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Increase your wisdom
Verily, from meditation arises wisdom. Without meditation wisdom wanes. knowing this twofold path of gain and loss, let one so conduct oneself that wisdom may increase. Magga Vagga - The Dhammapada

IT IS nearly after two months of hiatus we resume Buddhist Spectrum today. We apologize to our readers who missed the page and informed us so, too.

As you may know, when the whole Buddhist world celebrated the 2550th Buddha Jayanthi Daily News too had its share in it; Daily News recommenced publishing Daily News Vesak Annual this Vesak. From now on, Daily News will come to you with your much desired Buddhist Spectrum.

Increase your wisdom

VERILY, from meditation arises wisdom. Without meditation wisdom wanes. knowing this twofold path of gain and loss, let one so conduct oneself that wisdom may increase. Magga Vagga - The Dhammapada

Fragrance of a Buddha Jayanthi

BUDDHA JAYANTHI: The two words, Buddha Jayanthi will as from Vesak Day (May 12, 2006) echo in the thoughts of billions of Buddhists living all over the world.

What then is a Buddha Jayanthi?

The Buddha means the "Enlightened One" or the "Exalted" or the "Perfect One". Sakyamuni Gauthama (or Gotama) Buddha was an extraordinary man who with His own efforts realised the Truth concerning human suffering, (i.e. Dukkha or suffering; Samudyaya-cause of suffering; Nirodha - the cessation of suffering, Marga - the Path)

Shower of the Way

He practised several virtues or perfection before He attained Bodhi, the ideal state of intellectual and mental perfection.

After He attained Bodhi, He was the "Shower of the Way" for human liberation. His doctrine (or Dharma) showed how one could without help of a God or Creator, with one's own efforts, after several rounds in samsara (successive births) lead a happy life both in this world, and in the next world.

Jayanthi briefly means a victory or a celebration. It is a milestone to be remembered. The Buddha Jayanthi, to be celebrated during the next twelve months marks 2550 years of Buddhism in the world, and its preservation.

It is a celebration to offer homage to the Great Master. Also to recount in each country certain important events concerning Buddhism.

Universal monarch

The fragrance of this Buddha Jayanthi (2550 years) encompasses revered thoughts of the Buddha, His teachings, the spread and preservation of His Noble Doctrine. Prince Siddhartha of the Sakya Clan was born at Lumbini, and later became known as Sakyamuni Gotama Buddha.

At birth, on that historic Full Moon Day in 453 BC (or is it 483 BC?). Prince Siddhartha's body revealed several meaningful marks which indicated that he would be a universal monarch. These "Purusa Lakshana" on His palms and soles of His feet, only a Bodhisattva could have.

He gave up His royal palace life, and lived as a mendicant. After several meditative Jhanas, whilst seated under a Bodhi Tree at Gaya, He found the answer for man to end suffering.

Finally, He diffused to the world, the way to expel darkness. He was no creator God or messiah of a God, and preached His Noble Dharma with clairvoyance, to kings, noblemen, peasants in a caste-ridden society of murderers, and robbers.

He identified that ignorance and craving (or attachment) are two great evils which resulted in man to be born to age, to suffer and die in Samsara, until you gain perfection and vimukthi. The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Noble Path formed the bedrock of the Master's Teaching.

The texts say:

"By oneself alone is evil done,
By oneself alone is one defiled,
By oneself alone is evil avoided.
By oneself is one purified.
Purity and impurity depend on oneself,
None can purify another"

Ven. Piyadassi Nayake Thera said: "Buddhism while not denying the world of matter and the great effect that the physical world has on mental life, emphasizes the very great importance of the core of our existence.

All our psychological experience such as pain, pleasure, sorrow, happiness, good and evil, life and death are not attributed to any external agency. They are the results of our own thoughts, and resultant actions."

The Buddha Dharma does not subscribe to the view of vicarious salvation. In Buddhism, there is no concept of sin. The vicarious salvation from sin (as stated in certain Theological religions) has not helped man to stop committing sin.

According to Buddhism man will Karmically reap what he sows. Karmic correlations are not deterministic, not fatalistic either. The Karmic process (Karmabhava) is the energy that of the present life there conditions a future life in unending sequence.

The Samyutta Nikaya says:

According to the seed that is sown,
So its fruit, ye reap there from
Doer of good will gather good,
Doer of evil, evil reaps,
Sown is the seed, and planted well
Then shall enjoy the fruits there from.

The rationality of Buddhism

The Rationality of Buddhism embraces Buddhist philosophy in an ethical manner. Unlike in certain other religions, unquestionable belief or faith, and acceptance of miracles do not arise.

Buddhism is free from fanaticism. It is aimed to transform man who at times is wicked to himself and to others, to be reformed by self culture and self conquest.

In the Kalama Sutta, the Buddha made it very clear that no one should accept His Dharma, just because He says so. His Dharma was open to question in public. He never coerced anyone to accept His teaching.


He did not resort to perform miracles in public (although He did so once, to show His "Greatness" to the Alarma Rama-putra when He turned fire into water).

He said "Revere your own religion, reveal no brother's faith, the light you see is from Nirvana's sun, whose rising splendours promise a perfect day.

The feeble rays that light your brother's path, are from the self same sun, by falsehood hid. The lingering shadows are the passing night". That was the manner in which He preached His Dharma, with measure of tolerance.

Buddhism has always been a religion of non-violence. Never, have there been in its long history, wars of religion. Emperor Asoka who at first was a warrior king, gave up the use of the sword to subjugate people, and later ruled righteously in a Buddhist manner.

In place of faith and authority

P. Lakshmi Narasu, a scholar wrote:

Buddhism put reason in place of faith and authority; it declared the metaphysical speculation to make room for practical realities of life; it raised the self proclaimed sage to a position of an Avatar, in the Hindu religion.

Buddhism set up a Brotherhood in place of hereditary priesthood; it replaced scholasticism by a doctrine of righteousness.

The historicity of Buddhism has been revealed from the Suttas (Buddha discourses) and from Archaeological evidence.

Buddhism spread from India to modern Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Butan, north Pakistan, Lanka, Burma (modern Myanmar), Thailand, Java, Vietnam, Cambodia, China and Japan, within two centuries after the Master's demise.

The great chronicle Mahavansa records that Buddhism was introduced to ancient Lanka by Arhant Maha Mahind Thera, during the reign of King Devanampiyatissa.

Another important landmark in the history of Sri Lanka's Buddhism is, Theri Sangamitta's visit to Anuradhapura, when she brought a Bo-Sapling from Buddha Gaya. Other important events remembered today, are the translation of the Tripitaka and Buddhagosa's visit.

Lanka's Buddhist resurgence

Within a span of about 150 years Archaeological restorations of several Buddhist sites took place. Stupas at Tissamaharamaya (in about 1908), Seruvila (1915) and in recent times, the Mihintale Maha Stupa, Kiri Vehera at Kataragama, and the Kalutara Bodhi Complex.

The Kelani Raja Maha Vihare which was destroyed four centuries earlier by the Portuguese Colonials was restored with beautiful murals that took Solias Mendis of Madampe, seventeen long years complete.

Ruwanveli Maha Seya

The Ruwanveli Maha Seya and recently the Mirisaveti Stupa were restored at Anuradhapura. It took sixty seven years to restore the Ruwanweli Maha Seya. The Pinnacle laying ceremony (installation of the Chuda-Manikya gifted by the Buddhists of Burma) took place on 17th June, 1940.

A very important happening took place in 1753, at the Malwatte Maha Vihare, Kandy, Ven. Welivita Siri Saranankara Sangharaja Maha Thera brought to Lanka a valid Upasampada from Siam (Thailand).

About 50 years later, in 1803, another Monk Ven. Welitota Siri Gnanawimala Tissa Maha Thera of the Ambarukkaramaya Temple, Balapitiya went to Burma and brought from the Amarapura Desa (close to Mandalay) another valid Upasampada. Still later, the Rammanya Maha Nikaya was established in Ceylon.

These are important events that helped the Buddhist missionary activities to grow, led by Pirivena Heads Ven. Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Maha Nayaka Thera, Ven. Weligama Sri Sumangala Maha Nayaka Thera, ven. Waskaduve Sri Subhuthi Maha Nayaka Thera, Ven. Rathmalane Dhammarama Maha Thera, Ven. Soratha Maha Thera, Ven. Sri Vajiragnana Maha Nayaka Thera. Ven. Balangoda Ananda Maitri Maha Nayake Thera, Ven. Heenatiyana Dhammaloka Tissa Maha Nayaka Thera, Ven. Renukane Chandavimala Maha Nayaka Thera.

During the Buddha Jayanthi celebrated in 1956 (2500 years Buddhism). The Buddhist World adopted use of a five colour flag and quite recently the Government of Sri Lanka moved in the United Nations Organisation Assembly to unanimously recognise and declare that Vesak Day, each year br a non-working day (a holiday).

Buddhist literature

In the field of Buddhist literature we have a Pali-Sinhala Dictionary, translations of the Dhammapada to Sinhala and English; the Vimukthi Magga and the Visuddhi Magga; several volumes of the Buddhist Encyclopedia, valuable Jathakas, Suttas in Pali and Sinhala.

This has been possible due to the efforts of Buddhist Monks and Buddhist lay scholars led by Prof. G.P. Malalasekara and others in the Universities.

A Pali Buddhist University has been established. Buddhism is now on the Internet. Several Buddhist Societies namely the YMBA, the BTS, the Buddhist Publcaition Society, Kandy, the Servants of the Buddha Society and also several notable publications namely Vesak Handa, Vesak Sirisara and Vesak Lipi Digests have over long periods produced Buddhist literature of value, in several languages.

Several Buddhist philanthropists and Educationalist have helped to establish Buddhist Schools that were administered by the Buddhist Theosophical Society.

They were Henry S. Olcott, Anagarika Dharmapala, Sir Baron Jayatilleke, Mudliyar Samson Rjapakse, Peter de Abrew, Mrs. Jeromias Dias, Mrs. Marie Musaeus Higgins, F.L. Woodward, P. de S. Kularatne, Sir Ernest and Lady De Silva, Dr. G.P. Malalasekara and Sir Cyril de Zoysa.


A few more better known philanthropists were Mrs. Helena Wijewardene of Sedawatta, Mudliyar Andris Perera Abhayakarunarathna of Panadura, Mudliyar D.D. Weerasinghe of Wellawatte, Mudliyar C.F. Jayawickrema of Tangalle, Situge Don Hendrick Silva (Henegama Appuhamy) of Ruhuna, Averiwatte Kumarasinghe, Ransirinel Perera, Mrs. F.R. Senanayake, Sir Bennte and Lady Sarath Soysa of Kandy, Dr. C.A. Hewavitharana, Henry W. Amarasuriya of Galle, Mudliyar W. Senanayake of Madampe, D.L.F. Pedris and Dr. and Mrs. W.A. Silva.

A large number of Buddhist orphanages and Homes for Senior Citizens have been established and are maintained by Buddhist organisations.

During this Jayanthi Buddhist will have a golden opportunity to listen to a large number of sermons to enrich their lives. It will be a year of religious observances, including meditation on subjects such as impermanence. Bhakthi Geetha will be sung and lamps will be lit in honour of the Buddha.

Bhikkhus will be cared for, the poor will be fed and clothed, and inmates in hospitals will be comforted motivated by Karuna, Daham School activity will be encouraged further, and there will be concern for street dogs safety.

Perhaps, the finest hour of Buddhism in recent years in Sri Lanka was the flood of spontaneous help given in numerous ways with great compassionate feeling, when the massive tsunami waves occurred along the south coast stretching from Beruwela to Hambantota.

On that Poya Day, when thousands of Buddhist devotees were in their temples, people effected by the tragedy sought help from the temples. The Buddhist monks and the devotees acted with great sympathy to immediately provide temporary shelter and food over a long period of time.

A large number of Christians living in the Beruwela, Maggona areas were (without any hindrance) permitted by the temple monks to conduct their own religious activities. Buddhist tolerance of other religions shone like a bright star in those dark days.

A pilgrimage to Myanmar

MYANMAR: In last September, I had the fortune of visiting Myanmar, where Theravada Buddhism is being truly followed and practised by its people.

According to chronicles, Buddhism was introduced to Myanmar, then known as Swarna Bhumi, during the reign of king Dharmashoka, the same period it was introduced to Sri Lanka.

Shwedagon Pagoda - the golden dome rises 98 metres above its base and is covered with pure gold.

Today more than 90 percent of the people of Myanmar follow Theravada Buddhism and it is believed that there are more than 22000 Buddhist temples and viharas in the country.

Some of the Pagodas (Dagab) of Myanmar are enormous structures as big as the Dagabas found in ancient Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa.

Though Myanmar, like many other Asian nations fell pray to western dominance, majority of its people are unspoilt by western influences. They lead simple lives according to the teachings of the Buddha.

In this country the religion is practised in its true form and temples and sculptures are protected and well maintained. The strong link between man and the religion is well demonstrated by the fact that every man in his youth enters the Order temporarily at least for two weeks.

This is called Shinpyu Ceremony. It is believed that there are, over 800,000 bhikkhus in Myanmar. Below I will give few places of Buddhist worship, I visited during my stay in Myanmar.

Shevadagon Pagoda

Out of Buddhist places of worship this is the most famous pagoda. It is believed that the Buddha's hair relic is enshrined in this pagoda. According to chronicles, the Buddha handed over his hair relic to two brothers Thapashu and Bhalluke.

Golden Rock Pagoda known as ‘Kyaiktiyo’ situated on the sheer edge of cliff.

The name Sheva means gold and dagon means three hills, the site of the pagoda overlooking the city of Yangoon. This pagoda, which is 330 feet tall, is covered with 8688 gold plates. The umbrella at the top is 33 feet high and embedded with precious stones.

Shwethatyaung Buddha in Bogo was built in the 10th century and is widely revered as the most beautiful reclining Buddha in Myanmar. It is 180 feet long.

Shwezigon Pagoda in Bagan

Shwewzigon derives its name from the word "Jayabhumi", ground of victory. Two great kings noted for their patronage of the religion are associated with Shwezigon. Anawartha (1044-1077) and Kyansitta (1084-1113).

A tooth relic of the Buddha, gifted by Sri Lanka is enshrined here. This pagoda has unique shape and many pagodas built after this has followed its shape and style. There are four small temples with 13 feet high standing Buddha statues measuring around the pagoda.

Ananda Temple in Bagan

This Vihara has been built in memory of Ananda Thera, the chief disciple of the Buddha. From distance, the Vihara is visible in white and gold. This was built around 1090 by king Kyansitta.

There are four images that represent the four Buddhas of the present world cycle. On the north is Kakusanda, in the east Konagama in the south Kassapa and in the west Gotama.

Law Kananda Pagoda

This pagoda stands on a site close to harbour of Bagan on the bank of river Ayeyarwady. Law Kananda meaning "Joy of the World" was built by king Anawartha to enshrine a holy tooth replica.

The chronicles relate that the king of Sri Lanka sent Anawartha a holy tooth relic and that when the ship from Sri Lanka arrived in the harbour, Anawartha himself descended neck deep into the water to bear on his head the jewelled casket holding the holy tooth relic and carried it to the palace.

The holy relic was enshrined in the Shwezigon. At that instance when king Anawartha made a solemn vow and said, "If I attain Buddhahood let another holy tooth proceed from the first and miraculously another holy tooth appeared.

Again he made a vow and there was another tooth and still another until there were four replicas. He enshrined one of these holy tooth replicas in the Law Kananda which he built near the place where first replica of the holy tooth had first arrived and where he had descended into the water to receive it.

Sulamani Temple

This temple was built by king Narapathisithu (1174-1211). The name Sulamani in Pali means "Crowning Jewel".

The Sulamani consists of two storeys each of which is square with porches on all four sides, and the eastern porch extending further than the others. All four sides have a sealed image of the Buddha on a pedestal.

This is the most revered Buddha image in Myanmar. It arrived in Mandalay from the Avakan in 1784. I noticed several devotees applying gold leaves to the Buddha image. As so many gold leaves have been applied, the image has lost its original shape today.

Mirigum Pagoda

This 160 feet Mirigum Pagoda built in the late 18th century is located on the banks of Ayeyarwady river North of Mandalay. If this partly built pagoda was completed it would have reached a height of more than 500 feet.

Golden Rock

A four hour drive from Yangoon brought us to the Golden Rock at Kyaiklio. It is somewhat unbelievable to see 5.5-meter high pagoda resting atop a huge gilded boulder precariously perched high on the edge of the hill.

Pin Day Caves

These limestone caves, which are around 200 million years old, are another place of interest to visit. These caves are situated about 1200 meters above sea level and more than 8000 Buddha images are found in these caves.

During my visit, I realized what a close relationship the kings of Myanmar had with their contemporaries of Sri Lanka.



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