The Pleasure Palaces

Soon afterwards, Prince Siddhartha and Princess Yasodhara were married. The King wanted to be certain that his son would never desire to leave the kingdom, so he ordered not one but three magnificent places to be built for the new couple. "Make them as beautiful as possible," he told the chief builder. "I want them to be so magnificent that the people entering them will think they are in heaven.

"I want one to be a summer palace, made of cool marble and surrounded by refreshing pools and fountains. The second will be the winter palace, warm and comfortable. And the third will be for the rainy reason. Place these palaces in the middle of a large park, with beautiful scenery in every direction. And surround the park with a large wall, so that nothing unpleasant from the outside world can ever get in. Everything is to be so perfect that Prince Siddhartha will be tempted to leave."

The King did everything possible to make these new homes attractive to the Prince. He had the most skilled musicians in his kingdom play there throughout the day and into the night. All the servants were beautiful young dancing girls, and the chefs in the kitchen were instructed to serve a never-ending variety of delicious food. Nothing was allowed into the palaces that night disturb the Prince's mind and make him want to leave.

And so for many years Prince Siddhartha lived in these heavenly surroundings. From morning to night he was entertained in a thousand ways. He never say anything that was not beautiful, nor ever heard any sound that was not sweet and pleasant. For instance, if one of the servant girls became ill, she was removed from the palace and not allowed to return until she was better again. In this way, the Prince never saw sickness or anything that might disturb his gentle mind. The King ordered that no one speaking to the Prince should ever mention anything sad or depressing. And even if one of the plants in the garden began to droop or wilt, it was immediately snipped off by a special gardener . Thus the Prince never even saw a faded or dying flower! In all these ways, then, he was kept ignorant of the suffering and unpleasantness in the world.

The time went by, Yasodhara had a son who was Rahula. Everything seemed like to desire. The King was very pleased, glad that his plans to keep the Prince interested in the royal life were working out so well.