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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Significance of Unduvap Full Moon Poya Day

Significance of Unduvap Full Moon Poya Day

Unduvap is the last full moon Poya day according to the Sinhala Buddhist calendar. This year’s Unduvap Poya falls on Tuesday 01st December.

The unique event of bringing the Bo-sapling of the sacred Jayasiri Maha Bodhi from India to Anuradhapura, took place 2552 years ago on an Unduvap Full Moon Poya Day.

The advent of Buddhism to this resplendent island - Sri Lanka, on Poson Full Moon Poya Day, marked the dawn of a new social order, cultural and spiritual revolution. During the reign of Devanampiyatissa (250-210 B.C) Arahat Mahinda, brought Buddhism to Sri Lanka. Mahinda Thera, the son of the great Emperor Asoka, was totally responsible in bringing Buddhism to Sri Lanka. Later, it was Arahat Mahinda Thera’s sister, young beautiful, charming Sangamitta, who entered the Bhikkuni Sasana at the age of 18 years, who visited Sri Lanka, was responsible for the establishment of Bhikkuni Sasanaya or Buddhist order for womanhood, in Sri Lanka.

This brother - sister combination, made a great political, social, cultural, economic and religious renaissance in Sri Lanka. No foreigner has created such a cultural and spiritual impact in a country than Emperor Asoka’s son, Arhat Mahinda and his daughter Bhikkuni Sangamitta. Therefore, we, Sri Lankans are indebated to them.

As the Unduvap Full Moon Poya Day dawns, our thoughts and sentiments are woven round the pious and noble Sangamitta Theri. She was like an evening star among the Buddhist Womanhood. The arrival on Uduvap Full Moon Poya Day, along with the Sacred Bo-sapling, under which our blessed one, the enlightened one, attained the supreme bliss of Buddhahood. This is an event of supreme importance in the annals of Buddhist history. This is second only to the arrival of her brother, Arahat Mahinda to Missakapabata or Mihintale, on the historic Poson Poya Day.

After entering the Order, Sangamitta residing in the capital city - Pataliputra, when Kind Devanampiyatissa, cordially invited her to Sri Lanka to promote Buddhism in Sri Lanka among the womanhood.

Queen Anula and her companions were keen to enter the Buddhist order. Arahat Mahinda, informed the Royalty that it was not possible. Acting on the advise of Arahat Mahinda, the King Devanampiyatissa, send, I presume, his Foreign Minister Aritta, to meet Emperor Asoka, and through his good office, to persuade his daughter Sangamitta Theri to come to Sri Lanka and established Bhikkuni Sasanaya. (The order of the nuns).

Sangamitta Theri, after seven days of sea journey, accompanied by eleven other Bhikkunis (Buddhist nuns) arrived at the Jambukole Port in the North. She brought along with her, one of the greatest gifts that India could provide, to Sri Lanka, Jayasiri Maha Bo-Tree Sapling, to be planted in Sri Lanka soil. Jayasiri Maha Bo Tree is supposed to one of the oldest trees in the world, where the great Gautama Buddha attained the enlightenment.

According to Mahavamsa, the King Devanampiyatissa, with all pomp and glory and glamour, paying the highest respect and honour, wading neck deep into the sea, received the bowl containing the Jayasiri Maha Bodhi Sapling, which is respected and honoured as the living Gautama Buddha.

This Bo-Sapling was planted in the "Mahamevuna Uyana", the headquarters of Buddhism in ancient Sri Lanka. This event symbolises that Buddhism took deep root throughout the length and breadth of Sri Lanka. Later, there were many saplings planted in Sri Lanka, from the main Jayasirimaha Bo-Tree. A disciplined system of worshipping, rituals connected to this great religion began. Today, the Buddhists all over the world, consider the Jayasiri Maha Bodhiya at Anuradhapura and the Dalada Maligawa, the Tooth Relic Chamber in the Hill Capital Kandy, as two important places of worship.

The second most important mission or the purpose of Sangamitta’s arrival, was the establishment of Bhikkuni Sasanaya or order of the Buddhist nuns. Queen Anula, was the first to be ordained. Later thousands of ladies from all walks of life entered the Buddhist order as Bhikkunis.

The advent of Arahat Mahinda on Poson Full Moon Day marked men entering the Buddhist order, as Bhikkus and the arrival of Sangamitta signalled the establishment of Bhikkuni Sasanaya of females. Therefore, Uduvap Full Moon can be considered as the beginning of a new chapter in the history of Buddhism, and Sri Lankan womanhood. It paved way to a disciplined and a peaceful civil society. The Buddhist learning, art and architecture, construction of gigantic stupas and tanks began. The agricultural economy flourished. It was the duty of all Buddhist to pay homage to the Great Mahapurisha - Gautama Buddha, Dhamma, Sanga, the Noble Triple Gem become the order of the day, before the commencement of any auspicious Buddhist activity which we follow up to date.

They recite "Vandana Gathas", took refuge in the Triple Gem (Tisarana). The mark of respect of the great Virtues and Wisdom of the Buddha helped the Buddhists to gain confidence, and inspiration in their day to day life.

The Buddha was the holiest, most virtuous, wisest and spiritually perfect personality, who had ever lived. His Dhamma is the ultimate truth about universe, which explains the real nature of the world and of life as well.

The Sangha refers to all disciples of the Buddha who attained sainthood. Everyone must have some guidance for his spiritual development. One must never give up one’s right to think freely, intelligently, and respectfully in response to whatever is taught in the name of the religion.

On Unduvap Full Moon Poya Day, the centre of Buddhist attraction will be Anuradhapura and Mihintale.

The city of Anuradhapura, nestling in the banks of Malwatu Oya was founded in the 4th century. It is believed that the Sinhala culture and civilization in this country began at Mihintale during the reign of Devanampiyatissa. (250-210 BC)

On Unduvap Full Poya Day, there will be many thousand who will be engaged in Buddhist religions activities Dana, Seela, Bhavana in the vicinity of Jayasirimaha Bodhi and in various temples throughout the country.

Devotees flock to pay homage to the Bodhi very specially on the Full Moon Day of Unduvap, (December) in Anuradhapura, as it was on Unduvap Full Moon Poya Day, Sangamitta Theri, brought the Sacred Bodhi to Sri Lanka from India.

As true Buddhists let us follow the Pancha-Sila, on the Unduvap Full Moon Poya Day and abstain from destroying living beings, taking things not given, abstain from sexual misconduct and false speech, abstain from taking anything that causes intoxication or heedlessness.

Every Buddhist should observe these Five Precepts in order to elevate himself morally and spiritually.

I will wind this article from a quotation from late S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, former Prime Minister of Sri Lanka.

Quote: Buddhism will last as long as the sun and moon last and the human race exists upon the earth,for it is the Religion of Man, of Humanity as a whole.

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