By Thinley Penjore
We are recently observed the most important day for Buddhists all over the world. Some call it Buddha Jayanti and some know this day as Buddha Purnima. It is the most sacred festivals of Buddhists. Buddha Purnima (Buddha’s Birthday) is celebrated to remember Lord Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. This day is his birth anniversary and falls on the full moon of the fourth lunar month, the month of Vaisakh that falls during April or sometime in May.
This day, commemorates three important events of Buddha’s life – his birth in 623 BC, his enlightenment i.e. attainment of supreme wisdom, in 588 BC and his attainment of Nirvana i.e. the complete extinction of his self at the age of 80.
Gautama was born as Siddhartha in the Kshatria caste of the Shakya clan in 566 B.C. in Kalpataru, now Lumbini in present day Nepal. Popular legends represent him as the son of a great king and brought up amidst the luxuries of a palace. As he grew into manhood, Siddhartha was caught by the sufferings of the world (old age, disease and death being important of them), left his riches at the age of 29 to become an ascetic and to seek higher truth. After six years of study, meditation and sacrifice, he is known to have found the Nirvana and became the Buddha or the completely enlightened one.
Lord Buddha is considered the ninth avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu (Preserver in the Hindu Holy Trinity of Creator-Preserver-Destroyer). Gautam Buddha “lived and died at the age of 80, in about the fifth century before the Christian era”.
Gautam Buddha was not a god. His philosophy does not entail any theistic world-view. His teachings are solely to liberate human beings from the misery and sufferings of life.
According to Buddhism, sorrow and desire are the main cause of all the evil and suffering of this world. He advocated the Eightfold Path consisting of precepts like right conduct, right motive, right speech, right effort, right resolve, right livelihood, right attention and right meditation to gain mastery over suffering. Gautama Buddha lived and taught in northern India in the 6th Century B.C.
He travelled far and wide teaching hundreds of followers. Even after death, his disciples continued to spread his teachings.
Rich and poor alike were attracted by the simplicity of Buddha’s teaching and his emphasis on complete equality of all, a notion antithetical to the existing Hindu caste system. The Mauryan Emperor Ashoka espoused the Buddhist religion in the 3rd century B.C. and helped in spreading it far and wide. Sarnath and Bodhgaya are two of the most important pilgrimage centers annually visited by Buddhists from across the world.
Buddhism is one of the most ancient and highly philosophical Indian traditions. “Buddha” means “Awakened One”, someone who has awakened from the sleep of ignorance and sees things as they actually are. Buddhism is Buddha’s teachings, his inner experiences or realizations. Buddha’s eighty-four thousand teachings of the inner realizations constitute Buddhism.
Though Buddhism originated in India, the religion gained tremendous popularity throughout the Far East in Asia. The number of Buddhists in the world ranges “from less than two hundred million, to more than five hundred million, with the lower number closer to reality.”
Buddhism has three paths of taking refuge- Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha popularly called Tri-Ratna, chanted as
Buddham saranam gacchami
Dhammam saranam gacchami
Sangham saranam gacchami
In Buddhism, it is very important to take refuge in Buddha as teacher, to take refuge in Dharma that is the teaching of Lord Buddha, and to take refuge in Sangha or the community, who is the potential element to the achievement of the path of enlightenment.
Let us dedicate ourselves to the greater values of Buddhism, to learn and follow his path with sincerity in all our daily lives.