Chapter 23: A Woman Is More Poetic
He said, “Listen, all these old astrologers are silent because they don’t want to say something which may hurt you. But I have to say it. Whether it hurts you or not is not my business; you have called me, the chart is before me. This boy has two possibilities. Either he will become a world conqueror, a chakravartin, or he will become one of the greatest enlightened persons.”
A new problem arose: how to prevent his enlightenment. All the astrologers made a suggestion. And what they suggested, in fact became the cause of his enlightenment. They knew astrology, but they did not know anything about enlightenment. They said, “Give him all luxury, all pleasures, never allow him to see anything miserable, old, dead. Not even in his garden should a dead leaf be left. In the night all dead leaves should be removed. And surround him with all the beautiful girls of the kingdom. Let life be just a playfulness to him. Then there is no need to renounce it. Obviously, one renounces life because it is not all playfulness; it is just the opposite - a long, long agony.”
So Gautam Buddha’s father arranged everything: beautiful palaces for him, for different seasons in different places, far away from people. He was not allowed to move amongst the people. No old man, no old woman, no dead person was allowed in his palaces. And all beautiful girls were his playmates. He grew up in immense luxury; perhaps nobody has grown up the way he did.
And the astrologers said, “As soon as he is old enough, mature enough, get him caught in marriage.” One of the most beautiful women, Yashodara, was chosen to be his wife. His whole life was just pleasure. The whole night was dance, song, music, women, wine, and the whole day was for rest, sleep. But this whole situation created the impetus for enlightenment.
It was a special occasion every year - he had to go to inaugurate the youth festival of the kingdom. The story is beautiful. At this point, I think it becomes mythological; but it does not lose significance, it gains more significance.
The gods in heaven became very worried. Twenty-nine years have passed and they are waiting and waiting that this man is going to become a buddha. Now he is married, has a child, born just a day before. They managed a small strategy: an old man, coughing, with an utterly sick appearance passed by the golden chariot.
And Buddha asked his charioteer, “Channa, what has happened to this man?”
The story is that Channa would not have said the truth, so a god spoke from inside Channa, “This happens to everybody. This life is nothing but a death every moment, and he has reached the last stage. Ahead of it is the graveyard.”
Buddha said, “Nobody told me anything about death. I have never heard about it.” And the gods had managed for a small funeral procession to pass by the side of the chariot.
And Buddha again asked, “What has happened to this man? Why are people carrying him?” And the gods within spoke, “My lord, this happens to everybody. Everybody is here to die. Life is only a prelude, a preface to death.”
Great transformation was happening in the mind of Buddha. And then suddenly he saw a sannyasin. He said, “Why is he wearing orange clothes? I have never seen anybody wearing orange clothes.”