Six years of unwavering courage, hard work and endless spiritual pursuit transformed a human into a divine figure – Siddhartha became Buddha, an enlightened being. Its opposition to the most cherished concepts that prevail – the Vedas (especially the Karma Kanda section), Soul and God – earned him the Nastika label comprising blatant hostility and resentment undeserved during the formative years of Buddhism, but could not deter it. Although Hinduism flourished around 1500 BC. AD, culminating in the next Upanishadic era, at the time of Buddha, he suffered a degeneration due to the obsession and incompetence of religious spearheads; penance, sacrifices, superficial erudition, regurgitation of scriptures and blind emulation of rituals. In this regard, the destructive criticisms from the Nastika schools / religions, no doubt the contribution of Buddha stands out, forced Orthodox Hinduism to organize itself on a rationalist basis. During the Axial Age (around 800 BC – 200 BC), the rise of the Nastika had triggered the creation of the Astika schools (six schools accept the authority of the Vedas) which have been instrumental in orienting Hinduism in the right direction, previously somewhat misguided.
Buddha is celebrated and revered for his attempts to bring out society rooted in the quagmires of mechanical rituals, appalling caste system, and endemic violent sacrifices. Defying a decadent system that favored unearned hereditary privileges, he revolutionized the awakening of human consciousness by asserting: “Anyone can be a Buddha”; practically synonymous with “Everyone has the right to Brahman”. In other words, the Upanishadic Brahman / Moksha corresponds to Buddhist Nirvana; both free individuals from the slavery of Samsara (the cycle of rebirth). His daring to question the rigid system opened spiritual doors to people from all walks of life, previously the prerogatives of the priestly class. Popularize the Shramana Buddha tradition has granted everyone the right to metaphysical Brahman, or for that matter to liberation (Moksha or Nirvana). This tradition was largely akin to the initiatives of Martin Luther (Protestant Reformation), rejection of the “intermediary”, against the corrupt 16th century Catholic Church which sold indulgences under the pretext of hell and paradise.
A living embodiment of Satchitananda (pure being-conscience-bliss), so great that Hindus could hardly ignore, thus conferring on him the title of Lord Vishnu avatar, regardless of the recalcitrant Buddha’s categorical rejection of the authority of the Vedas. Meanwhile, fanatics abound, always on the lookout for some minutiae to prove the greatness of their religion, exhaling the self-glorification that shamelessly claims the magnanimity of Hinduism for having accepted the Buddha. Such claims reek of cheap machination, megalomania, and political fervor; a character who transcends all phenomenal boundaries, duality and dichotomy would seek no validation or approval. Truth to be said, Siddhartha’s Nirvana(a mystical experience) and the teachings corresponded to esoteric teachings permeated through the great Upanishads, without surprise ; To dismiss him would be to completely deny the clandestine spiritual wisdom of the Hindu religious scriptures. Buddha’s legacy is unprecedented among the greatest spiritual and religious figures in the Indian subcontinent, such as Nagarjuna, Gorakhnath, Adi Sankara, Meera, Kabir, Mahavir, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and others.
The second coming
Greatest Russian novelist of all time Fyodor Dostoyevsky masterpiece ‘The Brothers Karamazov’ brilliantly imagine the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, although during the Spanish Inquisition. Furious, disconcerted and exasperated by the return of Jesus, the Pope who restrains him begins the interrogations with an unimaginable question: “Why did you come to disturb us?” How would things be if Buddha returned – The Second Coming – to his homeland and confronted all the Nepalese?
Considerable energies are wasted needlessly, to generate a momentary vain ecstasy and toxic glory affirming a citizenship shared with him, always ready to go tooth and nail on the “claim the right” – the right to claim Buddha is ours. Repeating the mantra as to where he was born with a restless and emphatic air – displaying a prejudicial nationalist attitude and blatantly throwing pejorative slurs to denigrate the neighbor’s claim – has been a prevalent norm or strategy to evade responsibility to strive wholeheartedly in his footsteps. Diverted by political motives, we care little about exploring the timeless teachings of Buddha, much less living in accord with them or becoming a Buddha ourselves; when the will to die for Ram mandir enough, no one asks if you lived like Ram or not. Unfortunately, we had to duck down, harnessing it wisely as a card to save face, presumably to cover up our inferiority complex that resulted from an inability to achieve anything remarkable all these years. During the Second Coming, such desperation and naivety must disillusion and disgust Buddha, all the more because of our incompetence in not being able to solve bigger problems like the draconian caste system that he has. condemned and attempted to abolish 2,500 years ago.
Awakening a dichotomy and duality no longer exist; good and evil, pain and pleasure, friend and foe, all transcended. Yet Buddha would have felt astonished or dejected, noticing the incredible resemblance of suffering, greed, enmity, conspiracy, envy, and so on between the 6th century BC and the 21st century. century AD. depression, leaving him unhappy and doubtful about the power of his teachings and philosophy. Center the timeless teachings around – Dhamma or the Eternal Law – born of six years of human welfare work that has become obsolete and irrelevant in the 21st century?
Not at all. The infallible teachings, without a doubt, are powerful and relevant, for they have transformed people, raising human consciousness, although the number is quite unsatisfactory. During those 2,500 years, Buddha must have been aware of the grim reality, trusting humans more than they deserve; the bar too high for many to aim or shoot. This fact, for most of us, is a difficult pill to swallow.
Interestingly, as soon as the achievement of Nirvana radiated his being, the Samsara has been overcome, all past residual karmas have been exhausted, rendering him unable to be born again; therefore the Second Coming is impossible. Leaving no stone unturned, he tirelessly disseminated his priceless message for 45 years and left with the hope that the future world will strive to achieve the same goal of Nirvana or awakening. However, accustomed to sleep and ignorance, his return can exasperate us as Dostoevsky’s Jesus did to the Pope, and thus force us to reveal our hidden thoughts: “Why did you come back? We can celebrate you as a story, but not yet ready for your wisdom ”.
Way to go
Mobilizing different platforms to propagate the idea of Buddha’s identity and rekindle animosity against neighbors over their proud claims is an insignificant and infinitesimal task compared to much higher noble causes characterized by the discussion, dissemination, exchange and monitoring of the heritage of Buddha. Buddha hardly cares about trivial territoriality and our spiritual growth is his only concern. The materialization of his vision – to heal society from the heinous caste system and uplift human consciousness filled with peace, love and compassion – should overcome our timely toxic pride fueled by obsessive statements of the mantra “Buddha was born in Nepal” .
Although our outside world has undergone a dramatic transformation with all kinds of technological advancements, we are internally as vulnerable as we were 2,500 years ago. Strive and yearn for the work of Buddha – the arts of living – the unnecessary fear of isolation, loneliness, depression, megalomania, stress, depression, greed, hostility, lust, violence and hatred could be kept at bay. Buddha does not promise false hopes, false blessings or vain consolations, far from it; to expect spirituality to heal death, sickness and loss is unreasonable. Rather, it allows us to come to terms with inevitable existential realities, developing resilience and clarity. And above all, let us not forget that countless Buddhas can be born, such as the metamorphosis of Siddhartha into Buddha, provided that we courageously venture on our spiritual journeys.