Three Wheels of Law

>> Tuesday, February 3, 2009

shakyamuni buddha
Lord Buddha appeared in this world with the sole purpose of benefiting all sentient beings of the Triple Realm. His appearance in this world is a very rare phenomena and is the outcome of the collective merits of his disciples and the beings who are to be trained under him. Out of great compassion Buddha Shakyamuni revealed many different means to attain enlightenment and to win liberation from the cycle of birth and death. Buddha Shakyamuni set forth Three Wheels of Law to suit varying degrees of intelligence and receptivity.

At a place called Mrigadavana (Deer Park) near Varanasi, Shakyamuni Buddha turned the First wheel of Law which constituted the doctrines of the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path and it is designated as Shravakayana.

At a place called Gridha-kuta hill (Vulture Peak) near Rajgir, the Buddha turned the Second Wheel of Law which constituted the doctrines of Emptiness and Selflessness of the person and phenomena. These doctrines are vividly preserved in Prajnaparamita literature and Vaipulya sutras. This approach was later known as Mahayana or Path of the Bodhisattva.

At Vaisali, on the other hand, the Buddha turned the Third Wheel of Law which constituted the doctrines of Buddha-nature as described in Tathagatagarbhasutra, Mahaparinirvanasutra and Dharanisvararaja sutra.

At various places such as Dhanyakataka, Sriparvat, Kamakhya, Sirihatta, Purnagiri, Odiyana, etc. the Buddha revealed the path of Mantra to his highly gifted disciples as a shorter path to attain enlightenment. This approach was termed as Vajrayana which integrates all three vehicles.

From: Iconography of Nepalese Buddhism, Min Bahadur Shakya, Buddha Dharma Education Association, 1994.

"It is the mark of an educated man to entertain an idea without accepting it." -- Aristotle

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