Ritual Ceremony of Bathing the Buddha at True Enlightenment Practitioners Association
The festival of the bathing of the Buddha is a very special day on the Buddhist calendar. Buddha Sakyamuni arranged the convenience of bathing the Buddha as an expedience to enable future Buddhist learners to quickly accumulate the great virtues and merits needed to realize the unsurpassed Bodhi. The Buddha teaches sentient beings to use the virtues of bathing the Buddha as an offering to the Tathagata. The offering is also one of the virtues which Buddha’s disciples should cultivate. One should be totally sincere and solemn when bathing the Buddha, respecting the statue as if the Buddha manifests and appears in person in front of the disciple.
Sutra On The Virtues Of Bathing the Buddha
The Sutra On The Virtues Of Bathing the Buddha states, when you bathe the statue, you should use ox-head sandalwood, white sandalwood, rosewood, agarwood, mastic, tulip, dipterocarpaceae, holy basil, and herba agastachisetc. Grind these on a clean stone into a fragrant paste to make scented water and place this water in a clean vessel. At a clean place, use good earth to make a square or round altar of appropriate size. Put a bathing platform on the altar and then the Buddha statue in the center. Pour the hot scented water over the statue to clean and wash it and repeat with clean water. The water used must be well filtered to avoid harming worms and insects. Use two fingers to get the water and bathe the statue from the head. This water is called propitious water. Drain the water onto a clean place making sure that it is not stepped on. Use a fine soft towel to wipe the statue clean. Burn the various incenses to perfume the fragrance all over and return the statue to its original location.
Virtuous men! Bathing the Buddha statue as such will allow you humans and heavenly beings alike to enjoy wealth and happiness and longevity without sickness in the present life. All wishes will be fulfilled. Your relatives and friends will be safe and peaceful. You will never be born in the eight kinds of difficult circumstances and will forever escape the source of suffering. You will not be born as a woman and will quickly achieve enlightenment. After you have set up the statue, burn the various incense, face the statue, join your palms piously, and recite the following praises.
I now bathe all the Tathagatas;
Their pure wisdom and virtues are accompanied by dignity;
May the sentient beings in this period of five turbidities,
Quickly realize the pure Dharma body of the Tathagata.
The constant fragrance of the knowledge of morality, concentration, and wisdom,
Spreads to every realm in the ten directions.
May the smoke of the incense also be the same,
And Buddhist services be conducted without bounds.
May the three lower paths and the wheel of sufferings also cease,
Heat be completely extinguished and coolness be attained;
May all generate the unsurpassed bodhi mind,
Forever escape the river of desires to reach the other shore.
Why bathe the Buddha?
In the Sutra On The Virtues Of Bathing the Buddha, Tathagata taught sentient beings in future lives to bathe the Buddha statue as a way to make offerings to the Tathagata and accumulate virtues and merits. When the Buddha was born into this world, two dragon kings descended from the heaven and used clean pure water to bathe Prince Siddhartha’s body. Buddha disciples subsequently commenced bathing the statue of Prince Siddhartha every year on the Buddha’s birthday, 8th of April of the lunar calendar, using this to remember the Tathagata’s excellent functions and virtues. Through this, they recall with deep gratitude the boundless benevolence of the Tathagata for being born in this world to teach sentient beings.
The Buddha told his disciples that it would take three great incalculable eons to achieve Buddhahood. He then established the bodhisattva precepts to allow the disciples to know what bodhisattvas should or should not do so that they would not take the wrong turn on the lengthy bodhisattva path to eventually accomplish the fruition of Buddhahood. The Sutra of the Garland of a Bodhisattva’s Primary Karmas states that the virtue from taking the bodhisattva precepts can reduce the suffering of birth and death over three eons and accelerate the transcendence of the suffering of birth and death. In addition, one will be accompanied, protected, and empowered by Dharma-protecting benevolent deities after taking the precepts. The virtues of upholding precepts are very extraordinary and wondrous.