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Buddhist Spectrum

Seeing about Bodh Gaya

Pilgrimage to Dambadiva is one that every Buddhist makes sometime in his or her life. Because it is very much a part of our culture, heritage, our Buddhist background and atmosphere. Millions of people from all over the world do visit Dambadiva - a place of many marvels purely religious and sacred, pertaining to the all wise all compassionate Buddha - Sakya Muni Gautama.

His doctrine and the message of Dhamma was for the whole world, to all mankind irrespective of colour, caste and creed. India’s greatest attraction to Buddhists overseas lies in these sacred places where Thathagatha, the Perfect One was born, attained enlightenment lived disseminating his Dhamma displaying his wisdom, intellect and masterly knowledge of the doctrine, finally Parinibbana during which time the Thathagatha had declared that these are going to be sacred sites of Buddhist worship as mentioned in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta:

Birth place - Lumbini
Buddhahood - Bodh Gaya
First sermon - Saranath
Parinibbbana - Kusinarawa

These are places of sanctity not to be missed. These sacred sites display interesting facts about ancient history of Buddhism.

These sacred sites stand today to tell us about the origin and evolution of Buddhism.


A group of Bodh Gaya pilgrims

The history of the doctrine is clearly unfolded to the devotees keen to know the eternal truth.

These venues stand to tell us the most significant unforgettable tales of the Buddhist era, in the presence of our own eyes.

They display and record important events in Thathagatha’s life and identify places associated with him.

These sacred sites give one a feeling of piety and serenity like the temples, dagabas and religious monuments.

It is believed that if Buddhists visit these places of worship they will never see the sight of four hells (Sathara Apaya) as all their sins will be washed away with this visit to Punya Bhoomi. All these bear testimony to the Buddha’s stay, the glory and prosperity that followed. These sacred places - Chaitya and its premises temples have been declared archaeological preserve by the State Government of India. Bodh Gaya.

I wish to make special mention of Bodh Gaya the great marvel unparalleled in history, the place where Sakyamuni Gautama Buddha attained the supreme enlightenment, the most significant event in human history, the most sanctified place that should be visited by devoted Buddhists. This is where he sat in meditation in his search of bliss free from Jara, Vyadhi, Marana.

He was determined to find the eternal truth. Enlightenment downed upon him. For Noble Truths were revealed. He became the Buddha for the relief of the entire humanity. Ever since Bodh Gaya became the most venerated spot and a place of pilgrimage for devotees from Buddhist countries.

Thanks to the royal patronage of the Great Emperor Asoka who worked tirelessly for the propagation of Buddhism restoring many sacred venues. A rock edict mentions Asoka’s visit to Bodh Gaya in the 3rd Century BC and he is considered the founder of the Mahabodhi temple. It is believed that he built a shrine with a canopy over Vajrasana the seat of enlightenment. The temple architecture is remarkable.

The temple rises gracefully to a height of 52 metres in the form of a pyramid on a basement of 15 metre square. The greatest attraction is the glittering colossal image of the Buddha in the inner chamber in touching the ground pose (Bhumisparsha Mudra). Its legendary beginnings will be of interest to the pilgrims. The legend revealing the origin of the statue is a breathtaking marvel.

It is a divine creation. It is said that when the temple was being constructed the idea to enshrine a statue could not be fulfilled due to the inability of finding an efficient sculptor. In his search for a suitable person, one day a man emerged saying “I can do it.” He requested to provide him with a pile of scented clay and a lit lamp placed in the inner chamber with the door locked for six months.

The request was complied with, but the impatient devotees had opened the door four days before the declared date. Inside there was a glittering statue perfect in every detail but for a small space in front-chest area to be completed. Little later a Bhikkhu who was asleep in the inner chamber had a dream in which Bosat Maitriya had said that it was he who had made the statue.

A close study had revealed that it was truly a divine creation presently the most revered statue in the Buddhist world resembling the Buddha the exact way, built at the very place where Buddha sat in meditation. The serene statue is even more glittering though it is believed to be over 1700 years old.

The first Chinese monk Fa Hsien and also another scholar monk Tibetan named Dharmaswami provided much information about the past history of Bodh Gaya, how it had been saved from Turushkas the dreadful enemies, the plunderers. Another prominent figure was Anagarika Dharmapala who travelled to Bodh Gaya to secure it to the custody of the Buddhist world from anti Buddhists. He established the Mahabodhi Society of India in 1891 and built the modern pilgrims’ rest at Bodh Gaya, which is of enormous service to present day pilgrims.

The other important places connected to this Punya bhoomi are the six locations where Sakyamuni continued to meditate for seven weeks in gratitude for his final search of the eternal truth. These sacred spots are found around the Bodhi premises. The Sacred Bodhiya is surrounded by a golden railing built by the late President Premadasa.

We enjoyed our most sacred ever wonderful pilgrimage organised by the ‘People’s Travels’ managed by the People’s Bank. People’s Travels put up a splendid performance a unique task without a parallel.

We the pilgrims witnessed a magnificent journey in full comfort. The journey throughout was giving a sense of comfort, relief elegance and security. They ensured the security of the pilgrims at every turn giving them a sense of protection. We the pilgrims became one family in a matter of few days.

After days travelling, we rested in the hotels provided, to be prepared for the next day - a busy tomorrow. We are awake after a short sleep, yet feeling quite fit. In the morning we visit the sacred places and pay homage to the Triple Gem. We worshiped to our hearts content.

We set out daily according to a set programme with two travel guides. They were highly accomplished historians and educationists of high calibre the choice of the People’s Travels. They never failed to enlighten us on the history, location and the significance of the places of worship right through the journey.

We reach a different destination each day. The thrill of entering sacred premises is beyond words - treasured by everyone of the group. Another special feature was the arrangements made to meet the Bhikkhus who perform an inestimable service in convincing us of the importance attached. They make the pilgrims participate in religious functions fervently.

The sacrifice and services of the Buddhist monks should be commended for the impressive record of protection and maintenance provided. Their deep concern should be appreciated.

Anyone of the pilgrims who wishes to donate for the upkeep of the sacred places are free to make their contributions which they do lavishly. In the course of the long distance traveling the pilgrims not only had intellectual religious discussions, but also devotional song recitals presented by the clever singers in the crowd, enjoyed by everybody in the bus.


Ven. Mahopadyaya Aluthgama Dhammananda A felicitation ceremony

A public meeting will be held on November 22 at 3 pm at Senkadagala Eksath Bauddha Mandalaya’s hall, Angarika Dharmapala Mawatha, Kandy to felicitate Ven. Mahopadyaya Aluthgama Dhammananda Nayake Thera, senior member, Karaka Sangha Sabha, Malwatte Chapter on his attaining 94 years by Buddhist societies in Kandy and its suburbs.

Born in 1915 at Aluthgama near Thumpane in Kandy district to Maha Arambe Rajakaruna Wasala Dukganna Ralahamillage Dingiri Banda, a Village Headman and Herath Mudiyanselage Ranmenike. Named as Heenbanda, he received his primary education at Muruddeniya and Idamegama colleges.

He was ordained as a novice under the tutelage of Ven. Pahamune Dharmakeerthi Sri Sumangala, the then Maha Nayake of Malwatte Chapter and Ven. Aluthgama Sri Piyadassi Nayake Thera. He received his education at Sri Sangaraja Pirivena, Kandy and received higher ordination at the Uposathagaraya of Malwatte Maha Viharaya.

In 1936 he founded Sri Mahinda Daham Pasala at Ampitiya and was the head teacher until 1950. He started the Katina Cheevara Pooja of Malwatte Maha Viharaya in 1944 and held the 65th Cheevara Pooja recently. State and foreign patronage have been received for most of the katina pinkamas. In 1950 he started teaching at Dharmaraja College, Kandy and served until 1958 without any remuneration. In 1958 he got a government teaching appointment and served as a teacher at Gurudeniya Vidyalaya and from 1966 to 1972 again at Dharmaraja College.

He inaugurated Sri Sangaraja Gunanusmarana Sangamaya, Kandy, in 1947 and held the Sri Sangaraja perahera uninterruptedly for 62 years. He founded the Sri Sangaraja Kantha Sangamaya and Sri Sangaraja Daham Pasala in 1951.

As the Buddhist Chaplain at Bogambara prisons from 1950 onwards he has pioneered in the construction of a Viharaya, Chaithya and Bodhi-prakara at the premises at Pallekele open-air prison. A Dhamma school has been inaugurated in the name of Sir Richard Aluvihare, the first Sri Lankan IGP, for the benefit of children at police quarters in Kandy.

In 1951 he started the Poya Day Sil programme at Malwatte Maha Viharaya which exists to-date. Under his patronage, Sri Vaishakadana Sangraha Samithiya was inaugurated which pioneered in the onstruction of Keppetipola pilgrims rest.

When the then Government decided to donate a governmental land adjoining the Sri Dalada Maligawa to the church, he opposed that move and was successful in obtaining that land to Sri Dalada Maligawa. Pilgrims’ Rest of Sri Dalada Maligawa stands on this land. He has started a scholarship scheme for the benefit of students attending his alma-mater, Muruddeniya Maha Vidyalaya.

I was fortunate to hear about a miracle which occurred after the Nayake Thera performed a Satya Kriya at Isipatana Migadaya, the place where the Buddha delivered his first sermon.

He was the president of Sasanarakshaka Mandalaya of Kadawath Sathara and Gangawata Korale for the past 32 years and presently serves as the president of Kandy District Sasanrakshaka Mandalaya and a patron of Samastha Lanka Sasanarakshaka Mandalaya.

Following the instructions of the Nayake Thera, the Kandy Municipal Council changed the street names of Victoria Drive to Sri Sangaraja Mawatha, Glen Dale Road to Saranankara Mawatha and the road leading to his avasa as Welivita Mawatha.

He initiated the issue of postage stamps by the Postal Department on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of passing away of the Sangaraja Thera and 225th anniversary of establishing the Upasampada at Malwatte Maha Viharaya.

In 1973 he was appointed for Thewava at Sri Dalada Maligawa and in 1989 appointed to the Karaka Sangha Sabha of Malwatte Chapter.

In 1990, he was appointed ‘Mahopadyaya’ of the Malwatte Chapter by the late Ven. Sirimalwatte Ananda Maha Nayake Thera.

He has travelled to UK, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and India for Buddhist missionary work.

History was created on the 6th January 2001 when he was conducted in a perahera consisting of Kandyan dancers and elephants when he was conducted from Malwatte Maha Viharaya to Palipana Chandananda Buddhist Research Institute, Asgiriya Maha Viharaya at a felicitation ceremony held on his behalf organised by the Ven. Medagama Dhammananda and the Ven. Kumbukkandanwala Punnaratana Theras of Asgiriya Maha Viharaya with the assistance of all Buddhist societies of Kandy and its suburbs and chaired by the Ven. Galagama Sri Attadassi Saranankara Anu-Nayake Thera of Asgiriya Chapter.

History was created once again on 29th January 2006 when Maha Nayake Theras of all three Nikayas, Siyam, Amarapura and Ramanna sat together for a Sanghika Dana, held at the ‘Thumpane Pansala’ of Malwatte Maha Viharaya on the occasion of attaining 91. A deputation of Maha Sangha from Thailand also attended this Sanghika Dhana.

On January 28 a felicitation ceremony was held at the main hall of Dharmaraja College, Kandy, presided over by the Mahanayake Thera of Asgiriya Chapter. Two Anunayake Theras of Malwatte Chapter, Secretary of the Kotte Chapter, Ven. Professor Bellanwila Wimalaratana Nayake and the Prime Miniter Ratnasiri Wickramanayake were present. A sannasa was presented to the Ven.

Aluthgama Dhammananda Nayaka Thera for the services rendered by him to the Sasana and the world by Kandy Mayor Kesara Senanayake which was signed by all members of Kandy Municipal Council.

May our Venerable Nayake Thera live many more years surpassing the hundredth year serving the Sasana and the world.


ABHIDHAMMA IN A NUTSHELL - XII:

Common features of all Minds

One who wishes to learn Abhidhamma in depth and expecting to apply it to understand and answer intricate questions of world and living beings must first by-heart 89 or 121 types of Chiththas with their proper meanings, functionality and applicability. Similarly, 52 types of Chethasikas are also to be by-hearted with an understanding of their meaning and applicability in various Chiththas at different situations. From this episode onward, the 52 types of Mental States would be described quite in detail.

Annasamana Chethasikas

Universals - Sabba Chiththa Sadharana Chethasika (seven)

It was mentioned in the previous episode that there are 13 Chethasikas which arise both with Kusala and Akusala Chiththas and they are known as Annasamana Chethasikas. The first category of Annasamanas is seven types of “Universal Mental States” or Sabba Chiththa Sadharana Chethasika named as such as though they are found in every Chiththa in common. Seven of them are;

1. Phassa - Contact

2. Vedhana - Feeling

3. Sanna - Perception

4. Chethana - Volition

5. Ekaggatha - One-pointedness

6. Jivithindriya - Psychic life

7. Manasikara – Attention

(1) Phassa - Contact

When describing Chiththas it was mentioned that consciousness arises when one of our six sense organs meet with an object. The mental state or the Chethasika which arises when an object presents itself to the consciousness through one of the six senses is “Contact” or Phassa.

(2) Vedhana - Feeling

Recall that every Chiththa was associated or connected with mental or physical feelings of Somansassa (Pleasure), Dhomanassa (Displeasure), Upekkha (Indifference) and Dukkha (Pain), Sukha (Happiness). The feeling described there was the second universal mental state and that is called as ‘Feeling’ or Vedhana.

(3) Sanna - Perception

Sanna or “Perception” in this context is the mental state which recognises a particular object and its characteristics differentiated from another. When consciousness acquires an object Sanna is the mental state which identifies the nature of that object based on previous perceptions and the one which would record features for future perceptions.

(4) Chethana - Volition

Chethana or Volition plays a predominant part for every action one performs. Chethana fulfils its own function in raising the consciousness and coordinates other mental states as well. Chethana is the effort to perform any action.

Kamma happens based on the Chethana preceded by the time one is performing any action. Therefore Chethana is a compulsory mental state arises with any Chiththa.

(5) Ekaggatha - One-pointedness

In order for a consciousness to arise at least for a fraction of a moment mind should be focused on one object. That mental state is known as “One-pointedness” or Ekaggatha. When an aspirant is achieving Jhana states this is one of the mental states improved to obtain extensive concentration on one particular object.

(6) Jeevithindriya - Psychic life

Not only mind but also the matter depends on Jeevithindriya and Jeevithindriya depends on mind and matter. This mental state provides life for Chiththa and Chethasika just like food provides life for our body. It will help Chiththa - Chethasika generations to exist until attaining Nibbana.

(7) Manasikara - Attention

Turing the mind towards the object is the chief characteristic of “Attention” or Manasikara. Therefore there is no mind without Manasikara. It directs the mind towards the object over and over again as and when mind leaves the object.

It should be now clear that the above mental states are compulsory to be associated with any consciousness. The next six Annasamanasas are particulars, which contained in Chiththas, depending on the situation. Next episode will describe Prakirnaka Chethasikas or Particulars in detail.

Reference: Abhidharma Margaya by Ven. Prof. Renukane Chandhawimala Thera,

A Manual of Abhidhamma by Narada Maha Thera

 

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