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Ven Rahula

Rāhula: Master of Practise

Rāhula (Sk. & Pl.) was the only son of the Buddha (when he was still Prince Siddartha) and his wife Princess Yasodhara. Prince Siddhartha was preparing himself to leave the palace. One account claims that when he received the news of his son’s birth he replied Rāhu jāto, bandhanam jātam — “A rāhu is born, a fetter has arisen.” He was a scrupulous, strict and shrewd person.

Rāhul was raised by his mother and grandfather, King Suddhodana. When he was seven years old, the Buddha returned to his home city of Kapilavatthu at the request of his father who missed him dearly. On the seventh day of his return, Yasodharā took Rāhula to see his father, the Buddha. She told Rāhula that since his father had renounced the palace life and as he was the next royal prince in line, he should ask his father for his inheritance of crown and treasure for his future sake when his grandfather would no longer rule the kingdom.

After the meal, Rāhul followed the Buddha, saying “Give me my inheritance.” Nobody tried to stop him, nor did the Buddha prevent him from following him. He then looked at his father and said, “Lord, even your shadow is pleasing to me.”

Reaching the Park of Nigrodha, where the Buddha was staying, the Buddha thought to himself: “He desires his father’s inheritance, but it is wrought with troubles. I shall give him the benefit of my spiritual Enlightenment and make him an owner of a transcendental inheritance.”

The Buddha called Venerable Sariputta and asked him to ordain little Rāhula who became the first Sāmanera (novice monk).

The King, discovering that now his grandson and a number of young men in the royal family had requested ordination, asked the Buddha only to ordain a minor with the consent of his parents or guardian. The Buddha assented. This rule was expanded to include the spouses of those intending to join the Order of monks and nuns.

Shortly after Rahul’s ordination the Buddha taught him the importance of telling the truth. This discourse is known as the Rahulovada Sutta. The Buddha placed truth as the highest of all virtues. The seekers of Truth, (those who have as their goal Nibbana) should not break the precept of Truth.

Sariputta and Moggallana were little Rahula’s teachers. While Sariputta taught Rahula knowledge of the Dhamma, Moggallana concentrated on his conduct. Even though Rahula was only seven when he became a novice monk, he was very eager to accept instruction and was exceptionally cultured and obedient.

Later, the Buddha, knowing that Ráhula’s mind was ripe for final attainment, went with him alone to Andhavana, and preached to him the Cúla Ráhulováda Sutta. At the end of the discourse, Ráhula became an arahant, together with one hundred thousand crores of listening devas.

The Buddha declared Rāhula foremost among those of his disciples who were anxious for training (sikkhākāmānam) and for his high standard of discipline and obedience.

According to the Dīgha and Samyutta Commentaries (DA.ii.549; SA.iii.172), Rāhula predeceased the Buddha, Sāriputta and Moggallana, and the place of his death is given as Tāvatimsa. For twelve years he never lay on a bed.

Asoka built a thúpa in honour of Ráhula, to be specially worshipped by novices.

Bibliography:
Websites:
1. Rāhula – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
2. Relatives and Disciples of the Buddha – 01
3. Ambalatthika-rahulovada Sutta: Instructions to Rahula at Mango Stone
4. Ráhula

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