Buddha Purnima: Celebrating the Full Moon of Enlightenment

Buddha Purnima: Celebrating the Full Moon of Enlightenment

There are 12 full moons in a year, and the most important one known around the world is the Vaisakhi Purnima. This full moon, which occurs in May, is celebrated as Buddha Purnima by Buddhists worldwide.

Three significant events in Siddhartha Gautama Buddha’s life happened on this day:

  1. Siddhartha was born on this full moon day.
  2. He attained enlightenment and became “Buddha” on this full moon day.
  3. He also passed away on this full moon day.

Because of these important events, Buddha Purnima holds great significance, not just in India but in about 80 countries around the world.

This year, Buddha Purnima is on May 26th. On this occasion, we extend our heartfelt wishes to all humanitarian followers.

Let’s take this opportunity to briefly understand the life of Lord Buddha.

King Shuddhodana was a powerful ruler of the Shakya clan in the city of Kapilavastu. When his queen, Mahamaya, was about to give birth, she set out for her father’s home in the city of Devadaha. On the way, she passed through a forest called Lumbini. Under a Sal tree in that forest, she gave birth to a boy. This boy would later become Siddhartha Gautama, known as the Buddha, who would leave a profound impact on the world.

Coutesy: To the respected owner of these photographs

Siddhartha was born in 563 BCE, which means as of May 2021, this event took place 2584 years ago. Sadly, seven days after his birth, his mother Mahamaya passed away. Siddhartha was then taken care of by his aunt, Gautami, who was also King Shuddhodana’s second wife.

At the age of 8, Siddhartha began his education. When he was 16, he married a beautiful princess named Yashodhara, and they later had a son named Rahula. Siddhartha’s life was filled with luxury and peace, and he was not yet aware of the sufferings of the world. His father, King Shuddhodana, made special efforts to keep him away from any form of suffering because, during Siddhartha’s birth ceremony, a great sage named Asita Muni had predicted that Siddhartha would either become a great king or renounce the world to become a Buddha.

To prevent Siddhartha from becoming a monk, the king built three lavish palaces for him, each for different seasons—summer, monsoon, and winter. Despite these comforts, Siddhartha was not content with material pleasures. He had a compassionate heart from a young age and could not bear to see anyone, whether human or animal, in pain. A well-known example of his compassion is when he saved the life of a swan that his cousin Devadatta had wounded with an arrow.

Despite being married and having all the worldly pleasures, Siddhartha preferred solitude. During one of his outings in the city, he encountered a sick man, an old man, a dead man, and an ascetic. These experiences deeply affected him and made him realize the sufferings of life.

The desire to find a solution to these sufferings led Siddhartha to renounce his royal life. This renunciation was the first significant step in his journey to becoming the Buddha.

After his marriage, at the age of 20, Siddhartha Gautama joined the Shakya Sangha. A few years later, a dispute arose between the Shakyas and the Koliyas over the rights to the water of the Rohini River, which flowed between their territories. The Shakyas refused to share the river’s water with the Koliyas, leading to the possibility of a major conflict. If a war had ensued, it could have resulted in a massive massacre, with the Koliyas facing dire consequences.

Siddhartha wanted peace and equality, believing that everyone should have equal access to nature’s resources like water. To prevent this war, he chose to renounce his home, accepting the penalty of leaving his royal life. At the age of 29, he left behind his beautiful wife Yashodhara, his young son Rahula, his beloved parents, and all his luxurious possessions. His loyal charioteer Channa and his horse Kanthaka bid him a sorrowful farewell.

Siddhartha experienced sadness from the conflict and sought to understand the cause of suffering. During his journey, he met many sages and practiced various forms of severe austerity. He performed such intense penance that his back and stomach nearly touched, and his bones became visible, yet he did not attain enlightenment.

In this weakened state, while sitting under a tree, a woman named Sujata offered him a bowl of rice pudding, mistaking him for a forest deity. Siddhartha accepted the food, breaking his severe fast. After eating, he felt rejuvenated and reflected on his past unsuccessful attempts to find the truth. He resolved to seek enlightenment once more.

Siddhartha gathered enough food to sustain him for 40 days and meditated deeply for four weeks. During this time, he achieved enlightenment and became the Buddha. He realized two fundamental truths: first, that suffering exists in the world, and second, how to end suffering and bring happiness to humanity. The solution he found is known as “Samyak Sambodhi” (right knowledge).

The tree under which Siddhartha attained enlightenment in Gaya is now called the Bodhi Tree. Through persistent contemplation and practice, Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment, became the Buddha, and was liberated from the cycle of rebirth. He transcended ignorance and darkness.

After achieving Buddhahood, he spent 45 years spreading awareness and serving people, becoming a guiding light and role model for many.

Coutesy: To the respected owner of these photographs

After attaining enlightenment (Buddhahood), Buddha delivered his first sermon, known as “Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta” or “Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion,” to his five former companions—Kaundinya, Ashvajit, Kashyapa, Mahanama, and Bhadrika—in Sarnath. In this sermon, he taught them the Middle Way, which is a path of moderation away from the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification.

Buddha introduced the “Five Precepts” (Panchsheel) for leading a good life:

  1. Do not commit violence.
  2. Do not steal.
  3. Do not engage in sexual misconduct.
  4. Do not lie.
  5. Do not consume intoxicating substances.

These precepts are fundamental principles for ethical living, aiming to create a virtuous and morally upright society.

In addition to the Panchsheel, Buddha emphasized the “Three Refuges” (Trisharan): taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma (teachings), and the Sangha (community). This practice encourages self-reliance and personal responsibility.

Buddha also taught the “Noble Eightfold Path,” which consists of:

  1. Right View
  2. Right Intention
  3. Right Speech
  4. Right Action
  5. Right Livelihood
  6. Right Effort
  7. Right Mindfulness
  8. Right Concentration

This path is designed to cultivate ethical conduct, mental discipline, and wisdom, providing a comprehensive framework for controlling the mind and overcoming suffering.

Buddha identified the mind’s greed, attachment, and aversion as the primary causes of suffering. By understanding the mind’s role in generating suffering, he formulated the “Four Noble Truths” as a scientific method to transform suffering into happiness:

  1. The truth of suffering (Dukkha)
  2. The truth of the cause of suffering (Samudaya)
  3. The truth of the end of suffering (Nirodha)
  4. The truth of the path leading to the end of suffering (Magga)

Buddha emphasized the importance of moral conduct (Sila) and the practice of virtues like generosity, patience, renunciation, energy, meditation, wisdom, truthfulness, determination, loving-kindness, and equanimity to achieve perfection (Paramita).

He clearly stated that his teachings (Dhamma) are centered on human relationships and ethical living rather than divine intervention, the soul, or rituals. The focus is on “the relationship between humans in this world,” advocating for equality and justice.

Buddha famously said, “I am merely a pathfinder—you must walk the path yourself.” By prioritizing humanity and eliminating caste, gender discrimination, and social inequality, Buddha promoted freedom, equality, justice, and universal brotherhood. His teachings aimed to bring welfare to all beings, beginning from his homeland and spreading worldwide.

Coutesy: To the respected owner of these photographs

In their community of monks, people from all walks of life were welcomed – kings, Brahmins, warriors, merchants, laborers, and women. Many individuals from different backgrounds and ages like Yash, King Bimbisara, King Prasenajit, Jivaka, Ratipala, along with numerous Brahmins, and others such as Upali, Sunitha, Sopaka, Sumangala, Chandali named Prakriti, Nagarvadhu Amrapali, and infamous bandit Angulimala took Dhamma initiation from Buddha. They were from all social classes and various ages!

Among those who became Dhamma followers, there were Buddha’s own father, the warrior king Shuddhodana, his mother Gautami, his wife Yasodhara, and his son Rahula, along with many other Shakya descendants from Kapilavastu. Thousands of monks and countless household followers embraced the teachings!

At that time, such religious equality was truly revolutionary! Amidst an atmosphere of ignorance, inequality, blind faith, and ritualism, Buddha’s teachings of non-violence, truth, brotherhood, and universal friendship were indeed a great revolution! It was all about the welfare of the masses – for the happiness of the many!

For 45 years, the enlightened one traveled across the length and breadth of India preaching the principles of this humanity’s religion. At the age of 80, in 483 BCE, on the full moon day of Vaishakha, Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana in Kushinagar!

During the lifetime of the Tathagata, the spread of Buddhism extended as far as the banks of the Ganges River! However, in the centuries that followed, Buddhism spread throughout India and beyond, reaching Sri Lanka, the Brahmaputra region, South Asia, and other parts of the world! Emperor Ashoka, the great Buddhist monarch, made a significant contribution to this cause!

But as time passed, due to various reasons like conflicts with traditional religions, external invasions, and lack of royal patronage, Buddhism began to decline in India by the 10th century! However, due to the revolutionary, humanitarian, and progressive ideas of Buddha spreading across the world, his followers continued to progress!

In the 18th and 19th centuries, efforts to re-establish a caste-based society were gaining momentum in India! In response to this, progressive Hindu scholars revolted against the caste system! Through these efforts, leaders like Dr. B.R. Ambedkar revived Buddha in India on October 14, 1956!

Change, wisdom, morality, and compassion-based Dhamma will certainly reform humanity. Hence, today, it’s not war but Buddha that we need! Because, as Buddha said, “To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to purify one’s mind is the teaching of the Buddha” – this is what Buddha has to say to all humanity!

Hail to the enlightening, revered, and timeless Tathagata, Gautama Buddha, who showed the world the path to liberation from suffering, leading to a peaceful, prosperous life!



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Quotes of Buddha:

  1. “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”
  2. “The mind is everything. What you think you become.”
  3. “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”
  4. “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.”
  5. “The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.”
  6. “The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.”
  7. “In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”
  8. “Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.”
  9. “You will not be punished for your anger; you will be punished by your anger.”
  10. “There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.”

1 thought on “Buddha Purnima: Celebrating the Full Moon of Enlightenment”

  1. ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘ เคฎเค‚เค—เคฒ เคนเฅ‹เค‚! ๐Ÿ’๐ŸŽ‰๐Ÿ‘


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