Vesak Thoughts: Taking refuge in the Three Jewels
The three great events in the Life of Buddha Birth, Enlightenment,
and Parinirvana, after the noble ministry that lasted 45 years, occurred
on the Vesak Pura Pasalosvaka Poya Day. Therefore, it is the most
significant day for the Buddhists. The flowers bloomed. The entire
environment is pleasing to the eye and a soothing balm to body and mind.
This year’s Vesak Full Moon Poya Day falls on Saturday 5, May 2012.
It is the most important sacred holy day, for more than six billion
Buddhists all over the world. It should be noted that never in the
history of Buddhism that any iniquitous, unjust methods had been used to
spread the message of the Buddha or the Buddhist Philosophy.
Let's begin with the birth of Prince Siddhartha Gautama situated at
the foot pills of the Himalayas in modern Nepal. He was born in Lumbini.
The great Emperor Ashoka, during a visit to Lumbini in the 20th year of
his coronation - 249 BCE, erected a pillar. Here, a sentence was
inscribed - Hida Bude Jate Sakyamuni - which means this is the place
where Buddha was born.
Turning the pages of Abbhutadhamma Sutta of Majjihima Nikaya and
Digha Nikaya it reveals that many miraculous things had happened on 623
BC, in the 7th century B.C., at the Birth of Prince Siddhartha.
The chief attendant or Dharmabandagarika, Venerable Ananda mentions
“I heard and learned this from the Blessed Ones own lips - other
women give Birth seated or lying down, but not so the Bodhisatva
Siddhartha's mother. His mother, queen Mahamaya gave birth to him in
standing posture. When he was born, God's received him first and then
the human beings.”
According to the history of Buddhism, Queen Mahamaya was on her way
to her parents. Prince Siddhartha was born on beautiful garden full of
green and shady sal trees.
Kapilavastu is the capital of the Sakyan clan and the seat of King
Suddhodana's capital. According to Buddhist Literature, this is the
place where Prince Siddhartha grew up. Kapilavastu, now known as
Piprahiwa - lies at a distance of 110 km from Gorakhpur.
It is believed that Siddhartha was born on the same day as the
Peepal-Asaha Mahabodhi tree under Siddhartha attained Enlightenment. In
fact, Channat, Kaludayi, Kumari Gopa (Name given to Yasodhara in Indian
literature), Asajiya Gajaraja (the elephant) Kanthaka (the horse) were
also born on Vesak Full Moon Poya Day the day Prince Siddhartha was
It was on a Vesak Full Moon Poya Day, in the year 588 BCE, Prince
Siddhartha, as an aestic attained Supreme Buddhahood, under the Bodhi
Tree at Gaya.
The ascetic Siddhartha came to a village named Senani on the shores
of River Neranjara, near Uruvel.
The environment was very pleasant. The river glitters as if it were
molten gold under the sun. According to Ariyapariyesana Sutta, (Sutta
No. 26) Buddha explained this wonderful spot thus:- “This is an
agreeable piece of ground, delightful grove.
This will serve for striving”. On the Full Moon Day of Vesak (May),
in this place. Under the shade of the Asatu Bo Tree, The Awakened one,
compassionate one, 7th light of the world, the Supreme Buddha, attained
Imperturbability Nibbana and became Samma Sambuddha.
It was by understanding the thirty seven factors of enlightenment
(37) based on four noble truths and the three characteristics of
existence of all animate and inanimate things in the world.
Prince Siddhartha Asetic, sat under the Maya Bodhi Tree with this
“Let my skin veins and bones remain;
Let the flesh and the blood of this body dry up;
Never will I abandon this seat without reaching the State of
Thus, Bodhisatta Siddhartha, eventually, attained Enlightenment.
He defeated Mara. He had insight into his previous births, his inner
eyes were opened, he knew about the dependent origination and be became
Omniscient - knowing every thing. He uttered the following joyous
words:-“Anekajatisansaran, Sandahavissan Annivvisang, Gahakarakang
Gavesanto, Dukkha Jati Punappunang....”
“I travelled through many births in the world, tried to find the
Builder of this House. It is sorrowful to be born again and again. Oh!
Builder of the House! I have seen you. You will not build a House again.
All your rafters are broken. The roof-top is shattered.
My mind has transcended mental states. The desires have been
Like the Buddha, the Bodhi Tree at Gaya is serene cool and majestic.
This is considered as the oldest and the most venerated tree in the
world. This tree is said to be a off-shoot of the original tree, a
branch which was taken to Sri Lanka by Arahant Sanghamitta, sister of
Arahant Maha Mahinda and daughter of Emperor Ashoka who ruled India from
It will be of great importance, to discuss on this vesak day
philosophical and scientific aspect of seven factors of Enlightenment -
Satta Bojjhanga - Bodhi Anga, denotes Enlightenment.
To be exact insight concerned with the realization of the Four Noble
Truths - suffering, origin of suffering, cessation of suffering and the
path leading to the cessation of suffering. Anga - means factors or
Therefore, Bojjhanga means factors of Enlightenment or the factors
for insight, wisdoms the blessed one once expounded to the monks the
seven factors of Enlightenment - Mindfulness (Sati), A very keen
investigation of Dhamma (Dhammavicaya), Energy (Viriya), Rapture of
Happiness (Piti), Calm (Passaddhi), Concentration (Samadhi), Equanimity
(Upekkha) and the Middle path.
On Vesak day we must dedicate ourselves to live a life by principle,
shower the blessings of loving kindness, universal compassion to all
beings. Buddhism, taught us a life not by rule, but by principle, a life
On the Vesak Full Moon Poya Day, many devotees pay their respect,
venerate and honour Jayashri Maha Bodhi, Anuradhapura, one of the
greatest assets of the nation.
Parinirvana of Buddha
It was on a Vesak Full Moon Poya Day, at Kusinara, about 52 km from
Gorakpura, Buddha passed away on 543 B.C. millions of Buddhists visit
the shrine where Buddha passed away and they feel real sober and sad.
According to Maha Pari Nibbana Sutta, Buddha said “Ananda, let us
cross the Hirannavati River, and go to the Mallas’ Sala Grove in the
vicinity of Kusinara.”
Buddha realized that his end was fast approaching.
“Ananda, prepare me a bed, between these two twin sala trees, with my
head to the North. I am tired and want to lie down.” Ven Ananda prepared
the bed for the Buddha to rest. Ananda who was not an Arahant at this
Buddha said, “Don't weep Ananda” and consoled him.
Buddha was in real pain. He requested Ananda to bring some water to
drink. When, Ananda rushed to Hirannavati River, it was muddy, as
elephants were crossing. At the first attempt, he could not provide
water to Gautama Buddha as the water was not clean.
This was due to a past karma of Bodhisattva. Ven Ananda went back to
the river. Later, and collected some clear water and gave the Buddha to
drink. Even at the dying moment, Buddha, lying down on his right side in
Lion Posture, placing one foot on the other, stated “Ananda dont grieve.
The nature of things dictates that we must one day must leave those dear
ones. I too, Ananda, am grown old. I am turning 80 years of age. I am
like a worn out cart.” Then the Buddha addressed the monks finally.
Handa’ Dani Bhikkave Amantayami, Vo Vaya Dhamma Sankhara -
“Appamadena Sampadetha” -
Now, O Monks! I declare to you, all conditioned things are of a
nature go decay, strive on with diligence.
Regarding the disposal of His dead body, Buddha advised Ven Ananda,
that body should be cremated as in the case of a Chakkavarthi Raja -
Universal Monarch. These were the last words of the Gautama Buddha. With
these words, Buddha entered the Jhanas - (ascending and descending order
and again from first to the fourth) and eventually passed away on this
very spot on the Full Moon Day of Vesak in 543 BCE. Today, we can see
the Mahaparinibbana Stupa, at the spot, where the blessed one passed
Message of truth
When you study the life story of Buddha, it is amazing, how a Prince,
who lived with so much of luxury had the will power to renunciate the
worldly pleasures. Only a super-human or Mahapurisha can take a bold
decision of this nature. It should be remembered on a day like Vesak,
the Immortal message of Buddha helped the humanity immensely to fashion
our thoughts and actions and follow a highly philosophical and
scientific religion. The Buddha was a philosophic genius. Buddhism is
realistic. It takes a realistic view of life and of the world.
Buddhism is a religion of wisdom. Buddha in His mission peached and
encouraged harmonious, peaceful living. According to Anguttara Nikaya,
Buddha explained to a Koliyan Digajanu, the way one's welfare and
happiness can be achieved.
They are (1) Persistence in one's work, (2) Protection of one's
property, wealth gained righteously, (3) Good public relation and
friendship, (4) Wisely balanced living, (5) Adherence to Five precepts,
(6) Generosity, (7) wisdom about impermance (8) Faith in Buddhas’
Enlightment. (An 8:54)
The Middle path - Eight Fold Path Right Understanding, Right thought,
right speech, Right action, Right livelihood, Right effort, Right
mindfulness, Right concentration can be categorized into three stages of
Training. They are morality, mental culture, and wisdom. What are
practical and scientific religion - philosophy? In Kalama Sutta, in
Anguttara Nikaya, Buddha stated not to believe anything, because you
have heard. You must carefully analyse and find out whether substance
agrees with reason. Buddha can be considered the first democrat in the
Fountain of compassion
Buddha was a fountain of compassion. He treated his own son Rahula
Thera, and vicious Devadatta kindly. He never believed in caste, colour
The Buddha called upon men and women to build the new world on the
basis of boundless love and kindness. He possessed a warm and responsive
human sympathy towards all beings. We venerate this exceptional
super-human being on this all important Vesak Full Moon Poya Day. He was
like a lotus. His entire life was connected with environment.
His birth, enlightenment and demise all took place out door in open
air. Buddha was a great environmentalist and a lover of nature. Even
monks, too lived an outdoor life in meditation mostly in peaceful
environments. As human beings, we must always safeguard the beautiful
environment. It's a natures gift with the dawn of Vesak, flowers bloom.
There is an air of pleasantness and joy everywhere. Buddhist consider
Vesak as the holiest of all holy days.
The temples are filled to the capacity. Lay devotees, observe sil,
and engage in many meritorious activities. There are Dhamma sermons.
Discussions and some devotees meditate. On this pleasant Vesak Poya Day,
I remind our readers, a very strong message transmitted by one of the
greatest catholic priests of our time, who contributed immensely in
promoting music as well as Sinhala literature late Father Rev.
Marcelline Jayakody. Yana Yana Hematenama Veherak Sediyan
Veherak Nethi Thenaka Veherak Hadeeyan
Dutu Hematenama Sil Suwadak Meviyan
In Yana Panividaya Nuwanata Deniyan
May there be Dagabas (Pagodas) and Viharas (Temples) everywhere;
where there are no Buddhist shrines, may there be Buddhist shrines; let
there be virtuous one's everywhere; let this message be transmitted and
react the Brain. In the meantime, on this Holy Vesak Day let us pledge.
To refrain from doing evil; Dedicate ourselves in doing good; to cleanse
our mind; this is the gift of Buddhas Teaching. Let us all strive hard
to reach the further shore as Clive Erickson puts it.
“I have travelled a long way;
Crossing ralleys; mountainous Rockey's
I see the beautiful horizon below
The path I should trek to Attain Bliss of Nibbana”
Sakkatva - Buddha - Dhamma - Sangha Ratanam
Osadam Uttamam Varam
Buddha - Dhamma - Sangha - Thejena Sottina
Nassattu Paddva Sabbe
Roga Vupa Samentu Te”
I revere, salute - Buddha - Dhamma - Sangha, the highest Jewels; It's
the best balm that cools down the heat; by the power of Buddha, Dhamma
and Sangha safely May all obstacles and fears cease!
(About the writer:-
B.A. (Cey), Dip in Ed, Dip in Mktg, Lecture - Management and Marketing
renowned Buddhist Writer, Author - Internationally reputed cricket
commentator, Recipient of the service award medal from International
Cricket Council - I.C.C. For the services rendered in the promotion of
cricket in Sri Lanka)
Eternal message of truth
Vesak full moon day marks the birth of the Gauthama Buddha in the
year 624 B.C. At Lumbini sal grove in Kapilawasthupura, on the present
day borders of India and Nepal, to Queen Mahamaya and King Suddhodana.
Extreme compassion: Novice monks feeding the cattle saved from
Having renounced the world in search of the Truth, on the full moon
day of May, in his thirty fifth year, Siddhartha Gauthama sat under a
Bodhi tree in Buddhagaya in deep meditation and achieved enlightenment.
Thereafter he was known as the Thathagatha (the Enlightened one). On his
way to achieve enlightenment, the Buddha followed the Majjima Prathipada
(mid path) which he taught his followers.
The Buddha denounced all forms of violence. Wherever violence emerges
in society, such place becomes distorted and disordered.
All beings, whether human or animal are frightened of violence and
are scared of death. As the embodiment of Meththa (kindness) the Buddha
preached that kindness should be extended to all beings in the world,
and that one has to suffuse with metta to beings in all worldly
The Karaneeya Meththa Sutta of the Sutta Nipata as preached by the
Buddha states that loving kindness should be extended as follows:
“Whatever living being there may be strong of feeble,
long or short, small or large, seen or unseen,
dwelling far or near, those born or yet to be
born – May all beings be well and happy.”
The Buddha preached that Meththa consciousness should be maintained
all the while people stand, walk, sit or recline. Further, one should
develop his mindfulness of Meththa as long as he is awake. The Buddha
proclaimed this as the Brahma Vihara (noble living).
The first of the precepts lays down the abstention from killing (Panathi
Patha Veramani). For the completion of the abstention, not only has one
to refrain from the action but also refrain from giving consent to kill
a particular being. In the Dhammkika Sutta of the Suthra Nipata it is
“Do not destroy life, do not kill
Do not give others permission to kill
Free all beings from punishment
Those firm and who tremble” (V.394)
It is stated in the Dhammapada that the Buddha said,
“All tremble at violence, all fear death. Putting oneself in the
place of another, one should not kill nor cause another to kill. Life is
dear to all.” (V.129,130)
Non-violence is a subdivided factor of the Eight-fold path. It comes
under Samma Samkappa (Right thought). When one practises right thought
he is free from violence. That is Avihinsa Samkappo (non-violence),
where he does not think of doing any harm to any beings (Avyapada
When one follows the teachings of the Buddha, especially the eight
fold path, one does not engage in any type of violence, but practises
Meththa (Loving kindness). Both violence and non-violence are mind made
factors which emerge and also ceases in the mind.
A thought of violence arises due to hatred, over-powered greed or
delusion. A thought of non-violence arises when one has non-hatred, no
greed or no delusion.
In the Khandha Sutta of Anguttara Nikaya, the Buddha preached that
one must possess good thoughts to all beings as follows:
“Sabbe saththa sabbe pana sabbe butha ca kevala
Sabbe bhadrani passanthu ma cansi papamagama”
(May all beings, all those possessing life, all sentiment beings see
only good. May no evil come to them).
In Buddhism there is no stray reference that is likely to cause or
create any pain, harm or loss to anyone, even remotely.
In this regard the Kakacupama Sutta of the Majjima Nikaya gives a
classic teaching. Here the Buddha announced,” Bhikkus, if ferocious
bandits cut a person into pieces with a two handed saw and if that
person was to have an anger towards those bandits, then he has not
followed my teaching. This invaluable teaching shows that a Buddhist has
no room to hurt, torture or to be unkind to anyone for any reason
whatsoever. Therefore he the Buddha, is the true exponent of
non-violence ever lived on earth.
The Dhamma which the Buddha taught is not merely to be preserved in
books or a subject from a literacy or a historical stand point.
It is to be studied, learnt and practised in the course of daily life
and overall, to be realized by man's own initiative.
The Dhamma is compared to a raft meant for the sole purpose of
escaping from sansara (the cycle of birth and death) and deals with
truth and facts that can be testified and verified by personal
experience and is not concerned with theories and speculation.
The Dhamma is the original Pali term for Buddhism and is the
Doctoring of Reality. It is a means of deliverance from suffering and
deliverance itself. The Dhamma exists from all eternity and it is a
Buddha who realizes the Dhamma which lies hidden from the ignorant eyes
of men till an Enlightened one compassionately reveals it to the world.
The Buddha did not expound revolutionary philosophical theories nor did
he attempt to create a new material science.
In plain terms He explained both what is within and without, so far
as it contains emancipation from ills of life, and revealed the unique
path to deliverance, and taught what was absolutely essential for one's
In the First Discourse of the Buddha, He taught the four Noble Truths
given as: 1. The Noble Truth of suffering.
2. The Noble Truth of the origin of suffering.
3. The Noble Truth of the cessation of suffering.
4. The way to the cessation of suffering.
The Buddha's Ministry lasted for forty five years. He attained
Parinirvana at the age of eighty on a full moon day in May in the Sala
Grove at Kusinara.
I worship thee Great Master...
I worship thee my Great Master;
You solved this mysterious entity called Life
The Healer you are of all ills, of all times
You discovered the supreme panacea
For the suffering humanity
I worship thee Samma Sambuddha Gautama
In those early hours on Vesak full moon day
Two thousand six hundred years ago,
In Gaya on the banks of River Neranjara
Under an aesathu tree
You were in deep meditation,
With diamond -solid determination
Not to get off the grass mat you were seated on
Until you achieved your goal
The night had worn away
When the gods and demons were wide awake
And humans in slumber.
The day dawned
With morning star shining in the sky
The cool fragrant air
Moving in hushed whisper.
Oblivious to the sleeping world,
You had waged a fiery battle
With ten demons and their retinue armies
Of Mara, the Evil One
Lusts were his first army
Aversion was the second
Hunger and Thirst was the third army
Craving came next
Sloth and Indolence, another
Cowardice was his sixth army
Doubt the seventh
Eighth was Hypocrisy and Stupidity
Falsely obtained Glory and Honour was the ninth
The tenth-Lauding oneself and condemning others
You vanquished them all.
In a flash you saw
The ultimate reality of things all
With perfect and unsurpassed wisdom
“ This life _
It is nothing but
A myriad of manifestations
Joined to and dependent upon
Through the links of
Cause and Effect
Not knowing this Truth-
-This Law of Life
We become prisoners of desire”
You became the Buddha
The Enlightened One
Solely through your own effort
A heroic life
Dedicated to helping all people
Free themselves from suffering
For full forty five years
You are The Greatest Revolutionary
In human history.
Happiness and success in life - a Buddhist perspective
As new political, social, economic, cultural and environmental
equilibriums are emerging in many parts of the world, human beings are
making efforts to face the new realities related to the quality of the
evolving human life process. Although in many parts of the world, per
capita income has been increasing during the past three decades, the
quality of life for many people has not appreciably improved.
The growing gap between the economic worlds of the rich and the poor
appears to be a great challenge to both democracy and technology.
The governments attempt to ensure equity of access to utilization of
and outcome of the economic system with special measures for those
affected by inequalities. Poverty is a growing feature marked by
financial inafordability particularly in the developing world.
Nonetheless, the human beings are busy managing their day-to-day
activities identifying their needs, making full use of the opportunities
and resources, being motivated to face the challenge of the phenomenon
The desire for the quality of life ever breeds. While the majority of
the population take the bull of poverty by the horns, only a selected
very few live in clover. According to Buddhism, poverty may be a result
of past karma or of a present karma or due to both. But karma can be
suppressed and overcome by taking wise and far-reaching actions in the
present life. Kamma makes the distinction between the different grades
of beings (Kamman satte vibhajati yadayidan hinnappanitata) and beings
are the owners of their deeds (kammassaka). Kamma is a mighty force. It
is the will to live that keeps life going.
The Buddhist doctrine of kamma is not fatalism. According to
Buddhism, there is no life after death or life before birth, independent
of kamma or volitional actions. Kamma is the corollary to rebirth;
rebirth on the other hand is, the corollary of kamma (Piyadassi, 1987).
According to the seed that's sown, so is the fruit ye reap there from (Samutta
Any person's general, ambition is to lead a happy and successful life
free from ill-health and economic difficulties. Positive health is
looked upon as the supreme gain (Arogya parama laba) and contentment as
highest wealth (santusti paramam danan). Further the stanza in the
Dhammapada continues as-a trusted friend is the greatest kinsman (visvasa
parama gnathi) and Nibbana is the Supreme Bliss (Nibbanan paraman sukan).
This gatha (stanza) was uttered by the Buddha in a context related to
king Pasenadi Kosala, as the king was suffering from the practice of
greed; eating a heavy load of food.
The king ordered his nephew prince Suddasana to memorise this stanza
and state it cautioning him when he enjoyed his royal food so that he
could gradually withhold taking excessive amounts of food. At the end
the king became happy and successful in life (The Dammapada).Once when
the Venerable Sariputta was dwelling in Magadha, in the village Nalaka,
a wondering ascetic named Sa:mandaka:ni approached and questioned about
happiness. Venerable Sariputta replied ‘To be born is suffering not to
be born is happiness”. The Buddha has expressed two kinds of happiness
in different contexts.
The happiness of the senses of home life and the happiness of
monkhood of which the latter is the higher quality. Taintless happiness
is of a superior quality than tainted happiness. Non-carnal happiness is
superior to carnal happiness. Noble happiness is higher than ignoble
happiness. Mental happiness is superior to bodily happiness.
Aspects of happiness
In Anguttura Nikaya, the Sukka Wagga has identified 26 aspects of
happiness which are expressed in pairs of 13 direct opposing conditions
(gihisuka vs pabbajja suka; kama suka vs nekkamma suka; upadi suka vs
nirupadi suka; s: sava suka vs ana: sava suka; sa: misa suka vs nir:
misa suka; ariya suka vs anariya suka; kayika suka vs chitisika suka;
sappi: tika suka vs nippi: tika suka; ya; na suka vs uppekka suka; sama;
di suka vs asam: disuka; sappi: tika: rammana suka vs nippi: tika:
rammana suka; sa: tarammana suka vs uppekkarammana suka; and ru: pa:
rammana suka vs aru: pa: rammana suka). In the Anni Sutta the happiness
pertaining to household life has been analysed under four areas.
These are atta suka (economic happiness), boga suka (material
happiness) anana suka (debtless happiness) and anavajja suka (harmless
happiness). Of these four, the first three are concerned with economic
aspects of life. One should earn sufficient wealth through economic
activities. One should have essential elements to lead a happy life. One
should avoid taking loans.
Even when the first three areas are satisfied one can't be happy
without the fourth. One should avoid sins and making errors pertaining
to the body, word and mind. One should lead a civilized and decent
social life. In many a discourse like Ujjaya Sutta, Vyaggahapajja Sutta
and Sigalovada Sutta there are instructions offered to laymen for
developing a successful and fruitful life. According to the Vygghapajja
Sutta one should be equipped with four qualities. Firstly one should
continue in one's tireless efforts towards economic development
overcoming all obstacles.
This quality is known as uttana sampada. But the Buddha observed that
the layman should not earn by trading with weapons, trading in living
beings, trading in meat, trading in intoxicants and trading in poison
for earning a wrong livelihood (Anguttara Nikaya). Then one should
protect and not unnecessarily waste what one has earned (a:rakka sampada).
The third is Kalyana Sampada where one should have good faithful and
The fourth is samaji;vikata which means that one should lead a simple
life like one who is holding a balance maintaining the two sides in
equivalence. In the Sigalovada Sutta the Buddha has advised Sigala the
intelligent young man to divide his income into four parts-one portion
for daily expences, two portions for investment for improving his
business and the last portion to be deposited for use in future
exigencies. This approach is essentially a planned strategy for leading
a happy and successful life.
The Buddha extolled the virtues of earning wealth to His greatest,
rich and kind chief lay devotee, Anathapindika. The Buddha declared that
with sufficient wealth one could enjoy a happy long life. One could
lovingly look after ones aging and sick parents. One could support a
family life. One could help ones friends, relatives, the poor and the
The Buddha also has identified ten obstacles that could come across
in ones endeavouring economic pursuit. Laziness, lack of refined
thinking, association with evil friends, poor contemplation of the
truth, excess sensual gratification, deceiving, lack of erudition, lack
of wisdom, ill religiousness and evil practices are these ten obstacles.
In the midst of plenty there is scarcity. Modern technology is designed
to enrich human life. Many are busy day and night craving for rich
comforts in life. Some become physically and mentally sick as well as
become tired up individuals. In the rush we tend to ignore or forget the
wholesome effects of living a simple untainted life process. Buddhism
offers a reliable and practical approach for a successful happy life
In the Buddhist scriptures there is a note on a poor youth called
Gatikara, a maker of clay pots by profession who was unmarried as he had
to look after his blind parents. Although he was poor he was a happy and
successful person who was extremely religious and a beloved follower of
the Kassapa Buddha. The Buddha used to go to Gatikara's hut and take
alms directly from the kitchen pot. The Buddha even accepted Gatikara's
alms during the rainy season (Vas period) declining the same offer made
by a powerful king Gatikara's simple, industrious and religious
lifestyle is quite exemplary. Poverty is no obstacle for being happy and
successful in life, if one is resourceful and makes intelligent use of
one's skills and potentials for growth and development. In a democratic
country like Sri Lanka the education and health services are entirely
free of direct cost to the clientele.
There are social welfare schemes in operation. Poverty alleviation
mechanisms are in continued operation with community participation and
non-governmental organisational involvement.
There are several outstanding examples of successful individuals who
have become prosperous in life although they have been poor to begin
with. Some have become social workers and some have become
philanthropists. Some have developed organizations that offer gainful
employment to thousands of employees apart from strengthening the
Some have occupied high positions in the government sector and the
university system. All of these successful persons have managed meager
resources efficiently, in particular the free gift and the great
equalizer TIME productively. Psychological studies show that the
happiest people are busy people (Janus and Jones, (1994)). The flowering
of one's genetic potential occurs best in a democratic socio-economic
Buddhist mission to Thambapannidipa
Two hundred and thirty six years after the Parinirvana of the Buddha,
there held the Third Buddhist Council at Asokarama in Pataliputtra
(modern Patna) under the patronage of Emperor Asoka of India. Thousand
Arahants participated in the Council. The presiding Thera was Arahant
Moggaliputta Tissa. At this time many alien sects had joined the Order
and polluted the Sasana by their corrupt lives and this reason led to
the holding of the3rd Buddhist Council in Patna.
A life devoted to Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. Pictures by
Saman Sri Wedage
After the Council it was decided to send Buddhist missions to various
countries of the world. Under distinguished Theras, Buddhist missions
were sent to:
1.Kasmir and Gandhar
9.Thambapannidipa (Sri Lanka)
There were seven members in the Buddhist mission sent to Sri Lanka
including Arahant Mahinda, they are Ittiya, Uttiya, Sambala and Baddha
Sala Theras, one Samanera and a lay Upasaka.
After the death of King Mahasena his son Devanampiyatissa became the
king of Sri Lanka. It was at that time Venerable Moggaliputta Tissa sent
Arahant Mahinda with six others to introduce Buddhism to Lanka.
There were many reasons that led to the immediate sending of Buddhist
mission to Lanka. King Devanampiyatissa and Emperor Asoka were very good
friends, but they had not seen each other. They became friends through
correspondence. King Devanampiyatissa sent envoys to Patna with gifts
for the coronation of Emperor Asoka. The names of the gifts that were
sent to Emperor Asoka are as given below:-
A sword, umbrella, diadem, slippers and fan, an auspicious right
whorled Chank, Sapphire, Beryl rubies and other gems and pearls of eight
kinds, horse pearls, elephant pearls, Waggin pearls, myrobolan pearls
and common pearls.
The envoys reached Patna in two weeks and handed over the gifts to
Asoka. He was happy to welcome them. He prepared well-furnished houses
for them to stay. Asoka returned the gifts and sent his Envoy along with
the Sri Lankan Envoy. He ordered his Envoys to hold a fresh coronation
for King Devanampiyatissa,
Mahinda and other six members arrived in the
air through their psychic powers and alighted on the mountain called
Missaka. On this same day Devanampiyatissa was going on a deer hunt. A
divine figure disguised as a deer and appeared before the king. Then the
king started to chase the deer. The deer went near Mahinda and
disappeared. Arahant Mahinda who saw the king addressed him Tissa. The
king was surprised and became angry and asked, “Who art thou with shaven
heads and white teeth wearing yellow robes and a torn tattered cloth”
when Mahinda declared that he and his companion were priests and
disciples of Buddha who had come from Jambudeepa (India) to preach the
religion which they professed. All his anger died down immediately
remembering then the Message of his friend Asoka, he laid his bow and
arrow aside, and exchanged greetings with Mahinda sitting down by his
He asked the Thera whether there were other ascetics in Jambudeepa
like those he now saw before him.
“Jambudeepa is gleaming with yellow robes” replied Mahinda, who there
upon made up his mind to test Devanampiyatissa's intelligence
preparatory to preaching to him about religion which he had come hither
“What name does this tree bear O King”
“This tree is called a mango” replied the king
“Is there yet another mango besides this”
“There are many mango trees”
“And are there yet other trees besides this mango and the other mangoes”
“There are many trees sir, but those are that are not mangoes”
And are there beside the other mangoes
And those trees which are not mangoes yet other trees”
“There is this mango tree sir”
Thou hast a shrewd wit O Ruler of Men”
Again Mahinda questioned him.
“Has thou kinsfolk O king”
“They are many sir”
“And are there also some who are not kinsfolk of thine”
“There are yet more of them than my kin”
“Is there yet besides the kinsfolk and other”
“There is yet myself sir”
Good thou hast a shrewd wit O Ruler of Men.
He invited them to stay that night in Anuradhapura but Mahinda said
that they would spent the night at the mountain. On the following day
Arahant Mahinda and his companions came to Anuradhapura.
The king invited them to the palace. Arahant Mahinda preach the
Chullahatthipadopama Sutta to the king and followers hearing which they
sought refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sanga and embraced this
Asgiri Maha Vihara completes seven hundred and ten years
Asgiri Maha Vihara in Kandy completes seven hundred and ten years of
service to Buddhism, culture, language and the Sri Lankan society on
this Vesak full moon day.
The sanga: carrying out the mission of Buddha Pictuers by Saman
Asgiri Maha Vihara is also the headquarters of the Shyamopali Maha
Nikaya Asgiri Chapter. Three other historical events connected to the
Asgiri Maha Vihara is the arrival of the sacred tooth relic to
Senkadagala four hundred and nineteen years ago and the introduction of
Upasampada or the higher ordination ritual for the Bhikkus from the then
Rakkanga Desh four hundred and fifteen years ago on this Vesak full moon
The Sinhala Royal dynasty one of the oldest dynasties of the world
that lasted for over two thousand years ended on May 13, 1739, two
hundred and seventy three years ago on this Vesak day paving the way to
the Waduga dynasty. Sri Weeraprakrama Narendrasinghe's brother-in-law
Vijaya who was in-charge of the Royal Treasury in Hanguranketha at the
time succeeded to the throne of Sinhale as Sri Vijaya Rajasinghe.
His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa has taken steps to
improve the physical infrastructure facilities of the Vihara complex and
declare the complex as a sacred area as a tribute to the services
rendered to the nation by this historic Maha Vihara and the Pirivena –
the institute of learning of the Bhikkus. The story of the Maha Vihara
is the story of the Kandyan kingdom and the people of Dumbara. Kundasala
in Dumbara which was the capital of the kingdom was shifted to
Senkadagala by Sri Vijaya Rajasinghe. These three events are inter
connected like three gems stud to a gold necklace and cannot be
separated from each other. This article attempts to narrate this story
in simple language to be understood by the ordinary reader.
Buwaneka Bahu I (1272-1284) the son of Vijaya Bahu III (1232-36) of
Dumbara who inaugurated the Dambadeni dynasty succeeded the father and
ruled from Dambadeniya. Later he shifted the kingdom to Yapahuwa and
ruled for twelve years. He was succeeded by his son Buwanekabahu II
(1293-1302) who chose Kurunegala to be his capital. He is also known as
Vathhimi Buwanekabahu alias Yapahu Buwanekabahu.
This Dumbara son is referred to as Manapathirenehe in the ‘Dumbara
Kadaimpotha'. Wendaruwa village now in the Teldeniya electorate was
built by him. He encouraged the Buddhist clergy to start the Upasampada
ritual (higher ordination) in the month of Poson under state patronage.
He promoted international trade in the country among countries around
Mediterranean sea. He was succeeded by his son Parakramabahu IV who was
also known as Pandit Parakramabahu who wrote several books. The Dumbara
Kadaimpotha says that he was the son of Hammershan Khan, a Malay army
commander who came to help the king in his war against some invaders and
adopted by the king in his own palace.
The king ordered his Minister Siriwardhana Senadikari to go to
Katubuluwa country and locate a place suitable to build a monastery. The
minister with his entourage came to the area, today known as Watapuluwa
in the municipal area of Kandy, in search of a site for the purpose and
cleared the area going hither and thither when he saw a person in
meditation to the north of the area. The following day he returned to
the area and cleared the site and identified sites suitable for
meditation, rest, bathing to put up buildings, etc. and informed the
king who was in Kurunegala that his mission was successful. This was a
period of unrest and turmoil in the country due to internal rivalries,
threats of foreign invasions and differences among the Buddhist monks
Some of the Maha Theras living in Dimbulagala, Polonnaruwa moved to
Dambadeniya and some to Achchagiri in Yapahuwa, yet another party fled
When the king heard about this situation he informed the Ven
Palabathgala Dharmakeerthi, the pupil of Dimbulagala Mahathera
Deepankara to send some priests to the new found site. The priests to
the new monastery were selected by their own will with a unanimous
decision. The team was headed by Maha Thera Dambadeniye Vanaratana and
included Maha Theras. Meegaswewe Medhankara, Hiripitiye Kashyapa,
Kongaswewa Dharmakeerthi, Walaswewa Upatissa and Novice Bhikku Werawela
The king ordered the entire route from Dambadeniya to Kurunegala and
Kurunegala to Paranagantota ferry and from there to Senkadagala to be
decorated in a manner befitting the occasion to conduct this dignified
and venerable delegation among the vast crowds that would throng to
witness this event.
The delegation from Paranagantota ferry were conducted to Asgiriya.
This ferry is still to be seen near the Ceylon Tobacco Company buildings
and the present day terminal for the air-taxi flights that bring
tourists to Kandy is also located here. The people of Katubulu Danawwa,
the present Watapuluwa are served by three Raja Maha Viharas, Embela,
Nittawela and Bomaluwa up to date. The British troops headed by Major
Davie in the Kandyan war of 1802 used the same ferry to cross when they
marched to Senkadagala. The delegation to Asgiriya arrived on the full
moon day in the month of Vesak 1307 completing seven hundred and ten
years on this Vesak full moon day.
The gloomy period to Asgiriya dawns with the reign of Rajasinghe I
from Seethawaka. The king started to burn temples, disrobe the clergy,
put them into prisons and annihilate the Kandyan aristocracy. The
Asgiriya priests started to flee the area. The Asgiri Mahanayake
Buwanekabahu Thera who was blind at the time fled to Kotakedeniya.
The Anunayake and some others fled to Hewaheta. Some others led by
two brothers. Ven Suriyatissa and Ven. Irugaltissa fled to Galgepitiya
in Uva. Some went to Medamahanuwara in Dumbara and some to Kotmale.
Ellepola Mangala and Jayaweera Maha Theras accompanied by some other
priests fled to Mulkirigala. Some of the ancient olas and manuscripts
too were removed from Asgiriya.
Rajasinghe murdered Weerasundara Bandara father of Konappu Bandara
and placed Nikapitiye Bandara in the Kandyan kingdom as Rajasuriya and
went back to Seethawaka to restart his wars with the Portuguese. In the
meantime people of Dumbara assisted by one Godakumbure Ranhoti Mudiyanse
in Ambala Dunuwila killed Rajasuriya and placed Don Phillip alias
Yamasinghe Bandara in the Senkadagala throne. After this incident
Konappu Bandara, son of Weerasundara Bandara slained by Rajasinghe
succeeded to the throne in 1592 as Wimaladharmasuriya I. He is also from
Deegolla in Dumbara Gampaha Korale.
The glorious chapter to Asgiri monastery dawns after this king. The
aforesaid Devanagala Ratnalankara Maha Thera who was hiking in Uva came
back to Asgiriya and crowned the king according to Buddhist customs. The
king brought back the sacred tooth relic hidden in Delgamu Vihara in
Sitawaka in the year 1593 AD and deposited the same in a palace built
for the purpose and entrusted the performance of rites and rituals
associated with the relic to Kotagedeniya Rajaguru Buwanekabahu Maha
Thera. The services rendered to the Buddha Sasana Language Education
Centre, etc. by the Asgiri Maha Vihara from that date up to now is
enormous and cannot be highlighted in a short article. It is a fitting
tribute to the Maha Vihara and we the people of the last Senkadagala
kingdom are grateful to His Excellency for this Royal gesture. Even
today the monastery does yeoman service to improve the academic as well
as religious education of the children in the area.
The Sri Chandananda Vidyalaya under the guidance of the Mahanayaka
Thera Most Venerable Udugama Sri Buddharakkitha under the able
assistance of the founder Principal Rev Dr Godagama Mangala Thera
conducts educational programmes as per modern curricular.
The students are not only provided with an academic education but are
also given opportunities in skills development. Students are exposed to
modern computer knowledge, e-technology communication and allied fields.
The school has cadeting, western and eastern bands and a host of extra
curricular activities for mental and physical development of the
children. There are also a number of Sunday schools affiliated to the
various temples of the complex.
A bhikku education centre – a Pirivena similar to Totagamuwa
Veedagama Gatara, Keragala Galatunumula, etc. in the Kotte era is
established in the Maha Vihara premises. There are over hundred resident
Bhikkus studying under the Parivendipathi Ven Narampanawe Ananda who has
also established a similar Pirivena in Teldeniya.
The enlightened one
Born into a royal family
Living in the lap of luxury
Enjoying a life of
Immense happiness and comfort
But not for long
Whilst going round the city
With his faithful charioteer Channa
He espied an old beggar
Sans teeth with melted hair
His body covered with
A ragged dirty cloth
The next sight was that
Of a sick man with knees
Oozing with pus and blood
The third sight was of
A dead body being carried
For burial the forth and
Last sight was that of
A holy man in yellow robes
Calm and tranquil
All that he saw
Baffled and intrigued him
Because he was not exposed
To the unpleasant aspects of life
He questioned Channa who explained
That all living beings are subject
To sickness, old age and death
All this made him extremely
Pensive and introspective
He pondered and luminated
On the futility and
Impermanence of life and all
All these sights caused
A radical change in
His outlook of life
Thus he made the great renunciation
At the age of twenty nine
For the good and
Benefit at all