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Indian Heritage & Culture

Vesak Celebration

  • 26 May 2021
  • 5 min read

Why in News

The Prime Minister addressed “Virtual Vesak Global Celebrations” on Buddha Purnima.

  • The event is being organised by the Ministry of Culture in collaboration with the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) and will witness the participation of all the supreme heads of the Buddhist Sanghas from around the world.

Key Points

  • Buddha Purnima:
    • It is celebrated to mark the birth of Gautam Buddha, the founder of Buddhism.
      • It is also known as Vesak. In 1999, it became a UN-designated day, to acknowledge the contribution of Buddhism to society.
    • It is considered a 'triple-blessed day' - as Tathagata Gautam Buddha's birth, enlightenment, and Maha Parnirvana.
    • Buddha Purnima falls on a full moon night, usually between April and May, and it is a gazetted holiday in India.
    • Many devotees visit Mahabodhi Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, on this occasion.
      • Bodhi Temple is the location where Lord Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment.
  • International Buddhist Confederation (IBC):
    • IBC is the biggest religious Buddhist confederation.
    • The purpose of this body is to create a role for Buddhism on the global stage so as to help to preserve heritage, share knowledge, and promote values and to represent a united front for Buddhism to enjoy meaningful participation in the global discourse.
    • In November 2011, New Delhi was host to Global Buddhist Congregation (GBC), where the attendees unanimously adopted a resolution to form an international umbrella body – the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC).
    • HQ: Delhi, India.
  • About Gautam Buddha:
    • He was born as Siddhartha Gautama in circa 563 BCE, in Lumbini and belonged to the Sakya clan.
    • Gautam attained Bodhi (enlightenment) under a pipal tree at Bodhgaya, Bihar.
    • Buddha gave his first sermon in the village of Sarnath, near Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. This event is known as Dharma Chakra Pravartana (turning of the wheel of law).
    • He died at the age of 80 in 483 BCE at Kushinagara, Uttar Pradesh. The event is known as Mahaparinibban or Mahaparinirvana.
    • He is believed to be the eighth of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu (Dashavatar).


  • About:
    • Buddhism started in India over 2,600 years ago.
    • The main teachings of Buddhism are encapsulated in the basic concept of four noble truths or ariya-sachchani and eight-fold path or ashtangika marg.
      • Dukkha (Sufferings) and its extinction are central to the Buddha’s doctrine.
    • The essence of Buddhism is the attainment of enlightenment or nirvana which was not a place but an experience and could be attained in this life.
    • There is no supreme god or deity in Buddhism.
  • Buddhist Councils:

  • Schools of Buddhism:
    • Mahayana (Idol Worship), Hinayana, Theravada, Vajrayana (Tantric buddhism), Zen.
  • Buddhism Texts (Tipitaka):
    • Vinaya Pitaka (rules applicable to monastic life), Sutta Pitaka (main teaching or Dhamma of Buddha), Abhidhamma Pitaka (a philosophical analysis and systematization of the teaching).
  • Contribution of Buddhism to Indian Culture:
    • The concept of ahimsa was its chief contribution. Later, it became one of the cherished values of our nation.
    • Its contribution to the art and architecture of India was notable. The stupas at Sanchi, Bharhut, and Gaya are wonderful pieces of architecture.
    • It promoted education through residential universities like those at Taxila, Nalanda, and Vikramasila.
    • The language of Pali and other local languages developed through the teachings of Buddhism.
    • It had also promoted the spread of Indian culture to other parts of Asia.
  • UNESCO’s Heritage Sites Related to Buddhism:
    • Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara at Nalanda, Bihar
    • Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi, MP
    • Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya, Bihar
    • Ajanta Caves Aurangabad, Maharashtra.

Source: IE

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