One day Buddha said to his followers, "It is time that I return to Kapilavastu,the city of my father." And so they all began the long walk to Buddha'schildhood home. News of Buddha's approach quickly reached the city andeveryone became very excited and happy. "At long last our beloved Princeis returning!" they cried. "Now he is a great teacher with hundreds andhundreds of followers. How good it will be to see him again!"
King Shuddhodana was overjoyed to hear of his son's return. When he learnedthat the Buddha had many followers he became proud and thought, "My sonhas become a great leader after all. He has brought great honour to myname."
He could not wait for Buddha's arrival, but sent a servant ahead by horseto see what his son was like after so many years. By the next morning theservant had arrived where Buddha and his followers were staying. They wereall carrying wooden bowls. They went from door to door in the village beggingfor their food. Then they returned to where they were staying and ate theirsimple meal together in silence.
The servent returned to Kapilavastu and reported all of this to the king.The King was furious. He shouted, "My son, a royal prince, has become abeggar! I am disgraced. I must put a stop to this at once!"
Immediately he rode out of the palace and went to where his son was staying.When he saw his Siddhartha, now a radiant Buddha surrounded by hundredsof disciples, he was very impressed. They greeted each other lovingly.Then the King asked, "Is it true what I hear, that you beg for you foodeach morning?"
"Yes," was the answer, "this is true. It is our custom to beg."
At this the King became angrier than he was before. "Our custom?" he shouted."You come from a long line of kings who never had to beg for anything intheir lives. Our custom is to eat from silver and gold plates, not outof simple wooden bowls. What are you talking about, our custom?"
The gentle answer came, "Father, you come from a long line of royal kings.This is true. But I come from a long line of teachers, the Buddhas of thepast. These teachers have always been very humble. They received theirfood from the people they met. When I say it is our custom to beg, I meanit is the custom of Buddhas."
Then he took hold of his father's hands and walked alone with him for along while. He taught him the Noble Truths and the path leading to theend of all suffering. After listening to him for a long time the King said,"It is true, you are far more than just my son. As the holy man Asita predictedwhen you were just a baby, you have become a great teacher. I
bowbefore you, O Buddha. Please accept me, who once wanted you to be a king,as one of your disciples."
Soon afterwards Buddha's wife Yasodhara, his son Rahula, the aunt who broughthim up and many others from the palace also asked to become his followers."We were so unhappy when you rode away from us so many years ago," theytold him. "But now you have brought us so much happiness and peace of mindwith your teachings of the truth. We are glad that you left us and havereturned as a Buddha."