Friday, January 06, 2006

Dhamma Talk in Thursday 4, 2006(Abbreviation)

Osothsnaeh asked Question:
- How does the Buddhism maintain Buddha's teachings? When was the Dhamma inscripted as the scripture?

Dhamma_online2005 asnwered the Question:
- There many periods of time in developing the maintenence of Buddha's teachings
1. Buddha's period : his teaching was organized and grouped into numbers like group one, group 2, group 3,..., until group 32 etc. This collection was done by Sariputta

1. First Council
About seven days after the Buddha had passed away, the Venerable Mahakassapa heard of His death, while he was resting on his way from Pava to Kusinara together with 500 Theras. All the junior Theras were plunged in deep grief and were weeping and lamenting. But a monk named Subhadda, who had entered the Order in his old age, was the only one that rejoiced over His death. "Grieve not, brothers," said he, "weep not, we are now delivered of that Great Ascetic. He constantly worried us, saying ' This is proper, this is not proper'. Now we are free to do what we like.

These unexpected words that fell from the lips of a disciple alarmed the Venerable Mahakassapa who became very concerned about the future of the Buddha's religious system, but kept quiet. When the Buddha's relics had been distributed, the Venerable Mahakassapa consulted the other Theras and suggested to them to hold a Council of leading Arahants to collect, classify and rehearse the teachings of the Buddha in order to protect and fortify the Sasana against such attacks as might be expected from monks of the type of Subhadda. They all welcomed the suggestion. King Ajatasattu was informed of the intention of the Samgha, and with his help the First Buddhist council was held at Rajagaha with 500 Arahants.

2. Second Council
About 100 years after the death of the Buddha, monks of the Vajji clan did certain acts which were not becoming of monks. They begged for money, even an anna (a nickel) or two, from lay devotees who came to the monastery on Uposatha days to keep their precepts. The Venerable Yasa then said that it was not fit for monks to handle money. For that reason, they imposed a Vinaya Act on the Venerable Yasa by which it was made obligatory for the person who said so to tender an apology to lay devotees for alleged interference with their charitable motives.

The Venerable Yasa went to the lay devotees and explained the true purport of the Buddha's teachings; and when the lay devotes understood it they showed no further respect to monks who begged for alms in cash. The Venerable Yasa approached the distinguished Arahants and asked them to adjudge the matter, and they pronounced that it was not lawful according to the Vinaya for monks to handle money. After which, 700 distinguished Arahants were chosen and the Second Buddhist Council was held to protect the Doctrine.

3. Third Council
King Dhammasoka understood the essence of Buddhism, and gave great support to the cause of Buddhism by erecting rock-edicts in all parts of his territory enjoining upon the subjects to follow the Doctrine in their daily lives. With his royal patronage Buddhism flourished, and the Sasana gradually grew in importance and numbers. Tempted by worldly gain, many undesirables of alien sects joined the Order and polluted the Sasana by their corrupt lives and heretical views which they taught.

Good monks could not live together with these sham monks and there was trouble. The King consulted the Venerable Moggaliputta Tissa to protect the Sasana. The King tested the monks and disrobed the undesirables to purify the Sasana. The third Buddhist Council was then held by 1000 Arahants, with the Venerable Moggaliputta Tissa as the presiding Thera.

4. Fourth Council
King Vattagamani Abhaya was a staunch supporter and defender of the Buddhist religion in the island of Lanka (Ceylon). One day when he was about to go out to fight the Tamil Kings, the King went to the monastery and said to the Mahathers, "Venerable Sirs, I shall have to go across the Ganga (the river) to promote the cause of Buddhism, and wise the Theras to accompany me on my journeys so that I can pay my respects to them at all times."

The Mahatheras selected 500 monks who were in their prime of life and sent them to accompany the King. King Vattagamani carried on battle while at the same time attanding to the personal needs of the Theras in his company with regard to their food, medicine,etc. The spare used by the King contained a sacred relic of the Buddha embedded in it at its end. His motto runs thus:-"I have been doing my best to make Buddhism last long and not for my own personal gain.

5. Scripture being scripted in Palm Leaves
From the time of Buddha's life down to the time of King Vattagamani's reign, the Tipitaka forming the teachings of the Blessed One were handed down from generation to generation of monks by word of mouth, by being learnt by heart. During the region of King Vattagamani, however, trouble was given by Brahmana Tissa, who rose up in arms and there was also inference from Kings who were disbelievers in the Buddhist religion. The monks could not get enough food for their meals and had to make extraordinary efforts to retain in memory whatever parts of the Buddhist scriptures the had already learnt by heart.

This was a matter for anxiety as, if the monks in future could not commit the Tipitaka scriptures to memory and recite them, the scriptures might disappear altogether. They therefore sought the assistance of King Vattagamani and held the Fourth Buddhist Council by committing the Tipitaka to writing on ola (palm) leaves.

The expression "Writing committed to palm leaves" has come into usage with reference to this first act of the letters of the alphabet being written down on ola (palm) leaves.



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