I recall reading suttas wherein the Buddha references his past life, however I do not recall him mentioning that he was a prince. What is the source for this claim?

2 Answers 2


In the following sutta, the Buddha described the delicate and opulent life that he led in his life as a prince, without actually saying that he was a prince.

“Bhikkhus, I was delicately nurtured, most delicately nurtured, extremely delicately nurtured. At my father’s residence lotus ponds were made just for my enjoyment: in one of them blue lotuses bloomed, in another red lotuses, and in a third white lotuses. I used no sandalwood unless it came from Kāsi and my headdress, jacket, lower garment, and upper garment were made of cloth from Kāsi. By day and by night a white canopy was held over me so that cold and heat, dust, grass, and dew would not settle on me.

“I had three mansions: one for the winter, one for the summer, and one for the rainy season. I spent the four months of the rains in the rainy-season mansion, being entertained by musicians, none of whom were male, and I did not leave the mansion. While in other people’s homes slaves, workers, and servants are given broken rice together with sour gruel for their meals, in my father’s residence they were given choice hill rice, meat, and boiled rice.

AN 3.39

The following sutta provides a hint about the Buddha's father:

“I considered: ‘I recall that when my father the Sakyan was occupied, while I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, I entered upon and abided in the first jhāna, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion. Could that be the path to enlightenment?’

MN 36

  • Thanks, yes I meant the three baskets, I have edited the title. I found the quotes interesting. The first gives support to the idea that he was at the very least very well off, but the second just says he was a Sakyan. Are there any other suttas saying he was well off/a prince?
    – Jbag1212
    Commented Jan 16, 2022 at 22:46
  • @Jbag1212, the Buddha was born to wealth and privilege that some might perhaps interpret and repeat to others as "princely". Also note that Ruben2020's quote is also in MN100. > MN100:28.2: ‘I recall sitting in the cool shade of the rose-apple tree while my father the Sakyan was off working. Quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, I entered and remained in the first absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of seclusion, while placing the mind and keeping it connected.
    – OyaMist
    Commented Jan 17, 2022 at 17:14

Wikipedia says in the article on the Shakyas:

He was known in his lifetime as "Siddhartha Gautama" and "Shakyamuni" (Sage of the Shakyas). He was the son of Śuddhodana, the elected leader of the Śākya Gaṇarājya.

From the article on Śuddhodana:

"Though frequently depicted and referenced as a king, most recent scholarship on the matter refutes the notion that Śuddhodana was a monarch. Many notable scholars state that the Shakya republic was not a monarchy but rather an oligarchy, ruled by an elite council of the warrior and ministerial class that chose its leader or rājā. While the rājā may have held considerable authority in the Shakya homeland, he did not rule autocratically."

So, while clearly being scion of the most elite household, Buddha would not have inherited his father's status, and does not fit the usual understanding of 'prince'. Yet, not much is gained by forcing a more elaborate definition into every mention of Buddha's origins. Except perhaps to note the society of the Shakyas was unusual in the ancient world for being governed remarkably like modern states now (just as Athens was unusual, and produced Socrates..).

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .