Buddhist Fables

Buddhist Classics

Life and Legends of Buddha

The Illustrated Jataka & Other Stories of the Buddha by C. B. Varma Introduction | Glossary | Bibliography

074 – Sage Asita’s Visit

Asita was the teacher and chaplain of Sihahanu, the father of Suddhodana. In course of time, he renounced the worldly life and retired as a hermit and lived in the royal park. Later, he developed numerous miraculous powers. Furthermore, he often spent his days in the Tavatimsa loka, a heavenly abode. Once when he visited Tavatimsa, he saw the whole loka decorated with flowers and the devas were making merriment. On enquiry, he came to know that Siddhattha Gotama was born and his birth was being celebrated there, because he was to become the Buddha.

Thrilled with the news he rushed to the Suddhodana’s palace and asked him to show the baby. When he saw the baby and lifted him up in his arms to read the auspicious marks on his body, his face first lit up with a joyous smile but was soon clouded by a pathetic expression and he began shedding tears.

When the surprised king asked an explanation for his strange behaviour, the sage said that he was happy because the child was to attain Enlightenment; but he would not be fortunate enough to survive long to hear his enlightening teachings.

Later, Asita ordained his sister’s son Nalaka and instructed him to prepare himself to receive the Buddha’s teachings when the time would come.