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Friday, August 7, 2009

The Significance of Nikini Poya Day

The Significance of Nikini Poya Day

Nikini is the eighth Full Moon Poya of the year. In ancient India, even before the time of Buddha, all Poya Days had been kept as holy. The Buddhist adopted all religious activities and observances that were there earlier and followed on Poya Days. The Nikini Full Moon Poya Day is important as far as the Buddhist Order is concerned. Buddhist Monks and lay devotees perform an act, according to certain rules and regulations laid down by Gautama Buddha the "Great Mahapurisha". The close association and the link that bind the Devotees and the Sangha, can be clearly seen on Poya Days.

After the Enlightened One preached his first sermon, DHAMMA CHAKKA PAVATTANA SUTRA the Wheel of Dhamma, to the five disciples, Kondanna, Bhaddiya, Vappa, Mahanama, Assaji, in the Deer Park , Isipathana, in Banares, he advised his disciples to spread the Buddhist Doctrine and the Message of Noble Dhamma to Mankind. Nikini Poya is connected with VAS- Rainy Season - which commence from Esala Poya. During the "VAS" season, Buddhist monks are assigned themselves to be stationed in one place, under one roof during.

According to the principles and rules laid down by the Blessed One, Buddhist monks are not expected to live outdoors, under the trees, in cemetries or open - air, commencing from Esala Poya, for four months.

VAS can be divided into two segments. "PERA – VAS" and "PASU – VAS" – namely Pre – Retreat and Post - Retreat. The period beginning with VASSANA is a colourful and eventful period. The dawn of the VAS season in the month of Nikini records a religious awakening among the lay devotees and it has a tremendous impact on their moral thinking.

After delivering the "Dhamma chaka pavattana sutta", Gautama Buddha, observed the first recorded VAS – Rainy Retreat at Migadaya Deer Park Isipathanaramaya.

According to the climatic and weather conditions globally, there are four recorded seasons. The first season of the year, Autumn, when plants begin to grow, coming between Winter and Summer, is from March to May in the Northern Hemisphere. The Summer, the warmer season of the year outside topic comes between Spring and Autumn from June to August in the Northern Hemisphere. The third season of the year, coming between Summer and Winter, falls between September to November in the Northern Hemisphere. The last and the coldest season of the year, winter comes between Autumn and Spring, is from December to February in the Northern Hemisphere.

The month of Nikini comes with the South West Monsoon. If you analyze the seasonal wind in South Asia, especially in the Indian Ocean, blowing from South West from April to October and from North East from October to April, brings Rainfall.

The Thathagatha Gautama Buddha always appreciated constructive criticism. As the Buddhist Monks were earlier involved in religious activities and missionary during Rainy Season, there was a public cry against them in some quarters. The Thirthakas, followers of Jainism, protested, stating that the Buddhist Monks are not assigned to indoors during the Rainy Season and violating the age old rule. Buddha, then advised the Buddhist Monks to assign themselves to indoors. With this began the Vas season or period of Rainy Retreat.

Another important significant event that took palace on Nikini Full Moon Day was the holding of the First Sanga Council, led by Maha Kassapa, under the patronage of Ajasatta, at Rajagaha.

This important council was a landmark in history of Buddhism. Buddha in HIS eightieth year, on a Veask Full Moon Poya Day, attained Parinibbana. After the passing away of Buddha there were a large number of Bhikkus in the Sasana. There were some undesirable Monks, too, who joined the Buddhist Order, for worldly gains. With the exception of Arahats and those who achieved the state of Anagami, all others wept, cried in grief. There was one Bhikku by the name of Subaddha, a monk who joined the order in his old age. Bhikku Subaddha requested the mourners not to weep, but, be happy and rejoice, because, they are now free to do anything they want as the Master is not there. Further, this Bhikku Subhadda stated that Buddha had been an obstacle for their freedom.

It was Maha Kassapa Thera , who boldly took steps of conducting the First Sangha Council. Maha Theras such as Upali, Ananda, and Anurudda provided the fullest support to Venerable Maha Kassapa, the "Dharmabhandagarika" – (The Treasurer of Dhamma).

Ananda Maha Thero, who possessed a powerful retentive memory, played a leading part in the First Council. He attained Arahatship free from postures of sitting, standing walking or sleeping. Ananda Thero attained Arahatship at the night on the day before the First Dhamma Sangayanawa or Council. This council was held to arrest the deterioration of the Sasanaya and to discipline the Buddhist Order.

The lay devotees or Dayakas, invite the Maha Sangha to observe "Vas", which can be considered as one of the most sacred events, (it is known as "Vas Aradhana Pinkama"), which ends with Katina Puja Pinkama. The lay devotees see to the comfort of the Buddhist monks with great respect and care. The Maha Sangha in return, shower their Blessings. The sight of Dhamma, undoubtedly excels all other sights. (Sabbha Dhanam Dhamma Dhanam Jinathi). They live indoors for nearly four months.

The advent of Buddhism to Sri Lanka took place during the reign of Devanampiyatissa with the establishment of, the Buddhist Order in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan Buddhist monk with a retinue of monks, observed the first Vas- Rainy Retreat in 68 rock caves at Mihintala Missaka Pabbhata. This took place during Nikini season.

On the Nikini Full Moon Day, lets’ recall that the Buddha, who was spending the 14th Rainy season, since His Enlightenement at "Devramvehera" in Sravastipura, giving advice on Meditation to the Reverend Rahula Thero- his son in his lay life, preached RAHULOVADA SUTTA to him and that the Reverend Thera, Rahula listening attentively attained Arahanthship at the end of the Discourse.

In the Buddhist Philosophy, transient are all conditioned things, when this, with wisdom, one discerns, then is one disgusted with ill; THIS IS THE PATH TO PURITY.

Sabbe Sankhara Anicca ti-

Yada Pannaya Passati-

Atha Nibbidati Dukkhe-

Esa Masso Visuddiya- Massa Vagga (Dhammapada- 277)

When with wisdom one discerns transience of conditioned things, one wearily from Dukkha turns Treading the Path to Purity.)

In Sri Lankan Buddhist history another important event that took place on a Nikini Full Moon Poya Day was the laying of the foundation stone for Seruwila Chaitya. Nikini Perehera at Seruwila Raja Maha Viharaya was also commenced on a Nikini Poya.

The Bellanwila Raja Maha Viharaya annual Perahera will be held during the month of Nikini, this year 2009. This will be one of the most important cultural pageants in Sri Lanka.

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