Buddha Statue in Thimphu, Bhutan

The 15th Day of the 4th Month of the Bhutanese Calendar is a very auspicious day. Though the day is knows as Buddha’s Maharirinirvana, it was on this day that the Buddha was conceived, born, overcame evil, attained enlightenment and left the world. Therefore, the day is known as Confluence of Five Sacred Deeds.

1. Conception

Buddha’s mother had a dream of an elephant entering her womb

Maya Devi, the queen of the King Suddhodana of Sakya clan, had a dream on the full moon night while sleeping in the palace. A white elephant, holding a white lotus flower in its trunk, appeared, went round her three times, and entered her womb through her right side. Knowing she had been delivered an important message, as the elephant is a symbol of greatness in the kingdom, the queen shared the king about the dream. The king was puzzled and sent for some wise men to discover the meaning of the dream.

The wise men said, “Your Majesty, you are very lucky. The devas have chosen our queen as the mother of the Purest-One and the child will become a very great being.” The king and queen were delighted to hear the news.

2. Birth  

Buddha was born in the forest

On her way to her parent’s village, Maya Devi came across a beautiful grove of Sala trees interspersed with beds of multicolored flowers. She stepped down from the palanquin and gracefully walked a short way. She held a branch of the Sala tree with her right hand and gave birth to a baby son from her right side. Maya Devi, felt no pain and instead experienced bliss and clarity of mind beyond words.

As soon as Buddha was born, he walked seven graceful steps. On each step, a lotus flower blossomed and he proclaimed: “I am the supreme being of the entire world. I am the monarch of the universe. This is my first and last birth. There will be no more births because I have abandoned the cause of birth.”

3. Victory over evil forces

Buddha overcame all the distractions caused by demonic forces

Buddha left palace at the age of 29 and led a life of austerities for six years by the banks of the River Niranjana. As austerity did not lead to enlightenment, and realizing that middle path as path to awakening, he gave up the ascetic practice and went to the bodhi tree. There, he vowed to meditate under bodhi tree until he reached final awakening.

The Mara, lord of demons, tried to distract Buddha from attaining enlightenment. He took the forms of all kind of wrathful and vile figures in the world, they roared to create fear, however the Buddha was without a slight sense of fear. The weapons flung against him were also transformed into rain and flowers. Thus, Buddha came victorious in the battle against evil forces.

4. Attaining enlightenment

Buddha taught Four Noble Truth after attaining enlightenment

Buddha finally attained enlightenment at the age of 35. At that moment the whole earth shook in six different ways by moving, shaking, lifting, erupting, humming and shimmering. All the qualities and attributes of body, speech and mind of all Buddhas were attained by the Bodhisattva and became one with him. The Buddhas of all ten directions rejoiced and congratulated him: “As we have attained enlightenment, so have you also attained this, in the same way.” said all the Ten Buddhas. Hence forth the Bodhisattva became known as “Buddha”, which in Sanskrit means “The Fully Awakened One.”

5. Parinirvana

Buddha entered Mahaparinirvana at the age of 80

Buddhas death is known as Mahaparinirvana, which means “the great entry into the non-suffering state”. At the age of 80, Buddha predicted that the precise time of his death would be midnight, thus proving that he had gained the freedom of choosing the right moment for leaving this world.

The Buddha’s final words are reported to have been: “All composite things are perishable. Strive for your own liberation with diligence.” 

His body was cremated and the relics were placed in monuments or stupas, some of which are believed to have survived until the present.

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