Buddhism in Burma (also known as Myanmar) is predominantly of the Theravada tradition, practised by 89% of the country's population. It is the most religious Buddhist country in terms of the proportion of monks in the population and proportion of income spent on religion. Adherents are most likely found among the dominant ethnic Bamar (or Burmans), Shan, Rakhine (Arakanese), Mon, Karen, and Chinese who are well integrated into Burmese society. Monks, collectively known as the Sangha, are venerated members of Burmese society. With regard to the Daily Routines as Buddhists in Myanmar, there are two most popular practices: merit-making and vipassanā (Insight Meditation). Merit-making is the most common path undertaken by Burmese (Myanmar) Buddhists. This path involves the observance of the Five Precepts and accumulation of good merit through charity and good deeds (dāna) in order to obtain a favorable rebirth. The vipassanā path, which has gained ground since the early 1900s, is a form of insight meditation believed to lead to Enlightenment.
The history of Buddhism in Burma (Myanmar) probably extends more than two thousand years to the Buddha's Time. The Sasana Vamsa, written by Venerable Pinyasami in 1834, summarizes much of the history of Buddhism in Burma. According to the Mahavamsa, a Pali Chronicle of the fifth century Ceylon, the Emperor Asoka sent two Buddhist Monks, Sona and Uttara, to Suvannabhumi. Many historians recorded that Sona and Uttar (one of the royal monks) to Ashoka the Great came to Burma (Suvarnabhumi or Suvannabhumi) around 228 BC with other monks and sacred texts, including books. An inscription of the Ikshavaku Dynasty of the Andhra region, of about the 3rd century A.D., refers to the conversion of the Kiratas to Buddhism. (Kiratas were thought to be the Tibeto-Burma peoples of Burma). Early Chinese texts of about the same date speak of a "Kingdom of Liu-Yang", where all people worshipped the Buddha and there were several thousand samanas. This kingdom has been identified with a region somewhere in Central Burma. A series of epigraphic records in Pali, Sanskrit, Pyu and Mon datable in the 6th and 7th centuries, has been recovered from Central and Lower Burma (Prome and Rangoon). From the 11th to 13th centuries B.C, the kings and queens of Pagan dynasty built countless numbers of Stupas and temples. The Ari Buddhism era included the worship of Bodhisattas and nagas, and also was known for corrupt monks.
Theravada Buddhism was implanted at Pagan for the first time as early as the 11th century by Burmese King Anawratha (1044-1077 AD). In year 1057, Anawratha sent an army to conquer the Mon city of Thaton in order to obtain theTipitaka Buddhist canon. He was converted by a Mon monk called Shin Arahan, to Theravada Buddhism. Shin Arahan's advice led to acquiring thirty sets of Pali scriptures from the Mon King Manuhal by force. Inscriptional evidence of a Theravada Bhikkhuni nunnery was noted in 1279. Mon culture, from that point, came to be largely assimilated into the Bamar culture based in Bagan. Despite attempts at reform, certain features of Ari Buddhism and traditional nat worship continued, such as reverence of Avalokiteśvara (Lawka nat), a Boddhisatta. Successive kings of Bagan continued to build large numbers of monuments, temples, and pagodas in honour of Buddhism. Burmese rule at Bagan continued until the invasion of the Mongols in 1287. Towards the end of the 13th century, Buddhism declined due to the invading Tartars. In 14th Century, another forest lineage was imported from Sri Lanka to Ayudhaya, the Thai capital. A new ordination line is also imported into Burma.
The Shan, meanwhile, established themselves as rulers throughout the region now known as Burma. Thihathu, a Shan king, established rule in Bagan, by patronising and building many monasteries and pagodas. The Mon kingdoms, often ruled by Shan chieftains, fostered Theravada Buddhism in the 14th century. Wareru, who became king of Mottama (a Mon city kingdom), patronised Buddhism, and established a code of law (Dhammathat) compiled by Buddhist monks. King Dhammazedi, formerly a Mon monk, established rule in the late 15th century at Innwa and unified the Sangha in Mon territories. He also standardised ordination of monks set out in the Kalyani Inscriptions. Dhammazedi moved the capital back to Hanthawaddy (Bago). His mother-in-law Queen Shin Sawbu of Pegu was also a great patron of Buddhism. She is credited for expanding and gilding the Shwedagon Pagoda giving her own weight in gold.
The Bamars or the residents of upper Burma, who had fled to Taungoo before the invading Shan, established a kingdom there under the reigns of Tabinshwehti and Bayinnaung who conquered and unified most of modern Burma. These monarchs also embraced Mon culture and patronised Theravada Buddhism.
In the reigns of succeeding kings, the Taungoo kingdom became increasingly volatile and was overthrown by the Mon. In the mid- 18th century, King Alaungpaya defeated the Mon, expanded the Bamar kingdoms, and established the Konbaung dynasty. Under the rule of King Bodawpaya, a son of Alaungpaya, a unified sect of monks (Thudhamma) was created within the kingdom. Bodawpaya restored ties with Sri Lanka started by Anawrahta, allowing for mutual influence in religious affairs. In the reigns of the Konbaung kings that followed, both secular and religious literary works were created. King Mindon Min moved his capital to Mandalay. After Lower Burma had been conquered by the British, Christianity began to gain acceptance. Many monks from Lower Burma had resettled in Mandalay, but by decree of Mindon Min, they returned to serve the Buddhist laypeople. However, schisms arose among the Sangha, which were resolved during the Fifth Buddhist Synod, held in Mandalay in 1871.
The Fifth Council was convened at Mandalay in Myanmar on the first waning day of Tazaungmone, 1232 Myanmar Era, 2415 B.E (November, 1871). The scriptures inscribed on palm-leaves could not last for a long time. Therefore, the scriptures were inscribed on marble slabs in order to dispel these disadvantages.
Two thousand and four hundred bhikkhus led by Venerable Jagarabhivamsa Thera (Tipitakadhara Mahadhammarajadhirajaguru) of Dakkhinarama Monastery, Mandalay, convened, to recite and approve the scriptures. King Mindon initiated and supported the Fifth Great Council to the end. The scriptures were first inscribed on seven hundred and twenty-nine marble slabs) in the precinct of Lokamarajina Pagoda at the foot of Mandalay Hill. From 1860 to 1868, the Tipitaka was engraved on 729 marble slabs and assembled in the Kuthodaw Pagoda. It took seven years, six months and fourteen days to finish this work. Then the bhikkhus recited to approve the inscriptions for five months and three days. In 1871, a new hti (the gold umbrella that crowns a Stupa) encrusted with jewels from the crown was also donated by Mindon Min for the Shwedagon now in British Burma. After the Fifth Great Council, the Pali Texts were translated into Myanmar language, and the Doctrinal Order was promulgated to the whole country for purpose of purification and propagation of the Buddha's Teachings.
Since 1948 when the country of Myanmar (Burma) gained its independence from Great Britain, both civil and military governments have supported Theravada Buddhism. The 1947 Constitution states, "The State recognizes the special position of Buddhism as the faith professed by the great majority of the citizens of the Union." The Ministry of Religious Affairs, created in 1948, was responsible for administering Buddhist affairs in Burma. In 1954, the Prime Minister, U Nu, convened the Sixth Buddhist Synod at Kaba Aye Pagoda in Rangoon (Yangon), which was attended by 2,500 monks, and established the World Buddhist University. The above mentioned factors are the importance of Myanmar Buddhist history in brief.
Buddhist Lay devotee: In Pali the word for a male lay devotee is Upasaka. Upasika is its female equivalent. One of the duties of the lay followers, as taught by the Buddha, is to look after the needs of the monk/nuns. They are to see that the monk/nuns do not suffer from lack of the four requisites: food, clothing, shelter and medicine. As neither monks nor nuns are allowed to have an occupation, they depend entirely on the laity for their sustenance. In return for this charity, they are expected to lead exemplary lives.
In Burma (Myanmar), monastery was and is still regarded as a seat of learning. In fact today some the primary schools in Myanmar are located in monasteries. Religious rituals and ceremonies held in a monastery are always accompanied by social activities. In times of crisis, it is to the monks that people bring their problems for counsel.
Traditionally, a ranking monk will deliver a sermon four times a month: when the moon waxes and wanes and the day before the new and full moons. The laity also has a chance to learn meditation from the monks during these times.
It is also possible for a lay disciple to become enlightened. As Bhikkhu Bodhi notes, "The Suttas and commentaries do record a few cases of lay disciples attaining the final goal of Nirvana. However, such disciples either attain Arahantship on the brink of death or enter the monastic order soon after their attainment. They do not continue to dwell at home as Arahant householders, for dwelling at home is incompatible with the state of one who has severed all craving." From the ancient time up to present day of Myanmar, Lay devotees are very much concerned with morality (Sila), concentration (Samadhi) and wisdom (Panna) in their daily life in order to be free from Samsara(the round of suffering).
Mutual exchange between sangha and lay society in Myanmar
The formally organised and numerous Sangha certainly cannot exist without the material sup-port of the lay people in the field of basic needs such as food, habitat or clothing. This obvious material dependence on the lay society from the very beginning seems to have created a need for a religious option for the lay supporters, since the Buddha’s doctrine was based on the renunciation of the material world. The moral code for laity is simple and embodied in five precepts, also known as Pancasila: not to kill, not to steal, not to commit adultery, not to lie and not to use intoxicants. There are also a few Buddhist Suttas concerned with the life of a layman and the most important of them is the Mangala Sutta (Sutta of Blessings). It is composed of 38 so-called “blessings” or moral guidance notes re-lated to various aspects of life, for instance social association, good living, education and skills, meditation practice, avoidance of sin, nobility, mental maturity, achievement of Nibbana. But the main religious offer for the laity is the cultivation of the Dana- donations for the monks and worship of sacred relics. Through the act of donation lay followers can acquire the highest religious merit, which accumulates and brings fruits in one of their next lives and will eventually bring them closer to salvation. They can also achieve the so-called “five great benefits” in present life by offering alms food, such as longevity, beauty, happiness in mind and body, bodily strength, great wisdom and insight.
Without practicing Dana- one is not able to make any religious progress. That is why important events in the life of a layman cannot be celebrated without the act of donation. Monks are the vessel through which laity can aspire to the better here and after. The most generous donors deserve also the highest respect and prestige in society. Monkhood, due to the vows, is also a kind of sacrum. In this way, both sides are living in symbiosis and depend on each other, materially and spiritually.
Uposatha(Sabbath) Day of Buddhist Society in Myanmar
The Uposatha (Sanskrit: Upavasatha) is Buddhist day of observance, in existence from the Buddha's time (500 BCE), and still being kept today in Buddhist countries. The Buddha taught that the Uposatha day is for "the cleansing of the defiled mind," resulting in inner calm and joy. On this day, lay disciples and monks intensify their practice, deepen their knowledge and express communal commitment through millennia-old acts of lay-monastic reciprocity. Depending on the culture and time period, Uposatha days have been observed from two to six days etc., each lunar month. In general, Uposatha is observed about once a week in Theravada Buddhist countries in accordance with the four phases of the moon: the new moon, the full moon, and the two quarter moons in between. In some communities, such as in Sri Lanka, only the new moon and full moon are observed as Uposatha days.
In Myanmar, Uposatha (called ဥပုသ္ေန႔ Ubot nei) is observed by more pious Buddhists on the following days: waxing moon (လဆန္း la hsan), full moon (လျပည့္ေန႔ La pyei nei), waning moon (လဆုတ္-La hsote), and new moon (လကြယ္ေန႔ La kwe nei). The most common days of observance are the full moon and the new moon. In pre-colonial Burma, Sabbath was a legal holiday that was observed primarily in urban areas, where secular activities like business transactions came to a halt. However, since colonial rule, Sunday has replaced the Uposatha day as the legal day of rest. All major Burmese (Myanmar) Buddhist holidays occur on Uposatha days, namely Thingyan, the beginning of the Buddhist lent (beginning in the full moon of Waso, around July to the full moon of Thadingyut, around October). During this period, Uposatha is more commonly observed by Buddhists than during the rest of the year.
We have to discuss some more data and information to know about the Buddhist Uposatha days which are devotional Buddhist practices in Myanmar. Every religion on earth has its own holy day. To take an instance, Sunday is holy for Christianity, while Friday is for Islam. Likewise, for the Buddhists it is the Sabbath day (uposatha) that they take holy, and observe special religious functions on that day.
It doesn’t mean that on other days the devout Buddhists are away from any religious activities. Instead, they very frequently engage in the religious practice almost daily. This is clear from the sight of the crowded people worshiping and offering flowers to the Lord Buddha at more or less all the pagodas of fame across Myanmar. However on that sacred day, they never feel content with offering flowers and prayers. Of course, they try their best to fulfill all necessary practices i.e. Dana (offering), Sila (restraint), and Bhavana( Mind-training) which play vital role in Buddhism. This article is an attempt to present what the Buddhist do on the Sabbath day.
Talking about the Sabbath day, it is advisable to turn our attention to its background; from the study of which, we can rightly say that the uposatha is mainly concerned with the ecclesiastical order i.e. the Bhikkhu sangha. It is the Vinaya Pitaka that depicts how the tradition of uposatha came into existence and how it became popular.
For the clarity’s sake, we would like to briefly discuss the origin of the system. The canonical text shows us that the uposatha tradition originally comes from the Nigantha (Jain) sect. The Niganthas met four times in a lunar month (generally once a week) and observe uposatha. During the function, they preached their doctrine to their followers. In this way they gained fame and popularity which helped their sect flourish. Seeing the situation, the king of Magadha, out of the will to boom the Buddha’s teaching, requested the Buddha to allow uposatha for the Bhikkhu-sangha. In compliance with the request, the Buddha decreed bhikkhus to conduct the uposatha ceremony during which the patimokkha rules are recited by the appointed monk. The ceremony usually takes place every fortnight. This is how the system turned into religious function.
From the above-mentioned account, it is clear that the uposatha observance is mainly confined to the religious order.
The chronicle says that Buddhism together with its sacred texts firmly established in Myanmar in the eleventh century A.D during the reign of king Anawratha. Since then, Myanmar people have been fortunate to embrace Buddhism. It is estimated that eighty nine percent of the Myanmar population are Buddhists. Accordingly the Buddhist texts has influenced on the society. The uposatha tradition which is mentioned in the Buddhist Vinaya texts penetrates the custom of the people. Its impact on the Myanmar society is such that every member of the society becomes alert with the occurrence of the tradition itself. In this article we would like to highlight how the Myanmar lay-persons are actively involved in such a religious practice.
Even though there are four special uposatha-days for Myanmar Buddhists in a month, we prefer to take one particular day into consideration, for all functions of each day seems to be less different from one another. Generally speaking, the uposatha day falls once a week.
The uposatha day begins with the song coming from the loudspeaker of the Dhamma hall even before dawn. The song chiefly characterizes the virtues of the triple Gems (i.e. Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha- which are highly valued by every Buddhist); sometimes the victory of the Lord Buddha. The song spreads and enshrouds the entire atmosphere. In some way, it signifies the wake-up alarm for the dutiful house-wife who gets up and is busy with the preparation for the meal offered to the Buddha and Sangha.
In the rural area, where the electricity is something beyond the reach, the light from the kitchen of each house can be seen dimly. In the dark surrounding, the kitchen-lights look like the stars in the moonless night. The sound of prayers from the elders of the same house or another is serving her as a refreshing device during her cooking activity. When the householder gets up, he gives his hand to his wife in whatever way he can. But the main responsibility for him is to make sure that all the cattle have a full stomach for the whole day since he will have the least time to serve them while he is devoting to the engagement in the religious actions.
In the urban areas, early in the morning, there is an altar on which the foods to be offered are kept. It typically stands at the gate of the donor’s house. Having got the foods ready, most members of the family participate in giving alms-food to the Sangha. This sort of offering at the gate of the donor’s house is known in Myanmar as the ‘Universal donation’ (bon-swan-laung). In a rare case, it is followed by the offering of requisites by means of drawing lots. As the name implies, in the universal donation, every alms-going monk may have an opportunity to receive whatever is offered, though in the alms-round for lunch, there is some specifications as to which monk is especially allowable to accept the donation from which house. Exception is made if the alms-round forms a procession which belongs to a particular monastery however. The bhikkhu sangha is sustained all day long by that food.
When the donation is over, every adult at home, having had a bath and a breakfast, sets out for the journey to the village monastery. As a rule, decking in a neat clothes, they have in their hand rosary beads, flowers, incense sticks, a plateful of rice. The sight of lay people going to the monastery with such things in their hands is contributing to the peaceful environment. It is a kind of custom that during their religious practice, they often prefer to put a shawl on their shoulders. The spectacle of villagers with offerings on their head and shawl on their shoulders is much striking.
Upon arriving at the monastery, some donors share foods with all uposatha observers who have been present in the campus. Putting their offerings on the altar before the Buddha statue, they offer them to the lord Buddha and then to the incumbent monk.
There comes the prime time for everyone concerned. All the devotees take eight precepts from the incumbent monk. The precepts include the refrain from killing, stealing, having intercourse, telling lies, using drugs, and taking gross food after noon, beautifying oneself, living on the high and grand location. Sometimes, the transference of Loving-kindness is added as the last item though it relates to the application of mind. These precepts precisely advise the observers not to lead the ordinary life but to keep control in every action of the day.
Thereafter the monk gives them dhamma talk which by and large demonstrates the advantages of keeping precepts. Then the observers share their meritorious deeds with all other beings in the universe. It stands for the end of the morning session.
In the urban areas, the arrangement for the special function is started even on the eve of uposatha day. At around 3 pm of the eve day, all the young volunteers from the whole ward gather at the dhamma hall which is meant for the assimilated religious activities of the whole ward or quarter and get ready for the collection of donation from the generous of both side of the road. They, taking the form of a procession, go round from quarter to quarter. It should be mentioned that the procession sometimes incorporates the musical entertainment which is not compulsory. With the silver cup in their hands, the youths collect all kinds of offerings from the soft-minded. On the Uposatha day, all they had collected are used for the monk invited to give sermon to the audience. It is worth adding that the monk can receive some offerings from the specific donor who come up with robes, monk-slippers etc. It is strange from the western eyes that the list of the donors for the uposatha ceremony is untimely full.
While some have their lunch at the monastery, some do not. Those who have lunch at home return to the monastery after they have filled themselves. All the participants take a rest for some while. At around 1 pm, the observers begin to carry out the religious functions. They include taking meditation on breath (anapanasati), listening to the dhamma talk, recollecting on the qualities of the Buddha (Buddhanussati), cleaning the shrine-room, helping the elders and the like. The female participants might be busy with making juice for all including the novices and monks who are doing the weekly test on Buddhist literatures.
In some monasteries, on the full-moon and new-moon day, all ordained-monks undertake the Patimokkha recitation ceremony. It usually takes place at around 3 pm. The function of lay-devotees at the village monastery ends with the refreshment of the precepts in which all observers take precepts again from the incumbent monk.
On getting home, they keep away from the worldly affairs. Instead they participate in the meditation group. It should be noted that in Myanmar it is not very hard to get the able meditation teacher, either a monk or a lay. For instance, in my native village, finding a meditation master, a group of about fifteen people take meditation under his kindly guidance.
Those who want to gain the dhamma-knowledge assemble at a particular place or house, and organize to manage the dhamma talk. This is done either by watching the dhamma CD of the famous dhamma-speakers or by inviting the monk to give dhamma talk at that particular place. It is called the group-dhamma-listening. More often than not, the dhamma talk is over at around 10 pm.
In conclusion, the devotional Buddhist Uposatha day in Myanmar is very special to the Myanmar Buddhist society to purify their mind from defilements. Accordingly they follow the Buddha’s teaching which specifically advises its followers to avoid doing evil, to do well, and to cleanse one’s mind. (Dhammapada verse 183). This is especially dedicated to the religious devotion of the Myanmar Buddhist lay society.
Names of Full Moon Uposatha Days within a Lunar Months
The Pali names of the Uposatha days are based on the Sanskrit names of the nakśatra (Pali: nakkhatta), the constellations or lunar mansions through which the moon passes within a lunar month.
Full Moon Uposatha Day Names
History of the Uposatha
The word "Uposatha" is derived from the Sanskrit word "upavasatha," which refers to the pre-Buddhistic fast day that preceded Vedic sacrifices. In the Buddha's time, some ascetics used the new and full moon as opportunities to present their teachings. The Uposatha Day was instituted by the Buddha at the request of King Bimbisara, and the Buddha instructed the monks to give teachings to the laypeople on this day, and told the monks to recite the Patimokkha every second Uposatha day.
Lay practice of Uposatha
On each Uposatha day, devout lay people practice the Eight Precepts.For lay practitioners who live near a monastery, the uposatha is an opportunity for them to visit a local monastery, make offerings, listen to Dhamma talks by monks and participate in meditation sessions. For lay practitioners unable to participate in the events of a local monastery, the Uposatha is a time to intensify one's own meditation and Dhamma practice, for instance, meditating an extra session or for a longer time, reading or chanting special suttas, recollecting or giving in some special way.
Monastic practice of Uposatha
On the new-moon and full-moon uposatha, in monasteries where there are four or more bhikkhus, the local Sangha will recite the Patimokkha. Before the recitation starts, the monks will confess any violations of the disciplinary rules to another monk or to the Sangha. Depending on the speed of the Patimokkha chanter (one of the monks), the recitation may take from 30 minutes to over an hour. Depending on the monastery, lay people may or may not be allowed to attend.
Communal Reciprocity of the Uposatha
We would like to describe our experience of Uposatha day in the Theravada Buddhist countries including Myanmar, "Early in the morning lay people give alms food to the bhikkhus who may be walking on alms round, invited to a layman's house, or the lay people may take the food to the monastery. Usually lay people do not eat before serving their food to the bhikkhus and they may eat only once that day.... Before the meal the laity request the Eight Precepts [from the bhikkhus], which they promise to undertake for a day and night. It is usual for lay people to go to the local monastery and to spend all day and night there.. [In monasteries where] there is more study, [lay people] will hear as many as three or four discourses on Dhamma delivered by senior bhikkhus and they will have books to read and perhaps classes on Abhidhamma to attend.... In a meditation monastery ..., most of their time will be spent mindfully employed – walking and seated meditation with some time given to helping the bhikkhus with their daily duties. So the whole of this day and night (and enthusiastic lay people restrict their sleep) is given over to Dhamma...."
Traditional Chanting of Paritkyi (Paritta in Pali) in Myanmar
There are eleven protective discourses well-known as Paritkyi(pritta in pali) in Myanmar. The meaning of Paritkyi is the protection for someone against dangers from all directions. It is composed of words of the Buddha. As an asseveration, it can be done either individually or collectively, originally this recitation was initiated as a simple avowal of truth or the invoking of blessings through the power of internal virtues of a person, as the extolling of the infallible virtues of the Triple Gems. Later on, it has become the prophylactic and ritualistic function of Buddhists to ward off all sorrows, ailments and all fears. Thus, Paritkyi Chanting plays an important role in ceremonial functions.
First of all, one should understand clearly that this type of Buddhist chanting is not a kind of incantation or invocation but an asseveration the Banner protection (Dhajagga Sutta), (8) the discourse of the protection at Devine City of Atanata( Atanadiya Sutta ), (9) the discourse of Arahanta Angulimala (Angulimala Sutta ), (10) the discourse of the Factors of Enlightenment ( Bojjhanga Sutta ), and (11) The discourse of a Good morning (Pubbanha Sutta ).
When the Buddha taught there Sutta in this time, there were many deities who benefited a lot from listening to these. When the Buddha addressed the Mangala-Sutta and other Sutta, many deities, from ten thousands of universes, came and listened to these discourses. And an innumerable number of deities were free from suffering. From the canonical texts, we have known that many deities yearn to listen to Dhamma from the Buddha. Therefore, we always invite the deities to listen to the Dhamma before we recite protective discourses. Indeed, the invitation of many Deities and Brahmas is our tradition. When the noble Deities and Brahmas come and listen to the Paritta Dhamma, the evil demons cannot come and disturb us with bad diseases and disasters which are believed to derive from their effort. Such results can be gained out of the reciting and listening to the protective discourses are the full Pali text as usually recited in Myanmar, with the introductory verses to invite the deities to attend the Paritta Ceremony and to protect the participants.
There are some conditions which have to be fulfilled by both the chanters and the listeners so as to achieve the desired benefits out of the chanting the Paritta. In fact, there are three conditions for the chanters to fulfill and another three for the listeners.
Three conditions to be fulfilled by the chanters are:
1. They must have learnt and chant the Suttas correctly and fully without any omission,
2. They must understand the meaning of the Suttas being chanted, and
3. They must chant with the heart filled with goodwill and loving-kindness.
At the same time listeners must have the following three factors:
1. They must not have committed the five most heinous crimes, namely: killing one’s own father killing one’s own mother, killing an Arahant, causing blood-shed to the Buddha by wounding Him, and causing schism in the Samgha.
2. They must not have the ‘fixed wrong view’, the view that rejects kamma and its results.
3. They must listen to the chanting with confidence in the efficacy of the Suttas in warding off the dangers and bringing good results.
Only when these conditions are fulfilled people can enjoy full benefits from the Pritta. Therefore, it should be noted that when the Parittas are being chanted, people should listen to the chanting with confidence, respect and attentiveness. Moreover, the chanting of Parittas for benefits is a two-way action. Those who chant are like those who give out something, and those who listen to the Parittas are like those who take what is given; if they do not take what is given they will not get particular thing. In the same way if people just let other people chant, but do not they listen to the chanting, then they are not surely different from someone who does not take what is given and they will not get the benefits of the chanting, when they are listening to the chanting, they are at the receiving end of the blessings. But paying no attention to the chanting but thinking of something else instead, then obviously their mind is not present to receive any of the blessings bring invoked. So, chanting won’t stand them in good stead.
If we memories well these eleven Pritta Suttas texts, and chant it regularly, then Buddha’ s admonitions will be absorbed in to our mind, and internalized. The result will always be inward happiness and peace throughout our life.
Occasions of Paritkyi (Paritta) chanting ceremony in Myanmar
These eleven Paritta Suttas chanting ceremonies are performed at the temple or house on such occasions as the consecration of the Buddha at the Buddhist Image House (Buddha- Vihara) the pinnacle setting ceremony of a Pagoda (Cetiya), ceremonial openings of a new buildings, wedding ceremony, birthdays ceremony, ceremony in memory of a death person, opening of a new business, special Paritta chanting ceremonies, ceremonial opening of a newly built monastery, and the life.
Objectives of Pritkyi (Paritta) chanting ceremony in Myanmar
These eleven Pritta Suttas are chanted in order to destroy the three fold fear arisen from illness, non-humans and famine as in the case of the Ratana Sutta; to protect from the Yakkhas who show something fearful; to sleep well without laziness and without evil dreaming; to destroy the deathly venom and all other dangers everywhere and every day; to protect from the enemy of any kind as in the case of the Metta Sutta; to safe guard against fire as in the case of the Vatta Sutta; to release from the net of all dangers arising from demons, robbers, etc as to the Mora Sutta; to gain immediate relief which enables pregnant women to deliver her child safely as with the Angulimala Sutta; to heal the physical ailments by listening and contemplating on the Seven factors of Enlightenment as in the Bojjhanga Sutta; to shield from all calamities in conjunction with nine planets with the Atanadiya Sutta; to safe guard against fear and malady; to possess great miraculous power; after all for the benefit of the whole world.
In conclusion, all of these are eleven kinds of chanting and reciting protective discourse, which of a little value in comparison with the Sublime Teachings of the Buddha based on wisdom and Insight. The Buddha always emphasized the need of practicing the Dhamma rather than reciting like parrots. Once he said, “Once who abides in the Dhamma, delights in the Dhamma, meditates on the Dhamma and bear the Dhamma well in mind, does never fall away from the Sublimi Dhamma”. Let us all try to understand these teachings of the Buddha and strive to put the Paritta Suttas Dhamma in to practice in our daily life so that it may bring peace, happiness and the final emancipation of Nibbana.
Full Moon of Waso, Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta Day in Myanmar
The Full Moon of Waso, the Dhammacakkapavattana Day falls on 6th July 2009. The Full Moon Day of Waso associates with the four great noble and significant events related to the precious life of the Omniscient Gotama Buddha. On that holy day, the Buddha-to-be (the Gotama Buddha) took pregnancy in the womb of Queen Maya, wife of His Majesty King Suddhodana of Kapilavatthu Kingdom, and also on that day at the age of 29, the Buddha-to-be renounced the world, and after having full attainment of the Buddhahood, the Gotama Buddha preached His first great sermon, Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta to His five disciples, in which He explained the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, on the Full Moon Day of Waso. All five disciples received ordination and formed the first nucleus of the holy brotherhood of disciples known as the Sangha. And also, on the Full Moon Day of Waso, the Omniscient Buddha performed the great miracle called the Twin Miracle. The reason for this was to dispel the wrong views of heretics, and to prove that He possessed the attributes of a Buddha. It is the miracle of water and fire.
The Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta Day
Over 2556 years ago, the unrivalled Omniscient Buddha preached His first great Sermon, theDhammacakkapavattana Sutta to His five disciples (Kondanna and other four) in the Deer park, now known as Saranath, India, on the Full Moon Day of Waso. In commemoration of this significant and holy event associated with the precious life of the Buddha, the Buddhist peoples across the Buddhist world celebrate the Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta Day on this Full Moon Day of Waso by observing precepts delivered by members of the Sangha and respectfully listening to the Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta recited by members of the Sangha. And also, the generous Buddhist peoples perform meritorious deeds such as offering Waso robes, alms and other offertories to the members of Sangha on the Full Moon Day of Waso, the Dhammacakkapavattana Day.
Rains retreat period of Vassavasa
Observing the rains retreat period; confining oneself to a specific monastic dwelling for the three-month rainy period. During the three months of monsoon rains, Bhikkhus go into retreat at a monastery designated before hand at the start of the rainy season. This practice was introduced during the life-time of the Buddha. Before the Buddha decreed the rains retreat period, Bhikkhus walked across fields under cultivation. People started to criticize them as some people believed that plants and even drops of water were living beings. Why is it that the disciples of the Buddha go on travels all the year round and trample young plants and insects into oblivion while even members of other sects do not go on journeys during the rains? Even birds and animals have the good sense to stay in their nets or dens during the rains, people complained. To put an end to this controversy the Buddha decreed that the rains-retreat period be observed. Rains-retreat period may be observed by taking up the designated residence during one of the two periods:
(1) Earlier rains-retreat period (Purimavassavasa), commencing from the day after the full moon of Waso (roughly corresponding to July) and ending on the full moon day of Thadingyut (roughly corresponding to October);
(2) Later rains retreat period (Pacchimavassavasa), commencing from the day after the full moon of Wagaung (roughly corresponding to August) and ending on the full moon day of Tazaungmon (roughly corresponding to November).
Thadingyut and other Religious Festivals in Myanmar
During the month formerly called "Than-tu-la", now called "Thadingyut", religious festivals are regularly performed since the time of the Burmese kings, and have thus persisted in the Burmese culture.
Tavatimsa Pwe or Mount- Meru Festival (Myint-Mo Pwe)
After visiting Tavatimsa - the place of the deities- for the entire 3 months of the lent, the Lord Buddha returned to the city of Sankassa. Dusk was approaching as the Buddha returned to Sankassa on this full moon day of Thadingyut. The people lighted candles and lamps to welcome the Lord Buddha. The Buddha made his descent on the ruby stairs flanked by the deities on gold and silver stairs on the right and left. In commemoration of the Lord Buddha's return from Tavatimsa, the Burmese Buddhist celebrates by festivals known as the "Tavatimsa Pwe or Myint-mo Pwe held by the Myanmar Buddhist devotees in Myanmar".
The Abhidhamma Occasion Festival
On His seventh Lent after enlightenment, the Buddha was filled with compassion for the Devas and the Brahmas. Also His mother, who had passed away when He was very young, had been reborn there as Santusita Deva. Because of this, He went to Tavatimsa Devaloka or the celestial abode and preached the Abhidhamma Pitaka (Basket of Ultimate Things) to His mother as well as the assembly of Devas and Brahmas. The preaching continued for full three months, at the end of which the Buddha sought the permission of the king of the celestial abode to grant Him leave. On hearing this, the king created and arranged three stairways, one each of silver, gold and ruby. The stairways began from the great Mount Meru and terminated at the gate of the Sankassa-nagara, the town of human abode. The Buddha selected middle stairways and began His descent. He was accompanied on the right stairway (gold) by the Devas who not only played the musical instruments but also fanned Him right through the journey. The higher celestial beings or the Brahmas were on the left side stairway (silver) holding up white umbrella.
When the Buddha descended from the celestial abode, He, by His power, made it possible for the humans to see the celestial beings who were accompanying Him. Also, they could see the celestial world. The celestial beings, on the other hand, were able to see the millions of humans who had gathered to welcome the Buddha back into the human world
The three months that the Buddha spent preaching the Abhidhamma Pitaka is extremely important event for the Buddhist world. The Abhidhamma day is celebrated to commemorate His descent back to earth.
As mentioned above, during the lent (Vassa) when the Lord Buddha was visiting Tavatimsa, the Buddha expounded the Abhidhamma to the deities, in particular the Santussita Deity who in the previous existence had been the Buddha's mother. Following this act of gratitude to the maternal deity, the Lord Buddha returned to the human world at the time of Thadingyut. In commemoration of the Abhidhamma teaching, festival of recitation of 7 volumes of Abhidhamma such as the Patthana are carried out on the full moon day of Thadingyut. The Burma Broadcasting Station also broadcasted the recitation of 7 volumes of Abhidhamma every year.
On the Abhidhamma Day, the Buddhist offer lights to the image of the Buddha and carry out good deeds as per the tradition that has been continued from the time of the Buddha Himself. The festival is a time for merry making, though basically, it retains its spiritual characteristics.
By Ashin Sutacaralankara