What does Wesak Day commemorate?
Buddhist festival Wesak Day (or some named as Vesak Day) commemorates the three important events in the life of the Buddha. His Birth, Enlightenment and Passing away. These events took place on the full-moon day in the lunar month of Vesakha, which falls between April and May in our conventional calendar. Officially, the first full-moon in May is designated as Wesak Day in Malaysia. Amongst Buddhists, it is also known as Buddha Jayanti – the Birth if the Buddha.
WESAK = Birth, Enlightenment, and Passing Away of the Buddha.
“His eyes are closed but some power of the spirit looks out of them and a vital energy fills the frame…”
~Pandit Jawaharla Nehru, First Prime Minister of the Republic of India.
Who is the Buddha?
The Buddha is the greatest man ever born in the history of humanity. Born a prince in 623BC, He relinquished the luxuries of royalty and went forth in search of the true meaning of existence. After six years of intense striving, unaided and unguided by any supernatural power, and relying only on His strong conviction, energetic effort and Fully-Awakened One. He has fully understood the unsatisfactory conditions in life, and moreover, He knows the practical way out of this mass of suffering.
How did Wesak holiday come about?
In March 1885, Wesak was declared an official holiday in Sri Lanka by the British Governor, Sir Arthur Gordon. The first Wesak full-moon holiday fell on April 28, 1885. This declaration was made possible due to the sustained effort and persistence of Colonel H. S. Olcott, a visionary American Buddhist. Malaysia has been observing Wesak as a Public Holiday since 1962, in recognition of Buddhism being the religion with the second largest following in this country. In year 2000, Wesak Day was recognized by the United Nations as the official Buddhist holiday internationally.
What did the Buddha do after His Enlightenment?
After His Enlightenment, the Buddha wandered through many parts of India for forty-five years, compassionately disseminating the message of peace without any discrimination as to who his listeners were. Millions followed His teachings and realized their greatest potential as human beings – having attained that unshakable peace of mind and liberation from suffering.
What is the Buddha’s message of Peace?
Greed, anger and ignorance are defilements that cause suffering in this world. Peace is attained when we purify our minds and successfully reduce and eliminate those defilements. One who thinks, speaks and acts without greed, anger and ignorance has peace in his mind, and helps promote peace in his family, community, country, and the entire world.
“There are qualities that create love and respect, conducive to non-dispute, to concord and unity in a commune. What are they? A person maintains bodily, verbal and mental acts of loving-kindness towards his companions, in public as well as in private; he shares with them generous any righteous gain; he dwells with his companions sharing common virtues that are praised by the wise; he dwells with his companions possessing noble views that lead to the destruction of suffering. Such are the qualities that create peace and concord in the community.”
~Kosambiya Sutta, Majjhima Nikaya No.48
What did the Buddha leave behind after His Passing?
The Buddha left behind a rich legacy of teachings – the Dhamma-Vinaya. Over the last twenty-five centuries, people continue to look into His sublime teachings for solace, inspiration and guidance. Throughout history, the disciples of the Buddha – monks, nuns and lay people – have faithfully carried out the message of the Great Teacher, persistently and diligently serving the world with compassion. The contribution of Buddhism towards the spiritual and cultural advancement of humanity is indeed most valuable.
“The Buddha had exercised a profound influence on human civilization, and his teachings and example had provided the ethical and moral underpinnings of many societies. His teachings were based on the law of release from suffering, leading to spiritual enlightenment.”
~54th Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, 2000.
“Rare is the appearance of the Buddha.” ~Dhammapada v.182
“The Best of Men is the Awakened One.” ~Dhammapada v.273
“The Buddha is the pillar of wisdom and Buddhism begins where scrience ends. Buddhism is the complete conceivable victory of mankind over itself. The Buddhist way of thinking belongs to the future.”
~Prof. Julius Huxley
“The Buddha was the greatest conqueror the world has ever seen. He conquered the world with his infallible weapons of compassion and wisdom. His teaching illuminates the way for mankind to cross from a world of darkness, hatred and suffering, to a New World of light, love, happiness and security.”
~Prof. G. P. Malalasekara
“The Buddha gave expression to truths of everlasting value and advanced the ethics not of India alone but of humanity. The Buddha was one of the greatest ethical men of genius ever bestowed upon the world.”
“The Buddha has been something greater than all doctrines and dogmas, and his eternal message has thrilled humanity through the ages. Perhaps at no time in past history was his message of peace more needed for a suffering and distracted humanity than it is today.”
~Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru
“The emergence of the Buddha is the highest honour so far gained in the history of humanity.”
By knowing the Buddha’s greatest and honour able personality, it is only befitting that we celebrate this Sacred Wesak Day mindfully. We make it an occasion to learn, practice and understand Buddhism’s lofty ideals, which highlight our potential for the highest contentment, peace and happiness.
It will be more meaningful if the Wesak Observance is motivated by selfless and altruistic thoughts. Sincere and genuine acts of kindness and compassion for the world are the best ways to honour the Enlightened One.
Hence let us encourage all to make the Buddha Jayanti a meaningful day, for the cultivation of amity and harmony, for the well-being and happiness of oneself and others.
“The Flower of Mankind” – the Buddha
“The sweet scent of flowers blows not against the wind, nor does the fragrance of sandalwood, tagara and jasmine; but the fragrance of the virtuous goes against the wind and pervades every direction.”
“Buddhist or non-Buddhist, I have examined every one of the great religious systems of the world, in none of these have I found anything to surpass, in beauty and comprehensiveness, the Noble Eightfold Path and the Four Noble of the Buddha. I am content to shape my life according to that Path.”
~Prof. T. W. Rhys Davids (1843 – 1922), British Scholar in Pali Language and Founder of Pali Text Society
“Happy is the birth of Buddhas. Happy is the teaching of the Sublime Dhamma. Happy is the unity of the Sangha. Happy is the discipline of the united ones.”