Birth of Buddha
During sixth century B.C. in the one of the non-monarchical state viz. Kapilvatsu was ruled by Sakyas and at the time of birth of Siddharth Gautam it was the turn of Suddhodana to be the King of Kapilvastu. The King Suddhodana was married to a beautiful Koliyan Princes named Maha Maya. Maha Maya’s father’s name was Anjana and mothers’s name was Sulakshana. Anjana was a Koliya and was residing in the village Devadaha. The king Suddhodana was a man of great military prowess. When Suddhodana had shown his martial powers he was allowed to take a second wife and he chose Mahaprajapati. She was the elder sister of Mahamaya. Suddhodana was a wealthy person. The lands he held were very extensive and the retinue under him was very large. He employed, it is said, one thousand ploughs to furrow the land he owned. Suddhodana lived quite a luxurious life and had many palaces.
One full moon night, Queen Maha Maya had a dream. In her dreams she saw that the four world-guardians raised her as she was sleeping on her bed and carried her to the tableland of the Himalayas, placed her under a great Sal Tree and stood on one side. The wives of the four world-guardians then approached and took her to the lake Mansarovar. They bathed her, robed her in a dress, anointed her with perfumes and decked her with flowers in a manner fit to meet some divinity. Then a Bodhisatta, by name Sumedha, appeared before her saying, “I have decided to take my last and final birth on this earth, will you consent to be my mother?" She said, "Yes, with great pleasure." At this moment Queen Maha Maya awoke. Next morning Maha Maya told her dream to Suddhodana. King Suddhodana invited the scholars from his kingdom to interpret the dream. The Scholars said: “Be not anxious. You will have a son, and if he leads a householder's life he will become a universal monarch, and if he leaves his home and goes forth into a homeless state, and becomes a Sanyasi, he will become a Buddha, a dispeller of illusions in the world." Bearing the Bodhisatta in her womb like oil in a vessel for ten lunar months, Mahamaya, as her time of delivery was coming nearer, desired to go to her parents' home for delivery. Mahamaya, on her way to Devadaha, had to pass through a pleasure-grove of Sal trees and other trees, flowering and non-flowering. It was known as the Lumbini Grove. As the rath I e. palanquin was passing through it, the whole Lumbini Grove seemed like the heavenly Cittalata grove or like a banqueting pavilion adorned for a mighty king. From the roots to the tips of the branches the trees were loaded with fruits, flowers and numberless bees of the fine colours, uttering curious sounds, and flocks of various kinds of birds, singing sweet melodies. Witnessing the scene, there arose a desire in the heart of Mahamaya for halting and sporting therein for a while. Accordingly she told the couriers to take her in the sal-grove and wait there. Mahamaya alighted from her palanquin and walked up to the foot of a Royal Sal Tree. A pleasant wind, not too strong, was blowing and the boughs of the trees were heaving up and down and Mahamaya felt like catching one of them. Luckily one of the boughs heaved down sufficiently low to enable her to catch it. So she rose on her toes and caught the bough. Immediately she was lifted up by its upward movement and being shaken, she felt the pangs of childbirth. While holding the branch of the Sal Tree she was delivered of a son in a standing position. The child was born in the year 563 b.c. on the Vaishakha Purnima day. Queen Maha Maya decided to return to Kapilvastu along with newly born child.
On the fifth day, the King Suddodana invited wise men from his kingdom to witness the naming ceremony and to suggest a good name for the newly born Prince. After examining the birth marks of the prince the wise men predicated that “The Prince will become a very great teacher in this world. If he chose to rule he will be king of kings. If he chooses a religious life then he will become the Wisest – the Buddha”. One of the Scholar person said “The prince will be a Buddha and nothing else”. Then the gathered wise-men gave the prince name as SIDDHARTH meaning “Wish-Fulfilled”. His clan Name was Gautama. Popularly, therefore, he was called as Siddharth Gautama.
On the seventh day from the birth the Prince Siddharth’s mother died. Queen Maha Maya before dying entrusted the responsibility of her son Siddhartha to her sister Maha Prajapati Gotami, who was also wife of King Suddhodana.
Prince Siddharth grew up in the company of his younger brother Nanda (Son of Maha Prajapati Gotami) and cousins. At the age of eight Prince Siddharth started his education.
By the time Prince Siddharth finished his education, he was sixteen year old. His parents also were anxious to get him married. There was a Sakya by name Dandapani. Yeshodhara was his daughter. She was well known for her beauty and for her character i. e. 'sila." Yeshodhara had reached her sixteenth year and Dandapani was thinking about her marriage. According to custom Dandapani sent invitations to young men of all the neighbouring countries for the Swayamvar of his daughter. An invitation was also sent to Siddharth Gautama. They asked him to go to the Swayamvar and offer his hand to Yeshodhara. He agreed to follow his parents' wishes. From amongst the young men Yeshodhara's choice fell on Siddharth Gautama. It was love at first sight. However, Dandapani was not very happy. He felt doubtful about the success of the marriage. Siddharth, he felt, was addicted to the company of saints and sages. He preferred loneliness. How could he be a successful householder? Yeshodhara, who was determined to marry none but Siddharth, asked her father whether to be in the company of saints and sages was a crime. She did not think it was. Knowing her daughter's determination to marry no one but Siddharth Gautama, the mother of Yeshodhara told Dandapani that he must consent. Dandapani did. The rivals of Gautama were not only disappointed but felt that they were insulted. They wanted that in fairness to them Yeshodhara should have applied some test for her selection. But she did not. For the time being they kept quiet, believing that Dandapani would not allow Yeshodhara to choose Siddharth Gautama so that their purpose would be served. But when Dandapani failed, they made demand that a test of skill in archery be prescribed. Dandapani had to agree. At first Siddharth was not prepared for this. But Channa, his charioteer, pointed out to him what disgrace his refusal would bring upon his father, upon his family and upon Yeshodhara. Siddharth Gautama was greatly impressed by this argument and agreed to take part in the contest. The contest began. Each candidate showed his skill in turn. Gautama's turn came last. But his was the highest marksmanship. Thereafter the marriage took place. Both Suddhodana and Dandapani were happy. So was Yeshodhara and Mahaprajapati. After a long term of married life Yeshodhara gave birth to a son. He was named Rahul.
INDUCTION INTO SAKYA SANGH
The Sakyas had their community council then popularly know as “Sangh”. Every Sakya youth above twenty had to be initiated into the Sangh and be a member of the Sangh. Siddharth Gautama had reached the age of twenty. It was time for him to be initiated into the Sangh and become a member thereof. The Sakyas had a meeting-house which they called Sansthagar. It was situated in Kapilavatsu. The session of the Sangh was also held in the Sansthagar. With the object of getting Siddharth initiated into the Sangh, Suddhodana asked the Purohit of the Sakyas to convene a meeting of the Sangh. Accordingly the Sangh met at Kapilavatsu in the Sansthagar of the Sakyas. At the meeting of the Sangh, the Purohit proposed that Siddharth be enrolled as a member of the Sangh. The Senapati of the Sakyas then addressed the Sangh and proposed the name of Siddharth Gautama for membership of member of the Sangh. On acceptance of everyone Prince Siddhartha become the member of Sangh. Thereafter, the Purohit of the Sakyas stood up and asked Siddhartha to rise in his place. Addressing Siddhartha, he said: “Do you realize that the Sangh has honoured you by making you a member of it?” "I do, sir,” replied Siddhartha. "Do you know the obligation of membership of the Sangh?" "I am sorry, sir, I do not. But I shall be happy to know them, sir," said Siddhartha. "I shall first tell you what your duties as a member of the Sangh are” said the Purohit and he then related them one by one:
(1) You must safeguard the interests of the Sakyas by your body, mind and money.
(2) You must not absent yourself from the meetings of the Sangh.
(3) You must without fear or favours expose any fault you may notice in the conduct of a Sakya.
(4) You must not be angry if you are accused of an offence but confess if you are guilty or state if you are innocent."
Proceeding, the Purohit said: " I shall next tell you what will disqualify you for membership of the Sangh if (1) You cannot remain a member of the Sangh if you commit rape. (2) You cannot remain a member of the Sangh if you commit murder. (3) You cannot remain a member of the Sangh if you commit theft. (4) You cannot remain a member of the Sangh if you are guilty of giving false evidence." "l am grateful to you, sir," said Siddhartha, " for telling me the rules of discipline of the Sakya Sangh. I assure you I will do my best to follow them in letter and in spirit."
CONFLICT WITH SAKYA SANGH
Eight years had passed by since Siddhartha was made a member of the Sakya Sangh. He was a very devoted and steadfast member of the Sangh. He took the same interest in the affairs of the Sangh as he did in his own. His conduct as a member of the Sangh was exemplary and he had endeared himself to all.
In the eighth year of his membership, an event occurred which resulted in a tragedy for the family of Suddhodana and a crisis in the life of Siddharth. This is the origin of the tragedy. Bordering on the State of the Sakyas was the State of the Koliyas. The two kingdoms were divided by the river Rohini. The waters of the Rohini were used by both the Sakyas and the Koliyas for irrigating their fields. Every season there used to be disputes between them as to who should take the water of the Rohini first and how much. These disputes resulted in quarrels and sometimes in affrays. In the year when Siddharth was twenty-eight, there was a major clash over the waters between the servants of the Sakyas and the servants of the Koliyas, Both sides suffered injuries. Coming to know of this, the Sakyas and the Koliyas felt that the issue must be settled once for all by war. The Senapati of the Sakyas, therefore, called a session of the Sakya Sangh to consider the question of declaring war on the Koliyas. Addressing the members of the Sangh, the Senapati said : " Our people have been attacked by the Koliyas and they had to retreat. Such acts of aggression by the Koliyas have taken place more than once. We have tolerated them so far. But this cannot go on. It must be stopped and the only way to stop it is to declare war against the Koliyas. I propose that the Sangh do declare war on the Koliyas. Those who wish to oppose may speak." Siddharth Gautama rose in his seat and said : "I oppose this resolution. War does not solve any question. Waging war will not serve our purpose. It will sow the seeds of another war. The slayer gets a slayer in his turn; the conqueror gets one who conquers him; a man who despoils is despoiled in his turn." Siddharth Gautama continued: " I feel that the Sangh should not be in haste to declare war on the Koliyas: Careful investigation should be made to ascertain who the guilty party is. I hear that our men have also been aggressors. If this be true, then it is obvious that we too are not free from blame." The Senapati replied: “Yes, our men were the aggressors. But it must not be forgotten that it was our turn to take the water first." Siddharth Gautama said: “This shows that we are not completely free from blame. I therefore propose that we elect two men from us and the Koliyas should be asked to elect two from them and the four should elect a fifth person and these should settle the dispute." The amendment moved by Siddharth Gautama was duly seconded. But the Senapati opposed the amendment, saying: “I am sure that this menace of the Koliyas will not end unless they are severely punished." The resolution and the amendment had therefore to be put to vote. The amendment moved by Siddharth Gautama was put first. It was declared lost by an overwhelming majority. The Senapati next put his own resolution to vote. Siddharth Gautama again stood up to oppose it. “I beg the Sangh," he said, " not to accept the resolution. The Sakyas and the Koliyas are close relations. It is unwise that they should destroy each other." The Senapati encountered the plea urged by Siddharth Gautama. He stressed that in war the Kshatriyas cannot make a distinction between relations and strangers. They must fight even against brothers for the sake of their kingdom. Performing sacrifices is the duty of the Brahmins, fighting is the duty of the Kshatriyas, trading is the duty of the Vaishas and service is the duty of the Shudras. There is merit in each class forming its duty. Such is the injunction of our Shastras. Siddharth replied: “Dharma, as I understand it, consists in recognising that enmity does not disappear by enmity. It can be conquered by love only." The Senapati, getting impatient, said: "It is unnecessary to enter upon this philosophical disquisition. The point is that Siddhartha is opposed to my resolution. Let us ascertain what the Sangh has to say about it by putting it to vote." Accordingly the Senapati put his resolution to vote. It was declared carried by an overwhelming majority.
OFFER OF EXILE
Next day the Senapati called another meeting of the Sakya Sangh to have his plan of mobilisation considered by the Sangh. When the Sangh met, he proposed that he be permitted to proclaim an order calling to arms for the war against the Koliyas every Sakya between the ages of 20 and 50. The meeting was attended by both sides, those who at the previous meeting of the Sangh had voted in favour of a declaration of war as well as those who had voted against it. For those who had voted in favour there was no difficulty in accepting the proposal of the Senapati. It was a natural consequence of their earlier decision. But the minority who had voted against it had a problem to face. Their problem was to submit or not to submit to the decision of the majority. The minority was determined not to submit to the majority. That is the reason why they had decided to be present at the meeting. Unfortunately, none of them had the courage to say so openly. Perhaps they knew the consequences of opposing the majority. Seeing that his supporters were silent, Siddharth stood up, and addressing the Sangh, said: “Friends! You may do what you like. You have a majority on your side, but I am sorry to say I shall oppose your decision in favour of mobilisation. I shall not join your army and I shall not take part in the war." The Senapati, replying to Siddharth Gautama, said: “Do remember the vows you had taken when you were admitted to the membership of the Sangh. If you break any of them you will expose yourself to public shame." Siddharth replied: “Yes, I have pledged myself to safeguard the best interests of the Sakyas by my body, mind and money. But I do not think that this war is in the best interests of the Sakyas. What is public shame to me before the best interests of the Sakyas? “Siddharth proceeded to caution the Sangh by reminding it of another event where Sakyas have become the vassals of the King of Kosala by reason of their quarrels with the Koliyas.”It is not difficult to imagine," he said,” that this war will give him a greater handle to further reduce the freedom of the Sakyas." The Senapati grew angry and addressing Siddharth, said: “Your eloquence will not help you. You must obey the majority decision of the Sangh. You are perhaps counting upon the fact that the Sangh has no power to order an offender to be hanged or to exile him without the sanction of the King of the Kosalas and that the King of the Kosalas will not give permission if either of the two sentences was passed against you by the Sangh." " But remember the Sangh has other ways of punishing you. The Sangh can declare a social boycott against your family and the Sangh can confiscate your family lands. For this the Sangh does not have to obtain the permission of the King of the Kosalas." Siddhartha realised the consequences that would follow if he continued his opposition to the Sangh in its plan of war against the Koliyas. He had three alternatives to consider joining the forces and participating in the war; to consent to being hanged or exiled; and to allow the members of his family to be condemned to a social boycott and confiscation of property. He was firm in not accepting the first. As to the third he felt it was unthinkable. Under the circumstances he felt that the second alternative was the best. Accordingly, Siddhartha spoke to the Sangh. “Please do not punish my family. Do not put them in distress by subjecting them to a social boycott. Do not make them destitute by confiscating their land which is their only means of livelihood. They are innocent. I am the guilty person. Let me alone suffer for my stand which is not liked by the majority. Sentence me to death or exile, whichever you like. I will willingly accept it and I promise I shall not appeal to the King of the Kosalas".
PARIVRAJA – THE WAY OUT
The Senapati said: “It is difficult to accept your suggestion. For even if you voluntarily agreed to undergo the sentence of death or exile, the matter is sure to become known to the king of the Kosalas and he is sure to conclude that it is the Sangh which has inflicted this punishment and take action against the Sangh." “If this is the difficulty I can easily suggest a way out," said Siddhartha Gautama. " I can become a Parivrajaka and leave this country. It is a kind of an exile." The Senapati thought this was a good solution. But he had still some doubt about Siddhartha being able to give effect to it. So the Senapati asked Siddhartha: “How can you become a Parivrajaka unless you obtain the consent of your parents and your wife?” Siddhartha assured him that he would do his best to obtain their permission. “I promise," he said, " to leave this country immediately whether I obtain their consent or not." The Sangh felt that the proposal made by Siddhartha was the best way out and they agreed to it. After finishing the business before the meeting, the Sangh was about to rise when a young Sakya got up in his place and said: “Give me a hearing, I have something important to say." Being granted permission to speak, he said: “I have no doubt that Siddhartha Gautama will keep his promise and leave the country immediately. There is, however, one question over which I do not feel very happy. "Now that Siddhartha will soon be out of sight, does the Sangh propose to give immediate effect to its declaration of war against the Koliyas? “I want the Sangh to give further consideration to this question. In any event, the king of the Kosalas is bound to come to know of the exile of Siddhartha Gautama. If the Sakyas declare a war against the Koliyas immediately, the king of Kosalas will understand that Siddhartha left only because he was opposed to war against the Koliyas. This will not go well with us. "I, therefore, propose that we should also allow an interval to pass between the exile of Siddhartha Gautama and the actual commencement of hostilities so as not to allow the King of Kosala to establish any connection between the two." The Sangh realised that this was a very important proposal. And as a matter of expediency, the Sangh agreed to accept it. Thus ended the tragic session of the Sakya Sangh and the minority which was opposed to the war but who had not the courage to say so, heaved a sigh of relief that it was able to overcome a situation full of calamitous consequences.
The news of what happened at the meeting of the Sakya Sangh had travelled to the Raja's palace long before the return of Siddhartha Gautama. For on reaching home he found his parents weeping and plunged in great grief. Suddhodana said: “We were talking about the evils of war. But I never thought that you would go to such lengths." Siddhartha replied, “I too did not think things would take such a turn. I was hoping that I would be able to win over the Sakyas to the cause of peace by my argument. “Unfortunately, our military officers had so worked up the feelings of the men that my argument failed to have any effect on them.” But I hope you realise how I have saved the situation from becoming worse. I have not given up the cause of truth and justice and whatever the punishment for my standing for truth and justice, I have succeeded in making its infliction personal to me." Suddhodana was not satisfied with this. "You have not considered what is to happen to us." “But that is the reason why I undertook to become a Pariv-rajaka," replied Siddhartha. “Consider the consequences if the Sakyas had ordered the confiscation of your lands". “But without you what is the use of these lands to us? “cried Suddhodana. Why should not the whole family leave the country of the Sakyas and go into exile along with you? “Prajapati Gautami, who was weeping, joined Suddhodana in argument, saying; “I agree. How can you go alone leaving us here like this? “Siddhartha said: “Mother, have you not always claimed to be the mother of a Kshatriya? Is that not so? You must then be brave. This grief is unbecoming of you. What would you have done if I had gone to the battle-field and died? Would you have grieved like this? “No," replied Gautami. "That would have been befitting a Kshatriya. But you are now going into the jungle far away from people, living in the company of wild beasts. How can we stay here in peace? I say you should take us along with you." " How can I take you all with me? Nanda is only a child. Rahul my son is just born. Can you come leaving them here? “He asked Gautami. Gautami was not satisfied. She urged “It is possible for us all to leave the country of the Sakyas and go to the country of the Kosalas under the protection of their king." “But mother! What would the Sakyas say? “asked Siddhartha.” Would they not regard it as treason? Besides, I pledged that I will do nothing either by word or by deed to let the king of the Kosalas know the true cause of my Parivraja. "It is true that I may have to live alone in the jungle. But which is better? To live in the jungle or to be a party to the killing of the Koliyas!" "But why this impatience?" asked Suddhodana. “The Sakyas Sangh has decided to postpone the date of the hostilities for some time.” Perhaps the hostilities may not be started at all. Why not postpone your Parivraja? May be, it would be possible to obtain the permission of the Sangh for you to stay among the Sakyas." This idea was repellent to Siddhartha. "It is because I promised to take Parivraja that the Sangh decided to postpone the commencement of hostilities against the Koliyas. ”It is possible that after I take Parivraja the Sangh may be persuaded to withdraw their declaration of war. All this depends upon my first taking Parivraja. “I have made a promise and I must carry it out. The consequences of any breach of promise may be very grave both to us and to the cause of peace. "Mother, do not now stand in my way. Give me your permission and your blessings. What is happening is for the best." Gautami and Suddhodana kept silent. Then Siddhartha went to the apartment of Yeshodhara. Seeing her, he stood silent, not knowing what to say and how to say it. She broke the silence by saying: “I have heard all that has happened at the meeting of the Sangh at Kapilavatsu." He asked her "Yeshodhara, tell me what you think of my decision to take Parivraja? “He expected she would collapse. Nothing of the kind happened. With full control over her emotions, she replied: “What else could I have done if I were in your position? I certainly would not have been a party to a war on the Koliyas. "Your decision is the right decision. You have my consent and my support. I too would have taken Parivraja with you. If I do not, it is only because I have Rahul to look after. “I wish it had not come to this. But we must be bold and brave and face the situation. Do not be anxious about your parents and your son. I will look after them till there is life in me. “All I wish is that now that you are becoming a Parivrajaka leaving behind all who are near and dear to you, you will find a new way of life which would result in the happiness of mankind." Siddhartha Gautama was greatly impressed. He realised as never before what a brave, courageous and noble-minded woman Yeshodhara was, and how fortunate he was in having her as his wife and how fate had put them asunder. He asked her to bring Rahul. He cast his fatherly look on him and left.
On taking parivraja and leaving Kapilvastu like the sages of the Upanishads, Siddhartha practiced yoga and meditation. At Vaishali to learn meditative concentration he studied with Alara Kalama, who was said to have had hundreds of disciples. Siddhartha soon learned how to reach the formless world, but still having mental anxieties he decided not to become a disciple of his first teacher Alara Kalama. Nor did he become a disciple of his second teacher, Uddaka Ramaputra, after he attained the higher state of consciousness beyond thought and non-thought.
Still not satisfied Siddhartha decided to practice the path of extreme austerities, and in this quest he was joined by the sage Kaundinya and four others. He pressed his tongue against his palate to try to restrain his mind until the perspiration poured from his armpits. He restrained his breath and heard the violent sounds of wind in his ears and head. He went into trances, and some thought he was dead. He fasted for long periods of time and then decided to try limiting his food to the juice of beans and peas. As his flesh shrank, the bones almost stuck out of his skin so that he could touch his spine from the front; after sitting on the ground his imprint looked like a camel's footprint.
For six years Siddhartha practiced such austerities, but instead of achieving superhuman knowledge and wisdom he only seemed to get weaker and weaker. Finally he thought that maybe there was a better way to attain enlightenment. He remembered how while his father was working he used to sit in the shade of an apple tree free of sensual desires. Perhaps in concentrating his mind without evil ideas and sensual desires he should not be afraid of a happy state of mind. However, to gain the strength he felt he needed for this concentration he decided to start eating again. When he gave up practicing the extreme austerities, the five mendicants who were with him became disillusioned and left him, saying that Gautama lives in abundance and has given up striving.
Siddhartha reasoned that a life of penance and pain was no better than a life of luxury and pleasure, because if penance on earth is religion, then the heavenly reward for penance must be irreligion. If merit comes from purity of food, then deer should have the most merit. Those who practice asceticism without calming their passions are like a man trying to kindle fire by rubbing a stick on green wood in water, but those who have no desires or worldly attachments are like a man using a dry stick that ignites.
After a stupendous struggle of six strenuous years, in his 35th year the ascetic Gautama, unaided and unguided by any supernatural agency, and solely relying on his own efforts and wisdom eradicated all defilements, ended the process of grasping and , realising things as they truly are by his won intuitive knowledge, became a Buddha - an Enlightened or awakened one. He was not a Buddha, but become a Buddha by his own efforts.
It took Gautama four weeks of meditation to obtain enlightenment. He reached final enlightenment in four stages.
1) In the first stage he called forth reason and investigation. His seclusion helped him to attain it easily.
2) In the second stage he added concentration.
3) In the third stage he brought to his aid equanimity and mindfulness.
In the fourth and final stage he added purity to equanimity and equanimity to mindfulness.
Thus with mind concentrated, purified, spotless, with defilement gone, supple, dexterous, firm, impassionate, not forgetting what he is after, Gautama concentrated himself on the problem of finding an answer to the question which had troubled him. On the night of the last day of the fourth week light dawned upon him. Gautama realised that there were two problems. The first problem was that there was suffering in the world and the second problem was how to remove this suffering and make mankind happy. So in the end, after meditation for four weeks darkness was dispelled, light arose, ignorance was dispelled and knowledge arose. He saw a new way.
THE DISCOVERY OF A NEW DHAMMA
The Discovery of a New Dhamma
Gautama when he sat in meditation for getting new light was greatly in the grip of the Sankhya Philosophy. That suffering and unhappiness in the world he thought was an incontrovertible fact. Gautama was, however, interested in knowing how to do away with suffering. This problem the Sankhya Philosophy did not deal with. It is, therefore, on this problem—how to remove suffering and unhappiness—that he concentrated his mind.
Naturally, the first question he asked himself was—" What are the causes of suffering and unhappiness which an individual undergoes?"
His second question was—" How to remove unhappiness? “To both these questions he got a right answer which is called 'Samma Bodhi' (Right Enlightenment). It is because of this that the Pipal Tree has come to be known as the Bodhi Tree.
Before enlightenment Gautama was only a Bodhisatta. It is after reaching enlightenment that he became a Buddha.
FROM BODHISATTA TO BUDDHA
A Bodhisatta is a person who is seeking to be a Buddha.
A Bodhisatta must be a Bodhisatta for ten lives in succession.
A Bodhisatta must have done the following to qualify himself to become a Buddha:-
i. In his first life he acquires Mudita (joy). The Bodhisatta having blown off his impurities, as the smith blows the dross from silver, reflects that man who has been reckless and becomes sober brightens up the world like the moon freed from clouds. Joy springs up in him realising this, and he is fervent in his desire to benefit all beings.
ii. In his second life he acquires Vimala (Purity). The Bodhisatta has now removed all thoughts of lust ; he is kind ; he is kind to all; he neither flatters the vices of men nor disparages their virtues.
iii. In his third life he acquires Prabhakari (Brightness). The intellect of the Bodhisatta now becomes as bright as a mirror. He fully knows and grasps the truths of Anatta and Anicca. His only wish is for the highest wisdom, and for this he is ready to sacrifice anything.
iv. In his fourth life he acquires Arcishmati (Intelligence of Fire). The Bodhisatta in this life fixes his mind on the Eight old Path, the Four Contemplations, the Fourfold Contest, the Fourfold Will Power, the Fivefold Morality.
v. In his fifth life he acquires Sudurjaya (Difficult to Conquer). He fully understands the connection of the relative and the absolute.
vi. In his sixth life he becomes Abhimukhi. In this stage the Bodhisatta is now prepared fully to grasp the evolution of things, its cause, the Twelve Nidanas; and this knowledge, called Abhimukhi, awakens the most profound compassion in his heart for all beings blinded by Avidya.
vii. In his seventh life the Bodhisatta becomes a Durangama (going far off). The Bodhisatta is now beyond time and space ; he is one with Infinity, but he still retains nama-rupa out of his great compassion for all beings. He is secluded from others, in that the lusts of the world no more cling to him than water to a lotus leaf. He quenches desires in his fellow beings, practices charity, patience, tactfulness, energy, calmness, intelligence and the highest wisdom. While in this life he knows the Dharma, but presents it in ways understood by the people, he knows he must be tactful and patient. Whatever men do to him he bears with equanimity, for he knows that it is through ignorance they misunderstand his motives. At the same time he never slackens his energy to benefit all beings, nor does he withdraw his mind from wisdom, therefore misfortune can never turn him from the righteous path.
viii. In his eighth life he becomes Acala. In the stage of Acala, or ' immovable,' all strivings on the part of the Bodhisatta cease. He follows good spontaneously; whatever he will do he will succeed in.
ix. In his ninth life he becomes Sadhumati. This is the stage or condition of one who has vanquished and penetrated all dharmas or systems, all quarters, and does not enter time.
x In his tenth life he becomes Dharmamegha. The Bodhisatta attains the infinite divine eye of a Buddha.
The Bodhisatta acquires these ten powers which are necessary for him when he becomes a Buddha.
The Bodhisatta must not only acquire these ten powers as he evolves from stage to stage but he must also practice to perfection the ten Paramitas. One Paramita is to be the end of one life. Specialisation in the Paramitas must go stage by stage. One Paramita in one life and not a little of one and a little of the other. It is only when he is doubly equipped that a Bodhisatta becomes qualified for becoming a Buddha. The Buddha is a culminating point in the life of a Bodhisatta. The theory of the Jatakas or the birth stages of a Bodhisatta appears analogous to the Brahmanic theory of Avataras, i.e., the theory of incarnations of God. The Jataka theory is based upon the Buddha having the highest degree of purity as the essence of his being. The Avatar theory does not require that the God should be pure in his making. All that the Brahmanic theory of Avatar says is that God saves his followers by taking different forms although the God may be very impure and immoral in his conduct. The theory that to be a Bodhisatta for ten lives as a condition precedent for becoming a Buddha has no parallel anywhere. No other religion calls upon its founder to answer such a test.
WHAT BUDDHA REJECTED, MODIFIED AND ACCEPTED
What Buddha Rejected?
This survey of the philosophical and religious thought shows that at the time when the Buddha formulated his teaching (i. e. Sasana in Pali), certain ideas had a firm grip on the mind of the people.
- Belief in the infallibility of the Vedas;
- Belief in Moksha or Salvation of the soul, i.e., its ceasing to be born again;
- - Belief in the efficacy of rites, ceremonies and sacrifices as means of obtaining moksha;
- Belief in Chaturvarna as the ideal for social organization;
- Belief in Iswara as the creator of and in Brahmana as the principle underlying the universe.
- Belief in Atmana, or the soul. (vii) Belief in Sansara, (wandering together), i.e., transmigration of the soul.
- Belief in Karma, i.e., the determination of man's position in present life by deeds done by him in his past life.
In formulating the principles of his Sasana the Buddha dealt with this old stock of ideas in his own way.
The following are the ideas which he rejected:
- He condemned indulging in speculation as to the whence, whither and what am I?
- He discarded heresies about the soul and refrained from identifying it with either the body, sensations, volitions or consciousness.
- He discarded all the Nihilistic views which were promulgated by certain religious teachers.
- He condemned such views as were held by heretics.
- He discarded the theory that the cosmic progress had a known beginning.
- He repudiated the theory that a God created man or that he came out of the body of some Bramha.
The existence of the soul he either ignored or denied.
What Buddha Modified?
- He accepted the great grand law of cause and effect with its corollaries.
- He repudiated the fatalistic view of life and other equally foolish view that a God predestined as to what should happen for man and the world.
- He discarded the theory that all deeds committed in some former birth have the potency to produce suffering, making present activity impotent. He denied the fatalistic view of Karma. He replaced the view of Karma by a much more scientific view of Karma. He put new wine in old bottle.
Transmigration (sansara) was replaced by the doctrine of re-birth.
- He replaced the doctrine of moksha or salvation of the soul by the doctrine of Nibbana.
- The Buddha Sasana is thus an original piece. The little in it which is old is either modified or restated.
What Buddha Accepted ?
- The first distinguishing feature of his teachings lay in the recognition of the mind as the centre of everything.
- Mind precedes things, dominates them, creates them. If mind is comprehended all things are comprehended.
- Mind is the leader of all its faculties. Mind is the chief of all its faculties. The very mind is made up of those faculties.
- The first thing to attend to is the culture of the mind.
- The second distinguishing feature of his teachings is that mind is the fount of all the good and evil that arises within and befalls us from without.
- Whatsoever there is of evil, connected with evil, belonging to evil—that issues from the mind. Whatsoever there is of good, connected with good, belonging to good—all issues from mind.
- If one speaks or acts with a pounded mind then affliction follows him as the wheels of the cart follow the feet of the bullocks who pull the cart. The cleaning of the mind is, therefore, the essence of religion.
- The third distinguishing feature of his teachings is the avoidance of all sinful acts.
- The fourth distinguishing feature of his teaching is that real religion lies not in the books of religion but in the observance of the tenets of the religion.
Can anyone say that the Buddha's religion was not his own creation?
BASIC TEACHINGS OF THE BUDDHA : THE THREE UNIVERSAL TRUTHS
During his enlightenment, the Buddha discovered three great truths. He explained these truths in a simple way so that everyone could understand them.
1. Nothing is lost in the universe / The nature of existence
The first truth is that nothing is lost in the universe. Matter turns into energy, energy turns into matter. A dead leaf turns into soil. A seed sprouts and becomes a new plant. Old solar systems disintegrate and turn into cosmic rays. We are born of our parents; our children are born of us. We are the same as plants, as trees, as other people, as the rain that falls. We consist of that which is around us, we are the same as everything. If we destroy something around us, we destroy ourselves. If we cheat another, we cheat ourselves. Understanding this truth, the Buddha and his disciples never killed any animal.
2. Everything Changes
The second universal truth discovered by Buddha is that everything is continuously changing. Life is like a river flowing on and on, ever-changing. Sometimes it flows slowly and sometimes swiftly. It is smooth and gentle in some places, but later on snags and rocks crop up out of nowhere. As soon as we think we are safe, something unexpected happens.
3. Law of Cause and Effect
The third universal truth explained by the Buddha is that there is a continuous change due to the law of cause and effect. This is the same law of cause and effect found in every modern science textbook. In this way, science and Buddhism are alike.
The law of cause and effect is known as karma. Nothing ever happens to us unless we deserve it. We receive exactly what we earn, whether it is good or bad. We are the way we are now due to the things we have done in the past. Our thoughts and actions determine the kind of life we can have. If we do good things, in the future good things will happen to us. If we do bad things, in the future bad things will happen to us. Every moment we create new karma by what we say, do, and think. If we understand this, we do not need to fear karma. It becomes our friend. It teaches us to create a bright future.
THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS
Once there was a woman named Kisagotami, whose first-born son died. She was so stricken with grief that she roamed the streets carrying the dead body and asking for help to bring her son back to life. A kind and wise man took her to the Buddha.
The Buddha told her, "Fetch me a handful of mustard seeds and I will bring your child back to life." Joyfully Kisagotami started off to get them. Then the Buddha added, "But the seeds must come from a family that has not known death."
Kisagotami went from door to door in the whole village asking for the mustard seeds, but everyone said, "Oh, there have been many deaths here", "I lost my father", I lost my sister". She could not find a single household that had not been visited by death. Finally Kisagotami returned to the Buddha and said, "There is death in every family. Everyone dies. Now I understand your teaching."
The Buddha said, "No one can escape death and unhappiness. If people expect only happiness in life, they will be disappointed." The Buddha mentioned the four noble truths:-
The Buddha taught that life was dissatisfactory because of craving, but that this condition was curable by following the eightfold path. This teaching is called the four noble truths:
1) There is Suffering or Sorrow - Dukkha -All worldly life is unsatisfactory, disjointed, containing suffering. Suffering is common to all.
There is a cause for Suffering -Tanha -The cause for suffering, which is attachment or desire (tanha) rooted in ignorance. We are the cause of our suffering.
There can be end to the Suffering -Nibbana -There is an end of suffering, which is Nirvana. We can stop doing what causes suffering.
The path to end Suffering - Marga – Everyone can be enlightened. There is a path that leads out of suffering, known as the Noble Eightfold Path.
Now we can analyze the four noble truths in detail:-
2) There is suffering - Dukkha
This first truth of suffering which depends on this so-called being and various aspects of life, is to be carefully analyzed and examined. This examination lead to a proper understanding of oneself as one really is.
Suffering: Everyone suffers from these thing
- Birth- When we are born, we cry.
- Sickness- When we are sick, we are miserable.
- Old age- When old, we will have ache and pains and find it hard to get around.
- Death- None of us wants to die. We feel deep sorrow when someone dies.
· Other things we suffer from are:
- Being with those we dislike,
- Being apart from those we love,
- Not getting what we want,
- All kinds of problems and disappointments that are unavoidable.
The Buddha did not deny that there is happiness in life, but he pointed out it does not last forever. Eventually everyone meets with some kind of suffering. He said:
"There is happiness in life,
happiness in friendship,
happiness of a family,
happiness in a healthy body and mind,
...but when one loses them, there is suffering."
3) The cause for suffering - Tanha
The cause of this suffering is carving or attachment. This carving is a powerful mental force latent in all, and is the chief cause of most of the ills of life. It is this carving, gross or subtle, that leads to repeated births in this world and makes one cling to all forms of life.
The Buddha explained that people live in a sea of suffering because of ignorance and greed. They are ignorant of the law of karma and are greedy for the wrong kind of pleasures. They do things that are harmful to their bodies and peace of mind, so they can not be satisfied or enjoy life.
For example, once children have had a taste of candy, they want more. When they can't have it, they get upset. Even if children get all the candy they want, they soon get tired of it and want something else. Although, they get a stomach-ache from eating too much candy, they still want more. The things people want most cause them the most suffering. Of course, there are basic things that all people should have, like adequate food, shelter, and clothing. Everyone deserve a good home, loving parents, and good friends. They should enjoy life and cherish their possessions without becoming greedy.
4) The end of suffering - Nirvana ( also called as Nibbana)
Both suffering and carving can only be eradicated by the following the Middle Path, enunciated by Buddha himself, and attaining the supreme Bliss of Nibbana, the ultimate goal of Buddhists. It is achieved by the total eradication of all forms of carving. This Nibbana is to be comprehended by the mental eye by renouncing all internal attachment to the external world. In some of the Buddhist countries Buddhist people pronounce Nirvana as Nibbana).
To end suffering, one must cut off greed and ignorance. This means changing one's views and living in a more natural and peaceful way. It is like blowing out a candle. The flame of suffering is put out for good. Buddhists call the state in which all suffering is ended Nirvana. Nirvana is an everlasting state of great joy and peace. The Buddha said, "The extinction of desire is Nirvana." This is the ultimate goal in Buddhism. Everyone can realize it with the help of the Buddha's teachings. It can be experienced in this very life.
The path to the end of suffering - Marga: The path to end suffering is known as the Noble Eightfold Path. It is also known as the Middle Way.
THE NOBLE EIGHTFOLD PATH
The noble eightfold path is the only straight route that leads to Nibbana. It avoids the extreme of self-mortification that weakens one’s intellect and the extreme of self–indulgence that retards one’s moral progress.
When the Buddha gave his first sermon in the Deer Park, he began the 'Turning of the Dhamma Wheel'. He chose the beautiful symbol of the wheel with its eight spokes to represent the Noble Eightfold Path. The Buddha's teaching goes round and round like a great wheel that never stops, leading to the central point of the wheel, the only point which is fixed, Nirvana / Nibbana. The eight spokes on the wheel represent the eight parts of the Noble Eightfold Path. Just as every spoke is needed for the wheel to keep turning, we need to follow each step of the path. Our website’s logo is also denotes the Great Dhamma Wheel set in motion by Buddha.
The eight noble path taught by Lord Buddha are as follows :-
i. Right Understanding / View (Samma Dirshti)
Right understanding is explained as the knowledge of the four Noble Truths. In other words it is the understanding of oneself as one really is, because these truths are concerned with the one-fathom long body of man. The right way to think about life is to see the world through the eyes of the Buddha-with wisdom and compassion.
ii. Right Thought (Samma Samkappa)
Clear vision or right understanding leads to clear thinking. The second factor of the noble eightfold path is therefore right thought. We are what we think. Clear and kind thoughts build good, strong characters. Right thoughts are three fold. They consists of :-
a. Nekkhamma - Renunciation of worldly pleasure or selflessness which is opposed to attachment selfishness and self-possessiveness.
b. Avyapada - Loving-kindness, goodwill, or benevolence, which is opposed to hatred, ill-will or aversion and
c. Avihimsa or Karuna – Harmlessness or compassion, which is opposed to cruelty and callousness. Karuna or compassion is that sweet virtue which makes tender hearts of boble quiver at the sufferings of others. A compassionate one is as soft as a flower. He cannot bear the suffering of others. He whose mind is free from selfish desires, hatred and cruelty, and is saturated with the spirit of selflessness, loving-kindness and harmlessness, lives in perfect peace. He is indeed a blessing to himself and others.
iii. Right Speech (Samma Vacha)
By speaking kind and helpful words, we are respected and trusted by everyone. The right thoughts lead to right speech. It deals with falsehood, slandering, hatch words and frivolous talk. He who tries to eradicate selfish desires cannot indulge in uttering falsehood or in slandering for any selfish end or purpose. He is truthful and trustworthy and ever seeks the good and beautiful in others instead of deceiving, defaming, denouncing or disuniting his own fellow beings. A harmless mind that generates loving-kindness cannot give vent to harsh speech which first debases the speaker and then hurts another. What he utters is not only true, sweet and pleasant but also useful, fruitful and beneficial.
iv. Right Conduct / Action (Samma Kammanta)
The right speech follows right action which deals with abstinence from killing, stealing and sexual misconduct. These three evil deeds are caused by carving and anger, coupled with ignorance. With the gradual elimination of these causes from the mind of spiritual pilgrim, blameworthy tendencies arising there from will find no expression. Under no pretence would he kill or steal. Being pure in mind, he would lead a pure life. No matter what we say, others know us from the way we behave. Before we criticize others, we should first see what we do ourselves.
v. Right Livelihood. (Samma Ajiva)
The purifying thoughts, words and deeds at the outset, the spiritual pilgrim tries to purify his livelihood by refraining from the five kinds of trade which are forbidden to a lay-disciple. They are trading in arms, human beings, flesh (i.e. breeding animals for slaughter), intoxicating drinks and poison. This means choosing a job that does not hurt others. The Buddha said, "Do not earn your living by harming others. Do not seek happiness by making others unhappy."
vi. Right Effort (Samma Vayama)
The right efforts is fourfold viz.
a. The endeavour to discard evil that has already arisen,
b. The endeavour to prevent the arising of un-arisen evil,
c. The endeavour to develop un-arisen good, and,
d. The endeavour to promote the good which has already arisen.
The right efforts play a very important part in the Noble Eightfold Path. It is by one’s own effort that one’s deliverance is obtained and not by merely seeking refuge in others or by offering prayers. A worthwhile life means doing our best at all times and having good will toward others. This also means not wasting effort on things that harm us and others.
vii Right Mindfulness (Samma Sati)
The right effort is closely associated with right mindfulness. It is the constant mindfulness with regard to body, feelings, thoughts and mind objects. Mindfulness on these four objects tend to eradicate the misconceptions with regard to desirability, so-called happiness, permanence and an immortal soul respectively. This means being aware of our thoughts, words, and deeds.
viii Right Concentration (Samma Samadhi)
Right efforts and right mindfulness lead to right concentration. It is the one pointedness of mind. A concentrated mind acts as a powerful aid to see things as they truly are by means of penetrative insight. Focus on one thought or object at a time. By doing this, we can be quiet and attain true peace of mind.
Following the Noble Eightfold Path can be compared to cultivating a garden, but in Buddhism one cultivates one's wisdom. The mind is the ground and thoughts are seeds. Deeds are ways one cares for the garden. Our faults are weeds. Pulling them out is like weeding a garden. The harvest is real and lasting happiness. Sometimes the Eightfold Path is spoken of as being a progressive series of stages which the practitioner moves through, the culmination of one leading to the beginning of another, but it is more usual to view the stages of the 'Path' as requiring simultaneous development.
Of these eight factors of the Noble Eightfold Path the first two are grouped in wisdom (pradhyna or panna) , the second three in morality (Sila) and the last three in concentrations (Samadhi) :-
| Sila: |
- Right Speech
- Right Action
- Right Livelihood
- Right Effort
- Right Mindfulness
- Right Concentration
- Right Understanding
- Right Thoughts
According to the order of development Sila, Samadhi and Panna are the three stages of the path. In other words the Eightfold Path essentially consists of meditation, following the precepts, and cultivating the positive converse of the precepts (e.g. benefiting living beings is the converse of the first precept of harmlessness). The Path may also be thought of as a way of developing śila, meaning mental and moral discipline.
THE TRIPLE JEWEL (Tri-Ratana)
The Buddha knew it would be difficult for people to follow his teachings on their own, so he established the Three Refuges for them to rely on. If a person wants to become Buddhists take refuge in and rely on the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha. These are known as the Triple Jewel or Triple Gems or Tri Ratana. The Sangha are the monks and nuns. They live in monasteries and carry on the Buddha's teaching. The word Sangha means 'harmonious community'. The Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha together possess qualities that are precious like jewels and can lead one to enlightenment.
|Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa||Honour to Him, the Blessed one, the worthy one, the fully enlightened one|
|Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa||Honour to Him, the Blessed one, the worthy one, the fully enlightened one|
|Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa||Honour to Him, the Blessed one, the worthy one, the fully enlightened one|
Tri Ratana Vandana
Pali English Translation
|Buddham saranam gacchami||I go to the Buddha as my refuge|
|Dhammam saranam gacchami||I go to the Dhamma as my refuge|
|Sangham saranam gacchami||I go to the Sangha as my refuge|
|Dutiyampi Buddham saranam gacchami||For the second time I go to the Buddha as my refuge|
|Dutiyampi Dhammam saranam gacchami||For the second time I go to the Dhamma as my refuge|
|Dutiyampi Sangham saranam gacchami||For the second time I go to the Sangha as my refuge|
|Tatiyampi Buddham saranam gacchami||For the third time I go to the Buddha as my refuge|
|Tatiyampi Dhammam saranam gacchami||For the third time I go to the Dhamma as my refuge|
|Tatiyampi Sangham saranam gacchami||For the third time I go to the Sangha as my refuge|
A refuge is a place to go for safety and protection, like a shelter in a storm. Taking refuge does not mean running away from life. It means living life in a fuller, truer way.
Taking refuge is also like a man traveling for the first time to a distant city. He will need a guide to show him which path to follow and some traveling companions to help him along the way.
- The Buddha is the guide.
- The Dhamma is the path.
- The Sangha are the teachers or companions along the way.
There is a special ceremony for taking refuge with the Triple Jewel. With a sincere mind, one recites the following verse in front of an ordained monk or nun.
I go to the Buddha for refuge.
I go to the Dhamma for refuge.
I go to the Sangha for refuge.
For a Buddhist, taking refuge is the first step on the path to enlightenment. Even if enlightenment is not achieved in this life, one has a better chance to become enlightened in a future life. One who takes the precepts is called a lay person or common man. Now we will see each gem in detail.
THE TRIPLE JEWEL (Tri-Ratana)
The first Gem is the Buddha. When people take their refuge in the Buddha, they speak the following words in Pali. "Buddham Saranam Gacchami", which means:" I go to the Buddha for refuge." Here Buddha signifies final liberation, is a description of the Enlightened One, the Blessed One, who has obtained omniscient knowledge and not any particular person. The Buddha is the discoverer of the Truth. He is enlightened by omniscience, enlightened by seeing and knowing every enlightened by seeing all in their true states. He had developed the wisdom to see and to experience the truth of all beings. Everything in life is impermanent and thus it is unsatisfactory. People suffer from old age, sickness and death. In spite of this truth people still cling to the things in and around themselves. Thus they are not able to see reality. For us it is difficult to experience the truth of impermanency. Mind and matter arise and fall away all the time, but one cannot experience this of one's wisdom is not developed. It is difficult to be aware of Mind and Matter when they appear and to realize what they really are. They are only phenomena which are impermanent and they do not constitute the self.
The more we realize how difficult it is to see things as they are, the more we understand that the Lord Buddha's wisdom must have been of the highest degree. The Lord Buddha taught that everything in life is dukkha. Dukkha literally means suffering or unsatisfactoryness. However, the experience of dukkha is much deeper than a feeling of sorrow or contemplation about suffering. The experience of the impermanency of the mind and matter in our life is the realization that none of those phenomena is true happiness. Some people may think that pondering over this truth already is the experience of dukkha (suffering). However, one does not know the truth if one merely thinks about it. When one directly experience the arising and falling away of mind and matter, one has experience the truth of dukkha. Then one will learn to be less attached to mind and matter.
Everything in our life is impermanent, even what we call happiness is impermanent. It is only a mental phenomenon which arises and falls away immediately. How can that which falls away as soon as it has arisen be real happiness?
The Lord Buddha was always mindful and clearly conscious. He did not have ignorance about any reality. When we realize how difficult mindfulness is, we deeply respect the great wisdom of the Lord Buddha. The Lord Buddha is called the "Awakened One", because he is awakened to the truth.
The Lord Buddha had by his enlightenment attained the greatest purity. He had completely eradicated all defilements. The Lord Buddha became enlightened in this world. He taught so that people in this world can develop such high degree of wisdom that they can become completely free from defilements and latent tendencies. The Lord Buddha was full of compassion for everybody. The fact that the Lord Buddha was free from defilements does not mean that he would withdraw from the world and that he did not want to think of those who still have defilements. The Lord Buddha knew what it means to be free from all sorrow. Therefore he helped other people to attain this freedom as well. One can help other people by kindness, by generosity, and in many other ways. The most precious thing one can give others is to show them the way to true happiness. The Lord Buddha proved his great compassion to the people by teaching them Dhamma (Reality). When Buddhists pay respect to the Buddha statue they do not pray to a Buddha in heaven, since the Lord Buddha has passed away completely. Buddhists pay respect to the Buddha statue because they think with deep reverence and gratefulness of His virtues: of His wisdom. His purity and His compassion.
There were other Buddhas before Gautam, the Buddha. All Buddhas find the truth by themselves, without being led by others. However, there are two different kinds of Buddha: the "Sammasambuddha" (Fully Enlightened Buddha) and the "Pacceka Buddha" or "Silent Buddha". The silent Buddha has not accumulated virtues to the same extent as the Sammasambuddha and thus he is not as qualified in teaching other people as the Sammasambuddha. Gautam, the Buddha was a Sammasambuddha. There can not be more than one Sammasambuddha in a "Buddha era", neither can there be a silent Buddha. The Buddha era in which we are still living will be terminated when the Buddha's teachings have disappeared completely.
Buddhists take refuge in the Buddha.
What does the word refuge mean? The Paramatthajotika commentary speak about the meaning of the world "refuge" when people have gone for "refuge", then by that very going for refuge, it combats, dispels, carries off, and stops their fear, anguish, suffering, (risk of) unhappy destination (on rebirth), and defilement, with confidence therein and give preponderance thereto, from which defilement is eliminated and eradicated, and which occurs in the mode of taking that as the highest value ..?"
Going for refuge to the Buddha does not mean that the Lord Buddha would eradicate people's defilements. The Lord Buddha said that the dhamma (teaching) and the vinaya (rules) would be his successor. Today the Lord Buddha is not longer with us, but one takes refuge in the Buddha when one has confidence in his teachings and one considers it the most important thing in life to practice what He taught.
Although a Buddhist seeks a refuge in the Buddha as his incomparable guide and teacher who indicates the path of purity, he makes no servile surrender. A Buddhist does not think that he can gain purity merely by seeking refuge in the Buddha or by mere faith in Him. It is not within the power even of a Buddha to wash away the impurities of others. Strictly speaking, one can neither purify nor defile another. The Buddha, as teacher, may be instrumental, but we ourselves are responsible for our purifications by mediation.
Buddhist does not worship an image expecting worldly or spiritual favours, but pay their homage to what it represents. A Buddhist goes before an image and offers flowers and incense not to the image but to Buddha. He does so as a mark of gratitude, reflecting on the virtues of the Buddha. An understanding Buddhist designedly makes himself feel that he is in the noble presence of the Buddha and thereby gain inspiration to emulate him. Though such external forms of homage are prevalent amongst Buddhists, the Buddha is not worshiped as a God.
THE TRIPLE JEWEL (Tri-Ratana)
The second of the Three Gems the Buddhists take their refuge in is the Dhamma. When we take our refuge in the Dhamma they say: "Dhammam Saranam Gacchami", which means:" I go for refuge to the Dhamma."
What does the word Dhamma mean? Most people think that Dhamma means doctrine, but the word Dhamma has many more meanings. Dhamma means everything which is real, no matter whether it is good or bad. Dhamma comprises for example seeing, sound, greed and honesty. We cannot take our refuge in every Dhamma, for instance we cannot take our refuge in greed or hate. We cannot even go for refuge to our parents, to husband or wife, because we are bound to be separated from them sooner or later.
Can we take our refuge in our good deeds?
The effect of a good deed is never lost, since each good deed will bring its fruit accordingly.
Nirvana is the Dhamma which is the second Gem. Nirvana is a Gem of the highest value, because there is nothing more preferable than complete freedom from all sorrow. Nirvana is real: even if one cannot experience Nirvana yet, it should be considered the goal of life. If one follows the right Path one might realize Nirvana even during this life time. People may think it is not very desirable not to be born again. If we have not attained Nirvana yet we cannot imagine what Nirvana is like. It makes therefore not much sense to speculate about Nirvana.
What is the Path leading to Nirvana?
Nirvana cannot be attained merely by wishing to achieve it. Can people attain Nirvana in doing good deeds?
Even when one performs good deeds there can still be the idea of self. Good deeds without the right understanding of realities cannot eradicate the belief in a self and the other defilements. Thus they cannot lead to Nirvana.
Only meditation (Vipassana) leads to the eradication of all defilements. One may wonder whether the practice of insight meditation (vipassana) means that it is not necessary to do other good deeds. The answer is that the wisdom developed in meditation (vipassana) helps us to be kind and considerate to other people in our deeds and speech. We learn to use every opportunity to eradicate unwholesomeness. Every time there is awareness of the mind or matter which appears at that moment, some of the accumulated conception of self is eradicated. If there is awareness of mind or matter while one is observing precepts or doing other kinds of good deeds, one is on the Path leading to Nirvana.
The development of vipassana is a life task for most of us, since we are not used to the direct experience of the mind or matter which appears through one of the five senses or through the mind.
We are used to think of realities which are already past or which might present themselves in the future. We should not expect to learn awareness in one day or even within one year. We cannot tell how much progress is made each day, because wisdom develops very gradually.
When wisdom is highly developed Nirvana can be realized.
Dhamma is deep and difficult to understand. People cannot understand Dhamma if they still cling to their own views. If they would really study the teachings and persevere in the practice of what is taught, they will find out for themselves whether one can take one's refuge in the dhamma. When we have experienced what the Lord Buddha taught as the reality, even if we cannot yet experience everything he taught, we do not want to exchange our understanding for anything else in life.
If we have the right understanding of realities and if we develop wisdom, we will have dhamma as a support. Thus we take refuge in the Dhamma.
THE TRIPLE JEWEL (Tri-Ratana)
The Sangha is the third of the "Three Gems". When Buddhists take their refuge in the Sangha they say: "Sangham Saranam Gacchami", which means: "I go for refuge to the Sangha." The world Sangha literally means "congregation" or "community". The word Sangha is generally used for the order of monks. When the word Sangha denotes the third Gem it has a different meaning. The Sangha which is the third Gem are the ariyan saints. "Ariyan saint" is the name which denotes all those who have attained one of the four stages of enlightenment, no matter whether they are monks, nuns (Bikkhuni), unmarried lay followers or married lay followers.
Our life is a continuous series of consciousness succeeding one another, and thus the process of accumulation is continued from one citta to the next citta, going on from birth to death, and from one life to the next life.
One may wonder how a citta can contain all accumulations of the past. This is possible, because consciousness is mentality. Matter which is limited, such as a room, can only contain as much as its space allows. A citta is different from matter; it is unlimited in what it can contain. Such defilements are rooted so deeply, they can only be eradicated in different stages of enlightenment. First the latent tendency of the conception of self has to be eradicated. We can eradicate the belief in a self in understanding what it is we take for self, in developing insight (vipassana). What we call "my body" is only physical phenomena which arises and falls away and which we cannot control. We understand from the Samyutta Nikaya (Khandhavagaa, Middle Fifty, "the Five") that the Lord Buddha said to his five disciples in the deer park of Baranasi:
"Body, monks, is not the self. If body, monks, were the self, then the body would not be involved in sickness, and one could say of the body:
'Thus let my body be, thus let not my body be.'" The same is said about mentality. The wrong view of self we have accumulated all through our many lives can only be eliminated very gradually.
The wisdom will be keener at each stage of insight (vipassana). When one has experienced the goal (Nirvana) for the first time the wrong view of self is eradicated completely and there is no more doubt about realities. The first stage of enlightenment is the stage of the "streamwinner", in Pali "satopanna".
The sotapanna is sure to attain the last stage of enlightenment, which is the stage of the arahant. The sotapanna has not eradicated all defilements yet, there still is greed (lobha), hatred (dosa) and delusion (moha). He realizes that he still has unwholesome consciousness; he knows that there still are conditions for them, but he does not take them for the self. The sotapanna still has defilements, but he will never break the five precepts, it has become his nature to observe them. He cannot commit a deed which can cause rebirth in one of the woeful planes. Those who are not ariyan saints cannot be sure that they will not be reborn in a woeful plane of existence, even if they have done many good deeds in this life. Only ariyan saints can be sure that they will not be reborn in a woeful plane.
The sotapanna has an unshakable confidence in the "Three Gems": in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. He has no doubts about the Path the Lord Buddha taught, he cannot delude himself about the right practice of insight meditation (vipassana). If we have not attained enlightenment we can be deluded about the right practice. Instead of developing wisdom we cling to a self, we want to induce awareness, and we cling to results we are hoping for. The sotapanna, however, is firmly established on the Path to the last stage of enlightenment. The fact that the sotapanna has experienced Nirvana does not mean that he cannot continue all his daily activities. The sotapanna can live with husband or wife and have a fami ly life until he has attained the third stage of ariyan sainthood, the stage of the "non-returner" or "anagami". The arahant does not even have anymore longing to live in a house. The sotapanna does not take any mind (nama) or matter (rupa) for self, but there still is attachment, aversion and ignorance; he still has conceit. Therefore he has to continue the development of vipassana.
The ariyan saint of the second stage, the sakadagami (once-returner), has not eradicated all attachment and aversion, but they have become attenuated. He still has ignorance, which is only completely eradicated by the arahant. The ariyan saint of the third stage, the anagami (non-returner), has eradicated aversion and he has eradicated attachment to the things experienced through the five senses, but he still clings to life and he still has conceit. Ariyan saints who are not arahants yet can still have conceit, although they have no wrong view of self. They may be inclined to compare themselves with others. When somebody thinks himself better, equal or less than someone else, it is conceit even if it is true. Why should we compare ourselves to others? The arahant has eradicated all defilements and latent tendencies. He will not be reborn when his life is terminated.
How can we find out who is an Nobel (Ariyan) Saint?
There is no way to know who is an ariyan saint, unless we have become enlightened ourselves. It cannot be known from someone's outward appearance whether he is an ariyan saint or not. People who are very amiable and peaceful are not necessarily ariyan saints. However, we can take our refuge in the ariyan Sangha even if we do not personally know ariyan saints. We can think of their virtues, no matter whether they are in this plane of existence or in other planes. The ariyan saints prove that there is a way to the end of defilements. We should know what is the condition for the end of defilements: the cultivation of wisdom. The monks, nuns, men and women layfollowers who are ariyan saints in the Buddha's time proved that what the Lord Buddha taught can be realized in daily life. The Lord Buddha did not teach abstract ideas, he taught reality. Shouldn't those who want to realize the truth now walk the same Path they walked, even if they still have a long way to go?
The ariyan saints have understood very clearly that people cannot seek deliverance from defilements outside themselves. Defilements can only be eradicated where they arise: within ourselves. If we want to eradicate defilement we should follow the "Middle Way". In order to follow the Middle Way we do not have to change our daily life. We can be aware of mental and physical phenomena during our activities. We will experience that this may be more difficult than the practices of an ascetic. It is harder to overcome clinging to a self when we are seeing, hearing or thinking, than to endure bodily hardship. The development of wisdom is a life task. We need much courage and perseverance in order to continue to be aware of the realities in daily life.
When we take our refuge in the Nobel (ariyan) Sangha we express our confidence in the Buddha's Path, through which we may realize what the Sangha has realized.
When we take our refuge in the Sangha we also pay respect to the monks no matter whether they are ariyan saints or not, because the monks try to realize in their life what the Lord Buddha taught and they try to help other people as well to realize the truth. Thus the monks remind us of the "Three Gems".
THE FIVE PRECEPTS
(THE PANCHA SHILA)
Buddhists undertake certain precepts as help on the path to coming into contact with ultimate reality. Laypeople generally undertake five precepts. The five precepts are:
|Panatipata veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami||I undertake the precept to abstain / refrain from harming / destroying living creatures|
|Adinnadana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami||I undertake the precept to abstain / refrain from (stealing ) taking things not given|
|Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam Samadiyami||I undertake the precept to abstain / refrain from sexual misconduct|
|Musavada veramaṇi sikkhapadaṃ samadiyami||I undertake the precept to abstain / refrain from false / incorrect speech ( lying, harsh language, slander, idle chit-chat)|
|Sura-meraya-majja-pamadatthana veramana |
|I undertake the precept to abstain from taking anything that lead to loss of mindfulness|
In some schools of Buddhism, serious lay people or aspiring monks take an additional three to five ethical precepts, and some of the five precepts are strengthened. For example, the precept pertaining to sexual misconduct becomes a precept of celibacy; the fourth precept, which pertains to incorrect speech, is expanded to four: lying, harsh language, slander, and idle chit-chat. Monks and nuns also vow to follow the 227 patimokkha rules as described in Vinya Pitaka.
All religions have some basic rules that define what good conduct is and what kind of conduct should be avoided. In Buddhism, the most important rules are the Five
Precepts. These have been passed down from the Buddha himself. The five percepts indicate the followings:-
1. No killing Respect for life
2. No stealing Respect for others' property
3. No sexual misconduct Respect for our pure nature
4. No lying Respect for honesty
5. No intoxicants Respect for a clear mind
The Buddha said, "Life is dear to all beings. They have the right to live the same as we do." We should respect all life and not kill anything. Killing ants and mosquitoes is also breaking this precept. We should have an attitude of loving-kindness towards all beings, wishing them to be happy and free from harm. Taking care of the earth, its rivers and air is included. One way that many Buddhists follow this precept is by being vegetarian.
If we steal from another, we steal from ourselves. Instead, we should learn to give and take care of things that belong to our family, to the school, or to the public.
No sexual misconduct
Proper conduct shows respect for oneself and others. Our bodies are gifts from our parents, so we should protect them from harm. Young people should especially keep their natures pure and develop their virtue. It is up to them to make the world a better place to live. In happy families, the husband and wife both respect each other.
Being honest brings peace into the world. When there is a misunderstanding, the best thing is to talk it over. This precept includes no gossip, no back-biting, no harsh words and no idle speech.
The fifth precept is based on keeping a clear mind and a healthy body. One day, when the Buddha was speaking the Dhamma for the assembly, a young drunkard staggered into the room. He tripped over some monks who were sitting on the floor and started cursing loudly. His breath reeked of alcohol and filled the air with a sickening stench. Mumbling to himself, he reeled out the door.
Everyone was astonished at his rude behavior, but the Buddha remained calm. "Great assembly!" he spoke, "Take a look at this man! He will certainly lose his wealth and good name. His body will grow weak and sickly. Day and night, he will quarrel with his family and friends until they abandon him. The worst thing is that he will lose his wisdom and become stupid."
Little by little, one can learn to follow these precepts. If one sometimes forgets them, one can start all over again. Following the precepts is a lifetime job. If one kills or hurts someone's feelings by mistake, that is breaking the precepts, but it was not done on purpose.
To these, monks and nuns add...
6. One simple meal a day, before noon.
7. Avoid frivolous entertainments.
8. Avoid self-adornment.
9. Use a simple bed and seat.
10. Avoid the use of money.
Full monastic life adds over two hundred more rules and regulations!
THE TEN PRECEPTS
(THE DASHA SHILA)
The Ten Percepts are observed by the monks and nuns are...
To be reverential and mindful with all life; I practice nonviolence and do not kill.
To respect the property of others; I do not steal.
To be conscious and loving in my relationships; I do not abuse sexuality.
To be honest and truthful; I do not deceive.
To exercise proper care of body and mind; I am not gluttonous, I do not abuse drugs.
To recognize that silence is precious; I do not gossip or engage in frivolous conversation.
To be humble; I do not seek praise for myself, nor do I judge others.
To be satisfied with yourself; I do not covet or indulge in envy or jealousy.
To keep a calm mind and peaceful manner; I do not indulge in anger.
To take refuge in the Three Treasures: the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha; I do not defame them.
The Five Skandhas
The Five Hindrances of the Mind
1) Desire: sense, lusting, grasping
2) Hatred: anger, ill will, aversion, annoyance, condemnation
3) Laziness: sloth, torpor, sluggishness, unconsciousness
4) Restlessness: worry, regret, agitation, inability to concentrate
5) Doubt: in oneself, one’s action, one’s ability
The Paramita means perfection or Virtues. It means reaching other shore (enlightenment) as contrasted with this shore of suffering and morality. The paramitas are usually six in number (charity, discipline, forbearance, energy, concentration and lastly wisdom) or expanded to ten (adding expedients, vows, power and knowledge). The Paramitas are the ten stages of spiritual perfection followed by the Bodhisattava in his progress to Buddhahood. They include the practice and highest possible development of charity morality, forbearance, zeal, meditation and wisdom. The following four are sometimes added: skillful means of teaching, power over obstacles, spiritual aspirations and knowledge, these last four being however, regarded as amplifications of Panna or wisdom. Everyone must strive to achieve these noble qualities in life to progressively move towards achieving Nirvana.
The paramitas constitute an important teaching of the Prajnaparamita Sutras, as which the Diamond and the Hear Sutras are summaries.
The ten paramitas are listed below:-
|Kshanti||Patience and tolerance|
|Panna||Wisdom or (full-) consciousness|
THE BRAHMA VIHARA
As per the Buddhist literature Brahma Vihara are the four "sublime states" to which we all should aspire. They are the great signs of the Bodhisattva, who vows to remain in world or samsara - this world of pain and sorrow - until all creation can be brought into the state of Nirvana together.
1. Maitri is caring, loving kindness displayed to all you meet.
2. Karuna is compassion or mercy, the kindness shown to those who suffer.
3. Mudita is sympathetic joy, being happy for others, without a trace of envy.
4. Upeksa is equanimity or peacefulness, the ability to accept the ups and downs of life with equal dispassion.
THE TWELVE PRINCIPLES OF BUDDHISM
As per Mr. Christmas Humphreys the Buddhism has been summarized by 12 principles (Mr. Christmas Humphreys, was associated with The Buddhist Society, London, in 1945).
1. Self-salvation is for any man the immediate task. If a man lay wounded by a poisoned arrow he would not delay extraction by demanding details of the man who shot it, or the length and make of the arrow. There will be time for ever-increasing understanding of the Teaching during the treading of the Way. Meanwhile, begin now by facing life as it is, learning always by direct and personal experience.
2. The first fact of existence is the law of change or impermanence. All that exists, from a mole to a mountain, from a thought to an empire, passes through the same cycle of existence - i.e., birth, growth, decay and death. Life alone is continuous, ever seeking self-expression in new forms. 'Life is a bridge; therefore build no house on it.' Life is a process of flow, and he who clings to any form, however splendid, will suffer by resisting the flow.
3. The law of change applies equally to the 'soul'. There is no principle in an individual which is immortal and unchanging. Only the 'Namelessness', the ultimate Reality, is beyond change, and all forms of life, including man, are manifestations of this Reality. No one owns the life which flows in him any more than the electric light bulb owns the current which gives it light.
4. The universe is the expression of law. All effects have causes, and man's soul or character is the sum total of his previous thoughts and acts. Karma, meaning action-reaction, governs all reaction to them, his future condition, and his final destiny. By right thought and action he can gradually purify his inner nature, and so by self-realization attain in time liberation from rebirth. The process covers great periods of time, involving life after life on earth, but ultimately every form of life will reach Enlightenment.
5. Life is one and indivisible, though its ever-changing forms are innumerable and perishable. There is, in truth, no death, though every form must die. From an understanding of life's unity arises compassion, a sense of identity with the life in other forms. Compassion is described as 'the Law of laws - eternal harmony', and he who breaks this harmony of life will suffer accordingly and delay his own Enlightenment.
6. Life being one, the interests of the part should be those of the whole. In his ignorance man thinks he can successfully strive for his own interests, and this wrongly directed energy of selfishness produces suffering. He learns from his suffering to reduce and finally eliminate its cause. The Buddha taught Four Noble Truths: -
(a) The omnipresence of suffering;
(b) its cause, wrongly directed desire;
(c) its cure, the removal of the cause; and
(d) Noble Eightfold Path of self-development which leads to the end of suffering.
7. The Eightfold Path consists in Right (or perfect) Views or preliminary understanding, Right Aims or Motive, Right Speech, Right Acts, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Concentration or mind development, and finally, Right Samadhi, leading to Full Enlightenment. As Buddhism is a way of living, not merely a theory of life, the treading of this Path is essential to self-deliverance. 'Cease to do evil, learn to do well, cleanse your own heart: this is the Teaching of the Buddha.
8. Reality is indescribable, and a God with attributes is not the final Reality. But the Buddha, a human being, became the All-Enlightened One, and the purpose of life is the attainment of Enlightenment. This state of Consciousness, Nirvana, the extinction of the limitations of self-hood, is attainable on earth. All men and all other forms of life contain the potentiality of Enlightenment, and the process therefore consists in becoming what you are. 'Look within: thou art Buddha.'
9. From potential to actual Enlightenment there lies the Middle Way, the Eightfold Way 'from desire to peace', a process of self-development between the 'opposites', avoiding all extremes. The Buddha trod this Way to the end, and the only faith required in Buddhism is the reasonable belief that where a Guide has trodden it is worth our while to tread. The Way must be trodden by the whole man, not merely the best of him, and heart and mind must be developed equally. The Buddha was the
All-Compassionate as well as the All-Enlightened One.
10. Buddhism lays great stress on the need of inward concentration and meditation, which leads in time to the development of the inner spiritual faculties. The subjective life is as important as the daily round, and periods of quietude for inner activity are essential for a balanced life. The Buddhist should at all times be 'mindful and self-possessed', refraining from mental and emotional attachment to 'the passing show'. This increasingly watchful attitude to circumstances, which he knows to be his own creation, helps him to keep his reaction to it always under control.
11. The Buddha said: 'Work out your own salvation with diligence.' Buddhism knows no authority for truth save the intuition of the individual, and that is authority for himself alone. Each man suffers the consequences of his own acts, and learns thereby, while helping his fellow men to the same deliverance; nor will prayer to the Buddha or to any God prevent an effect from following its cause. Buddhist monks are teachers and exemplars, and in no sense intermediates between Reality and the individual. The utmost tolerance is practiced towards all other religions and philosophies, for no man have the right to interfere in his neighbor’s journey to the Goal.
12. Buddhism is neither pessimistic nor 'escapist', nor does it deny the existence of God or soul, though it places its own meaning on these terms. It is, on the contrary, a system of thought, a religion, a spiritual science and a way of life, which is reasonable, practical, and all-embracing. For over two thousand years it has satisfied the spiritual needs of nearly one-third of mankind. It appeals to the West because it has no dogmas, satisfies the reason and the heart alike, insists on self-reliance coupled with tolerance for other points of view, embraces science, religion, philosophy, psychology, ethics and art, and points to man alone, as the creator of his present life and sole designer of his destiny.
The Buddhist Flag has blue-yellow-red-white-orange vertical stripes, each 1/6 of the distance from the hoist. The sixth stripe consists of 5 horizontal stripes of the same color starting from the top. The right hand vertical orange stripe merges with the bottom horizontal orange stripe.
The Buddhist flag was invented in 1880 by an American journalist, Colonel Henry Steele Olcott. Olcott was a fascinating character. A former soldier and lawyer, he set up the Theosophical Society of New York. He arrived in Sri Lanka with the renowned spiritualist Madame Blavatsky on 17 February 1880 - a day which was subsequently celebrated as Olcott Day in independent Sri Lanka. He founded the Buddhist Theosophical Society, devised a Buddhist catechism, encouraged Buddhist versions of Christmas carols and cards, and inspired the founding of Buddhist schools and the Young Men's Buddhist Association. The Buddhist flag, first hoisted in 1885 in Sri Lanka, is a symbol of faith and peace used through-out the world to represent the Buddhist faith.
It is said that the six colors of the flag represent the colors of the aura that emanated from the body of the Buddha when he attained enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree. The horizontal stripes represent the races of the world living in harmony and the vertical stripes represent eternal world peace. The colors symbolize the perfection of Buddhahood and the Dhamma.
The Blue light that radiated from the Buddha’s hair symbolizes the spirit of Universal Compassion for all beings (faith and confidence).
The Yellow light that radiated from the Buddha’s epidermis symbolizes the Middle Way which avoids all extremes and brings balance and liberation (Holiness).
The Red light that radiated from the Buddha’s flesh symbolizes the blessings that the practice of the Buddha’s Teaching brings (Wisdom).
The White light that radiated from the Buddha's bones and teeth symbolizes the purity of the Buddha's Teaching and the liberation it brings (purity).
The Orange light that radiated from the Buddha’s palms, heels and lips symbolizes the unshakable Wisdom of the Buddha’s Teaching (Desire less ness).
The combination color symbolizes the universality of the Truth of the Lord Buddha’s Teaching.
The essence of Buddhism which is full of wisdom, strength and dignity. Combination of these colours signifies that it is the one and only Truth. The horizontal bars signify peace and harmony between all races through out the world while the vertical bars represent eternal peace within the world. In simple terms, the Buddhist Flag implies that there is no discrimination of races, nationality, areas or skin colour; that every living beings possess the Buddha Nature and all have the potential to become a Buddha.
Therefore, the overall flag represents that regardless of race, nationality, division or color, all sentient beings possess the potential of Buddhahood.
Many Buddhists have misconceptions about owning and hanging the Buddhist Flag. Many people may think that Buddhist Flags are only to be hung in temples and Buddhist centres and not at residential homes/shops/etc. In fact, this is a great misconception because this Buddhist flag was specially and designed for all Buddhists. Hanging the Buddhist Flag expresses our Love and Pride of being a Buddhist.
BUDDHIST DHAMMA BOOKS
The teaching of Buddha is available in its original form even today although he passed away about 2500 years. The sublime teaching of Buddha which he expounded during his long and successful ministry and which he unreservedly bequeathed to humanity still exists in its pristine purity.
Although Buddha had not left any written records of his teaching, his disciples preserved them, by committing to memory and transmitting them orally from generation to generation. Three months after the death of Buddha, in the eighth years of kind Ajatashatru’s reign, 500 pre-eminent Arahants concerned with preserving the purity of the doctrine held a convocation at Rajagraha to rehearse it. The venerable Thero, the Buddha’s beloved attended who had the special privilege and honor of hearing the discourses from the Buddha himself, and the Venerable Upali Thero were chosen to answer questions about the Dhamma (Doctrine) and the Vinaya (Discipline) respectively.
Such first council compiled and arranged in its present form containing teaching of Buddha and it was a book known as Tripitaka.
Second and third Council of Arahants were held 100 and 236 years later respectively wherein the teaching of the Buddha was again rehearsed to maintain the purity of the teaching of the Buddha.
During the year 83 BC, the forth council of Arahants was held during the reign of the pious Simhala King Vatta Gamani Abhaya and the Tripitaka was, for the first time in the history of Buddhism committed to writing at Aluvihara in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Thanks to the indefatigable efforts of those noble and forsighted Arahants, there I no room either now or in the future for higher critics or progressive scholars to adulterate the pure teaching of the Buddha.
The voluminous Tripitaka which contains the essence of the Buddha’s teaching is estimated to be about eleven times the size of the Bible.
The word Tripitak means three baskets. They are the basket of Discipline (Vinaya Pitaka), the basket of discourses ( Sutta Pitaka) and the basket of Ultimate Doctroine (Abhidhamma Pitaka)
a. Vinaya Pitaka
The Vinaya Pitaka which is regarded as the sheet anchor of Holy Order, deals mainly with the rules and regulations of the order of Bhikkhus (Monks) and Bhikkhunis (Nuns). For nearly twenty years after the enlightenment of the Buddha, no definite rules were laid down for control and discipline of Sangha (Order). Subsequently as occasion arose, the Buddha promulgated rules for the future discipline of the Sangha. The reasons for the promulgation for rules, their various implications and specific Vinaya ceremonies of the Sangha are fully described in the Vinaya Pitaka. The history of the gradual development of Sasana from its very inception, a brief account of the life and ministry of the Buddham and details of three councils are some other additional revenant contents of the Vinaya Pitaka. Indirectly it revels useful information about ancient history, Indian customs, ancient arts and sciences. One who reads the Vinaya Pitaka is impressed by the democratic constitutions of the Sangha, their holding possessions in common, the exceptionally high moral standard of the Bhikkhus, and the unsurpassed administrative ability of the Buddha who anticipated even the present parliamentary system.
BUDDHIST DHAMMA BOOKS
b. Sutta Pitaka
The Sutta Pitaka conists mainly the instructive discourses delivered by the Buddha to both the Sangha and the laity on ht evarious occasions. A few discourses, expounded by disciples such as the Venerables Sariputta, Moggallana and Ananda are incorporated are accordingly as much veneration as the word of the Buddha himself, since they were approved by him. Most of the sermons were intended mainly for the benefit of Bhikkhus, and they deal with the holy life and with the exposition of Doctrine. There are several other discourses which deals with both the material and the moral progress of his lay followers. The Sigalovada Sutta, for instance deals mainly with the duties of a layman. There are also a few interesting talks given to the children.
This Pitaka may be compared to a book of prescriptions, since the discoursed were expounded on diverse occasions to suit the temperaments of various persons, there may be seemingly contradictory statements, but they should not be misconstrued as they were uttered by the Buddha to suit a particular purpose , for instances to the self same question he would maintain silence when the inquirer was merely foolishly inquisitive, or give a detailed reply when he knew the inquirer to be an earnest seeker after the Truth.
The Sutta Pitaka consists of the following five Nikayas (Collections):-
|Digha Nikaya||Collection of long discourses|
|Majjhima Nikaya||Collection of middle length discourses|
|Samyutta Nikaya||Collection of Kindred Sayings|
|Anguttara Nikaya||Collection of Gradual Sayings|
|Khuddaka Nikaya||Smaller Collection|
|Khuddaka Patha||Shorter Texts|
|The Way of Truth|
Paeans of Joy
|Itivuttaka||“Thus Said” Discourses|
|Sutta Nipata||Collected Discourses|
|Vimana Vatthu||Stories of Celestial Mansions|
|Peta Vatthu||Stories of Petas|
|Psalms of the Brethren|
|Therigatha||Psalms of Sisters|
|Jataka||Birth stories of Boddhisatta|
|Patismbhida||Book on Analytical Knowledge|
|Apadana||Lives of Arahants|
|Buddhavamsa||History of Buddha|
|Cariya Pitaka||Modes of conduct|
c. Abhidhamma Pitaka
The Abhidhamma Pitaka is the most important and most interesting of the three containing as it does the profound philosophy of the Buddha’s teaching in contrast to the simpler discourses in the Sutta Pitaka. Abhidhamma, the Higher Doctrine of Buddha, expounds the quintessence of his profound teachings.
According to some scholars Abhidhamma is not a teaching of the Buddha, but a later elaboration of scholastic monks. Tradition, however, attributes the nucleus of the Abhidhamma to the Buddha Himself. The Matika or Matrices of the Abhidhamma, such as Kusala Dhamma (whole some states), Akusala Dhamma (Unwholesome States), and Abyakata Dhamma (Indeterminate States), etc. which have been elaborated by Buddha.
To the wise truth seekers, Abhidhamma is an indispensable guide and an intellectual treat. Here is found food for thought to original thinkers and to earnest students who wish to develop wisdom and lead an ideal Buddhist Life. Abhidhamma is not a subject of fleeting interest designed for the superficial reader.
Modern Psychology, limited as it is, comes within the scope of Abhidhamma inasmuch as it deals with mind, thoughts thought processes and metal properties; but it does not admit of psyche or a soul. It teaches a psychology without a psyche.
Abhidhamma defines the Consciousness (Citta). The thoughts are analyzed and classified chiefly from an ethical standpoint. All mental properties (Cetasika) are enumerated. The composition of each type of consciousness is set forth in detail. How thoughts areise is minutely described. Bhavanga and Javana thought-moments, which are explained only in Abhidhamma, and which have no parallel in modern psychology, are of special interest to research students in psychology. Irrelevant problems that interest students and scholars have no relation to one’s Deliverances are deliberately set aside.
While the Sutta Pitaka contains the conventional teaching (vohara desana), the Abhidhamma Pitaka contains the ultimate teaching ( paramattha desana). Knowledge of Abhidhamma is essential to comprehend fully the Teachings of the Buddha, as it presents the key that opens the door of reality.
The Abhidhamma Pitaka is composed of the following seven works:-
|Dhammasangani||Classification of Dhamma|
|Dhatukatha||Discourse of Elements|
|Puggala Pannatti||The Book of Individuals|
|Kathavatthu||Points of Controversy|
|Yamaka||The Book of Pairs|
|Patthana||The Book of Causal Relations|
Buddhism is spread over many countries and in every continent on the world. The Buddhist population in the world is about 6% of the total population of the world. The Main Buddhist Countries includes –
5. Hong Kong
8. South Korea
17. Sri Lanka
The list of top ten countries having significant Buddhist population are as given below:-
5. Hong Kong
8. South Korea
17. Sri Lanka
The list of top ten countries having significant Buddhist population are as given below:-
|Name of the Country||Percentage of the population|