Thursday, Apr 18 2024  


Lord Buddha is remembered on his birthday to serve as a reminder that life is temporary and we must all strive to attain Nirvana (enlightenment), the state of permanent bliss.

Story relating to the festival:
In India during the 6th century BC a prince name Siddhartha Gautama was born. He led a life of comfort in his father's palace. However, he was troubled by the problems of life related to birth, sickness, old age and death and wanted to find the meaning of life. One night he left the palace, wife and child and went in search of the truth. As these two extreme ways of life could not give him the answer to the problems of life, he adopted the life of the Middle Way or the Eight Fold Path. This way of life led him to Enlightenment or Nirvana.

Lord Buddha's teachings:
He taught the gospel of the four Aryan truths :

  1. Life is full of suffering. Every event in life is painful (birth, age, disease, desire, etc)
  2. It is desire that is the origin of suffering. It is the craving that binds us to the enending cycle of birth and death.
  3. It is possible to achieve the suppression of suffering by wisdom and understanding of the self.
  4. The way to end suffering is to follow the noble eightfold path.

Basic Beliefs of Buddhism:
Buddhists believe that the Buddha is the Perfect One, the Enlightened One who has realised the Universal Truth. He has perfect wisdom, infinite compassion and infinite love. According to the Buddha's teachings, beings are reborn many times in the cycle of births. Only Enlightenment or Nirvana can end the cycle of birth and death.

The Eight-Fold Path

  1. Right Understanding - understanding the Law of Cause and Effect and the Four Noble Truths.
  2. Right Thought - not harbouring thoughts of greed and anger.
  3. Right Speech - avoiding lying, tale bearing, harsh speech and idle talk.
  4. Right Action - not destroying life and not stealing
  5. Right Livelihood - avoiding occupations that bring harm to oneself and others.
  6. Right Effort - earnestly doing one's best in the right direction of the Eight-Fold Path.
  7. Right Mindfulness - being always aware and attentive.
  8. Right Meditation - making the mind steady and calm in order to realise the true nature of things.

Buddhists believe that life is a journey and everyone is a traveller heading towards the same direction, Nirvana. To arrive at Nirvana he finds help in the Triple Gem, which are Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.

How is the Festival celebrated in Asia:
To respect the Triple Gem, Buddhists may do a puja. A puja is usually done before an image of the Buddha. It reminds Buddhists that they should strive for Enlightenment just like the Buddha.

Buddhists chant verses to profess faith in and to praise the Triple Gem. Buddhists also can chant sermons taught by the Buddha. It can be done alone or in a group. The purpose of chanting is to purify the mind of greed, hatred and ignorance and cultivate generosity, love and wisdom. Chanting the name of the Buddha with full understanding of its meaning has the effect of calming a disturbed mind which is often caused by greed, hatred and ignorance of the actual situation one is in. When the mind is calm, life, problems are seen more clearly and attitudes become more positive.

Communal Chanting is normally done in a temple. A bell is rung at the beginning of the chanting session. Communal chanting can also be done at home when there is a gathering of friends and relatives with or without the presence of a monk.

How is the festival celebrated with Swami:
Buddhist devotees for countries like Sri Lanka, Japan and Myanmar assemble at Brindavan to celebrate the Buddha Poornima, the Birth Day of Gautam Buddha who founded Buddhism. Bhagawan, in His Divine Message, explains Lord Buddha's teachings on Right Conduct, i.e., Right vision, Right Hearing, Right Thoughts and Right Actions. He also narrates incidents from Buddha's life, elaborates the inner meaning of the Buddhist prayer "Buddham Charanam Gachchami" and emphasises the importance of Non-violence or Ahimsa.

Buddha Poornima usually falls in the second week of May.

Jai Sai Ram

Bro Sherwin
SSEHV Group 4


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