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Monday, July 26, 2010

The impotance of middle path summed up in the Dhammachakkanapavattana sutra

The impotance of middle path summed up in the Dhammachakkanapavattana sutra

By Premasara Epasinghe

This year’s, Esala Full Moon Poya Day falls on Sunday 25. A number of very significant events in the life of Bodhisatva and Gautama Buddha, the compassionate one will take place on this day. Of this, the most important event, the delivery or chanting of the "Dhammachakka pavatvana" - the Great Discourse of the wheel of Dhamma, at Deer Park, Isipathanaramaya in Benares. As in all, "Suttas", a date of delivery of the Discourse is mentioned as "Once" or "At a time" - "Ekan Samayan". The Blessed One was hesitant about delivering his doctrine, Maha Brahma seeing the state of mind of the Blessed One, with all due respect requested to deliver his philosophy. Sir Edwin Arnold describes this in the following manner. Oh! Supreme let thy Great Law be uttered, whereupon, Buddha cast his vision.

The wheel of Dhamma or "Dhammachakkapatvana Sutta", embodied the essence of the Buddha Dhamma. The "Tripitaka" or Buddhist Canon consists of the Vinaya, Sutta and Abidhamma Pitakas. All the teachings in the Tripitaka are implied in this discourse. For example, if all suttas of the Blessed One is compared to the foot prints of all animals that inhabit the forest, the Wheel of Dhamma is very much similar to a huge footprint of an Elephant, in which all these animals footprints could be embodied. This clearly shows, the importance of the Dhammachakkapavattana Sutta.

There are 18 stanzas in the Dhammachakka pavattana sutta. The first verse or stanza reads thus:

Avam me suttan ekan samayan bhagava barawasiyan viharathi isipatane migadaye tattra who bhagava pancharaggiya bhikku amantesi - (Kondanna, Vappa, Bhaddiya, Mahanama, Assaji, the five asceties or Bhikkus were known as Panchavaggiya Bhikkus). Buddha delivered his first sermon to these five disciples.

This discourse delivered on Esala Full Moon Poya Day provides an indepth study of the Buddhist philosophy. In addressing the Group of Bhikkus numbering five, the Enlightened One stated the two extremes that should not be followed. Kamasukallikanu yogo (enjoying of extreme sensual pleasure) and Attakila-matanu yogo (self-mortification or self-torture) - Dve me bhikkave anta pabba jinena na sevitabba.

The Buddha after realising that self-mortification and indulgence in sensual pleasures will not help an individual to achieve Emancipation, announced that to gain enlightenment you should follow the Majjimapratipada or Middle Path. According to Dhammachakkanapavattana sutta, middle path is the right path that you should follow. The benefits you accrue from the middle path are summed up in the Dhammachakkanapavattana as follows:-

"Ete kho, Bhikkave, ubho ante Anupagamma Majjima Patipada, Thathagatena Abhisambuddha - Chakkukaran, Nankarani Upasamaya, Abhinnaya, Sambodhiya, Nibbanaya Samvatti."

Bhikkhus, by avoiding these two extremes. - (Kamasukallikanu and Attakilamatanu yogas).

The Enlightened One, has gained the penetrative knowledge of middle path, which produces vision and foremost knowledge and tends to calm, to higher knowledge, penetrative insight and realisation of Supreme Bliss of Nibbana).

Whoever practices middle path, the Noble Eightfold path (Samma-ditti - (right view), Sammasankappa – (right thought), Samma Vacci – (right speech), Samma Kammanta (right bodily action), Samma Ajiva – (right livelihood), Samma Vayama – (right effort), Samma Sati – (right mindfulness), Samma Samadhi – (right concentration) in him, vision and knowledge is produced. If you carefully analyse, the eightfold path - "Aariya Astangikka Magga", once developed the true nature of matter and mind is discerned as it is seen by the eyes. Further, the middle path expounded in the wheel of Dhamma also leads to calm the Klesas - defilements (Lobha - Dosa - Moha - Mana Ditti - Vicikillha, Tina, Uddacca)....

In the stanzas in the Dhammachakka Sutta from 8 to 11. Buddha repeatedly uttered thus:- Chakkum Udapadi, Vijja Udapadi, Ganan udapadi, Panna udapadi, "Vijja udapadi, Aloko udapadi. This clearly shows Buddhism gives top priority to wisdom and the mind.

Buddhism is not only a religion, its a philosophy and a way of life. Esala fullmoon is very important as the Blessed One delivered the philosophical discourse on wheel of "Dhamma. In short, it can be considered the day Buddhism was officially introduced to the world.

It was on an Esala full moon day, Queen Mahamaya conceived the Gautama Buddha.

On the day, Rahula was born (Esala full moon day), Prince Siddharta renounced the world and went in search of the bliss of Nibbana.

"Thirthakas" (Hermits or Ascetics) were a proud group who believed they were superior and can dominate the lesser mortals. To bring them to the ground, Gautama "Buddha performed the "Twin Miracle" (Yamama-Pelahara) at the foot of the Gandhamba Tree.

The Gautama Buddha’s beloved mother, Mahamaya, was born in the Tautisa Heaven and she was known as Majjrudevi. After Buddha spending the seventh "Rainy Retreat" (Vas) in the heavenly abode of "Tusitha" the blessed one delivered a sermon for the benefit of his mother Mahamaya. This occurred on a Esala Full Moon Poya Day.

Three months after the demise of the Enlightened One, there took place the first council for the sangha. It was led by Arahat Maha Kassapa and took place during the reign of king Ajasatta. This was known as the first congregation of the first "Sangayanawa". This was necessary to formulate rules and regulations for the conduct of Buddhist Monks in line with the principles followed by Thatagatha Buddha.

The advent of Buddhism to Sri Lanka took place on Poson Full Moon Poya Day, during the reign of Devanampiyatissa. The ordination of Prince Avitta with a retinue of 55 members also took place on a Esala full moon poya day.

It was also on a Esala full moon poya day, that 68 rock caves around Kantaka Chaitya, Mihintale, was donated to the maha sangha.

The laying of the foundation stone to construct the Swarnamalimahaseya - was laid on a Esala full moon poya day.

Further, it was on an Esala poya day, during the reign of the 55th king of Sri Lanka-Kithsiri Mevan, the tooth relic was brought to Sri Lanka by Princess Hemamala and Prince Dantta.

The greatest cultural pageant of Sri Lanka, annual Kandy perahera, was held for the first time, on a Esala full moon poya day. Taking the cue presently there are Esala processions held at Sri Jayawardanapura, Aluthnuwara, Nawagamuwa, Ratnapura, Devundara and Kataragama during the month of Esala.

The "Upasampada ceremony" or the Higher Ordination in Sri Lanka took place for the first time during the reign of Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe. The Siamese Monks, Upali, Ariya-Muni arrived at Puspharama, Malwatta, Kandy. This event also took place on an Esala poya full moon day.

May the Triple Gem Bless You!

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