The Sermon at Benaras Explanation, Line by Line, Meaning of Difficult Words, English CBSE Class 10 NCERT First Flight Chapter 10


(Explanation and meaning of difficult words)

Source : Betty Renshaw

Values and Voices: A college Reader (1975)

Word Meaning
Sacred Holy, Pious
Scriptures Books of religion

Gautama Buddha lived from 563 BC to 483 BC. He was born in a royal family of northern India so he was a prince. His name was Siddhartha Gautama. At the age of 12, he was a sent to a school to study holy books of Hindu religion. He returned from the school after four years. Then he got married to a princess.


Word Meaning
Befitted Suited, Appropriate

For 10 years they lived as per tradition of royal family. They had a son.



Word Meaning
Heretofore Before that time
Shielded Protected
Chanced upon Saw by chance
Alms Anything got by begging

Living in the royal family, prince Siddhartha did not have any chance to see or experience problems of the world. At the age of about twenty five, once prince had gone for hunting. He saw a sick person, an aged person, a funeral procession and a monk who was begging for alms.



Word Meaning
Moved him Affected him
At once Immediately
Enlightenment Spiritual knowledge
Concerning Regarding
Sorrow Sadness
Witnessed Seen

These scenes affected him to such an extent that he immediately left his home. He went to the world outside his home in search of spiritual knowledge regarding the scenes of sadness he had seen.



Word Meaning
Wandered Roamed, Moved,
Peepal A type of tree
Vowed Promised to himself

He roamed to different places for seven years. Finally he sat under a peepal tree. He promised to himself to remain there only till he got the spiritual or the ultimate knowledge.



Word Meaning
Began Started

After seven days he understood the spiritual knowledge. He gave a new name to the peepal tree as Bodhi Tree. He started teaching and sharing his new understandings. Then he was called the Buddha (The person having knowledge)



Word Meaning
Preached Gave a religious speech, Teach
Sermon A religious speech
Preserved Saved,
Reflects Explains, Indicates, Shows
Inscrutable Not easily understood,

The Buddha gave his first religious speech at the city of Benares. It is the most holy space of the river Ganges for taking a holy bath. That speech is not lost, it is saved. It is famous even today. That sermon is written in following paragraphs. This sermon explains wisdom of Buddha about a type of pain that cannot be easily understood.



Word Meaning
Greif Sadness, Sorrow
Lost her senses She could not think, Became mad

Kias Gotami had only one son. Her son died. She became very sad. She carried the dead child to her neighbours. She requested them to give some medicine so that her son becomes alive. The people said that she had become mad because medicine cannot make a dead person alive.



Word Meaning
At length After a long time
Physician Doctor
Thee You
Thy Your

After a long time (after meeting many people) Kisa Gotami met a person who gave a suggestion to her. The man told that he could not give medicine for her child, but he knew a doctor who could give medicine.



Word Meaning
Pray tell me Please tell me
Sakyamuni Title of Buddha
Repaired Went, Visited

The girl (Kisa Gotami) requested the man to  tell the name of the doctor. The man asked her to meet Sakyamuni, the Buddha. Kisa Gotami went to Budddha. She started crying. She requested Buddha to give medicine to her son to make him alive again.



Word Meaning
Handful Small quantity
Procure To buy, To bring
Mustardseed Type of grain

The Buddha told that he wanted some mustardseeds to treat her son. The girl (Kisa Gotami) became happy and promised to buy some mustardseed. Buddha said that mustardseeds should be brought from a house where death has not occurred in any of their relation or friends.



Word Meaning
Poor Helpless, Deserving sympathy
Took pity Expressed sympathy

Helpless Kisa Gotami went from one house to another. People expressed their sympathy to her and gave her some mustardseed. She asked them if anyone has died in their family. They said that many people have died in their family. Number of dead people are more than number of alive people.



Word Meaning
Deepest grief Biggest sorrow
Beloved Loved ones
Weary Very tired
Flickered up Started, Started shining
Extinguished Ended, Switched off

They requested Kisa Gotami not to remind them of their pain of losing their family members. There was no house where no one had died. Kita Gotani became very tired and hopeless. She sat on the side of a road. She watched lights of city. Lights became brighter and then got switched off again.



Word Meaning
At last Finally
Reigned Ruled, Spread
Fate Destiny, Kismet

Finally the darkness of the night had spread everywhere. She considered destiny of mankind. Their life starts, grows and the life ends again. Now she understood that she had become selfish in her grief.



Word Meaning
Desolation Sadness, Misery
Immortality Alive forever
Surrendered Given up

Death is common to all. Everybody will die someday. In this world of sadness, one who gives up selfishness, can live for forever in memory of people.



Word Meaning
Mortal Living beings

Buddha said that life of every living being in this world is full of trouble, short and full of pain. Because there is no method by which a living being can avoid death. It is natural for every living being to die after becoming old. Every living being is of this nature .This is the rule of this world.



Word Meaning
Potter One who makes earthen pots

A ripe fruit has the danger of falling down from the tree early. Similarly, young ones are more in the danger of dying. Every pot of clay made by potter finally breaks someday or the other. Same is life of living beings. It will end someday. Every young and adult, fool and wise, all will die.



Word Meaning
Kinsmen Relatives

Those who die, move away from life. A father cannot save life of his son, and a relative cannot prevent death of another relative.



Word Meaning
Lamenting Becoming sad, Expressing sorrow
Afflicted Affected, Troubled, Full of
Decay Damage, Destruction
Grieve To become sad
Terms of world Nature or condition of world

Please note that while relatives are watching and expressing sorrow, one by one every living being is carried away by death. It is just like an animal is carried away for killing. The complete world is affected by death and damage. Therefore wise people do not become sad because they know the nature of the world.



Word Meaning
On the contrary Being opposite, Instead
Pale Weak
Lamentation Sorrow, Sadness

Nobody will obtain peace of mind by becoming sad or weeping. Instead, his pain will increase and his body will also suffer. He will make himself sick and weak but the dead person will not become alive by his sadness.



Word Meaning
Composed Calm

One who wants to live in peace should keep away from sadness, complaint and sorrow. One who has removed these emotions from his life will become calm and obtain peace of mind. One who has overcome sorrow will become free from sorrow and remain calm. God would always bless such person.




Nowadays Martha has difficulty in sleeping. She does not enjoy talking or playing with her friends. Husband of Martha was 26 years old. He died a month ago due to cancer.



Anya is 17 years old. She does not feel like eating. She spends her time in the room and cries there. Her grandmother had died recently



Both these persons are expressing their sorrow. Grief is a natural emotion. It comes to each one of us when we suddenly lose anything or because of sudden change.



Grief is different for every person and it is a personal emotion. But many types of behaviours occur after death of loved ones. Some of these are narrated below



This is the most common type of grief. It is not always expressed by crying. One may not cry even when he or she is sad. Sadness can be expressed by remaining silent.



Such type of emotions occur when someone is confused. He may be frustrated because he was not able to prevent death of his loved ones. One may have feeling of not able to live without his or her loved ones.



Such feeling comes when people feel that they were not kind towards the person who has died. Such feelings may also come if they feel that they could not take good care of the dead person. Or because of the feeling that the person should have consulted the doctor earlier.



This feeling comes when a person feels that now he or she will not be able to take care of himself / herself.



Such feeling comes when one feels absence of a partner. There would be reminders every day that a partner, family member or a friend is not alive. Food is not prepared the way it used to be prepared earlier. There may not be a phone call to share special moments or to exchange greetings.



This feeling comes when somebody is very tired of life.



This feeling particularly comes in cases of sudden death.



If we are able to understand what kind of grief a person is experiencing, we can try to help in a better manner. Therefore it is necessary to understand the kind of grief a person is experiencing.



We can approach people who are sad, but please remember that everybody does not want to accept help. They may not share their grief. While some may like to talk their thought and describe events of past.



We should have lot of patience and let the person understand that you care for him / her and are ready to support.




In 1985 car of my wife slipped from a road covered by ice. She died in that accident. A psychologist from the school told us that we were not expressing our sorrow in right manner. We felt very angry. He told us the correct first stage is the acceptance that somebody is no longer alive.



In the month of August this year, my 38 year old son died while he was sleeping. Now his two year old son and his pregnant wife are alone in this world.



The sorrow can come in any form and there is no correct method of expressing sadness. The general expectation is that after a great loss, we shall gradually go through various stages. We are advised that it is wrong to become angry or to cry loudly for a long time. We should accept the loss as quickly as possible.



But I was angry and I am angry. It is really bad that parents have to conduct last rites of their child. It is bad if my wife and son are taken away forever from me because of their death. Every day is now cruel to me.



Word Meaning
Solace Relief
Maxim Saying

A relative of mine from Jerusalem is a psychiatrist. He gave me some relief by saying the proverb ‘we are not to ask why, but what’. It means that we should not ask why it (death) has happened, but we need to ask ourselves what we should do now. The survivors should think what they can do for each other.



Word Meaning
Bereft Uncertain
Take turns One by one

We followed the advice. All members of my family, close friends and I used to call each other. We used to give long answers to simple question like ‘How did your day go today’. The aim was to talk more amongst ourselves. This way we avoided talking about the immediate past and the uncertain future. We used to play one by one with Max, the two year old son of Michael. Many friends of the widow used to stay with her to give company. We will be among those who will support the widow when the baby is born.



Paying attention to each other is the only way to help and give comfort to each other.







Poet – William Butler Yeats

The poem is a conversation between the poet and a girl named Anne Gregory

Word Meaning
Despair Become sad, Disappointed
Ramparts The outer wall of a fort
Poetic Devices
Honey coloured ramparts at your ear Metaphor
Love you for yourself alone Alliteration

The poets says to Anne that if you reject a young person he may feel disappointed and sad. But it does not mean that he truly loves you. He might have been attracted by your honey coloured hair which are falling up to your ears.

Poet wants to say that people many times are attracted by the physical beauty only. They may not give importance to inner qualities of a person.



Poetic Devices
And set such colour there Alliteration
Brown or black or carrot Alliteration
may love me for myself alone Alliteration

Anne replies that she can change colour of her hair to brown, black or of carrot colour by dying. In that case she may find a person who would love her for her qualities and not for her physical beauty.



Word Meaning
Yesternight Previous night,
Poetic Devices
Could love you for yourself alone Alliteration
And not your yellow hair Alliteration

The poet says to Anne that previous night he had listened to a religious man. The man declared that he had found a text to prove that only the God can love people for their true qualities and not for physical beauty.


One more explanation of the poem

Most people in this world look at us through the lens of physical wellbeing. They may have a large variety of measuring scales of their own choice. Faced with such situation, we may start making changes within ourselves. This could be to gain acceptance of others or to check if thoughts of people change when we change.

More often we notice that opinion of people about us does deteriorate with change in our physical wellbeing. This happens while we expect that opinion of others about us should not change because inherently we have grown.   

The poem clarifies that people can seldom understand our inherent qualities, nor do we allow people to have an audience with our inherent qualities. Sometimes we ourselves may not know our own inherent qualities and abilities.

It is only the supreme power of the universe, the almighty God, who knows about our abilities and potential. Thus we should not get impacted by what opinion people have about us.

We should work to grow our own ethical standards, our abilities and our emotional wellbeing. This approach would propel us to lead a happy life.



Important Links
The Sermon at Benaras – Textbook Q&A The Sermon at Benaras – Extra Q&A
Madam Rides the Bus – Explanation The Proposal – Explanation
Madam Rides the Bus – Textbook Q&A The Proposal – Textbook Q&A
Madam Rides the Bus – Extra Q&A The Proposal – Extra Q&A
Re-arrange Exercises Error Finding Exercises
Active-Passive Rules Gap Filling Exercises
Passages Direct-Indirect Speech Rules
Story Writing Tips Letter Writing




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