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Home > Religious Festivals > Buddhist Festivals > Buddha Jayanti
Buddha Jayanti
Buddha JayantiBuddha Jayanti is also known as Buddha Purnima. It is said, that it was on Poornima, the full moon night in Vaisakha (according to the Hindu calendar it usually falls in April or May), Lord Buddha was born.

Prince Siddharth born around 543 BC is believed to have lived a very sheltered life till the age of 29 under his father`s instructions. He was kept completely ignorant of the tragedies of everyday life. Siddhartha was the only son of Shuddhodana, the King of Kapilavastu. It was prophesied by the royal astrologer that the child would become either a famous emperor or a world-renowned ascetic. Shuddhodhan did not want his son to be an ascetic. Thus, he took extraordinary precautions to avoid every situation which would provoke such thoughts in his son`s mind. Siddharth was married to his cousin Yashodhara and had a son, Rahul.

Once he persuaded one of his charioteers to take him out of the palace walls to the outside world and was shocked to 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. He became dissatisfied with his life of luxury and decided to renounce the luxury and worldly pleasures and search for Truth. 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`.

He was the founder of the Buddhist religion. He is believed to be the ninth avatar of Vishnu. It was on this day of 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 `Mahaparinirvana` or left the mortal world, at Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh on this Vaishakh Poornima. Thus, Buddha Jayanti celebrates the three most important events in Gautam Buddha`s life. It is also believed, that Yashodhara, the Buddha`s wife, his charioteer Channa, his devoted disciple Ananda, his horse Kantaka and the bodhi tree under which he received enlightenment, were all born on the same date.

After Enlightenment he came back to the cities of Eastern India, and taught the people. Unlike the Brahmins, who propounded their esoteric doctrines only to selected disciples proficient in sacred lore, the Buddha preached to all, in public and in their own language. He rejected the infallibility of the Vedas, the religious sanctions of caste, and the superiority of Brahmins, and vehemently attacked the animal sacrifices which were then the main rituals of Brahminism. He maintained that any religion that shed blood in the name of the gods, had forfeited its right to spiritual leadership.

The gist of Buddhism is often given in the form of a syllogism, as the four sublime truths. They are:

Sorrow is inherent in life.
Every sorrow has a cause
The removal of the cause of sorrow leads to the cessation of sorrow
The removal of the cause of sorrow can be effected by right living.

Buddha Jayanti`Right living` was all that the Buddha wanted of his followers. Buddha`s teachings appealed the people to whom religion was a mystery, understood only by Brahmins. Buddha declared that the lowest Chandala (an outcaste) stood as much chance of obtaining Nirvana as the highest Brahmin.

The charming personality of the Buddha, his saintly life and the glamour of a prince turned recluse at the prime of his life, were all irresistible, and the Buddha`s followers were drawn from all walks of life. The princes, especially, who were viewing the rising power of the Brahmins with alarm, were particularly attracted by the new religion. And, when the Buddha died at the mature age of eighty, the whole of Eastern India was seething with a new religious spirit.

Pilgrims from all over the world come to Bodh Gaya, in India to participate in the Buddha Poornima celebrations. Prayer meets, sermons and religious discourses, recitation of Buddhist scriptures, group meditation, processions and worship of the statue of Buddha are the highlights of the celebrations.

Today, Buddhism is confined to Himalayan region. Buddhists elsewhere have not yet sufficiently revived the festal spirit of Buddhism.

It is the only Buddhist holiday, now recognized by the government of India.
Buddha Jayanti
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