The Buddha bequeaths the treasure of Nibbana to Rahula, ordaining him as the first novice.
When Rahula followed the Buddha to the Nigrodha park to ask for his inheritance and the rights to the Buddha's wealth, the Buddha considered: "What Rahula is asking me for is merely worldly wealth, which is impermanent and difficult to look after, unlike noble wealth, the truth that I have become enlightened to. I will make Rahula an heir to the transcendent [lokuttara]."
So the Buddha sent for Sariputta and instructed him to be the preceptor for Rahula, ordaining him as a novice (samanera). Thus Rahula became the first Buddhist novice. Later, when he came of age (i.e., 20 years old), he became a monk and attained Arahatship.
When Nanda had his marriage ceremony cut off by the Buddha taking him to be ordained as a monk, King Suddhodana was very distressed, but not overly so as he realized he still had Prince Rahula as an heir to the throne. But when he heard that Rahula, too, had gone forth and become a novice, King Suddhodana was more grief stricken than when Nanda and even the Buddha himself had gone forth.
King Suddhodana was beside himself with grief, so he went to see the Buddha at the Nigrodha Park and made a request to him to the effect that if any monk should give ordination to any child or grandchild of a householder, he should first get permission from the parents, otherwise the ordination will cause untold suffering for them, just as he had suffered at Rahula's going forth.
The Buddha agreed to King Suddhodana's request, and so laid down the Vinaya rule which has been upheld to this very day that anyone who is to ordain, regardless of whether it is as a novice or as a monk, should first obtain permission from his parents or guardian. The tradition upheld to this day of presenting trays of ritual offerings to one's parents and elders, and bowing and asking their permission to go forth, springs from the incident described above.
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