အခ်ိန္ရွိခိုက္၊ လု႔ံလစိုက္၊ မမိုက္သင့္ေပ၊ ဒို႔တစ္ေတြ။

Monday, July 11, 2011

Buddhists' Sabbath Day


Buddhists’ Sabbath-day
          Myanmar and Sri Lankans have the same Theravāda Buddhism. Majority people in both countries are brought up in the cradle of Theravāda Buddhism. Though we grow up in the bosom or live under the same roof of Theravāda Buddhism, there are different performing and activities on it in day to day life of respective people. Of them, Sabbath-day, Uposatha in Pāli, U-puth in Myanmar and Poya in Sri Lanka, is one of the most profound religious activities that can be seen obviously in Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
          What the Uposatha is? Uposatha is a Pāli word and it renders in Buddhist Dictionary of Venerable Nyanatiloka that “lit. ‘Fasting’, i.e. ‘Fasting Day,’ is the full-moon day, the new New-moon day, and the two days of the first and the last moon-quarter.” “The PTS Dictionary defines it that “[Vedic Upavasatha, the eave of the Soma sacrifice, day of preparation]. At the time of the rise of Buddhism the word had come to mean the day preceding four stages of the moon’s waxing and waning, viz. 1st, 8th, 15th 23th nights of the lunar month that is to say, a weekly sacred day, a Sabbath.” Something may differ from this interpretation to those who have been practising in Myanmar and Sri Lanka, mainly flourished Theravada Buddhism.
          Most of the Buddhist Scholar supposes that actual meaning of Uposasatha is very from Fasting or Sabbath-day. To be easy, Uposatha is a compound word of Upa and Vasatha. May I loosely interpret that Upa means ‘with noble practice’ and Vasatha means ‘living’. Accordingly Upavasatha means living with noble practises. Buddhist Terms’ Dictionary mentions on Uposatha that Observance of fasting day. There are two kinds of observance: one for lay devotees and the other for Bhikkhus; (1) the former by keeping the eight precepts by lay devotees as a means of purification of physical and mental actions. (2) The latter by reciting the Pātimokkha by Bhikkhus on full-moon and new-moon days.
Collapse...            First of all, let’s see Sri Lanka. There is a Poya or Uposatha day in each and every month and it falls on only full-moon day of a month. Early in the morning of on that day, people come to the temple near by wearing white one-set clothes, which mostly can be seen in all religious occasions and young students. When devotees come to the temple, they bring something to offer to the Buddha such flowers, candle, oil to light as joss -sticks. They take eight precepts, Sīla, in front a monk by repeating him. Thus they keep staying in the temple till round about 6: pm observing their moralities and listing to the Dhamma preached by the monks alternately. The Dhamma-talk is presented from morning to evening taking a break moderately in each section.
          Some donors come to the temple on that day to offer breakfast and lunch meals to those who are observing precepts. There are three steps, Dāna, Sīla and Bhāvanā, in Buddhism when Buddhists engage in religious activities. Dāna which means Charity or Almsgiving or Liberality or Offering. When one cultivates Dāna well, it believes that it is easy to take Sīla, precepts of five or eight which mainly for lay-devotees. Bhāvanā is the final stage and it is rendered as Meditation in English. However there are various kinds in each stage. The last one is Bhāvanā which has two-fold of Samatha and Vipassanā or concentration of mind and seeing things as they truly are.
          On full-moon day in Sri Lanka, the devotees keep staying for a whole day long from early morning to late evening in temple. Meanwhile they are listing to Dhamma preached by monks alternately and they also get interval time every one hour for minutes so that they can get comfortable. As soon as they arrived in temple, their first duty is taking eight precepts in front of a monk repeating him. And they take five precepts at the end of the last Dhamma-talk in the evening when they are going to home. Finally, they share their merits to all sentient beings in the universe.
          Myanmar is not like Sri Lankans on Uposatha-day. Buddhist pious devotees come to the temple wearing white upper garment and brown lower garment putting on brown shawl, Yogi-Ta Bat in Myanmar, on their right shoulder especially for female devotees. This kind of wearing style is called Yogi-suit. There are four Sabbath or Uposatha days in a month in Myanmar; 8th waxing day, full-moon day, 8th waning day and new moon day or the last day of waning on which the moon is not available. Again, before each and every day of Sabbath-day, there is a day called Pre-Sabbath-day on which people are alarmed that tomorrow is going to be Sabbath-day such as by the State Radio, Television on one way and announcing by young people in the rural area so that they can prepare for their necessities next day on the other.
          On that day, people come to a monastery near by to observe eight or nine precepts and it is round about eight o’clock in the morning. After keeping precepts in front of a monk, some of them return their home whilst the rest stay in the monastery till in the evening. Some body cannot come to the monastery even on Uposatha-day because of their respective family duties. In some ways or other they try to observe precepts from a novice or monk who came to their house for alms-food about ten a.m. It is like others who go to the temple.
          The lay-devotees in monastery, after taking precepts, listen to the Dhamma preached by either monks or lay-devotees. Afterward, they engage in meditation taking a rest for minutes every one hour till late evening when the time is ripe to go home back. Their Sabbath-day is finished early in the morning of next day. After at twelve of Sabbath-day, they do not take any food except water and juice like a monk till next day’s morning.
          There are full of meditation centres in Myanmar and they can be seen through out the country not only urban area but in rural region. Every season, they perform meditational activities and it takes at least a week to three moths. On that period, not only lay people but monks and nuns participate to take meditation. Every necessary for meditators, Yogīs, is provided by the meditation center with the aids of donors.
          When I’m in Sri Lanka, I had rarely seen the people engaging in meditation even on Sabbath or Poya-day. But there are some forest meditation centres in which only monks can be seen. Instead of meditation, Buddhist Psychotherapy and Buddhist Counseling are more popular among the Sri Lankans, I think. Even the monks in Sri Lanka might prefer naming modern name on meditations, Samatha and Vipassanā, such as Buddhist Psychotherapy and Buddhist Counseling. We also had learned these subjects at Postgraduate Institute of Pāli Buddhist Studies, University of Kelaniya, Buddhist and Pāli University, Peradeniya so on in Sri Lanka. The native are also interestingly pursuing them.
          Any way, let’s me express again on Uposatha. It is a kind of Sīla, morality, which already had pre Buddhist era and Buddha time. According to the Jātaka stories, Bodhisatta who is an enlightenment being or a future Buddha, had done it as Sīlapāramī, morality of perfection. It is one of the ten perfections, Dasapāramī, in Buddhism. Therefore Sīla is one of the most crucial religious tasks for a Buddhist in his way of living.
          In the Sāsa Jātaka story, Bodhisatta was born as a rabbit and he had three other friends of a monkey, a jackal and an otter. They lived peacefully and harmoniously under the instruction of the rabbit. One day, the rabbit said his friends that tomorrow is the full-moon day and let all of us observe the Uposatha day and keep precepts. They kept Uposatha precepts, thus.
          There are ten great Jātaka stories or the Birth stories of the Buddha. One of them is Bhūridātta-jātaka in which states Bodhisatta was a serpent, Nāga, who had a super natural power. Being wanted to keep precepts, he disguised as a human being and came to human world, for in Nāga-abode, there are full of sensual pleasure that makes one difficult to concentrate with good intention.
          Uposatha Sutta of Aṅguttaranikāya mentions there are three kinds of Uposatha; Nigaṇṭha-uposatha, Gopālaka-uposatha and Ariya-uposatha. Of them the last one is the most highest and benefited to those who are observed it. The rest two are less result because of impure intention when one takes precepts. Either one, two or more observing morality is of good to whom perform them and it is also useful to control mental problems of greed, hatred and delusion. Finally, Uposatha day has been living in both Myanmar and Sri Lanka in accordance with their own tradition and it is one of our true dignity which we well preserves such a long journey of over 2600 years since the Buddha’s time.
With Mettā,
          Reverence Uttamānanda
            Friday, July 08, 2011

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