Every year on either February 8th or 15th, Mahayana Buddhists throughout the world celebrate Nirvana Day. The event, also known as Parinirvana Day, commemorates Buddha’s death and his entrance into complete Nirvana.
Some people mistakenly think that the historical Buddha was a god. However, he was an ordinary person named Siddhartha Gautama. Buddha was actually his title. The word “buddha” means “a person who is awake.”
The Buddha is believed to have been born in 567 BC in Nepal. As the son of a king, he was called Prince Siddhartha. He was 29 years old when he encountered his first sick person, old man, and then a corpse. He realized that even though he was royalty, he too, would one day die. To prepare for this day, he went on a spiritual quest. During this time, he renounced his worldly life. Eventually, he discovered that meditation was the only path to a peaceful existence.
One day, he sat in meditation beneath a ficus tree until he realized enlightenment. From that time on, he became known as The Buddha. He spent the rest of his life teaching others how to realize enlightenment for themselves. This enlightenment focuses on four noble truths:
- Life involves suffering.
- Having desires causes suffering.
- Overcoming desires can end suffering.
- Following the Eightfold Path, which is represented by a wheel, can also end suffering.
When enlightenment is realized, it is called partial nirvana. Complete or final nirvana is achieved only in death. This is when all want and suffering is gone. The Buddha died at the age of 80. After his death, his disciples established schools in his name.
HOW TO OBSERVE #NirvanaDay
- Contemplate the teachings of Buddha.
- Buddhist monasteries and temples to hold meditation retreats.
- Some people remember their family members or friends who have died. Doing so helps them reflect on the fact that death is part of life for everyone.
- Learn more about The Buddha and his teachings.
- Read about how Buddhism influenced these famous people: Tiger Woods, Steve Jobs, George Lucas, and Tina Turner.
- Read a book on Buddhism, such as, What the Buddha Taught, Buddhism for Beginners, or The Art of Happiness.
Share this day on social media with #NirvanaDay.
NIRVANA DAY HISTORY
This day has been observed for thousands of years, primarily by Mahayana Buddhists. These Buddhists reside in China, Japan, Korea, Tibet, Vietnam, and other parts of the world. Since the date is not exactly known when The Buddha died, some Buddhists observe this day on February 8th. The majority of Buddhists observe it on February 15th.