At the second watch of the night (i.e. between 9 p.m. to 12 o'clock by midnight) he entered his chamber, gazed at his wife and child while they were sleeping. Then turned back and hurried to where Channa, his attendant, had prepared the stallion waiting for him, they sped out of the city under that pretex, the prince with the "Great Renunciation" as his ulterior, ultimate aim.
That night both proceeded Southward to the state of Magadha, and at dawn
reached the river called Anom,
which bordered the states of Sakka and Malla. Crossing over to the other
side, the prince stood on the shore while ordering Channa to take back the
horse, together with its decorations. He then cut off the tuff of his hair
with his sword and, solemnly taking the vow of monkhood, dressed himself in
the form of a recluse called 'Bhikkhu'. Channa having left, he proceeded
alone, from that time onwards, heading for the state of Magadha in his quest
for the Dhamma of Deliverance from spiritual Defilements.
Arriving in Magadha, the first of all sought admission into the
denominations of two famous hermits or Yogis at the time viz. lra and Uddaka.
there he had stayed for instructions from both hermits until he finally
achieved the fulfilment of their teachings i.e. the eight Sampatti (Attainments). However, having realized that
even such Attainments were not yet the full-final goal of his quest, he
departed, going on alone until he reached the district of Uruvel, with river Nerajar
meandering its way not far off, together with a village wherefrom the
almsfood could be obtained. Seeing the favourable conditions the pleasant,
lush green surroundings, he decided to stay there and then started the
traditional practice of selfmortification in a variety of ways and degrees
unexcelled by others before him. Nevertheless, the way or Dhamma of
Deliverance still eluded him.
While undertaking the rigid, highly austere practices, the prince-monk was attended upon by five Brahmins viz. Kondaa, Vappa, Bhaddiya, Mahnma and Assaji, who were among the Brahmins invited by King Suddhodana to predict the future of his royal infant a few days after his birth. Of course, having learnt about the princemonk's renunciation, they were encouraged by the faith of their own prediction and, forming the group of five called Pacavaggya, followed his example and attended upon him in the hope that, should he attain the Dhamma of Deliverance, they would be able to be his disciples and share with him that Dhamma. Thus, while the princemonk was experimenting upon the rigorous practices of self-mortification, he was faithfully watched and reverently looked after by tense five Ascetics.
It had been six arduous year from the time of his Great Renunciation to that
of his great, unexcelled self-mortification, when he finally realized that,
having followed out its course and left no stones unturned, he had every
reason to conclude that such a practice was not one to lead him to
Enlightenment. With such decision, he stopped his fast and started to
partake of food once again. This came as a shock to the Five Ascetics, who
naively concluded that he had reversed to self-indulgence, being thereby a
failure. Thus they departed, to dwell in the deer-park of Isipatana, in the
city of Benares. Mean-while the prince-monk, blessed with more seclusion and
more strength of the body due to the partaking of food to a moderate degree,
diverted his exertion process, sublimating it steadily and progressively
towards spiritual efforts. The successful culmination of his long quest came
on the fullmoon day of Vesakha lunar (sixth) month when, in the cool,
opalescent morning, he seated himself under the shade of an Assattha tree
some distance from Nerajar river. At that
moment a young girl by the name of Sujt, daughter of the
wealthy village headman of the district of Uruvel Sennigama,
had a dish of rice gruel meticulously prepared. She placed it on a golden
tray, intending to offer it as obligation to a tree-god in accordance with
the tradition of her religious belief. Carrying the tray to the Assattha
tree, she saw the great recluse seating himself there in meditative silence,
looking radiant and dignified like a celestial being himself. Concluding
that he was the tree-god, she was deeply impressed and, placing the golden
tray before him, expressed and, placing the golden tray before him,
impressed her wish to offer him the tray along with the rice gruel thereon.
After the girl had left, the prince-monk accepted the offer and proceeded to
the landing place nearby. He took a bath in the river before partaking of
the rice gruel. Thereafter he floated the tray down the river and retired
for the rest of the day in the Sla grove by the riverside.
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