Life of the Buddha

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(Part One) 12. King Bimbisara’s Offer

From the Anoma River, dressed as a beggar, the young prince wandered from place to place. Eventually he came to Rajagaha City, where King Bimbisara lived. With his begging bowl in his hands Siddhartha walked round the streets begging for food from door to door like any other religious monk. People began to call him “Sakyamuni” or sage of the Sakyas, others called him “Ascetic” or “Ascetic Gotama”, but nobody called him Prince Siddhartha any more.

He was most handsome, young, healthy, clean and neat. He spoke very kindly and gently. He did not ask people to give him anything but people were happy and pleased to put some food into his bowl.

Some people went and told the king. “Your majesty, there is a young man. Some people call him ‘Ascetic Gotama’. He is very clean, neat, kind, polite and not like a beggar at all.”

When King Bimbisara heard the name “Gotama” he knew at once that this prince was the son of King Suddhodana, his friend. He went up to him and asked him, ” Why do you do this? Have you quarrelled with your father? Why do you go about like this? Stay here and I shall give you half of my kingdom.”

“Thank you very much, Sir. I love my parents, my wife, my son, you and everybody. I want to find a way to stop old age, sickness, worries and death. Therefore I am going thus,” said the Ascetic Gotama and off he went.