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Siddhartha and princess yashodhara
After the birth of the child, named Siddhartha, his horoscope was made. It predicted that he would become either a world monarch or a great ascetic. Since Suddodhana did not want his son to become a hermit, he raised him in great luxury. Shielding him from the harsh realities of life, he created a paradise for him on earth. Nothing sad or painful was allowed to touch the life of Siddhartha. In an effort to get him more deeply involved in worldly affairs and to add to his joys, the young prince was married to Princess Yashodhara at the age of sixteen.

Siddhartha spotting an old man
Siddhartha seeing a sick man, a funeral and an ascetic
Siddhartha grew of age without ever knowing what misery or sorrow was. One day the prince desired to see the city. The King ordered that the city should be all gay and grand, so that everywhere his son would meet with only pleasing sights. However, an old and crippled man by the roadside happened to catch Siddhartha's eye. It was a sight never witnessed before by the prince: a sunken face, a toothless mouth, all the limbs emaciated, the whole body bent and walking with extreme difficulty. The innocent prince asked who that creature was. Chenna, the charioteer, replied that he was a human being who had become old. To further enquiries of Siddhartha, Chenna informed that the old man was of fine shape in his young age and that every human being had to become like him after the youthful days are past. The perturbed prince returned to the palace, deeply engrossed in anxious thoughts.

King Shuddhodana, in order to cheer up his spirits, again ordered for his son's procession in the capital, but on subsequent rounds, Siddhartha came across a sick man and a corpse being carried to the funeral ground. Again it was Chenna, the charioteer, who explained that human beings were prone to illness and that death inevitably awaited man at the end.

Siddhartha leaving the palace
As luck would have it, on his final round, Siddhartha saw a person, his face beaming with joy and tranquility, and heard from Chenna that he was an ascetic who had triumphed over the worldly temptations, fears and sorrows and attained the highest bliss of life.

And that clinched the thoughts of the young prince. He was then hardly twenty-nine. In that full bloom of youth, in the midnight of a full-moon day, he bade good-bye to his dear parents, his beloved wife Yashodhara and sweet little child Rahul and all the royal pleasures and luxuries, and departed to the forest to seek for him-self answers for the riddles of human misery.

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