First Sermon In Sarnath
Asalha Puja is a Theravada
Buddhist Festival It typically takes place in the month of July, on the fifteenth day of the waxing moon of the eighth
lunar month. It commemorates the Buddha First Sermon in the Deer Park in Benares and the founding of the Buddhist Sangha The day is observed by donating
offerings to temples and listening to sermons. The following day after Asalha Puja, Lent Commencement Day begins. Lent - or the rainy season retreat
- is a monastic practice observed during the time of the Lord Buddha . Brief History - Lord Buddha attained enlightenment at Buddha Gaya in Patna,
India, on the full moon of Vesakha - the sixth month. Though Buddha was reluctant to teach about his enlightenment, he did teach his five friends
about his knowledge. These Five Friends were the same with which he had previously spent several years travelling the Ganges Plain with. But it was
only two months later, at the Deer Park near Benares, that he delivered his first sermon to his first five disciples. This sermon brought into
being the Buddhist religion. It was on the full moon of Asalha, the eighth lunar month, that the Buddha delivered the First Sermon to Kondanna,
Vappa, Bhaddiya, Mahanama and Assaji, his Five Brahmin Friends. Buddha delivered what is known as the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, or
the Wheel of Dharma. The main theme involves the Four Noble Truths which are also known as The Universal Truths. These are
- The Cause of Suffering
- The End of Suffering
- The Way to End Suffering
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In the First Truth, Buddha explained that in any existence one is bound to suffer and be subject to change, which is the normal condition of life.
You cannot be with your lover forever. One day a separation will happen as you grow older, become weaker and die. The First Discourse of
Truth is of great significance because of two reasons. One, it was The First Structured Teaching given by the Buddha after his enlightenment
and The Second was that it became an occasion which laid the establishment of Buddhism as a religion.
The Second Truth covers the cause of suffering. Buddha explained suffering in terms of cause and effect. Only through
the destruction of the causes of existence will one be able to remove suffering.
The Third and the Fourth Truths show the way out from suffering.
This will bring one to the state of perfect calm and bliss, a complete freedom from all forms of suffering. One can reach this
level by following the Middle Way, which consists of right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood,
right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration. This is the ultimate way to complete happiness. After listening to these
precious sermon, Kondanna was the first to attain enlightenment. Subsequently, the four other Brahmins also reached a new level of
consciousness by listening to the wisdom of the Buddha. The Order of Sangha was thus formed, hence completing the Triple Gem,
which consists of the Buddha, his teaching, and the monks who further propagate the Buddha’s teaching. Since then, Asalha
Puja Day has become one of the most important days of celebration in the Buddhist religion. For on that day the Buddha delivered his
first sermon, the Buddhist religion was formally established, and the Sangha came into being to complete the Triple Gem.
Events - The day is observed by donating offerings to temples and listening to sermons. On this sacred day, Buddhists throughout
Thailand go to their local temples to make merit and practise Dharma. They also donate basic necessities to the monks and listen
to sermons to refresh their minds. At the end of the evening, they attend the Wien Thien Ceremony, in which - while holding lotuses,
joss-sticks and candles - they walk around the main temple building while praying along with the monks’ sermons.
This sacred day helps purify one’s spirit after experiencing the full ceremony, leaving you with a peaceful heart.
Alternate Names - Asanha Puja, Asarnha Bucha, Dhamma Day, Dharma Day
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