If we refer to Buddhist literature there are several versions of the same story. It differs between the branches Theravada and Mahayana and even within one branch the interpretation varies.

Recently I read about quite a controversial notion of Prince Rahula's (Prince Siddhartha and Princess Yashodhara's son) that was said to be a belief in Mahayana Buddhist philosophy. The story says that

"Princess Yashodhara had an affair with Prince Siddhartha's charioteer Channa and Prince Rahula is the son of Channa"

I googled about this and could not find any references. Can someone clarify this and if it's an accepted belief can you please provide a reference?

  • Never heard of anything like this in Mahayana. Any references at all, name of the book, or you just heard this from another person?
    – Andriy Volkov
    Apr 6, 2019 at 19:20
  • Just read about it in social media. Few people (credible sources) had commented saying it is true.
    – SriniShine
    Apr 6, 2019 at 19:29
  • I don't mean to be rude but really, who cares? Mahayana philosophy is not concerned with the love-life of charioteers.
    – user14119
    Apr 8, 2019 at 10:01
  • @PeterJ just out of curiosity :D and it's not about the philosophy but the literature
    – SriniShine
    Apr 9, 2019 at 15:30

2 Answers 2


"Just read about it in social media. Few people (credible sources) had commented saying it is true."

Without concrete backup references and literatures, any claim, even those from the world most renounced monks/nuns would need to be verified, let alone "few people with credible sources". Ever heard of the "Four Great References" taught by the Buddha in DN 16? (ref: https://accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.16.1-6.vaji.html#ref4 )

  • I agree with you about verifying what has been told and that is what I'm trying to do. I'm searching for a reference (if there is any) in Mahayana Buddhist literature about such a story as I'm not familiar with Mahayana Buddhism. However, this isn't anything related to Dharma but merely old age gossip. On a different note the Dharma we learn today have been written many years after Budhdha's demise. So how can one be certain that it has not been tampered with writers' personal interpretations? I mean the existence of different branches of Buddhism Mahayana and Theravada is a proof of that :)
    – SriniShine
    Apr 7, 2019 at 9:09
  • Of course there's no way to know for sure with 100% certainty. However, there're great similarities between the suttas/sutras as recorded in the Mahayana's Agamas collections and the Theravada's Nikayas collections. If 2 separate systems recorded at different times and different places have a lot of things in common, then that's a good sign that the Buddha's Words have been transmitted and preserved accurately. For more details, see Ven. Analayo's comparative research work on the Agamas and Nikayas.
    – santa100
    Apr 10, 2019 at 0:41

I don't know, I hadn't heard of this theory before.

You might want to read Wikipedia's Rāhula -- Other traditions.

It says that the Pali tradition is that ...

Rāhula is born on same day Prince Siddhārtha Gautama renounces the throne by leaving the palace, when the prince is 29 years old, [...].

... and ...

Other texts derive rāhu differently. For example, the Pāli Apadāna, as well as another account found in the texts of monastic discipline of the Mūlasarvāstivāda tradition, derive rāhu from the eclipse of the moon, which traditionally was seen to be caused by the asura (demon) Rāhu. The Apadāna states that just like the moon is obstructed from view by Rāhu, Prince Siddhārtha is obstructed by Rāhula's birth. The Mūlasarvāstivāda tradition relates, however, that Rāhula is conceived on the evening of the renunciation of Prince Siddhārtha, and born six years later, on the day that his father achieves enlightenment, which was during a lunar eclipse. Further credence is given to the astrological theory of Rāhula's name by the observation that sons of previous Buddhas are given similar names, related to constellations.

Mūlasarvāstivāda and later Chinese texts such as the Abhiniṣkramaṇa Sūtra give two types of explanation for the long gestation period. [etc.]

Maybe that's related to what you're asking about, i.e. it's some theory about how Rahula could have been born six years after the Buddha left the Palace.

I'm not sure that's a mainstream or an important "Mahayana" doctrine.

If only you knew which school to ask about (e.g. Mulasarvastivada or Dharmaguptaka) then you might be able to ask and answer, "What did or does this school say about Rahula?"

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