great minister Basita loosed from his neck the string of precious stones that he wore, and gave it to the woman, because of the news she brought; but having done so, again he thought, “This woman, perhaps, is a favorite of the king, and his majesty seeing her so beautifully adorned, will naturally inquire and find out where these pearls were obtained, and so it will cause trouble.” So he took back the gems and desired that whatever merit would have attached to the gift, that this might redound to the woman's benefit.
Then dismissing the other Brahmans to go to the king and tell