MAHA BODHI SOCIETY-Questionnaire No 6 and Answers of First Year Diploma Course conducted by Mahabodhi Academy for Pali and Buddhist Studies
1. The Bodhisattaa are endowed with the special power of choosing their destiny, meaning how they want to die and where they want to be born etc. Describe how did Bodhisatta Setaketu exercise this power to be born in the human world to accomplish his final objective - Supreme Awakenment.
In His immedeate past life, the Buddha Gotama was born as Setaketu Devaraaja, ruler of Tusita divine realm. He was also known as Santusita, a title for the ruler of this realm. Devine beings are ’spontaneously born’ (opapaatika), that is, without the medium of parents. They spontaneously appear in the devine realm complete with all devine features including dress, decoration, symbols pf position and authority etc. Bodhisatta Setaketu was endowed with ten attributes of a devine soverign, that is, superior qualities of life, such as:
1. Longer life-span
2. More beautiful and healthy physical features,
3. Greater happiness and better frame fo mind,
4. Immense wealth and following,
5. Great authority and power,
6. More acute sense - faculties, e.g. sight,
Having enjoyed such immense divine bliss and power as Tusita’s ruler, for a full length of his life-time (4000 divine years, equvalent to many crores of human years), he became aware of five predective signs (pubba nimitta), indicating the approaching end of his life. Noting these signs, Bodhisatta Setaketu prepared himself for his next and final state of existence in the human world.
First he chose Mahaamaayaa Devi to be his mother because of her great virtue and compasion. With his devine vision, he beheld his would-be mother who was then fifty-five years and four months old, and who after conceiving the Bodhisatta, had only 10 months and 7 days to live. The Bodhisatta’s mother invariably passes away in a week’s time.
2. Since Setaketu chose to discard the blissful devine existence, and be born in the human plan, as prince Sidhatta Gotama, there have been spurious theories, such as Siddhata being an avatar of some god. Thus some expansionist Hindus have tried to misconstrue the Buddha to be a reincarnation of the god Vishnu. Waht do you think of this sectarian twist?
The Buddha is one who has climbed to the summit state of all spiritual attainments, thus is supreme teacher of both gods and human beings. As such he no longer subject to rebirth or reincarnation.
3. It is saiid Buddhism rejects a creator god, but accepts the existence of infinite number of gods in different divine planes. Do you find it contradictory? If so how, if not, why? explain.
The Buddha is one who has climbed to the summit state of all spiritual attainments, thus is supreme teacher of both gods and human beings.Buddhism rejects a creator god. But does not reject the loving kindness and compassion of celestial beings.
4. What is the motivation underlying the attempt at calling the Buddha an avataar of Vishnu?
The Original Inhabitants of Jambudvipa That is The Great Prabuddha Bharath have realised this truth of the Noble Eightfold path and practice of Janas which is the essence of Buddhism and atarted returning to their own homes ‘Ghar waapasee’.This is not tolerated by the Invader’s cults and that is the motivation underlying the attempt at calling the Buddha an avataar of Vishna. And no where in Buddhism the word Vishnu could be found.
5. Briefly describe the following:
i. Dream of Queen Mahaamaya.
Before Siddartha Gautama’s birth, his mother dreamed
of a white elephant presenting her with a lotus flower in its trunk, appearing from the sky and entering into her.She became sublime exultation. The vivid dream etched a deep impression on her mind and she related it to the king next morning with joyous exitement. The king too became filled with gladness and ordered the court astrologers to devine the secret of the dream.
ii. Birth of Prince Siddhatha
Buddha’s father was Suddhodana, king of the Sakhyas. Buddha’s mother was named Maya. Buddha was born in B.C. 560 and died at the age of eighty in B.C. 480. The place of his birth was a grove known as Lumbini, near the city of Kapilavastu, at the foot of Mount Palpa in the Himalayan ranges within Nepal. This small city Kapilavastu stood on the bank of the little river Rohini, some hundred miles north-east of the city of Varnasi. As the time drew nigh for Buddha to enter the world, the gods themselves prepared the way before him with celestial portents and signs. Flowers bloomed and gentle rains fell, although out of season; heavenly music was heard, delicious scents filled the air. The body of the child bore at birth the thirty-two auspicious marks (Mahavyanjana) which indicated his future greatness, besides secondary marks (Anuvyanjana) in large numbers. Maya died seven days after her son’s birth. The child was brought up by Maya’s sister Mahaprajapati, who became its foster-mother.
iii. What does the White elephant signify as a symbol ?
The vivid dream etched a deep impression on her mind and she related it to the king next morning with joyous exitement. The king too became filled with gladness and ordered the court astrologers to devine the secret of the dream. These experts foretold that a devine being has descended into the Queen and a World-Ruling Monarch, (Chakkavatti Mahaaraajaa), has been conceived. According to the ancient customs, the mother of the Chakkavatti Mahaaraajaa is given the protection of the foetus, that is, she no longer met her husband and was looked after with utter tenderness and care. From now on she spent all her time in spiritual pursuit so that the future monarchwould be righteous.
6. Write down the Prince Siddhatta’s proclamation at birth.
It is also said that, immediately after his birth, the infant stood firmly on the ground and took seven strides to the north, surrounded by gods and men. A white canopy was held over his head. Having walked the seven steps, he stopped to look around and gave out a fearless utterance known as the ‘lion’s roar’ (sihanada). His proclamation may be translated as follows:
“Supreme am I in the world;
“Greatest am I in the world;
“Noblest am I in the world.
“This is my last birth,
“Never shall I be reborn.”
i. What do you understand by this proclamation? why did the baby do so? Describe.
It is possible that the miracles accompanying the Buddha’s birth described in the early commentaries may point to something deeper and more meaningful. Early writers were prone to use such symbolic descriptions to explain certain Dhamma principles, but in later times their true intentions and meanings have become so obscured that an interpretative inquiry is required in order to reveal the real spirit of those cryptic expressions. Thus the baby’s standing on the ground is interpreted as his being well established in the four Virtues of Accomplishment (iddhipada — aspiration, effort, mental application and reasoning); turning northward means the spiritual conquest of the multitudes; the seven steps signify the seven Factors of Enlightenment (bojjhanga — mindfulness, investigation of Dhamma, effort, rapture, calmness, concentration, equanimity); the white canopy suggests the spread of Dhamma that brings peace to the world; looking around indicates the seeing and unveiling of supreme knowledge; the fearlessness of the lion’s roar denotes the utter success in proclaiming the Dhamma; and the last birth means the attainment of Arahantship. This is another way of looking at unusual events described in some Buddhist literature, an interpretative approach, aimed at discovering a deeper meaning in the narration of what may seem extraordinary events beyond our normal range of comprehension.
7. Write an account of the visit of Sage Asita and his prophecy. Why did he laugh and then cry/ Describe this contrdictory scene.
Asita.-Often called the Buddhist Simeon, though the comparison is not quite correct. He was a sage and the chaplain of Sīhahanu, father of Suddhodana. He was the teacher of the Suddhodana, and later his chaplain. He came morning and evening to see the king, Suddhodana, who showed him as great respect as he had while yet his pupil; this, we are told, is a characteristic of Sākiyan kings.
With the king’s leave, Asita renounced the world and lived in the king’s pleasance. In due course he developed various iddhi powers. Thenceforward he would often spend the day in the deva worlds. Once, while in Tāvatimsa, he saw the whole city decked with splendour and the gods engaged in great rejoicing. On inquiry he learnt that Siddhattha Gotama, destined to become the Buddha, had been born. Immediately he went to Suddhodana’s home and asked to see the babe. From the auspicious marks on its body he knew that it would become the Enlightened One and was greatly overjoyed, but realising that he himself would, by then, be born in an Arūpa world and would not therefore be able to hear the Buddha preach, he wept and was sad. Having reassured the king regarding the babe’s future, Asita sought his sister’s son, Nalaka, and ordained him that he might be ready to benefit by the Buddha’s teaching when the time came. Later Asita was born in the Arūpa world (Sn., pp.131-36; SnA.ii.483ff.; J.i.54f).
According to Buddhaghosa (SnA.ii.483), Asita was so-called because of his dark complexion. He also had a second name, Kanha Devala (SnA.ii.487). Other names for him were Kanha Siri (Sn.v.689), Siri Kanha (SnA.487) and Kāla Devala (J.i.54).
He is evidently to be distinguished from Asita Devala, also called Kāla Devala.
The Lalita Vistara has two versions of Asita’s prophecy, one in prose and one in verse, which, in their chief details, differ but slightly from the Pāli version. In the former his nephew is called Naradatta, and Asita himself is represented as being a great sage dwelling in the Himālaya but unknown to Suddhodana.
Here is evidently a confusion of his story with that of Asita Devala. In the Mahāvastu version (ii.30f) he is spoken of as the son of a brahmin of Ujjeni, and he lives in a hermitage in the Vindhyā mountains. It is noteworthy that in the Jātaka version he is called, not an isi, but a tāpasa, an ascetic practising austerities. And there we are told that when the king brought the boy, the future Buddha, and prepared to make him do reverence to the ascetic, the babe’s feet turned up and placed themselves on the ascetic’s head. For there is no one fit to be reverenced by a Bodhisatta, and had they put the babe’s head at the feet of the ascetic, the ascetic’s head would have split into seven pieces.
The tāpasa could see forty kappas into the past and forty kappas into the future. J.i.54-5. See Thomas, op. cit., pp. 38 ff., on the growth of the Asita legend.
8. Describe the dispute between Devadatta and Siddhattha. How was the dispute resolved and with waht consequence?
Thus, once when he was out walking in the country with his cousin Devadatta who had his bow and arrows with him, Devadatta shot a swan that was flying over their head. His arrow hit the swan and it fluttered down, painfully wounded, to the ground. Both boys ran forward to pick it up, but Siddhattha reached it first and holding it gently, he pulled the arrow out of its wing, put some cool leaves on the wound to stop it from bleeding, and with his soft hand stroked and soothed the hurt and frightened bird. But Devadatta was very much annoyed to see his cousin take the swan from him in this way, and he called to Siddhattha to give the swan to him because he had brought it down with his arrow. Siddhattha, however, refused to give it to him, saying that if the bird had been killed, then it would have been his; but as it was alive and not dead, it belonged to the one who actually secured possession of it, and so he meant to keep it. But still Devadatta maintained that it should belong to him because it was his arrow that had brought it down to the ground.
So Siddhattha proposed and Devadatta agreed that their dispute should be sent for settlement to a full council of the wise men of the country. The council, accordingly, was called and the question put before them; and some in the council argued one way and some the other; some said the bird should be Devadatta’s, and others said that Siddhattha was quite right to keep it. But at last one man in the council whom nobody had ever seen before rose and said: “A life certainly must belong to him who tries to save it; a life cannot belong to one who is only trying to destroy it. The wounded bird by right belongs to the one who saved its life. Let the swan be given to Siddhattha.” All the others in the council agreed with these wise words, and Prince Siddhattha was allowed to keep the swan whose life he thus had saved. And he cared for it tenderly until it was quite cured of its wound; then he set it free and let it fly back once more well and happy to its mates on the forest-lake.
By this compassionate act he justified his future role of’The Saviour of the three worlds’-Tilokanatha!
9. Discribe why Siddhattha choose the Swayambara way of winning a bride? He was known to be very delicate ; what did he want to prove by daring the challengers?
When Siddhattha had grown to youth, his father desired to see him married,
and he sent to all his kinsfolk, commanding them to bring their princesses
that the prince might select one of them as his wife.
But the kinsfolk replied and said:
“The prince is young and delicate;
nor has he learned any of the sciences.
He would not be able to maintain our daughter,
and should there be war he would be unable to cope with the enemy.”
The prince was not boisterous, but pensive in his nature.
He loved to stay under the great jambu-tree in the garden of his father,
and, observing the ways of the world,
gave himself up to meditation.
And the prince said to his father:
“Invite our kinsfolk that they may see me and put my strength to the test.”
And his father did as his son bade him.
When the kinsfolk came, and the people of the city Kapilavatthu had assembled
to test the prowess and scholarship of the prince,
he proved himself manly in all the exercises both of the body and of the mind,
and there was no rival among the youths and men of India
who could surpass him in any test, bodily or mental.
He replied to all the questions of the sages;
but when he questioned them,
even the wisest among them were silenced.
Then Siddhattha chose himself a wife.
He selected Yasodhara, his cousin, the gentle daughter of the king of Koli.
And Yasodhara was betrothed to the prince.
10. It is said having won Yashodhara, the beauty queen of the time, in a hot contest, theirs was love at first sight. What does it mean? Explain
He won the hands of the most beautiful maiden,princess yashodhara, who was famous for her accompilshments.
After winning the bride in the contest, the prince presented to her the priceless Heir-apparent’s preciousgem necklace, signifying the auspicious betrothal. It is said that their’s was love at first sight. Later, as the Supremely Awakened Buddha, he recalled how he and Yashodhara had been intimately associated through many lives in the past.
Sarvajan Hitay Sarvajan Sukhay-For The Gain of The Many and For The Welfare of The Many
Former Cabinet Minister Mr. Satish Chandra Mishra nominated chairman of the council
Lucknow : November 16, 2007 The U.P. Chief Minister, Km. Mayawati constituted the U.P. State Advisory Council (U.P.S.A.C.) for reviewing and monitoring the proper implementation of various development programmes and policies of the State Government. She has nominated former cabinet minister Mr. Satish Chandra Mishra as its chairman. This council would give suggestions to strengthen various policies, programmes and legislations of the State. The Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary Finance, Principal Secretary Home, Principal Secretary Planning and Principal Secretary Law would be its members. All these members and the chairman would not be paid any salary, honorarium or other perks. The meetings of the council would be called by the chairman as per the directives of the C.M. According to the order, the council has been constituted with a view to giving suggestions for the rapid development of the State as well as proper implementation of the programmes and policies of the State Government. Besides, it would also give meaningful suggestions for strengthening the law and order of the State. The council has been authorised for the review and monitoring of the programmes and the policies of the State Government formulated for the development. It has also been authorised to give suggestions for the various legislation subjects of the government. It would also look after the various works given by the C.M. According to the order, arrangement for the staff for the functioning of the council would also be made. The council has been authorised to take the services of specialists and educationists as per its requirements. *******
Online edition of India’s National Newspaper
Friday, Nov 16, 2007
Sindhia to join BSP on December 23
Bangalore: Kanakapura MLA P.G.R. Sindhia, many former Ministers and MLAs from Janata Dal (Secular), Janata Dal (United) and Congress will join the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on December 23 here, according to president of the State unit of the party B. Gopal.
Mr. Gopal told presspersons on the sidelines of the inauguration of the party’s legal cell here on Wednesday that over a lakh people would join the party in the presence of Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Mayawati.
Asked to name the important persons who were expected to join the party, Mr. Gopal said he had been requested by the leaders not reveal their names.
But, he said that among those who would join the party were the former MLA, P.S. Prakash, and Trishupani Patel, son of the former Chief Minister, J.H. Patel.
Chitradurga: The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will hold bicycle, motorcycle and jeep rallies in the district to highlight the ideologies of the party, and to inform people about the visit of its leader Mayavati to Bangalore on December 23, said State general secretary M. Jayanna. Speaking to presspersons here on Friday, he said that the rallies would be held in all the taluks of the district from November 18. He said that on December 23, a massive convention would be held at Palace Grounds in Bangalore. — Staff Correspondent
UP CIC seeks details on Ambedkar project
|State Cabinet Secretary summoned on December 12|
Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh’s Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) has summoned the State Cabinet Secretary on December 12 seeking details of the multi-crore Ambedkar memorial project.
CIC Justice (retd) M. A. Khan passed the order onThursday while hearing a complaint of former Dy SP Shailendra Singh, who is now heading a task force constituted by the Congress party.
Mr.Khan also said he would hand over the matter to CBI if the State refused to comply with his orders to provide information on the project. Mr. Singh had on July 9 sought an information from the Chief Minister’s office regarding the demolition and reconstruction of the Ambedkar memorial and asked for the blue prints of the original project and the revised one along with the cost for both. He also wanted to know why the memorial for which the BSP government had spent over Rs 100 crore was demolished in just three year’s time. Mr.Singh later moved to the State Information Commission which on September 28 issued a notice to the Government. The CIC, while exempting Chief Secretary P. K. Mishra, has summoned the Cabinet Secretary as he had all the powers.
Mr. Khan also sought to know from the Government on whose order did the Lucknow Development Authority (LDA)demolished and started reconstruction of the memorial.
Mr. Singh has also been asked to file objections, if any, before November 30. The LDA had given a four-page response to Mr. Singh earlier, but he had rubbished it, saying the information was cursory, they said. PTI
The Uttar Pradesh government on Friday denied reports that Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi was on the hit-list of the three Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists arrested in Lucknow this morning.
“The investigating agencies have so far not disclosed the name of the politician, who was the target of the terrorists. The interrogation is still on,” Special Secretary (Home) Mohammad Idris said.
About Rahul Gandhi’s name in the hit-list, Idris said he did not know who had taken his name and how it was taken.
“We have no such information,” he said.
After the arrest of the three terrorists - Mohammad Abid alias Faate, Usuf alias Faisal and Mirza Rashid Baig - state police chief Vikram Singh said that the trio had been trained to kidnap a leading Uttar Pradesh-based politician to create terror in the country and exert pressure for getting freed 42 dreaded terrorists lodged in various jails.
Hardcore criminal held in Gurgaon
The criminal named Uday had allegedly committed at least five murders, four of them in Gurgaon and one in Uttar Pradesh within a period of one and a half years, they said.
One carbine, three pistols, one revolver, 14 live cartridges besides one Scorpio car have been recovered from his possession, they added.
Reliance Fresh packs up in UP
Indo-Asian News Service
Friday, November 16, 2007 (Lucknow):
Having lost all hope of revival of its multimillion retail operations in Uttar Pradesh, Reliance Fresh is quitting Uttar Pradesh, even as several other retail players are on the upswing.
Hundreds of Reliance Fresh employees who have lost their jobs want to know why had Chief Minister Mayawati ordered Reliance Fresh to shut shop within 24 hours of the launch, when rivals like Spencers, Subhiksha and Big Bazaar were allowed to run their business?
According to a survey, as many as 170 retail stores, belonging to other major and minor players, had opened in UP after the closure of Reliance Fresh.
The Mukesh Ambani-promoted venture had envisaged an investment of Rs 80 billion with a direct and indirect employment potential of nearly 50,000.
Mayawati promised to review her decision after a high-level committee specially constituted to look into the Reliance Fresh affair submitted its report. However, although three months have passed, the committee, headed by high-profile cabinet secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh, is yet to submit its report.
“It is a big win for us. After all, Mayawati had to bow down before our demand,” Samajwadi Party MP and leader of the party-sponsored state traders organisation Banwari Lal Kanchal said.
Kanchal had led a protest at two outlets in Lucknow, while his associates attacked an outlet in the making at Varanasi. Interestingly, not only has the Mayawati administration turned a blind eye to other thriving retailers setting up new outlets in the state, but even Kanchal has not cared to oppose these.
“Isn’t it strange that while the Samajwadi Party had made so much noise against Reliance retail that was dubbed as a major threat to the survival of ordinary vegetable and fruit sellers, they have not raised a whimper against the mushrooming growth of other retailers?” pointed out senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Vinay Katiyar.
Once the Blessed One was staying at Rajagaha in the Bamboo Grove near the Squirrels’ Feeding Place. Now the brahman Akkosa Bharadvaja heard this: “The brahman Bharadvaja, it seems, has become a monk under the Great Monk Gotama.” Angry and unhappy, he went to where the Blessed One was. Having approached the Blessed One, he abused and criticized the Blessed One in foul and harsh words. Thus reviled, the Blessed One spoke to the brahman Akkosa Bharadvaja: ‘Well, brahman, do friends, confidants, relatives, kinsmen and guests visit you?”
“Yes, Gotama, sometimes friends, confidants, relatives, kinsmen and guests do visit me.”
“Well, brahman, do you not offer them snacks or food or tidbits?”
“Yes, Gotama, sometimes I do offer them snacks or food or tidbits.”
“But if, brahman, they do not accept it, who gets it?”
“If Gotama, they do not accept it, I get it back.”
“Even so, brahman, you are abusing us who do not abuse, you are angry with us who do not get angry, you are quarreling with us who do not quarrel. All this of yours we don’t accept. You alone, brahman, get it back; all this, brahman, belongs to you.
“When, brahman, one abuses back when abused, repays anger in kind, and quarrels back when quarreled with, this is called, brahman, associating with each other and exchanging mutually. This association and mutual exchange we do not engage in. Therefore you alone, brahman, get it back; all this, brahman, belongs to you.”
“People, including the king, know the Venerable Gotama thus: ‘The Monk Gotama is the Worthy One.’ When does the Venerable Gotama become angry?”
Said the Buddha:
“Where is anger for one freed from anger, Who is subdued and lives perfectly equanimous, Who truly knowing is wholly freed, Supremely tranquil and equipoised? He who repays an angry man in kind Is worse than the angry man; Who does not repay anger in kind, He alone wins the battle hard to win. He promotes the weal of both, His own, as well as of the other. Knowing that the other man is angry, He mindfully maintains his peace And endures the anger of both, His own, as well as of the other, Even if the people ignorant of true wisdom Consider him a fool thereby.”
When the Lord proclaimed this, the brahman Akkosa Bharadvaja said this to the Blessed One: “Wonderful, indeed, O Venerable Gotama! Herewith I go to the Venerable Gotama for refuge, to his Teaching and to his Holy Order of Monks. Most venerable sir, may I have the privilege to receive at the hands of the revered Lord Gotama the initial monastic ordination and also the higher ordination of a bhikkhu.”
And the brahman Akkosa Bharadvaja received at the hands of the Blessed One the initial monastic ordination and he also received the higher ordination of a bhikkhu. And within a short time of his ordination, the Venerable Akkosa Bharadvaja, living alone, secluded, diligent, zealous and unrelenting, reached that incomparable consummation of holiness for which sons of noble families, having totally abandoned the household life, take to the life of homelessness. With direct knowledge he realized the ultimate, then and there, and lived having access to it. He saw with his supernormal vision: “Ceased is rebirth, lived is the holy life, completed is the spiritual task and henceforth there is nothing higher to be achieved.”
The Venerable Akkosa Bharadvaja, indeed, became one of the Arahats.
Q: Are minds of Asians and Westerners different?
A: Basically there is no difference. Outer customs and language may appear different, but the human mind has natural characteristics which are the same for all people. Greed and hatred are the same in an Eastern or a Western mind. Suffering and the cessation of suffering are the same for all people.