Buddha Purnima, also known as Vesak, is the most sacred day in the Buddhist calendar. The exact date of Vesak is the first full moon in the fourth month in the Chinese lunar calendar. The full moon of the month of Vesak (generally falls between April – May) has special significance because on this day the Buddha was born, attained enlightenment (nirvana), gave His first discourse and attained parinirvana (nirvana-after-death of the body) when he died.
Below are the Excerpts from Sathya Sai Baba’s divine discourse given on February 5, 1998.
Buddha's message to Ananda
In his last moments, Buddha summoned his stepbrother Ananda to impart to him his final message. Ananda was the son of Gautami (Buddha's stepmother). Placing his palm on the head of his younger brother, Buddha said:
My dear child! I came to the world to teach (the Truth). If anyone asks, 'Where is God?' the answer is: He is everywhere'. Truth is God. Speak the Truth. Do not harm anyone. Recognise that the highest Dharma is non-violence (Ahimsa).
What is Dharma? Is it celibacy or the duties of a householder or a renunciant or a Sanyasi? These are transient obligations that have to be observed as incidental duties in the journey of life. The Supreme duty is refraining from causing harm to anyone. This truth is proclaimed in the scriptures in the exhortation: "Speak the truth. Speak what is pleasing (Sathyam bruyaat; priyam bruyaat)." Thus, pleasing speech is declared as a supreme duty.
Sanctification of the Five Senses Is the Way to Truth
This truth was revealed to Ananda by Lord Buddha from his own experience. He said,:
When I left the palace, my father (the King) was told that I was doing a great wrong in renouncing the family. My parents, kinsmen, and others tried to put pressure on me to return to the ties of family life. These wrong efforts on their side made me more determined to pursue the spiritual path. In the quest for spiritual peace several ordeals have to be overcome. Today I have found the Truth about life. What is it? The sanctification of the five senses is the way to Truth. If the senses are polluted, of what avail are spiritual exercises? When the water in a tank is polluted, all taps will only give polluted water. Your heart is the tank. Your vision and thoughts are impure. Your speech is foul. When the heart is polluted in this manner, the senses are bound to be sullied.
When the heart is filled with good thoughts and feelings, all that comes out of the senses - your speech, your vision, your actions - will all be pure. That was why Jayadeva exhorted the God-given tongue to use its sweetness to proclaim the glory of God by chanting the Lord's sweet names: Govinda, Damodara and Madhava. One should always speak sweetly and never use harsh words.
People today are immersed in worldly pursuits to secure transient pleasures, but few are interested in spiritual pursuits which will give them everlasting bliss. When people experience spiritual bliss (Atma-ananda) all other forms of happiness will automatically come. People immersed in mundane pursuits have no time for spiritual matters. The Gita exhorts mankind to turn away from the ephemeral attractions of the misery-laden world and to seek the Divine.
Cultivate Human Values
You must realise the greatness and preciousness of human life. You witnessed the lion-dance earlier. The external trappings were those of lions but the persons who performed the dance were young men. It is not the external form that matters but the human element behind it. Flaunting the human form without displaying human qualities is meaningless. You must cultivate human values such as good vision, sweet speech, good thoughts and good actions, which constitute the good life. Only then you will be total human being.
After getting enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in Gaya, Buddha embarked upon his mission of preaching. Once two of his disciples were accompanying him. Buddha noticed that they were looking at some women who were bringing water from a river. Buddha chided them for their misconduct and expelled them from the Sangha. He said that while walking on the road the eyes should be concentrated on the road in front and should not go astray. (Swami condemned the habit of young men to look at cinema posters on roadside walls while going on bicycles. Such actions are often the cause of serious accidents.)
Buddha declared that the good life leads to liberation (Nirvana). This is the sacred consummation for a good life. In this state, a man is free from desires and actions prompted by them.
Having taken human birth, all human beings should foster human values. In the Sathya Sai Organisation we have given the highest place to human values. It is only when human values are fostered that divine values can emerge.
Before his passing Buddha taught his stepbrother, Ananda, the transience of worldly pleasures and the meaninglessness of a purely mundane existence.
When Ananda started weeping, noticing the imminent passing of Buddha, the Enlightened One asked him:
What for are you weeping?
I am weeping because your passing is imminent.
Buddha told him that he should not worry about what happens to the body that is perishable and full of infirmities. He exhorted Ananda not to bother about the body or the mind, but lead a life based on the dictates of the conscience. Giving this advice, Buddha breathed his last.
Sathya Sai Baba, February 5, 1998