Site logo

Ace CBSE & RBSE English (NCERT): Decoding Buddha’s Wisdom in “The Sermon at Benares” (First Flight, Class 10) + Q&A


For students preparing for CBSE and RBSE examinations, deciphering the depths of “The Sermon at Benares” in NCERT Class 10’s “First Flight” can be crucial. This chapter delves into a pivotal moment in Buddhist history – the first sermon delivered by Gautama Buddha after attaining enlightenment. By closely analyzing this sermon, we gain an in-depth understanding of core Buddhist principles and their relevance to our lives.

Journey to Enlightenment:

The chapter initially portrays the sheltered life of Prince Siddhartha, followed by his unsettling encounters with the realities of illness, old age, and death. These experiences spark a profound spiritual quest, leading him to years of austere practices. Finally, under the Bodhi Tree, he attains enlightenment, transforming into the Buddha – the ‘awakened one’.

The Essence of the Sermon:

Buddha’s first sermon, delivered in Benares to his five disciples, lays the foundation for Buddhist teachings. It revolves around the Four Noble Truths:

  1. The Noble Truth of Dukkha (Suffering): Life is inherently marked by suffering, encompassing everything from physical pain to emotional dissatisfaction.
  2. The Noble Truth of Samudaya (Cause of Suffering): Craving and clinging to impermanent desires generate suffering. This craving arises from ignorance and delusion about the true nature of existence.
  3. The Noble Truth of Nirodha (Cessation of Suffering): Through the elimination of these desires and attaining Nirvana, suffering can be permanently eradicated.
  4. The Noble Truth of Magga (Path to Cessation of Suffering): The Eightfold Path, encompassing Right View, Right Resolve, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration, serves as the roadmap to achieve Nirvana.

Beyond the Doctrine:

“The Sermon at Benares” transcends mere religious instruction. It explores universal themes like compassion, empathy, and the pursuit of inner peace. Buddha emphasizes the Middle Way, advocating for moderation and balance, steering clear from extremes of indulgence and deprivation. This resonates deeply with students, guiding them to navigate the complexities of life with mindfulness and wisdom.

Significance for CBSE & RBSE Exams:

For CBSE and RBSE aspirants, comprehending “The Sermon at Benares” holds immense value. This chapter can appear in various forms – comprehension passages, short answer questions, essay prompts, and even analytical interpretations. A thorough understanding of the Four Noble Truths, the Middle Way, and the broader themes allows students to confidently tackle these questions and demonstrate their grasp of key Buddhist concepts.


“The Sermon at Benares” serves as a gateway to unlock the wisdom of Buddha’s teachings. By delving into its depths, students gain not only valuable knowledge for exams but also insights into the human condition and the path towards inner liberation. So, engage with this chapter thoughtfully, ponder its profound messages, and embark on your own journey of self-discovery, inspired by the enlightening words of the Buddha.

“The Sermon at Benares”

“First Flight” is a prominent English textbook for Class X under the NCERT curriculum, offering a diverse collection of prose and poetry to enrich the language learning experience of students.

Chapter Ten of this textbook is titled “The Sermon at Benares” and is written by Betty Renshaw. This chapter delves into one of the significant events in the life of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. The narrative focuses on Buddha’s sermon at Benares (Varanasi), which he delivered after attaining enlightenment.

The sermon is a pivotal moment in Buddhist teachings, often regarded as the first teaching Buddha gave after his enlightenment. In this chapter, the story of Buddha’s enlightenment is narrated, followed by the essence of his sermon at Benares. It encapsulates the core principles of Buddhism, including the Four Noble Truths, which address the nature of suffering, its causes, its cessation, and the path leading to its cessation.

“The Sermon at Benares” is not just a recounting of a religious teaching but is also a profound exploration of universal themes like suffering, compassion, and the quest for spiritual awakening. It’s a chapter that provides young learners with an understanding of important historical and spiritual concepts, presented in a manner that is both engaging and thought-provoking.

Summary of the Chapter:

In “The Sermon at Benares,” from the NCERT textbook “First Flight,” the chapter opens with the story of Gautama Buddha’s early life as Prince Siddhartha, who lived a sheltered and luxurious life. His encounter with the harsh realities of life – old age, sickness, and death – deeply disturbed him and set him on a quest for enlightenment to understand the nature of suffering.

After years of ascetic life, Siddhartha, under the Bodhi tree, attains enlightenment and becomes the Buddha. He then travels to Benares (Varanasi) to share his newfound knowledge. Here, he delivers his first sermon to five disciples, marking the beginning of his teaching career.

The sermon primarily focuses on the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism. These truths explain the reality of suffering (Dukkha), the cause of suffering (Samudaya), the cessation of suffering (Nirodha), and the path leading to the cessation of suffering (Magga). Buddha emphasizes the Middle Way, a path of moderation away from the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification.

The chapter highlights themes of empathy, wisdom, and the pursuit of spiritual understanding. It also marks a significant character development in Siddhartha’s transformation from a prince to an enlightened teacher, showcasing his journey from ignorance to enlightenment and his commitment to sharing his insights with the world.

उपरोक्त का हिंदी अनुवाद

“फर्स्ट फ़्लाइट” एनसीईआरटी पाठ्यक्रम के तहत दसवीं कक्षा के लिए एक प्रमुख अंग्रेजी पाठ्यपुस्तक है, जो छात्रों के भाषा सीखने के अनुभव को समृद्ध करने के लिए गद्य और कविता का एक विविध संग्रह पेश करती है।

इस पाठ्यपुस्तक के अध्याय दस का शीर्षक “बनारस में उपदेश” है और इसे बेट्टी रेनशॉ ने लिखा है। यह अध्याय बौद्ध धर्म के संस्थापक गौतम बुद्ध के जीवन की महत्वपूर्ण घटनाओं में से एक पर प्रकाश डालता है। यह कथा बनारस (वाराणसी) में बुद्ध के उपदेश पर केंद्रित है, जो उन्होंने ज्ञान प्राप्त करने के बाद दिया था।

उपदेश बौद्ध शिक्षाओं में एक महत्वपूर्ण क्षण है, जिसे अक्सर बुद्ध द्वारा अपने ज्ञानोदय के बाद दी गई पहली शिक्षा माना जाता है। इस अध्याय में, बुद्ध के ज्ञान की कहानी का वर्णन किया गया है, इसके बाद बनारस में उनके उपदेश का सार बताया गया है। यह चार आर्य सत्यों सहित बौद्ध धर्म के मूल सिद्धांतों को समाहित करता है, जो दुख की प्रकृति, उसके कारणों, उसकी समाप्ति और उसकी समाप्ति की ओर ले जाने वाले मार्ग को संबोधित करते हैं।

“बनारस में उपदेश” केवल एक धार्मिक शिक्षा का पुनर्पाठ नहीं है, बल्कि पीड़ा, करुणा और आध्यात्मिक जागृति की खोज जैसे सार्वभौमिक विषयों की गहन खोज भी है। यह एक ऐसा अध्याय है जो युवा शिक्षार्थियों को महत्वपूर्ण ऐतिहासिक और आध्यात्मिक अवधारणाओं की समझ प्रदान करता है, जो आकर्षक और विचारोत्तेजक दोनों तरह से प्रस्तुत किया गया है।

एनसीईआरटी की पाठ्यपुस्तक “फर्स्ट फ़्लाइट” से “बनारस में उपदेश” में, अध्याय गौतम बुद्ध के राजकुमार सिद्धार्थ के प्रारंभिक जीवन की कहानी के साथ शुरू होता है, जो एक आश्रय और विलासितापूर्ण जीवन जीते थे। जीवन की कठोर वास्तविकताओं – बुढ़ापा, बीमारी और मृत्यु – के साथ उनकी मुठभेड़ ने उन्हें गहराई से परेशान कर दिया और उन्हें पीड़ा की प्रकृति को समझने के लिए आत्मज्ञान की खोज में लगा दिया।

वर्षों के तपस्वी जीवन के बाद, सिद्धार्थ, बोधि वृक्ष के नीचे, ज्ञान प्राप्त करते हैं और बुद्ध बन जाते हैं। फिर वह अपने नए ज्ञान को साझा करने के लिए बनारस (वाराणसी) की यात्रा करता है। यहां, उन्होंने पांच शिष्यों को अपना पहला उपदेश दिया, जिससे उनके शिक्षण करियर की शुरुआत हुई।

यह उपदेश मुख्य रूप से बौद्ध धर्म के चार आर्य सत्यों पर केंद्रित है। ये सत्य दुख की वास्तविकता (दुक्ख), दुख का कारण (समुदाय), दुख की समाप्ति (निरोध), और दुख की समाप्ति (मग्गा) की ओर ले जाने वाले मार्ग की व्याख्या करते हैं। बुद्ध मध्य मार्ग पर जोर देते हैं, जो आत्म-भोग और आत्म-पीड़न की चरम सीमा से दूर संयम का मार्ग है।

अध्याय सहानुभूति, ज्ञान और आध्यात्मिक समझ की खोज के विषयों पर प्रकाश डालता है। यह सिद्धार्थ के एक राजकुमार से एक प्रबुद्ध शिक्षक में परिवर्तन में एक महत्वपूर्ण चरित्र विकास का भी प्रतीक है, जो अज्ञानता से ज्ञानोदय तक की उनकी यात्रा और दुनिया के साथ अपनी अंतर्दृष्टि साझा करने की उनकी प्रतिबद्धता को प्रदर्शित करता है

Multiple Choice Questions (12 Questions and Answers):

  1. Who is the main figure discussed in “The Sermon at Benares”?
  • A) King Ashoka
  • B) Lord Krishna
  • C) Gautama Buddha
  • D) Mahavira
  • Answer: C) Gautama Buddha
  1. What event in Buddha’s life led him to seek enlightenment?
  • A) A royal dispute
  • B) Encounters with suffering
  • C) A prophetic dream
  • D) A religious festival
  • Answer: B) Encounters with suffering
  1. Where did Buddha attain enlightenment?
  • A) In a monastery
  • B) Under the Bodhi tree
  • C) At the top of a mountain
  • D) In a palace
  • Answer: B) Under the Bodhi tree
  1. What is the main theme of Buddha’s sermon at Benares?
  • A) The power of meditation
  • B) The Four Noble Truths
  • C) The history of Buddhism
  • D) The importance of royalty
  • Answer: B) The Four Noble Truths
  1. What was Buddha’s original name?
  • A) Siddhartha Gautama
  • B) Arjuna
  • C) Vishnu
  • D) Ram
  • Answer: A) Siddhartha Gautama
  1. What does the first Noble Truth, Dukkha, signify?
  • A) Happiness
  • B) Enlightenment
  • C) Suffering
  • D) Rebirth
  • Answer: C) Suffering
  1. What did Buddha seek to overcome through his teachings?
  • A) Wealth and power
  • B) Ignorance and desire
  • C) Political strife
  • D) Educational reforms
  • Answer: B) Ignorance and desire
  1. To whom did Buddha deliver his first sermon?
  • A) His family
  • B) The townsfolk
  • C) Five disciples
  • D) A group of monks
  • Answer: C) Five disciples
  1. What does the Noble Truth Samudaya deal with?
  • A) Path to enlightenment
  • B) Origin of suffering
  • C) End of suffering
  • D) Nature of reality
  • Answer: B) Origin of suffering
  1. Which city is associated with Buddha’s first sermon?
    • A) Lumbini
    • B) Sarnath
    • C) Benares (Varanasi)
    • D) Bodh Gaya
    • Answer: C) Benares (Varanasi)
  2. What is the ‘Middle Way’ proposed by Buddha?
    • A) A path between mountains
    • B) A compromise in debate
    • C) A path between self-indulgence and self-mortification
    • D) A middle-class lifestyle
    • Answer: C) A path between self-indulgence and self-mortification
  3. What literary device is primarily used to describe Buddha’s journey to enlightenment?
    • A) Irony
    • B) Metaphor
    • C) Hyperbole
    • D) Symbolism
    • Answer: D) Symbolism

Short Answer Questions (12 Questions and Answers)

  1. Who was Gautama Buddha before his enlightenment?
  • Answer: He was Prince Siddhartha.
  1. What did Siddhartha see that made him leave the palace to seek enlightenment?
  • Answer: He saw suffering in the forms of old age, sickness, and death.
  1. Where did Siddhartha attain enlightenment and become Buddha?
  • Answer: Under the Bodhi tree.
  1. What is the first Noble Truth discussed in Buddha’s sermon?
  • Answer: The reality of suffering (Dukkha).
  1. What city did Buddha travel to for his first sermon?
  • Answer: Benares (Varanasi).
  1. To whom did Buddha give his first sermon?
  • Answer: Five disciples.
  1. What does the Noble Truth ‘Samudaya’ relate to?
  • Answer: The cause of suffering.
  1. What is the ‘Middle Way’ that Buddha taught?
  • Answer: A path avoiding extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification.
  1. What does the Noble Truth ‘Nirodha’ signify?
  • Answer: The cessation of suffering.
  1. What is the fourth Noble Truth?
    • Answer: The path leading to the cessation of suffering (Magga).
  2. What does Buddha’s sermon at Benares signify in Buddhism?
    • Answer: It marks the start of his teaching career.
  3. How does Buddha’s teaching impact Siddhartha’s character development?
    • Answer: It transforms him from a prince to an enlightened spiritual teacher.

Small Questions (8 Questions and Answers, 40-60 words each):

  1. How does Siddhartha’s early life in the palace influence his later quest for enlightenment?
  • Answer: Siddhartha’s sheltered and luxurious life in the palace, devoid of suffering, starkly contrasts with the suffering he later witnesses. This sheltered upbringing fuels his profound shock upon encountering suffering, igniting his quest for enlightenment to understand and address the nature of human suffering.
  1. What is the significance of Siddhartha choosing to meditate under the Bodhi tree?
  • Answer: Meditating under the Bodhi tree symbolizes Siddhartha’s commitment to achieving enlightenment. The tree represents stability, grounding, and life, mirroring his journey towards deep understanding and spiritual awakening, culminating in his transformation into Buddha.
  1. How does the concept of ‘Dukkha’ or suffering play a central role in Buddha’s teachings?
  • Answer: ‘Dukkha’ underlines the inevitability of suffering in human life. Buddha’s focus on understanding and acknowledging suffering is crucial for overcoming it, forming the foundation of his teachings and highlighting the universality and importance of addressing human pain and discontent.
  1. In what way does Buddha’s ‘Middle Way’ address the extremes of human lifestyle and philosophy?
  • Answer: The ‘Middle Way’ is a balanced approach that eschews both severe asceticism and indulgent hedonism. It advocates for a practical path of moderation, suggesting that true enlightenment and contentment are found in a balanced lifestyle free from extreme practices.
  1. How does Buddha’s interaction with his five disciples in Benares reflect his role as a teacher?
  • Answer: Buddha’s interaction shows his transformation from a seeker to a guide. He empathetically shares his insights in a manner his disciples can understand, marking the beginning of his journey as a compassionate teacher dedicated to enlightening others.
  1. What does the setting of Benares contribute to the significance of Buddha’s sermon?
  • Answer: Benares, a holy city in India, adds a profound spiritual dimension to Buddha’s sermon. Its historical and religious significance as a center of learning and spirituality underscores the importance of Buddha’s teachings and his choice of this location to begin his spiritual discourse.
  1. How do the Four Noble Truths provide a framework for understanding life’s challenges according to Buddha’s teachings?
  • Answer: The Four Noble Truths offer a comprehensive approach to understanding and addressing life’s challenges. They diagnose the problem (suffering), identify its cause, prescribe a solution, and provide a practical method to overcome it, offering a philosophical blueprint for dealing with life’s difficulties.
  1. What does Buddha’s journey from prince to enlightened teacher tell us about the nature of transformation and wisdom?
  • Answer: Buddha’s journey symbolizes the transformative power of wisdom and self-awareness. It illustrates that true wisdom often comes from deep introspection and understanding one’s experiences, showing that profound personal change is achievable through persistent quest for knowledge and understanding.

Long Questions (06 Questions and Answers, 80-100 words each):

  1. Discuss how Siddhartha’s transformation into Buddha encapsulates the theme of personal growth and enlightenment in ‘The Sermon at Benares’.
  • Answer: Siddhartha’s transformation from a sheltered prince to the enlightened Buddha exemplifies profound personal growth and the quest for enlightenment. His journey highlights a universal theme in human experience – the search for deeper meaning and understanding. This transformation underscores the idea that enlightenment and wisdom are attainable through introspection, compassion, and a deep understanding of life’s truths. His experience serves as an allegory for the potential of human transformation through the pursuit of spiritual and intellectual growth.
  1. How does the setting of Benares add depth to the narrative of Buddha’s first sermon, and what does it symbolize in the broader context of the story?
  • Answer: Benares, being a place of religious and historical significance, adds depth to the narrative of Buddha’s first sermon. As a spiritual hub, it symbolizes a beginning, not just for Buddha’s teachings, but also for the new spiritual path that he lays out for humanity. The setting in Benares, known for its religious pluralism and as a center for learning, emphasizes the universal appeal and applicability of Buddha’s teachings. It serves as an ideal backdrop that underscores the sermon’s profound impact on both his immediate audience and on future generations.
  1. Analyze the role and significance of the Four Noble Truths in ‘The Sermon at Benares’ and their relevance to the readers.
  • Answer: The Four Noble Truths are the cornerstone of Buddha’s teachings in ‘The Sermon at Benares.’ They offer a logical and comprehensive approach to understanding and addressing human suffering. By diagnosing the problem (suffering), identifying its cause (desire), suggesting its cessation, and providing a method to achieve it (the Eightfold Path), these truths offer a philosophical and practical guide applicable to various aspects of life. Their relevance extends beyond the religious context, providing insights into tackling life’s challenges, promoting self-awareness, and encouraging a balanced and ethical way of living.
  1. Evaluate the significance of Siddhartha’s journey and experiences prior to his enlightenment in shaping his teachings.
  • Answer: Siddhartha’s experiences prior to his enlightenment play a crucial role in shaping his teachings. His exposure to life’s harsh realities – old age, sickness, and death – after a life of luxury, ignites his quest for understanding suffering. These experiences lay the foundation for his teachings, as they provide him with firsthand insight into the universal nature of suffering. This contrast between his early life and later experiences informs his approach to teaching, emphasizing empathy, understanding, and the universality of suffering, thus making his teachings relatable and grounded in real human experience.
  1. How does ‘The Sermon at Benares’ integrate the ideas of renunciation and the Middle Way, and what message does this convey to the readers?
  • Answer: ‘The Sermon at Benares’ integrates the ideas of renunciation and the Middle Way by portraying Buddha’s rejection of a life of luxury and extreme asceticism. It conveys that true enlightenment and contentment are achieved not through extreme deprivation or indulgence, but through a balanced approach to life. This message resonates with readers by emphasizing that moderation and balance are key to a fulfilling life. It encourages an approach to life’s challenges that is practical, compassionate, and mindful, steering away from extremes.
  1. Discuss how Buddha’s first sermon at Benares contributes to the understanding of Buddhist philosophy in the context of the NCERT Class 10 curriculum.
  • Answer: Buddha’s first sermon at Benares is pivotal in understanding Buddhist philosophy, especially in the context of the NCERT Class 10 curriculum. It introduces students to key concepts of Buddhism, such as the Four Noble Truths and the Middle Way, providing a foundational understanding of Buddhist teachings. This chapter not only enriches students’ knowledge of world religions and philosophies but also offers them ethical and philosophical perspectives that can be applied in daily life. It encourages critical thinking about life’s fundamental questions and introduces concepts of empathy, mindfulness, and ethical living.