Hagiography of a different halo | Daily News

Hagiography of a different halo

If I remember correct, Most Venerable Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Thera ushered in a new era of Dhamma education in our country commencing as far back as 1940s. The learned monk who knew several oriental languages compiled two main textbooks: Buddha Charitaya and Saddharma Chandrikava for the benefit of the Dhamma teachers and pupils.

As time passed by, the Venerable Thera was engaged in the function of translating more Pali Tripitaka books with prefaces which went into the making of the Buddha Jayanthi Tripitaka Mala books that are in use today. The collection of about seven books that went into the making of a magnum opus titled Shakya Munindravansaya Hevat Siddhartha Buddha Charitya came to be the culmination of the writings.

Blissful plane

This book came to light as far back as 1960s with a resourceful preface, enlightening the reader on the value of a great biography of a great being who helped the common masses to elevate from the suffering to a blissful plane of summum bonum or a supreme state of Nibbana. The work is now available in translation thanks to Samayawardhana Publishers and the Translator, Dr W A Abeysinghe.

The English translation titled Gautama Buddha contains 50 chapters, packed with all the remarkable factors that go into the making of a resourceful biography of Siddhartha Gautama who later became known as the Enlightened One, the Buddha. Though there are more than 100 works written on the theme of the life of the Buddha, compiled by several learned scholars such as Rhys Davids, a comparison of the qualities of learning of others with those of Siddhartha. The sensitive factors that led the Prince Siddhartha to renounce the worldly life despite all the luxuries of the palacious living conditions. The cultural vision and mission to the realisation of the sensuous life as against the achievement of the higher state of mental peace and serenity.

The difficulties encountered in the achievement of the noble state of mindfulness, defeating the barriers brought about by Mara etc brought the deliverance of the first sermon to the formation of the order of monks.

Various types of tales, anecdotes linked to the doctrine of the Buddha are enclosed. Examples drawn from the past births too follow.

Eternal thought

A comparison between the Dhamma of the Buddha and those other contemporary teachers such as Niganthanataputta are laid down. This leads to an eternal thought pattern of insight into the blissful teachings of the Buddha and the places visited by the Buddha and how they eventually became sanctified places of worship that remain up to date. How the teachings came to be passed down the years orally.

The ways and means of bringing reconciliation between rival parties on the part of the Buddha. The challenges or rivalry faced by the Buddha and how they were brought into amicable settlements and a truce.

The formation of the order of nuns in keeping with the accepted norms of ethics. The setting of daily agenda in the life of the Buddha which remains as a memorandum forever.

Dr Abeysinghe is a painstaking writer who has not left behind most other available original sources for his function. He has utilised the English works of the Pali Text Society for his translation. As such, the present work titled Gautama Buddha will inevitably laid at a higher level of contribution to the Buddhist literature.

The preface written by the original author Venerable Ananda Maitreya Thera lays down a very important factor that goes as follows:

“For the expression of man’s thoughts and feelings books came to existence from almost the times immemorial at the beginning they took the oral form and the scripts came into being, they took the written form with the advent of the printing process books abounded the human civilisation. Books on religions, history, astrology, medicine and various other disciplines came to be written as a result of which libraries became the repositories of learning.”

Multi-faceted spectrum

This vision stands as a prologue to the present work both in form and content. As a reader, I felt that there is not a single episode in the life of the Buddha, left behind. The work cannot be merely discerned as a biography instead as a multi-faceted spectrum of wisdom. As visualised by the great linguist and thinker Ludwig Wittgenstein, the Australian scholar. A great biography is not merely the linking of factors and episodes linked to the protagonist concerned. It is also a transcend from the mundane social factors to a spiritual plane.

All in all, the work Gautama Buddha ought to a volume that should reach all the bliraries around the world especially in the English-reading countries, desite the geographical, social, political and religious barriers. A commendable effort and a tribute to knowledge acquisition.



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