Monday, May 10, 2010 | 12:03:00 AM
It is said that one of the greatest spiritual teachers of mankind the world has ever seen is Gautam Buddha. It is his teachings and message that has traveled far and wide. It is believed that the origin and practice of Buddhist religion dates back to the time when Lord Buddha was born around 543 BC. Siddhartha, the only son of Shuddhodana, the King of Kapilavastu is believed to have lived a very sheltered and protected life till the age of 29. He was completely ignorant of what miseries and sorrows were all about. He did not know the tragedies of everyday life. One day the prince desired to see the city. The King ordered that the city should be all gay and grand, so that everywhere his son would meet with only pleasing sights. He was shocked to see the harsh realities of life when he viewed an old man, a sick and disabled person and a dead body for the first time in his life. The fourth vision was of an ascetic who looked at peace with himself, which led Siddharth to search for the true meaning of life, renounce the luxury and worldly pleasures and look for enlightenment. He wandered to many places and ultimately attained enlightenment in Bodhgaya under a 'pipal' tree. Since then he was known as Gautam Buddha or the 'Enlightened One'.
Buddha Purnima or Buddha Jayanti is the birth anniversary of the Lord Buddha. It is widely celebrated on a full moon night in Vaisakha (according to the Hindu calendar that usually falls in April or May). Buddha Purinma is important festival to Buddhists. Buddha was born in B.C. 560 and died at the age of eighty in B.C. 480. Buddhism went on to become a very popular religion in the subsequent centuries and even went abroad. It was on Buddha Poornima that he attained enlightenment and ultimately after preaching the five principles of life and the path of eight-fold truth for long, he attained 'Nirvana' or left the mortal world on this day itself. Thus, Buddha Jayanti celebrates the three most important events in Gautam Buddha's life. Pilgrims from all over the world come to Bodh Gaya in India to participate in the Buddha Poornima celebrations that highlight prayer meets, sermons and religious discourses, recitation of Buddhist scriptures, group meditation, processions and worship of the statue of Buddha.
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