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Bhagavan on Buddha

Buddha The enlightened oneAlthough all Avatars (divine advents) have been preaching only good things, men today are content to observe their birthdays without following their precepts. Buddha did not attach any importance to yajnas and yagas and other religious rituals. The reason is he felt that it was more important to ensure that the five sense organs were pure to begin with. Buddha sought to find out why the mind gets disturbed. He could not bear to see anyone suffering. He was deeply grieved at the sight of persons afflicted with old age. He was intrigued at the sight of a dead body. None of these natural happenings gave him peace of mind. Buddha considered the movements of the planets and the sun and the stars as natural phenomena. He undertook many spiritual exercises to find out what transcended these natural phenomena. Failing to find the answers by these exercises, he approached many great elders to find the answers. None could give him satisfactory answers. Ultimately he reached Gaya and sat under a banyan tree to meditate on the problems that worried him.

Because Buddha did not interest himself in the study of the Vedas or in the performance of Yagas and Yajnas, he was dubbed an atheist. This is utterly wrong. Buddha was a pure hearted person. When he was born, a renowned astrologer had predicted that he would be either a great king or a great renunciant. On knowing this, Buddha’s father, Shuddhodhana arranged to keep from his son’s sight all unseemly sights of happenings in this world. From his childhood, Buddha could not bear the sight of anyone in pain. He was saddened at the sight of the old ill-treating the young, of men in authority harassing the people and the big fish swallowing the small ones. He realized that it was wrong for anyone to cause harm to others. Hence he declared, “Ahimsa Paramodharmah” (Non-hurting is the Supreme Dharma). No one should cause hurt to others by speech, action or in any other way. According to him true Dharma (Righteousness) consists in refraining from causing harm to anyone in thought, word or deed. Truth is God. Buddha taught that people should adhere to truth and uphold it.

Among Buddha’s teachings the foremost were Sathya (Truth) and Dharma (Righteousness). These two are the teachings of the Vedas, “Sathyam vada, Dharmam chara” (Speak the Truth, practice righteousness).

He found the root cause of sufferingThe name given to Buddha at the time of birth was Sarvaartha Siddha. Shuddhodhana got his son married to Yashodhara, daughter of his brother-in-law, Shuddhabuddha. He apprehended that his son may become a recluse and turn away from the world if he was left to himself. But Buddha did not feel that a married life was the proper thing for him. Buddha felt that man was bound by various attachments in worldly life. Friends and relations were the cause of this bondage. Various human relationships were the cause of sorrow in the world. So he declared, “Sarvam duhkham, duhkham” (All is sorrow). He also declared, “Sarvam Kshanikam, Kshanikam” (everything is momentary). “Sarvam nashyam, nashyam” (everything is perishable).

Buddha felt that nothing was truly lasting. Parents were subjecting their children to various kinds of bonds and making their lives miserable. As soon as the children come of age the parents are keen to get them married. They do not know what kind of happiness the child can get from married life. What happiness have they derived from their own married life—physically, mentally or otherwise? No person, however intelligent, thinks about this matter. Even eminent scholars do not care to examine whether it is worthwhile pursuing sensuous pleasures instead of seeking what is beyond the senses. Buddha felt intensely unhappy that his parents and others combined to commit him to the bondage of married life. One day, at midnight, Buddha left the palace, giving up his wife and young son, Rahul.

He abandoned everything out of the conviction: “There is no mother or father, no kinsman or friend, no home or wealth. Awaken yourself!” He resolved to find out something which transcends all worldly relationships and pleasures.

Buddha asked himself: “What is this life? Birth is misery. Old age is misery. Wife is a cause of sorrow. There is misery at the end of life. Therefore, be alert and awake.”

Happiness is not to be found in any of the things of the world. Everything is fleeting. Man is wasting his life in the pursuit of petty ephemeral pleasures. Nirvana is the only truth. It is the sense of oneness with all life. To turn the mind towards that which is permanent is Nirvana.

Before he attained Nirvana, Buddha summoned his stepbrother Anandabuddha. Buddha’s mother Maaya Dhevi passed away on the seventh day after his birth. Shuddhodhana’s second wife Gauthami, brought up the child. Because he was brought up by Gauthami, he was named Gautama Buddha. At the age of twenty-eight, he gave up everything and became a renunciant.

He loved and forgave everyoneWhen the Buddha sat under the Bodhi Tree in Bodhgaya, after the Illumination that revealed to him the Four Noble Truths, gangs of disbelievers gathered around him and poured ridicule and abuse on him. His disciples were enraged; they prayed to the Buddha, "Lord! Give us leave; we shall beat this insolence and ignorance out of these fools" But, Buddha only smiled at their anger. He said, "Dear Ones! Know you not how much joy they derive from this exercise? You derive joy worshipping me! They derive joy pelting me with abuse. You pour reverence; they pour ridicule, and receive equal satisfaction. Control yourselves: do not hate anyone. This is the teaching. This is the ancient ordinance".

In a life filled with desires, the pleasures one seeks are inevitably followed by grief and disappointments. All unrighteous actions lead to sorrow. It was for this reason that Buddha emphasised the need for discrimination. The first prayer, "Buddham Saranam Gachchaami" is a call for cultivating wisdom and discrimination the Buddhi. But unless the power of discrimination is used for doing right action for the good of society it is of no use. Hence the second prayer, "Sangham Saranam Gachchaami" (I surrender myself to society). What is this right action that must be done? That is indicated by the third prayer: "Dharmam Saranam Gachchaami" (I take refuge in Dharma). To reach your goal, the royal road is Dharma—Righteousness. It is only when these three are combined—Wisdom, social service and Righteousness—that there is fulfillment in life.

Once Buddha entered a village along with his disciples. A lady approached him and requested him to have food in her house. Buddha blessed her and accepted her invitation. Seeing this many villagers, including the village headman, warned Buddha, saying, "O Buddha, you are one of wisdom and have renounced everything. She is not a woman of good character. It is not proper for you to have food in her house:' Buddha smiled and asked the village headman to come forward. Buddha, holding the right hand of the headman, asked him to clap. The headman said, it was not possible for him to clap as one of his hands was in Buddha's hold. Then Buddha said, "True, it is possible to clap only when two hands come together. Likewise, this lady cannot turn bad by herself unless there are men of bad character in this village. The men of this village are the root cause of her bad character." On hearing this, the villagers realised their folly, fell at Buddha's feet and sought his forgiveness. Through his teachings, Buddha instilled sacredness and wisdom in people. Buddha's teachings are highly sacred with profound inner meaning.

The final moment of NirvanaBuddha's mother, Mayadevi, passed away when he was just 8 days old. His stepmother Gautami brought him up. That is how he got the name Gautama. He was christened as Siddhartha at the time of his birth. He came to be known as Buddha because he developed Buddhi (intellect) and discrimination power. Discrimination is of two types: individual discrimination and fundamental discrimination. Individual discrimination arises out of selfishness, whereas fundamental discrimination is concerned with the welfare of one and all. One should discard individual discrimination and have only fundamental discrimination. This was the teaching of Buddha to Ananda, son of Gautami, before he attained Nirvana. When Buddha was on the verge of attaining Nirvana, Ananda started shedding tears of sorrow. Then Buddha consoled him, saying, "Ananda, why are you unhappy over my attaining Nirvana? I have been craving for this state of Nirvana for the past many years. Why do you shed tears of sorrow when I am experiencing supreme bliss?" Ananda understood the truth and followed the teachings of Buddha. Ultimately, he too attained Nirvana. True ideal is to give practical knowledge of Dharma to others. One should be a hero in practice, not merely in preaching. This was the ideal of Buddha. All the Avatars and noble souls led their lives in the most exemplary manner and helped people experience divinity. Buddha said, "O man, you don't need to search for God anywhere. You are God yourself"

The true meaning of Buddhist prayer
No one can live for himself. He is involved with parents, kinsmen, friends, foes, society, countrymen, etc., in ever-widening circles. Buddhists declare, “I take refuge in the Buddha. I take refuge in the Sangha. I take refuge in Dharma (virtue).” The first is the involvement with the reality in one’s own individual self. One must examine oneself whether he lives according to a mind, free from polluting thoughts and feelings. Buddha is the symbol of the awakened intellect. Is the intellect sharp enough for clear discrimination? This must be one’s question to oneself. For, even an insane person asks for food when hungry. His intellect is alert for limited purposes. But it has to serve far higher purposes for man.

The second stage is refuge in the Sangha. Just as one yearns for and works towards securing property, welfare and happiness for oneself, one must also yearn for and work towards securing these very things for the sangha (society) to which one belongs. Without society to guard and guide, the individual is lost, like a drop of oil on an expanse of water. One’s welfare is based on the welfare of society. The welfare of a particular society is based on the welfare of the country.

The third stage is refuge in the Dharma. Dharma means the vesture of the Cosmos, that which is its very nature, namely, Prema or Divine Love. When one seeks refuge in Love that sustains and promotes progress, the individual, the society and world become a sublime Trinity.

Buddha teaches True Sacrifice

Buddha was once asked: “Who is the richest man in the world?” Buddha replied: “He who has much satisfaction (with what he has) is the richest man.” To the question, “Who is the poorest man?” Buddha replied: “He who has many desires.”
A Maharaja, who was listening to Buddha’s sermons on contentment and renunciation, wished to earn the approbation of Buddha.
Buddha used to keep with him always a rattle-drum. His disciples once asked him: “Master! Why are you always keeping this rattle-drum by your side?” Buddha replied: “I shall play on this drum the day a person who has made the greatest sacrifice approaches me.” Everyone was eager to know who this person would be. Such persons are often the forgotten men of history.
Wishing to attain this distinction, a Maharaja loaded his elephants with considerable treasure and went to Buddha. He hoped to offer the treasure to Buddha and earn his praise.
On the way, an old woman greeted the Maharaja and pleaded: “I am hungry. Will you give me some food?” The Maharaja took out a pomegranate fruit from his palanquin and gave it to the old woman. The old woman came to Buddha with the fruit.
By then, the Maharaja had also come to Buddha and was eagerly waiting to see when Buddha would sound the rattle-drum. For a long time Buddha did not use it. The Maharaja stayed on.
The old woman approached Buddha staggering on her legs, and offered him the pomegranate fruit. Buddha took it immediately and sounded the little drum.
The Maharaja asked Buddha: “I offered so much wealth to you. You did not sound the drum. But you rattled it after receiving a small fruit. Is this a great sacrifice?”
Buddha replied: “Maharaja! In sacrifice, it is not quantity that counts. It is the quality of sacrifice that matters. It is natural for a Maharaja to offer gold. But what great sacrifice is made when a hungry old women offers the pomegranate fruit to the Guru despite her hunger. She did not care even for her life and gave the fruit. What greater sacrifice can there be? It is not sacrifice to offer what is superfluous for you. True sacrifice means giving up that which is most dear to you, that which you value most.”

Buddha teaches Equanimity
There used to be a village-chief who did not like Buddha’s way of life. He used to look upon him as a lazy person who was gathering round him young men and making them lead an idle life. Buddha who was aware of the man’s attitude, went to his house one day with his disciples and begged for alms “Bhavathi! Bhikshaam Dehi” (Oh blessed one! offer me alms). The headman, who had espied Buddha approaching the house and begging for alms, shouted: “You lazy fellow! You don’t deserve any alms. Get out! You have been wasting your time.” The headman went on abusing Buddha, calling him all kinds of names. Buddha was amused and was smiling.

After exhausting his abuses, the headman calmed down and asked Buddha, “Sire! I have a doubt. Will you clear it?” Buddha said, “What is your doubt? Speak out.” The headman asked how Buddha had remained unaffected by all the abuse he had levelled against the latter. Buddha said, “I came to you begging for food. Supposing you had brought the food and I had refused to take it, what would you have done with the food?” The man replied, “I would have taken it back.” Buddha then said, “Now, instead of food, you gave me all your abuse. I refused to receive it. What happens to it? It goes back to you. I have no connection with it.” The headman learnt a good lesson.

Wider meaning of Ahimsa

Buddha attached great importance to Ahimsa. He considered it the foremost Dharma (duty). “Ahimsa Paramo Dharmah,” declared Buddha.

What does Ahimsa signify? It is not merely refraining from causing harm or injury to others. It implies also refraining from causing harm to oneself. One who harms himself cannot avoid harming others? Whoever desires to observe Ahimsa must see that he does not do violence to himself. How is this to be ensured? By constantly examining whether his conduct is right or wrong. For instance, in the matter of speech, he must examine whether his words are causing pain to others or not. He must see that his looks are not tainted by evil intentions or thoughts. He should not listen to evil talk. All these cause harm to the individual.

How can a man who is not aware of his humanness recognize the Divinity within him? Hence the first requisite is the recognition by everyone of his human essence. Basing on this truth, Buddha declared that everyone should cultivate at the outset Samyag-dhrishti (a pure vision). It is only when man has a pure vision that he can get rid of impurities in the body, speech and mind. It is this purity that can protect man from invasion of impurities through the eyes and the ears. Hence the first requirement for every man is Samyag-dhrishti.
The second quality that is needed is Samyag-sankalpa (pure thoughts). Everyone should have pure thoughts. Only the person who has developed purity in vision can have purity in thoughts.

The third requirement for every man, along with purity in vision and thought, is Samyag-karma (pure deeds). Everyone should do pure deeds. Through pure deeds man is able to recognize his human essence. Man is not merely an embodied being. By his capacity for developing good vision, entertaining good thoughts and performing good deeds, he has the power to transform humanness into Divinity.
A fourth requirement for man is Samyag-shruthi (listening to sacred words). When one listens to unsacred words he can have only unsacred thoughts.
The fifth quality prescribed by Buddha is Samyag-jeevanam (living a pure life). What is meant by “living”? It is not leading a worldly life attached to worldly pursuits. True living means making one’s life meaningful by ideal actions. Man’s life must be governed by idealism in action.

It is not enough to read the lives of Avatars and messiahs. Their teachings should be put into practice as much as possible. People must gradually outgrow their material attachments and develop divine love.

Shuddhodhana tried to protect his son from all external worldly influences by keeping him in the palace and not even sending him to school. What happened ultimately? Buddha decided to renounce everything in quest of the truth about human existence and he declared Ahimsa (non-harming) as the supreme good.

Embodiments of Love! We are celebrating today Buddha Pournima. What does Pournima (full moon) signify? It signifies wholeness. When the mind is filled with love, it achieves fullness. As long as the mind is filled with darkness (evil thoughts) there is no meaning in celebrating Buddha Pournima. Get rid of this darkness. Without the light of love in the heart, what use is there in having illuminations outside? Light the lamp of the Divine in your minds. Banish hatred and envy from your hearts. Man is the victim of two evil planets: attachment and hatred. To escape from their grip, the only way is to cultivate love.


Volume - 2 Issue - 9 Radiosai Journal - PSN 2004