19th of May this year has come and gone, like so many other Vesak days before. Did we pause to think of the importance of this day or its relevance to our today’s society?
More than two thousand five hundred and sixty-three years ago, in the salubrious surrounding of Lumbini Gardens in the present-day Nepal, in the reign of King Suddhodana of the Shakhya Dynasty a baby boy was born to Queen Mahamaya on a full moon day in the month we now know as May, when our environs are gay with flowers and fruits and birds and bees . Thirty-five years hence, this extraordinarily blessed child went on to attain self-taught enlightenment and known to the world at large as Lord Gauthama Buddha and to become the greatest philosopher and teacher man would ever see. This was too on the full moon day in May. After forty-five years of unbelievable service to humanity to alleviate the suffering of the human kind, this greatest human being of all time, decided to shed his remaining link with this world which was his body and closed his eyes forever passing away in the void we know as “Nibbana”. This event also came to pass on the full moon day in May.
So, you see, three most momentous events in the life of Our Enlightened One had taken place in the full day of May and no wonder Buddhists all over the world commemorate this day as the most important day in their religious life. It is with the deepest gratitude that one remembers the pioneering and dedicated efforts of the devout American Buddhist Sir Henry Steel Olcott who made it his life-ambition to make the Vesak day a holiday for everyone everywhere.
What is the lesson our Teacher taught us that is most relevant to our lives today? It is the same philosophy espoused by another great son of India Mahathma Gandhi. That is “Non-violence” or “Ahinsa”. Our Teacher taught us “Nahi verena veraani”…..hatred begets hatred… “Averenacha sammanthi, esa dhammo sananthano”! Only non-hatred can eliminate hatred. This truth is valid for all time. Beautiful, don’t you think and how absolutely logical!!! This little gem was taken to the international podium when just after the 2nd World War and Japan had surrendered to the Allied Forces, the victims of Japanese horrendous war crimes were up in arms demanding at the Meeting of the League of Nations, the for-runner to the U.N today, for the damages and atrocities inflicted on their countries by Japan. Only Sri Lanka raised its voice in the form of Late Hon. J.R. Jayawardene who recited the above stanza asking for forgiveness for Japan and forever receiving the veneration of the Japanese nation. Even today, one the best friends of Sri Lanka in the foreign arena is Japan.
In these troubled times we must make our best efforts to shun hatred and spread human kindness. This is the spirit of Vesak I have realized. Vesak Lanterns and “Dansal” are the outward signs of Vesak. ”Rotaract” as a movement that brings together youth from diverse communities; organised the event “වෙසක් with Rotaract” on 18th of May with the objective of re-strengthening the damaged bonds among different racial communities of Sri Lanka.
For your Vesak to the true Vesak as our Teacher taught us, we must follow the guidelines of Buddhism.
“Sabba paapassa akaranan,
sachiththa pariyo dapanan,
Do not indulge in evil deeds, do more and more meritorious deeds, control your passions, this is the teaching of the Buddha!
If we follow these rules, we will never go wrong. May all beings be at peace! Happy Vesak!
Rtr. Yasanga Weerasekera