Vesak, also known as Buddha Jayanti, Buddha Purnima and Buddha Day, is a sacred festival and one of the most important days for Buddhists and some Hindus as they come to commemorate the birth, enlightenment, and death of Siddharta Gautama, who is more commonly known as Buddha, and the founder of Buddhism.
Buddha was born as Prince Siddharta Gautama about 2,600 years ago in Lumbini, Nepal – which is situated near the border of India and is to believe as the incarnation of Lord Vishnu and was predicted that he would either become a great king or a spiritual leader. However, his parents wanted him to be a great king and averted him from seeing the sufferings of the commoners.
That said, he was surrounded by all kinds of pleasure, which include being surrounded by 500 beautiful and attractive ladies, given countless opportunities – where he won his wife, Yasodhara through an archery contest.
However, all of that came to a change when Siddharta was 29-years-old, he had witnessed suffering for the very first time during an outing from his luxurious palace. He saw an extremely sick person, a decrepit old man and a dead person and was upset to realize that he was unable to help them. He soon realized that every human would go through sickness, old age and death – which is unavoidable.
Through his realization, he met with a meditator and to learn that the perfection that he has been long searching in the material world can be found within the mind itself. So, he left his palace in secret alone and venture into the wilderness.
For six years, he learned and mastered meditation from talented teachers but he then realized that they showed him the mind’s potential but not the mind itself.
And with that, he was determined to remain meditating at a place called Bodhgaya, beneath a Bodhi tree, until he had come to realize the mind’s true nature.
And after spending many days eliminating the mind’s most subtle obstacles, Siddharta finally reached enlightenment during the full moon in the month of May – a week before his 35th birthday. Through enlightenment, he came to realize that living beings suffer because they lack to understand that they share one common ground with all beings.
Ignorance gives rise to a multitude of sorrows, confusions, and troubles meanwhile, greed, anger, arrogance, doubt, jealousy and fear all have their roots in ignorance.
That said, ignorance imprisoned us and the means to overcome ignorance are the Noble Eightfold Path.
On this very sacred day, Siddharta Gautama became Buddha, the Awakened One! And after attaining enlightenment, he did not stop there as he travelled on foot throughout North India and preached to all walks of life for 45 years.
However, at the age of eighty – in the month of May, Buddha left his body where his last words were “I can die happily. I have not kept a single teaching hidden in a closed hand. Everything that is useful to you, I have already given. Be your own guiding light.”
After his passing, Buddha’s teaching was then adopted as a religion – Buddhism – a guide for living beings to attain enlightenment and nirvana (being released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth).