an Indian sculpture depicting the birth of the Buddha. Courtesy of Art Resource, NY.
an Indian sculpture depicting the birth of the Buddha. Courtesy of Art Resource, NY.

Nowhere at all Jambudvipa (India) were the midsummer festivities gayer, more joyous, than in Kapilavastu, the chief city of the tiny Sakyan kingdom nestled in the rolling foothills of [the] Himalaya[s], the abode of snows whence arose the little river Rohini which wound its sinuous way through the city.

The Sakyas were ruled in those days by King Suddhodana Gautama, whose two wives were sisters, the older named Maya and the younger Prajapati. Now, Queen Maya had taken vows of abstinence and chastity.

Abstaining from strong drink and resplendent with garlands and perfumes, Queen Maya took part in the festivities for the six days previous to the Asadha full moon. And on the seventh day of the feast she rose up early, bathed in flower-scented water, and sent couriers to the people with four hundred thousand pieces of money as alms to the needy.

Drowsiness overcame the beautiful queen very suddenly that morning; and she could not forbear lying down to rest upon the royal couch in her elegantly furnished chamber. Soon she found herself in the lotusland and this was her dream.

Queen Maya dreamed that the Four Celestial Kings raised her, together with the couch, and conveyed her over the Himalayan range to the high tableland of Tibet. And having arrived at a spot beyond the lofty peaks, they set her down under a jewel-spangled tree and stood respectfully at one side.

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