Religion 21st Century

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Birth of the Buddha

Siddhartha Gautama was born a Prince in Nepal in the year 2551 BP. An account from the Buddha-Karita of Asvaghosha describes a miraculous conception and birth:

“There was a queen, named Mâyâ, free from all deceit like the splendor of the sun when it is free from all the influence of darkness, a great queen in the united assembly of all queens. Like a mother to her subjects, intent on their welfare, devoted to all worthy of reverence like devotion itself, shining on her lord's family like the goddess of prosperity, she was the most eminent of goddesses for the whole world.

“Then falling from the host of beings in the Tushita heaven, and illumining the three worlds, the most excellent of Bodhisattvas suddenly entered at a thought into her womb. Assuming the form of a huge elephant white like Himâlaya, armed with six tusks, with his face perfumed with flowing ichor, he entered the womb of the queen of king Suddhodana, to destroy the evils of the world.

"The guardians of the world hastened from heaven to mount watch over the world's one true ruler; thus the moonbeams, though they shine everywhere, are especially bright on Mount Kailâsa. Mâyâ also, holding him in her womb, like a line of clouds holding a lightning-flash, relieved the people around her from the sufferings of poverty by raining showers of gifts.

"Then one day by the king's permission the queen, having a great longing in her. mind, went into the garden Lumbinî. As the queen supported herself by a bough which hung laden with a weight of flowers, the Bodhisattva suddenly came forth, cleaving open her womb. At that time the constellation Pushya was auspicious, and from the side of the queen, who was purified by her vow, her son was born for the welfare of the world, without pain and without illness. Like the sun bursting from a cloud in the morning, so he too, when he was born from his mother's womb, made the world bright like gold, bursting forth with his rays which dispelled the darkness. As soon as he was born the thousand-eyed (Indra) well-pleased took him gently, bright like a golden pillar; and two pure streams of water fell down from heaven upon his head with piles of Mandâra flowers.

“Carried about by the chief suras, and delighting them with the rays that streamed from his body, he surpassed in beauty the new moon as it rests on a mass of evening clouds. As was Aurva's birth from the thigh, and Prithu's from the hand, and Mândhâtri's, who was like Indra himself, from the forehead, and Kakshîvat's from the upper end of the arm, thus too was his birth miraculous.

“Having thus in due time issued from the womb, he shone as if he had come down from heaven, he who had not been born in the natural way,--he who was born full of wisdom, not foolish, as if his mind had been purified by countless aeons of contemplation. With glory, fortitude, and beauty he shone like the young sun descended upon the earth; when he was gazed at, though of such surpassing brightness, he attracted all eyes like the moon.

“With the radiant splendor of his limbs he extinguished like the sun the splendor of the lamps; with his beautiful hue as of precious gold he illuminated all the quarters of space. With the lotus-sign in high relief, far-striding, he set down with a stamp,--seven such firm footsteps did he then take,--he who was like the constellation of the seven rishis.

“I am born for supreme knowledge, for the welfare of the world,--thus this is my last birth,'-- thus did he of lion gait, gazing at the four quarters, utter a voice full of auspicious meaning.”

  • Religion for the 21st Century is available as an eBook download. The book is intended for a well-educated smart reader who is interested in a world view of religious expressions past, present and future. The main theme is that each religious group has its own claims and stories and will tend to reject others. A reader committed to one point of view may not accept the egalitarian review presented here. Innate tendencies are expressed as religions and in the past have created conflicts that hinder progress towards the real and true. The book examines paths for religious renewal in the 21st century.

    The author is Stephen Gislason

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