The Sermon at Benares: Class 10 English Revision Notes

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’.


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. 

Buddha’s Enlightenment 

  • 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. 

Buddha’s Wisdom 

  • 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. 

Character Sketch

The major characters in the story are: 

  • Buddha 
  • 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. 

Kisa Gotami 

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. 

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