Today, May 4, is Buddha Purnima, the day when Gautma Buddha was born, became enlightened and died. I convey hearty greetings to my fellow-beings and humble tributes to the greatest Master of the world at large on this auspicious day.
I had written in these columns before that though I am not a practicing Buddhist yet I am a Buddhist by mind since long. My small venture, Jalandhar School of Careers and Opportunities is situated near the Budh Vihar in Bootan Mandi at Jalandhar. I will be participating today in the Shobha Yatra in connection with Buddha Purnima and in the congregation at the Budh Vihar for my spiritual satisfaction. I must also admit that my motivation to follow Buddhism emanates from my respect and dedication to one of the greatest Bodhisattvas Dr. B.R. Ambedkar who revived Buddhism in India in the contemporary times by becoming a Buddhist with his several lakhs of followers on October 14, 1956. In fact, like me, all Indians are Buddhist in one sense that they live in India under the constitutional arrangements made and stipulated by our founding fathers under the guidance and initiatives of Bodhisattva Dr. Ambedkar in the constitution of India. The principles of liberty, equality and fraternity enshrined in the constitution are the cardinal concepts of Buddhism. Dr. Ambedkar rightly said in one of his speeches, “My philosophy has roots in religion and not in political science.” And added, “My social philosophy may be said to be enshrined in three words: liberty, equality and fraternity and I have derived these from the teachings of my Master, the Buddha.”
Why Buddhism? What appeals to me? It is very difficult to understand religious philosophies. I have gone through the great book of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar “The Buddha and His Dhamma”. It is a simple treatise on Buddhism in bullet form for a lay man like me. It says, according to the Buddhist philosophy, ‘the mind is the centre of everything. The first thing to attend is the culture of mind.’ It makes a lot of sense to me. In His first sermon to his disciples, Buddha said, according to Dr. Ambedkar, that his path (Middle path as against extremes and rigidity) was ‘his Dhamma (religion) which had nothing to do with God and Soul. His Dhamma had nothing to do with life after death. Nor has his Dhamma any concern with rituals and ceremonies.’ Buddha further said, ‘The centre of his Dhamma is man and the relation of man to man in his life on earth.’ According to the Buddhist teachings, Dukha (sufferings) could be ended by three things: i) the path of purity; ii) the path of righteousness and the path of virtue. I don’t know much except the concept of Dhamma as propounded by Mahatma Buddha. It is enough to live a good and contented life. The three Refuges (Buddham, Dhammam and Sangham) and five Precepts (Panch Sheel) and the twenty-two vows, specially prepared by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, are the essence of Buddhism.
I close this by saying that the future belongs to Buddhism. I have recently read an essay by a scholar and a senior IAS officer Raja Shekhar Vundru in which he said, paying tributes to the memory of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, “The years to come will see the complete integration of dalits into the fold of Buddhism, as Ambedkar had wished.”
My daughter Vaishali was born on Budha Purnima day in 1975. It is an auspicious occasion for me on that account too. May Lord Buddha bless her with all happiness.