Gift of his legacy | Daily News


Gift of his legacy

Book Review

Title: The Buddhist Master the Great: Most Venerable Balangoda Ananda Maithrea Thero

Author: Maithri Rathnayake

My instant urge no sooner this unique publication caught my eye was to partake actively to publicize it so that all fortunate readers would read through it, and accrue the desired benefits. I would compare the act of the writer, journalist-explorer Maithri Rathnayaka as that of a fountain-creator, for the readers to quench the thirst to their hearts’ content.

It is such a rare piece of literature that has been woven around a personality whose actions and utterances provide distinct proof that through a virtuous life and focused mindfulness one could acquire unfathomable inner purity.

Author and his task

“Buddhist Master the Great” is a biographical sketch (biosketch) of Most Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Thera who passed away at the age of 103 years. The mission of the author Maithri Rathnayaka, tagged aptly as an explorer, is to highlight and project some specific and salient virtues and characteristics of this rare personality, and not to write a complete biography. His mission, abilities, character, aspirations and achievements were so deep and varied that only intensive research would be able to accomplish a comprehensive biography. Nevertheless, he was no mean task, as he had to be in acquaintance with this great sage for long periods, get involved in a series of meaningful and focused dialogues, record them and provide a verbatim interpretation in English, selecting appropriately the ones that suit the objectives of the publication.

Prime Objective

Amongst other subjects the main thrust of the publication is to compile the great sage’s interpretations on Naadi Waakya, Ancient Indian Astrology, based on a series of TV discussions the author had with him. The author had also based his writings on the newspaper articles, letters etc., that had been published by the great sage himself. NaadiWaakya has remained a controversial topic for many a person. But the great sage has emphatically convinced the reader the different interpretations and the authenticity of the basis of this particular Ancient Indian Astrological Tradition.

The Life of the Buddha as recorded in the Naadi Waakya

So fascinated by the Naadi Waakya revelations Ven. Thera had gone to the extent of inquiring into Lord Buddha’s life. Interpreting what has been recorded in the Naadi Waakya the Venerable Thera says that “According to the Kumara Naadi Pratheyya section Lord Buddha’s life span was 80 years, 10 months and 15 days. Passing away of the Buddha would take place on a Sunday at mid-day of the month of Wesak (May). Those were predicted by ancient Rishis who lived 3000 to 4000 years prior to Lord Buddha’s birth as Prince Siddhartha.

Startling revelations on Jesus Christ

Once the Venerable Thera had visited Naadi Waakya readers thinking of Jesus Christ. The reader has said “You came thinking about Maria Magan, that is Mary’s son” When the Thera replied in the affirmative the reader had copied the description in his own handwriting, which read as “Jesus was not born to a rich family. Child Jesus wanted to learn about the original teachings of his religion. …So he had joined a caravan, without informing his parents and travelled to Persia, from there to small Asia (Asia Minor), and finally to India. While staying in India … he had met different religious leaders. Nevertheless, he was not satisfied with their teachings. At last, he had met a Buddhist monk in Kashmir… There he had studied the mysterious languages and also Buddhism amongst other faiths.

Jesus Christ had returned to his country at the age of twenty-nine. He preached the religion he studied. People flocked around him as mesmerized like the oceanic waves. Because it was a religion where there was freedom to think faithfully and clearly. Therefore, this religion became very popular, and many followed it. As a result, enemies tried to assassinate him…”This is the gist of a long revelation that had been made on Christ in the Naadi Waakya.

The great sage makes a pronouncement on his future in the samsaric journey. When asked as to why he could not attain Nirvana, even after having witnessed the attainment of Buddhahood by Gautama Buddha, and listened to His discourses his answer was: “I travel in this samsara to fulfil one wish. For Buddhists, there are three ways to attain Nirvana, called Budu, Pase Budu and Maha Arahat. My only wish is to attain Buddhahood, and thereby to attain Nirvana. A person having such a wish doesn’t attain Nirvana without fulfilling that wish.” Herein he refers to an incident where he underwent training in Burmese meditation and the changes that took place within him while meditating. After the practice session, he could not absorb meditation. The reason had been that his prarthana (wish)had been to attain Buddhahood. He says “I think it may be the reason that I didn’t attain Nirvana even after witnessing the incident of Enlightenment (of the Buddha) and listening to Buddha’s Bana preachings”.

Depth of the publication

The epilogue to the publication adds further depth to the publication by some invaluable references the great sage had written in his handwriting on such topics as Meditation, Preparatory Exercises before the commencement of Meditation, and the stages one should follow in the Pranayama meditation. Copied below is what he expresses in his handwriting on Meditation. The inset provides a glimpse of his handwriting and his proficiency in expressing thoughts in the English language.

The contents of the publication referred to in the review is only a broad outline of the arduous task undertaken by the author. However, it needs to be said that this rare publication, printed in the form of a ‘coffee table book’ should invariably find a special place in all libraries that specialize in the collection of biographies of exemplary personalities. The wealth of information that has been exposed through this publication would, for sure, get buried under the sands of time if not for the indefatigable efforts of the author. As such is the invaluable contribution the publication would make for the continuity of the noble Buddhist philosophy. I wish to conclude this essay by appending the great sage’s ethical principles promulgated for the well being of both laymen and corporate.

Reviewed by 
K. A. I. Kalyanaratne
Management Consultant
Postgraduate Institute of Management (PIM)

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