“Oh, our prince. We always sprinkled sandalwood powder on your body and rubbed you beautifully, but now are you lying down in the mountains and fields and bitten by mosquitos or horseflies? You have never worn anything other than fine clothes, but I am wondering now what kind of something very shabby you are wearing. We prepared for the best food for you, but what terrible food are you eating? You used to sleep in such soft bedclothes and quilt, but now are you lying down among thorns? You lived surrounded by so many beautiful women, but now are you living lonely in mountains and forests?”
He who entered the ascetic forest did not talk with other practitioners of austerities; he ate grass and nuts as decreasing them and finally, he became a state of fasting. During the noon, under the direct rays of a scorching sun, in a steaming hermitage of a grotto that was closed in the evening, he made it practice to hold his breath. At midnight, he sat in a place where starved wild animals wandered and made a state not to move an inch. He bathed in a frozen river in the winter. Asceticism was a battle against fear of starvation and death. His muscles fell down, his body was wrinkled; his eyes became hollow, his skin became rough and dark, and everyone could clearly see every one of his bones, muscles, and blood vessels. He did not have enough power to shake off insects that ate moss even though they crawled on his body and he was not even able to stand up by muscular strength which became weak. Then, he concluded as follows.
“There are many practitioners of austerities in the world. However, there has never been even a single person who practiced asceticism more than I have. But I wasn’t able to attain enlightenment. It’s impossible to attain enlightenment by this practice method.” He who stood up resolutely made a decision to part from asceticism and walked toward the Nairanjana little by little. It had already taken six years since he entered the ascetic forest. He purified his body in a riverside, but his mind and body were weak and exhausted. His feet, which had no muscles, were scooped into the water so that he was nearly swept away.
When he barely went up from the riverside and he was leaning against a large tree nearby, one young woman came close to him. He asked her the reason why she came here and she said that she came to offer the best milk porridge as a token of her gratitude for easy childbirth. Since she saw Siddhartha exhausted and felt sorry for him, she gave him the milk porridge. Siddhartha ate it slowly, which was full of nourishment and she made it from the bottom of her heart. Five monks were looking at this situation. They were men who were told and dispatched by Father King Suddhodana to watch his son secretly. They were very disappointed to see him. Because for six years, they had expected the prince to attain enlightenment and they had been patient. They labeled Siddhartha a dropout and a depraved monk and went somewhere.
-To be Continued-