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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Duruthu Poya Gauthama Buddha’s first visit to Lanka

Duruthu Poya Gauthama Buddha’s first visit to Lanka

By Gamini Jayasinghe

Duruthu Full Moon Poya day usually falls on the first month of the calendar year i.e. January and hence the celebration of Duruthu poya is the first Buddhist event of each calendar year. It was on a day like today, nine months after the Enlightenment that Gautama Buddha, the Eminent One, the Exalted One set foot on our land- Sri Lanka for the first occasion. This took place on the first Duruthu full moon poya day after His Enlightenment.

First sixty Arahants of

Gauthama Buddha Sasana
Gauthama Buddha’s first discourse was Dhammacakkapavattana sutta which was delivered on Esala Full Moon poya day. Five Brahmin ascetics Annata Kondanna and four others, who understood the Four Noble Truths and the Eight –fold Path, attained Arahantship. After the conversion Yasakulaputra and his followers they attained Arahantship and by Ill full moon poya day there were sixty Arahants excluding the Buddha. On the first Ill full moon poya day after the Enlightenment, the Exalted One dispatched the first sixty Arahants including the five ascetic monks- Pasvaga Mahanu- to various directions to propagate the sublime Dharma and He Himself went to Uruwela Danawwa to be of service to Jatila brothers and their followers. After subjugating them and putting them on the correct path the Buddha visited Sri Lanka. Thus before proceeding to Sri Lanka Gauthama Buddha put in the correct path, the very arrogant and aggressively asserted or presumptuous Uruvela Kassapa with five hundred followers, Nadi Kassapa with three hundred followers and Gaya Kassapa with two hundred followers.

Significant incidents taken place on Duruthu Full Moon Poya day

Gauthama Buddha’s first visit to Lanka after putting the very arrogant Kassapa brothers in the correct path and offering the Hair Relic to god Sumana Saman are regarded as significant incidents taken place on the Duruthu Full Moon Poya day. Duruthu Perahera of Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya is also conducted on this day. The visit of Gauthama Buddha to Sri Lanka is the most important incident in the history of Sri Lanka after the Rama / Rawana war which is said to have taken place in this country more than three thousand and one hundred years ago.

Settlement of the dispute between Yakkhas and

Nagas who were in

constant confrontation
At the time when the Enlightened One visited Sri Lanka for the first time the inhabitants of this country were Yakkhas who were humans and descendants of Rawana and his brother, Vibhishana. Yakkhas and Nagas were in constant confrontation. There is a belief that god Sumana Saman had invited the Buddha to put an end to that hostility. It was on this invitation that the Enlightened One set foot on Mahiyangana Mahanaga Grove. At that time the Yakkhas had gathered there for a meeting.

Rays of light from the

Buddha’s body more

pleasant, clear, calm and gentle than moon light
The Buddha stood there radiating rays of light from His body more pleasant, clear, calm and gentle than the moon light. The aggregate of six colours forming a halo around the Buddha in separate circles viz. blue, yellow, red, white, crimson and the colour formed by their combination.

Yakkhas turned

Yakkhas were not prepared to listen to the Buddha as they thought that He was an invader on their hereditary land. Yakkha soldiers were up in arms. It was time for the Buddha to subjugate the Yakkhas and the Buddha terrified them by setting forth a terrible drought, rain thunder and a gale. Yakkhas were terrified and realized that Buddha was a supernatural being and turned submissive. They obeyed the Buddha and begged for His pardon. The Buddha laid His piece of cloth –Pathkada- on the ground and after sitting on it He called the Yakkha and Naga leaders and admonished both parties. According to legends the Yakkhas who dispersed had gone to Giri Divayina not being able to understand the words of the Buddha. Mahiyangana Dagaba which is also known as Miyuguna Seya was built at the site of the Mahanaga grove in Minipe where the Buddha had subjugated the Yakkhas.

Devas and Nagas take
refuge in the Triple Gem –God Sumana Saman to protect Sri Lanka
According to legends Devas and Nagas assembled at Maha Naga grove in large numbers and took refuge in the Triple Gem. Among them was god Sumana Saman. According to legends God Sumana Saman is a member of the Deva tribe from the central hills of Sri Lanka. This god attained “Sowan “or the first of the four paths or stages leading to Nirvana. God Saman begged for a relic for worshipping and the Buddha gave him a lock of His hair relic. God Saman received the hair relic in a gold casket and enshrined it in Mahiyangana chethiya which he built at the place where the Exalted One stayed. This is the first dagaba in Sri Lanka and one of the shrines built during the time of the Buddha.

After forty five years “Greeva Dhathu” the Collar bone relic of the Buddha was enshrined in this dagaba by Arahant Sarabha. This Dagaba had been renovated from time to time by various kings such as Dutugemunu, Dhatusena, Sirisangabo and Agbo.

Buddha’s visit to

Magadha kingdom
During the month of Duruthu the Omniscient One proceeded to Magadha Kingdom accompanied by Jatila Arahants. This visit was made in keeping with an invitation extended by Magadha King Bimbisara to the Buddha before His Enlightenment. Arahant Uruwela Kassapa, Aarahant Nadi Kassapa, Arahant Gaya Kassapa and their followers accompanied the Buddha. Having seen the Buddha with Arahant Kassapa king Bimbisara hesitated to believe that Uruwela Kassapa was a disciple of the Buddha. Realizing the king’s misconception Arahant Uruwela Kassapa performed a perahera to indicate that all the Jatila Arahants including himself were disciples of the Buddha. King Bimbisara and his people were very happy and devotedly embraced Buddhism. Buddha preached Dharma and all of them took refuge in the Triple Gem. King Bimbisara offered Veluwanaramaya to the Buddha. Buddha made a proclamation allowing Bhikkhus to accept monasteries.

King Bimbisara’s dream

King Bimbisara saw in a dream that his deceased relatives were suffering having born as goblins. Buddha preached Dharma to offer merits to those goblins.

On Duruthu Full moon poya day the Omnificent One visited Lanka for the first time and made this land a suitable place for Arahant Mahinda Maha Thera to establish Buddhism. We, the present population of this country are fortunate to have pure Buddhism in our country.

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