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Christ claimed to be the Prophet of Christianity. He further claimed that he was the Son of God. Christ also laid down the condition that there was no salvation for a person unless he accepted that Christ was the Son of God. Thus Christ secured a place for Himself by making the salvation of the Christian depend upon his acceptance of Christ as the Prophet and Son of God.

Buddha 450Mohammad, the Prophet of Islam, claimed that he was a prophet sent by God. He further claimed that no one could get salvation unless he accepted two other conditions. A seeker of salvation in Islam must accept that Mohammad is the Prophet of God. A seeker after salvation in Islam must further accept that he is the last prophet. Salvation in Islam is thus ensured only to those who accept these two conditions. Mohammad thus secured a place for Himself by making the salvation of the Muslim depend upon his acknowledgement of Mohammed as the Prophet of God.

No such condition was ever made by the Buddha. He claimed that he was no more than the natural son of Suddhodana and Mahamaya. He carved for him[1]self no place in his religion by laying down any such conditions regarding himself for salvation as Jesus and Mahommed did. That is the reason why we are left to know so little about himself even though abundant material was available.

As is known, the first Buddhist congregation was held soon after the death of the Buddha at Rajagraha. Kassyappa presided over the congregation. Anand, Upali and many others who belonged to Kapilavatsu were present. But what did Kassyappa the President do? He asked Anand to repeat the Dhamma and put the question to the congregation, "Is this right?" They answered in the affirmative. And Kassyappa then closed the question. If Kassyappa had collected the record of the Buddha's life we would have had today a full-fledged biography of the Buddha. The Buddha did not promise to give Salvation. He said He was Marga Data (Way Finder) and not Moksha Data (Giver of Salvation).

 Most religions are described as revelations. But the Buddha's religion is not a revelation. Revealed religion is so-called because it is a message of God to His creatures to worship their maker (i.e., God) and to save their souls. Often the message is sent through a chosen individual who is called a prophet, to whom the message is revealed and who reveals it to the people. It is then called Religion. The obligation of the prophet is to ensure salvation to the faithful. The salvation of the faithful means the saving of their souls from being sent to hell, provided they obey God's commands and recognise the prophet as his messenger.

The Buddha never claimed that he was a prophet or a messenger of God. His religion is a discovery in the sense that it is the result of inquiry and investigation into the conditions of human life on earth; and understanding of the working of human instincts with which man is born; the moulding of his instincts and dispositions which man has formed as a result of his[1]tory and tradition, and which are working to his detriment.

The Buddha did not Claim any Divinity for himself or for his Dhamma. It was discovered by man for man. It was not a Revelation. Every founder of a religion has either claimed divinity for himself or for his teachings. Moses did claim divine origin for his teachings. because they were the teachings of Jehovah the God. Jesus claimed divinity for himself. He claimed that he was the Son of God. Naturally, His teachings acquired a divine origin. Krishna said that he was God himself, and the Gita was his own word.

The Buddha made no such claim, The only claim he made was that his message was the only true way to salvation as he understood it. It was based on the universal human experience of life in the world. He said that it was open to anyone to question it, test it, and find what truth it contained. No founder has so fully thrown open his religion to such a challenge.

B.R. Ambedkar


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