The time for offering of Katina Cheevera - thick robes for the rainy season to Buddhist priests who observed “Vas” or the rainy season sojourn ends on Il full moon poya day. Thus a series of meritorious activities connected with “Vas” and Cheevera puja also comes to an end. However, Il full moon poya day is of special significance to Buddhists due to numerous other religious events taken place on this day and during the month of Il. Sending missionaries for the first time for the propagation of Buddhism, conversion of three Kassapa brothers, “Devarohanaya” or descending from the celestial world, and the attainment of Arahant Sariputta’s parinibbana are the significant events that had taken place on this full moon poya day and during the month of Il. Apart from these it was on this full moon poya day that Gautama Buddha gave the positive assurance or explanation to Maithri Bodhisattva of becoming a Buddha.
A period full of religious activities comes to an end
The previous month had been a very busy month for Buddhist priests who had to participate in Katina pinkama ceremonies. They had to attend to pirith chanting ceremonies, Katina cheevara ceremonies in other temples and Katina perahera ceremonies in addition to organizing religious events in their own temples. Minds of laymen are also full of faith and piety having offered Katina cheevara and having participated in religious events in addition to listening to Dhamma.
The positive assurance or explanation to Maithri Bodhisattva of becoming a Buddha
Maithri Bodhisattva who had completed the performance of Buddhist Ordinances as a prerequisite of becoming a Buddha i.e. Paramita during a period of “Solos Assankeyya Kalpa Lakshaya” was a celestial being. He had departed from heaven during Gautama Buddha’s period and was born in Sankassa pura about 48 miles away from Shravasthi - Sewath Nuwara as the son of a rich nobleman named Siriwardhana.
He completed his studies under the great teacher “Disapamok” and inherited quite a lot of wealth from his parents. He had a large number of followers. He had the occasion to see “Devarohanaya“ Maha puja and listen to the discourse between the Buddha and Arahant Sariputta. He was delighted and entered into priesthood under Buddha with his following numbering about one hundred. He attained the higher ordination, learnt the Dharma and taught the others. This thera observed “vas” and received a couple of valuable Katina cheevara. He knew the efficacy or the effect of Katina cheewara puja and offered both to the Buddha. With one of them he made a canopy for Buddha’s fragrant house - Gandha Kutiya. He tore the other robe into strips and hung it at the edges of the canopy. Buddha explained the merits of offering cheewara and gave “Niyatha Vivarana” – permission to or assurance of becoming a Buddha.
Buddha told the followers that Maithri Bodhisattva would be born as the son of Sakwithi Raja –universal king Sanka in the Kethumathi kingdom during this Maha Badra Kalpa. Brahmani Badrawathi will be his mother. Banyan -Nuga tree will be his Bodhiya.
Maithri Bodhisattva worshipped the Buddha and accepted the Niyatha Vivaranaya. This happened on an Il full moon poya day such as this.
By the first Il full moon poya day, after Buddha’s Enlightenment there were 61 Arahants including the Buddha Himself. There were the five Brahmin ascetics, Kondanna, Bhaddya, Vappa, Mahanama and Assaji. Kondanna was the youngest of the eight Brahmins who were invited for prince Siddhartha’s naming ceremony. He foretold that prince Siddhartha would certainly become the Buddha. Together with Bhaddhya, Vappa, Mahanama and Assaji who were the sons of four other Brahmins retired to the forest in anticipation of prince Siddhartha’s renunciation. They attended to ascetic Siddhartha when he was striving to attain Buddhahood. After the enlightenment, Buddha expounded Dhamma Chakka Pavattana sutta and they attained Arahantship. Kondanna was the first to realize the four Noble Truths and the eightfold path to Nibbana, He was followed by the other four.
Conversion of Yasa and his followers
Next to be converted was Yasa, son of a millionaire in Benares who met Buddha while going away from home after realizing the vanities of worldly life. When Buddha expounded Dhamma Yasa, attained Arahantship. Venerable Yasa’s father came across the Buddha while going in search of his missing son and became the first lay disciple to take refuge in the Triple Gem, Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. Venerable Yasa’s mother and his former wife were the two female lay disciples of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. Venerable Yasa had fifty four friends. Having heard of Venerable Yasa’s conversion they too entered the Order and attained Arahantship.
Sixty Arahants to propagate Buddhism for the good and well being of humanity
Thus by the first Il Full Moon Poya day after the Enlightenment of the Exalted One there were sixty Arahants excluding the Buddha Himself. Buddha dispatched them in various directions to propagate the sublime Dhamma. ”Caratha Bikkhawe Carikan, bahu jana Hitaya, Bahujana Sukhaya” Buddha requested the first sixty Arahants to go forth for the good and happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the good, benefit and happiness of gods and men and to preach Dhamma which is excellent in the beginning, in the middle and at the end . He told them that no two should go in a single direction so that they could be of assistance to as many as possible.
He said that there were some who had lust in them but there were many who could understand Dhamma. With this exhortation Buddha dispatched His first sixty disciples to various directions and He Himself went to Uruwela in Senaigama.
It is better to seek oneself rather than to seek a missing woman
On His way to Uruwela Buddha met thirty young men. Twenty nine of them were with their wives. They had gone to a grove for amusement. The thirtieth prince who was a bachelor had taken a courtesan and that woman had fled away with the valuables of the others. When the princes were going in search of that woman they met Buddha and He explained to them that it was better to seek oneself rather than to seek a missing woman. They realized the truth and entered the Order and received the Higher Ordination.
Ordination of Jatila brothers
Buddha proceeded to Uruwela to be of service to the Jatila brothers who lived in Aramayas along the river Neranjana. The eldest Uruwela Kassapa who was very proud and arrogant lived in the upper part of the river with five hundred followers. Nadi Kassapa who had three hundred followers lived in the middle part of the river and the youngest, Gaya Kassapa lived in the lowest part of the river basin with two hundred followers.
Buddha first went to Uruwela Kassapa’s aramaya and subjugated him by displaying three thousand and sixteen miracles. Uruwela Kassapa who realized the truth entered the priesthood with his followers. Their crowns of matted hair were thrown into the river. Nadi Kassapa who saw his elder brother’s matted hair floating in the river rushed to his Aramaya to ascertain what had happened to his elder brother and followers. When he went there with his followers Buddha preached Dharma and all of them entered the priesthood. Gaya Kassapa and his followers too entered the priesthood in the same manner.
Additta Pariyaya sutta- All inflames
Kassapa brothers and their followers had developed their own spiritual attainments and they could understand Buddha’s doctrine without much difficulty. Buddha accompanied them to Gayasisa and preached the Aditta Pariyaya sutta - all in flames hearing which all of them attained Arahantship.
Buddha’s visit to King Bimbisara at Rajagaha Nuwara
In keeping with a promise made to King Bimbisara, Buddha proceeded to Rajagaha Nuwara accompanied by one hundred and three Arahants including Uruwela Kassapa, Nadi Kassapa and Gaya Kassapa. King Bimbisara went with a large following to receive the Buddha and pay respects to Him. It was a difficult task for King Bimbisara to realize whether Buddha was a disciple of Arahant Kassapa or Arahant Kassapa was a disciple of the Buddha. It so happened because Arahant Kassapa was held with high esteem as an ascetic.
After reading the king’s thoughts Buddha questioned fire worship. In order to clear the King’s doubt Arahant Kassapa explained why he had given up fire worship and said that Buddha was a Unique One and his teacher and that he was His disciple.
Offering of Veluwanaramaya - the Bamboo grove
The king and the people were happy about the clarification. In order to indicate that Buddha and Uruwela Kassapa were similarly converted in previous births too Buddha preached Maha Narada Kassapa Jatakaya. Having understood the Dhamma King Bimbisara attained Sowan, the first of the four paths to Nirvana. He invited Buddha and His followers to his palace for Dana and after offering Dana he also offered the Bamboo Grove - Veluwanaramaya for the use of the Buddha and His disciples.
Attainment of Arahant Sariputta’s Parinibbana
It was on a subsequent Il full moon poya day that Dharma Senadhipathi and one of the Buddha’s chief disciples, Arahant Sariputta attained Parinibbana.
Arahant Sariputta’s assistance to his mother
His mother, Rupasari did not believe in the threefold refuge and remained heretic even in her old age. Arahant Sariputta contemplated as to whether she possessed the virtues of attaining Nibbana by the cessation of all desires and of re-existence realized that she could attain Sowan, the first of the four paths to Nibbana. Hence after obtaining permission from the Buddha to attain Parinibbana Arahant Sariputta made an opportune visit to his mother followed by hundreds of thousands of weeping people who had heard about the Maha Thera’s Parinibbana. Maha Thera preached to his mother the virtuous properties of the Buddha such as the moral conduct, intelligence, sense of liberation knowledge of emancipation, and meditation vision and philosophy and loving kindness to convince her that Buddha was a peerless teacher and the Unique One.
After listening to her son patiently Brahmani Rupasari gave up her beliefs in heathenism and attained Sovan. Arahant Sariputta Maha Thera was happy that he could re-pay his mother for bringing him up.
After being of service to many including his own mother Arahant Sarikaputra Maha Thera attained Parinibbana on an Il Full Moon Poya Day.