NCERT English Class 10 Chapter 24 The Sermon at Benares CBSE Board Sample Problems Long Answer

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How do you usually understand the idea of ‘selfishness’? Do you agree with Kisa Gotami that she was being ‘selfish in her grief’?


  • Selfishness is preoccupation with I, me, and myself. Kisa Gotami was not in a position to think about other people’s grief. It is natural to feel sad over death of near and dear ones.

  • But most people carry on their next responsibility of performing proper last rites of the dead. People seldom carry a dead body in the hope of some miracle happening to that.

  • The family and the society always comes to be with those in hours of grief. But later on the life goes on. But Kisa Gotami was so engrossed in her sorrow that she forgot to think about live members of her family and society.


Why do you think Kisa Gotami understood this only the second time? In what way did the Buddha change her understanding?


  • Kisa Gotami understood that death is common to all and that she was being selfish in her grief. She understood this only the second time because it was then that she found that there was not a single house where some beloved had not died.

  • First time round, she was only thinking about her grief and was therefore asking for a medicine that would cure her son.

  • When she met the Buddha, he asked her to get a handful of mustard seeds from a house where no one had died. He did this purposely to make her realize that there was not a single house where no beloved had died, and that death is natural.

  • When she went to all the houses the second time, she felt dejected that she could not gather the mustard seeds.

  • Then, when she sat and thought about it, she realized that the fate of men is such that they live and die. Death is common to all. This was what the Buddha had intended her to understand.