Saturday, 31 July 2004  
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Mihintalava - The Birthplace of Sri Lankan Buddhist Civilization

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Today is Adhi Esala Pasalosvaka Poya

Restoration program spreading fast

by Nemsiri Mutukumara

Abhyagiri Dagaba

With the announcement of the restoration of Dighavapi Cetiya by President Chandrika Kumaratunga followed by the assurance given by Minister of Rehabilitation and Development of the Eastern Province Ferial Ashraff in constructing a Dharmasala and Library in Dighavapi augurs well not only for the Buddhists of Sri Lanka but for the whole world.

Dighavapi, the ancient sacred monument of living homage of the Buddhists lay in wilderness due to Bhikkhu Sangha and the Buddhists leaving Dighavapi in fear of their life.

They carried with them, a robe, the patra-alms bowl for pindapata and whatever the manuscripts they could take with them for protection and future use.

While expressing gratitude for Minister Ferial Ashraff for her proposal, she would like to be reminded to take positive steps to relocate all those monuments removed from the vast Dighavapi Cetiya Complex by unscrupulous elements in the area. In ancient times, Dighavapi had over sixteen thousand acres (16,000) of land.

Most of those monuments were reported to be used as stepping stones, house decorations and for various purposes which those are not meant for.

Simply, those have been desecrated. During the time of Mohamed Ashraff, Buddhists leaders and premier Buddhist organisations made representations to Minister Mohamed Ashraff including the late Venerable Gangodavila Soma Maha Thera.

Minister Mohamed Ashraff, a keen and devout student of Buddha Dhamma, had to wage a battle in trying to convince the Bhikkhu Sangha and the Buddhist leadership, thoroughly unsuccessfully.

Now, his spouse, Minister Ferial is using her good office to compensate for the devastation caused during her husband's time. We wish her every success.

As mentioned above, with these two announcements by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and Minister Ferial Ashraff, Buddhist Associations and the Buddhist leadership are organising themselves to restore all the ancient and medieval Buddhist monuments - Vihara, Dagaba and Budu medura to prestine glory.

Over a hundred years ago, the British historians, scholars and learned men who were instrumental in setting up the Department of Archaeological Survey in Sri Lanka performed a magnificent task in locating monuments scattered throughout the country.

For them those monuments are ancient things, especially of old buildings, monuments and other remains.

For them, they are "very old; not used now; out of date".

(The Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English by A. S. Hornby, E. V. Gatenby, H. Wakefield, London Oxford University Press).

Imagine had the seats of Buddha Dhamma gone unrestored by the Royalty, Princess and Princesses and Provincial rulers what would have been the plight of the people - particularly the Buddhists.

What would have been left for the countrymen to show the world. Perhaps - the tea bushes, rubber trees and coconut palms. Most of those cash crops were invariably planted by the British Raj and their agents after uprooting the paddy plants - which provided the people rice - their staple food.

Sri Lanka which exported rice had to import the staple food grain with the result, the entire cultural and religious structure that governed the ways of life of the people began to disappear.

The first Buddha puja with the harvested rice the Alut-Sahal Mangalyaya puja, the offering of rice and paddy to the Maha Sangha at the 'gamay pansala' - the Village Vihara gradually came to a halt.

That was the ultimate result of the archaeological survey's recognising living places of Buddhist worship according to their archaic ways of thinking.

Organisation of Task Force Restoration will restore all Vihara, Dagaba beginning with the Vatadage in Polonnaruva.

Historians and Buddhist scholars and Researchers will be consulted in constructing the viharage for the gigantic standing image of the Avukana Buddha statue erected in Kala Vava.

Avukana is another word used to distinguished the people of Pan Buddhist Afghanistan who are pious and devout. Afghanistan is the seat of Taksa-sila University which was one of the great Universities in the world.

The Bhikkhu University - the Agra-Sravaka Pithaya will be given a new fillip for the exclusive purpose of training young bhikkhus for Dhammaduta activities within the country and in foreign lands. Bhikkhu University will provide all facilities to visiting scholars both Bhikkhu and laity.

We are pleased that the Sri Lanka Navy for restoring the Vihara at Nagadipa and rebuilding the terrorist destroyed Nagadipa dagaba in the Nagadipa Island as well as the Naga Vihara in the heart of the Jaffna Town.

Both those Buddhist Viharas are the centres of learning Buddha Dhamma, Pali Language and Sinhala for the Tamil people in Jaffna.

Wherever a Buddhist offers Buddha puja, the Gatha in praise of the sixteen sacred centres of worship are recited devotedly.

Let us join them:

Mahiyanganam - Mahiyanganaya

Nagadipam - Nagadipa

Kalyanam - Kelaniya

Pada Lancanam - Sri Pada

Divaguham - Diva Guhava

Dighavapi - Dighavapi Cetiya

Mutinganam - Mutiyanganaya

Tissamah Viharamca - Tissa Maha Vihara

Bodhim - Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi

Maricavattiyam - Mirisavetiya dagaba

Surannamali Maha Cetim - Svarnamali or Ratnamalai or Ruvanmeli Seya

Thuparama - Thuparama Dagaba

'Bhayagirim - Abhayagiri Dagaba

Jetavanam - Jetavanaramaya

Sela Caityam - Sela Cetiya

Tathakacara Gamakang - Kataragama Kirivehera

Ete Solasa Thanami Aham Vandami Sabbada.

May I worship in deep devotion ever and ever all these sixteen sacred centres of worship.

In the heart of the City, on the Bauddhaloka Mavata, a gigantic standing image of the Buddha was sculptured miraculously by sculptor painter and artist Henry Dharmasena - within twenty-one days.

This colossal Buddha image was erroneously called "Avukana Buddha statue".

Bauddhaloka Mavata Buddha colossus is only an adaptation of the Avukana Buddha.

The sculptor has provided ample evidence to prove the difference in the draping of the robe and the mudra - the postures of the hands for the purpose.

Included in this restoration program is the construction of a Buduge, so that the colossal Buddha statue can be visible in all three directions and permanently illuminated from sun set to sun rise.

Already, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse, last Saturday, July 24, inaugurated the program to restore the Abhayagiriya Dagaba in Anuradhapura.

As we see both the Government and the Opposition are united in the direction of restoration of Centres of Buddhist worship as done by Lankas rulers in the past.

Included in the Restoration Program is the construction of a Buduge along Bauddhaloka Mavata opposite the BMICH Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall - so that the colossal Buddha statue can be visible in all three directions and permanently illuminated from sunset to sun rise.


Chachakkha Sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya - The Six Sets of Six

by Kingsley Heendeniya

The Chachakkha Sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya [No. 148] is a concise description of the application of the fundamental principle of the doctrine of dependent arising and cessation [paticcasamuppada] leading, as the Buddha says at the end of the discourse, to insight or dassana.

"Seeing thus, bhikkhus, a well-taught noble disciple becomes disenchanted with the eye, disenchanted with forms, disenchanted with eye-consciousness, disenchanted with eye-contact, disenchanted with feeling, disenchanted with craving'. Similarly with ear, nose, tongue, body, mind; the percepts sounds, odors, tastes, tangibles, ideas.


'Disenchantment leads to dispassion. Dispassion leads to liberation. Liberation leads to final knowledge: 'It is liberated'. He understands: 'Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more coming to a state of being.'

Venerable Ratthapala explains the same thing to a Maharaja in the form of four summaries of the Dhamma. 'Any world is unstable, it is swept away.

Any world has no shelter and no protector. Any world has nothing of its own; one has to leave all and pass away. Any world is incomplete, insatiate, the slave of craving.'

In another discourse, recommending vipassana bhavana to the ailing venerable Girimananda, the Buddha lists the 'perception of non-delight in the whole world' and 'perception of impermanence of all dependent phenomena' as the 8th and 9th of 10 meditations that will cure him.


A penetration of the Chachakkha sutta alone can lead to path entry or sotapatti. But there are enormous exegetical problems to overcome. In the sutta, the Buddha himself adverts indirectly to the difficulty when in the above passage, he speaks only about 'a well-taught noble disciple' or aryasavaka or sekha or bhikkhu in higher training.

That is, the conclusion of the sutta is true only if a person has correctly understood the twelve basic sankhara of the complete paticcasamuppada formulation [avijja, sankhara, vinnana, nama-rupa, salayatana, phassa, vedana, tanha, bhava, upadana, jati, jara-marana] although he omits several in this formulation.

The discourse should not lead to a facile expectation that anyone can become a sotapanna. It is a common travesty to assume that the teaching of the Buddha is easy notwithstanding his utterance 'For this Dhamma, Vaccha, is profound, hard to see and hard to understand, peaceful and sublime, unattainable by mere reasoning, subtle, to be experienced by the wise.'

Fundamental principle

In this sutta, the Buddha speaks only about the dependent structure that inheres in the coming together of the 6 internal bases, the 6 external bases, the 6 classes of consciousness dependent on them, the 6 classes of contact dependent on the 6 classes of consciousness, the 6 classes of pleasant, painful, neither-painful-nor-pleasant feelings dependent on the 6 classes of contact, and the [6 x 3] classes of cravings dependent on the [6 x 3] classes of feelings.

For example, from the comingtogether of the internal eye, external percepts of form or shape or colour, eye-consciousness makes contact [with self]. Dependent on contact there is arising [and cessation] of feeling pertaining to form, shape or colour.

Dependent on feeling there is arising [and cessation] of craving because additionally, craving is generated from underlying lust, conceit and ignorance.

These three obsessions lead to birth, ageing and death. There is now no escape from arising, disappearance, gratification and danger inherent in feelings as long as there is ignorance of the dependent arising and cessation of feeling.

Thus the Buddha [elsewhere] says, 'I teach the Dhamma to the man who feels...Whatever is felt is dukkha; but that was said by me with reference to the impermanence of determinations'. All determinations are subjective. Whatever is subjective is impermanent. Whatever is impermanent is dukkha.


Although the Buddha insists that the Dhamma cannot be fully understood by mere reasoning alone, in the early part of the sutta, as he develops it, he appeals to logic, or more precisely, to reflective acceptance of the illogicality of the belief in personality or in an unchanging, permanent self.

"One regards the eye ...One regards forms ...eye-consciousness... eye-contact... feeling... craving thus: 'This is mine; this am I; this is my self. Now, bhikkhus, this is the way leading to the cessation of personality. One regards the eye ... eye-consciousness... eye-contact ... feeling ... craving thus: 'Not, this is mine; not, this am I; not, this is my self.

If anyone says, 'The eye is self' that is not tenable. The rise and fall of the eye is discerned and since the rise and fall of the eye is discerned, it would follow: 'My self rises and falls.' That is why it is not tenable for anyone to say, 'The eye is self'.' Thus the eye is not self."

By extending this line of reasoning to the all senses and the mind, he appeals to logical acceptance of: 'Not, this is mine, not, this am I, not this is my self.' The Buddha says here indirectly that it is imperative for the disciple under higher training to contemplate on aniccata.

He illustrates the indirect method of the teaching as the only way that leads to cessation of the obsessions [gaha] of craving, conceit and ignorance [corresponding to 'This is mine, this am I, this is my self''].

In a discourse to the venerable Pukkusati, referring to himself indirectly, the Buddha says, '...Conceiving is a disease, conceiving is a tumor, conceiving is a dart. By overcoming all conceiving, bhikkhu, one is called a sage at peace. And the sage at peace is not born, does not age, does not die.'


In his advice to Bhikkhu Meghiya [Udana 4.1] the Buddha says, at the end of the discourse '...the perception of impermanence should be cultivated for the removal of the conceit 'I am'.

For when one perceives impermanence, Meghiya, the perception of not-self is established. When one perceives not-self one reaches the removal of the conceit 'I am' which is called Nibbana here and now.'

No amount of reflection or bhavana directly on not-self can lead to the extirpation of the belief in self, the existential parasite in consciousness. The hierarchical basic structure of consciousness of self persists with each deeper layer of reflection.

The Buddha refers to it in the Sabbasava Sutta thus: "When he attends unwisely in this way, one of six views arises in him.

The view 'self exists for me' arises in him as true and established; or the view 'no self exists for me' arises in him as true and established; or the view 'I perceive self with self' arises in him as true and established; or the view 'I perceive not-self with self' arises in him as true and established; or the view' I perceive self with not-self arises in him as true and established; or else he has some view such as this: 'It is this self of mine that speaks and feels and experiences here and there the result of good and bad actions; but this self of mine is permanent, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change, and it will endure as long as eternity.

The above speculative view is called the thicket of views, the wilderness of views, the contortion of views, the vacillation of views, the fetter of views.'

Cardinal features

I have here discussed the sutta of the 'Six Sets of Six' because it highlights some of the cardinal features of the teaching as follows.

The content and meaning is leading; the sutta is a description and not an explanation; the teaching method is indirect; it is connected to the whole; it is about arising, cessation, gratification, danger and the escape in the case of feelings; the sutta is yet another exemplification of principle of dependent origination phenomena; the principle is applied only to describe the arising and cessation of dukkha; the critical existential problem is stated as the belief 'I am'; this belief is dependent on craving, conceit and view, which obsessions are dependent on the underlying tendencies to lust, aversion, and ignorance of the Dhamma. Finally, escape is described as resulting from attaining personal, orderly, progressive insight: 'It is liberated'. And then, things are seen as they actually are. It is the end of dukkha.


In search of the Truth

by Maharagama Special Corr. Wehelle Piyathilake

Michal Jhon Allan, an Australian, came to Sri Lanka drawn by the Buddhist philosophy. He had read several books on Buddhist philosophy and Theravada Buddhism when in Australia. A Christian by birth and a retired employee in a private firm in Australia, he was a man free of family encumbrances.

Coming to Sri Lanka, for four months he was living with a Sri Lankan family through whom he came to know Ven. Veheragodelle Hemananda Thera at Sri Sudharmaramaya, Maharagama.

Under the guidance of the Chief incumbent of Sri Sudharmaramaya, Maharagama Ven. Tharagala Hemasiri Thera and Ven. Veheragodelle Hemananda Thera Jhon Ellan was ordained a Buddhist monk, under the name Australiyawe Mahinda.

The ordination was conducted under the patronage of the Chief Incumbent of Sri Sangeekaramaya, Siddamulle Ven. Kirullapone Somananda Thera.

Ven. Australiyawe Mahinda expects to learn Buddhist Doctrine and return to Australia so that he could build a Buddhist temple in Brisbane and to teach Buddhism to his people.

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