Friday, May 24, 2013

VESAK: The Birth, Enlightenment, and Nirvana

Amber Dorrian, Seven, Wisdom Quarterly; Wat Dhammakaya (, Azusa)
The greatest and most diverse Buddhist gathering in Southern California (Dhammakaya)
Thai Buddha (Camera30f/flickr)
Vesak is one of the most important days in Buddhism. 
It is the day when Buddhists come together to commemorate the historical Buddha, the Teachings or Dhamma and the growing community of Buddhists.

Commemorating the day demonstrates our admiration for the Buddha's immense wisdom and incredible compassion.
Vesak marks the anniversary of three significant events in the Buddha’s life: his birth, enlightenment, and passing into nirvana.
According to the Thai lunar calendar, Vesak usually takes place in May. But in the case of a year with an extra eighth month (adhikamasa) then Visakha Puja -- the Eight Precept Observance Day for the Month of Vesākha -- is celebrated on the full moon day of the seventh lunar month.
This year, Vesak falls on the full moon day of Friday, May 24, 2556 B.E. (2013). However, in some Buddhist countries Visakha Puja may be celebrated on a different day, depending on the time zone.
Visakha Puja commemorates three events in the Buddha's life. Incredibly, these three separate events happened on the full moon day of the sixth month in their respective years, when Siddhartha "the Sage from the Shakya Clan on India's northwestern frontier" was age 1, 35, and 80.
  • [NOTE: In Asia, a person is "born" at conception and, ten lunar months later, when s/he is birthed from the womb, s/he is considered a 1-year-old].
Salabhanjika-birth of Siddhartha
When Queen Sri Maha Maya Devi, King Suddhodana’s royal consort, was due to give birth, she traveled to her parent's city of Devadaha, as was the tradition in India and adjacent lands.
While on her way home, she stopped to rest under a large sal tree in Lumbini Garden. As she was standing and holding on to a sal tree branch, she gave birth to the prince.
The birth happened on the full moon day, 80 years before the Buddhist Era (B.E.). When the prince was five days old, he was given the name Siddhatha (Sanskrit, Siddhartha) meaning "fulfillment" or "wish fulfilled."
The news of Prince Siddhartha’s birth spread far and wide, eventually reaching the Hermit Asitha, an acquaintance of King Suddhodana residing in the Himalayas. Hermit Asitha requested a visit to see the newborn.
The Buddha (Gandhara)
When he saw the prince, he predicted that he would find enlightenment in this benighted world, discover the Path to Nirvana, and thereby become the Buddha ("Awakened One"). The prince would teach people the way to end suffering and spread love and kindness among humans and devas.

After making his prediction, Hermit Asitha bowed respectfully to the baby prince. When King Suddhodana -- overwhelmed with joy -- witnessed such an astonishing event as a holyman bowing to his son, he also bowed to the prince.
Later, King Suddhodana invited eight Brahmin scholar-priests specializing in astrology, to look at the prince and predict his destiny. Seven of them predicted that if the prince were to assume the throne, he would become the Supreme Emperor; however, if he decided to renounce the world, he would become the Buddha.

Kondañña (Kaundinya), the youngest Brahmin, prophesied that the prince would choose the latter path and become the Buddha. He made his prediction because the prince possessed all of the distinguishing Marks of a Great Man. More

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