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Posted by on May 17, 2006 in At TMV | 4 comments

Buddha Jayanti: 2550th anniversary of enlightenment of an aristrocrat

It is a delicious irony of our times that on the one hand India launched on May 13th the year-round celebration of the 2550th anniversary of the enlightenment of Gautam Buddha, who preached peace and non-violence about fifth century before the Christian era, while on the other hand played footsie with the USA to acquire sophisticated arms.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sanctioned Rs. 10 crore ($ 100 million) for the celebrations, which include international meet on Buddha and restoration of Nalanda monastery.

Singh hoped the celebration would help spread Lord Buddha’s message of universal love and benevolence and enrich the lives of the people. He said the day of enlightenment of Lord Buddha was celebrated as one when humankind found a path to peace. The life, spirituality and teachings of Lord Buddha offered solace to millions of people across the world for centuries.

Gautam Buddha (Siddharta) was born into the royal family of a small kingdom on the Indian-Nepalese border. He belonged to the Sakya clan of the Kshatriya or warrior caste. Legend has it that on the full moon day of Vaishakh 544 BC, He followed a path of compassion, forgiveness, tolerance and nonviolence.

The Buddha emphasized that he was not a god, he was simply enlightened. He stated that there is no intermediary between mankind and the divine; distant gods are subjected to karma themselves in decaying heavens; and the Buddha is solely a guide and teacher for the sentient beings who must tread the path of NirvÄ?ṇa (PÄ?li: NibbÄ?na) themselves to attain the spiritual awakening called bodhi and see truth and reality as it is.

The Buddhist system of insight, thought, and meditation practice was not revealed divinely, but by the understanding of the true nature of the mind, which could be discovered by anybody.

The Greek legend of “Barlaam and Ioasaph”, mistakenly attributed to the 7th century John of Damascus but actually written by the Georgian monk Euthymios in the 11th century, was ultimately derived, through a variety of intermediate versions (Arabic and Georgian) from the life story of the Buddha. The king-turned-monk Ioasaph (Georgian Iodasaph, Arabic YÅ«dhasaf or BÅ«dhasaf) ultimately derives his name from the Sanskrit Bodhisattva, the name used in Buddhist accounts for Gautama before he became a Buddha.

Barlaam and Ioasaph were placed in the Greek calendar of saints on 26 August, and in the West they were canonized (as “Barlaam and Josaphat”) in the Roman Martyrology on the date of 27 November. The story was translated into Hebrew in the Middle Ages as “Ben-HaMelekh VeHaNazir” (“The Prince and the Nazirite”), and is widely read by Jews to this day.

Chinese filmmakers are in Bihar shooting a documentary on the life of the Buddha. “The goal of the film is to popularise in China the Buddhist circuit (in Bihar),” Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Yuxi told IANS.

The envoy said China and India were coming closer and the film was part of a cultural exchange programme between the two countries. “People in China are keen to know about the Buddhist circuit,” he said.

Westerners associate Buddhism with therapy, says a report in the Times of India. Buddha’s teachings deal with how to address suffering and anger in everyday life. When global warming is such an impending tragedy, westerners realise that environmentalism and Buddhism are associates.

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