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2011

 

Ceremony of Remembrance

The occasion was the celebration of the Eighteenth Anniversary of the statue of the Buddha at the Buddha Jayanti Park on October 2, 2011. A soothing beautiful dawn with the gentle early rays of the sun making the golden hued statue of Shakyamuni Buddha poised in a contemplative posture with a gentle smile playing on his lips was a befitting sight to remove even the slightest trace of any distress from the hearts of people. The cackle of the geese swimming in the pond brought an awareness of the role these tiny beings played. They appeared to be there as if to join in singing the praise of an individual for whom the search for the truth was why he took human form.

It was on this very day that the incarnation of Lord Avalokitesvara of our times His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama had offered the beautiful statue of Buddha as a gesture of gratitude to the people and government of India. The day also marked the birth anniversary of the great Mahatma Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, fondly addressed as Bapu. The gift of the statue from a person whose teachings and life personifies peace and compassion has been perhaps the most auspicious gift that India has received from the hands of a great sage of our times. It is only in the fitness of things that this day is dedicated as a day of celebration and remembrance. Proper remembrance is what Buddha Dharma recommends, the Sanskrit term being samyak-smriti, a part of the eightfold path.

The day unfolded with individuals offering their personal prayers to the Buddha after which the official ceremony began. The new Director of the Tibet House Geshe Dorjee Damdul in his succinct introduction expressed the importance of such a celebration. He also thanked and appreciated the erstwhile Director Ven. Doboom Tulku who had initiated not only this event, but with his vision and interest had organized various meaningful programmes. Reiterating H.H. the Dalai Lama’s statement that for him India is the guru, Geshe la said that the land of India from where such great masters like Shantarakshita had gone to Tibet and had established the Buddha Dharma was a land which had for centuries celebrated diversity and richness of traditions.

The programme commenced with a reading from Chapter Seven of Sãntideva’s Bodhicharyãvatãra by Ms. Maya Joshi. This chapter entitled “Enthusiasm” is a very crucial aspect of the spiritual journey, as a matter of fact, of any journey.

 

 

Devoid of this value, no spiritual aspirant can hope to move ahead on the path. The mind that is awakened to this only proceeds from joy to joy and never lapses into despondency. Truly the spirit of the morning expressed this.

Following this was the reading from Dhammapada by Dr. Antonnella Mathur. The verses were reminders of the consequences of

one’s own actions, just as from a pile of flowers one can either make an ugly wreath or a charming garland. The beauty of what comes out is not in flowers themselves but the way they are fashioned. So are our lives. Our own actions have the potential to shape our lives into a beautiful garland.

Next was the chanting from The Diamond Sutra or the Vajracchedika Prajñaparamita Sutra as it is called in Sanskrit by Ms. Raji Ramanan. This well known Sutra emphasizes the practice of non-abiding and non-attachment. In the Sûtra, the great sage Buddha is asked a question by the elder Subhuti. What follows is a dialogue regarding the nature of perception. The explanations that Buddha gives needs to be remembered at all times if one wants to advance in the spiritual path.

For centuries, these gems have been recited not just in Sanskrit but have been sacred scriptural philosophy in Tibet. The Tibetan monks’ chants from the Diamond Sutra clearly reflected the wondrous osmosis that had taken place between the Indian punditas and the Tibetan Lotsawas.

Listening, looking and contemplating, it was not possible to overlook the fact that all this had been possible not with just factor, but millions of things had come together to generate the enchantment of the morning and the spirit of the gathering. In the fitness of things the whole gathering recited “In Praise of Dependent Origination” authored by the great master Je Tsongkhapa.

The ceremony concluded with cultural expressions in the form of songs, dance and instruments by the students of Tibetan Youth Hostel, Rohini. The items presented by them too had a reverberation of remembrance, perhaps remembering the land they belong to, a land which they have not seen or visited but whose fragrance they carry within their hearts given to them by their parents. One wished that their dreams may be realized soon.

 

Raji Ramanan