Buddha Jayanti Festival in India

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Buddha Jayanti Festival in India

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Buddha Jayanti Festival

It is said that one of the greatest spiritual teachers of mankind the world has ever seen is Gautam Buddha. It is his teachings and message that has traveled far and wide. It is believed that the origin and practice of Buddhist religion dates back to the time when Lord Buddha was born around 543 BC. Siddhartha, the only son of Shuddhodana, the King of Kapilavastu is believed to have lived a very sheltered and protected life till the age of 29. He was completely ignorant of what miseries and sorrows were all about. He did not know the tragedies of everyday life. One day the prince desired to see the city.

The King ordered that the city should be all gay and grand, so that everywhere his son would meet with only pleasing sights. He was shocked to see the harsh realities of life when he viewed an old man, a sick and disabled person and a dead body for the first time in his life.

The fourth vision was of an ascetic who looked at peace with himself, which led Siddharth to search for the true meaning of life, renounce the luxury and worldly pleasures and look for enlightenment. He wandered to many places and ultimately attained enlightenment in Bodhgaya under a ‘pipal‘ tree. Since then he was known as Gautam Buddha or the ‘Enlightened One‘.

Buddha Purnima or Buddha Jayanti is the birth anniversary of the Lord Buddha. It is widely celebrated on a full moon night in Vaisakha ( according to the Hindu calendar that usually falls in April or May ). Buddha Purinma is important festival to Buddhists. Buddha was born in B.C. 560 and died at the age of eighty in B.C. 480. Buddhism went on to become a very popular religion in the subsequent centuries and even went abroad.

It was on Buddha Poornima that he attained enlightenment and ultimately after preaching the five principles of life and the path of eight – fold truth for long, he attained ‘Nirvana‘ or left the mortal world on this day itself. Thus, Buddha Jayanti celebrates the three most important events in Gautam Buddha’s life.

Pilgrims from all over the world come to Bodh Gaya in India to participate in the Buddha Poornima celebrations that highlight prayer meets, sermons and religious discourses, recitation of Buddhist scriptures, group meditation, processions and worship of the statue of Buddha.

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Significance of Buddha Jayanti

We celebrate the birth anniversary of Lord Buddha as Buddha Jayanti or Buddha Purnima. It is celebrated all over the world in different places with same respect and feelings. The celebration of Buddha Purnima is not only a festival but it is reminds us of Buddha’s teachings of life. Pilgrims come from all over the world to Bodh Gaya to attend the Buddha Poornima celebrations.

The day has a special significance not only among Buddhists but also among others. The Mahabodhi Temple wears a festive look and is decorated with colorful flags and flowers. The day is marked with prayer, sermons on the life of Gautam Buddha, meditations, continuous recitation of Buddhist scriptures, processions, worship of the statue of Buddha and symposia.

Devotees reaffirm their faith in the five principles called Panchsheel :

  1. Not to take life
  2. Not to steal
  3. Not to lie
  4. Not to consume liquor or other intoxicants
  5. Not to commit adultery

The Chinese scholar, Fa-Hien, has recorded celebration of this festival. The day is a celebration of Buddha’s teachings to the world. It reminds us of his preaching to the mankind. Among the teachings of the Buddha to the world, the foremost was “Ahimsa” ( not causing harm to anyone ). Non – violence is not merely refraining from inflicting injuries on others with one’s limbs or weapons. Non – violence has to be practiced with purity of mind, tongue, and body.

There should be no ill feelings, which is a form of violence. To cause harm to others through the body is also violence ( Himsa ). No one should be harmed even by speech. The speech should be sweet, pleasing and wholesome. All actions should be helpful to others. If we practice even half of what he has said than this world will be a different place to live.

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Buddhism in india

Buddhism began as an offspring of Hinduism in the country of India. It is difficult to give an accurate historical account of the life of Siddhartha Gautama since there are no original facts.

Today most of the life story is clouded in myths and legends. But history tells us Buddhism began in India with the life of Siddhartha Gautama ( ca. 560-480 B.C. ), a prince from the small kingdom of Shakya located in the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal.

By the third century B.C., Buddhism based on teachings of Buddha was being spread throughout South Asia through the agency of the Mauryan Empire. By the seventh century A.D., having spread throughout East Asia and Southeast Asia, Buddhism probably had the largest religious following in the world.

Buddhism spread from India across to Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Java, and Burma; but the basic teachings of Buddha remain the same. Great architectural monuments and temples have been built in honor of Buddha.

But there are no specific answer why Buddhism declined in the last half of the first millenium AD. By the time the Muslims started conquering India in the twelfth century, the number of monasteries had severely declined. Buddhism, which once had spread across the face of India, was a vital force only in the areas of its origins. Scholars believe that the monasteries became detached from everyday life in India. General Studies Question Bank CD

After centuries of patronage, the monasteries had amassed a wealth of endowments. Life inside the monasteries was very good. So the monasteries became very selective in admitting monks to the brotherhood.

In the twentieth century it has been spectacularly revived and there are now over ten million Indian Buddhists. The vast majority of these people are from castes formerly known as ‘untouchable‘ who were involved in the movement of conversion to Buddhism initiated in the 1950s. Most of the Buddhists in India follow Theravada Buddhism, the “Doctrine of the Elders,” which traces its origin through Sri Lankan and Burmese traditions to scriptures in the Pali language, a Sanskritic dialect in eastern India.

Although replete with miraculous events and legends, these scriptures stress a more human Buddha and a democratic path toward enlightenment for everyone. Ambedkar’s plan for the expanding Buddhist congregation in India visualized Buddhist monks and nuns developing themselves through service to others.

Convert communities, by embracing Buddhism; have embarked on social transformations, including a decline in alcoholism, a simplification of marriage ceremonies and abolition of ruinous marriage expenses, a greater emphasis on education, and a heightened sense of identity and self – worth.

The concept of Buddhism is a modern creation so surprisingly in today’s modern society also teachings of Buddhism are still that relevant as earlier.

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Teachings of Buddha

It was after attaining his enlightenment; Buddha went to the Deer Park near the holy city of Benares and shared his new understanding and thought with five holy men. They understood immediately and became his disciples.

This marked the beginning of the Buddhist community. During his enlightenment he found the answer to three questions. He discovered three great truths of life. Through his teachings he explained these truths in a simple way so that everyone could understand and apply that in their life.

For the next forty – five years, the Buddha and his disciples went from place to place in India spreading the Dharma, his teachings. Through his teachings he won the hearts of the people because he dealt with their true feelings.

He even advised them not to accept his words on blind faith, but to decide for themselves whether his teachings are right or wrong, then follow them. He encouraged everyone to have compassion for each other and develop their own virtue.

The basic teachings of Buddha comprises of the three universal truth, they are as follows :

The Three Universal TruthGeneral Studies Question Bank CD

  1. Nothing is lost in the universe
  2. Everything Changes
  3. Law of Cause and Effect
  4. Than there were the four noble truths of life.

They are as follows :

The Four Noble Truths

  1. There is Suffering Suffering is common to all.
  2. Cause of Suffering We are the cause of our suffering.
  3. End of Suffering Stop doing what causes suffering.
  4. Path to end Suffering Everyone can be enlightened.

The Noble Eightfold Path

  1. Right View.
  2. Right Thought.
  3. Right Speech.
  4. Right Conduct.
  5. Right Livelihood.
  6. Right Effort.
  7. Right Mindfulness.
  8. Right Concentration.

The teachings of Buddha are an ethical system determined by our motives for our actions. For those who do work with honest and pure intentions they will have happiness in life.

For those who do work with wrong intentions and ill feelings will have suffering. According to his teachings we are responsible for our actions and results. This is defined as karma. He has even talked about Nirvana, the cessation of desire and rebirth.

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