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Tsunami Focus Point - Tsunami information at One PointMihintalava - The Birthplace of Sri Lankan Buddhist Civilization

First ever stupa built by an Arhant

Mahiyangana stupa today as seen across the Vahalkada. Photograph by: Janaka Wettasinghe.

DURUTHU is the first month of the Sinhala almanac. It was on a Duruthu Full Moon Day that the Buddha, the Enlightened One first visited our land then known as Lanka, two thousand five hundred and eighty two years ago after the ninth month of attaining Buddhahood.

It was to rid the Mahanagawana area of Yakka tribe who were inhabiting the area.

Before coming here, the Buddha converted to his Order the famous Jatila Brothers, Uruwella Kashyapa, Gaya Kashyapa, Nadee Kashyapa and their thousand disciples.

Then the Buddha saw through His Divine Eyes the land of Lanka and a place in Bintenna presently known as Mahiyangana on the bed of River Mahaweli opposite the famous Minibe, known now as Minipe Valley in Dumbara.

It is said that the Yakkas who were the tribe occupying this territory were up in arms against the visit of the Enlightened One.

Mahawansa says that the area known as Mahanagawana, three yodun in length and one youdun in breadth was the extent occupied by the Yakkas. This area was said to be the battle field of this tribe.

A yodun is a distance of 15 miles, Rev. B. Clough Dictionary. The Buddha by His miraculous powers appeared in the sky and preached Dhamma to the Yakkas. After this historic incident, moved out of this venue.

The present Yakkure Village in the East of Mahiyangana may be one such village occupied by the Yakkas. At this time Lanka was inhabited by three tribes and latter the divisions of Ruhunu, Pihiti and Maya Rata, Ruhunu Rata was established by Mahanaga, Brother of King Devanampiyatissa.

It is of significance to note that Naga tribe King Maniakkitha who was ruling from Kelaniya as the capital was present in Mahiyangana to see the Buddha on His visit there.

It was at Mahiyangana that King Maniakkitha met the Buddha for the first time and became a disciple of His, and invited Him to visit Kelaniya.

The Buddha's subsequent visit to Kelaniya was His third visit to Lanka. Maniakkitha met the Buddha again in Nagadeepa when He visited to settle a dispute between Chulodara and Mahodara.

God Sumana who is believed by the Buddhists to be the custodian of Sripada and Sabragamuwa region was another distinguished visitor at this venue to see the Buddha.

He attained the State of Sovan after listening to the Buddha and requested the Buddha to give him a suitable relic for daily worship. The Buddha gave God Sumana some Hair Relics. These Relics were enshrined in the Mahiyangana Stupa.

Mahiyangana Dagoba was the first Stupa build in Lanka by a god and it is the first Dagoba built by an Arhant.

Mahawansa records that Maharahath Sarabu, a pupil of Maharahath Seriuth brought the facial bones of the Buddha from the funeral pyre and enshrined them and built the Dagoba up to a height of twelve cubits.

For the third time the Pagoda was built to the height of 32 cubits by King Choolabaya, a brother of Devanampiyatissa. King Dutugamunu re-built the Dagoba which had been damaged up to a height of 80 cubits.

The annual Perahera is held to pay homage to God Saman who is believed to protect the Sacred Bo-Tree in the premises. There is a Devalaya dedicated to God Saman built here.

The Bo-Tree is an off-spring from the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura and thus the Bo-Tree becomes one of the oldest and historic trees in Sri Lanka.

King Sirisangabo dedicated the Bo-Tree to the Maha Sangha by offering it to Ven. Nanda Thera who was an uncle of the King.

Our kings protected this Shrine and the Bo-Tree and endowed it to the future generations. It has been protected from vandals and wild animals for thousands of years.

The Shrine was renovated from time to time by our ancient kings such as Vijayabahu III, Wimaladharmasooriya Senarath, Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe, etc.

The Shrine that was situated in the middle of the thick jungle infested with wild animals and neglected for some time is the first among the sixteen Sacred Places of Buddhist worship Solosmastana.

Pilgrims from all over the country trek to this shrine once a year. The folklore prevalent in the area describes how pilgrims undertook this arduous trip from Themmitiyana all the way passing the 18 hairpin bends.

The pre-independent period saw the Shrine almost coming down to the ground level.

It was late Rt. Hon. D. S. Senanayake, the first Prime Minister and his son Hon. Dudley Senanayake, the second Prime Minister who were the key figures in bringing this area to the scenic venue that it is today and restored the Dagoba to what it is today.

Other patriotic sons who contributed in bringing Mahiyangana to what it is today are late Sir Bennet Soysa, E. L. Senanayake and D. B. Welagedara who personally shared responsibility in the Mahiyangana Restoration Society under the guidance of the late Maha Nayaka Theras of the Asgiriya Chapter.

Hub of Dhamma activities in London

Ven. Galayaye Piyadassi Thera

THE Sri Saddhatissa International Buddhist Viharaya at Kingsburry Road, London has become a hub of Buddhist activities, which are beneficial not only to Great Britain but also to other European countries and Sri Lanka as well.

"We would not have been successful in whatever we have already accomplished without the loyal and dedicated support extended by our devotees and well-wishers to the Sri Saddhatissa International Buddhist Centre", said Ven. Galayaye Piyadassi Thera, the chief incumbent of Saddhatissa Buddhist Viharaya, popularly known among Sri Lankans in U.K. as "Kingsburry Temple".

The Viharaya was initially established by its founder, Dr. Hammalawa Saddhatissa Nayaka Thera in 1989.

After moving to the new premises at Kingsburry Road, in 1991, the centre was named " Sri Saddhatissa International Buddhist Viharaya" in memory of the Nayaka Thera who passed away in 1990.

At present the Kingsburry Temple comprises shrine rooms with the Buddha images, a special area with a Bo-sapling from the Sri Maha Bodhi, an alms-hall, preaching hall, a Devale and residential quarters sufficient for twelve and other facilities.

Site for London Kingsburry village at Walahanduwa

According to Galayaye Piyadassi Thera, Sri Saddhatissa International Buddhist Centre mainly focuses on daily religious activities such as Bodhi poojas, pirith chanting and sermons.

Apart from these daily activities the centre also organizes meditation classes on every Tuesdays, language classes in Pali and Sinhalese, Dhamma school on Saturdays with special lessons on Suttas as well.

Other two affiliated organisations to the Viharaya, Sri Lanka Educational, Cultural and Welfare Foundation and the World

Buddhist Foundation (WBF) are engaged in promoting traditional arts in Sri Lanka, and printing valuable Buddhist works. "Budu Maga" (Way of Wisdom) is the quarterly newsletter by the Centre.

Over the past 15 years, several books of great religious value have been produced by the WBF such as "Introduction to Buddhism", "Life of the Buddha", "Facets of Buddhism" and " Buddhism for the new millennium".

Inmates of Muditha Children’s home

Meanwhile Muditha Foundation, a charitable institute under the guidance of Ven. Galayaye Piyadassi Thera has founded "Muditha Home" in Hettipola, which accommodates about 100 boys between the ages of 4-18 years who are displaced by the war in the North and East. The children's educational, spiritual and healthcare needs are looked after by the foundation.

London Kingsburry Village to be set up at Walahanduwa, in Galle for the tsunami victims is the latest addition to the list of charitable work performed by Galayaye Piyadassi Thera through the Saddatissa Viharaya.

"We are hoping to build about 30 houses in Walahanduwa area for the tsunami survivors in Sri Lanka through the donations we gain to the centre. The foundation laying ceremony was held with the blessings of the Maha Sangha last year," the Thera said.

What belongs to Me?

THERE are thousands of things that make up the totality of who I am. Firstly, I have a body made of many parts - bones, muscles, heart, lungs, arteries, nerves, brain, mind and so on - made from rice, vegetables, meat and all the splendid things I have eaten and drunk, a handsome figure covered in attractive clothing and jewellery, an education, a job, a standing in society, wealth, money in the bank, property, friends and relatives, power to command - these and more are the things that are mine.

I shall not willingly give them away and resist to my utmost if sickness or misfortune or robbers any try to deprive me things without which may be I shall be nobody. I am entitled to hold to them morally, legally and otherwise, worldly or unworldly.

That is how it is, has been and shall be with everybody. So what does the Buddha mean declaring: Even this body is not yours?


In the teaching of the Buddha 'personality' or belief in a person or self (sakkayaditthi) is very different to say, the view of the psychologist.

It has nothing to do with ability to impress, influence or get attention nor with any popular concept of selfhood or self-identity as when you see yourself in the mirror.

The former husband, a merchant, Visaka, asks Arahant Dhmmadina: "Noble lady, what is called the 'self' by the Blessed One? What is the origin of self? How does belief in a self come to be? How does it come not to be?" It is frustrating to not understand.

Let me quote from a letter of Venerable Nanavira Thera. A favourte theme of Albert Camus (French existentialist writer 1913-60) is marriage with inanimate nature, sea, the sky, the earth but much of what he writes is lost in translation.

Yet listen to the imagery of his despairing words as translated by Ven. N. thus: "Of whom and of what in fact can I say, 'I know about that!' This heart in me, I can experience it and I conclude that it exists. This world, I can touch it and I conclude again that it exists.

All my knowledge stops there, and the rest is construction. For if I try to grasp this self of which I am assured, if I try to define it and sum it up, it is no more than a liquid that flows between my fingers.

I can depict one by one all the faces that it can assume; all those given it, too by this education, this origin, this boldness or these silences, this grandeur or this vileness. But one cannot add up faces.

This same heart which is mine will remain for me undefinable. Between the certainty that I have of my existence and the content that I strive to give to this assurance, the gap will never be filled. Always shall I be a stranger to myself... Here, again, are trees and I know their roughness, water and I experience its savour.

This scent of grass and of stars, night, certain evenings when the heart relaxes, - how shall I deny this world whose power and forces I experience? Yet all the science of this earth will give me nothing that can assure me that this world is mine." (From Myth of Sisyphus)

And Nanavira comments: A more lucid account by a puthujjana (untaught commoner) of his own perdicament could scarcely be desired. Herein is the ambiguity of existence that no commoner can solve by himself. It is a paradox - a problem wrapped in its own data.

The Buddha says: atta hi attano n'atthi (Dhammapada, verse 62) that is difficult to translate: '(His) very self is not (his) self's. Or more freely, 'He himself is not his own'. This is gobbledygook if not verbal sleight of hand to the ordinary.

If you understand it, then there is no need to learn more Dhamma. You have achieved the path (sotapatti), the first stage to nibbana, extinction of 'self' and 'I am' (sakkaya and asmi mana). To write or speak glibly about 'not-self' is parrot-talk.


For the untaught commoner, there can never be objectivity without subjectivity. 'Those recluses and divines who make known the annihilation, perishing, and un-being, of the existing creature - they, through fear of personality, through loathing of personlity, are simply running and circling around personality.

Just, indeed, as a dog, tied with a leash to a firm post or stake, runs and circles around that same post, so these recluses and divines, through fear of personality, through loathing of personality, are simply running and circling around personality. (Majjhima). Extinction is cessation of being (bhava). (Anguttara).

The world for the most part, Kaccayana, is bound by engaging, holding and adherence; and this one (that is this individual, puggala) dies not engage or hold or resolve that engaging or holding (upadana), that mental resolving adherence and tendency: 'My self'.

It is just dukkha that arises, dukkha that ceases - about this he (the arahat, individual) does not hesitate or doubt, his knowledge herein is independent of others (aparapaccaya nanam). So far, Kaccayana, is there right view (sammaditthi). - Nidana, Samyutta.

The Rubric

The statement of the Buddha 'Not, this is mine; not, this am I; not is my self (N' etam mama, n'eso ham asmi, no eso me atta) is the rubric of the teaching. It runs through and stitches the Dhamma. To have insight of it is impossible for the untrained commoner. The way to insight (dassana) is indirect. Indeed, that is the method of the teaching.

Two books on happiness:

Happiness - how you perceive

BERTRAND Ressell's The Conquest of Happiness (London: George Allen and Unwin) was first published in 1930. His Holiness the Dalai Lama and HC Cutler's The art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living (London: Hodder and Stoughton) was published in 1998. Russell states that this inspiration was common sense.

The Dalai Lama's approach is that of practical wisdom. Happiness being happiness, would you expect any significant difference between a book it in 1930 or in 1998? Perhaps inevitably, half of each book is on unhappiness and suffering.

What is happiness?

One might suppose that there is a spectrum of states of mind to which the term 'happiness' can be applied, from 'pleasure' at one end of the spectrum and going through delight and joy to ecstasy, rapture and bliss at the other.

The Dalai Lama, however, draws a distinction between 'pleasure' and 'happiness'. A physical action can be a pleasure at first and only a dulled sensation with repetition, while happiness is lasting.

How can we become happy?

Happiness does not drop on us from the sky. We won't get it by merely wishing for it. We have to earn it by training ourselves for it. That is why Russell entitled his book The Conquest of Happiness.

The Dalai Lama makes it plain that the attainment of lasting happiness is not easy. He summarized the procedure in four steps: Learning, Conviction, Determination, Effort.

Basic needs. A pre-requisite for happiness is an adequate supply of our basic needs such as air, water, food, health and shelter. Both Russell and the Dalai Lama are firm on this.

Work and other activities.

Interesting work and other activities are a potent source of happiness. Russell stated that "provided work is not excessive, even the dullest work is to most people less painful than idleness".

"It is in moments when the mind is most active that the most intense joys are experienced. This, indeed, is one of the best touchstones of happiness."

Meditation is a valuable practice for happiness. The Dalai Lama advocated it by giving a public demonstration of it on the theme of compassion. Several exercises in meditation are described in the book.

Muscular exercise, as in walking, can be a source of happiness. "When I was a boy I knew a man bursting with happiness whose business was digging wells. His happiness was based upon physical vigour, a sufficiency of work, and the overcoming of not insuperable obstacles in the shape of rock." (Russell).

Experiences. Our daily experiences, such as aesthetic experience (i.e. the experience of beauty and/or nobility, as from the arts), are a source of happiness.

Russell mentions a man who "derived joy in the exercise of his craft (artistic typography), a delight not wholly unlike that which good dancers derive from dancing."

The Dalai Lama in a state of cross-legged meditation in front of a audience broke into a Tibetan chant which appeared to soothe and comfort the audience.

Being and Belonging

One must be true to oneself, to one's Being. Most of us are multi-talented, and our activities should correspond to our talents. "People should be natural, and should follow there spontaneous tastes in so far as these are not definitely antisocial."

"The greatest happiness comes with the most complete possession of one's faculties." (Russell) Belonging to people and our surroundings is important for happiness. "Happiness is promoted by associations of persons with similar tastes and similar opinions."

"For my own part, speaking personally, I have found the happiness of parenthood greater than any other that I have experienced." (Russell) The Dalai Lama speaks of the importance of connection with other fellow human beings.

Attitudes Attitudes shape behaviour, and good behaviour can give happiness. Let me list some attitudes. The quotations are from Russell.

Abandonment - dropping things which if dwelt on will make you miserable. The Dala's Lama says that a person who reacts to situation with anger and hatred destroys his own peace of mind.

Acceptance of minor troubles. "He should regard such incidental troubles in the way in which one regard a wet day, that is to day, as a nuisance about which it would be foolish to make a fuss."

Accountability - The Dalai Lama points out that even in situations such as when somebody tells you a lie, it may after all be on account of his being unable to trust you.

Affection. "Really a fundamental need, and to nine out of ten an indispensable condition of a happy and expansive attitude towards the world."

Altogetherness. A wide view of things, such as an awareness of human and stellar evolution, "opening wide the windows of his mind".

In emancipation from the fears that beset the slave of circumstance he will experience a profound joy, and through all the vicissitudes of his outward life he will remain in the depths of his being a happy man."

"A certain deep happiness will never leave you." The Dalai Lama drew attention to Samsara, which applies not only to people but also to countries, planets and galaxies.

He used the term 'holistic' to indicate the way in which we should look at an issue. It may need to be considered at individual level, community level, and global level.

Balance. "In the good life there must be a balance between different activities." The Dalai Lama stressed the importance of balance, the avoidance of extremes. Study and learning should be balanced by meditation and contemplation.

"Companionship and cooperation are essential elements in the happiness of the average man."

"Continuity of purpose is one of the most essential ingredients of happiness in the long run, and for most men this comes chiefly through their work." Constructiveness. "The work of constructiveness, when completed, is delightful to contemplate."

Generosity. "An expansive and generous attitude towards other people not only gives happiness to others, but is an immense source of happiness to its possessor."

Gentleness. The Dalai Lama held that gentleness is the basic or underlying feature of man.

Positive - Looking for the positive in every person. The Dalai Lama is very strong on this. It gives rise in that person to a feeling of affinity.

Service. The Dalai Lama held that serving other people, or in any case not harming them, was the best way to use our time.

Emotions, It is of the utmost importance for happiness that we must control our emotions. We must cultivate our 'positive' emotions and reduce our 'negative' emotions.

The Dalai Lama said that the first step in learning to be happy is to learn that the positive emotions are helpful and that negative emotions are bad and harmful to all.

The distinction between positive and negative emotions should be made in the context of the aims in one's mind. Thus anger, which is a typical negative emotion, can be regarded as positive when it is concerned with action to improve conditions.

Positive emotions. The Dalai Lama stressed the importance of compassion and kindness - they are very positive, very useful, leading to good relationships with other people.

A feeling of self-worth arises out of good relationships. Russell states that "those who face life with a feeling of security are much happier than those who face it with a feeling or insecurity".

Negative emotions The passions which shut us up in ourselves constitute one of the worst kinds of prisons. Among such passions some of the commonest are fear, envy, the sense of sin, self-pity and self-admiration." (Russell) The Dalai Lama has identified the following as states of negative emotions arrogance, anger, conceit, jealousy, lust, closed mindedness, hatred, anger.

He says that hatred destroys happiness, and that excessive greed gives rise to frustration and confusion. In regard to 'guilt', the Tibetan langauge has words corresponding to regret, remorse and repentance but not for guilt.

Impersonal interests. Our hobbies draw out our minds from the little world of selfhood into am impersonal world. Russell has a whole chapter on Impersonal Interests.

External factors which influence our happiness include affection and admiration shown by others to us, and the recognition and encouragement we receive from others.

The Dalai Lama says that the contributors to joy and happiness include mutual friendships. Russell remarks that "a painter, let us say, who has been obscure throughout his youth is likely to become happier if his talent wins recognition".

Outflows from happiness

These include tolerance and goodwill. "The best way to increase toleration is to multiply the number of individuals who enjoy real happiness." (Russell) The Dalai Lama said that tolerance can lead to forgiveness. A striking characteristic of the Dalai Lama himself was a willingness to reach out to others, creating a feeling of affinity and goodwill.

These two great accounts on achieving happiness, Russell's (1930) and HH The Dalai Lama's (1998) are agreed that happiness has to be sought actively, and that this involves a training of attitudes and emotions.

The two books have certain differences in outlook, such as that about the basic nature of man (The Dalai Lama believes that human nature is basically gentle, and not a mixture of good and bad, of gods and devils, as many traditional myths relate), and about the possibility that there are different types of men (The Dalai Lama, talking about his inclination to share ideas with others all the time, says that it may be in his nature to do so); but these differences do not affect the authors' views on how to achieve happiness.

Attaining Effacement

(From the Sallekha Sutta)

Practising effacement you will not be angry,

Revengeful, contemptuous and domineering,

Nor envious of others.

You will not be avaricious, fraudulent and deceitful,

You will not be obstinate and arrogant,

Intolerant of correction.

Thus in effacement

You will not have bad friends,

Be negligent, faithless and without shame.

You will fear wrongdoing,

Have much learning, be energetic, established in mindfulness,

Possessed of wisdom.

Effacement brings liberation

From holding on to your own views,

Relinquishing them without difficulty,

Such is the liberation of effacement.

Even inclination to good is wholesome.

So what of actual actions,

Hence Cunda,

Inclination of mind,

Against all these unwholesome actions,

Is effacement.

So is inclination away from wrong views,

Giving up wrong views with ease,

Though others hold on to them.

Avoidance of the wrong path is effacement,

Avoidance of cruelty by not being cruel,

Abstention from killing and stealing,

Avoidance of sexual misconduct,

Abstention from speech that is false,

Malicious, harsh or gossip inclined,

Being uncoveteous, avoiding ill-will,

Avoiding wrong view by having right view,

Having right intention, right speech, right action,

Right livelihood, right effort.

Being of right mindfulness and right concentration.

Avoiding wrong knowledge with right knowledge,

Wrong deliverance with right deliverance,

Achieving freedom from sleuth and torpor,

Restlessness and doubt,

Being beyond doubt, anger and thoughts of revenge,

Curbing contempt, domineering, envy and avarice,

Acting without fraud and deceit,

Being non-arrogant and easy to admonish,

Abandoning bad friends for good,

Abandoning negligence for concerned effort,

Lack of faith for faith, lack of shame for shame and wrong doing,

Avoiding little learning by pursuit of knowledge,

Laziness by arousal of energy, unmindfulness by being mindful,

Lack of wisdom by acquiring wisdom,

Adherence to wrong views by giving them up,

Thus Cunda the way leading upwards

Is from the unwholesome to the wholesome

Avoiding and abstaining from all

Wrong actions, wrong states, and wrong views.

This, Cunda, is Effacement.




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