The story of Buddha Bhagwan and Angulimala

Buddha Bhagwan is the ninth incarnation of Bhagwan Vishnu, as mentioned in all the Puranas of our Sanatana Dharma. While all the Avataras of Bhagwan Vishni were to eradicate the demons and the evil doers, the incarnation of Bhagwan Vishnu as Buddha was to eliminate the evil within oneself and show mankind the true path of enlightenment. According to our Jataka Tales, Buddha Bhagwan is Bodhisatva, who takes rebirths and in each birth transforms himself into a more enlightened one, thus becoming the divine Buddha born to help mankind walk on the path of Dharma.

Buddha Bhagwan was born as prince Siddhartha to King Suddhodhana and Maya Devi of the Shakya Clan in the gardens of Lumbini near Kapilavastu. Although a prince, being inclined towards knowing the true meaning behind the life cycle of birth and death, Prince Siddharth left the royal palace and roamed all around in search of true knowledge. He got his enlightenment in Bodh Gaya and was transformed as Buddha Bhagwan. He spread his principles of non-violence all over the land and mankind became his followers.

Once, during his travels, Buddha reached the outskirts of a forest. When he wanted to go through the forest, the cowherds grazing their cows warned him of the terrible robber Angulimala, who resided in the forest. Anugulimala killed people and cut their thumbs and wore them as a garland. He was named Angulimala as he wore the thumbs around his neck as a garland. (Anguli which means thumb and Mala meaning garland)The cowherds request Buddha not to go in the path and face the wrath of Angulimala, but Buddha Bhagwan simply smiles and resumes his journey.

In the depths of the forest, Angulimala was waiting for a traveller to pass by. He finds Buddha Bhagwan walking in the path and rushes forward to kill him. But Buddha continues his journey without any kind of fear or panic. Angulimala is surprised at this, as till date he witnessed people panicking and become dumbfounded with fear when he called out, and this was the first time he saw a man walking without any fear of him.
Angulimala again calls out to Buddha Bhagwan to stop, yet Buddha doesn’t listen. In a fit of anger, Angulimala lunges with a sword and threatens to kill Buddha if he wouldn’t stop. Buddha calmly stops and says to Angulimala that he has stopped, and asks the robber to stop too. Angulimala does not understand Buddha’s words and asks him what he meant by that.

Buddha Bhagwan mentions that just as he stopped at the call of Angulimala, it was time that Angulimala too stopped his violence and leads a righteous life. Angulimala notices a divine light emanate from Buddha Bhagwan and the calmness and vision of Buddha’s eyes gets set in his heart. He gets enlightened by Buddha’s words and falls at the feet of the divine one. With great repentance in heart, and tears in the eyes Angulimala asks for the forgiveness for his sins committed.

Buddha Bhagwan blesses him and preaches Angulimala to lead a peaceful and a calm life without causing harm to anybody and accepts him as his disciple. Anugulimala’s story is a great insight that there is always time to change the bad within us and inculcate the good, and one can always transform into a better person through his experiences and the Almighty is always there to help the one who wants to change for the good.