“Fair goes the dancing when the sitar is tuned,
Tune us the sitar neither low nor high,
And we will dance away the hearts of men,
The string overstretched breaks, the music dies,
The string over slack is dumb, the music dies,
Tune us the sitar neither low nor high.”
A group of young girls sang along playing the sitar as they crossed the forest where a young monk sat under a tree, his body reduced to a skeleton by starvation and severe yogic practices. In my opinion this was the moment of enlightenment for the young monk who later came to be known as Buddha- the enlightened one –one of the greatest spiritual leaders. This simple song pregnant with profound practical wisdom became the precursor of the Great Middle Path that Buddha propounded. The monk henceforth lived a life of moderation and continued his search…
Day- Full moon day of the month of Vaishakh.
Place – A beautiful groove – Lumbini – at the outskirts of Kapilvastu, a city near Varanasi. The picturesque surroundings at the foot of Mount Palpa in the Himalayan Ranges the river Rohini flowing past it made a perfect scene to welcome the divine persona. Much before Buddha was born the queen Maya dreamt of a white elephant with a lotus entering her womb. This was an ominous dream. Just as Buddha was to enter this world various celestial signs became visible – flowers began to bloom out of season, air was filled with heavenly scents, gentle rains began to fall and in these pristine conditions Buddha was born. The baby showed all the thirty-two signs of greatness. The baby was named Gautam Siddhartha. Gautam was the family name after the rishi Gautam of Rigveda and Siddhartha as the one who has achieved his aim –a prophecy which came true as he truly achieved his aim of life – showing the path of salvation from misery and sorrow.
The baby grew in luxury and comfort into a young prince till one day he encountered – a decrepit man, an old man, a sick man and a monk. This brought about a turning point in his life and the astrological predictions came true that these four signs will make him turn his back to luxury and power and turn into an ascetic. The king’s precautions went in vain. Siddhartha left his wife, his young son and the comforts of royal life and went in search of a solution to these problems of life.
Now coming back to our young impoverished monk sitting under the tree — At this point of time Sujata, a maid, offered him a bowl of rice and milk, he accepted it. With regained physical energy and a new insight, he sat under a peepal tree (now called a bodhi tree) and vowed not to get up till enlightenment is achieved. Soon he perceived the four Noble Truths.
1. Noble Truth of suffering – In life we encounter suffering due to old age, diseases, death, sorrow not able to get what one desires, separation from loved ones etc.
2. The Arising of suffering – The three fold cravings namely sensual craving, craving for existence and craving for wealth and power. These cravings and the ignorance of the laws of nature are the conditions of origin of individual suffering.
3. Noble Truth of Cessation of Suffering – Suffering can cease if we forsake and give up attachment to these cravings. When a person transcends these, he is ready for (Nirvana) freedom from carvings.
4. Noble Truth of the path leading to cessation of suffering – It is the noble Eight Fold Path (or the middle path) where extremes of sensual pleasures and self-mortification are avoided. This formed the wheel of Dharma. After having achieved the enlightenment Siddhartha came to be known as Buddha – the enlightened one. Buddha began to teach the masses and the wheel of dharma was set in motion and to this date his teachings are propagated by his disciples and hold a universal appeal. The uniqueness in his teachings lies in the fact that we all are born Buddhas but are not aware of it as our Buddhahood is veiled by the ignorance of our true self. Realizing our true self empowers us to lead healthy, happy, successful and stress-free lives!
It will again be a full moon day on 17th May, 2011.
Meditating on the principles of the great master can witness the birth of Buddha in us!
Wishing dear readers a very enlightening Buddha Poornima!!
An interesting fact – Full moon day holds a special significance in the life of Buddha as –he was born on Poornima, achieved enlightenment on Poornima and also entered MahaNirvana on this very day!