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The courage to be a Buddhist

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Medin Full Moon Poya day this year falls on 22 March. It was on a Medin Full Moon Poya day, nine months after his Enlightenment, that Gauthama Buddha first visited Kapilavastu, in the ancient Sakya Kingdom of his father, King Suddhodana.

Ceylontoday, 2016-03-20 02:05:00
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The courage to be a Buddhist

By Chandra Tilake Edirisuriya Ceylon Today Features


Medin Full Moon Poya day this year falls on 22 March. It was on a Medin Full Moon Poya day, nine months after his Enlightenment, that Gauthama Buddha first visited Kapilavastu, in the ancient Sakya Kingdom of his father, King Suddhodana.

this was where he grew up and which contained his royal palace and the sprawling garden, 10 km west of his birth place, Lumbini. It was six years since the Buddha's father King Suddhodana had not seen his son. On hearing that his son had attained Enlightenment and was preaching his doctrine at Veluvanaramaya in the city of Rajagaha, King Suddhodana was desirous of seeing Him. Nine courtiers, each with a large following, were sent on nine successive occasions to invite the Buddha to Kapilavastu. Contrary to the King's expectations all nine attained Arahantship and joined the Order. As Arhants are indifferent to worldly things they did not convey the King's message to the Buddha.


The disappointed King finally dispatched Kaludai, who was a playmate of Prince Siddhartha, as the Buddha was known during his life as a layman. He agreed to go on condition that that he would be allowed to enter the Order. He, too, on hearing the Dhamma, attained Arahantship and entered the Order. But unlike the others, he conveyed the message to the Buddha and persuaded Him to visit His aged royal father. The Buddha attended by a large retinue of His disciples, journeyed the whole distance preaching the Dhamma on the way and arrived in Kapilavastu in two months.


Arrangements were made for Him to stay in the Deer Park of Nigrodha, a Sakyan. An aramaya named Nigrodaramaya was built with all facilities for the Blessed One and the visiting Bhikkhus.


The conceited elderly Sakyans, without paying him due obeisance, put forward the younger ones to salute Him. The Buddha through His divine eye saw what the Sakyans contemplated. To dispel their arrogance, the Blessed One sprang up to the sky and performed the Twin Miracle or the Yamaka Pratiharya, a psychic phenomenon which only the Buddha can perform. By His psychic powers He made fire and water issue from the pores of His body simultaneously.

The King seeing this wonderful sight saluted Him, immediately, saying that it was his third salutation. Soon after, all the other arrogant Sakyans worshipped the Buddha.
Thereupon the Buddha came down from the sky and sat on the prepared seat. The relatives too sat down to listen to Him. Then a strange phenomenon occurred. Rain broke out, but it wetted only those who wished to be wet and not others. When the Sakyans marvelled at this phenomenon, the Buddha preached the Vessanthara Jathakaya to show that a similar incident took place in the presence of His relatives in a previous birth.


As, no one invited Him for the noon meal the following day, the Buddha, bowl in hand went from house to house, in the streets of Kapilavastu, seeking alms, together with his disciples. This was reported to the King and he hurried to the scene and inquired why he was thus disgracing the royal family.
"This is the custom of our lineage, O King!" replied the Buddha to the King's astonishment.
"Surely, Lord, ours is the warrior lineage of Mahasammatha and not a single warrior has gone seeking alms," said the King.
"This royal lineage is yours, O King; mine is the Buddha lineage," replied the Buddha.


Standing in the street the Buddha advised the King thus:
"Be alert! Be not heedless! Lead a righteous life. The righteous live happily both in this world and in the next."
The King saw the light of the Truth and attained the first stage of Sainthood.
He then took the bowl from the Buddha and conducted the Lord and his disciples to the palace and served them with food. After the meal, the Buddha preached the Dhamma thus: "Lead a righteous life and not one that is corrupt."
Thereupon, the King attained Sakrudagami state - the second stage of Sainthood - and Queen Maha Prajapati Gotami, the Buddha's foster-mother, attained the first stage of Sainthood.
When the Buddha visited the palace, all but Princess Yasodhara, the spouse of Prince Siddhartha, came to pay their reverence to the Buddha. Yasodhara thought: "Certainly if there is any virtue in me, the Noble Lord will come to my presence. Then I will show my reverence to him."


The Buddha handed his bowl to King Suddhodana and accompanied by His two chief disciples Sariputta and Moggallana entered the chamber of Yasodhara and sat on the prepared seat, saying: "Let the King's daughter reverence as she pleases. Say nothing."


Swiftly she came, clasped his ankles and placing her head on his feet reverenced him.
The King then commented on her great love and said: "Lord, when my daughter learnt that you were wearing yellow robes, she also robed herself in yellow; when she heard that you were taking one meal a day, she also did the same. When she heard that you had given up lofty couches, she lay on a low couch; when she heard that you had given up garlands and scents, she also gave them up. She refused to wear adornments and the use of luxurious beds.
When her relatives sent messages to say that they would maintain her, she did not even look at a single one. So virtuous was my daughter!"


"Not only in this birth but in a previous birth too, she was devoted to me and protected me, O King," remarked the Buddha and cited the Chandakinnara Jataka. Consoling her with these words the Buddha left the palace.
Two days after the arrival of the Buddha in Kapilavastu, He encountered his half-brother, Prince Nanda, the 16-year-old son of King Suddhodana and Queen Maha Prajapati Gotami. The Buddha handed the bowl to Prince Nanda and proceeded to return to Nigrodharamaya, uttering a blessing, without taking the bowl, with Nanda in tow. Princess Janapada Kalyani seeing Nanda following the Buddha said: "Return quickly, O Noble Lord!" Prince Nanda was deeply moved by these words that fell from the mouth of his fiancée, but with deference to the Buddha, he could not return the bowl to Him.


So bowl in hand, he went to the park with the Buddha and was asked to join the Order. With reluctance he entered the Order out of respect for him as the Buddha and as an elder brother; but he was constantly thinking of his fiancée, the beautiful Janapada Kalyani. The Buddha reading his thoughts devised a way to set him on the correct path. With the objective of showing him celestial nymphs, the Buddha, using His psychic powers, took him to a heavenly plane. On the way, Bhikku Nanda was shown a singed she-monkey, clinging to a burnt-up stump in a scorched forest. Reaching heaven, the novice monk beheld the celestial nymphs and was so much fascinated by them that he compared his charming fiancée to the old she-monkey.
"Would you like to have them, Nanda?" the Buddha questioned him.
"Yes, Lord!" he childishly replied.


"Well, then, I guarantee that you will possess them if you persevere as I bid you." Eventually he became ashamed of his base motive and by striving diligently, attained Arahantship. On the seventh day after his arrival in Kapilavastu, Princess Yasodhara dressed up Rahula and pointing to the Buddha said: "Behold, son, that great ascetic of majestic bearing is your father. Go up to him and ask for your inheritance."


Young Rahula came to his presence, and asking for his inheritance, as advised by his mother, very affectionately said: "O ascetic, even your shadow is pleasing to me." After the noon meal, he followed the Buddha uttering much else that was becoming. Nobody attempted to stop him. Nor did the Buddha prevent him from following Him. On arrival at the park, the Buddha summoned the Venerable Sariputta and said: "Rahula has asked me for his inheritance. I shall give him the seven-fold noble wealth which I received at the foot of the Bodhi-tree and make him the owner of an inheritance transcending this world. Ordain him, Sariputta."


Rahula, who was only seven years of age, was admitted into the Order. King Suddhodana was deeply grieved to hear of this unexpected ordination of his beloved grandson. He came to the Buddha and humbly requested him not to ordain anyone without the prior consent of his parents. The Buddha granted the request.


There are several instructive discourses preached specially to the Venerable Rahula. Having come of age, he received the Higher Ordination and attained Arahantship in due time.


The Buddhists have no creator god to go back to after death. So, the assistance of priests as intermediaries doesn't arise. A Buddhist has to rely on himself and himself alone but belong to a strong nation as of yore. Therefore, it needs tremendous courage to be a Buddhist. Buddhism conforms to the scientific theory of evolution of species by a process of natural selection. The Buddha Himself expounded scientific phenomena in relation to the universe as elucidated in the treatise Buddha's Explanation of the Universe by C.P. Ranasinghe, a master at Ananda College, Colombo, in the 1950s.


The core teaching of Buddhism is, impermanence or anichcha, suffering or dukkha and soullessness or anaththa, which conform to science. A Buddhist has to observe the Five Precepts, the Eight Precepts and the Ten Precepts and if possible enter the Monkhood and live a saintly life such as that of the Most Venerable Balangoda Ananda Maithreya Maha Thera and as was common in the years gone by in our beloved Motherland. It is possible for a layman to eschew all sensual pleasures, including nachcha, geetha, vaditha to which some are addicted and develop his mind to such a high state so that he won't have to fear death!
(The writer has drawn material, in extenso, from A Manual of Buddhism by Ven. Narada Thera, which he had occasion to study during his days at his alma mater Ananda College, Colombo in the 1950s.)

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