Sai Baba on Buddha
all Avatars (divine advents) have been preaching only good things,
men today are content to observe their birthdays without following
their precepts. Buddha did not attach any importance to
yagas and other religious rituals. The reason is he felt
that it was more important to ensure that the five sense organs
were pure to begin with. Buddha sought to find out why the mind
gets disturbed. He could not bear to see anyone suffering. He was
deeply grieved at the sight of persons afflicted with old age. He
was intrigued at the sight of a dead body. None of these natural
happenings gave him peace of mind. Buddha considered the movements
of the planets and the sun and the stars as natural phenomena. He
undertook many spiritual exercises to find out what transcended
these natural phenomena. Failing to find the answers by these
exercises, he approached many great elders to find the answers.
None could give him satisfactory answers. Ultimately he reached
Gaya and sat under a banyan tree to meditate on the problems that
Because Buddha did
not interest himself in the study of the Vedas or in the
performance of Yagas and Yajnas, he was dubbed an atheist. This is
utterly wrong. Buddha was a pure hearted person. When he was born,
a renowned astrologer had predicted that he would be either a
great king or a great renunciant. On knowing this, Buddha’s
father, Shuddhodhana arranged to keep from his son’s sight all
unseemly sights of happenings in this world. From his childhood,
Buddha could not bear the sight of anyone in pain. He was saddened
at the sight of the old ill-treating the young, of men in
authority harassing the people and the big fish swallowing the
small ones. He realized that it was wrong for anyone to cause harm
to others. Hence he declared, “Ahimsa
Paramodharmah” (Non-hurting is the Supreme Dharma). No one
should cause hurt to others by speech, action or in any other way.
According to him true Dharma (Righteousness) consists in
refraining from causing harm to anyone in thought, word or deed.
Truth is God. Buddha taught that people should adhere to truth and
Among Buddha’s teachings the foremost were Sathya (Truth) and
Dharma (Righteousness). These two are the teachings of the Vedas,
“Sathyam vada, Dharmam chara” (Speak
the Truth, practice righteousness).
name given to Buddha at the time of birth was Sarvaartha Siddha.
Shuddhodhana got his son married to Yashodhara, daughter of his
brother-in-law, Shuddhabuddha. He apprehended that his son may
become a recluse and turn away from the world if he was left to
himself. But Buddha did not feel that a married life was the
proper thing for him. Buddha felt that man was bound by various
attachments in worldly life. Friends and relations were the cause
of this bondage. Various human relationships were the cause of
sorrow in the world. So he declared, “Sarvam
duhkham, duhkham” (All is sorrow). He also declared, “Sarvam
Kshanikam, Kshanikam” (everything is momentary). “Sarvam
nashyam, nashyam” (everything is perishable).
Buddha felt that nothing was truly lasting. Parents were
subjecting their children to various kinds of bonds and making
their lives miserable. As soon as the children come of age the
parents are keen to get them married. They do not know what kind
of happiness the child can get from married life. What happiness
have they derived from their own married life—physically, mentally
or otherwise? No person, however intelligent, thinks about this
matter. Even eminent scholars do not care to examine whether it is
worthwhile pursuing sensuous pleasures instead of seeking what is
beyond the senses. Buddha felt intensely unhappy that his parents
and others combined to commit him to the bondage of married life.
One day, at midnight, Buddha left the palace, giving up his wife
and young son, Rahul.
everything out of the conviction: “There is no mother or father,
no kinsman or friend, no home or wealth. Awaken yourself!” He
resolved to find out something which transcends all worldly
relationships and pleasures.
Buddha asked himself: “What is this life? Birth is misery. Old age
is misery. Wife is a cause of sorrow. There is misery at the end
of life. Therefore, be alert and awake.”
Happiness is not to be found in any of the things of the world.
Everything is fleeting. Man is wasting his life in the pursuit of
petty ephemeral pleasures. Nirvana is the only truth. It is the
sense of oneness with all life. To turn the mind towards that
which is permanent is Nirvana.
Before he attained Nirvana, Buddha summoned his stepbrother
Anandabuddha. Buddha’s mother Maaya Dhevi passed away on the
seventh day after his birth. Shuddhodhana’s second wife Gauthami,
brought up the child. Because he was brought up by Gauthami, he
was named Gautama Buddha. At the age of twenty-eight, he gave up
everything and became a renunciant.
the Buddha sat under the Bodhi Tree in Bodhgaya, after the
Illumination that revealed to him the Four Noble Truths, gangs of
disbelievers gathered around him and poured ridicule and abuse on
him. His disciples were enraged; they prayed to the Buddha, "Lord!
Give us leave; we shall beat this insolence and ignorance out of
these fools" But, Buddha only smiled at their anger. He said,
"Dear Ones! Know you not how much joy they derive from this
exercise? You derive joy worshipping me! They derive joy pelting
me with abuse. You pour reverence; they pour ridicule, and receive
equal satisfaction. Control yourselves: do not hate anyone. This
is the teaching. This is the ancient ordinance".
In a life filled
with desires, the pleasures one seeks are inevitably followed by
grief and disappointments. All unrighteous actions lead to sorrow.
It was for this reason that Buddha emphasised the need for
discrimination. The first prayer, "Buddham
Saranam Gachchaami" is a call for cultivating wisdom and
discrimination the Buddhi. But unless the power of discrimination
is used for doing right action for the good of society it is of no
use. Hence the second prayer, "Sangham
Saranam Gachchaami" (I surrender myself to society). What
is this right action that must be done? That is indicated by the
third prayer: "Dharmam Saranam Gachchaami"
(I take refuge in Dharma). To reach your goal, the royal road is
Dharma—Righteousness. It is only when these three are
combined—Wisdom, social service and Righteousness—that there is
fulfillment in life.
Once Buddha entered
a village along with his disciples. A lady approached him and
requested him to have food in her house. Buddha blessed her and
accepted her invitation. Seeing this many villagers, including the
village headman, warned Buddha, saying, "O Buddha, you are one of
wisdom and have renounced everything. She is not a woman of good
character. It is not proper for you to have food in her house:'
Buddha smiled and asked the village headman to come forward.
Buddha, holding the right hand of the headman, asked him to clap.
The headman said, it was not possible for him to clap as one of
his hands was in Buddha's hold. Then Buddha said, "True, it is
possible to clap only when two hands come together. Likewise, this
lady cannot turn bad by herself unless there are men of bad
character in this village. The men of this village are the root
cause of her bad character." On hearing this, the villagers
realised their folly, fell at Buddha's feet and sought his
forgiveness. Through his teachings, Buddha instilled sacredness
and wisdom in people. Buddha's teachings are highly sacred with
profound inner meaning.
mother, Mayadevi, passed away when he was just 8 days old. His
stepmother Gautami brought him up. That is how he got the name
Gautama. He was christened as Siddhartha at the time of his birth.
He came to be known as Buddha because he developed Buddhi
(intellect) and discrimination power. Discrimination is of two
types: individual discrimination and fundamental discrimination.
Individual discrimination arises out of selfishness, whereas
fundamental discrimination is concerned with the welfare of one
and all. One should discard individual discrimination and have
only fundamental discrimination. This was the teaching of Buddha
to Ananda, son of Gautami, before he attained Nirvana. When Buddha
was on the verge of attaining Nirvana, Ananda started shedding
tears of sorrow. Then Buddha consoled him, saying, "Ananda, why
are you unhappy over my attaining Nirvana? I have been craving for
this state of Nirvana for the past many years. Why do you shed
tears of sorrow when I am experiencing supreme bliss?" Ananda
understood the truth and followed the teachings of Buddha.
Ultimately, he too attained Nirvana. True ideal is to give
practical knowledge of Dharma to others. One should be a hero in
practice, not merely in preaching. This was the ideal of Buddha.
All the Avatars and noble souls led their lives in the most
exemplary manner and helped people experience divinity. Buddha
said, "O man, you don't need to search for God anywhere. You are
true meaning of Buddhist prayer
No one can live for himself. He is involved with parents, kinsmen,
friends, foes, society, countrymen, etc., in ever-widening
circles. Buddhists declare, “I take refuge in the Buddha. I take
refuge in the Sangha. I take refuge
in Dharma (virtue).” The first is the
involvement with the reality in one’s own individual self. One
must examine oneself whether he lives according to a mind, free
from polluting thoughts and feelings. Buddha is the symbol of the
awakened intellect. Is the intellect sharp enough for clear
discrimination? This must be one’s question to oneself. For, even
an insane person asks for food when hungry. His intellect is alert
for limited purposes. But it has to serve far higher purposes for
The second stage is refuge in the Sangha.
Just as one yearns for and works towards securing property,
welfare and happiness for oneself, one must also yearn for and
work towards securing these very things for the
sangha (society) to which one
belongs. Without society to guard and guide, the individual is
lost, like a drop of oil on an expanse of water. One’s welfare is
based on the welfare of society. The welfare of a particular
society is based on the welfare of the country.
The third stage is refuge in the Dharma.
Dharma means the vesture of the
Cosmos, that which is its very nature, namely,
Prema or Divine Love. When one seeks
refuge in Love that sustains and promotes progress, the
individual, the society and world become a sublime Trinity.
teaches True Sacrifice
Buddha was once
asked: “Who is the richest man in the world?” Buddha replied: “He
who has much satisfaction (with what he has) is the richest man.”
To the question, “Who is the poorest man?” Buddha replied: “He who
has many desires.”
A Maharaja, who was listening to Buddha’s sermons on contentment
and renunciation, wished to earn the approbation of Buddha.
Buddha used to keep with him always a rattle-drum. His disciples
once asked him: “Master! Why are you always keeping this
rattle-drum by your side?” Buddha replied: “I shall play on this
drum the day a person who has made the greatest sacrifice
approaches me.” Everyone was eager to know who this person would
be. Such persons are often the forgotten men of history.
Wishing to attain this distinction, a Maharaja loaded his
elephants with considerable treasure and went to Buddha. He hoped
to offer the treasure to Buddha and earn his praise.
On the way, an old woman greeted the Maharaja and pleaded: “I am
hungry. Will you give me some food?” The Maharaja took out a
pomegranate fruit from his palanquin and gave it to the old woman.
The old woman came to Buddha with the fruit.
By then, the Maharaja had also come to Buddha and was eagerly
waiting to see when Buddha would sound the rattle-drum. For a long
time Buddha did not use it. The Maharaja stayed on.
The old woman approached Buddha staggering on her legs, and
offered him the pomegranate fruit. Buddha took it immediately and
sounded the little drum.
The Maharaja asked Buddha: “I offered so much wealth to you. You
did not sound the drum. But you rattled it after receiving a small
fruit. Is this a great sacrifice?”
Buddha replied: “Maharaja! In sacrifice, it is not quantity that
counts. It is the quality of sacrifice that matters. It is natural
for a Maharaja to offer gold. But what great sacrifice is made
when a hungry old women offers the pomegranate fruit to the
Guru despite her hunger. She did not
care even for her life and gave the fruit. What greater sacrifice
can there be? It is not sacrifice to offer what is superfluous for
you. True sacrifice means giving up that which is most dear to
you, that which you value most.”
There used to be a village-chief who did not like Buddha’s way of
life. He used to look upon him as a lazy person who was gathering
round him young men and making them lead an idle life. Buddha who
was aware of the man’s attitude, went to his house one day with
his disciples and begged for alms “Bhavathi!
Bhikshaam Dehi” (Oh blessed one! offer me alms). The
headman, who had espied Buddha approaching the house and begging
for alms, shouted: “You lazy fellow! You don’t deserve any alms.
Get out! You have been wasting your time.” The headman went on
abusing Buddha, calling him all kinds of names. Buddha was amused
and was smiling.
After exhausting his abuses, the headman calmed down and asked
Buddha, “Sire! I have a doubt. Will you clear it?” Buddha said,
“What is your doubt? Speak out.” The headman asked how Buddha had
remained unaffected by all the abuse he had levelled against the
latter. Buddha said, “I came to you begging for food. Supposing
you had brought the food and I had refused to take it, what would
you have done with the food?” The man replied, “I would have taken
it back.” Buddha then said, “Now, instead of food, you gave me all
your abuse. I refused to receive it. What happens to it? It goes
back to you. I have no connection with it.” The headman learnt a
meaning of Ahimsa
great importance to Ahimsa. He considered it the foremost
Dharma (duty). “Ahimsa
Paramo Dharmah,” declared Buddha.
What does Ahimsa signify? It is not merely refraining from causing
harm or injury to others. It implies also refraining from causing
harm to oneself. One who harms himself cannot avoid harming
others? Whoever desires to observe Ahimsa must see that he does
not do violence to himself. How is this to be ensured? By
constantly examining whether his conduct is right or wrong. For
instance, in the matter of speech, he must examine whether his
words are causing pain to others or not. He must see that his
looks are not tainted by evil intentions or thoughts. He should
not listen to evil talk. All these cause harm to the individual.
How can a man who is
not aware of his humanness recognize the Divinity within him?
Hence the first requisite is the recognition by everyone of his
human essence. Basing on this truth, Buddha declared that everyone
should cultivate at the outset
Samyag-dhrishti (a pure vision). It is only when man has a
pure vision that he can get rid of impurities in the body, speech
and mind. It is this purity that can protect man from invasion of
impurities through the eyes and the ears. Hence the first
requirement for every man is Samyag-dhrishti.
The second quality that is needed is
Samyag-sankalpa (pure thoughts). Everyone should have pure
thoughts. Only the person who has developed purity in vision can
have purity in thoughts.
The third requirement for every man, along with purity in vision
and thought, is Samyag-karma (pure
deeds). Everyone should do pure deeds. Through pure deeds man is
able to recognize his human essence. Man is not merely an embodied
being. By his capacity for developing good vision, entertaining
good thoughts and performing good deeds, he has the power to
transform humanness into Divinity.
A fourth requirement for man is
Samyag-shruthi (listening to sacred words). When one
listens to unsacred words he can have only unsacred thoughts.
The fifth quality prescribed by Buddha is
Samyag-jeevanam (living a pure
life). What is meant by “living”? It is not leading a worldly life
attached to worldly pursuits. True living means making one’s life
meaningful by ideal actions. Man’s life must be governed by
idealism in action.
It is not enough to
read the lives of Avatars and messiahs. Their teachings should be
put into practice as much as possible. People must gradually
outgrow their material attachments and develop divine love.
to protect his son from all external worldly influences by keeping
him in the palace and not even sending him to school. What
happened ultimately? Buddha decided to renounce everything in
quest of the truth about human existence and he declared Ahimsa
(non-harming) as the supreme good.
Embodiments of Love!
We are celebrating today Buddha Pournima. What does Pournima (full
moon) signify? It signifies wholeness. When the mind is filled
with love, it achieves fullness. As long as the mind is filled
with darkness (evil thoughts) there is no meaning in celebrating
Buddha Pournima. Get rid of this darkness. Without the light of
love in the heart, what use is there in having illuminations
outside? Light the lamp of the Divine in your minds. Banish hatred
and envy from your hearts. Man is the victim of two evil planets:
attachment and hatred. To escape from their grip, the only way is
to cultivate love.
E-Magazine, 1st May 2004