You are on page 1of 160

Prescribed by the National Curriculum and Textbook Board

as a Textbook for class IX-X from the academic year 1997


[For class IX-X]

Translated by
Dr. Bhikkhu Sasanarakkhita
Dr. Sumangal Barua

Edited by
D.P. Barua
Nargis Begum

National Curriculum and Textbook Board, Dhaka

Published by
National Curriculum and Textbook Board,
69-70, Motijheel Commercial Area, Dhaka

[All rights reserved by the Publisher]

First Edition : 1997

Reprint : 2007
Reprint :December, 2010
Reprint : , 2011

Computer Compose
Perform Color Graphics (Pvt) Ltd

Cover Design
Md. Abdul Halim

NCTB, Dhaka

For free distribution from academic year 2010 by the Government of Bangladesh
Education is the key to development. A progressively improved education system largely
determines the pace and the quality or national development. To reflect the hopes and
aspirations of the people and the socio-economic and cultural reality in the context of the
post independent Bangladesh, new textbooks were introduced in the beginning of the 1980s
folIowing the recommendations of the National Curriculum and Textbook Committee.
In 1994, in accordance with the need for change and development, the textbooks of lower
secondary, secondary and higher secondary were revised and modified. The textbooks from
classes -VI to IX were written in 1995. In 2000, almost all the textbooks were rationally
evaluated and necessary revision were made. In 2008 the Ministry of Education formed a
Task Force for Education. According to the advice and guidance of the Task Force, the
cover, spelling and information in the textbooks were updated and corrected.
To make assessment more meaningful and in accordance with the need of the curriculum,
Creative Questions and Multiple Choice Questions are given at the end of each chapter. It
is hoped that this will reduce the dependency of students on rote memorisation. The
students will be able to apply the knowledge they have gained to judge, analyse and
evaluate real life situation.
The textbook of Buddhist Religion has been written according to the principles given in
the curriculum. The divine teachings of Buddha, sueh as brotherhood, good behaviors,
kindness to all living creatures, patience and restrain disceipline, etc are taught threough
this textbook so that students lead moral and ethical life.
This book of Buddhist Religion for class IX-X is the English Version of the original
textbook entifled 'Bouddha Dharma Shiksha' written in Bangla.
We know that curriculum development is a continuous process on which textbooks are
written. Any logical and formative suggestions for improvement will be considered with
care. On the event of the golden jubilee of the independence of Bangladesh in 2021, we
want to be a part of the ceaseless effort to build a prosperous Bangladesh.
In spite of sincere efforts in translation, Editing and printing some inadvertent errors and
omissions may be found in the book. However our efforts to make it more refined and
impeccable will continue. Any constructive suggestion towards its further improvement
will he gratefully considered.
I thank those who have assisted us with their intellect and efforts in the writing, editing
and rational evaluation of this book. We hope that the book will be useful for the students
for whom it is written.

Professor Mostafa Kamaluddin

National Curriculum and Textbook Board

Chapter Subject P age

One The Compassionate Buddha 1

Two Buddha And Bodhisattva 13

Three T ripitaka 19

Four Precepts (Sila) 26

Five Charity 35

Six Suttas And The Ethical Stanza 42

Seven Theory Of Kamma 53

Eight Nibbana 60

Nine Buddhist Ethical Code 65

Ten Jataka 81

Eleven Biographies 91

Twelve Attakatha 105

Thirteen Sacred And Historical Places 120

Fourteen Buddhist Councils 136

Fifteen History Of Buddhism 144

Buddhist Religious Studies 1

The Buddha is possessed of infinite virtues. If a man sings His glory for thousand
years, then the years will be finished but the virtues will never come to end. Gautama
Buddha was such a great man with unlimited virtues.
Many years ago Prince Gautama was born in 623 B.C. Another name of Prince
Gautama was Siddhartha. Besides this He was also known as Sakyasinha, as He was
born in Sakya clan. His father's name was king Suddhodana and Mother's name was
queen Mahamaya. His father was the king of Kapilavastu. While Mahamaya was on
her way to tier father's house, Prince Gautama was born in the Lumbini Garden. It is
located at a few miles away from Kapilavastu.
Introduction of clan
The original clan of Sakya was reigning in Kapilavastu. In Pali literature there is
mention of some Sakiyan cities such as Catuma, Samgama, Ulumpa, Silavati etc.
Among them, Devadaha was particularly well-known in history. It is said that there
was a natural lake. It was not man-made. So it was called Devadaha or the lake
created by gods. In other tradition, the Sakiyan Kings used it to arrange different
kinds of games during the festivals. So, it was called Devadaha or the lake used by the
kings (Deva). Sakiyan king, Jayasena was then ruling Kapilavastu.
At that time, king Devadaha was on the throne of Devadaha. On the other hand,
Devadaha-Sakiya's son Anjana married Yasodhara, the daughter of Jayasena, the
Sakiyan king. Sinhahanu was the son of king Jaysena. He married Kacchani, the
daughter of king Devadaha. He had four sons and two daughters. They are
respectively Suddhodhana, Dhoutodana, Suklodana, Amitodana, Amita and Pramita.
On the other hand, Anjana had two sons namely Dandapani, Suprabuddha ad two
daughters namely Mahamaya and Mahaprajapati. King Suddhodana married both of
them. Suprobuddha married Amita. His son and daughter respectively were Devadatta
and Gopa.
Life-history of Gautama
Mahamaya was the chief queen of king Suddhodhana. At that time there was a
festival in connection with Asarhi full-moon day in Kapilavastu. The citizens attended
the festival. After celebration of the festival queen Mahamaya slept. At the end of the
night, she saw a dream. It appeared in her mind that four guardian gods coming from
four directions took her away with bed. The gods kept her palanquin in a beautiful
2 Buddhist Religious Studies

place of the Himalayas and stood aside. Their queens bathed her in the Manasasrovar
Lake. She was adorned with celestial scented dress.
Not in a distance i.e. nearby there was a silver mountain on stood a golden palace.
They laid her in the golden palace with her head towards the direction of the east.
Then, a white elephant came down from the golden mountain situated nearby. A
white lotus hangs on trunk of that elephant. That white elephant entered the golden
palace and went round the queen's bed thrice. Then the elephant penetrated the white
lotus to the right side of the queen's womb. The queen felt wonderful thrill in mind
and body.
Next morning, after she got up from bed, she informed the story of the dream to king
Suddhodhana. The king immediately called the astrologers and enquired about the
interpretation of the dream. They said to the king, 'Rejoice, Mayadevi will have a
male child. In future this son will be an illustrious Lord. Sun in the dream, the prince
will be very powerful. The appearance of the White elephant in the dream means that
the son to be born will be profoundly calm, deep in heart, grave in nature, rare
personality in the world, destroyer of human sorrows and omniscient. The great
personality will be born in Sakiyan chan and Oh King, thus rejoice'.
Days go on. The sacred Vesakha full-moon day had come. At that time the queen
desired to go to her father's house. The king made all arrangements. From Kapilavastu
to Devadaha, the road was nicely decorated. The queen together with attendants
started for her father's house being seated in the golden palanquin. The palanquin
stopped in a beautiful place amidst Sal-trees of Lumbini Garden situated between two
countries. The Saltrees were in full blossoms. The birds were chirping. The queen
stood up and caught holds a branch of a Sa1-tree to have rest for a while. At no time
there started pains at child-birth. The attendants encircled the surrounding with
clothes. At the time of auspicious Vesakha full-moon day, the future Buddha of the
world, Gautuma Buddha was born in that Lumbini Garden. Then, four higher gods
(Mahabrahmas) along with four guardian gods nursed Him.
It is said that the Bo-tree of Bodhgaya; Gopa, the mother of Rahula; the four treasurers;
the four auspicious elephants; Kanthaka, the king of the horse; Chandaka, the Charioteer
and Udayi, the son of a minister were born in the same day. They were all closely
connected with the events of the life of Gautama. The birth news reached king
Suddhodhana. Festivities started in Katpilavastu. But amidst rejoicing, sadness descended.
Seven days after the birth of Siddharttha, queen Mahamaya died. Then His step-mother,
Mahapajapati took responsibility of bringing Him up. Queen Gautami took care of Him
with the affection bestowed to her-own child. So His home name became Gautama.
Gautama hears many names, viz. Siddhartha, Sakyasinha, Suddhodani, Mahamayasuta.
The Compassionate Buddha 3

His another name was Akkabandhu because of his having born in Sun dynasty or
Suriya clan. Again He was mentioned in Mahapadan Sutta as having been born in
Gautama's clan. From birth to Buddhahood He was known as Bodhisattva. Again,
before the last birth, during all the previous births are called Bodhisattva-life.
Bodhisattva Himself became Buddha after having supreme knowledge. Before this
birth He took 549 births in different planes of existence. 'Bodhi' means wisdom by act
of which a man is emancipated from all kinds of sufferings. He who strives for such
wisdom is called Bodhisattva.
Through out the world He is known as Gautama Buddha. He is known as the
Compassionate Buddha, because of His loving kindness and compassion towards all
beings of the world. He knew past, present and future. He attained Nibbana. So His
name was Tathagata i.e. there gone or He had gone on the way followed by the
previous Buddhas. In Tripitaka He is known as Dasavala. It is a title. He had ten
powers, Meditation, Liberation, full Concentration of mind, Celestial eye etc. In Pali
canonical literatures He is known as a teacher. Here teacher means one who guides
the gods and human beings towards salvation.
A saint named Kaladevala was living in the region of the Himalayas. He went to
Kapilavastu and saw Gautama there. He observed thirty two signs of the Lord. He told
king Suddhodana if the prince lives in the house he would be a monarch of the whole
world. If He renounces the world, He would be a Buddha.
In due time, Gautama started learning at the house of a teacher. He learnt scripts of
different kinds and thus He mastered sixty four types of scripts. Gradually, He learnt
Vedas, Puranas, History, Yoga, Nyaya, Mathematics and Science of medicine. Like a
prince of Kshatriya clan He also learnt politics, hunting, archery, riding, driving etc.
Once He participated in a competition of driving the chariot with the Sakiyan princes.
In the competition while He nearly reached victory He let loose his reins to give
opportunity to Devadatta His competitor, to win. At this Gautama felt very happy.
Next time, when He went on hunting He annoyed the friends as lie left the sure target.
But He was overwhelmed with joy because He saved the life of child-deer. For both
reasons He had been hated by the friends. Another time, He had driven out skilfully a
tree from the Rohini, the river which made obstruction to its flow.
One day He was wandering in the forest with His friends. Then a group of sky-swans
were flying over the sky in a body. The forest became noisy with the sounds of their
wings. He was gazing at the movements of the free birds with a steadfast look. At
this, His mind became full of joy.
4 Buddhist Religious Studies

Suddenly shadow of sadness descended in the midst of the joy. Being struck by an
arrow a swan fell down on His lap. The bird was overflowing with blood. Gautama
became sad and the heart was about to be torn apart. Quickly He removed the arrow
from it with compassion. Slowly it was cured. The grief has decreased. Siddharttha
became cheerful. At the same time His maternal cousin Devadatta arrived there.
Shouting Devadatta requested Him to return the wounded bird. Gautama remained
silent for a while. Then said, "I cured the bird after nursing. This is mine."
Devadatta said, "I shot the bird. Hence it is mine." Gautama said, "The giver of life
has greater claim than the destroyer of life. Hence the bird is mine." The friends heard
the conversation. The arguments of both are not to be neglected.
None of them agrees to give up their claims. At last Gautama said, "Brother
Devadatta, the bird is mine. I won't give anyone this bird in exchange of the Sakiyan
kingdom. I will make the bird to fly in the sky".
Then royal court sat for judgement. Gautama's only word is, "The giver of life is
greater than the destroyer of life. Claim of the giver of life is higher". He further said,
"This bird has life like us. If wounded, it suffers pain as we do. It has no language as
we have. It cannot express in words even though you hit it with the arrow".
Devadatta said that there is no need for you to talk much. This bird had been hit with
the arrow by me. Therefore, I am the owner of it.
At last the judgement had favoured the giver of life. Gautama ran to the forest with
the bird. He caressed the bird with both hands and made it fly in the sky. The bird was
looking at Gautama while flying away.
The mind of Gautama was not satisfied in the palace. King Suddhodana appointed
beautiful dancers and singers for His enjoyment. Nothing was left for Him to have
enjoyment. At this the mind of Gautama was not satisfied too. Whenever there was
any opportunity, He was involved in meditation. He became solitary. The king
received all information. He becomes disheartened.
At that time his wise ministers advised the king to build three palaces for the prince
suited for the summer, rainy and' winter seasons. The king did accordingly. He made
all arrangements for enjoyment and luxuries. But Gautama remains indifferent. He
meditates all day long. He lives alone or He keeps Himself aloof.
Then Gautama was sixteen. The king wished to turn his son towards family life with
marriage. According to the old system, it was decided that Gautama would distribute
Asokabhanda. Marriageable young girls of Sakiya clan would attend that festival and
receive Asokabhanda from Gautama. On this occasion all marriaceable Sakiyan
The Compassionate Buddha 5

princess of the kingdom had been invited to receive Asokabhanda from Gautama. The
most beautiful girl in the consideration of the prince would receive the highest prize
and at last she would be His wife.
All Sakiyan princess took gifts one by one. The Asokabhanda was exhausted. Then
Gopa came there. Prince Gautama selected her with a royal ring. Even then, He was
bound to prove His strength and knowledge. In front of all, He proved that He was an
expert in all subjects. He was proved best in all subjects like puranas, history, maths,
ethics, economics and politics.
Then on an auspicious day the festivities were held through out the kingdom.
Gautama and Gopa Devi were married. The king thought that his son would now be a
householder. Now he was free from anxiety.
Gautama was twenty nine years old. He was more mature in age. He could understand
the meanings of many things in the world. He understood the vain world. At that time
there happened a notable event in His life. The aim of His life had been fixed after
this event.
One day Gautama decided to go to on a tour of the garden. At once the king made all
arrangements so that the prince could not come across any sorrowful scene. He asked
Chandaka, the charioteer to make the chariot ready in order to restore calm in the
restless mind of the prince. Chandaka decorated the chariot. First of all He started to
go towards the direction of east. By the order of the king, there were merriments,
music and singing all around. Chirpings of the birds, fragrance of flowers and
fountain of the lights prevailed. It appeared in the mind of Gautama that there were no
grief, no sorrow, no tears and no frustration in this world. Only enjoyment, beauty and
serenity existed. All on a sudden He cried out and said Chandaka as to where he led
Him. Behold, who went there? His hands were trembling, legs shivering and the neck
was moving. Who was he?
The movement of the horse stopped. The mind of Chandaka was filled with grief.
Chandaka said that he was an old man. Gautama enquired that all would face such
state? Me also?
Chandaka broke into tears. Yet lie replied that all would have to be old. That old man
said within the hearing of Gautama that none could escape from decay, nobody could
escape from him. He further said, "Know me".
Gautama advised Chandaka to turn the chariot. He would not go to the garden. He
was not feeling well. The chariot was turned away.
6 Buddhist Religious Studies

Another day Gautama went out on a walk. That day, the king became more alert.
Again he announced that no old or patient should go to the garden so that Gautama
witnessed any miserable scene. The chariot moved on South. Joyous scenes, low
sweet murmurs of birds, stream of enjoyments prevailed in all around the forest. Now
He saw a patient, Unable to stand and walk. He was shivering with fever overpowered
with pain and was restless with sorrows.
Gautama asked Chandaka to stop the chariot. He enquired of Who that man was. Why
he was suffering a lot? Why he was doing so?
Chandaka stopped the chariot. He told Him that theman was a patient. He was
suffering from illness.
Gautama enquired whether all beings are subject to illness. Would He be in the same
state? Would Gopa be also in a same state?
It was heartrending for Chandaka to reply. Even though he explained to Him that
every being is subject to illness. That day also Gautama returned to palace suspending
further journey in the garden.
Another day the chariot was started towards the West gate. All round there was wave
of enjoyment. At that time He saw a coffin on the shoulders of four persons. The
crying people were following it. Gautama asked Chandaka who was in the Coffin?
Why there was a scene of sadness?
The heart of Chandaka was restless. Even though he had to explain it to the prince. He
had to explain that death is natural consequence of life. Gautama did not go for further
tour of the garden. He returned to the palace.
Another day He went to the North. His eyes were open. This time He witnessed a
scene of pleasures. He really saw a joyful scene. He saw a young saint. He had sun-
coloured body. He was calm with celestial appearance. He had joyous smile. There
was not the slightest trait of sorrow in the pace of his movement and mind. Gautama
asked Chandaka, Who is this man? Does not sorrow touch him?
Chandaka said that he was a saint. He had no home. He gave up the attachment of his
relatives. Gautama understood everything. He saw Himself in the saint. He
remembered decay, illness and death. He had been awakened.
He confirmed His duties. Then He requested Chandaka to turn the chariot. He would
not go anywhere.
He returned to the palace. There is nothing more for Him to know. He resolved to
renunciate. Dancers and singers who were engaged to provide joy to Gautama fell
The Compassionate Buddha 7

asleep when they found Gautama in closed eyes. But by closing eyes He was thinking
about the worldly sorrows and how to get rid of them. He was also thinking about the
newly born son, Rahula. It appeared to His mind that Rahula had come to put Him in
the shackle of world as black planet devoured the sun. He got annoyed to see the
dishevelled postures of the beautiful female dancers while they were sleeping. He had
spoken earlier to His mother, father and wife about renunciation. But they did not
agree. Now He thought that without saying anything to anyone He would renunciate.
That day it was all Asarhi full-moon day.
He called the dear charioteer to bring His horse. Because He would renunciate
tonight. The obedient Chandaka brought the horse nicely decorated. Before
renunciation He went to see Gopa in her bed room to have a last look. She was
sleeping embracing her son Rahula. He did not awaken her. Riding on the horse He
reached the bank of the river Anoma. Palace was left behind. Anoma was flowing
with the Murmuring sound. He crossed the river.
Gautama told Chandaka not to go further. He requested him to return. It was
heartrending for Chandaka to hear this. But there was no other alternative. The prince
ordered him to return to the palace with Kanthaka, the horse.
Then he put off royal dress, golden sword and shoes. He ordered Chandaka to give the
crown to His father, royal dress to the mother, shoe to Gopa and golden sword to
Rahula. He further added to give salutation to the parents and good wishes to all
Sakiyans. Unable to bear the grief of separation of Gautama, Chandaka died there.
With disheartened heart Kanthaka returned to Kapilavastu. Gautama walked along the
bank of the Anoma towards the forest.
After river there are hills and forests. Gautama was walking with joy in mind. On the
bank of the river there were hermitages of the sages. After spending seven days and
nights He reached Vesali. There was a hermitage of the saint Ararkalam. He learnt
philosophy from him and mastered the seventh stages of meditation. From there He went
to Ramputta Uddaka. He learnt there eighth stage of meditation. From there he went to
another sage in Rajgir. At that time king Bimbisara of Rajgir wanted to offer Him wealth
and high official post in the-kingdom. But what wealth He would look for, after He had
abandoned His own kingdom. Then He went to Uruvela. He liked the place. Then, He
reached the village Senanigama to find out the end of Sorrows and to seek way to peace.
There He found a beautiful forest. Beside it, there was a river. It had a very beautiful
name and was very lonely. Its name was Falgu river.
8 Buddhist Religious Studies

For six years He rested there in deep meditation. The body became lean and thin. He
fell down while walking and could not rise if seated. Even though, He could not find
out the end of sorrows. He understood that the austerity was useless. So He started
eating bit by bit and adopted the Middle path. It was neither austere meditation nor
luxury of life. Observing it, His five disciples viz. Kondenya, Vappa, Bhaddiya,
Mahanama and Assajit left him. After their departure, the place became more lonely.
He started meditation on the full-moon day of Vesakha with full vigour. He resolved
that He would attain success in meditation or die. He did not want anything other than
this. In the morning He took sweet rice gruel offered by Sujata. Then He sat in

On the full-moon day of Vesakha, the moon had risen in the sky. He sat under the
Banyan tree for meditation and first conquered Mara-the symbol of the desires. He sat
for meditation to eliminate His cravings for the welfare of mankind of the world.
Mara (devil) could not bear it. There was a terrible fight between the Buddha and
Mara. The soldiers of Mara also joined with Mara. Gautama resolved that He would
not leave that seat until He attained the Buddhahood. A terrible fight went on. The
world trembled. There is a narration of terrible fight between the Buddha and Mara in
the thirteenth Canto of Buddhacarita written by Acariya Asvaghosa. Now Gautama
became seated in meditation under the Banyan tree. At this the gods became glad. But
Mara became afraid and anxious. Because if Gautama attained Enlightenment the
influence of Mara in the world would decrease. Mara had three sons viz. Vilasa,
Harssa and Dappa and three daughters viz. Rati, Arati and Tanha. They became
anxious seeing him disheartened.They told Mara, father, why had you been so

Mara told them that the Sakyamuni wanted to conquer his whole kingdom with firm
determination. He had sat on meditation under the Banyan tree. So his mind was
restless. If He defeated him and preached the doctrine of a salvation, then he would be
without kingdom. It would be his great defeat. Until He attains super-human wisdom,
it would be his victory and the influence would remain in the world.

Then, conversation took place between Mara and the Bodhisattva. Mara's sons and
daughters along with their soldiers attacked Gautama. In face-to-face fighting Mara
The Compassionate Buddha 9

was defeated by him. The Buddhacarita has elaborately described this fierce fight
with Bodhisattva. Then three daughters told their father not to be anxious. They
would defeat the Bodhisattva skilfully. Then three daughters appeared before
Gautama in the form of beautiful young girls. The beautiful Rati tried to convince
Gautama, telling Him about the worldly happiness. But Gautama did not pay hear to
her words.
After that Arati and Tanha tried to convince Him. They told Him that they had five
hundred brothers. All of them would be His followers. If He meditates, to whom they
would go and serve? Again Mara came and tried in many ways to defeat Him. But he
failed. Defeating Mara and his sons and daughters Gautama sat in meditation with full
In the first quarter of night, He knew His previous births. In the second quarter of
night, He obtained Celestial eyes. In the third quarter of night, He understood the
causes of birth, decay, illness and death. He discovered the four Noble Truths i.e. the
Sorrow, the cause of. Sorrow, cessation of Sorrow and the way to the cessation of
Sorrow. He promised to preach the doctrine of peace for the welfare of mankind. Now
he was thirty five.
The name of the Banyan tree under which He received the Buddahood came to be known
as Bo-tree. He became the Buddha there. From that time He was known as Gautama
Buddha. The name of the place where He attain the Buddhahood is Buddhagaya. By the
side of the Bo-tree Buddhist monastery named Buddhagaya monastery was built. That
place is very sacred even today to all the Buddhists of the world. That famous beautiful
place still bears the undecayable beauty. Crores of Buddhists and non- Buddhists from all
over the world come and visit this place every year.
After attainment of the Buddhahood, the career of Bodhisattva life had ended.
Because He obtained the wisdom of emancipation i.e. Nibbana. He obtained the
Buddhahood by following the Middle path. Thus He realized the four Noble Truths.
This Middle path is called Ariya Atthangika Magga in Pali or the Noble Eightfold
Path. It has eight constituents. They are: Right view, Right thought, Right speech,
Right action, Right livelihood, Right endeavour, Right mindfullness and Right
concentration. Any one following this path would definitely realize Nibbana and
would be liberated from sufferings.
After attainment of Buddhahood, there arose six rays of light in His body. The world
resounded with words : 'Victory, Victory'. He eradicated the thirst, the principal cause
of the sorrow. Because every thing arises from the desire. Nibbana can be attained
10 Buddhist Religious Studies

after destruction of desire. After Buddhahood He became seated crossed-legged under

the Bo-tree for a week and felt happiness. In the second week He stood in the North
East quarter and gazed with motionless eyes at the Bo-tree. In the third week He spent
the time circumbulating the place from the Bo-tree to the place where He gazed with
motionless eyes at the Bo-tree. In fourth week, He sat in Ratanagharam or Gem-set
chamber and thought about all those things that had happened before. In fifth week
He sat in cross-legged posture under the Ajapala Banyan tree. In the sixth week He
meditated under the Mucalinda tree. In the seventh week also He was plunged into
meditation under the Rajayatana tree.
On the Asarhi full-moon day He reached the Deer park in Sarnath. His five disciples
were staying there. There He preached to them His new doctrine. They came to be
known as a group of five disciples (Panca Vaggiya disciple) in the world. They were
the former monks of the Buddha. First of all, He stablished His order with them. Then
Yasa and His four friends joined with them. Fifty young friends of them became
monks. Then they became sixty one in number. The Buddha sent them to different
directions to preach His new doctrine.
The Buddha instructed them to travel for the welfare for the happiness of many and to
show friendship to the human beings. He further advised to travel for the happiness of
gods and men, to go to preach in every direction and not two monks to go at a time.
Advising them He Himself went to Senanigam of Uruvela to preach His own doctrine.
On the way to Uruvela He ordained one thousand and thirty men. Reaching Rajgir He
took alms from king Bimbisara. The king made gift of Venuvana vihara to Him.
Today it has been constructed in a new way. There Sariputta and Moggallayana with
their fifty disciples embraced Buddhalogy or the doctrine of the Buddha. There the
Buddha prescribed Rules (Vinaya) for the monks. He prescribed atonement for the
monks if they violated the Rules. From Rajgir He went to Kapilavastu. There He met
with king Suddhodana, admonished Gopa and ordained Rahula.
The Great Passing Away (Mahaparinibbana)
He preached doctrinal discourses for forty five years in different places viz.
Kapilavastu, Savatthi, Vesali, Cunar, Kosambi, Kanauj Mathura, Alave etc. During
the last chapter of His life, He went from Rajgir to Kusinara via Vesali. Reaching
Pava situated near Kusinara, He became seriously ill. From Pava He went to the twin
Sal-tree in the Sala grove of Malla under which He lay down. At that time the full-
moon of Vesakha rose. He called Ananda with other monks. His favourite and chief
disciple Ananda came near Him. The Buddha preached His last admonition to them
and said, "O monks, all beings are subject to decay. Do carefully all your duties."
The Compassionate Buddha 11

These are the last words of the Buddha. On that day He gave ordination to Subhadra.
Then the Buddha slowly plunged in deep meditation. At the last quarter of night,
reaching the fourth stage of meditation the Buddha, Light of the world, passed away
at the age of eighty. The corpse was kept for a week. Ven. Mahakassapa set the
funeral pyre on fire. The brahmin Drona divided His relics into eight parts. The king
Ajatasattu, Licchavis, Sakiyans, Vuliyans, Kohliyas, Vethadvipavasi, Mallas of Pava
and Mallas of Kusinara took the relics of the Buddha.
The Buddha teaches us : Always do good and then you will remain good. If you do
evil, the Buddha or none could pardon or give deliverance to you. One has to face the
result of either good or bad deed. He further advises us not to waste time only in
prayers but if time is spent in right endeavours, then it is useful to waste time.

Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ)
1. Prince Shiddhartha was born on the full-moon day of
a. Beshakha. b. Asahri.
c. Vadra. d. Magha.
2. After being Buddha, Goutoma Buddha advised the sixty-one vikkhus
i. for the welfare of vikkhus only.
ii. for the welfare of all including angels and living beings.
iii. for the Buddhists only.
Which one is correct?
a. i b. ii
c. i and ii d. ii and iii
Read the passage below and answer questions 3 and 4.
Once upon a time Ashoke Barua saw an injured baby mongoose, while walking in the
jungle. After coming back home, he took care of the baby mongoose with great affection,
by dressing him with antiseptic and feeding him cows milk. Thus the baby mongoose
came round. On the following day, Ashoke set the baby mongoose free at the same place.
12 Buddhist Religious Studies

3. By nursing the baby mongoose, Ashoke Barua proved his kindness to

i. the wild animal.
ii. all the living beings.
iii. the baby mongoose.
Which one is correct?
a. i
b. ii
c. iii
d. i, ii, iii
4. Reading the passage we learn-
a. to love all the living beings. b. to serve nature.
c. to serve the angles. d. to serve God.
Creative Questions (CQ)
Lord Buddha was emancipated died at the age of 80. It was the full-moon day of
Beshakha. Before the great emancipation Lord Buddha advised his disciples. He
advised Shuvadra on the day. After the great Nirvana the dead body was preserved for
one week and Mahakashyapa Sthavira fired the funeral pyre.
a. Where was Lord Buddha emancipate?
b. Explain what you understand by the word Great Nirvana.
c. What had Mahakashyapa to do to achieve Nirvana? Explain in detail.
d. Evaluate what you have learned from the last sermons of Lord Buddha.
Buddhist Religious Studies 13

Both Buddha and Bodhisattva are well known and very pious names to the Buddhists.
On hearing these two names their minds are filled with devotion and faith.
Buddha and Bodhisattva, these two words are co-related. We should know the
meanings and importance of these two names. All Buddhists of the world are the
followers of the Buddha. The name of the doctrine preached by the Buddha is called
Buddhalogy. The followers of this doctrine should know perfectly about the Buddha
and the Bodhisattva.
Here by Buddha, we should not understand only Gautama Buddha. Again by
Bodhisattva we should not mean only the life history of Buddha's previous births. We
should try to know the immense and deep meanings of these two names. Here we will
try to know what the Buddha is.
Here Bodhi means Enlightenment or wisdom. He who acquires Buddhahood or
wisdom is called Buddha. The word 'Buddha' means omniscient. Wisdom differs from
general knowledge of worldly things. Wisdom means super human knowledge. So
wisdom carries special meaning. Therefore its inner meaning is very vast. In general
sense Buddha means a wise man. But it is not the fact. That is why, all wise men of
the world are not the Buddhas.
The Buddha is possessed of infinite wisdom. The extent of His wisdom is endless.
Man with his limited knowledge cannot measure Him.
We should know when and why the Buddha appears in this world. Before the
appearance of the Buddha, there arise some events. At a time when the world
becomes polluted by the disorder i.e. breach of the peace, riot, mental and physical
disturbance, violence etc. man depends more on physical strength than conscience.
The world is filled with injustice and bad conduct. The man praises false than truth.
The world becomes unfit to dwell on. Then, men wait anxiously to have a fully wise
man. At that time only the Buddha appears in the world.
Some may think that the same Buddha appears in the world again and again.
But that is not true. Because one who attains emancipation, is not subject to death and
birth or cycle of birth. The Buddha is an emancipated One. He has realized Nibbana.
14 Buddhist Religious Studies

After emancipation He never comes to this world. According to Buddha-theory every

being has right to be a Buddha. So, some one does not appear in this world again and
again. A being by his own effort can become Buddha in this world. That means, the
way to be a Buddha is open to all.
What is the means to be a Buddha'? One who realizes perfectly impermanence
sorrows and non-soul or non-substance-the three characteristics of this world becomes
a Buddha. One who follows the Noble Eightfold path and realizes four Noble Truths,
it is possible for him to become a Buddha. Besides these, one has to fulfil ten
perfections viz. charity, observance of precepts, renunciation, abstinence, courage,
truth, meditation, compassion, upekkha and wisdom. These ten perfections have been
divided into thirty in accordance with perfection, sub-perfection and super-human
perfection. It is too difficult to fulfil all these perfections. To fulfil all these it requires
the accumulations of good deeds of so many births. To accumulate merits one has to
take so many births. Not only as a human being, one takes birth as other beings also.
In those lives he has to face a lot of sorrows. In this way, performing all these
perfections in various lives, so many Buddhas were born before in this world and will
be born in future also.
In canonical literature three kinds of Buddhas are, mentioned. They are :
1. Samma Sambuddha
2. Pacceka Buddha
3. Savaka Buddha
Now we will try to know these three kinds of Buddhas here.
Samma Sambuddha
Among the Buddhas the Samma Sambuddha is the most superior to all. Who is
Samma Sambuddha? One who will be a Samma Sambuddha, will fulfil ten
perfections by His own effort through many births. In the last birth He is born as a
man. In this life He attains Arhattahood (Sainthood) and attains omniscience to
become Buddha. Then He preaches His newly discovered doctrine to the beings.
Being compassionate He showed them the path of eradication of sorrow and ways to
obtain Nibbana.
It is to be noted that the appearance of the Buddha is very rare. There is no mention
that two Samma Sambuddhas had appeared in this world at the same time. After Great
demise (Mahaparinibbana) of a Samma Sambuddha, another Samma Sambuddha
appears in this world after so many aeons of years. There appeared so many Buddhas
in this world. But we know the names of twenty eight Buddhas only. They are :
Buddha And Bodhisattva 15

l. Trisankara 2. Medhankara 3. Saranankara 4. Dipankara .5. Kondanna 6. Mangala 7.

Sumana 8. Revata 9. Sobhita 10. Anomadarssi 11. Paduma 12. Narada 13.
Padumuttara 14. Sumedha 15. Sujata 16. Priyadarssi 17. Artthadarssi 18.
Dhammadarssi 19. Siddharttha 20. Tissa 21. Phussa 22. Vipassi 23. Shikhi 24.
Vessabhu . 25. Kakusandha 26. Konagamana 27. Kassapa 28. Gautama .
According to above list Gautama is the last Buddha. The Buddhists are following His
doctrine for more than 2500 years. The Buddhists worship Him placing His image or
photo in front of them. Though there is no record of worshipping in this way, the
Buddhists worship Him in rememberance. Because He showed the path to extinction
of the desires and to be free from sorrows. Moreover He showed the path leading to
Nibbana. Gautama Buddha forecast that in future a Buddha named Ariyametta will
appear in this world. The commentators say that the doctrine of Gautama Buddha will
remain for five thousand years only. After so many years will pass away when,
injustices etc. said before will come into existence then only the Metta Budddha will
appear in this world.
Pacceka Buddha
The Pacceka Buddha becomes a Buddha after achieving sainthood through
meditation. Being emancipated He breaks the cycle of rebirth. His wisdom acquired
by meditation is confined to Himself.
Innumerable such saints known as emancipated Pacceka Buddhas were born and are
being born in this world. Hence Buddhists believe that the world is not without
Arhants or Buddha. As the name of Pacceka Buddhas and their preaching are
completely confined to themselves, it is not possible to give names of them directly or
indirectly as an example.
Savaka Buddha
The Samma Sambuddha has many disciples. They have again many other disciples.
They follow the path charted out by the Buddha. Among them some leading honest life
obtain Sainthood. That means, they will never be born in this world to suffer. They are
on the way to Nibbana or final emancipation. They are called Savaka Buddha.
Gautama Buddha had many disciples who were Savaka Buddhas. Some are
noteworthy to mention here. They are : Agrasravaka Sariputta and Moggallayana,
Mahasravaka Kassapa, Vinaydhar Upali, Dharmavandarika Ananda, Lavishresta
Sivali, Agrasravika Mahaprajapati Gautama and Utpolvarna. Besides, there were
many Savaka Buddhas during the time of the Buddha. They sacrificed their lives for
the welfare of beings and help others to realize Nibbana.
16 Buddhist Religious Studies

Here we know three kinds of Buddhas. Now we will know the meaning of the
Bodhi means wisdom by which man attains salvation. One who tries for this wisdom
is called Bodhisattva. Bodhisattva is not the Buddha but he is the future Buddha. In
any life he will be a Buddha. For becoming a Buddha, he has to be born in so many
clans for so many births. He has to fulfil ten perfections, ten sub-perfections and ten
super human perfections. It is the main characteristic or speciality of a Bodhisattva to
do good deeds through so many births.
According to Pali literature Siddharttha was born several times as different beings to
become a Buddha. In those births he was known as Bodhisattva. It is said that
innumerable years ago Dipankar Buddha appeared in this world. At that time
Sumedha Tapasa by name lived in Amaravati. Once the citizens of Amaravati invited
the Buddha. The Buddha accepted their invitation. Then He started for Amaravati
with many disciples.
It was a rainy reason. Due to rain the roads became muddy and quite unfit to walk on.
The inhabitants started to reconstruct the road. Sumedha Tapasa also joined with
them. The road was not completely done then, Dipankar Buddha reached at the
incomplete road with His disciples. Only a few cubits of that road is to be completed.
The inhabitants became anxious. Sumedha Tapasa understood that there was no other
alternative. Throwing his spade, without any delay, he lay down on that portion of the
Muddy road and very politely requested that the Buddha should walk over the body of
him. Dipankar Buddha accepted his request. When the Buddha was walking upon his
body he made determination that he would in future be a Buddha like Him.
Dipankar Buddha noticed all the signs required to be a future Buddha. He told him
(Sumedha) that his determination will be fulfilled and he will be a Buddha in future.
From that day onward the life of a Bodhisattva had started. Fulfilling all necessary
requisite perfections through many births, he was born as Siddharttha by name in the
palace of king Suddhodana. In due course, after attaining Buddhahood, he became
Gautama Buddha by name.
It is remarkable that before taking birth as Siddharttha by name in this very life, he was
a Bodhisattva. These 'life-stories are elaborately written in the Jatakas. According to
Jataka stories, Gautama Buddha was born 550 times as a Bodhisattva. But at present
only 547 life-stories are found. The remaining three are missing. In Jataka stories it is
Buddha And Bodhisattva 17

mentioned that he full filled perfection by doing good deeds such as charity etc. In
completing the stages of perfections, he was born as a king of Kusabati,
Mahasudassana by name (Sudaissana Jataka), as a king Makhadeva by name
(Makhadeva Jataka), as a king Mahajanka by name (Mahajanaka Jataka) etc. Besides
these, he was born as a candal, Sudra, Kshatriya etc. Moreover he was born as beasts
and birds, such as a monkey (Vanarinda Jataka), as a peacock (Mora Jataka) etc. Here
some are mentioned to note.
From the above studies we observe some differences between the Buddha and the
Bodhisattva. They are : Bodhisattva
Buddha 1. The seed of enlightenment is
1. After completion of ten perfections he, originated in Bodhisattvas. It is not
who attains Buddhahood in the last birth possible to be emancipated as a they are
is called a Buddha. The Buddha achieves born again and again to fulfil perceptions
Mahaparinirvana i.e. deliverance from 2. The Bodhisattvas are engaged with
cycle of births by extinction of desires. their present lives. To acquire merits by
2. The Buddhas know three periods. They good deeds is their first and foremost
are aware of past, present and future duty.
3. The Buddhas are omniscient. They 3. The knowledge of the Bodhisattva is
know every earthly things. It is possible limited. The present and the future life of
for them to forecast about the present and the beings are unknown to them. It is not
the next life of the beings. possible to make forecast about these.
4. The Buddhas are possessed of steady 4. The mind of Bodhisattva may become
mind. They are above passion, attachment, restless. They are not emancipated like
antipathy, delusion, hatred and praise. the Buddhas. It is their aims to be a
They are not touched by any kind of Buddha in future
criticism. They are emancipated one.

Multiple Choice Questions
1. T o be Buddha one should do
a. Dana. b . Shamatha Vabana.
c. Bipassana. d. Reading the Tripitaka.
18 Buddhist Religious Studies

2. Ho w many names of Shammak Shambuddha do we know at present?

a. 24 b . 28
c. 32 d. 36
3. The Buddhists usually w orship in front of the idol or the picture of Lord
Buddha, because He as a Shammak Shamb uddha.
i. sho wed human beings the path of emancipation.
ii. sho wed the approach to achiev Nirvanaing.
iii. instructed all to confine Gyana Marga within oneself.
Which one is corr ect?
a. i b . i and ii
c. ii and iii d. i and iii
Read the passage below and answer questions 4 and 5.
Chinmoy Mutshuddi always devotes himself to the human welfare to become Buddha.
One day his religious guide was coming to his residence. There was a small hole on
the way to his house. He helped his guide to cross the hole by carrying him on his
4. The r esponsibility of Chinmoy towards his religious Guide was
a. to nurse. b . to be a de votee.
c. to obe y. d. to donate.
5. T o be Buddha one has to
a. donate all their property . b . practise Shamatha Vabana.
c. practise Bipassana. d. study Tripitaka.

Part 2
Creative questions
1. Buddha and Bodhisattva were very well-known and the most holy names to the
Buddhists. After an unlimited period of practice a living being can be Buddha.All the
Buddhists fulfil ten Paromies, ten highest Paromies and are yet trying to be
Buddha.Shammak Shambuddha is the best among all the names of Buddhas.
a. Who is Bodhisattv a?
b . Bodhisattva is under life and death.Explain.
c. What will Mr . Sudhangshu Barua do to be a Bodhisattva?
d. One has to struggle for unlimited rebirths to be Buddha.Analyse.
Buddhist Religious Studies 19

Introduction of Tripitaka
Tripitaka written in Pali is the name of canonical text. It is a doctrinal book of the
Buddhists. It is divided into three parts. Each part is called Pitaka. Some opine that the
meaning of Pitaka is a basket where the words of the Buddha are kept with care.
During the time of the Buddha, learned and aristocratic people used Sanskrit. But the
general mass used Pali. Pali was language used by common people, Pali is the
subsequent form of Sanskrit. It is originated in Maggadha (modern Bihar) and Kalinga
(modern Orissa). The original form of Bengali, Behari and Oriya is found in Pali. The
Buddha preached His doctrine in Pali so that the general masses may understand.
Disciples of the Buddha got by heart the teaching of the Buddha. It is presumed that
the writing was not much prevalent. For this reason the teachings of Buddha continued
in the oral tradition of disciples. It may be said as an example that while digging pond
labourers carried mud in a basket from one head to another and complete the digging
work. Accordingly the words of the Buddha was handed down from preceptors to
disciples. In this way the Tripitaka came to us.
Pitakas are three in number viz. (1). Vinaya Pitaka, (2). Sutta Pitaka and (3).
Abhidhamma Pitaka. Tripitaka written in Pali is no longer available. It has neither any
written scripts. The orginal Tripitaka was brought to Ceylon by Thera Mahendra, the
son of king Asoka (3rd century B.C). The written form of Pali no longer exists.
Probably Pali was written in Ceylonese alphabets. Because we then do not see Brahmi
scripts which were used by king Asoka in his inscriptions. As Pali had not its own
scripts, the Pali Tripitaka had been transformed into different scripts such as,
Ceylonese, Burmese, Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese etc. So Pali Tripitaka is available in
those alphabets. The Roman script is the International scripts. So Pali Text society,
London has used Roman script for the Pali Tripitaka so that every reader can study it.
The full translation of Pali Tripitaka in Bengali has not yet done. Dr. Beni Madhav
Barua, Sree Birendra Lal Mutsuddi, Ven. Praonanda Thera, Bhikhu Shilabhadra,
Shree Ishan Chandra Ghosh, Ven. Dhammadhar Mahathera, Ven. Dhammaratana
Mahathera, Ven. Jyotipal Mahathera etc. have translated some volumes in Bengali.
Vinaya Pitaka
Vinaya Pitaka prescribes rules for monks and nuns which they must observe regularly.
Vinaya is like the life of Buddhasasana. Without Vinaya like Buddhasasana cannot run
20 Buddhist Religious Studies

smoothly. Considering this fact, after Great demise of the Buddha, the first Great
Council was held under the leadership of Ven. Mahakassapa Thera in the Sattlapanni
cave of Rajgir. At that time, the Dhamma-Vinaya were compiled by the prominent
Theras from oral tradition.
Vinaya means rules, ethics or discipline. Every worldly thing is regulated by the
discipline, planets, stars etc. are rotated by laws. In our daily life discipline is most
necessary. In family life also, either for the rich or the poor, there are disciplines.
Unrestrained and undisciplined manner obstruct the prosperity. On the other hand,
law, order, control, character, observance of precepts, right concentration, right effort,
right livelihood are the main keys of one's prosperity. The rules of Vinaya are essential
for daily life as well as non-worldly happiness. It is said that if a monk studies the
Tripitaka for hundred years and does not observe the Vinaya rules, he is bound to go
to hell. Therefore, one should Study Vinaya and learn from it.
A society which does not adhere to discipline and teaching of Vinaya is bound to lack
cohesion. The monk who honours Vinaya, the door of Nibbana is open for him. The
monks who observe Vinaya are the bright lights of the Buddhist world. They made
known the Buddhasasana to the whole world.
There are five books in Vinaya Pitakti, These are: Parajika, Pacitteya, Mahavagga,
Cullavagga and Parivam. The scholars have divided Vinaya Pitaka into three parts.
These are: Suttavibhanga (Parajika, Pacitteya), Khandaka (Mahavagga, Cullavagga)
and Parivara.
Patimokkha (law book) belongs to Suttavibhanga. There are 227 rules for the monks
to be observed. In it, there is mention how and where these rules were prescribed.
Again, there is mention of who was the first defaulter in Vinaya and how the offences
are to be determined. Further, there are elaborate explanations how to give punishment
for atonement. Not only in Pali literature, the place of this book is on the top of all law
books or ethics.
The offences of the monks have been divided into 8 sections according to their gravity
or importance. These are : Parajika, Sanghadisesa, Aniyata, Nissoggiya, Pacitteya,
Patidesaniya, Sekhiya and Adhikarana Sarnatha. These rules have more or less been
written in two books viz. Bhikkhu Vibhanga and Bhikkhuni Vibhanga. The book
where Parajika and Sanghadisesa are written is called Parajika. The book in which the
remaining rules are written is called Pacitteya.
Tripitaka 21

Mahavagga is a big volume. The place of it is next to Suttavibhanga. It is rich with the
historical events of the time of the Buddha. In it, more or less, the life of the Buddha
from attainment of Buddhahood to establishment of order has been narrated.
Therefore this book is most necessary to know the life-history of the Buddha or to
write. There are ten chapters in it.
Cullavagga is an expansion copy of Mahavagga. Because the chronology of
Mahavagga to some extent has been kept in it. That is why, Mahavagga and
Cullavagga combinely is called Khandaka. In the last portion of Cullavagga there have
been included two chapters namely First Great Council and Second Council. There
are twelve chapters in Cullavagga. The life story of the Buddha has been perfectly
Many lengthy, critical and vast subjects have been described here in an easy method.
This book is very essential for the newly ordained monks. There are twenty-one
chapters in this hook. Some are long and some are small in size. Some opine that this
book had been compiled by the Ceylonese monks. But the usefulness of this book
cannot be denied at all.
Sutta Pitaka
Sutta Pitaka is the greatest and most famous book. This Pitaka records the mundane
behaviour, teachings of the Buddha and description of refuting false views. It is
divided into five sections or Nikayas. These are : (1) Digha Nikaya, (2) Majjhima
Nikaya, (3) Samyatta Nikaya, (4) Anguttara Nikaya and (5) Khuddaka Nikaya.
Digha Nikaya
Digha Nikaya means a book of long- discourses preached by the Buddha. It is divided
into three Vaggas or sections. There are 13 suttas in 1st vagga, l0 suttas in 2nd Vagga,
11 suttas in 3rd Vagga, in total 34 suttas. These books describe charity, observance of
precepts, meditation, wisdom, concentration, salvation, impermanence, sorrow, non-
substance, mind, psychic factors and emancipation i.e. Nibbana. Also included are
subjects like Indian History, Philosophy, Politics, Sociology, Economics etc.
Emphasis has been given much more on Ethics than Philosophy.
Majjhima Nikaya
There are three Vaggas or volumes in Majjhima Nikaya. It is called a middle length
discourses. There are 50 suttas in 1st volume, 50 suttas in 2nd volume, 52 suttas in 3rd
volume, in total 152 suttas therein. Its main themes are ethics and Buddha-philosophy.
According to Acariya Buddhaghose and Dr. B.M. Barua, it is the greatest collection of
22 Buddhist Religious Studies

the Tripitaka. Ethical teachings have been provided through instructions and stories in
this volume.
Samyatta Nikaya
Samyatta Nikaya has been divided into five volumes. It contains altogether 2889
suttas. Spritual, ethical and philosophical issues have been discussed through these
suttas. There are many poetries in these discourses.
Anguttara Nikaya
There are 2038 suttas in Anguttara Nikaya. These are divided into eleven chapters.
These suttas are compiled in prose and poetry. There are 950400 words in number. It
is called the essence of Sutta Pitaka. There are nice discussions about the Buddha and
His teachings in this Nikaya.
Khuddaka Nikaya
Khuddaka Nikaya is the fifth section of Sutta Pitaka. Though its title is khuddaka or
small, it is a big volume. This Nikaya is very old. It is the totalarization of the
contemporary books. This section is compiled in prose and poetry. Poetry is written in
old style of writing and some proses in contemporary style of writing. According to
Acariya Buddhaghose this Nikaya consisted of fifteen books. These are : 1. Khuddaka
Patha 2. Dhammapada 3. Udana 4. Itivuttaka 5. Sutta Nipata ; 6. Petavatthu 7.
Vimanavatthu 8. Thera-gatha 9. Theri-gatha 10. Niddesa 11. Jatak 12. Patisambhida
Magga 13. Apadana 14. Buddhavamsa 15. Cariya Pitaka. Among these books,
Dhammapada, Jataka and Thera-Theri Gatha are well known. It is noted here that
Jataka commentary has six volumes which has been translated in Bengali by Shree
Ishan Chandra Ghosh. Pali Dhammapada has been translated in many languages. Ven.
Dhammadhar Mahathera, Shree Ramprasad Sen, Shree Mihir Sen, Shree Girish
Chandra Barua etc. have translated Pali Dhammapada into Bengali. We find the
answers of many querries regarding Dhammavinaya and Philosophy. In fine, we may
say that in studying Dhammapada we may acquire knowledge of Tripitaka.
Abhidhamma Pitaka
Abhidhamma Pitaka is the third Division of Tripitaka. It consisted of seven books.
These books are known as Sattappakarana. They are : 1. Dhammasangani 2. Vibhanga
3. Dhatukatha 4. Puggala Pannatti 5. Kathavatthu 6. Yamaka 7. Patthana. The real
Abhidhamma Pitaka consists of consciousness, psychic factors, material qualities and
Nibbana. It means, Philosophical scrutiny has been shown in the Abhidhamma Pitaka.
Dhamma sangani
The meaning of Dhamma sangani is collection of 4 reals. It is the essence of Abhidhamma
Pitaka. There are introductions of Consciousness, Psychic factors and material qualities in it.
Tripitaka 23

This book has not yet been translated in Bengali. Khandha, Dhatu, Ayatana, Paceaya
etc. are the subject matters of this pakarana.
Dhatu katha
Discussion on mental factors of the meditating monks has been made in this book.
Puggala Pannatti
It is a small book. Classification of the individuals has been described in the book.
It is the fifth book of Abhidhamma. It is a logic book of the doctrine of the Buddha.
It is the sixth book of Abhidhamma. Morality, immorality and their roots have been
discussed in this book. It has two volumes.
This is the seventh book of Abhidhamma. It can be explained as a book of cause and
The above cited three divisions i.e. Vinaya, Sutta and Abhidhamma Pitakas are
collectively called Tripitaka. But Pali canonical literatures mainly are divided into two
sections, viz. Dhamma and Vinaya. It is said that only Dhamma and Vinaya were
collected in the first Great Council held in Rajgir. One hundred years after Great
demise of the Buddha, the second Council was held at Vesali under the leadership of
Thera Yasa. In this Council also, the Dhamma and Vinaya were collected. Again at
300 B.C. at the time of king Asoka, the third Council was held in Patna (old
Patliputta). In that Council Pali canonical literatures have been divided into three
Pitakas or sections, viz. Vinaya, Sutta and Abhidhamma. It is already stated that the
Tripitaka was brought to Ceylon by Thera Mahendra, son of king Asoka in the 3rd
century B.C. But in the first century B.C. at the time of king Vattagamini, the
Tripitaka was written in a form of books which we study now.
The Buddha has explained His main teachings in the Sutta Pitaka. The rules to be
followed by the Bhikkhu and Bhikkhunis for moral lives are described in the Vinaya
Pitaka. The Buddhist Philosophy is depicted in the Abhidhamma Pitaka. These rules
and admonitions are the main teachings and objectives of the Tripitaka. There three
Pitakas are collectively known as Tripitaka.
24 Buddhist Religious Studies

Navanga Satthusasana
We find mention of nine factors or classification sections or of the Pali canonical Text
in many places of Tripitaka. The nine factors are collectively called Navanga
Satthusasana. These classifications does not mean the entire volume of Tripitaka or
any part of it. These divisions are done according to subjects. These divisions are as
follows : 1. Sutta 2. Geyya 3. Veyyakarana 4. Gatha 5. Udana 6. Itivuttaka 7. Jataka 8.
Abbhutadhamma 9. Vedalla.
Besides these, there are so many non canonical Texts written by the scholars.

Multiple Choice Questions
1. The Tripitaka is
a. the Buddhists. b . the Hindus.
c. the Christians. d. the Muslims.
2. V inaya means
i. rules and principles.
ii. Sila, Samadhi.
iii. Dana, Sila.
Which one is corr ect?
a. i b . ii
c. iii d. i and ii
Read the passage below and answer questions 3 and 4.
Ms Shyamaboti Chakma reads the Tripitaka everyday early in the morning very
attentively. As she follows the real learning of the Trpitaka, she is known to all in her
school as dutiful, enthusiastic, and self restrained.
Tripitaka 25

3. To follow Ms Shyamaboti Chakma we should

a. read the Tripitaka regularly.
b . read the school te xtbooks.
c. obe y the religious instructions.
d. serv e the Vikkhus.
4. Ms Sh yamaboti Chakma will obey
a. the original advice of Sutta Pitaka.
b . the instructions of the Vinaya Pitaka.
c. the instructions of the Avidhamma Pitaka.
d. all the advice and the instructions of three Pitakas.

Part 2
Creative Questions
Sanjib has come to know from the discussion by his teacher that the three pitakas of
the Tripitaka are Vinaya Pitaka, Sutta Pitaka, and Avidhamma Pitaka.The Tripitaka is
not yet translated completely. Every Buddhist needs to absorb the leaning of the
Tripitaka with a pure heart.
a. What do you understand by the w ord Tripitaka?
b . What is the Tripitaka?
c. Ho w will Sanjib be purified by following the Vinaya Pitaka? Explain.
d. Ev ery Buddhist needs to absorb the main leaning of the Tripitaka.Analyze
the statement.
26 Buddhist Religious Studies


Gautama Buddha prescribed some rules to be observed by the disciples to enable

them to lead a disciplined honest life. This kind of prescribed rules are called Sila or
precept. The precept has so many meanings. The principal meaning of the precept is
character or conduct. The word 'Sila' has also been used for rules, discipline,
foundation etc. There are ten kinds of precepts mentioned in Visuddhimagga, a non-
canonical literature. Only three kinds of precepts have been taken here for our study
which are most essential to our daily life. They are : 1. Five precepts or house-holder
discipline 2. Eight precepts or Sabbath precepts 3. Ten precepts or ordination precepts.
Householders or general men or women observe five precepts in their daily lives.
Again devotees observe Eight precepts on full-moon day, new-moon day and quarter
day of the month. Abandoning the household life, one who is ordained is called a
Sramana or novice. He observes ten precepts or ordination precepts.
Either a householder or an ordained one should observe precepts. Because precept is
the first step to build good character. Sila is the door to acquire right knowledge and
great merits. Those who observe precepts rightly are called Virtuous. Virtuous are
praised by all. They are free from defilements. Evil tendencies do not touch them.
They are compassionate to all beings. So, they are happy in this life as well as in the
next life. Above all, they realize lst stage of sainthood (Sotapatti), 2nd stage of
sainthood (Sakkadagami), 3rd stage of sainthood (Anagami) and finally becoming an
Arhant (last stage of Sainthood) are emancipated.
Precepts can neither be taken nor observed according to or one's sweet will. There are
particular systems to receive the precepts. One who will receive the precepts should
know these systems and follow them. First of all, mental preparation is necessary to
accept precepts. After washing hands and face one should go to the monastery with
clean clothes. First, one should praise the Triple Gem with folded hands after having
knelt down. Secondly, respecting or paying homage to the Ven. monk, the individual
will ask, for which Sila he wants to have. In the same manner Silas may be taken
collectively. The formal means of requesting the aforesaid three kinds of Silas from a
monk are narrated below in a serial order :
Precepts (Sila) 27

Pancasilam yacana
Okasa, Ahanl bhante, Tisaranenasaha pancasilam dhammam yacami, anuggaham
katva silam detha me bhante.
Dutyampi Aham bhante, Tisaranenasaha pancasilam dhammam yacami, anuggaham
katva silam detha me bhante.
Tatiyampi Aham bhante, Tisaranenasaha pancasilam dhammam yacami, anuggaham
katva silam detha me bhante.
Request five precepts
Please give me permission, Venerable sir, may I request you to initiate me into the
Three Refuges and the five precepts.
For the second time .9
For the third time 9
The Bhikkhu will then recite the following three times, after which the layman or lay
devotee should repeat three times.
Nama Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samnia Sambuddhassa.
Homage to the Blessed One, the Noble One and perfectly Enlightened One.
Buddham Saranam gacchami
To the Buddha I go for refuge.
Dhammam Saranam gacchami
To the Dharma I go for refuge.
Sangham Saranam gacchami
To the Sangha I go for refuge.
Dutiyampi Buddham
For the second time
Dutiyampi Dhammam
For the second time
Dutiyampi Sangham
For the second time
Tatiyampi Buddham
For the third time
Tatiyampi Dhammam
For the third time
Tatiyampi Sangham
For the third time
28 Buddhist Religious Studies

The Bhikkhu then says :

Tisarana Gamanam Nitthitam.
This completes the going to the three refuges. The lay person responds :
Ama bhante.
Yes, Venerable Sir.
The Bhikkhu then recites the precepts singly and the lay person repeats line by line.
1. Panatipata Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami. I undertake the precept to refrain
from destroying living beings.
2. Adinnadana Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami. I undertake the precept to
refrain from taking that which is not given.
3. Kamesu Micchacara Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami. I undertake the precept
to refrain from sexual misconduct.
4. Musavada Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami. I undertake the precept to refrain
from incorrect speech.
5. Sura-Meraya- Majja- Pamadatthana Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami. I
undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating liquors and drugs which lead to
After taking the precepts, the lay person then bows three times to the Bhikkhu.
Atthasilam yacana
Okasa, Aham bhante, Tisaranenasaha Atthanga Samannagatam uposatha silam
dhammam yacami, anuggaham katva silam detha me bhante.
Dutiyampi Aham bhante, Tisaranenasaha Atthanga Samannagatam uposatha silam
dhammam yacami, anuggaham katva siiam detha me bhante.
Tatiyampi Aham bhante, Tisaranenasaha Atthanga Samannagatam uposatha silam
dhammam yacami, anuggaham katva silam detha me bhante.
Request Eight Precepts
Please give me permission, Venerable Sir, may I request you to initiate me into the
three refuges and eightfold Sabbath Precepts.
For the second time ..9
For the third time .9
The Bhikkhu will then recite repeats line by line (as before).
Precepts (Sila) 29

1. Panatipata Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami. I undertake the precept to refrain

from destroying living creatures.
2. Adinnadana Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami. I undertake the precept to
refrain from taking that which is not given.
3. Abrahamacariya Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami. I undertake the precept to
refrain from adultery.
4. Musavada Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami. I undertake the precept to refrain
from incorrect speech.
5. Sura-Meraya-Majja- Pamadatthana Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami. I
undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating liquors and drugs which lead to
6. Vikala-bhojana Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami. I undertake the precept to
refrain from untimely eating.
7. Nacca - Gita - Vadita - Visukadassana malagandha vilepana dharana mandana -
Vibhusanatthana Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami. I undertake the precept to
refrain from dancing, singing, music, seeing festivals, wearing garlands, using
scented materials for decorations.
8. Uccasayana - Mahasayana Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami. I undertake the
precept to refrain from using high beds and coaches. After taking the precepts,
the lay person then bows three times to the monk.
Dasasilam yacana
Okasa, Aham bhante, Tisaranenasaha pabbajja Samanera-dasasilam dhammam
yacami, anuggaham katva silam detha me bhante.
Dutiyampi Aham bhante, Tisaranenasaha pabbajja Samanera-dasasilam dhammam
yacami, anuggaham katva silam detha me bhante.
Tatiyampi Aham bhante, Tisaranenasaha pabbajja Samanera-dasasilam dhammam
yacami, anuggaham katva silam detha me bhante.
Request Ten Precepts
Please give me permission, Venerable Sir, may I request you to initiate me into the
Three Refuges and the Ten ordination Precepts.
For the second time 9
30 Buddhist Religious Studies

For the third time .......9.

The monk will then recite repeats line by line (as before).
1. Panatipata Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami. I undertake the precept to refrain
from destroying living creatures.
2. Adinnadana Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami. I undertake the precept to
refrain from taking that which is not given.
3. Abrahmacariya Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami. I undertake the precept to
refrain from adultery.
4. Musavada Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami. I undertake the precept to refrain
from incorrect speech.
5. Sura-Meraya Majja Pamadatthana Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami. I
undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating liquors and drugs which lead to
6. Vikala-bhojana Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami. I undertake the precept to
refrain from untimely eating.
7. Nacca-Gita-Vadita-Visukadassana Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami. I
undertake the precept to refrain from dancing, singing, music and seeing
8. Mala-gandha-vilepana-dharana-mandana-Vibhusanatthana Veramani Sikkhapadam
Samadiyami. I undertake the precept to refrain from wearing garland, using
scented materials for decoration.
9. Uccasayana-Mahasayana Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami. I undertake the
precept to refrain from using high beds and coaches.
10. Jatarupa-rajata Patiggahana Veramani Sikkhapadam Samadiyami. I undertake the
precept to refrain from taking gold and silver.
In this chapter we knew, how to request for different kinds of precepts. It is of no use
getting by heart the precepts unless these are strictly observed in one's life. Going to
the monastery you will receive the five precepts. If possible, you will also receive the
eight precepts from a monk residing in your monastery on special days.
Good results of observing precepts
We will discuss now about the good results of observing precepts. Once the Buddha
Precepts (Sila) 31

with His disciples was wandering to preach His new doctrine to the inhabitants of
cities and villages. When He reached Patligam (modern Patna) near Nalanda the
villagers paid homage, offered food and took great care. The Buddha then expressed
them the five good results of observing precepts. These are:
1. W ithout being engaged in evil deeds, the virtuous men by their own good deeds
earn much wealth.
2. The good f ame of the virtuous men are spread everywhere equally.
3. V irtuous men and women are always free from fears and doubts.
4. The virtuous die with consciousness.
5. After death, the virtuous go to the hea ven and enjoy bliss.
Besides these good results mentioned above, Acariya Buddhaghosh described the
merits of observing precepts in his book Visuddhimaggo. Out of those prescribed
stanzas a few of them are quoted here with translations :
Buddhist Religious Studies
1. Sasane kulaputtanam patittha natthi yam Vina,
Anisamsa paricchedam tassa silassa k o vade.
Noble men cannot be established in the Buddhasasana without observing precepts.
How can I describe the virtues of Sila in full?
2. No g anga Yamuna capi Sarabhu Va Sarassati,
Ninnag a Vaciravati Mahi capi Mahanadi,
Sakkunanti Visodhetum tammalarti idha paninam,
V isodhayati sattanam yam Ve silajalam malam.
The sacred water of the flowing great rivers namely Ganga, Jamuna, Sarabhu,
Sarassati, Aciravati, Mahi etc. cannot clean the defilements of the human beings
but water like precepts can only clean the defilements of, wrong deeds done by
the human beings.
3. Na tam sajalada v ata na capi haricandanam
Ne va hara na manayo na canda kiranartkura;
Samayantidha sattanam parilaham Surakkhitam
yam Sameti idam ariyam silam accanta sitalam.
The cool air, sandal wood, necklace, diamond and rays of the moon cannot pacify
the pains of heart but Ariyasila (Noble precept) can do it.
32 Buddhist Religious Studies

4. Silagandho samagandho kuto nama bhavissati, Yo Samam anuvate ca pativate ca vayati.

There is no other better perfume like precept (scent) but the scent of the precept
goes / flows to the favour able and reverse wind.
5. Sagg arohana sopanam annam Silasamam Kuto?
Dv aram kho pana nibbana nagarassa pavesanam.
There is no other step to enter into the hea ven. It is the only door to enter into the

6. Sobhente'va na rajano muttamani Vibhusita, yatha Sobhanti yatino silabhusana

The kings adorned with jewellery ornanents are not as respected as are the monks
decorated with precepts.

7. Attanuvadadi bhayam Viddhamsayati Sabbaso,

Janeti kittim hasanca silam sila vatam sada.

The precepts destroy the fears of self-hatred of the virtuous men completely. These
enhance their fame and happiness.

8. Gunanam mulabhutassa dosanam v alaghatino,

Iti silassa Vinneyyam anisamsam kathamukham.

The precepts are the roots of all kinds of merits. It destroys the offences. You will
learn that these are the principal merits of observing precepts.

9. Silena Sug atim yanti silena bhogasampada,

Silena nibb utim yanti tasma silam Visodhaye.

By observing precepts, one goes to the planes of happiness, earns much and
finally attains Nibbana. That is why, the precepts should be observed with purity.
The merits of observing precepts are beyond description. It is not possible to achieve
any great thing without observing precepts. Without observing the five precepts one
cannot expect to be a real Buddhist. That means, without precepts we cannont lead
honest lives. The first precept of the five precepts (Pancasila) is to undertake the
precept to refrain from destroying living beings i.e. to show compassion to the beings.
It is easily understood that only one precept may make the beings so high. The rest
four precepts ; the eight precepts and the ten precepts are to be treated accordingly.
Precepts (Sila) 33

If a man observes these precepts, he will definitely be respected by all. His name and
fame will spread everywhere. But these words are not sufficient to describe the good
merits of observing precepts. It is endless. One may prepare himself by observing
precepts to realize Nibbana through understanding Four Noble Truths presented by
the Buddha. According to Buddhism the precepts are the means for extinction of
desire and provide the stepping stone on the way to Nibbana.


Multiple Choice Questions

1. Ashta Sila should be obser ved by
a. the donors.
b . the adorers.
c. the sramon.
d. the vikkhus.

2. A man always kills animals. He also perf orms charity. By this charity.
a. no virtues will be g ained.
b . less virtues will be g ained.
c. man y virtues will be gained.

Which one is corr ect?

a. i
b . ii
c. iii
d. i and iii

Read the passage below and answer questions 3-5.

Mr. Saikat Sinha understood in the Buddhist Religious Studies class that it is
impossible to obtain anything without observing Sila. Thats why he prayed for the
Panchasila. Thus he understood, sileno voga sampada.
34 Buddhist Religious Studies

3. In P anchasila prayers first one has to

a. do Metta Vabona.
b . do Samatha Vabona.
c. adore Buddha.
d. tak e shelter of Triratna.

4. By obser ving Sila one can

a. get rid of Jealousy .
b . get rid of greed.
c. control desire.
d. acquire self restraint.

5. What do y ou understand by Sileno voga sampada?

a. to obtain good consequences by Sila
b . to obtain hea venly treasure by Sila
c. to obtain Nirv ana by Sila
d. to obtain w orldly materials

Part 2

Creative Questions
It is compulsory for every Buddhist to take and observe Sila. One should not violate.
Sila in any circumstances. Those who observe Sila accurately are called Silaban or the
Righteous. The righteous persons are praiseworthy. They enjoy happiness in the
present life as well as in the life after death.
a. What is the meaning of the w ord Sila?
b . Wh y shouldnt one violate Sila? Explain.
c. Sho w in a chart which Sila- Pancha Sila, Ashta Sila, Dasa Sila - is
oblig atory for whom.
d. The Silaban or the righteous persons are praise worthy to all. Explain the
signif icance of the statement.
Buddhist Religious Studies 35

According to Canonical literature diyatiti danam' i.e. whichever is given, is called
charity. But giving up ownership is closely connected with it. So it may be said that
those things which are given to others without selfishness is called charity. It is to be
remembered that all things are not good for charity.In Pali there is mention of ten
kinds of items which can be given as charity.
Annam Panam Vattham Yanam
Mala gandha Vilepanam,
Seyya Vasatha Padepeyyam
Danavatthu ime dasa.
Food, drinking water, cloth, vehicle (conveyance), garland of flowers (only flowers),
scented materials (incense), washing powder/washing soap, beds, house (monastery),
candles/lights-these are the best ten items for charity. So the donors should give these
items for their happiness.
Again, we see in Vessantara Jataka that king Vessantara offered his son and daughter
at last his wife also to the disguised Brahmana . Thus he completed the perfection of
charity. In other Jatakas, we see that Bodhisattva offered his body and eyes. In Kunal
Jataka a beautiful woman named Pancapapa offered a heap of soil to the Samana. We
find the merits of giving in those Jatakas.
In the Law of the Buddha, the importance of charity is countless. Charity is a great
deed. Human mind becomes pure as a result of charity and also frees man from
delusion. Charity begets pleasure of mind. As a result there arises inspiration to do
good: Intention of giving, encourages man to be compassionate to the poor and the
invalid one. It even inspires a man to serve distressed people in the other part of the
world, that is why, we go forward to offer unselfishly to the distressed people affected
by natural or unnatural calamities. Again, we offer gifts to the dead ancestors born in
the short world. Actually speaking, we do not give them food. We send them our
merits only. It is one of ten moral deeds.
The man who does not give, is called a miser. He is hated by the society. He does not
enjoy respect anywhere. On the other hand, the man imbued with spirit of charity is
praised in the society and respected by all.
The man who offers different kinds of goods without selfishness is called a donor.
36 Buddhist Religious Studies

Again only when anything is given in a spirit of unselfishness, it becomes charity.

Charity should always remember the following with honest consciousness. We should
remember the following three points before giving:
1. The quality of goods
2. The state of mind
3. The proper receiver
The quality of goods : First, it is necessary to judge and analyse properly about the
gifts to be given. The gifts earned by evil source, if given, the owner earns less merit.
On the other hand, if the gift earned by honest way is given, the donor receives more
merits. If charity is made in an immoral state of mind the result does not become so
fruitful. It is called a mixed charity. This kind of gift should not be given. On the other
hand, the gift earned by honest way, if given with pleasant mind, is called the best gift.
This kind of giving should be done.
The state of mind : Secondly, at the time of offering charity, mind should be in the
state of morality. In this regard a quotation is given here from the Buddha :
Cetanaham bhikkhave Kammam Vadami--O monks, I say action arising out of good
consciousness is charity. Hence the state of mind before making charity, during
charity and after charity determines merit to occur from charity. So, at the time of
giving, the mind should be free from greed, antipathy and delusion, These kinds of
states of mind are the properties of mind. So, we may conclude here that the gifts
which are given without greed, antipathy and delusion are called best gift among all.
The proper receiver : If the receiver becomes virtuous, it is called the property of
the receiver. Good fruit depends on the good character of a receiver of the gifts. Thus,
if gifts are given to a virtuous receiver, it is called the quality of a receiver. This means
that when a gift is given to a proper receiver it is called the best gift.
It is not the fact that all donors donate donations knowing the best quality of goods,
good state of mind and best receiver. That is why, all donors are not the best donors.
A best donor should be careful on the following points :
l. One should have profound faith towards gift and its results. He should not be
unfaithful to it and its good fruits.
2. One should not neglect the gifts and its receiver. The gifts should not be given
through the servants. He should give it respectfully by his own hands.
3. One should not give unwillingly and with unpleasant mind. He should make gifts
by giving up miseries and attachments.
Charity 37

4. One should not give gifts in wrong time. Gifts should be given in proper time to
the qualified receiver.
5. While making gift he should not think himself high. On the other hand, he should
not think the receiver low.
Considering the above facts, the donors have been classified in Canonical literature as
under :
1. Slave donor
2. Helper donor
3. Best donor
Slave donor : The donor who gives to the receiver the lesser quality of gifts than
what he takes is called a slave donor.
Helper donor : The donor who gives the same quality of gifts as he takes is called a
helper donor.
Best donor : The donor who lives moderate life but gives rich items to the receiver
as gifts is called a best donor.
The Buddhists give different items of goods in different functions. Among those,
Sanghadana (offering to the Order); Atthaparikkhara-dana (offering of eight requisite
items) and Kathinacivara-dana (offering of yellow robes) are to be mentioned.
Sangha means an order. Literally Sangha means monks collectively. It is possible to
offer Sanghadana at any time by monk, Samanera, lay persons-men or women.
There is a procedure of performing Sanghadana. First, the donor invites at least 5
monks to attend the function. The donor arranges all items of goods or offerings in
front of the monks constituting the Sangha.
The selected monk after giving five precepts or eight precepts (which is applicable)
says the following Pali version three times:
Nama Tassa Bhagavato Arhato Samma Sambuddhassa.
Imam bhikkham Saparikharam bhikkhusanghassa dema pujema.
Dutiampi Tatiyampi
We are offering the prepared food items and other requisite items; and paying homage
to the Order (three times).
Then the donor with the members of his family and invited guests repeat it for three times.
38 Buddhist Religious Studies

The monks recite the suttas for their welfare. After that the merits earned by them
offer to the dead ancestors for deliverance.
It means the offering of eight requisite items of the monks. They are :
1. Upper-robe (Sanghati), 2. Outer-robe (Uttarasangha) 3. Under robe (antarvasaka),
4. Alms bowl 5. Razor 6. Thread-needle 7. Belt (of cloth) 8. a piece of cloth for
It is more or less as like Sanghadana (offering to the Sangha). Any devotee may like to
collect the materials and offer them at house or in the monastery. The householder
along with his family members and relations will take seat before the Bhikkhu Sangha
and say as follows :
Imam bhikkham saha atthaparikharam bhikkhusanghassa dema pujema.
Dutiyampi Tatiyampi
We are offering and eight requisite items The rest are the same (as before).
It is the best offering. By this, the lay-devotees acquire much merits. In this
connection, merits acquired by such offering, are explained in the following manner :
a. The lay-devotee who gives the eight items to the Order with pleasure, becomes
rich, strong, beautiful in this very life as well as in the next life. He/she never
faces poverty.
b. Moreover, he/she becomes wise, rich, intelligent, courageous, scholar, free from
illness and long-lived in this life and the lives to come.
It means offering of yellow robes to the monks on special function. This function is
held once a year from the next day of the full-moon day of the Bengali month named
Ashina to full-moon day of Kattika. This kind of offering is made in every monastery.
But there is no provision to perform it at any other day of the year. It is to be noted
here that yellow robe offering ceremony cannot be held in a monastery where at least
one monk has not observed three months of rainy-retreat (Vassavasa).
The monks use three kinds of yellow robes namely, 1. Sanghati or Doyajika (upper
robe), 2. Uttarasangha (outer robe) and 3. Antarvasa (inner robes). Among these three
robes, only one may be offered to the monk who observes the rainy-retreat.
Weaving, cutting, sewing and colouring of the cloth have to be done within 24 hours
from the rising of the sun till next day sunrise in which monastery the festival is held.
Charity 39

This is the one system to offer. According to another system, after either buying
yellow robes or buying white clothes from the market, this kind of offering may be
done. There is a point why this kind of offering is called a Kathinacivara dana.
Because this kind of offering is very rare. It happens once a year in a monastery where
the monks reside. Moreover, it is done through ecclesiastical system.
Many monks are invited on the day when it is performed. A large number of lay-
devotees congregate to attend the robe offering ceremony.The lay devotees go to the
monastery with rich food and other commodities. They take refuge under the three
Gems, pray to Triratna, pay respect to the monks and pray for five precepts. After
receiving the precepts, they say three times the following:
Imam Kathinacivaram bhikkhusanghassa dema, kathinam attharitum :
We are offering this Kathinacivara to the monks to make it Kathina through
ecclesiastical rule. The devotees, after reciting the above Pali extract, pay it to the
After this the monks recite the suttas for the welfare of the beings. The senior monks
preach on the subject. The learned people also deliver speeches on the subject. But it
is not essential. On conclusion of this ceremony, the monks sit together in the
boundary hall and read the ecclesiastical rules as laid down in the disciplinary book.
After that the monks give the yellow robes to the monk who resided in that monastery
during three months of rainy-retreat. Thus the function of Kathinacivar festival
The merits of it is too vast. It is beyond description. It is called the best gift in our
society. It is said that once the Buddha went to Anovatatta lake of the Himalayas with
five hundred disciples who were all Arhant (full saint). There He ordered Nagita, the
disciple, to preach the merits of offering yellow robes. After him, the Buddha added
some more merits to it.
He expressed that the offering of yellow robes bestows such merits as cannot be
described. It is the best gift. As a result, the donor is born in the plane of happiness.
He is born in this world as a Chakravarty (most Superior) king of the world. He does
not go to the hell to suffer. The offering of yellow robe is on the top list of all worldly
gifts. If the most valuable materials such as gold and silver are offered or 84 thousand
memorials are built yet that does not earn even one sixteenth of merits that can be
achieved by offering this yellow robe. Again if numerous elephants and horses or a
daughter adorned with jewels and diamonds are offered, the merits achieving from
this are not equal to one sixteenth of merits resulting from offering of a yellow robe.
By this kind of offering, one enjoys much pleasure in this life and attains heavenly
40 Buddhist Religious Studies

bliss after death. He attains 1st stage, 2nd stage, 3rd stage and 4th stage of sainthood
and finally is liberated from all shackles of sorrows by attaining Nibbana.
That is why, the Pacceka Buddha, the Samma Sambuddha and Savaka Buddha have
accepted the fact that the merits of it cannot be measured. Thus the advice of the
Buddhas is that all should be inspired to realize these facts to donate and make gift of
yellow robes to the monks every year.
Different kinds of gifts and their merits have so far been discussed separately as cited
above. But we have to know further about merits. Merits differ from donors according
to qualifications of the donors and receivers. In this regard four things are to be noted
here. They are :
1. Virtuous donor earns a lot of merits due to his own virtue, if the gift is given to
the non-virtuous one.
2. If the non-virtuous gives to the virtuous one, he earns a lot of merits due to the
virtue of the receiver.
3. If both the donor and the receiver are virtuous, virtues of both there begets a lot of
4. If the donor and the receiver both are not virtuous, it does not bring good fruits.
But the gift does not bring suffering:
Donation should always be made with pleasant mind. Donation done with faith brings
happiness. By its influence the donor is born in a Buddhist country where he gets
good and honest friends. He is able to lead an honest life in this world as well as in the
next world. He becomes beautiful, healthy, strong and earns affection of his parents
and other relatives. He becomes dear to all and enjoys happiness everywhere.


Multiple Choice Questions

1. The festi val of Kathina Chibor Dana is observed from
a. Beshak to that of Jestha. b . Ashar to that of Srabon.
c. Ashbin to that of Kartik. d. Magh to that of F algun.
2. The meaning of Annang, panang, bathang, yanang is-
1. food, w ater, dress 2. food, g arland, ointment
3. food, home, la vender 4. food, bed, dress
Charity 41

Read the text below and answer questions 3 and 4.

The follower Mr. Sinha often performs various charitable functions by inviting the Vikkhu Sangha
at his home. He usually offers daily necessities of improved quality to the Vikkhu Sangha
3. The f ollower Mr. Sinha is a great donor, because he
a. of fers worse things than what he uses for himself.
b . of fers things equal to what he use for himself.
c. of fers better things than what he uses for himself.
Which one is corr ect?
a. i b . ii
c. iii d. ii and iii
4. By performing good charitable functions
i. the recei vers should have respect.
ii. the recei vers should have confidence.
iii. the donor should have respect.
Which one is corr ect?
a. i b . ii
c. iii d. i,ii and iii

Part 2
Creative Questions
Saikat Chakma was listening about various types of charity from the religious teacher.
He said that it was possible for any Vikkhu, Sraman, follower or worshipper to
perform Sangha Dana whenever he or she wished. It is also possible to perform Ashta
Porishkar Dana at any time. Ashta porishkar Dana is also like Sangha Dana. It is a
very good charitable function.One can obtain Great virtues by both charities.
a. What is Shangha Dana?
b . Wh y should one perform Shangha Dana? Explain.
c. Ho w can Saikat inspire a Buddhist domestic to perform Shangha Dana who
has ne ver done this before?
d. Ashta Porishker Dana is a very good Dana. Explain the statement.
42 Buddhist Religious Studies


The Sutta is very valuable as an amulet of life. The Sutta comprises the words of
Gautama Buddha. It is to be remembered that if the Sutta is either recited or heard, all
kinds of calamities, fear and sorrows disappear. Diseases and griefs are driven away.
So it is necessary to recite.
The Sutta should be recited with rhythmical voice. Sutta recited thus brings
concentration of mind. The strength of mind inspires to do it. The inspiration destroys
fears and obstructions. It is to be noted here that man can prosper by his own deed.
But deeds should be done honestly. If done so, one may obtain higher life and at last
may realize Nibbana. Knowing the above facts, one should recite Suttas.
One should understand the meaning of the Sutta while reciting, without knowing it or
omiting some paragraphs or lines, it is less useful. Again when Sutta is recited for
ulterior gain; the recitation does not bear fruit upto the expectation. The recitation
brings good if recited with free and compassionate mind. Mind should be kept pure
while reciting. One should bear friendliness towards all beings in his mind. Under no
circumstances there should be any feeling of animosity towards anyone. Towards
enemy also, there should be feeling of amity. Thus he becomes free from so many
calamities and sorrows.
The Buddha preached Suttas on many reasons. Now we recite and get by heart the
Ratanasutta and Mettasutta. After learning these Suttas we will be able to recite and
get by heart other Suttas afterwards. At this, we may acquire merits. It increases
memory. After death, higher life is obtained.
Background of Ratanasutta
Gautama Buddha was then alive. Then Vesali was a very prosperous city. Once there
was a draught. As a result, cultivation and growing of food had been stopped. Crisis
appeared in many villages with epidemics. At this many people died. The inhabitants
of Vesali (Vesaliyan) informed their distresses to the king. The king decided to invite
the Buddha to Vesali. At this the inhabitants will get strength in their minds. They will
be saved in life. All fears of the king and unauspicious situation will disappear.
Then the Buddha was in Rajgir. The king sent two Licchavi princes with soldiers to
invite the Buddha to go to Vesali. The Buddha accepted the invitation and decided to
go there. When the Buddha reached the border area of Vesali, it was raining cats and
dogs. As a result, the diseases and epidemic disappeared. When the Buddha reached
Suttas And The Ethical Stanza 43

the city, all were calm and quiet. The people of the city became glad. All were
praising the Buddha. The king of heaven, Indra with other gods was present there.
Then the Buddha called Ananda Thera and advised him to learn and to recite the
Ratanasutta with Licchavis around Vesali. The Buddha further told him that by the
influence of this Sutta crisis, epidemics, disease and fear will disappear. Then the gods
also obeyed the order. Ananda Thera then recited the Sutta.
1. Y anidha bhutani samagatani.
Bhummani v a yani va antalikhe
Sabbe va bhuta Sumana bhavantu.
Athopi sakkacca Sunantu bhasitam.
Whatever spirits have come together here, either belonging to the earth or living in the
air, may all spirits be happy and then listen attentively to what is recited.
2. T asma hi bhuta nisametha sabbe.
Mettam karotha manusiya pajaya
Di va ca ratto ca haranti ye valim
T asma hi ne rakkhatha appamatta.
Therefore, O spirits, do ye all pay attention, show kindness to the human race who
both day and night bring their offerings ; therefore protect them strenuously.
3. Y am kinci vittam idha va huram va
Saggesu v a yam ratanam panitam
Nano Somamatthi Tathagatena Idampi
Buddhe ratanam panitam
Etena saccena Suv atthi hotu.
Whatever wealth there be here or in the other world, or whatever excellent jewel in the
heavens, it is certainly not equal to Tathagata. This excellent jewel (is found) in,
Buddha, by this truth may there be salvation.
4. Khayam virag am amatam panitam
Y adajjhaga Sakyamuni sanlahito
Na tena dhammena samatthi kinci
Idampi dhamme ratanam panitam
Etena saccena Suv atthi hotu.
The destruction (of passion), the freedom from passion, the excellent immortality
which Sakyamuni attainted, there is nothing equal to that Dhamma. This excellent
jewel (is found) in the Dhamma, by this truth may there be salvation.
44 Buddhist Religious Studies

5. Y am Buddhasettho parivannayi sucim

Samadhi manantarikannamahu
Samadina tena samo na vijjati
Idampi Dhamme ratanam pantam
Etena saccena suv atthi hotu.
The purity which the best of Euddhas praised, the meditation which they call
uninterrupted, there is no meditation like this. The excellent jewel (is found) in the
Dhamma by this truth may there be salvation.
6. Y e Puggala atthasatam pasattha
Cattari etani yug ani honti
T e dakkhineyya sugatassa savaka
Etesu dinnani mahapphalani Idampi
Sanghe Ratanam panitam
Etena saccena suv atthi hotu.
The eight persons who are praised by the righteous and make these four pairs, are
worthy of offerings, (being) Sugata's disciples. What is given to these will bear great
fruit. This excellent jewel (is found) in the Sangha (assembly), by this truth may there
be salvation.
7. Y e Suppayutta manasa dalhena
Nikkamino gotamasasanamhi
T e pattipatta amatam viggaya
Laddha mudha nibb utim bhunjamana
Idampi Sanghe ratanam panitam
Etena saccena suv atthi hotu.
Those who have applied themselves studiously with a firm mind and free from desire
to the doctrine of Gautama, have obtained the highest gain, having merged into
immorality and enjoying happiness after getting it for nothing. This excellent jewel (is
found) in the Sangha, by this truth may there be salvation.
8. Y athindakhilo pathavim situ siya
Catubbhi v atebhi asampakampiyo
T athupamam sappurisam vadami
Y o ariyasaccani avecca passati
ldampi sanghe ratanam panitam
Eteni saccena Suv atthi hotu.
Suttas And The Ethical Stanza 45

As a post in the front of a city gate is firm in the earth and cannot be shaken by the
strong winds, like that I declare the righteous man to be who, having penetrated the
Noble Truths, sees (them clearly). This excellent jewel (is found) in the Sangha, by
this truth may there be salvation.
9. Y e ariyasaccani Vibhavayanti
Gombhira pannayena sudesitani
kincapi te honti bhusappamatta
Na te bha vam atthamam adivanti
Idampi sanghe ratanam panitam,
Etena saccena suv atthi hotu.
Those who understand the Noble Truths well taught by the profoundly wise (i.e.
Buddha), though they be greatly distracted, will not (have to) take the eighth birth.
This excellent jewel (is found) in the Sangha, by this truth may there be salvation.
10. Saha vassa dassana sampadaya
T ayassu dhamma Jahita bhavanti
Sakkayaditthi vicikicchitanca
Silabbatam Vapi yadatthi kinci
Catuha payehi ca vippamutto
Chacabhitthani abhabbo katum
Idampi sanghe ratantm panitam
Elena saccena suv atthi hotu.
On his (attaining the) bliss of (the right) view three things (dhammas) are left behind
(by him). Conceit and doubt and whatever he has got of virtue and (holy) works. He is
released also -from the four hells and he is incapable of committing the six deadly
sins. This excellent jewel (is found) in the Sangha, by this truth may there be
11. Kincapi so kammam karoti papakam
Kayena Vaca uda cetasa
V a Abhabbo so tassa paticchadaya
Abhabbata ditthapadassa Vutta
ldampi Sanghe ratanam panitam
Elena saccena suv atthi hotu
Even if he commits a sinful deed by his body or in word or in thought, He is incapable
of concealing it, (for) to conceal is to be impossible for one that has seen the state (of
Nibbana). This excellent jewel (is found) in the Sangha, by this truth may there be
46 Buddhist Religious Studies

12. V anappagumbe Yatha phussitagge

Gimhanamase pathamasmim gimhe
T athupamam Dhammavaram adesayi
Nibbanag amim paramam hitaya
Idampi Buddhe ratanam panitam
Elena saccena suv atthi hotu.
As in a clump of trees with their tops in bloom in the first heat of the hot month, so
(Buddha) taught the excellent Dhamma leading to Nibbana to the greatest benefit (for
all). This excellent jewel (is found) in Buddlia, by this truth may there be salvation.
13. V aro varannu Varado Varaharo
Anuttara Dhamma varam adesayi
Idampi Buddhe ratanam panitam
Etena Saccena suv atthi hotu.
The Excellent one who knows what is excellent, who gives what is excellent and who
brings what is excellent, the incomparable One taught the excellent Dhamma. This
excellent jewel (is found) in Buddha, by this truth may there be salvation.
14. Khinam puranam na vam natthi
Sambha vam Virattacitta ayatike bhavasmim
T e khinavija avirulhi Chanda
Nibbanti dhira yathayam padipo
Idampi Sanghe ratanam panitam
Etena Saccena Suv atthi hotu.
The old is destroyed, the new has not arisen, those whose minds are disgusted with a
future existence, the wise who have destroyed their seeds (of existence), whose
desires do not increase, go out like this lamp. This excellent jewel (is found) in the
Sangha, by this truth may there be salvation.
15. Y anidha bhutani samagatani
Bhummani Va yani Va antalikkhe
T athagatam devamanussa pujitam
Buddham namassama suv atthi hotu.
Whatever spirits have come together here, either belonging to the earth or living in the
air, let us worship the perfect (Tathagata) Dhamma, revered by gods and men ; may
there be salvation.
16. Y anidha bhutani samagatani
Bhummani Va yani va antalikkhe
T athagatam devamanussa pujitam
Dhammam namassama suv atthi hotu.
Suttas And The Ethical Stanza 47

Whatever spirits have come together here, either belonging to the earch or living in
the air, let us worship the perfect (Tathagata) Dhamma, revered by gods and men; may
there be salvation.
17. Y anidha bhutani Samagatani
Bhummani Va yani Va antalikkhe
T athagatam devamanussa pujitam
Sangham namassama suv atthi hotu.
Whatever spirits have come together here, either belonging to the earth or living in the
air, let us worship the perfect (Tathagata) Sangha, revered by gods and men may there
be salvation.
We will learn Ratanasutta for the welfare of men and gods. By its influence all evils
disappear. The Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha are called together Three Jewels
(Tiratana). There are no such evils that do not disappear by the influences of Three
Jewels. By it, immortality like Nibbana may be obtained. So, greed, delusion, desire,
anger etc. should be subdued. This fact has been hidden in Ratanasutta. Morever, it is
said that the Three Jewels are best among all the available properties. The greatness of
the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha have been expressed in this Sutta. By the order of
the Buddha, Ananda Thera recited this Sutta to remove draught, crisis, diseases and
epidemic of Vesali. On hearing this Sutta, the gods became glad and returned to their
Meanings of some words :
Samagatani - ha ve come together
Bhummani - belonging to the earth
Antalikkhe - li ving in the air
Sumana - be happ y
Nisametha - to listen attenti vely, to pay attention
Manusiya Pajaya - for the haman race
Huram - in the other w orld
Nano samam - certainly not equal
Amatam - The highest g ain
Parivannayi - praised
Samadhi manantarikannamahu - the meditation which the y call uninterrupted
48 Buddhist Religious Studies

Pasattha - praised
Dakkhineyya - w orthy of praising
Suppayutta - applied
Dalhena - with f irmness
Nikkamino - free from desire
Pattipatta - ha ve attained
Yathindakhilo - as a post in the front of a city g ate
Ariyasaccani - the Noble Truths
Bhusappamatta - be greatly distracted
Adiyanti - to tak e
Dassana-Sampadaya - bliss of vie w
Vicikicchitanca - and doubt
Vippamutto - Released
Ditthapadassa - has seen the state (of Nibbana)
Varannu - The e xcellent One who knows what is excellent
Varado - who gi ves what is excellent
Varaharo - who brings what is e xcellent
Introduction to Mettasutta
A peaceful mind and good will towards all beings are praised in this Sutta. On hearing
the disturbance created by the gods, the Buddha advised the monks to show
friendliness to them. In that connection the Buddha preached Mettasutta and advised
the monks to learn this Sutta to recite. From this point of view it is understood that
how deep was compassion of Buddha to the beings.
The Buddha then was living at Savatthi. The rainy season was nearing. At the time of
rainy retreat, generally, the monks, used to select the places as suited to them-in the
cave of the mountain or in the forest. Thus selecting a suitable place near the
Himalayas, 500 hundred monks were observing rainy retreat. They used to beg alms
in nearby villages and thereby they were going on well. Suitable climate and
nutritious food given by the villagers helped them to maintain health. With great zeal
they started to lead their lives in meditation.
There were many tree-gods in that forest. They became anxious due to the influence
of the precepts observed by the monks. Being incapable to bear it, the tree-gods with
their wives and children were wandering hither and thither. They thought, if the
monks leave the place, they would return to their abodes. But they thought out that
Suttas And The Ethical Stanza 49

they (monks) would not go away without observing the rainy-retreat. The tree-gods
started to shout at night with terrible appearance. They caused fear to the monks. At
this they were afraid. They left the place and went to the Buddha at Savatthi without
observing the rainy-retreat.
The Buddha said them, "O monks, have I not proclaimed rules not to wander during
the rainy-retreat?"
They then explained every thing to the Buddha. The Buddha advised them to go there
again. He preached them Mettasutta as to how they would be free from fear created by
them. He (Buddha) further advised to show friendliness to them. Moreover they
should be patient and exert to eradicate desires. In this way the Buddha taught them
From this Sutta we may learn to show good will towards all beings. You (students)
also do it, this is the teaching of the Buddha. If done so, there would not be hatred in
this world. There would be no hatred in our country also. So we would be able to live
together happily.
According to this advice, the monks went there again. They completed their three
months' rainy-retreat and attained third state of sainthood. Here the Sutta is given below:
1. Karaniyamattha kusalena yantam santam padam abhisamecca,
Sakko uju ca suvaco cassa mudu anatimani.
Whatever is to be done by one who is skilful in seeking (what is) good, having
attained that tranquil state (of Nibbana) Let him be able and upright and
conscientious and of soft speech, gentle, not proud.
2. Santussako ca subharo ca appakicco ca sallahukavutti, Santindriyo ca nipako ca
appagabbho kulesu ananugiddho.
And contented and easily supported and having few cares, unburdened and with
his senses calmed and wise, not arrogant, without (showing) greediness (when
going his round) in families.
3. Na ca khuddam Samacare kinci yena Vinnu pare upavadeyyum, Sukhino va
khemino hontu sabbe satta bhavantu sukhitatta.
And let him not do anything mean for which others who are wise might reprove
(him); may all beings be happy and secure, may they be happy minded.
4. Ye keci panabhutatthi tasa va thavara va anavasesa, Digha va ye mahanta va
majjhima rassaka anukathula.
50 Buddhist Religious Studies

Whatever living beings there are, either feeble or stong, all either long or great
middle sized, short, small or large.
5. Dittha va ye ca adittha ye ca dure vasanti avidure, Bhuta va sambhavesi va sabbe
satta bhavantu sukhitatta
Either seen or not seen and which live far (or) near, either born or seeking birth,
may all creatures be happy minded.
6. Na paro param nikubbetha, natimannetha katthaci nam kinci, Vyarosena
patighasanna nanna mannassa dukkhamiccheya.
Let no one deceive another, let him not despise (another) in any place, let him not
out of anger or resentment wish harm to another.
7. Mata yatha niyam puttam ayusa ekaputtamanurakkhe, Evampi sabbabhutesu
manasam bhavaye aparimanam.
As a mother at the risk of her life protects over her own child, her only child, so
also let every one cultivate boundless (friendly) mind towards all beings.
8. Mettanca sabbalokasmim manasam bhavaye aparimanam, Uddham adho ca
tiriyanca, asamvadharn averamasapattam.
And let him cultivate good will towards all the world, a boundless (friendly) mind
above and below and across unobstructed, without hatred, without enmity.
9. Titthancaram nisinno va sayana va yavatassa vigatamiddho, Etam satim
adhittheyam brahmametam viharamidhamahu.
Standing, walking or sitting or lying, as long as he be awake, let him devote
himself to this mind ; this (way of) living they say is the best in this world.
10. Ditthinca anupagamma silava dassanena sompanno, kamesu Vineyya gedham
nahi jatu gabbhaseyyam punareti ti.
He who, not having embraced (Philosophical) views, is virtuous, endowed with
(Perfect) Vision, after subduing greed for sensual pleasures, will never again, go
to a mother's womb.

Meanings of some words :

Abhisamecca - Desirous/ in seeking
Santussake - Contented
Subharo - Easily supported
Appagabbho - Not arrog ant
Ananugiddho - W ithout greed
Suttas And The Ethical Stanza 51

Upavadeyyum - Repro ve
Panabhutatthi - Li ving beings
Sambhavesi - Seeking birth
Nikubbetha - Decei ve
Man is subject to death or man is mortal. This is the nature of all beings. Nobody can
be escaped from this. Knowing this fact, one should sacrifice oneslf. One should not
neglect other beings: One should show friendliness to each being and should not harm
others. Standing, walking or sitting or lying, as long as one be awake, let one devote
oneself to this state of mind. This way of living is the path to lead oneself to subdue
greed for sensual pleasures; and to attain the third state of salvation i.e. Anagami.
Thus one will never again go to mother's womb.
It is noted here that the monks who were observing rainy-retreat, were saved by this
Sutta from the disturbance created by the beings (tree-gods).

Multiple Choice Questions
1. Sutra is an oral speech of
a. Sthabira Ananda. b . Goutam Buddha.
c. King of Baishali. d. God Indra.
2. Sabbe satba means
a. All the li ving beings
b . All the gods
c. All the hellish beings
Which one is corr ect?
a. i b . ii
c. iii d. ii and iii
Read the passage below and answer questions 3-5:
There was a great disaster at Bagerhat and Pirozpur during the devastating SIDR. In
the 14th of December 2007. So Praggyajyoti Sthabira with a few members of his,
sangha on his side decided to help the afflicted people and for success in all
conditions he told the others to recite the Ratan Sutra.
52 Buddhist Religious Studies

3. The duty of Sthabira and his companions on the basis of priority to the
afflicted people is
a) T o remove famine, disaster and fear from the SIDR infected area
b) To express joy and happiness from the SIDR infected area
c) T o remove violence from the SIDR infected area
d) To regenerate the team members of the SIDR infected area
4. The substance of the Ratana Sutra is to drive away all the bad omens by the
influence of
i. Gods.
ii. Bramhas.
iii. Triratana.
Which one is corr ect?
a. i b . ii
c. iii d. i, ii and iii

Part 2
Creative Questions
Mr. Amiya Chowdhury was listening to the principles and explanations of sutras from
his religious guide. The guide was saying that we should be kind towards all living
beings. If anybody behaves bad with us and does harms some times we should be kind
to them also. Rather, he said that we should never wish sorrow for anybody out of
jealousy or anger.
a. What is a sutra?
b . It is needed to be kind and friendly to wards all the living beings. Explain.
c. Ho w does Mr. Amiya Chowdhury inspire a Buddhist to nourish good will
for all?
d. Never wish sorrow for any body out of jealousy or anger analyze the
Buddhist Religious Studies 53


The theory of Kamma is the Principal foundation of Buddhism. Man gets result
according to his own deed. Kamma begets good or bad results accordingly i.e. good
deed brings good result and bad deed bad result. Man is not equal in this world. Some
are of less longevity, some of long longevity, some strong, some weak, some rich,
some poor, some foolish, some scholar etc. The Buddha preached that man gets long
longevity by dint of good deeds and less longevity by bad deeds. Accordingly, man
becomes patient, healthy, beautiful, ugly, weak, strong, rich, poor etc. That is why, it
is said that man is influenced by his own deeds.
Not only human beings but all beings of the world are bound by their own deeds.
Beings are born due to the force of their previous deeds. So, we may say here that
deeds determine births, friends and the shelters. Moreover, deeds make the beings
great and low and help them to lead either higher or lower life.
Once millionaire Subha by name, questioned the Buddha as to why there are so much
differences in longevity, colour, worldly enjoyment, wealth, knowledge and fame.
Thus the Buddha replied : Beings are responsible for their own deeds. They inherit
their deeds; it takes from one plane of existence to another. One becomes high or low
on account of his deeds. So, there are so much differences from one another.
The theory of Kamma laid down by the Buddha is different from others. The Buddha
never said that He would save others. He said that the good deeds are the main
elements to destroy the chains of existences and to save others. Of course, the Buddha
had shown the path of salvation which is stated before.
The Buddha preached four kinds (classifications) of deeds which are as under :
1. The evil deed (immoral deed) which begets sorrow.
2. The good deed (moral deed) which be gets happiness.
3. The mixed deeds (good and bad) which beget mixed results of happiness and
sorro w.
4. The deed which destro ys all kinds of deeds i.e. it destroys good, bad and
neither good nor bad deeds.
It is possible to attain salvation after destruction of these three kinds of deeds. The
world of living beings is guided by the Law of Kainllla. All human beings, whether
high or low, king or subject, strong or weak are bound by the law of Kamma.
54 Buddhist Religious Studies

Buddha said that consciousness of mind is itself Kamma. The intention itself is called
a deed. Here intention means accumulation. The accumulation forms into an action.
When a man thinks about greed, then there arises desire. When greed and delusion
arises in the mind, there desire takes birth. This desire in mind is fate. This unseen
action creates result. Man has to suffer the consequency of unseen action. If one
thinks about good deeds then greed and delusion are eliminated . This is the fourth
law of Kamma.
Generally, there arise greed, antipathy and delusion in the mind of the people. They
always hanker after them. It requires right efforts to get rid of them. Salvation is
possible after destruction of immoral roots.
There is a question as to how the deed is to be performed for man to become happy. It
requires good consciousness. Good deeds are performed through observance of
precepts, meditation, servitude, offering of merits, hearing of discourses etc. Moral
deeds are done with moral mind or consciousness.
Thus, moral deeds beget good fruit. That is why, more stress has been given on good
deeds by the Buddha. Donation or giving is a superior good deed or moral deed, by
act of which we may lead a happy life. We may get its result in this life as well as in
the future life (lives). Bodhisattva becomes a Buddha having done good deeds in this
life as well as during so many previous lives. It is to be known that good deeds as
accumulated follow the next lives and benefit accordingly. Knowing this fact one
should do always good deeds and not evil deeds. Moreover, good deeds lead to the
path of salvation and thus help in emancipation.
Here salvation does not mean rebirth in any plane of existences or to be reborn in a
heaven to have pleasure or to have birth with the higher gods to live for so many aeons
of years. It is to note here that when the merits are exhausted, the beings then are
thrown into any plane of existences to be reborn. Nobody knows where the beings will
be reborn. According to deeds only, his birth will be determined. So, according to
Buddha, salvation means not to be born anywhere of the worldly existences. Here
salvation indicates Nibbana which is the highest bilss.
We find a story of Dighayukumara in Jataka. It is said that the king of Benares
murdered kumara's parents. Once Dighayukumara got a chance to kill the king. But he
did not do so. He told the king that he would not do any harm to him. Nevertheless, he
requested the king to kill him. If not done so, his (king's) enemy will remain alive in
this world. Instead of killing kumara the king promised that he would neither kill him
nor harm him in any way. In this way they made friendship with each other. It is
Theory Of Kamma 55

understood that due to good or moral intention bad or immoral deeds could not be
performed. In brief, we may call it as the theory of Kamma. This will have beneficial
influence on both.
Moral deed begets good fruit. But we hear some one to say that in doing good works
for the society one suffers. Actually it is not true. There are someother causes behind it.
Sometimes an honest man also might be harassed by the bad elements of the society.
The Buddha also sometimes faced the ill-fame. He had to hear the false complaint
from Cinca Manavika. But this did not last. Thera Moggallayana also had to bear
physical oppression during last days of his life. He was an Arhant, but he had to suffer
because he gave troubles to his mother in his previous birth. From this statement it is
clear that everyone has to face the consequences of his immoral deed done either in
this life or done in any life of his previous lives. Nobody can escape from it.
Once again, Devadatta tried to kill the Buddha throwing a stone from the hill. The Buddha got
a little pain in the finger of His foot. For this reason, Devadatta had to go to hell named Avici.
Khema got opportunity to meet with some Buddhas born in this world for her good
deeds. It is mentioned elaborately in her life-story. It is said that she offered three
sweet cakes, due to which she could meet the Buddhas. Accordingly, Visakha also
became a beautiful rich lady. Therefore, we may say here that good deeds give good
fruits in this life as well as in the future lives.
All beings are subject to death. At the time of death nothing goes with a person. Only
deeds either moral or immoral accompany him. No earthly property accompanies him
(dead). The deeds either of moral or immoral act accompany accordingly. Human
beings are born into higher or lower plane of existence in accordance with their moral
or immoral deeds. Hence Kamma or Deed is called friend, foe and Dhamma.
Cullakamma Vibhanga Sutta
With reference to the context we are expressing here the Cullakamma Vibhanga Sutta
in which the Buddha elaborately preached about the deeds.
Thus I heard the Buddha then was residing in the monastery built by Anathapindika in
Jetavana. Subhamanava, the son of brahmin Todeyya, then appeared to the Buddha.
Exchanging greetings, he sat in the corner. He then asked the Buddha thus.
O Gautama, what is the cause ? What is the effect? It is seen among the people that
some are low, some high, some of long longevity, some of less longevity, some
patient, some healthy, some ugly, some beautiful, some poor, some rich, some of low
family, some of high family, some ignorant, some wise and so on. What is the cause of
'becoming so?
56 Buddhist Religious Studies

The Buddha replied thus :

O Manava, it is the Kamma which is the controlling factor for all beings; Kamma
(deed) is the friend of beings and saviour of beings. Therefore, this is the Kamma
(deed) which makes the beings different from one other. i.e. makes low and high.
Again Manava said thus!
O Gautama, I could not understand properly what you mean to say. You are
omniscient. Please preach me so that I may understand it very clearly.
The Buddha said :
O Manava, listen attentively. I am preaching you.
Manava replied :
Yes, O my lord. The Buddha then preached thus :
O Manava, in this world, some males and some females kill the beings. They become
greedy. They always kill. They treat them mercilessly. As a result, they go to the hells
after death. By birth, if they come to this world, they become of less longevity. Killing
is the main cause for less longevity.
Again O Manava in this world there are some males and females who do not kill the
beings. They do not use weapons to kill the beings. They feel ashamed of killing.
Being compassionate they live. They always do good. They live with right livelihood.
As a result they go to heaven. If they are born in this world, they live long. Being
compassionate and beneficial to the beings they live, so they live long.
Again O Manava, in this world some males and some females oppress the beings.
They throw stones on the beings or attack the beings with weapons and sticks. This
kind of oppression should not be done. As a result, they go to the hell. If they are born
in this world, they become patients. This is the cause to become a patient.
Again O Manava, in this world, some males and females become angry. They become
angry with a trifling matter, become blind with anger, abuse and shout. They nourish
anger and antipathy in their minds for a long period. When the opportunity comes
they express their anger and`antipathy again. Never these are suppressed. As a result,
they go to hell. If they are born in this world, they become ugly. This is the cause to
become an ugly.
Again O Manava, in this world, some males and females are without anger. They do
not become angry at any cost. They do not shout. As a result, after death they go to
heaven. If they are born in this world, they live long here and become beautiful. This
is the cause of becoming beautiful.
Theory Of Kamma 57

Again O Manava, there are some males and females who suffer from jealous. They
become jealous to the individuals who receive gains, honour and respect from others.
They do grudge and make them guilty. As a result, they go to hell. If they are born in this
world, they are born in the poor family. This is the cause for birth in the poor family.
Again O Manava, in this world, some males and females do not become jealous. They
do not become jealous to the individuals who receive gains, honour and respect from
others. They do not make them guilty due to jealousy. They do not bear jealousy. As a
result, they go to heaven. If they are born in this world, they are born in the rich family.
Again O Manava in this world, some males and females do not make gift. They do not
give foods, drinks, yellow robes, flowers, bedding, monastery etc. to the Samanas or
Brahmanas. As a result they go to hell. If they are born in this world, they become
very poor. This is the cause to become poor.
Again O Manava, in this world, some males and famales become very proud. They do not
pay homage to one who is worthy to receive it. They do not stand to show honour, offer
seat, give way; pay respect and worship those who are worthy to receive. As a result, they
suffer and go to hell. If they are born into the world, they are reborn in a low family.
Again O Manava, in this world, some males and females do not become proud. They do
pay respect to one who is worthy to receive it. They stand up to do honour, give seat, give
way, pay respect and worship those who are worthy to receive it. If they are born in this
world, they are reborn in a high family. This is the cause to be reborn in a high family.
Again O Manava, in this world, some males and females do not approach the Samanas
and Brahmanas to ask their querries. What is moral? What is immoral? What is
neither moral nor immoral? What is faulty? What is not faulty? What is to serve?
What is not to serve? Which work harms and is painful for a long time? Which work
brings happiness for a long period? As they do not ask these questions, they are born
into the hell. If they are reborn in this world, they become unwise. This is the cause to
become an unwise.
Again O Manava, in this world, some males and females approach the Samanas and
Brahmanas to ask their querries as above. As they do ask these querries, they are born
into the heaven: If they are reborn in this world, they become great wise.
Again O Manava, we see different categories of men or beings such as of less longevity,
long longevity, patients, healthy, ugly, beautiful, rich, poor, high, low, wise, unwise etc.
In this connection the Buddha further says that the deed is the friend of the beings; the
beings are the owners of their own deeds. The deeds are responsible to take the beings
to different briths i.e. either to hell or to human world. Again deeds lead the man to
the either low family or high family.
58 Buddhist Religious Studies

On hearing the discourses, Subhamanava told the Buddha ; O My Lord, you did
preach me in a way that I could understand it very easily. You did show the path to the
misguided one. Thus I heard much from you. Now I am taking shelter of your
Doctrine (Dhamma) and the Order (Sangha). O my Lord, I am also taking your shelter
so that you would count me as a permanent devotee from this day onward.
Under the influence of Kamma Bodhisattva attained Buddhahood after many births.
That is why man is subject to Kamma.


Multiple Choice Questions

1. The ultimate target of Buddhist religion is to obtain

a. Happiness. b . long life.

c. Hea ven. d. Nirv ana.

2. The uni verse is directed by

a. its o wn law. b . the religious la w.

c. Karma. d. Buddha s law.

Read the text below and answer questions 3 and 4.

A deer was walking along a path through the woods. Ajay Marma threw a stone from
the hill to kill it. The deer died by the hit of the stone.
3. The action of Ajay Marma according to the religious point of view is

a. right, because the meat of the deer is delicious.

b . right, because it s a pleasure in hunting deer.
c. not right, because to kill deer is a sin.
d. not right, because it s a sin to kill any living being.

4. The intention of killing the deer is

i. greed.
ii. jealousy.
iii. sensitiveness.
Theory Of Kamma 59

Which one is corr ect?

a. i b . ii
c. i and ii d. ii and iii

Part 2
Creative Questions

1. Purnima and Rani were listening to Buddhist Karmabad in the religious studies class.
The teacher said, All the living beings are under the Karma. The happiness and
peace of living beings are ruled by Karma. There are three types of Karma described
in the book-they are good deeds, bad deeds, and neutral deeds. It is Karma that
brings happiness and peace for a human being, brings him to beyond birth. As ideal
students, you will always advise all the Buddhists to perform good deeds.
a. What is religion?

b . Explain ho w one gets happiness and peace.

c. Ho w can Purnima inspire her friends to perform good deeds? Explain.

d. All the living beings are under the Karma-Do you agree with this? Justify
your comments.
60 Buddhist Religious Studies


The main aim of the religion preached by great compassionate Gautama Buddha is
Nibbana or Emancipation. The general meaning of the word 'Nibbana' is extinction.
Here 'Ni' is a negative, 'Vana' means bondage or craving. So Nibbana is derived from
the word 'Vana' with the prefix 'Ni ' in the beginning. 'Ni' is used to denote 'Want' or
'Destructon' and 'Vana' means to understand the edge of an arrow. According to
Buddhist Scriptures, 'Vana' means desire or bond. Hence, though the meaning of the
Nibbana is extinction, yet its theological meaning is the cessation of desires or bond.
For this, Nibbana is called the highest bliss.
Now we will try to understand what is Nibbana. Man is encircling repeatedly from
one birth to another existence for enhancement of craving (tanha) or attachment
(Bandhana). For it is called 'Bhavacakka' or the wheel of life; that means, one has to
take births from one to another after death. For this, man has to undergo immense
sufferings in every existence. Buddha has said, 'Birth, old age and death are the
sufferings'. When man is born, he is destined to death. But death is not the end of
suffering. Because, man is born again and again for the cause of desires. It is
necessary to have cessation of the desire fully if one is to escape births permanently.
The cessation of desire means the end of birth and death. The full cessation of birth
and death is Nibbana.
Whatever we mean to explain Nibbana, its definition is not easy to understand. For
this reason, Gautama Buddha has not directly explained Nibbana to His disciples. 'But
He has shown the way and the method of attaining Nibbana in various forms. Once at
the time. of exposition of the sermon He has given a significant conception to His
disciples. He has uttered it in the following gatha :
Vinnanassa nirodhena tanhanam Vimuttino,
Pajjotasseva nibbanam Vimokkho hoti cetaso.
It means-
Just as the burning fire ceased to an end, so the desire is perished. The mind of the
emancipated person is calm with the cessation of consciousness. So the rebirth of the
liberated person is completely ceased.
The Buddha has further said in the Mahaparinibbana sutta :
Yo imasmim dhamma Vinaye appamatto vihessati,
Pahaya jati samsaram dukkhassantam Karissati'ti.
Nibbana 61

The English rendering of the gatha is-

He who will wander with heedfulness following the Disciplinary code and the
Discourses admonished by the Buddha, will be able to seek the end of suffering by
passing beyond the wheel of life and existence.
The precis of the two gathas are that the liberated person ceases the desire or the
suffering and reaches the door of the path to Nibbana.
Distinguished scholars, philosophers and authors of the scriptures have defined and
explained Nibbana in various ways.
Asvaghosa, the author of the Buddhacarita kavya has said that Nibbana is the cessation
of rebirth. It means that if the volitional formations are ceased, the transmigration is
Acharya Nagarjuna has mentioned in the --Madhyamika sutra that the annihilation of
Bhavasantati, that is, the Cessation of the continuity of existence is Nibbana. That is the
end of birth (Bhavasanskara) is Nibbana.
According to Santideva's opinion, all renouncements are Nirvan or the cessation of
happiness and sorrow (Sukhadukha), Five aggregates (pancakkhandhas) and
Ahambodha (I-ness) is Nibbana.
There are many illustrations about Nibbana. If these illustrations are reviewed and
explained, it is seen that Nibbana is the ultimate state of pure knowledge. The restraint
of evil inclinations like egoism, lust, anger, delusion etc. and the freedom from all
covetousness are Nibbana. So Nibbana is the highest bliss. Nibbana is of two kinds,
1. Sopadisesa Nibbana (Substratum)
2. Anupadisesa Nibbana (without Substratum).
Sopadisesa Nibbana
Rupa (Form), Vedana (Feeling), Sanna (Sense), Sankhara (Volitional formations) and
Vinnana (Consciousness)-these five clingings are, according to terminology, called
pancakkhandhas (Five aggregates). When Nibbana is realized in the body, that is, with
these Five aggregates, it is called Sopadisesa Nibbana.
It is to be mentioned here as an example that when the Buddha attained the fruition of
Nibbana meditating six years of asceticism at the foot of the Bo-tree with the cessation
of suffering and desire, it is called Sopadisesa Nibbana.
Anupadisesa Nibbana
When an Arhant attains Parinibbana after the dissolution of the body (pancakkhandhas),
without any remainder of any physical existence, it is termed as Anupadisesa Nibbana.
62 Buddhist Religious Studies

It is noted here that when the Buddha, after His Enlightenment, preached His doctrine
for forty five years and after that, He finally entered into Parinibbana is the illustration
of Anupadisesa Nibbana.
To understand the nature of Nibbana, it is necessary to have the conception about living
beings and material things in the entire universe. Because, every living being and
material thing display different qualities. Again, these qualities are not motionless or
external. They are continually changing. The vicissitude is never blissful. For this,
everlasting soul is not confessed. Hence, the Buddha has said, 'The earthly life-is
temporary, sorrowful and soulless'. He has also advised His disciples to control the fickle
and diverted mind from all outlooks for the destruction of the wheel of rebirth. How is it
possible'? The main path for controlling the mind is the practice of Jhana (meditation),
Brahmacariya (chastity) and Ariya Atthangika Magga (Noble Eightfold path).
It is explained and mentioned in the Milinda panha that Nibbana is unexpressable and
matchless. It is not identified with similes of location, time, object, argument,
evidence or example. Nibbana is calm and blissful. It is also mentioned in the
Arogya parama labha, santutthi paramam dhanam,
Vissasa parama nati, Nibbanam paramam sukham.
The meaning of the gatha is-
Health is the highest gain, contentment is the greatest wealth, confidence is the best
kinsman, Nibbana is the supreme bliss.
All the followers pray for attaining such supreme bliss as described in the gatha quoted
above. But suffering must be uprooted to gain the bliss. Ariya Atthangika Magga or The
Noble Eightfold path is the only way to attain Nibbana. By following and practising this
path, the suffering fully ceases and Nibbana is attained. The devotee is fully enlightened
and emancipated. Siddhartha Gautama had.practised austere meditation for this
emancipation. After meditation got the fruition and attained Nibbana.
Now we shall try to understand the meaning of the extract, Nibbanam paramam
sukham-Nibbana is the highest bliss.
The Buddha has told His disciples in the Ariyapa Tiyesana sutta, I have understood
the bad consequences of birth, old age, disease and lamentation etc. Nibbana is
realised as birthless, decayless, deathless, griefless and painless. So I have ceased all
the sufferings. So to speak, Nibbana is the supreme bliss.
All matters of the world are of two kinds, namely, Sankhata (conditioned) and Asankhata
(unconditioned). The matters (mental and physical) conditioned by causality and subject
Nibbana 63

to change, are Sankhata (conditioned). Those which are not conditioned by causality
and have no change are Asankhata (unconditioned). Nibbana is calm and eternal.
Nibbana is causeless. It has no origin and extinction. Nibbana is the supreme bliss. It
is the best of what are visible or invisible or imaginary. There is no other excellent
desirable thing besides this attainment. Fot this, the meditative and wise man
concentrate in untiring meditation to attain Nibbana.
Buddhism is the religion of wisdom; it is the religion of the wise;. So can be attained
by the wise. Merits and demerits have to be fully right thinking. Sankharas (Volitional
formations) are to be destroyed by meditation following the Buddha's teaching.
Attainment of Nibbana is possible after doing all these. Wisdom and meditation are
necessary for the attainment of Nibbana.
Bhammapada says-
Natthi jhanam apannassa panna natthi ajhayato;
Yamhi jhananca pannanca, Sa ve nibbanasantike.
The meaning of the verse is :
There is no concentration to him who lacks wisdom, nor there is wisdom to him who
lacks concentration. He who has both concentration and wisdom is indeed, in the
presence of Nibbana.
The virtuous and wise Bhikkhu or the learned man have to be free from lust, hatred
and ignorance by concentrating in meditaion. After that, he will be unattached,
fearless and benevolent. As a result, he attains Nibbana.
Though it is difficult to understand Nibbana and to explain it to others, yet it is not
impossible for man to attain it. Man has to endeavour entirely in this existence or from
one to other. So it becomes necessary to acquire knowledge about Cattari Ariya
Saccani or Four Noble Truths and to cultivate Ariya Atthangika Magga or Eightfold
Noble Path. Thereafter, it is possible for one to attain Nibbana by the fruition of good
deeds done by him. On the other hand, it is impossible to attain Nibbana by doing evil
deeds. He has take so many births by the adverse result of bad deeds done by him in
the wheel of life. As a result, he has to suffer the consequences of misdeeds for aeons
instead of attaining Nibbana.
In the fulfilment of emancipation, Nibbana stands without any distinction. The untiring
aspiration of the wise man takes him to the path of Nibbana. As the followers of the
Buddhist faith, we should affirm Nibbana. All of us endeavour to attain Nibbana by
following the way directed by the Buddha. This should be daily duties of all of us.
64 Buddhist Religious Studies


Multiple Choice Questions

1. Bissasa parama aynti means faith is
a. the best wealth. b . the best relati ve.
c. the best prof it. d. the ultimate happiness.
2. Nir vana is of-
a. tw o types b . four types
c. six types. d. eight types
Read the text below and answer questions 3 and 4.
According to the religious text Nibbanong poromong shukha. Although Palash
understands this he never behaves accordingly. Realizing the significance of these
words Vikkhu Dharmaratna is practicing good deeds to achieve Nirvana continuously.
3. T o achieve Nirvana Palash should
i. realize the four precepts of truth.
ii. practise eight paths of truth.
iii. worship for the happiness of heaven.
Which one is corr ect?
a. i b . ii
c. i and ii d. ii and iii
4. If Vikkhu Dharmaratna achieves Nirvana, he never faces
a. the sorro w of losing dear ones.
b . old age.
c. the connection with the person he dislik es.
d. rebirth.
Part 2
Creative Questions
1. The ultimate and supreme goal of practising Buddhism is the Nirvana. Mr. Kamalesh
Barua knew this from the religious studies book. It is also said in the book that the man
who achieved Nirvana would never be born again. One can get salvation through
nirvana. Lord Buddha attained both the Sopadiseso and Anupadiseso Nirvana. It is
necessary for all of us to try to achieve Nirvana, following the way guided by Buddha.
a. What do you understand by the w ord Nirvana?
b . Wh y will the Person who achieved Nirvana be never born again? Explain.
c. Describe the initiati ves Kamalesh Barua has to take to achieve Nirvana.
d. The person who achieved Nirvana will never be born again. Justify the statement.
Buddhist Religious Studies 65



Man is a social being. Society came into existence to beautify the life of man. Society
is for the man. Because, man cannot live without society. In ancient times, our
forefathers have made rules and regulation for the society. It is necessary for man to
follow some social obligations in order to live unitedly. If they live as they wish, there
arises disorders in the society. Hence, the members of the family began to abide by the
rules in the family as prescribed for them.
First education begins in the family. We have to honour the orders and advice of the
Head of the family. So many members live in the joint family. Generally, the eldest
becomes the Head in the family. Father is the Head in the single family. Mother is the
Head if father is not alive. We have to honour both the mother and the father. We
respect their words, we are grown up with their affection and love. They earn money
for maintaining the family.
There are also the chiefs or the leaders in the society. The aged and the learned
become the chiefs of the society, they protect the rules and discipline in the society.
They punish the wrong doers. They abuse the guilty for minor faults and give serious
punishment to those who are accused for unpardonable crime. If the accused are
beyond the control, they are handed over to the authority maintaining laws and orders.
There are two kinds of rules in the society. One in general ; the other is religious.
Discipline, maintenance of peace, marriage etc. are included in the general rule. The
religious rules include religious rituals, treatises or jurisprudence. Each believer of his
religious faith has to abide by his own religious regulations. If one does not observe
code, disorderly situation arises. The same occurs in the society also if the social rules
are not abided by.
Panca Silas or five precepts are to be observed first as the Buddhist faith. Panca Silas
are called as the main structure and power in the Buddhist thought. There are so many
rules to be observed by the Samaneras, Bhikkhus and the laymen. These religious
rules are called 'Vinaya': The Vinaya code for the Samaneras and the Bhikkhus are
codified in the Vinaya Pitaka and the social and disciplinary rules are mentioned
scattered in the Nikaya books. Here we are discussing briefly the rules codified for the
Bhikkhu Samaneras and the laities.
Daily duties of the Bhikkhus (Monks)
The Buddha had codified some modes of livelihood for the Buddhist Sangha. He has
given stress on the very simple livelihood of the Bhikkhus. Entrance to the Buddhist
66 Buddhist Religious Studies

Sangha is open to all. At the very beginning, the rules for the ordination in the Sangha
was not rigid. During Buddha's lifetime, the entrance to the Sangha was on probation
for four months. But His last disciple, Subhadra was ordained in one day. Like this, so
many cases are there in the Vinaya texts. Because, the Buddha Himself gave them
ordination, who were fit for the fruition. Later some rules for taking the ordination
were introduced. A boy less than twelve years cannot take ordination as a Samanera
(novice). There is no provision to become a Bhikkhu (monk), if he is less than twenty
To become a Samanera, one has to take refuge in the Three Gems (Tisarana).
Secondly, he has to take ten Precepts (Dasa Silas). The ten precepts coincide with
Panca Silas except third one. The ordination ceremony from the Samanera to the
Bhikkhu is called Upasampada (Higher ordination). Self control is the first
observance for the Samaneras and the Bhikkhus.
The Dasa Sikkhapadas or the ten precepts are
1. Abstaining from killing
2. Abstaining from stealing ;
3. Abstaining from sex ;
4. Abstaining from Lying ;
5. Abstaining from taking liquor that causes intoxication and heedlessness ;
6. Abstaining from taking food at an unreasonable time (afternoon} ;
7. Abstaining from dancing, singing and unseemly shows ;
8. Abstaining from the use of garlands, perfumes, unguents and from things that tend
to beautify and adorn;
9. Abstaining from use of high and luxurious seats ;
10. Abstaining from accepting gold and silver.
The above mentioned ten prohibitions are prescribed for both the Samaneras and the
Bhikkhus: These are elaborately discussed in the chapter Sila.
The Acariya (Preceptor) gives the following advices to the Nava Pabbajita (Newly
ordained) after the completion of ordination.
1. He will take meal by begging.
2. He will wear robe from collecting the rags.
3. He will dwell under the tree or forest or in Villara.
4. He will take medicine according to need.
Duties of the Bhikkhus
The four injunctions for the Bhikkhus are
1. He will abstain from sexual intercourse.
Buddhist Ethical Code 67

2. He will abstain from stealing.

3. He will abstain from the murder.
4. He will abstain from exaggeration of one's supernatural power of performing
miracles etc.
The fourth rule for offence was introduced at Vaisali at the time of famine. Then some
Bhikkhus preached them as capable of performing miracles to the public to attract the
laymen for alms: For that reason, the Buddha prohibited the Bhikkhus to show
The Bhikkhus live on begging. They beg for alms from door to door. During Buddha's
time, most of the Bhikkhus would take their meal under the tree after begging.
Whatever meal they take, it is to be finished before midday (Twelve O'clock). If the
laymen wish to invite them, it is necessary to observe the time. The Upasaka-Upasikas
also offer alms to the Bhikkhus at the monastery during the Uposatha-days.
Use of articles
The Samaneras or Bllikkhus have to cut off hair and moustache. The necessaries or
requisites are called Atthaparikkharas (The Eight articles). These are the three robes
(Ticivara), an alms bowl, a razor, a needle, a girdle and a water straineer,
In addition to those, the Samaneras and the Bhikkhus are authorised to keep with
them the minor necessaries, such as umbrella, stick etc. The Buddha has prescribed
the above eight articles (Atthaparikkhara) as daily necessaries for the Samaneras and
the Bhikkhus. It seems from the above fact that the Buddha has authorised the
Samaneras and the Bhikkhus to lead simple and easy life for which these minimum
requirements are sufficient for them.
Poverty and restraint are the two cardinal principles for the Bhikkhus. The Bhikkhus
have to practise self control. They have to abstain from taking gold and silver. If any
laity offers gold and silver, they cannot possess them. They have to spend these for the
benefit of the monastery or the Sangha. They may exchange these with the laymen to
meet the need of travelling expenses. Land, monastery and other valuable things are
not the personal properties of a Bhikkhu. The ownership of these properties
automatically goes to the Sangha.
There is no worship to the deities in Buddhism. Hence, there exists no temple of the
gods. In place of it, Cetiyas or Pagodas are built for religious performances. In ancient
times the Buddhist monasteries provided residence of the Sangha and Buddha's
68 Buddhist Religious Studies

Philosophy and doctrine were taught there. Later, the big monasteries were converted
into the best seats of education and knowledge. At present, we understand the Viharas
as the Buddhist monasteries or prayer halls. Previously, the Cetiyas were constructed
for worship. After the Parinibbana (Great Decease) of the Buddha, adoration to Him is
practised. Adoration to Boddhisattva, Arhant, Sivali are also prevalent besides the
Buddha puja. The Pilgrimages and memorial places of the Buddha are also visited and
worshipped by the Bhikkhus. At least twice a day in the morning and in the evening
Bhikkhus are to adore.
Five Meditation of the Bhikkhus
The Samaneras and the Bhikkhus have to meditate and to acquire dormant virtues,
such as Metta (Loving kindness), Karuna (compassion), Mudita (Sympathetic joy),
Asubha Bhavana (Meditation on corpse) and Upekkha (Equanimity).
Metta (Loving Kindness)
Whatever living beings there be, deities or men or foes or animals, seen or unseen,
long or short, be free from enmity, disease and grief and may they take care of
themselves happily. This benefactory thinking is termed as Metta Bhavna or
meditation on loving kindness.
Karuna (Compassion)
Feelings sympathy in the sorrows of others is Karuna or compassions. To meditate
how to eradicate the sufferings of the living beings and improve their happiness is
Karuna Bhavna.
Mudita (Sympathetic joy)
Mudita or Sympathetic joy is that who thinks happiness to others for their prosperity
and to meditate for everlasting is defined as Mudita Bhavana or meditation on the
sympathy. In this sense, the meditator is internally happy. It discards jealousy.
Asubha Bhavana (Meditation on corpse)
Impermanence of the body is associated with suffering. Insubstantiality in the body is
illusion. Movements of the body are impermanent and purely temporary. Asubha
Bhavana or Meditation on corpse liberates ourselves from delusion and thereby puts
an end both to ignorance and craving.
Upekkha (Equanimity)
All living beings are equal. Upekkha or Equanimity embraces the weak and the
strong, the poor and the rich, the young and the decay, the good and the bad, the
pleasant and the unpleasant, the loved and the unloved equally. The representation of
detachment from all worldly nature and undisturbed mind is called Upekkha. It
discards clinging and aversion.
Buddhist Ethical Code 69

The above Brahma Vihara meditation is declared as the higest life. Bhikkhus and
Samaneras practised these Five Meditaion in the morning and evening in a solitary place.
Jhana (Meditation)
According to Buddhism, Jhana or meditation is the supreme wealth. Jhana
(Meditation) is needed to fulfil the aim of glorious life. It is the best which
concentrates the mind. It is the first stage to discard the desire. There are four stages
of Jhana : Pathama Jhana (first stage of meditation), Dutiya Jhana (second stage of
meditation), Tatiya Jhana (third stage of meditation) and Atutta Jhana (fourth stage of
meditation). These stages are to be passed one by one. The purpose of Buddhist
meditaion is to gain intellectual understanding and to liberate oneself from the
bondage. Development of concentration enables the meditator to gain the ultimate
goal-the Nibbana. The highest stage of meditation is the cessation of all sufferings.
The Buddha was plunged into this great Meditation and attained Nibbana.
Samadhi (Concentration)
Samadhi is one pointedness of mind. It is the concentration of mind or one object to
the entire exclusion of all else. It is defined as the four meditative absorptions (Jhana)
of which the second one is linked. It is associated with all wholesome consciousness
(Kusala Sanna). Anicca (Impermanence), Dukkha (Suffering) and Anatta (Non-self)
are to be cultivated. Wisdom is earned by Samadhi. Six experiences are attained by
meditaion. They are Dibbacakkhu (the Divine eye) ; Dibbasota (the Divine ear) ;
Paracitta Vijanana (knowledge of knowing other's attitude) ; Pubbanussati
(Recollection of former births) ; Power to control passions and iddhi (psychic power).
Visit to the Pilgrimages
In ancient times, it was also prevalent to make pilgrimage. Buddhist Scriptures
mention the four great centres of Pilgrimage, namely-
1. Lumbini, the birth place of Gautama Buddha ;
2. Buddhag aya, the place of His Buddhahood ;
3. Sarnath, the place of preaching the Wheel of Doctrine ;
4. K usinara, the place of Mahaparinibbana (Great Decease).
The Buddhist monks and lay devotees visit these great places of pilgirmages with
honour. Besides, there are other places of pilgrimages, such as Savatthi, Vesali,
Nalanda, Rajagaha, Kosambi etc. Such places for pilgrimage in Bangladesh are
viharas at Maynamati, Mahastangarh, Paharpur, Sitakunda and Sahore of Dhaka.
Outside India and Bangladesh, there are also centres of pilgrrmage in Srilanka,
Myanmar, Tibet, China, Thailand and Japan.
70 Buddhist Religious Studies

Vinaya rules for the Bhikkhus

Patiomokkha assembly in which the Bhikkhus gather together in a special manner at
fortnight the dark fortnight and the bright fortnight, religious discourses and
discussion are held. The assemblage encourages unity among its members and
maintain the purity. Any offence that has been committed by a Bhikkhu within the
period of this time following the last meeting of the Sangha is disclosed at this
meeting. After this, amendment has to be made by confession.
The Buddha, after preaching His first sermon at Sarnath, came to Rajagaha where He
introduced most of the Patimokkha rules. Offences of the Bhikkhus are of various
kinds of which the four Parajikas (Four serious transgressions) are fatal for which the
accused Bhikkhu is expelled from the Sangha. These are murder of human being,
sexual intercourse etc. Minor offences are those which require only to, express regret.
These are regarded against the moral rules. Of them, telling a lie, rough use to any
Bhikkhu, greed, abusing any one, travelling alone with the nun (Bhikkhuni) etc. are to
be mentioned.
The Pacittiya (offence) rules, as depicted in the Patimokkha also mention the general
instructions with regard to bed, seats, robes and other requisites of daily life of the
Bhikkhu. Unlike other, the Bhikkhus have to follow the Sekhiya ( to be trained) rules
which are less grave. These orders are introduced to control the moral conduct for the
learners. These are the instructions how to dress, how to take meal, how to sit, how to
walk, how to take bath etc. So to say, these are moral codes of the Bhikkhus who are
needed to be self restrained, modest and calm. The Buddha also advised them to
preach the doctrine in their own mother tongue, if necessary.
The classification of the serious and minor Vinaya's rules are given below :
1. Parajikas (Defeat) :
Sexual intercourse, theft, murder of a human being or abetment to murder and
exaggeration of one's supernatural power; these are the four serious offences for
which the accused Bhikkhu is expelled from the Sanaha.
2. Sanghadisesas (Requirement of the Sangha in the beginning, the middle
and the end) :
There are altogether thirteen Sanghadisesa offencess in the Bhikkhu Patimokkha.
These are related to sex, speaking bad words, the schism in the Sangha etc.
3. Aniyata (Uncertain) :
This section consists of two offences relating to the conduct of a Bhikkhu towards a
woman. The nature of these offences is uncertain whether it is Parajika, Sanghadisesa
or Pacittiya.
Buddhist Ethical Code 71

4. Nissaggiya Pacittiya (To be given up) :

A kind of offences which requires a Bhikkhu to abandon the robes or bowls etc. that
arise in question considering the size, preparation as directed in the Vinaya. The
number of the Nissagoiya pacittiya is thirty.
5. Pacittiya (Expiation) :
Falsehood, harsh words, slander, quarrels, deceits, oppression, wrong behaviour
among Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis, untimely eating etc. and such other 92 offences.
6. Patideseniya (Confessional)
Four light offences these are lifting ally food by his own from a Bhikkhuni; taking
food from a person who has not invited him etc.
7. Sekhiya (to be trained) :
Besides there are certain other rules for maintaining good habits and regulating good
Panchayet (Settlement of dispute)
Despite specific rules, there would have been difference of opinion or problems
arising out of disputes. Cullavagga has provided many rules for Panchayet arbitration
and the settlement of disputes. Senior monks to arbitrate must have some qualities,
such as, they should be free from attachment, hatred and delusion. They should give
impartial judgement.
The procedure of taking opinion is of three kinds: Secret, Private and Open. If the
subject matter could be ascertained beyond doubt there is no necessity of taking
opinion secretly. Arrangement of votes among judges is only necessary in case of
doubt and controversy. The process- secrecy means to whisper to each other. All the
disputes are settled in this way. Immediately after the settlement of dispute, they get
together in the Sima (Boundary) or elsewhere as provided to confess the offences. The
monk asking for penitence would address the Bhikkhu Sangha and call upon to state
any allegation, for which he will be prepared to ask for pardon.
Development of Self power and Unity of the Sangha
The Buddha has given much emphasis on spiritual development of mankind. Unity
growing out of strength of weapons does not last long. True unity grows from the
courtesy and sell-'- sacrifice. The Buddha advised the Sangha to develop morality by
which men in the society are careful. For this, the Sangha develop self reliance and
dutifulness and at last proceed towards the goal. As a result of their self sacrifice-
Nalanda, Ajanta, Flora, Vikramsila, Taxila, Paharpur and Maynamati came into
existence. Hence, they have contributed much in the development and progress of
education, culture and knowledge.
72 Buddhist Religious Studies

All rules framed by the Buddha for the Sangha are written in the Vinaya Pitaka. The
Buddha has given stress on inner development of the Sangha so that after His
Parinibbana, they would reflect themselves more self reliance. When Ajatasattu, the
king of Magadha was about to attack the Vajjians, then the Buddha said, 'As long as
the Vajjians had followed the Satta Aparihaniya Dhamma or the Seven Conditions for
welfare given to them, nobody could defeat them. He also framed Seven Conditions
for the Sangha by which they are able to acquire matchless strength. In this context,
the Buddha said. 'I expound to you the Seven Conditions necessary for the welfare of
Sangha community.' These Seven Conditions are quoted :
1. Assemble at one place frequently and continue the habitual gathering.
2. Perform the prescribed duties together as the members of the Sangha.
3. Adhere to rules prescribed by the state and observe discipline.
4. Respect, honour and make offering to the elders and listen to them.
5. Protect the dignity of women.
6. Observe the national code of Ethics.
7. Ensure respect to religious teachers and look after their comfort.
The Buddha has described the Sangha as the highest and best. Before Parinibbana He
told Ananda that the Doctrine preached by Him will be the guiding force of the
Sangha. Not individuals but the Dhamma and finally the Sangha constitute the highest
Daily duties of the laities
Besides the rules of the Bhikkhus, the Buddha has prescribed certain duties and
practices for His lay devotees and these are their guidance. The lay devotees must take
refuge in Tisarana (Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha). The other course of training for the
laities are refraining from killing living beings, from stealing, from leading an unchaste
life, from speaking falsehood and from indulging in drinks and merry makings. These
five precepts are called Pancasilas. These are the main code of the laities.
Householders' Vinaya
1. One is to abstain from killing, theft, lying, sexual indiscipline and intoxication as
the principle of Pancasila. The Buddha combined all these rules to be followed by
householders or laities in the Pancasila. For example, abstinence from intoxication
means that one should refrain from taking all kinds of harmful intoxication, such
as liquor, opium, ganza etc. When one is intoxicated to these, normal healthy life
is hampered. Intoxicated persons do great harm to the society. They do not
hesitate to do wrong deeds by losing sense of balance through intoxication. The
Buddha therefore asked for refraining from all kinds of intoxication.
Buddhist Ethical Code 73

2. Do not use harsh, abusive and sarcastic words. Do not support those who have
wrong views. Do not be guided by revenge. Do not cause harm to anyone under
influence by anybody.
3. Do not roam about in the streets at night. Renounce all kinds of gambling and
avoid the company of those who are intoxicated, given to gambling and
adventurous sinners. Read good books during leisure time. Rise early in the
morning. Do not sleep more.than half an hour in the noon.
4. Be temperate in spending than be a miser. Always keep company of those who are
wiser than you. It is sinful to make friendship with thief, flatterer, boastful person
and wrong doer. Never indulge in unnecessary talks. Keep away frorn enemies in
the guise of friends. Listen to good words on religious discourse. Feel happy at
the prosperity of friends. Protest wrong words against friends, superiors and
praise if words are spoken in their reputation.
5. Always try to do good to others. Be happy in the happiness of all beings and
sorrowful in their sorrows. Provide shelter to one who is fearful. Do not forsake
friends in times of their danger or misfortune. Divide your incorne into four
parts-the first one for livelihood, the second and third for the activities of self and
the family and the fourth as savings for bad days in future.
6. Support parents in old age. Uphold the dignity of your clan and make gift in
memory of ancestors. Protect children from evil acts and involve them in good
deeds. Help them to learn income-generating education. Give marriage with
suitable persons.
7. Show respect to teachers and superiors. Stand up when you meet them. Obey their
orders. Teachers will teach courtesies and tell them what to read and what not to
read. Teachers will praise praiseworthy deeds of students to their relations and
save them frorn danger.
8. Use dignified and courteous words with the wife and provide her with clothes
and ornaments to the best of capacity. The wife will also look after household
affairs properly and be respectful to the husband. She will not waste husband's
property and be free from laziness. Both will lead disciplined life.
9. Help relations in times of needs and treat them well. Protect the propertyof
relations. Give courage if they feel afraid. Never renounce them in times of
danger. Invite them in festivals and blissful ceremonies.
74 Buddhist Religious Studies

10. Give adequate food and salary to employees. Nurse them well during illness and
give them share of good food. Allow them leisure from time to time. Employees
will rise before the master. They will not misappropriate anything from the
master, will work well and speak high of him.
11. Show respect to the Bhikkhu Sangha and offer services and food. During leisure
time listen to religious discourses and discussions. The Bhikkhu Sangha will
keep the Dayakas and Dayikas away from sinful acts, offer them advice to
remain engaged in good work and wish them well. They will propagate those
words of religion which were not heard before. The Bhikkhu Sangha will correct
12. People will visit temples on the full moon, half moon and dark moonless days for
observance of Sila and Uposatha. They will make salutations to Triratna at least
twice a day in the morning and the evening. If any doubt arises, they will ask
advice of the Bhikkhu Sangha. Never deceive any body and be happy with what
you will earn. Do not be engaged in any business involving harm to beings,
poison, intoxicating objects, arms and meat. Make offering of food during full-
moon and other Sabbath days. Be engaged in meditation during leisure. Always
take refuge of Triratna. Do not heed to wrong views. Make gift of medicines.
The Buddha asked for observance of these 12 rules for householders or laity. These
words have been uttered by the Buddha. If these principles and rules are followed, one
can lead peaceful life and attain prosperity. Observance of these rules will be helpful
in the advancement towards Nibbana.
Moral instructions given to the householders
Good conduct helps to develop humanity. Good conduct and self reliance bring the
man to high station of life day by day. To live in the society, these two are urgently
needed. Venerable Dharmapala of Srilanka (Ceylon) has written a book. 'Gihidina
cariya' for the laities. It has immense value for the learners. Some rules as mentioned
in the book are quoted here :
Duties to be done in the morning
The householder has to do the following duties :
Rise up early in the morning, wash your face and make adoration to the Buddha with
the citation of the Tiratana Vandana.
Buddhist Ethical Code 75

If the vihara stands at the nearest distance, it is better to pray there. If not so, perform
the duties at home. After having done the adoration, meditate Metta 'Bhavana.
Thereafter, take breakfast and be attentive to usual work.
Taking meal of the householder
Should clearly wash hand and face before taking meal. Should not take food and curry
with hand in cooked food.
Should not eat with absent mind. Should chew food properly.
Should leave the seat with the permission of the parents and the elders if necessary.
Should not take meal talking with or walking at.
Should ask for the meal if he is hungry.
Should not take meal making a sound.
Should wash hand and mouth after taking meal.
Should take meal everyday timely.
Rules for bathing and wearing
Should not wear dirty clothes.
Should cleanse the dress when necessary.
Should not wear the perspirated clothes.
Should not take bath nakedly.
Should cleanse the nose, dirty hair and body at the time of bathing.
Should reduce the nails by cutter.
Rules for walking on the road
He should walk to the left on the road and street.
Keep eyes not to touch the person if there is an umbrella in hand, not walk with absent
Cross the road giving views to the right and left, not take any food walking on the
Help the blind, the old and the infant during the time of crossing the road.
Rules for attending the meeting
He should attend the meeting with clean dress. Take seat after salutation to the elders,
not speak any thing without the permission of the president, be courteous and carry
out the orders of the president, not to talk to side man, not break the silence of the
meeting, not to chew the batel-leaf and smoke a cigarette in the meeting, not flog the
body and graze legs on the ground. Listen to everybody in the meeting with patience.
Leave silently if necessary during the meeting.
76 Buddhist Religious Studies

Duties of the boys and girls

Rise early in the morning and brush your teeth with brush or branch of Neem tree. It
is not courteous to brush teeth in front of people and spit anywhere. It is good to take
bath in the morning after washing face, hand and feet. Then make salutation to the
Buddha with clean dress. Take refuge in Paricasila by yourself. Then without wasting
time, you should sit for studies. If the school is open, go to school after paying respect
to parents. Show respect to teachers and superiors. Do not spit in the classroom and do
not indulge in talks. Do not waste time if you come across the killing of animal and
quarrels on way to the school. Do not tell lie and use harsh words or quarrel with
anyone. Take physical exercise some time in the morning.
Visit nearby temple at least once a week. If you use cycle, then get down from it if
you see Bhikkhu, teacher or superior to show respect in silence. Be kind to all living
beings high or low. Do not kill animals and hit serpent, froo; insect, butter fly, bird,
dog, cat etc. If you see any in danger, try to help. Avoid serpent, mad dog, bull etc.
Take refuge of Sila on Uposatha days.
Duties of the Villagers
The people should form association like Rural Development, Village Defence Party,
Village Welfare or Buddhist Society in every village or Mahalla. All elders and young
of the village may be members of the Association. There must be certain rules and
regulations for the Association. Everybody should abide by the rules and orders of the
Executive Committee. You should also obey the rules. There should be a library under
the supervision of the Association. The Association should make arrangements for
imparting training in handicrafts and establish cottage industries. Night schools for the
adults and Nursery for the children may be established to eradicate illiteracy. Other
games may be arranged in place of playing cards and dic. There should be provision
of punishment for those members who violate the rules of the Association.
Visit to patients
You should accompany your parents to visit your sick relatives and the neighbours. If
possible you should take sap, barley, suger, fruit, milk etc. according to your capacity.
If the patient is poor you should help him with medicine, diet and money.
It is good to encourage him by good talk. Do not take food in the room of the patient.
Don't spend much time there beyond necessary. You should not go there if disease is
contaminous. Besides, put off your clothes after visiting a patient. You should wash
your face, hands and legs before going to do other works.
Buddhist Ethical Code 77

Looking at the dead body

It is a social duty to see the dead body of the relatives and the neighbours. It is
necessary to wear clean dress at the time of seeing dead body and after returning, the
dress should be put off and washed. Express sympathy to the bereaved. Ask the fellow
mate to come to you and give him consolation so that he is not mentally weakened.
Advise him to realize that man is mortal. Join and participate in the religious
performances done for the dead. Help in that performances if necessary.
Duties of the cultivator's children
Besides the learning and the educaton of the children of cultivator's family, they have
to do the work in the agricultural field. They have to help their fathers other than
learning. The cow and the buffalo are the main vehicles to plough the land. The
children may have sometimes to take care of them. They have to understand whether
the cattles are hungry and arrange to have their hunger fully satisfied. They have to
take care of the cow, goat, duck and hen. They have to help their fathers and brothers
in the cultivation and in the drying of paddy and seeds.
Duties of the children of the Industrial worker
They have to help their father and mother irrespective of their occupation. If the father
works in the mill and factory or the workshop attached to residence, the children have
look after the business within the capacity. They have to ask the father for help; Inspite
of father's silence. For this, they will acquire experience in the field of such work.
Nomenclature of the children
The children should be named according to the Buddhist faith. They should think over
the matter and discuss the same with their father and mother. Parents, generally give
the name to their children as their forefathers had given them.
Festival and ritual
Buddhist festivals are held in different full-moon days which are Buddha Purnima,
Asahri Purnima, Kathinacivara dana, Chaitra Sankranti and Bengali New Years day.
All should do all the religious and social duties, rejoice by taking part in all the
functions such as, birth day, marriage ceremony, offering to the dead relatives,
Buddha kirtan and National festivals and Independance day. The Buddhist students
are to be proud for taking birth in a Buddhist family. Do not bow down to injustice. If
you realize your mistake confess them at once.
Satta Aparihaniya Dhamma (The Seven Conditions for welfare)
At that time there occured a famine and epidemic at Vesali. The Buddha went there at
78 Buddhist Religious Studies

the request of Licchavi king. It rained heavily after the drought for a long time as soon
as He reached there. At this, the epidemic, dead body and garbages were flooded
away. There after, the Buddha ordered Ananda to recite the Ratanasutta. Peace and
prosperity came again at Vesali. The inhabitants of Vesali had erected so many cetlyas
at the honour of the Buddha.
Once the Buddha summoned the Vajjis to attend and advised them at Sarandada
cetiya, the Satta Aparihaniya Dhamma. Satta Aparihaniya Dhamma mean the seven
inevitable duties or the Seven Conditions for welfare. In ancient India, the Vajji
proved themselves unconquerable and prosperous nation by following the Seven
Conditions for welfare.
The Vajjis constituted united nation. They would hold meetings when the problem had
arisen to them. According to procedure, they would elect the President in the meeting.
After then, they would discuss the problems one by one with the order of the President.
Later, they would review the matter. They would give consent after the review. The
President would then try to know the views for and acainst. After that they would
discuss both the views. When everybody would agree, the President would give consent.
All the members would take decision after the procedure and work unitedly. In this way,
they would leave the seat of the meeting after taking decision. As a result, there was no
opportunity of giving note of dissent. So the Vajjis were renowned for this unity.
The Buddha preached the Satta Aparihaniya Dhamma or the Seven conditions for
national welfare. These are
1. Those who attend the meetings regularly and unite themselves prosper.
2. Those who attend the meeting unitedly, live in unity and when the reason for
taking decision for new agenda arises they sit themselves and are able to acquire
matchless strength and are never defeated.
3. Those who do not introduce mal-practices in the society or in the state, do not
discard the rules made by the forefathers and abide by those rules properly, are
able to acquire matchless strength and never suffer defeat.
4. Those who respect, venerate, honour and make offerings to the elders, prosper.
And those who deem it fit to obey the orders of the elders, certainly prosper in
the family life.
5. Those who do not seize the wives and the unmarried girls of others, do not catch
them in their houses and do not misbehave with them, are able to acquire
matchless strength and never suffer defeat.
Buddhist Ethical Code 79

6. Those who protect the cetiyas made by their forefathers inside or outside the
village and adore regularly, will find their prosperity as inevitable. And those
who spend all the wealth reserved for the same, must prosper and never defeat.
7. Those who are properly generous and give charity to the Arhants and virtuous
Bhikkhus, protect them and arrange everything for their happiness and means,
acquire matchless strength and never suffer defeat. And those who serve the
Arhants that would not come to them, arrange to bring them and give food to
them prosper. Again, those who inquire about the safety of the Arhants and
virtuous Bhikkhus residing at their own villages, acquire matchless strength, in
the family and society. It ceases downfall.

Multiple Choice Questions

1. According to the principles of Buddhism the age of being sramoner o is

a. 6 years. b . 7 years.
c. 8 years. d. 10 years.

2. All the living beings should not be deprived of any of their acquired assets.-
which one of the following vabonas is includes this?
a. Metta b . Karuna
c. Mudita d. Upeksha

Read the text below and answer questions 3 and 4.

Sumon Mutsuddi, the religion teacher, was teaching about Buddhist regulations. He
was discussing the daily duties, the Pancha Vabona and atonement rules of the

3. As a sramoner o, your duty is to

i. stay inside of temple or forest.
ii. wear yello w robe.
iii. eat self-cooked food.
Which is corr ect?
a. i b . ii
c. iii d. i and iii
80 Buddhist Religious Studies

4. The atonement rules of the Vikkhusangha is to confess

a. guilt to others.
b . not to lea ve the holy practice of the Vikkhus.
c. not to touch mone y.
d. not to do religious counseling.

Part 2
Creative Questions
A religious council was being held at the Mojlishpur Dharmankur Buddhist Temple.
Maitryrani Sinha got to know from the councils president Vante that the Pancha
Vabona can be done at any age. For this, there is no need to think of the right time.
The Pancha Vabona can be done even without wealth. At last he said, May all the
gods, humans, enemies and friends be happy.
a. What is the P ancha Vabona?
b . What are the necessities of doing the P ancha Vabona? Explain.
c. Ho w can you advise someone who is always engagest in sinful acts? to do
the P ancha Vabona
d. May all the gods, humans, enemies and friends be happy. Explain.
Buddhist Religious Studies 81


The Jataka is the former birth stories of Gautama Buddha. One cannot become
Buddha at one birth. For this, he has to meditate for many births. He has to pass many
aeons having been born as Bodhisattva. In this way, he has to purify, himself. At last,
he becomes Enlightendar the Buddha. When he becomes the Buddha, he acquires the
knowledge of former births. Gautama Buddha became possessed of that power. He
would tell His disciples the Jataka stories with reference to admonition. With this, He
would show the path to Nibbana. He converted His father, king Suddhodana after
delivering the Dhammapala Jataka. He also settled the dispute caused between the
Sakiyas and Koliyas in delivering the Phandana, Daddabha, Latukika and
Rukkhadhamma Jatakas.
Jataka is composed in Pali. It is said that the regions of Magadha is the origin of Pali.
Oriya, Bengali and Asami languages have conformity with Pali. This Pali language is
extended upto the South-East Asia, namely, Sriianka (Ceylon), Myanmar, Thailand
etc. It generally indicates that the number of Jataka stories is 547. These stories are
valuable assets of the Buddhist literature. The influence of the Jataka is discernible
not only in Buddhist literature but also in the world literature. There stands no
evidence of written literature in the world before the existence of Jataka. These were
prevalent in ancient India to give moral advice at the time of conversation. Some deem
it creditable that such kind of tales and episodes were prevalent and such description
may bear virtuousness and filial piety but elaborate stories existed in the Jataka only.
At first, the Buddha tried to bring the chain of discipline by delivering Jataka stories.
He endeavoured to subdue the mischievous and protect the honest on the basis of
Jatakas. He preached the Jataka stories to eradicate the defilements of mankind.
Lastly, the concept of the Jataka goes far away to Africa and Europe through Central
Asia. On the other side Srilanka, Java, Mongolia, Korea, Japan etc. were influenced
by the Jataka through India. So, the influence of the Jataka reflects on all languages of
the world. When Ishap and Dekameran were writing the tales, they borrowed a good
deal of materials from the Jataska. It also reflects its influence on the Arabian Nights.
In this way, it influences the modern literature also. Brihatkatha, Pancatantra,
Kathasaritsagar are also influenced by the Jataka. The fact remains that Jataka remains
that Jataka enriches the ancient literature of the world.
82 Buddhist Religious Studies

Jataka bears moral. So many examples of kindness to living beings exist there. Rataka
supplies so many morals of fraternity and universal brotherhood for all men without
distinction. It focuses discovery of ancient geographical sites, politics and social rules
carrying historical background. It described the stories againt slavery. These stories
gave rise to Buddhist art. So many Jataka stories are described in the paintings of
Ajanta. Jataka stands against superstition. So many Bengali words originated from it.
Besides, amusement, recreation, various kinds of games and sports, sea-business,
description of food, sceneries of the villages, conditions of the mass are depicted in
the Jataka.
The morals of the Jataka bring the well-beings of the mankind. It bears thorough
analysis for the Judgement. Social indiscrepancies are sketched and solutions are also
indicated there, It narrates the various frauds of the moral of each Jataka is precious as
jewel. The beauties of these morals will be bright at all times.
The mind of the reader, after reading the Jataka, is full of calmness. The story is
finished we feel contentment. The whole story is reflected in one or two sentences
with its moral. We inspiration to read again and again.
The morals of the Jatakas are not only counsels but they are utterances of the Buddha.
For this fact, all the followers and readers follow the morals with delight. It appears to
us that when Jataka is described, as it were, the Buddha was telling some of them.
Some Jatakas, it seems, are alive. The Bodhisattva is supposed to appear. He
sacrificed a lot and went through immense sufferings for the benefit of the mankind.
He delivered the different doctrines with easy style in the model of speaking. So many
problems are solved if we keep in memory the morals. We get inspiration to do well
for the friend. We remember the moral of the Kalakanni Jataka , 'A friend is in need is
a friend indeed'.
Kalakanni Jataka
Onece upon a time when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisattva was a
treasurer of great renown. He had a friend whose name was Kalakanni. He had
played together with the Bodhisattva during childhood and had gone to the same
school. As years passed, Kalakanni sank into great distress. From that time, he took
shelter in Bodhisattva's house, The Bodhisattva employed him with pay as a care-taker
of his property.
Kalakanni stayed with Bodhisattva and did all the business. It was a common thing to
hear in the house, 'stand up, curse' or 'sit down, curse ' or 'Have your dinner, curse'.
Jataka 83

Kalakanni means 'curse'. One day the treasurer's other friends called on him alone and
said, 'Name Kalakanni is not good to hear, as such ill name would even scare the
Yama. It is also an observation with ill omen. The man is not your social equal. You
are showing more honour to the miserable wretch, dogged by misfortune. Why should
you have anything to do with him.' 'Not so', replied Bodhisattva, ' a name only serves
to denote a man and the wise do not measure a man by his name nor is it proper 'to
have superstitous about mere sounds. How can I throw him for his mere names sake,
the friend with whom I made friendship?'
One day, the Bodhisattva departed to visit a village for some business. He would have
to spend there one night. So he left Kalakanni in charge of the house. Hearing of his
departure, certain robbers made up their mind to break into the house. Arming
themselves, they surrounded the house in the night time. But Kalakanni had a
suspicion that the burglars might be expect When he knew that they had come, he ran
about as if to rouse the servants and the followers, biding one sound in the conch,
another beat in the drum, till he had the whole house full of noise. The robbers
thought that the treasurer, had come and the house was full of servants and followers.
If not, why there was so very loud up roar? Perhaps, the master had returned. Flinging
away their stones, clubs and weapons, they fled away.
The followers of Bodhisattva had praised Kalakanni for his intelligence at the sight of
all the discarded weapons lying round the house. If the house had not been patrolled
by one so wise, the 'robbers would have plundered the house. When the Bodhisattva
came from the village, they hastend to tell him the whole story. The Bodhisattva said
the members of his family and the friends, 'You wanted me to get rid of him. If I had
taken your advice and got rid of him, I would lose everything and would be beggar. It
is not the name but the heart within that makes the man.'
So saying he raised his wages. In this regard, the Bodhisattva uttered the
following verses :
A friend is he that seven steps will go.
To help us, twelve attest the comrade true,
A fortnight or a month's tried loyalty
Makes kindred, longer time a second self.
Then how shall I, who all these years have known
My friend, be wise in driving curse away?
84 Buddhist Religious Studies

Moral :
A friend in need is friend indeed.
Gijjha Jataka
Once upon a time when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisattva was
born of a vulture. When he grew up he put his parents, now old and dim of eye, in a
vulture's cave on the mountain and fed them by bringing flesh of dead cow and the
like. At that time a certain hunter laid snares for vultures all about a Benares cemetery.
One day the Bodhisattva seeking for flesh came to the cemetery and caught his foot in
the snares. He did not think of himself but remembered his old parents. How will my
parents live now? I think they will die, ignorant that I am caught helpless and
destitute, wasting away in that hill cave.
So lamenting he spoke the first stanza :
How will the old folks manage now within the mountain cave? Who will save them?
For I am fastened in a snare, cruel Nilaya's slave ; no chance to get rid of it.
The hunter, hearing him lament, spoke the second stanza :
Vulture, what strange lament of yours are these my ears that reach? I never heard or
saw a bird that uttered human speech.
The Bodhisattva spoke the third stanza :
I tend my aged parents within a mountain cave.
How will the old folks manage now that I've become your slave?
The hunter spoke the fourth stanza :
Carrion a vulture sights across a hundred leagues of land ;
Why do you fail to.see a snare and net so close at hand?
The Bodhisattva spoke the fifth stanza ;
When ruin comes upon a man and fates his death demand,
He fails to see a snare or net although so close at hand.
The hunter spoke the sixth stanza :
I am impressed that you have thought about your parents but not for yourself. Go,
tend your aged parents within their mountain-cave, go, visit them in peace, you have
from me the leave you crave.
Jataka 85

The Bodhisattva, on hearing the kindheartedness of the hunter uttered the seventh
stanza :
You are kind being a hunter, so happiness be thine, with all thy kith and kin. I am too
going back to my old parents.
Then the Bodhisattva; freed from the fear of death, joyfully gave thanks to the hunter,
took his mouthful of meat from the cemetery and went away.
Moral :
Those who are respectful to parents and truthful are saved even from worst
SiIamimamsa Jataka
Once upon a time when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisattva was
his priest a man given to charity, good works and the five precepts. The king honoured
him beyond the other brahmins.
One day the Bodhisattva thought the king shows honour to me beyond other brahmins
and has manifested his great regard by making me his spiritual director. But is favour
due to my goodness or only due to lineage, family, education and accomplishment?
One day he was leaving the palace, after meeting the king, then the treasurer was
distributing money to the public. Accordingly, he took unbidden a coin from the
treasure's counter and went away. Such was the treasurer's veneration for the brahmin
that he sat perfectly still and said not a word.
The next day, the Bodhisattva took two coins. But still the treasurer made no
remonstrance. The next third day the Bodhisattva took a whole handful ` coins. The
treasurer cried, 'Lord, that you have robbed his Majesty' and he shouted out three
times, 'I have caught the thief who robs the Treasury'.
A crowd of people rushed from every side and catching Bodhisattva said, 'Ah, you
have long been passing as a model of goodness. Now you have stolen. Let us take him
to the king for justice.
But as the Bodhisattva was being brought in bonds before the king, he came where a
snake charmer was exhibiting a snake which he had caught by the tail and the throat
and tied round his neck. Seeing this, the Bodhisattva begged the man to desist for the
snake might bite him and cut his life short.
'Brahmin' replied the snake-charmer, this is a good and well behaved cobra. He is not wicked
86 Buddhist Religious Studies

like you, who for your wickedness and misconduct are - being hauled off in custody.
The Bodhisattva thought to himself, even cobra, if he does not bite is called 'good';
how much more must this be the case with a man who has observed precepts. So
precepts are the best of all. There is nothing superior to precepts.
Then the Bodhisattva was brought before the king. ' Is he a thief who has been
robbing Majsty's treasury' said the king. The officials said, 'Your Majesty, this
brahmin has robbed the Majesty's treasury'.
The king ordered, 'Away with him to execution'. The Bodhisattva then said, 'Sir, I am
not a thief.' The king said, 'Then why did you take the money? What is your want?'
Then the Bodhisattva replied, 'I think precepts is the highest and most excellent thing
in the -world. Even the cobra, when it does not bite is simply called, 'good'. So
precepts are the most excellent virtues.'
Then in praise of gooness the Bodhisattva. uttered the stanza which means thus:
Precepts lead to the highest merits. Nothing can be equal with precepts in heaven,
earth or hell. The cobra does not bite because of influence of precepts. So precepts is
the best virtue.
The Bodhisattva pacified the king with the truth of precepts. The king also understood
the fact that the brahmin was perfectly righteous. The Bodhisattva also experimented
himself saying the' goodness is the highest. He, abjuring all lusts and renouncing the
world for the hermit's life, went to the Himalayas, where he earned the five
knowledges (PancaAbhinna) and the Eight Attainments (Attha. Samapatthi)
by.Cultivating goodness and concentration. The Bodhisattva passed away in the oblige
and thereafter was born in the Brahma realm.
Moral :
Goodness is the highest among the birth, lineage and family.
Sujata Jataka
Once upon a time, while Brahmadatta reigned in Benares, the Bodhisattva was born as
his son. After the death of his father, the Bodhisattva became king and ruled in
righteousness. His mother was a passionate woman, cruel and ill tongued. The son
wished to admonish his mother but he felt, he must not do anything so disrespectful.
So he kept on the look out for a chance of dropping a hint.
One day he went down into the grounds and his mother went with him. A blue jay
Jataka 87

screeched on the road. The bird is very beautiful but its voice is very harsh. At this all
his companions stopped their ears, crying, 'What a harsh; voice, what a dangerous
voice! Don't make that noise.
While the Bodhisattva was walking through the park with his mother and a company
of players, a cuckoo, perched amid the thick leaves of Sala tree, saying with a sweet
note. All the bystanders were delighted at her voice, clasping their hands and
stretching them out, they besought her, 'Oh, what a nice song! what a sweet voice!
sing away bird, sing away!'
The Bodhisattva noting these two things, thought that here was a chance to drop a hint
to the mother, 'Mother', said he, 'when they heard jay's cry on the road, everybody
stopped their ears, when the cuckoo sang with a sweet note, all were delighted and
praised. Then the Bodhisattva uttered the following verses;
The cuckoo is black and not beautiful. But all like it for sweet voice. Seeing the
difference between voices of the jay and cuckoo, man likes to be sweet tongued.
Because everybody likes sweet voice and wants to live as dear person in the world.
When the Bodhisattva had admonished his mother with these verses, he won her over
to his way of thinking. Ever afterwards she followed the right course of living.
Afterwards the Bodhisattva passed away according to his deeds.
Moral :
Quality is more precious than appearance.
Khantivadi Jataka
Once upon a time a king named Kalabu reigned at Benares. At that time the
Bodhisattva was born in a brahmin family. The Bodhisattva was named
Kundalakumara. When he was of age, he went to Taxila for learning and he acquired
there knowledge of all subjects. He returned honie and settled down as a householder.
On the death of his parents, he was the owner of vast treasure. Looking at his pile of
treasure he thought, my kinsmen who amassed this treasure are all gone without
taking it with them. Now it is for me to own it and in my turn to depart. He gave all
his wealth to the virtuous persons that deserved alms giving and entered the
Himalayas. He adopted there the ascetic life. There he dwelt living on wild fruits.
In the forest, no salt is found. Hence, the ascetic has to come in the inhabited parts.
Kundalakumara also descended to the inhabitance for the sake of procuring salt and
made his way to Benares. He took up his abode in the royal park and the next day he
88 Buddhist Religious Studies

came to the door of the commander -in-chief. He being pleased with the ascetic for
the propriety of the Bodhisattva's department, brought him into the house and fed him
with better food. Then the commander-in-chief arranged to take up his abode in the
royal park.
Now one day king Kalabu came to the park surrounded by a company of dancers. The
nautch girls were dancing and singing. The king laid his head on the lap of a favourite
of the harem and fell asleep. On seeing the king fall asleep, the nautch girls cast aside
their lutes and stopped their singing. They began to walk in the park. They in
wandering about came upon the Bodhisattva seated under the Sala tree. Then they
went to him and wished to hear something doctrine. The Bodhisattva preached the
doctrine to them.
The king woke up and not seeing them asked, 'Where are those nautch girls?' The
reply was that they have gone away and are sitting in attendance on Bodhisattva. The
king in a rage seized his sword and went off in haste to the Bodhisattva.
The nautch girls saw the king coming in haste. They pacified him and rescued the
Bodhisattva from the death. The king came and stood by the Bodhisattva and asked,
What doctrine are you preaching?' 'The doctrine of patience, your Majesty', replied
the Bodhisattva.
The king said, 'What is this patience?'
The Bodhisattva said, ' He who is not angry, when men abuse him and strike him and
revile him'. The king said, " I will see now the reality of your patience,' Saying this,
the king summoned the executioner. He in the way of his office took an axe and a
scourge of thorns and attended. The king ordered the executioner, 'Give him two
thousand stripes'.
He began to give the Bodhisattva stripe. The Bodhisattva's outer and inner skins were
cut through to the flesh and the blood flowed. Then the king asked again, 'What
doctrine do you preach monk?' 'The doctrine of patience your Highness,' replied the
Bodhisattva. ' Your fancy that my patience is only skin deep. It is not skin deep, but is
fixed deep with my heart, where it cannot be seen by you, Sir.
The king then ordered the executioner to cut off both the hands. This was done. The
king ordered to cut his feet and his feet were chopped off. Again the king asked the
Bodhisattva, 'Where does the doctrine of patience exist?' He replied, ' It is not there,
but it is deep seated somewhere else'.
Jataka 89

The king said, 'Cut off his nose and ears.' The executioner carried out the order. His
whole body was covered with blood. Again the king asked of his doctrine. The reply
was the same that the patience is not seated in the tips of his nose and ears. It is deep
seated within his heart. The king said, ' Lie down, false monk, and then exalt your
patience'. And so saying, he struck the Bodhisattva above the heart with his foot and
be took himself off.
When the king was gone, the commander-in chief wiped off the blood from the body
of the Bodhisattva, putting bandages on the extremities of his hands, feet, ears and
nose. He uttered the verse gently addressing the Bodhisattva.
Who so cut off thy nose and ear, and chopped off foot and hand, With him be wrath,
heroic soul, but spare, we pray, this land. The Bodhisattva on hearing this uttered the
second stanza : Long live the king whose cruel hand my body thus has maried, Pure
souls like mine such deeds as these with anger never regard.
And just as the king was leaving the garden and at the very moment when he passed out,
of the range of the Bodhisattava's vision, the mighty earth split into two and Avici seized
upon the king. He burnt into ashes in the Avici. The Bodhisattva died on that same day.
The commander-in-chief, other royal personages andthe country men performed the
Bodhisattva's obsequies. After the death, the Bodhisattva went straight to the heaven.
Moral :
The Bodhisattvas sacrificed their lives for the benefit of others without having anger
and hatred.

Multiple Choice Questions
1. Character is greater than the family is the moral of which Jataka?
a. Kalk orni b . Shil mimangsha
c. Khantibadi d. Sujat
2. The necessities of r eading Jatakas is to
i. pass in the e xamination.
ii. acquire religious kno wledge.
iii. now the stories of the Bodhisatba.
90 Buddhist Religious Studies

Which one is corr ect?

a. i b . i and ii
c. i and iii d. ii and iii
Read the passage below and answer questions 3 and 4:
From a sanghadana at a farmers house, Pintu Barua got to know that merit is more
important than beauty. It is not right to comment on someone only by his outer looks.
Everyone likes him who is truthful and does not use any harsh words.
3. What should Pintu Barua do if somebody is harsh-v oiced?
i. He should mak e him understand by giving example of the cuckoo.
ii. He should mak e him understand by giving example of the bird, Nilakantha.
iii. He should leave him to his Karma instead of making him understand
an ything.
Which one is corr ect?
a. i b . ii
c. i and ii d. ii and iii
4. What Pintu Barua needs to be honey-v oiced is
i. ph ysical beauty.
ii. mental control.
iii. religious cansciousness.
Which one is corr ect?
a. i b . ii
c. iii d. ii and iii
Part 2
Creative Questions
Shamols religious teacher taught him about the 547 Jatakas of Buddhist literature in
the class. He explained the story of the kalkorni Jataka very clearly. The moral of the
Jataka is- a friend in need is a friend indeed. In this respect he remembers his friend,
Falaram. One day Falaram saved Shamol from the robber by his intelligence.
a. What do you understand by Jataka?
b . A person is not good by name but by heart. What does it mean?
c. One day F alaram saved Shamol from the robbers. This is an example of
what? Explain.
d. A friend in need is a friend indeed. Justify the proverb.
Buddhist Religious Studies 91


'Thera' is a Pali term. Its Bengali meaning is Sthavir. There are three kinds of Theras,
namely. Jati Thera, Dhamma Thera and Sammati Thera. 1. He who becomes Thera
automatically by old age is Jati Thera, 2. He who is proficient in the knowledge of
Dhamma is Dhamma Thera, 3. He who spent 10 years after Upasampada or ordination
as monk is Sammati Thera. The Bhikkhus constitute these three designations. The
Bhikkhunis are also treated as Theris in the same way.
During the life time of the .Buddha, most of the eminent Theras are also Arhants.
Ananda Thera become Arhant during the first Great Buddhist Council after the Great
Passing away of the Buddha. Before that, he was a Dhamma Thera. An Arhant means
that he has vanquished the enemies. These Theras and Theris have expressed their
views in the gattias attributed to them. These gathas are called Thera-Theri gathas.
These gathas are composed in Pali language. Thera-Theri gathas are included in the
Khuddaka Nikaya of the Sutta Pitaka. These two Scriptures contain the fruits and
happiness of religious lives of the Thera-Theris. Some Theras and Theris have uttered
the gathas about the Jhana and Samadhi. Sometimes they have expressed their rejoice
of religious lives with questions and answers. Apart from this, there are descriptions
of the future of the Buddhasasana and the method to the Nibbana.
The gathas of the Theras and Theris are solemn and poetical. Happiness and sorrows
of their lives have been reflected in the gathas (Verses). These gathas constitute
timeless poetical utterances in Buddhist literature. Gathas reflect the social, religious
and cultural lives of the then ancient India. The usefulness for the study of biographies
of the Thera-Theris is of great importance to us.
The gathas of the Thera-Theris are divided into different Nipatas (canto). Some
Theras have written only one gatha. This is called Ekakanipata. Some others have
composed two or three gathas. These are called Dukanipata or Tikanipata. In this way,
the numbers of Nipatas have gradually increased upto twenty six or more Vangisa
Thera has composed seventy gathas.
The Thera-gatha describes the biographies of 264 Theras where as 1360 total gathas
are included in it. Theri gatha also narrates the biographies of 78 Theris who have
composed 522 gathas.
The gathas of Upali, Sariputta, Moggallayana, Kassapa, Ananda, Sivali Thera etc. are
92 Buddhist Religious Studies

seen in the Thera-gatha. Similarly, among the Theris eminent ones like, Ambapali,
Uppalavanna, Khema, Mahapajapad Gotami, Anopanla, Patacara, Sujata etc. have
composed the Theri-gatha. If we go through these gathas, we come to know about
Buddhism and feel overwhelmed with stories of their sorrows and griefs. We also get
inspiration from them to follow the truth path of salvation.
We find stories of many kings in the Buddhist literature as narrated by Thera, Theris.
These kings, emperors and nobles have contributed much for the propagation of
Buddhism. They have dedicated monasteries to the Buddha and the Bhikkhusangha.
They sent missioneries home and abroad to preach the fundamental teachings of
Buddhism. King Bimbisara and Ajatasattu helped to propagate Buddhism during the
life time of the Buddha. King Binibisara wanted to offer high position to Gautama
Siddhartha at royal palace when He had visited Rajagaha, the captial of Magadha as
an ascetic after His great renunciation. He dedicated Venuvana vihara to the Buddha
and the Bhikkhu Sangha.
The first Buddhist Council was held at Sattapanni cave of Rajagaha under the
patronage of king Ajatasattu. The second Buddhist Council was also convened at
Vesali financed by king Kalasoka, the son of Sisunaga as He was a follower of the
Buddha. It took place one hundred years after the Parinibbana of the Great Teacher.
Thereafter, the emperors of Maurya dynasty contributed much for the development of
Buddhism. We have heard the name of emperor Asoka. He was called 'Mahamati' for
his kindness to all living beings and also for his contribution to Buddhism. The
religious principles of Asoka constituted the main basis of Buddha's teachings. He
sent Buddhist missioneries to Egypt, Syria, Greece etc, in the west and Ceylon
(Srilanka), Burma (Myanmar) and also in the Far East. Milinda; the king of
Afganistan was also a patron of Buddhism. Kaniska, the greatest emperor of
Kushandynasty was devoted to Buddhism. Apart from these, the great kings,
Kumaragupta, Harshavardhan and others have done much for spreading Buddha's
Buddhism also flourished in the age of Pala kings. Gopala, Dharmapala, Devapala,
Mahipala, Rampala, Nayapala etc. the kings of Pala dynasty were the primordial
devotees of the Buddha.
Among the lay-devotees, Anathapindika, Visakha, Jeta etc. sacrificed their lives for
the benefit of Buddhism. We are also familiar with Dharmakirti, Santarakkhita,
Padmasambhava, Atish Dipankar, Abhayankar, Kamalasila, the eminent Bhikkhus of
ancient Bengal. All these kings, emperors, Bhikkhus and lay-devotees dedicated their
Biographies 93

lives for the upliftment of Buddhism. We get inspiration by reading biographies of the
Thera-Theris, kings and lay-devotees who made outstanding contribution to
Buddhism.You will find their bioghaphies in other books also.
Sariputta and Moggallayana Thera
Sariputta and Moggallayana are the two most outstanding monks. Both of them were
the two presiding Theras among the disciples of the Buddha. Sariputta would sit by
the right hand and Moggallayana by the left hand of the Buddha. Hence, they are as
the right hand and left hand disciples of the Great master. Sariputta by knowledge and
Moggallayana by psychic power were the best of all the Theras. Again, Aggasavaka
Sariputta was called; Dhammasenapati and Moggallayana was popular as
Sariputta was born not far from Rajagaha near the township of Upatissa.of Rupasari
brahmani and on the same day Moggallayana was born near Rajagaha at the township
of Kolita, of Moggali brahmani. Both were sons of the head of his family. The first
one was named Upatissa, the second one Kolita. As the first one was the son of
Rupasari, he was called Sariputta and as the second one was the son of Moggali, he
was addressed as Moggallayana. Both the boys were, reared in luxury and excelled in
all accomplishments. They had immense wealth.
One day they went to witness a drama near a place in Rajagaha and they had the
feeling of renunciation. They left the chariot and went to wonderer Sanjaya
Velatthiputta. They took Ordination before him. Within a short time, they learnt all the
teachings of Sanjaya. They asked the Guru whether he had known the way to ultimate
salvation. They wanted to know the path of emancipation so that they would not have
to undergo birth, sorrow and death. Sanjaya kept silent about this question. Then the
two friends took permission of the Guru and went out to seek the path of salvation.
At that time, the Buddha after preaching the Dhammacakra Pavattana at Sarnath, were
residing in theVenuvana vihara of Rajagriha. One day Assajit, a disciple of the Buddha
went out for alms. Sariputta was highly attracted on seeing him and he went before
Assajit and asked him, 'Venerable Sir, who is your preceptor? What is his norm?'
Assajit replied : The Sammasambuddha Mahasamana of the Sakya clan is my
preceptor. In relation to the norm, he quoted Buddha as having said, 'There is cause
behind everything in the world. Nothing originates without cause. There is cessation
to the cause. This is to say, there is the Truth of suffering, the Origin of suffering, the
Extinction of suffering, the Path leading to suffering. So the Buddha is Nibbanavadi
(Preacher of Emancipation).
94 Buddhist Religious Studies

Sariputta attained the fruition of Sotapatti (stream of path) after hearing the gist of
Buddha's teaching. He uttered the same verse to his friend Moggallayana. At this
Moggallayana also attained the fruition of Sotapatti. Then Moggallayana said to
Sariputta, 'Friend, 'let us go to the Buddha.'
Before leaving both of them went to their previous teacher Sanjaya. Because they
decided to go to the Buddha with their previous teacher. But Sanjaya said to them,
''You go to the Tathagata, I shall not go''. Sanjaya did not agree to go to the Buddha.
Seeing this most of the disciples of Sanjaya left him and left to meet the Buddha.
Sanjaya could not tolerate the situation. He was overwhelmed with sorrow, vomitted
blood and died.
Sariputta and Moggallayana with their retinue s proceeded towards Rajagaha at
Venuvana vihara. The Buddha understood the fact seeing Sariputta and Moggallayana
at distance. He addressed them,' Ahi Bhikkhu' and ordained them. Afterwards all other
wanderers became ordained and attained the fruition of Arhatship except Sariputta and
Sariputta and Moggallayana were the best of all the disciples of the Buddha. But yet
why did they attain the fruition of Arhatship at delay? Suppose, if the public wish to
go elsewhere they can easily be ready. In case of the kings, it takes time for readiness.
Same illustration is applicable to Sariputta and Moggallayana. There by the Venerable
Moggallaiyana on the seventh day and Sariputta on the 15th day attained the highest
sanctification of Arhatship after their Ordination.
The wisdom of Sariputta was extraordinary. He would explain the summarized
teachings of the Buddha elaborately in simple and lucid language. His main thinking
is that, Man is mortal. Man can die at any moment. For, it is good to be always ready
for death. It is improper to meet extinction amidst limitless sufferings. It is wise to
utilize the opportunity. For it is hard to regain an opportunity when it is lost.
Moggallayana Thera was in possession of extra-ordinary psychic power. He would
preach the doctrine by flying all over heaven, earth and hell. He would describe the
painful condition of the hell when he had come back from it. In the same way, he
would praise the beauties of the heaven when he had descended from the heaven.
Hence his instructions were always attractive. One day the two disciples went to the
Avici Hell to see the condition of Devadatta. When they returned from the Avici and
had narrated the painful condition of Devadatta, his followers were angry and
conspired to murder Sariputta and Moggallayana.
King Ajatasattu hearing the news, imprisoned the conspirators. Afterwards, the king
Biographies 95

raised the question to Moggallayana, 'You are an influential Arhat. Why are you not
able to protect your life'?' In reply to the question, Moggallayana said' O king I can
protect my life easily from the grip of the foe but I have to give up my life within a
week for the consequence of previous ill deeds. I have given troubles to my parents in
the former birth for which I have to suffer.' Saying this he had shown psychic power.
In the seventh day of this incident, he passed away to Nibbana while staying at the
Kalasela forest. The Buddha ordered His disciples to preserve, the remains of
Moggllayana to the east of Venuvana vihara.
Sariputta went to the complete extinction, that is, Nibbana at his own native villages
house in the full-moon day of Kattika when the sun was rising. There are six gathas of
his own in the Thera-gatha. Their cremation was done in a befitting manner.
Anathapindika, the treasurer built a stupa at Savatthi on the remains of Sariputta with
the permission of the Buddha.
These two foremost disciples are in preaching the Buddha's doctrine for a long time.
Theri Khema
Khema was the first wife of king Bimbisara. She was exquisitely beautiful with skin
as bright as gold. She was born at Sagala of Magadha. Known as Khema, she was
proud of her physical beauty.
Once the Buddha was living in the Venuvana vihara of Rajagriha. At that time all went
to meet the Buddha and pay homage to Him. But Khema did not go because of pride
of her beauty. Khema thought that Buddha would look down upon her pride of beauty
and she would then be unable to stand her denunciation by the Buddha. With this
thought she did not want to meet the Buddha. The king then asked all to go to the
Garden and eloquently praise beauty of Khema. The order of the king was obeyed and
all praised the beauty of Khema. Only then Khema agreed to visit the Buddha.
When Khema went to the Buddha, He understood everything and created a
supernatural scene. The Buddha by mystic potency, conjured up a woman like a
celestial nymph, who stood fanning Him with a palm-leaf. Khema, seeing her, thought
: Verily the Exalted One has around Him a woman as lovely as goddess, I am not fit
even to wait upon such. I am undone by base and mistaken notions.
Then as she looked, at that woman stead fast then according to wishes of the Master
that nymph passed from youth to middle age and old age, till with broken teeth, gray
hair and wrinkled skin. She fell to earth with her palm-leaf. Then Khema, thought;
Has such a body come to be a wreck like that? Then so will my body be also ! And the
Master, knowing her thoughts said, They who are slaves to lust drift down the stream,
96 Buddhist Religious Studies

Like to a spider gliding down the web, They who are released from all bondage and
attain best virtue Forsake the world, and refrain from Pleasure of enjoyment.
Just as the Buddha had finished the verse, Khema attained Arhatship, together with
thorough grasp of the norm in form and meaning. She understood the impermanence
of the body and was determined to renounce the world. With the consent of king
Bimbisara, she entered as a member of the Order of Nun (Bhikkhunisangha). There
after she became known for her great insight and ranked foremost here in by the
Exalted One, seat in the conclave of Aryans at the Jetavana vihara. She acquired
admiration from all the members about the Dhamma-Vinaya. The Buddha ranked her
As she sat one day in siesta under a tree, Mara the Evil one, in youthful shape, drew
near, tempting her with sensuous ideas. Theri-Khema composed verses about this
incident. These verses were known as the gathas of Theri Khema. These gathas are
described in six verses. The first verse was uttered by Mara-in the following sense -
1. Thou are fair and life is young, beautious Khema! I am young, even. I, too-come,
O fairest lady! While in our ear five fold harmonies murmur melodious, seek we
our pleasure. The following verses were uttered and composed by Theri Khema
in the following sense :
2. Through this body vile, foul seat of disease and corruption, Loathing I feel, and
oppression. Cravings of lust are uprooted.
3. Lust of the body and sense mind cut like daggers and javelins. Speak not to me of
delighting in aught of sensuous and pleasure! Verily all such vanities now no
more may delight me.
4. Slain on all sides is the love of the world, the flesh and the devil. Rent asunder the
gloom of ignorance once that beset me. Know this, O Evil one! Destroyer, know
thyself worsted.
5. Lo! ye who blindly worship constellations of heaven, ye who fostering fire in cool
grove, wait upon Agni lgnorant are ye all, ye foolish and young of the real,
deeming ye thus might find purification from evil.
6. Lo I as for me, I worship the Enlightened, the uttermost Human, utterly free from
all sorrow, doer of Buddha's commandment.
At this Mara returned to his destination duly defeated by Theri Khema.
Khema practised ardously during the lives of previous births. Her practices of worship
for Arhatship may be described briefly here :
Biographies 97

She, when Padumuttara was Buddha, became a slave to others, dependent for her
livelihood on the others at Hansavati. One day seeing Sujata seeking alms, she gave
him three sweet cakes respectfully and prayed saying;
'May I in the future life become a disciple of a Buddha? '
After many fortunate rebirths as both gods and men, she became a human when
Vipassi was Buddha. Renouncing the world, she became a learned preacher of the
Norm. Reborn, when Kakusandhst was Buddhah, in a wealthy family. She made a
great park for the order and delivered it over to the order of monks with the Buddha at
their head. She did this again when Konagamana was Buddha. When Kassapa was
Buddha she became the eldest daughter of king Kikir, named Samoni lived a pious life
and gave a cell to the order. Finally, at the time of Gautama Buddha she was born in
the royal family of Magadha.
The chronicles of former births of Their Khema attracts us.
At the time of the present Buddha, there lived a treasurer named Mendaka in the city
of Vaddiya. He had a son named Dhananjaya and the name of his son's wife was
Sumanadevi. They had a daughter whose name was Visakha. When Visakha was seven
years old, one day the Buddha came to the Vaddiya city. Treasurer Mendak ordered
Visakha with her five hundred companies to serve the Buddha. The Enlightened One
was highly pleased at this. The Master gave her some meaningful admonitions.
Visakha was attracted to the Buddha on hearing the counsels.
There lived at Savatthi a treasurer Migara, who had a grown up son named Punna
Vaddhana. Vistjkha was married to Punna Vaddhana. Visakha's father sent her
bridegroom's house accompanied by slaves, cows, chariots, invaluable gems and
jewels. When it was time for Visakha to depart, her father enjoined upon her the
observance of ten injunctions. These are still recited in the marriage ceremony. Some
of the injunctions are as follows :
1. The indoor fire is not to be carried outside. It means that a wife must say nothing
about the faults of her father-in- law or husband.
2. The outdoor fire is not to be carried inside. It means that a wife must not tell her
father-in-law or husband anything ill she hears of them.
3. Give only to him that gives. It means that one should give only to those that return
borrowed articles.
4. Give not to him that gives not. It means that one should not give to those that do
not return borrowed money.
98 Buddhist Religious Studies

5. Give both to him that give and to him that gives not. It means that when poor folk
seek assistance, one should give to them, whether they are able to repay or not.

6. Eat happily. It means that a wife must not eat until she has served her husband
and his parents.

Treasurer Migara observed his son's wedding ceremony for seven days. Then Visakha
was fifteen years old. Emperor. Pasenadi Kosala wits present in marriage ceremony
with his armed forces.

Treasurer Migara was the worshipper of the heretical teachers (Nigganthas). One day
he brought Visakha before his preceptor at the time of worship. Visakha was ashamed
of the fact when she saw the naked ascetic. The heretical teacher understood the
thought of Visakha and said, 'This woman is the follower of Gautama Buddha and let
her be out of the house. If it is not done you will be destroyed.

One day an Arhat came to treasurer Migara's house for alms. Visakha said to him
:`Reverend Sir, please go to other house, my father-in-law has been taking washed
rneal.' Migara became angry with Visakha and said to her, 'Go away from this house'.
Visakha said in reply, 'I am not a bond-maid servant so that you may easily drive me
out. My father had engaged eight respectful persons to protect me in case of any
problem. I shall go away to my father's house if they found me guilty.' Thiss was duly
informed to them and when they reached, Visakha said to them,' My father- in law-
has been taking washed meal; it means that he has been endowed with the previous
merit for which it happens so'. Visakha was in favour of the judgernent.

Another incident had taken place. One day at night Visakha went out with the lamp to
nurse the delivery of a mare. Then Migara on recollecting the first injunction given
toVisakha by her father, said to her: 'Did your father not tell you to carry the indoor
fire outside? 'Visakha replied, 'Yes, my father did so. According to his advice, I have
said nothing about the fault of my father-in-law or husband outside'. In this
connection, she explained all the injunctions to her father-in-law. Treasurer Migara
understood his faults.

As Migara was disposed to favour the naked ascetics and in his house Visakha missed
the Buddhist atmosphere to which she had been accustomed in her house, was ready
to go away to her father's house. Treasurer Migara confessed his faults and requested
her to stay in his house. Then Visakha said, "You are devoted to the naked ascetic, I
am the worshipper of Triratna. If you give me permission to donate and hear the
Biographies 99

Buddha's doctrine, I can stay here''. Migara agreed to it.

After a few days, the Buddha came to stay at Jetavana vihara of Savatthi. Visakha
asked permision to invite Him and His fraternity to the house. Punna Vaddhana, her
husband, did not refuse her request. She accordingly received them the next day and
sent word twice to her father-in-law to come and hear the Buddha's exposition of the
Norm, Migara consented. 'the naked ascetics, whose doctrine he also had hitherto
believed in asked him to hear exposition of the Dhamma from behind the curtain. The
naked ascetics thought that the Buddha had magical power and under the spell of the
magic He would impress treasurer Migara and convert him as His disciple.
So the Treasurer Migara sat behind the curtain. Buddha then addressed the Treasurer
and said, 'Wherever you may sit whether behind the curtain or behind the wall or hill
or even behind the horizon , my words will reach there'. Saying this the Buddha began
His exposition of the Dhamma. Hearing the exposition he attained the fruition of
Sotapatti. Migara was delighted with joy and said to Visakha in front of the Buddha ;
'Mother, you has rescued me as a son and from this day forth you are my rnother'. For
this Visakha is referred to as 'Migara's mother' as she converted her father-in-law to
Buddhism. Treasurer Migara spent forty crores coins for the dissemination of
Buddhism. Doors were hence forth kept open at their house for the Buddha and His
Visakha would go to Jetavana vihara thrice daily.with food, garland and incense for
the Buddha. She was granted eight boons by the Buddha. These are
1. To inform her when guest Bhikkhus come to the Buddha. She would arrange their
food and lodge:
2. To feed five hundred Bhikkhus daily as long as she lives.
3. To arrange the treatment of the sick Bhikkhus.
4. To provide food, clothes and shelter to the Bhikkhus staying at the Jetavana vihara.
5. To supply medicine to the Bhikkhus at Jetavana vihara.
6. To donate five hundred robes to the Bhikkhus during rainy season.
7. To take share of her supplied food by the Buddha Himself.
8. To give Kandupaticchadana (Coverage to the affected Bhikkhus with itch) to 500
hundred Bhikkhus.
Visakha had ten sons and ten daughters. Each of them had ten children. All of them
were happy with strength and resources. It is said that Visakha was strong so as to
100 Buddhist Religious Studies

defeat the drunken elephant. She set up a monastery called Pubbarama at her ripe age
after selling all her ornaments. She dedicated the monastery to the Buddha and His
disciples. She became famous as Mahaupasika the chief of the female lay devotees.
Bimbisara was the famous king of Magadha. At the time of the Buddha, Magadha was
the best kingdom among the sixteen Mahajanapadas. It was a prosperous kingdom.
Rajagriha was the capital. Bimbisara became king at the age of 16. He became
Upasaka of the Buddha at his age of 29 and made efforts for progress and
development of Buddhism in various ways for 36 years. He attained the fruition of
Arhathood after hearing the discourses of the Buddha. He lost his kingdom to his son
Ajatasattu when Buddha was 72. After sometime, he attained Nirbana at the age of 65.
The Buddha after His Enlightenment preached His first sermon at Sarnath and
afterwards, He went to Bimbisara, the king of Magadha. The king received Him with
honour. The Master delivered to him the discourses of Dana (Charity), Sila JPrecept)
and Saggakatha (The topic of Heaven). He also explained the four Noble Truths and
the Eightfold path ; Bimbisara was converted into Buddha's Faith with his retinue. He
became the chief lay-devotee of the Buddha. At his request, the Buddha introduced so
many Vinaya's rules when He was staying at Venuvana vihara.
The wayfarers of other religions would generally observe the Uposatha day in the
week and the Fortnight. At this, the king requested the Buddha to make Uposatha day
compulsory for His disciples. The Buddha accepted his request and framed the rules
for the same. Famous physician Jivaka.was physician of Bimbisara. He treated the
Buddha and the Bhikkhu Sangha at the order of the king.
Bimbisara's father was Bhattiya or Mahapadma. King Mahapadma was defeated in a
battle by Brahmadatta, the king of Anga. Bimbisara ascended the throne after his
father's death. He defeated the king of Anga and restored the lost territory. The
foundation of Magadha Empire was laid by this victory. Present day East Bihar was
the then Anga kingdom.
Bimbisara established marital relationship with the royal dynasties of Madra, Kosala
and Vaisali. This helped in the extension of his empire. He sent Emissary to the
kingdoms of Gandhara. This led to establishment of friendly relations between the
two countries. He established friendship with Pradyot, the king of Avanti. He attained
a village in Kashi through his wife belonging to Kosala dynasty. He earned a lot of
revenue from that village. His kingdom of Magadha extended upto north-western
Nepal as a result of his marital relationship with royal family of Vaisali. He built up
Biographies 101

the ancient city of Rajagriha whose remains still exist. Nalanda is situated not far from
He was an able administrator and alwavs thought of the welfare of his subjects.
Capital Rajagriha was surrounded by five hills. Stone walls surrounded his palace and
the ruins are still existing. The land of this kingdom was very fertile. The river Shona
mingled with the Ganga near Patna flowed through this kingdom.
His army had great experience in the art of warfare. He used elephants in battles and
so winning was quite easy for him. From his time, small kingdoms were led into big
kingdom, slowly monarchy emerged in place of a previous system when king was
elected by the puple. After Bimbisara his son became king.
Ajatasattu imprisoned his father and kept him under starvation. Only his queen, could
see him and she used to carry food stealthily to the prison every day and kept him
alive. Ajatasattu stopped taking the food to prison stealthily by the queen. At last,
Bimbisara attained Nibbana inside the prison. He erected and donated the Venuvana
vihara to the Buddha and His Sangha. In that place, at present a new vihara has been
constructed which is also named the same.
Prasenjit was the king of Kosala and son of Mahakosala. 'Pasenadi' is the Pali
translation. He was the famous king of Kosala kingdom and contemporary of Buddha.
Bimbisara, the king of Magadha, Chandra Pradyut, the ruler of Ujjayani and the
Buddha Himself were of the same age. When Prasenjit went to meet the Master at
Jetavana of Savatthi, He preached him the exposition of the Norm about the bad and
good effects of action. The king was pleased on hearing the religious doctrine and
became a follower of the Buddha. He helped in the propagation of Buddhism. From
time to time he took advice from the Buddha to maintain his family and religious life.
He gave an offering of vihara to the Sangha at Savatthi.
Bimbisara, the king of Magadha married the sister of Prasenjit. He got Savatthi as a
token of dowry. Later, when Bimbisara was imprisoned by his son Ajatasattu and died
there,; Savatti was taken back. In this connection there arose a war between Prasenjit
and his nephew Ajatasattu. In this war Prasenjit was defeated. On his return to his
capital, he got married with Mallika, a beautiful daughter of a gardener. Prasenjit
placed her as the chief queen. She was known in the Buddhist literature as Kosala
King Prasenjit wanted to marry a daughter of Sakya clan and sent an envoy there.
Sakyas never establish marital relationship with any one other than their own clan.
102 Buddhist Religious Studies

They however understood that the Sakyas may face danger if they do not accept
proposal of a powerful king like Prasenjit. Hence Sakyas sought to tackle the situation
through trickery. At that time king Suddhodana already died. His nephew Mahanam
was then the king of Sakyas. Vasabhakshatriya, daughter of Mahanam was born in the
womb of slave Nagmunda. He gave her in marriage to Prasenjit. A son was born to
Vasabhakshatriya, who was named Vidudabha. At that point the trickery of Sakya was
found out. The Sakya insulted, Vidudabha as the son of slave. Vidudabha then was
seeking opportunity to take revenge of this insult. He dethroned Prasenjit with the help
of commander-in-chief of Kosala. Prasenjit fled to Sravasti and died within a short
time. Then Vidudabha attacked Kapilavastu and exterminated the Sakyas. But on
conclusion of the battle while returning home he was killed along with his army in a
deluge of water.
Kosala was a very prosperous kingdom during the time of king Prasenjit. Sravasti was
the capital of Kosala. This was a main centre of pilgrimage for the Buddhists.
Prasenjit built the Rajakarani vihara in Jetavana of Sravasti. He built a guest house
here at the request of Mallika Devi, the principal queen. 'This is known as
Maltikaram. Buddha used to preach His sermon here. There was deep forest named
Anjan forest not far from Sravasti. King Prasenjit used to go on hunting there. A
disciple of the Buddha, Gabampati used to live here. Theri Sujata heard the discoursed
the Buddha here and attained Arhatship.
Prasenjit was a charitable king. One day he invited the Buddha along with His five
hundred discipies at Jetavana. Then he invited the citizens and told them, 'Look here
at my Dana'. The citizens witnessed the king having made Dana. Then the citizens
also invited the Buddha with His disciples and invited the king to witness their Dana.
Having witnessed this, the king thought my subjects have made greater Dana than me.
Then the king decided to arrange Maha Dana. In this way the king and the subjects
were engaged in a competition for Dana. Every time the king was defeated and
thought he could never make Dana like his subjects.
Having learnt this, queen Mallika organised a big Dana. the king distributed the
materials of Dana in his own hand. He made salutation to the Buddha and said, ' I
have made gift of all objects for your use during this Dana? A total amount of
fourteen crore currency was spent for this from the royal treasury.
King Prasenjit was engaged in war with Ajatasatru for the village Kashi. Prasenjit was
defeated thrice in the face-to-face battle. Then he thought, 'I have been defeated thrice
in my battle with a young person. These words of shame spread in all directions.
Hearing this the Buddha said, The person who wins makes more-enemies. He who is
defeated suffer more. But he wins more than victory and defeat can enjoy peace!
Biographies 103

King Prasenjit once went to the Buddha and said, Reverend, I used to suffer earlier
for over eating. I am happy now with moderate eating. Earlier I was engaged in battle
with my nephew Ajatasatru. Now I have given my daughter Vajira in marriage with
him. I have presented him the village Kashi as dowry. Now I have no quarrel with
Ajatasatru. I lost my gem symbolic of glory of my kingdom. Now I have regained it.
For these reasons I am very happy'. Saying this the king of Kosala recited a verse of
the Buddha,
Arogya parama labha, santutthi paramam Dhanam,
Vissasa parama nati, Nibbanam paramam sukham.
Which means, the greatest gain is recovery, the greatest wealth is contentment,
confidence is the greatest kinsman and Nibbana is the highest bliss.


Multiple Choice Questions

1. Who was the chief disciple of Lord Buddha?
a. Shariputra b . Moudg allyan
c. Upali d. Ananda
2. Bisakha said, My father-in-law is having stale meals. The reason why she
said this is
a. not to donate an ything to the vikkhus.
b . she tried to mak e the father in law religious.
c. to let the vikkhu go a way.
d. to hurt the f ather in law.
Read the text below and answer questions 3 and 4.
Mr. Samar Sinha discussed many beautiful life stories in the religious classes of
Bipradas. Thus Bipradas understood Khemas being proud of her false youthful beauty.
3. Bipradas can achie ve Arhat
i. by controlling enemy .
ii. by being excited with the five types of the sound of the trumpet.
iii. by meditation.
104 Buddhist Religious Studies

Which one is corr ect?

a. i b . ii
c. i and ii d. ii and iii

4. What do y ou learn from Khemas of being a nun?

a. the temporariness of life. b . life is enjo yable.
c. life is painful. d. life is to achie ve God.

Part 2

Creative Questions
Bisakha was given pieces by her father at the him of her going to her father-in-laws
house. Bisakha reminded Mollika Rani of those pieces of advice before the letters
marriage. She also asked Mollika to obey all those. These are obligatory for every
housewife to achieve happiness, peace and compliments. For example, Worship
elderly persons as gods.

a. What is the name of the husband of Bisakha?

b . Explain the first advice of the father of Bisakha.
c. How can Mollika Rani use the principles and ideology of Bisakha in her life?
d. Worship the elderly persons as gods. Do you agree with it? Justify your
Buddhist Religious Studies 105

Commentaries on the Tripitaka written in Pali language are called Attakatha. You
know that Tripitaka is divided, into three parts which are a collection of many books.
The Tripitaka has not yet been translated into Bengali entirely. The London Pali Text
Society has published only 31 volumes. The book is vast and so many issues are
included there that it is difficult to complete its reading. Explanations and
interpretations of many suttas of Tripitaka are also essential.
After compilation of the Tripitaka, many Buddhist philosophers, scholars and saints
were born in different ages. They have made studies of the Tripitaka in all its depth
and have discovered many aspects of the suttas. They were conversant with various
complicated issues of Dhamma, Vinaya and Philosophy. They felt that those issues
call for further detailed analysis in a new way. Books written on explanation and
analysis of these issues are called Attakatha. It is a Pali word meaning Arthakatha in
No new philosophy is written in Attakatha but it explains meaningfully various
subjects or issues contained in the Tripitaka. The main purpose of Attakatha is to
explain complicated subjects of the Tripitaka. Many issues are cleraly understood
after reading Attakatha or its interpretations.
Among persons who became famous by writing Attakatha, the names of
Buddhaghosh, Buddhadatta and Dharmapal should first be mentioned. Buddhadatta is
the oldest among them and most celebrated commentator. His works are as follows :
1. Uttara viniccaya, 2.Vinaya viniccaya, 3. Abhidhammavatara, 4. Ruparupa Vibhaga
and 5. Madhurattha Vilasini.
The Vinaya viniccaya has explained Vinaya in lucid and brief manner.
Abhidhammavatara has made simple and brief interpretations of Abhidhamma. He has
collected materials of his books from the Mahavamsa of Ceylon. For this reason
Visuddhimagga written in Ceylon and Buddhadatta's Abhidhammavatara are almost
similar. But Buddhadatta has made outstanding contribution to the teaching as well as
study of Abhidhamma. That is why he enjoys high esteem among the Buddhists
following Theravada school. He was born in South India and was a poet.
The name of Buddhaghose is memorable for ever in Pali literature. His dexterity in
interpreting the complicated subjects of the Abhidhamma has made them easy to
106 Buddhist Religious Studies

understand readers are not tired of reading his books.

Buddhaghose was born somewhere in a village near Buddhagaya. He was an
extraordinary scholar. He has written an analytical book named 'Attasalini', based on
Dharmasanghini. He went to Ceylon or present-day Srilanka where he studied
Tripitaka and Attakatha. He rendered in Pali the entire Attakathas written in Sinhalese.
He wrote a vast book named Visuddhimagga based on interpretation of a single
sloka or verse. After writing this book, he was permitted to translate books written in
Sinhalese. Buddhadatta and Buddhaghose were contemporary and both went to
Ceylon during the reign of king Accutavikkanta. They wrote a number of other books
besides Attakatha. Both were poets and made outstanding contribution in the
development of Buddhist literature.
The Attakathas include life of the Buddha, preaching of His religion, various events of
Buddha's contemporary time, historical events and story of kings and monarchs. For
this Attakatha occupies a very important place in Buddhism and Buddhist literature.
There are many Attakathas known as Dhammapada Attakatha, Udana Attakatha,
Vimana Vatthu Attakatha, Yamakappakarana Attakatha etc. Attakatha attracts attention
of readers more for their simple and lucid interpretation than even Tripitaka. The
stories are pleasant and easy reading. They are composed in easy, simple and
attractive language like Jatakas. Here some of the stories of Attakatha are narrated.
Buddha and Nanda
Nanda was the son of Mahapajapati Gotami, the step mother of Siddhartha Gautama.
King Suddhodana was his father. Nanda was beautiful and energetic. So he was called
Sundarnanda. It is said that after the expiry of queen Mahamaya, mother of
Siddhartha, Mahapajapati Gotami took the responsibility of bringing up Siddhartha
after handing her son Nanda to the foster mother.
Tathagata Buddha was staying at Venuvana vihara of Rajgir. King Suddhodana
hearing the news sent ten envoys to Buddha to take Him to Kapilavastu. Each envoy
had thousand inmates, all of them took ordination to the Buddha. At last the king
deputed his chief priest's son Kaludaye. Kaludaye and his companions went to the
Buddha and after listening to His teachings, developed faith and in due course with
proper exertion, attained Arhathood. Kaludaye communicated to Him (Buddha) the
wishes of the king. The invitation was accepted by the Buddha. He went to
Kapilavastu with twenty thousand Arhats. After reaching there he initiated king
Suddhodana into Saddharma.
Attakatha 107

At that time Prince Nanda, the son of queen Mahapajapati Gotami, was celebrating
his consecration, marriage and house-warming ceremonies. On the occasion of these
three festivals when congratulations were being offered to the prince, the Buddha
visited the palace. The Buddha delivered religious discourses and handed over
begging bowl to Nanda. The prince followed Him thinking that the Buddha would
take the bowl from him at any moment. But the Buddha would not take it and Nanda
out of reverence for Him followed the Master.
Janapada Kalyani, to whom he was betrothed, hearing that the prince Nanda was
following the Buddha with bowl in hand, with dishevelled hair ran after Nanda and
said to him, 'Return quickly, O noble lord'. These affectionate words touched him and
he was deeply moved. But Nanda could not return the bowl to the Buddha. So he
accompanied the Great teacher to the park. On arrival there the Buddha questioned
Nanda whether he would become a Bhikkhu. So great was his reverence to the
Buddha that with reluctance, he agreed to be admitted into the Sangha.
But Nanda enjoyed no spiritual happiness. He was constantly thinking of his bride. He
with his mental troubles said to the Bhikkhus : 'Brethren, I am not satisfied. I am now
living religious life but I can not continue any longer. I intend to abandon the higher
ordination and return to the household life'.
Hearing this the Buddha thought that Nanda was worried about his bride. The used
psychic powers Buddha devised a means to set him on the true path. With the object
of showing him celestial nymphs, the Buddha and took him to the Tavatimsa Heaven.
On the way Nanda was shown.a single she-monkey who had lost her ears, nose and
tail in a fire, climbing to a burntupstump in a scorched field. Reaching heaven, the
Buddha showed him celestial nymph, and asked him, 'Nanda, which do you prefer as
being the more beautiful and fair to look upon and handsome your wife Janapada
Kalyani or the celestial nymphs''
'Reverend Sir, Janapada Kalyani is like the single monkey when compared to those
celestial nymphs, who are definitely more beautiful and fair'. The Buddha said :'If you
wish to enjoy the exquisitely beautiful celestial nymphs, then observe the precepts
with diligence. Practise abstinence. Observe the Dhamma'.
Trusting words of the Buddha, Nanda said he would strictly observe abstinence in
order to attain the nymphs. Then the Buddha took him to Jetavana. Monks came to
know that Nanda was observing abstinence in order to attain the nymphs. They began
to ridicule him. Ashamed of ridicules, Nanda engaged himself in more austere
meditation. Sthavir Ananda came to know the real matter and told Nanda, 'Your mind
108 Buddhist Religious Studies

is burning with lust. You are physically observing abstinence but in the heart of your
heart, You are not a Brahmachari. With cravings in the mind one cannot succeed in
meditation. You will face death with unfulfilled cravings. If you want to observe real
abstinence, then you will have to free your mind from cravings.
Nanda was charmed to hear this advice. Nanda woke up in real consciousness. He
could know himself and a great change occured in him. He plunged himself in deep
meditation. Slowly his cravings came to an end. His mind was filled with tranquility.
As a Kshatriya king returns to the capital with exceeding joy in heart after defeating
thousand enemies, so the first morning of Arhanthood was shown in the life of
He emerged from his seat of meditation with it tranquil mind. A celestial halo
surrounded his entire body. That very morning he stood before the Tathagata. Sthavir
Nanda made salutation to the Buddha and said, 'Reverend Sir, all my attachments have
vanished. I have realised the futility of the world, I have attained Arhanthood, My
cravings have been destroyed. I am now free from sorrow'. The Buddha found that as
the sun illuminates morning sky by dispelling darkness of the night, so the darkness of
Nandas mind has vanished. With a calm voice He told Nanda : You are a victor now.
You have controlled your senses with great care'.
The Buddha then uttered the following gathas to inform Nanda's attainment of
Arhatship to the Bhikkhus :
1. Yathagaram ducchannam Vutthi samativijjhati,
evam abhavitam cittam rago samativijjhati
2. Yathagaram succhannam Vutthi na samativijjhati,
evam subhavitam cittam rago na samativijjhati.
English rendering :
1. Even as rain penetrates an ill-thatched house, so does lust penetrate an
undeveloped mind.
2. Even as rain does not penetrate a well-thatched house, so does lust not penetrate a
well-developed mind.
As soon as the Buddha completed recitations of the gatha, many Bhikkhus and lay
disciples attained the fruition of Sotapatti. Then the Bhikkhus said that the Buddha's
have miraculous power. The Master made him forget Janapada Kalyani turning him to
for celestial nymphs.
Attakatha 109

Moral :
To attain the Nibbana, one has to destroy craving.
Annihilation of Sakyas
Treasurer Anathapindika of Sravasti would arrange meal every day for hundred
monks. Same arrangement took place in the houses of Visakha, the great female
devotee and king Pasenadi Kosala (kailg Praserljit): As there was no faithful devotee
in the palace of king Prasenjit, so the monks did not take meal in the king's palace.
They begged alms from his palace and eat meal in the Vihara of Anathapindika or in
the Arama of Visakha.
One day nutritious and delicious food was cooked in the palace. King Prasenjit
ordered the servants to offer the best food to the Sangha. But the servants informed
the king that there was no monk in the dinning hall. The king was informed of the fact
that the monks had taken the meal from the palace and finished them in the faithful
devotee's houses or in some other monasteries.
Hearing this the king went to the Buddha at Jetavana and saluted him saying,
'Venerable Sir, how does the feeding earn the best virtue?'
The Buddha replied, 'O king, the feeding becomes the best by virtue of faith, whatever
the faithful devotee offers the gift, he is worthy of admiration. King Prasenjit said, 'To
whom the Bhikkhus have confidence'?'
The Buddha said, 'O king, the Bhikkhus have confidence on their relatives or to the
Sakya clan'.
The king thought he would marry a Sakyakumari and place her as the chief queen.
Then the Bhikkhus will consider him as a relation. Thinking so, he saluted the Buddha
and returned to the palace. He sent an envoy to Kapilavastu with the message that he
would like to marry a Sakyakumari and make her the Chief queen.
The Sakyas after hearing message from the envoy sat for consultation. One Sakya
said, 'We are subservient to the order of Prasenjit, the king of Kosala. If we do not
give a daughter in marriage with him, then we shall have great enmity with him. But if
we agree to the marriage, our pride of clan will be adversely affected. `Then
Mahanam, the king of Sakyas said, 'Do not have worries. My daughter
Vasabhakshatriya was born to slave Nagmunda. She is now a beautiful girl of sixteen.
From my side she is the daughter of Kshatriya. I shall hand her over to Kosala king as
a Kshatriya daughter'. The Sakyas agreed with him and approved his proposal.
Calling the envoy, the king said, 'I shall hand over my daughter. Please take her today.'
The envoys thought, the Sakyas are very proud 'of superiority of their clan. They do
110 Buddhist Religious Studies

not establish marital relationship with others. They may hand over some one else
calling her a Sakya daughter. We shall take one who eats with them in the same row.
They do not eat with anyone who does not belong to their clan. The envoys told them,
'We shall take such daughter who eats with you together in same row'.
Then the Sakyas hatched a conspiracy and sat for another secret consultation among
themselves. Mahanam Sakya said: There is nothing for you to worry, I have devised a
plan. When I shall sit for eating, you will bring to me Vasabhakshatriya adorned with
the best dress. When I shall take one morsel of food, you will bring a letter a false one
and teIl me, 'Please look at this letter from such and such king'. Then you will hand
over the letter in my hand'.
While eating infront of the envoys Mahanam said, 'Please bring my daughter and she
will have food with me'.
They made a little delay to bring Vasabhakshatriya. She sat down with her father to
eat. Mahanam took a morsel of rice and put in his mouth. Before he could take the
second morsel, a Sakya brought a letter and said, 'Such and such king has addressed
you a letter. Please have look'. Saying this he gave the letter. Then Mahanam saying,
'Mother, please go on eating' placed his right hand on the plate and started reading the
letter placing it on left hand. Having read this letter, he was planning to write answers.
Meanwhile Vasabhakshatriya finished her eating. Then Mahanam pretended that he
has also finished eating and get up for washing. At this the envoys thought she must
be the daughter of Mahanam. But they could not understand the inside plan. The king
sent away his daughter to the kingdom in great pomp and splendour. King Prasenjit
was delighted to marry her and made her the chief queen.
Vasabhakshatriya became very favourite to the king. Once she gave birth to a beautiful
son. To name the child, the king sent a minister to his grandmother asking her to give
him a suitable name. The Minister who went to her was somewhat short of' hearing.
The grandmother of the king said, Vasabhakshatriya, won the hearts of all before the
birth of the child and she would now be more favourite to the king. The Minister
misunderstood the word 'Ballava' (dear') and took it as Vidudabna. Returning to the
king, he mentioned this name. The prince was named Vidudabha thinking that this is
the name of an ancient king of his dynasty.
Vidudabha began to grow. When he was seven years old, one day he asked his mother
the name of his maternal uncle's house. Many of his friends receive gifts but
Vidudabha never got such presentations. Replied the mother, Son, your maternal
grandparents belong to Sakya clan. They live very far and connot sent presents".
At the age of sixteen he again insisted her mother on going to maternal uncle's house.
Attakatha 111

Vasabhakshatriya sent her son to her father's house. But before, secretly she wrote a
letter to his father Mahanam Sakya expressing that the trick had never been
On haring the news of Vidudabhas arrival at Sakya territory, all the Sakyan sent their
sons and daughters outside the capital so that the younger ones could not bow down
their heads. Mahanam Sakya arranged all the facilities except this one. Vidudabha was
introduced with all the elder ones. He was restless paying respect to them but he
found none to pay him respect. Being annoyed he said, 'Nobody is here to show me
respect?' The Sakyas replied that all the youngers went to their village.
He returned to the kingdom of Kosala after he had been there for some days. At the
time of departure, Vidudabha's attendant kept his sword unmindfully at the roorn
where he stayed. The maid servant was cleaning the room after their departure and
abusing him as, the son of female slave. All on a sudden the companion of Vidudabha
entered the room for the sword and heard the abuses. The companion went away
hearing the happenings and conveyed to prince Vidudabha. The trick was afterward
King Prasenjit was annoyed with the concealed matter and deprived Vasabhakshatriya
and her son Vidudabha of all the royal facilities given to them. One day he went to the
Buddha and said, 'Venerable Sir, the Sakyns have done an odious act. I have out off all
the relations with them. They would have to marry me the same descendant'. Buddha
replied, 'The Sakyns have done so; but O king Vasabhakshatriya is a princess and she
was born in the womb of royal family no doubt. She is not introduced by her mother's
family'. The Master told him 'Katthahari' Jataka whose hero was a king who placed
his wife the wood cutter's aughter as the chief queen. Their sons became the rulers of
Varanas of 12 Yojanas length and used the title 'kastavaharia'. King Prasenjit was
satisfied on hearing the admonition of the Buddha and he again gave them all the
facilities of the royal family. In due time Vidudahha became the ruler of Kosala but he
did not forget the trick slighted by the Sakyas. He took vengeance by attempting to
destroy the Sakya race and marched against Kapilavastu with vast army.
The Buddha early in the morning came to know this. He was thinking of the Sakyas,
his nearest relatives. He went to Kapilavastu by virtue of psychic power and took rest
under a tree of few shadow. Nearby was the boundary of Vidudabhas kingdom. There
was also a vast tree with cold shadow. On way to Kapilavastu with his army,
Vidudhaba saw the Buddha sitting under that tree and asked, 'Reverend Sir, why are
you taking rest under the tree without shadow in the summer?' The Buddha uttered the
most touching words.
112 Buddhist Religious Studies

The shadow of the relatives is so cold. Vidudabha understood the meaning that the
Buddha had come to protect His relatives. He paid homage to the Buddha and
returned to Sravasti, the capital of Kosala. The Buddha also went back to Jetavana by
His psychic power.
The second time Vidudabha saw that the Buddha was present in the same way and
place. The third time also happened the occurrence. The Master did not protect the
Sakyas fourth time. Once in the former birth, the Sakyas, destroyed so many fishes
giving poison to the water of the river. So they had to suffer the consequences .
King Vidudabha indiscriminately killed all the Sakyas from children to old people and
thus the whole Sakya clan was exterminated. After washing that seat by their blood he
then left for his capital.
Moral :
Suffering from consequences of one's action is unavoidable.

Mallika and the General Bandhula

Devoted Mallika was born at Kusinagar when she was grown up she was married with
the General Bandhula. Bandhula was the commander-in-chief of king Prasenjit of
Kosala kingdom. Mallikadevi got opportunity to hear the admonition of the Buddha.
Devoted Mallikadevi went to the Buddha at Jetavana two times daily and paid
adoration to Triratna (Triple gem). She would offer food to the Sangha in the morning.
She would give drinking liquids in the evening when she went to listen to the
Mamma. But she had no issue for a long time.
One day Bandhula, the General said to Mallika, 'You are childless. Go away to your
father's house. I have no need of you. I will not lead family life with you'.
Mallikadevi did not expect such kind of strict order from her husband. She listened to
her husband's, order silently and went to her room. She thought, Sravasti is the holy
place of' my life. I have the opportunity to have virtuous deeds in closeness to the
Buddha and His disciples but I have to go to Kusinagar for ever. So before my
departure I have to pay homage to the Buddha. With permission of her husband, she
went to the Jetavana to meet the Buddha on way of Kusinagar. He paid homage to the
Buddha and sit by the side.
The Buddha said, ''Where are you going Mallika?'' Mallika said to the Buddha,
'Venerable Sir, my husband has divorced me and I am leaving for Kusinagar'. The Buddha
said, ''Why?'' Mallika replied, ''I am childless. The Buddha said, "Is this only reason?
Mallika replied, 'Yes, Sir'. Then the Buddha said, 'Mallika,'' go back to your husband.
Attakatha 113

Mallika came back to her husband on hearing the assurance of the Buddha, Bandhula
the General said to her. 'Why did you come back here?' Mallika replied, 'The Buddha
has told me to return?'
Bandhula thought, the Buddha is the predictor. His blessings must he fulfilled.
Bandhula received her again as his wife. Mallika was pregnant. She had a wish to
drink water and take bath in the auspicious pond (Mangala Udakathanam) of
Licchavi. The auspicious pond was covered with iron net. The soldiers of Licchavi
would always guard this pond. There was no provision to use the pond without
permission. Bandhula, the General promised her to fulfil her desire.
One day both of them Bandhula and Mallika went out for Vaisali. Mahali kumar, the
great warrior of Vaisali was afraid on hearing the news. In the mean time Bandhula,
the General reached there with his wife. He defeated the guard and made her wife
drink and take bath with full satisfaction. The guards informed the matter to their
warrior Mahalikumar. Mahalikumar said to them, 'Don't fight with the mighty hero
Barndhula. He is the best of all warriors. He can alone kill all the Licchavis. Don't
proceed behind him. Inspite of his interdiction, the warriors of Licchavi prepared to
fight against Bandhula. Mahalikurmar thought that the soldiers of' his platoon would
not carry his orders. Then he said to them, 'When you will see wheel of the chariot is
going under the ground, you come back. If you do not come, when you will hear the
sound of the thunderbolt, you must come back, if not so, if you see only one hole in
the wheel of the chariot, you must take a back.'
The soldiers of Licchavi without caring him proceeded towards the chariot of
Bandhula. Mallikadevi is aware of their advancement and said to husband, 'Five
hundred soldiers are following us. They are equipped with war materials' The soldiers
of Licchavi shouted 'Bandhula, don't flee away and be ready for war with us'. Then
Bandhul said to Mallika, ''When you will see all the chariot in one place and in rows
and see the front wheel only, you will tell me'.''
The chariots of Licchavi were in rows and seemed to be only one chariot. Mallika
informed the situation as directed by her husband. Bandhula told Mallika to keep the
bridle tied with the horse. He handed over the bridle of the horse to his wife and fixed
the arrow with the bow. Afterwards he gave the twang of a bow string in such a way
that, all the five hundred soldiers were killed at a time but they seemed to be alive.
The Licchavis could not understand the battle strategy.
They were still running after him. Then General Bandhula said, 'Sir, all of you are
killed by me, If you do not believe it, then take off the dress of the last warrior among
you. On hearing this all the warriors were astonished but yet they did so. The last
warrior fell down to the ground and died. Then Bandhula said, ''All of you will meet
114 Buddhist Religious Studies

same fate. So go back to your home,'' After giving last advice to your family take off
your dress'. They went back to their capital. When they took off their dress, all of
them fell down to the ground and expired. By this way Bandhula defeated the
Licchavis and returned to destination with his wife.
Mallika gave birth to twin sons sixteen times. All of them were strong and stout. They
had married in due time. One day Bandhula was going to king Prasenjit of official
purpose and on the way he saw that justice had given the judgement against a poor
man who was innocent. Then he asked the justice about his injustice and arbitrated as
a jury. He gave the true judgement and gave the property to the owner, All the people
praised him. As a result, king Prasenjit appointed him as the Chief Justice. Within a
short period he acquired the fame and name from all corners. Other ministers being
jealous filed a petition against him, The king himself was also afraid of their sons
whose attendance was suspective so that one day they would dethrone him, So king
Prasenjit organised an artificial mutiny in the frontier province. The king sent
Bandhula with his thirty two sons to the frontier province to suppress the mutiny.
Bandhula and his sons pacified the mutiny and were returning to the capital.
The king appointed assassins to murder them on the way. Bandhula with his thirty two
sons were murdered by the assassins engaged by the king. On that day Mallikadevi
invited five hundred Bhikkhus in her house and was serving them with food. Sariputta
and Moggallayana were also present there. When Mallikadevi was busy to serve the
Bhikkhus, the bearer gave her a letter bringing the news of her husband and sons
death. She kept it in her waist. At that moment the vessel full of ghee broke down to
the ground from her hand. Sariputta Thera said to her, Upasika, don't think, these are
transitory'. Then Mallika took the letter from her waist and read it. Afterwards she
said to Sariputta Thera, 'Reverend Sir, I have done all the duties to you inspite of
knowing the death of my husband and 32 sons with courage and attention. Then what
is the use of repenting for a mere vessel?'
Sariputta Thera consoled Mallikadevi in the following way:
Nobody knows how a man expires. Life is suffering and temporary. Decay, illness and
suffering are the formation of the body. These are the natural form to vanity. Ripe fruit
may fall down at any moment, so also the case of death is comparable. The young, the
old, the wise, the illiterate-all men are destined to death. The relatives, the well
wishers cannot protect man from death. It is useless to mourn for the relatives. The
dead is not benefited by this.
Mallikadevi called her daughters-in-law and said, 'All of you are innocent. Your
husband suffered the bad consequences of their actions done in the former births. So
you need not mourn. Never be envious of the king'. The attendants of the king
Attakatha 115

reported it to the king and he also repented. The king came to the house of Mallika
and begged pardon. He said, 'Now I have understood my mistake, I want to give you a
boon. What ever you will demand I shall give it.'
Mallikadevi said, 'Lord, we have no need of anything, please give us permission to go
to our Parent house'. The king agreed to her proposal. She sent all the daughters-in-
law to their's respective father house. Mallikadevi worshipped the Buddha and His
disciples as long as she lived. When the Buddha attained Mahaparinibbana at
Kusinagar, Mallika Devi sold her precious gold ornament (Mahalata pasadhana) and
made a stupa on the site of the Buddha's Mahaparinibbana as a token of regards.
Forgiveness is the great virtue.
Readiness of Kundalakesi
Kundalakesi was the very beautiful daughter of a treasurer at Rajgir. When she was
sixteen years old, she was kept in a room at the seven stairs of a palace . At this age
the girl sometimes do mistake on their choice. They can not understand the right and
the wrong deeds. The treasurer engaged maid servants for her. No male member was
allowed to go there.
One day a very beautiful young man was caught at the time of stealing. The police
guards were taking him to the place of execution. The daughter of the treasurer saw
him and was attracted to him. She could not believe that the very young and beautiful
man might steal. After having seen him, she did not take the meal and was thinking
about him. She sent the news to her father to have him as a husband. If the father
could not permit, she would commit suicide. The parents tried to make her understood
that she lacked foresight and she would meet the result in near future. Moreover, he
was born in the womb of low caste. But the daughter of the treasurer was determined
and would not marry any other person. If she cannot marry him, then death was her
Having no other alternative the treasurer went to the chief of the guards and gave him
one thousand rupees bribe. The chief murdered another person and took the dead body
to the king. Afterwards the beautiful girl of the treasurer was married to the thief. The
thief husband conspired to steal her ornaments. He thought that he would fly away
with the ornaments after murdering her. One day he made a trick and went to sleep.
He did not take meal.
The daughter of the treasurer began to think over the matter. She said to her husband,
'What happens to you'? Have you any fever'? Have my parents abused you? The thief
said, 'No there happened no such event. I had a promise to offer a sacrifice to the deity
116 Buddhist Religious Studies

of the ' Chora Prapat' (The waterfall of the thieves) when I was taken to the place of
execution so that I am rescued from the death-sentence. Now I am alive with the
blessing of the deity. I have married you. All these remind me to offer the sacrifice'.
The daughter of the treasurer said, Don't worry about this. I am taking all the
measures'. The thief said, 'we need sweet rice-gruel, parched rice and four kinds of
flowers for the sacrifice'.
The daughter of the treasurer collected all these. Her husband said to her, 'Be ready
and wear the dress with all your ornaments. Take all the articles for the sacrifice. Only
both of us will go to the place of sacrifice and nobody will accompany'. The daughter
of the treasurer consented to the proposal and both of them went out for the Chora-
Prapat situated in the dense forest. They climbed up the top of the forest. At one side
of the forest there is a way for the passers by and at other side a straight deep hole.
Here the accused ones are sentenced to death throwing them from the top of the hill.
For this, the hole was called Chora Prapat. Climbing up the top of the forest the thief
said to his wife, 'I did not come here to offer the sacrifice. I have taken you here to
murder and to take all the ornaments. So be ready for your death. The daughter of the
treasurer was astonished to hear his words. At first she was afraid and prayed to give
her life back. She said, 'You take all my ornaments and go away. In exchange of all,
you save my life.' The thief said again,' You will disclose all the events held here to
your parents and they will file a case against me. Then the guards of the king will
catch me and give sentence to death. If I murder you, there will be no foe against me
and none will know the event.'
The daughter of the treasurer began to weep. I have done so great deed for you. But
today you are determined to murder me for the ornaments? What a misdeed I have
done. Now she began to think to save herself. She once more added, ' My beloved
husband, you are my honoured person. One day I have rescued you from the sentence
to death and have got you to marry me. Today before my death I want to pay my
honour to you, you give me an opportunity to touch your feet in obeisance. I hope,
you will accept my last prayer'. The thief permitted her to fulfil her last desire. He
stood there and the daughter of the treasurer moved round three times encircling him.
She embraced her husband deeply and touched his feet with regard and said, 'This is
my last meeting with you and never I shall see you again in my life.' Saying this, she
encircled her once again and pushed him forcefully and he fell down into the hole. At
the twinkling of moment he breathed his last. The deity of the forest observed all the
incidents and said :
'Not only the men are learned and intellectual, the women are, sometimes advanced in
the faculty of understanding and intellect. In some cases the man is defeated by the
Attakatha 117

woman. The case of the daughter of the treasurer is the best example of it'.
The daughter of the treasurer did not go back to his father's house. She threw the
ornaments to the Chora-Prapat and went to the hermitage of an ascetic in the forest.
She took ordination there. She began to learn all the doctrines prevalent at that time.
She finished the study of all the doctrines within a short period. The preceptor gave
farewell to her and advised her to travel all over the Jambudvipa, (ancient India) to
enquire of the questionnaires to defeat her in conversation with the doctrines. Her
preceptor gave her a branch of the Jambu tree (rose apple tree) and said, 'if any
layman is able to answer all your questions, then you select him as your husband and
if any mendicant Sraniana gives answers to all your questions, then you, take,
ordination before him'.
The daughter of the treasurer began to travel from village to village with the branch of
Jambu tree and henceforth she was called Jambu Paribrajika (lady wandering ascetic).
Afterwards she went to the township but none was able in answering her questions.
One day she put the branch of the Jambu tree under the sand at the entrance of the
Jetavana vihara of Sravasti and went out for alms. Sariputta was returning to the
Jetavana vihara after begging alms and saw the sign of the branch. Then a group of
boys were playing round the branch. He heard all the news from the boys and ordered
them to hand it down. Jambu Paribrajika, after having alms, came to that place and
asked Sariputta Thera who have handed the branch down?
Sariputta Thera replied, 'Yes sister, I have picked up the branch'. A meeting was held
on that day for the religious conversation between Sariputta Thera and Jambu
Paribrajika. Jambu Paribrajikaa questioned Sariputta Thera one by one and Sariputta
Thera answered all the questions. Sariputta Thera said to her, 'You have asked so
many questions, I will ask you only one question. What do you mean by 'eko' or one?
Jambu Paribrajika was not able to answer the question. She again said to Sariputta
Thera, 'What is the answer to the question?' Sariputta Thera in reply to the question
said,' This is the question of acquiring wisdom'. Paribrajika said, 'Reverend Sir, please
show me the way to wisdom'.
Paribrajika took ordination before Sariputta and became converted to the Buddhist
faith. Sariputta Thera sent her to the vihara of the Bhikkhunisangha (Monastery of the
Sisters). She began to meditate with deep concentration and afterwards attained
Arhatship. She was named 'Kundalakesi Theri'.
One day a discussion was held among the Bhikkhusangha (Congregation of the
Elders): How did Theri Kundalakesi attain Arhatship within a short time? The Buddha
heard their discussion and said,
118 Buddhist Religious Studies

1. Should one recite hundred useless stanzas, better is a single stanza hearing which,
one is pacified.
2. Though he should conquer thousands of men in the battle field, yet he indeed, the
noblest victor who would conquer himself.
Hearing the gathas (Verses), so many Bhikkhus attained the fruition of the eye of
wisdom (Dhammacakkhu)'.
Wisdom is attained after long waiting.


Multiple Choice Questions

1. Who wr ote the atthakatha named Atthashalini on Dharmasangini?
a. Buddhadatta b . Shantaraksit
c. Atish Dipankar d. Buddha Ghoshe
2. Buddha offer ed Nando the order of mendicant
i. practice chastity accurately .
ii. sho w the goddesses of heaven.
iii. destro y addiction.
Which one is corr ect?
a. i b . i and ii
c. i and iii d. ii and iii
Read the passage below and answer questions 3 and 4.
The story of Mallika and the Commander Bandhul is a fine example of the ethic to
forgive is divine. Mallika forgives the King Posenodi of Koshola even after losing
3. Our r eaction to any death-news while taking care of some relative should be
a. to be v ery anxious losing all sub-control.
b. to be fainted repeatedly by extreme grief.
c. not to be sad by thinking that the person died according to the Karma.
d. to be very repented for the person who died.
Attakatha 119

4. The moral teaching of this story is :

a. It is necessary for one to tak e revenge on injustice done to him/her.
b. One should persuaded be by others bad counseling.
c. One should not repent for ones unfair deed.
d. One should forgive the repenting person for his unfair deed

Part 2
Creative Questions
A saint must practise chastity to be successful in his adoration. There are simple
descriptions of many complicated issues on this in Attakatha. Sajal Chakma listened
attentively to this from his teacher in the class. Therefore he could realize the story of
Nanda very well.
a. What w as the domestic relationship between Buddha and Nanda?
b . Explain the cause of sho wing Opsara to Nanda by Lord Buddha.
c. Describe as a saint ho w you would practice real chastity?
d. Buddha said, Nanda, you are a winner now. Evaluate the statement.
120 Buddhist Religious Studies


From very ancient time spiritual thinkers had preached their doctrines. They preached
the religions for the benefit of mankind. They visited different places at the time of
preaching the doctrines. They left many memorials and reminiscences in those places.
Those places later on became the holy sites for the followers and the visitors.
Buddhism is also a very ancient religion. The preacher of this religion is Gautama
Buddha. He travelled to many places during His preaching the Dhamma. The names
of those places are mentioned in the Tripitaka. Those places became famous during
the lifetime of the Buddha. Most of them have been treated as the holy places.
Buddhist holy places, are divided into two parts: One is the places of great pilgrimage
and the other is the places of pilgrimage. So many events are connected with these
The places of great pilgrimage of four events are Lumbini the birth place of Tathagata;
Buddhabaya, the place of Supreme Enlightenment; Sarnath, the place of delivering the
First Sermon and Kusinaraer Kusinagar, the place of Great Demise.
Besides, the Buddha visited many places for delivering the Dhamma. His disciples
also travelled different places for preaching the Buddah's doctrine directed by the
Buddha Himself or on certain occasions. Many monasteries, stupas and pillars were
built there. Being connected with memoirs of Great disciples, these are also treated as
the places of pilgrimage. Kapilavastu, Rajagaha, Vesali, Sankula forest, Kosambi etc.
are noteworthy.
Apart from these, there are also some places where the Buddha Himself did not visit
but Stupas, Pillars, Vihartts, Buddhist colleges and Universities were built in course of
time. These historical sites are also important in the cultural heritage of Buddhism. Of
them Ajanta, Ellora, Vikramsila, Taxila, Purushpur, Sitakat Vihara, Maynamati, Kutilti
Mura, Ananda Vihara, Salvan Vihara, Tiratana Stupa, Paharpur, Mahastangarh and
Vasu Vlhara are famous.
If the seekers travel these places they become acquaintance with the signs of past
greatness. As a result, they acquire practical knowledge of the Buddhist heritage. The
seekers look back to the past and think of contribution of kings and nobles for
Buddhism. The pilgrims are imbued with piety and sanctity. They try to acquire merit
or virtue. So it is helpful for him to attain Nibbana by doing good deeds. Direct
Sacred And Historical Places 121

knowledge through on the spot visit is better than knowledge acquired from books.
Therefore all Buddhists should pay visit the sacred and historical sites.
Lumbini is situated at Bhagawanpur Tahsil in the district of present Butal in the
southern region of Nepal. The surrounding place is now called Rummindei. If one has
to visit this place, first of all he has to go to India from Bangladesh. Therefor he has to
proceed Nowgarh by train from Gorakshapur of United Province. It is easy to travel
by air direct to Ksrthmunda of Nepal. There is a high way from Kathmunda to
Lumbini. There are two preaching Halls (Dharmasala) and three guest houses of
Myanmar including the Japanese one. The Government of Nepal has also built a guest
house. Foreign visitors have to take visa for Vairaba or Kapilavastu.
Siddhartha was born in the Lumbini garden on the full-moon day of Vesakha at 623 B.C.
The worth-seeing sites of this place is Asokan pillar and Rummindei temple. Emperor
Asoka visited Lumbini second time at twenty years of his coronation. He erected a pillar
at 250 B.C. in commemoration of Siddhartha's birth-place as well as symbol. It is called
Asokan pillar. As a result, the birth-place of Siddhartha is marked for ever.
The pillar is situated in the western side of the old temple. It is made of one stone. A
horse image at its top would have a beautiful look as the symbol of the renunciation of
Siddhartha. We can get the source from Huen Stang's travels. The top of the pillar is
now broken. It was not discovered till so many years passed. Dr. Fuller discovered the
pillar and installed again at its own place. It is still here.
Lumbini temple is situated by the side of Asokan pillar. It is known to the public as
Rummindei. This temple stands on a small hillock. The visitors climb there by the
flight of stairs. The Government of Nepal built it again on the foundation of old
temple. The old one is equal to the floor of a room in the north of the temple.
It has a door in the north. It has an undivided stone slab bearing the name Siddhartha's
birth place. The slab still continues to stay. But the painted pictures on the slab are
slightly destroyed. In it Mayadevi, the mother of Siddhartha was catching the
branches of the Sala tree with her right hand. The other lady is treated as the picture of
Gautami. At other side some statues are standing with folded hand. The statues are
treated as the Brahmas and the gods. A child of the god is in the backside. Siddhartha,
the newly born baby is standing on the lotus a little ahead below.
Lumbini the historical site was covered with the mud for many years. When the site is
122 Buddhist Religious Studies

identified and excavated, the painted birth-picture of' Siddhartha is found. Later, it
was constructed on the same spot. The visitors can go there. There are stairs to go to
the Asokan pillar from the compound of the monastery. Similar to that, there are stairs
to go in the east. There is also an old Bo-tree in that side. The pilgrims worship here.
There is a pond in the south. Its margins are tied with. It is said that soon after
Siddhartha was born, Nanda-Upanada, the king of the snakes would cause him to take
bath with the stream of water. Later, the site was changed into a well. Just a little
distance to the south there was another stupa. The four presiding deities took
Siddhartha in their laps.
The ancient tribes would live surrounded by the ruins. In course of time the ruins are
mixed with the mud. These have been preserved. The names of three archaeologists as
pioneers in the excavation and discovery are mentionable. They are Cunningham,
Karlail and Dr. Fuller who gave proper information about the discovery. It is known
from the inscription written on the pillar that this site was the real birth-place of
Siddhartha. The truth is revealed on the basis of this fact.
A vast garden has been made within the four sides of Lumbini. Different types of trees
have increased the natural beauty. There is no dwelling house except the Government
offices and guest house inside it. UNESCO has contributive funds for its preservation.
Kapilavastu, Kushinagar, Sarnath, Rajagriha Nalanda, Vaisali and Buddha Gaya can be
travelled by road from Lumbini, You must go to this pilgrimage if opportunity occurs.
Buddha Gaya
Sakyasirtha Siddhartha attained Buddhahood here. For this Buddha Gaya is the mosts
acred and auspicious place of the Buddhist world.
Buddha-Gaya is situated in the Bihar province in India and eleven kilometers south
west to the Gaya Railway station. There is a broad road to run the vehicles. The road
runs through the side of the ancient Neranjana river. At present this river is called
Phalgu. Government buses, ekka, tam tam and rickshaws are the main transports to go
Buddha-Gaya is the best of all the four great sacred places of the Buddhists. Sakya
Prince Siddhartha attained supreme Knowledge here at 588. B.C. Since then He was
famous in the world as Buddha or Gautama Buddha and this place was named
Buddha-Gaya. This peepul-tree under which He became enlightened is considered as
Bo-tree. So the virtuous people come to this great holy place from home and abroad to
pay homage. Besides the Buddhists, so many travelers come to visit Buddha-Gaya. In
Sacred And Historical Places 123

ancient times Buddha-Gaya was called Uruvela. As this place is situated on the bank
of river Neranjana, it is very beautiful. Buddha-Gaya is now a city.
The main attraction of Buddha-Gaya is the large hightened four angled Buddha
Temple. Bo-tree and Vajrasana (Diamond throne) are close to the western surface of
the temple. This Bo-tree is a historical one. Siddhartha defeated Mara (Evil spirit) and
gained supreme Knowledge taking the seat under this tree. There is a description of
this tree in the Lalitavistara. The picture of Asoka's visit to the Mahabodhi is engraved
on the gate of Sanchi built at 2nd century B.C. Huen Tsang came to India on travel at
7th century A.D. and he saw the Bo-tree and the Vajrasana. Siddhartha attained
Buddhahood seated on the Vajrasana. From the very early time this Bo-tree has
preserved its sanctity all over the Buddhist world. The old Vajrasana is still preserved
under the Bo-tree. It is said that this Vajrasana is made of one undivided stone.
Inside the main temple there is a large Buddha-statue standing on the ground sealed.
The wearing robe of the statue has been shown with sharp lines. The statue is founded
on 1.65 metres high from the floor. The statue is 2 metres in length and 66 metre in
breadth. The Buddhasana (The seat of the Buddha) is 46 metre and is engraved with
the statues of lion, elephant and woman. There is an inscription written in 'Kutila
alphabets'. The Bo-tree is attached to the back side of the Mahabodhi Temple. So to
say, the Bo-tree is to the western side of the Mahabodhi Temple.
Ananda Thera planted one of its branches at the Jetavana vihara. That Bo-tree is now
called 'Anandabodhi'. Bhikkhuni Sanghamitra, the daughter of emperor Asoka went to
Srilanka with the southern branch of the Bo-tree and sowed it at Anuradhapura. Its
plant is carried to all over the Buddhist world. Even its plants came to Bangladesh.
Big and small stupas, pillars, monuments, high gates and footsteps of the Buddha
have increased the beauty of the temple. The painted footsteps of the Buddha have
been kept to the north-west of the Bo-tree. There is a stonewall surrounding the
temple. At first there were 124 pillars in the wall, 90 pillars have been found out of
them. So many events and Jataka stories are painted in the wall.
There is a Mucalinda lake near the temple of Buddha-Gaya. There would live
Mucalinda, the king of snakes and he saved, the Buddha for seven days from the stress
of storm. At the time of entrance to the main temple of Buddha-Gaya there are five
rooms to the left in the over space. There are five Buddha-statues of the same pattern
in these rooms.
There are many advantages for the pilgrims to stay in Buddha-Gaya. All the Buddhist
124 Buddhist Religious Studies

countries have their own temples here. In addition, there is a Government guest house
of India. The temples of Srilanka, Japan, China, Tibet, Thailand, Myanmar, Taiwan
and Cambodia are built in attractive styles. Here is a Buddha-statue made by Japan.
The statue seated on the Padmasana in the open air is seen from a long distance. At
present a temple of Bangladesh is being made.
The ruin of Sujatadevi's house on the other bank of Neranjana river near Buddha-
Gaya existed. Rajagriha and Nalanda can be visited in a day by motor car and bus.
The Buddhist pilgirms come to Buddha-Gaya and give offering to the Sangha
(Sanghadana) in the name of their deceased parents and forefathers. Some of the
Buddhist pilgrims come here and take ordination in the novicehood (Samanera
pabbajja). Here is an International meditation centre.
It is known from the Asokan stone pillar that emperor Asoka came here at the 10th
year of his reign. Huen Tsang came here on travel at 7th century A.D. Then he saw the
Vajrasana under the Bo-tree. Cunningham, the famous archaeologist discovered the 12
lower parts of it. There is a museum near the Mahabodhi Temple. The archaeological
materials found in Buddha-Gaya are preserved here.
Sarnath or Isipatana is a very important place in the history of Buddhism. It is situated
on the bank of the river Varuna, 7 kilometres from Varanasi in the United Province
(U.P.). There is a brick-built wide road from Varanasi to Sarnath. There is a railway
station near Sarnath. Here are guest houses and Government dormatory for the
It is here that on the Asarhi Purnima Day, after His attainment of Bodhi
(Enlightenment) the Buddha delivered his First Sermon: The five disciples to whom
He delivered the Sermon are called Pancavaggiya Sissa (Group of five disciples).
Their names are Kondenya, Bhaddiya , Vappa, Mahanama and Assajit. They were first
converted to Buddhism. First of all the Buddha explained them the
Dhammacakrapavattana Sutta (Foundation of the Wheel of the Doctrine). That day
was the full-moon day of Asarhi. He preached the Middle Path (Majjhima Patipada)
that avoids the two extremes : Self mortification and self-indulgence. This is called
Noble Eightfold Path (Ariya Atthangika Magga).
Another name of Sarnath is Isipatana or Migadava. It is mentioned in the Buddhist
literature- 'Lalitavistara' that five hundred Pacceka Buddha or sanctified bodies of the
ascetics had come down here. This story of the Buddhist literature is connected with
Sacred And Historical Places 125

the name of Migadava. It is said that Gautama Buddha, in one of His former births,
was born here as the leader of the deer. Then His name was Subarna Mriga (golden-
coloured deer). King's attendants of Varanasi would hunt here as their own choice.
The Bodhisattva in the form of Subarna Mriga saved the king from the consequences
of sin caused by killing the deer. Besides the king gave him assurance of safety of
lives for all the deer. From that time all the deer living there would freely roam with
joy. For this, it is named Migadava or Mrigadava.
Here the Buddha ordained the treasurer's son Yasa of Varanasi and his fifty friends.
These fifty one, Pancavargiya disciples and another four disciples consisting of total
60 were the first formal Sangha. They are the codified Sangha in the history of
religion. Gautama Buddha sent these 60 Bhikkhus to preach the Dhamma.
Sarnath was the main center of Buddhism. Hundreds of Bhikkhus would live here
together. Later, the great disciples (Mahasavakas) such as Sariputta, Moggallayana
etc. would live here. It is known from the Huen Tsang's travels that during his stay
here the Bhikkhus, the Sangharama of Sarnath were divided into eight sections.
Perhaps, after the Mahaparinibhana of the Buddha, Sarnath gradually became the
large Sangharama ( Residence of monks). Emperor Asoka came to visit Sarnath soon
after his conversion to Buddhism. He first identified the place of Buddha's First
Sermon and then he built a large pillar on that place. The pillar is 21 metres high and
at the top there was a bright pinnacle.
The architectural design of the main temple of Sarnath is very beautiful. There is a
deer park near the place identified as Migadava. Here the deer move round without
fear. Ten acres of land are enclosed with iron wires for the deer. The ruins of ancient
memorials have been discovered nearby. Very close to it, there is famous Dhameka
Stupa. Its height is about 46 metre. The four sides of the Stupa has courtyard with tied
region. The pilgrims recollect the name of Tiratana by rambling. It may be that
emperor Asoka had built this. It is supposed that here is Buddha's relics. At present
there are Buddha's relics in the main temple at Sarnath. An opportunity is given to the
pilgrims once in a year to see these relics in the ceremony.
Some other memorials have been found in the ruins surrounded by Sarnath. The
Caukhandi Stupa is a eight-angled old cetiya. The Buddha met the pancavaggiya
Bhikkhus here in the way when he was going to Sarnath from Buddha Gaya. Asokan
Inscription has also been found at Sarnath. This Inscription was written mentioning
the punishment for dissension in the Order (Sanghabheda) with a view to giving stress
126 Buddhist Religious Studies

on the unity of the Sangha. In addition to this, the ruins of the monasteries of the
Kushana and Gupta period have been found. A Buddha-image standing as the
Dharmacakramudra. (Signs made with fingers in the wheel of the Norme) made at 5th
century A.D. The place of Buddha's deliberation of First Sermon has been identified
with this Dharmacakramudra.
In the year 1913 N. Mun Sing, a lay devotee of Srilanka built the Mulagandhakuti
vihara with the top. The Buddha-statue standing as the Dharmacakrarnudra has been
preserved in it. There is a big museum at Sarnath where the precious articles and
Buddha-images, Bodhisattva, gods and goddesses of different ages are preserved.
Kusinagar (Pali Kusinara), the scene of Gautama Buddha's Parinibbana (Great
decease) is the another holy place of Buddhism. It is situated at Kasiya in the district
of Gorakshapur of Uttar Pradesh. Kusinagar had other names too, viz. Kusinara,
Kusigrama, Kusavati etc. There is a high way running through Gorakshapur and
Kusinagar connecting the Gorakshapur Railway station. There is also a guest house at
Deuria for the facility of the pilgrims. The tourists can also go to Kusinagar from
Buddha-Gaya and Sarnath by bus.
Kusinagar is one of four great places of Buddhist pilgrimage. It was situated, along an
important trade route, on the western bank of Hiranyavati. The present name of this
river is Choto Gandaka. Nearby was the great Sala forest, a part of which was known
as Salavana Upavattana where the great Master passed away (Mahaparinibbana). After
His Parinibbana the Mallas made arrangements for the funeral paying homage to the
remains of the Lord. They carried the body to the Mukutabandha cetiya and cremated
it with full honour. Now the site is known as Ramabhara of the present district
Gondaka. The Mallas erected a stupa over the relics at Kusinara. Kusinagar became
one of the most important centres of Buddhist pilgrimage.
The Emperor Asoka undertook pilgrimage to the site of Parinibbana at Kusinagar and
erected a stupa and a pillar at the place. Huen Tsang visited Kusinagar. Fa- Hien
witnessed the utter ruins and desolation of the city and the district but the monasteries
were still extant. He also noticed stupas and pillars.
A Buddhist donor Haribal by name built a Buddha image of 22 hand- long during the
reign of Kumargupta of Gupta dynasty. It was an image in Parinibbana style. Nearby
is a big stupa. During excavation a copper plate of Parinibbana cetiya was found
which identifies the place as Kusinagar.
Sacred And Historical Places 127

Here is an other temple Mathakaur by name. A Buddha image is kept in this temple,
which testifies to the reign of Kalcuri dynasty.
Ajatasattu was alive eight years, after the Buddha had attained Parinibbana. He took
the portion of relics of the Buddha and erected two stupas at Kusinagar and Rajgir (
Pali Rajagaha). The works were done under his direct supervision. One can go by road
Kusinagar, Kapilavastu and Lumbini from Sarnath.
Rajagriha is situated at Patna district in the Bihar province of India. The present name
of Rajagriha is Rajagir. Railway communication is connected with Baktiarpur station.
There is also broad way from Buddha-Gaya to Rajgir. Gautama Buddha spent
Vassavasa three times in Rajgir.
Rajgir had other names too viz. Vasumati, Vaidratpur, Girivraja, Kusagrapur,
Rajagriha and Rajgir. Rajgir is encircled with hills. Those hills are Vaibhara, Veplulla,
Ratna, Chattasaila, Udaya and Sona.
Rajgir was the capital of king Bimbisara of Magadha. Bimbisara was Contemporary
to Buddha and His great devotee. He did much for development of Buddhism.
Bimbisara made offering of Venubana garden to the Buddha and His disciples. Later
its name was Venuvana vihara. Venuvana vihara is situated to the south of Rajagriha.
It is mentioned in the account of Huen Tsang's travel. Nearby is a hot spring.
Bimbisara's son Ajatasattu was at first-against the Buddha. But afterwards he was
converted into a great devotee. Under his patronage the first Buddhist Council was
held to collect the messages of the Buddha. This Council was held in front of
Saptaparni cave of Vaibhara hill. There is a ruin of king Bimbisara's prison. Here he
died being arrested by his son. On way to Chatta hill is also seen the site of physician
Jivaka's mango grove.
The Pali literature mentions the architectural development of Rajagaha. Though it is
encircled with five hills, the city is surrounded by two big and strong boundary walls.
The city plan also presents a beautiful architectural design.
There are ruins of Nalanda University situated not far from Rajagriha. The ruins of
cultural heritage of ancient time are preserved at museum.
128 Buddhist Religious Studies

There are Saptaparni cave, Gridrakut hill, Venuvana vihara, the ruins of king
Bimbisara's palace, Jivaka's Mango grove, Jaina pilgrimage, Hindu sacred place and
Hot spring. Besides, the Japanese Buddhists have erected a Peace Pagoda at the top of
the hill. One can reach the Peace Pagoda on hill-top on foot or by electrically-
operated rope-way. Rajgir hill and roads below are very beautiful. Afforestation is
being done in the Rajgir hill. That is why beauty of Rajgir is increasing day by day.
Vaisali (Pali Vesali) is situated in the district of Mozaffarpur under Bihar province.
Vesara is the present name of Vaisali. There is a. road passing through Rajagriha and
Buddha-Gaya. The pilgrims have to go there by road. During the Buddha's time
Vaisali was the capital of the Vajjian confederacy. It was one of the six chief cities of
India. Vaisali owes to its name being the capital of the king Visala whose date is
unknown. This-confederacy was constituted with eight clans who represented all the
matters done by the king. Of them, Licchavis were majority in the formation of
Government and supreme power was vested on them. Hence, this confederacy was
called 'Licchavi constituency'. The Mahavagga, an original text of the Tripitaka
mentions that there were 7707 palaces, Kutagaras (Privy councils), pleasure gardens
and ponds. The Buddha visited Vaisali several times during His missionary life and
gained a large number of converts and devotees. He passed there Vassavasa also
(Rainy retreat). He with His disciples accepted the invitation of Ambapali (Amrapali),
a royal prostitute. The Buddha proclaimed the day of His Parinibbana here. After the
Parnibbana of the Buddha, the Licchavis built a stupa on the relics of the Master.
There is a place named 'Raja Visalaka garh' at Vaisali. Aarchaeologists think that it is
the wall of the royal palace in the city. Fa-Hien and Huen Tsang visited Vaisali. They
noticed the place in more or less the same condition of ruins.
To the north of Visalaka garh at a place called Kolau, there is a pillar with lion statue.
Nearby stand the Asokan rock pillars. Huen Tsang found it. The Asokan pillars are
also seen at Rampurba, Lauria, Avaraj, Nandangarh and Kolau. During the time of
pilgrimage, emperor Asoka erected these pillars. This is considered to be path way of
Dharmajatra from Pataliputra to Lunahini, Vaisali is also the place of pilgrimage of
the Jainas. Because, the founder of Jainisni-Mahavira was born here.
Ajanta is situated in the northern frontier of Hyderabad under the Nizam territory. The
Ajanta caves have been excavated at a distance of 101 kilometres north to Aurangabad
Sacred And Historical Places 129

district under present Maharastra territory and 7 kilometres far from the village
Phadarpur. Its distance is only 54 kilometres from Jalgaon. Ajanta has a link-road of
motor communication with both of Aurangabad and Jalgaon. Though there is no
arrangement to stay near the Ajanta caves, yet there are Government guest house and
Bancylo at a distance of 7 kilometres at Phadarpur.
There was no direct connection of life of Gautama Buddha with Ajanta. But the
pictures painted in the caves are closely related to the life of the Buddha. The
sculptures of Ajanta and the pictures painted on the wall in the caves have highly
attracted the people of the world. The hills of Ajanta are signified with the natural
beauty. Buddhist monks have painted the Jataka stories, full of artistic taste in the
lonely caves. They have carved the hills that are painstaking for access and have
painted the present and former lives of the Buddha on the walls.
There are 32 caves at Ajanta. Of them, there are 28 monasteries and 4 cetiyas. The
caves of Ajanta were not engraved by the same artists at the same time. It has so many
pictures. To judge the art it may be seen that the time of engraving the caves is
probably from 200 B.C. to 7th century A.D. Those painting works are called Ajanta
The paintings of Ajanta were not done only with the help of the kings, but the
Buddhist monks had contributed financial assistance and made untiring efforts in the
completion. It is known from engraved inscription that the expenditures of painting
for the cave no. 26 was donated by Sraman Buddhabhadra and his disciples
Bhadrabamdhu and Dharmadatta. But nothing is known about their lives and career. It
is roughly estimated that the painting of 6 caves were done from 2 years before the
Christ to 4oo years A.D. Then the Buddha-images were not engraved. In the above six
caves there is no Buddha-image. After that, at the time of flourishing Mahayana
Buddhism, Philosoper Asanga would live here. At that time the picture of the Buddha
was first introduced here. During 9th and 10th centuries Ajanta Was abandoned.
About one thousand years later, in 1817 a group of soldiers made a temporary
cantonment on the other bank of the river. They saw arches in rows and climbed up
the hills. They were astonished in discovering Ajanta and hence-forth the people of
the world came to know it.
So many Jataka stories have been painted at Ajanta, such as, Sanghapala Jataka, Mriga
Jataka, Mahajanakai Jataka, Sibi Jataka, Champeya Jataka, Khantivadi Jataka,
Vidhurapandita Jataka, Saradanta Jataka, Shyama Jataka etc. Besides Jatakas, there
are other paintings, such as Avalokitesvara Padmapani, Buddha and Mara, the birth-
130 Buddhist Religious Studies

episode of Gautama, Sariputra, the expedition of Bijoy Singh to Ceylon, Rakshasi and
Nalagiri suppressed by Buddha etc. There are so many paintings of stories like these.
The ceilings of the caves of Ajanta are plain. Some of them are semi-round. Besides,
there are pillars also. The engraved statues in the floor under the ceilings and in front
of the entrance to the gate are very fine. The paintings on the walls are also
mentionable. These paintings are excellent in the world. So many Albums have been
published at home and abroad.
Sravasti is situated on the bank of the river Aciravati between the boards of Gonda and
Bairach districts of Uttar Pradesh (U.P.). It has been identified with Sahet-Mahet. It is
reached by a Pucca motorable road from Balarampur Railway station on the North-
Eastern Railway. There are guest house and the rest house for the pilgrims. Sravasti
(Pali Savatthi) was the capital of ancient Kosala.
During the time of the Buddha, Kosala was one of the sixteen great kingdoms
(Mahajanapadas) of Northern India. Here the Buddha spent Vassavasa many times.
Being situated on the main trade routes, Sravasti had become a large centre of imports
and exports. Many rich men lived here. During the Buddha's time, Prasenjit was the
king of Kosala.
There were three viharas in Sravasti namely-Jetavana, Purbarama and Rajakarama.
The garden (Jetavana) was very nice place. At that time a very rich merchant
(Mahasetthi) Sudatta, also called Anathapindika was living in Sravasti. He had
become a Buddhist. Agrasravaka Sariputra selected the garden owned by prince Jeta,
the son of Prasenjit, as the best place for vihara. Sudatta made a request to the prince
for the land. The prince however, agreed to sell his garden on the condition that the
merchant should cover the required land with gold gems. Sudatta was prepared for
this. Gold coins were spread on the ground. Sudatta constructed a big monastery
called Jetavana vihara. It is known from the Tibetan source that there were 60 big
halls and 60 small rooms in the Jetavana vihara: The main gate of the vihara was built
by prince Jeta. Within it, there existed Mahagandhakuti, Karorimandalamala,
Kosambakuti and Candanamala etc. There were so many trees here, that it looked like
forest from distance. The relics of Sariputta and Moggallayana were kept here. Later
the emperor Asoka transferred it to another place and created Stupas.
The Purbarama vihara was built by Visakha, the rich lady disciple of the Buddha. She
was the daughter of Dhanan.jaya banker and wife of Punnavaddana. One day Visakha
Sacred And Historical Places 131

went to Jetavana to hear the Dhamma. There she kept away her valuable necklace.
Ananda Thera picked it up and returned to Visakha. She was highly pleased and
wanted to build a vihara after selling the ornament. But she did not find any purchaser
for the valuable necklace and kept it herself paying the equal price. So she constructed
the Purbarama vihara with the money. This monstery was double storeyed and had
several rooms. It was built in accordance with a design given by Moggallayana Thera.
The third monastery called Rajakarama was constructed under the orders of king
Prasenjit. It was built at the request of her chief queen Mallikadevi. Later on, it was
named Mallikararma. Saketa was situated near by Sravasti. Here was a dense forest.
King Prasenjit would go there for hunting. Gabampati, the disciple of the Buddha
lived here. On hearing the Ordination of the Buddha Theri Sujata attained Arhant
Asoka made pilgrimage to Sravasti. He made construction of two high pillars of 21
metre high to the south of Jetavana vihara. The western pillar was surmounted by a
cakra (wheel) and the eastern one by the figure of a bull. Fa-Hien and Huen Tsang
visited the place and had also described several damaged Stupas. Jetavana was
repaired during the reign of Gupta dynasty. In the year 1863 General Cunningham
excavated some mounds of Sahet- Mahet (Sravasti). In the year 1876 he resumed
excavation and identified Gandhakuti. The Archaeological Department of the
Government of India made a thorough excavation in the years 1907-08 and 1910-11
and preserved all the valuable signs of antiquities.
Vikramsila was a famous Buddhist monastery as well as a University. This monastery
was built by Dharmapala, the great king of Pala dynasty. The Bengalees reached the
peak in national welfare and glory.
The site is still unknown. Some think that it was situated at Vikrampur near Dhaka.
Other scholars are of opinion that it was situated on the Pathorghat mountain by the
side of the Ganges, near Bhagalpur of Bihar province. Then this ancient region was
called Anga, that is, Bhagalpur including Munger. India was then divided into sixteen
Janapadas (Settlement).
The king Dhrarmapala founded the Vikramsila monastery. Another name or title of
Dhrmapala was 'Vikramsil'. Nalanda, Vikramsila and Odantapur viharas were situated
side by side. Students for higher education used to come from home and abroad. Even
the learners from China, Japan, Tibet, Turkistan, Gandhara and other Asian countries
132 Buddhist Religious Studies

used to study there.

The number of teachers was 108. They taught the Prajna-paramita, Kriya (rituals),
grammar and Nyayasastra. The Head of this University was called Vajracarya. The
first Vajracarya was Buddhajnanapada. Taranath's history mentions that there were
twelve Vajracaryas after him. There were 108 rooms in the main building surrounded
by six entrances with the four walls. Six Dvarapanditas made admission of the
students. Debates were held among the scholars of different communities. Most of the
Pala kings patronized the monastery and during their reign it flourished. In the 10th
century A.D. its fame spread all over the world. Its place was next to Nalanda
Atish Dipankar, a renowned scholar was the Vice-Chancellor of this University.
During his stay in the position, He gained world wide recognition for scholarship.
During his time three thousand Bhikkhus resided in the monastery. Then a war
between king Karna of Kanauj and king Nayapal had taken place. Sometimes Nayapal
and sometimes Karna won the battle. Atish Dipankar himself made arbitration
between them and settled the dispute. Both the kings compromised with honour
bestowed on him.
At the invitation of the king of Tibet, Atish Dipankar went to Tibet from Vikramsila.
At that time the Buddhist religion was distorted by various malpractices in Tibet.
Acarya Ratnakar was then the High priest of the monastery who was also the
preceptor of Atish Dipankar. With his permission Atish Dipankar started for Tibet to
reform Buddhism.
Prasantamitra, Rahulbhadra, Padmakarghosa, Kamalsila, Jinarakshit, Kalyanarakshit
and Dharmankurdatta were the other scholars who stayed and taught there. In addition
to prescribed syllabuses, the. learned scholars of this institute explained the
fundamentals of the Dhamma and basic principles of education.
The Maynamati-Lalmai is a light red plateau, eight kilometres west of Comilla.
Lalmai range is situated by the side of Dhaka- Chittagong road. At the time of
excavation in 1943, a copper-plate inscription was discovered. It describes the history
of preaching of Sahajyana Buddhism, account of flourishing Pattika suite and relation
with Samatat and Arakan. Excavations in the year 1955-56 brought to light a
picturesque Buddhist establishment locally known as Salvan vihara. During
excavation, a numbers of terracatta art, sculptures, silver coins, gold coins, images of
Sacred And Historical Places 133

Buddha and Bodhisattva and other architectural designs were found. The
Archaeological finds reveal a clear picture of the Buddhist civilization and culture
which is believed to have flourished under powerful ruling Buddhist dynasties- the
Devas, the Chandras, the Khargas and other Vaisnab Dharma dynasty.
The establishment of Salvan vihara is enclosed by a series of 115 well--arranged
monastic cells which originally must have accommodation for large number of monks
and students. It faces only one door to the north of the monastery. The design of the
monastery is in harmony with Paharpur vihara. The architecture of Kalsan vihara of
Java and Ananda temple of Myanmar (Burma) is similar to this.
There exists Kanaka Stupa vihara, Ananda Raja's palace, Rupban-Kannya's palace,
Adunapaduna Mura, Bhoja Raja's palace, Kotbari, Kutila Mura, Charpatra Mura,
Ananda vihara, Pakash Mura surrounding Maynamati. Some of them have ruins and
the others are uncertain to locate. In the Burmese chronicles of 11th and 12th
centuries, it is mentioned that the site was accidentally discovered during the years of
World War II while digging trenches for defence (1943-44). A military contractor cut
through a few mounds and extracted a large mount of bricks from well-planned
structure. Salvan vihara was built, by the Buddhist king Bhavadeba of Deva dynasty.
He donated it to the Bhikkhus. It was built at 8th century and existed upto 400 years.
Kutila Mura is situated five kilometres north to Salvan, Its name is Tiratana Stupas.
The three stupas are the synibol of Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. There is another
vihara at Charpatra Mura. Ananda vihara is three kilometres north to Salvan vihara. It
is bigger than Salvan vihara.
One can easily go from Comilla town with baby taxi, jeep and private car to
Maynamati. There is a museum to the south of the Saivall vihara where the
testimonies to the ruins of cultural heritage found during excavation are preserved.
The office and training centre for BARD (Bangladesh Academy of Rural
Development) existed here.
You may make it trip to visit Lumbini, Buddha-Gaya, Kusinaggar, Rajgir, Vaisali,
Ajanta, Sravasti. Vikramsila, Mynamati, Paharpur etc. when you get chance. These
sacred and historical places are very attractive and help to acquire knowledge and
134 Buddhist Religious Studies

Multiple Choice Questions

1. Buddhagaya is in-
a. the north of India. b . the Bihar of India .
c. Assam of India. d. Kashmir of India.

2. The r eason for visiting the places of great pilgrimages is

i. to attain great virtues.
ii. to g ain praises from all.
iii. to acquire religious knowledge.

Which one is corr ect?

a. i b . ii
c. i and ii d. ii and iii

Read the passage below and answer questions 3 and 4.

It is a sacred duty for every Buddhist to visit the places of great pilgrimages,
pilgrimages and the great historical places. Mainamoti is a famous historical in
Comilla. Many books on Buddhism are preserved in the Mainamoti Museum as
valuable evidence.

3. The r eason for visiting the Buddhist historical places by a Buddhist student is
a. to be a ware of Buddhist history and culture.
b . to enjo y great pleasure in travel.
c. to de velop interest in ancient heritage.
d. to see the land and people of dif ferent places.

4. The Shalbon of Mainamoti is

i. a f amous historical place.
ii. ancient e vidence of Buddhist religion and culture.
iii. sacred place of the remembrance of Lord Buddha.

Which one is corr ect?

a. i b . i and ii
c. i and iii d. ii and iii
Sacred And Historical Places 135

Part 2
Creative Questions
The Buddhist students organized a seminar with the Vikkhu sangha and the Buddhist
teachers. The topic of this seminar was the places of great pilgrimages, pilgrimages,
and the historical places. The importance of, and the beautiful things worth seeing in
Rajgriha and Srabosti were discussed there. Thus Bikash realized the importance of
the historical places together with the relationship between Buddha and Srabosti.
a. Where is Rajgriha?
b . Explain only one reason for visiting Rajgriha.
c. Wh y is the discussion of the places of great pilgrimages, pilgrimages and
historical places important in Bikash s life?
d. Explain The relation between Srabosti and Buddha is very deep.
136 Buddhist Religious Studies


The history of Buddhism is closely related with the history of Buddhist Councils
(Sangiti). Because the words of the Buddha were correctly recorded and preserved
through these Councils. Gautama Buddha preached His doctrine for 45 years in
different places of India. During this period, He delivered sermons and advice to the
Bhikkhu Sangha and ordinary people. He recited many suttas and introduced rules for
the Dhamma and the Bhikkhu Sangha. His disciples committed these discourses and
sermons to memory. At that time many of His disciples were Arhats. All of them were
wise and had capacity of retention in memory.
Sthavir Ananda used to extend personal service to the Buddha. Ananda used to
commit to memory all the suttas recited by the Buddha. Then he narrated them to
others. The Bhikkhu Sangha used to learn the sermons and words of the Buddha and
then transmit them to all. At that time there was no system of writing those suttas and
messages. Even, if there were scripts, the prevailing system was to commit them to
memory. That was the system which people felt proud about.
During His last days, the Buddha allowed freedom to the Bhikkhus to make changes
in small and minor teachings. It is learnt that Ananda did not thoroughly acquire what
these minor teachings were. Hence there was accusation against Ananda in the first
Besides after the Mahaparinibbana (Great Passing Away) of the Buddha, some
Bhikkhu refused to adhere to the Sangha rules strictly. When various questions arose
on these rules, necessity was felt for all to sit together to arrive at unanimity about
Dhamma and Vinaya. For this reason Sangiti or Council was held. There are
differences of opinions among scholars regarding the number of Councils held since
the Mahaparinibbana of the Buddha until now. But all Buddhists of South East Asia
unanimously agree that six Councils were held. Of these three Councils were held in
ancient India, fourth Council in Sinhal, fifth and sixth Council in Burma (presentday
Myanmar). According to Sinhalese tradition, the fifth, sixth and seventh Councils
were held during the reign of king Tissa, Battagamini and Duttagamini respectively.
The entire Tripitaka was compiled and written in these Councils. Again according to
Burmese view, the fifth Council was held in Mandalay of Burma with the patronage
of king Mindanamin. Both Burma and Ceylon agree that the fourth Council was held
in Ceylon. At that time Battagamini was the king of Ceylon. Under his direction the
entire Tripitaka was written in palm-leaves. After the fifth Council, the volumes of the
Buddhist Councils 137

Tripitaka were engraved in 729 marble stones. The sixth Council was held in Burma
in 1954-56 when the entire text of Tripitaka was recited and tape-recorded.
According to legends of Siam (present-day Thailand), a total of nine Councils were
held. Out of these three Councils were held in India, four councils from the fourth to
the seventh in Ceylon and eighth and ninth Council in Siam. According to Mahavamsa
of Ceylon, the fourth and the fifth Councils were held in Ceylon.
First Buddhist Council
All sections of Buddhists are of the same opinion about the cause of holding the first
Council. Mahakassapa was not present at Kusinagar while the Buddha attained
Mahaparinibbana (Great Passing Away). He was going to Kusinagar from Pava with a
large number of Bhikkhus. On the way he heard the news of the Buddha's Great
Demise. He also knew that a Bhikkhu named Subhadra had advised the Bhikkhus who
are lamenting for the Great Master, to refrain from the grief because the Buddha was
no more to admonish them to observe so many Vinaya rules. Now they were free to do
whatever they liked.
Mahakassapa and many other senior monks became very anxious for preserving the
Buddha's Dhamma. Mahakassapa was determined to fulfil the Master's mission by
recording the teachings of the Buddha. Realising the fact, the learned Theras felt the
urgency of holding the first Buddhist Council in order to preserve the moral and
philosophical thoughts of the Buddha. With that hope, the leading Theras approached
Ajatasattu, the ruler of Magadha and discussed to convene Council at Rajagaha. The
king, firm believer of Buddhism readily agreed to provide them with food, lodge and
The Council took place at Rajagaha during the reign of king Ajatasattu. The
Sattapanni Guha (Cave) was selected for holding the Convocation. Ajatasattu, the
patron constructed a pandal in front of the Sattapanni cave. Mahakassapa Thera was
the President of the Council. All the members of the Councils consisted of Arhats. The
members of the main Council and the executive committee were limited to five
hundred. Ananda and Upali Theras were elected for reciting the Dhamma (Doctrine)
and Vinaya (Discipline) respectively. Mahakassapa Thera himself was unanimously
elected for putting questions to both of them. At first Ananda was not included in the
Council, as he was not then an Arhat, but a place was vacant for him. Ananda
occupied that place immediately after attaining the same title.
The proceedings of the Council are mainly divided into three sections, (a) The
recitation of the Tripitaka ; (b) The charges against Ananda and (c) The trial of
Channa. The settlement of Vanaya laws was done by the leadership of Upali who was
138 Buddhist Religious Studies

entitled by the Master as Vinayadhara (skilled in the Discipline). The Vinaya was first
recited because it has been called the life of the Buddhist faith (Vinaya n`ama
Buddhasasanassa ayu). Mahakassapa put questions to Upali as to the inroduction of
four Parajikas (the gravest transgression of the rules for the Bhikkhus), its main
theme, occasion and the individual concerned, the amendment and the different
categories of its infliction and extermination of the convicted persons. In this way the
Sanghadisesa (where takes the Bhikkhus in the first, in the middle and in the end to
settle the offender), Aniyata (uncertainity of having an offence), Patidesaniya
(confession), Nissaggiya (abandonment), Pacittiya (expiation) etc.
The Dhamma (Doctrine) was recited by Ananda who was given the special title of the
Vahussutikas (who heard more from the Buddha). The questions by Mahakassapa
Thera to Ananda included the occasion of the sermons, individual persons, the
occasions of the Brahmajala Sutta, Samannaphala Sutta, Ambattha Sutta etc. In the
same procedure Ananda Thera recited the Digha Nikaya, Majjhima Nikaya, Anguttara
Nikaya, Samyutta Nikaya etc.
It should be noted that there is no mention of Abhidhamma Pitaka recited in the first
Buddhist Council. It might have included in the Dhamma. In later days it was
separated from the Dhamma.
At the conclusion of the conclave, Anada Thera was charged with Seven offences.
First of them was about the lesser and his minor precepts (Kuddanukuda
Sikkhapadani). At the time of the Parinibbana, the Buddha told the Bhikkhus to
abolish the lesser and minor precepts. Ananda could not explain clearly what were
these for which the Assembly of the Bhikkhus faced a lot of troubles in later days.
None of these charges seem to have any logical validity, because Ananda had not done
it with evil intention. However, Ananda accepted these charges as proper and
confessed the same. The Assembly was satisfied by his modesty.
At the end of the Council Bhikkhu Channa, faced the highest penalty
(Brahamadanda). He was a charioteer of prince Siddhartha. As a Bhikkhu he was not
only arrogant, but also had slighted the Sangha by his ill behaviour. The penalty
means a complete social boycott. When this severe punishment was imposed on him
he was much repentent. As a result the punishment was automatically withdrawn.
Afterwards he attained Arhatship.
The Council took four months time to complete the all sessions. The first Council is
called 'Pancasatika' Council, as it was participated by five hundred Arhats. It is also
called Sthavirbad as it was completed by Sthavirs.
Buddhist Councils 139

Second Buddhist Council

The second Buddhist Council was held at Vaisali during the reign of King Kalasoka,
hundred years after the Mahaparinibbana of the Buddha. Seven hundred Arhat
Bhikkhus were selected to hold the meeting. All of them were learned and well-versed
in the Tripitaka.
The main reason for convening the second Council was the negligence of the Vinaya
rules by the Vajjian monks (the Bhikkhu of the Vajji territory). They were in the habit
of ten indulgences which are called Dasavatthuni. These are the following :
1. The carrying of salt can be preserved in the horn for the future.
2. The taking of food after the shadow goes up two fingers broad.
3. The taking of second meal in the villages on the same day.
4. The performance of Uposatha (Sabbath day) ceremony in various places of the
5. The taking of sanction of the Sangha to an act after it is done provisionally.
6. The act of following a customary tradition.
7. The drinking of butter-milk in the afternoon.
8. The drinking of toddy.
9. The using of rugs which have no fringe.
10. The accepting of gold or silver or money of any kind.
All these indulgences are illegal according to Cullavagga of the Vinaya Pitaka. Yasa,
the son of Kakandaka regarded these practices as illegal. He preached it to the public
and asked them to forbid the Vajjian monks to carry out these practices. Thereby the
Vajjian monks opposed him to do it and pronounced on him a penalty of Patisaraniya
Kamma (Confessional action), which requires to apologise to the laity for his insolent
behaviour. Yasa, defended his view by giving an eloquent advocacy of it to the laity
and became successful in winning them over to his side. He gradually gathered large
number of supporters. He sent messengers to all directions. Venerable Sambhuta who
was a distinguished scholar supported Yasa, Venerable Revata Sthavir of great fame
joined them. Revata Sthavir discussed with Sabbakami Sthavir, the disciple of Ananda
Sthavir who was then living at Vaisali. Accordingly seven hundred learned Theras met
at the Valukarama monastery of Vaisali. Eight leading Theras formed the Arbitration
Committee to settle the dispute. Venerable Sabbakami was selected President of the
Committee and also of the General Council. Revata Sthavir presided the Council. The
question was also discussed in the full assembly. The unanimous decision was that the
Ten indulgences (Dasavatthuni) were unlawful and were against the Vinaya rules.
140 Buddhist Religious Studies

A big number of opposite party avoided this Council and they held another Council at
other side of Vaisali which was attended by ten thousand monks. So they called it a
Great Council (Mahasangiti) and the members of the Bhikkhus were treated as
Mahasanghikas who are the origin followers, of Mahayana Buddhism.
The seven hundred Theras including Sabbakami, Revata, Yasa etc. compiled the
Dhamma and the Vinaya just as in the first Great Buddhist Council.
The monks, after the second Council were divided into two groups, the Theravadis
and the Mahasanghikas or so to say, the conservatives and the liberals.
This Council continued eight months. It is known as 'Saptashatica Sangiti' as it was
participated by seven hundred Arhats. In this Council also Tripitaka was not written.
Third Buddhist Council
The third Buddhist Council is very important from the historical point of view. It is
one of the most important events in the career of Asoka. He was converted to
Buddhism by a tragic event during the time of Kalinga war. This was the turning point
in the history of Maurya dynasty . Since then Asoka, employed his vast resources for
propagation of Buddhism. He gave more donation to the Buddhist Sangha and made
so many monasteries and stupas.
The liberal donations and generous contribution not only encouraged the religious
persons to lead a homeless life (Anagarika) but also helped many unreligious and
unscrupulous elements to enter the Buddhist Sangha. Many heretics losing their
income were attracted by the prospects of the Bhikkhus. They continued to stay in the
monastery in the disguise of the Buddhist monks and began to preach their false
doctrine. The number of heretics became larger. The regular monks refused to hold
Uposatha with the false monks. The ecclesiastical ceremonies like Uposatha,
Pravarana etc. remained suspended. Hearing this, Asoka gave genuine order to hold
the Uposatha. But the order was misunderstood by a minister. He influenced by the
heretics, commanded the soldiers to behead the monks who disobeyed the order of the
king. As a result several hundred.Bhikkhus in the Buddhist faith were killed as they
were unwilling to hold the Uposatha with the heretics and corrupt Bhikkhus. When
this sad news was reported to emperor Asoka, he became very much perplexed. He
could not find the way to remove his doubt. So he sent a messenger to bring
Moggalliputta Thera, the leading monk. The Thera was first reluctant to come, but at
last he agreed to come. The Thera advised the emperor and persuaded him to convene
a Council in order to decide the true teachings of the Buddha. The Thera interviewed
Buddhist Councils 141

all the heretical monks and ditected their false interpretation and expelled them from
the Sangha. The false monks and heretics were disrobed by the Emperor. Thus the
Buddhist Sangha was purified and the true Bhikkhus performed the Uposatha in order
to purify the entire Sangha from the evil elements.
Moggalliputtatissa Thera selected one thousand learned Theras for convening the
Council to compile the Tripitaka. The Theras admitted the authenticity of the first two
Councils held at Rajagaha and Vaisali. They compiled the Tripitaka according to the
method adopted in those Councils. In all the sessions Moggalliputtatissa Thera
Subjects approved by the Council were as follows :
1. All monks who participated in this Council unanimously agreed that the Rules of
Dhamma and Vinaya adopted by the first and second Councils were the utterings
made by the Buddha and advice given by Him.
2. The Dhamma and Vinaya recited and compiled in the first and second Councils,
were again approved in the third Council.
3. In the third Council Dhamma was divided into two sections called Sutta and
Abhidhamma based on compilation by Ananda in the first Council. As a result
the teachings of the Buddha were divided into three section Vinaya, Sutta and
Abhidhamma which together constitute the Tripitaka.
4. One of the developments in the third Council was the compilation of
Kathavatthu which was incorporated into Abhidhamma.
The author was Moggalliputtatissa, Thera himself. It is the only book in the Tripitaka
ascribed to a definite author.
Soon after the third Buddhist Council, emperor Asoka sent missionaries to different
parts of Asia, Africa and Europe. The son and daughter of emperor Asoka-Mahinda
Thera and Sanghamitta Theri respectively were sent to Ceylon (Srilanaka) where they
preached Buddhism. Theri Sanghamitta also planted a branch of Mahabodhi tree of
Buddhagaya and it is still worshipped by the Ceylonese and Buddhist pilgrims from
the Buddhist world.
The name of Great Emperor Asoka has become ever lasting for his contribution in the
expansion and development of Buddhism.
142 Buddhist Religious Studies


Multiple Choice Questions

1. Ho w many Arhata vikkhus were selected in the third council?

a. 500 b . 1000
c. 1500 d. 2000

2. Wh y was the first council called?

i. because some vikkhushanghas did not practise the rules properly
ii. to cry in jo y after the parinirvana of Buddhas
iii. to be unanimous about religion and vinaya by the all he vikkhus

Which one is corr ect?

a. i b . i and ii
c. ii and iii d. i and iii

Read the passage below and answer questions 3 and 4.

Prkash Barua lives in Ramu, an upazila. There are a couple of Buddhist temples in
this area. Once there was a controversy about the religious instructions among four
temples. Then the Sangha Raj and the deputy Sangha Raj called an assembly together.

3. If a situation lik e that arises in your area what do you hope to be the
a. to e xpel the defendant from the sangha
b . to e xpel both the opponents
c. to reach a in consensus an assembly
d. to pray help from the Court

4. The main aim of an assembly is

a. to tak e decision according to the instruction of Lord Buddha as described in
T ripitaka
b . to enjo y together
c. to endea vour together to achieve virtues
d. to endea vor together to attain Nirvana
Buddhist Religious Studies 143

Part 2
Creative Questions:
Komol Marma, astudent of class 9 learned from his teacher that Sthabir Ananda was
not accepted in the First Sangeeti. A seat was reserved for him, because he was the
closest follower of Buddha and could retain what had been heard. Sthabir Ananda
took his seat supernaturally just at the time of the starting of the Sangeeti.
a. Where w as the first Sangeeti held?
b . Wh y was Ananda not accepted in the first Sangeeti? Explain.
c. What is your function if there is an y misconduct according to the Sangeeti?
Write in detail.
d. Ananda was the closest follower of Lord Buddha and could retain what
had been heard. Justify the statement.
144 Buddhist Religious Studies


Social and religious conditions in Pre-Buddba Age

India was under the dominant influence of Vedic Brahmanic religion before the advent
of the Buddha. At that time India was divided into a number of small kingdoms. Kings
used to collect paddy, domestic animals etc. as tax. There were kings, priests or
Brahmans, respectable persons and cultivators in the society. Priests or Brahmans
used to hold sacrificial rites to worship Brahma and other gods. The general belief
was that one can go to heaven with the blessings of Brahma. They believed that
Brahma was the creator of earth and men.
Brahmans used to preach that Brahma has created human beings from his different
limbs. Brahman was created from his mouth, Kshatriya from his hand, Vaisya from
his thigh and Sudra from the dust of his feet. Brahman therefore speak on behalf of
gods, Kshatriya are warriors, Vaisyas are traders and Sudras belong to servant class.
Besides sacrificial rituals, various kinds of incantations and mystical trivialities were
prevailing among the common masses. This kind of religion could not satisfy the
educated. thoughtful persons of the society. Hence they were in quest for different
path to seek truth. Kshatriya were pioneers in this respect. They could not feel happy
by following the path of traditional religion. Besides Vedas and Upanishads were
limited within rituals and sacrifices.
In this way Vedic political activities engulfed the society. The entire country was
inundated with the blood of animal slaughter for sacrificial rituals. The Brahmins used
to preach that wealth can be attained through Vedic sacrificial rituals. This will also
lead to sound health. Such rituals will bring good result in this World and also
hereinafter. Men did not realize that lasting benefit cannot be achieved through rituals.
Men became discontented against this and there arose the concept of Four stages such
as Brahmacariya (asceticism), householder life, renunciation and Sannyas. Next came
the concept of emancipation. There was a consciousness of revolt against sacrificial
rites. Men began to think how to attain correct knowledge. Some thought insects, trees
etc. must have souls. Again controversy arose whether God existed or did not exist.
Beyond the Vedic religion, anti-Vedic thoughts also prevailed. Travelling ascetics used
to preach these views. Among them, those to be specially mentioned are Jain
preachers. Parsanath of Kashi preached this doctrine about two hundred fifty years
before the advent of the Buddha. Mahavir of Jain religion was born 24 years before
History Of Buddhism 145

the Buddha. Besides saints, used to live in hermitage. They used to study Vedas and
earn livelihood by teaching students. They had greater influence than the Brahmins
among the common masses.
Gautama was born in the content of this situation.
Conditions during the time of the Buddha
India was then divided into sixteen Mahajanapadas or the sixteen great territories, viz.
Anga, Magadha, Kashi, Kosala, Vajji, Malla, Cedi, Vatsa, Kuru, pancala, Maccha
(Matsya), Surasena, Assaka, Avanti, Gandhara, and Kamboja. Each of the territory
was named after the tribe who colonized it. There was no mention of Sakya territory
in the sixteen Mahajanapadas. It was under Kosala Kingdom. It was treated as as a
tributary state. Suddhodana, the father of Siddhartha Gautama was the king of this
state. The rulers of the sixteen Mahajanapadas was called Emperors. Bimbisara was
the emperor of Magadha, whereas Prasenjit was the sovereign of Kosala.
At that time there were 63 Sramana doctrines including Buddhist religion. There were
Gurus of Ajivaka community. Among Ajivaka Guru Mokkhali Gosat, Ajit
Keshakarrrbal, Sanjay, Kachayan were famous. Before attainment of Buddhahood
Gautama learnt doctrine under one of them. Among 63 doctrines, Buddhist religion
was included.
But Buddhist religion attracted the world within a short time. Mahavir was the
founder of Jainism. Rajagriha was the main place of his preaching. There is no
mention of his meeting with Gautama. There were also the worshipper of Agni
(Fire). Another community was Jalabasi. Here is referred to religious groups which
practised many strange rituals. Then India was called jambudvipa. The administrative
policy was city centred like Greeks. Monarchy was about to be introduced. Ajatasattu,
the king of Magadha, Prasenjit, the king of Kosala were extending their Kingdoms
Lokayat philosophy of Carvak was also prevalent. Of all the founders of the religious
the Buddha was popular. He advised people to avoid the two extremes, austerity and
earthly pleasure. The Four Noble Truths are the principle Theory of His doctrine. This
Theory is related to Sufferings and the cessation of Sufferings. The cessation is called
Nibbana or Emancipation. The Noble Truth is the Atthangika Magga or the way to
cessation of Sufferings. Compassion to all beings was the essence of new religion
which attracted the common masses. Thus the Buddha became prominent.
All other Philosophical thoughts besides Carvak and Jaina philosophies belong to later
ages. Only Rig Veda was composed before the Tripitaka. Brahman Samhita, Samhita
146 Buddhist Religious Studies

and Samkha philosophy were written after the Buddha. Caste discrimination was part
of Brahrninic religion.There were elements of caste system even in Jaina religion. The
Buddha shattered the barriers of caste system. Barbers, low caste Sudras and Vaisyas
could be ordained as monks to become part of the Bhikkhu Sangha.
The Buddha preached His doctrine in Jambudvipa, as India was then known. Its
boundaries lay in the north near the Himalayas with Kapilavastu, Sravasti and Buddha
Gaya and in the south to the Vindya mountains. From Sankasya in the west to Anga and
Vaisali in the east, Buddha preached His religion. According to Ceylonese, the Buddha
visited their country while the Burmese thought that He had visited Burma also.
Magadha became a strong kingdom before the Mahaparinibbana of the Buddha.
Ajatasattu and his son Udaya were powerful kings. Then Sisunag ascended the throne
of Magadha. The second Council was held during the reign of Kalasoka, son of
Sisunag. The first Council was held at the time of Ajatasattu. Then Alexander invaded
India. Much is not known about propagation of Buddhism during this period. King
Menander of Afganistan had extensive dialogues on Buddhism with Bhikkhu
Nagasena which formed the basis of the famous book 'Milinda prasna'. The king was
a devotee of Buddhism.
Buddhism during Maurya Period
Chandragupta was the first king of Maurya dynasty. A war took place between him
and the king of Nanda dynasty. Chandragupta defeated the king. His son was
Bindusara. Little is known of Bindusara's reign. His son was Asoka. Asoka became
the king of Maurya empire after Bindusara. His name was 'Devanam piya piyadasi' as
found in his inscription. The Kalinga war was turning point in the Emperor's life. The
country was conquered eight years after his coronation. Here more than one lac
people were killed. At this his mind was plunged into sorrow. He was converted to
Buddhism by Nigrodha Sramana. The Sramana produced on the Emperor a deep
psychological effect and the cumulative result was his turning of mind towards
Buddhism in quest of inner peace.
Being a follower of Buddhism he took the initiative of taking 'Dharmayatra'. He
appointed officers to preach the religion among the public. They were called
Dharmamahamatra. He made many edicts and pillars where he wrote the Buddha's
instructions. Teachings of the Buddha were inscribed in the slopes of mountains, pillars
in hills and even in caves. It disseminated Buddha's teachings throughout his empire.
Of them 34 have been discovered. These edicts inscribed messages of respect to
elders, compassoin to living beings, donation to Bhikkhus, Sramanas and poor, to
History Of Buddhism 147

behave well with relatives, friends and servants, kindness to all, purity of life,
truthfulness and charity. All people lived happily in his empire. He was liberal to all
religions. Asoka identified the sacred places related to the Buddhism and erected
pillars there.
In the Buddhist tradition he is credited with the construction of 84, 000 stupas
throughout India on the sacred relics of the Buddha. The object of it was to attract all
people of the country towards Buddhist religion.
The religious tour (Dharmayatra) of Asoka is significant. He paid visit to important
Buddhist religious places. During these tours the Emperor made religious gifts,
erected monuments at sacred places and also had discourse with the people. Asoka
organised at Pataliputra the third Buddhist Council. During, this Sangiti, differences
of opinion between pious and unpious monks were resolved through his efforts. Asoka
sent his son Mahendra and daughter Sanghamitra for propagation of Buddhism in
Ceylon. King Tissa of Ceylon also used the title Devanam Piya in honour of Asoka.
An inscription records that he sent missionaries to central Asia, Europe and African
continent. His messages were translated in Greek language for propagation. His
Empire extended upto Kandahar of Afginistan. Inscriptions discovered there support
expansion of Buddhism there. The Iranian- speaking Combose tribes lived near
Kandahar and embraced Buddhism. The entire south India also came under the
influence of Buddhism. The Dharmadutas travelled at Java, Sumatra and Tibet.
The Maurya reigned for a total of 137 years in Magadha. After annihilation of the
Maurya, the Sungas ascended the throne land did not patronize Buddhism.
An inscription of Asoka in Brahmi scripts was discovered in Mahastan of Bogra.
Pundravardhana region of the ancient Bengal developed as an important centre of
Buddhism. Lalita Vistara, a biography of the Buddha composed in the second century
has made mention of Bengal. Buddhism spread of Bangladesh even before Asoka's
reion. Chinese pilgrim Huen Tsang has recorded in his travel account of having
witnessed stupa constructed by Asoka in ancient Bangladesh.
Buddhism in Kushana period
The Kushana dynasty reigned in the first century A.D. This Empire was formed with a
vast region from Magadha (or Bihar) to north-western India and same area of middle
Asia and Afganistan. Kaniska was the greatest of all kings of this dynasty. At first he
was not a Buddhist. He came close to philosopher Pasava, a renowned Buddhist
scholar. Like Asoka also he turned his new Indian Empire into a Buddhist Empire. He
was very careful for the development of Buddhist religion.
148 Buddhist Religious Studies

During his time Bhikkhus started developing difference of views on various issues.
Kaniska tried to bring harmony among the monks. With the advice of 'his preceptor
Pasava, he convened a Council for the collection and modification of Buddha's
teaching. He invited all the monks representing different Buddhist sects at Jalandhar.
Five hundred senior monks were selected for holding the convocation. The king built
a big monastery named Kundalavana vihara for the accommodation of the monks.
This is the fourth Buddhist Council. The Council was held at Kundalavana with
Pasava in the chair. In the Council the original-Tripilaka was not collected but
commentaries were prepared. These commentaries were Vibhasa Sastra and the
language was used in Sanskrit in lieu of Pali. This Council is known as Kaniska
Council or Sabastibadi Council.
Kaniska made many Stupas and Ceteyas for the expansion of Buddhist religion. It is
known that he sent missioneries to China and Middle Asia. At the time of Kaniska the
distinguished scholars like Asvaghose, Vasumitra etc. wrote many books. Kaniska
himself was very learned emperor. He made edicts in different places of his kingdom
where he wrote many advices. A large edict as such has been found in Afganistan.
Buddhism flourished during the reign of Gupta period. During Gupta period after
Kaniska, the Chinese traveller, Fa-Hien once visited India. He had mentioned the
flourishing condition of Buddhism in Bangladesh. A Bodhisattva image had been
found during the excavation of Mahastangarh at Bogra and a Buddha image at
Viharail of Rajshahi. It is proved by these excavations that Buddhism was also popular
in Bangladesh.
Buddhism in Pala period
At that time there was no king. Might was right, during that period. The people of
Bengal in desperation called on Gopala and selected him as their king. He was the
founder of the Pala dynasty. In 750 A. D. he became the king. Pala dynasty ruled for
400 years.
All Pala rulers were Buddhists. During Pala rule cultural and religious ties were
established with Sumatra, Java, Bali islands etc. Buddhism spread there earlier.
Odantapuri of Magadha, Sompuri vihara at Paharpur, Vikramsila vihara were
established during the first century of the Pala rule. During their reign other Buddhist
establishments, monasteries and stupas such as Traikutaka of West Bengal, Devikot of
North Bengal, Pandit vihara of Chittagong, Phullahari of Bihar, Pattikera of
Maynamati, Sannagar and Vikrampuri vihara of Vikrampur and Jagaddal vihara of
History Of Buddhism 149

Rajshahi are mentionahle. King Mahipal repaired many viharas of Sarnath and
Buddha-Gaya and established new viharas.
Vajrayana, Sahajyana and Kalacakrayana-the main divisions of Mahayana Buddhism
were also prevalent at that time. During this period Dipankar Srigann, a renowned
Bengalee Buddhist scholar went to Tibet to preach Buddhism. Dharmapala
established viharas and gave donation to shape the Nalanda Mahavihara as new one.
He established Sompur vihara and also offered fund for the maintenance of the
monastery and the Nalanda University. Many scholars and learners from Tibet,
Mongolia, China etc. would come to those Viharas to have higher education. The
Tibetan and Indian Scholars translated many books and carried it to Tibet, Kashmir,
Nepal and China.
Bengali language owes origin in Pala age. Buddhist Caryapada and Doha-specimen of
original Bengali. language were written during this period. From 8th to 11th century
A.D. these were composed. Buddhist sculptures and arts rapidly developed. At this
time Shakta, Vaisnab and Brahman religion prospered. Though the Pala rulers were
Buddhists by faith and ardent patrons of Buddhism, yet they offered gifts to the
Brahmans. Such religious toleration was in evidence during the entire period of
administration of the Palas of Bengal.
Pre-Modern Age
It is very difficult to trace the history of Buddhists of Bangladesh from 1700 to 1800
A.D. But at that time Buddhists lived in Chittagong, Chittagong hill tracts, Noakhali,
Comilla and Patuakhali. Besides there were some Buddhists in regions around
Rashahi and Dinajpur.
During that period Chakma, Barua, Marma and Rakhaine used to live in Chittagong.
It is gathered from history that Buddhists with title 'Barua' migrated from Magadha
and settled in Chittagong journeying through Assam, Comilla and Noakhali. In 1201
A.D. Bakhtear Khilji attacked Magadha (present day Bihar). At that time Lakshmana
Sen was ruler of Magadha and Bengal. Lakshmand Sen was defeated by Bakhtiar
Khilji. During this period, a group of Buddhists, migrated eastward. It is learnt that
they were the ancestors of present-day Buddhist of Chittagong, Comilla and Noakhali.
Comilla region was then ruled by Pattikera kings. The king Ranabanka Malla was
Buddhist and reigned from 1204 A.D. to 1220 A.D. Lalmai- Maynamati of Comilla
was then a prosperous area of Samatata. Salavan vihara and pattikera vihara were
glorious seats of Buddhism in Maynamati.
The Buddhists of Comilla used as their title 'Singha' which means the most superior.
The word 'Singha' is associated with Sakyas. Grand father of Gautama was Sinhahanu
150 Buddhist Religious Studies

and another name of Gautama is Sakya Sinha. The Buddhists of Comilla believe that
they are the descendants of Sakyasingha.
The Buddhists of Arakan were rulers of Chittagong in the Eighteenth century.
Chakma king Shermusta Khan ruled Chittagong at that time under the Arakanese
ruler. Chakmas believe that they came to Chittagong from Champak nagar which is
somewhere near Comilla. Some others believe it to be somewhere east of Burma.
Shermusta Khan reigned from 1737 A.D. to 1758 A.D. In 1757 the English defeated
Sirajaddoulah in the battle of Plassey and occcupied Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. The
Chakma king was engaged in battle with the English upto 1787. His kingdom had as
boundary Lushai hill to the north, Dhaka Trunk Road to the south, the Sangu river to
the east and the Feni river to the west.
During this period Chakma, Chak, Khiyang, Tanchanga and Barua Buddhists lived in
this area. All were Budhists and lived with Hindus, Muslims and Christians of
Chittagong. Chittagong and Chittagong Hill Tracts constituted one single district or
region at that time.
Around 1774 Marmas settled in Ramu and Matamuhuri area. After 30 years they
established Bandarban town. Around 1784, Rakhaine Buddhists started settling in
Patuakhali region of Barisal. As Chittagong region was under the influence of
Buddhists, some Marma or Magh came to Dhaka. Bara Maghbazar and Maghbazar
still bear the memory of their settlement. The Dhamrai region of Dhaka district is the
changed name of Dharmarajika. Ancient name of Savar was Sahor. Ruins of an
ancient Buddhist monastery have been discovered at Sahor. Atish Dipankar studied in
this monastery.
In the Eighteenth century, Baruas settled in the regions of Rangunia, Rauzan,
Fatikchari, Sitakundu, Boalkhali, Patiya, Satkania, Bashkhali of Chittagong district.
Barua, Marma and Rakhaine together had dominance in Cox's Bazar and Tekhnaf.
Barua means Bara Ariya or Great Ariya. Barua Buddhists also used titles such as
Talukder, Mutsuddi, Chowdhury etc.
Capital of Chakma kingdom was first somewhere near Satkania or Ranlu. The word '
Satkania' derived from 'seven daughters' or-Chakma princesses. There is still a place
named 'Chakma kul' in Ramu police station. The name of the village Shakpura is
believed to have derived from 'Chakmapur':
In 1785 A.D. capital of Chakma kingdom was established in Rajanagar village of
Rangunia police station. In 1869 the Chakma capital was shifted to Rangamati,
because the headquarters of Chittagong Hill Tracts was shifted from Chandraghona to
History Of Buddhism 151

Religious high priest of Buddhist is called Bhikkhu and all religious activities are
carried through him. The Bhikkhus together constitute Bhikkhu Sangha. Buddhism
was under the influence of Tantric rituals during Eighteenth century. The entire North
Indian region came under Tantric Buddhism under the influence of Mahayana. The
songs of 'Caryapada' the original specimen of Bengali Language bear this influence.
These influences prevailed among the Buddhists of Chittagong region also. Those
Buddhists who had migrated from Magadha and settled in Chittagong did not have
any religious book. They were unable to carry manuscripts in palm-leaves while
migrating. This was a period of great crisis for the Buddhists. On the other side
Chakmas lost their kingdom and took shelter in Chittagong hill Tracts.
In North Bengal, there were still some Buddhists in Rangpur, Rajshahi, Bogra among
the Rajavamshis. Besides some other Buddhists were withdrawing themselves into
Flickering light of Buddhism burnt for long in and around Mahastangarh. There are
still some Buddhists in North Bengal. The Eighteenth century is called the period of
decline of the Buddhists of Chittagong, Noakhali, Comilla, Patuakhali and North
Buddhism in Modern Age
The Twentieth century begins from 1901 and now we are in the last phase of this
The combined history of Chakma, Marma and Barua Buddhists is relevant to study
the history of Bangladesh. Chakmas, Marmas and Tanchangas live in three hill
distircts of Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachari. Barua, Chowdhury and Singha
Buddhists live in Chittagong, Noakhali and Comilla respectively. Their combined
history is the history of Buddhists of Bangladesh.
The history of Buddhists in the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries is one of
transitions from darkness to light. The Buddhists were plunged during the entire
Nineteenth century. Superstitions and Tantric practices strongly influenced Buddhism
during this period. Many gods and goddesses alien to Buddhism exercised strong
influence in Buddhism.
Chakma king Gyanbaksha died in 1800 A.D. He fought against the British throughout
his life. Commander Runu Khan was his companion. In 1787 he surrendered to the
British by payment of revenues. After his death Dharambaksh Khan became king. He
was succeeded by Rani Kalindi after his death. The British did not acknowledge her
as Queen for a long time. In 1844 the British officially acknowledged her as the
152 Buddhist Religious Studies

Queen. She reigned until 1873. In1860 the British formed the District of Chittagong
Hill Tracts comprising the entire hilly region of the Chittagong District.
Chakma queen Kalindi occupies an important place in the history of Buddhists for
many reasons. She made life-long endeavours for the upliftment of subjects. In 1804
Bomang Kingdom was established in Bandarban known as the king of Marmas. She
made a lot of contribution for the upliftment of Marmas.
In 1856 Sangharaj Saramedha, a famous monk of Burma (Myanmar) visited
Chittagong. He made significant contribution to the religious history of Buddhists. It
has been mentioned earlier that Tantric Practices exercised dominant influence on the
Buddhists of Chittagong. Monks could neither understand nor explain the
fundamental teachings of Buddhism, as no books were available. Despite Tantric
influence, Buddhists could not forget Gautama Buddha. They worshipped the Buddha,
Dharma and Sangha but many used to worship Tantric gods and godesses also.
Sangharaj Saramedha visited Chittagong along with some disciples and accepted
hospitality of Radharam Mahasthavir at Sitakundu. From there he went to village
Mahamuni Pahartali which is a famous centre of Buddhism. A big fair is held there
every year on the occasion of Chaitra Sankranti (Year-end) and the New year. When
the fair begins, Chakmas and Marmas visit the fair and famous Mahamuni Temple.
Sangharaj Saramedha stayed here for two years and propagated Theravada Buddhism.
He made endeavours to reform existing ill practices and eliminate superstitions among
both monks and laity. He succeeded in bringing about a new rejuvenation in the social
and religious lives of the Buddhists. It created a new wave of reawakening to Chakma,
Marma and Barua community.
Queen Kalindi invited Sangharaj to her palace at Rajanagar. Superstitions pervaded
the royal family also. The queen was indoctrinated to Theravada Buddhism under
Sangharaj in a new way. This event vastly influenced the Chakma Buddhists. In 1857
the queen invested Sangharaj with a royal title during the royal revenue collection
ceremony. After sometime Sangharaj returned to Burma. In 1864 he again visited
Chittagong with another batch of monks.
At that time differences of opinion arose among the monks of Chittagong. The monks
got divided into two sects. One is known as Sangharaj Nikaya and the other as
'Mahasthavir Nikaya'. Chakma, Marma and Rakhaine monks joined the Sangharaj
Nikaya. The lay followers were also divided into the two sects but social rituals and
mutual marital relationship among all continued as before. But the monks of the two
sects refrained from performing religious rituals together. The lay followers respected
monks of both sects.
History Of Buddhism 153

During this period English education began to spread among Buddhists. They started
visiting Calcutta for higher studies. Monks started visiting Burma and Srilanka for
religious education. Buddhists left for Arakan, Burma, Calcutta, Tipperah and Assam
in quest of business and jobs. Though Buddhists are mainly agriculturists,
professional groups such as doctors, engineers, lawyers, teachers etc. began to
emerge. They also turned to non- government jobs and business side by side with
looking for Government jobs.
The principal religious festivals of Buddhists are Buddha Purnima, Asari Purnima,
Aswini Purnima, Kathinacivar festival, Madhu Purnima and Maghi Purnima. Besides
these, Biju festival is held on the occasion of Bengali year ending and New year. This
festival continues for seven days on the occasion of the New year. Fairs are held in
Pahartali Mahamuni, Rajanagar Mahamuni, Rangamati Rajvihara, Chakrasala etc.
Jhum fire is ablaze when overgrowth in the hills are burnt. Chakmas and Marmas
complete Jhum fire in the month of Chaitra. Then they celebrate Biju festival. When
rains start in the month of Vaisakha they cultivate in Jhum lands and start plantation of
seeds. This is called Jhum cultivation.
Public holiday is observed on the occasion of Buddha Purnima. Special programmes
are broadcast on this day from Radio and Television. Besides verses from the
Tripitaka are recited throughout the year.
Every Buddhist has to be ordained as Samanera at once in life. It is virtuous to lead
religious life for at least seven days in the temple as a Samanera. Besides Buddhists
go on pilgrimage, normally in the months of Aswin and Kartik.
The Bangladesh Government has constituted Buddhist Welfare Trust in 1984.
Besides certificates are given in Pali by the Pali and Sanskrit Board which has under it
about 30 Tols. Besides M.A. Degree is awarded in Pali by the University. There are
Departments of Pali and Sanskrit in Dhaka and Chittagong Universities. Pali is taught
in various colleges.
The Buddhist population in Bangladesh according to 1991 Census is 6,23,000. The
number of Buddhist viharas and temple will be around 1000 with 2000 Bhikkhus and
Samaneras. Literacy among Buddhist is higher than followers of other religions. No
beggar is found among the Buddhists.
There are many religious and cultural organisations among the Buddhists. The oldest
organisation is Chittagong Buddhist Association established in 1895.
In 1950 the Bouddh Kristi Prachar Sangha was established. Besides there are other
Buddhists organisations such as Parbatya Buddha Sangha, Bangladesh Sangharaj
Bhikkhu Mahamandal, Bangladesh Bhikkhu Mahasabha, Parbatya Chattagram
154 Buddhist Religious Studies

Bhikkhu Samity, Rangunia Bhikkhu Samity, Rakhaine Marma Sangha Council,

Bangladesh Bouddha Yuba Parishad.
Among the famous and ancient viharas mention may be made of Pahartali Mahamuni
Vihara, Cox's Bazar Mahathindagri Vihara, Chitmaram Vihara, Bandarban Vihara,
Ramkot Vihara of Ramu, Rauzan Sudarshana Vihara, Raj Vihara of Manikchari,
Rajanagar Raj Vihara, Saidbari Dharmachakra Vihara and Ichamati Dhatu Chaitya
Every year a number of fairs are held in Buddhist vihara. Religious functions,
religious dramas, songs and kirtans are held in these fairs. Among famous Buddhist
fairs are Chakrasala fair, Rajvihara mela of Rangamati, Manikpur Parinirvana fair,
Machadia Chaitya fair, Ramkot fair, Satbaria Mahamuni fair, Chedir Pukur fair,
Binajuri Parinirvana fair, lchamati Dhatu Chaitya fair and Lathichari Buddha fair.
Dharmarajika Buddhist Temple, a famous Temple in Dhaka was established m` 1960.
Sacred ashes of Atish Dipankar and Hawakawya, a Japanese Buddhist leader have
been preserved here. The ashes of Atish Dipankar was brought from China.
There are some Buddhist religious and cultural monthly and miscellaneas. A
mouthpiece of Bouddha Kristi Prachar Sangha is Kristi. The journal of Pali Book
Society is 'Jyoti' while 'Anoma' is the mouthpiece of Anoma group. 'Maitri Bani' is the
journal of Parbatya Bouddha Sanglia, 'Sambodhi' is the name of the journal, of
Mttrma Buddhist Association.
Among Buddhist scholars and reformers, Kripasaran Mahastbavir Rani Kalindi, Raja
Bhuvanmohan Roy, Javana Tissa Mahathera, Shilalankar Mahathera, Visuddhananda
Mahathera, Umesh Chandra Mutsuddi. Dr. Benimadhav Barua, Professor Surendralal
Barua, Writer Birajmohan Roy; Professor Manindralal Barua, Girish Chanrdra Barua,
Prof. Pramode Ranjan Barua, Raja Aung Shwe, Prue and Asoka Barua are well-
Archaeological excavations have lead to the discovery of many ancient Buddhist
Viharas in Paharpur, Mahastangarh and Maynamati of Bangladesh. They stand as
monuments of pride to people belonging to all, religions. There are some ancient
Buddhist monuments in Sitakunda hill, Adinath hill of Maheshkhali, area south of
Rangunia college and Deyang hill. If excavation is carried out, many valuable
archaeological treasures will be found out.
You need to study a lot to know ancient heritage. You should visit the places
mentioned here. It is necessary to know the people of the country side by side with
acquiring knowledge about religion. Though the places of pilgrims are located outside
the country, you will have opportunity to visit them and know the people of that
History Of Buddhism 155

country. It is necessary to know people of different religions. This helps in the

development of friendship among nations.
Buddhism has been perished from this sub-continent for many reasons. But the
glorious history is scattered in different regions of India and Bangladesh.
Archaeological excavations have led to their discovery. The number of people
following Buddhism in Bangladesh is very few. The Government has taken
responsibility to preserve archaeological sites in Rajshahi., Rangpur, Bogra, Comilla
and Chittagong. We should visit those places to know our history. The Buddha said,
''Knowledge is the vehicle for advancement.''

Multiple Choice Questions
1. Which country the Sangha Raj Saramedha Mahasthabir was fr om?
a. Thailand b . Tibet
c. Myanmar d. Sinhalese
2. Dipankar Srigyan went to Tibet-
i. to practise literature
ii. to disseminate the religion of Nirv ana.
iii. to visit the country
Which one is corr ect?
a. i b . ii
c. i and ii d. i and iii
Read the passage below and answer questions 3 and 4.
The teacher Debojyoti Chakma discussed in detail the history and tradition of
Buddhism in the class of Avijit Mutsuddi. According to him, one needs to study a lot
to know about the ancient tradition of Buddhism. It is also possible to achieve
knowledge by travelling to various countries.
156 Buddhist Religious Studies

3. Mutsuddi can kno w by travelling the religious places.

i. local information.
ii. about the people of v arious religions.
iii. the importance of seeing natural beauty.
Which one is corr ect?
a. i b . ii
c. i and ii d. ii and iii
4. It is necessary to pr eserve Buddhist history and tradition.
a. to compose the history of the w orld.
b . to impro ve Buddhism as the best religion.
c. to b uild an enriched world.
d. to nourish the Buddhist ci vilization and culture.

Part 2
Creative Questions
Debasish Chakma was listening to the discussion about the history and tradition of
Buddhism from Silananda Sthabir before evening prayers. He gave wonderful
descriptions of the period of Goutom Buddha, Mourya Dynasty, Kushan Dynasty, Pal
Dynasty together with the modern Buddhist civilization and culture in brief. He asked
all to study properly the tradition of Buddhism of the subcontinent, which was almost
lost. In this respect he quoted the message of Lord Buddha, Knowledge is the boat to
move forward.
a. Write the name of a place of the time of Buddha.
b. Explain in brief the religious condition of the ordinary people of the period of
c. Discuss the necessity of nourishing the tradition of Buddhism in the life of
Debasish Chakma.
d. Knowledge is the boat to move forward.- write the underlying significance of
this statement.