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Friday, 18 April 2014

Did you know Series (19): iii) Postage stamps from Thailand commemorating the Buddhist Jataka Tales (Part III):



Did you know Series (19): Postage stamps from Thailand commemorating the Buddhist Jataka Tales (Part III): 


(This is Part 3 of a four-part article narrating four Jataka tales based on a set of stamps brought out by Thailand Post)


Stamps celebrating the Visakha Puja Day issued in 1998:

9) Vidura Pandit Jataka, 10 to 12) Vessantara Jataka :


Vishaka Puja Day:


Vishaka or Vesakha (in Pali, the ancient Indian language diring Buddha’s time) or Baisakha (in Hindi, in India) or Vaisakh (in Nepali) or Buddha Purnima is traditionally celebrated by Buddhists all over the Indian sub-continent – Bangla Desh, Bhutan, Nepal, and India and South East Asian countries – Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines & Vietnam.


It is also remembered as the Buddha’s life as it commemorates the birth, enlightenment (nirvana) and death (parinirvana) of the Buddha. In Theravada Buddhist countries, it falls on a full moon day (Uposatha day) in the fifth or sixth lunar month. In China it falls on the eighth of the fourth month in the Chinese lunar calendar. It usually corresponds to the months of May or June as per the Gregorian calendar.


In 1950, at the First Conference of the Fellowship of Buddhists held in Sri Lanka in 1950, a consensus was reached to celebrate Buddha’s birthday on the full moon day in the month of May every year and to declare this day a public holiday. 


On Vesakha day, Buddhists assemble in various temples before dawn for the ceremonial hoisting of the Buddhist Flag and singing praises of the three jewels of Buddhism – the Buddha, the Dhamma or Dharma (his teachings) and the Sangha (brotherhood). 

Candles and joss-sticks are lit and the devotees refrain from killing of any kind and take vegetarian food only. Slaughter houses & liquor shops are closed and several birds, insects and animals are released in a symbolic act of liberation. Buddhists reaffirm their adherence to the five precepts and eight precepts to train themselves to practice morality, simplicity and humility.


Devotees pour water over Buddha’s statues, in a symbolic act of cleansing their bad karma. 




The second set of four stamps contained in the above stamp album. The inscription below the stamps states “Important Buddhist Religious Day (Visakha Puja Day) Postage Stamps 1998 illustrating Vidura-Pandit Jataka, the third chapter , the eighth chapter  and the tenth chapter of Vessantara Jataka.


9) Vidhura Pandit Jataka – (The eloquent Sage)-Perfection of Truth: 


The illustration on the above 3 Baht stamp celebrating Visakha Puja Day shows Vidhura Pandit leaving with Punakka on Punakka’s magical horse, after he was won by Punakka in a game of dice with the King.


Several thousands of years ago, the Bodhisattva took birth on Earth as a sage called Vidhura Pandit. His life’s mission was only to speak the truth. He was appointed chief counselor to King Dhananjaya in the city of Indapatta. He was eloquent of tongue and it is said that the Kings of over a 100 countries who came to King Dhananjaya’s court were so spell-bound by Vidhura’s eloquence that they forgot to return to their kingdoms, hypnotized by his voice. 


A Naga Queen (magical serpent) after hearing about Vidhura’s fame, feigned illness and requested her husband, the King of the Nagas, bring her Vidhura’s heart otherwise she would die. The King did not want to bring Vidhura like this because he was very impressed with his qualities but also wanted to see his wife get well soon. He was caught in a difficult situation, but ultimately, he sent his daughter Princess Irandati who resolved to entice Vidhura & then wrest out his heart.


In the Himalayas she assumed a human form which the Nagas were capable of assuming at will and managed to bewitch a “yakka” or demon named Punnaka with her charms and she promised to marry him on one condition – that Punnaka should first get Vidhura’s severed heart for her. To accomplish this, together they rode on his magic horse to Indapatta. 


Punnaka planned a ruse where he would win over Vidhura in a game of dice with King Dhananjaya. He showed the King several miracles performed by his magical possessions which the King desired to have at any cost. Punnaka, as per his plan, challenged him to a game of dice, the conditions being that if Punnaka lost, the King would get his magical possessions.


The game was started and the King was the first to throw the dice which turned against him as if controlled by a magical power. He was perplexed as usually his guardian deity, his mother in a previous life, would always roll the dice in his favour. She gave him hidden signals that the dice would always be rolling against him, therefore, he should stop playing the game. Punnaka contrived to get his demonic powers to chase away the delicate guardian goddess and his magic held sway on the game. The King lost and Punakka demanded his payment in the form of Vidhura.


Before leaving Vidhura asked for Punnaka’s permission to talk to his wives and sons. He took three days to share with them the principles of doctrine of Truth that he had followed during this incarnation. His family & servants were heart-broken at his permanent departure. He was ordered by Punakka to take hold of the tail of his magic horse and that a long journey awaited him as he would not see this World again. The Bodhisattva responded that he did not fear any fate as he had done no harm to anyone. 


The horse galloped over several mountain and trees, but contrary to Punakka’s expectations, neither the rocks, nor the trees so much as brushed against Vidhura and when they reached the peak of the Black Mountain which was Punakka’s abode, his intended victim was still alive. Punakka tried to frighten Vidhura to death by shape-shifting into demons, elephants, lions, gigantic serpents etc. but failed to ruffle the calm Bodhisattva. Finally, he seized Vidhura violently and whirled him around, upside down.

 The Bodhisattva quietly asked him for the reason for killing him.  Punakka told him the reason. The Bodhisattva immediately perceived that the Naga Queen’s demand had been misinterpreted by all. She had not meant to get his physical heart but his heart of wisdom for her to see for herself.


Nevertheless, Vidhura told Punakka that if he listened to his teachings first, he would willingly give up his heart to him. Punakka listened to him and took in his philosophy and became deeply conscious of all the wrong-doings that he had indulged in and was converted to the Right Path. He even freed Vidhura. 

However, Vidhura asked to be taken to the Naga kingdom in order to resolve the misunderstanding. They rode on Punnaka’s magic horse until they reached the splendid Naga palace. Inside the palace, Vidhura was seated on the central throne, surrounded by the Naga King & Queen, their daughter Irandati and Punnaka. He shared with them his philosophy of Truth and explained to them the misunderstanding.


All the issues were resolved amicably and the King married his daughter to Punakka and Vidhura was returned to Indapatta, his home.


10-12) Vessantara Jataka, The Perfection of Giving/Charity:



Sakka the King of the Gods, residing in “Tavatimsa” heaven sent his chief wife to Earth to give birth to the Bodhisattva in his penultimate birth before his last birth as Prince Siddhartha or Gautam Buddha). In her incarnation as Bodhisattva’s mother-to-be on Earth, she was named “Phusati” and was married to King Sanjaya, the ruler of Sivi.  She was of a charitable nature and got six alms/charity halls built and distributed silver coins and materials to the poor.


Shortly before the birth of the Bodhisattva, she visited the “Vessa” (or “Vaishya”, in Hindi – the business community in India) or the merchant community. She was followed by a mobile shelter (old time “medical ambulance”) in case she went into child-birth during her visit. Lo & behold, the Bodhisattva was born during this visit. As he was born in an area populated by the business community, he was named “Vessantara” (meaning “the star of the Vessas or Vaishyas”) although he was of a Royal birth. 


As soon as he was born, he asked his mother what gift he should give in happiness of his being born as her child. He thought it over and vowed that if someone asked him for his heart or his eye or his flesh, he would gladly give it to him. His unusual gift attracted the attention of the Gods in Heaven and there was thunderstorm & lightning. 


As a youth, Vessantara gladly parted with his worldly acquisitions in case someone needed them. By & by, he was married to Princess Maddi, the daughter of a neighbouring king and a son, Jali was born to them. Jali & a young white elephant brought to the Royal stables began to grow up together. In time, Vessantara became king of Sivi. It is said that the white elephant (a gift from Sakka, the King of the Gods himself) brought prosperity to the kingdom, it rained and the fields were lush green, laden with food grains & the trees with fruit.


This was not the case for a neighbouring kingdom of Kalinga which was witnessing a prolonged drought. In the Kalinga king’s court a suggestion was made by the wise men to send an emissary to Sivi to request Vessantara to sk for the white elephant as a gift from him, when he was distributing alms. Vessantara gladly acceded to their request.


The citizens of Sivi were so distressed at the gifting away of their white elephant and the consequent loss of prosperity, that they forced the old king Sanjaya to take charge of the kingdom again and demanded that Vessantara be sent into exile. 


On his last day in the Royal palace, Vessantara gave away all his possessions i.e. elephants, horses, chariots, maidens, slaves etc. He was still distributing them when night fell. He spent the last night with his parents, taking leave of them. He left with his family in a chariot drawn by four horses, four persons who had arrived late for the alms giving the previous day, asked Vessantara to give them the gift of a horse each which he immediately obliged them with. 



The illustration on the above 4 Baht stamp celebrating Visakha Puja Day shows Vessantara leaving his kingdom for the hermitage on a chariot and two men asking him for the gift of his chariot. The two stags represent deities who have taken the place of Vessantara’s horses which he has already gifted. Vessantar is shown pouring water on the kneeling man’s hand, symbolic of his having given him the gift that the kneeling man has asked for.


The Gods then sent four stags to draw the chariot, but another person appeared, asking that he be given the chariot itself. Vessantara and his family travelled on foot till they reached Ceta, a city ruled by Vessantara himself where they rested overnight in a hall next to the city gates as they were unwilling to enter the city. In the morning a woodsman guided them to the nearby forest where they set out into the foothills of the Himalayas, till they reached the big mountain Vamka.


Sakka, the King of the gods anticipating their arrival had got two hermitages built beside a lotus pond for them, through Viswakarma, the architect of the Gods, and the hermitages were furnished with ascetics requirements and garments. They spent several months eating roots & jungle fruits. 


Meanwhile in Kalinga, where prosperity had returned with the coming of the white elephant, there lived a poor man, Jujaka,  who was ugly so much so that his wife was teased by the other women that she had an old & ugly husband. She refused to go to the well & the market for fear of ridicule and asked her husband to get some servants for these jobs. Hearing of Vessantara’s fabled generosity, she suggested that Jujaka should seek his advice. 




The illustration on the above 6 Baht stamp celebrating Visakha Puja Day shows Vessantara in the company of his two children.


The penniless Jujaka set out to meet Vessantara and was attacked by watchdogs kept by the King to guard Vessantara’s family. Jujaka managed to get past them and managed to meet Vessantara. When Vessantara heard of his requirements, he gave his two children to Jujaka. Later, in his hut, he wept at the giving away of his children, but was bound to do so through his principles of giving alms and aid to the needy. When Maddi returned after going to collect firewood and fruits from the forest, she began searching for her children everywhere.

 On being told by Vessantara of his supreme gift to Jujaka, she calmed down, because her husband had been given this opportunity to achieve omniscience. 

To test Vessantara’s resolve to stick to his philosophy, one day Sakka came in the disguise of a human being to ask for Maddi to be given in alms to him, which Vessantara promptly obliged. Maddi left the hermitage, but the Earth & heavens shook at this supreme charity and Sakka returned Maddi to Vessantara.



The illustration on the above 7 Baht stamp celebrating Visakha Puja Day shows Sakka, the king of the Gods, asking  Vessantara for the gift of Maddi as an ultimate test of his generosity.


Meanwhile, Jujaka was lost in the forest and tied the children to a trunk to prevent them from escaping in the night. The Gods contrived to make Jujaka reach Sivi instead of his intended destination Kalinga. King Sanjaya was overjoyed to see his grandchildren and he paid Jujaka a great sum of money as reward.

 Sanjaya heard what had happened so far from his grandchildren and resolved to go to Mount Vamka to bring Vessantara and Maddi back to the Royal palace.


Accompanied with a huge army of elephants, soldiers, cavalry and chariots, he reached Vessantara’s hermitage. Fearful of the oncoming horde, Vessantara & his wife climbed a nearby mountain to observe the coming horde. Then they recognized Sivi’s banners and came to meet King Sanjaya. When this meeting took place, the Gods let a shower of rain fall on Sivi, thereby ending the drought which had begun by Vessantara giving away the white elephant which had brought prosperity to the country. 

Vessantara put away his hermit’s garments and was reinstated as Sivi’s king with great pomp and show. He continued to give alms to the needy throughout his life and left for his heavenly abode at the end of his human life in this incarnation.


(These stamps are from the collection of Jayant Biswas. Stamps scanned and article researched & written by Rajeev Prasad)




 Links to other Postage stamps posts from Thailand:
1) Thailand postage stamps commemorating Buddhist Jataka Tales & celebrating Magha Puja Day (Part I)

2) Thailand Post stamps commemorating Buddhist Jataka Tales & celebrating Asalha Puja Day (Part II)  

3) Thailand Post stamps commemorating Buddhist Jataka Tales & celebrating Visakha Puja Day (Part III)

4) Postage stamps from Thailand commemorating Buddhist Jataka Tales (Part IV)



 Links to other Posts on Buddhism and DR. B.R. Ambedkar on this Blog:




 


Links to posts on Indian Post-Cards:

1) Historical First Day Covers on Post Cards compiled by Karnataka Postal Circle on Post Independence India

2) For Part I of the DYKS (32) "Birds of the Himalayas", please click on the following link: ("Birds of the Himalayas" (Part I) - Description of 16 birds with picture postcards)

3) For Part II of DYKS (32): "Birds of the Himalayas", please click on the following link: ("Birds of the Himalayas" Description of 16 Birds with picture postcards)

4) For Part III of DYKS (32): "Birds of the Himalayas" please click on the following link: ("Birds of the Himalayas" Description of 16 Birds with picture postcards)

5) Two Series of Postage Stamps issued during the reign of George V: Inauguration of New Delhi in 1931 and Silver Jubilee of the reign of George V in 1935 compiled by Karnataka Postal Circle   

6) Aero India 2015: Asia's Premier Air Show: A set of 10 Post cards issued by Karnataka Postal Circle, India Post in 2015. 

Links to other Commemorative Stamps posts on Indian Stamps issued during 2016:

1)  Special India Post Cover  carried in a dedicated Hot Air Balloon flown during the II International Hot Air Balloon Festival held in Pollachi, Tamilnadu, released by Tamilnadu Circle of India Post in January 2016

2) "Vibrant India": Postage Stamps issued by India Post on this theme

3) MAHAPEX - 2016 held at Nasik from 16-18.01.16: (Part 1) Spl. Covers on Pandu Leni Caves and Smt. Kusum Dhirubhai Mehta released by Maharashtra Postal Circle on 16.01.2016 

4) MAHAPEX - 2016 held at Nashik from 16-18.01.2016: (Part 2) Spl.Covers on Kalaram temple and Nashik "Grape City & Wine Capital of India" released by Maharashtra Postal Circle on 17.01.2016 

5) MAHAPEX - 2016 held at Nashik from 16-18.01.16: (Part 3) Spl. Covers on "Nashik Dhol" and "Dr. Anand Gopalrao Joshi" released by Maharashtra postal Circle on 18.01.2016 

6) International Fleet Review - 2016 (IFR - 16) held at Vishakhapatnam from 04.02.16 to 08.02.16: Commemorative Postage stamps issued by India Post 

7) Celebrating 75 Years of setting up of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal : Commemorative Postage Stamps brought out by India Post. 

8) PUNPEX - 16 held at Chandigarh from 06 - 09.02.2016: (Part 1): Spl. Covers on "Indian Dak Runner" & "The PUNPEX-16 logo" released by Punjab Postal Circle on 06.02.2016 

9) PUNPEX - 16 held at Chandigarh from 06-09.02.2016: (Part 2): Spl. Cover on "Butterflies of Chandigarh" released by Punjab Postal Circle on 07.02.2016 

10) PUNPEX - 16  held at Chandigarh from 06-09.02.2016: (Part 3): Spl. Cover on "Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary, Chandigarh" released by Punjab Postal Circle on 07.02.2016 

11) PUNPEX - 16 held at Chandigarh from 06-09.02.2016: (Part 4): Spl. Cover on "Migratory Birds of Sukhna Lake, Chandigarh" released on 07.02.2016 

12) "Gurudwara Shri Paonta Sahib": Spl. Cover released by HP Postal Circle, of India Post 

13) India's First International Fleet review held on 18.02.2001 at Mumbai 

14) "Jal Mahotsav" on the River Narmada from 12-21.02.2016: Spl Cover issued by the Department of Posts, India 

15) "Simhasth Kumbh Mahaparv", Ujjain 22.04.2016-21.05.2016: MAPPEX-2016 Spl Cover released by Postmaster General, Indore Region, India Post on 07.02.2016 

16) Unique Handicrafts of Madhya Pradesh: MAPPEX 2016: A Special Cover issued by the Postmaster General , Indore Region, Indore, on 05.02.2016 

17) Golden Jubilee of The Statesman Vintage & Classic car Rally": Special Cover issued by the Delhi Postal Circle, New Delhi on 28.02.2016 

18) Mahamaham Kumbha Mela Festival, Kumbhakonam, Tamil Nadu: February 13-22, 2016. Special Cover issued by the Postmaster General Tamilnadu Circle, Chennai, India Post. 

19) "Maharaja Agrasen ki Baoli " in New Delhi: "UTSAV 2016"- A Special cover issued by the Delhi Postal Circle on 17.02.2016 

Links to other Commemorative Stamps posts on Indian Stamps issued during 2014 and 2015:

1) 2014 FIFA World Cup held in Brazil - A set of four stamps issued by India Post.

2) Commemorative Stamps on "Swachh Bharat" Mission

3) Commemorative Stamps on "Project Rukmini"

4) Commemorative Stamps on "Indian Ocean & Rajenda Chola I"

5) International Day of Yoga - "Commemorative Stamps & Coins" 

6) India-France - 50 Years of Space Co-operation - Commemorative Stamps

7) Commemorative Stamps on 50 years (Golden Jubilee) of "Engineers India Limited"

8Bicentenary of the "Old Theological Seminary" (OTS) Kottayam, Kerala

9Commemorative stamps issued on Nabakalabera (Jagannath Temple, Puri)

10) Commemorative stamps issued on an Indian Game called "Sagol Kangjei" originated in Manipur, from which Polo was adapted all over the World  

11) Samrat Ashok - Commemorative Stamps issued on the legendary Emperor of Ancient India 

12) Women Empowerment - Commemorative Stamps

13) Baba Amte - Commemorative Stamps 

14) Did You Know Series (4): A sample of the beautiful stamps brought out by Department of Posts, India 

15) 10th World Hindi Conference held at Bhopal - Commemorative Stamps issued by Department of Posts India

16) 50th Anniversary of the 1965 Indo-Pak War: Commemorative stamps issued by Department of Posts, India. 

17) Commemorating the 125th Anniversary of the Birth of Dr. B.R. Ambedker by Department of Posts, India with a stamp titled "Dr B.R. Ambedkar and the Indian Constitution" 

18) The "Charkha" or the Spinning Wheel: Commemorative stamps issued by the Department of Posts, India 

19) Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam - Commemorative Stamp issued by the Department of Posts, India 

20) 50th Anniversary of the Border Security Force (BSF): Commemorative Stamp issued by the Department of Posts, India 

21) 3rd India- Africa Forum Summit at New Delhi - Commemorative Stamps issued by Department of Posts, India 

22) Commemorating the Golden Jubilee of Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL): Commemorative Stamps issued by India Post.

23) Commemorating the Bicentenary of the Raising Day of the First and Third Gorkha Rifles: Commemorative stamps issued by India Post.  

24) India-Singapore Joint issue: 50 Years of Bilateral Relationship: Two Commemorative Stamps issued by India-Post. 

25) Celebrating 60 years (Golden Jubilee) of EEPC India: Commemorative stamps issued by India Post. 

26) Centenary of the setting up of the Zoological Survey of India: Commemorative stamps issued by India Post 

27) Celebrating Children's Day on November 14th - Commemorative Stamps issued by India Post. 

28) Musicians of India - Commemorating Classical Musicians of India by issue of Stamps by India Post. 

29) Sumitranandan Pant (poet and writer) : Commemorative postage stamps issued on him by India Post 

30) Golden Jubilee of the Establishment of the IDSA, New Delhi: Commemorative stamps issued by India Post 

31) 100 Years of Return of Mahatma Gandhi to India in 1915: Commemorative postage stamps issued by India Post 

32) Commemorating Alugumuthu Kone, one of the first Freedom Fighters against the British: Commemorative Stamps issued by India Post

33) Centennial of the Patna High Court of Judicature: Commoemrative Stamps issued by India Post 

List of Commemorative Stamps Posts on stamps issued in 2013: 

1) Commemorative Postage stamps on the "Wild Flowers of India" issued by India Post.

2) 100 Years of Indian Cinema: 50 commemorative stamps issued by India Post. 

List of Commemorative Stamps Posts  on Stamps issued in 2011:

1) Commemorative Postage Stamp of Rs.100/- issued on Mahatma Gandhi on Khadi Cloth for the first time ever by India Post.

List of Commemorative Stamps Posts  on Stamps issued in 2010:

1) Princely States of Indore, Sirmoor, Bamra and Cochin : Commemorative Stamps issued by India Post

List of Commemorative Stamps issued in 2007:

1) 2550 years of Mahaparinirvana of the Buddha: Commemorative stamps issued by India Post 

 Postage Stamps from Thailand depicting Buddhist Jataka Tales:

1) Thailand postage stamps commemorating Buddhist Jataka Tales & celebrating Magha Puja Day (Part I)

2) Thailand Post stamps commemorating Buddhist Jataka Tales & celebrating Asalha Puja Day (Part II)  

3) Thailand Post stamps commemorating Buddhist Jataka Tales & celebrating Visakha Puja Day (Part III)

4) Postage stamps from Thailand commemorating Buddhist Jataka Tales

Forever Stamps from United States Postal Service (USPS):

1) Forever Stamps: A Series of Stamps commemorating the "US Civil War 1861-1865"

Postage Stamps from the Bailiwick of Jersey

1) "Man of Steel": A Superman movie. Jersey post stamps commemorating a local lad Henry William Dalgliesh who played Superman in the Movie 

Postage Stamps from Gibraltar:

1) 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta - the Universal guidepost/landmark in Liberty and Freedom: A miniature stamp sheet issued by the Gibraltar Philatelic Bureau

Postage Stamps issued by New Zealand Post

1) ICC Cricket World Cup - 2015 14 Commemorative Stamps issued with the theme "Have A Ball"


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