Only son of Gotama Buddha. He was born on the day on which his father left the household life (J.i.60; AA.i.82, etc.; cf. J.i.62). When the Buddha visited Kapilavatthu for the first time after his Enlightenment and accepted Suddhodana's invitation, Ráhula's mother (Ráhulamátá) sent the boy to the Buddha to ask for his inheritance (dáyajja). The Buddha gave him no answer, and, at the conclusion of the meal, left the palace. Ráhula followed him, reiterating his request until at last the Buddha asked Sáriputta to ordain him. (According to SNA.i.340, Moggallána taught him the kammavácá; see also J.ii.393). When Suddhodana heard of this he protested to the Buddha, and asked as a boon that, in future, no child should be ordained without the consent of his parents, and to this the Buddha agreed (Vin.i.82f.; the story of Ráhula's conversion is also given at DhA.i.98f).
It is said (AA.i.145) that immediately after Ráhula's ordination the Buddha preached to him constantly (abhinhovádavasena) many suttas for his guidance. Ráhula himself was eager to receive instruction from the Buddha and his teachers and would rise early in the morning and take a handful of sand, saying: "May I have today as many words of counsel from my teachers as there are here grains of sand!" The monks constantly spoke of Ráhula's amenability, and one day the Buddha, aware of the subject of their talk, went amongst them and related the Tipallatthamiga Játaka (J.i.160ff ) and the Tittira Játaka (J.iii.64ff ) to show them that in past births, too, Ráhula had been known for his obedience. When Ráhula was seven years old, the Buddha preached to him the Ambalatthika Ráhulováda Sutta (q.v.) as a warning that he should never lie, even in fun. Ráhula used to accompany the Buddha on his begging rounds. Sometimes he would accompany Sáriputta on his begging rounds. He was present when Sáriputta went to his (Sáriputta's) mother's house, where he was roundly abused by her for having left her. DhA.iv.164f).
Ráhula noticed that he harboured carnal thoughts fascinated by his own physical beauty and that of his father, the Buddha preached to him, at the age of eighteen, the Mahá Ráhulováda Sutta (q.v.). Two other suttas, also called Ráhulováda, one included in the Samyutta and the other in the Anguttara (see below), formed the topics for Ráhula's meditation (Vipassaná). To these Suttas Buddhaghosa (MA.i.635) adds the Sámanera, or Kumárapańhá, and proceeds to enumerate the different purposes which the Buddha had in view in preaching these suttas; see also AA.ii.547. SNA.i.340 says, about the Ráhula Sutta (q.v.), that the Buddha constantly preached it to Ráhula. See also the Ráhula Samyutta.
Later, the Buddha, knowing that Ráhula's mind was ripe for final attainment, went with him alone to Andhavana, and preached to him the Cúla Ráhulováda Sutta. At the end of the discourse, Ráhula became an arahant, together with one hundred thousand crores of listening devas. SA.iii.26 says these devas were among those who, in the time of Padumuttara Buddha, had heard Ráhula's wish to be born as the son of a future Buddha. They were subsequently born in various deva worlds, but on this day they all assembled at Andhavana in order to be present at the fulfilment of Ráhula’s wish. This scene was one of the incidents sculptured in the Relic Chamber of the Mahá Thúpa, as was also the ordination of Ráhula. Mhv.xxxi.81, 83.
Afterwards, in the assembly of monks, the Buddha declared Ráhula foremost among those of his disciples who were anxious for training (sikkhákámánam). A.i.24; the Vinaya (iii.16) gives a story illustrating Ráhula's extreme conscientiousness in the observance of rules. He arrived one evening at Kosambí, when the Buddha was staying there in the Badarikáráma. Ráhula was told there of a new rule which had been laid down to the effect that no novice should sleep under the same roof as a fully ordained monk. Unable to find any resting place which did not violate this rule, Ráhula spent the night in the Buddha's jakes. When the Buddha discovered him there the next morning, he modified the rule. This incident and Ráhula's keenness in observing rules are described again in greater detail at J.i.161f. There the Buddha is said to have found fault with Sáriputta for his neglect of Ráhula (see also Sp.iv.744). On another occasion, finding no place in which to sleep because monks who had arrived late had taken his sleeping place, Ráhula spent the night in the open, in front of the Buddha's cell. Mára, seeing him there, assumed the form of a huge elephant and trumpeted loudly, hoping to frighten him. But the plot failed. This was eight years after Ráhula had attained arahantship (DhA.iv.69f.).
In the time of Padumuttara Buddha, both Ráhula and Ratthapála were rich householders of Hamsavatí, who, realizing the vanity of riches, gave all away to the poor. One day they entertained two ascetics of great power. The ascetic to whom Ráhula ministered was in the habit of visiting the abode of the Nága king, Pathavindhara, and had been impressed by its magnificence. Therefore, in returning thanks to Ráhula for his hospitality, he wished that his host might resemble Pathavindhara. Ráhula remembered this, and after death he was born in the Nága world as Pathavindhara, his friend being born as Sakka. He was, however, dissatisfied with his lot, and one day when, with Virúpakkha, he was on a visit to Sakka, Sakka recognized him, and finding out that he was dissatisfied, suggested to him a remedy. Pathavindhara invited the Buddha to his abode. The Buddha, attended by Sumana and one hundred thousand arahants, came and was entertained by him. In the company of monks was Uparevata, the Buddha's son, seated next to him, and Pathavindhara was so fascinated by him that he could not take his eyes off him. Discovering who he was, Pathavindhara expressed a wish that he, too, might be born as the son of a future Buddha. Later, in the time of Kassapa Buddha, Ráhula was born as Pathavindhara, the eldest son of King Kiki, later becoming his viceroy. His seven sisters built seven residences for the Buddha, and, at their suggestion, Pathavindhara built five hundred residences for the monks. The story of the past as given here is taken from AA.i.141ff.; part of it is given in MA.ii.722 under Ratthapála, but the account differs in details. There the Nága world is called Bhumindhara, and the Nága king, Pálita. SNA.i.341 differs again and calls the king Sankha. See also ThagA.ii.30 on Ratthapála, where no mention is made of Ráhula. The Apadána (i. 60f.) gives a different version altogether. There Ráhula gave Padumuttara Buddha a carpet (santhara), as a result of which, twenty one kappas ago, he was born as a khattiya named Vimala, in Renuvatí. There he lived in a palace, Sudassana, specially built for him by Vissakamma.
Four verses uttered by Ráhula are included in the Theragáthá (vs.295 98; Mil.413 contains several other stanzas attributed to Ráhula).
It is said that the news of Ráhula’s birth was brought to the Bodhisatta when he was enjoying himself in his pleasances on the banks of the royal pond after being decked by Vissakamma. As soon as the news was announced, he made up his mind to renounce the world without delay, for he saw, in the birth of a son, a new bond attaching him to household life ("Ráhulajáto, bandhanam játam" the word ráhula meaning bond). J.i.60; DhA.i.70. The Ap. Commentary, however, derives Ráhula from Ráhu; just as Ráhu obstructs the moon, so would the child be as obstruction to the Bodhisatta's Renunciation.
According to the Dígha and Samyutta Commentaries (DA.ii.549; SA.iii.172), Ráhula predeceased the Buddha and even Sáriputta, and the place of his death is given as Távatimsa. For twelve years he never lay on a bed. (DA.iii.736).
In numerous Játakas, Ráhula is mentioned as having been the Bodhisatta's son - e.g., in the Uraga, Kapi (No. 250), Kumbhakára, Khandahála, Culla Sutasoma, Daddara, Bandhanágára, Makkata, Makhadeva, Mahájanaka, Mahásudassana, Vidhurapandita, Vessantara, Síhakotthuka and Sonaka. He was also Yańńadatta, son of Mandavya (Sáriputta) and the young tortoise in the Maháukkusa. The Apadána (ii.551) says that in many births Uppalavanná and Ráhula were born of the same parents (ekasmim sambhave) and had similar tendencies (samánacchandamánasá).
Ráhula was known to his friends as Ráhulabhadda (Ráhula, the Lucky). He himself says (Thag. vs. 295f ) that he deserved the title because he was twice blest in being the son of the Buddha and an arahant himself. Mention is often made in the books (DhA.i.124; MA.i.537; Mil.410 attributes this statement to Sáriputta; SNA.i.202 expands it to include others) that, though Ráhula was his own son, the Buddha showed as much love for Devadatta, Angulimála and Dhanapála as he did for Ráhula.
Asoka built a thúpa in honour of Ráhula, to be specially worshipped by novices. Beal, Records i. 180, 181.
One of the four monks who accompanied Chapata to Ceylon. These monks later became the founders of the Síhalasangha in Burma. Later, at one of the festivals of King Narapati, Ráhula fell in love with an actress and went with her to Malayadípa, where he taught the king the Khuddasikkhá and its Commentary. With the money given to him by the king he became a layman. Sás. 65; Bode, op. cit., 23f.
The eighteenth section of the Samyutta Nikáya. It consists of a series of lessons given by the Buddha to Ráhula, showing him the fleeting nature of all things (S.ii.244 56). Buddhaghosa says (MA.ii.635f ) that these suttas were preached on various occasions, from the time Ráhula entered the Order, to the time of his attainment of arahantship. They contain mention of qualities which mature emancipation, vimuttiparipácaníyadhammá (SA.ii.159).
The Buddha tells Ráhula that a monk should cultivate the thought that, in the four elements, either in one's own body or in external objects, there is neither self nor what pertains to the self. A.ii.164; this same topic is discussed in greater detail in the Ambalatthika Ráhulováda Sutta.
Buddhaghosa says (AA.ii.547) that the Buddha here declares catukotikasuńńatá (emptiness in the four things i.e., elements).
Ráhula visits the Buddha and asks him how to get rid of the insidious idea of "I" and "mine," both with regard to one's own body and with all external objects. The Buddha replies that one should see things as they really are, that in none of the five khandhas is there any "I" or "mine." This is right insight. S.iii.135; this sutta is given at S.ii.252 as Anusaya Sutta. Buddhaghosa describes both this sutta and the next as Ráhulováda vipassaná (AA.ii.547).
Similar to No. 2. Ráhula asks how one's mind can be removed from such vain conceits. S.iii.136. This sutta is given at S.ii.253 as the Apagata Sutta.
The discourse which brings about the attainment of arahantship by Ráhula (S.iv.105f). It is the same as the Cúla Ráhulováda Sutta (q.v.).
A series of stanzas which, according to Buddhaghosa (SNA.i.340), were frequently recited by the Buddha for the guidance of Ráhula. The Buddha reminds him that he (Ráhula) is a follower of "the torch bearer among men." He has left the world to put an end to sorrow. He should, therefore, associate with good friends, in good surroundings. He should be free from attachment to food or clothes. He should free his mind from all evil tendencies and fill it with thoughts of renunciation. SN. vv. 335 42. Buddhaghosa says (MA.ii.532, 635) that the purpose of this sutta was to emphasize the value of good association (kalyánamittúpanissaya).