Ajahn

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Marriage


A Sinhalese Artist's Depiction of
The  Prince & Princess on their wedding day
When Prince Siddhartha reached the age of 16, King Suddhodhana realising that the young prince was always reflective, remembered what the five wise men had predicted at his naming ceremony.  He remembered that the Prince would renounce lay life and enter a monkhood when he reaches his youth.  The King was worried, because he did not wish his son to become a monk, instead he wished him to become a “Sakwithi Raja” (a wheel turning King which means a king who would rule the whole world under one flag, extremely peacefully). 

He built his son three wonderful palaces with beautiful gardens, one for winter, one for summer and one for the rainy season, where singing and dancing girls sang and danced all the time.  Everywhere, one looked there were beauty and pleasure. The prince was living in a world of plenty and loveliness.  It was predicted by the five wise men, that the young prince would leave the palace when he seen and age old man, a sick man, a dead body and a wondering monk who has given up the lay life.  Therefore, the King took all the measures to secure the young prince from such sights. Wandering monks were never allowed around the inner parts of the city.  It is not that the prince did not see anybody sick inside the palace, but even if they were sick they did not look dreadful, but looked alright, and soon got better.  This did not make the prince to sense that life is suffering and human beings are helpless where sickness, death, and old age are concerned.

As Prince Siddhartha was very kind, he helped everyone in the palace.  As a boy of sixteen the Prince was a handsome and strong guy, who with his education was able to do many things, that he was not helpless.  He knew how to care for all those who served him at the palace, whenever they had any mild ailments etc.  He could look after the animals that were wounded and cure them too with his “Mega Mettha”, the power to heal through loving kindness, and care. So, he never had any reason to doubt that there could be sicknesses that cannot be cured. He was so much shielded from reality that even though he had seen age old sages and the like, who have a nice spiritual personality and a look of happiness around them, he had never seen a helpless, dirty, aged man, who is so worn out and bitten by age that he cannot fend for himself, and thereby rendered helpless. Nor, did he see anybody lying helplessly suffering on a deathbed.  His idea of death was simply passing away in Samadhi.
However, in spite of his shielded life the King noticed the prince often in a reflective mood.  This worried him.  He asked the wise men “What shall I do to make him happy and enjoy himself”.  They advised, “Now your son is sixteen years, why not find him a beautiful bride.  This would soon make him forget on whatever he is reflecting on.” 

Depiction of Prince meeting Princess

The King thought this a bright idea and sent round messages to find beautiful girls from all over the countryside.  However, the Prince who knew the evils of desire, told the advisors that the girl chosen for him should not be of  low mind who is inclined towards the pleasures of  life only.  He did not care whether the girl is from royalty or not, so long as she had the noble qualities required to be his wife. He prepared a list of qualities his wife should have and gave it to the wise men. This list was sent round the land, and a Princess from the Koliya Royal Clan was said to have possessed all of those qualities. However, there were many other girls who vied for the title of Prince Siddhattha’s cosort.
All of them were invited to the palace, so that the Prince could pick whoever he likes. Among them was the most charming beautiful Koliyan Princess named Yasodhara.  When Prince Siddhartha saw her, he took off his necklace and put it round her neck.  By this gesture, the King knew that his son liked her the best, and was very happy to let him marry his chosen bride.
However, the bride’s father, King Suppabuddha, was not very taken up by this idea.  He said that Prince Siddhattha, is like a girl, who shunned fighting and going into war. He argued that his daughter will not be in safe hands with such a husband, as he renouncing wars, will not safeguard his country from its enemies, and thereby endanger his family.
Yasodhara was a princess by her own right too, and as such, King Suppabuddha, organised a competition among  500 princes of the country, to perform various feats, if they wanted to take her hand. Prince Sidhartha too was invited to take part in these competitions and prove himself worthy of her hand. At the competition, he surpassed all his other contenders in a marvellous performance of many difficult feats which included leaping, swimming, running, and a number of other games.Prince Siddhattha won easily on the mental skills. Then the organisers brought a very wild horse straight from the wild and challenged the Princes to ride it if they can.  All the other princes could not successfully, tame this animal, as they used force, and therefore, even if they were able to mount the horse it was only for a very short time.  The horse would neigh angrily and drop them to the ground.  However Prince Siddhattha went close to this horse and talked to him in kind words, knowing that the poor animal is in fear and chagrin, he  stroked his hair gently and calmed him, letting the animal know that he loved it, and therefore it need not fear. He tamed it with his loving kindness; His immense “metttha”, that got rid of its fear, and was soon allowed by the animal to ride on his back like a disciplined horse, and thereafter show the crowd various feats.  The crowd went wild seeing this and cheered loudly. Then there was this big strong bow six feet high, which could not be bent by any of the others to shoot an arrow across it at a target far, far away.  Prince Siddhattha could bend this arrow and shoot right at the target point so far away that the arrow disappeared in the distance. 

Once all the sporting feats were won and done away with, Prince Siddhattha, gave a wonderful performance with his horse Kanthaka.  They moved at lightning speed performing various acts, which made the crowd marvel at his miraculous prowess on defence art, and prove without a doubt that he could govern and look after a land together with its people, and defend it from any invaders fearlessly, even though he detested going into war. Possessing that kind of mental and physical strength, the people soon realised that nobody could match him in battle, let alone win it, as he had an extraordinary personality, which was thus far hidden due to his modesty,  and this rendered him non-pareil.
Thereafter, King Suppabuddha had to accept that Prince Siddhattha is a suitable partner for his daughter, and allowed the Princess to have her choice and marry Prince Siddhattha.
The whole city of Kapilavasthu rejoiced at this marriage as Prince Siddhattha was a popular young man whom the people adored.  The wedding celebrations carried on for seven days. The people were treated to delicious food at the palace grounds,  with singing and dancing all day round.