The picture above is a painted detail from an 8th-12th Century palm leaf manuscript of the “Perfection of Wisdom Sutra in 8,000 Lines”, produced by the Nalanda Buddhist University. It survived the destruction of Nalanda University, was preserved in Tibet for hundreds of years and now forms part of the collection of the Asia Society Museum. It depicts Buddha Shakyamuni supernaturally multiplying his body, referred to as the miracle at Sravasti.
Today, 8 March 2012, is Chotrul Düchen, the ‘Day of Miracles’ which commemorates one of the four great deeds of the Buddha. It occurs on the full moon (the fifteenth day) of the first Tibetan month. The first fifteen days of the New Year celebrate the fifteen days on which, in order to increase the merit and the devotion of future disciples, Buddha Shakyamuni displayed a different miracle.
The Buddha performed these miracles in his 40th year in response to a challenge from the leaders of India’s six main philosophical schools to a contest of miraculous powers. The Buddha utterly defeated his opponents and inspired many individuals to practice the Dharma. In India at that time great kings and noble families sponsored teachers who could perform miracles. The challenge by the six Hindu teachers was made to Buddha in Sravasti. Buddha accepted the challenge because he knew that many would develop towards Enlightenment as a result of this demonstration, and people in the future would be inspired to practice. It is said that 80,000 Buddhists and 84,000 Hindus attended the competition. On each of the fifteen days the Buddha taught, and those assembled made enormous progress in their development, many attaining liberation and strengthening their Enlightened Attitude.
There are eight main types of Tibetan stupas. One is called the Stupa of Miracles and was built to commemorate this event. A famous Stupa of Miracles in the West today is the one in the Kuchary Diamond Way Buddhist Retreat Centre in Poland, built by Lopon Tsechu Rinpoche and inaugurated on 29 July 2002.
The “Day of Miracles” is celebrated by Tibetans from the first to the fifteenth of the first lunar month, so it is the first “Düchen” or “great occasion” in the Tibetan calendar, marking the beginning of the New Year. These fifteen days are “multiplying days” in which the effect of any action is magnified millions of times and the fifteenth day is especially great. Chotrul Düchen, like Saga Dawa Düchen, and Lhabab Düchen is a “ten million multiplier” day, multiplying the effects of all positive and negative actions 10 million times! It is therefore considered very useful to engage in positive activities today!