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Whilst he progresses slowly and steadily with regulated word and deed and sense-restraint, the Kammic force of this striving aspirant compels him to renounce worldly pleasures and adopt the ascetic life. Realizing the vanity of worldly pleasures, he voluntarily forsakes his earthly possessions, and donning the ascetic garb, tries to lead the Holy Life in all its purity. It should be understood that it is not absolutely necessary to retire apart and lead the life of an ascetic to be a Saint.
The life of a Bhikkhu expedites and facilitates spiritual progress, but even as a layman one could attain Sainthood. There are several instances of laymen who realized Nibbana without renouncing the world. Anathapindika and Visakha were Sotapannas, the Sakya Mahanama was a Sakadagami, the potter Ghatikara was an Anagami and King Suddhodana died as an Arahant. In the role of a Bhikkhu the aspirant leads a life of voluntary poverty and practices the four kinds of Higher Sila - Discipline as prescribed by the Patimokkha, Sense-Restraint, Purity of Conduct connected with livelihood and Conduct in connection with the necessaries of life.
Securing a firm footing on the ground of Sila, he then embarks upon the higher practice of Samadhi, the control and culture of the mind, the second stage of this path. Samadhi is the one-pointed ness of the mind.
When he gains this perfect one-pointed ness of the mind, it is possible to develop the five Supernormal Powers - Abhinna, namely, Divine Eye - Dibbacakkhu, Divine Ear - Dibbasota, Reminiscence of past births - Pubbenivasa.n.u.ssati Nana. Thought Reading - Paracittavijanana and different psychic powers - Iddhividha. It must not be understood that these supernormal powers are essential for Sainthood.
Though the mind is purified, there still lies dormant in him the tendency to give vent to his pa.s.sions, for by concentration pa.s.sions are only lulled to sleep. They may rise to the surface at unexpected moments.
Both Discipline and Concentration are essential, but it is Insight - Vipa.s.sana Panna that enables one to see things as they truly are. This is the final stage on the path to Nibbana.
With his one-pointed mind he looks at the world to get a correct, view of life. He now meditates on the Three Characteristics - Tilakkhana, Transiency - Anicca, Sorrow - Dukkha and Soulnessness -Anatta. He comprehends that all conditioned things are transient - Sabbe Sankhara Anicca, all conditioned things are sorrowful - Sabbe Sankhara Dukkha, and all things conditioned and non-conditioned are soulless - Sabbe Dhamma Anatta. Of these three characteristics he takes the one that appeals to him most and intently keeps on developing insight in that particular direction until that glorious day comes to him when he would realize Nibbana for the first time in his life, having destroyed the first three Fetters - Samyojana - Self-illusion - Sakkaya Ditthi, Doubts - Vicikiccha, and Indulgence to wrongful rites and ceremonies - Silabbata-paramasa.
At this stage he is called a Sotapanna - one who has entered the Stream that leads to Nibbana. As he has not eradicated all Fetters he is reborn seven times at the most.
Summoning up fresh courage as a result of this distant glimpse of Nibbana, he cultivates deeperInsightandbecomesaSakadagami - Once-Returner - by weakening two more Fetters - namely, Sense-desires - Kamaraga and Ill will - Patigha. He is called a Sakadagami because he is reborn on earth only once in case he does not attain Arahantship.
It is in the third stage of Sainthood - Anagami - Never-Returner that he completely discards the above two Fetters. Thereafter he neither returns to this world nor does he seek birth in the celestial realms, since he has no more desire for sensual pleasures. After death he is reborn in the "Pure Abodes" (Suddhavasa), a congenial place meant exclusively for Anagamins and Arahants.
Now the earnest pilgrim, encouraged by the unprecedented success of his endeavors, makes his final advance and destroying the remaining five Fetters:- Attachment to Realms of Forms - Ruparaga, Attachment to Formless Realms - Aruparaga, Conceit - Mana, Restlessness - Uddhacca, and Ignorance - Avijja - becomes a Perfect Saint by attaining Arahantship.
Thereafter he lives as long as his Reproductive Kammic force lasts. On the dissolution of the body he attains Parinibbana.
Nivarana Or Hindrances Nivarana (Ni and var, to hinder, to obstruct) is that which hinders one's progress or that which obstructs the path to Emanc.i.p.ation and the heavenly states. It is also explained as that which "m.u.f.fles, enwraps, or trammels thought".
There are five kinds of Nivaranas or Hindrances, they are:- i. Sensual desire - Kamacchanda, ii. Ill will - Vyapada, iii. Sloth and Torpor - Thina-Middha, iv. Restlessness and Worry - Uddhaccha-Kukkucca, v. Doubts - Vicikiccha
1. Kamacchanda means sensual desire or attachment to pleasurable sense-objects such as form, sound, odor, taste, and contact. This is regarded as one of the Fetters that bind one to Samsara.
An average person is bound to get tempted by these alluring objects of sense. Lack of self-control results in the inevitable arising of pa.s.sions. This Hindrance is inhibited by One-pointed-ness-Ekaggata, which is one of the five characteristics of Jhana. It is attenuated on attaining Sakadagami and completely eradicated on attaining Anagami. Subtle forms of attachment such as Rupa Raga and Arupa Raga (Attachment to Realms of Form and Formless Realms) are eradicated only on attaining Arahantship.
The six following conditions tend to the eradication of sense-desires:- i. Perceiving the loathsomeness of the object, ii. Constant meditation on loathsomeness, iii. Sense-restraint, iv. Moderation in food, v. Good friendship, and vi. Profitable talk.
2. Vyapada is ill will or aversion, A desirable object leads to attachment, whilst an undesirable one leads to aversion. These are the two great fires that burn the whole world, Aided by ignorance, these two produce all the suffering in the world. Ill will is inhibited by Piti or Joy, which is one of the Jhana factors. It is attenuated attaining Sakadagami, and eradicated on attaining Anagami.
The six following conditions lead to the eradication of ill will: - i. Perceiving the object with thoughts of goodwill, ii. Constant meditation on loving-kindness (Metta) iii. Thinking that Kamma is one's own, iv. Adherence to that view, v. good friendship, and vi. Profitable talk.
3. Thina or Sloth is explained as a morbid state of the mind, and Middha as a morbid state of the mental properties. A stolid mind is as "inert as a bat hanging to a tree, or as mola.s.ses cleaving to a stick, or as a lump of b.u.t.ter too stiff for spreading." Sloth and torpor should not be understood as bodily drowsiness, because Arahants, who have destroyed these two states, also experience bodily fatigue. These two promote mental inertness and are opposed to strenuous effort - viriya. They are inhibited by the jhana factor, vitakka or initial application, and are eradicated on attaining Arahantship.
The six following conditions tend to the eradication of Sloth and Torpor:- i. reflection on 'the object of moderation in food', ii changing of bodily postures, iii contemplation on the object of light (alokasanna), iv living in the open air, v good friendship, and vi profitable talk.
4. Uddhacca is mental restlessness or excitement of the mind. It is a mental state a.s.sociated with all types of immoral consciousness, As a rule an evil is done with some excitement or restlessness.
Kukkucca is worry. It is either repentance over the committed evil or over the unfulfilled good. Repentance over one's evil does not exempt one from its inevitable consequences. The best repentance is the will not to repeat that evil. Both these hindrances are inhibited by the Jhana factor, Sukka or happiness. Restlessness is eradicated on attaining Arahantship, and worry is eradicated on attaining Anagami.
The six following conditions tend to the eradication of these two states:- i. Erudition or learning, ii. Questioning or discussion, iii. Understanding the nature or the Vinaya discipline, iv. a.s.sociation with senior monks, v. Good friendship, and vi. Profitable talk.
5. Vicikiccha is doubt or perplexity, That which is devoid of the remedy or wisdom is vicikiccha (vi = devoid; cikiccha = wisdom), It is also explained as vexation due to perplexed thinking (Vici = seeking; kiccha = vexation).
Here Vicikiccha is not used in the sense of doubt with regard to the Buddha etc for even non-Buddhists inhibit it and gain Jhanas. As a Fetter vicikiccha is certainly that doubt about the Buddha etc., but as a Hindrance it denotes indecision or unsteadiness in one particular thing that is being done. The Commentary explains vicikiccha as the inability to decide anything definitely that it is so.
This state is inhibited by the Jhana factor - vicara, sustained application - and is eradicated on attaining Sotapatti.
The six following conditions tend to its eradication:- i. knowledge of the Dhamma and Vinaya, ii. discussion or questioning, iii. understanding of the nature of the Vinaya Discipline, iv. excessive confidence, v. good friendship, and vi. profitable talk.
The First Council The Buddha pa.s.sed away in His 8Oth year on the full-moon day of Vesak. His death was an irreparable loss. All His followers, with the exception of Anagamins and Arahants, were plunged in deep grief and were weeping and lamenting. But an immoral Bhikkhu named Subhadda, who had entered the Order in his old age, was the only one that rejoiced over His death.
"Grieve not brothers," said he. "Weep not. We are now delivered of that Great Ascetic. He constantly worried us, saying 'This is suitable, this is not suitable.' Now we are free to do what we like."
These unexpected words that fell from the lips of a disciple, when hardly a week has pa.s.sed since the death of the Teacher, induced the Venerable Ka.s.sapa, the third chief Disciple of the Buddha to Hold a Council of Leading Arahants in order to protect and fortify the Sanana. The other Theras were consulted, and they welcomed the suggestions.
King Ajatasatu was informed of the intention of the Sangha, and he made al! the necessary arrangements for the Sangha to a.s.semble at the entrance to the Sattapanni Cave in Rajagaha.
Five hundred seats were prepared in the s.p.a.cious hall, but only Four hundred Ninety Nine distinguished Arahants were chosen for the Convocation. The vacant seat was meant for the Venerable Ananda who was then a Sotapanna. But in due time, as antic.i.p.ated, he attained Arahantship and appeared on the scene by his psychic powers to occupy the vacant seat.
The Venerable Ka.s.sapa was the presiding Thera. The Venerable Upali and Ananda were chosen to rehea.r.s.e the Vinaya and Dhamma respectively.
The first council was held three months after the Parinibbana of the Buddha, in the eighth year of King Ajatasattu's reign. It lasted seven months.
Tipitaka The Vinaya being the life-blood of the sasana was rehea.r.s.ed first. It is composed of five books-namely, I. Parajika Pali -Major Offences II. Pacittiya Pali - Minor Offences III. Mahavagga Pali - Greater Section IV. Culavagga Pali - Smaller Section V. Parivara Pali - Epitome of the Vinaya
The Dhamma consists of Five Nikayas - namely, I. Digha Nikaya - Collection of Long Discourses II. Majjhima Nikaya - Collection of Middle-length Discourses III. Samyutta Nikaya - Collection of Kindred IV. Anguttara Nikaya - Collection of Discourses arranged in accordance with number V. Khuddaka Nikaya - Smaller Collection
The fifth is subdivided into fifteen books:- I. Khuddaka Patha - Shorter Texts II. Dhammapada - Way of Truth III. Udana - Paeans of Joy IV. Iti Vuttaka - "Thus said" Discourses V. Sutta Nipata - Collected Discourses VI. Vimana vatthu - Stories of Celestial Mansions VII. Peta vatthu - Stories of Petas VIII. Theragatha- Psalms of the Brethren IX. Therigatha- Psalms of the Sisters X. Jataka - Birth Stories XI. Niddesa - Expositions XII. Patisambhida-a.n.a.lytical Knowledge XIII. Apadana - Lives of Arahants XIV. Buddhavamsa - The History of the Buddha XV. Cariya Pitaka - Modes of Conduct It should be noted that the introductory words in every Sutta - "Evam me sutam, thus have I heard" - were uttered by the Venerable Ananda Thera.
The Abhidhamma, according to tradition, was rehea.r.s.ed by all Arahants that were present at the Convocation. It consists of the following seven books: - I. Dhamma Sangani - Cla.s.sification of Dhammas II. Vibhanga - The Book of Divisions III. Kathavatthu - Points of Controversy IV. Puggala Pannani - Description of Individuals V. Dhatukatha- Discussion with reference to Elements VI. Yamaka - The Book of the Pairs VII. Patthana - The Book of Relations All these 31 books are collectively termed the Tipiraka (Three Baskets). The First Vinaya Piraka (Basket of Discipline) mainly deals with rules and regulations, which the Buddha promulgated, as occasion arose for the future discipline of the Order of Monks (Bhikkhus) and Nuns (Bhikkhunis).
The Sutta Pitaka (Basket of Discourses) Consists chiefly of discourses delivered by the Buddha on various occasions. Some discourses delivered by the Venerable Sariputta, Moggallana, Ananda, etc., are also included in it. The Abhidhamma Pitaka (Basket of Ultimate Doctrine) contains the profound philosophy of the Buddha's Teaching.
The Tipitaka was first committed in writing at Aluvihara in Sri Lanka about 80 B.C.E. in the reign of King Vacthagamani Abhaya.
The Second Council The Second Council was held at Vesali in the tenth year of King Kalasoka's reign,100 years after the Parinibbana of the Buddha,
Ten Unlawful Points At that time in Vesali many shameless Bhikkus of the Vajji clan claimed that the following ten points were not unlawful: - 1. Singilonakappa, it is fit to use salt in horns etc. in order to season unsalted foods.
2. Dvangulakappa, it is fit to eat food as long as the sun's shadow has not pa.s.sed the meridian by more than two fingers' breadth, 3. Gamantarakappa, it is fit for a Bhikkhu who has already finished his meal to eat another meal without going through the due Vinaya rite if he intends to enter a village.
4. Avasakappa, it is fit to perform the Uposatha ceremony in separate buildings in the case of a large Sima (Jurisdiction).
5. Anumatikappa, it is fit to perform any Vinaya ceremony first and then take the consent of the absent Bhikkhus, 6. Acinnakappa, it is fit to conform to the practice of teachers and preceptors.
7. Amafhitakappa, it is fit for a Bhikkhu Who has finished his mea1 to drink that milk which has changed its original state but has not yet become curd, without getting the due Vinaya rite done.
8. Jalogikappa, it is fit to drink unfermented palm-wine.
9. Adasaka-nisidanakappa, it is fit to use mats without fringes.
10. Jatarupadikappa, it is fit to accept gold and silver, Venerable Yasa, who came to hear of these heretical teachings, resolved even at the cost of his life to nip them in the bud. He succeeded. The Venerable Revata who was questioned about them p.r.o.nounced that they were all unlawful.
Ultimately, in the presence of eight distinguished Arahants who had a.s.sembled at Valukarama in Vesali, the Venerable Sabbakami, the most senior Arahant, being One hundred and Twenty years from his Upasampada, questioned by the Venerable Revata, adjudged that they were all unlawful according to the Vinaya.
After which the venerable Revata chose Seven hundred distinguished Arahants to hold a Council in order to protect the Dhamma. This second council lasted eight months. King Kalasoka acted as the Royal Patron. The Venerable Sabbakami was the presiding Thera.
Amongst the a.s.sembled Arahants Sabbakami, Salha, Revata, Khujjasobhita, Yasa, Sambhuta and Sanavasika, all pupils of the Venerable Ananda and Vasabhagamika and Sumana, pupils of the Venerable Anuruddha had the good fortune to live in the Buddha's own time.
The Third in Council The conversion of King Dharmasoka was a very great a.s.set to Buddhism. With his loyal patronage Buddhism flourish, and the Sasana gradually grew up in importance and numbers. Tempted by worldly gain, many undesirables of alien sects joined the Order and polluted the sasana by their corrupt lives and heretical views.
The Venerable Monggaliputta Tissa, who was then the senior Arahanat, being aware of the pollution of the Order, refrained from performing the Uposatha Ceremony with the Sangha for seven years, and was living in retirement on the banks of Ahoganga.
It was at this time King Dharmasoka entertained a doubt about thoughtless act done by an irresponsible minister. He was told that Arahant Moggaliputta Tissa would be able co clear his doubt. The King sent word to the Arahant, but he would not come. Failing twice, the third time he sent a messenger inviting him to come to protect the Sasana. The Venerable Thera accepted the invitation and arrived at Pataliputra. The King received him with due honor and accommodated him in Asokarama, built by the King himself. For seven days the King stayed with him, and studied the Dhamma sitting at his feet.
The Bhikkhus were then tested with regard to their views, and the undesirables were eliminated from the n.o.ble Order, The pure Bhikkhus that remained performed the Uposatha for the first time after seven Years. The Arahant Moggaliputta Tissa availed himself of this opportunity to hold the third Council in order to protect the Dhamma and the Sasana. One Thousand Arahants partic.i.p.ated in the Council which was held at Asokarama, in Pataliputra (Patna) in the 18th year of King Asoka's reign, about Two hundred, and Thirty Six years after the Parinibbana of the Buddha. The Venerable Moggaliputta Tissa was the presiding Thera, and it was he who was responsible for the composition of the Kathavatthu-Pakarana, one of the seven books of the Abhidhamma, at this august a.s.sembly.
Ashoka And His Missions There reigned in the newly founded city of Patna (Pataliputra), a Mauryan king named Chandragupta. King Bindurasa was his son, and he had sixteen wives who bore him One hundred and One sons. Of them Ashoka was the most distinguished. His mother was Subhadrangi, also known as "Dharma", Sumana or Susima, who was his eldest stepbrother, Tissa, also called Vitasoka or Vigatasoka, was his younger uterine brother.
Ashoka's Family Ashoka had five wives, whilst he was acting as vice-regent in Avanti, he married a Sakyan princess named Devi. Asandhimitra (Chief Queen), Padmavati and Tisyaras.h.i.ta were his other wives.
Ho had four sons and two daughters, Mahinda and Sanghamitta were the children of Devi. Tivasa was the son of Karuvaki, and Kunala was the son of Padmavati. He had another son named Jalauka and a daughter named Carumati.
Aggimukha, the husband of Sanghamitta, and Devapala Kshatriya of Lalipura in Nepal, the husband of Carumati, were his sons-in-law. Prince Dasaratha, who succeeded him, Sampati son of Kunala, and Sumana, son of Sanghamitta, were his grandsons.
Ashoka Becomes King In he opinion of some scholars Ashoka was born in 304 B.C.E. to Pali Chronicle he was anointed King Two hundred and Eighteen years after Parinibbana of the Buddha, but his accession took place four years later. He reigned Thirty-Seven years after his coronation. He probably ascended the throne in his 30th year, and died in his Seventy-One year.
The Pali Chronicles state that Ashoka, in his ambition for supreme sovereignty, killed all his brother except his uterine brother Tissa, who later entered the Order and attained Arahantship. Some scholars do not accept this tradition as some Edicts prove that some of his brothers were still alive after his coronation.
Owing to his murderous attacks on his brothers and the indescribable suffering caused to many a family by his unjust wars, he was stigmatized Candasoka, Ashoka the Wicked. But after his conversion to Buddhism, he became such as exemplary monarch that his name was changed into Dharmasoka, Ashoka the Righteous. Devanampiya-Dear to the G.o.ds, Piyadasi-Pleasant tot Behold, were some of his well-merited epithets.
His Conversion to Buddhism In accordance with the custom of the royal household, King Ashoka regularly bestowed alms on the Brahmin priests. But he was not pleased with their demeanor. One day, whilst he was quite casually looking through the window, he was a dignified-looking young novice, about twelve years of age, quietly walking along the street with restrained senses. He was invited to the palace and was requested to occupy a suitable seat. Seeing no spiritual superior to him, he ascended the throne. The King thought "a.s.suredly he will be the head of this place.' He then entertained him with due honor, and taking a low seat listened to his exposition of the Dhamma. The young novice Nigrodha delivered an instructive discourse on the following stanza of the Dhammapada: - "Heedfulness is the path to Deathlessness, Heedfulness is the path to death.
The Heedful do not die, The heedful are like unto the dead."