King Suddhodana (Sanskrit: Śuddhodana) was the father of Siddhartha Gautama, later known as the Buddha. He was a leader of the Shakya people, who lived in southern Nepal. Suddhodana's father was Sinahana. The Sakyans were monogamous and believed that a man can only have one consort so when Suddhodana won a battle against his father, he asked permission to marry the two princesses, Mayadevi and Prajapati of Devadaha Kingdom located in southern Nepal and northern India on the bank of the river Anoma.
The sage Asita visited Siddhartha when he was just a baby and was surprised when the prince placed his feet on top of his head. After Asita examined the prince’s feet, he kneeled and paid homage to the infant. King Suddhodana copied his action and said “Son, this is my first act of obeisance.”
It was prophesied that Suddhodana’s son, Siddhartha, would become a great chakravartin or universal monarch. However, if he saw four signs, an old man, a sick man, a corpse and a monk, he would instead become a great sage. After hearing this, Suddhodana tried to keep Siddhartha shielded from the outside world so that he would never see the four signs, and become a powerful ruler instead. However, his plan did not succeed and Siddhartha became a sage, leaving luxurious palace life for a humble journey in the search of enlightenment.
According to legend, Suddhodana lamented his son's departure and spent considerable effort attempting to locate him. Years later, after word of Siddhartha's enlightenment reached Suddhodana, he sent a messenger with 10,000 companions to invite Siddhartha back to the Shakya land. The Buddha proceeded to preach to the messenger and all 10,000 companions who in turn decided to join the Sangha and never return. Suddhodana then sent a close friend of Siddhartha's, Kaludayi, to invite him to return. Kaludayi also chose to become a monk, but kept his word to invite the Buddha back to his homeland. The Buddha accepted his father's invitation and returned to visit his homeland. During this visit, he preached the Dhamma to Suddhodana.
Many years later, when the Buddha heard of Suddhodana's impending death, he once again returned to his homeland and preached further to Suddhodana at his deathbed. King Suddhodana attained Arhantship.
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- Immediate Family Of The Buddha King Shuddhodana By Radhika Abeysekera on DharmaWeb.org
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- Why was the Sakyan Republic Destroyed? by S. N. Goenka (The following is a translation and adaptation of a Hindi article by S. N. Goenka published by the Vipassana Research Institute in December 2003.)