Asita the ascetic pays a visit; seeing the baby's auspicious features, he pays reverence

This picture depicts the infant not long after his birth, when his father had heard the news that Queen Maya had given birth to a son at the Lumbini garden and asked her to come back.

The man with the turbaned hair and hands raised to his chest is Asita the ascetic, also known as Kaladevin. This ascetic was as a recluse living in the Himalaya mountains. He was revered by King Suddhodana and the royal family and was a familiar face to them.

When he heard that King Suddhodana, the king of Kapilavatthu, had a new son, he left his ashram in the Himalayas and went to visit the palace to give his blessings. King Suddhodana was overjoyed when he heard that the ascetic had come to visit, and immediately invited him to take a seat while he fetched his son to pay reverence to the ascetic.

As soon as the ascetic saw Prince Siddhattha, he did three things that are unusual for a homeless one (samana): he smiled, or, according to the poetic description given in the Pathamasambodhi, laughed, then he cried, and then he owed at the feet of Prince Siddhattha.

He smiled because he saw that the features of Prince Siddhattha conformed with the legend of the "features of a Great Being" (mahapurisalakkhana). He knew that with such features, if Prince Siddhattha stayed on in worldly life he would be a Universal Emperor of great power, but if he left the worldly life he would become the greatest religious founder in the world. He cried because he believed that Prince Siddhattha would certainly leave the worldly life and, thinking of this, and reflecting on his own advanced age, was saddened at his lack of fortune in not having the chance to listen to the Buddha's teaching. He bowed to the newly born Prince for the same reason.

When the heads of the royal families heard the news that the ascetic had bowed to the infant Prince, they all felt even more reverence for the infant, and so offered their sons as attendants to Prince Siddhattha, one from each family.
 

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