Nikini is for restraining Sangha through a Dhamma Council
Monks staging a protest in Colombo
Elder Maha Kassapa’s Nikini Full Moon “Dear Kassapa, please advise these Bhikkhus and guide them from faltering in their code of conduct. You must please counsel them regularly, now. Preach them the Dhamma too. Or else, I myself will have to do so”. -Lord Buddha.
“O Lord, these Bhikkhus are now highly indisciplined. They are not amenable to correction. They often resort to their own ways. They do not show obedience or patience. They are not willing to abide by advice given to them for their own welfare and progress; instead they often misconstrue and misunderstand it.” -The First Sangayanawa [Convocation] was held on Nikini Poya
Bhikkhu Subhadda believed that the Buddha had been curtailing their freedom. The Thera, who became a monk in his old age, advised the mourning monks to celebrate the Parinibbana of the Buddha. “Celebrate brothers”, said Subaddha. He asked them not to weep, but, be happy that now they can do what they want, “The Master is no more; we are now free.”
O Lord, these Bhikkhus are now highly undisciplined. They are not amenable to correction. They often resort to their own ways. They do not show obedience...
Just 21 days after the Parinibbana of Buddha, Arahant Maha Kassapa decided that a great council must be held with the commencement of the rains retreat for the Sangha. It was held three months after the demise of the Buddha, at Sattapanni Rock Cave in Rajagaha, under the patronage of King Ajasatta. All matters concerning organising, planning and conducting were done under the auspices of Elder Maha Kassapa Maha Thera.
The council was attended by 499 Arahant Theras at the beginning and Ven. Mahakassapa Thera kept the 500th seat vacant for Ven. Ananda Thera, who attained Arahanthship on this Nikini Poya Day. The great Theravada Buddhist tradition flourishing today in countries such as Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Laos and Cambodia had its beginnings in the first Council.
Maha Kassapa Thera sent a message to all the participants, which conveyed that they should assemble in the hall constructed in front of Sapta Parni Cave. In the morning Arahants took their seats according to seniority, in the gaily decorated hall. Arahant Upali, chief among Vinaya experts, took a seat especially arranged in the centre and in reply to Maha Kassapa; he collated the disciplinary code [VinayaPitake]
Being abused and exploited at Buddhist religious rituals; surprisingly, at Buddhist Peraheras, the majestic pachyderms are made to walk miles on hot tarred roads...
Next, Arahant Ananda Thera took that special seat. As questioned and guided by Maha Kassapa Thera, he collated the entire code of Dhamma covering all five Nikayas. It was well known that all of those five hundred Arahants were experts on Dhamma and Vinaya. Having come to the end of the first Sangayana [Council], Elder Maha Kassapa entrusted the responsibility of preserving through memorizing and passing down to posterity, all the books of the entire code on Vinaya [discipline] to the chief of Discipline, Arahant Upali Mahathera and his retinue of pupils. Similarly, the responsibility of memorizing and preserving, and passing down to posterity all of the thirty four long discourses grouped as Dighanikaya to Arahant Ananda Thera and his retinue of pupils. The Middle length discourses [Majjimanikaya] to Elder Sari Putta Thera and his pupils. The Samyuktha Nikaya, to himself and his pupils, while the Anguttra Nikaya to Arahant Anuruddha Thera and his pupils. Foremost Place…, Protect, Responsibility Entrusted by Constitutional Charter
Foremost place and the responsibility guaranteed by Constitutional Charter to the Government through Clause 9 which reads as:
“The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana, while assuring protectionto all religions, the rights granted by Articles 10 and 14(1)(e).
The Government, in a sense, is given a free hand through this clause to act, directly intervene, question, acquire, obstruct, and proceed in any manner as it perceives as appropriate to preserve and uphold the moral behaviour of individuals, control of properties and financial discipline in relation to matters that lead to the protection, safety and fostering of the Buddha Sasana. It is rather depressing to learn that successive Governments had been guilty of dereliction of the sacred duty by the Sasana, even ignoring the Constitutional provision that the Buddhists had always clamoured for the inclusion and retention during compilation of a new Constitution.
Attempts by constitutional experts to delete the above provision from the nation’s basic law ‘under the pretext of instituting a Secular State’ had been met with severe opposition from ‘Maha Sangha’ and virtuous Buddhists, rather ‘Sinhala-Buddhists’.
“Anujanami Bhikkave Vassane Vassan Udaganja” - I advise oh monks! To observe the rainy retreat during the Rainy Season, under one roof. It is the foremost duty of the Government to pick up all those young saffron robe-clad monks parading the streets with lay students, at least during the rainy retreat four months. Senior Monks who engage in politics, conduct media shows ‘decorate’ political rallies with their saffron robes should be rounded up and handed over to the Nayake Theras for further action.
Placing Buddhism above other faiths and ensuring foremost or privileged status to it for the simple reason that it is the religion of seventy percent of Lankans ignites a reverse process. This is totally against the principles of Dhamma, which are based on teachings of Buddha. The problem here is the superficial manner in which most of us have grasped the profound and unfathomable teachings of Buddhism. One of the most sacred ethical principles of Dhamma is equality and compassion.
Buddhism injects equality by the very sentence that tells to show sympathy and care for all beings.
Buddhism does not encourage special treatment to a particular group, sect, sex or religion. Any type of discrimination based on race, caste, academic success, social status, position, wealth, power has no place in the Sasana. Another major teaching in Buddhism is the inter-woven and interdependent nature of all things. So, there is no possibility of anything that can be unequal to anything else.
Nayake Thera’s de facto State
Issuing two controversial statements in quick succession, the Asgiriya Chapter of Siam Nikaya and the Tri Nikaya Mahanayake Theras [Chief monks of the three Buddhist Nikayas] gave ‘notice’ to the Government warning against inaugurating a new Constitution as if they were being entrusted the task of running the country in parallel to the de jure State: It is a high-handed act by the prelates who failed to summon the political authority for talks prior to the release.
Kandy Esala Perahera faces elephant crisis –News item
This day has a special significance since the annual Kandy Esala Perahera ends on Nikini Poya. This famous Perahera, as anyone who has seen and had the opportunity to witness it will tell you, is indeed an experience in itself and should not be missed.
Traditional rituals and slaughter of animals had been taking place for a long time. Whatever the purpose behind it, this is a barbaric act. Some religious leaders opted to kill animals to satisfy the Gods. In performing traditional rituals so many women had been burned alive just because they lost their husbands-[Sathi] . These rituals have to be changed as the world advances. The news further says:
“This year’s Kandy Esala Perahera will be without its star attractions— the tuskers Nadungamuwe Raja, Wasana and Kelaniye Raja, while two other tuskers belonging to the Sri Dalada Maligawa would not take apart in the Perahera.”
The Maligawa officials said Nadungamuwa Raja and Wasana were among the elephants at the Kataragama Perahera while Kelaniye Raja would not be available for the Kandy Perahera beginning on July 29. He said usually three elephants were required to carry the sacred relic caskets, whereas only two other elephants would take part in the Perahera. Elephants form profound family bonds and live in firm matriarchal family groups of related females called a herd.
The herd is led by the oldest and often chief female in the herd, called a matriarch. Elephant calves and young elephants are being chained, roped and stretched, and hit with bull hooks. This is done to weaken the animals’ spirit so that they would comply with humans. The elephants often display signs of crippling injuries with brutal attacks. Biologists say with the help of the sensory cells in the feet of elephants, the vibrations pass through their bodies to their ear drums. [They even use these vibrations to be in touch with each other over fair distances.] Being abused and exploited at Buddhist religious rituals; surprisingly, at Buddhist Peraheras, the majestic pachyderms are made to walk miles on hot tarred roads, the cheapest mode of transport, which is extremely harmful to these nerve endings. This happens during long walks from home to temple abodes that help the organizers of such events to accumulate a-kusala kamma!
The news is encouraging; let them have even fewer animals next year. This callous disregard for the wellbeing of innocent animals in the name of the Buddha, the Great Compassionate One has to be stopped forthwith. May all beings be happy!