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  • Suddhodana

A Sākiyan Rājā of Kapilavatthu and father of Gotama Buddha.

He was the son of Sihahanu and Kaccānā. His brothers were Dhotodana, Sakkodana, Sukkodana and Amitodana, and his sisters were Amitā and Pamitā.

Māyā was his chief consort, and, after her death her sister Pajāpatī was raised to her position (Mhv.ii.15f.; Dpv. iii.45; J. i.15, etc.).

When soothsayers predicted that his son Gotama had two destinies awaiting him, either that of universal sovereignty or of Buddha hood, he exerted his utmost power to provide the prince with all kinds of luxuries in order to hold him fast to household life. It is said (E.g., J. i.54) that when Asita, who was his father's chaplain and his own teacher, visited Suddhodana to see the newly born prince, and paid homage to the infant by allowing his feet to rest on his head, Suddhodana was filled with wonder and himself worshipped the child. And when, at the ploughing ceremony, Suddhodana saw how the jambu-tree under which the child had been placed kept its shadow immoveable in order to protect him, and that the child was seated cross legged in the air, he again worshipped him (J.i.57f).

Later, when, in spite of all his father's efforts, the prince had left household life and was practising austerities, news was brought to Suddhodana that his son had died owing to the severity of his penances. But he refused to believe it, saying that his son would never die without achieving his goal (J.i.67). When this was afterwards related to the Buddha, he preached the Mahādhammapāla Jātaka and showed that in the past, too, Suddhodana had refused to believe that his son could have died even when he was shown the heap of his bones.

When news reached Suddhodana that his son had reached Enlightenment, he sent a messenger to Veluvana in Rājagaha with ten thousand others to invite the Buddha to visit Kapilavatthu. But the messenger and his companions heard the Buddha preach, entered the Order, and forgot their mission. Nine times this happened. On the tenth occasion, Suddhodana sent Kāludāyī with permission for him to enter the Order on the express condition that he gave the king's invitation to the Buddha. Kāludāyī kept his promise and the Buddha visited Kapilavatthu, staying in the Nigrodhārāma. There, in reference to a shower of rain that fell, he preached the Vessantara Jātaka. The next day, when Suddhodana remonstrated with the Buddha because he was seen begging in the streets of Kapilavatthu, the Buddha told him that begging was the custom of all Buddhas, and Suddhodana hearing this became a sotāpanna. He invited the Buddha to his palace, where he entertained him, and at the end of the meal the Buddha preached to the king, who became a sakadāgāmī (J.i.90; cf. DhA.iii.164f). He became an anāgāmī after hearing the Mahādhammapāla Jātaka (DhA.i.99; J. iv.55), and when he was about to die, the Buddha came from Vesāli to see him and preach to him, and Suddhodana became an arahant and died as a lay arahant (ThigA.141).

Nanda was Suddhodana's son by Mahā Pajāpati, and he had also a daughter called Sundarī Nandā. When the Buddha ordained both Rāhula and Nanda, Suddhodana was greatly distressed lest other parents should be similarly afflicted, and persuaded the Buddha to establish a rule that none should be ordained without the permission of his parents (Vin.i.82f).

Suddhodana was the Bodhisatta's father in numerous births, but he is specially mentioned as such by name in only a few Jātakas e.g.,


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