Friday, June 11, 2010

Second turning of the wheel of Dharma

The most important event associated with the Griddhkuta hill is when the Buddha after his enlightenment set forth the Second turning of the wheel of Dharma to an assembly of monks, nuns and laity, as well as innumerable bodhisattvas. In this phase of his teachings he emphasized the concept of Sunyata. The essential emptiness of all elements of existence, what it means to live in a world of constant flux, where there is no solid ground, no resting place, no substantiality and hence no limitation and no bar to perfect freedom. To arhats and pure beings the Buddha presented an ideal of spiritual attainment grounded in supreme compassion the path of Bodhisattva to everyone willing to set aside all vestiges of self-interest and make effort throughout time for the benefit of others.

The Prajñaparamita-sutras (Perfection of Wisdom Sutras), the Saddharma-Pundarika sutra (Lotus sutra), Surangamasamadhi sutra, Lalitavistra sutra and the Bhadrakalpika sutra all are considered second turning teachings delivered here

When Xuanzang, a Buddhist scholar from China decided to take the long journey to India to better understand the teachings of the Buddha, out of gratitude an old diseased man offered Xuanzang a copy of Prajñaparamita Sutra to ease the tortures of the journey. Xuanzang made a habit of reciting it continually throughout his journey of 15 thousand miles to land of the Buddha. He encountered many obstacles and survived many near death situations, and each time his recitation of Prajñaparamita Sutra with utmost devotion invoked Matriyea Buddha. The miraculous pilgrimage of Xuanzang led people of China for many centuries, to believe that Lotus sutra has miraculous power and its reciting could ward off the troubles of life and help achieve the ultimate destiny and even today people in china continue to recite heart sutra as a part of their daily prayers and at the time of difficulties.

Keeping in with the tradition and to honor Xuanzang for the popularity of ‘heart Sutra’, when Xuanzang memorial hall was built as a mark of respect, the peace bell installed at the entrance pagoda is embossed with Prajnaparmita 'the heart sutra' inscribed on it.

As per the Mahayana traditions the Buddha himself told Ananda that the Prajñaparamita Sutras contain the very essence of all his teachings. Mahakashyapa recorded these latter teachings and the Shakyamuni placed them in the custody of the Nagas until such time as men were ready to receive them.

The merits that the Sadharmpundrika Sutra hold for the Mahayana followers is evident from the fact that a big stupa was erected at the site where the Buddha delivered the Sutra at the Griddhkuta peak. It would be tough to imagine the emotions that ran through Xuanzang when he knelt to pay tribute to the place which motivated him during tough times of his journey.

Next Post: Śūraṅgama Sutra — the “Sutra of the Indestructible” 

No comments: