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Friday, October 22, 2010

Katinanisansa: Merit acquired by offering robes to the Maha Sangha

Katinanisansa: Merit acquired by offering robes to the Maha Sangha

By Gamini Jayasinghe

Katinanisansa is immeasurable and unmentionable merit acquired by the person who has offered wet season robes to a priest who had completed a period of rainy season sojourn. In a Buddhist temple Katina Cheewara Puja ceremony is held only once a year and hence the opportunity to acquire this kind of merit is very rare. There is valid reason to believe that the merit acquired by offering Katina or wet season robe supersedes merit acquired by engaging in any other kind of meritorious deeds. Merit acquired by offering Katina or thick robe to Buddhist priests to be used during the wet, cold season is eternal and will never be void, result less or retribution less

Katina Cheewara Puja

The word Katina has various meanings. It means hardness, roughness, sharpness staleness, firmness and the unshaken state. The nature of merit acquired is described according to above meanings. Accordingly the merit acquired by offering Katina surpasses the other kinds of merits. In the words of the Enlightened One the merit acquired by offering Katina cheewara is stable like the earth which does not tremble "Pathavireewa na Jatu Kampane", like the mountain Mahamera, which is supposed to be in the centre of chakkavata which is not shaken by strong wind, gale or storm "Na chalathi Meru rivati vayuna" and like the Diamond Rock which cannot be broken "Vajiramava na Bhunjane Ghanan". As such this unique act of merit is called "Katina Pinkama" This merit is magnanimous because the assembly of four kinds of followers , monks, nuns, lay male devotees and lay female devotees believe that this is especially efficacious in achieving total emancipation.

Efficacy of Katina cheewara puja - the character of Nagitha Thera

The efficacy of Katina cheevara puja is well explained in the character of Nagitha Thera. The merits acquired by offering a Katina had enabled him to live in the celestial world for 18 Kalpas. On 32 occasions he was born as Sakra, the Indradeva, and the high or chief god. He was the sovereign king, Sakwithi raja, the universal sovereign, a position attained by religious devotion and second only to Bhuddhaship.The merit acquired by him was sufficient for him to be born as the universal king on many other occasions but he had opted to forego such chances as he wanted to limit his journey in Sansara
Efficacy of offering Katina Cheevara in a nutshell

Thus Katinasansa or merits acquired by offering wet season robes is sufficient to be free from being subjected to vile or evil disposition, to be born in the divine world, to be born as Sakra, to be born as the Universal King, to be prosperous in all future lives, to be a leader in every future life to be born in the divine world and the world of men and never to be born in the hell and such like, to be born to high castes and never to be born to low castes, to be liked by every one in every future life, and above all Katina cheevara puja will pave way to Nibbana, the cessation of all desires and of re- existence which is the goal of Buddhism.

Buddhist priests who are entitled to receive Katina- robes for the wet season

The priest of the temple is entitled to receive the Katina- the thick robe for the wet season. The priest should have completed a period of "Vas" - the rainy season sojourn to be entitled for the Katina. He should be well versed in the proprieties of conduct and should be an observer of the properties of conduct as molests mildness, decorum, reverence, obeisance, submissiveness, religious obedience especially in the fulfillment of the duties of the priesthood. Though only the priest receives the Katina the people in all quarters acquire the merit.

Items to be offered in the Katina Pinkama

A list of items that can be offered in a Katina puja pinkama is given in the book titled "Katinanisansa." It is customary to offer Pirikara- robe for a Buddhist priest, "Depata Sivura"- Double robe, "Tanipata Sivura"-Single robe, "Andanaya"- undergarment. However, it is usual today to offer all the eight accoutrements or articles required by a Buddhist priest, viz, "Patraya"– bowl, "Andanaya" – undergarment, "Thanipota Sivura" – single robe, "Depata Sivura" – double robe, "Patiya" -girdle, "Pihiya" – knife or razor, "Indikatuwa" – needle and "Perahankadaya"– water strainer
"Dayakas"- donors or contributors are free to offer a piece of cloth as a "Katinaya". In such a case the piece of cloth should be sufficient to make either "Andanaya"-underwear, "Thanipota Sivura"-a single robe, or a "Depata Sivura" Double robe.

Items added to Katina by devotees overwhelmed with happiness

The sentence uttered by the devotees is itself an indication that various other items are included in the Katina Cheevara Puja.'Parivara Parikkarehi saddhin Iman Katina Cheevara Sanghassa Dema" This Pali term means that the wet season robe is offered together with the accoutrements.

"Ata Maha Kusal- Eight most efficacious merits

A person who wishes to enter the Order should possess “Atapirikara”-the eight accoutrements of a Buddhist priest. This is required for the higher Ordination also. "Avasa Puja - Offering of monasteries is the third in the list of eight most efficacious merits. Buddhist monks need shelters in order to avoid pestering and harassment caused by pests and mosquitoes and to avoid the ill effects of natural causes such as the heat of the sun, cold, wind and rain.

Sanghika Dana or presentation of alms to the priesthood including the Buddha "Buddha Pamukassa Sanghassa" is the fourth of the most efficacious merits. Offering of Dharma Books- "Dharma Lekhana", offering of land -"Khetta Dana" Offering of Buddha statuesVacca kuti" for the use of the clergy are the most efficacious merits. During the "Cheevara Masa" or the Katina Puja month all these efficacious merits are acquired by us in our temples.

Katina Cheevara puja is listed first among the eight most efficacious merits as enunciated by the Enlightened One - Gauthama Buddha. It should be mentioned that during the Ceevara month the other seven most efficacious merits arc also accomplished by the "Siv Vanak Pirisa - the company of the assembly of four kinds viz. monks, nuns, lay male devotees and lay female devotees.

The Robe presented as Katina

The robe is a tattered, yellow cloth. This is stitched not to suit the body of any individual but in a way to be used by any monk of any age or any physical size. On His way to Dhakkhinagiriya the Enlightened One while passing Magadha track of paddy fields had shown the terraces and divisions in the paddy field to Ananda Maha Thera and told him that the cloth should be cut and stitched in the manner in which the parts of the paddy field are connected.

Parts of the Katina Cheevaraya

Katina Cheewaraya consists of an odd number of parts usually five or seven. These parts are called "Athu". The part at the centre is "Vas Athu" and parts on either side are "Ela Athu" Boarders about six inches are "Nuwawa Athu" The parts or Athu are separated by stitches known as "Kap Bindu"

There is a custom according to which it is not proper for the clergy to obtain Katina Cheewaraya on request. "Matarapi Pitarapi tun na Vattati" This means that Bhikkhus should not get "Katina" at request even from the mother or the father. It should manifest itself from voluntary sources.

All-night Pirith Chanting and the procession - Katina Perahera
At night on the day before the Katina puja day all-night Pirith Chanting Pinkama is performed. Pirith is chanted throughout the night. The procession which we call ''Katina Perahera" is started during the last quarter of the night from the temple and preceded to the chief dayaka's residence.

The perahera parades the streets and in the procession the Dayakas carry with them various items such as Tea leaves, Coffee, Sugar, Medicinal herbs, bedspreads, pillows and brooms. In the procession the Katina is carried under a canopy with all respects amidst the cries of “Sadhu” by the devotees.

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