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



GAUTAMA Buddha (563 B.C.– 483 B.C.) began life as a prince named Siddhartha Gautama, in northern India. At twelve, he was sent away for schooling in the Hindu sacred scriptures and four years later he returned home to marry a princess.

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.



They had a son and lived for ten years as befitted royalty.

Word Meaning
Befitted Suited, Appropriate

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

At about the age of twenty-five, the Prince, heretofore shielded from the sufferings of the world, while out hunting chanced upon a sick man, then an aged man, then a funeral procession, and finally a monk begging for alms.

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.

These sights so moved him that he at once went out into the world to seek enlightenment concerning the sorrows he had witnessed.

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.

He wandered for seven years and finally sat down under a peepal tree, where he vowed to stay until enlightenment came.

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.



Enlightened after seven days, he renamed the tree the Bodhi Tree (Tree of Wisdom) and began to teach and to share his new understandings. At that point he became known as the Buddha (the Awakened or the Enlightened).

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)

The Buddha preached his first sermon at the city of Benares, most holy of the dipping places on the River Ganges; that sermon has been preserved and is given here. It reflects the Buddha’s wisdom about one inscrutable kind of suffering.

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.

Kisa Gotami had an only son, and he died. In her grief she carried the dead child to all her neighbours, asking them for medicine, and the people said, “She has lost her senses. The boy is dead.”

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.



At length, Kisa Gotami met a man who replied to her request, “I cannot give thee medicine for thy child, but I know a physician who can.”

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.

And the girl said, “Pray tell me, sir; who is it?” And the man replied, “Go to Sakyamuni, the Buddha.” Kisa Gotami repaired to the Buddha and cried, “Lord and Master, give me the medicine that will cure my boy.”

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.

The Buddha answered, “I want a handful of mustardseed.” And when the girl in her joy promised to procure it, the Buddha added, “The mustard-seed must be taken from a house where no one has lost a child, husband, parent or friend.”

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.



Poor Kisa Gotami now went from house to house, and the people pitied her and said, “Here is mustardseed; take it!” But when she asked, “Did a son or daughter, a father or mother, die in your family?” they answered her, “Alas! the living are few, but the dead are many.

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.

Do not remind us of our deepest grief.” And there was no house but some beloved one had died in it. Kisa Gotami became weary and hopeless, and sat down at the wayside watching the lights of the city, as they flickered up and were extinguished again.

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.

At last the darkness of the night reigned everywhere. And she considered the fate of men that their lives flicker up and are extinguished again. And she thought to herself, “How selfish am I in my grief!

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.

Death is common to all; yet in this valley of desolation there is a path that leads him to immortality who has surrendered all selfishness.”

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.



The Buddha said, ‘‘The life of mortals in this world is troubled and brief and combined with pain. For there is not any means by which those that have been born can avoid dying; after reaching old age there is death; of such a nature are living beings.

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.

As ripe fruits are early in danger of falling, so mortals when born are always in danger of death. As all earthen vessels made by the potter end in being broken, so is the life of mortals. Both young and adult, both those who are fools and those who are wise, all fall into the power of death; all are subject to death.

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.

“Of those who, overcome by death, depart from life, a father cannot save his son, nor kinsmen their relations.

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.



Mark! while relatives are looking on and lamenting deeply, one by one mortals are carried off, like an ox that is led to the slaughter. So the world is afflicted with death and decay, therefore the wise do not grieve, knowing the terms of the world.

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.

“Not from weeping nor from grieving will anyone obtain peace of mind; on the contrary, his pain will be the greater and his body will suffer. He will make himself sick and pale, yet the dead are not saved by his lamentation.

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.

He who seeks peace should draw out the arrow of lamentation, and complaint, and grief. He who has drawn out the arrow and has become composed will obtain peace of mind; he who has overcome all sorrow will become free from sorrow, and be blessed.”

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.


 I. A Guide to Coping with the Death of a Loved One

Martha is having difficulty sleeping lately and no longer enjoys doing things with her friends. Martha lost her husband of 26 years to cancer a month ago.

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, age 17, doesn’t feel like eating and spends the days in her room crying. Her grandmother recently died.

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 of these individuals are experiencing grief. Grief is an emotion natural to all types of loss or significant change.

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.

Feelings of Grief

Although grief is unique and personal, a broad range of feelings and behaviours are commonly experienced after the death of a loved one.

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

Sadness. This is the most common, and it is not necessarily manifested by crying.

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.

Anger. This is one of the most confusing feelings for a survivor. There may be frustration at not being able to prevent the death, and a sense of not being able to exist without the loved one.

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.

Guilt and Self-reproach. People may believe that they were not kind enough or caring enough to the person who died, or that the person should have seen the doctor sooner.

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.

Anxiety. An individual may fear that she/he won’t be able to care for herself/himself.

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

Loneliness. There are reminders throughout the day that a partner, family member or friend is gone. For example, meals are no longer prepared the same way, phone calls to share a special moment don’t happen.

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.

Fatigue. There is an overall sense of feeling tired.

This feeling comes when somebody is very tired of life.

Disbelief: This occurs particularly if it was a sudden death.

This feeling particularly comes in cases of sudden death.

Helping Others Who Are Experiencing Grief

When a friend, loved one, or co-worker is experiencing grief—how can we help? It helps to understand that grief is expressed through a variety of behaviours.

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.

Reach out to others in their grief, but understand that some may not want to accept help and will not share their grief. Others will want to talk about their thoughts and feelings or reminisce.

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.

Be patient and let the grieving person know that you care and are there to support him or her.

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


II. Good Grief

Soon after my wife died — her car slid off an icy road in 1985 — a school psychologist warned me that my children and I were not mourning in the right way. We felt angry; the proper first stage, he said, is denial.

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 late August this year, my 38-year-old son, Michael, died suddenly in his sleep, leaving behind a 2-year-old son and a wife expecting their next child.

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.

There is no set form for grief, and no ‘right’ way to express it. There seems to be an expectation that, after a great loss, we will progress systematically through the well-known stages of grief. It is wrong, we are told, to jump to anger — or to wallow too long in this stage before moving towards acceptance.

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, and am, angry. To make parents bury their children is wrong; to have both my wife and son taken from me, for forever and a day, is cruel beyond words.

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.

A relative from Jerusalem, who is a psychiatrist, brought some solace by citing the maxim: ‘We are not to ask why, but what.’ The ‘what’ is that which survivors in grief are bound to do for one another.

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.

Following that advice, my family, close friends and I keep busy, calling each other and giving long answers to simple questions like, “How did your day go today?” We try to avoid thinking about either the immediate past or the bereft future. We take turns playing with Max, Michael’s two-year-old son. Friends spend nights with the young widow, and will be among those holding her hand when the baby is born.

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.

Focusing on what we do for one another is the only consolation we can find.

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






“Never shall a young man,

Thrown into despair

By those great honey-coloured

Ramparts at your ear,

Love you for yourself alone

And not your yellow hair.”

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.

“But I can get a hair-dye

And set such colour there,

Brown, or black, or carrot,

That young men in despair

May love me for myself alone

And not my yellow hair.”

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.


“I heard an old religious man

But yesternight declare

That he had found a text to prove

That only God, my dear,

Could love you for yourself alone

And not your yellow hair.”

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.


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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