Unbreakable traditions | Daily News

Unbreakable traditions

‘Vassana Kalo’ comes to an end with the Vap Poya; as rainy season commenced three months ago with Esala, which is popularly known as ‘Cheevara Masaya’. The offering of the ‘Katina Cheevara’ or new robes to monks, who observed Vas. ‘Cheevara Pooja’, is considered the most sacred wholesome act. The word ‘Katina’ means unbreakable. The Buddha visited the heavenly abode of Tavatimsa on Vap Poya day to preach ‘abidhamma’ to ‘matru deva’ [mother diety] and other devas of that celestial plane. Eventually, the Buddha terminated his retreat in order to come down to the city gate of Sankassapura.

Another significant event of Vap is Maitriya Bodhisatva, the future Buddha entering the order with a retinue of 500 followers. The arrival of Sangamitta during Unduvap Poya, was at King Devanampiyatisa’s request to Emperor Asoka made on Vap poya.

The kings in ancient Ceylon, after offering Katina Cheevara, partook in the Vap Magul [‘plough and sow’] ceremony to promote agriculture. As Mahavamsa specifically reveals, King Parakramabahu had offered over eighty Katinas before participating in the ceremony which commenced at the same time.

Understanding Dhamma

“Do not accept any dogma from reverence, but first endeavor to try it as gold is tried by fire.” --Buddha warned. Pristine Dhamma is defaced by some ‘scholars’ for academic purposes and for self-glorification.  Can you make a child believe, that, Siddhartha, the toddler, no sooner he was born in to this world walked seven steps on lotuses, and recited a canto? They know it is an unlikelihood. But it matters slightly as long as his clear word on Dhamma remains untainted. Buddha’s message, the clearly and patently delivered Dhamma, is comprehensible in its simplest form and to the point all the way through. His technique and approach was pleasant, it made People, who tackled the Buddha purposely with the idea of entering into a conflict with him, or to get their problems resolved would listen to him, as he did it in a ‘kanti sudanta vithina’ [an amiable and harmonious way].    

Does Abhidhamma confuse laymen?

The writer is doubtful that Abhidhamma has its origins with the Buddha himself. According to ‘scholars of Buddhism, Abhidhamma teachings are much more analytical and systematic in content and style than Suttas which are considered ‘conventional’ or sammuti and figurative or pariyaya teachings. Abhidharma considered being the pure and literal explanation of ultimate truth or paramattha sacca and an expression of unblemished wisdom. The suttas were preached by the Buddha on specific worldly circumstances to particular people, at specific times, and especially to his most erudite disciples. The Buddha certainly did tell the people to challenge, but went further than that in encouraging them not to refuse the spiritual tradition. Some western academics and scientists are now realizing the insufficiency of systematic tradition because it encouraged people to discard completely the religious practice. The Buddha’s character and life implies the critical and supernatural attitude he assumed. He disputed the Vedic tradition. Destroyed the old folklore and animal sacrifice and launched harmless customs.   

In understanding the truth, it requires that we not take anything for granted; that we accept nothing on trust or belief. Question everything about ourselves, perform with diligence and honesty. Challenge our most basic beliefs, even those we may have about the Dhamma itself; a spirit of inquiring, a spirit of critical examination, that is what Buddha stressed in Kalama sutra.  The Dhamma have the same opinion with the scientific schemes rather than the theologians. All things are momentary, continually arising, becoming, unreliable and disappearance; there is nothing whatsoever that is essentially or independently present; Neither of these cause any threat to the Dhamma, which says, we are in a state of constant change [flux] - situation and sensory requirements help one find ways to happiness; Atheists do cast abuse on ‘believers’ of other view points, they need to find responses to strange areas in their own thoughts, assertion, and suppositions rather than working on illusions.   

The Dhamma stresses that the truth can be comprehended only by application of rationale and mind-centred Experiment/Experience, which are easily accessible to everyone without the help or existence of interpreters, researchers or scholars of academic studies.  

Vap Fullmoon splashed its glow onto Gosinga Sala gardens

As the sun departed, the Vap Fullmoon ascended calmly, bathing and illuminating the Gosinga Sala Gardens with its sparkling sylvan glow on this exceptional evening. As if it were mainly laid up for the relaxation of Arhants, the orchard was comforting to the mind. Among the other famous Arhants who were residing there were Elder Moggallana, Elder Anuruddha and Elder Revatha. Soon they were moving in to the garden where Arhant Kassapa and Arhant Sariputta were busy in Dhamma discourse. Rev. Ananda too was paying attention to link with them seeing this splendid group of Arahants. Sariputta Thera addressed them;  

“Precious colleagues, your attendance tonight I am sincerely appreciative. As the charming fragrance of Sala florets in full bloom is blending in stirring air and scatter in all directions, may I ask from each one of you as to what type of a Bhikkhu, in your examination, will contribute extra beauty and decor to the splendor of this elegant garden or add to this beautiful garden? Venerable Ananda, you may respond now, you are the close confidante of the Buddha. While Elder Sariputta tolerantly listened, one by one they affirmed their observations on the kind of Bhikkhu who could make the wood more striking. At the end of the round, Elder Maha Moggallana bowed to Arhant Sariputta and spoke to him, dear Sariputta, this tranquil night is lovely to watch; all have answered; now we would be happy to ask your views too.” 

“O acquaintances, presume a Bhikkhu is able to live his day enjoying the ecstasy of whatever achievement that is his favorite for that time of the day, and with his mind wholly well under his control, I consider it is this category of Bhikkhu who can add extra beauty and décor to the magnificence of this elegant garden…” 

Katina Pageants

Vap Fullmoon Poya is also useful that we reflect upon recently added extravagant items to Katina pageants making it an extremely expensive event. As Venerable Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera once stated, some temples waste a few millions in organizing a grand Perahera wasting lot of money that can be used to build a small dwelling for a deserving Dayake. The chief priests and Dayake Sabhavas should give serious thought to the late prelate’s golden advice. Are those elephants, hired professional dancers, fireball acrobats and whip-crackers really required? It is high time the organisers rethink the unavoidability of using them. Cannot the temple establishment go back to past performances and conduct them in a simpler manner. As per the writer’s nostalgic memory, in good old days there were flag and flower bearing followers who walked in a single file headed by the Cheevara carrying Chief Dayake and a few drummers, that made an ideal pageant. Why hire pachyderms at Rs.150,000 each? 

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