‘The Sermon at Benares’ Chapter Notes Class 10: ‘The Sermon at Benares’ is an unfortunate account of a woman named Kisa Gotami who lost her son. In desperation to bring him back to life, she realised that death is inevitable and one must accept it as a phenomenon of life. The following Notes contain a summary, character sketch and theme of the lesson ‘The Sermon at Benares’.
Click below to study more ..
Broadly, The Sermon at Benares can be divided into:
- Prince Gautama Buddha
- Buddha’s Enlightenment
- Kisa Gotami and Her Son’s Death
- Buddha meets Kisa
- Kisa’s Desperate Search for Seeds
- Kisa’s realisation of the Phenomenon of Death
- Buddha’s Wisdom
Prince Gautama Buddha
- Gautama Buddha was born as Prince Siddhartha Gautama.
- At twelve, he was sent to study the Hindu sacred scriptures. He came back four years later, married and had a son.
- At the age of twenty-five, he saw four sights that affected him deeply. He saw a sick man, an aged man, a funeral procession and a monk begging for alms.
- After wandering for seven years, he sat down under a peepal tree to attain enlightenment.
- After seven days, he attained enlightenment.
- He renamed the tree Bodhi Tree or Tree of Wisdom. He began to teach and share his wisdom.
- He became known as the Buddha – the Awakened or the Enlightened.
- He preached his first sermon at Benares – the holiest of places around the River Ganges.
Kisa Gotami and Her Son’s Death
- A woman named Kisa Gotami, whose only son had died, went from house to house carrying her son and asking for medicine.
- After a while, Kisa Gotami met a man, who told her that he could not cure the child, but he knew someone who could.
- He told her to seek Sakyamuni or the Buddha.
Buddha Meets Kisa
- Kisa Gotami approached the Buddha and asked him for medicine to cure her boy.
- The Buddha asked her for a handful of mustard seeds that come from a house where nobody had died.
Kisa’s Desperate Search for Seeds
- Kisa Gotami went from house to house. The people pitied her and gave her the seeds.
- She then asked if anyone had died in the family.
- Every house she went to, she heard the same story. There was no house without any death.
Kisa’s Realisation of The Phenomenon of Death
- Tired and hopeless, Kisa Gotami sat down by the road. She watched the city and its lights – as they flickered and then went out.
- Darkness covered the city.
- Kisa Gotami thought about the lives of men – now here and now gone – just like the flickering lights.
- She thought about her own selfishness. Death was common to all. Only those who have given up selfishness can become immortal.
- The Buddha, in his wisdom, says that human life is brief and full of pain. Everyone who is born must die – as is the nature of things.
- So, it is not wise to grieve. Grief brings pain and suffering. It affects one’s body and its health.
- Grief does not affect death, nor does it bring back the dead.
- So, one must carry on living. One can only achieve piece if they overcome grief and sorrow.
- The major theme of the chapter is the Death of Loved Ones:
- Gautama Buddha, through his sermon, imparts that we are mortal beings and that death is an inevitable phenomenon.
- He, therefore, tells the readers to not grieve the loss of their loved ones, or crave material gains.
- In the story, no matter how hard Kisa tried, she couldn’t find a single house where some beloved one had not died, thus accepting the death of her only son.
The major characters in the story are:
- Kisa Gotami
Gautama Buddha, born a prince, is the founder of Buddhism. He was married at the age of sixteen and had a son.
Spiritual: A spiritual teacher, he attained enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree after seven years of giving up his royal pleasures.
Wise: He taught people that pain and suffering is a part of life and that death is inevitable.
Practical: Buddha proved to Kisa that one who comes to life, must die one day, and one can never escape this reality.
Caring: Kisa was a caring mother and she deeply cared for her only son, who she had just lost.
Selfish: She turned selfish in grief and was desperate to bring her son back to life, trying to avoid the inevitable.
Persistent: Kisa Gotami met Buddha in a despairing state to bring her dead son back to life. She did everything possible to make that happen until she accepted the truth.