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One of the Five Great Benefactors

By 'Maung Yint Kyuu' (Myaungmya)

(U Kyaw Khin Myint, Saddhama Jotikadhaja)
(Translated by U Aung Thein Nyunt)

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January, 2001

(MOTHER by the same author)

Foreword                              Preface

To, Father Deva in Tavatimsa Abode

Oh, Father!

When residing at human abode,

You had fulfilled all the duties

social, religious and miscellaneous;

and transferred to celestial abode.

I paid obeisance to you,

by means of compiling

your great attributes.

May you hear

my utterance of gratitude!

May you utter, 'Sadhu'

and gain the share of my merits

done dedicated to you!

One of the Five Great Benefactors

        My Father had to rely on his own and came to grow up in struggle since his twelfth year of age. It is said my grandpa passed away before my father came of age, and my grandma and my father who was at that time only at 12, had to depart each other. Therefore, my father never experienced parental love even in his youth and he was always longing for it. Indeed, father was a single one, without any close relatives treading on the uneven and unstable way of life!

        Father, through his age, had to face life in different fields - social, economical and political as well. He had to be engaged in different types of business, so he was well-grounded in the basics of a trade. Father was not a university degree holder and he did not have a chance to study even at a primary school; still he practically studied different aspects of life in his daily experience with keen interest.

        Very often, he retold some of his experience to his sons and daughters altogether five. He wanted all his sons and daughters to become educated and to live in prosperity. Father said that he was fully satisfied with all of his sons and daughters because they all had fulfilled his wishes as he expected.

        Actually, he guided his sons and daughters not only to become wealthy ones but also to be equipped with good moral characters which lead them to become good citizens. He also pointed out to them how to maintain national tradition and culture, and how to serve for one's own religion.

        He did not like wasting time; his motto is, "Try to get at least one of the three precious things in daily life: knowledge, wealth and merit." He always pointed out these three to his sons and daughters whenever the occasion arose.

        Father truly fulfilled the following five kinds of parental duties:

       (1) to prevent sons and daughters from committing evil things;

       (2) to lead them to the righteous way;

       (3) to send them to schools and support them in learning;

       (4) to give them some investments to be undertaken in commercial establishments; and

       (5) to encourage them in marriage when they come of age.

        Referring to the 38 Blessings mentioned in Mangala Sutta, father showed us the righteous way of living and how to practise them in accordance with the three levels of age. He always encouraged us to do good things and prevented us from doing evil things. When we wanted to learn what would be useful in livelihood, he never hesitated to encourage us. When we all got degrees from the universities, he gave us sufficient investments to do some kinds of business and made us wealthy and prosperous in life. When we came of age to lead married life, he helped us to establish a pleasant and peaceful realm of marrige. Father was always thinking about his sons and daughters and ready to give us something valuable and useful in our lives. He never wanted to see us in poverty and adversity of life!

        There is a Myanmar Saying: "As the running water flows into reservoir, so the embankment should be strong and steadfast." In the same way, all the wealth and properties earned by father were stored and distributed systematically by mother who was also dutiful to his family as a good house-wife by observing the following five kinds of duties:

       (1) to arrange chore of the household well and run it smoothly:

       (2) to keep and maintain whatever is handed over by her husband;

       (3) not to indulge in sexual misconduct with other men;

       (4) to distribute gifts fairly between her relatives and her husband's relatives; and

       (5) to be skillful and diligent in all her household duties.

        Mother said to us very often, "Your father greatly loved his children and me, too." When mother was pregnant, father never allowed mother to be engaged in commercial business because he did not want her to be greedy or to be angry or to be in bewilderment in the monetary affairs; and at least he never allowed her to go to market for daily meals, because he believed that when an expectant mother saw and smell the raw meat and fish, the foetus in her womb might be affected by those undesirable sight and smell and it might become vicious and vile. At the time of conception, mother was not allowed to have meat by father. Every day, father encouraged mother to be engaged in religious prayers and in offering flowers and candle-lights to the image of the Buddha. According to father's wish, mother had to perform taking refuge in the "Threefold Gem," telling the beads, reciting Paritta discourses, disseminating Loving-kindness to all living creatures, observing precepts, and undertaking meditation tasks. What father longed for was to have a pious and good-natured baby so he always tried to encourage mother to deal with the good deeds. To establish a pleasant and prosperous family, father took a sole responsibility and observed the following five kinds of a husband's duty:

       (1) not to treat his wife in an insolent manner;

       (2) to give his daily income to the wife;

       (3) not to be indulged in sexual misconduct with other women;

       (4) to provide his wife with garments and ornaments; and

       (5) to be kind to and adore his wife.

        Father never intended to lay his paternal duty on other's shoulder and took sole responsibility to establish a pleasant and prosperous family. Therefore, all the family members were very happy and peaceful under the kind and clever guidance of our father!

        Whenever faced with the family problems, father stood firmly against them and settled all of them down with constructive mind. Therefore, father was like a steadfast great wall for us. In consonance with the epithet of "householder" he could do everything of household duties. As he was honoured as leading character of the family (in Myanmar culture, it is called "Ein-U-Nat" — the leading deva at the top of the house), so he was a sole refuge, for every member of the family, which was one of the five great benefactors in the world.

        It is mentioned in the Mangala Sutta that supporting one's own wife and children is a sort of auspiciousness — Puttadarassa sangaha mangala. In accordance with this code of moral conduct, father never neglected to support his wife and children and was always looking after them, just like one's shadow follows after for ever. Moreover, he honoured outstanding sons and daughters with special rewards.

        Supporting one's own children is indeed fulfilling the duty of parents. I think that father followed the example of Millionaire, Anathapindika, in cherishing his own children.

        Millionaire Anathapindika was a pious devotee mentioned in Buddhist canonical texts. He had a son named Kala who was not identical with his own father. Kala, did not go to see the Buddha, nor to hear the teachings, nor took interest in attending on the members of the samgha. He did not obey his father although his father instructed him to do so. One day, the millionaire entertained a thought and asked his son, "Dear, please go to see the Buddha and hear the teaching; if you do so, I'll give you one hundred coins." His son, Kala who was interested only in one hundred coins agreed his father's words and went to the monastery. Nevertheless, he did not do what his father said and was sleeping there. Then he came back from the monastery very early. When got back borne he did not eat meal as he did nor yet receive one hundred coins. Only then he received it. did be eat his meal. Next day, the millionaire asked him, "Dear, please, listen to the teachings so that you can memorize at least a stanza of a verse; if you can do so, I'll give you one thousand coins." Then he sent his son to the monastery. Kala thought to himself that when he got a stanza into his memory be would return borne. Nevertheless, be could not stand up while be was paying attention to the Buddha's teaching and finally, he attained first stage of Ariyahood- Sotapanna. It is stated in the Dhammapada Commentary that millionaire Anathapindikaway of cherishing his son is the most remarkable and the most praise-worthy in this world.

        Oh dear father! you gave us not only the inheritance of education and wealth but also that of Dhamma. You made us familiar with the religious teachings so that we all, sons and daughters, might imitate your manner and behaviour. Since we were young, we had to accompany father to the monastery to observe the sabbath especially in the months of rain retreat; we had to go along with father to pagodas and temples; we bad to learn from our father bow to deal with Holy Monks in terms of polite language which was appropriate to them; we had to learn dhamma literature of Buddhist culture and tradition. These noble encouragements made us good and useful citizens and pious and reverential to the three Gems; these were indeed the most valuable inheritance given by father. Actually, I had to become grown up in the peaceful shade of caretaking by my close relatives and also I usually had a golden chance to bear Jataka stories, tales, legends, nipata stories, and historical events from them. So, in my heart and brain all these backgrounds have been stored and my ideas and opinions are always enshrined in these valuable circumstances based on Buddhist culture and tradition.

        For instance, the famous characters mentioned in Jatakas, Nipatas, etc. are Ajatasattu — a foolish son who killed his own father, Devadatta, and Cincamanavika - wicked persons who were always inclined to overwhelm others by wicked means, Vessantara, Visakha, Anathapindika, - generous persons who were always ready to give something to others, Suvannasama , gentle minded young man who deeply paid respect to his parents, the Buddha-to-be- who was always ready to perform good things. Mahosadha - who settled difficult problems by means of intellectual thinking. etc., etc. I repeatedly heard these events from them and I was able to differentiate good from bad; and also I knew what to do and what not to. As I have a golden chance of being a son born of a pious Buddhist couple, I am always satisfied with my present life and regard it as a precious boon.

        On concerning with the attending on parents and supporting one's own wife and children, I came across a rare event mentioned in Salikedara Jataka — story, Pakinnakanipata.

        Once, there lived a brahmin called Koliyagotta in the brahmin village of Saliddiya near Varanasi . Among a good number of his land plots, some were rented to a tenant farmer. Many birds came to his paddy fields and ate whatever they wished. Among them, a certain parrot (the Buddha-to-be) not only ate the ears of the paddy to its full stomach, but also carried some of them away in its beaks. The tenant farmer was unable to control them and felt very anxious for his loss. So. he reported that event to his land owner Brahmin. The owner urged his tenant to catch it in a trap. Thus, the parrot was caught in the trap set by the tenant and sent to the owner.

        The brahmin Kosiyagotta said to the parrot, "Dear, every one has stomach; yours is bigger than others? or do you own a granary? or are you a foe against me?" The parrot replied, "No. sir, I have no granary; nor do I want to quarrel with you; I have to complete repayment of my old debts, to lend new debts to others, and to bury a gold-pot." The brahmin could not grasp the meanings of the words and requested it for detailed explanation.

        The parrot replied, "Sir, I have young children without wings; I have to feed them as a parental duty; this is indeed "lending new debts to others because they also have to feed me again when I am old; similarly, I have old parents so I have a duty to feed them; this is indeed "settling repayment of my old debts" because they have already fed me when I was young; I have old neighbours, too; they are too old to search for food for themselves; I was so happy to share my food with them and I gain merit; this is indeed 'burying a gold-pot' ' because this deed of merit will definitely benefit me in future."

        Astonishingly, the brahmin was delighted to hear these words and thought to himself, "How marvellous it is! how wonderful it is! even some of human beings do not realize like this bird: indeed, this parrot is a noble One." So thinking, he gave away all of the paddy field to it.

        Father, when I happened to read this wonderful story, I felt that you were a great noble one! I thought you were able to settle all the repayments of your old debts because you had supported your mother with cash and kinds through her life. It is stated in the Thirty Eight Blessings of Mangala Sutta that supporting and giving assistance to one's relatives is an auspicious action, Natakananca sangaho. Just as a big shady tree can give a good shelter to thousands and thousands of birds, so also father was always supporting and giving assistance to your relatives and non- relatives as well who had to rely on father~ father! this is, indeed, burying a gold pot which can be used again in future. It is mentioned in the Gahatthavandana Sutta of Sakka Samyulta Pali that those who support their own wives and children by means of righteous earning are noble ones who should be worthy of veneration even by the Sakka- king of devas. Following the good examples of father, we all, sons and daughters, fulfill all our respective duties and perform good deeds.

        Whenever father made prayers before the shrine, he disseminated his loving-kindness towards all of his sons and daughters, and grandsons and granddaughters as well. Father wished each of his children and grandchildren to be healthy, happy and free from dangers while he was telling the beads in the shrine room, being inclined his mind to an individual during a period of telling beads round. When his sons and daughters who were far away from him did not make any contact with him on telephone as they were so busy with their works, father never hesitated to contact with them and asked on telephone whether they all were healthy or not. I replied him not to be worried about us but he repeatedly urged me to take care of myself and family members. I know, father, parents are always anxious for their own children only when I myself become a father. Now, I am a father of three sons. Although I am over fifty years old, father still recognized me as a young son.

        All the past memories are still fresh in my mind, father!

        About five years ago, I returned to my native town, Myaungmya, in a ship, where my parents lived. When the ship stopped at the jetty the people in the ship went up the bank by jostling. At that moment an old man of about sixty beside me crossed over the jetty and meanwhile I heard a soft voice: " "My boy, be slow. it is slippery." Suddenly I took a glimpse at the side where it came, and I saw an old man of over eighty. Wonderful! the older man of over eighty who seemed to be a father cautioned his son of about sixty against slippery! With reference to this event, it is not a wonder that my father looked upon me, an over fifty-year-old-father as a young son. Indeed, it was not a strange scene to me!

        Father, I know how parents love their children: parents are insatiable to live with their children even for hundred years: up to their last breath, they love their children; just like the parents of Singala mentioned in Pitaka literature, they are uneasy to leave their children even at the moment of dying.

        Father; now, I am a father of three sons and I really know how a father feels of his sons. It is said that king Suddhodhana, father of Prince Siddhattha supplicated to his son, the Buddha "Oh dear son! love of the parents to their children is very very deep, passing through skin, from the thin to the thick, then to flesh, and deep into sinews, veins and bone marrows.

        I still remember that event that you told me in my youth--- how king Bimbisara loved his son, Prince Ajatasattu, who was trying to kill his own father.

        When Queen Vedehi took the conception of Prince Ajatasattu, she was so desirous of drinking the blood from the right armhole of the King Bimbisara; when the king knew such a strong desire of the Queen, he sent for a physician and had him cut there with a little gold knife to have blood; then the King Bimbisara, caused the Queen to drink the blood in a gold cup. Actually, the king with strong loving-kindness towards the embryo in her womb did this!

        When the king inquired of such a kind of strange desire, the royal brahmins informed that the child in the womb would kill it's own father. Since the Queen knew this information, she attempted to abort for many times and by many ways and means. When the king knew the Queen's attempt, he said to her, "Dear, I will die one day; let my son kill me; I would like to see my son's face only; from now on, you should not do what should not be done.''

        When Prince Ajatasattu came of age, he falsely befriended with Ven. Devadatta. As instructed by Devadatta, he imprisoned his own father, King Bimbisara. Finally, he ordered his men to cut off the soles of the king and smear them with salt. Then, they were roasted till death. On the very day of the king's death, Prince Ajatasattu had a feeling of paternal love towards his own new baby and he was so elated that he himself could not express his paternal feeling how it was. Simultaneously, he pondered by himself that his father, King Bimbisara, was also fully elated to have a new baby in an unmentionable ecstasy at the time of his birth. And he gave an order to relieve his own father in a rush manner, truly realizing all his father's gratitude. Nay, his decision was late! His father had already gone! He could not manage himself and wept deeply. He went to see his mother, Queen Vedehi and asked, "Mother, did father really love me when I was born?" The Queen replied, "You, foolish son! how dare you say? When you were a baby, you got an abscess on the tip of your finger and you cried helplessly; no one could make you release from your severe pain: so you were brought to your father who was performing the duty in the royal court: your father, the king, put your ailing finger into his mouth and attempted to make you release from your pain while performing his duties; at that very moment, the pustule burst open and the pus flowed into the mouth. Due to the strong love to you. your father did not spit it out fearing that the baby would wake up and swallowed all the pus mixed with blood; my dear son, your father greatly loved you!" Prince Ajatasattu became remorseful of his past deeds and burst into tears while he was performing the cremation ceremony of his father.

        Father, I happened to read the five kinds of severe acts mentioned in Myanmar translation of Parikappa Sutta Gilana Vagga, Anguttara Pali which lead to the hellish realms, bring immediate retribution, and cannot be remedied by any means. They are killing a mother, killing a father, killing an arahat, raising a blister on a Buddha and causing a schism in the Samgha Order. King Ajatasattu, due to killing his own father, suffered hellish fire in the lower realm of Lohakumbhi Niraya for sixty thousand years.

        Those future-fathers of today who are unable to realize the true paternal love should ponder over the sorrowful life of King Ajatasattu and prepare to become good fathers in future.

        It is stated in the Putta Sutta of Pancaka, Nipata, Anguttara Pali ,that parents, one of the five great benefactors in this world, long for the following five kinds of benefits returned from their sons and daughters:.

       (1) Parents hope that their sons and daughters will return their gratitude and support them back;

       (2) Parents hope that their sons and daughters will help them in their business;

       (3) Parents hope that their sons and daughters will guard their lineage,

       (4) Parents hope that their sons and daughters will maintain their heritage; and

       (5) Parents hope that their sons and daughters will share the merit with them when they pass away.

       According to the text, I know hopes and wishes of the parents. Nevertheless, the statements mentioned in the texts, in my own view, are the main responsibilities which should be shouldered by the sons and daughters. Actually. I know, father did not expect anything from us. According to the grammarians, the word, Son, — 'thar' (in Myanmar language), means who fulfills the wishes of parents. With reference to this explanation, only those who actually fulfil the wishes of parents can be called son — 'thar' .

       Father, I happened to see a beautiful poem which was extracted from a book, and it was also put into my memory. It runs like this:

       Ten children can be fed up and brought up fully

       By two parents: father and mother;


       Only their two flat stomachs cannot be filled up fully

       Even a single son or a daughter!

       Moreover, the author of Maharahaniti said, "A single father is able to feed up and bring up many sons and daughters but many sons and daughters cannot support even a single father."

       In the Matuposaka Sutta, the Buddha preached — Dvinnaham bhikkhave na suppatika ram vadami katasemam dvinnam matuca pitnca, meaning, "Oh Bhikkhus I do not preach that it is easy to return gratitude to the two persons; who are the two? They are mother and father."

       Besides, with reference to the Pali words — vassasatayuko vassasatajivi it is mentioned in the Catudhammasara koekhanpyo that mother should be put on the right shoulder and father should be put on the left shoulder. But in the Maghadeva linikarhit it is stated that father on the right and mother on the left. However it is, sons and daughters should support and attend to their Parents. Putting them on the shoulders, although they have been supporting them for a hundred years, they cannot fully repay the gratitude of parents.

       The Buddha said, "Brahmati kho bhikkhave matapitunam , adhivacanam — Here, Oh Bhikkhus,

       I mean, Brahma is the name of parents". In the similar way, the Buddha said, "Pubbadevatiti kho bhikkhave matapitunam adhivacanam, pubbacari - yati kho bhikkhave matapitunam adhivacanam, ahuneyyati kho bhikkluave matapitunam adhivacanam."

       - Parents are the celestial beings at the head of the house;

       - Parents are the very first teachers of sons and daughters;

       - Parents should be given choice-food which has been carried far distance.

       Even the bhikkhus (monks) should give them alms-food which has been collected righteously. Here is the story of evidence:

       Once, in Savatthi there was a rich man who possessed of eighty crores and he had a son who hardly tired to have a permission from his parents in order to be ordained. When he got permission from his parents, he lived in a small monastery in the forest. He led a secluded life of bhikkhu and lived happily passing over all his time by meditating. Thus, twelve years passed by. He never returned to his native place during those years. On one occasion a visitor-bhikkhu from Savatthi came to his forest monastery and he inquired how about his parents were in Savatthi. He got a sorrowful information from that visitor that his parents were in total ruinage of their wealth and had to beg even for their daily meal. The bhikkhu was greatly shocked with remorse and sorrow, and decided that he would return to lay-life and support his parents by means of righteous earning. Thus, he trusted his forest monastery to the visitor-bhikkhu and left for Savatthi

       On arrival at Savatthi he thought to himself that only after he had met his teacher, the Buddha, would he search for his parents. And he proceeded to the place where the Buddha was residing. When he arrived at the monastery, the Buddha was preaching the dhamma discourse to the audience and he also listened to the dhamma in a happy mood. At that time, the Buddha preached that parents were the great benefactors in this world who were worthy of veneration and support by sons and daughters; even the bhikkhus should attend and support them with food and drinks: even those bhikkhus who got alms by going round from one house to another should feed their parents with those alms-food: bhikkhus should always support them with the alms they got by righteous means, etc.

       The bhikkhu who had decided to return to lay-life changed his mind again to support his parents in the present life of a bhikkhu.

       Afterwards, he searched for his parents while going alms-round in the town. One day, he saw his parents going from one house to another for begging. He took them to the root of a tree and gave them the rice-gruel he received from the alms-round. But for himself, he had to fill his stomach with only water which had been rinsed in his bowl.

       As it was very difficult to get enough food, he had to go round for two times, one for his parents and another for his own. But the second alms-round was not sure for him and thus, he was famished and his body was also reduced to a skeleton. When his bhikkhu friends asked him about his situation he replied that he had insufficient alms-food because he had to feed his parents on whatever he received from his alms-round. The bhikkhu friends reproached him and reported that case to the Buddha.

       When the Buddha knew the true event of the bhikkhu, He recited Sadhu three times and said,

       Oh Bhikkhus! the bhikkhu who supports his parents is worthy of praise and reverential salutation by human beings and celestial beings in this present existence, and also he can go up the higher celestial abodes in the future existence: it is indeed a good practice of morality which can lead to go up higher realms." At the end of the dhamma discourse the bhikkhu attained Sotapatti fruition.

       The Buddha instructed how to return gratitude towards parents to the fullest extent. It runs as follows:-

       - Asaddhe saddhasampadaya samadapeti: to show the good way to the parents who are devoid of faith (saddha )in order to be equipped with stable faith;

       - Dussile silasampadaya samadapeti: to show the good way to the parents who are devoid of moral precepts, in order to be equipped with moral virtues;

       - Macchari cagasampadaya samadapeti: to show the righteous way to the stingy parents so that they become willing to make charitable deeds;

       - Duppannepannasampadaya samadapeti: to show the good way to the parents who are devoid of insight-knowledge to be equipped with it.

       As father had already been equipped with the stable faith (saddha), he donated numerous kinds of offertories, including four kinds of requisites: alms-food, robes, monasteries, and medicine. Father's mind was always inclined towards charitable deeds. Father was a man of moral virtue as he always observed the five precepts just like always wearing his longyi (under garment or waist cloth).

       Father was a freely generous man. All of his times were almost engaged in the meditation tasks.

       He could lead a worthwhile life in this world. As he was accustomed to performing charitable deeds, observing moral precepts and practising meditation, he never forgot to perform good deeds in his daily life. Especially, I myself found him practising Caturarakkha Kammatthana almost everyday through his life.

       At the time when he woke up early, while washing his face and calling the nature, he used to contemplate on the loathsomeness of his body — Asubba Kammatthana. He contemplated on the loathsome and filthy defilements of the body, flowing out of the nine doors of the material aggregate, and thirty-two corporeal group such as hair, nail, teeth, skin, etc.

       Secondly, while father was washing his face with cool, limpid water, he contemplated on the nature of coolness and limpidity of the water. Just like the water he was using for washing his face he wished for all the sentient beings including human beings, celestial beings, brahmas, etc. to be cool and limpid in their heart and to be free from the fire of mental defilements, such as greed, hatred, delusion. etc. Actually, father was disseminating loving-kindness. Metta towards all.

       Thirdly, after he had cleansed all his mouth and other parts of the body, he recited the nine supreme attributes of the Buddha, starting from Araham and ending in Bhagava, indeed, he was contemplating on the Buddhanussati Kamatthana - repeated recollection of the nine attributes of the Buddha.

       As a fourth occasion, father also contemplated on the impermanence of his body and pondered over, "A day is over, mentality and materiality of mine is drawing near to death more and more." In reality, father was meditating the Marananussati Kamatthana- repeated recollection on the nature of death.

       Whenever I saw him contemplating on these dhammas I noticed my father's face was completely clean and peaceful, being devoid of mental defilements. Up to his last breath, father engaged in these four kinds of contemplations.

       When I grew old, my father and I had many discussions about the dhamma but I never took a leading role in our discussion, as it might be a sort of insult and disrespect to my father. I was always polite to my father bodily, verbally, and mentally. I was used to pay respect to my father and ask for pardon, whenever I met him, in order to eliminate bad effects arising out of unintentionally-committed bad deeds, speech, and thoughts to my father.

       According to Mugapakkha (temi), Jataka of Maha Nipata, those sons and daughters who do not behave badly towards their parents can achieve the following ten kinds of benefits, which are composed in the poetic form by Man-lei Sayadawgyi -

       Those who do not behave badly

        to their own fathers and mothers

        may gain honour and gifts,

        food and drinks wherever they are;

        They cannot be defeated by robbers,

        nor deceived by swindlers;

       Their faces are always embellished

       with sweet smiles like a full moon;

       They are greatly honoured in audience;

       Their name and fame are widely known;

       They are always surrounded with many followers;

       Their business is always improving;

       Even if they fall down into the precipice,

       they can have an abrupt repose;

       Their sons and daughters are like big shady banyan trees for them.

       My father was fully satisfied with my missionary service and my charitable deeds to the teachings of the Buddha. And he often said to others. "I am so glad to have such a kind of son who supports the Buddha Sasana." Father, indeed, was a city elder as well as generous donor who always support the members of the Samgha with four kinds of requisites. I always remember what father used to say, "Bandhara mango tree bears only a sort of sweet and thorough bred fruit." It is usual and natural that such a kind of father a

       Tihetuka-lay-devotee*, engenders such a kind of devout son with saddha (faith) and panna (intellectual knowledge). Once, father said. "You are a true son who can follow my good example." Father said again, "There are three kinds of son in this world: atijata - a son who is more qualified in respect of morality, concentration and wisdom than his own father; annujata - a son who is identical with his own father; and avajata - a son less qualified than his own father: of these three, you are the first kind". In reality, I was inherited my father's noble attitude towards the Buddha Sasana and invaluable good manner and behaviour from my father. I am proud of myself as I am totally identical with my own father.

       * Tihetuka a man of intellectual wisdom who can differentiate good from bad and lead his life in a righteous manner.

        The Gotama Buddha with the intention of repaying his gratitude to his own father, King Suddhodhana, preached Mahadhammapala Jataka and the king attained Anagami fruition - the third level of Ariyahood. The repaying gratitude of the Buddha is the best example for average sons and daughters by leading his own father to become a Anagamipuggala.

        Again, in the seventh year of Buddhahood, the Gotama Buddha preached Abhidhamma to Santussita deva a celestial being in Tavatimsa deva world, who had been his mother, Maya devi, as a token of repaying gratitude to his own mother.

        The Right hand Disciple Venerable Sariputta who was the chief disciple in respect of wisdom, when close to attain the noble demise, preached the dhamma discourse to his own mother who hold the heretic view and he could lead her to a state of Ariyahood - Sotapannapuggala - the Stream winner.

        It is natural that every sentient being comes into existence and passes away in accordance with the natural phenomena. It is explicitly mentioned in the Samiddhi Sutta of Devata Samyutta Pali and Samiddhi Jataka of Dukanipata Atthakatha that no one knows how long one has to live, what sort of disease one has to suffer, how to die, where to die, where one will have to be buried, and where one will have to go after death.

        The Buddha said, "Bhikkhus! everything is subject to decay and death; how can one wish for everlasting existence, nor non-decay and non-death?; it is natural that everything which has come into existence is definitely subject to decay and death; everything ends only with decay and death."

        Father, at that time, came into 80s and became more and more aged and weaker than ever. Father did not seem to feed his body and take care of it by taking medicines one day after another. He also seemed to fed up with the burden of old-age.

        The Buddha, once, said to Ven. Ananda, "Ananda! At present, I become aged and weak; as I come into 80s, being in declining years, I am in the last phase of life; indeed, my body is like an old cart which has to be tied in almost every part; just as it can be used only when it is tied up so also my body becomes healthy and strong only when it is fastened with a rope of phalasamapatti- a sort of supernormal jhanic power." Even the Omniscient and Omnipotent Buddha was not exempted from the decaying nature, Jara. Oh jara! you are very powerful ; you can make the omnipotent body of the Buddha decay like a ramshackle old cart!

        Father, as a human being shouldered human duties by means of righteous action and righteous earning. With the properties and wealth he righteously earned, he supported his family members and the Buddha Sasana. He performed morning service as well as evening service very regularly, offering perfume sticks, candle lights, flowers and pure water in his shrine room and was meditating before the Buddha image. Father said very often, "I don't want to live longer than the age of Buddha." He prepared to face death and so he was not frightened to be dead as he was righteously living in this world. Through his life he attempted to perform good deed; but as a worldling- puthujjana, he might commit some demeritorious deeds. But I firmly believe that his few demeritorious deeds will be defeated by his numerous wholesome deeds which will debar him from going down the lower abodes. If the two bundles of merits and demerits done by father throughout his life are put on the two scales, the former will be weighty.

        It is mentioned in the Catukanguttara, Suttanta Pitaka that there are four kinds of happiness in this world. They are:

       (1) Happiness due to wealth-Atthisukha,

       (2) Happiness due to enjoyment of wealth Paribhogasukha,

       (3) Happiness due to being devoid of debt Ananyasukha, and

       (4) Happiness due to being faultless- Anvajjasukha.

        Father was possessed of such four kinds of happiness through his life. In the Mangala Sutta, Anavajjani Kammani - performing faultless deeds is one of the thirty-eight blessings.

        A person who is devoid of happiness due to being faulty and blameworthy through his life cannot entertain a good thought when dying and he is sure to go down the lower realms. Therefore, the Buddha said very often. "Bhikkhu! Never feel remorseful when death comes near". I am sure father will definitely go up the higher realms in his repeated future existences.

        Here is the story of King Mahanama mentioned in Saranani vagaa of Mahavagga Samyutta Pali. Once, the elder brother of the Buddha, King Mahanama supplicated to the Buddha, "Your Venerence! I had to give way to vehicles, carts, elephants, horses, pedestrians, along through the road in the city of Kapilavatthu after I had met your Venerence and the members of the Samgha in this monastery; while I was doing so, I could not remember the three Sacred Gems, the Buddha, the and the Samgha; if I die at that point of time, where will I go after my death?"

        The Buddha replied. "Oh Maharaja, do not be afraid; there won't be any worthless death; your mind is already embedded in the virtues of faith, moral precepts, knowledge, charitable deeds and insight-knowledge for long; so your material body would be left being eaten by the dogs, crows, vultures in this present existence but the kammic forces of faith, moral precepts, knowledge, charitable deeds and insight-knowledge that you have already performed in this present life will make you go up the higher realms. Oh king! let me show you an example; when a pot of ghee is broken into pieces under water, the pieces of shard will go down to the ground and the ghee will go up the surface level of the water."

        Father, without being prompted by any one, performed charitable deeds; indeed father's charitable deeds were arisen out of the consciousness, unprompted and accompanied by pleasure and wisdom. So many religious edifices such as Buddha image, pagodas, temples, monasteries, wells and ponds, sima halls, rest-houses, toilets for the members of the Samgha, etc. were offered to the Sasana, based on good volition before they were done (Pubbacetana), while they were being done (Muncacetana) and also, after they had been done (Aparacetana). Really, he performed all these charitable deeds, knowing the right time and their resultant effects.

        Greatly marvellous was the charitable attitude of my father! He took a great interest in doing wholesome deeds! Almost all the people in my native town recognised father's marvellous charitable deeds, which were left by words among townspeople. For instance, after storing and preparing necessary things to offer alms-food to one hundred members of Samgha in his house simultaneously, he served them with early morning meal and lunch; when waso robes and kathina robes were also offered to each of them he also offered them in the same manner. In order to maintain the teachings of the Buddha for more than five hundred years, he set up fund for four kinds of requisites for the sake of the Pariyatti Sarthintaik Monasteries in the town and in honour of his noble deeds, the Patron Sayadaws of those monasteries wrote articles about him in the title of Modern Anathapindika and modern Vessantara. Some of the Patron Sayadaws compared father, in their preaching, with the millionaire Nandiya mentioned in the pitaka literature. I repeatedly listened to the tape of dhamma-talk given by those Patron Maha Theras.

        Millionaire Nandiya mentioned in Pali text, having listened to the dhamma discourse concerning with the benefits of donating monasteries, caused to build a big monastery together with the grand couches in the Migadavanadeer park. Then he donated them to the members of the Samgha headed by the Buddha. No sooner had he poured the donation - water onto the ground as a token of the completion of his donation than a celestial mansion twelve yojanas in breadth and a hundred yojanas in height, decorated with precious stones and surrounded with many celestial maidens appeared for him in the Tavatimsa deva world. As the father was a greatly generous person, like millionaire Nandiya in the life time of the Buddha, a grand celestial mansion would appear for him in Tavatimsa celestial world.

        In the life-time of the Buddha, there were five hundred lay-devotees in Savatthi who were always giving charity and observing five precepts. Their head-man was called Dhammika Upasaka. When he was ill, lying on his bed, he would like to listen to the dhamma discourse. So he invited bhikkhus to teach dhamma and was listening to the Discourse on Four Foundations of Mindfulness - Mahasatipatthana sutta from the bhikkhus. At that moment, six celestial vehicles came down from the six celestial abodes and were staying in the sky above his house. The celestial devas coming along with each vehicle were arguing with one another about taking Dhammika Upasaka to their respective celestial abodes. Dhammika Upasaka heard them arguing with one another and happened to speak senselessly, 'Wait for a moment.'

        The bhikkhus thought that the Upasaka would like to stop hearing the recitation of the Mahasatipatthana Sutta and they stopped reciting. Nevertheless, his sons and daughters thought that their father was insatiable to listen to the dhamma discourse on previous times but at present as he was afraid of death, he did not want to hear the discourse any more; and they all wept. Because of their weeping, the bhikkhus went back to their monastery, pondering, "We should not go on reciting."

        When Dhammika Upasaka returned to his consciousness, he saw them weeping around him and asked, "Why are you so weeping?" They replied that he might be afraid of death because he told them to wait for a moment while the bhikkhus were reciting the discourse. Upasaka said, "I did not hinder the bhikkhus to stop reciting but only the celestial devas to stop taking me in celestial vehicles to the celestial abodes."

        "Where are the celestial vehicles and celestial beings?" they asked.

        "Which celestial abode is the best place?", Upasaka asked again.

        They replied," Tavatimsa deva world may be the best place where the Buddha-to-be and the Buddha's parents lived as the last existence."

        "Then so, please, throw a garland of flower which has been prepared for me up to the sky with the resolution, "Let it hang on the Tusita celestial vehicle!," Upasaka urged his sons and daughters. When doing so, the garland was hanging on it as it was resolved. They saw only the garland hanging in the sky but they could not see the celestial vehicle. Then, Upasaka said to them, "Don't be worried about me, my sons and daughters! now, I'm going to Tusita deva world; if you wish to become like me, follow my example and do meritorious deeds as far as you can." Soon after, Dhammika Upasakapassed away. (The story of Maha Dhammika Upasaka, Yanmaka Vagga, Dhammapada Atthakatha).

        I had serious discussions with my father when he was constantly engaged in his meditation task. He often said to me," Mentality and materiality- namarupa is originated by Kammic force: if the Kammic force cease, namarupa will also stop: this material body is an impermanent aggregate; it is sufferable to possess this body which is composed of pains, aches, stiffness, etc.; at every moment it is deteriorating; indeed, it is uncontrollable and unsubstantial."

        "You may be prosperous and wealthy or you may be happy and satisfied with what you want to get but if you are not healthy everything will be useless; how long does your happiness exist? how long does your unhappiness exist? then so, mental phenomena are also impermanent: they are also sufferable and unsubstantial; you should contemplate on the true nature of mentality and materiality till you can extinguish the fire of greed, hatred, and ignorance or delusion; if you can do so with the right view, you can definitely achieve the blissful peace Santisukha with the total extinction of greed, hatred and delusion."

        With reference to the above discussions, I estimated that my father might be a noble person who had surpassed the worldly experience and feeling because his knowledge was greater than the emotional and devotional level. I think he might be on the intellectual level!

        At the last age, father had to face severe disease of lung cancer. All his sons and daughters surrounded him with tender care. Actually, father was waiting for the death on his bed! While he was severely suffering from his disease, he was mindful of his contemplation; I also reminded him of contemplating the impermanent nature of namarupa repeatedly. I noticed father's face, even when he had to struggle with the severe disease, was always cool and calm. I thought he could overwhelm the painful sensation and put his mind on a fixed object. Father already knew the natural phenomena - "if there is material body, there must be painful sensation and disease; sensation - pleasant or unpleasant is not 'I ' nor' you' nor' he' nor 'she'; just mental aggregates - namakkhandhas, know the impermanence of physical aggregate - knowing or noticing is just nama, mental phenomenon and the physical body - rupa is just to be known or to be noticed; there is no more 'I' , 'me,' 'my,' 'mine'. Such a kind of repeated contemplation as taught by Arahanta Mogok Sayadawgyi is the way of the Ariya's living.

        Father had already been familiar with such a kind of living along through his life before he faced with such a kind of severe disease and he could resist the painful sensation of his disease just like the fulfilment of Khanti Parami observed by Ariya individuals. While father was lying on bed with severe disease, I was always staying near him and tried to remind him of his own stable faith, his own moral precepts, his own charitable deeds, and other wholesome deeds done through his life. In fact, such a kind of attention to him is the best assistance to parents, especially at such a critical moment!

        Father was a good comer to this world!

        Father came from the light and will go to the light!

        Father, while lying on his back pointed his finger to the above very often. So the pictures of Shwedagon Pagoda, Mingun Tipitakadhara Sayadawgyi and Taungdan Sayadawgyi, U Uttamasara which were being hung above on his head were taken one after another to show him but he shook his head and said, ' No' . Thus, my elder sister asked," You mean, it is a celestial abode? " He nodded his head softly and put his joined palms on his forehead.

        It might be a higher realm for him! All the sons and daughters headed by mother with the feeling of dolour mixed with a certain satisfaction were secretly sobbing with tears in their eyes.

        Father took his last breath among the tender hands of his sons and daughters!

        Certainly, father will go up the higher realm just like the Dhammika Upasaka!

        Maung Yint Kyuu (Maungmya), 3rd December 1997,

        Translated by Aung Thein Nyunt, 10th October, 2000.



Ya Wai Htun

        U Kyaw Khin Myint (a) Maung Yint Kyuu (Myaungmya) is accustomed to paying a visit to me whenever be would like to seek some literary assistance. As I guessed earlier, be gave a beautiful book to me. I found its title, "Mother, One of the Five Great Benefactors."

        Before I opened it, he said, "This is a recent issue; for next one, may I request you to write the foreword; so saying he handed over a typing script. I put down the book in my hand and took what he was given to me and took a glimpse at the title of the script. Lo! it was, "Father, One of the Five Great Benefactors." -

        U Kyaw Khin Myint is very swift and skillful in his writing and always ready to do something about literary work. Previously, be published religious books and freely distributed most of them. I also wrote poems and articles in those books at his own request. Therefore, I agreed to write the foreword in this book.

        When doing this duty, I found it uneasy as I thought I sat at my writing table but felt uneasy how to start it. The title of the script is "Father, One of the Five Great Benefactors". The previous book was, "Mother". Parents are the Real Great Benefactors in respect of 'Gratitude'. So are the Three Gems — Buddha, Dhamma and Samgha. Parents and the Three Gems are not indential in respect of 'Supremacy and Nobility' but the same in respect of 'gratitude' for sons and daughters. Of the two parents, father is a male person so he seems to be more noble and greater than mother in respect of gender. But mother is also more noble and greater in respect of 'gratitude'.

        In the world of Myanmar Buddhist literature there are so many literary pieces extolling the virtues and gratitude of mother. But there are only few about father. Whenever related to the gratitude of parents, the virtue, of a single breast-feeding is predominantly extolled but untiring support of a father to his family is still less mentioned.

        We have come across some of the books in which writers wrote the biographies of their fathers. For instance, Ambassador (Retd.) U Kyin wrote the biography of his father; Dr. U Myint Swe also wrote the biography of his father, U San Kyuu and Ven. Silanandabhivamsa, Rector-Sayadaw of the International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University, wrote the biography of his father, Myanmar architect Saya Saing. All these books are not concerned with the virtues and gratitude of their fathers; they are indeed only the personal biographies.

        Now, Maung Yint Kyuu (Myaungmya) (a) U Kyaw Khin Myint wrote a rare piece in the world of Myanmar Buddhist literature- "Father, One of the Five Great Benefactors" which is indeed the creation of a reservoir in the dry zone of Myanmar literature.

        Parents are extolled as the great benefactors in human society, which are termed Ananta guna in Pali, meaning, the possessors of boundless and limitless attributes of gratitude. Their attributes of gratitude bestowed upon sons and daughters are limitless and boundless. So, all of them cannot be paid back to the fullest extent. In a certain place of this work, it is mentioned," Vassasatayuko vassasatajivi the gratitude of the parents cannot be paid back to the fullest extend, although one supports and attends to one's parents, putting them on both of one's shoulders for one hundred years.

        The author, in his previous work- "Mother, One of the Five Great Benefactors," extolled all of the mothers in the world, chiefly composing the virtues of his mother. It is wishful for readers who would like to return gratitude towards their mothers. Now, he is glorifying the gratitude of all fathers in human society, mainly throwing the light on his father. It is also a pining for readers who truly recognize the virtues of their fathers.

        In this book we find different ways and means of repaying gratitude towards parents. For example, it is shown in a certain place of this book that Asaddhe saddhaya samadapeti - sons and daughters should lead the parents who are devoid of faith- saddha to become equipped with stable faith. As for Maung Yint Kyuu (a) U Kyaw Khin Myint, I think, it is not necessary to lead his father in like manner, because we read some lines in the preamble of the book- "The Dhamma Traveller: U Kyaw Mya, Donor of Myaungmya Basic Education High School No.(1), Donor of Myayadanar Monastery, Zeyyamaydini Pariyatti Sarthintaik, Donor of ...etc., ... etc." Therefore, his father only would lead him to become equipped with stable faith.

        In this way we may conclude that the author, Maung Yint Kyuu, wrote this book in remembrance of his father who passed away and attempted to repay the gratitude to his father by way of citing all the virtues of his father in the book. Just like putting his mother on one shoulder, he has published "Mother, One of the Great Benefactors" in honour of his living mother; now in remembrance of his father he is trying to repose his deceased father on his another shoulder. Actually, this literary work - a sort of repaying gratitude to his father, is a remarkable milestone of a dutiful son for life.


        To All Living Fathers

        This literary piece an utterance of gratitude, was written, while my father at that time coming into 80s, was suffering from lung cancer which would actually destroy his body. At that time I was fifty. From childhood up to that time, father had been supporting and helping us in accordance with the five kinds of parental duties. How peerless and limitless is the Loving-kindness of the parents! In remembrance of the countless gratitude in my clear vision I wrote this book. When I read out the lines of my own feelings in this book to my father he was incapable of hearing them and could not grasp the meanings.

        Though this book was written to extol my father with the attributes of gratitude, or though my father cannot hear and feel of a son's lamentation, I would like to offer thanks and honour to all the living fathers in this world!

        Moreover I would also like to convey something valuable to all those who will become fathers in future!

        Maung Yint Kyuu (Myaungmya)


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