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THE SIGNIFICANCE OF BUDDHA PURNIMA ;- 07 FACTS;- 1-Buddhism is one of the most worshiped religions and followed by hundreds of millions of people. The holy occasion known as Buddha Purnima commemorates the birth, enlightenment and ultimate liberation of Lord Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. 2-This great soul is supposed to have born in 563 B.C. as prince Siddhartha in the royal household of Nepal. Secluded from normal life and surroundings until his youth by his father, who had been predicted of his son's getting inclined to spirituality in his young days, Siddhartha grew up to realize his destiny as soon as he entered the sphere of worldly people. 3-The sight of a diseased man, an old man, a corpse one after the other filled him with curiosity and upon being told by his charioteer that everyone including himself was to meet the same fate, he was greatly disturbed. When he came by a calm ascetic, he resolved to overcome all human sufferings by living the life of asceticism. 4-He left his family and all worldly possessions to pursue the way to end all human miseries that came in the form of old age, illness and death. For years, he meditated on the true self of being and gained the ultimate knowledge. Years later, he came to understand why human life was full of sufferings. 5-Not content with his own salvation, he imparted his hard-acquired knowledge to his followers and whoever was ready to listen to him. In lucid (easy to understand)terms, he described the causes of human misery. 6-These causes, as delineated by Lord Buddha, are known as "The Four Noble Truths" and appear many times throughout the most ancient Buddhist texts - the Pali Canon. The "Four Noble Truths" throw light on: a) The Nature of Suffering b) The Origin of Suffering c) The Cessation of Suffering and d) The Path leading to the Cessation of Suffering. 7-The four truths are said to be among the realizations that dawned on Lord Buddha during his long hours of meditation beneath the Bodhi tree. DESCRIPTION OF FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS(the Pali Canon);- THE NATURE OF SUFFERING (Dukkha); - 02 FACTS;- 1-A little reflection on our part can show us that the world is full of suffering. Our birth is in itself a painful process, so is ageing, illness and death. 2-But the interim period between life and death is full of suffering which results from our union with what is displeasing, separation from what is pleasing, inability to get what we want and getting what we do not want (such as grief, pain and despair). In short, all existence is unsatisfactory and filled with suffering. THE ORIGIN OF SUFFERING (Samudaya);- 02 FACTS;- 1-According to Buddha, all our sufferings have their origin in our desires, accompanied by delight and lust, craving for lowly joys, fame and approval from fellow beings, sensual pleasures and suchlike. 2- It is this constant thirst for earthly pleasures that leads to renewed existence, that is, our bondage to the world - the haven(shelter)of all misery. THE CESSATION OF SUFFERING (Nirodha):- 02 FACTS;- 1-The purpose of human birth is to work on attaining the permanent cessation of suffering. Everyone of us have faced suffering at some point of our lives. Some of us may not be experiencing misery at this moment but such a state devoid of suffering is temporary. 2-Suffering is an integral part of human life and each of us has to face misery again and again in this life and in countless future lives. To stop this cycle of suffering, we should develop strong renunciation for this endless cycle, and resolve to attain enlightenment ourselves and to lead every living being to that state, which alone can bring about the permanent cessation of suffering. THE PATH TO THE CESSATION OF SUFFERING (Marga):- 02 FACTS;- 1-The cessation of suffering can only happen if we are able to bring about a complete ethical, moral, mental and spiritual transformation in ourselves for the better. 2-This can take place if we follow each of the precepts mentioned in the Noble Eightfold Path that consists of right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. WHAT IS THE NOBLE EIGHTFOLD PATH OF BUDDHISM?- The Buddha chose the symbol of an eight-spoked wheel to represent the path to Nirvana;The center of the wheel represents Nirvana, the only fixed point. Just like the spokes are needed to let the wheel turn, Buddhists need to follow each step of the path to reach Nirvana.Each path is used not individually, but together, as a way of life..VIZ, 1. Right View We need to understand the 4 Noble Truths to use as guide for life 2. Right Thought The mind must be freed from sensual desire, ill-will, and cruelty We are what we think, so focus on good thoughts 3. Right Speech By using right speech, we will be trusted and respected No lying, harsh language, unjust criticism, or gossiping 4. Right Conduct You are judged by your actions The 5 Precepts – no killing or harming living beings, no stealing, no improper sexual conduct, no lies, no alcohol or drugs. 5. Right Livelihood Earn a living that does not cause harm to living things 6. Right Effort Conquer all evil thoughts and strive to have good thoughts Do your best at all times and have goodwill to others 7. Right Mindfulness You must recognise what is important and not let yourself get distracted by un wholesome acts or thoughts Full attention must be paid to proper thoughts, words and deeds 8. Right Concentration Focus the mind on only one object or thought at a time This concentration leads to true peace of mind and tranquility, and eventually to enlightenment though deep meditation. THE SYMBOL OF DHARMACHAKRA;- 1-The dharmachakra or dharma wheel is a symbol often seen during Vesak(the month). It is a wooden wheel with eight spokes. The wheel represents Buddha's teaching on the path to enlightenment. The eight spokes symbolize the noble eightfold path of Buddhism. 2-The dharma wheel, or dharmachakra in Sanskrit, is one of the oldest symbols of Buddhism. Around the globe, it is used to represent Buddhism in the same way that a cross represents Christianity or a Star of David represents Judaism. 3-It is also one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism. Similar symbols are found in Jainism and Hinduism, and it is likely the dharmachakra symbol in Buddhism evolved out of Hinduism. 4-A traditional dharma wheel is a chariot wheel with varying numbers of spokes. It can be in any color, although it is most often gold. At the center sometimes there are three shapes swirling together, although sometimes at the center is a yin-yang symbol, or another wheel, or an empty circle. THE SYMBOL OF DHARMACHAKRA REPRESENTS;- A dharma wheel has three basic parts--the hub, the rim, and the spokes. Over the centuries , various teachers and traditions have proposed diverse meanings for these parts, and explaining all of them is very difficult. Here are some common understandings of the wheel's symbolism: 07 FACTS;- 1-The circle, the round shape of the wheel, represents the perfection of the dharma, the Buddha's teaching. 2-The rim of the wheel represents meditative concentration and mindfulness, which hold practice together. 3-The hub represents moral discipline. The triple spiral,often seen on the hub are sometimes said to represent the Three Treasures or Three Jewels--Buddha, dharma, sangha. They may also represent joy. The SPOKE signify different things, depending on their number: 03 FACTS;- 1-When a wheel has four spokes, which is rare, the spokes represent either the Four Noble Truths or the four dhyanas. 2-When a wheel has eight spokes, the spokes represent the Eightfold Path. An eight-spoke wheel is most common from of the wheel in Buddhism. 3-When a wheel has ten spokes, the spokes represent the ten directions--in effect, everywhere. 4-When a wheel has twelve spokes, they represent the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination. 5-When a wheel has 24 spokes, they represent the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination plus the reversing of the Twelves Links and liberation from samsara. 24-spoke dharma wheel is also called an Ashoka Chakra . 6-When a wheel has 31 spokes, the spokes represent the 31 realms of existence from ancient Buddhist cosmology. 7-The wheel often has spokes protruding beyond the wheel, which we might imagine are spikes, although usually they don't look very sharp. The spikes represent various penetrating insights. THE SYMBOL OF 24 SPOKE DHARMACHAKRA OR ASHOKA CHAKRA;- 04 FACTS;- 1-Among the oldest existing examples of a dharma wheel are found on the pillars erected by the Ashoka the Great , an emperor who ruled much of what is now India and beyond. Ashoka was a great patron of Buddhism and encouraged its spread, although he never forced it on his subjects. 2-Ashoka erected great stone pillars throughout his kingdom, many of which are still standing. The pillars contain edicts, some of which encouraged the people to practice Buddhist morality and nonviolence. 3-Typically at the top of the pillar is at least one lion, representing Ashoka's rule. The pillars also are decorated with 24-spoke dharma wheels. 4-In 1947, the government of India adopted a new national flag, in the center of which is a navy blue Ashoka Chakra on a white background. OTHER SYMBOLS RELATED TO THE DHARMACHAKRA;- 04 FACTS;- 1-Sometimes the dharma wheel is presented in a kind of tableau (portrayal) supported on a lotus flower pedestal with two deer, a buck(हिरन) and a doe(हरिणी), on either side. 2-This recalls the first sermon given by the historical Buddha after his enlightenment. The sermon is said to have been given to five mendicants in Sarnath, a deer park in what is now Uttar Pradesh, India. 3-According to Buddhist legend, the park was home to a herd of ruru deer, and the deer gathered around to listen to the sermon. The deer depicted by the dharma wheel remind us that the Buddha taught to save all beings, not just humans. 4-In some versions of this story, the deer are emanations of bodhisattvas. Typically, when the dharma wheel is represented with deer, the wheel must be twice the height of the deer. The deer are shown with legs folded under them, gazing serenely at the wheel with their noses lifted. TURNING THE DHARMACHAKRA;- 04 FACTS;- 1-"Turning the dharma wheel" is a metaphor for the Buddha's teaching of the dharma in the world. In Mahayana Buddhism, it is said the Buddha turned the dharma wheel three times. 2-The first turning was the sermon in the deer park, after the Buddha's enlightenment. Here the Buddha explained the Four Noble Truths. 3-The second turning was the introduction of the perfection of wisdom teachings on the nature of sunyata, emptiness. 4-The third turning was the introduction of the doctrine of Buddha Nature. CONCLUSION;- Buddhism is mainly based on the principle of Dharma and encompasses various traditions, belief and practices which are based on the teachings of Lord Buddha . More than 2, 500 years have passed since the demise of this great soul and yet, his teachings have as much significance today as during his own times.Buddha laid great emphasis on implementing the teachings since a higher level or existence can be attained only by putting translating thoughts into actions. .....SHIVOHAM....