By Venerable Piyadassi Thera
While at Râjagaha, the Blessed One heard that his father wished to see him, and he set out for Kapilavatthu. He did not, however, go straight to the palace, but, according to custom, stopped in a grove outside the town. The next day the Buddha, with his bowl, went for his alms from house to house in the streets of Kapilavatthu. King Suddhodana, startled at the news, rushed to the Buddha and said; “Why, Master, why do you put us to shame? Why do you go begging for your food? Not one of our race has ever done so.” Replied the Buddha: “You and your family may claim descent from kings; my descent is from the Buddhas of old; and they, begging their food, always lived on alms.” Then explaining the Dhamma the Master said, “Be alert, be mindful, lead a righteous life. The righteous live happily both in this world and the next.” And so the king became established in the Path, he realized the Dhamma.
The Buddha was then conducted into the palace where all came to pay their respects to him, but not Princess Yasodharâ. The Buddha went to her, and the princess, knowing the impassable gulf between them, fell on the ground at his feet and saluted him. Then relating the Candakinnara Jâtaka, a story of his previous birth n44 revealing how great her virtue had been in that former life, he made her an adherent to the Doctrine. Later when the Buddha was induced to establish an Order for women, Yasodharâ became one of the first nuns and attained arahatship, highest sanctity.
When the Buddha was in the palace, Princess Yasodharâ arrayed her son Râhula in all his best attire and sent him to the Blessed One, saying, “That is your father, Râhula, go and ask for your inheritance.”
Prince Râhula went to the Buddha, stood before him, and said, “Pleasant indeed is your shadow, sage.”
And when the Blessed One had finished his meal and left the palace, Prince Râhula followed him saying, “Give me my inheritance, sage; give me my inheritance.” At that the Blessed One spoke to the Venerable Sâriputta: “Well then, Sâriputta, take him into the Order.”
Then the Venerable Sâriputta gave Prince Râhula the ordination.n45 In the Majjhima Nikâya, one of the five original collections in Pâli containing the Buddha’s discourses, there are three discourses (Nos. 61, 62, 147) entitled Râhulovâda or exhortations to Râhula, delivered by the Blessed One to teach the Dhamma to little Râhula. The discourses are entirely devoted to advice on discipline and meditation. Here is an extract from the Master’s exhortation in the Mahâ Râhulovâda Sutta:n46
“Cultivate the meditation on loving-kindness (mettâ), Râhula; for by cultivating loving-kindness, ill will is banished. Cultivate the meditation on compassion (karunâ), Râhula, for by cultivating compassion, cruelty is banished. Cultivate the meditation on appreciative joy (muditâ), Râhula, for by cultivating appreciative joy, aversion is banished. Cultivate the meditation on equanimity (upekkhâ), Râhula, for by cultivating equanimity, hatred is banished. Cultivate the meditation on impurity (asubha), Râhula, for by meditating on impurity, lust is banished. Cultivate the meditation on the concept of impermanence (anicca-sañña), Râhula, for by meditating on the concept of impermanence, pride of self (asmi-mâna) is banished. Cultivate the meditation on mindfulness of in-and-out-breathing (ânåpâna sati), Râhula, for mindfulness of breathing, cultivated and frequently practised, bears much fruit and is of great advantage.”