Tathagatha’s visit to Nagadeepa
solving the conflict on Gem Seat
Northern Sri Lanka is said to have been blessed by Thathagatha the
perfect one with the outcome of his intellectual struggle - the absolute
truth of life during the month of Bak. Sakyamuni Gautama at the height
of his struggle for eternal truth developed the super normal powers of
divine vision - fascinating insight of an all knowing sage, on ability
acquired on enlightenment.
Dhamma chronicles reveal that he diverts his divine eye, a countless
number of times on the lives of countless beings and their journey in
the sea of Sansara, to come to their aid and relieve them of their
This is said to be his daily routine. In the fifth year of his
supreme enlightenment, while he was at Jetavanarama, Sri Lanka had
caught his divine eye. He could see a great disaster in Northern Sri
Lanka. The Buddha with his wealth of Metta arrived in Nagadeepa to
settle a dispute, an event of great historical importance.
His divine vision attracted his attention to avert the human
destruction resulting from a war between Mahodara and Chulodara, uncle
and nephew who were at loggerheads over the ownership of a gem studded
throne. Mahodara a powerful King in Nagadeepa whose younger sister named
Thirachchika married a Naga King had been offered the above throne which
was later inherited by her son Chulodara.
The raging King was about to wage war when Thathagatha appeared
immediately which happened to be the month of Bak. Here the inhabitants
who belonged to various tribes such as Yakka and Naga, Naga being more
advanced in trade and industry supporting the Naga Kings with their
rough behaviour and poor intellect though opposed the Buddha at the
beginning, they did have the good fortune to be blessed with the message
of the Dhamma.
Rajayathana Kiripalu Rukha
A deity named Samiddhi Sumana who had made the above banyan tree his
abode, in Jetavana accompanied Thathagatha holding the uprooted tree as
an umbrella to him, who knew that it was a merit bestowing act to the
named Samiddhi Sumana who had made the above banyan tree his
abode, in Jetavana accompanied Thathagatha holding the
uprooted tree as an umbrella to him, who knew that it was a
merit bestowing act to the deity.
On arrival seeing the Naga Kings involved in fighting, Sakyamuni with
his psychic powers appeared above, in the sky performing miracles which
made the Nagas astonished and happy. Finally having listened to the
sermons displaying the masterly knowledge of unity and harmony, meththa
and compassion they worshipped Thathagatha with overwhelming shraddah
and within minutes the throne was offered to him in unison and became
pious devotees thereafter.
The Naga King Maniakkitha, the ruler of Kelaniya who had become a
follower of the Buddha during his first visit to Mahiyangana, while on
his way to help Chulodara Mahodara in the battle ground, moved by the
compassion of the Buddha thanked him profusely for settling the dispute.
He further pleaded for a souvenir to worship and consequently the
Buddha offered him the Kiripalu tree and the throne. History says that
where Kiripaluruka was planted a Chetiya was built enshrining the
Minipalanga by Chulodara and Mahodara.
The temple premises with its glittering dagaba bear testimony to
Thathgatha blessings. This above mentioned Chaitya, Nagadeepa Seya is
supposed to be one of the 16 most sacred places to be worshipped in Sri
Lanka. This is a milestone in Sasanic history and is of considerable
historic value and immense cultural significance.
History records that it was developed and reconstructed by pious
Kings like Devanampiyatissa, Dutugemunu and converted into a fully
accomplished sacred place. According to the golden Sannasa Wallipuram
committed to writing during the reign of King Vasabha, it is the present
Jaffna peninsula that was identified as Nagadeepa.
Invitation to Thathagatha
When King Maniakkitha met Thathagatha on his second visit to Lanka at
Nagadeepa he was very anxious that the great master, visit his kingdom
too. With universal love towards all beings he arrived at Kelaniya later
in the eighth year of his enlightenment. This honoured invitation had
been made on a Bak full moon day, paving way for the third visit of the
Buddha to this Dharmadweepa.
There is other evidence which highlight the importance of Buddha’s
visit to Nagadeepa during the month of Bak. Surrounding areas bear
testimony to this.
To show profound religious devotion and respect to Thathagatha,
devotional activities include, the offering of flowers, incense and oil
lamps coming down from Buddha times to this day. These offerings are
made as a mark of gratitude in return for Buddha’s blessings.
It is believed that villages in and around Nagadeepa known as
‘Mallakam’ and ‘Chunnakam’ indicate places where flowers and incense
were supplied for the worship of the Buddha. Further, the Buddhist
chronicles make mention of ‘Puwangu Divayina, Ka-ara Divayina, Manda
Divayina’ as popular Buddhist villages in the area, entirely devoted to
One can well and truly say that Nagadeepa the most favoured spot
visited and blessed by Buddha occupies a unique place in the history of
the island as a blissful place showered with peace and harmony among the
inhabitants. May the relics enshrined in the Chetiya usher the area with
unity for the peaceful co-existence of all beings.
Abhidhamma in a Nutshell - XXIV:
What is Matter?
Who created the world and living beings?
This is a widely debated and discussed topic in the world. There are
many researches and studies done by scientists on this topic.
There are many theories presented. Number of investigations have
found various types of evidence with regard to those theories. As usual
old theories are broken and disproved by new theories.
Apart from scientific approaches to find an answer to the above
question, every religion has some scriptures to deal with this.
Most of the religions attribute this existence and the beginning to
some supernatural power. For example Muslims believe that the Universe
has been created by All Mighty Allah.
Christians believe that God created the world. Those religious
leaders and followers have their own logical explanations to prove their
Buddhism deviates from many other religions in world with regard to
this subject. It rather examines existence and future than the past. The
third Reality in Abhidhamma is one of the best areas of the Doctrine to
understand the existence of world and living beings.
The Reality of Matter - Rupa Paramaththa
The major part of Abhidhamma is all about ‘Mind and Matter’. Mind and
Matter in other words Nama and Rupa is one of the two composite factors
of this so called ‘Being’. Mind has already been described in the first
two Realities. The Reality of Matter or Rupa Paramaththa is all about
Rupa is what always changes. It transforms from one mode to another
mode owing to the adverse physical conditions such as cold and heat.
While changing, Rupa is also subject to change. One Rupa would
generally endure for 17 thought moments. ‘Form’, ‘Body’, ‘Corporeality’
are some of the English terms for Rupa but the closest equivalent is
considered as ‘Matter’.
There are 28 Rupas described in Rupa Paramaththa. This is categorised
into two. The first four items are the most essentials for existence of
every matter we see. Those are known as Mahabhutha Rupa or ‘The Four
Every material object consists in the world contains these four
elements in different compositions. Namely those are Patavidhathu,
Apodhathu, Thejodhathu and Vayodhathu.
Rest of the 24 matters are derivatives of the above Four Great
Elements. They are called Upadhaya Rupa. These Rupas also consist the
four great elements but are the more prominent Rupas derived which would
These 28 Rupas will be described in details in the next few chapters.
After knowing what they are, it would be possible to have an idea about
existence of the world and living beings.
‘A Manual of Abhidhamma’ by Ven. Narada Maha Thera
Tracing Gotama Buddha’s predecessors
The lineage of the Buddhas
The Buddha has an intricate connotation. On a surface layer it means
‘one who is awaken from the worldly defilements’. Of the three supreme
states in Buddhism, Arhath, Pacceka Buddha and Buddha, it is the Buddha
who is most sublime with unsurpassed spiritual power. This phenomenon
led most of his contemporaries including Nigantha Nataputta claim to
have attained the Buddhahood. Ironically none of them elucidate the path
they followed to achieve the enlightenment.
Ven. Meevanapalane Rathanasara Thera
Traditionally a Buddha should be prophesied by a predecessor. Gothama
Buddha is said to have been prophesied by 24 predecessors (see table).
Only one Buddha can exist at a time, though there can be many Arhaths
and Pacceka Buddhas. All the Buddhas who prophesied the Gothama Buddha
existed during different periods. The concept of 24 Buddhas suggest that
their history is much more ancient than we can ever fathom. This is an
interesting fact to pursue.
Ven. Meevanapalane Rathanasara Thera has made this easy by authoring
a work on all the 24 Buddhas. Many devotees worship the previous Buddhas,
while some are interested on their history. Only a few think of tracing
the Buddha in academic terms, and Ven. Rathanasara belongs to that camp.
The task did not turn out that easy for the Ven. Thera as he had to do
an intensive research referring to works from Thripitaka, Sadhdharma
Ratnavaliya and Poojavaliya.
Every aspect and feature of a Buddha is unique. Every Buddha has
similar features and aspects. They are all born in a royal family, gets
married and leads an ascetic life before the enlightenment. I have
adapted a chunk from the Sinhala work to give the readers an idea:
“That aeon was called ‘Sara Manda’. ‘Sara Manda’ aeon accommodates
four Buddhas: Thanhankara, Medhanka ra, Saranankara and Dipankara.
Dipankara Buddha’s account is as follows. He was born in a city full
of 10 kinds of noises such as elephant’s, horse’s, vehicles’ and flutes.
That city was ruled by King Sudeva with his Queen Sumedha. The son born
to this royal family was named Dipankara, who was married to Princess
Piyum upon the coming of age. Prince Dipankara’s son Usabhakkhandha was
born on the day he had made the Great renunciation. He led a hard
ascetic life for 10 months.
The citizens of that city gave alms to the sage Dipankara on a Vesak
full moon poya day. He attained enlightenment under the tree called ‘Pulilasiri’.
His chief disciples were Arhaths Sumangala and Tissa. Sagatha was his
chief attendant. Nanda and Sunanda were his chief nun Arhaths. He
attained parinibbana completing a lifespan of hundred thousand years.
Gothama Buddha was ascetic Sumedha at this time in the city of
Amaravathi. When he asked for a place to watch the Buddha’s arrival to
the City, he was given a muddy area. Although he had the spiritual power
to cleanse the muddy area, he did it with available tools.
Dipankara Buddha was to visit before the muddy area was cleansed, so
Ascetic Sumedha laid down himself making a bridge for the Buddha and his
disciples to cross over. Thus Dipankara Buddha made the first prophesy
that the ascetic Sumedha would become a future Buddha. Dipankara
Buddha’s establishment was over. That time is gone. Everything springs
up, exists and fades away.”
Religious books have been Ven. Rathanasara Thera’s favourite since
childhood, mainly influenced from his teacher, the late Ven.
Meevanapalane Sri Sumanatissa Sanghanayaka Thera. Ven. Rathanasara has
authored two more books: Nivanpura Ruvan Dora on Nibbana and Vinaya
Suvanda on Buddhist discipline. He concludes every chapter bringing out
the fact that there is no power that surpasses the Buddha’s power.
The cover design by Somachandra Peries is very creative. The picture
in the middle denotes the many Bo trees under which the Buddhas had
He starts the book with a meaningful stanza from the Dhammapada: The
sun shines in the day. Moon in the nighttime. The king in his royal
jewellery. The ascetic in his meditative strength. The Buddha outshines
them all in both day and night.
This book that runs for 56 pages is a very handy book.
Buddhist panacea for economic ills
“Contentment is the greatest wealth” - The
Once a discerning person had observed thus, “I was complaining about
my worn out shoes, until I saw a man who had no feet.” I think this
statement shows in ample measure, the possibility of satisfying our self
with one’s present possessions, by dwelling on the prospect of that one
impression. One could be deprived of even the basic organs of sense.
Many are those who sigh without end, for the lack of sight.
Recently, it was revealed in a Newspaper, how a blind benefactress,
had bewailed to the great musician and composer Beethoven, how she would
give all her wealth for the sight of moonlight. This in turn had
inspired him, to compose the magnificent moonlight sonata.
Thus, in those times, which could also be described as Dickensian
parlance as the “Best of Times and the Worst of Times,” a Buddhist could
focus his mind on the realities of existence, i.e. Anicca
(impermanence), Dukkha (unsatisfactoriness or conflict) and Anatta
(Soullessness and insubstantiality), so clearly and unambiguously
explained by the Buddha in (e.g.
Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta, Saccavibanga Sutta, Maha Dukkhanda Sutta,
Anattalakkana Sutta and the like) and content oneself, that the very
fact of human birth is a blessing and cause for contentment.
The Buddha went on to state that, a human birth is rare and many are
those who end up in a state of woe, so, if one is blessed in addition to
a good mind, that is the best of possessions.
Since all actions are directed by the mind, and the potential of the
human mind is limitless and not easy of comprehension. Presently, if we
look around to see what is happening, we see supposedly prosperous
empires falling apart, multi-national companies and business tycoons,
beset with financial woes and seeking Government bail outs and the like.
And some resorts to employee retrenchment etc. Now, what is the
Buddhist explanation for the vicissitudes of fortune? It is nothing but,
the illustration of the realities of existence, Anicca (impermanence),
Dukkha (Unsatisfactoriness) and Anatta (Soullessness and
Insubstantiality). The onset of the material prosperity as well as
adversity cannot abide permanently and is subject to the law of arising
and ceasing in a cyclic form.
Thus, the recognition of reality and subsequent acceptance of it, as
it cannot be otherwise. Should able a discerning person to develop
equanimous state of mind, towards the fluctuations of fortune and keep
his balance, amid the ups and downs of worldly existence, by consoling
oneself that one is possessed at least of the five aggregates of
existence and the basic necessities of life.
These five aggregates are the necessary possessions to be
relinquished in the quest for Nibbana, the summum bonum of Buddhism,
which is the pacification of Greed, Hatred and Ignorance (Lobha, Dosa
Furthermore, to be born in a country like Sri Lanka where the
Theravada teaching has survived, should itself be a matter of
satisfaction to a true Buddhist, as the opportunity to come into contact
with the Dhamma does not come by chance, but due to previous merit.
In addition, we in this thrice blessed land, have also to be grateful
to our Government for providing free healthcare and education (however
imperfect they maybe), though in reality not possessed of the finances
to do so.
Thus, the Buddhists, who compose the majority of the population,
cultivate according to their ability the practice of Dana (Generosity),
Sila (Virtue) and Bhavana (Mental Development) this country will be a
truly developed land.
The Buddhist Column:
Nigantha Nathaputta: A postscript
My story on Nigantha Nathaputta last week seem to have whisked a
wasp’s nest, showering me with both bouquets and brickbats. Frankly,
however, most were the brickbats.
Some called me Nigantha Mahendra for being a shameless man. I am
happy I am quite used to this type of rudeness. Religious matters, it is
said, are sensitive sometimes. I have no hard feelings for those who
criticized me badly, because I know my story has hurt their feelings.
For that matter, I say sorry to them though I do not apologize because
they have misunderstood what I have written.
The average Buddhist scripts portray Nigantha Nathaputta as an arch
rival of the Buddha. Naturally a common Buddhist devotee would get hurt
to see something written on somebody they dislike. And such an essay
itself may seem an insult to the Buddha.
My intention was different. I have not and do not want to insult the
Buddha. What I needed was to share my studies on Nigantha Nathaputta. My
meagre knowledge on Buddhism tells me that we have to study non-Buddhist
scriptures as well to get a clear idea how Buddhism deviates from them.
The studies of other faiths make your admiration of Buddhism firm. This
is my line of thinking.
Buddhism is for the wise and progressive. Spiritual personalities
such as Nigantha Nathaputta and Devadatta, therefore, should not be
negatively observed. Nigantha Nathaputta, despite his despise for
Buddhism, pioneered women’s entrance into monk establishment. Devadatta
was in a meditatively elevated status and the Buddha prophesied that he
would be a Pacceka Buddha. A negative personality, if there is one,
should be studied.
My facts on Nigantha Nathaputta are an attempt to call a spade a
spade, but they do not glorify him over the Buddha, who cannot be
compared with anybody other than another Buddha. For those who charge me
for insulting the Buddha, I pass an invitation to read the story once
again and have a thorough look at my facts.