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Before my Awakening, when I was still an unawakened Bodhisatta, the thought occurred to me: 'Household life is confining, a dusty path.
Life gone forth is the open air. It isn't easy, living in a home, to practice the holy life totally perfect, totally pure, a polished shell.
What if I, having shaved off my hair & beard and putting on the ochre robe, were to go forth from the household life into homelessness?'
"So at a later time, when I was still young, black-haired, endowed with the blessings of youth in the first stage of life, having shaved off my hair & beard —
though my parents wished otherwise and were grieving with tears on their faces — I put on the ochre robe and went forth from the home life into homelessness.
Maha Saccaka Sutta
"So it is, Ananda. So it is. Even I myself, before my Awakening, when I was still an unawakened Bodhisatta, thought: 'Renunciation is good. Seclusion is good.'
But my heart didn't leap up at renunciation, didn't grow confident, steadfast, or firm, seeing it as peace.
The thought occurred to me: 'What is the cause, what is the reason, why my heart doesn't leap up at renunciation, doesn't grow confident, steadfast, or firm, seeing it as peace?' Then the thought occurred to me: 'I haven't seen the drawback of sensual pleasures; I haven't pursued [that theme].
I haven't understood the reward of renunciation; I haven't familiarized myself with it.
That's why my heart doesn't leap up at renunciation, doesn't grow confident, steadfast, or firm, seeing it as peace.'
Asvaghosa's Sri Buddhacarita: Book V [Flight] Book VI [The Dismissal of Chaṁdaka]
Abhiniskramana Sutra: Varga 6. The Return of Kandaka
When the Bodhisattva cut off his hair and put on the saffron-colored cloth, one hundred thousand gods felt joyous, pleased, and elated.
Happy and delighted, they called out cries of joy and exclaimed:
“Friends, Prince Siddhārtha has left his home.
Friends, Prince Siddhārtha has become a monk!
He will awaken to unexcelled, perfect and complete buddhahood and will turn the wheel of the Dharma.
He will liberate from birth the infinite number of beings who are born.
Then he will free them from old age, death, sickness, pain, lamentation, suffering, depression, and distress, and ferry them to the other shore of the ocean of saṃsāra. He will establish them in the realm of phenomena, which is blissful, peaceful, deathless, and free from fear, suffering, harm, and stain.” These words of amazement, delight, and joy resounded all the way up to the Highest Heaven.
Ārya Lalitavistara Nāma Mahāyāna Sūtra
Today, the 27th March 2015, 8th Day of the 2nd Lunar Month, Upavasatha Day, the Chinese Mahayana Tradition commemorates the Lord's Great Renunciation