Enlightenment | The Story of Lord Gautama Buddha
Mother, shall we go to Anuradhapura and worship the Sri Maha Bodhi tree? asked Vishaka.
“Oh what an excellent idea! Let’s ask your brother too? Bimsara, where are you?”
Bimsara came running. Mother stroked his head. “Son, your sister says that she wants to go to Anuradhapura. She wants to visit the Sri Maha Bodhi tree. What do you think?”
“Awesome! My favorite place is Ruwanvelisaya. Next Friday is a holiday. We can go then.”
“All right then, we shall discuss this with your father,” said the mother looking at her two children with lots of love.
After worshipping in the evening, they told father about it. Father was very happy and agreed at once. They decided to go on the trip to Anuradhapura on the following Friday.
When you enter the sacred city of Anuradhapura, you can see the Ruwanweliseya Stupa at a distance. You can also see the Mirisawetiya Stupa and the Jetawanaramaya Stupa. The children were very happy. They pointed out the great Stupas as they entered the city, with great enthusiasm. In the evening, first, they went to the upper compound of the Bodhi tree with lotus flowers.
“Children, in the upper compound, you will see the Sri Maha Bodhi. So we must be very silent and pay respect to the Bodhi tree. We must think only of the virtues of the Buddha” they agreed with a nod.
The sun started to set. Everybody offered flowers and worshiped. Eight varieties of Gilanpasa (support for the sick) which mother prepared were also offered in the name of the Buddha. They chanted Dhammacakka sutra. Bimsara gazed at the Sri Maha Bodhi. The leaves of the Sri Maha Bodhi swung rhythmically with a fine breeze. A gentle wind carried the fragrance of the flowers giving calmness to everyone’s hearts. The radiance of the rising moon added extra beauty to this blessed place.
“Mother, the Bodhi tree becomes more beautiful with the moonlight, doesn’t it?
“Yes my son, the moon will be more beautiful tomorrow, since tomorrow is a Poya day”
“I think on the day that Bodhisattva Siddhartha became the Buddha the moon would have been very beautiful”
“Yes, my son, the moon on the Vesak full moon Poya day is the most beautiful moon”.
“Mother, can you tell us more about the day Siddhartha Gautama became the Buddha”
“Shall we ask your father about that Vesak full moon day?”
Father smiled happily looking at the children. They all felt so comfortable in the shade of the Sri Maha Bodhi.
“Children, look at the sacred Sri Maha Bodhi on the Upper compound. Although this Bodhi tree looks small now, it is more than two thousand five hundred years old. That itself is amazing.
I will now tell you the story of the beautiful Vesak moon. I believe you remember that our Bodhisattva abandoned the exercise of painful exertions to the body, and also the five recluses left the Bodhisattva. Now the Bodhisattva was dwelling in the forest alone, meditating.
That day was a Vesak full moon day. The Bodhisattva walked to Uruwel state. He found a huge Banyan tree with its branches well spread. The Bodhisatta went there and sat meditating. Meanwhile, an interesting thing happened in the nearby village.
In this state of Uruwel, there was a village called Senani. The Chief of the village had a daughter by the name Sujatha. This lady believing that there was a god in this banyan tree devoted herself to the tree god requesting a son. Sujatha made a vow to the tree god too. In due course, she delivered a beautiful son. Then she wanted to fulfill her vow. Thus, she asked one of her attendants to clean the surroundings of the tree. Sujatha started to cook milk rice by herself with pure milk, without mixing water.
The attendant who went to clean the surrounding of the tree was stunned by what she saw. She was overwhelmed. “Who is this? He is so beautiful. His body is like gold. His features are amazingly beautiful. No doubt, this must be the god living in the Banyan tree”. She ran back in a flash to her mistress.
“Noble daughter…!.Noble daughter …! It is a miracle…The god of the Banyan tree has come down”
The noble daughter Sujatha was jubilant. “Then I must offer the alms myself”. She placed the milk rice in a golden bowl, covered it with a delicate cloth and carried it on her head with so much respect and happiness.
“It’s true; this must be the god of the tree. I am very lucky. I can offer these alms with my own hands” thought Sujatha. When the sound of the footsteps of these two ladies was heard, the Bodhisattva opened his eyes and looked at them. With a lot of faith, the noble daughter Sujatha offered the bowl of milk-rice to the Bodhisattva. Worshiped him, got up, walked back a little, worshiped again and went home.
The Bodhisattva ate the milk rice. Then He walked up to the river Niranjana. With the bowl in his hands, He thought, “I must take a decisive step today. I shall comprehend this life. I shall accomplish Nirvana. My intention shall be fulfilled. If my wish is to be realized, this bowl shall float upwards in the river”, and He put the bowl to the river. Children! Amazingly, the bowl started to ascend upstream against the current. It moved gently for some distance and sank in the river.
Bodhisattva crossed the river Niranjana. He then met one of his old friends, hermit Soththiya. His means of living was selling bundles of arrow grass. The hermit Soththiya said, “Oh! this is our Sramana Gautama. A long time has passed since I met you. I am very pleased. I am happy to offer you something. Here are eight good bundles of grass. This grass can be used to make a fine seat. This will help you to sit comfortably in your meditation” and then he offered eight arrow grass bundles.
The Bodhisattva went into the forest and searched for a tree which would provide good shade for him to sit under. Then he spotted a huge Bo tree with many branches spreading all around.”
“Father during that time the name Assattha (Peepal) was used for the Bo tree, wasn’t it?”
“That’s correct my son, during that time it was called the Assattha (Peepal) tree. It was later called the Bodhi tree because the Buddha realized the Four Noble Truths under that tree. Bodhi means realization.”
So my children! That was a Vesak full moon day. The Bodhisattva spread the eight bundles of arrow grass under the Peepal tree facing East. Then he sat comfortably there in the meditative posture. The river Niranjana could be seen from there. The day was reaching evening hours. The sun was setting in the west. The Vesak moon was rising slowly from the east. That was the most beautiful full moon that ever dawned in the sky.
The radiance of bright moonlight brought calmness to the entire forest. The body of the Bodhisattva glowed like a golden statue under the radiance of the moon. At that moment the Bodhisattva made a firm resolution. That resolution is known as ‘Foursome endued effort’ (Chaturanga samannagata).
“What does that mean?”
“That was not an ordinary vow. That was an extraordinary and unmatched pledge; Let my flesh and blood get dried up, let skin and bone and sinews remain. If there is a Nibbana to be attained through the effort of a man, I will not arise from here without attaining that Nibbana.’
Finally, Bodhisattva attained his aspiration. That day, He did the Anapanasathi Meditation – meditation on in and out breathing. At first, the Bodhisattva had so many disturbances. Those disturbances were created by the evil forces of Mara.”
“Who is Mara?” Bimsara asked.
“Son, Mara is the one who has the biggest influence on this world. He does not like anyone making any attempt to attain Nirvana. He likes only one thing: he wants all beings to be born again and again. He is unhappy and against the realization of the Four Noble Truths. The Buddha is the only one to make known to this world the presence of such an individual and his influence on this world. No one could find this fact because everyone except the Buddha is in submission to Mara. ”
“Father, can’t we be free from this Samsara then?”
“Yes, we can. The Buddha has shown the path to free ourselves from this Samsara. If we follow that path, we can be free of births and rebirths.
So my children! There is no one in any of the worlds who could challenge the determination of the Bodhisattva. He continued his meditation undisturbed by all the obstacles that came his way. He reached the fourth stage of concentration (fourth Jhana). When the concentration of the mind is continued without any change, it is called Jhana. If we develop Anapanasathi meditation, we too could achieve Jhana.
Thereafter, children, Bodhisattva looked at his previous births. This wisdom is achieved by taking the awareness of the mind gradually from present to the past. This wisdom is called Pubbe-nivasanussati Gnana. The Bodhisattva looked back through many years. He saw how he had spent different lives with various names, enjoying and suffering.
Then He looked at the others to see whether they too have come in a never ending journey of births. When He looked at the beings of the world in this manner, he saw how each one dies and goes from the present life to another according to one’s good and bad acts. This wisdom is called as Chutupapata Gnana.
With that understanding, Bodhisattva was utterly dismayed about life. Then He started to contemplate why beings are born and die over and over again for such a long time. That is how the Supreme Buddha comprehended the Dhamma of Cause and Effect. This is called ‘Paticca Samuppada or the Dhamma of Dependent Origination’.
When you grow up it’s very important that you study the Dhamma of Dependent Origination in detail. With that, you can understand how our existence comes to be and how it continues to be so. Also with careful knowledge of this, you will realize that the world is not a god’s creation, it is a result of causes. You need to be intelligent to understand this.
So my children, the ‘Arising of Dependent Origination’, and the ‘Cessation of Dependent Origination’ was realized by the Bodhisattva. Then He completely liberated Himself from Dependent Origination. Through that knowledge, the Bodhisatta comprehended the Four Noble Truths. He attained Nirvana. From that day onwards we call him the Supreme Buddha or Samma Sambuddha.
The Buddha conquered the supreme knowledge on a beautiful full moon Poya day. By dawn, The Supreme Buddha entered into a state of deep meditation. The Buddha then remained in the same posture of meditation for a week. The exalted Buddha spent seven weeks meditating in seven different places after the enlightenment. That is what we call “sat sati.”
What a miracle the world was bestowed with The Buddha! We are so fortunate to be Buddhists. That’s why we know all these things.”