A Fortunate Birth

Many, many years ago, in a small kingdom in the north of India,
Something was happening that would change the whole world.
Queen Maya, wife of the good King Suddhodana, lay asleep and had
a wondrous dream. She dreamt she saw a brilliant white light shining
down to her from the sky, and in the rays of this light was a magnificent
elephant of light flew closer and closer to the Queen and finally melted
into her body. Queen Maya awoke, filled with greater happiness than
she had ever felt before.

Quickly she went to the king and together they asked the wise men at the court what this strange and wonderful dream might mean. The wise men answered "O Your Majesties, this dream is a most excellent one! It means that the Queen will give birth to a son, and this prince will someday become a great man. Not only you, but the entire world is fortunate that the Queen will have such a special child."

Hearing this good news, the King and Queen were overjoyed. The King was especially happy because he belonged for a son who would someday rule his kingdom hin his place. And now it seemed his wish was being granted.

It was the custom in those days for a woman to return to her parents home in order to give birth. And so, when the time had almost come for the baby to be born, Queen Maya and many of her friends and attendants left the palace of the king and began to journey to her childhood home.

They had not traveled far when the Queen asked that they stop and rest. She knew the baby would be born very soon. They had reached the beautiful gardens of Lumbini and the Queen went into this garden looking for a comfortable place in which she could give birth. The stories say that even the animals and plants, somehow understanding what a special child was about to be born, wanted to help. A large tree bent down one of its branches and the Queen took hold of it with her right hand. Supporting herself in this way, she gave birth to a son. The attendants cradled the baby in their arms and were amazed at how beautiful he was and how peaceful he seemed.