Did The Buddha Ordain Without Parental Consent?

Question: If I remember correctly, once, the Buddha ordained a child without his parents’ consent, which made the father angry. Therefore, the Buddha made a rule that there should not be ordination before seeking parental consent. If this is true, how can someone who is fully enlightened can make this mistake?

Answer: It wasn’t really a mistake, as the child was ready to ordain, and became enlightened later to benefit many others. The ordination indeed had parental consent as the Buddha was the father of the boy Rahula. The one who was unhappy was the Buddha’s father, King Suddhodana (Rahula’s grandfather). But this doesn’t mean the Buddha made a mistake, due to the first line of this answer. Rahula’s Mother, Princess Yasodhara did not object, urging Rahula to ask the Buddha for his spiritual inheritance. She too ordained as a nun later.

However, when Prince Siddhartha, who renounced the kingdom did not have parental consent of the King. But again, it doesn’t mean he made a mistake – because he became the Buddha, who was able to spiritually benefit the King (and Queen, out of filial piety) and many others greatly. His renunciation was spiritual rebellion despite the lack of worldly permission (because it wouldn’t be allowed) with a clear conscience and justified spiritual direction! The renunciation was not due to lack of love for his Father, but out of love for all beings, including his Father.

The King had grief for the ordination only because he didn’t understand Rahula was ready for a greater goal yet, and due to his personal attachment, having ‘lost’ Nanda, the Buddha’s half-brother who also joined monkhood. (Nanda too attained enlightenment later.) The Buddha simply took the opportunity to formally set the rule of parental consent to avoid conflict between monastic-wannabes and their families.

Related Article:
Was The Buddha-To-Be Heartless Or Heartful?

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