§ Origins of Bathing the Buddha
According to the first fascicle of the Sutra of the Auspicious Birth of the Prince, Queen Maya of Kapilavastu in India delivered Prince Siddhartha on Apr. 8, and on this auspicious occasion the four Brahma kings appeared and proceeded to bathe the prince with fragrant water.
The Sutra of Universal Brilliance tells us that after Prince Siddhartha’s entry into the world, nine dragons also came to shower him with fragrant water. Nowadays, Buddhists throughout the world annually organize Bathing the Buddha Celebrations on Apr. 8 of Chinese lunar calendar or on the day of the full moon in May as a way to honor their teacher of Buddhism, Sakyamuni Buddha.
What does bathing the Buddha mean? Does the Buddha need a bath? In fact, the act of bathing the Buddha is designed to help us cleanse ourselves and purify our minds.
Participating in Bathing the Buddha Celebration should act as a catalyst which helps us to enhance our morality, cultivate our compassion, and increase our respect of others. By doing so, we will also be following Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s guidance.
§ Meaning of Bathing the Buddha
The fourfold significance of bathing the Buddha：
- While bathing the Buddha, we are cleansing our defilements. At that moment we should vow to get rid of greed, hatred, and ignorance, and purify our body,speech, and mind. We should resolve to do good deeds, speak good words,and think good thoughts so as to reveal our good nature and realize the pure Dharma body of the Buddha.
- In our daily lives, we use water to clean our bodies and wash our dirty clothes. To purify our defilements, we need to use Dharma water. Bathing the Buddha will help us purify our minds by diminishing our defilements.
- Bathing the Buddha reminds us to always keep a pure mind. When bathing the Buddha, we should contemplate whether our mind is pureor not. By praying to transform defiled minds into Bodhi minds, we can help society maintain peace and harmony. We can thereby transform the world into a pure land of truthfulness, virtue, and beauty.
- Besides paying respects to the Buddha, we must have a pure mind. We should transfer the merits of bathing the Buddha to our parents, ancestors, and relatives of previous lives, and to all sentient beings in the six realms to liberate them from suffering.
§ Benefits of Bathing the Buddha
The Sutra of the Merits of Bathing the Buddha says, “Of all offerings, bathing the Buddha is the best one. In fact, it is even more superior to offering seven kinds of treasures in quantities as plentiful as the sands of the Ganges River.” By making this offering, one will
- Enjoy wealth, happiness, good health, and longevity.
- Have all his/her wishes fulfilled.
- Help his/her relatives and friends enjoy peace and happiness.
- Avoid the eight conditions which make it difficult for one to see aBuddha or hear the Dharma.
- Realize enlightenment quickly.
§ Decorum While Bathing the Buddha
- Have unconditional faith in the Buddha. Cultivate a mind of joyfulness.Respectfullyjoin palms and bow to the Buddha.
- Fill the ladle with fragrant water. Don’t spill it.
- While bathing the Buddha, be serene, concentrate your mind, and contemplate the Dharma.
- Sprinkle water from the right shoulder of the Buddha and vow silently: I vow to stop doing evil deeds (i.e. do good deeds).
- Sprinkle water from the left shoulder of the Buddha and vow silently: I vow to cultivate good deeds (i.e. speak good words).
- Sprinkle water from the right shoulder of the Buddha again and vow silently: I vow to liberate all sentient beings (i.e. think good thoughts).
- At the end of the ritual, your faith and vow, virtue and wisdom will be enhanced. Make another bow to the Buddha.
§ Verse of Bathing the Buddha
I am bathing the Buddha, who is pure, brilliant, magnificent, and meritorious.
May all sentient beings in this world of suffering distance themselves from defilements and realize the pure Dharma body of the Buddha.