The Vesak full moon day dawns in early May this year. It is the most significant day for the Sri Lankan Buddhists since, time immoral in our Island’s history. The day is also significant for all other Buddhists the world. We revere this day as the “Themagul Day of Shakyamuni”, the Blessed One for teaching us the absolute truth of human life on earth and what it entails, In a very logical manner to understand: in the form of just Four Noble Truths, pointing to the easily understandable facts of life - i.e. impermanence of life on earth and all that is physical and material in the world. Implicit in this profound teaching is the tenet of loving kindness for all beings on earth and peace for all.
Buddha, the noblest son of India, had visited Lanka three times during his lifetime. His teaching had a profound impact on this country from ancient times. The History records how the teaching of the Blessed One, were brought to Sri Lanka by the son of Emperor Asoka, the Ven. Arahath Mahinda Thera, to the then king of Sri Lanka, Devanampiya Tissa in a goodwill gesture and as an expression of Emperor’s friendship - love to the king.This was a momentous event in Sri Lanka’s history of all times. This was followed by his sister, Sangamiththa Therani, bringing to Lanka a sapling of the Bodhi Tree under which Buddha sat and attained Buddhahood in Gaya India. This was planted in Anuradhapura in the 3rd century BC by the king and has survived all these years and it is growing magnificently, drawing large crowds daily. These events were followed by many other arrivals of Buddha’s Sacred Relics, including the renowned Dantha Dhathu in subsequent periods during various kings of Sri Lanka. These gradually led to building of elegant temples, shrines and stupas across the country as places of worship of Buddha and his teaching. His noble teachings deeply touched the minds and hearts of people in Sri Lanka turning them in to devoted Buddhists, with an outlook of compassion that persists even today.
Upholding to teachings of Buddha under Lanka’s benevolent rulers led to establishment of a welfare state, perhaps the first in the world and unifying the country as a sovereign nation in the Island. It created a unique civilization to producing a culture of art, architecture and literature together with the developed language of quality and elegance.This was despite the Island’s size and limited resources. This fact has caught the attention of Oxford historian, Toynbee who then remarked it as a puzzle in world history. The Sinhalese under the influence of Buddhism used and turned, practically most natural rock caves and rock outcrops, that dotted the Island landscape into elegant temples and shrines, to blend harmoniously with the surrounding environment as places of worship and meditation for Buddhist bhikkus. Some of these places and ruins today can still touch the beholder’s spiritual sensitivity deeply. These places were maintained by the generous donations of various kings and people alike to serve then and to last for posterity. Most of them would have had rich treasures of some sort given by various rulers and rich devotees. Unfortunately however the country did not maintain and possess a standing army to protect and defend the riches and wealth of such places. Consequently Lanka became an easy victim to foreign robbers and conquerers, near and far throughout the country’s history. But as a nation and people we survived a part of rich heritage and Buddhist outlook.
Today as we celebrate the week of Vesak in the month of May 2017, it is spring time for most countries in the cold north, that bring flowers and fruits, we in Sri Lanka witness a rapidly changing techno - economy across the world. It is a world yearning for order, peace and happiness for all beings, but this is not forthcoming. Everywhere one finds greed exceeding fear resulting thereby suffering for most beings. Buddha focused on this very problem and logically explained to us that everything being impermanent in life on earth, why should man become so greedy and suffer, when a sense of moderation in mind and peace at heart cultivated by self realization can surely lead to a more satisfying state of affairs for men and nations alike.
May all being be
well and happy