The Four Sights: Sickness
king very unwillingly allowed the prince to visit the
city a second time. He thought it would do no good to
try to stop him, and would only add to his confusion and unhappiness.
On his second visit to the city the king did not warn
the people to be ready or to prepare the streets. The
prince and Channa dressed up as young men from noble families
so the people would not know them.
they arrived, the city was quite different to
their last visit. No more joyous crowds of people hailed
the prince. There were no flags, bunting, flowers or well-dressed
people, but simple folk going about their daily work to
earn a living. A blacksmith was sweating and pounding
to make knives. The jewellers and goldsmiths were making
necklaces, bangles, earrings and rings out of diamonds,
gold and silver. The clothes-dyers were dyeing cloths
of lovely colour and hanging them up to dry. The bakers
were busily baking bread, cakes and sweets and selling
them to the customers, who ate them still hot. The prince
looked at these simple common people. Everyone was very
busy, happy and pleased in their work.
the two walked along they came across a man on the ground,
twisting his body, holding his stomach with both hands
and crying out in pain at the top of his voice. All over
his face and body were purple patches, his eyes were rolling,
and he was gasping for breath.
the second time in his life something made the prince
very sad. At once the prince, being a very kind person
and not liking to see people distressed, ran forward and
rested the man's head on his knee, saying, " What
is wrong with you? What is wrong?" The sick man could
not speak, but only cry.
tell me why this man is like this," said the
prince. "What is the matter with his breath? Why
does he not talk?"
my prince," said Channa, "do not hold this man
like that. This man is sick. His blood is poisoned. He
has plague fever and it is burning all over his body.
That is why he is crying loudly without being able to
are there any other men like this?" asked the prince.
and you may be the next if you hold the man as close as
that. Please put him down and do not touch him or the
plague will come out of him and go to you. You will become
the same as he is."
there any other bad things, besides this plague, Channa?"
"Yes, my prince, there are hundreds of other sicknesses as painful
as this," replied Channa.
no one help it? Will everyone be sick? Can it happen at
any time by surprise?" asked Siddhartha.
my dear prince," said Channa, "everyone in this
world. No one can stop it and it can happen any time.
Anyone may fall ill and suffer."
prince was even sadder as he returned to the palace the
second time, dwelling on the man and his sickness.