In a small village at the end of the forest lived a herdsman and his wifeSujata (20). She had just given birth to her first child and was very happy.She took the finest milk from her husband's cows and prepared a deliciousmeal from it. Now she was taking this food into the forest as an offeringto the spirits she thought lived there. She had often prayed to these spiritsand wanted to thank them for helping her have such a healthy baby.
As she entered the forest she saw Siddhartha sitting there. His body wasthin and weak, but his face was radiant and handsome. Sujata gazed at himin surprise. "I have never seen anyone like that before," she thought toherself. "Perhaps it is the king of the tree spirits himself!" And so shetook the specially prepared food and placed it before him.
Siddhartha slowly opened his eyes and saw the bowl in front of him. Smilingsilently to Sujata he lifted it up to his lips and began to drink. To heramazement, his body grew more and more radiant as he drank. When he wasfinished he placed the bowl down and thanked her saying, "You thought Iwas a spirit, but I am only a man in search of the truth. Your offeringhas made me strong again. Now I am sure that I shall find the truth. Muchgood will come from what you have done today. Thank you."The five men who were living in the forest with Siddhartha saw him acceptthis special food from Sujata. They were very disappointed and said tothemselves, "Siddhartha has given up his search. He is no longer followingthe holy life. Look, he bathes himself and takes rich food again. How canwe stay with such a man any longer? Come. Let us leave this forest andtravel to Benares (21). We can continue our practices in the Deer Park(22) near there."