Book Extract: The Epic of the Buddha by by Chittadhar Hṛdaya
In his poetic re-telling of the Buddha's life, the author narrates the dream of Queen Māyā which foretells the greatness of her child.
Queen Māyā’s Dream
The great Lady Māyā had a pleasant dream and saw a lovely sight,
An endless wave of pleasure suffusing her.
With six tusks but a single head white in color
And carrying a red open lotus in its trunk,
A shapely beautiful white elephant entered through one ear and settled on
the right side of her womb.
Having seen all this in her own heart, this suffused her with steadfast
Next morning when the queen awoke, she narrated the night’s dream,
As the king listened to it with his eyes fixed on her attentively.
While listening to the queen, the king’s face broke into a smile,
Just like a lotus that unfolds its petals at the wind’s touch and releases its
Soon astrologers, priests, and soothsayers were sent for and gathered in a
Once the floor was given a fresh coating of cow dung and rich Chinese
carpets were spread on it,
They were seated there and given food and drink respectfully,
As all the ministers, courtiers, counselors gathered around.
The king sat on his lion throne made of fine crystal and stone
While still hiding his eagerness of heart like a hidden treasure.
Beneath an umbrella of gold decorated lavishly by a swirl of dangling pearls,
He also wore his jeweled crown with an emerald and ruby on it.
Apparently he wore costly clothes and shoes set with jewels.
We know not what he really had in mind; but he did say this—
“For no other reason I have called you: Queen Māyā had an extraordinary
O learned and wise Brahmins! I ask you to investigate and then explain it
Upon hearing the Shākya king’s exact command,
Astrologers of renown in the country huddled to study the horoscope and
Drew different diagrams of the constellations on their slates, tossed rice
grains on them,
Then facing the king and queen, they finally interpreted the dream thus—
“All is well and good. Have no fear, Your Majesty! This dream
Foretells that just last night the queen conceived
A son, endowed with wisdom and forbearance,
A sun dispelling the nocturnal darkness posed by all enemies.
If he lives the householder’s life, he will conquer all the sovereign
And become a universal monarch renowned by all.
If he renounces the householder’s life, taking it for a petty
blade of grass,
He will become a sage preeminent and open the path to peace.”
Hearing these words agreeable to his heart,
The king of Kapilapura felt very delighted.
(From The Epic of the Buddha by Chittadhar Hṛdaya. Translated by Todd T. Lewis and Subarna Man Tuladhar © 2010, 2019 by Todd T. Lewis and Subarna Man Tuladhar. Reprinted in arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO.)
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