The times are such that anxiety has become the norm now a days . Irritation , frustration & sometimes a sense of anger engulfs us. The situations or circumstances that are beyond our control sometimes irks us to an extent where we react rather than responding. I myself have been working towards developing a calmer self which was not the case few years back. Understanding the intention behind and then trying to respond to a situation helps a lot. But certainly this may seem difficult many a times or may be illogical as well. But taking a rash decision may jeopardize the many positive factors that we already possess while taking them for granted. However, my readers will certainly agree with me, that a mind that is at peace is always better equipped to take rational decisions in an adverse situation. You don’t necessarily have to be in an angry mood to take a bold decision ! Controlling our mind is never easy and the process is going to be a continuous one in our daily lives.
Today ,being Buddha Purnima ( will mark the lord Buddha’s 2583rd birth anniversary) is certainly an auspicious day to at least start working in this regard. Lord Buddha was born as Prince Siddhartha Gautama on the Purnima Tithi (full moon day) in 563 BC in Lumbini (modern day Nepal).Buddha Jayanti or Buddha Purnima is the celebration of the birth of Gautama Buddha. His birth anniversary is also known as Buddha Purnima or Vaisakhi Buddha Purnima or Vesak. As per the Hindu calendar, Buddha Jayanti falls on a full moon day in the month of Vaisakh (which usually falls in April or May).
Every full moon day is an auspicious day for Buddhists, but the most important of all is the day of the full moon in May, because three major events in the life of the Gautama Buddha took place on this day. Firstly, the Buddha-to-be, Prince Siddhartha was born at Lumbini on the full moon day in May. Secondly, he attained enlightenment under the shade of the Bodhi tree and became Gautama Buddha at Bodh Gaya also on the full moon day of May. Thirdly, after 45 years of teaching the Truth, when he was eighty, at Kusinara, he attained Nirvana , the cessation of all desires, on the full moon day of May.”
Gautama Buddha preached Dharma (duty), non violence, harmony and kindness. He left his worldly possessions and princedom at the age of 30 to lead a life searching for the truth, seeking penance in the hopes of liberating himself from sufferings and worldly strings
On this day, Buddhists and believers of Buddhism around the globe offer prayers, meditate, observe fasts and discuss the teachings of the Buddha. There is also a tradition of taking dips in the holy river Ganga as it is believed that helps in washing away sins.
The exact date of Buddha’s Birthday is based on the Asian lunisolar calendars and is primarily celebrated in the month of Baisakh/Vaisakha as per the Buddhist calendar and the Bikram Sambat Hindu calendar. This is the reason behind the term Vesak. In modern-day India and Nepal, where the Historical Buddha lived, it is celebrated on the full moon day of the Vaisakha month of the Buddhist calendar. In Theravada countries following the Buddhist calendar, it falls on the full moon, Uposatha day, typically in the 5th or 6th lunar month. In China and Korea, it is celebrated on the eighth day of the fourth month in the Chinese lunar calendar. The date varies from year to year in the Western Gregorian calendar, but usually falls in April or May. In leap years it may be celebrated in June. In Tibet, it falls on the 7th day of the fourth month of the Tibetan calendar.
The Lotus Sutra
The Lotus Sutra is the famous Buddhist scripture and belongs to the Mahayana sect of Buddhism and is basically practiced in the East- Asian countries. It is believed that this Sutra contains the complete and is complete for salvation. The teachings of Shakyamuni, as Buddha is also referred to as , form the essence of this Sutra. This Sutra basically focuses on instructions on the concept and usage of skillfull means or upaya ( Upaya is a term used in to refer to an aspect of guidance along the Buddhist path to liberation. This concept is often taught in the terms of parables. The Lotus Sutra sees all other teachings are subservient to, propagated by and in the service of the ultimate truth of the One Vehicle leading to Buddhahood. The Lotus Sutra also claims to be superior to other sutras and states that full Buddhahood is only arrived at by exposure to its teachings and skillful means.
The Lotus Sutra has been translated into many languages. However, the first translation happened from Sanskrit into the Chinese language .
Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō
These are the words that are chanted within all forms of Nachiren Buddhisim. Nachiren Buddhism is a part of Mahayana sect of Buddhism and is based on the teachings of the 13th century Japanese Buddhist priest Nachiren. The chanting of this mantra is believed to help one ease the suffering by reducing negative karma. It is believed to inspire one towards the path of complete awakening of our innershelves.
The syllables literally mean as ” I devote myself to the Lotus Sutra” and can be broken down as below :
- Nam is a transliteration of Sanskrit Namas
- Myōhō means exquisite or the mystic law ( The law of cause & Effect)
- Renge-kyō means “Lotus Sutra”
- Renge means “Padma or Lotus”
- Kyō means “Sutra”
This has a symbolic meaning and in layman terms can be understood that just like a lotus flower which blooms in the muddy water, we as human beings also have the capability to emerge into our higher shelves if we dedicate ourselves to the mystic law of cause & effect and strive hard to attain the Buddhahood amongst us while going through our daily sufferings .
The daily chanting of this mantra is believed to have calming effects and is practiced worldwide equally among both Buddhist & non – Buddhist followers.
Buddhism & Odisha
Buddhism was the state religion during the 8th-10th Century AD under Bhaumakara Dynasty. Though Buddhism was very much prevalent in the state long before the Kalinga War which transformed the Chanda Ashoka into Dharma Ashoka , yet it became more famous due to the patronage by Emperor Ashoka. It is believed that the first disciples of Lord Buddha were Tapasu and Bhallika who hailed from the modern day city of Jajpur,situated in Odisha. Odisha’s most famous poet Jayadeva went on to describe Lord Buddha as one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu in the 12th century AD. The writings of fabled Chinese Traveler Hiuen T’sang just reinforces the glorious chapter of Buddhism in Odisha. The Dhauli Stupa ( peace pagoda ) overseeing the Daya River, is a magnificient structure, where Kalinga War is believed to have taken place and is a testimony to the historical events . The official tourism site of Odisha can be accessed here for more information.
According to the Buddhist scholars of Odisha Institute of Maritime and South East Asian Studies, Biraja (modern Jajpur) was a sacred land of Buddha Padmaprabha and the cradle of ‘Mahayana’. The presence of ‘Mahayana’ antiquities, stupas and relics in Jajpur district are a testimony to this. Chinese Traveller Hiuen Tsang visited these Buddhist sites in Odisha in the 7th century and between 8th and 10th century. The tantric form of ‘Mahayana’ Buddhism started during this period. One of the most popular Buddhist destinations in Odisha is the Diamond Triangle comprising Ratnagiri, Udayagiri and Lalitgiri in Jajpur district.
On the auspicious occasion, my post is not about buddhism or the procedure to follow it. The intension of this write up is to sensitise that we too can strive towards excellence, peace & try to rise beyond our obstacles and bloom just like the Lotus Flower . In these difficult times may the force be with us to calm our inner demons, to try and stay away from hatred and negativity, to try and help others and if not possible, atleast refrain from harming them in any way including the emotinal aspects. Being kind is easier said than done, forgiveness demands strength and calmness requires immense grit and determination. Let us try to understand the bigger picture of life and rise above small thoughts.
- References- the Internet/ Times of India/ Hindustan Times/ Wikipedia/ Official Site of Odisha Tourism