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Home Cover Features Enlightenment!

Enlightenment!

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Enlightenment!

On the occasion of Buddha Jayanthi, visit the Mahabodhi Buddha Vihara at Mahindra Hills, Secunderabad, to find solutions for day-to-day life-style problems such as stress, worry, insecurity, anxiety, lack of peace etc.

By oneself alone is evil done,

By oneself is one defiled,

By oneself is evil avoided,

By oneself is one purified,

Purity and impurity depend on oneself,

No one can purify another.

- Dhammapada

Living in the Nawabi city, Hyderabad, what comes to one’s mind is the iconic Charminar or the Buddha statue in the middle of Hussain Sagar Lake. The 350 tonne monolithic colossus measuring 18 meters tall rising from the placid waters of the picturesque Hussain Sagar Lake is a reverent homage to the founding culture of the Telugu land. This monumental statue is a humble tribute to the living memory of Lord Buddha. The statue was consecrated by His Holiness The Dalai Lama, during his visit to united Andhra Pradesh, to preside over the ‘Kalachakra-2006’ ceremonies.

Next comes the Ananda Budha Vihara, rechristened Mahabodhi Buddha Vihara in 2014, is gearing up to celebrate Buddha Jayanthi, which falls on May 21 this year. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao is expected to be the guest of honour on that day.  Two books in Telugu are also to be released on that day. They are the Parijita Pali – book on discipline and the other Jataka Kathalu, story on the life of Buddha. In all there are 552 stories on the Lord. These stories help us to practice patience, being equanimous and wise.

Enlightenment!

Immediately after taking over the reins of the State, Chandrasekhar Rao said that the Telangana government would develop Nagarjuna Sagar as a prominent place of Buddhist significance. Nagarjuna Sagar in Nalgonda district holds a historical and religious significance for Buddhism as a number of Buddhist monasteries and inscriptions have been found during excavations.

On the occasion of Buddha Jayanthi last, the chief minister visited the ‘Buddhavannam’ (garden) in Nagarjuna Sagar, and said the government would develop the ‘Sri Parvatha Rama- Buddhavannam’ at Nagarjuna Sagar in Nalgonda district.

Senior monk at Mahabodhi Buddha Vihara, Venerable Bhikku Buddhapala said that Buddha Jayanthi is not only the birthday of Lord Buddha, but the day he got enlightenment and left this world. “On this day, we have Kathina Civara Dana (presenting robes to monks), Dhammacakka pavattana day (Celebrating the day on which Bhagwan set the Dhamma in motion),” Buddhapala said. There is also Annadanam for the public.

He said that Lord Buddha spent much of his life in the shade of trees – he was born under a Sala tree, experienced first meditational absorption under a jambu tree, attained enlightenment under a Bodhi tree and finally passed away in a Sala grove at Kusinagara.

Venerable Bhikku  Dhammarakkhita, from Nizamabad,  who has been at the Vihara since a year and has been practicing Buddhism since four decades, said that Buddha’s teachings are important in the contemporary life to enjoy peace, happiness, prosperity and wisdom, and overcome stress, tension, worry, fear, frustrations and various kinds of dukkha.

Speaking about the Dhamma, Buddhapala said: “The Dhamma is the teaching of deliverance in its entirety, as discovered, realized and proclaimed by the Buddha. It has been handed down in the ancient Pali language and preserved in the three great collections of books, called Ti-Pitaka, the ‘Three Baskets’.”

Enlightenment!

They are:

• The Vinaya Pitaka, or collection of discipline containing the rules of the monastic order;

• The Sutta-Pitaka, or collection of discourses consisting of various books of discourses, dialogues, verses, stories, etc. and dealing with the doctrine proper as summarised in the four Noble Truths;

• The Abhidhamma-Pitaka, or Philosophical Collection, presenting the teaching of the Sutta-Pitaka in strictly systematic and philosophical form

Explaining deeply about the Dhamma, the senior monk said that Dhamma was not a doctrine of revelation but the teaching of Enlightenment based on the clear comprehension of actuality. “It is the teaching of the Fourfold Truth dealing with the fundamental facts of life and with liberation attainable through man’s own efforts of purification and insight,” he said.

What is the Threefold Refuge? Dhammarakkhita said that the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, are called ‘The Three Jewels’ (ti-ratana) on account of their matchless purity, and as being to the Buddhist the most precious objects in the world. “These ‘Three Jewels’ form also the ‘Threefold Refuge’ (ti-sarana) of the Buddhist. In the formula by which he expresses ‘Going for refuge’, he professes, or re-affirms, his acceptance of the three jewels as the guides of his life and thought,” the monk said.

Senior monk Buddhapala said that after the formula of the Three-fold refuge, it is the acceptance of the Five Moral Precepts (panca-sila). “Their observance is the minimum standard needed to form the basis of decent life and of further progress towards deliverance,” he said.  Explaining at length, he said that they are:

Enlightenment!

• I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from killing living beings

• I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from taking things not given

• I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from sexual misconduct

• I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from false speech

• I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from intoxicating drinks and drugs causing heedlessness

Many of us are aware of the following verse:

Buddham saranam gacchami

Dhammam saranam gacchami

Sangham saranam gacchami.

What is it and what does it mean?

This is the Pali formula of Refuge and it has been coming down from Buddha’s time. It means:

I go for refuge to the Buddha

I go for refuge to the Dhamma

I go for refuge to the Sangha

“It is through the simple act of reciting this formula three times that one declares oneself a Buddhist,” the senior monk said.

Enlightenment!

It may also be recalled that in 1956, in Nagpur, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar joined Buddhism along with 5,00,000 followers to reduce the influence of caste system in the country and give people of lower castes, a life of dignity. According to census, the number of Buddhists in the country in 1981was 4.65 million and by 1991, grew to 6.32 million. It is said that about 80% of this population lives in Maharashtra. Off late, there has been awareness of human rights and many people have converted to Buddhism. Recently, University of Hyderabad student Rohit Vemula’s mother and younger brother converted to Buddhism.

Speaking about the Mahabodhi Foundation, Hyderabad, senior monk said that it is the latest affiliate of Mahabodhi Society, Bangalore. “It is an active, even thriving, organization with six resident monks and 33- monks and 27 students. The Vihara apart from providing spiritual guidance to the local Buddhists is engaged in spreading Buddhasasanna.  The Foundation has ambitious plans for developing the Vihara as an exemplary monastery and to build a self-contained retreat for meditation,” Buddhapala said.

“At the Vihara, we do our own work. The trainee and student monks are involved in extra-curricular activities like gardening, decorations, management, cleaning, drawing, arts, robe making, sports and others. We also clean the area. They are also trained in getting vegetables, flowers, fruits from market for daily use,” Buddhapala said.

The Mahabodhi educational institution has been founded with a view to give the best of modern education along with character building teachings. “The school provides holistic education in an atmosphere of love and care allowing the children to grow naturally and happily developing intelligence, compassion and wisdom at every stage,” he said.

What do the student monks study, Buddhapala said that the books used to teach the junior monks include, Pali Patha – 1, 2, 3, 4, Comprehensive Pali course – 1 & 2, Life of Buddha, Vinaya Pitaka, Buddhist Monastic Discipline, Manual of Buddhist Devotional Chanting, Suttas (selected) from Sutta Pitaka, Sutta Sangaho, Dhammapada Stories, Jataka Stories, English readers, Buddha and his Dhamma – 1, History of Pali Language and Literature, Abhidhamma in daily life, Fundamentals of Abhidhamma – 1, Comprehensive Manuals of Abhidhamma.

The monk said that a normal teaching of only what is required to become a monk takes nearly five years, moreover it also depends on the ability of the student.  “Those students, who are interested in following the formal education, such students appear for NIOS exam. They later follow up their studies by joining formal colleges or continue education privately. The others come into practicing Buddhism,” he said.

Enlightenment!

For those looking for peace and contentment, the Vihara organises lectures every Sunday on various subjects dealing with real life situations and problems and how to find solution through the practice of the Dhamma. “These Sunday programmes include puja and sutta chanting, undertaking precepts, meditation, dhamma discourse and interaction with the monks from 6-7.30 PM,” he said. What is a normal day like at the Vihara? It starts at 4.30 AM, and from 5-6 AM, there is half an hour chanting and half-an-hour meditation. At 6.30 AM it is breakfast time. After that there is half an hour assembly.  After the assembly one monk speaks on the Dhamma. He will first recite the verse and then speak about it at length. The student monk’s routine will include vinaya and daily life strengths.

The children are taught Sutras too, which is nothing but discourses of Buddha.  The trainee monks are also taught Pali language. “At the Vihara, the lunch is taken before sun shines on the head,” Buddhapala said adding that from 12 noon -2 PM it is rest time and classes once again will commence between 2 to 4 PM. At 4 PM the children will have some juices. It is only liquids after one meal in the afternoon. Then in the evening from 6-7.30 PM, there is meditation and chanting. The junior monks have to do their homework, in short learn their day’s lessons and they retire for the day at 9.30 PM.

Enlightenment!

Bhikku Dhammarakkhita states that he is associated with the Telugu Tipitaka Project. “The sacred teachings of the Buddha are in Pali language and the great monks and devotees have preserved these teachings in its pristine purity in Pali from generation to generation. Mahabodhi has undertaken a project to translate the entire Pali literature into Telugu language. “Those who are interested to learn Pali and join the translation project are welcome,” he said. Bhikku Dhammarakkhita has translated the Jataka Tales in Telugu.

Buddhapala said that practicing of moral values and meditation can bring about peace in the society. “On this Buddha Jayanthi, We invite people to learn Buddha’s teaching. What originated in India, we Indians are not realising it. Practice it and study it for one’s own happiness,” he said. Before signing off, Buddhapala said: “Today’s education lacks moral education, we must teach our children moral values and Meditation for the path of enlightenment.”

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