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Divinity and Grace inspire innate goodness

Buddha Jayanti reinforces human values

A Correspondent – 

Buddhists and many others will observe ‘Buddha Purnima’ on May 21, 2016.

The festival commemorates the birth anniversary of Gautama Buddha, founder of Buddhism and should not be confused with ‘Guru Purnima,’ an observance that pays obeisance to the ‘Guru,’ usually to Sage Vyasa. This event, celebrated throughout the world by Hindus, will occur this year on July 19 or 20.

Bodh Gaya
Bodh Gaya

Buddha Purnima is marked during the Lunar month of ‘Vaishakha’ (corresponding to May). Gautama Buddha, whose birth name was Siddhartha Gautama is worshipped by followers of Buddhism, which he established to promote peace, harmony, goodwill and understanding among human beings throughout the world.

The time of Gautama Buddha’s birth and death is uncertain. However, most historians date his lifetime between 563-483 BC. Most people consider Lumbini in Nepal as the birth place of Buddha.

He died at the age of 80 at Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh in India.

Bodh Gaya

For Buddhists, Bodh Gaya is the most important pilgrimage site related to the life of Gautama Buddha. The other three important pilgrimage sites are Kushinagar, Lumbini, and Sarnath. It is believed that Gautama Buddha Divinity and Grace- Deity of Buddha in Fo Guang Temple 1 Webobtained Enlightenment at Bodhagaya and He first taught the Dharma at Sarnath.

According to scripts, He passed away soon after attaining ‘Nirvana,’ or Enlightenment.

Buddha Purnima is also known as ‘Buddha Jayanti,’ ‘Vesak,’ ‘Vaishaka’ and ‘Buddha’s Birthday.’

In North India, Buddha is considered as the Ninth Incarnation and Lord Krishna as the Eighth Incarnation of Lord Vishnu. However, Buddha is not considered so in South India.

In South India, Balarama is considered as the Eighth Incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Even Buddhists do not consider Buddha as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

Many Buddhists visit temples on Vesak to listen to monks give talks and recite ancient verses. Devout Buddhists may spend all day in one or more temples.

Some temples display a small statue of Buddha as a baby. The statue is placed in a basin filled with water and decorated with flowers. Visitors to the temple pour water over the statue. This symbolises a pure and new beginning.

Buddha’s Teachings

Many Buddhists pay special attention to Buddha’s teachings during Vesak. They may wear white robes and only eat vegetarian food on and around Vesak. Many people also give money, food or goods to organizations that help the poor, the elderly and those who are sick. Caged animals are bought and set free to display care for all living creatures, as preached by Buddha.

Divinity and Grace-The Dharma Chakra WebMany Buddhists see Him as the ‘Supreme Buddha.’

Festivals to honour Buddha are held for many centuries.

The decision to celebrate ‘Vesak’ as Buddha’s Birthday was formalised at the first conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists held in Colombo, Sri Lanka in May, 1950. The date was fixed as the day of the Full Moon in May.

Different Buddhist communities celebrate ‘Vesak’ on different dates when there are two Full Moons in May. This is because the Buddhist Lunar calendar can be interpreted in different ways.

Dharma Chakra

The Dharma Chakra or Dharma Wheel is a symbol often seen during Vesak.

It is a wooden wheel with eight spokes. The wheel represents Buddha’s teaching on the path to enlightenment. The eight spokes symbolise the noble eightfold path of Buddhism.

Photo Caption:

  1. The Statue of Gautama Buddha in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India
  2. A large statue of Gautama Buddha adorns Fo Guang Buddhist Temple in Botany, East Auckland (Photo Credit: Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple New Zealand)
  3. The ‘Dharma Chakra,’ represents the eight-fold of Buddhism

1 2 3

Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple in Auckland

Excerpts from website www.fbs.org.nz

Buddhism is a path or way of life to follow based on the teachings of Buddha.

It is a religion of wisdom where knowledge and intelligence predominate.

Buddhism is devoted to conditioning the mind through daily life which eventually will lead to peace, happiness and freedom.

Buddhists trust in Buddha as a great Teacher and Exemplar. Dharma, namely Buddhist teachings as a guide to enlightenment and essential truth.

The Sangha comprises the Buddhist community, particularly monastics, who teach
the Dharma and guide one along the path to enlightenment.

This ‘Triple Gem’ is central to Buddhist life.

Bodhisattva has immense meaning in Buddhism.

‘Bodhi’ means ‘Enlightenment’ and ‘Sattva’ means ‘sentimental being.’

A ‘Bodhisattva’ follows the path to enlightenment.

In doing so, a ‘Bodhisattva’ altruistically chooses to put off his or her own final stage of Enlightenment to completely alleviate the suffering of others.

He or she practices the virtues of generosity, morality, renunciation, wisdom, energy, patience, truthfulness, determination, loving-kindness, and even-mindedness to perfection and without self-interest.

The number of ‘Bodhisattvas’ cannot be calculated in numbers.

Mahayana Buddhists emphasise on the importance of ‘Bodhisattva’ and the ‘Bodhisattva Path’ as the way to realise one’s Buddha nature.

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