Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Story Of The Buddha And Buddhism ( Part 9 - 12 )

Part 9

The future Buddha cutting his hair to become a monk

The Future Buddha who left the city at midnight on his Great Renunciation came to the bank of the Anoma (Illustrious) River at day-break. He gave the signal to his horse with his heel, and the horse sprang over the river, which had a breath of eight usabhas (an usabha is 140 cubits or 210 feet), and landed on the opposite bank. He handed over to Channa his ornaments and the horse, Kanthaka, and asked him to go back home with them. He then cut his hair with the sword on the sandy beach of the Anoma.

Then the Future Buddha seized hold of his top-knot and threw it into the air, saying-"If I am to become a Buddha, let it stay in the sky; but if not, let it fall to the ground". And Sakka, the King of the gods, received it in a golden casket, and established it in the Heaven of the Thirty-three Gods as the Culamani Ceti (Shrine of the Diadem). After that, the Future Buddha put on the robes, the symbol of asceticism, brought by the Maha-Brahma god, Ghatikara, and became an ascetic. His garments, made of Benares cloth, were taken away by Ghatikara, and established in the realm of the higher gods as the Dussa Shrine.

Part 10

King Bimbisara offering all his kingly glory

Now the Future Buddha, having thus retired from the world and become an ascetic for about 7 days, entered the city of Rajagaha and begged for food from house to house. By the beauty of the Future Buddha the whole city was thrown into a commotion as he was a distinct contrast to the usual type of ascetics of those days, who were old and shabby in appearance. The Future Buddha being then only 29 years of age and bearing all the signs of a Universal Monarch naturally became an object of admiration and wonder.

Now the Great Being having collected some food for his sustenance went to the shade of Pandava rock and ate his meal. Thereupon, Bimbisara, the King, approached the Future Buddha, and being pleased with his princely deportment and appearance offered him all his kingly glory. "Great King", replied the Future Buddha, "I do not seek for the gratification of my senses or my passions, but have retired from the world for the sake of the supreme and absolute enlightenment of a Buddha".

"Verily", said the King, when his repeated offers had all been refused, "you are sure to become a Buddha; but when that happens your first journey will be to my Kingdom

Part 11

The future Buddha made the great struggle and his body became emaciated

Having become a monk, the Future Buddha sought for teachers and found two renowned Brahmin teachers, Alara Kalarma and Uddaka Ramaputta. He acquired from them the method of meditation leading only to mundane superhuman power. But not satisfied with it, he ceased to practise it. And being desirous of attaining Enlightenment he continued his search and went to Uruvela grove. He entered Senani village and begged for his food from house to house and ate his meal. He thought to himself that having to go on a begging round for food in itself was a hindrance to his ascetic practices and began to practise the Great Struggle. The Great Struggle is an austere practice which is beyond human endurance of an average person. He tried various plans such as, abstaining from rice meal and living on fruits which dropped from trees, then on fruits which dropped from the tree under which he sat, then living on one fruit, one sesamum seed or one grain of rice a day. By this lack of nourishment his body was reduced to skin and bones and lost its golden colour and became dry and black.

Part 12

The future buddha receiving the milk-porridge offered by Sujata

There lived in the village of Senani, near Uruvela forest, a girl named Sujata. She had uttered a prayer for fulfillment of her wish at a banyan tree, and vowed a yearly offering to it, if she should have a good marriage and a son as her first born child. The wish having been fulfilled, she used to make an offering every year at the banyan tree. Now the Great Being had resumed taking usual food, because he found that the austerities he practised for full six years were not the way to enlightenment.

On the full moon day of the month Visakha (April-May) the Future Buddha who had attained 35 years of age, was sitting under the bayan tree. Sujata caught sight of the Future Buddha and, supposing him to be the tree-god, her benefactor, who had come down, offered him milk-porridge in a golden bowl that was worth a hundred thousand pieces of money. He proceeded to the banks of the Neranjara and ate the food. He took the bowl to the river bank and set it on the river saying "If today I shall be able to became a Buddha, let this bowl go up stream". It floated up-stream!