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The Sermon At Benares | English | Class X

Updated: Dec 23, 2022

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  • The Lesson focuses on the Buddha's message as contained in his sermon at Benares.

  • The lesson highlights on the universal truth that suffering and death are inevitable aspect of human life.

  • The lesson stresses on the fact that we can be free from the cycle of sorrow and death by accepting them as an inevitable part of human life.


  • This lesson contains the sermons that the Buddha delivered in Benares.

  • Buddha was born as Prince Siddhartha in 563 in a royal family.

  • He was away from any direct experience of pain and suffering.

  • One day during a hunt he chanced upon a sick man , a dead man an aged man and a monk begging for alms.

  • The sights of these people moved hims so much so that he decided to immediately leave his royal palace and took to the saintly life.

  • After wandering for seven years , he eventually achieved enlightenment under a peepal tree, which was later knows as the Bodhi tree or the tree of wisdom.

  • Kisa Gotami having lost her only son, carried her dead child door to door asking if anyone had the medicine that could bring her son back to life.

  • At last a man suggested her to meet Buddha who could give her some solution to her problem.

  • Buddha asked Kisa gotami to get a handful of mustard seeds. But the mustard seeds had to be obtained from a house where no one had lost a loved one.

  • Kisa Gotami went from door to door but was unable to find a house where no death had taken place.

  • She realized that she had been selfish in her grief not to realize the fact that grief, suffering and death comes to every human being.

  • Buddha explained her that 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.

  • No one can escape death, nor can the death be ever brought back to life. Therefore, the wise do not grieve.

  • Grieving and lamenting only increases the pain of loss. Peace of mind can be obtained by overcoming grief.

  • According to Buddha, not from weeping nor from grieving will anyone obtain peace of mind; on the contrary, his pain will be the greater and his body will suffer. He 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)]

NCERT Solution:

1. When her son dies, Kisa Gotami goes from house to house. What does she ask for? Does she get it? Why not?

Ans: When her son dies, Kisa Gotami goes from house to house asking for medicine so that her son is brought back to life.

No, she does not get it as everyone she asked for medicine knew that her son has died. They think that she has lost her mind with grief.

2. Kisa Gotami goes from hose to house after she speaks with the Buddha. What does she ask for the second time around? Does she get it ? Why not?

Ans: She asks for mustard seeds from a house where no one has lost a child, husband, parent or friend.

No, she does not get it as the people told her that in every house there was someone or the other who had died. Hence according to Buddha's instructions, she was unable to collect the mustard seeds.

3. 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: She understands that she has been selfish in her grief. She realizes that 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.

4. Why do you think Kisa Gotami understood this only the second time? In what way did the Buddha change her understanding?

Ans: First time she was very much overpowered by her grief at the death of her only son. She could not realize the harsh truth that once someone is dead, he/she cannot be brought back.

She understood this fact only the second time as she could not find even a single house where on one has suffered or died. When she realized that death comes to all households she understood the significance of the Buddha's teaching.

5. How do you usually understand the idea of ‘selfishness’? Do you agree with Kisa Gotami that she was being ‘selfish in her grief ’?

The idea of selfishness is that when a person is immersed in the sense of self which excludes any thought for others around them.

Yes, she was being selfish in her grief because she was so caught up in her own loss that she failed to see the inevitability of death.

Recommended Reading: The Proposal

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