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WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO: Saga Dawa, the fourth Bhutanese month and equivalent of Vaisakha month in Indian calendar, is a duezang. Duezang, literally means, auspicious time. Due refers to time and zang means auspicious or good.

Saga Dawa, the auspicious month

WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO: Saga Dawa, the fourth Bhutanese month and equivalent of Vaisakha month in Indian calendar, is a duezang. Duezang, literally means, auspicious time. Due refers to time and zang means auspicious or good.

An auspicious time is when all the right circumstances are present and when the internal and external causes and conditions for a good outcome have converged.  As an external cosmological or astrological condition, the stars and planets are positioned in the most positive and powerful alignment. When the external astrological settings are right, the internal energies in a sentient being also flow smoothly in the right direction due the interconnection of the external and internal worlds. So a duezang, in an astrological and spiritual sense, is a time when the external and internal forces are in the most wholesome and positive relationship. Such situation then helps good things happen more swiftly, easily and effectively. The action carried out during such powerful times also reap better and greater results. Thus, there are many cases of successes, great achievements and spiritual enlightenment which occur at such times. A lot of holy days associated with spiritual accomplishments took place during such powerful times.

Saga Dawa is one such duezang or powerful auspicious time. Because the external and internal conditions are right, the historical Buddha, according to the Bhutanese calendar, is said to have experienced the five major events in his life on the full moon day of Saga Dawa. The Buddha is believed to have been conceived, born, to have defeated evil forces, attained enlightenment and passed away into Mahaparinirvana on this day.

Thus, the power of this month is not only in the astrological auspices, which contributed to the five great acts of the Buddha. Because the Buddha experiences these life events on this day, the sanctity and power of the month has been enhanced through his association and blessings. Just as visiting a pilgrimage site which is associated with the Buddha would benefit us, commemorating the time in which the Buddha have manifested his great acts also will benefit us in overcoming obstacles and obtaining happiness. The Buddha have invested a great deal power of prayers and aspiration in this particular times. He made prayers that whomsoever remembers him on this day and carries out a meritorious act on this day be liberated from suffering and cause of suffering and reach enlightenment and happiness. Because the Buddha made such intense prayers, any good act one does in the month of Saga Dawa is multiplied a 100,000 times and thus Saga Dawa is also known as Bumjur Dawa, the month in which one’s good work become 100,000 times stronger or better.

Not all calendars agree  that the Buddha was conceived on the 15th of Saga Dawa, because many scholars argue that Buddha was in the mother’s womb for 10 months and not 12 months. Most other Tibetan calendars would normally also associate the day with the birth of the Buddha, his victory over evil forces, enlightenment and Mahaparinirvana. However, Bhutanese calendar has the theory that the Buddha entered the womb of his mother in the form of a ash-white elephant on this day. Thus, for the Bhutanese, the full moon of Saga Dawa is blessed by the Buddha through his five major acts.

What should one do during Saga Dawa?

To capitalise on the power of the month, it is important to avoid non-virtuous and harmful activities and engage virtuous and positive actions during the month. Remembering the Buddha and his enlightened activities, it is important to benefit others and wish all sentient beings to be free from suffering and to be enlightened. One must, in the constant awareness of the Buddha, also strive to live up to his noble ideals, principles and wishes.

Dr Karma Phuntsho is the President of the Loden Foundation, director of Shejun Agency for Bhutan’ Cultural Documentation and author The History of Bhutan.

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