The Mission of Lord Buddha

Buddha's

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For some reason, I have always been attracted to Buddha since my early childhood. Later in my life as I turned 18, I also became interested in vegetarianism, which peaked my interest in spiritual life as well. So it was, I began the practice of yoga and meditation. It is interesting to note that later (age 21) when I became a Hare Krishna devotee, was when my actual education in Lord Buddha began. We share with you two select verses from the Srimad Bhagavatam describing the mission of Lord Buddha.

The mission of Lord Buddha was to save people from the abominable activity of animal killing and to save the poor animals from being unnecessarily killed.

Lord Buddha, a powerful incarnation of the Personality of Godhead, appeared in the province of Gayā (Bihar) as the son of Añjana, and he preached his own conception of nonviolence and deprecated even the animal sacrifices sanctioned in the Vedas. At the time when Lord Buddha appeared, the people in general were atheistic and preferred animal flesh to anything else. On the plea of Vedic sacrifice, every place was practically turned into a slaughterhouse, and animal killing was indulged in unrestrictedly. Lord Buddha preached nonviolence, taking pity on the poor animals. He preached that he did not believe in the tenets of the Vedas and stressed the adverse psychological effects incurred by animal killing. Less intelligent men of the age of Kali, who had no faith in God, followed his principle, and for the time being they were trained in moral discipline and nonviolence, the preliminary steps for proceeding further on the path of God realization. He deluded the atheists because such atheists who followed his principles did not believe in God, but they kept their absolute faith in Lord Buddha, who himself was the incarnation of God. Thus the faithless people were made to believe in God in the form of Lord Buddha. That was the mercy of Lord Buddha: he made the faithless faithful to him.

Select verses:

Srimad Bhagavatam
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Canto 1, Chapter 3, Text 24

tataḥ kalau sampravṛtte
sammohāya sura-dviṣām
buddho nāmnāñjana-sutaḥ
kīkaṭeṣu bhaviṣyati

tataḥ—thereafter; kalau—the age of Kali; sampravṛtte—having ensued; sammohāya—for the purpose of deluding; sura—the theists; dviṣām—those who are envious; buddhaḥ—Lord Buddha; nāmnā—of the name; añjana-sutaḥ—the son of Añjana; kīkaṭeṣu—in the province of Gayā (Bihar); bhaviṣyati—will take place.

TRANSLATION

Then, in the beginning of Kali-yuga, the Lord will appear as Lord Buddha, the son of Añjana, in the province of Gayā, just for the purpose of deluding those who are envious of the faithful theist.

PURPORT

Lord Buddha, a powerful incarnation of the Personality of Godhead, appeared in the province of Gayā (Bihar) as the son of Añjana, and he preached his own conception of nonviolence and deprecated even the animal sacrifices sanctioned in the Vedas. At the time when Lord Buddha appeared, the people in general were atheistic and preferred animal flesh to anything else. On the plea of Vedic sacrifice, every place was practically turned into a slaughterhouse, and animal killing was indulged in unrestrictedly. Lord Buddha preached nonviolence, taking pity on the poor animals. He preached that he did not believe in the tenets of the Vedas and stressed the adverse psychological effects incurred by animal killing. Less intelligent men of the age of Kali, who had no faith in God, followed his principle, and for the time being they were trained in moral discipline and nonviolence, the preliminary steps for proceeding further on the path of God realization. He deluded the atheists because such atheists who followed his principles did not believe in God, but they kept their absolute faith in Lord Buddha, who himself was the incarnation of God. Thus the faithless people were made to believe in God in the form of Lord Buddha. That was the mercy of Lord Buddha: he made the faithless faithful to him.

Killing of animals before the advent of Lord Buddha was the most prominent feature of the society. People claimed that these were Vedic sacrifices. When the Vedas are not accepted through the authoritative disciplic succession, the casual readers of the Vedas are misled by the flowery language of that system of knowledge. In the Bhagavad-gītā a comment has been made on such foolish scholars (avipaścitaḥ). The foolish scholars of Vedic literature who do not care to receive the transcendental message through the transcendental realized sources of disciplic succession are sure to be bewildered. To them, the ritualistic ceremonies are considered to be all in all. They have no depth of knowledge. According to the Bhagavad-gītā (15.15), vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyaḥ: the whole system of the Vedas is to lead one gradually to the path of the Supreme Lord. The whole theme of Vedic literature is to know the Supreme Lord, the individual soul, the cosmic situation and the relation between all these items. When the relation is known, the relative function begins, and as a result of such a function the ultimate goal of life or going back to Godhead takes place in the easiest manner. Unfortunately, unauthorized scholars of the Vedas become captivated by the purificatory ceremonies only, and natural progress is thereby checked.

To such bewildered persons of atheistic propensity, Lord Buddha is the emblem of theism. He therefore first of all wanted to check the habit of animal killing. The animal killers are dangerous elements on the path going back to Godhead. There are two types of animal killers. The soul is also sometimes called the “animal” or the living being. Therefore, both the slaughterer of animals and those who have lost their identity of soul are animal killers.

Mahārāja Parīkṣit said that only the animal killer cannot relish the transcendental message of the Supreme Lord. Therefore if people are to be educated to the path of Godhead, they must be taught first and foremost to stop the process of animal killing as above mentioned. It is nonsensical to say that animal killing has nothing to do with spiritual realization. By this dangerous theory many so-called sannyāsīs have sprung up by the grace of Kali-yuga who preach animal killing under the garb of the Vedas. The subject matter has already been discussed in the conversation between Lord Caitanya and Maulana Chand Kazi Shaheb. The animal sacrifice as stated in the Vedas is different from the unrestricted animal killing in the slaughterhouse. Because the asuras or the so-called scholars of Vedic literatures put forward the evidence of animal killing in the Vedas, Lord Buddha superficially denied the authority of the Vedas. This rejection of the Vedas by Lord Buddha was adopted in order to save people from the vice of animal killing as well as to save the poor animals from the slaughtering process of their big brothers who clamor for universal brotherhood, peace, justice and equity. There is no justice when there is animal killing. Lord Buddha wanted to stop it completely, and therefore his cult of ahiṁsā was propagated not only in India but also outside the country.

Technically Lord Buddha’s philosophy is called atheistic because there is no acceptance of the Supreme Lord and because that system of philosophy denied the authority of the Vedas. But that is an act of camouflage by the Lord. Lord Buddha is the incarnation of Godhead. As such, he is the original propounder of Vedic knowledge. He therefore cannot reject Vedic philosophy. But he rejected it outwardly because the sura-dviṣa, or the demons who are always envious of the devotees of Godhead, try to support cow killing or animal killing from the pages of the Vedas, and this is now being done by the modernized sannyāsīs. Lord Buddha had to reject the authority of the Vedas altogether. This is simply technical, and had it not been so he would not have been so accepted as the incarnation of Godhead. Nor would he have been worshiped in the transcendental songs of the poet Jayadeva, who is a Vaiṣṇava ācārya. Lord Buddha preached the preliminary principles of the Vedas in a manner suitable for the time being (and so also did Śaṅkarācārya) to establish the authority of the Vedas. Therefore both Lord Buddha and Ācārya Śaṅkara paved the path of theism, and Vaiṣṇava ācāryas, specifically Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, led the people on the path towards a realization of going back to Godhead.

We are glad that people are taking interest in the nonviolent movement of Lord Buddha. But will they take the matter very seriously and close the animal slaughterhouses altogether? If not, there is no meaning to the ahiṁsā cult.

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam was composed just prior to the beginning of the age of Kali (about five thousand years ago), and Lord Buddha appeared about twenty-six hundred years ago. Therefore in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam Lord Buddha is foretold. Such is the authority of this clear scripture. There are many such prophecies, and they are being fulfilled one after another. They will indicate the positive standing of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, which is without trace of mistake, illusion, cheating and imperfection, which are the four flaws of all conditioned souls. The liberated souls are above these flaws; therefore they can see and foretell things which are to take place on distant future dates.

Srimad Bhagavatam
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Canto 6, Chapter 10, Text 9

etāvān avyayo dharmaḥ
puṇya-ślokair upāsitaḥ
yo bhūta-śoka-harṣābhyām
ātmā śocati hṛṣyati

etāvān—this much; avyayaḥ—imperishable; dharmaḥ—religious principle; puṇya-ślokaiḥ—by famous persons who are celebrated as pious; upāsitaḥ—recognized; yaḥ—which; bhūta—of the living beings; śoka—by the distress; harṣābhyām—and by the happiness; ātmā—the mind; śocati—laments; hṛṣyati—feels happiness.

TRANSLATION

If one is unhappy to see the distress of other living beings and happy to see their happiness, his religious principles are appreciated as imperishable by exalted persons who are considered pious and benevolent.

PURPORT
One generally follows different types of religious principles or performs various occupational duties according to the body given to him by the modes of material nature. In this verse, however, real religious principles are explained. Everyone should be unhappy to see others in distress and happy to see others happy. Ātmavat sarva-bhūteṣu: one should feel the happiness and distress of others as his own. It is on this basis that the Buddhist religious principle of nonviolence—ahiṁsaḥ parama-dharmaḥ—is established. We feel pain when someone disturbs us, and therefore we should not inflict pain upon other living beings. Lord Buddha’s mission was to stop unnecessary animal killing, and therefore he preached that the greatest religious principle is nonviolence.

One cannot continue killing animals and at the same time be a religious man. That is the greatest hypocrisy. Jesus Christ said, “Do not kill,” but hypocrites nevertheless maintain thousands of slaughterhouses while posing as Christians. Such hypocrisy is condemned in this verse. One should be happy to see others happy, and one should be unhappy to see others unhappy. This is the principle to be followed. Unfortunately, at the present moment so-called philanthropists and humanitarians advocate the happiness of humanity at the cost of the lives of poor animals. That is not recommended herein. This verse clearly says that one should be compassionate to all living entities. Regardless of whether human. animal, tree or plant, all living entities are sons of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Lord Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā (14.4):

sarva-yoniṣu kaunteya
mūrtayaḥ sambhavanti yāḥ
tāsāṁ brahma mahad yonir
ahaṁ bīja-pradaḥ pitā

“It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kuntī, are made possible by birth in this material nature, and that I am the seed-giving father.”

The different forms of these living entities are only their external dresses. Every living being is actually a spirit soul, a part and parcel of God. Therefore one should not favor only one kind of living being. A Vaiṣṇava sees all living entities as part and parcel of God. As the Lord says in Bhagavad-gītā (5.18 and 18.54):

vidyā-vinaya-sampanne
brāhmaṇe gavi hastini
śuni caiva śvapāke ca
paṇḍitāḥ sama-darśinaḥ

“The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brāhmaṇa, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste].”

brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā
na śocati na kāṅkṣati
samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu
mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām
[Bg. 18.54]

“One who is transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.”

A Vaiṣṇava, therefore, is truly a perfect person because he laments to see others unhappy and feels joy at seeing others happy. A Vaiṣṇava is para-duḥkha-duḥkhī; he is always unhappy to see the conditioned souls in an unhappy state of materialism. Therefore a Vaiṣṇava is always busy preaching Kṛṣṇa consciousness throughout the world.

Also:

As described by Śrīla Jayadeva Gosvāmī in his Daśāvatāra-stotra, Lord Buddha apparently decried the Vedic knowledge:

nindasi yajña-vidher ahaha śruti-jātaṁ
sadaya-hṛdaya-darśita-paśu-ghātam
keśava dhṛta-buddha-śarīra jaya jagad-īśa hare

The mission of Lord Buddha was to save people from the abominable activity of animal killing and to save the poor animals from being unnecessarily killed. When pāṣaṇḍīs were cheating by killing animals on the plea of sacrificing them in Vedic yajñas, the Lord said, “If the Vedic injunctions allow animal killing, I do not accept the Vedic principles.” Thus he actually saved people who acted according to Vedic principles. One should therefore surrender to Lord Buddha so that he can help one avoid misusing the injunctions of the Vedas.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Babs
    Apr 05, 2017 @ 09:38:39

    This is the most beautiful strong true article I have ever read in my life…thank you so much <3

    Reply

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