Sri Sathya Sai On: Buddha, Buddhism and Buddha Poornima

King Shuddhodhana adores little Siddhartha
King Shuddhodhana and his wife Mayadevi performed many spiritual austerities such as Japa, Tapa, Vratas and Yajnas for years together with the aspiration to have a son. They also consulted many astrologers. Shuddhodhana had no peace of mind as the worry of not having an heir to the throne haunted him day and night. At last their prayers were answered when Mayadevi gave birth to a son at Lumbini. Unfortunately, Mayadevi died soon after giving birth to her son who was named Siddhartha. Gautami, the second wife of Shuddhodhana, brought up the child with loving care like her own son. That is the reason why he was also called Gautama. 
Sage-astrologer predicts Siddhartha's future
The astrologers predicted that Siddhartha would not rule the kingdom; he would leave the kingdom and become a renunciant. The prediction of the astrologers was always ringing in the ears of Shuddhodhana and caused him anxiety every as he watched his son grow. He took all precautions to see that his son did not step out of the palace and get into the company of others lest he should be influenced by them. Thus, he protected his son from the influence of others for twenty long years.
- “Attain Enlightenment by Renouncing Desires”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 39, May 13, 2006, Brindavan

Gautama is married to Yashodhara
The name given to Buddha at the time of birth was Sarvartha 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 Dukham Dukham’ (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 he 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.
- “Purity – The Path to Liberation”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 30, May 15, 1997, Brindavan

Owing to His parents’ loving insistence, Siddhartha continued to stay with His parents in the palace even after the marriage. One year after the marriage, He begot a son who was named Rahul. Both the husband and wife spent their time happily with their son. In spite of all the comforts of the palace and happy married life, Gautam’s mind became restless when He saw people afflicted with old age, disease and death after He ventured out of the palace one day. 
Gautam leaves home and hearth
One night, there was a sudden transformation in His mind. As His wife was fast asleep, He got up at midnight, caressed His son and left for the forest. He had to undergo numerous hardships and difficulties in the forest. But He faced all ordeals with forbearance and determination. His parents were immersed in sorrow, unable to bear the pangs of separation from their son. Though Siddhartha was also undergoing a lot of anguish, He marched on his path of attaining self-realisation.
- “Attain Enlightenment by Renouncing Desires”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 39, May 13, 2006, Brindavan
Siddhartha renounces the world
At the age of 28, Siddhartha gave up everything and turned a renunciant. What is the significance of this step? Buddha declared: ‘Sangham Sharanam Gachchaami’, “Hands in the society, head in the forest”. He renounced everything to think about promoting the welfare of society.
- “Purity – The Path to Liberation”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 30, May 15, 1997, Brindavan

For Sri Sathya Sai Insights on Buddha's Quest for the Supreme, click here.

Buddha attains Nirvana
When the time of Nirvana was approaching, Buddha noticed that His step-brother Ananda was shedding tears. He beckoned Ananda and told him, “Even till today, the world is not recognising the reality. There are thousands who experience sorrow at the sight of dying persons. But they make no effort to find out what experience is in store for the dead. I know the Truth about it. I am merging in that Truth. To shed tears at this prospect is not justified. It seems to Me that you are grieving over the exalted state that is impending for me. No human being should shed tears over the moment of death of any person. Tears are associated with the Divine and should be shed only for the sake of the Divine and not for trivial matters. You should shed tears of joy. Grief is not a proper state for man. Hence no tears of sorrow should be shed”.
- “The Essence of Buddha’s Teachings”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 31, May 11, 1998, Brindavan

Gautama 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 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.
- “Control Your Senses”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 32 Part 01, May 30, 1999, Brindavan

For Sri Sathya Sai Insights on Buddha's Message for Humanity, click here.


Basing His teachings on these two declarations, Buddha went about preaching His message. Buddha’s message spread to many countries like Tibet, China, Ceylon, Burma, Thailand and Japan. In course of time schisms developed which led to the decline of Buddhism.
- “Purity – The Path to Liberation”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 30, May 15, 1997, Brindavan

Because Buddha’s teachings were not properly propagated, Buddhism steadily declined in this country. All religions suffer a decline because those who profess them do not practice them in their daily lives. People should practice what they profess. People should live up to the truths in which they believe. People do not act upon the truths they have learnt.
- “The Essence of Buddha’s Teachings”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 31, May 11, 1998, Brindavan

Buddha Poornima Celebrations with Sri Sathya Sai at Brindavan
We are celebrating today Buddha Poornima or Buddha Jayanti. What does Poornima (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 Poornima. 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.
- “Purity – The Path to Liberation”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 30, May 15, 1997, Brindavan

You have all come from many distant parts of the world. You have come to experience the joy of participating in the Buddha Poornima celebrations. You need not have come all the way from your distant places. Buddhi represents the intellect. That intellect must be used properly. Then you will realize what is implied in Buddhism.
- “The Essence of Buddha’s Teachings”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 31, May 11, 1998, Brindavan
The lotus is symbolic of Buddhi (intellect) which gives the sense of discrimination. Though born in mud, it retains its purity. Its message is be in the world, but not let the world be in you.
It is not enough to be happy just on this day of Buddha Poornima. You must be able to experience bliss all the time, and you can do so by following the teachings of Buddha. These days, people are great heroes in making platform speeches but zeroes when it comes to practice. It is far more important to translate Buddha’s teachings into practice than to make eloquent speeches. This is the proper way to enjoy happiness. This is also the right way of showing respect and reverence for Buddha.

The best way of celebrating Buddha Poornima is to put into practice the teachings of this holy one. It is not enough to be happy just on this festival day. By constantly re-living the experience of this holy day, you must experience joy all the time. The cow first grazes; it then sits down quietly to chew thoroughly what it had eaten earlier. If an animal can do this, can not a human do the same with respect to the teachings he acquires? When you get back home, ruminate over what you have learnt today. Recall repeatedly the experiences you have had today. This is the way to digest what you have learnt and also be happy. It is only when you do this that your journey to this place would become worthwhile. You should not forget the lessons the moment you leave from here.
- “Buddha’s Message”, Summer Showers in Brindavan 2000, Brindavan

Truly speaking, Buddha is not just one individual. All of you are Buddhas. You will see unity everywhere once you understand this truth.
- “Attain Enlightenment by Renouncing Desires”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 39, May 13, 2006, Brindavan

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