Stories | The Sermon at Benares


The Sermon at BenaresCBSE 10th English Textbook

Kisa Gotami had an onl son, and he died. In her grief she carried the dead child to all her neighbours, asking them for medicine, and the people said, “She has lost her senses. The boy is dead.”

At length, Kisa Gotami met a man who replied to her request, “I cannot give thee medicine for thy child, but I know a physician who can.”

it is the fate of men, that their lives flicker up and are extinguished again

And the girl said, “Pray tell me, sir; who is it?” And the man replied, “Go to Sakyamuni, the Buddha.”

Kisa Gotami repaired to the Buddha and cried, “Lord and Master, give me the medicine that will cure my boy.”

The Buddha answered, “I want a handful of mustard-seed.” And when the girl in her joy promised to procure it, the Buddha added, “The mustard-seed must be taken from a house where no one has lost a child, husband, parent or friend.”

Poor Kisa Gotami now went from house to house and the people pitied her and said, “Here is mustard-seed; take it!” But when she asked, “Did a son or daughter, a father or mother, die in your family?” they answered her, “Alas! the living are few, but the dead are many. Do not remind us of our deepest grief.” And there was no house but some beloved on had died in it.

He who seeks peace should draw out the arrow of lamentation, and complaint, and grief.

Kisa Gotami became weary and hopeless, and sat down at the wayside watching the lights of the city, as they flickered up and were extinguished again. At last the darkness of the night reigned everywhere. And she considered the fate of men, that their lives flicker up and are extinguished again. And she thought to herself, “How selfish am I in my grief! Death is common to all; yet in this valley of desolation there is a path that leads him to immortality who has surrendered all selfishness.”

The Buddha said, “The life of mortals in this world is troubled and brief and combined with pain. For there is not any means by which those that have been born can avoid dying; after reaching old age there is death; of such a nature a living beings. As ripe fruits are early in danger of falling, so mortals when born are always in danger of death. As all earthen vessels made by the potter end in being broken, so is the life of mortals. Both young and adult, both those who are fools and those who are wise, all fall into the power of death; all are subject to death.”

he who has overcome all sorrow will become free from sorrow, and be blessed

“Of those who, over come death, depart from life, a father cannot save his son, nor kinsmen their relations. Mark! while relatives are looking on and lamenting deeply, one by one mortals are carried off, like an ox that is led to the slaughter. So the world is afflicted with death and decay, therefore the wise do not grieve, knowing the terms of the world.”

“Not from weeping nor from grieving will anyone obtain peace of mind; on the contrary, his pain will be the greater and his boy will suffer. The will make himself sick and pale, yet the dead are not saved by his lamentation. He who seeks peace should draw out the arrow of lamentation, and complaint, and grief. He who has drawn out the arrow and has become composed will obtain peace of mind; he who has overcome all sorrow will become free from sorrow, and be blessed.”


Source: Betty Renshaw – Values and Voices: A College Reader (1975). An extract from CBSE 10th English Textbook

Published by Bhanu

Creator @ Surat Diaries. Interested in Education, Environment & Healthcare. Spends time looking at the sky, birds and nature. Writes about Life, Philosophy, Relationships, Career and Wellbeing.

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