THE LIFE OF SAKYAMUNI BUDDHA
3. The Naming Ceremony
King Suddhodana had an old teacher who was known to be very wise. He was called Asita the Sage. Asita lived in the jungle. While sitting one day he heard the devas singing and saw them dancing. “Why are you so happy?” he asked. “Because the most excellent of all beings has been born at Lumbini Park to Queen Maha Maya,” replied the devas. When he heard this, Asita went quickly to see the king and queen and their newborn son.
The king was very happy to see his wise old teacher again. In the palace, after the sage was seated, the king brought the prince before him and said, “Teacher, my son was born only yesterday. Here he is. Please see if his future will be good.”
As the king said this, he lowered the infant prince before the sage so that he might examine him properly. However, the baby turned his feet on to the sage’s head. Thus surprised, Asita took hold of the baby’s feet and examined them very carefully, finding some marks on them. He got up and said, “This prince will become a very great teacher in this world.” The sage was very pleased and, putting his palms together, paid due respect to the baby prince. The king, seeing this, did the same. This was the first salutation of the king.
On the fifth day of his son’s life, the king invited five wise men to witness the naming ceremony and to suggest a good name for the prince. The wise men examined the birthmarks of the prince and concluded, “The prince will be King of Kings if he wants to rule. If he chooses a religious life then he will become the Wisest — the Buddha.”
The youngest of the five wise men, Kondanna, then said, “This prince will be the Buddha and nothing else.”
Then the wise men gave him the name Siddhartha meaning “wish-fulfilled” or “one who has accomplished his goal”.
EXERCISE 3. The Naming Ceremony
1. Who was Asita?
2. Why did he go to the palace?
3. What did the king do after Asita was seated in the palace?
4. What happened as the king tried to show the baby to the sage?
5. Was Asita annoyed at this incident?
6. What did Asita do when the incident happened?
7. What did Asita say about the prince?
8. What did Kondanna say?
9. What was the name given to the prince?
10. What does this name mean?