Study Guides

Siddhartha Becomes Buddha

The journey that Siddhartha Gautama undertook in the 6th century B.C. led him to discover Self-Enlightenment under a Bodhi tree. His was the eternal quest, to escape suffering in the material world. It was this journey that led Him to become the Buddha, the ‘Awakened One’.

He discovered that rituals and ascetic practices do not lead one to the destination, because the journey is within, to behold the Self, where the wisdom of the universe resides. When He achieved the ultimate goal of discovering the truth of Himself, He experienced Ananda (bliss).

He then dedicated His life to teaching the Four Noble Truths: there is suffering, the cause of this suffering, the end of suffering, and the path that frees one from suffering, the Eightfold Path.

Man’s unrestrained and endless desires in this transient and ephemeral world are the cause of his suffering. Man’s attachments are built upon the false notion that permanent happiness can be found in an impermanent world. Alas, he does not know that his friends and relations are the cause of his bondage and his many human relationships actually cause him sorrow.

In the Dhammapada, it is said that the one who takes refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha (the community of spiritual seekers) – the Triple Jewels in Buddhism, Triratna Sharanam – will grasp the Four Noble Truths. This Triratna Sharanam is a supreme Buddhist Refuge prayer.

The actual practice of the Eightfold Path is the Buddha’s central teaching. In the Dhammapada, it is written: “This is the path; there is no other that leads to the purification of the mind. Follow this path and conquer Mara. This path will lead to the end of suffering. This is the path I made known after the arrows of sorrow fell away.” It is a path that leads to pure wisdom, where there is no self and no suffering. It is the Middle Way.

Eightfold Path

The Eightfold Path is Right Vision, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration. It is the path of the spiritually noble.

Mukti, or liberation, is freedom from suffering. The Triple Jewels, Triratna Sharanam, are means to achieve Mukti and to reach the goal of Nirvana, which is the only truth. These are closely inter-related. It is said that in order to attain Nirvana, one should have a pure heart. Indeed, the Buddha’s emphasis was entirely on purity in every aspect of daily life.

The Buddha also recognized the principle of unity of the Self and based His life on this Truth.

In Gita Vahini, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba wrote: “The bliss in which the person of steady wisdom is immersed does not arise from external objects; that person has no need of them, either. Bliss is in everyone as part of their very nature. Those with pure consciousness find the highest bliss in the realization of their own reality, the Atma (Self).”

The Buddha lives forever and not just in the noble and sacred story of the Crown Prince who sacrificed his royal birthright to seek, and eventually achieve, Self-Enlightenment and to declare a new path that leads one to Nirvana. The Buddha lives on as the supreme ideal of man’s potential for Buddhahood. Within us all lies the potential to become a Buddha, an ‘Awakened One’.

Triratna Sharanam - Refuge in the Three Jewels

In a discourse during the celebration of Buddha Poornima in Prasanthi Nilayam on 15 May 1996, Sri Sathya Sai Baba explained the meaning of the Triratna Sharanam prayer: it is for the sake of upholding Dharma (Righteousness) that one should use one’s Buddhi (the enlightened intellect) and engage himself in social activity. In other words, Buddhi should follow the path of Dharma, and Dharma should be fostered in society. When this is done, society gets purified.

On this same occasion, Bhagawan Baba explained that the observance of non-violence is the highest form of Dharma and that non-violence is to be practiced with Trikarana Shuddhi (purity of mind, speech, and body).

During the Buddha Poornima celebration in Prasanthi Nilayam on 30 May 2006, Sri Sathya Sai Baba explained that man should use his Buddhi to understand that the principle of unity of Atma is the only true principle in the world. Dualistic feelings of ‘you and I’ have to be given up to experience this unity. On this occasion, Sri Sathya Sai Baba bestowed the additional prayers, Sathyam saranam gachchami (I take refuge in Truth), Ekam saranam gachchami (I take refuge in the principle of Oneness) and Premam saranam gachchami (I take refuge in Love). Bereft of love, humanness has no existence.

The source and spring of true happiness lies within us, it cannot be attained from outside. Bliss emerges from Self-Enlightenment – out of the Atma (Self) – and so Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba said, “Happiness is union with God.”

Buddha Poornima - Thrice Blessed Day

Buddha Poornima is one of the most sacred festivals in the Buddhist calendar. It celebrates three important events in the Buddha’s life: birth, enlightenment, and final mergence (parinirvana). It occurs on the full moon day in the fourth lunar month of Vaisakha. In some of His discourses, especially when educators, students and Young Adults were present, Sri Sathya Sai Baba said one must have the head of Shankara (the founder of the school of philosophy known as ‘Non-dualism’), the heart of Buddha and the hands of Janaka (a renowned Indian emperor). 

The name and form of Buddha evoke the supreme qualities of compassion and peace. This is primarily because of the life He led, one of purity and sacrifice rooted in the principle of non-violence (ahimsa).

As we prepare to celebrate Buddha Poornima, let us reflect deeply on the teachings of Lord Buddha, derive inspiration from them and imbibe them into our hearts and minds so that we turn inwards and seek Self-Enlightenment. On this holy day, let us also remember the divine teachings  of Sri Sathya Sai Baba on the occasion of Buddha Poornima celebrations.

The theme for the first-ever online celebration of this auspicious festival is “The Key to Real Happiness – Triratna Sharanam”. This unique celebration brings together devotees from many countries to share in the nectarine messages that will be delivered during the programme. We pray you join in, and achieve Ananda (bliss) from the realisation of your Buddhahood.


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