Buddha Purnima: The four noble truths and the eightfold paths

Gautam Buddha’s birth is commemorated in the Baisakh month of the Buddhist calendar the exact date of which varies every year, however, as per the Gregorian Calendar, it usually falls in the month of April or May. This year Buddha Purnima will be celebrated on 7th April. Referred to as the birth anniversary of Lord Buddha, it commemorates his birth, enlightenment (nirvana), and death (parinirvana).

Birth, nirvana, and parinirvana

The founder of Buddhism, Lord Buddha was born in 566 BC at Lumbini. Born as Prince Siddharth, he left his palace one night to seek truth and after attaining enlightenment (nirvana) at Bodhgaya he came to be known as Buddha, the enlightened one. His first sermon delivered at Sarnath is known as dharma chakra pravratana (turning of the wheel of law). His samgha was established in Sarnath. Lord Buddha died (parinirvana) at the age of 80 in 486 BC at Kusingara near Gorakhpur.

The four noble truths and the eightfold paths

The prime teaching of Buddha was to avoid both the extremes of life. Neither to indulge in worldly pleasure nor to practice strict abstinence and asceticism. Rather he provided the madhyama marga (the Middle Path) to follow.

Buddha’s enlightenment lies in the essence of four noble truths of life, thearya satya. The first noble truth is suffering (dukkha) which is the essence of the world. It is to realize the life is nothing but an ocean of miseries. The second noble truth is cause (dukka samudya). Suffering is not baseless. Every suffering has a cause. The third noble truth is suffering can be extinguished (dukkha nirodha). The fourth noble truth is to realize that there is a path leading to the extinction of dukkha (dukka nirodha gamini pratipada).

This is where he said that everyone in this world who takes birth, gets old and dies has to suffer. To get rid of suffering, one has to conquer the desire (trishna) which is the sole reason behind suffering. He suggests the eightfold path to overcome desire, the asthangik marga. The eightfold paths entail the right faith, the right resolve, the right speech, the right action, the right living, the right effort, the right though, and the right self-concentration.


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