Dhamma Chakra Pravartan Din is a popular Buddhist festival in India and across the globe to honor the first sermon given by Lord Buddha after enlightenment.
Around two thousand five hundred years ago, Lord Buddha after the rigorous efforts of six years got enlightenment on the night of Vaisak Purnima.
The scriptures state that after enlightenment he delivered his first lecture at Sarnath. This event is historically known as the Dhamma Chakra Pravartan.
“Dhamma’” is a word in the Pali language that means “Dharma” in the Sanskrit language. Dhamma means “the truth” or “the law of nature”.
In Buddhism, the Dhamma means overcoming suffering or dissatisfaction. Buddhists also refer to the Dhamma as Dukkha.
Buddhist doctrine is often attached to the Dhamma and hints at the “teachings of the Buddha”.
Initially, the Dhamma doctrine was passed on by the Buddha to his group of followers through word of mouth.
This doctrine wasn’t written down for many years. The written form of the doctrine appeared much later in the Pali canon.
It is now known as Tipitaka. The doctrine of the Buddha was eventually followed by other teachings, like Mahayana Sutras.
According to Buddhists, when people follow the Dhamma daily, it helps them overcome suffering.
The Dhamma highlights the truth as taught by the Buddha. Also, it encourages people to practice meditation and believe in the Noble Eightfold Path.
Buddhists believe that the Dhamma helps people lead a life that will take them to the path of enlightenment.
In Buddhism, there are three refugees – the Buddha, the Sangha, and the Dhamma. Buddhists believe these refuges help people protect themselves from the suffering they face in the real world.
The word “Dhamma” means ‘to uphold’. Dhamma plays an important role in the main beliefs of Buddhists as it prompts them to ‘hold up’ the religion.
According to Buddhists, the Dhamma plays a vital role in upholding the natural order of the universe. Buddhists are therefore encouraged to follow the Dhamma.
The teachings and actions of the Buddha are reflected in the Dhamma. For example, it is common to see a Buddhist following the Noble Eightfold Path to face and succeed in the extremes of behaviour.
Dhamma Chakra is a major symbol of the Buddhist religion. Also referred to as the “wheel of dharma”, the Dhamma Chakra is a symbol that is indicative of knowledge and light.
In Buddhism, this symbol is used for representing Dharma as preached by the Buddha, the walking of the path of Enlightenment, and the Buddha himself.
One of the oldest symbols of faith in South Asia, the Dhamma Chakra is connected to the Dependent Origination, the Noble Eightfold Path, and the Four Noble Truths.
In his first sermon, the Buddha is believed to have set in motion his “wheel of dharma”. In an explanation to his followers, the Buddha is said to have paired his action with wisdom, insight, and knowledge.
The Buddhist Dhamma Chakra has different designs with 8, 12, 24, or more spokes. According to Buddhism, different aspects of the teachings of the Buddha are represented by the different number of spokes.
Also, according to Buddhism, the spokes of the chakra indicate the Buddhist doctrine of dependent origination.
Buddha and his Dhamma
“The Buddha and his Dhamma” is one of the last works of Indian scholar and stateman, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. This is basically a treatise based on the philosophy and life of the Buddha.
First published in 1957, a year after Ambedkar’s death, the Buddha and his Dhamma have been translated into many languages, including Kannada, Bengali, Telugu, Gujarati, Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, and Marathi.
According to Ambedkar, the book intends to provide a proper understanding of Buddhism to readers.
The publication is arranged into 8 books or parts in an attempt made to provide a consistent and clear statement of teaching and the life of the Buddha.
Book I – This part of the book highlights the early life of the Buddha when he was called Siddharth Gautama.
This part throws more light on Gautama’s family life, education, initiation into political life, and his decision to leave his family and become a nomad.
This chapter also highlights Siddharth’s realization the root of all the suffering and sorrow is because of the conflict between different classes.
Siddharth Gautama could not find a solution to the problems the world was facing, despite traveling widely, living an ascetic and austere life, and studying different philosophic systems.
However, soon after he meditated, he attained enlightenment and became the Buddha.
While discussing the responses of the Buddha towards the contemporary and established schools of thought, Dr Ambedkar is said to have emphasized that his Dhamma was his own creation and not the one derived from the Buddha.
Book II – The reasons for propagating his Dhamma is well explained in this book by the Buddha.
There are two conversions the Buddha’s doctrine offers – Upasakas, who are required to follow certain precepts and who could remain as householders.
In the first sermon, the Buddha clearly explains the purpose of the Dhamma to remove all the suffering of the world.
The way the purpose of the Dhamma is achieved is referred to as the “Middle Way”. It indicates the paths of purity, virtue, and righteousness.
This chapter of the book highlights the instances when individuals have adopted the Buddha’s way. These individuals, according to the book, come from different classes, castes, occupations, and gender.
Book III – All the teachings of the Dhamma are explained in this chapter of the book.
The book is also dedicated to clearing all the misconceptions surrounding the Buddha. Dr Ambedkar, in his book, says that the Buddha does not mention anything about himself in his dhamma.
Also, according to Dr Ambedkar, the Buddha does not claim his dhamma or he had divine sanction. The book clearly indicates that following the path as suggested by the Buddha does not promise salvation.
The book has a dedicated section that discusses Saddhamma (the true and good doctrine), Adhamma (opposite of Dhamma), and Dhamma.
In the Dhamma section of the book, the Buddha tells the definition of different concepts, like salvation or Nibbana.
According to the Buddha, “Nibbana” means having full control over one’s passion to be able to walk on a path that leads to righteousness.
This is different to a state that can be achieved only in the future, at a later stage.
According to the Buddha, the above approach is accessible, attractive, and inviting to any disciple who is wise.
In the discussion about Adhamma, Dr Ambedkar excuses himself against the arguments of the Buddha when it comes to the supernatural, belief in God, ‘union with Brahma’, and the soul.
Dr Ambedkar highlights the ideal principles of Dhamma in the section on Saddhamma. Furthermore, he indicates how different they are Brahminic principles.
Book IV – This book throws more light on the differences between religion and Dhamma. While Dhamma is fundamentally social, religion is considered to be personal.
While in religion the origin of the world is discussed, the Dhamma does not talk about it. The Dhamma only highlights the ways to reconstruct the world.
Furthermore, there is no concept of God in Dhamma. Instead, it is replaced by universal and sacred morality.
The main reason for the confusion, according to the Buddha, is the similarities of terminologies in the Brahminic religion and the Buddha’s doctrine.
For example, the Law of Dharma is used both in the Dhamma as well as the Brahminic religion.
While in the Buddha’s dhamma, the Law of Karma is based on the actions of an individual, in the Brahminic religion it is focused on the transmigration of souls.
The book also reveals various observances that make up the Buddhist way of life.
Book V –Sangh’s structure and practices are covered in this book. The Sangh is basically the organization of Bhikkus.
Anyone could join the Sangh, irrespective of their gender, caste, or status. However, women were mainly admitted to the Bhikkuni Sangh.
The book states the rules of conduct and the duties that need to be followed by those who joined the Sangh.
The book also mentions various mechanisms that were required to be followed, including confessions, vows, punishments, and trials.
Book VI – In this book, Dr Ambedkar records different people’s responses to the Buddha’s teachings.
According to Dr Ambedkar, these people could be classified into friends, benefactors, admirers, critics, and enemies.
There is a record maintained in this book about the gifts provided by some of the rich and affluent followers. These gifts were either Viharas, gardens, medicines, robes and food for Bhikkus.
The book also mentions in detail the conspiracies hatched by Jains, Brahmins, and others against the Buddha for his work.
The book not only mentions all the charges levied against the Buddha and his teachings but also refutes all of them.
According to Dr Ambedkar, it was of paramount importance for the Buddha to eliminate all the suffering.
Therefore, any pessimism charge that was levied against the Buddha or his teaching didn’t hold a chance.
This book also contains several stories pertaining to the immense faith the followers had in the teachings of the Buddha.
The book also highlights the power of the Buddha to not just persuade his followers but also gather new followers.
Book VII – This book mentions a lot of places in ancient India that were visited by the Buddha after he became a missionary.
Despite many of his audiences were not open-minded, the Buddha worked tirelessly. The chapter also highlights the scenes of the last meetings between the Buddha and his family members.
There is also a dedicated section in the book that depicts the Buddha’s last sermon. The end of the book indicates the circumstances surrounding the death of the Buddha and the grief that engulfed his disciples.
The Buddha anticipated that some disagreements or disputes may arise after his death on matters related to his doctrine.
He, therefore, urged to put an end to the controversy by reaching the fraternity. He believed that there was a need for the whole body to assemble together and settle the matter amicably.
The settlement must be such that an agreement has to be reached. Furthermore, the Buddha refused to appoint a successor.
His belief was that a dictator cannot amicably put an end to the controversies surrounding the path.
Book VIII – This book is dedicated to providing readers with a picture of the traits and appearance of the Buddha.
Dr Ambedkar makes use of several life-based examples to indicate to readers how much love and respect the Buddha commanded from his disciples.
The book also highlights how the Buddha uses his readiness, forbearance, and compassion to provide solace to those who are ailing and grieving.
The book is also dedicated to indicating the Buddha’s strong sense of equality. The Buddha, according to Dr Ambedkar never believe in the ‘acquisitive instinct’.
Also, he was against greed. Neither did the Buddha believe in poverty, nor did he consider poverty to be a happy state for one to be in.
What is Dhamma Chakra Pravartan Din?
The Dhamma Chakra Pravartan Din is a popular Buddhist festival in India. On 14 October 1956, B. R. Ambedkar and his 600,000 followers got converted to Buddhism.
The event took place at Deekshabhoomi, Nagpur. The Dhamma Chakra Pravartan Din is celebrated on this day to commemorate this event. Every year, the Dhamma Chakra Pravartan Din is celebrated at Deekshabhoomi.
The event organized by Ambedkar also became a mark of protest and self-respect against the oppression the backward classes had to deal with in the Hindu community.
Lakhs of followers of Ambedkar visit Deekshabhoomi every year and get converted to Buddhism by following certain rituals.
Importance of Dhamma Chakra Pravartan Din
When you look at the history of Dhamma Chakra Pravartan Din, its importance will be glorified. On this day, Dr Ambedkar got formally converted himself from a Hindu to a Buddhist.
The significance of the day when mass conversions took place on October 14 at Nagpur can be attributed to as a matter of self-respect and protest toward the attitude of the Hindu community against the depressed classes of society.
This day is considered to be an important one in India’s history as it paid the way for the Buddhist movement in India.
Dhamma Chakra Pravartan Din 2022
Dhamma Chakra Pravartan Din 2022 will be celebrated on October 5, Wednesday. Some people also prefer celebrating this occasion on October 14.