A Glimpse into BSTD 101 “Buddhist Traditions: History and Culture”

In the undergraduate course BSTD 101 Buddhist Traditions: History and Culture, students explore the historical development of Buddhism in South and Southeast Asia. As part of the life story of Shakyamuni Buddha which this course explores, Ven. Trung Ngyuen, a Vietnamese monastic and student at RYI, conducted the Ceremony of Bathing the Baby Buddha for the students’ benefit. 

This ceremony is very significant in East Asian Buddhist traditions (China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore), where it is typically conducted with great rejoicing on Vesak Day/Buddha Jayanti each year. It re-enacts the bathing of the Baby Buddha at the moment of his birth by the Nagas and has an inner meaning pointing to the importance of inner purification not just for oneself but also for the benefit of other. 

Students both observed as well as participated in the ceremony, to understand how the life story of the Buddha is taken up in ritual practice as a form of devotion.


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