In consultation with the Tibetan lunar calendar, we observe four significant dates that commemorate the deeds of the Buddha. These are said to be astrologically powerful dates because of the Buddha’s qualities, which are unsurpassable in virtue and wisdom.
According to the Vinaya text, “Treasure of Quotations and Logic”, all actions done on these special days are magnified by 100 million times. Some sutras further mention that the merit increases by ONE BILLION times. Hence they are referred to as merit multiplying days. Bearing the exponential effects in mind and through understanding how karma works, these are highly favourable days for accumulating as much merit as possible, while striving to avoid negative actions.
The four merit multiplying events of the year:
Display of Miracles
The start of the Tibetan New Year—Losar—is considered to be a very auspicious period. The first 15 days of the New Year coincide with an episode in Shravasti, when Shakyamuni Buddha performed 15 days of miracles in response to a challenge from six tirthikas [non-Buddhist adepts] who were sceptical of the Buddha’s abilities. That triumphant display culminated on the 15th day, on the full moon. Due to witnessing the Buddha’s feats, many people and beings of the god realms gained faith in the teachings and attained liberation. The 15 days of the Display of Miracles comes around February to March.
Saka Dawa 15th
Shakyamuni Buddha achieved enlightenment in Bodhgaya and passed into nirvana in Kushinagar. All Buddhist traditions observe the 15th full moon day of the 4th month as the day of these two exalted deeds of the Buddha. In the Tibetan astrological system, the 15th day of Saka Dawa [Tibetan for 4th month] falls in mid-June. Typically, the entire 30 days of Saka Dawa are celebrated in the Tibetan tradition, with many prayer ceremonies held in the monasteries throughout the month.
Wheel Turning Day
Upon showing the aspect of achieving enlightenment at Bodhgaya, the Buddha did not teach immediately. Only later at Varanasi, on the 4th day of the 6th month, did the Buddha accept the request made by the god Brahma to bestow the teachings. In Deer Park, he taught the Four Noble Truths to his first five disciples and 80,000 gods, and this came to be known as the First Turning of the Wheel of Dharma. Wheel Turning Day is celebrated in July.
Descent from the Heaven of the 33
Mahamaya, the Buddha’s mother, was reborn as a god in the Heaven of the 33. The Buddha ascended to this god realm where his mother was, as well as other god realms, to benefit the beings there with the Dharma. Then the Buddha’s close disciple Maudgalyayana begged that they return to Earth, which they did, descending upon Sankasya where the Buddha then imparted the teachings to a large assembly of people. This 22nd day of the 9th month usually falls in November.
At Amitabha Buddhist Centre, we celebrate the merit multiplying days with a Sutra Reading followed by an extensive Shakyamuni Buddha Puja.
Merit Multiplying Days in 2017
|15th Day of the Display of Miracles [Chotrul Duchen]
|Saka Dawa 15th
|Wheel Turning Day [Chökor Duchen]
|Descent from the Heaven of the 33 [Lhabab Duchen]
Shakyamuni Buddha Puja
Through a beautifully composed series of prayers, this puja venerates the Buddha by recollecting his marvellous qualities and deeds, and sets out a meaningful practice for paying homage, making extensive offerings and expressing heartfelt requests to purify one’s obscurations and to be blessed with realisations of the path.