Prince Siddhartha And The Wounded Bird

- May 21, 2021

By Vijita Mukherjee and Aditya Sen 

Siddhartha Gautama, who was later known as the Buddha, was born into the royal family of the Shakyas in present-day Nepal, close to the Indian border. Tall, strong, and handsome, Prince Siddhartha was exceptionally intelligent and compassionate.

It was predicted that he would either become a great king or a powerful spiritual leader. Since his parents wanted a powerful ruler for their kingdom, they surrounded him with every kind of luxury. They were worried that a glimpse of worldly sorrows may influence him to choose the path of a renunciate.

The wounded bird
Illustration: Souren Roy | Script: S.K. Ramachandra

Once while taking a walk together, Prince Siddhartha’s cousin Devadatta, shot an arrow and got a bird down. Both the boys ran towards it. Siddhartha picked up the bird, gently removed the arrow and tended its wound. Devadatta too reached the spot and he claimed the bird as his kill. When Siddharth refused to part with it, Devadatta took his cousin to court for justice.

Siddhartha reasoned, “The one who nurses have a greater right than one who aims to kill.”

The judge ruled in his favour and gave him the bird. When the wound healed, and the bird recovered fully, Siddhartha set it free.           

The four symbols

In spite of his parents’ efforts to shield him from suffering and keep him away from the spiritual path, Siddhartha did get a glimpse of the transient nature of the world. On four successive chariot rides outside the palace grounds, he came upon a diseased man, an old man, a corpse and a wandering holy man. These four encounters are known as the Four Signs.

Illustration: Souren Roy

Prince Siddhartha Gautama was so deeply affected by these incidents that he decided to lead an ascetic’s life and search for freedom from the suffering caused by the infinite cycle of birth, death and rebirth. 

Soon thereafter, he left his wife Yashoda, his son Rahul and all the pomp and glory of his father’s court to search for the true meaning of life and living.

Thus began the spiritual quest of this prince of the Shakyas which, many years later, transformed him into the Shakyamuni (the sage from the Shakhya clan) or the Buddha (the enlightened one).

Read the full story of the Enlightened One in our title Buddha, now available on the ACK Comics App, Kindle, Flipkart, Amazon, and other major e-tailers. 

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