King Suddhodana wanted the prince Siddhartha to become a great ruler and universal monarch and he made sure that Siddharth has every kind of luxury one can think of to shield the young prince from the discovery of sorrow.
At the time of the birth of Buddha the astrologers predicted that if he chooses to stay at home, he will become a universal monarch. But if he leaves the house and renounces the world he will become an Arhat, an enlightened Buddha.
He tried everything to shield Siddhartha from the discovery of sorrows in the world and the realities of life. He tried everything to tie Siddhartha with all kinds of sensual pleasures of the physical world.
The suttas disclose that even from the shielded existence did not prevent Siddhartha from the discovery of sorrow and he became aware of the realities of life, through the four divine messengers.
The first interface of Buddha with the reality of life was his interface with old age. One day Siddhartha went out riding with his charioteer Chandaka. He left his palace while touring the royal gardens in the city of Kapilvastu. He saw a very old man, with bent and very weak body.
He has never seen an old person and enquired to Chandaka, what has happened to this man. Chandaka replied that the man has grown old and this is the destiny of everyone who is born.
Siddhartha returned to his palace deep in contemplation of his new discovery of sorrow.
Sometime after the first event, Siddhartha went riding with Chandaka, southwards out of the Kapilvastu. He had the second revelation in his discovery of sorrow.
He saw a sick man in extreme pain. Siddhartha asked Chandaka what had happened to him. Chandaka replied he is terminally ill and nothing would help him.
Siddhartha returned to his palace in deep contemplation about his new experience.
When the next time Siddhartha went out of the city, he saw a dead body being taken for cremation. The friends and relatives of the dead person were crying and carrying him for his funeral.
Siddhartha asked, why they are crying. Chandaka replied because the person is dead and this is the destiny of all!
Siddhartha was very troubled at the sight of old age, sickness, and death. He returned to his palace in deep mediation about the way out for these three sorrows.
Shortly after the third incident, Siddhartha went riding northwards of the city.
He saw an ascetic who was dressed in saffron robes and carrying a bowl in his hand. He looked very calm and peaceful.
Siddhartha asked Chandaka, who that person was and why he looked in such peace. Chandaka replied that the person was an ascetic who has renounced the world and all his earthly possessions.
Siddhartha contemplated that all the material possessions are transitory, and old age, sickness, and death is the destiny of all.
He decided to renounce the world and find a way to end the sorrow of old age, sickness, and death.
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