13. Freedom of thought.

At times referred to as the Buddha's Charter of Free inquiry this discourse was given by the Buddha to the Brahmin Kalamas at Kesaputta. 2500 years ago, preaching against blind belief in Buddha gave prominence to and encouraged the spirit of free inquiry and independence of thought and action, subject to sound judgment. He trained his disciples in the art of questioning as well as in the finer points of debate and discussion. Pointing out the dangers of haphazard thinking the Buddha teaches the Kalamas the art of reasoning for the sole purpose of arriving at true understanding of the Buddha's teaching of the Four Noble Truths.



 14. Towards human dignity.

Sunita was a scavenger born into a so called outcaste community. On meeting the Buddha on his almsround one day, the humble youth prostrated himself before the Master in adoration. Asking for ordination he is taken to the temple where he soon becomes worthy of the highest obeisance of both deva and brahma gods. Thus the Buddha teaches that a man becomes neither a Brahmin nor a low-caste by birth, but by deeds alone.



 15. Equality of women.

It was the Buddha who first gave women her rightful place in a society which had earlier ostracised her even to the extent of treating the birth of a girl as an inauspicious event. Knowing that being a woman was no bar to her attaining the highest fruition of Sainthood, the Buddha permitted the ordination of women as Bhikkhunis. Further, the establishment of a Bhikkhuni Sasana (Order of Nuns) by the Buddha was the first of its kind in the history of the world. In the picture, The Ven. Ananda, who has interceded on behalf of the Sakyan ladies including the step-mother Mahapajapati Gotami, stands by their side.


 16. Human freedom.

In the time of the Buddha it was common for both men and women to enter into services in rich households due to their extreme poverty. In fact this traffic in human slaves was very common at the time, even though it was contra indicated for a follower of the Buddha. The state of slavery that existed at the time is well illustrated by the story of the slave girl Rajjumala who worked for a very wicked mistress who treated her without any mercy even for the slightest fault. Here the Buddha admonished both servant and mistress and teaching them the Doctrine, bestows permanent peace on both of them. 


 17. Ministering to the sick.

In spite of the fact that the study and practice of medicine and surgical science has advanced to a great extent by the Buddha's time, hardly any attention was paid to nursing or caring for the sick. Putigatta Tissa Thera was a monk who was stricken by a skin disease which spread covering his whole body with a mass of ulcerating matter. Lying unattended by the fellow monks his condition worsens. The Buddha going to the stricken monk who now lies dangerously ill, bathes him in warm water with the help of Ananda Thera, and cleans his robes. Having made him comfortable the Buddha expounds the Teaching to him, explaining the true nature of the human body. Enlightened by the discourse the Thera becomes an Arahant. The Buddha then addresses the other monks on the ennobling task of caring for the sick. Accepting the compassionate exhortation of the Master and following His noble example, the laity started to build wards for sick monks in all large monasteries. Later king Dhammasoka was to build hospitals not only for the public but also for sick animals. Hence the honour for the establishment of the first hospitals should be given to the Buddhists.



18. Psychic Therapy.

The Buddha speaking on the mind, has also spoken on mental disorders and on the treatment of psychic ailments. The Buddha has traced sorrow as one of the chief causes leading to the arising of mental disturbances. On the death of her only son, Kisa Gotami loses control of her senses and in her madness goes in search of medicine for her dead child. Failing all else she appeals to the Buddha, who realising that nothing would convince her until her mental equilibrium has been restored, sends her on an errand to get him a few mustard seeds from a house where there has been no death. Unabl to accomplish the Master's request, she comes to the conclusion that death is inevitbale and that her only son too had succumbed to it. 



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