Introduction of The Sermon at Benares

‘The Sermon at Benares’ is a written by Betty Renshaw. The chapter covers the journey of Gautama Buddha from princely life to his saintly life. In the wake of seeing the sufferings of the world, he chose to surrender every single common delight and sought enlightenment. He at long last achieved enlightenment under a tree at Bodhi tree. His first sermon was delivered at Benares close to the bank of the Ganges.

Gautama Buddha

Gautama Buddha is the founder of the Buddhist Religion. He was an otherworldly instructor who had picked up enlightenment in the wake of seeing the World’s agonies and avarice. Gautama Buddha was born as a prince named Siddhartha Gautama in Northern India. When he was 12 he was sent for schooling Hindu Sacred Scriptures. After four years, he returned home and got hitched to a princess. They carried on with a regal life for a long time.

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Kisa Gotami

Kisa Gotami was a young mother whose only child had died. She was a cherishing and minding mother, and yet, she wound up narrow-minded and needed to recover her child after death.

Gautama Buddha’s Enlightenment

He was shielded from the sufferings and miseries of the world. At some point, he saw a debilitated man, an old man, a burial procession and a monk begging for money and food. He was deeply moved by the plight of people suffering from poverty, sickness and old age. This made him wonder how the sufferings of the world could be ended. To find the answer to the question he at once renounced his family, fortune and kingdom in the pursuit of enlightenment. He voyaged carelessly for a long time, practised yogic disciplines and meditation. He also practised severe forms of asceticism; almost to the point of death by starvation. Finally, he sat under a peepal tree until the point he achieved enlightenment. After seven days when he got enlightened, he renamed the tree as Bodhi Tree (Tree of Wisdom). There, he started to educate and share his insight and became famous as Buddha.

Gautama Buddha’s Goal

Buddha main objective was to eliminate human suffering. His “Four Noble Truths” are key to eliminate all human agony. The first noble truth says that life is full of suffering and pain, the second noble truth is that pain is caused by human desires and ambitions, third noble truth says that liberation from pain and suffering is possible and the fourth noble truth says how to obtain this liberation. It describes the Eightfold Path leading to Nirvana, a state of perfect bliss.
Gautama Buddha’s First Sermon
Buddha lectured his first lesson at the city of Benares. It is the holiest of the plunging places on the waterway Ganges. This lesson mirrors Buddha’s shrewdness about the sort of enduring that is difficult to decipher.

Summary of The Story The Sermon at Benares

Kisa Gotami carried her dead child in her arms and she went way from door to door requesting medicine for her dead son. The neighbours felt sorry for her yet couldn’t help her as her child was dead. They were as helpless as Kisa and couldn’t conflict with the desire of God. At last, someone proposed that she ought to go to the Sakyamuni, the Buddha.
Gautama advised her to bring a handful of mustard seeds from a house where demise has never thumped at the door. Kisa imagined that it was a simple errand. She went to every one of the houses in the town, however, couldn’t locate even a single house where death had not knocked at the door. She before long understood that she was as a rule exceptionally narrow-minded in her sadness.

The life of mortals is troubled, brief and combined with agony. It isn’t conceivable to keep away from death. As the ripe fruits are in peril of falling, as the earthen vessels made by the potter break, also the humans have Wise men and fools, all fall in the intensity of death. Just the savvy don’t lament and they acknowledge the truth. All sobbing and lamenting will bring more agony and sufferings to the body. One, who is composed, will get true serenity and will be free from distress and honoured.
➡ This lesson tells us about the life of Gautama Buddha, who was born in a royal family as Siddhartha.
➡ Once he saw a funeral processing, and monk begging for the alms. These sights moved him a lot and he decided to become a monk and started moving in search of enlightenment.
➡ He started meditation under a peepal tree and after seven days he got enlightenment and he became known as the Buddha (the Awakened or the Enlightened). He preached his first sermon at Benares.
➡ Once a woman came to him requesting to bring her dead son to life. Gautama Buddha asked the lady to bring a handful of mustard seeds from the house where there had been no death.
➡ The lady moved from one house to another but she could not find a single house where no one has lost a child, husband, parents or friend. Then she came to realise that death common to all and is the unavoidable truth.


1. What is a sermon? How is it different from a lecture?
Ans. A sermon is a religious or moral talk usually given by a religious leader to liberate the people from their sinful nature and mould them towards the right path. It is quite different from a lecture. A lecture is a deliverance provided by a subject expert on any topic-scientific, social, political etc to make the audience understand some concept. The lectures are delivered in classrooms.

2. When her son died, Kisa Gotami goes from house to house. What does she ask for? Does she get it? Why not?
Ans. When her only son died, Kisa Gotami goes from house to house asking if she can get some medicine that can save her son’s life who has died. She does not get any medicine because the boy was dead and possibly the dead cannot come to senses with any medicine.

3. Kisa Gotami again goes from house to house after she speaks with the Buddha. What she asks for the second time around? Does she get it? Why not?
Ans. After she speaks with the Buddha, Kisa Gotami again goes from house to house the second time. As per the directions of the Buddha, she now asks the people for a handful of mustard seeds provided they have not lost anyone in their families. But she could not get the mustard seeds because there is not a single house where no one has lost child, husband, parent or friend.

4. What does Kisa Gotami understand the second time that she failed to understand the first time? Was this what the Buddha wanted her to understand?
Ans. Kisa Gotami understands that death is inevitable. It is common to all.No one can escape it. She realises the fact that the fate of men is like the lights which flicker up and extinguish again. The Buddha also wanted her to understand the same fact.

5. Why do you think Kisa Gotami understand the second time that she failed to understand the first time? In what way did Buddha change her understanding?
Ans. Kisa Gotami understands this the second time only because she does not find any family where no one has died. She realises the fact that all people are to fall into the power of death. The Buddha changes her understanding simply by making her fetch a handful of mustard seeds from a house where no one has died. She goes from house to house but She does not find a single house where no one has lost child, husband, parent or friend. In this way, she comes to know that death is common to all.

6. What do you usually understand the idea of selfishness? Do you agree with Lisa Vitamin that she was being selfish in her grief?
Ans. A selfish man is one who acts for his own sake. One whose actions are directed to benefit oneself owns selfishness. It is the pursuit of something regardless of their nature and gratification of emotions regardless of their source.
We agree that Kisa Gotami was being selfish in her grief because she desired the medicine that can cure her dead boy which was not possible.

Read Also: Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

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