The Great Chapter
3.1. The Leaving Home of Gotama
Now I’ll tell of the Leaving Home,
how he, the mighty seer, went forth,
how he was questioned and described
the reason for his Leaving Home.
The crowded life lived in a house
exhales an atmosphere of dust:
but leaving home is open wide—
seeing this, he chose Leaving Home.
By doing so did he reject
all bodily evil acts,
rejected too, wrong ways of speech,
his livelihood he purified.
He went to Rājagaha town,
hill-guarded fort of Magadhans;
there he, the Buddha, walked for alms,
with many a mark of excellence.
King Bimbisāra from within
his palace saw him passing by,
and when he saw such excellence
in all his marks,
“Look, sirs”, he said,
How stately is that man, handsome,
how pure, how perfect is his gait;
with eyes downcast, mindful, he looks
only a plough-yoke’s length ahead.
He’s surely not of humble birth!
Send forth royal messengers at once
upon the path the bhikkhu takes.”
The messengers were sent at once
and followed closely in his wake:
“Now which way will the bhikkhu go?
Where has he chosen his abode?
He wanders on from house to house
guarding sense-doors with real restraint.
Fully aware and mindfully,
his alms bowl soon was full.
His almsround is now done. The Sage
is setting out and leaving town,
taking the road to Paṇḍava—
he must be living on its hill.”
Now when he came to his abode
the messengers went up to him;
though one of them turned back again
to give the King reply:
The bhikkhu, sire, is like a lion,
or like a tiger, like a bull
and seated in a mountain-cave
on the eastern slope of Paṇḍava!
The Warrior hears the runner’s tale,
then summoning up a coach of state,
he drove in haste from out the town,
out to the hill of Paṇḍava.
He drove as far as he could go,
and then descended from the coach;
the little distance that remained,
he went on foot, drew near the Sage.
The King sat down, and he exchanged
greetings, and asked about his health.
When this exchange of courtesy was done,
the king then spoke to him these words:
You are indeed quite young,
a youth, a man in life’s first phase,
you have the good looks of a man
of high-born warrior-noble stock,
one ﬁt to grace a first-rate force,
to lead the troops of elephants,
wealth can I give you to enjoy;
please tell me of your birth.
Straight over there, O king,
the Himalayas can be seen,
there, with wealth and energy,
living among the Kosalans
are the Ādicca of solar race,
in that, the clan of Sakyas.
From that family I’ve left home
not desiring pleasures of sense.
Having seen dangers in sense-desires,
renunciation seen as secure,
I shall go on to strive
for there does my mind delight