6. A SONG OF BEAUTY
One evening after dinner, Prince Siddhartha lay reclining on his couch,his head resting in Yasodhara's lap. The musicians were playing sweet melodiesand the servant girls were whispering and laughing quietly to each other.The evening was like so many the Prince had known since moving into thepleasure palaces. But this night he felt a bit restless. Turning to oneof his favourite singers, he requested, "Please lull us to sleep with asong. Choose a tune you have never sung for me before."
The singer graciously agreed and began to make up a new song from wordsthat floated through her mind; all the while accompanying herself on astringed instrument. She sang of the beauties of the world, of the distantlands where she had travelled as a child, of golden cities where happypeople lived.
The song enchanted the Prince and when it was over he asked the singer,"Tell me truly, are there really such beautiful places beyond these gardenwalls? What kind of lives do the people in the city live? Are there thingsin this world more lovely than what I have seen in these magnificent palaces?Please, tell me all you know."
"O Prince," she answered, "surely these palaces of yours are most magnificent;but there are many other beautiful things to be seen in this wide world. There are cities and
towns,mountains and valleys, distant lands where people speak strange languages.There are many things that I have seen, and many more that I have onlyheard about. Your palaces and gardens are indeed beautiful, but there ismuch to see outside their walls."
Hearing this, the Prince became interested in seeing all these strangeand wonderful things for himself. For so many years he had been contentto live within the pleasure palaces and gardens, completely forgettingabout the world beyond. But now he desired to journey out, and so he senta message to the King requesting him to arrange a travel party into thecity beyond the garden walls.The King received his son's message and thought to himself, "So now myson wishes to see our kingdom. So be it! He has stayed long enough insidehis pleasure palaces. It is time for him to see the kingdom he will somedayrule."