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Indian Bhikkhus keen to imbibe Theravada tradition

COLOMBO: Indian bhikkhus had requested Sri Lankan Buddhist monks of the Theravada tradition to enlighten them on the value of original teachings of the Buddha.

The bhikkhus of All Indian Bhikkhu Society had made this request from Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnanananda Thera of Sri Lanka Mahamevuna Asapuwa, during his visit to India recently to attend a dhamma recitation ceremony at Bodhgaya.

The ceremony had been organised by the Mahabodhi Society of India to mark the 2550th Buddha Jayanthi. It had invited Ven. Gnanananda Thera and monks at Mahamevuna Asapuwa to participate in the ceremony on behalf of Sri Lanka, for the task of reciting the Sutta Pitaka in Pali. The reciting had taken place at Bodhgaya which lasted for 20 days.

The Dhamma Sangayana (recitation ceremony) was also attended by Buddhist monks in Thailand and Myanmar who recited the Vinaya Pitaka and Abhidhamma Pitaka commencing from February 13. The Dalai Lama was also present. Sri Lanka had been assigned to recite the Sutta Pitaka.

"The Thripitaka Sajjayana (chanting) began with all Buddhist monks chanting the Buddha's first dhamma discourse, The Dhammachakkhappawattana Sutta," said Ven. Gnanananda Thera describing his experience at the ceremony.

"We (the Sri Lankan Buddhist monks) had the opportunity to perform our task in the shade of Vajrasana under the Sri Maha Bodhi," he said.

As we were chanting the Sutta pitaka, bhikkhus from Bangladesh and India also joined us. Although they were not that competent on the science of articulating Pali terms, it was a pleasure to have experienced their participation, he said.

We were invited by the bhikkhus of the All Indian Bhikkhu Society to visit their temple. "The Indian monks told us that although they had entered the Sasana as Buddhist monks, there was nobody to teach them the Dhamma.

They said that Arahat Mahinda Thera had brought the dhamma from Bihardesh, India and established it in Sri Lanka. Now the time has come for you, the masters from Sri Lanka to teach the dhamma to us, they said.

"One of the Indian monks said," I have been a monk for the last five years. But I still do not know about the Buddha and his personality," "said Gnanananda Thera.

This stands to reason that the Buddha's teachings has disappeared from India.

"I have been to India many times but this was the first time I was able to speak on this matter so openly with the monks in India," the Thera said.

Ven. Gnanananda Thera had given a lecture in Hindi to the students at the Magadha University of India.

"It was amazing that 20 students have consented to enter the Shasana after this lecture," he said.

This means the thirst for dhamma is still there. The solution for this is to propogate the dhamma on firm footing, he pointed out.

He thanked the Chief Incumbent of the Bodhgaya Mahabodhi Society, Ven. Palawatte Seewali Thera for organising the event, Secretary General Ven. Dodangoda Revatha Thera, and America's Life of Buddha Dhamma Foundation.

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