(7)Fateful encounter with King Bimbisara To the Rajagaha in Magadha Country, the first destination after Buddha's ordination

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The life of Buddha (Shakyamuni Buddha) as seen through local photographs] ⑺.
 Fateful encounter with King Bimbisara First destination after Buddha's ordination, to Rajagaha in Magadha Country

Previous Article⑹How did Buddha's ordination take place: horse master Channa and his beloved horse Kantaka on a late night journey."In the first section of this article, we discussed the scene of Buddha's ordination, and in this article we will finally discuss the beginning of Buddha's period of ascetic practice.

Buddha is ordained and goes to Magadha Province to begin a life of asceticism.

Ruins of the Palace of Kapilavastu

Buddha left his life in Kapilavastu, where he lived until the age of 29, to enter a life of asceticism. His first destination was the forests around Rajagaha, the capital of Magadha, located southeast of Kapilavastu.

As you can see on this map, it is 430 kilometers long even today, when roads are well maintained. There must have been many places where there were not even roads 2,500 years ago when the Buddha walked. Furthermore, since he was an ordained ascetic, he had to beg for alms every morning to obtain food. According to Buddhist tradition, it took him seven days to reachRajagaha , but it would have been impossible for him to reach Rajagaha in that many days while begging for alms. In any case, Buddha had come a long way to this place.

There is a reason why Buddha came all the way to this place.

This is because Magadha was one of the most powerful countries in India at the time, and was at the forefront of the country's economy and culture. The center of the country, Rajagaha was the cultural center of the country and a Mecca for the Buddha's practice, where various thinkers and religious figures were active. It was here that the Buddha first decided to study meditation, the foundation of his ordained life.

Looking down on the area around Rajagaha. Lower left is Mt. Ryouju, famous for Buddha's preaching.

There are five rocky mountains in the vicinity of Rajagaha, one of which is Mount Ryouju, famous for Buddha's preaching. This area was also an ideal living environment for ascetic practitioners. Most practitioners go to towns and villages in the morning to beg for alms and food. This means that they must avoid going too deep into the mountains, where it would be difficult for them to beg for alms. Also, being close to a town or village gives them the opportunity to interact with the people and spread their teachings. One might think that it would be better to practice in the city from the beginning, but it is difficult to practice meditation in the hustle and bustle of the city. Therefore, it was the mainstream practice of ordained monks at that time to choose a distance that was neither too close nor too far away. It is said that Buddha followed this trend and stayed in the forests around Rajagaha

Bimbisara, king of Magadha and Buddha

Shortly after arriving in the country of Magadha, Buddha had a fateful encounter.

Let's look at the turn of events again along the lines of the Buddhacharita.

This city is beautifully adorned with mountains and protected from foreign enemies. It is also supported and purified by the auspicious tapota. The prince entered this city, which is marked by five mountains, with a quiet heart. Just as Brahman, the supreme deity, enters the inner recesses of the heavens.

The prince was like Shiva, who had taken a vow of steadfastness, and people were greatly astonished at that time when they saw his heaviness, dignity, and radiance that surpassed all others.

When they saw the prince, those coming toward them stopped, those going in the same direction followed, those in a hurry slowed down, and those who were seated stood up.

Some put their hands together to worship the prince, some bowed in welcome, and still others greeted him with affectionate words. Not a single person passed by without paying his respects. (omitted).

At that time, Shrenya Bimbisara, king of Magadha, saw a large crowd from within the outer palace and asked the reason for the crowd. So the retainer replied.

The Brahmins once prophesied about the son of a Shakya king: "'He will either attain the highest knowledge or become a king over all the earth in the future. People are now gazing at the prince who has become a mendicant."

When the king heard this, he became concerned and said to his retainer, "Find out where the prince is going and let me know. The king was so anxious that he said to his retainer, "Find out where the prince is going, and let me know.

Kodansha, Yuichi Kajiyama, Nobuhiko Kobayashi, Musashi Tachikawa, Katsumi Omaki, Translation "Complete Translation of Buddhacharita" P110-111

The tapota mentioned at the beginning of this article refers to a hot spring that springs near here. Rajagaha has the only hot spring in India, called Hot Spring Shouja, which is still used by the local people today.

The photo above shows the hot spring temple. It is now a kind of Hindu sanctuary, where people bathe and purify themselves while soaking in the hot springs. I was surprised when I went inside to the area where the hot springs are located. At the bottom of the stairs, there was a bathtub about 7 to 8 meters wide and several meters deep, where local people were crammed together to soak in the hot spring. In India, men bathe naked except for their underwear, while women bathe with their clothes on. So men and women were soaking together in this bathtub, and I could see from the top that the water was a very dark gray color.... Of course, I, being physically weak, did not go near the bathtub and left....

The day I visited was a holiday with a full moon and there seemed to be a special crowd, but it is said that this place still attracts many people. It is said that Buddha may have bathed here.

Off topic, but it is also noteworthy that Brahman and Shiva, the Hindu (then Brahmin) deities, are mentioned here in the above "Buddhacharita". It is often said that the Buddha was an atheist who did not accept the existence of God, but unfortunately this is a misunderstanding. Buddha was a man who lived the Indian worldview of his time. Unfortunately, the academic world rejects the "Buddha atheist" theory, although at first glance atheistic preaching is sometimes mentioned. (*For more information.F. C. Almond, "The Discovery of Buddhism in England: Buddhist Studies Emerges from an English Desk! The Roots of Mahayana Criticism Start Here"andTomomichi Nitta, "The Abyss of the Buddha in the Mahayana" - There was no mythologizing of the Buddha! What is Gen Nakamura's Critique of the Historical View of Buddha? From "Series on Mahayana Buddhism, Vol. 5: Buddha and Pure Land - Mahayana Buddhist Scriptures II."(See the article on)

Buddha was only one person who lived in ancient India. He did not create his own way of life ignoring the context of ancient India. I would like to emphasize again that Buddha lived with the Indian worldview of the gods. And on top of that, Buddha came to realize a new worldview that broke through the traditional Indian religious view.

Now, as shown above, Buddha was by far the most prominent figure in the Magadha nation. Not only did he have the aura of royalty, but he already exuded a spiritual atmosphere...a charismatic person who has been around for 2,500 years is different.

And it is important to note that King Bimbisara's men already knew Buddha's identity. Does this mean that he already had a very early information network in Indian society at that time? Indeed, it is quite big news that the heir to the throne of another country has become an ordained practitioner. Information is a weapon in the management of a nation. Magadha was the most powerful country in India at that time. It must have released a considerable number of spies to other countries. That is why Buddha's identity must have been known immediately. I will talk about this later, so please keep it in mind.

King Bimbisara meeting with Buddha

Thus, Bimbisara's retainers follow Buddha and inform the king of his whereabouts. The stage is now set. King Bimbisara rushes to visit Buddha. It is said that he was accompanied by a minimal number of people and that he went there secretly. This was not an official meeting, but rather the king's own curiosity to see the practitioner who radiated such an unusual radiance.

The king was then overwhelmed by the sight of Buddha meditating in the forest.

This man ... is the real deal ... This man is not just a man who abandoned his throne. He has something incredible inside. He is the man that Brahman predicted. If he ascends to the throne, he will be king over the world. ...then...

King Bimbisara, after paying homage to and extolling Buddha the ascetic, here offers a proposal.

'I will give you the mighty armies, military elephants, and goods of my country. And together we shall rule all India!"

This is indeed a remarkable proposal.

King Bimbisara proposed that Buddha, a prince of the Shaka tribe, offer military aid and form an alliance with him. This was a tremendous proposal that could have changed the course of Indian history.

However, there was actually a compelling reason for this on the part of King Bimbisara.

(⑵Buddha's youth in Kapilavastu and the four gates of ordination: why did Buddha wish to renounce his home and become ordained?"As I mentioned in the article "The Land of the Shakas," Buddha's birthplace, had a master-servant relationship with the neighboring great country of Kosala.

At that time, the two powerful states of Kosala and Magadha were in a state of tension.

For the Magadha Kingdom, the conquest of the Kosala Kingdom was a top priority. As one of the ways to achieve this goal, King Bimbisara wanted to separate the Shakas from the Kosala Kingdom. If Buddha accepted this proposal, the Shakas and the Magadhas would be able to attack the Kosala nation between the Shakas and the Magadhas. The king must have seen at first glance that Buddha was a brilliant man to whom he could entrust the task. If he were a half-hearted person, even the mere mention of this proposal would cause an international incident. This may have been the reason why King Bimbisara came to the temple on a personal visit.

However, Buddha politely declined the proposal. He told the king of his desire to be ordained, and the king in turn was moved by Buddha's words. King Bimbisara was also a man of great capacity. Even if his own intentions were rejected, he was a man who accepted the superior spirit of the other party.

King Bimbisara, completely taken by the Buddha, said, "If you have attained the Way, I shall be happy to see you again. If you have attained the Way, please come to my country again.

This encounter would prove to be of immeasurable benefit to the later Buddha Order, but that is a story for the future. From here, Buddha began his long path of ascetic practice.

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