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86. Just before Prince Siddhartha renounced the world, his wife Yasodhara gave birth to a son. According to legend, when the birth was announced to the prince, he said, “A fetter (rahula) has been born, a bondage has been born,” and this is how the boy got his name. It is more likely that he was named after a lunar eclipse (rahu) that might have occurred around the time of his birth. Either way, the birth of this child only served to make Prince Siddhartha’s desire to escape from what had become for him a golden cage, even more difficult. On the evening he had finally decided to leave, the Buddha peered into the royal bedchamber to take one last look at his sleeping wife and child, but the mother’s arm obscured the child’s face.
87. Seven years after he left, the Buddha returned to Kapilavatthu. Yasodhara took the little Rahula to listen to the Buddha’s preaching. When they arrived, she said to him: “This is your father, Rahula. Go and ask him for your inheritance.” The child walked through the assembly and stood before the Buddha, saying, “How pleasant is your shadow, O Monk.” When the talk had finished and the Buddha left, Rahula followed him, and as they walked along Rahula said: “Give me my inheritance, O Monk.” Of course the Buddha no longer had gold or property but he had something far more precious – the Dharma, so he turned to Sariputta and said: “Sariputta, ordain him.”[ N1 ] Later, the Buddha’s father, Suddhodana, and Yasodhara complained that the boy had been taken away without their permission, as a result of which the Buddha made it a rule that parental consent was necessary before someone could be ordained.[ N2 ]
88. As if to make up for the seven years he was without a father, the Buddha took great interest in Rahula’s moral and spiritual education, teaching him many times himself, and making Sariputta his preceptor and Moggallana his teacher. Rahula responded to this excellent tutelage by being an eager and attentive student and it is said that each morning as he awoke, he would take a handful of sand and say: “May I have today, as many words of counsel from my teacher as there are here grains of sand.” As a result of this enthusiasm, the Buddha said of his son that of all his disciples, he was the most anxious for training. When Rahula was still a boy, the Buddha discussed with him aspects of Dharma that were suitable for the young and in such a way as he could understand and remember.
89. Once, he got a pot of water and calling Rahula to his side said to him:
90. Rahula was trained in the Ten Precepts and monastic discipline and when he was eighteen, the Buddha decided that he was ready for meditation and then gave him advice on how to practise.
Following his father’s advice and guidance on meditation, Rahula finally attained enlightenment. He was eighteen at the time. After that his friends always referred to him as Rahula the Lucky (Rahulabhadda) and he tells why he was given this name.
They call me Rahula the Lucky for two reasons:
91. Other than this, we know very little about Rahula. He does not seem to have been prominent at being either a Dharma teacher or a trainer of other monks. It is likely that Rahula kept himself in the background so that he could not be accused of taking advantage of being the son of the Enlightened One.