The Buddha’s “Childhood”

Vanessa R. Sasson

in Little Buddhas

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199860265
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979929 | DOI:

Series: AAR Religion, Culture, and History

The Buddha’s “Childhood”

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Childhood is a transitional period in which the foundation for adulthood is laid. The Buddha’s childhood functions as a foreshadowing of the man to come. This chapter considers some of the episodes in the Buddha’s childhood as told by the early hagiographers, in the hopes of unlocking a pivotal hagiographical question: why did the Buddha leave home? What were the circumstances surrounding his youth that motivated, and indeed even justified, his Great Departure? In the process of exploring these questions, a range of Buddhist worldviews emerges, with each hagiography revealing its particular stance on the Buddha’s person and his potential for transformation.

Keywords: Buddha; hagiography; great departure; rose-apple tree; Saṃskāras; palace life; Jātaka

Chapter.  10418 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

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