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A story to make your Buddha Purnima glow

by Navni Chawla
Buddha Purnima glow

On a moonlit night, a woman offered rice pudding to an emaciated man, unaware she was saving the life of the Buddha who would turn the dharma wheel.    

Beneath a canopy of mango trees, heavy with the promise of summer fruit, Sujata hummed a lullaby, her heart brimming with love as vast as the approaching monsoon sky. Her son, a miracle granted after years of fervent prayers, slept peacefully in her arms.

The scent of jasmine filled the air, mingling with the sweet perfume of night-blooming champa flowers. Tonight was Purnima, the full moon, a night whispered about in hushed tones, imbued with a mystical power. Sujata, her heart overflowing with gratitude, decided to make an offering to the benevolent tree spirit that, she believed, had granted her wish.

Carrying a clay pot filled with creamy rice pudding fragrant with cardamom and saffron, Sujata ventured deeper into the grove. The moon, a pearl in the velvet darkness, cast an ethereal glow, filtering through the leaves, painting the forest floor in silver.

Suddenly, a figure emerged beneath a gnarled banyan tree, its ancient roots weaving a tapestry around his serene form. He was emaciated, his skin the color of sunbaked earth, his eyes radiating an otherworldly light. Sujata gasped, mistaking him for the tree spirit due to the luminous aura cast by the moon.

Overcome with an inexplicable reverence, Sujata knelt before him and offered the pot of kheer. “Forgive my intrusion, holy one,” she whispered, her voice trembling. “Accept this humble offering, a token of my gratitude for the gift you have bestowed upon me.”

The figure, none other than Siddhartha, the prince who had renounced his life of luxury to seek enlightenment, smiled gently. Years of rigorous meditation had taken their toll, leaving him on the brink of collapse. Yet, Sujata’s offering, a simple act of kindness, arrived at the most opportune moment.

He accepted kheer with a silent bow, the cool sweetness nourishing his parched body and weary spirit. As he consumed the offering, a sense of renewed strength coursed through him. He knew, with a certainty that resonated deep within his soul, that his path to enlightenment was no longer shrouded in doubt.

Sujata, witnessing the change that swept over him, felt a deep sense of peace settle within her. Though unaware of the true identity of the man, she knew she had played a role in something momentous.

Years later, when Siddhartha attained enlightenment and became the Buddha, Sujata learned who she had unknowingly encountered. Her heart swelled with pride, knowing that her simple act of compassion had played a pivotal role in shaping the world’s fate.

The story of Sujata and the kheer became a legend, a testament to the power of kindness, a reminder that even the smallest offering, driven by a pure heart, can illuminate the path to enlightenment, just like the gentle glow of the Purnima moon bathing the world in its ethereal light.

Buddha Purnima/Vesak this year is on May 23

Study Buddha’s teachings, not simply rely on faith

His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave a message for Buddha Purnima/Vesak – 2024

Although it is more than 2500 years since the Buddha lived and taught in India, the essence of his teaching remains as relevant today as it was then. While modern science has developed a sophisticated understanding of the physical world, Buddhist science has devoted itself to developing a detailed, first-person understanding of many aspects of the mind and emotions, areas still relatively new to modern science. I believe that a synthesis of these two approaches has great potential to lead to discoveries that will enrich our physical, emotional and social well-being.

As a Tibetan Buddhist monk, I consider myself an heir to the Nalanda Tradition. The way Buddhism was taught and studied at Nalanda University represents the zenith of its development in India. If we are to be 21st century Buddhists, it is important that we engage in the study and analysis of the Buddha’s teachings, as so many did there, instead of simply relying on faith.

Buddha Purnima or Vesak commemorates Buddha Shakyamuni’s birth, enlightenment and passing away, and is considered the most sacred day in the Buddhist calendar. On this auspicious occasion, I offer fellow Buddhists everywhere my good wishes in leading meaningful lives filled with warm heartedness and compassion.

With my prayers and good wishes,

Dalai Lama

(Posted on May 9, 2024 on

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Renu Chopra May 22, 2024 - 2:06 pm

Well said, an act of kindness can go a long way

Navni Chawla
Navni Chawla May 27, 2024 - 6:34 am

Thank you:))