Monday, July 22, 2013

Buddha: the celebrated Guru

Today 22nd July is the Guru Poornima, a day we dedicate to accept the magnanimity of all teachers in the world. I have big respect for all those who have taught me something or anything in any field. I consider teachers to be the most important people in this world.
Guru Purnima is celebrated by Hindus to celebrate the birth of a great Rishi and teacher, sage Vyas. Vyas wrote many purans including Mahabharat.

Buddhists celebrate this day to honour Lord Buddha. It is believed that Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath on this day. The life of Gautam Buddha is inspiring and well known to people across the world. He gave birth to a new sect, a new religion when Vedic system had practically declined to an end.
Buddha is definitely one of the greatest teachers who ever walked on this earth. He inspired lives of many. Here I will outline some of the famous stories associated with Buddha and his period.

  • Angulimal: The story of bandit Angulimal is very well known. A bandit, who kills every traveller that would come to his jungle and would cut his victims' fingers and wear a garland of those fingers around his neck. This man represents the fierce and deformed face of humanity. Buddha, who was a messenger of peace and non-violence met him in the forest. When Angulimal saw Gautam Buddha walking on the path, he rushed to kill him. But in spite of running fast he couldnt catch to the speed of Buddha who is walking slowly and calmly. This represents the hysteria and frenzy that violence carries with it, against the sober calmness of peace and non-violence. When frustrated Angulimal asked Buddha to stop, Buddha replied that he had already stopped and it was now Angulimal's turn to stop. When Angulimal asked the explanation, Buddha replied that the act which involves suffering and pain of others should be stopped and he (Buddha) has already stopped doing that (by taking path of non-violence). Now, it was Angulimal's turn to do the same. Angulimal was moved. He came to a realization that violence serve no purpose. He renounced his weapons and the life of bandit and he became a monk.
Buddha and Angulimal

  • Amrapali: Amrapali, the famous royal courtesan of  Vaishali, described by Acharya Chatursen as 'Vaishali ki nagar vadhu' (the bride of the city, Vaishali) was the most beautiful woman in her town. The king of Magadha, Bimbisar was in love with her and because of her love he abandoned the mission of attacking and destroying Vaishali. He stayed with Amrapali at her house and Amrapali bore him a son. The love between two souls again conquered the bloody imperialist mindset. Bimbisar had to bear the blame of being a coward for not being able to defeat his enemies. His other son Ajatshatru imprisoned him and invaded Vaishali. Meanwhile Amrapali was convicted by her own people for she gave shelter to an enemy. She was imprisoned. It is said that Bimbisar's son Ajatshatru was so moved by the beauty of Amrapali that he burned the city of Vaishali as a revenge for imprisoning her. When Amrapali saw the carnage caused because of her, she renounced the worldly affairs. It is said that once she invited Gautam Buddha at her house for meal. Buddha, to much dismay of others, accepted the invitation. After meeting Buddha, Amrapali realized the nothingness of worldly attachments. It is said that later she too became a monk.


  • Virudhak: King Prasenjit of Kosal once attacked the Shakya republic, from where Buddha originally belonged. Prasenjit demanded a princess from Shakyas. The devious Shakyas sent a girl; daughter of a salve Shakya woman (Dasi). Prasenjit married that girl and the son born to them was Virudhak. When Virudhak came to know of real identity of his mother and the different treatment slaves used to get at that time, he became furious. He decided to attack the Shakya republic. Virudhak was fueled with rage and went to Shakya capital and ordered his troops to kill all the Shakyas. Some versions say that Buddha tried to stop him and some say that he attacked Shakyas after Buddha's death.An old man from Shakya republic, (Virudhak's own grandfather according to some sources) told Virudhak that he will submerge himself in water and asked the soldiers to launch attack only if he is not able to sustain for long in the water and come out. Looking at the poor state of the old man, Virudhak agreed. The old man dipped himself in the water but didn't come out for a long time. When the soldiers of Kosal dived in, they found that the man had tied his leg to a stone and had died. But the old man's sacrifice couldn't save the Shakyas and Virudhak and his army killed every single Shakya man, woman and child. It is said that Virudhak along with his army too get swooped away in a flood soon after the annihilation of Shakyas. 

    King Virudhak and the annihilation of Shakya

These three stories tell about the basic teachings of Buddha.
Buddha described dukh (grief) as "Birth is dukh, Life is dukh, death is dukh". At the core of the dukh is Trishna (lust/attachments for fruits). Only f you leave trishna, could you go on path of knowledge..

Angulimal had a lust of violence. He saw the dukh in life of a bandit, and retaliated with lust of violence. Amrapali saw the dukh in death of her people. The attachment she bore was being the nagar vadhu and royal status, which she later renounced. Virudhak, on the other hand, saw dukh in birth, core of which was lust for revenge. However, he could not suppress the lust; may be because he did not get the blessings of Buddha.

"Guru" literally means the one who removes the darkness with the light of knowledge. Gautam Buddha, the legendary guru of all times was a source of light for all those who have been blinded by lust and who have seen pain and suffering in life..


Prem said...

A very nice read Mrinal !

Prem said...

Nice and enlightening Mrinal !