The renunciation of Prince Siddhartha was the boldest step that a man has ever taken.
Critics have condemned Siddhartha for His manner of leaving home and Kingdom. Some described it as a 'callous abandonment of wife and family'. Yet what would have happened if He had not left so stealthily and had approached His loved ones for a formal farewell? They would, of course, have implored him to change His mind. The scene would have been hysterical, and quite possibly the little domain of His father Rajah Suddhodana would have been thrown into turmoil. His intention to seek the truth would have had to be aborted by His father and wife who would prevent Him from His renunciation plans. At the age of 29 years, Siddhartha was a full-blooded young man in the prime of life. As it was, the temptation not to abandon all He had know and loved in order to seek the truth must have been formidable. During His final moments in the palace, He visited His bedroom and looked at His slumbering wife and their newborn child. The great impulse to remain and abandon His plan must have caused Him agony. Certainly in those days in India, it was considered a noble thing for a man to forsake home and loved ones to become an ascetic to lead a holy life. All things considered, it would seem that Siddhartha was right in boldly and quickly achieving His plan.
He renounced the world not for His own sake or convenience but for the sake of suffering humanity. To Him the whole of mankind is one family. The renunciation of Prince Siddhartha at that early age was the boldest step that a man could have taken.
Detachment is one of the most important factors for the attainment of Enlightenment. The attainment of Enlightenment is by way of non-attachment. Most of life's troubles are caused by attachment. We get angry, we worry, we become greedy and complain bitterly. All these causes of unhappiness, tension, stubbornness and sadness are due to attachment. When we investigate any trouble or worry we have, the main cause is always attachment. Had Prince Siddhartha developed His attachment towards His wife, Child, kingdom and worldly pleasures, He would never have been able to discover the remedy for suffering mankind. Therefore, He had to sacrifice everything including worldly pleasures in order to have a concentrated mind free from distractions, in order to find the Truth that can cure humanity from suffering.
In the eyes of this young Prince, the whole world was burning with lust, anger, greed and man other defilements which ignite the fire of passions. He saw each and every living being in this including His wife and child, suffering from all sorts of physical and mental ailments. So determined was He to seek a solution for the eradication of suffering amongst suffering humanity, that He was prepared to sacrifice everything.
Two thousand five hundred years after His renunciation, some people shed crocodile tears or criticize Him for His action. His wife, however, did not accuse Him for desertion when she realized the purpose of His renunciation. Instead, she gave up her luxurious life to lead a simple life as a mark of respect.
Here is how a well-known poet saw the renunciation of the Buddha:
'Twas not through hatred of children sweet,
'Twas not through hatred of His lovely wife,
Thriller of hearts-not that He loved them less,
But Buddhahood more, that He renounced them all.
last page table next page