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Ven. Sayadaw U Panna Vamsa
(Agga Maha Pandita, Agga Maha Saddhamma Jotikadhaja)
Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple
Penang, Malaysia

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1 Preface 2 Predawn Era
3 The Birth of a Bodhisatta 4 His Childhood
5 The Great Renunciation 6 His Struggle for Enlightenment
7 His Seven Weeks of Fasting 8 The Buddha expounded His Dhamma
9 The Original Missionary Monks 10 The Royal Invitation
11 The Buddha's Parinibbana - The Final Release from Birth and Death 12 The Supporters of the Buddhas Mission
13 The Dhamma 14 How to become a Buddhist
15 The Singalovada Sutta 16 The Four Factors of Endowments
17 The Sangha 18 Venerable Sariputta
19 Venerable Moggalana 20 Venerable Kassapa
21 Venerable Ananda 22 Venerable Angulimala
23 Venerable Bhikkhuni Khema Theri 24 Venerable Bhikkhuni Uppalavanna Theri
25 Venerable Bhikkhuni Mahapajapati Gotami Theri

26 Venerable Bhikkhuni Dhammadinna Theri
27 Venerable Bhikkhuni Patacara Theri 28 Outstanding and Distinguished Arahants
29 The Great Buddhist Councils Acknowledgment


       "Dawn of Buddhism" is yet another important milestone for the Buddhist literature published, for it contains unusual useful facts. The information incorporated is to make the book delightful to the research students and Dhamma practitioners. However the sole aim of this book is to disseminate the Buddha's teachings lucidly and harmoniously.

       Dawn of Buddhism, as the name implies, presents the budding of Buddhism, when everything is fresh and new, yearning for growth and maturity. So are the many final endings in this book displayed in this manner, leaving the end-destinations for the readers to discover for themselves in earnest quest. This is partly planned to synchronize with the book theme and partly to invoke the sense of research adventure, without losing the thrill of self-reliance; an important facet in the Teachings of the Buddha.

       Originally, it was intended to cover only from birth to enlightenment of the Buddha, touching on the earlier chapters of Buddhist episode. However, when the story-line fabric was woven, it inadvertently spilt over onto the later part, making the picture complete, even though somewhat superficially.

       The fervent wish to share Buddhist knowledge is the salient feature of this publication. Therefore, the seldom printed facts about the right- and left- flanking great disciples of the Buddha, are listed therein. So also are the "specialist" disciples, males and females; mentioned in this book too.

       Finally I hope that all readers and scholars will find this book an appreciative literature to treasure. As in all things, the occurrence of error and omission in printed literature, makes it an authentic human endeavour, even after a stringent proof-reading and many repeated checkings. In this matter I sincerely apologise for any short-coming found in this book.

       If, by the concerted effort and co-operation culminating in the success of this publication should earn merit, may it be shared with all our readers. May all beings be well and happy.

      Ven. U Panna Vamsa
       Chief Monk,
       Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple,
       Penang Malaysia.



Pre Dawn Era

       The Dawn of Buddhism was sparked off in the deep past covering a period of four Asankheyyas and one hundred thousand aeons ago. There was even an actual pre-dawn era to signal the germination of the Buddha Aspiration. Viewing the glory of the Buddha is a very traumatic experience and may involve the arousing of the Buddhist Righteous Wish (Dhamma Canda) and the very great inspiration to become a Buddha Supreme. This happened to our Gotama Buddha who, in the Buddhist history, began practising the Act of Wishing (Mano Panidhana) by thought, to become a Buddha. Gotama did this in the presence of the numerous Supremely Enlightened Buddhas whom he met in the journey of the cycle of birth and death (Samsara). This would ensure that he was firmly and mentally resolute to become a Buddha.

       Then he practised the Act of Wishing by verbal expression (Vaci Panidhana), to become a Buddha in the presence of the very many Supremely Enlightened Buddhas whom he met during his journey in Samsara (the cycle of birth and death). This would ensure that he was firmly rooted in speech and not to deviate from his aspiration to become a Buddha.

       The mental and verbal Acts of his wish could be only completed when the bodily (physical) expression (Kaya Panidhana) to become Buddha was duly performed. This he did upon meeting the Dipankara Buddha in the "Sara Manda Kappa" which means " a Five-Buddha aeon" when he made the "Kaya Panidhana" act by offering his body to the Dipankara Buddha as a bridge to walk across the muddy hole along the Buddha's path.

       Although it is extremely difficult to become a Supreme Enlightened Buddha, it should be everyone's aim to become enlightened.

       At that moment of declaring and practising the "Kaya Panidhana" (the physical manifestation to become a Buddha) before a living Supreme Buddha, He became a confirmed Bodhisatta or a future Buddha possessing the following inherent factors:

       1. He must be born as a human being.

       2. He must be of the male sex

       3. He must be qualified to attain Arahatship and be prepared to renounce that in favour of becoming a Bodhisatta instead. This is a Crucial Qualification to be a qualified Bodhisatta.

       4. He must aspire in the presence of a Supreme Buddha. It would be futile to aspire before a Pacceka Buddha or an Arahant.

       5. He must have had renounced everything (all his worldly possessions) and be a hermit or a recluse during the dispensation of a Buddha.

       6. He must have the Supernormal Powers (such as Divine Eyes, Divine Ear, etc., etc.,), together with the full jhanic ecstasy.

       7. He must be so selfless as to even sacrifice his life for the Buddha and the Ariyan Noble Truth.

       8. He must also have the enduring fortitude and energy to uphold and practise the Bodhisatta ideals (Paramitas) until successfully and completely accomplished.

       So our Gotama Buddha as the Sumedha Pandit was repleted with the above eight requisite qualifications to walk the path of the Buddha-to-be, then received the universal declaration from Dipankara Buddha that in future, Sumedha would definitely become a Buddha himself. This unique declaration made Sumedha the hermit, an officially qualified Bodhisatta. Thus ended the pre-Dawn Buddhism of Gotama Buddha.

Dawn of Buddhism

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       Long, long ago, measuring in many millions of years, there was an ancient royal city named Amaravati, a place of great splendour. People living there were very happy, prosperous and enjoyed long life.

       Among the richest in Amaravati, was a family who had an only son, named Sumedha who was endowed with profound prudence.

       At the age of sixteen, young Sumedha was very learned and talented. His parents died when he was young and so the vast family inheritance was put in the care of an appointed treasurer. When he came of age, the treasurer handed over all his family inheritance and showed him the vast extent of his properties.

       At that juncture, he realized within himself: "My parents and their forebears were unable to take even a single coin along with them when they died, but I should find a way to take along with me all the inheritance in my possession! So I am giving away all my entire possession to the welfare and benefit of all!" He threw open the doors of his thousands of warehouses containing silver, gold, diamonds and other treasures to the public who could take away anything they wanted. He freed his serfs and made them very rich.

       After giving away all his wealth, he went forth to the Himalaya mountains and became an ascetic in the forest there. He earnestly practised estatic meditation and attained supernatural powers within seven days. He soon became a well-known and respected powerful ascetic.

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       It was when the people of Aramavati were busily preparing to welcome the Dipankara Buddha for alms-giving, that the ascetic Sumedha also participated in the joyous event.

       Among the welcoming crowd, there was a young lady named Sumitta who was also an eager participant. When she saw the ascetic, she was so happy and delighted. She had with her eight lotus blooms of which she gave five to the ascetic, leaving three in her hand for offering to the Dipankara Buddha.

       Having offered the flowers, the ascetic made a wish with the firm resolution to become a Buddha in future and the lady also made a wish that she would always accompany the ascetic until he fulfilled his quest.

       At this juncture, the Dipankara Buddha foretold that the ascetic Sumedha would become a Buddha in four Asankheyyas and one hundred thousand aeons when He was passing over the body of ascetic Sumedha, being offered as a bridge over a muddy hole on the road.

The Life of a Bodhisatta

       Since he became a Bodhisatta, he set about fulfilling the three grades of the Ten Perfections, the Five Sacrifices and the Three Modes of Conduct in every life, whether in the human world or in heavens and elsewhere. His epic Bodhisatta journey which began straight away from the Buddha Dipankara was to last four Asankheyyas and one hundred thousand aeons. During his life as a practising Bodhisatta from the time he met the Dipankara Buddha until he became a Samma Sambuddha, he met the following Buddhas during his journey:

       1. DIPANKARA BUDDHA - when Bodhisatta was Ascetic Sumedha

       2. KONDANNA BUDDHA - when Bodhisatta was Raja or King

       3. MANGALA BUDDHA - when Bodhisatta was wise man

       4. SUMANA BUDDHA - when Bodhisatta was King

       5. REVATA BUDDHA - when Bodhisatta was wise man

       6. SOBHITA BUDDHA - when Bodhisatta was wise man

       7. ANOMADASSI - when Bodhisatta was Devil King

       8. PADUMA BUDDHA - when Bodhisatta was Bodhisatta Lion

       9. NARADA BUDDHA - when Bodhisatta was an ascetic

       10. PADUMUTTARA BUDDHA - when Bodhisatta was wise man

       11. SUMEDHA BUDDHA - when Bodhisatta was wise man

       12. SUJATA BUDDHA - when Bodhisatta was wise rich man

       13. PIYADASSI BUDDHA - when Bodhisatta was wise man

       14. ATTHADASSI BUDDHA - when Bodhisatta was an ascetic

       15.DHAMMADASSI BUDDHA - when Bodhisatta was Heavenly King

       16. SIDDHATTHA BUDDHA - when Bodhisatta was wise man

       17. TISSA BUDDHA - when Bodhisatta was wise man

       18. PHUSSA BUDDHA - when Bodhisatta was Raja or King

       19. VIPASSI BUDDHA - when Bodhisatta was Raja or King

       20. SIKHI BUDDHA - when Bodhisatta was Raja or King

       21. VESSABHU BUDDHA - when Bodhisatta was Bhikkhu (monk)

       22. KAKUSSANDHA BUDDHA - when Bodhisatta was Bhikkhu (monk)

       23. KONAGAMANA BUDDHA - when Bodhisatta was wise rich man

       24. KASSAPA BUDDHA - when Bodhisatta was Bhikkhu (monk)

       Whereupon he repeated his affirmation to become a Buddha just like them. They too repeated their declaration that he was a confirmed Bodhisatta to become a Samma Sambuddha in due course. His Bodhisatta journey in the cycle of birth and death began with ascetic Sumedha and finally ended with his life as King Vessantara. Thus he had completed Bodhisatta-ship fulfilling the Perfections, Sacrifices and Mode of Conduct as he was duty bound to do so.

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The Birth of a Bodhisatta

       Thereafter he was born in Tusita Heaven, as a deity named Setaketu, enjoying a contented and blissful life. He was also known as Santussita deva the name derived from the divine abode he was staying in.

       Nearing the end of his divine life-span, all the divine beings from the ten thousand universes cordially requested him saying: "Dear Bodhisatta deva, it is the right time for you to become a Buddha in the human world, for the welfare and benefit of all beings!"

       First he reviewed the Five Great Observations and thereafter he consented to their request.

       From Tusita heaven, he passed away and was duly conceived in the womb of Queen Maha, the Chief Consort of King Suddhodana.

       On an auspicious night Queen Maha Maya had a strange dream, in which a white elephant carrying a white lotus in its trunk, circumambulating her, keeping to the right side, entered into her womb through the right side. Thereafter she became pregnant on Thursday Asalha Full moon day in the year 67 Maha Era. When it was nearly childbirth time, and in accordance with the ancient custom, accompanied by a large retinue, she proceeded to return to her royal parents' home in Devadaha. However during the long journey, she took a rest in Lumbini Park which was between Devadaha and Kapilavatthu on the border of Nepal. In the garden, while holding a branch of a fully bloom sal tree, the baby Prince was born, that was on a Friday the Fullmoon Day of Visakha (May) in 623 B.C. in 68 Maha Era.

       On the day of his birth the baby Prince uttered,

       1. "Aggo hamasmi lokassa" which means "Chief am I in this world"

       2. "Jettho hamasmi lokassa" which means "Greatest am I in this world"

       3. "Settho hamasmi lokassa" which means "Most Exalted am I in this world"

       Pointing to the North, he said "This is the Northern Quarter!" and he walked towards the North stepping on seven lotus flowers that sprouted out from the ground. This took place in the midst of many wonderful miracles, happening all over, causing great rejoicing in heavens and on earth as a natural expression of their heartfelt delight in the glory of the Queen and her royal baby. After the unique birth of the baby Prince in Lumbini Park, the Queen was no longer traditionally obliged to proceed to Devadaha. She returned to Kapilavatthu in great triumph and rejoicing, accompanied by an even greater supporting retinue of both countries.

       The great royal Sage named Asita, also known as Kala Devila, came to the palace to see the baby Prince. The King brought the child to pay him due respect, but instead, the Prince's feet turned and rested on the matted locks of the Sage. At once, the great Sage quickly rose from his seat and saluted him with joined hands because he knew that the baby Prince would become a Buddha. The royal father, although surprised, also did the same salutation for the first time, to his son.

       The next moment however the Sage smiled, because he knew the Prince would become a Buddha and thereafter after the Sage wept bitterly as he would not be able to see the Buddha. The Sage then explained everything to allay the anxious and concerned King.

       On the fifth day of the Prince's birth, the King invited one hundred and eight learned brahmans to choose a suitable and auspicious name for the Prince. Finally the name Siddhattha Gotama was chosen and agreed upon. "Siddhattha" means wish-fulfilled whilst "Gotama" was his family name. Furthermore, an elite team of eight highly distinguished brahmans was specially selected to predict the future of the Prince.

       Of them, seven raised two fingers to signify that the Prince would either become a Universal Monarch or a Buddha. However, the youngest Brahman Kondanna raised only one finger and confidently affirmed that the Prince would surely become a Buddha.

       On the seventh day after the birth of the Prince, Queen Maha Maya passed away and was reborn in Tusita Heaven, as a Santusita deva; and there upon, her sister Maha Pajapati Gotami, became the foster mother. She brought up the Prince with her utmost care and love. She herself had two children; one son named Nanda and one daughter named Rupa Nanda.

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His Childhood

       The Prince was very happy as a royal child. He received an early and complete education, being specially trained in academic skills. As a son of the warrior race, he was honed in skills of archery and the art of war-fare. Although a Prince of the warrior race, he was kind and gentle to everyone, including animals.

       At the young age of sixteen, as was the ancient custom then in vogue, he was married to his beautiful cousin Princess Yasodhara, the daughter of King Suppabuddha and Queen Pamita who was the sister of King Suddhodana. Princess Yasodhara had a brother named Devadatta.

       Among those who were of the same age as Prince Siddhattha were:- Princess Yasodhara (Badda Kaccana); Ananda, son of King Amitodana; Kaludayi, a minister; Channa, also another minister; the Bodhi tree; horse Kanthaka and the appearance of four Jars of Gold at the palace.

       Eighty thousand royal relatives headed by King Suddhodana assembled at the grand coronation of Prince Siddhattha and Princess Yasodhara as the future King and Queen. They were duly annoited as rightful heirs to the Throne with absolute rights to sovereignty.

       Prince Siddhattha and Princess Yasodhara lived a very happy married life because they were compatible and agreed with each other in every way.

       They lived in three beautiful palaces named Ramma, Suramma and Subha respectively for the three seasons namely Winter, Summer and Rainy Season.

      Although he was enjoying worldly pleasure, the Prince was also concerned with the bare realities of life. This often made him think about the dissatisfactions in life. Curious about the life outside the palace, the Prince wanted to visit the royal park. So preparations with great care were taken by his royal father to make the journey pleasant and enjoyable so that the Prince could forget about suffering and the negative side of life.

       When everything was ready, the Prince went to visit the royal park with his charioteer Channa. During the journey he saw a very old decrepit man and being upset he returned to the palace, pondering deeply about life he never knew before; on the next journey he saw a sick and groaning man, again upset, he returned to the palace; on the third day he saw a corpse and still upset, he returned to the palace. Finally he saw a serene mendicant monk on his fourth journey and being very pleased, proceeded on to enjoy his successful visit to the park.

       Later on and still in the park he was told about the birth of his son, at which he exclaimed that a fetter had been born (Rahu jato) and this prompted the royal grandfather to name his new-born grandson "Rahula". Going home from the royal park the Prince heard lady Kisa Gotami singing an admiring hymn from her window when she saw him passing by: The meaning of which is as follows:

       As an appreciation of the deep meaning verse to urge him in his search for Peace, the Prince presented her through someone his necklace which prompted her to believe that the Prince had fallen in love with her. Back home in the palace, the Prince was much agitated and filled with a great urgency to renounce. He made up his mind to renounce that very night.

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The Great Renunciation

      That night the Prince woke up at midnight and saw the musicians lying in disarray, looking like so many corpsses. He became disgusted and quickly went away from that place and ordered Channa, his charioteer to saddle his favourite horse, Kanthaka for the epic journey of renunciation. On the way out, he peeped into the bedroom to see Princess Yasodhara and baby Rahula in deep sleep. Casting aside the paternal sentiment to kiss the child, he quickly proceeded to the waiting stallion and Channa. Riding on the horse, he was met by Mara (evil one) who abortively attempted to stop his great renunciation at the city gate.

      The Bodhisatta Prince ignored Mara and rode far into the night until he reached and crossed over the river Anoma. Getting down from his stallion, he took off all his royal jewelry and princely garments. He then cut off his hair with his sword and threw them up into the air. Sakkadevaraja the King of heaven, took the Bodhisatta's hair and enshrined them in the Culamani ceti in Tavatimsa Heaven. Next the Bodhisatta Prince donned the monk's yellow robes and took the other requisites given by his former friend Ghatikara Maha Brahma who took back the Siddhattha's princely clothes and enshrined them in the Dussa Ceti in the Brahma loka. This meant that the Prince had become a penniless wandering ascetic with no fixed abode but wandered from place to place, living under trees, in shrubs or at the foot of trees and inside caves. As such he was also dependent on alms food given as charity. He was also called a Bodhisatta.

      Bodhisatta means a wisdom being. It is also the name given to one who is trying to become a Buddha. In this way the Bodhisatta Prince was living a simple life alone, spending his time in search of Truth and Peace by avidly practising meditation.

      The ascetic Prince then told Channa to take his royal jewelry back to King Suddhodana. Channa offered thrice to renounce with the Prince but was firmly refused permission. So he sadly carried on as ordered, walking away slowly from the Bodhisatta Prince as the stallion Kanthaka had died out of grief and was reborn in Tavatimsa Heaven.

      After his ordination, he spent seven days in the Anupiya Mango Grove near the Anoma river enjoying the bliss of renunciation and solitude. On the eighth day he went for alms-round in the city of Rajagaha.

      At the sight of the noble figure of the Bodhisatta Prince going for alms-round, the people and King Bimbisara were greatly amazed. Curious the King ordered his courtiers to enquire who he was. After the alms-round, he went to have his food at Pandava rock. On looking, he was upset at the first sight of the mixed almsfood and was unable to immediately start eating. However after consoling himself, he eventually ate the food.

      Upon learning about the renunciation of the Bodhisatta Prince, King Bimbisara offered him his Kingdom. But the Bodhisatta Prince refused stating that he was intent on Buddha-hood. The king was very pleased to hear his lofty ideal and invited him to visit his Kingdom first after his enlightenment.

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The search for Truth and Peace

      In his search for supreme truth, the Bodhisatta Prince sought learning the Truth from a well-known ascetic Alara Kalama, who taught him up to the seventh estatic meditation attainment. As this could not bring about the Ultimate Truth he was looking for, he left his ascetic teacher and went to another. The next ascetic teacher Udaka Ramaputta, though more famous and well-known, was only able to teach him the eighth and Final estatic meditation attainment but not the Noble Ultimate Truth.

      As he was still not satisfied with this highest worldly meditation attainment, he again left his second ascetic teacher. He then decided to seek out the Ultimate Truth alone all by himself.

      Though he was disappointed he was not discouraged. He had already made up his mind to do this and chose a beautiful quiet spot, in the Uruvela forest. At this juncture, the five monks, Kondanna, Bhaddiya, Vappa, Mahanama and Assaji attended on him. Kondanna was the youngest amongst the eight specially chosen Brahmans to predict the future of baby Prince Siddhattha. The other four monks were the sons of the fellow Brahman colleagues of Kondanna. The Bodhisatta had to struggle for six futile years before he could attain Buddha-hood.

      During the severe extreme ascetic practise, his body was reduced to almost a skeleton. At that juncture, Mara (the Evil One) approached and urged him to give up his struggle and to go on living, performing meritorious actions. He said to the Bodhisatta Prince that by doing so he would become a Universal Monarch in seven days. Nevertheless he was told off by the Bodhisatta Prince, who identified Mara's army as of Ten Defilements/ Passions. Sad and disappointed at his own failure, Mara left dejectedly.

      As the Bodhisatta realised the futility of self-mortification (extreme austerities) to attain enlightenment, he gave up total fasting and ate some food. Whereupon the five attendant monks left him, thinking that the Bodhisatta Prince had given up struggling. Being of iron-will, he was happy to be alone.

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His Struggle for Enlightenment

      One day when he was seated under a banyan tree, a generous lady named Sujata, offered him some milk rice. After the meal he threw his almsbowl into the river and made a solemn resolve that the almsbowl would float upstream if he would succeed in his quest for enlightenment. The almsbowl floated upstream for a distance and sank into the naga world, rested as the fourth on the stack of almsbowl belonging to the three previous Buddhas. The milk rice made him feel strong and lie left for Buddha Gaya. On the way he met a grass-cutter, Sotthiya by name who gave him eight bundles of grass which the Bodhisatta used to make his meditation seat in his struggle for enlightenment. He made a firm resolution not to rise from his seat until he had gained Buddha-hood. At that time he was seated under the famous Bodhi Tree in Buddha Gaya and firmly resolved that "Though my skin, my nerve, my bone and my life blood dried up yet would not leave my seat until I had attained enlightenment"

      The Bodhisatta vanquished Mara and his hosts before the sunset. During the first watch of the night (6.00 p.m. to 10 p.m.) he gained the knowledge by which he was able to remember past lives. (Pubbe Nivasanussati Nana). He next obtained the power to see earthly or heavenly events, near or far and the death and rebirth of all beings. (Dibba Cakkhu Nana or Sutupupata Nana) in the second watch (10 p.m. to 2 a.m.). In the third watch (2.00 a.m to 6.00 am) he gained knowledge by which he could destroy all defilements (passions) (Asavakkhaya Nana), understood the Four Noble Truths and became a Samma Sambuddha by himself. (*Four Noble Truths will be explained in greater detail in the Dhamma Section).

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      Ascetic Siddhattha attained Supreme Enlightenment

      The Bodhisatta attained Supreme Enlightenment on Wednesday, at the beginning of sunset and moon rise on the Full moon Day of Vesakha month (May) in 93 Maha Era, 588 BC at the age of thirty-five. After His enlightenment, He was called Buddha Gotama (Buddha inspiration will be explained later in the Dhamma section.)

      Soon after enlightenment, the Buddha uttered a paean of joy, Udana in Pali:

      "Anekajati samsaram, sandhavissam anibbisatm.

      Gahakaram gavesanto, dukkha jati punappunam.

      Gahakaraka dittho' si, puna geham na kahasi.

      Sabba te phasuka bhagga, gahakutam visankhatam.

      Visamkharagatam cittam tanhanam khayam-ajjhaga!"

      His first Paean of Joy

      "Thro' many a birth in Samsara wandered I,

      Seeking, but not finding, the builder of this house.

      Sorrowful is repeated birth.

     O house-builder! Thou art seen.

      Thou shalt build no house again.

      All thy rafters are broken, thy ridgepole is shattered.

      The mind attains the unconditioned.

      Achieved is the end of craving!"

      In His first paean of joy, He exclaimed that He had seen the "builder" of His house (aggregates) and so by attaining the enlightenment, He is able to see the "builder" of His house and put an end to His craving; thus He was no longer subject to rebirth. After the Enlightenment, He spent seven weeks fasting as welt as experiencing the various aspect of Emancipation.

Seven weeks fasting practised by the Buddha after His Enlightenment

      In the first week He sat under the Bodhi Tree enjoying the bliss of Emancipation and reviewed the Wheel of Life (Dependent Origination) in its dual order.

      The Buddha spent the second week, standing and gazing with motionless eyes at the Bodhi Tree and the Throne as a mark of gratitude.

      In the third week, He mindfully walked up and down the jewelled promenade (Ratana Cankamana).

      When the fourth week came, the Buddha sat in the jewelled chamber and contemplated on the Higher Dhamma (Abhidhamma) in the neighbourhood of Buddhagaya.

      In the fifth week, He sat in meditation under the Ajapala banyan tree and was unsuccessfully tempted by Mara's three daughters, Tanha, Arati and Raga after their father's failed attempt.

      The Buddha spent the sixth week under the Mucalinda Tree in deep contemplation. There arose a heavy rain storm and the serpent King Mucalinda who ruled in the lake underneath, sheltered the Buddha with the seven coils of its body and opened its hood as a protective umbrella over Him. In the end when the storm abated, the serpent King transformed itself into a youth, paid obeisance and straight away returned to its abode.

      In the seventh and final week the Buddha sat under the Rajayatana tree enjoying the bliss of Nibbana and so completed the forty-nine days of ariyan fasting.

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      Breaking of Fast

      On the fiftieth day, the two merchants name Tapussa and Bhallika offered honey and food made from flour to the Buddha. The Buddha accepted the food in an alms bowl donated by the Four Great Guardian Gods.

      After the dana (almsfood) they took the Two Fold Refuge in the Buddha and Dhamma (Dwe Vacika Sarana), as there was no sangha in existence yet. They became the first Upasakas (male disciples) of the Buddha.

      They also requested the Buddha for something to worship. So the compassionate Buddha touched His head with His right hand and gave them some hair as relic to worship. They took them home to Pokkharavati in the state of Okkala and put them in the golden casket for enshrinement in a Pagoda.

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Preaching of the Dhamma

      At this juncture the Buddha thought how deep His Dhamma was and how difficult it would be for the people to understand and practise. Coincidentally Brahma Sahampatti appeared before Him and invited Him to preach the Dhamma, as there were some people who could understand the Dhamma.

      With His Divine Eye, He surveyed and saw that indeed there were people who could understand the Dhamma. He first thought of His first ascetic teacher Alara Kalama but he had died a week ago. He then thought of His second ascetic teacher Udaka Ramaputta but he just died the day before. Finally He thought of the group of five monks who had attended on Him. He found that they were staying in the Deer Park at Isipatana, Benarasi.

      Out of compassion the Buddha went to see them in the Park. On the way, He met the wandering ascetic Upaka who asked the Buddha who His teacher was. The Buddha replied that He had no teacher (for his attainment of Buddhahood). Alara Kalama and Udaka Ramaputta were the ascetic teachers before He became a Buddha.

      The five monks, on seeing the distant approaching Buddha, agreed at first not to pay Him due respect. However as He drew near, they could not resist from giving Him the due respect. In any case they did not address the Buddha correctly and properly because they did not know that the Ascetic Siddhattha whom they had been serving before, had attained Buddhahood.

      The Buddha then told them not to address Him thus for three times. Finally He successfully convinced them of His attainment and they sat patiently to hear the Dhamma.

      The Buddha then preached the Dhamma Cakka Pavattana Sutta — the Discourse on Turning In Motion the Wheel of Truth, on the Full moon Day of Asalha (July) Saturday in the year Maha Era 103. Among the five monks listening were also numerous devas (celestial beings) and Brahmas (higher celestial beings) as well as other beings.

      As expounded in the said Sutta, the Buddha advised the monks to give up two extremes — the enjoyment of sensual pleasures and the tormenting of the body (self-indulgence and self-mortification), respectively. Though not everyone would have to give up pleasure, those who had renounced the world should do so.

      The Buddha asked the five monks to give up the two extremes because as a Prince then He had enjoyed self-indulgence (sensual pleasures) and as an ascetic, he had tormented his body (self mortification). In the former He found it to be base and vulgar while in the latter He found it to be pathetic. Though people were found to be easily moved by and readily believed in self-mortification, yet it produced no purity.

      The Buddha found the Middle Path (Majjhima Patipada) of avoiding the two extremes. Majjhima Patipada means the Noble Eight Fold Path which is for one to practise accordingly, leading to Nibbana.

      At the end of the Discourse, Kondanna understood the Dhamma and attained enlightenment as Sotapanna, the first stage of Sainthood, It is also called a Stream-Winner, as he had seen Nibbana for the first time. When he attained Sotapanna, the Devas and Brahmas rejoiced and a very bright light appeared in the world. The other four monks also became Stream-Winners (Sotapannas) later. The group of five monks later attained Arahantship after listening to the Anattalakkhana-Sutta, the Discourse on No-Soul. An Arahat means a Worthy One, free from all bondage.

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The Original Missionary Monks

      The sixth disciple was Yasa, son of a rich man. Disgusted with the world he ran away from home at night and met the Buddha, listened to His Dhamma and became an Arahat. Searching for his son Yasa, the father too met the Buddha and listening to His Dhamma became the first male follower (Upasaka) who took the Three-fold Refuges. Likewise Yasa's mother and wife also became the first two female followers (Upasikas) who sought the threefold refuges. The three lay disciples attained Sotapanna (first stage of ariyahood) after listening to the Buddha's dhamma.

      Meanwhile Yasa's fifty-four staunch friends, after hearing the Buddha's Dhamma also became Arahats, Vimala, Subahu, Punnaji and Gavampati were the four closest and dearest of Yasa's friends who attained Arahats first. They made up the total of sixty Arahats existing in the world then. With these Sixty Arahants, the Buddha told them; "Go forth, O Bhikkhus, one in each direction, Preach ye the Dhamma, for the good of many, for the welfare and happiness of many, proclaim ye the holy blameless life for the good of the world". After that the Buddha set out on foot alone to preach His new-found Dhamma.

      On the way He met the Thirty Bhadda Vaggi royal brothers who were having a picnic. As one of them was unmarried he engaged a courtesan who stole their gold and jewelry, creating an uproar. This made them hunt for the lady thief and consequently meet the Buddha. After hearing the Dhamma from the Buddha, they became ariyans in the first three stages of Sainthood (Sotapanna to Anagami).

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      The Buddha then proceeded to Rajagaha and met the famous three Kassapa Ascetic brothers, who lived by the bank of a river. They were very avid and successful Fire-worshippers. After the Buddha passed a night in the eldest Kassapa brother's temple and defeating the residential naga (dragon), he was convinced of the Buddha's powers and became His disciple. This led to the conversion of his two younger Kassapas, also fire-worshippers down stream. As they had five hundred, three hundred and two hundred disciples respectively who also became Buddhist monks, they made up a total of one thousand bhikkhus headed by the Kassapa brothers and all became Arahants after hearing the Buddha preached the Maha Narada Kassapa Jataka.

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      With these new found disciples the Buddha proceeded towards the kingdom of King Bimbisara, whom He had promised to visit first after His Enlightenment when He was Bodhisatta Ascetic earlier on. King Bimbisara together with one hundred and twenty thousand in his retinue, met the Buddha.

      King Bimbisara after hearing the story of Maha Narada Kassapa Jataka from the Buddha, attained the first stage of sainthood (Sotapanna). Among his retinue, one hundred and ten thousand attained Sotapanna Sainthood whilst the remaining ten thousand became Buddhists. He was very happy and expressing joy he told the Buddha that his five life-long wishes had been fulfilled. They were as follows

      1. Wish to be a King

      2. Wish that a holy man (homage-worthy one) visit his Kingdom

      3. Wish to pay respect and honour to that holy man

      4. Wish to hear the Ariyan Dhamma (Noble Truth)

      5. Wish to attain the Ariyan Dhamma (through realization)

      He then invited the Buddha and His disciples to the royal dana (alms giving). After that he offered his royal park Veluvana (Bamboo) grove to the Buddha and His monks. It was also a very suitable occasion for the Buddha to preach the Tirokutta Sutta.


      After the donation of Veluvana Bamboo Grove Temple to Buddha, that night King Bimbisara heard frightful, fearsome and horrible demons screaming and shouting outside the palace. After consulting the Buddha, he was told that the Throne and Kingdom were not in danger but those were his previous relatives in deprived state and who wanted the sharing of his merits. So as advised, the King duly performed alms giving and shared merits to his relatives whom the Buddha revealed them in their pitiful states.

      That became the starting of sharing of merits by reciting "Idam No Natinam Hotu Sukhita Hontu Natayo!" meaning "May our relatives share in the merits we have accrued and may they be well and happy!"

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      The Buddha's First Two Chief Disciples

      The Buddha's first two Chief Disciples were Venerable Sariputta (also known as Upatissa) and Venerable Moggalana (also known as Kolita). Both of them were from rich and prominent Brahman families. Fed up with worldly pleasure, both of them who were staunch friends, went out in search of Peace.

      (1) Sariputta was the son of Lady Rupasari (mostly called Sari) who was the very fortunate mother of seven Arahants, namely:

Arahant sons Arahant daughters
1. Sariputta 1. Cala
2. Upasena 2. Sisucala
3. Cunda 3. Upacala
4. Revata  

      (2) Moggalana was the son of a Brahman lady named Moggali

      At first both of them went to study under a well-known ascetic named Sanjaya. Soon both were dissatisfied with his instructions, left him and went their separate ways back to their own homes. Before doing so however, they promised they would keep each other informed of any opportunity to attain peace.

      Venerable Sariputta inevitably met and admired the Venerable Asaji who preached to him the Dhamma. On hearing the first two lines of the Dhamma verse, Sariputta became a Sotapanna. He repeated the Dhamma to Moggalana who also became a Sotapanna. When both of them went to see the Buddha, they became Arahants after hearing the Buddha preached the Dhamma. Then they requested the Buddha to ordain them as monks, Later the Buddha declared and made Venerable Sariputta His First Chief Disciple and Venerable Moggalana his Second Chief Disciple in the presence of the first assembly of one thousand two hundred and fifty (1,250) Ehi-Bhikkhu monks. Then the Buddha instructed the monks to observe the Ovada Patimokkha (Discipline).

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The Royal Invitation

      His royal father King Suddhodana sent nine invitations to invite the Buddha to return home and visit His birth place but were all unsuccessful. When the royal messengers met the Buddha, they heard His dhamma and attained Arahantship. They were so happy and elated that they forgot their royal mission and became monks. Only Kaludayi succeeded in inviting the Buddha. After his successful invitation, Kaludayi, a former playmate of' the Buddha who was born on the same day as Buddha, also became a Bhikkhu.

      Upon the invitation of His father King Suddhodana, the Buddha proceeded to Kapilavatthu. As He also preached Dhamma on the way, it took the Buddha two months to reach Kapilavatthu.

      On arriving at Kapilavatthu, the elderly royal Sakyan relatives, in keeping with their traditions, sent their younger ones to picnic away in the country side, expecting the Buddha to pay them the due respect. However the Buddha knew the real situation and performed the twin miracle. The twin miracle was the issuing of fire and water from His body simultaneously. This wonderful and spectacular feat captured and subdued their pride. His royal father, seeing this wonder, saluted Him, saying that it was his third respect. Finally the elderly Sakyan relatives paid their respect to the Buddha.

      The next day with bowl in hand,, He went from house to house seeking alms in the streets of Kapilavatthu. The King rushed up to Him and asked why He was disgracing him thus. The Buddha replied that it was the tradition of Buddhas. On hearing this the King became a sotapanna. Later he became a Sakadagami, He attained Anagami when he heard the Dhammapala Jataka. On his death bed he became an Arahant.

      When the Buddha entered the palace for the King's dana, many Sakyan ladies came to pay respects except Princess Yasodhara.

      She thought that if she had any virtues the Buddha would go to see her, Then she would pay Him utmost respect.

      So the Compassionate Buddha accompanied by a host of retinue led by the King and Pajapati Gotami, went to see her. Yasodhara then clasped the Buddha's ankles and worshipped Him as she liked. Meanwhile the King announced her sterling virtues to all present,

      At this juncture the Buddha expounded Canda Kinnari Jataka to illustrate her fidelity and virtues then, as well as in other previous lives.

      Later she entered the Order and became an Arahant when she was a Bhikkhuni.

      Nanda, the step-brother of the Buddha, was under royal consecration and its due ceremonies were ordered by the King. It was also attended by the Buddha. The ceremonies were:

      1. preparing the hair style for the Crown Prince,

      2. consecration of the Crown Prince,

      3. the coronation of the Crown Prince,

      4. the wedding of the Crown Prince, and

      5. the presentation of the whole exclusive Royal umbrella

      which took place on the third day of the Buddha's visit. However later after the dana, when he followed the Buddha back to Nijodharama Monastery carrying the almsbowl of the Buddha, whereupon he was ordained as a Bhikkhu.

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      On the seventh day of the Buddha's visit, Prince Rahula who was prompted by his mother to ask for his inheritance, was instead ordained as a novice monk at the young age of seven. This ordination which had the seven supramundane treasures was the more appropriate and beneficial inheritance the Buddha gave instead. In due course he became an Arahant. King Suddhodana became upset at the ordination of his only grandson and requested the Buddha to establish a radical rule that anyone who had obtained the consent of his parent or guardian, should only be ordained as a monk.

      The Buddha then left Kapilavatthu for Rajagaha but on the way He stopped at the Anupiya Mango Grove. In the meanwhile, the King called on the Sakyan royal households to present a Prince each for ordination to become monks. He managed to rally in groups of a thousand Sakyan Princes and sent them to the Buddha for ordination.

      Pajapati Gotami was also rejoicing the homecoming of the Buddha and offered Him a set of hand-woven monk's robes. After the death of King Suddhodana, she and some other Sakyan ladies took a leading part in requesting the Buddha to establish the Order of Nuns, several times but failed. Upon the intervention and initiative of Ananda's appeal, the Buddha later gave His consent. Thereupon Pajapati Gotami and some other royal Sakyan ladies joined the Nuns Order and became Arahants.

      On the seventh year of His enlightenment, the Buddha went to Tavatimsa Heaven to preach the Abhidhamma (Higher Philosophical Truth) to His deva mother and also to observe the Vassana (Rains Retreat) for three months there. Many celestials, including a very large retinue headed by His deva mother, greatly benefited by attaining the various stages of Sainthood.

      After His Abhidhamma lectures, the Buddha visited the human world at lake Anottata in the Himalaya Mountain, where the Venerable Sariputta waited to receive the daily account of His lectures. Later the Venerable Sariputta would expound the same doctrine to his disciples, thereby spreading the Abhidhamma teaching of the Buddha.

      Devadatta was the cousin and brother-in-law of the Buddha. He joined the Order and was ordained as a monk. At first , he practised accordingly and attained supernatural powers. Out of the egoistic eagerness to improve, he made several requests to the Buddha. They were inevitably turned down as not practical nor conducive to the monks' harmonious fraternity. Annoyed and upset, he turned against the Buddha and became the greatest enemy. He even tried to kill the Buddha by hurling a huge rock at Him from a hill-top. After his death Devadatta was reborn in Hell, due to his past evil deeds.

      Suffering for a very long time in hell and after being purged of his evilness, he would be reborn again with ample chances of doing good.

      Then gradually he would improve. Finally in the remote future (with the passing of many great aeons) he would become a Pacceka Buddha by the name of Atthisara.

The Offering of Ambapali Mango Grove by Ambapali the Courtesan

      In His last Vassa (Rains Retreat), at the age of eighty years the Buddha stayed at Ambapali Mango Grove. Ambapali was overjoyed at the news and quickly went to her Mango Grove to see and invite the Buddha, His Disciples and His five hundred newly ordained young monks for the next day charity lunch (Dana). The Buddha who had earlier cautioned His newly ordained young monks about unrestrained senses because of beautiful and attractive sight (Ambapali's beauty) accepted her lunch invitation in silence.

      After paying obeisance to the Buddha she left her Mango Grove. On the outskirts of her park she met the Lacchavi Princes who were coming to visit and pay obeisance to the Buddha. As their splendid carriages met in grinding exchanges, they struck up a conversation, whereupon the Lacchavi Princes were suspiciously surprised to learn that the Buddha had accepted her lunch dana. So they offered her a hundred thousand in money for the privilege dana. She replied saying she would not give up even if they were to offer her their kingdom in exchange. They then continued their separate journeys.

      On arrival the Lacchavi Princes paid respect to the Buddha and later invited Him to lunch but the Buddha refused saying He had already accepted Ambapali's lunch dana. At the Dana and after listening to the Dhamma, she donated her Mango Grove to the Buddha who accepted and stayed there during his last (forty-fifth) Vassa (Rains Retreat)

      After becoming a Buddhist she turned over a new leaf and lived a devout life full of faith and devotion.

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The Buddha's Parinihbana - The Final Release from birth and death of the Buddha

      The Buddha's last advice was "Strive on with diligence." In Pali language, it should read as, " Handa dani, bhikkhave, amantayami vo, Vayadhamma sankhara, Appamadena sampadetha."

      "Now, bhikkhus, I say this as my last exhortation. Decay is inherent in all compounded things. Hence, strive on with mindfulness and diligence to complete the task."

      As an encouragement to all those who want to practise the Dhamma and honour the Buddha best, the Buddha himself said that "anyone who practises His Teaching best will be the one who honours Him best!"

      Cunda the smith gave the Buddha the last meal. It is considered as the most auspicious to offer the first meal just before becoming a Buddha and the last meal before a Buddha passes away.

      Even though he was occasionally asked to appoint a successor, the Buddha himself advised His disciples to regard His Teaching as their teacher.

      When the end was near and the hour had come, the Buddha requested everyone present to be firm in their resolutions in the matter of practising the Dhamma. He then passed away by attaining Jhanas in their various stages progressively and was without sorrow. This took place. on Tuesday Wesak Full Moon Day of May, Maha Era 139 in His 80th year, 543 B.C. Parinibbana means the Final Release from birth and death of the Buddha. Attaining Parinibbana means the attainment of the Unconditional existence.

      The Buddha's Ministry which lasted for forty-five years was the most successful and longest in any religious history. His compassionate personality, the greatness of the Dhamma and His dexterity in choosing His method of dissemination all contributed to His great success.

      He had great supporters like King Kosala, King Bimbisara, Anathapindika, Visakha, and Ajatasattu to name a few. He too had great opponents in Devadatta, His own cousin, King Suppabuddha His father-in-law and leaders of other sectarians who gave Him a lot of problems but He duly solved them with great compassion and patience.

      As Buddhists, we can still see the Buddha if we can see (realize) the Dhamma.

      His sacred body was cremated three months after His death. After the cremation, His relics amounting to eight jars were distributed among His distinguished followers. Three months after the Buddha's Great Demise, the distinguished disciples and followers decided to rehearse and purify the Dhamma.

      So accordingly, arrangements were made to set up the First Buddhist Council held in the Satta panni Guha at Rajagaha under the royal patronage of King Ajatasattu.

      Arahant Maha Kassapa was the president of the First Buddhist Council. Arahant Upali was chosen to recite the Vinaya (Disciplinary rules) whilst Arahant Ananda was chosen to rehearse the Dhamma. The aim of Buddhist Council was to purify the Dhamma and ensure the pristine purity of the Tipitaka, the entire. Teachings of the Buddha.

      The Tipitaka means the Three Baskets (of Buddha's Teachings) which exists in its purity, even today. The Tipitaka was committed to writing in about 80 B.C. on ola palm leaves in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). The Tipitaka is eleven times the size of the Bible.

      During His forty-five years of active Dhamma duta work, He stayed at the following places after enlightenment:

Rains Retreat in Years

1. Deer Park, Holy Isipatana at Benares.

2. Veluvana monastery (Bamboo Grove).

3. Veluvana monastery (Bamboo Grove).

4. Veluvana monastery (Bamboo Grove).

5. At Kutagara Sala (Hall), Vesali.

6. Mankula rock.

7. Tavatimsa Heaven

8. Bhesa-kala-vana al Samsumara-giri (city).

9. Kosambi at Ghositararna (monastery).

10. Parileyyaka forest.

11. In a Brahmin village called Nalaka.

12. Veranja city, under a Naleru (nimb) tree.

13. Caliya rock.

14. Jetavana monastery.

15. Kapilavatthu, at Nigrodha rama (monastery)

16. Alavaka city, at Mahavana, near Alavi

17. Veluvana monastery at Rajagaha

18. Caliya rock.

19. Caliya rock.

20. Veluvana monastery at Rajagaha

21-39. Jetavana monastery

40-44. Pubbarama monastery in Savatthi

45th and last year at Veluva village near Vesali

The Dhamma

       After His enlightenment the Buddha pondered on how profound His Dhamma was and how difficult it would be for the people to understand. Coincidentally Brahma Sahampati From the higher celestial plane appeared in front and invited Him to preach the Dhamma (true idea of the upliftmerit) for the benefit of the world.

       The Buddha agreed to do this after surveying with His divine eye and found that there were some who could understand His teachings. Thereupon Brahma Sahampati paid obeisance to the Buddha, keeping to his right side, walking a short distance, he straightaway disappeared, returning to the world of Brahmas.

       Then the Buddha immediately thought of His first mundane ascetic teacher Alara Kalama but understood that he had died a week ago. Next He thought of His second mundane ascetic teacher Udaka Ramaputta but unfortunately this teacher too had just died the day before. Finally the Buddha thought of the five monks who had previously attended on Him and found that they were staying in the Deer Park at Isipatana in Benares.

       Out of compassion the Buddha went to see them. Even though they were reluctant to pay Him due homage at first, the Buddha eventually managed to influence them. When they were convinced and ready to hear the Dhamma, the Buddha preached the first sermon. This epic historical event was of paramount importance because the expounding of the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta meant the setting in motion the Turning Wheel of the LAW (TRUTH) which no Brahma (higher god), no Deva (god/deity) and no Mara (evil one) could hinder or stop, signifying that the Buddha would preach His Dhamma non-stop throughout His life.

       Briefly stated, the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta is the avoidance of the two extremes. One is the over-indulgence of Sensual Pleasures; which is base, vulgar, ignoble, while the other is the constant Self-Mortification which is painful, ignoble and profitless. The Sutta explains the Four Noble Truths which are:

      1. Suffering

      2. Cause of Suffering

      3. End of Suffering; and

       4. The Way to the End of Suffering

       (which is better known as the Noble Eight fold Path)

       At the end of the preaching, Kondanna was the first among the five monks to attain the First Stage of Sainthood (Sotapanna) amidst the thunderous applause of the multitude of the heavenly beings, joyously lighting up Isipatana specially and the whole world generally. Later Kondanna and the other four monks became Arahants who were included in the Buddha's first sixty missionary monks to spread the Dhamma with His exhortation, "Go forth, O Bhikkhus, for he good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the good welfare and benefit of gods and men!'

       The first missionary monks to propagate the Dhamma could only be said to be fully established with the ordination of the rich man - Yasa and his fifty—four friends as monks. This additional monks made a total of sixty Arahat monks excluding the Buddha himself. Led by the Buddha, they made up the world's first missionary monks, sent out one in each different direction to propagate the Buddha's new Found Dhamma. to deliver peace and truth to the world. The Buddha Himself alone, also went in another direction to preach the Dhamma.

       From then onwards, the Buddha went on from place to place to preach the Dhamma which He also taught to His monks, especially the Chief Disciples and eighty Great Disciples, who were specially endowed with Dhamma talents,

       By the end of die Buddha's life-long active Dhamma dissemination, His entire Teachings, better known as the Ti-pitaka, were classified. The Tipitaka which means the Three Baskets made up as follows: -

The Vinaya (Basket of the Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis' Discipline/Regulations)

       The Vinaya consisted of the five books listed below: -

       1. Parajika Pali (Major Offences)

       2. Pacittiya Pali (Minor Offences) ] Vibhanga

       3. Mahavagga Pali (Greater Section) ]

       4. Culavagga Pali (Smaller Section) ] Khandhaka

       5. Parivara Pali (Epitome of the Vinaya)

The Dhamma (Basket of Discourses/Lectures)

       The Dhamma was classified into Five Collections as shown below:

       (1) Digha Nikaya - Collection of Long Discourses

       (2) Majjhima Nikaya - Collection of Middle-Length Discourses

       (3) Samyutta Nikaya - Collection of Kindred Sayings

       (4) Anguttara Nikaya - Collection of Numerically classified Discourses

       (5) Kuddaka Nikaya - Collection of Miscellaneous Discourses and sub-divided Into eighteen books:

       (1) Kuddaka Patha - Shorter Text

       (2) Dhammapada - Way of Truth

       (3) Udana - Paeans of Joy

       (4) Iti Vuttaka - "Thus said" Discourses

       (5) Sutta Nipata - Collected Discourses

       (6) Vimana Vatthu- Stories of Celestial Mansions

       (7) Peta Vatthu - Stories of Hungry Ghost/Petas

       (8) Thera Gatha - Psalms of the Brethren

       (9) Theri Gatha - Psalms of the Sisters

       (10) Jataka - Birth Stories

       (11) Niddesa - Expositions

       (12) Patisambhida Magga - Analytical Knowledge

       (13) Apadana - Lives of Arahants

       (14) Buddhavamsa - The History of Buddhas

       (15) Cariya Pitaka - Modes of Conduct

       (16) Netti - Guide to the Teaching

       (17) Petakopadesa- Instruction in accordance with Dhamma

       (18) Milinda Panha - Questions of King Milinda

       It should be noted that all suttas/discourses beginning with 'evam me sutam - Thus have I heard" were uttered by the Venerable Ananda Thera.

The Abhidhamma(Basket of Profound Philosophy)

       The Abhidhamma was classified and made up of seven books as shown in the following:-

       (1) Dhamma Sangani -Classification of Dhammas

       (2) Vibhanga - Book of Division

       (3) Kathavatthu - Points of Controversy *

       (4) Puggala Pannatti - Description of Individuals

       (5) Dhatukatha - Discussion with reference to Elements

       (6) Yamaka - Book of Pairs

       (7) Patthana - Book of Relations

       (*This Book was actually compiled by the Venerable Moggaliputta Tissa at the Third Buddhist Council.)

       All these Thirty-four books are collectively termed "The Tipitaka' (Three Baskets). The Vinaya Pitaka (Basket of Discipline) generally deals with the rules and regulations promulgated by the Buddha as and when the occasion arose for the discipline of future Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis (Monks and Nuns).

       At the beginning of the Sasana (Buddhism), the Vinaya (rules and regulations) did not exist as they were not required because those who came for ordination were very pure and holy. All of them received the "Ehi Bhikkhu" "Come Monk" magic ordinations.

       The Sutta Pitaka (Basket of Discourses) consist of many Discourses delivered by the Buddha on numerous occasions as and when the need arose. However, some of the Discourses were also delivered by His disciples; like Sariputta, Moggalana, Ananda and so on, are also included therein.

       The Abhidhamma Pitaka (Basket of the Ultimate Doctrine) contains the profound philosophy of the Buddha's Teachings. Until about the year 80 BC, the Buddha's Teachings in the Three Baskets were orally transmitted from generation to generation by the Arahant monks to their disciples who in turn transmitted their knowledge to their disciples and so forth. However it should be stated here that these holy and pure- minded Buddha's disciples were unique custodians who were totally and personally committed to uphold the pristine purity of the Buddha words. Therefore the future Buddhists could still enjoy the profound meaning of the Buddha's Teachings in its originality.

       Even today Buddhism still exists in utter simplicity and meaningful in its very nature.

How to become a Buddhist

       One becomes a Buddhist by taking the Three Refuges. The Three Refuges are the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. Tisarana is the Pali (language) term for the Three Refuges. The Buddha is the All Knowing One. One seeks refuge in the Buddha because He taught us the way to end all sufferings. This means the Buddha is our greatest Teacher.

       The Dhamma is the Doctrine taught by the Buddha. One seeks refuge in the Dhamma because it is the only path to end all sufferings.

       The Sangha is the Holy Order (of Monks) founded by he Buddha. One seeks refuge in the Sangha because they are the holy Disciples who have understood the Dhamma.

       Having understood the Three Refuges, the Buddhist is then prepared and ready to recite the Pali language Formula to pay homage to the Buddha, to take the Three Refuges and also undertake to observe the Five Precepts. This can be done individually at home or among the Devotees in the monastery. The simple recitation is as follows:


       "Namo Tassa Bhavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa!'' (Tikkhattum — to recite Three times)


       Buddham Saranam Gacchami

       Dhammam Saranam Gacchami

       Sangharn Saranam Gacchami

       Dutiyampi Buddham Saranam Gacchami

       Dutlyampi Dhamman Saranam Gacchami

       Dutiyampi Sangham Saranam Gacchami

       Tatiyampi Buddham Saranam Gacchami

       Tatiyampi Dhamman Saranam Gacchami

       Tatiyampi Sangham Saranam Gacchami

       Panca Sila

       Panatipata Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami

       Adinnadana Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami

       Kamesu Micchacara Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami

       Musavada Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami

       Sura Meraya Majja Pamadatthana Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami

       Imani Panca Sikkhapadani Samadiyami (Tikkhattum — to recite Three times)

       Its meaning in English from the beginning is:

       Paying Homage to the Buddha

       'Homage to Him, the Holy One, the Worthy One., the Fully Enlightened One!" (Three Times)

       The Three Refuges

       To the Buddha I go for refuge/I take refuge in the Buddha

       To the Dhamma I go for refuge/I take refuge in the Dhamma

       To the Sangha I go for refuge/I take refuge in the Sangha

       Secondly to the Buddha I go for refuge

       Secondly to the Dhamma I go for refuge

       Secondly to the Sangha I go for refuge

       Thirdly to the Buddha I go for refuge

       Thirdly to the Dhamma I go for refuge

       Thirdly to the Sangha I go for refuge

       The Five Precepts

       I undertake the Precept to abstain from killing

       I undertake the precept to abstain from stealing

       I undertake the precept to abstain from sexual misconduct

       I undertake the precept to abstain from telling lies

       I undertake the precept to abstain from taking intoxicants

       These five precepts I undertake to observe. (Three Times)

       Before reciting the Three Refuges, we recite "Narno Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa!" thrice as a mark of respect to the Buddha. "Namo Buddhaya"!" is the shorter form and is sometimes used as an alternative and it means "Homage or Honour to the Buddha!"

       Anyone who believes in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha can become a Buddhist. The name given to a Buddhist in Pali language is "Upasaka" for males and "Upasika" for females. This Buddhist name is also given to one who associates with the Triple Gem or the Three Refuges.

       A Buddhist has to observe the Five Precepts. The Pali word for precept is "Sikkhapada" which means discipline or good behavior.

       The first of the Five Precepts is to refrain from killing
Out of pity one does not kill and by being such, one can become kind and compassionate

       The second of the Five Precepts is to refrain from stealing
No one has the right to take other's things without being given and by being such, one can become honest

       The third of the Five Precepts is to refrain from sexual misconduct
Out of religious purity and conviction one does not commit Sexual Misconduct and as such, one can become pure and good

       The fourth of the Five Precepts is to refrain from telling lies
Out of self-respect one does not tell lies and as such one can become honest and trustworthy.

       The last and fifth of the Five Precepts is to refrain from taking Intoxicants
Avoiding indecent and shameful behavior, one does not take intoxicants and so can become an alert and mindful person.

       Therefore as such, if one observes and Practises the Five Precepts sincerely, one can become a very good and trustworthy Buddhist.

       As Buddhists. we do not worship statues and trees but we pay respect to the Buddha image for what it stands for. By paying homage to the Bodhi tree we pay respect to Buddhahood. Any devoted Buddhist can think of the Buddha and recite His virtues. Before the Buddha image, a Buddhist can offer incense, flowers, candles and fruits out of devotion and honour to Him. At the termination of the devotional service we usually exclaim "Sadhu" which means "excellent rejoicing".

       The best way to respect and honour the Buddha is to follow His advice which is as follows in the Pali language:

       Sabba papassa akaranaram

       Kusalassa upasampada

       Sacitta pariyodapanam;

       Etam Buddhana Sasanam

       which means:-

       Not to do evil

       Only to do good, and

       To purify one's mind

       Thus is the advice of all the Buddhas

       When one follows and practises the Buddha's advise then one can have the noble and pure mind which leads to enlightenment. But if one follows the evil and performs unwholesome activities then one will experience suffering and sorrow. The Pali word for evil is "Papa" and for unwholesome is "Akusala"— both of these defile the mind. The ten kinds of unwholesome actions are as follows

       a) caused by deeds:-

       1. Killing

       2. Stealing; and

       3. Adultery (Sexual Misconduct)

       b) caused by speech:-

       4. Lying

       5. Slandering

       6. Harsh or abusive words, and

       7. Frivolous words or idle gossip

       c) caused by thoughts:

       8. Covetousness

       9. Ill-will, and

       10. Wrong View/Delusion

       Thus they make up the total of ten unwholesome or demeritorious actions enumerated in Buddhism. Knowing this, one should make every endeavour to avoid them, so as to he free from sorrow and suffering which are the outcome of performing the unwholesome actions. There are also the Ten Wholesome Actions which are opposite to the Ten Unwholesome Actions.

       Antidotal to the Ten unwholesome actions are the Ten Beneficial Actions; also known as the Ten Meritorious Actions which are as follows:

       1) Dana means Charity or Generosity

       2) Sila means Morality

       3) Bhvana means Meditation or Concentration of the Mind;

       4) Apacayana means Reverence or Respecting the respectables (usually the elders)

       5) Veyyavacca means Service or Volunteer to help

       6) Pattidana means Sharing of merits

       7) Pattanumodana means Rejoicing or Gladness in other's merits

       8) Dhammasavana means Hearing or studying the Doctrine

       9) Dhammadesana means Expounding or propagating the Doctrine

       10) Ditthijjukamma means Straightening of one's own views

       The Pali word for good is "Kusala" which also means wholesome. Another Pali word, "Punna" means merit which is included in the good deeds as well. In Buddhism that which cleanses the mind is good. There are three kinds of merit:

       1) Dana means generous giving or charity which helps to eradicate selfishness and greed.

       2) Sila means morality or virtuous conduct which helps to eradicate ill-will or hatred

       3) Bhavana means meditation or development of mental culture which helps to eradicate ignorance or wrong view

       Children can also be taught to perform charity to the poor and the needy as well as to the respectable ones worthy of honour such as parents, elders and virtuous ones.

       Children can also be taught to observe the precepts thereby practising morality.

       Children can also be taught to practise certain meditation, suitable to them, like meditating on Loving-kindness (Metta) and Compassion (Karuna). The children should practise Loving-kindness and Compassion respectively by repeating every morning and night,

       "May all beings be well and happy!;"

       "May all beings be free from sufferings! ;"

       In another form, "May all beings be free from sufferings!

       In another form,

      "Creatures all beneath the sun

       Two feet, four feet, more or none

       How l love you one and all!"

       Yet another verse to recite is,

       "All ye creatures that have birth

       Breathe and move upon the earth

       Happy be ye one and all

       Never into mischief fall"

       At this juncture, for those who like to keep a very strict disciplinary practise to augment their normal precepts observance, there are thirteen ascetic practises (Dhutangas) enumerated as follows:

       1) wearing robes made of rag cloths from the rubbish heap

       2) wearing only three robes

       3) living on food received by going on almsround

       4) begging food straight from house to house

       5) eating only once a day at one sitting

       6) eating from one vessel

       7) refusing (eating) of food in excess of the regulations

       8) dwelling in the woods

       9) dwelling at the root of a tree

       10) dwelling in the open air

       11) dwelling in or near a cemetery

       12) not altering the mat or bed when it has been spread out for sleeping on

       13) sleeping in a sitting position

       With avid practise of the above thirteen ascetic vows, they would acquire the peace and bliss as their very own.

       Although the Buddha apparently catered only for the monks there were however several Discourses He preached for the guidance of family duties and social obligations to the people living at home. The Singalovada Sutta is perhaps the most popular and outstanding, featuring ideal home advice given by the Buddha to a young man named Singala.

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