Vesak Day is an event celebrated by Buddhists all over the world to commemorate the birth, enlightenment and passing on of Lord Buddha. For this year’s Buddha Purnima celebration, there were a total of about 910 devotees coming from Brunei, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam,
Theme: The theme for this year’s celebration was “Metta – Loving Kindness”:
“As a mother, at the risk of her life,
Watches over her only child,
Let him cherish an unbounded mind
For all living beings.
Let him have love for the whole world,
And develop an unbounded mind,
Above, below and all around,
Boundless heart of goodwil, free of hatred,
Standing, walking, sitting or lying down,
So long as he be alive,
Let him cherish this thought,
This is called divine abiding here”
-Karaniya Metta Sutta
Metta in Buddhism is a state of mind. Amity, goodwill, friendliness and loving kindness are some words used to describe this mental state but none of these words can completely describe the state of Metta. There is no better way to know Metta than to study it as it occurs in one’s heart and how it gets reflected on others. A good symbol for Metta is the mother cradling a baby to sleep. One derives a lot of joy when one is unselfishly caring for another. Metta is characterised by a selfless and benevolent wish to promote welfare, peace and happiness to the whole world in a compassionate at the same time skilful way. Its end result is to see beauty and love in everything, everywhere, at all times and under all circumstances.
Day1: The celebration on 27th May 2010 began at 5.30pm with a procession into Sai Kulwant Hall lead by children from Thailand chanting Buddhist hymns as they marched in. This was followed by a traditional dance and drum troupe from Sri Lanka.
The programme began with Swami lighting the candle on the altar at the podium assisted by Dr. VK Ravindran, Chairman of Zone 4 and Dr. Artong Jumsai, director of the ISSE Thailand. Some small children from Thailand and Indonesia then came forward to seek blessings from Swami. Dr Ravindran then welcomed all participants and introduced the two speakers for the day.
Dr. ArtOng Jumsai, the first speaker spoke on the definition of the word “MAN” given by Swami. The first character “M” represent Maya or illusion. The second character “A” represent the inherent Atma in all of us. Whilst the third word “N” is Nirvana, the ultimate goal.
Buddha was born in Maya. At the age of 40, he overcome Maya and became enlightened ie full realization of the buddhahood within himself – the all knowing one. Buddha could have merged into the Universal Consciousness but chose out of supreme compassion to stay in the world of Maya so as to teach Dharma to the world. Human beings are born in this world of Maya as a result we have forgotten our true self. All of us are making our journey towards the supreme truth. Truth is something that does not change. Our daily experience cannot be the truth as it keeps on changing. In Buddhism, Nirvana is the unchanging truth because there is no birth nor death.
Dr. ArtOng further mentioned that we are all part of this supreme truth. We are God. Our true nature is Nirvana. To help us realize the supreme truth, we must have Metta, loving kindness, love and compassion. Thus we have to love everyone, serve everyone, love all and serve all.
The supreme example of Metta or loving kindness is the Avatar. Whenever, there is a decline in morality, whenever there are problems causing suffering to the world, the Avatar will come and help and guide us out of this difficulty. In the past, we have had Rama, Krishna, Buddha and now we have Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
Mr. Sudhamek A.W.S, the second speaker, a prominent businessman in Indonesia, is also the chairman of the Indonesian Buddhayana Council, a religious organization that unifies Indonesia Buddhist devotees from the three main sects, namely Mahayana, Theravada and Tantrayana. He came to know Swami when in 1988 when his second son was diagnosed with blood cancer. He was then advised by a very prominent Buddhist monk in Indonesia, the late Ashin Jinarakhitta to see Swami in Puttarparthi. He related how Swami subsequently has saved his own life from a very rare disease and transformed him into a better person and blessed him with strength, love and great wealth. He came to realize that the purpose of living is to serve mankind.
The highlight of the day was a beautiful and inspiring drama entitled “Yashodhara” presented by the youth of Thailand. The acting was superb. The drama is a brief glimpse into the life of the noble Prince Siddhartha…..
Yashodhara, was wedded to her cousin the Shakya Prince Siddhartha. After she gave birth to their only child, Prince Siddhartha was troubled by the suffering and pain in life. He left the palace, in search of the meaning of life and death… a devastated and grief stricken Yashodhara began to lead the virtuous life of a ascetic hoping that one day her husband, who in due course became the enlightened Buddha, would return.
The enlightened Buddha returns to his father’s kingdom in Kapilavastu and faces criticism and scorn from the people. However, by spreading Metta, his loving kindness, the Buddha succeeds in winning over everyone to his ideals and teachings. He meets Yashodhara at the palace and reveals how their lives and destiny were together in previous births. He explains that these were responsible for the present day life wherein he obtained enlightenment. Yashodhara was thus relieved of her pain and mental anguish and after a few years also joins the sangha.
Bhagawan blessed the participants with clothes and a group photograph. Prasadam was distributed to the entire gathering. Bhagawan accepted Arathi and retired by 1930hrs.
Day2: Bhagawan arrived at 1805hrs for the second day's celebration of Buddha Purnima. Bhagawan interacted with many of the delegates of the Buddha Purnima group during the Darshan Round. Bhagawan then came onto the stage and indicated that the programme may begin.
The first item on the programme was a medley of bhajan songs melodiously sang by the choir group from Malaysia. This was followed by 3 short cultural dances by children of the Sathya Sai School in Thailand entitled, "Rabam See Pak"
Immediately afterwards was a drama performed by the children and youth of Sri Lanka entitled “Angulimala” which depicts a story of transformation of a man from one driven to murder, into another, a peace loving and enlightened saint, an Arahath. Angulimala’s story is a great historical episode of how the inherent Divinity in a man could be blossomed when in the company of a Divine Advent. The eyes of human was Angulimala as a fearsome murderer but Buddha’s eyes of wisdom saw this fearsome killer as a lotus bud which will soon bloom into the open. It was only the rays of morning sun that was needed for the lotus bud to open. Buddha’s presence and the few compassionate words provided the sun’s rays which helped Angulimala to identify his true nature, Nirvana.
At the end of this presentation, Bhagawan went down the stage and lovingly interacted with all the participants. He materialised a chain for one of the actors and distributed sweets to all participants with His own hands.This presentation was followed by International Bhajans. Bhagawan accepted Arati at 1945 hours and retired to Yajur Mandir after repeatedly blessing all those present with Abhayahasta.