Buddhism Simplified
Brief notes on Buddhist thought and practice
(more about these pages)

The Birth of the Buddha

With the birth of the Buddha, the legend begins to swell.

It is said that "King" Shuddhodana and "Queen" Maya (sometimes called "Maha Maya" meaning "Great Maya") were childless. But then, the queen had a dream of a white elephant with six tusks entering her side. (This is said to be auspicious. We will see the six-tusked elephant again, much later.)

Soon, she was pregnant.

When the time came for the baby to be born, according to custom, Queen Maya set out for her hometown. However, the baby arrived while she was on her way.

She stopped in Lumbini garden, and there gave birth standing up, and reaching up to hold the branch of a sal tree. The baby was born from his mother's side (as the elephant had entered there). Some legends say he was born at the level of her heart.

It was a full-moon day in spring. The baby was born well-developed. So much so, in fact, that he could walk and talk!

The legend says he immediately took seven steps, and a lotus sprang from each one. He then stopped and pointed up with one hand, down with the other, saying:

I am the most excellent!

I am the most developed!

I am the foremost in the world!

This is my last birth!

There shall be no returning for me!

Peculiar, isn't it? But it will make sense when we discuss his mission.

Queen Maya then returned to her husband's city of Kapilavastu, and presented the child to his father.


  1. Why do you think we always wrap spiritual leaders in myths and legends? Why isn't "history" enough?
  2. What is the significance of the elephant entering Queen Maya's side, and the baby being born from there?
  3. What do you make of the baby's supernatural abilities, and his announcement about this being his "last birth"? How do you think Queen Maya might have felt about it?

Next time: Siddhartha and the Sages

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave me a message; I can't wait to hear from you!