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Mihintalava - The Birthplace of Sri Lankan Buddhist Civilization

Today is Poson Pasalosvaka Poya

Mihintale and the Mission of Arhant Mahinda

Arhant Mahinda holds an exalted place in the history of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. His arrival in this country during the reign of King Devanampiyatissa is very significant as this event changed the entire social, national, religious and cultural attitudes of the people of this country and paved way to all their future achievements.

Prior to the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka, the people of this country worshipped nature spirits, popularly called Yakkas, who dwelled in rivers, lakes, mountains or trees. During those early times the worshipping of Sacred Trees or groves was very common and even heavenly bodies received the adoration of the people and they influenced their every day life.

Apart from the traditional accounts regarding the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka there are two instances of inscriptional evidence to confirm the historicity of this most significant event in the annals of this island's history.

A first century inscription at Mihintale refers to the images of Mahinda Thera and three of his companions.

The second is a Brahmi Rock inscription at an ancient site in the Batticoloa district which indicates the location of the Stupa of Itthiya and Mahinda Theras who came to Sri Lanka.

It was at the end of the Third Buddhist Council held at Pataliputta during the reign of King Asoka under the chairmanship of Moggaliputtatissa that it was decided to send out Buddhist missionaries to various places to propagate Buddhism and as special importance was attached to the mission sent to Sri Lanka, Mahinda, the adored son of King Asoka, was detailed to lead this mission.

Mahinda Thera arrived in Lanka during the reign of King Devanampiyatissa in the third century B.C. accompanied by six others, Itthiya, Uttiya, Bhaddasala, Sambala, Sumana and Bhanduka. He met Devanampiyatissa at hallowed Mihintale when the King had gone on a hunting expedition.

Tradition has that on his journey to Sri Lanka, Mahinda Thera stayed for a short while at Sanchi and together with his companions, rose in the air and were miraculously transported and alighted on the pleasant Missaka Mountain.

Mahinda Thera had introduced himself to the King saying: "Samanas are we, O great King, disciples of the King of Truth. From compassion towards thee are we come hither from Jambudeepa." Then the Thera is said to have addressed a series of puzzling questions to the King in order to ascertain his intelligence.

At the end of the questioning being satisfied that the King possessed enough intelligence to grasp the finer points of the Buddha Dhamma, Arhant Mahinda had finally preached and forty thousand lay people including the King took refuge in the Tisarana.

Later the Mahameghavana, a beautiful park with shady groves, lotus strewn ponds and flowering trees were gifted to Mahinda Thera and his disciples thus symbolising the establishment of Buddhism under Royal patronage.

Two major events other than the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka that took place due to the efforts of Mahinda Thera are the establishment of the Bhikkhuni Sasana and the planting of the Sacred Bo-Tree in Sri Lanka.

The tenets of Buddhism had impregnated the lives of the people of this country to such a great extent that King Devanampiyatissa wanted Queen Anula to be taken into the Order. When King Devanampiyatissa made this request Mahinda Thera had said:

"It is not allowed to us, O great King, to bestow ordination on women. But in Pataliputta there lives a nun, my younger sister, known by the name of Sanghamitta. She who is ripe in experience shall come hither bringing with her the southern branch of the Great Bodhi Tree of the King of Samanas. To this end send a message to the King, my father."

Finally Arittha was sent to the Court of King Asoka requesting him to send Sanghamitta Theri to Sri Lanka along with the southern branch of the Bodhi Tree.

Subsequently King Asoka sent Sanghamitta Theri as requested and she took Queen Anula into the Bhikkuni order and brought the Sacred Bo-Tree which still stands as the oldest historical tree in the world.

Having come to Sri Lanka both Mahinda Thera and Sanghamitta Theri dedicated the rest of their lives to the cause of Buddhism and the welfare of the nation. The people of this country must ever be grateful to these two religious leaders for their ready and affectionate benevolence and service.

As the Poson Moon rises over Mihintale echoes of the Glorious past resound again and again and the cries of Sadhu of white-clad devotees wending up Mihintale's Rock hewn steps mingle with the jungle breeze blowing from all sides amidst the dreaming ruins of ancient Dagobas, tanks and lakes limpid with silent beauty.

By his visit Mahinda Thera made Mihintale one of the most hallowed spots in Sri Lanka, and on Poson Poya Day it is quite appropriate for us to think about Mihintale too.

Mihintale, the cradle of Buddhism in Sri Lanka has a long history with poignant memories.

It was from this hallowed spot that Buddhism spread its cool canopy of branches throughout the country and it was as a result of this universal message from Mihintale that a new impetus was given to art and architecture as a result of which gigantic artistic creations like magnificent white-domed Dagobas and other religious edifices came into existence.

As a result of Mahinda Thera's mission Buddhism was firmly established in Sri Lanka and Mihintale became one of the most venerated places in the country. Soon Sacred Anuradhapura became a celebrated centre of Buddhism and in its expansive area arose mighty Dagobas, monasteries and other seats of learning whose stupendous ruins tell Anuradhapura's tale of greatness to this very day.

One of the rock Viharas made by King Devanampiyatissa was the 32-cell rock hewn cave at Mihintale which has triumphantly lived throughout the vicissitudes of many centuries of degeneration.

For 48 years Arhant Mahinda lived in this picturesque Mihintale Hill with fierce reptiles and other wilds creatures as his companions and right along his sojourn here he spread the unique message of the Buddha to all corners of this country. Very soon the monasteries of Mihintale overflowed with pious and learned monks and royalty bestowed princely gifts to these monks who lived in great hardship.

However, primarily due to foreign invasions and internal conflicts by about the 10th century Mihintale saw its degeneration.

When King Parakramabahu visited Mihintale in the 12th century, the Sacred Hill was covered with thick forest while the Dagobas themselves were in unrecognisable ruins.

Today and on every Poson Poya Day previous to this weary pilgrims wend their way to hallowed Mihintale, where exactly the fate of the nation was carved. The sight of white-clad pilgrims winding their way to the hill is most unforgettable. In fact, Mihintale with its silvern setting is the most suited place for serious meditation or to stand and stare at the ancient ruins which inspire the thoughts of any individual.

Anyone who visits Mihintale will be fascinated by the glorious ruins, specially the rock caves - the former abodes of Arhants. Many have marvelled at these monumental ruins of Mihintale. Many have gazed at them in utter wonder and many writers have written about Mihintale's glory and pious pilgrims down the ages have paid their obeisance.


King Asoka's Dhamma Conquest

In 270 BC, the grandson of Chandragupta, Asoka, ascended the Mauryan throne. Initially a ruthless imperialist he seems - like Marcus Aurelius - to have spent his later life in soul-searching and pondering the after-life. The 3rd century BC Empire of Asoka included a vast area of the Greeks' eastern empire established a century earlier.

In an action that anticipated Constantine's religious revolution five hundred years later, Asoka adopted Buddhism as a unifying and pacifying ideology for his vast empire and propagated its doctrines with all the usual zeal of a new convert.

Judging by his still extant edicts, inscribed on rocks and stone pillars to be found everywhere from Afghanistan to south India, Asoka sought further 'conquest' beyond his frontiers by dispatching Buddhist emissaries in all directions - "Conquest by Dhamma". Carved in stone is Asoka's urging of Forgiveness:

"The killing, death or deportation of a hundredth, or even a thousandth part of those who died during the conquest of Kalinga now pains Beloved-of-the-Gods. Now Beloved-of-the-Gods thinks that even those who do wrong should be forgiven where forgiveness is possible."

In order to propagate the Buddhist faith, Asoka sent emissaries to the Hellenistic kings as far as the Mediterranean, and to the peoples throughout India, claiming they were all converted to the Dharma as a result. He names the Greek rulers of the time, inheritors of the conquest of Alexander the Great, from Bactria to as far as Greece and North Africa, displaying an amazingly clear grasp of the political situation at the time.

"Now it is conquest by Dhamma that Beloved-of-the-Gods considers to be the best conquest. And it (conquest by Dhamma) has been won here, on the borders, even six hundred yojanas away, where the Greek king Antiochos rules, beyond there where the four kings named Ptolemy, Antigonos, Magas and Alexander rule, likewise in the south among the Cholas, the Pandyas, and as far as Tamraparni." Rock Edict -13.

The distance of 600 yojanas (a yojanas being about 7 miles), corresponds to the distance between the center of India and Greece (roughly 4,000 miles).

The map shows a few of the countries King Asoka's emissaries have visited with the Dhamma message.

Tarim Basin : North of the Plateau of Tibet and at the much lower level of about 3,000 feet lies the Tarim Basin. It is hemmed in by great mountain ranges: the Tien Shan ("Celestial Mountains")on the north, the Pamirs on the west, and the Kunlun Mountains on the south. Kashgar, the largest city of the Tarim Basin, is an ancient centre for the manufacture of handicrafts such as textiles, rugs, and tanned leather.

Bactria : This is an ancient country in Central Asia; one of the Hellenistic States founded by the successors of Alexander the Great. It was situated between the Hindu Kush Mountains and the Oxus River (now Amu Darya) in what is now part of Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. Its capital was Bactra, present-day Wazirabad (formerly Balkh), in north Afghanistan.

Before the Greek conquest, Bactria was an eastern province of the Persian Empire. Antioch : The city of Antioch-on-the-Orontes (modern Antakya) is located in what is now Turkey. It was founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, who made it the capital of his empire in Syria. The ancient city of Antioch was much larger than its modern counterpart.

Strategically located at the crossroads of important caravan routes, it soon became a center of commerce and a city of magnificent architecture rivaled only by Rome and Alexandria.

Alexandria : Alexander the Great founded the city in 332 BC after the start of his Persian campaign; it was to be the capital of his new Egyptian dominion and a naval base that would control the Mediterranean. Indeed, Alexandria became, within a century of its founding, the greatest city in the world and a centre of Greek scholarship and science.

Such scholars as Euclid, Archimedes, Plotinus the philosopher, and Ptolemy and Eratosthenes the geographers studied at the Mouseion, the great research institute founded by the Ptolemies.

Athens : The history of Athens is the longest of any city in Europe: Athens has been continuously inhabited for at least 3,000 years. In the first millennium BC it became the leading city of Ancient Greece, and for a time ruled its own Athenian Empire. Conflict with other Greek cities results in the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.) and the defeat of Athens at the end of the fifth century. Subsequent decades see the rise of Macedonian power, beginning with Philip II, and culminating with the conquests (and death in 323) of Alexander the Great.

Asoka's Dhamma propagation also expanded to the south of the Indian subcontinent: * The Cholas and Pandyas were south Indian peoples living outside Asoka's empire. * Tamraparni is the ancient name for Sri Lanka * Swarnabhumi or Burma.

Western response

It is not clear in western records whether these emissaries were actually received, or had any influence on the western world. Some scholars however point to the presence of Buddhist communities in the Hellenistic world from that time.

There are records from Alexandria that indicate the arrival of a steady stream of Buddhist monks and philosophers. They would surely have contributed to the philosophical speculations and syncretism for which the city was noted. Buddhist gravestones from the Ptolemaic period have also been found in Alexandria, decorated with depictions of the Wheel of the Law.

In particular, it seems the original Therapeutae were sent by Asoka on an embassy to Pharaoh Ptolemy II in 250 BC. The word 'Therapeutae' is itself of Buddhist origin, being a Hellenization of the Pali 'Thera-putta' (literally 'son of the elder.')

Philo Judaeus, a 1st century AD contemporary of Josephus, described the Therapeutae in his tract 'De Vita Contemplativa'. It appears they were a religious brotherhood without precedent in the Jewish world. Reclusive ascetics, devoted to poverty, celibacy, good deeds and compassion, they were just like Buddhist monks in fact.

From the Therapeutae it is quite possible a Buddhist influence spread to both the Essenes (a similar monkish order in Palestine) and to the Gnostics - adepts of philosophical speculations.

There is mention of a teacher called Ammonius Sakka teaching in Alexandria in the 1st century AD. This philosopher-teacher who believed in reincarnation, has been called a Neo-Platonist. He was the teacher of Plotinus - and Church Father Origen.

The interaction between Hellenistic Greece and Buddhism started when Alexander the Great conquered Asia Minor and Central Asia, going as far as the Indus, thus establishing direct contact with India, the birthplace of Buddhism.

Alexander founded several cities in his new territories in the areas of the Oxus and Bactria, and Greek settlements further extended to the Khyber Pass, Gandhara and the Punjab. These regions correspond to a unique geographical passageway between the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush mountains, through which most of the interaction between India and Central Asia took place, generating intense cultural exchange and trade.

Following Alexander's death on June 10, 323 BC, his Diadochi (generals) founded their own kingdoms in Asia Minor and Central Asia. General Seleucus set up the Seleucid Kingdom, which extended as far as India.

Later, the Eastern part of the Seleucid Kingdom broke away to form the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom (3rd-2nd century BC), followed by the Indo-Greek Kingdom (2nd-1st century BC), and later still by the Kushan Empire (1st-3rd century CE). The interaction of Greek and Buddhist cultures operated over several centuries until it ended in the 5th century CE with the invasions of the White Huns, and later the expansion of Islam.


Vesak celebrations at Berlin Vihara

The Vesak celebrations, annually held in the historic Berlin Vihara to honour the three important events in the life of the Enlightened one, the Buddha, was organized in a respectful manner.

On May 21, 2005 a series of religious programmes comprising Dana, Sila and Bhavana were organized at the Berlin Vihara for the benefit of Sri Lankans, now resident in Germany. Large groups of people not only from Berlin, but living in distant places such as Humburg, Munich, and Wupertal took part in these activities.

The religious programmes were conducted by the Chief resident monk of the Berlin Vihara, Ven. Rathmale Punnaratana Thera with the assistance of Ven. Palbandiyave Jinaratana Thera, Deputy Pirivenadipathy of the Jayamaga Pirivena (Hingurakgoda), Ven. Unagalave Uparatana Thera of the Yakkala Bogamuwa Samadhi Dharmayathanaya and Ven. Mahadamane Assaji Thera all of whom had arrived in Germany to participate especially in the Vesak Programme of the Berlin Vihara.

On the following day, 100 devotees had joined in the Sila (observance of vows), and Bhavana (meditation) programme arranged for the benefit of German Buddhists.

Ven. Rathmale Punnaratana and the English monk Ven. Medhayo of the Berlin Vihara, Ven. Obadagalle Rahula from Hanover, Ven. Sanghasena currently the President of the Indian Mahabodhi Society and President of the International Meditation Centre at Ladakh City in India, the German Samaneri Agganyani and Harold Wolf, offered their assistance in conducting the activities, which were specially arranged for the German groups.

On the same day, the main event of the celebrations, the public meeting planned for the occasion, was held in the library hall of the Berlin Vihara. Ven. Punnaratana chaired the meeting and Jayantha Palipana, the Ambassador for Sri Lanka in Germany, was the Chief Guest.

Tissa Weeraratna, the Vice-President of the German Dharmaduta Society and Trustee managing of the Vihara delivered the welcome address. Jayantha Palipana, Ambassador, speaking next described the role and manifold activities the Berlin Vihara has undertaken in spreading the message of the Buddha in Europe.

Ven. Thich Tin Song, a highly respected Zen teacher, delivered the keynote speech. His stimulating lecture, based on the theme, 'Buddhism for Daily Living' earned high commendation from the gathering.

Ven. Sanghasena Thera, the President of the Indian Maha Bodhi Society and President of the International Buddhist Centre in Ladakh, India spoke on "The spread of Buddhism in the present-day Indian society and the Social Services connected with Buddhism".

The German Samaneri, Agganyani, Secretary - General of the German Buddhist Union (DBU) and Dr. Rainer Noack, the President of Buddhistische Gasellschaft Berlin, speaking briefly, extended their greetings and best wishes to the assembled gathering.

A special feature of the celebrations this year, was a colourful procession incorporating Buddhist symbols and cultural motifs. It was conducted within and in the vicinity of the Berlin Vihara. Headed by fifteen Buddhist monks and nuns, and followed by Sri Lankan children living in Germany dancing with winnowing fans, clay pots and display of stick dances, with bearers of banners and 'sesath' the procession wended its way along Edelhofdamm and Zerendorfer Weg and returned to the Vihara premises.

A Bhakthi song recital and a free food stall (Dansala) were also in progress in the Vihara garden. The Vihara premises were decorated and lit up with Vesak lanterns and other colourful paper items (Vesak Sarasili) promoting feelings of religious piety.

It was observed that about 500 people comprising German, Sri Lankan and other nationalities interested in the Buddhist doctrine and practice, participated in the Vesak programme conducted at the Berlin Vihara.


Unite and restore past glory

This month of June is the Sinhala month of Poson. In every month, the people particularly the Sinhala Buddhists pay special attention to the Full Moon - Pasalosvaka Poya Day.

This day witnessed a gigantic water festival in the capital of Anuradhagrama (now Anuradhapura) in the Kingdom of Anuradhapura where the King and his Ministers, Viceroys, Princes, Nobles and other distinguished people participated.

Everyone of them armed with bows and arrows shooting birds and beats for pleasure and for the plate.

The key word was enjoyment. Everyone enjoyed to their hearts content.

Peoples faith and devotion towards the sublime teaching of Sakyamuni Buddha has a long history in this land. Even before the Sakyamuni Buddha visited this fair land, the Buddha Dhamma is quite well-known to the people.

The Buddha during His three visits consecrated sixteen places He spent on meditation. To date they continue as Sacred Centres of benign worship.

They are:

Mahiyanganam - Mahiyanganaya

Nagadipam - Nagadeepa

Kalyanam - Kelaniya

Padalancanam - Sri Pada

Divaguham - Divaguhava

Dighavapi - Dighavapi

Cetiyanca Mutiyanganam - Mutiyangana Cetiya

Tissa Mahaviharanca - Tissamaharama Dagaba

Bodhinn - Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi

Maricavattiyam - Mirisavetiya

Suvarnamali Maha Ceti - Suvarnamali Maha Cetiya

Tuparama - Thuparamaya

Bhayagirim - Abhayagiri Dagaba

Jetavanam - Jetavanarama Dagaba

Sela Caitiyam - Sela Cetiya

Thathakacaragamakam - Kataragama Kirivehera

All these Sacred Centres of worship of the people particularly the Buddhist across the world are becoming popular worldwide every year. Sri Lanka's postal services, posts and philatelic Bureau of other countries, Travel Trade Industry have given Sri Lankas centres of Buddhist worship magnificent coverage throughout the world.

People came to the planes of Anuradhapura where the King was enjoying the Water Festival. The whole area was pleasant and salubrious. With a cool climate, and sound of music that refreshes the minds and thoughts of the listener was the same place Arhat Mahinda Maha Thera chose to alight from his historic visit to our fair country.

Arhant Mahinda Maha Thera's visit to Lanka is no isolated one.

Historical records of both countries - India and Sri Lanka provide ample testimony to the fact that both countries, the Emperors and Monarchs, the Royalty and Rulers, the Bhikkhu Sangha and Bhikkuni Sangha, scholars and students enjoyed close and cordial relations between the two lands and peoples - in all fields national, cultural, religious and political activities.

Emperor Asoka and King Devanampiyatissa were two closet friendly rulers in the region. Both of them shared views on many matters. They consulted each other before embarking on national and international issues and that signalled for many centuries long tension-free region in this part of the world.

As a part of such regular discussion, Emperor Asoka sent a message to King Devanampiyatissa to invite his son Arhant Mahinda Maha Thera to Lanka. King Devanampiyatissa despatched his relative prince Arittha Emperor Asoka's palace. Prince Arittha went on one promise that he should be allowed to enter the order of Bhikkhu Sangha on his return and the monarch agreed.

This with the arrival of Arhant Mahinda Maha Thera one would witness miracles taking place individually and miraculous events happening among groups exclusively by the disciplined way of life they lead along the path of the Teaching of the Buddha Sakyamuni. Arhat Mahinda Maha Thera's alighting on the Eastern planes of Anuradhapura is one fine example.

The exact place where Arhant Mahinda Maha Thera met King Devanampiyatissa was a colossal landsman.

Along with national events of Poson Water Festivals what is needed is to restore once again the spirit of Buddha Dhamma be restored once again. This historic task must be performed soon. Sooner, the better. Let us all dedicate ourselves on this Poson Pasalosvaka Poya Day - June 21 to begin the Sasana Sevaya, on the following thought upper most in our minds:

"The Temple, for centuries, was not only the centre from which from which radiated the spirit of religious devotion, but was also the force which invigorated the people and held them together."

Commenting on the Buddhist spirit that should be restored the Most Venerable Pahamune Sri Sumangala Maha Nayaka Thera of the Malwatta Chapter of the Siyam Maha Nikaya, Malwatta Viharaya, Mahanuwara in his foreword to the "Revolt in the Temple", states:

"Out of the darkness of unreasoning life, along ago came a strange being, differing from all who had gone before; in whose eyes had dawned the question: "Why?"

"That word was the birth of consciousness, of creativeness, and spiritual responsiveness; the symbol of understanding and progress. The being that could ask that question was not to be the butt of blind physical forces. He was to take in shaping his own destiny.

"Yet we, his descendants, thousand of centuries later, waste our lives in accumulating mere wealth and throwaway our wealthy accumulated fortunes and even our lives in vain struggle and empty welfare.

Is it not time that we echo the cry of our ancestor of those far off days, and ask: "Why?"

Is it not time for us to embark on a new quest, not for perishable wealth or for material domination, but rather for added knowledge and for broadening of the foundation on which civilisation rests?

"Buddhism is historically the Most Important Religion, and has influenced the life and thought of more than half the human race. It was the most tremendous religious movement that the world ever saw, the most gigantic spiritual wave ever to burst upon human society. There is no civilisation on which its effect has not been felt in some way or another. it has profoundly influenced the thinking portion of the human race for two thousand five hundred years."

The Revolt in he Temple" was printed and published and released in the 2500th Sambuddha Jayanti Year in May 1956. (That is 2555 years ago).

This country witnessed many miracles with the visit of Arhant Mahinda Maha Thera. The Arhant Mahinda Maha Thera came fully prepared to establish the Order of the Bhikkhu Sangha. He alighted on the selected salubrious place in the sprawling landmass of vast plains lying ten miles towards the North-East of Anuradhapura. So much so a new township emerged in the land of planes. The Sacred Township is called Mihindu-Talava = Mihintalva located in the Missaka Mountain range.

In the similar manner of her brother Arhat Mahinda Maha Thera came in complete readiness to transform this land towards the precept and practice of the teaching of Sakyamuni Buddha. Arhat Sanghamitta Maha Theri too came fully prepared for her historic performance. From Jambudeepa she accompanied eleven Bhikkunis to establish the Order of the Bhikkuni Sangha.

Arhant Sanghamitta Maha Theri's specially built ship reached the Jambukola Pattinam (part in the north), the Dambakola Patuna.

The sea-shore was crowded to capacity from people who had reached the place from early hours of the day from many parts of the land.

King Devanampiyatissa waded knee-deep and brought the gold vessel bringing the Sacred Bodhi Sapling on his head and placed on the special conveyor.

From Dambakola to Anurahdapura, Poojas were held processions were organised by the people in every town and village.

The Brahmin village of Tivakka organised a special offering. Almost all Brahmins attending to pay homage to the Bodhi Sapling.

A review of Lanka's history makes not only the people, particulary the Buddhists not only being sons and daughter of the soil but even those who had the privilege of associating those sons and daughters as fortunate elements. One more matter which all countrymen can be proud of is that the world's first museum was opened in Anuradhapura after the arrival of Arhat Sanghamitta Maha Theri. The contents of the world's first museum are:

1. The mast of the ship that brought the Sacred Sapling of the Southern Branch of the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi;

2. The Rudder of the ship that brought the Sacred Sapling;

3. The helm of the ship that brought the Sacred Objects.

In this small country of twenty five thousand square mile (25,000) territory,though geographically small, we enjoy pardonable pride in being the first country in the world to commit the sublime teaching of the Sakyamuni Buddha into writing in Pali language in Sinhala characters.

The World Buddhists and others as well have to visit Lanka to pay homage to the Dalada Vahanse, Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, Sri Pada, Maha Stupa and many Sacred Relics of the Sakyamuni Buddha enshrined in the Solosmaha-Sthana, sixteen great centres in the country.

If our readers would take a little time to think of their historic task to restore Lanka's peace and prosperity to the days when Lanka flourished in harmony let us resolve on this Poson Poya Day - Tuesday, June 21 in the Buddhist era of 2555.


Reflections of a Buddhist monk on the Poson day

Behold me at your feet reflecting deeply

Why I chose to follow you closely

At my own volition

Realizing the impermanence of life

Which is subject to sickness, old age and death

Now after many years attired in safron robes

I feel I am far from your ideals

Following you from a distance

Though I adhere strictly to the vinaya rules

Eightfold and fourfold paths

Yet, I believe I am selfishly

and relentlessly. striving

To attain perfection for myself

Enjoying all the spiritual consolations

And leaving the rest

To work out their own salvation

My teachings of your doctrine to others

Have lacked the conviction and dedication

Though I am in pursuit of knowledge

In the silence of the temple

I have failed to attract others

Submerged in the daily chores of worldly life

To your way Since, they do not see

Anything extraordinary in my humble life

But, a routine livelihood of a

Committed disciple sans ostentations

Oh! the Enlightened noble one

Help me to correct my selfish ways

And to reach out to others

To spread your sublime doctrine

With rays of understanding and compassion

Let me boldly and incessantly preach

Against crime, violence robbery,

murder and rape

That has engulfed this emerald isle

And convert it to a dhammadeepaya

to its pristine glory

Converting them to a life of righteousness

So that, they hold in reverence and sacredness

The life of every human being

This is what I request of thee

As I venerate you on this Poson day

Camillus Fernando

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