Ven. Vinayarakkhita Thero
Published in Issue II, July 2013
The young Royal Prince Gautama Siddhartha left his royal palace in search of Truth. After six years of various austere practices, he finally attained Buddhahood through the middle path in 6th century B.C. at Buddha Gaya in India. Alongwith other class of people, there were many from royal families who followed him to experience peace, happiness and final liberation called Nibbana. Through this royal linage and patronage, the Buddha Dhamma finally landed in Sri Lanka. This was due to the missionary zeal of Emperor Ashoka who sent his own son Arahant Mahinda to the then king Devanampiyatissa of Sri Lanka.
Apart from the royals, the loyals group consisted of bhikkhus, bhikkhunis, upasaks and upasikas coming from all classes of society. Thus this dhamma, not only in India but also in Sri Lanka flourished through the support of the Royals (i.e. kings, ministers) and the firm commitment of the faithful Loyals (i. e. bhikkhus, bhikkhunis, upasaks, upasikas). When this support and commitment of the Royals and Loyals started dwindeling, Buddhism started disapearing in its own land and neighbouring lands. Thus, we find that the then strong holds of Buddhism ie. Afganistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and India have now become foreign to Buddhism.
In this background, the Poson Poya has an important significance for recollecting the past and recommiting ourselves for the preservation and propagation of Buddha’s Dhamma. On this very Poson Poya month, the Emperor Ashoka sent his own son Arahant Mahendra as a missionary monk to Sri lanka to establish the Buddhas Dhamma in its pristine purity. From that day onwards Sri lanka has accquired a unique place in the history of Buddhism.
It is relevant to discuss here the circumstances which led to the ordination of Mahendra and Sanghamitra and which eventually inspired them to take up this historic and noble mission to Sri Lanka.
The story goes that, one day Emperor Ashoka enquired of the Arahant Moggaliputta Tissa, “Lord is one like unto me a kinsman of the Sasana of the Blessed One!”. And the Thera replied, “Even a lavish giver of gifts like unto thee is only a giver of requisites, not a kinsman of the Sasana. But he who offers his son or daughter to the Sasana, he who lets his children enter the order of the Sangha, he alone is true kinsman of the Sasana”. Immediately, Emperor Ashoka asked his son Mahendra and daughter Sanghamitra who stood near, “Do you wish to enter the holy order, dear children? Ordination is prized a great gain”. On feeling their father’s wish, they said “Father this very day we would enter the holy order. For our ordination will be a blessing to thee and to us”. So they renounced their royal state and entered the Sangha. Thus, these very son and daughter of Ashoka became the source for establishment of Buddha Dhamma in Sri Lanka.
But if we see in today’s context, how many royal and well to do parents are willing to give their children to the service of Sasana? They seem to be inclined to make their own children Engineers and Doctors or some other money and status earning machines but they do not encourage or inspire them to take up a monk’s or Nun’s life. And on the other hand, young children are also not inclined to take up this calibrate, pious life in Buddhas Dhamma due to lack of proper inspiration and encouragement from their parents and the society.
According to history, on the full moon day of Poson in the year 308 B.C., the great and noble Arahant Mahendra of wondrous powers along with few others, rose up in the air departing from Vadissa Giri in Gwalior alighted on silakuta, the northern peak of Mihintale in Sri lanka.
On the first day, Arahant Mahendra preached the lesser discourse on the “Simile of the Elephant’s footprint”. At the end of the sermon, the king Devanampiya Tissa took the Three Refuges. The next day, he expounded Devadutta Sutta to a vast concourse of people. This sermon was mainly designed to the audience to desist from following the path of moral depredation which has a special significance to the present day society which seems to be inclined to neglect the spirit and practice of five precepts.
On the fourth day, he preached the Aggikhandhaopama Sutta which emphasises in the utmost unequivocal terms the imperative duty of a monk to live an exemplary life in keeping with the Vinaya rules and warns that dire consequences would overcome him if he lives a life unworthy of a monk. This discourse which was preached after king Devanampiyatissa gifted the Mahameghavena park to Sangha, has a particular bearing in the context of life of a bhikkhu in present day society. The admonition given by Buddha to the monks and which was reiterated by Arahant Mahendra on this memorable Poson should be strictly adhered to if the Buddha Sasana is to flourish in all its glory and splendour in the years to come.
In the past, the wisdom of those at the helm of Lanka made them realize that here in Buddhism was a spiritual treasure that would guide this small yet courageous nation along a righteous path for the millennia to come and so they chose this loyal country Lanka as its custodian.
Thus now on this Poson Poya let us all (the royals & loyals) who owe a deep debt of gratitude to the Triple Gem for the moral, intellectual, cultural and spiritual development of the human race, take an oath and recommit ourselves to the preservation and propagation of Buddhism for the good and well being of all in the times to come.
On this very Jayshta Purnima day
Arahant Mahendra landed at Mihintale.
He preached the dhamma in such a way
That it got established in Sri Lanka that very day.
Thus if we can give up the Greedy way
And live our life the Charity way.
If we can give up the Hatred way
And live our life the Loving way.
If we can give up the Deluded way
And live our life the Mindful way.
Then know that we are living our life
THE BUDDHIST WAY.
Ven. Vinayarakkhita Thero
Bhante Vinayarakkhita hails from the city of Secunderabad in Andhara Pradesh, India. He is a graduate in Mechanical Engineering from Osmania University, Hyderabad. After working for few years as an Engineer he left his job to travel to Sri Lanka to get ordained as a Buddhist Monk. He received his Samanera ordination at Perakumba Pirivena, Kotte in 1998 and then Bhikkhu ordination in 1999 at the Sri Vajiragnana Dharmayatanaya, Bhikkhu Training Center, Maharagama, Sri Lanka. He returned back to India in 2004 and since then he has been teaching meditation and giving dhamma talks in India and abroad. He was the Principal of Mahabodhi Monastic Institute, Bangalore before taking up the present new responsibility as the Chief Monk of the upcoming Lokaratna Buddha Vihara