Bhagavan on Buddha
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).
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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,”
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
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.