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Who was Gautama Buddha?

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Gautama Buddha was an ascetic and sage and on the basis of his teachings Buddhism was discovered. Usually, he is known as, ‘The enlightened one’ or the founder of Buddhism. He is the primary figure in Buddhism and is recognized by Buddhists as an enlightened teacher who attained complete Buddhahood.

Buddha was also known by the names such as,

  1. ShakyaMuni : “Shakya is the name of the Royal Family’ into which he was born & Muni means The Able One’.
  2. Siddhartha Gautama : ‘The One Who Achieves His Aim’
  3. The Buddha : ‘The Enlightened One’

Buddha lived during the period c. 563 BCE to c. 483 BCE in LUMBINI which is now known as NEPAL. He was born to king Suddhodana and Queen Mayadevi and it is believed that during the conception period of Buddha, Queen Mayadevi dreamt of a white elephant with six white tusks which entered to her right side and ten months later ‘Siddhartha’ was born.

Being born as a prince, Siddhartha spent his childhood in a luxurious way. But, he lost his mother at a very young age due to which he was raised by his mother’s younger sister, Maha Pajapati. King Suddhodana always wanted his son i.e.Prince Siddhartha to be a great king and so he shielded him from religious teachings and from the knowledge of human sufferings.

Siddhartha completed his education at the age of 16 after which he got married to Princess Yashodara and they beared a son Rahula and later King Suddhodana handed his entire kingdom to prince Siddhartha.

After carnation ceremony, Siddhartha decided to visit his town and during this journey, he observed certain things that put a sudden end to his pleasure and ease that he enjoyed in his wealthy comfortable life in the palace.

On the first occasion, he saw an old person with wrinkled skin, bent over and walking very slowly with a stick and he thought, “How could I take pleasure in being young when I know that in the end I must become wrinkled and old like that person?”

On the second occasion he saw a sick person covered in sores being carried on a stretcher and he thought, ”How can I take pleasure in being healthy when I know that sooner or later I shall become sick and covered in sores like that person?”

On the third occasion he saw a dead person lying in an open coffin waiting to be buried and he thought, “How can I take pleasure in being alive when I know that sooner or later I must die too?”

On the fourth occasion he saw a man begging for money his head shaved and wearing the yellow robe of a wandering philosopher, who had left behind all his possessions and gone in search of wisdom.

All these observations compelled Siddhartha to think about the pursuit of life and finally at the age of 29, Siddhartha decided to leave his palace, his parents, and all his possessions and go in search of wisdom and happiness.

At first, he became follower of two well known teachers who taught him to meditate, to relax and focus his mind. He followed their teachings for several years but he was not content. So, he tried following some other group of teachers who asked to give up all his pleasures that bind human beings to earthly life with its pain and sorrows. The teachers forbidded Siddhartha to eat and drink among the pleasure. He agreed and followed their teachings for several years. He became very weak as he was having no food and he found it was not working and he left.

At some point Siddhartha remembered that, when he was young and was sitting under a Rose-Apple Tree and suddenly he felt himself in a deep peace and then he realized that this is the only way to get wisdom, peace and happiness. Soon, he came to the town of URVELA (Bodgaya) situated on the banks of River NIRANJARA and he sat there under the shades of a tall tree which is now known as a Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, India. Also, he vowed never to arise until he had found the truth. After a reputed 49 days of meditation, at the age of 35, he is said to have attained enlightenment, and became known as the Buddha or ‘The awakened one’.

While meditating Buddha saw the Solar Systems and everything in the world which was changing rapidly and when he completed his meditation he was no longer afraid of anything not even about his AGE, SICKNESS and DEATH. Then, he thought, he had experienced enough and no one else can experience the same, so he was at a stage of not telling anyone about his great experience.

But, on the following night he had a vision of a Holy man surrounded by a radiant light saying to him, “The world needs this Dharma, this Wisdom that you have found. You can teach this to others and you must teach it”. So, the rest of the life Siddhartha Gautama became a teacher and he had many followers during his life time and became the most famous teacher in INDIA.

From that time onwards Siddhartha Gautama was always known as the “Buddha-The Awakened One” and the Tree under which he was Enlighted is known as “Bodhi Tree-A Tree Of Enlightment”.

Living a life of Christian faith.

FullSizeRender (22)The most important question many Christians struggle with these days is, ‘How to live a successful or fruitful Christian life?’

This is a very important question for a believer and every believer must be able to answer this question. If you’re a Christian then you must know how to live a life of Christian faith because you can only live a life like this when you know it thoroughly. Yes, there are many Christians around the globe who know how to live a life of Christian faith but they ignore to live such a holy life and this happens majorly due to lack of faith and love upon our holy God. If you’re seeking an answer to this question in a single sentence, then…

“If you really want to live a successful Christian life then you must obey all the commands given unto us by our loving God’ .Yes, the Holy Bible affirms this in the book of John;

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teachings” – John 14:23

Also,

“If you love me, keep my commands” – John 14:15

Now, this may raise a question in your mind- Is it even possible to live a holy life in a world full of sins, pride, envy and hate? Yes, it is possible and if you are unaware, Jesus lived in this earth as a complete human being and I always used to think, why would a God who is so powerful enter this world which is full of sins and intended to live as a human? Why? Yes, to save us from our sins. But, there is an another important reason and it is, “To set an example and to teach us how to overcome this world” Jesus while speaking to his disciples said,

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome it” – John 16:33

When Jesus says, “Take heart! I have overcome it”, he means do not worry about your problems, your future, your sins, your temptations or whatever which is disturbing you. Take heart and bring your problems to me (Jesus) and I will give you rest. Also, Jesus while speaking to multitudes said,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”

– Matthew 11:28

Yes, it is only Jesus who can give us rest. Also, the above mentioned scripture speaks uses the word ‘burdened’, what does it refer to? This burden is a burden of sins. Yes, it is only sins which separate us from our loving  god since our Holy Bible says, “God’s eyes are so pure that he cannot even look at sins.” – Habakkuk 1:13

We Christians know that sins cause the real trouble to our spiritual life since it destroys our inner being and separates us from our holy God. We are well aware of this but still we dare to sin and fall prey to temptations.

Now, let’s talk about how to overcome sins in this world filled with lust and desires. Let us study this from one of my favorite character from the Holy Bible whose name is Daniel. We will not only learn from the life of Daniel but also the life of his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. Until today these four friends are role models to many young Christian minds. What did these four men do which made them different from other men. I would like to share some of the important things; these four young men have practiced to live a successful Christian life. Please stay with me on the course.

Daniel made a covenant in his heart

Who is Daniel? Daniel was one of the slaves whom king Nebuchadnezzar besieged from Jehoiakim – king of Judah. Now, king Nebuchadnezzar instructed a particular man named Ashpenaz to bring forth some of the slaves but they must be noble, young men in whom there is no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans. When all these young men were brought before the king, he appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king.

Now, among these young men who were selected for three years of training were Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. As said earlier,king Nebuchadnezzar has ordered to treat these young men’s with king delicacies and wine. But, Daniel made a covenant in his heart that,” He will not defile himself with the portion of the kings delicacies and wine.”

So, Daniel makes a covenant in his heart and now he goes to the chief person and requests that he might not defile himself. Now, God helps Daniel to get favor in the eyes of chief and the chief says to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king”

Daniel answered to the chief, “Please test your servants for ten days, and give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our countenance be examined before you, and the countenances of the young men who eat the portion of the king’s delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants”

So the chief consented with them in this matter, and tested them for ten days and at the end of the ten days their countenance appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies. Thus, the chief took away their portion of delicacies and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.

Remember, this is how a believer must be, you may be offered with all kinds of delicacies and wines for free or any other kind of things which may defile you and your soul. But, always remember you and I serve a living God and the body which you posses today are given by him and so we got no rights to defile it. Also,

“Body is a temple of God” – 1 Corinthians 6:19

Yes, our body is a temple of god where our holy god resides. So, better always keep it clean and we are not our own because we were bought at a price – the blood of Christ. So, we must honor our god with our body. Also, what happens when we protect our holiness and live a life as god wants? What did Daniel get when he made a covenant to himself as, he will not defile his body? Bible says,

17* as for these four men, god gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.

18* Now, at the end of the days, when the king had said that they should be brought in, the chief brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.

19* Then the king interviewed them, and none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king.

  • Daniel 1:17-19

You may think, you don’t have skills, knowledge, and wisdom but remember God is the one who gives that. Look at these young men, they were very particular about their holiness and god gave them all kinds of knowledge and wisdom. Today, take initiative and make a covenant in your heart to live a holy life and God will honor your covenant and he’ll make you sit before kings and judges.

God is Great!

Inspiring minds: Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa was, and still remains, an inspiration for one and all. If one word were needed to describe her, it would surely be – love. Her divinity and angelic soul were devoted to the destitute and the helpless. Her service and selflessness towards her fellow human beings earned her names, ‘Saint of the gutter’ and ‘Angel of mercy’. She was the living embodiment of the word ‘compassion’.

Mother Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu on August 26, 1910, in Skopje, Macedonia. She was the daughter of a successful merchant and his wife. She was their third and youngest child. Until the age of 18, she had not seriously thought of becoming a nun. However, she had always been inclined towards spirituality. At a tender age of 12, she already felt that God was calling out to her and she was to be ‘The one’ to spread the message of the love of Christ.

Finally, at the age of 18, she left home when she realized her true calling and joined the sisters of Lorento. They were an Irish colony of nuns who had teaching missions in India. She taught in St. Mary’s school for several years and it was here that she chose the name sister Mary Teresa for herself, after the saints, Teresa of Avila and Therese de Lisieux. She even became the principal of St. Mary’s in the year 1944.

On August 17, 1948 she dedicated her life to the aid of others and started a religious community, and often said, “Give till it hurts.” She eagerly sought out not only the hungry, the homeless, the suffering and the dying, but also went so far as to feed, house, heal and restore the dignity of the unwanted, the unloved and the uncared-for in society. She unabashedly embraced all those people who had become a burden on society, and were shunned by everyone. She was the last refuge for those suffering from leprosy, HIV and Aids. She was a vocal advocate for the anti-abortion campaign, and is known to have called it the ‘Greatest destroyer of peace’.

She used to dress neatly in a blue – bordered white sari which has become a symbol of her order today, she would travel across Kolkata to help all those who needed her – lepers left to die by everyone around them, helpless women, and even abandoned babies with umbilical cords still attached to them. Shocking as it may seem it was all very true.

She looked at the poor as if God was seeing them, and loved them as God would love them. She saw her God in serving them. She always gave top priority to prayer; as she believed that God put the love in her heart that she was to give to the poor. People who knew her closely were awestruck by her devotion towards a prayerful life.

On September 5, 1997, she left for her heavenly abode. It was a huge loss for the world. Many people have since claimed that heaven has gained another star. Needles to say, mother Teresa was a living saint. Her secret was very simple; she prayed. When she was alive, she touched the hearts of millions. Her passing away has forever left a void in this world.

Mother Teresa, the mother of all, still lives in our hearts and will live forever.

Jesus: The perfect sacrifice

I wrote this article during the month of Ramadan, when our Muslim friends follow strict fasting almost for a month and end that fasting with three days of celebration called Eid al-Fitr (the festival of breaking the fast).  Also, there is an another festival in Islam know as Eid al-adha(the feast of sacrifice). This feast of sacrifice is the greatest feast in Islam because it is when our Muslim friends remember Abraham’s sacrifice of his son and during this festival Muslim families slaughter a sacrificial animal, usually a lamb. After a short prayer, the neck artery is cut, and the sacrificial blood flows into a prepared dish. The dead animal is then skinned and divided in three parts. One part is usually given to relatives, the second to the poor and the family keeps the third part. This is how Muslims celebrate Eid al-adha.

However, some Muslims think that the animal is slaughtered instead of their firstborn son, as general thanks to Allah, or as a protection against evil spirits. But according to Quran, this feast of sacrifice is to be meant only as a remembrance of Abraham’s sacrifice.

While thinking about this an important question strikes my mind, why is it necessary to slaughter an animal in remembrance of someone? Yes, it is good to remember our old cultures but why slaughtering? No, I am not here to judge Muslims or to prove them wrong on this act. Also, I am no one to teach them how to celebrate their feast. I am well aware that Muslims give one part of that slaughtered animal to poor and to the people who are in need and some Muslims even give their own portion to the poor and needy. But, I am here just to explain from where did this slaughtering of animals started or in other words from where did this practice of animal sacrifice started?

When we go through the Bible, we find numerous accounts of animal sacrifices. Since, many people used to practice this. Also, when Jesus was born even his father took a pigeon to the temple in order to sacrifice it at the feet of god. Here, in India this animal sacrifices are still practiced by Hindus and if you question them, why do you do this? They would simply answer, this is just an act to please god or a blood-offering since god is pleased with this kind of offerings.

But, when you come to the Holy Bible the whole concept differs. According to Bible, sacrifices were decreed by god. It was god who allowed animal sacrifices and not only he allowed animal sacrifices it was god himself who started animal sacrifices. Yes, if you read Genesis chapter 03, you may well understand that when Adam and Eve sinned against god in the Garden of Eden, God used ‘skins’ to cover them which means a blood of an innocent animal was shed in order to cover human sins and this act was done by God himself. To shed more light on this there is a scripture which reads,

“Everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” – Hebrews 9:22

Yes, there is no forgiveness of sins without the shedding of blood. A blood must be shed in order to receive forgiveness by god and this is the law. As per Christianity, no one dares to break the law whether if it is a human or God himself. Because, if god would have wanted then he could have forgiven Adam and Eve with his words itself since there is power in his words. But, No, God didn’t do this rather he sacrificed a lamb for them in order to cover their sins which means even god followed this law. Now, you may think why is it even important to receive forgiveness of sin?

Bible says in Romans 6:23 as,

“The wages of sin is death”

If a person sins against god then the wages of his sin is death. So, god decreed animal sacrifices in order to save us from the judgment of death. So, what happens when an animal is sacrificed? In animal sacrifice, that particular animal serves as a substitute to human and is killed as a sacrifice so that the person may live. Symbolically, sins of humans are being transferred to that sacrificial animal and it is killed so that the person may be freed from his bondage of sin. In short, someone else is paying for our sinful act so that we may live and receive forgiveness from God.

If it is so then, why don’t Christians practice animal sacrifice today?

Today, we don’t practice animal sacrifices because we believe 2000 years ago, Jesus came as a perfect sacrifice for all. It was John-the Baptist who recognized Jesus and so he said,

“Look, the lamb of god who takes away the sins of the world” – John 1:29

Here, John-the Baptist didn’t say as, Jesus came to take away the sins of some particular people or group of people, rather he says, Jesus came to take away the sins of the whole world. Yes, Jesus came as a lamb of god to die behalf of every human so that we may receive forgiveness through him. And, not only he intended to die but he did die on the cross. Bible affirms this in Colossians 1:14 as, “Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sins”. Yes, Jesus died on behalf of every human so that we may inherit the kingdom of God. We may think as, we have never sinned in our life or have never done any wrong deed but Bible says in Romans 3:23,

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

Also, in Romans 3:10,

“There is no one righteous, not even one”

Yes, there is no one righteous. But, God gives his grace to the one who seeks. It is a fact that God is all-loving and merciful but also, it is a fact that he cannot overlook sins. His eyes are so pure that he cannot look at our sins. So, he himself entered this world, and “gave himself as a ransom for all – 1 timothy 2:6” and took all the judgment and punishment that we actually deserved. Also, Romans 3:25-26 reads like this,

“God himself presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus”

Yes, Jesus came as a perfect sacrifice to put an end to all kind of animal sacrifices and he did die on the cross in order to redeem us from the bondage of sins. Now, the only thing we need to do is to accept this sacrifice in faith and whoever accepts this sacrifice in faith will be saved and will be called as Son of God and will inherit the kingdom of God.

God bless you

 

The lord is my programmer.

The lord is my programmer, I shall not crash.

He installed his software on the hard disk of my heart.

All of his commands are user friendly.

His directory guides me to the right choices for his name’s sake.

Even though I scroll through the problems of life,

I will fear no bugs, for he is my backup.

His password protects me.

He prepares a menu before me in the presence of my enemies.

His help is only a keystroke away.

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me, all the days of my life.

And my file will be merged with his and saved forever!

  • Unknown

Finding contentment in a discontent world.

Content, by definition means “to be satisfied with what one is or has.” Contentment is finding joy and satisfaction in what God has given us. Being content is a choice, that choice which you and I can make in every single situation. Actually, not everyone is truly content with their life. Often times we are unsatisfied with what we have and hence we seek more of what we don’t have.

What does it mean to be content?

One of the major problem raised these days is, “love of money”. No man is content or satisfied with what he or she has. Remember, the antonym of contentment is greed and when greed enters in, it destroys the blessings we already have and we even sometimes loss the capacity to enjoy what god has given us.

Apostle Paul, In 1 Timothy 6:10 pens like this, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”

How true is this! I remember a short story by a Russian author Tolstoy, titled as, “How much land does a man need?” and the story goes like this. There lived a rich peasant man who was never satisfied with what he had. He always had greed to have more. Once he heard of a wonderful chance to get more land. For 1,000 rubles he could have all the land he could walk around in a day. But he had to make it back before sunset and if he fails to return back then he would lose all his money.

Next day, he rose early in the morning and set out. He walked on and on, his greed driving him just a little farther as he saw new territory. Finally, at some point he realized that he had to return back and he had to walk very fast if he was to get back in time to claim the land. As the sun got lower in the sky, he quickened his pace. As the sun neared the horizon, he began to run. Finally, he saw the starting place. His heart was pounding rapidly and he was gasping for breath, but he gave it everything he had and plunged over the finish line, fell to the ground, and collapsed, just seconds before the sun disappeared below the horizon.  A stream of blood poured out of his mouth and he lay dead. His servant took a spade and dug a grave and they made it just long enough and wide enough and buried him.

The author Tolstoy concluded the story by saying, “Six feet from his head to his heels was all he needed.”

How ironic! You may have heard this story earlier but there is a great lesson in this story. Since, this is what we humans need at last. “Six feet from head to heels.” Also, we may have even heard this very often as, “Money is a great servant but a terrible master. If you set your heart on money, someday money will break your heart”. Remember, always try to be happy with what you have because there are people who have nothing but they still manage to simile.

Paul, again while writing about ‘love of money’ writes like this, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he (Jesus) has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” – Hebrews 13:05.

Remember, you and I share a living god who has promised us that, ‘he will never leave us nor forsake us’. So be content with what you have and flee away from love of money and hunger for righteousness and you will be satisfied for Jesus says in Matthew 5:6 as, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” These are the very words spoken by Jesus. If your greatest hunger is for worldly things then you will never be satisfied and you will always be discontent and if your hunger is for righteousness, you will be satisfied and you will always be content.

How to be content?

When it comes to contentment we can learn a lot more from the life of Apostle Paul. Paul writes in – Philippians 4:12 as, “I have learned to be content”. Yes! Life of contentment can be learned. Lets us see how Apostle Paul learned it. Paul tells us, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” – Philippians 4: 12-13.

I believe that, the very first step to learn how to be content is to realize that contentment can be learned and when you realize this then you are well on your way to experience the contentment God has for you. Remember, Paul did not have an easy life, he was imprisoned, he was stoned, he was in cold and nakedness, and he was even in hunger and many more things but all for the sake of Gospel. Paul didn’t say he had always been content, but he says he had learned to be content through all this trails. And when Paul learned contentment there was godliness in his contentment and so when he writes in 1 Timothy 6:6-7 he writes as, “Godliness with contentment is a great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it” How true is this! We brought nothing and we take nothing.

Maybe you have struggled with contentment in the past or maybe you are still struggling in it. Take comfort in the fact that contentment can be learned. You may have great needs in your life or you may be having very little blessings in your life. First, thank God for what you have because when you have very little in your life, you can learn the art of contentment. Someone said this very correctly, “A rare jewel is not found when you have more, but when you have less”. So, never think of what you don’t have in your life instead thank God for all that you have. Bring your desires down to the level of your possessions and learn to enjoy what god has given you and practice the art of godly contentment. For, being content in life is the key to happiness which gives us internal peace.

GOD BLESS YOU

True Love: The Love of Christ

Flowers and cards, sweets and chocolates,

Exuberant atmosphere with two different states;

Some celebrate because they are accepted,

Some get depressed because they are rejected;

Fantasy of love, the immature hunt to catch,

Finally gets deceived, as sin begins to hatch;

What was once love, slowly turns out bitter,

What was once care, begins to lose its glitter;

The memories that excited, begin to prick,

The emotions that soothed turn out to be a trick;

The innocent, mild and weak are abused,

The cruel, selfish and wicked are amused;

A colorful life turns into black and white,

It all started with love at first sight;

Love that’s meant to last for life,

Makes life sore and bitter, filled with strife;

Is this the definition of love or can someone guide me please?

Take me to a place where love doesn’t cease;

The love of this world soon comes to an end,

Can someone show me love through worlds without end?

I am tired, alone, betrayed and haunted,

I need someone, who I can lean on, though I’m unwanted;

Someone who would love me, in my state of helplessness,

Someone who would love me, in this hour of hopelessness;

Is there someone who would love me, without selfish gain?

Is there someone who would love me, knowing I can’t repay again?

Then I was told that someone gave his life on the cross,

He was crushed, wounded and hanging there for a cause;

Being fascinated of this voluntary self sacrifice, I wanted to see,

They said, “God loved, so he gave his only son for you and for me”;

Why would he do what he did when he gave his life for me?

I was told that Jesus loves, and his love would set me free;

For the first time in life, I found out what I was seeking for,

An unconditional love, freedom & sacrifice to end all human war;

I accepted his love, that changed my life forever since then,

Jesus Christ became my love, my greatest gain;

God incarnate came down for me – the Father’s love,

God eternal paid the price for my sins – the Christ’s love,

God almighty opened his arms for me – his Holy Spirit’s love,

He is waiting for each one of us to know that love the True love.

– Unknown Author

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