Web Site: Buddha Day

Wesak (Buddha Day) – First Full Moon in May

“Wesak or Vesak, also known as Buddha Day, celebrates the Buddha’s birthday, enlightenment and death. It is the most important day in the Buddhist calendar. In Japanese Buddhism, 8th April marks the birth of the Buddha, 8th December his enlightenment and 15th February his death.”

Discusses Wesak traditions and activities, Buddhist beliefs, suggested classroom activities, and links to related sites. From the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) site with learning resources for home and school. (LII)  www.bbc.co.uk/schools/religion/buddhism/buddha_day.shtml

One Comment on “Web Site: Buddha Day


    On April 8th, Buddhists celebrate the commemoration of the birth of
    Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, thought to have lived in
    India from 563 B.C. to 483 B.C. Actually, the Buddhist tradition that
    celebrates his birthday on April 8 originally placed his birth in the
    11th century B.C., and it was not until the modern era that scholars
    determined that he was more likely born in the sixth century B.C., and
    possibly in May rather than April.

    According to the Tripitaka, which is recognized by scholars as the
    earliest existing record of the Buddha’s life and discourses, Gautama
    Buddha was born as Prince Siddhartha, the son of the king of the Sakya
    people. The kingdom of the Sakyas was situated on the borders of
    present-day Nepal and India. Siddhartha’s family was of the Gautama
    clan. His mother, Queen Mahamaya, gave birth to him in the park of
    Lumbini, in what is now southern Nepal. A pillar placed there in
    commemoration of the event by an Indian emperor in the third century
    B.C. still stands.

    At his birth, it was predicted that the prince would either become a
    great world monarch or a Buddha–a supremely enlightened teacher. The
    Brahmans told his father, King Suddhodana, that Siddhartha would
    become a ruler if he were kept isolated from the outside world. The
    king took pains to shelter his son from misery and anything else that
    might influence him toward the religious life. Siddhartha was brought
    up in great luxury, and he married and fathered a son. At age 29, he
    decided to see more of the world and began excursions off the palace
    grounds in his chariot. In successive trips, he saw an old man, a sick
    man, and a corpse, and since he had been protected from the miseries
    of aging, sickness, and death, his charioteer had to explain what they
    were. Finally, Siddhartha saw a monk, and, impressed with the man’s
    peaceful demeanor, he decided to go into the world to discover how the
    man could be so serene in the midst of such suffering.

    Siddhartha secretly left the palace and became a wandering ascetic. He
    traveled south, where the centers of learning were, and studied
    meditation under the teachers Alara Kalama and Udraka Ramaputra. He
    soon mastered their systems, reaching high states of mystical
    realization, but was unsatisfied and went out again in search of
    nirvana, the highest level of enlightenment. For nearly six years, he
    undertook fasting and other austerities, but these techniques proved
    ineffectual and he abandoned them. After regaining his strength, he
    seated himself under a pipal tree at what is now Bodh Gaya in
    west-central India and promised not to rise until he had attained the
    supreme enlightenment. After fighting off Mara, an evil spirit who
    tempted him with worldly comforts and desires, Siddhartha reached
    enlightenment, becoming a Buddha at the age of 35.

    The Gautama Buddha then traveled to the deer park near Benares, India,
    where he gave his first sermon and outlined the basic doctrines of
    Buddhism. According to Buddhism, there are “four noble truths”: (1)
    existence is suffering; (2) this suffering is caused by human craving;
    (3) there is a cessation of the suffering, which is nirvana; and (4)
    nirvana can be achieved, in this or future lives, though the
    “eightfold path” of right views, right resolve, right speech, right
    action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right

    For the rest of his life, the Buddha taught and gathered disciples to
    his sangha, or community of monks. He died at age 80, telling his
    monks to continue working for their spiritual liberation by following
    his teachings. Buddhism eventually spread from India to Central and
    Southeast Asia, China, Korea, Japan, and, in the 20th century, to the
    West. Today, there are an estimated 350 million people in 100 nations
    who adhere to Buddhist beliefs and practices.

    Source: History Channel

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