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Vesak Day is coming, some monastery offering a baby bathing during the event.

What is the story behind about this? Is it appropriate?

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4 Answers 4

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The Buddha himself discouraged focusing on his form and instead recommended to focus on the teachings (Dhamma).

Vakkali: “For a long time, venerable sir, I have wanted to come to see the Blessed One, but I haven’t been fit enough to do so.”

Buddha: “Enough, Vakkali! Why do you want to see this foul body? One who sees the Dhamma sees me; one who sees me sees the Dhamma. For in seeing the Dhamma, Vakkali, one sees me; and in seeing me, one sees the Dhamma.
SN 22.87

On the other hand, some minor texts rebuke the criticism of relics worship. However, I would give more importance to the words of the Buddha, compared to the words of a random ghost.

Ghost:
In the city of Rajagaha I was an extremely wealthy person. One day my wife, daughter, and daughter-in-law were ready to go to worship a stupa that held relics of the Buddha. They had prepared lotus flowers, garlands made of flowers, and incense. I stopped them from going there. That was the evil deed I did.

There are about eighty-six thousand ghosts here suffering each in their own way. They all committed the same evil deed of insulting the worshipping of the Buddha’s relics. We are suffering intensely in this ghost world as if we were in hell.

If one criticizes worshipping the relics of the Supreme Buddha, that person loses a great meritorious opportunity.
Petavatthu 35 (part of Khuddaka Nikaya)

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    Supreme wording. Why would we listen to a Ghost? Apr 26, 2022 at 7:29
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I think it is a very ignorant thing to do but not particularly offensive to me.

#1 Buddha isn't a baby, nor is it a name, thus washing 'baby-buddha' makes no doctrinal sense. As a matter of fact the Buddha never was a baby and a baby can't attain Buddhahood.

#2 The earliest statues & depictions of the Buddha do not appear until several hundreds of years after Parinibbana. The Sarvastivadin Vinaya even claims that the Buddha specifically forbid making of his images but allowed depicting the Bodhisatta.

The common view is that making statues of the Buddha is inappropriate and that is why the earliest art depicts things like a footprint of the Buddha rather than The Buddha himself.

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  • The Introduction to the Jhataka has an account of the Buddha's miraculous birth -- this is the same source as the story of the Divine Messengers leading to the Buddha's going forth; and of the vow by the bodhi tree.
    – ChrisW
    Apr 25, 2022 at 7:39
  • I would expect you to know that the Bodhisatta attained Buddhahood at the age of 35 or so.
    – user23677
    Apr 25, 2022 at 7:54
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Yes, it is appropriate. I used to do stuff to my Buddha statue all the time. I stuck googly eyes on him, hung hats and rubber bands on his fingers. In the end, I stuck him face down in the drawer where he belongs! Now I've freed some space on my desk - he was a big ol' thing, that Buddha! Maybe I'll take him to the workshop and chop him up with the plunge saw! Who knows! Thing is, this is seen as blasphemous only to one who is stuck inside the dreamy world of Buddhism.

There is a saying in Zen, "if you see the Buddha, kill the Buddha!"

If you grab dhamma by the wrong end, it'll chew you up for decades and perhaps your whole life. Many have fallen into this dreadful trap, even prominent teachers.

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  • This answer is very similar to this answer -- which was a subject of this meta-topic. This answer is longer though, more explicit.
    – ChrisW
    Apr 26, 2022 at 12:09
  • @ChrisW - Sure. The issues of one being offended is drawn from their own hearts, from their own misplaced attachment to Buddhists concepts. In Zen, one of the methods that is used to address this dreadful affliction is usually a very harsh and swift method. Most Buddhist wouldn't understand the simplicity in such an approach, for their faculties are bedding sensually with complex Theravada ideologies. To put it succinctly, if you finally get the picture, your jaw will drop, and you'll laugh at all this crap.
    – user17652
    Apr 26, 2022 at 17:09
  • @ChrisW - Oh, just to add: naturally, I'm speaking from personal experience. It is actually the case that some people respond rather well to adorning themselves with Dhamma in such ways.
    – user17652
    Apr 26, 2022 at 17:52
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This is a fetter that will be let go for a sotapanna. Both the desire or affiliation to do such trivial things as well as the concern about others doing such trivial things.

Obviously the Buddha did not suggest or advocate for anyone to do such trivial things but you can find all sorts of trivial things like this in most of the Buddhists sects and traditions including Theravada (statues, images of teachers, offering to statues etc) Essentially it is a cultural nonsense created by/for Putajanna. Tibetan Buddhism is full up of these type of trivial things.

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