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Make his boundless wishes of compassion. Realize themselves completely. Make his palace safe and secure. Have the people of the palace enjoy peace. Under heaven, everywhere in the universe. May all beings equally share this merit! The other texts at the basis of the ritual promise the elimination of bandits, disasters, epidemics, and climatic anomalies. It invokes the protection of the ruler kokusbu BlrE from "evil people, evil thoughts, black magic, evil spirits, evil eye, enemies in the three times, astronomical anomalies [ However, even though the stated goals of the GSN and the TH are essentially the same, their respective emphasis is quite different, as is clear from the central objects of worship on the main altar and from the circumstances in which the rituals were traditionally performed.

The GSN emphasizes the benevolent power of magic jewels and relics to protect the emperor and ensure peace and wealth in the realm. In contrast, the TH exploits violent military imagery to control the violent power of the marginality and negativity of the esoteric Buddhist cosmology demons and all sorts of ambiguous supernatural beings 24 — violent power that it then deploys in defence of the emperor from war, rebellions, and attacks from foreign enemies. According to the Shingon doctrines, the wish-fulfilling jewel is a spontaneous fragment of the Buddha body, its miniature double.

It is identified with relics, and generates enlightenment, wealth, health, and ensures the fulfillment of all wishes. They can also be produced on the basis of. Multiplicity is also a feature of the TH. In a past life, he was a very wealthy man who, saddened by the distress brought about by the end of the Dharma of the Buddha of his time, vowed to become a general and fight the enemies of Buddhism.

His real body is that of Dainichi, but he takes various forms, such as Sakyamuni or Kannon. Originally a demon living in the desert, outside of civilization, together with outcasts, he became the protector of the Japanese emperor. Additional offerings are made to Bishamonten HW! QM; the connection between enlightenment, wisdom, war, and worldly benefits is a further proof of the ritual's exploitation of the "dark side" of Buddhism, in which demonic violence is deployed for the protection of the Dharma and of Buddhist rulers.

In other words, the GSN and the TH represent ritually the ambivalence of sovereignty and state power, as indicated in the Indo-European myths connected to Mitra and Varuna. The latter aspect is emphasized in particular by the timing of the GSN and its position in the ritual apparatus at court. Accordingly, the GSN is an auspicious ritual praying for health, wealth, wisdom, and stability for the emperor, his land and his people. For these purposes, the officiants manipulate the wish-fulfilling. In contrast, the TH has always been a ceremony deploying ritual violence against the enemies of the emperor, his state, and the political system.

When the two rituals were authorized again, after the Meiji anti-Buddhist persecutions, they were restored to their original nature: the GSN was to be performed every year for good fortune and auspicious purposes, whereas the TH was performed normally only once during one emperor's reign, and exceptionally in case of clear and serious danger for the state. From this brief description of the rituals, it is clear that in order to understand their symbolic and ideological meanings, it is necessary to study the history and circumstances of their performances.

Histories: Shingon, Rituals, and the State. After he regained consciousness, he drew a picture of that image. He then realized that the main deity of the ritual was the demon he saw in the well that night back in Japan. In a sense, then, the introduction to Japan of the GSN was also a consequence of that ominous event. Documents also report the miraculous benefits produced by the TH. This should not be surprising, given that the ritual was presented as an exceptional measure against critical situations, in contrast to the auspicious and prophylactic nature of the GSN.

Historical narratives in the "Dharma transmission" mode, on the other hand, emphasize continuity and repetition — or, in other words, self-identity. As in sectarian narratives of the transmission of enlightenment, interruptions and changes are ignored or downplayed as secondary elements that do not alter significantly the nature of the rituals. A good example of this narrative mode is provided in the modern Shingon encyclopedia Mikkyo daijiten and other sectarian texts. I propose a different approach to the history of these rituals, one that takes into account the significance of interruptions, relocations, and changes in meaning and performance.

These rituals were intensely political and I assume that changes in Japanese politics, ideology, and representations of the emperor affected status and meaning of the rituals as well. These changes lie at the basis of processes of resignification affecting the transformation of the cultural meaning and relevance of these rituals.

My assumption is that iteration of ritual forms is not a mere repetition, a re-enactment of the same. On the contrary, a change in context determines modifications in the purpose and significance of the ritual. This dialectic between ritual forms, significance cultural, political, ideological , and larger contexts raises a question which pertains both to semiotics and ontology: what is it that remains the same in these rituals even in spite of obvious transformations?

Why are these rituals considered to be essentially the same as those performed in the early Heian period? I will return to this question in the final section of this article. In the remaining part of this section I will outline the major moments of resignification in the history of the GSN and the TH. Kukai established what later became the GSN in apparently on the basis of court rituals in Tang China.

The GSN appears to have been a very fashionable event at court for its lavishness and grandeur. In the early ninth century, the Japanese emperor was essentially figured on the basis of the Tang legal and political systems. It was an important function of Buddhist institutions to protect him from the invisible world and its evil influences.

Protection to the emperor also extended to his entire realm: according to the Chinese political philosophy, the country and its inhabitants were no other than the emperor's possessions; in addition, there was also another link, of a cosmological nature, uniting the cosmos and society through the mediation of the emperor. As we have seen, the TH is structurally very similar to the GSN, a consequence of a common Chinese matrix or, perhaps, plagiarism. He pleaded for permission to perform it at court, but did not have the intention to replace the.

And in fact, for several centuries both rituals were performed, often at the same time but in different places and for different purposes. We could argue that even the establishment of the Kamakura shogunate in 1 did not alter the significance of these rituals. Since the second half of the fifteenth century, constant warfare in the capital caused serious loss of lives and enormous destructions; the court's ceremonial activities were disrupted, and the GSN was discontinued again in for about years.

Significantly, the TH was performed regularly, usually either at the Shishinden 9fcM. Gien Wi. Gien also succeeded in the re-establishment of the GSN after almost two centuries of neglect, and in Gien himself was the first leading officiant daiajari of the revived ceremony. As a consequence, the GSN was often postponed until the second or even the third month of the year. We can hypothesize several reasons for the revitalization of the GSN in the Tokugawa period. It was a matter of prestige for Gien, his temple the Daigoji , and Shingon.

It was a sign of normalization after many decades of turbulence, which could be described as a return to the "old ways" — a normalization that was important for the bakufu in order to strengthen its legitimacy.

Art and identity: The rise of a new Buddhist imagery

The three times may consist of the morning and evening of one day and the morning of the following day, or the evening of one day and the following morning and evening. The monks are conducted to the particular household and the chanting takes place in any room of the house according to choice. The monks sit around a table on which a clean white cloth is spread and flowers and puffed rice are strewn. A pot of filtered water is also placed in the center of the table and one end of a ball of three-stranded thread is twisted around it.

The thread then passes through the hands of the reciting monks and is next held by the person or the persons on whose behalf the chanting is being done. These would be seated on a mat on the ground in front of the reciting monks. The water in the pot, designated pirit -water pirit-pan , and the sacred thread pirit-nula , become sanctified through the chanting and are used thereafter as a protection against evil. The thread is used by tying a piece around the arm or the wrist, and the water by drinking it or sprinkling it, according to requirements. In the simplest form, the ceremony is called varu-pirita or vel-pirita varu or vel in Sinhala meaning half-day session as the ceremony is confined only to a portion of the day and only the mahapirita is chanted.

But the full-fledged pirit ceremony is a much more elaborate ritual. This also has two main forms — one lasting for one whole night and the other for one week or even longer. The former is the more usual form as a domestic ceremony while the latter is held on special occasions, especially for public purposes. Whatever the form may be, when this kind of chanting is undertaken, a special pavilion called the pirit mandapaya is constructed for the purpose. If the ceremony is to be performed in a private home, this pavilion is put up in a central room of the house.

Generally it would measure about twelve by twelve feet and is gaily decorated with tissue paper, tinsel, etc. Its roof is covered with a white canopy from which are hung small cuttings of arecanut flowers, betel twigs, tender twigs of the iron-wood na tree, etc. Two water pots on which opened coconut racemes are kept are placed on either side of the entrance. Two lighted coconut-oil lamps are also placed upon the coconut racemes. In the center of the pavilion is a table usually a round one on which a clean white cloth is spread.

Upon it are strewn puffed rice vilanda , broken rice sun-sal , white mustard sudu-aba , jasmine buds saman kakulu , and panic grass itana. These five varieties, known as lada-pas-mal, are regarded as having a sanctifying and purifying power in combination and are hence used for ritualistic purposes at Buddhist ceremonies. In the center of the table is the filtered water pot around which the three-stranded sacred thread is twisted.

This thread is drawn round the interior of the pavilion and when the chanting commences it is held by the chanting monks and given over to be held by the person or persons for whose benefit the ceremony is held. A palm-leaf copy of the Pirit-Pota, regarded as more sanctified than the printed one, occupies a significant place on the table, representing the Dhamma, the second member of the Buddhist Trinity.

Consequently, while the printed copy is used for the legibility of its script, the palm-leaf copy is regarded as indispensable on the table. The other important item that is brought inside the pavilion is the casket containing the bone-relics of the Buddha dhatu-karanduwa , representing the Buddha. This is placed on a separate decorated table on a side within the pavilion.

In the seating arrangement for the monks, two chairs, centrally placed near the table, are referred to as yuga-asana or "seats for the duel. A post called indra-khila or raja-gaha is planted securely and fastened between these twin chairs. This post, resembling a mace in more ways than one, is attractively decorated and serves as a symbol of authority and protection for the officiating monks. This is generally erected only when the ceremony lasts for a week sati pirita or longer.

Even when the ceremony is held in a private home, the temple is inevitably connected with every stage of the ritual. The temple authorities are responsible for assigning the required number of monks. On the evening of the day on which the chanting takes place, a few members from the particular household go to the temple in order to conduct the monks.

The monks would come in a procession in single file in order of seniority, attended by drumming. At the head of the procession is carried the relic casket, borne on the head of a layman, under an umbrella or a canopy. The beating of drums continues throughout. As the monks enter the home, a layman washes their feet while another wipes them. They walk to the pavilion on a carpet of white cloth pavada and take their seats around the table.

The relic casket, Pirit-Pota, and the bhikkhus thus come together, representing the Triple Gem, the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha, respectively. Before the commencement of the ceremony proper, the usual time of which is around 9 p. This invitation is usually extended by the chief householder if it is in a private home. Otherwise some leading lay devotee would do it. One of the senior monks present would accept the invitation on behalf of the entire Sangha and, in order to make the invitation formally valid, he would get the lay devotee to repeat after him the following Pali stanza requesting the monks to begin the ceremony:.

Next he would explain the significance of the occasion in a short address. This is followed by ceremonial drumming magulbera vadana , as a ritualistic preamble to the ceremony, serving both as an invitation to the gods and an offering of sound sadda-puja. The monks too commence the chanting by reciting a stanza that invites all the divine beings of the universe to the ceremony:. From the commencement of the chanting until its conclusion the following morning, the pavilion is not vacated. The mahapirita explained earlier , with which the chanting begins, is chanted in a rhythmic manner by all the monks, numbering about ten or twelve, seated in order of seniority.

The rest of the discourses are chanted by two or four monks. The ceremony is concluded the following morning with the recital, once again, of the mahapirita at which ceremonial drumming takes place once more. This drumming is also performed at the recital of important discourses like the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta and the Atanatiya Sutta. Once the chanting is concluded, convenient lengths of the thread, sanctified by the chanting, are snapped off and tied around the wrists or the arms of those assembled.

A little of the sanctified water is given to everyone for drinking. When the ceremony continues for several days e. When the set of suttas constituting pirit is completed, chanting is recommenced from the beginning and in this manner they are recited over and over again until the session is concluded. Both to begin and to end the session, the mahapirita is recited in chorus by all the monks on each day at sunrise and sunset. An important ceremony connected with the seven-day and longer pirit ceremony is known as dorakada-asna, which seems to have entered the pirit ceremony during the Kandyan period 18th century.

This ritual involves several stages commencing from the morning of the last day of the pirit ceremony, i. The first stage is the preparation of the message to be taken to the neighbouring temple where the abodes of the gods devalayas are also found. For this purpose several palm leaves talipot , on which the message is to be written, are brought to the chanting pavilion in a ceremonial procession and handed over to a monk who has been previously selected to write the message.

Next, this particular monk writes down the auspicious time for the messenger of the gods deva-dutaya to set out to the devalaya and reads it aloud, to be sanctioned by the assembled monks. Once this is done another monk, also previously selected, reads aloud a text written in a highly ornate stilted style, enumerating the temples and devalayas at which the deities are requested to be present at the pirit chanting that evening.

This text is called the vihara-asna. Until these preliminaries are gone through, the other monks keep holding the sacred thread. After this, the monk who was appointed to write the message begins to write it while the other monks retire. The message contains the invitation — which is a command from the Sangha sanghanatti and hence not to be turned down — addressed to all the deities residing at the religious places enumerated in the vihara-asna to come and partake of the merits of the week's pirit chanting.

The message is prepared in quadruplicate. These are then hung on a pole and handed over to a young boy, specially selected for the task and richly attired as befits a messenger of the gods. Mounted on a caparisoned elephant and escorted by men with swords, he carries the message in a procession to the devalaya. This procession is called the devaduta-perahera, "the procession of the gods' messenger," and has many features like dancers, drummers, mask-dancers, stilt-walkers, etc.

At the devalaya, the bhikkhus and the deva-dutaya first go near a Buddha-statue and pay homage, after which they proceed to the building where the statues of the gods are and chant the Metta Sutta. The gods concerned are usually Vishnu and Kataragama Skanda. This is followed by ceremonial drumming magul bera as an invitation to the gods, and next a monk reads out the message aloud. The four messages are given to the lay officiating priest of the devalaya known as kapurala to be hung in the four cardinal directions inside the devalaya. These are meant for the Regents of the Four Quarters — Datarattha east , Viruda south , Virupakkha west , and Vessavana north — who are requested to come to the ceremony with their assemblies.

The procession now returns. Until the monks arrive for the pirit chanting, the devadutaya is kept confined and guarded. Once the monks arrive and take their seats inside the pavilion, a dialogue takes place between the devadutaya and a monk, the purpose of which is to reveal to the assembled gathering that the task of the messenger, which was to invite the gods to partake of the merits, has been done and that all the gods have arrived.

The devadutaya makes this statement standing and guarded by the swordsmen, at the entrance dorakada to the chanting pavilion within which the monks have taken their seats. It is this statement of the devadutaya which thus comes to be called the dorakada-asna, meaning "the message read at the threshold. After the dorakada-asna, another monk, standing within the pavilion, reads out a similar text called the anusasana-asna, wherein all the gods assembled are requested to rejoice in the merits of the entire ceremony.

This monk holds in his hand a round-handled fan made of the talipot leaf, elaborately decorated, a symbol of authority and high ecclesiastical position. These three ritualistic texts mentioned in the foregoing account i. It is also worth noting, that this ceremony of dorakada-asna has, in addition to its religious and ritualistic significance, considerable dramatic and theatrical value as well, for the whole event, from the preliminaries of the morning to the grand finale of the anusasana in the evening, contains much impersonation, mime, and dialogue.

In this connection we may note that as early as the time of Buddhaghosa 5th century A. The recital of the Jayamangala Gatha, a set of eight benedictory stanzas extolling the virtues of the Buddha, may also be cited as a popular custom partly related to the chanting of pirit. This is usually done on important occasions like a marriage ceremony, when setting out on an important journey, or when inaugurating any venture of significance. This custom is inevitably observed at what is called the Poruva ceremony when, after a couple to be married ascends a small decorated platform poruva , they are blessed for future prosperity.

The recital is usually done by an elderly person who, for the occasion, assumes the position of an officiating priest. At public functions a bevy of young girls clad in white uniforms also do the recital. The contents of the stanzas recited clearly show that the ritual is intended to bring happiness and prosperity to the persons concerned or the successful completion of the project. Accordingly these verses have come to be called "the stanzas of success and prosperity," Jayamangala Gatha, and have become quite popular among all sections of the Buddhists.

While the origin of these stanzas is shrouded in mystery, it can be stated with certainty that they were composed in Sri Lanka by a devoted Buddhist poet. The earliest available reference to them is during the Kandyan period when they are given in a list of subjects that a monk should study. This shows that they had become well established during the 16th and 17th centuries; hence they must have been composed at least a century earlier.

These stanzas are regarded as efficacious because they relate eight occasions, each based on a beautiful story, when the Buddha triumphed over his powerful opponents. The chanting of what is called set-pirit by a few bhikkhus at the inauguration of new ventures or at receptions and farewells to important public personages has also become quite common. The chanting usually consists of a sutta like the Mangala, Ratana, or Metta Sutta, and a few benedictory stanzas.

Set-pirit is broadcast by the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation every morning as the first item of its programme. The ceremony of pirit -chanting is very often accompanied by another important ceremony, that of almsgiving. It is generally known as sanghika-dana, meaning "the alms given to the community of monks.

Even otherwise this ceremony too is usually performed on important occasions in the same way as the pirit ceremony, associated with such events as house-warming, setting out on a long journey, a marriage, birth, or death anniversaries, and so forth. At least four monks who have obtained higher ordination upasampada must participate for the dana to become valid as a full-fledged sanghika-dana. Such danas were held even during the Buddha's time, the Buddha himself participating in very many of them. Of the many items of offering that dana or the act of generosity could include, food is usually regarded as the most important and the formal meal offering accordingly is done with much ceremony and ritual.

The monks are conducted from the temple in procession with drumming as in the case of pirit. A layman leads the procession, with the relic casket dhatu-karanduva , representing the Buddha, borne on his head under an umbrella or canopy. As they approach the particular household they are received by the host. As the monks step into the house, one person washes their feet, while another wipes them. This part of the ceremony is the same as in the case of the pirit ceremony.

The monks are then conducted to the cushioned seats arranged on the floor against the wall. Alms are first offered to the Buddha in a separate bowl, and are placed on a separate table on which the relic casket, containing a bone-relic of the Buddha, has been set. All the items of food are served in plates and placed on mats or low tables before the seated monks.

A senior monk administers the Three Refuges and the Five Precepts see pp. After he has given a short address on the significance of the occasion, the food is formally presented by getting the chief householder to repeat a Pali statement: imam bhikkham saparikkharam bhikkhusanghassa dema "These alms, along with other requisites, we offer to the whole community of monks". Next, the food is served and once the monks have finished eating which should be before noon the other requisites parikkhara , referred to in the statement quoted, are also offered.

The most important item among these offerings is what is traditionally known as "the eight monastic requisites" ata-pirikara : the alms-bowl, three robes, belt, razor, water-strainer, and sewing needle. This offering is regarded as especially meritorious. As it is an expensive item and therefore difficult to offer to all the monks, generally one ata-pirikara is offered to the chief monk and other items such as books, towels, pillow-cases, umbrellas, etc.

Once this is over, another monk administers what is called punnanumodana or "thanks-giving" wherein all those who were connected with the ceremony are requested to partake of the merits punna for their future good. The participants are also called upon to transfer the merits they have thus acquired for the well-being of their dead kinsmen and friends as well as for the sustenance of beings in the deva worlds, i.

The relic casket and the monks are conducted back to the temple in the same manner as they were brought and the proceedings are concluded. A related ritual that cannot be ignored as regards the ceremony of almsgiving is the custom of getting the neighbours and friends also to serve into the alms-bowl that is offered to the Buddha. On the morning of the day on which the almsgiving takes place a separate bowl is kept on a table for this purpose.

This is called the Buddha-pattare, or the Buddha's alms-bowl. Alms served into it are regarded as offered to the Buddha himself. The neighbours would come with plates of rice prepared in their homes and serve into it. This rice is also taken when the bowl of food is prepared for offering to the Buddha, near the relic casket at the time of the dana proper, the purpose here being to get the neighbours and outsiders also to participate in this merit-making ceremony.

Among Buddhists death is regarded as an occasion of major religious significance, both for the deceased and for the survivors. For the deceased it marks the moment when the transition begins to a new mode of existence within the round of rebirths. When death occurs all the kammic forces that the dead person accumulated during the course of his or her lifetime become activated and set about determining the next rebirth. For the living, death is a powerful reminder of the Buddha's teaching on impermanence; it also provides an opportunity to assist the deceased person as he or she fares on to the new existence.

Both aspects of death — the message of impermanence, and the opportunity to help the departed loved one — find expression in the Buddhist funeral rites of Sri Lanka. Naturally, the monastic Sangha plays a prominent role in the funeral proceedings. One of the most important parts of the funeral rites is the ritual called "offering of cloth on behalf of the dead" mataka-vastra-puja. This is done prior to the cremation or the burial of the body. Monks are assembled in the home of the dead person or in the cemetery.

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The proceedings begin with the administration of the Five Precepts to the assembled crowd by one of the monks. This is followed by the recitation in chorus of the well-known stanza:. Impermanent alas are formations, subject to rise and fall. Having arisen, they cease; their subsiding is bliss. Next follows this ritual, which consists of the offering of a length of new white cloth to the monks. The cloth, called a pamsukula — literally, a dust-heap cloth — is intended to be cut into pieces and then stitched into a robe.

After offering it, the close relatives of the deceased sit together on a mat, assume a reverential posture, and together they pour water from a vessel into a cup placed within a plate until the cup overflows. While the water is being poured, the monks intone in unison the following stanzas extracted from the Tirokuddha Sutta of the Khuddakapatha:. Just as the water fallen on high ground flows to a lower level, Even so what is given from here accrues to the departed. Just as the full flowing rivers fill the ocean, Even so what is given from here accrues to the departed.

The context shows that the pouring of water in this manner is a ritualistic act belonging to the field of sympathetic magic, symbolizing the beneficial inheritance of the merit transferred by the living to the dead, as a kind of dakkhina or offering. The entire ritual is hence an act of grace whereby merit is transferred to the departed so that they may find relief from any unhappy realm wherein they might have been born.


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Another funeral rite is mataka-bana or "preaching for the benefit of the dead. Accordingly he preaches a suitable sermon for about an hour's duration to the assembled audience, which inevitably consists of the deceased's relatives and the neighbours of the household. At the end of the sermon, the monk gets the relatives to recite the necessary stanzas to transfer to the deceased the merits acquired by organizing the event.

Following this, a gift is offered to the monk, and the invitees are also served with refreshments. Three months from the date of death, it is customary to hold an almsgiving sanghika dana in memory of the deceased and thence to repeat it annually. As in the case of the rituals mentioned earlier, here too the purpose is to impart merit to the deceased. Hence it is called the offering in the name of the dead mataka-dana. The basis of the practice is the belief that if the dead relative has been reborn in an unhappy existence i.

Even their hunger and thirst, which is perpetual, subside only in this manner. Hence they are referred to as "living on what is given by others" paradatta-upajivi. This custom can be traced to the Buddha's own time when King Bimbisara was harassed by a group of his departed kinsmen, reborn as petas, because the king had failed to give alms to the Buddha in their name.

Once this was fulfilled as requested by the Buddha, the petas became happy and ceased to give any more trouble KhpA. This was the occasion on which the Buddha preached the Tirokuddha Sutta referred to earlier, which further says that once these rites are performed, these contented spirits bless the donors in return.


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These rites, it may be mentioned here, resemble the sraddha ceremonies of the Hindus in some ways. And it is also significant that, according to the Buddha himself, only the dead relatives who have been reborn as petas are capable of receiving this benefit A. The Vassa, a three-month rains retreat, was instituted by the Buddha himself and was made obligatory for all fully ordained bhikkhus; the details are laid down in the Mahavagga of the Vinaya Pitaka 3rd and 4th chapters. The retreat extends over a period corresponding to the North Indian rainy season, from the day following the full moon of July until the full-moon day of October; those who cannot enter the regular Vassa are permitted to observe the retreat for three months beginning with the day following the August full moon.

From the time Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka by the arahant Mahinda, the observance of Vassa — Vas in Sinhala — has been one of the mainstays of monastic life in the island. During the Vas the monks are expected to dwell permanently in their temples and suspend all traveling. If unavoidable circumstances necessitate traveling, they are allowed to leave their residences on the promise that they will return within a week sattahakaraniya. On the first day of the retreat the monks have to formally declare that they will dwell in that manner in the selected monastery or dwelling.

The Vassa is also a time for the lay Buddhists to express their devotion to the cause of Buddhism by supporting the Sangha with special diligence, which task they regard as a potent source of merit. It is customary for prominent persons to invite monks to spend the Vas with them in dwellings specially prepared for the purpose. In this latter case the host would go and invite the monk or monks formally.

If the monks accept the invitation, the hosts would prepare a special temporary dwelling in a suitable place with a refectory and a shrine room. On the first day of the Vas they would go with drummers and dancers to the monastery where the invitees reside and conduct them thence in procession. The hosts would assume responsibility for providing all the needs of the monk or monks during this period, and they attend to this work quite willingly as they regard it as highly meritorious.

If no special construction is put up, the lay supporters would invite the monks to observe the retreat in the temple itself. At the close of the Vas season, the monks have to perform the pavarana ceremony. At this ceremony, held in place of the Patimokkha recitation, each monk invites his fellows to point out to him any faults he has committed during the Vas period. On any day following the day of pavarana in the period terminating with the next full-moon day, the kathina ceremony is held.

Different monasteries will hold the kathina on different days within this month, though any given monastery may hold only one kathina ceremony. The main event in this ceremony is the offering of the special robe known as the kathina-civara to the Sangha, who in turn present it to one monk who has observed the retreat. The laity traditionally offer unsewn cloth to the monks. Before the offering takes place, the robe is generally taken, with drumming, etc. Once the robe is given to the Sangha, certain monks are selected to do the cutting, sewing, and dying of the robe — all in a single day.

Public contributions are very often solicited to buy the robe if it is not a personal offering. This ceremony, which is performed with keen interest and devotion, has today become an important occasion of great social and religious significance for the Buddhist laity. This seems to have been so even in historical times when many Sinhala kings made this offering with much interest and devotion e.

There is deep ritualistic significance in the two stages of monastic ordination called pabbajja and upsampada. The former is the initial admission into the homeless life as a novice or samanera, which can be granted to any male over the age of seven or eight, provided certain conditions are satisfied. The ritual proper consists in shaving the hair and beard, donning the dyed robes, whose color ranges from yellow to brown, and then taking from the selected preceptor upajjhaya the Three Refuges in the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha, and the Ten Precepts dasa sikkhapada : abstinence from i destroying life, ii theft, iii unchastity, iv lying, v fermented liquor, spirits, and strong drinks which cause intoxication and heedlessness, vi eating solid food after midday, vii dancing, singing, music, and improper shows, etc.

The ceremony is performed on an auspicious day at the monastery where the ordination is sought. Thus the postulant becomes a novice. The full or higher ordination upasampada is more formal and difficult. The higher ordination ceremony should be conducted in a prescribed and duly consecrated "chapter house" sima, or Sinh. If the candidate possesses the necessary qualifications like knowledge and intelligence and he is above twenty years of age, he may formally apply for admission and appear before a chapter of bhikkhus. Before admission he is made to put away the yellow robes and wear the clothes of a householder and face an interview at which he would be thoroughly examined as to his fitness for admission.

If he successfully passes the test, he is led aside, reclothed in mendicant robes, and called back. Bearing his alms-bowl, he once again appears before the Sangha and goes through certain formalities after which, if all the monks agree, he is declared admitted. This refers to the ritual of confession performed by the monks on the new-moon and the full-moon days, when the Disciplinary Code, the Patimokkha, is recited. This is a set of rules, to be observed by the members of the Buddhist Order. When each of the seven sections of the rules is recited amidst the assembled Order, if any among those present has infringed any of those rules, he should confess and undergo any punishment prescribed.

Silence implies absence of guilt. Bali is the ceremony wherein the presiding deities of the planets graha are invoked and placated in order to ward off their evil influences. The belief in the good and evil influence of the planets according to the time and place of one's birth is quite widespread in Sri Lanka. The first thing done at the birth of a child is to cast the horoscope, which has to be consulted subsequently at all the important events of his or her life. When a calamity like a serious illness comes upon such a person, the horoscope would inevitably be consulted, and if the person is under a bad planetary influence, the astrologer would recommend some kind of propitiatory ritual.

This could be a minor one like the lime-cutting ritual dehi-kapima [20] or a major one like a bali ceremony, depending on the seriousness of the case. If it is a bali ceremony, he might also recommend the specific kind of bali suitable for the occasion. The term bali signifies both the ritual in general and also the clay representations of the planetary deities which are made in relief on frameworks of bamboo and painted in appropriate colors.

The ritual consists of dancing and drumming in front of the bali figures by the bali artist bali-adura , who continuously recites propitiatory stanzas calling for protection and redress. The patient aturaya sits by the side of the bali figures. The bali artist is helped by a number of assistants working under him. The knowledge and art of performing the ritual are handed down in traditional families.

The retentive power of these artists is remarkable, for they can continue to recite the appropriate formulas and verses from memory for days. The bali ceremony is a mixture of Buddhism and folk religion. This cult of the planets and the allied deities has become an important element in the popular living Buddhism of the island.

The origins of this type of bali ritual have to be traced to the Kotte Period of the 15th and 16th centuries, when it was introduced into the island from South India by some Hindu brahmans from that region. However, mainly owing to the efforts of the celebrated Buddhist monk of the period, Ven. Vidagama Maitreya Thera, this ritual was recast with a Buddhist significance, both in form and content, in that all the verses and formulas used in the ritual are those extolling the virtues of the Triple Gem — the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha — and of the Buddhist deities.

It is these spiritual qualities that are invoked to bring redress. The entire ritual is thus made subservient to Buddhism. The ceremony begins after paying homage to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha. Even during the course of the ceremony this homage is paid at important junctures.

The majority of the stanzas recited as benedictory verses by the artist extol the virtues of the Triple Gem or refer to the Buddha's previous existences as a Bodhisatta. The verbal part of the entire ritual consists mainly of the recitation of these verses and the pronouncement of the blessing: "By the power of those virtues let the evil influence of the planets disappear. As in the case of the pirit ceremony described earlier, the spiritual qualities of the Buddha are regarded as superior to any worldly powers like those of the planets and stars as in the present instance, and consequently the ceremonial and ritualistic pronouncement of those qualities is believed to counteract those evil forces.

Those propitiatory recitations also include the panegyrics stotras praising those planetary deities. The preparation for the bali ceremony takes a day or two. Plantain stems, tender coconut leaves, coconut and arecanut racemes, powdered resin, limes, betel, torches made by wrapping clean rags around dry reeds vilakku and pandam , [21] coconut oil, flowers of different colors, and burnt offerings are among the main items needed.

Plastic clay and reeds will be needed in large quantities to cast the bali figures. Life-size images of the planetary deities are moulded from these and painted beautifully in bright colors. Each planetary deity has its own dress, colors, diagram mandala , support vahana , weapon, etc. It is the nine planets navagraha that are generally propitiated: the sun ravi , moon candra , Mars kuja , Mercury budha , Jupiter guru , Venus sukra , Saturn sani , and Rahu and Ketu, the ascending and the descending nodes of the moon respectively. When everything is ready, with the bali figures propped up leaning against a wall and the patient seated by a side facing the figures, the chief bali artist starts the proceedings by taking the Five Precepts and reciting a few benedictory stanzas while the drummers start drumming.

This takes place in the evening. After these preliminaries it is more or less customary for the chief artist to retire to the side, while one or two of his assistants would appear on the scene to perform the more vigorous part of the ritual, consisting mainly of dancing and reciting. The dancing artist wears an attractive and colorful dress consisting of white tights, a red jacket adorned with white beads, anklets, pads of jingling bells around his calves, and an elaborate headdress. Dharma Concepts. Buddhist texts. Buddhism by country. Main article: Gautama Buddha.

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For example, Buddhist texts assert that Buddha described himself as a kshatriya warrior class , but states Gombrich, little is known about his father and there is no proof that his father even knew the term kshatriya. Further, early texts of both Jainism and Buddhism suggest they emerged in a period of urbanisation in ancient India, one with city nobles and prospering urban centres, states, agricultural surplus, trade and introduction of money.

However, outside of these early Buddhist texts, these names do not appear which has led some scholars to raise doubts about the historicity of these claims. Short of attaining enlightenment, in each rebirth one is born and dies, to be reborn elsewhere in accordance with the completely impersonal causal nature of one's own karma. The endless cycle of birth, rebirth, and redeath, is samsara.

Makransky p. His teachings, known as the dharma in Buddhism, can be summarized in the Four Noble truths. Here, the Buddha explains that it is by not understanding the four truths that rebirth continues. Ajahn Sucitta ; Ajahn Sumedho ebook ; Rahula ; etc. The Buddha tells us that an end to suffering is possible, and it is nirvana.

Nirvana is a "blowing out," just as a candle flame is extinguished in the wind, from our lives in samsara. It does contain such a message to be sure; but more importantly it is an eschatological message. Desire is the cause of suffering because desire is the cause of rebirth; and the extinction of desire leads to deliverance from suffering because it signals release from the Wheel of Rebirth. Makransky: "The third noble truth, cessation nirodha or nirvana, represented the ultimate aim of Buddhist practice in the Abhidharma traditions: the state free from the conditions that created samsara.

Nirvana was the ultimate and final state attained when the supramundane yogic path had been completed. It represented salvation from samsara precisely because it was understood to comprise a state of complete freedom from the chain of samsaric causes and conditions, i. The vast majority of Buddhist lay people have historically pursued Buddhist rituals and practices motivated by rebirth into the Deva realm. A layman hears his teachings, decides to leave the life of a householder, starts living according to the moral precepts, guards his sense-doors, practises mindfulness and the four jhanas, gains the three knowledges, understands the Four Noble Truths and destroys the taints , and perceives that he is liberated.

They do so, states Mun-Keat Choong, in three ways: first, in the common sense of a monk's meditative state of emptiness; second, with the main sense of anatta or 'everything in the world is empty of self'; third, with the ultimate sense of nirvana or realisation of emptiness and thus an end to rebirth cycles of suffering. This they attempt through merit accumulation and good kamma. For example, success in the First Dhyana leads to a gem-like outer light emanating from the body, according to Samahitabhumi by Asanga; the nature of emanating light from one's body changes as the meditation successfully progresses from the first to the fourth Dhyana.

It suggests that the subject is doing something different from remaining in a meditative state, i. In addition the alternative and perhaps sometimes competing method of discriminating insight fully established after the introduction of the four noble truths seemed to conform so well to this claim. Their solution was to postulate a fundamental difference between the inner soul or self and the body.

The inner self is unchangeable, and unaffected by actions. By insight into this difference, one was liberated. To equal this emphasis on insight, Buddhists presented insight into their most essential teaching as equally liberating. What exactly was regarded as the central insight "varied along with what was considered most central to the teaching of the Buddha. Richard Gombrich , quoted by Christopher Queen. Norman, [] the textual studies by Richard Gombrich, [] and the research on early meditation methods by Johannes Bronkhorst.

Warder [subnote 2] and Richard Gombrich. Anuppatta-sadattho one who has reached the right goal is also a vague positive expression in the Arhatformula in MN 35 I p, , see chapter 2, footnote 3, Furthermore, satthi welfare is important in e. The oldest term was perhaps amata immortal, immortality [ Prebish: [] "Although a variety of Zen 'schools' developed in Japan, they all emphasize Zen as a teaching that does not depend on sacred texts, that provides the potential for direct realization, that the realization attained is none other than the Buddha nature possessed by each sentient being Speaking of Zen in general, Buddhist scholar Stephen Hodge writes: " According to this view, Enlightenment is not something that we must acquire a bit at a time, but a state that can occur instantly when we cut through the dense veil of mental and emotional obscurations.

Official numbers from the Chinese government are lower, while other surveys are higher. According to Katharina Wenzel-Teuber, in non-government surveys, "49 percent of self-claimed non-believers [in China] held some religious beliefs, such as believing in soul reincarnation, heaven, hell, or supernatural forces.

Thus the 'pure atheists' make up only about 15 percent of the sample [surveyed]. Warder, in his publication "Indian Buddhism", from the oldest extant texts a common kernel can be drawn out. It may be substantially the Buddhism of the Buddha himself, although this cannot be proved: at any rate it is a Buddhism presupposed by the schools as existing about a hundred years after the parinirvana of the Buddha, and there is no evidence to suggest that it was formulated by anyone else than the Buddha and his immediate followers.

De Jong: "It would be hypocritical to assert that nothing can be said about the doctrine of earliest Buddhism [ January Archived from the original PDF on 25 May Retrieved 29 May Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism Rev. Tantra in Practice. Princeton University Press. Lee; Kathleen M. Nadeau Encyclopedia of Asian American Folklore and Folklife. Sarao; Jefferey Long Encyclopedia of Indian Religions: Buddhism and Jainism. Springer Netherlands. Thomas The Life of Buddha. Tibetan Inscriptions. Brill Academic.

The Origin of Buddhist Meditation. Buddhist Teaching in India. Wisdom Publications. Buddhism in the Shadow of Brahmanism.

Gender and Religion, 2nd Edition. Bloomsbury Academic. Rebuilding Buddhism. Harvard University Press. Exploring Buddhism. Buddha's teaching that beings have no soul, no abiding essence. This 'no-soul doctrine' anatta-vada he expounded in his second sermon. The concept of anatta, or anatman, is a departure from the Hindu belief in atman "the self".

Put very briefly, this is the [Buddhist] doctrine that human beings have no soul, no self, no unchanging essence. Plott et al. Religion and Anthropology: A Critical Introduction. Cambridge University Press. According to Buddhist doctrine, the individual person consists of five skandhas or heaps — the body, feelings, perceptions, impulses and consciousness. The belief in a self or soul, over these five skandhas, is illusory and the cause of suffering. Buddhist Studies. Motilal Banarsidass.

Pali Buddhism. However, Buddhism differs from Hinduism in rejecting the assertion that every human being possesses a changeless soul which constitutes his or her ultimate identity, and which transmigrates from one incarnation to the next.. Eastern Philosophy: Key Readings. Karma and Rebirth: Post Classical Developments. State University of New York Press. Swatos; Peter Kivisto Encyclopedia of Religion and Society.

Rowman Altamira. Buddhism: Beliefs and Practices. Sussex Academic Press. Philosophy of the Buddha: An Introduction. Shambhala Publications. McClelland Encyclopedia of Reincarnation and Karma. Ronald Wesley Neufeldt ed. Palgrave Macmillan. Nirvana and Other Buddhist Felicities. Nirvana: Concept, Imagery, Narrative. Eternal salvation, to use the Christian term, is not conceived of as world without end; we have already got that, called samsara, the world of rebirth and redeath: that is the problem, not the solution. The ultimate aim is the timeless state of moksha, or as the Buddhists seem to have been the first to call it, nirvana.

Understanding Eastern Philosophy. Awareness Bound and Unbound: Buddhist Essays. The Notion of Emptiness in Early Buddhism. Buddhist Phenomenology. Columbia University Press. Buddhism: Its Essence and Development. Coogan The Illustrated Guide to World Religions. Oxford University Press. Steven M. Emmanuel ed. A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy.

Living Buddhism. University of California Press. Weddle Miracles: Wonder and Meaning in World Religions. New York University Press. The Spirit of the Buddha. Yale University Press. Michael Feener Essentials of Buddhism: basic terminology and concepts of Buddhist philosophy and practice.

Rutgers University Press. Buddhism: Critical Concepts in Religious Studies. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University. Archived from the original on 8 July Esoteric Buddhism and the Tantras in East Asia. University of Hawaii Press. Religious Studies. Yoga, Brief History of an Idea. Part I: page 5. Chapter 9, page Buddhist Insight: Essays.

Buddhism: The Illustrated Guide. The Classification of Buddhism. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. Soothill The A to Z of Buddhism. Aronson Wiltshire Walter de Gruyter. Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge. Donald S. Lopez Jr. Buddhism in Practice. The Buddhist World. Reynolds; Theodore M. Ludwig The doctrines of no-self and impermanence are thus the keystones of dhammic order. Access to Insight.

Retrieved 17 August The Clock of Vipassana Has Struck. Chryssides Historical Dictionary of New Religious Movements. All elements of samsara exist in some sense or another relative to their causes and conditions.. Jeremiah Hackett ed.

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Jerald Wallulis. The Buddhist ontological hypothesese deny that there is any ontologically ultimate object such a God, Brahman, the Dao, or any transcendent creative source or principle. Paul B. Scheurer ed.