Buddha is the ninth avatar of Lord Vishnu.Buddha Pournima is considered as the most important day since the most significant three events in the life of Gautama Buddha occurred on the same day. His birth, enlightenment and death (nirvana), all took place in the month of Vaishakh,on a full moon night in the month of April/May.
So for all the followers of Buddha,this day is Buddha Pournima.Pilgrims from all over the world come to Bodh Gaya in India to participate in the Buddha Poornima celebrations that highlight prayer meets, sermons and religious discourses, recitation of Buddhist scriptures, group meditation, processions and worship of the statue of Buddha .
All the occasions related to the Buddha are celebrated combinely on Buddha Pournima day.Prayers, sermons, and continuous recitation of Buddhist scriptures resonate in monasteries, religious halls, and homes.In Sikkim, monks hold daylong reading of the scriptures before the Buddha's statue in monasteries.The lay persons listen to these recitals, and also offer gifts to the monks and the statue.
Flowers, candles, and fruits are offered to Buddha statues with devotion.The Bodhi Vriksha or the pipal tree,under which Buddha attained enlightenment is worshipped by sprinkling milk and scented waters on its roots and devotees place garlands, colored flags and light many lamps around it.
Buddhist rituals for celebrating the Buddha Jayanti are very elaborate.On this day the Buddhists bathe and wear only white clothes.They gather in their viharas for worship and give alms to monks. Many spend their entire day at the vihara listening to discourses on the life and teachings of the Buddha or invite monks to their homes.They also reaffirm their faith in the five principles called Panchsheel ie not to take life, not to steal, not to lie, not to imbibe liquor or other intoxicants, and not to commit adultery.
On Buddha Purnima day, the Buddhists do not eat meat but eat kheer or rice cooked in milk and sugar. They also serve the food to the poor people.They set up stalls in public places to serve others with good drinking water.
Buddha is one of the greatest spiritual teachers of mankind India has produced.He is honoured as the "Light of Asia".Buddha's teachings and messages have captured the hearts and minds of billions of people inside and outside India.
The capital Kapilavastu was situated at the foot of Himalayas,ruled by the king Shuddhodana.Siddharth was his son who was prophesied by a royal astrologer that he would become either a famous emperor or a world-renowned ascetic.king Shuddhodana was worried that his son should not take to the thorny path and took precautions to keep him away from such temptations of ascetic life.
Siddhartha never knew the sorrows,miseries and tensions of life.One day when he became a grown up boy,he desired to see the capital.The king Shuddhodan took all the steps to make the city very joyous and interesting,so that wherever Siddharth would go,he will have only pleasing sights and experience.
It was then,an old and crippled man sitting by the roadside who came into the view of the prince.Siddharth had never seen such a person before with a sunken face,a toothless mouth,the whole body bent and totally streghthless.Shocked with sight, the prince asked the charioteer,who that person was.
The charioteer,Chenna,informed him that he is a very old man who was very healthy in his youth and Chenna further convinced him that every human being had to become like him after the youthful days are gone.
The sad prince returned to the palace, deeply engrossed in various thoughts. The king Shuddhodan wanted to cheer up his spirits and he again ordered for his son's visit to the capital.This time the prince Siddhartha saw a dead body being carried for the cremation.But Chenna,the charioteer again convinced him that the human beings were prone to illness and that the death is iunavoidable.
On his next visit,coincidently Siddhartha saw a person with his face beaming tranquility and heard from Chenna that he was an ascetic who had triumphed over the worldly temptations,worries, fears, sorrows and attained the highest bliss of life. And that was it.
It was the time when Siddharth was hardly twenty-nine years by age,when in the full bloom of youth in the midnight of a full-moon day,he bade adieu to his dear parents, his beloved wife Yashodhara,loving little child Rahul,all the royal luxuries and left for the forest to seek for himself answers for the riddles of human miseries.
Siddhartha wandered in the forests for seven years, underwent severe austerities and finally, on the Vaishaakha Purnima Day, the supreme light of Realisation dawned on him and thereafter he became Buddha, the Enlightened One.
He was called Gautama when he was traveller monk and now he became popular as Gautam Buddha.Buddha's overflowing love for the needy and destitute,was the greatest factor for social harmony and justice to the weaker sections in the society.
Tallest Statue in China
Buddha is revered as an Avataar of God by Hindus.The spiritual and moral forces generated by Buddha have strengthened and enriched Hinduism and Buddha Gaya where he attained his supreme enlightenment is one of the most sanctified places of pilgrimage for all the hindus.
Buddha denounced the animal sacrifices in the yajnas and yagas and himself stood as the very embodiment of compassion to all living beings. The influence of Buddha's teachings spiritually elevated several races all over the world which includes - Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Syria, Egypt, Brahmadesh, Siam, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaya, China, Korea, Japan,Tibet,Cochin, China, Sumatra and Java.All these countries revere Buddha as their supreme spiritual leader and teacher.
Buddha passed into eternity at the age of eighty,after completing his Sahasra Chandra Darshana i.e. 1000 full moon days,on the full moon day of Vaishaakh,which is the day of his birth as also of his Enlightenment.
The Teachings Of Buddha
Gautama Buddha delivered his first sermon in the Pali language, on the banks of the river Ganges at Varanasi. He delivered his lecture to only five men.They experienced Buddha glowed with a brilliant inner radiance and became his first followers.Later on,Buddha was involved in a larger crowd and instructed them to spread his message all over.
Buddha's teachings consist of The Four Noble Truths, followed by The Eight-Fold Path.
The Four Noble Truths are as follows:
1. The world is full of suffering and sorrow.
2. The cause of suffering is desire.
3. The renunciation of desires will lead to
salvation from the world, and
4. The path to salvation can be achieved by
following The Eight-Fold Path.
The Eight Fold Path
1) Right Knowledge means a basic and thorough understanding of the Four Noble Truths.
2) Right Attitude means having an unselfish and mentally healthy attitude to life, free from hatred
3) Right Speech means speaking words that are good and true. One should not lie or gossip.
4) Right Action means always conducting oneself in a way that does not harm, hurt nor displease anyone. Adultery, cheating, stealing and murder are specifically denounced.
5) Right Means of Livelihood means that one must always strive to earn one's livelihood by honest means.
6) Right Effort means one should conscientiously strive to develop good tendencies and destroy negative inclinations.
7) Right Awareness means we should introspect about our inclinations and not give in easily to temptation.
8) Right Meditation means working towards training your mind towards intense concentration, which, in turn, will lead to salvation.
Buddhism also advocated the doctrines of Karma and reincarnation. Buddha preached that the soul goes through many incarnations before it finally sheds all its Karma and is reunited to its pure state. He called this state Nirvana. This is a state where all the desires and cravings of the mind become extinct and a state of total, uninterrupted bliss is experienced.
What is notable about Buddhism is the absence of a personal Creator or God in its tenets. While Buddha did not deny the existence of God, he preached that the universe is guided and governed by a Supreme Power that did not possess a name or form. Consequently, all rites and rituals became defunct.
O Keshava !
O Lord of the universe !
O Lord Hari, who have assumed the form of Buddha !
All glories to You !
O Buddha of compassionate heart,
you decry the slaughtering of poor animals
performed according to the rules of Vedic Sacrifice !