Losar & Buddha Days
The Tibetan calendar is different than our calendar.
Losar (Tibetan New Year) is in 2010 on the 14th February and that is the start of the Year of the Iron Tiger 2137.
The celebration of Losar can be traced back to the pre-Buddhist period in Tibet. During the period when Tibetans practiced the Bon religion, every winter a spiritual ceremony was held, in which people offered large quantities of incense to appease the local spirits, deities and protectors. This religious festival later evolved into an annual Buddhist festival which is believed to have originated during the reign of Pude Gungyal, the ninth King of Tibet.
The festival is said to have begun when an old woman named Belma introduced the measurement of time based on the phases of the moon. This festival took place during the flowering of the apricot trees of the Lhokha Yarla Shampo region in autumn, and it may have been the first celebration of what has become the traditional farmers' festival. It was during this period that the arts of cultivation, irrigation, refining
iron from ore and building bridges were first introduced in Tibet. The ceremonies which were instituted to celebrate these new capabilities can be recognized as precursors of the Losar festival. Later when the rudiments of the science of astrology, based on the five elements, were introduced in Tibet, this farmer's festival became what we now call the Losar or New Year's festival.
There are special Buddha Days. On these special days karmic results are multiplied one hundred million times, as cited in the Vinaya text 'Treasure of Quotations and Logic'.
The practices at Trashi Ganden Choepel Ling are based upon the moon calendar of New Zealand; therefore the dates can be slightly different than the Tibetan calendar due to our place and time in the world.
- Days 1 - 15 of Month 1 : Lord Buddha performed many miracles; the 15th is the Day of Miracles.
14th February to 28th March 2010
- Day 15 of Month 3 : Lord Buddha teaches Kalachakra for the first time. 28th April 2010
- Day 15 of Month 4 : Lord Buddha's birth, enlightenment and paranirvana. 28th May 2010
- Day 4 of Month 6 : Lord Buddha's first teaching. 15th July 2010
- Day 22 of Month 9 : Lord Buddha's actual descent from God Realm of 33. 29th October 2010
The Miraculous Deeds of Buddha Shakyamuni at Shravasti - Days 1 - 15 of Month 1
At one time, Buddha was staying with hundreds of bhiksus in the Bamboo Grove outside of Rajagrha, the capital of Magadha. The ruler of that country, King Bimbisara, was one of Buddha’s greatest patrons. In loyalty and respect for Buddha and his bhiksus the King had led many of his subjects to the practice of the teaching.
Six pandits were also staying in Magadha at the time, and their deceptive teachings were the cause of many sinful actions. King Bimbisara’s younger brother followed these six teachers and made great offerings to them, thinking that they taught the path to liberation. As a consequence he became defiled by error, so that even though Buddha’s radiance was in the land, showing the glories of enlightenment, he did not see it. King Bimbisara tried to persuade his brother to give up his erroneous ideas and to respect and listen to the Buddha, but his brother replied, “I have my own teacher. Why should I listen to Buddha?”
Nevertheless, feeling that he should at least respect King Bimbisara’s feelings, the brother decided to give a feast, offering food and gifts to all who came. The six pandits came at once and sat in the highest seats. When Buddha and his disciples did not arrive, King Bimbisara went to his brother and asked, “Why have you not invited Gautama?” His brother replied, “I have done everything possible. I have even prepared the feast at noontime as Gautama does not eat after midday. If he does not come, what more can I do?” “Send someone to invite him,” the king insisted and finally a servant was sent to invite Buddha and his disciples.
They came at once and walked toward the few remaining seats, but before they could reach them the six pandits found themselves getting up from the highest seats and taking the lower. The six pandits tried three times to take the higher seats, but each time they found themselves in the lower. Finally, feeling ashamed, they remained there. Before the food was served, water was brought to the guests so that they could wash their hands. As Buddha was in the highest seat, his host offered the water to him first, but he said, “Offer it first to your teachers.” The water was then offered to the pandits, but when the vessel was tipped nothing flowed into their hands. The host tried again and again, but still the water would not pour. He then offered it again to Buddha. The water flowed freely to Buddha, and after that to everyone.
Before they ate, the host asked Buddha to bless the food. He deferred again to the six pandits, saying, “Request the blessing from your own teachers.” But when the six pandits tried to pray, they were unable to speak a word and gestured that Buddha should say the blessing. Buddha then prayed with a clear, beautiful voice, and the food was offered. It, too, was brought first to Buddha, but he said once more, “Offer it first to your teachers.” The food was then offered to the pandits, but everything they tried to take flew up into the air. After food was taken by Buddha, everything came down into their hands.
After the meal, the host made the customary request for teaching. He asked Buddha to speak, but Buddha again deferred to the six pandits, saying, “Have your teachers speak of their doctrines.” Again the six pandits, unable to speak a word, could only motion for Buddha to speak. He spoke out in a beautiful voice, and each listener heard what fitted his own needs. Everyone’s understanding was greatly increased. Even King Bimbisara’s knowledge grew from high to higher. Many attained the first to the third stages of liberation; others expanded their bodhi-mind, and some attained the supreme bodhi-mind. A great number of people attained the stage of non-returning, and others, attaining the effects they prayed for, developed great faith in the doctrine of the Three jewels. From that time on, the people of Rajagrha followed the Buddha.
The six pandits went away angry at having lost their followers. They asked some of Mara’s devils to help them curtail the Buddha’s activities. Complying with their request, these devils manifested themselves in the bodies of the six pandits. They went to the market place and performed various miraculous deeds – shooting water, flames, and burning lights of many colours from their bodies. Many people marvelled at these things and became their followers. To them the devils proclaimed, “Through the wickedness of Gautama we have fallen into misfortune. All the kings, Brahmins, and great patrons who used to worship us and bring us offerings now no longer respect us. They used to give us all the necessities of food, dress, and medicine – everything we wanted. Now these same people are running after Gautama, giving him everything they used to give us. We therefore challenge Gautama, this great guru of everyone. For every one of his miracles we will do two; if he does sixteen, we will do thirty–two. People shall see for themselves who is more powerful.”
Then the six pandits went to King Bimbisara and asked him to deliver their challenge to Buddha. The King laughed at their arrogance. “You are foolish. Your miraculous deeds cannot begin to equal those of Buddha. Your challenge is like the light of a firefly compared with sunlight, like the water standing in an ox’s hoof print compared with the ocean. It is like the fox challenging the lion.” But the six pandits persisted and said, “You will see. What happened before is no indication of what will happen now. When we compete, it will be clear who is the greater.”
King Bimbisara visited Buddha and told him of the challenge, “These six pandits want to compare their miraculous deeds with those of the Tathagata. I told them they were foolish, but they would not listen. Will you please show them your miraculous powers to reverse their wrong views and lead them to do virtuous work? When you do this, may I be there?” Buddha replied, “The time will be known. Please prepare a suitable place.” So King Bimbisara ordered his ministers to clean and prepare a broad field. There they put a lion throne and victory banners and the standard of the Conqueror Buddha. All the people eagerly awaited the sight of Buddha and the six pandits performing their miracles. However, to everyone’s surprise, Buddha left Rajagrha and went to the neighbouring city of Vaisali.
All the people of Vaisali, the Licchavi, welcomed the Tathagata. When the six pandits heard that Buddha had gone to Vaisali, they proudly proclaimed, “Gautama is afraid of us. He has run away to Vaisali,” and they followed after him. King Bimbisara with five hundred carriages, elephants, horses, provisions, and thousands of attendants and ministers also went to Vaisali. The six pandits took their challenge to the King of the Licchavi, and he came to Buddha, saying, “Please show your miraculous powers and subdue these men.” Again Buddha answered, “All in good time,” and told them to prepare a place.
But again he went to another country, Kausambi, followed by a great multitude and the six pandits. King Udrayana and the people of Kausambi welcomed Buddha. Through King Udrayana, the six pandits again issued their challenge to Buddha, who again replied, “The time is known. Prepare a place.” King Udrayana made great preparations, but Buddha went on to War, the land of King Shun Tsin, From War he went to Tigitsashiri, which was ruled by King Brahmadatta. From there he went to Kapila, the country of his own people, the Sakyas, and finally he went to Sravasti, the land of King Prasenajit. He was followed there by the Kings of the countries he had passed through, along with many thousands of their attendants, and by the six pandits with their ninety thousand followers.
The six pandits went to King Prasenajit, saying, “We have prepared our miraculous deeds. Much time has passed since we challenged Gautama, and he is still running away. It is time for us to compare our miraculous powers.” King Prasenajit replied, laughing. “You know nothing, yet you want to challenge the great king of Dharma. Such people as yourselves cannot be compared with him.” But to quiet them, King Prasenajit visited Buddha and said, “Those six pandits are always wanting to challenge you. Please show your miraculous powers and subdue them.” Again Buddha replied, “The time is known. Prepare a suitable place.” King Prasenajit had his ministers clean and prepare a wide field, burning incense and placing there a lion throne and the standard and banners of the Conqueror.
On the first day of spring, Buddha went to this field that had been prepared for him and sat upon the lion throne before the great multitude that had assembled there. After King Prasenajit had made great offerings to him, the Tathagata took a toothpick in his hand and placed it in the ground. It grew at once into a marvellous tree. On its branches, which extended for kilometres, grew beautiful leaves, flowers, fruit, and jewels of every kind. The many – coloured light emanating from the jewels was as brilliant as the light of the sun and moon combined. When the branches of the tree rustled in the wind, the sounds of the teaching were heard. Then Buddha himself spoke to the multitude assembled there. Many of the people listening progressed greatly – some attained arhatship and millions ripened the seeds for rebirth in the high states of humans or gods.
On the second day of spring King Udrayana made great offerings to Buddha. The Tathagata then turned his head right and left, and on either side of the lion throne a jewel mountain emerged. Each of the mountains abounded in grass and flowers and fruit trees filled with beautiful birds, and on each mountain flowed a magical spring whose water had eight different tastes. One mountain was covered with lush grass to feed and satisfy animals, while the other was covered with special food to satisfy humans. Buddha then spoke the teaching according to each person’s ability, and many freed their minds by listening. Some of those present generated the supreme bodhi–mind, and many established the inclination for rebirth as humans or gods.
On the third day King Shun Tsin of War made offerings to the Tathagata. After eating, Buddha rinsed his mouth with water. On the ground where the water fell, a great lake formed which extended for three hundred kilometres. The water had eight tastes, and the bottom of the lake was covered with seven kinds of jewels. Great quantities of lotus flowers of every colour grew on its surface, and their fragrance filled the air; by the rays of light extending from them in all directions, the people could see everywhere. When they saw this, the people were very happy, and when Buddha spoke the teachings, some attained arhatship, some increased their bodhi-mind, and many others attained the seeds of rebirth in the worlds of humans or gods.
On the fourth day King Indravarma prepared the offerings for Buddha. Buddha created a pool from which eight streams flowed outward in circular paths, and to which they returned. In the sound of the streams people heard the teachings of the five powers, the five strengths, the seven aspects of bodhi-mind, the eightfold path, the three principles of the path to liberation, the six kinds of omniscience, four immeasurables. From this statement of the Dharma, many attained understanding of the effects of reaching buddhahood and many attained the inclination to rebirth in the high states of humans or gods. Hundreds of thousands increased their virtuous work.
On the fifth day King Brahmadatta of Varanasi prepared various offerings for Buddha. From the smiling face of the Tathagata shone a golden light that filled the entire world. This light reached all living beings and purified the defilements of the three poisons: desire, hatred and ignorance. All beings became peaceful in body and mind, and those assembled rejoiced greatly. When Buddha spoke, many increased their bodhi-mind, many planted seeds of rebirth as humans or gods, and a countless number increased their virtuous work.
On the sixth day the Licchavi people made offerings to Buddha. Buddha then let all who were there see into each other’s minds and each understood the others good and bad thoughts. All experienced great faith and praised the knowledge of Buddha. When the Tathagata then taught the holy Dharma, many people attained great understanding – some attained bodhi-mind, some arhatship and an immeasurable number attained rebirth as humans and gods.
On the seventh day, Buddha’s own clan, the Sakyas, made offerings to him. He blessed all the listeners, so that they became great cakra-vartins (universal Kings that support the Dharma), each possessing seven magic jewels. Each ruled his own small country and had many respectful ministers. All were very happy with this and when Buddha spoke they had great faith. Having increased their bodhi-mind, many attained arhatship and others sowed seeds of rebirth as humans or gods.
On the eighth day Indra (supreme god of Vedism) invited Buddha and prepared a great lion throne. When the Tathagata was seated upon it, Indra himself made offerings on Buddha’s left while Brahma (supreme god of Brahmanism) made offerings on his right. They both bowed down before him, while the people sat quietly. Buddha placed his right hand on the lion throne in the earth touching mudra, and there was a great sound of trumpeting elephants. Five fierce demons came roaring forth and the thrones of the six pandits were destroyed. After the demons, Vajrapani came, with flames shooting from the point of his Vajra. The six pandits were terrified and jumped into the water and disappeared. Their teachers having deserted them, the ninety thousand attendants took refuge in Buddha and asked to become bhiksus (fully ordained monks). Buddha welcomed them at once, and the matted locks and beards that had marked them as disciples of the six pandits miraculously disappeared. Buddha taught all of them according to their ability to understand. Freeing themselves from the fetters of desire, hatred and ignorance, each attained arhatship. Then the Tathagata radiated eighty-four thousand rays of light from the pores of his body, so that the light filled the entire sky. On the point of each ray was a beautiful lotus, and on top of each lotus appeared a Buddha along with his attendants. Each Buddha was teaching the Tathagata’s doctrines. All the people felt joy at this sight, and their faith was greatly increased. Then Buddha spoke the holy Dharma and many increased their bodhi-mind, some attaining arhatship, and a countless number producing the inclination to take rebirth as humans or gods.
On the ninth day Brahmaraja made offerings to Buddha. The Tathagata extended his body until it reached to the highest heaven of Brahma. From this body rays of light shone in all directions, and from this great height he spoke the teaching.
On the tenth day the four great kings who protect the Dharma invited Buddha to speak. Again he extended his body until it reached to the height of samsara. Rays of light streamed from him, showing the teachings.
On the eleventh day the great patron Anathapindika made offerings to Buddha, who was seated upon the lion throne in meditation. Though the assembly could not see his form, his body radiated golden light, while in a great voice he expounded the teaching.
On the twelfth day the householder Tseta invited Buddha to speak. The Tathagata entered into the meditation of great love, and golden light radiated from his body, extending throughout the worlds. These rays of light cleared the three poisons from the minds of everyone they passed through. All living beings increased their compassion. They loved each other as a father and mother love their children, as a brother loves his sister.
On the thirteenth day King Shun Tsin made offerings to Buddha. The Tathagata sat on the lion throne and two rays of light, rising fifteen metres, radiated from his navel. On the point of each ray of light was a lotus, and on each lotus, a Buddha. From the navel of each Buddha extended two rays of light and upon each of which was a lotus with a Buddha, and so on, filling the worlds. All the Buddha’s were expounding the teachings.
On the fourteenth day King Udrayana made offerings to Buddha. He strewed flowers in front of Buddha, and they changed into twelve hundred and fifty carriages made of precious jewels. Buddha taught the Dharma to beings throughout the worlds as a doctor heals the sick.
On the fifteenth and final day of the spring celebration, King Bimbisara brought gifts to Buddha. Buddha then told King Bimbisara to bring vessels for food. The vessels, which the king himself brought forth, were miraculously filled with foods of a hundred different tastes. When the assemblage ate this food, their bodies and minds were completely satisfied. Buddha asked them, “Why is there such immeasurable misery in the world?” By his blessing, even the eighteen kinds of demons realized that their misery was caused by deeds they had done themselves. They felt great faith in Buddha. As on all the previous days, those assembled attained great advancement: some increased their bodhi-mind, some attained arhatship, some attained the stage of non-returning, many attained the seeds of rebirth as humans or gods and countless others increased their virtue.
From “Door of Liberation” by Geshe Wangyal
Trashi Ganden Choepel Ling
40 Waverley Ave. Glenfield
North Shore City 0629
Auckland New Zealand
Phone: +64 (0)9 444 8886