Pay Homage on Full Moon Day of Asalha Month to Express Gratitude to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. This celebration is similar to Vesak or Visakha Puja, Magha Puja. Asalha Puja is celebrated the same day as Buddhist Lent, the rainy retreat for Buddhist monks who have to stay three months in the rainy season.
What is the Detail Events of Asalha Puja?
Asalha Puja Day (Asanha Puja, Asarnha Bucha, Dhamma Day) is a Buddhist festival that occurs on the full moon of the eighth lunar month, which is usually in July. The festival pays homage to the Buddha and commemorates the Day of Buddha’s Conception, Renounced the World, Buddha's first sermon, the Birth of Sangha and the Buddha Performed Miracle at Savathi. Asalha Puja commemorates the Five Events in the Buddha’s life:
1-The Buddha's Conception
Before descending to Earth in 563 B.C., Buddha Shakyamuni was born in the Tushita Heaven as Devaputra with great clear mind and profound recollection. Seated on the lion throne, he gave teachings to all the gods. At this time, he heard the celestial sound of the cymbals and the songs of the Buddhas of the three times perfectly invoked, addressing him thus: "In samsara, burning with the fire of emotions, you, great warrior, pervade the clouds. The falling rain of your ambrosia pacifies the afflicting emotions of those who are not gods." Hearing these words, he looked for the five sights - the continent called Jambudvipa; the six cities such as Champaka; the Shakya clan which for seven generations, has not declined through intermarriage; a mother named Mahamaya, who was free from the 32 negative qualities; and a time of the five increasing degenerations in which people suffer greatly and become objects of compassion, for they are difficult to tame, hold wrong views, have a declining life span, are defiled by the five mental poisons, and gain wealth through impure means. Seeing these things, he said to the gods: "I will blow the conch shell of impermanence, beat the gong of emptiness, and roar with the sound of selflessness." He then empowered Maitreya to take his place on the throne, and declared three times to the six realms of the gods that he was descending to this world.
Then he manifested as the precious elephant having an immense, though glorious and gentle, body with six trunks.
He was adorned with the golden nets and a beauteous red hat, and gave forth a pleasant odor because of the medical herbs he ate. In the middle of the fifteenth day of the second month at the time of the full moon, when Mahamaya was in retreat, the Lord Buddha entered her womb through the right side. Mahamaya then dreamed that a mountain had become her pillow, that the sun was rising within her body, and that she was giving teachings to many sentient beings. She felt light and at ease. In the months to come, she had many other auspicious dreams, and experienced bliss and freedom from afflicting emotions.
At the age of 29, the bodhisattva realized that, "The heart is in the nature of happiness and what must be extinguished is the fire of lust, hatred and delusion. Only through that can the heart be truly happy. On this very day, I must renounce the household-life, retire from the world, become a monk and seek after the True Happiness." He gave up the luxurious palace life and departed from his wife and other loved ones. One night, when all his attendants were asleep, the Bodhisattva thought that he should leave the palace. Thus, he called to Channa, saying: Awaken, and quickly fetch my magical steed Ngakden (Kanthaka). I intend to search for the garden of hardships visited by previous Buddhas seeking Enlightenment. I know that this will please all the sages. Channa replied: This is not the hour to go to the garden. No one holds malice toward you here; you have no enemies, so why do you need a horse at midnight? The prince replied: Channa, you have never disobeyed me, so do not do so now as we prepare to separate. At last Channa brought the horse, but the horse would not allow the prince to mount him. The prince told him: Ngakden, this is the last time that you will carry me. So, take me without delay to the garden of hardships. After achieving Enlightenment, I will quickly fulfill the needs of all sentient beings through the rain of samadhi. As his father lay sleeping, Bodhisattva circumambulated him and rode off in the night saying: Until I achieve the supreme path of all the Buddhas, I will not return to this city of Kapilavastu.
At dawn, Prince Siddhartha and the charioteer ride the horse Kanthaka, leave the city of Kapilvastu, cross the Anoma river and start a homeless life. Mounted on his horse and accompanied by his charioteer Channa, he passed out of the city gate, an angel opening the gate. Mara, the Evil One offered him Universal Sovereignty if he would abandon his purpose, but the Future Buddha rebuked the temptation and passed on. But the Evil One ever followed him, watching his opportunity. The future Buddha proceeded to the river Anoma, where he received the Eight Requisites of a monk from an angel.
Within two sessions (half a day), he discovered a distance which normally takes twelve days. alighting from his horse, he removed his ornaments, gave them to Channa and dismissed him and Ngakden (Kanthaka). But Channa objected: "It is not right that you should remain alone." The Prince replied: All beings come into this world alone; likewise do they die. During this life, they also suffer alone. There are no friends in samsara. Cutting off his hair, shaving off his beard, the prince instructs Channa to return to the palace with his garments, ornaments and precious sword. He cut his hair in front of the fully pure stupa, and gave it to Channa.
Six years later, Prince Siddhartha attains Enlightenment under the Bodhi tree after defeating Mara. In the first part of the night, he achieved the four stages of samadhi and the state of super-awareness. In the middle watch of the night, he achieved the clairvoyance of recollecting his previous lives; and in the last hours of the night, he achieved the stainless wisdom of the end of afflicting emotions. He then realized in a moment the nature of the twelve links of interdependent origination (Padiccasamuppada) both in their arising and cessation, as well as the Four Noble Truths. Thus, in a moment, he achieved Enlightenment, the perfect Buddhahood.
3-The First Sermon
The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta is the first teaching given by the Buddha after he attained enlightenment. According to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha attained enlightenment and liberation while meditating under the Bodhi Tree by the Nerañjarā river in Bodh Gaya. Afterwards, he remained silent for forty-nine days. According to MN 26 and MĀ 204, after deciding to teach, the Buddha initially intended to visit his former teachers, Āḷāra Kālāma and Uddaka Rāmaputta, to teach them his insights, but they had already died and born in a place where it is not apt to preach or they were deaf, so he decided to visit his five former companions. On his way, he encountered a spiritual seeker named Upaka. The Buddha proclaimed that he had achieved full awakening, but Upaka was not convinced and "took a different path”. The Buddha then journeyed from Bodhgaya to Sarnath , a small town near the sacred city of Varanasi in central India. There he met his five former companions, the ascetics with whom he had shared six years of hardship (known as Pañcavaggiya). His former companions were at first suspicious of the Buddha, thinking he had given up his search for the truth when he renounced their ascetic ways. But upon seeing the radiance of the Buddha, they requested him to teach what he had learned. Thereupon the Buddha gave the teaching that was later recorded as the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, which introduces fundamental concepts of Buddhist thought, such as the Middle Way and the Four Noble Truths.
4-The Birth of Sangha
The Sangha means the Buddhist community of ordained monks and nuns. After listing and understanding the Dhammacakkappavattna Sutta, the five former companions requested the Buddha to give them the ordination as Bhikkhus (monks). The Buddha ordained them as the Ehibhikkhus. The Dhamma and Sangha appeared in the world since that time. So, the Triple Gem: The Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha start existing in the world.
Ehibhikkhu according to Buddhaghosa in his commentary on the Vinaya: “An ehibhikkhu is someone who has received monkhood and the ehibhikkhu-ordination merely by the Lord’s words: ‘Come, monk’. For the Lord, having seen a person who has attained the qualification for ehibhikkhu-hood, having touched him with his golden hand from his red robe made of rags, says to him, uttering his brahma-sound: ‘Come, monk, follow the religious life to the complete destruction of suffering’. At the same moment that the Lord utters these words the outward signs of a householder disappear, the entrance into religious life as well as ordination are effected and he becomes bald and dressed in (the three) yellow robes, having dressed himself with one of these, having covered himself with another, having placed one over his (right) shoulder, over his left shoulder he hangs his bowl of clay, which has the colour of the blue lotus—thus, with the said eight requisites fastened on his body, he stands there, looking like a senior monk who has spent sixty yearly rain-retreats, possessed of good behavior, having the Buddha as his teacher and his preceptor, honoring the fully enlightened one”. “Wisdom Library”
5- The Miracle at Savathi
According to the Pali version of the story, in the Buddha's time, a wealthy treasurer suspended a sandalwood bowl in the air with a cord. hoping to find an enlightened being who can fly up and take it. For six days, teachers from six other religious sects attempted to trick the treasurer into giving them the bowl, but failed. On the seventh day, news of this reached one of the Buddha's disciples, Pindola Bharadvaja, who then proceeded to fly up and take the bowl, thus converting the treasurer to Buddhism. While on his way back to the monastery, he was asked by people who missed the miracle to perform it again, which he did.
When the Buddha hears about this, he reprimands Pindola for doing this, and lays down a rule forbidding monk from using supranormal powers for such purposes. Upon hearing that the Buddha laid down a rule forbidding his monks from showing off miracles, six jealous teachers from rival religious sects try to win back followers by publicly challenging the Buddha to a miracle tournament, thinking he would refuse to perform one.
In the Sanskrit account of the event, the sandalwood bowl story is absent and the six jealous teachers, confident in their own supranormal powers, challenge the Buddha to a miracle contest on their own accord in hopes of regaining followers.
The Miracle Tournament
According to the Pali account of the story, the six rival teachers go to King Bimbisara of Magadha to sponsor the contest. To the rival teachers' surprise, the Buddha accepts the challenge, stating that the rule forbidding miracles applied to his monks but not to him, in the same way that subjects are forbidden from picking from the royal orchard, but not the king himself. In the Sanskrit version of the story, the rival teachers go first to King Bimbasara to host the contest but are turned down, and then go to King Pasenadi of Kosala who agrees to host the tournament if the Buddha agrees. In this version, the Buddha advises his followers against doing such miracles, but states he will do this miracle because all Buddhas are supposed to perform the twin miracle.
The Buddha declares that he will perform the miracle at the foot of a mango tree in Savatthi on the full moon day of Asalha Puja in four months time. According to the Pali version of the story; the rival teachers, desperate to avoid the contest, uproot all of the mango trees in the area prior to the miracle tournament. On the day of the tournament, a royal gardener finds a mango on the floor that he prepares to give to the king, but upon seeing the Buddha walk by, he gives it to the Buddha instead. When the time of the miracle contest approaches, the Buddha eats the mango and plants the seed in front of the city gate, after washing his hands over the area, a full mango tree immediately grows. In the Sanskrit version of the event, the mango story is absent, but the Buddha instead performs other precursor miracles in the days prior to the tournament, including manipulating air to put out a fire and restoring the hands and feet of King Pasenadi's brother, who lost his hands and feet for a crime he didn't commit.
The Buddha starts by creating a jeweled walkway in midair and prepares to perform the miracle for the crowd of observers, but is interrupted by several of his disciples, who ask to perform a miracle in his place to save him the trouble. The disciples each propose a different miracle for them to perform in the Buddha's place but he refuses each request. Finally, Maha Moggallana, the Buddha's chief disciple foremost in psychic powers, offers to perform a miracle in his place but the Buddha still refuses. He then states that he must perform the miracle himself, as it is one of the duties of a Buddha. Standing on top of the jeweled walkway, the Buddha enters a meditative state and emits fire from the top half of his body and streams of water from the lower half and then starts alternating the fire and water between the positions, creating an array of six colors. The fire and water then shoot up to illuminate the cosmos to the applause of the audience while the Buddha teaches the Dhamma to the observers as he walks along on the jeweled walkway. The Sanskrit version also includes the Buddha creating several duplicates of himself that fill the air during the miracle, with some walking, lying down, and sitting.
At the conclusion of the miracle, it is the rival religious leaders' turn to perform a miracle but they are unable to move. A strong wind knocks down the pavilion they prepared for the tournament and the rival teachers flee, with one committing suicide. The Buddha continues the miracle and proceeds to create a single duplicate of himself and then have the duplicate ask him questions which he would in turn answer in order to teach the observing audience.
Following the miracle, the Buddha is said to have ascended to Tavatimsa Heaven for three months to spend his rains-retreat and teach his deceased mother the Abhidhamma, in accordance with what all Buddhas are believed to have done after performing the miracle.