Wednesday January 17, 2018

A prayer for Nepal quake victims: Traditional manner of celebrating Buddha Purnima holds the key to solace in calamitous times

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By Gaurav Sharma

At a time when a horrendous earthquake has shattered Nepal by killing more than 7,000 people and injuring countless others, the world needs the blessings of the Buddha more than ever before.

Majority of the population in Nepal comprises of Hindus. But the landlocked country boasts a strong Buddhist tradition as well. In fact, Gautama Buddha was born at a place called Lumbini in the Himalayan kingdom. Most of the temples in Nepal are common places of worship for both Hindus and Buddhists.

This year, however, most of the temples in Nepal lie in ruins, devastated by the whiplashes of the Nepal earthquake.

Swayambhunath temple, one of the oldest Buddhist temples in the nation will close its doors to the visitors for the fear of losing sacred objects and artifacts that no longer have the protection of temple.

However, irrespective of the desecration of the formal places of worship, which has left the bhakts (devotees) without any idol to offer their obeisance to, the prayers to and from Buddha will reach the mass of suffering people in Nepal nonetheless.

The traditional manner of celebrating Buddha Purnima holds the key to solace in such calamitous times.

Usually, the devout Buddhists and other followers assemble in the temple before dawn and sing hymns in praise of the holy trinity of The Buddha, the Sangha (disciples) and the Dhamma (his teachings).

The various offerings of candles, flowers, among other things, that they make at the feet of the teacher are symbolic of the ephemeral nature of life. As the candle flame burns out and the flowers wither away, the bubble of life will also in time.

In a symbolic act of Moksha or liberation, thousands of birds, animals are freed from captivity, to remind people not to torture someone against their will.

The happiness of other people or compassion assumes great significance in Buddhism and hence extols offering help to the aged, the sick and the handicapped.

But perhaps the greatest teaching of the Buddha, which holds a lesson in such traumatic and tragic times such as the Nepal calamity, are his words at the time of death.

When he saw his attendant weeping for his imminent passing away, the Buddha told him not to weep but to follow his teachings and understand the Universal Law of disintegration of every compounded thing:

If this exists, that exists; if this ceases to exist, that also ceases to exist.

By leading a noble life of peace and love, we can conquer death.

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‘Religion’ in India- Types and its Connection to Country’s Civilization

The Ancient religions of India are Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.

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Religion
Ancient Religions of India.

India’s economic and political strata in today’s world have reached a great level, but that is still not what the country is known for. The country is known for its diversity and religions because the term ‘religion’ in India is not just a system of belief and worship, but a way of life too. Since ancient times, it has been an integral part of its culture. For the citizens of this country, religion pervades through all the activities of life- from cooking chores to working and politics. The religion we follow plays an important role in our upbringing as well. Our conditioning is done based on the principles of our religion. India is a home to many religions- Hinduism, Sikhism, Christianity, Jainism, Buddhism, Islam and others.

How old is the Indian civilization?

The Indian civilization is around 4000 years old, with the existing Indian religions growing in that period. The antiquity of the religions in India begins from the Harappan culture. It’s a secular country which respects all kinds of religion and culture, but during the ancient times, when the Human civilization was developing, there were three main religions native to India- Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The predominant religion during this period was Hinduism, which is said have originated in the Northern India.

Religion wise Indian Population:

  • HINDUISM – about 82%
  • ISLAM – about 12%
  • CHRISTIANITY – about 2.5%
  • SIKHISM – about 2%
  • BUDDHISM – about 0.7%
  • JAINISM – about 0.5%
  • ZOROASTRIANISM – about 0.01%
  • JUDAISM – about 0.0005%   (stated by adaniel.tripod)

Hinduism

Religion
Brahma                                                                                                                                                          Pixabay

Hinduism is a polytheistic religion. Its followers worship several deities. Unlike the other religions, this religion does not have one teacher. Its followers, the ‘Hindus’ believe in a supreme divine spirit called ‘Parama Brahma’. The concept of Parama Brahma states that Brahma is omnipresent.

Hindus believe in vasudhaiva kutumbakam, which means the whole world is a single family. They also believe in Sarva dharma Sama Bhava, which means all religions are equal. The practice follows the ideas of mercy, charity, compassion, benevolence, non-violence and mercy. It believes the concept of ‘Bhakti’ or devotion.

The sacred writings of Hinduism include the Vedas, Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Upanishads.

Also Read: The history and development of Indian Handicrafts

Jainism

Religion
Lord Mahavira                                                                                                                                                   Pixabay
According to tradition, the founder of Jainism was first Tirthankara Adinatha. However, the religion was widely propagated by the 24th Tirthankara, Mahavira. He was born in Vaishali, Bihar, who belonged to the clan ‘Licchavi’. Mahavira was moved by the sufferings of people, and therefore, left his home at the age of 30 to seek the truth. He supported the teachings of the previous Tirthankaras, and added his own beliefs to the teachings.
He believed in the ideology of leading a good life and not doing any wrong. He did not encourage the practice of needing the help of God for everything.
Doctrines of Jainism:
  1. Ahimsa (Non-violence)
  2. Satya (Truth)
  3. Asteya (Non-stealing)
  4. Brahmacharya (Chastity)
  5. Aparigraha (Non-possession)

Buddhism

Religion
Lord Buddha                                                                                                                                                    Pixabay
Buddhism is a religion which consists of different kinds of beliefs and practices based on the teachings of Lord Buddha. Buddha’s name was Siddhartha. He was the son of the Shakya clan’s leader. It is believed that Siddhartha made three observations, which changed his life:  a feeble old man; a person suffering from disease; and a dead body being taken for cremation. This propelled him in finding the true meaning of life. He left his home at an early age and attained ‘enlightenment’ in Bodhgaya.
He also prescribed the four noble truths and eight fold path.
Four noble truths are:
  • Dukkha (truth of suffering)
  • Samudāya (truth of the suffering’s origin)
  • Nirodha (the truth of suffering’s cessation.)
  • Magga (Direction to eight-fold path)

The eight fold path are- Right aims, Right beliefs, Right conduct, Right speech, Right effort, Right occupation, Right meditation and Right thinking.

-by Megha Acharya of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at twitter @ImMeghaacharya.