he Buddha was born Prince Siddhartha of a kingdom in India and had grown disillusioned with the life of riches and privilege that he had been born into. While riding through the city he had seen people who were suffering, old people near death, hungry people, and people suffering from disease. This had shocked him since growing up in the court of his father the King he had been sheltered by any such want. He made up his mind to search for a greater meaning to life than just living well, but as he prepared to leave his life of luxury his wife gave birth to a son. At his son’s birth, Prince Siddhartha said “a fetter (Rahula) has been born into the world” and so his son was named Rahu.
Prince Siddhartha spent years seeking enlightenment, and after reaching his goal became known as the Buddha (enlightened one). The princess took her son to see his father and when they found Buddha she told her son that he was his father and that he should ask him for his inheritance. The princess does not seem to have realized that Buddha possessed only one thing to offer his son – the path to enlightenment. When Rahu asked for his inheritance, Buddha took his son to teach him what he knew about the spiritual path that he was on. This brought sorrow to the family of the Buddha since they had now lost two generations of princes.
The Buddha spent a lot of time teaching his son what he had learned, as if trying to make up for the time he had lost. Rahu was the Buddha’s personal student and quickly became know as being very eager for the teaching of his father. One of the legends of Rahu was that he would fill his hand with sand every morning and wish that he could have as many words of wisdom from the Buddha as he had grains of sand. The Buddha spent a great deal of time teaching his son the importance of honesty in order to understand the rest of his teachings and emphasizing that those who intentionally lie are spiritually empty regardless of other accomplishments.
At the age of 18 Rahu was fully ordained and became known as “lucky Rahula.” The followers of the Buddha said that Rahula was lucky because he had received enlightenment directly from the Buddha, and that he was the son of Buddha. Rahula made every effort to make his own way without currying any special favor from the other followers because the Buddha was also his father. This had the unfortunate side effect of leaving little information behind on the rest of Rahula’s life and accomplishments. We do know that Rahula died before his father.