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Friday, March 21, 2008

Significance of Medin Full Moon Poya Day

Significance of Medin Full Moon Poya Day
- Daily Mirror

By Gamini Jayasinghe

The significance of Medin Full Moon Poya day is mainly due to the fact that it was on the first Medin Full Moon poya day after the Enlightenment and seven years after his Abhiniskramanaya Buddha visited His relatives in Kimbulwatapura or Sakya Desa, the kingdom of King Suddhodhana. For Sri Lankans this day is particularly important because it is the climax of Sri Pada pilgrimage season.

From the time of the Abhiniskramanaya or the day when prince Siddhartha left the palace and went in search of the truth , Mokshaya, total liberation, the final emancipation or freedom from transmigration, the state of Nirvana, his father, king Suddhodhana, kept himself linformed of the developments of his beloved son. During a period of six years he heard various news, some of which were heartbreaking. On a number of occasions news was brought to him saying that his son, prince Siddhartha had died. According to legends certain parties had brought human bones to substantiate their statements. However the king rejected them on the contention that Sakyans do not die before their maximum span of life.

To his consolation the happy news that his son had attained Buddhahood was brought to him after six long years. The news was that he had attained Enlightenment and was preaching His doctrine at Rajagaha Nuwara, Veluvanaramaya. King Suddhodhana who was longing to see his son was overcome with happiness. Immediately the king sent one of his ministers as an envoy to invite Buddha to visit his Kingdom, Kimbulwathpura. The envoy was accompanied by more than one thousand followers. His relatives too were anxious to see Him. The king got his people to construct Nigrodharamaya for the Buddha and His disciples.

However to the disappointment of the king and his relatives the envoy did not come back. He and his followers had entered priesthood having heard Dhamma and had not conveyed the message. On nine successive occasions the king sent nine courtiers each with a large following to invite the Buddha to Kimbulwathpura.

Contrary to the king’s expectations all nine attained Archonship and joined the Order. Since Arahantship are indifferent to worldly things they did not convey the King’s message to the Buddha. The disappointed king finally sent Kaludai, who was a playmate of the Buddha. He agreed to go on condition that he would be allowed to enter the Order. He too hearing the Dhamma attained Arahantship and entered the Order. However unlike the other envoys he conveyed the message to the Buddha and persuaded Him to visit His aged royal father, king Suddhodhana. He told the Enlightened One that the rainy season was over and the time was quite good to visit Kimbulwathpura. The Blessed One accepted the invitation and attended by a large retinue of disciples, journeyed the whole distance preaching Dhamma on the way and arrived in Kimbulwathpura in two months.

Arrangements were made for Him to stay in the Park of Nigrodha, a Sakyan. The Sakyans who went forward to receive the Exalted One preceded Him in a procession. Young Sakyans worshipped the Omniscient One but the elders who walked behind Him did not venerate Him as they thought it was not proper when taking the age factor into consideration.

Buddha with His divine eye realized what the Sakyans were contemplating upon. In order to dispel the arrogance of Sakyans the Buddha performed the “Yama Maha Pelahera”, twin or the double miracle – the power said to have been possessed by the Buddha to cause a stream of fire to issue from one part of His body and a stream of water from the other at one and the same time which is a power to issue such streams together from eyes and nostrils which was the result of His having accomplished “Thejokasina” ad “Apokkasina”.

Buddha used the Twin miracle only when it was essential and this was the second occasion when it was performed.

The king seeing this wonderful sight saluted Him immediately, saying that it was his third salutation. Then all the other Sakyans paid Him due respects. Having worshipped the Enlightened One they took refuge in “Thu Sarana “- the Triple Gem. Thereupon the Buddha came down from the sky and sat on the prepared seat. The relatives too sat down to listen to Him. Then a strange phenomenon occurred. Rain broke out but it wetted only those who wished to get wet, and not the others. When the Sakyans marveled at this phenomenon the Buddha preached the Vessantara Jatakaya to show that in a previous birth too he had renounced the worldly life.

Buddha Goes on Begging Alms in the Streets of Kimbulwathpura

Since no one had invited Him for Dana or Noonday meal on the following day He went from house to house in the streets of Kimbulwathpura with Bowl in hand seeking alms together with His disciples. This was reported to the king and having seen the Enlightened One, his son, begging food in the streets rushed to Him having been deeply moved and most humbly inquired of the Buddha why He was disgracing his royal family.

“Members of Royal families never beg food” the king said. “This is the custom of our lineage, O’king” the Buddha replied to the king’s astonishment.

“Surely Lord, our’s is the warrier lineage of Mahasammatha and not a single warrior had gone seeking alms” the king said. “This royal lineage is yours O king, mine has gone seeking alms” “This royal lineage is yours, and mine is the Buddha lineage”

Standing in the street the Buddha then advised the king thus:-

“Be alert, be not heedless, and Lead a righteous life. The righteous live happily both in this world and in the next”

The king realized the truth and attained “Sowan”, the first of the four paths or stages leading to Nirvana. Soon he took the bowl from the Buddha and conducted Him and His disciples to the palace and served all with food. After the meal the Exalted One preached “Anumeveni Bana”

“Lead a righteous life, and not one that is corrupt. The righteous live happily both in this life and in the next.

Hearing Anumeveni Bana the king attained Sakardagami, Once Returner, the second stage of Sainthood, and Queen Maha Prajapathie Gothami attained Sowan, the first stage of Sainthood. On a later occasion hearing the Dhammapala Jathakaya the king attained Anagami – Never Returner, the third stage of Sainthood. On his death bed the king heard Dhamma from the Buddha for the last time and attained Arahantship. When the Exalted One preached Anumeveni bana all but princess Yasodhara came to pay their reverence to the Buddha. Princess Yasodhara remained in her apartment assuming that the Buddha would pay her a visit if she was sincere and virtuous enough.

Buddha handed over His bowl to the king and accompanied by His two chief disciples entered the chamber of Princess Yasodhara and sat on the prepared seat, saying:-

“Let the king’s daughter pay reverence as she likes.” She came swiftly, clasped his ankles and placing her head on His feet worshipped Him.

King Suddhodhana commended her saying that she had given up garlands, comfortable seats and beddings and wore yellow robes hearing that the Buddha was doing so. He also told she resorted to one meal a day and had rejected the offers made by her relatives to maintain her.

The Buddha cited the Chanda Kinnara Jatakaya to illustrate how much love she had towards Him not only in this birth but also in previous births. With this He consoled princess Yasodhara and left her apartment. After the death of king Suddhodhana princess Yasodhara entered the Order with Queen Maha Prajapathie Gothami and later both attained Arahantship.

The second day after Buddha’s visit to Kimbulwathpura was an auspicious day for His step brother Prince, Nanda. It was his consecration ceremony, marriage ceremony and the house warming ceremony. Having observed that Prince Nanda possessed the virtues of putting an end to sufferings of transmigration,the Buddha visited his palace. Prince Nanda received Him most respectfully with devotion and offered Him Dana. After Dana the Enlightened One handed over His bowl to prince Nanda and proceeded to the Viharaya.

Due to respect and brotherly affection prince Nanda followed the Buddha not being able to hand over the bowl back to the Buddha. On the way the Buddha made prince Nanda to realize that all worldly pleasures are temporary and subject to change, decay and death. Although prince Nanda had in his mind the words of his fiancée, Janapada Kalyani who requested him to get back soon he could not ask for permission to go back to the palace. So with the bowl in hand he followed the Exalted One out of respect to Him as Buddha and as his elder brother.

Thus Medin Full Moon Poya Day and the month of Medin are of great significance as it was during this period that the Exalted One started His service to the relatives from both parental families including His father, King Suddhodhana, step mother, Queen Maha Prajapathie Gothami, princes Yasodhara, His son, prince Rahula, step brother, prince Nanda and Sakyan Nobleman, Ananda who was appointed as His attendant and Dharma Bhandagarika.

For Sri Lankans this is the peak period of Sri Pada pilgrimage season which ends in two months on Vesak Full Moon Poya Day.

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