Esala Full Moon marks Buddha's first sermon
It was on the Esala Full Moon Poya Day the Buddha arrived at the deer
park of Isipathana to preach Dhamma to Ven. Kondangna, Vappa, Bhaddiya,
Mahanama and Assaji, the five ascetics. The Buddha delivered His first
discourse 'Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta' to them. At the end, the eldest
Kondangna Thera attained the first stage of sainthood.
Queen Mahamaya's dream
Esala Full Moon Poya is very important in the Buddhist calendar.
According to Buddhist history, many significant events had taken place
on the Esala Full Moon Poya Day. Among them, the conception of Prince
Siddartha in Queen Mahamaya's womb occurred on the Esala Full Moon Poya
Buddhist literature reveals that a thousand years ago Queen Mahamaya,
in one of her previous lives had the same unusual dream on an Esala Full
Moon Poya Day.
It was on this day that King Suddhodana, Prince Siddartha's father
was conveyed the happy news by Queen Mahamaya, the mother of Prince
The Queen had woken up early in the morning and informed the King
about this. The King had a deep thought of the dream and knew that a
great person was conceived in Queen Mahamaya's womb.
According to the dream, four guardian deities of the world carried
the Queen in a beautiful couch to the snow clad foothills of the
Himalayan Mountain Range, where a white baby elephant that had a white
lotus flower in its trunk walked thrice round the couch of the sleeping
Queen Mahamaya. Thereafter, the baby elephant entered into her womb from
the right side of the abdomen. The dream came to an end and the Queen
was suddenly awakened.
The next morning Queen Mahamaya revealed everything about the
previous night's dream to King Suddhodana.
The King realised that the dream indicated a good news, the
conception of a very great person to the world. It was the Esala Full
Moon Poya Day, Queen Mahamaya was conceived Bodisattva.
The King and the Queen did not have a child for 20 years. Therefore,
the happy news was a joyful event not only for the King and the Queen,
but the maids and other workers employed in the King's palace. The
Prince was born on the Vesak Full Moon Poya Day.
History reveals that the month of Vesak was introduced to the
Buddhist calendar during the Vishaka Era. Prince Siddartha was also born
in a month belonged to the Vishaka Era. It was the fifth month according
to the Roman calendar.
The three significant incidents in the life of the Buddha, the Birth,
enlightenment and the passing away took place on the same Full Moon Poya
Day during the Vishaka era. Therefore, Buddhists call it as the Vesak
Full Moon Poya Day.
Prince Siddartha's mother, Queen Mahamaya passed away after seven
days of his birth. The Prince was thereafter looked after by his
step-mother Queen Maha Prajapathi Gothami, the sister of Queen Mahamaya.
After the death, Queen Mahamaya was born in the Thavthisa heaven.
The Prince lived a luxurious life. He realised that the life was
impermanent and full of suffering. Therefore, he was always determined
to find a path or a way to solve the problems of universal sufferings.
At the age of 29, the prince decided to leave the palace, leaving all
comforts to find the way out of universal suffering. The great
Renunciation also took place on an Esala Full Moon Poya Day, 2,600 years
It was on the Esala Poy Day, seven weeks after the attainment of
Buddhahood, the Buddha delivered His first discourse, the
Dhammachakkapavattna Sutta (the wheel of truth) to the five Ascetics,
Kondanna, Vappa, Bhaddiya, Mahanama and Assaji at Isipathanaya in
The sermon consisted of the central teachings of the Buddha - the
Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. At the end of the Sutta
the eldest Kondangna Thera attained sotapatti, the first stage of
The Buddha says, "What, O Bhikkus, is that middle path the
Thathagatha has discovered which promotes sight, knowledge, peace,
higher wisdom, Enlightenment and Nibbana? It is this Noble Eightfold
Hearing the discourse, the other four ascetics later attained the
status of Arahat. The five ascetics were the first disciples of the
Buddha. He spent three months with these pancha vagga bhikkhus in
The book The Discovery of India, written by former Indian Prime
Minister Sri Jawaharlal Nehru mentions how he sees the Buddha preaching
his first sermon" at Saranath near Baranasi.
He said, "Some of his recorded words would come like a distant echo
through two thousand five hundred years ago."
The observance of Vas by the Maha Sangha during the rainy season was
introduced by the Buddha when he was with the five bhikkhus. The
commencement of the rainy season began from the month of Esala.
Vas signifies the cessation from going about begging alms
(Pindapatha) during the rainy season for the bhikkhus residing in a
definite place, either in a sanctuary of their respective vihares or in
a particular abode. Buddhist laity provided the bhikkhus with food,
robes and other necessities during the rainy season.
In return for this gesture, the bhikkus were told by the Buddha to
engage in the practice of 'Vidharshana Bhavana' meditation and make the
laity partake of the merit.
Furthermore, Esala also signifies a number of important events in the
life of the Buddha.
It was on Esala Full Moon Poya Day, the Buddha visited Thusitha
Heaven by using his miraculous power to preach the Abhidhamma to his
mother the Matru Divyaraja and other gods.
The convocation of the first Buddhist Council (First Dharma
Sangayana) was held on the Esala Poya Day under the patronage of King
Ajasaththa, three months after the Parinibbana of the Buddha at the
Satipattana cave on the vehera rock near Rajagaha. It was headed by the
Ven Maha Kassapa with the participation of 500 Arahats.
It was on the same Esala Full Moon Poya Day, that Prince Rahula, the
only child of Prince Sdiddartha and Princess Yasodara was born. The day
Prince Siddartha saw the whole world including His wife and child
suffering not knowing the way out of it. The Prince left home in prime
of his youth. Buddhists still believe that his Great Renunciation was
the boldest step that a man has ever taken.