Buddha Poornima spans the three full moon days when Prince Siddhartha was born, became the Buddha, and attained nirvana. There is also a deep inner meaning of the term “Buddha Poornima.” Buddha represents “buddhi” or wisdom and Poornima is “poorna state” or perfection. Thus, Buddha Poornima is the day on which Prince Siddhartha perfected His wisdom to become a Buddha.
For each of us, our Buddha Poornima is the day when our buddhi or wisdom becomes perfect. We reach this perfection through a long and arduous journey, perhaps through many lifetimes. It is a journey from lack of Divine consciousness to “poorna” Divine consciousness. This journey has different roadways or approaches which Swami has explained with a simile in His Divine discourse on 22nd April 1998.
“Suppose you have a master who has an Alsatian dog at the gate and he himself is at the first floor. There are two ways of reaching him. One way is to befriend the dog and enter the house; the other way is to call out to the master from the ground in a loud voice so that he will come out and allow you to come in by controlling the dog. Maya (illusion) is the dog. God is the master. You either control the maya or chant His name and sing His glory so that He will come down. You have to treasure Him in our heart, since the heart is His altar.”
The palace in this simile is “Moksha,” and the Alsatian dog is sensual pleasures. The aspirant who attempts to reach the home with his own efforts to befriend the dog i.e., by controlling the senses has a risk of being pulled back again and again into sensual pleasures. This is particularly true in the dark Kali Yuga where sense-stimulating objects and events are rampant and proliferating.
The second method is calling the master and praying for entry into the palace (moksha). If the aspirant who calls the master has developed intense and unwavering bhakthi or devotion, then the master will come and walk with the aspirant into the palace, thus ending the arduous journey of the aspirant in the cycle of birth and death (samsara).
For all of us the Master in the palace in this Kali Yuga is our beloved Swami, Sathya Sai Baba, the Poorna Avatar. On 14th January 1999 Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba declared:
“Once upon a time, this Puttaparthi was a small hamlet, with a population of barely 100 people. In such a small village as this, who would expect a university, an airport, a super specialty hospital, and a railway station to come up in such a short period of time? All these things are happening during the lifetime of the Avatar, which is unprecedented in the history of mankind... So, make the best use of the Divine proximity of Sai. Once you lose this precious chance to serve the Lotus Feet, you will never regain it. Sai confers devotion, power, and ultimately liberation on you. Never get misguided by the words of others. Keep this in mind and redeem yourself.”
The unique path to gain the final qualification to call the Master is devotion (bhakthi). How can we grow in devotion? Listen to, and read about the glories of Swami, remember His form and name with faith and devotion, worship in person and in groups, sing bhajans, participate in spiritual discussions, meditation, and service to living beings in the spirit of offering all to the Lord. If these “sadhanas” are done regularly and with enthusiasm, then the devotee will qualify to call the Master. Swami has given a firm assurance, “When you are ready, I am ready.”
A friend of mine asked a while ago, “Have you ever experienced any Sathya Sai miracles?” I did not want to comment on visible miracles of Swami, but I immediately said, “Yes, it is the way He transformed me spiritually without my being conscious of the transformation.”
I was born a Buddhist and lived with many dogmas taught by my childhood teachers in Sunday school and elsewhere. I now realise that this dogmatic way of life can hamper spiritual progress. The first and foremost dogma was “worshipping any form other than Buddha’s and following anyone else’s path is sin.” With Swami’s presence I found that Buddha Himself rejected dogmas as impediments to reaching nirvana. Buddha said in one of His discourses, “Oh monks! There are three impediments to realising nirvana. They are desires, pride (ego), and clinging to strong beliefs (dogmas).”
Swami called me and my family in 1995 to Puttaparthi, the only place in the world where Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, and Muslims visit to worship the one and only God. We all changed; we all became vegetarians, my family, my daughter’s, and son’s families prospered, dogmas vanished, and I gained an in-depth experience of why we are on earth. This beatific experience entered my life through communion. Communion is a richer concept than simple communication. Communication is sensual but communion is heart to heart and does not involve senses and mind. This is how we are transformed with the Divine darshan of Swami, and we eventually realise our innate divinity.
Each Avatar has a Divine mission on earth. The nature of the mission is carved out by the social, cultural, environmental, and spiritual needs of mankind during the time an Avatar appears. Each Avatar prescribes a path to reach the same goal. Buddha prescribed the arduous path called the path of Wisdom, “Jnana Marga”. Swami advises that the path of devotion “Bhakthi Marga” is the easiest path because the rajasic tendencies in the human environment in the present Kali Yuga are unmanageable with human effort alone. Sense-stimulating elements and events are present with an unprecedented intensity. Swami has stated many times in numerous discourses and writings that for this Kali Yuga, the path of bhakthi and specifically the practice of namasmarana (the repetition of the name of God) is the most effective sadhana for most spiritual aspirants.
Therefore, let us strive to practice the teachings of Buddha and Sathya Sai Baba during this Buddha Poornima and beyond. By sincerely following this spiritual path, we can achieve the ultimate goal, nirvana (moksha or liberation).
Professor Sunanda Degamboda
Former Chairman, Sathya Sai Central Council of Sri Lanka