Buddhist Ethics of Human Values, (A speech delivered by Ven. Dr. A. S. Nayaka at Department of Ethics and Philosophy in the Lar Roche College, Pennsylvania State (USA) on March 7, 2002)。


It is indeed a great pleasure to be here to meet you all coming from different places in quest of knowledge and peace。 Thank you very much for giving me an opportunity to share my knowledge and experience before distinguished gatherings。 Here let me express my deep gratitude to Prof. Dr. Michael C. Brannigan, Executive Director and Chairman Center for Study of Ethics and Dept. of Philosophy, for his kind inviting me to deliver a talk, and to Mrs. Mary Annbayingana who made all arrangements for this occasion and took me to the College。 I also would like to highly appreciate to Mr. Ko Mya Tun and his family for their devoted in everything in course of my journey。 The topic I am now going to deliver is entitled the Buddhist Ethics of Human Values。


More than one hundred and fifty years have already been devoted to the scientific study of Buddhism。 Further investigation of the various aspects of Buddhism, however, is still going on for the better understanding of the Buddhist significant technique and noble method to gain peace and eternal solution through living a respectable way of life as it is living religion force giving deeper thoughts to contemplate upon, higher principles to live for and noble ideas to aspire after。 The world today is said to have progressed in almost fields i.e. scientific discoveries, technical inventions, in political, social and cultural thoughts and in religious matters。 In religious fields there have been many approaches in finding the truth and searching for peace。


Science and spirituality deal with the search for the truth。 Science has produced many wonders and its pageant of endless discoveries has changed the course of life of mankind。 But it has failed to reveal the very purpose of life which is total freedom from miseries and achievement of ultimate bliss。 The real solution of endless human miseries in ultimate analysis was and will be spiritual and religious achievements。 The contribution of Buddhism lies in form of love, peace, compassion and fraternity for all living beings, equality of man and principles of non-violence and also in rational approach in solving human problems。


Buddhism is a way of life, where the mission of Buddha was to secure the good of many and the welfare of many。 It appears with one definite problem, one definite goal and a path existing between the two。 The problem is the suffering of mankind。 the goal is attainment of a state, where there is no suffering at all。 and the path is the Middle Path or Noble Eightfold Path which may be called a path of humanism consisting of so many moral and humanistic ethical values such as right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right consciousness and right concentration。


The Buddha established the religious order of the monks, the most religious society, the Sangha。 They are made up of the disciples of the Buddha。 They left their homes in search of truth and for attainment of ultimate realization, but the order was a well-established society。 The Sangha became the religious example to laity who lived with family but aspired for the righteous path。 The Sangha is the earliest monastic institution governed by highest democratic principles。 Sangha is the living stream of right path through which the Dhamma (doctrine) flows to humanity。 It acted as a bridge between the social beings and absolute truth。 The spiritual life of individuals and congregation of the religious order permeated to the rest of the world。 The corporate life of the Sangha became a society of higher order with a disciplined social and religious life having highest moral and ethical values。


Buddhist moral precepts are based on the Dhamma, and they reflect such eternal values as compassion, respect, self-restrain, honesty, and wisdom。 These are values that are cherished by all civilizations, and their significance is universally recognized。 Moral precepts that are based on such values or directed toward their realization will always be relevant to human society, no matter to what extent it has developed。 The five precepts advocate for every Buddhist to confirm to ensure an excellent way of life, which could inherently produce a social climate that would not necessitate a cry for human rights, since such a way would ensure all the necessary social graces that would bring about the grantee of all rights of every human beings。 The five precepts ensure every person’s rights to life and adherence to the five precepts would prelude a world of social conflicts, which about human rights to be flayed。 Thus, it is very manifest that the five precepts followed by Buddhists, it carefully adhered to, would most efficiently bring about social condition that would ensure a satisfactory and maintenances of human values without necessary for any rigid legal enforcement。


Every society requires some moral rules or principles for peace and harmony in the society。 In this regard, the Buddha pointed out some moral principles of general interest, which are the basic foundation of humanity or humanism。 Here without going into detail, we may take into consideration the five precepts (Panca Sila)。 They are as follows:


  1. Abstinence from killing does not merely imply the avoidance of murder but that of all forms of injury to others。 It involves the recognition that all have equal right to live。 It inculcates the generating factors of humanism like friendliness, love, kindness and compassion。
  2. Refraining from taking what is not given suggests respect for other’s property and rights。 It creates joy and the feeling of humanity。
  3. Abstinence from excessive or unlawful indulgence in sense pleasures is intended to promote social and moral stability
  4. Refraining from falsehood encourage mutual trust and understanding between individuals and groups。
  5. Abstinence from intoxicants fosters an atmosphere of social harmony without which we cannot survive。


Above five precepts, are called Pancasila, which is an ordering of individual life。 In the larger sense, the same precepts can be extended to wider sphere of politics and economics and made to guide the foreign policies of nation。 It has a great role in creating and maintaining peace, pleasure, tranquility, happiness, harmony and humanism in the society。


The Buddha lay special emphasis on some more humanistic virtues through which the seed of humanism develop fully and the society becomes saturated with peace and harmony。 They are: Metta, Karuna, Mudita and Upekkha。 They play an important role in social and humanistic philosophy of the Buddha。 Description of all in detail is not possible in this limited framework。 However, a brief description of them is presented here。


Metta is universal love and friendliness where there is Metta。 there cannot be any room for ill will and hatred。 In Metta-Sutta, the Buddha says that first as a mother protects her only son even at the cost of her life, even so one should cultivate boundless loving-kindness towards all living beings。


Karuna is compassion。 It is feel for and help those who are in trouble。 Where there is compassion, there cannot be indifference towards the suffering of others。

Mudita is not only sympathy but also sympathetic joy, which tends to destroy its direct enemy that is jealousy。 It is an act of feeling of happiness or pleasure to see the happiness and pleasure of others。 Where is Mudita, there cannot be any room for jealousy and unhealthy states。


Upekha is equanimity。 The etymological meaning of the term Upekkha is looking impartially。 It is necessary especially for laymen who have to live in ill balanced or fluctuating circumstances in the world。 It maintains the balance of mind。


Nowadays anti humanistic feelings or powerful destructive vices are seen among the people such as anger, ill will, cruelty, jealousy etc。 They are obstacles to humanism。 Therefore, they need to be uprooted from the human。 It is possible through the cultivation of the four sublime virtues termed as Brahmavihara that anger, and ill-will are eradicated by loving-kindness (Metta) cruelty by compassion and jealousy by Mudita。


These four sublime virtues are called illimitable (appamanna) because they find no barrier or limit and should be extended towards all beings without exception。 They are pillars of individual happiness, social amity and universal peace。 Their cultivation would lead to the establishment of perfection humanism in the nation and the world。


The Buddha said us to follow the middle way, a golden mean that will lead us higher knowledge and wisdom and ultimately to Enlightenment。 This middle way will give us the knowledge of the four noble truths which are the truth about suffering, the truth about cause of suffering, the truth about cessation of suffering, the noble path that shows us the way out of suffering。 This is the last kernel of the Buddhist code of ethics。


The teaching of the Buddha is a realistic system of ethics such as the ethics of non- violence, loving kindness, compassion and harmony amongst people, a penetrative analysis of life, a profound Philosophy and practical method of mental culture and training, leading to perfect wisdom。 Buddhism lays great stresses on development of moral and spiritual character for a happy, peaceful and contented society。 Buddhism is religion designed to attain universal peace。  It is a human discovery based on a very scientific procedure living to leading the ultimate level of perfection of human consciousness。 It can make a great contribution to the modern world in guiding its search for the meaning of life。 Thank you very much


May peace and happiness be always with you all!


9/11 and beyond

Ven. A. S. Nayaka

The day the world changed is 9/11 and since then the world's crucial question has been posing its beyond。 No reason to disbelieve those 9/11' unfortunate departed souls left behind a thrilling message for the world we live today to find out a proper answer and safeguard a peaceful future。 In response to terrorism and dignity of human lives, USA and international alien forces are witnessing eliminating terrors by means of mighty military power spending billions of dollars。 So far the answer has not yet reached to satisfy 9/11 unfortunate soul's living question towards the world's fortunate destination。 While these tragic events reverberated around the globe, sensitive issue has been how to save the world from such a catastrophe and the leaders of international government, intellectuals and news media have been highlighting the exclusive questions on religion and terrorism。


The world today is full of different kinds of problems and it is a matter of deeply moving that the propensity of terrorism and supermascism are deliberately proliferating its offshoots in different parts of the world to capture an optimum interest。 Consequently, the threat of nuclear weapons, warfare, ethnic conflict, genocide terrorism, violation of human rights, massacre, assassination, atrocity, rape, abduction, looting, communal riot, religious fanatism and so on evil forces have turned the world into an abode of violence。 Unfortunately, some religious leaders have misinterpreted their religion in indulging, justify, praise or provide religious legitimization for their self-interest and such violence。


The aim of every religion is to lead man a higher life, from material to metaphysical。 The essence of all religion is the realization of the self, the self within man through enlightenment of the perfect wisdom。 In all the religion, however, there are various religious practices, rites and rituals, customs and usage, belief and faith and the like, which are not identical during any period of time and in all places。 These differences are due to historical, ethic, sociological, geographical, and racial and various other factors。 Such differences and various cannot be regarded as the peculiarities of a particular religion。 These are the means to end and not end in itself。 The essence of every religion is to attain the ultimate truth as the core of the religion。


The different religions of the world advise us to look upon life as an opportunity for self-realization。 Religion is the binding force which deepens the solidarity of human society but reality is longer than any system of theology。 The religions of the world respect for other ways of life。 The great scriptures of world are treasures for mankind。 The true lying in them cannot be demonstrated but the evidence of truth lies in man's experience。 This is evident with the words of the Buddha when he says that his teaching should be accepted when they have been properly investigated。 Some of the salient features of Buddhism may be cited here which highlight the universalistic approach of Buddhism and by which the modern world can take light for a better and brighter future of humanity。


The modern world has developed complexities of life increasingly。 One of the main reasons for it seems to be continuously decreasing faith in moral values and distrust in one another。 Growing materialism has confirmed our views to self-interest only。 Whether it is relationship between wife and husband, parents and children or individual and society, lack of mutual faith is witnessed everywhere。 It casts its reflection in spiritual life too。 Unless faith or trust is generated there will be no chance of cohesion in life and improvement in the conditions of life cannot be expected。 This is reason, the Buddha rates faith (Saddha) as the foremost essential precondition of spiritual life, as the seed of spiritual cultivation and also as the precious wealth in life。 In the absence of faith, we are neither ready to neither listen to others seriously nor try to trust in them。 We are in grip of doubts in others intentions。 It destroys the very fabric of social harmony and coordination and jeopardizes the smooth sailing of life。


Buddhism, being practical religion of peace and non-violence, had to play major role in guiding the destiny in present crisis。 Through Buddhism peace can be achieved and preserved without any danger to any life on earth。 Buddhism is rich in spiritual, philosophical and ethical contends。 It is all-comprehensive, elaborate and touches life at all points。 There are degrees of profundity in its principles。 Some are simple and easily comprehended while others are tense and profound and demand deep study and concentration for their correct understanding。 Its appeal is universal as it has its roots in the spirit of reason and tolerance, believes in love and purity and propagates the gospel of peace and spirituality。


The Exalted Buddha's message was addressed not to any particular race, religion class, creed or community but to the world community as a whole - "For the welfare and happiness of many, out of compassion for the world"。 Buddhism gives the message of universal peace, love, kindness wishes good for all without any discrimination。 It preaches the gospel of non-violence, social justice, observance of the code ethics, selfishness service and friendly among peoples for maintaining proper order and discipline。 The holy orders stood for fraternity, harmony and for calculating the spirit of selfless service to humanity, compassion and tolerance which are based on spiritual wisdom。 


To understand what Buddhism is it is better to know the teachings of the Buddha。 The Buddha has founded his doctrines on four pillars。 They are known as Four Noble Truths namely: (a) The truth of suffering (b) The Cause of suffering (c) The cessation of suffering and (d) The way out of suffering。 Psychologically, men are evolved with these truths。 If we examine them critically for the sources of problems that exist in the world today, the cause that we find out disregardness to these Noble Truths。


The Buddha said that he was not revealing anything new but was only interpreting the truth as it exists in external stream of life。 This is, however, not as simple as it is said because to discover the Truth in obvious beyond the veneer of appearances is the most challenging task that thinkers and philosophers confronted time and again in history。 The Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eight Fold Path are not dictum but are sheet anchors of the Truth showing the path for liberation from endless cycle of suffering into self-enlightenment。 There is no element of devotion, mysticism or unquestioned acceptance of a spiritual dictum, one has to live and practice the Noble Eightfold Path as guidelines for moral, intellectual as well as spiritual elevation。 The fountainhead of the Buddhist way of life is the Noble Eightfold Path, which was enunciated by the Buddha。 They are: Right understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Conduct, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right mindfulness and Right Concentration。


The Buddha advocated eternal peace while the world desires peace amongst material gains。 The former is permanent Bliss while the latter is transitory。 The cause of this different is ignorance of the truth。 The Buddha stressed the need for removing the ignorance of the truth which is the root of all evils。 He discovered the path through which ignorance can be removed and peace can be achieved in the world。 The Noble Path propounded by the Buddha envisages a mode of religious life in which the essentials of both the extreme course of life become harmonized and significant。 The Buddha not only discovered the Eightfold Path but also actually experienced it himself and then taught it to mankind。


The history of mankind has witnessed the efficacy of the moral culture for guiding and saving the ailing world through realization of the unity of all in terms of attaining freedom from all bondage with an awakened mind。 Ahimsa (non-injury, non killing) or non-violence is such a moral principle propagated by various religious traditions inculcating a positive value of continued fellow-feeling towards all living beings and thus promoting various social welfare activities through mutual understanding and co-operation。 From the Buddhist standpoint Ahimsa primarily prefers to a state of mind manifested in love for life and protection of life。 When extended to the each and every member of human and natural existence, the spirit of Ahimsa bring out peace, harmony, equality, fraternity and integrity among all kinds of diversity。


Buddhism says that the potential for development and striving for the goal of perfection is open to all human beings, irrespective of nationality, caste or creed。 By stressing on human dignity and practice of non-violence and humane treatment and attitude to all sentient beings, Buddhism was pioneer in laying down the values for humanism more than 2500 years back。 The Buddhist values of excellence could thrive in an atmosphere of tolerance and understanding。 There is no scope for war, conflict or violence in Buddhist values。


Wherever there is a growing indifference to religion, wherever there is a moral crisis of values, wherever one finds the roots of contemporary unjust and oppressive structures, there is a priority for the Buddha's message today, there will be required tomorrow。 The Buddha's Dispensation of today therefore, needs to provide models and visions of alternative communities。 On the one hand, its involvement in the social and political life of the people is required。 On the other it needs also to keep its distance in order to prophetically challenge the world and it institutions。 The danger here is that its institutional character may lead it to become self-defensive, as historically often been case, losing its prophetic voice。 In it variegate forms。 it can address the modern world under the two headings of inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue。


Inter-religious dialogue is of paramount important currently, for the simple reason that Dhamma now incorporates converts in heterogeneous societies, no longer insular。 The tern 'conversion' itself means turning from Samsara, and reversion to truth。 The need for inter-religious dialogue is applicable answer to solve common problems。 It lays open to the various religious communities’ limitless possibilities of collaboration in the promotion and defense of common human and spiritual values。

The meaning of religion is a discipline which enable a person to uphold and respect one' own beliefs without in any way being disrespectful or discourteous towards other religions。 To this end, we must establish mutual understanding, mutual cooperation with friendliness towards other religions to achieve religious harmony。 The Buddha's message was an invitation to all to join the fold of universal brotherhood to work in strength and harmony for the welfare and happiness of mankind。


Today's global issue in the world is terrorism and peace。 Most of people regarded that those have died in 9/11 tragic event were victims of terrorism。 In fact, they should be honored as founders of peace by pushing the world towards fortunate destination with firm conviction。 The world leaders and inmates of all humanity may very well shoulder this pious task and religions should role-play in important place guiding for the truth meaning of peace and happiness for the world we need badly。 In today's global village, the noble way of life to enjoy ultimate bliss appears to be highly appreciated by the peoples if we study and examine what Buddhism is。


In quest of peace through Buddhism

Ven. A. S. Nayaka


Buddhism is based on the cardinal principles of universal love and friendship。 Human welfare and a life module to work for human welfare and peace are the supreme concerns of Buddhism。 The people all over the world are now realizing that the world is at the threshold of self-destruction through nuclear holocaust and the methods of chemical and biological warfare can eliminate life from the surface of the earth。 Therefore, the need of Buddha’s message of compassion and peace today is more then ever before。 The contribution of Buddhism lies in the form of love, compassion and fraternity for all living beings, equality of man and principles of non-violence and also in the rational approach in solving human problems。


Majority of the society throughout the world is still suffering with burning problems like poverty, starvation, ill health, ignorance, and negligence to helpless, injustice, inequality and interference。 Industrialization and commercialization have come in the way between nature and man hampering the ecological balance with environmental pollution。 The world today is said to have progressed in almost all fields i.e. in scientific discoveries and technical inventions, in political, social and cultural thoughts and in religious matters。 In religious fields there have been many approaches in finding truth and searching for peace。


Society, science and religion/spirituality are interlinked and each of them has its bearing on others as well as on the economy of the time。 Science and spirituality deal with the search for the truth。 Science has produced many wonders and its pageant of endless discoveries has changed the course of life of mankind。 But it has failed to reveal the very purpose of life, which is total freedom from miseries, and achievement of ultimate bliss。 This is the sole aim and object of all of our efforts and all the religion aims at it。 The spirituality that has no bearing on everyday life of the society of the time is just a showpiece。 spiritual truth cannot be separated from social realities。 All religious teachers reflected all the solutions to the problems of life here in this world and hereafter。 The moral lesson they conveyed to people was often related to the eternal challenges of life and living。 The real solution of endless human miseries in ultimate analysis was and will be spiritual。


Our historical Buddha was deeply moved by human sufferings of birth sickness, contact with unfavorable person and things, separation from dear ones, old age and death。 It was the agony of the inevitable sufferings of human life that took him to quest for deliverance from miseries through dispassionate conduct and view of the worldly life vis-à-vis self-indulgence and self-mortification。


Buddhism centers around the man and his sufferings。 Its main purpose is to release the human beings from their endless sufferings。 It “ satisfies the reason and the heart alike, insists on self reliance coupled with tolerance for the other point of view, embraces science, religion, philosophy, psychology, ethics and arts, and points to man alone as the creator of his present life and sole designer of his destiny。


Buddhism as the most rational and pragmatic religion aims at the promotion of all varied zests and interests of life values in the society。 It teaches how the individual and social life can be best as the enlightened life。 care freed detached and released life with full of far sights and insights。 The descriptive analysis of the application of Buddhism in the hurry-bury life of the Lay-devotees and of the monastic life, would convince us of its practical and the applied ethical values in social, economical, political, intellectual, moral and spiritual。 It’s most tolerant, philosophy would unfold its pure nature of how it influences the members of our family, relatives, friends, associates and community in a large perspective and help us to conquer all obstacles for progress and to achieve the ideal goal of absolute perfection of Nibbana-existence。


It is the bounden duty of all followers of the Buddha to live the Dhamma life as the perfect example of holy values。 They must continuously exhort the others and the weaker brethren towards these religious values。 By perfecting one’s own community a society can be uplifted, after the society’s enlistment a country can be said to be progressing and developing in all perspectives。


The Buddha guided us to live a fully awakened life by practice of moral precepts and remaining fully mindful about our own thoughts, speeches, feelings and actions etc。 and developing the habit of keeping the mind present with the present moment instead of allowing it to stroll in the past memories or future imaginations。 The Buddha has shown the path to one and all whoever cares to follow it and enjoy it fruits rights here in these very life。 So it is now up to all of us what we follow, how and how much we follow the shown by the Buddha for developing our own human values to live a happy, peaceful, contended and fearless life。


Let us examine, what the word ‘peace’ is actually meant for? Generally speaking, ‘peace’ means, Harmony, Concord, Tranquility, Undisturbed state of mind, Absence of Mental conflict, Freedom from war and Civil strife, Quarrels and Disagreement, etc. It reveals that, Peace has two-fold meaning like inner-peace and outer peace or external peace。 In other words, peace means peace in the hearts of the people and peace all around。 Whatever be the impact of the word peace, every human beings inclusive of all sentient beings are loving and on one desire to live in sorrow and sufferings。


Because of greed, hatred, delusion or ignorance and jealous, the scientific developments, which are devoid of ethical codes and human values, there arise inordinate race for love of power, distrust, antipathies and the all possible evil motives in the human minds itself。 It may, therefore, be concluded that, such advancements of science would be of no use for bestowing any enduring peace or happiness and on the other hand, lead to competition, conflict violence between man and man, men and nation and nation resulting in turmoil, oppression and disasters etc。 It is therefore experienced that the human minds are the roots of all the evils。 The minds, which govern good and bad activities, can operate beyond any scientific measuring computers, are said to be the real friends and the worst of the enemies of humanity。


Buddhism can play the most significant role for ushering in peace and harmony amongst the mankind。 Because, Buddhism analysis the root causes of the human problems and tackle them correctly, advising the marvelous prescription of the Noble Eight Fold Path based on morality, concentration and wisdom。 It they are suitable practiced and inculcated in every body’s life, he is sure to remodel and reshape his philosophy of life endowed with the spirit of qualitative virtues of loving kindness, compassion, piety, understanding etc。 the most scientific essentialities of Buddhism, need to build up truly human being。 By following the path shown by the Buddha the Buddhist countries can play a great role in promotion of peace and harmony in the world。


(The paper has been published in Chinese Buddhist magazine of Yuan Kuang Buddhist College, Taiwan in March 2002)


Significance of Vesakha day in Buddhism

Ven. A. S. Nayaka        


In commemoration of the great events in the history of Buddhism Vesakha Full Moon Day of the month of May is one of the most auspicious in the heart of all Buddhists which observed in the Buddhist countries。 The holiest day in Buddhism to celebrate and to observe is the day of Vesakha Full Moon Day because it is significant to commemorate sacred events in the Buddhist history。 To commencement of the Buddhist calendar on this Full Moon Day of month of May when Vesakha Nakkhatta and the moon revolve together in their celestial paths。 Hence with a great significance this holiest day is highly regarded as one of most gracious day by all Buddhists。 To commemorate these wonderful and outstanding evens, kings of ancient India as well as other Buddhist countries used to celebrate the Vesakha Purnima known as the Buddha day and also used to perform their coronation ceremonies and other royal consecration rites on this particular month。 According to Buddhist tradition Vesakha Full Moon Day of May is historically remarkable for four great events:


1。      On the Vesakha Full Mon Day of May, four Asaaankheyas and on hundred thousand kappas (world Period) ago, the Bodhisattva had requested and received the infallible prophecy (Vyadita) from Dipankara Sammasambuddha, that he would become Gotama Buddha the Fully Enlightened One in this world。

2。      On   the Vesakha Full Moon Day of May, there was born named Siddhatha Gotama who was destined to be the greatest religious teacher not only for all humanity but also for all heavenly bodies。

3。      On the Vesakha Full Moon Day of May, the Lord attained incomparable supreme Enlightenment after fulfilling His Ten perfections (Paramitas)。

4。      On the Vesakha Full Moon Day of May, the Lord Buddha interred into the Mahaparinibbana。


To commemorate above-mentioned these four sacred events of the Lord Buddha, we all can contemplate and pledge the significance of the most auspicious day in the history of Buddhism。 While discussing the significance of Veskha Purnima Day of Buddhism, let us also try to understand important events and noble words of the Buddha。 The Dhamma discovered by the Buddha for the benefit of all beings, for the happiness of all beings and for the achievement of all beings are always guiding us to the path of liberation from sufferings。 What Buddha and His glorious significance is that he is an extraordinary man and also Arahan。 He is worthy of highest veneration。 All beings including Gods and men venerate the Buddha because the Buddha is incomparable Supreme One, who has extinguished all defilements, who has become perfectly self-enlightenment through realization of the four Noble Truths, and who is endowed with the six great qualities of glory, namely, supremacy (Issariya), Knowledge of path to Nirvana (Dhamma), frame and following (Yassa), noble splendor of appearance (Siri), power of accomplishment (Kama) and diligent mindfulness。


On the Full Moon Day of Vesakha May the Buddha was born in year 625 B.C. as prince Siddhatha at Kpilavatthu on the Indian borders of modern Nepal。 His father was king Suddhodana and mother was queen Mahamaya。 During his childhood days he was endowed with such rich and royal comfort that by the time he attained manhood, he was truly ignorant of the real suffering and sorrows of the world。 His marriage to the beautiful princess Yasodhara and the birth of his first-born son Rahula marked a turning point in his career。 It was after he had seen the four sorrowful sights that the truth gradually downed on him。 He realized the impermanence, value-lessens and utter futility of worldly pleasure。 At this time stage, he renounced the world in order to seek the truth。


Siddhatha, the Gotama renounced the royal palace at the age of 29 and then took to hard penance for long six years。 Having fulfilling the thirty Paramitas, Upaparamitas and Paraparamitas, through incalculable icons the Bodhisattva, would be Buddha, it was finally on happy Vesakha Full Moon Day that he become incomparable supreme Enlightened One (Sammasambuddha) at the age 35, under the Bodhi-Tree at Buddhagaya。 On eve of his Enlightenment at Buddhagaya, on glorious days, sitting under the Bodhi-Tree, the Buddha vowed to himself。


In this very seat let my sinews and bones wastes away,

Let all their flesh and blood in my body dry up,

But never from this seat will stir until I have attained Supreme Buddhahood (Sammasambuddha)”


Being Enlightened the Buddha uttered himself with emotional intense the following verses。


Through my birth I wondered in the round of lives and deaths (Samsara) vainly seeking, but not finding the builder of this house。 Sorrowful is repeated birth。 O-house builder! You are seen。 you shall never build the house again。 All your rafters (passions) are broken。 your ridgepole (ignorance) is shattered。 My mind has gone to unconditioned state (i.e. Nibbana)。 I have attained the end of craving”。


Having realized the truth, Buddha endeavoured to teach his noble doctrine to gods and men。 Firstly he preached to five ascetics and then he gathered the monks all around and established the order of Sangha consisting of the first sixty disciples to propagate his sublime teachings。 He himself wandered forth for the gain and welfare of others by preaching, for a sublime life of holiness, perfection and purity。


Being delivered, he plunged into the world to deliver others from cycle (Samsara) by expounding his unique Middle Path。 Extending an open invitation to all seekers of Truth with the memorable words, “Open to them is the doors to Deathless。 Let those who ears repose confidence” he began his successful ministry。 As perfect embodiment of all the virtues he preached, endowed with deep wisdom commensurate with his boundless compassion, sleeping only two hour at night he incessantly worked for the good and happiness of mankind until his dying moment when he converted Subhadda the wandering ascetic。 Before his entering into the Mahaparinibbana the Buddha summoned his disciples and calmly addressed them thus。


Ripe is my age, short is my life, leaving you I shall go。 I have made myself my refuge。 Be diligent, mindful and extremely virtuous。 With thoughts collected guard your mind。 In this doctrine and discipline by living strenuously, you will escape the cycle of rebirth and put an end to suffering。 Think not that you have not teacher after my death。 Regard the Dhamma and Vinaya I have taught you as your teacher”。


At age eighty on the Vesakha Full Moon Day of the month of May, the Buddha attained the Mahaparinibbana。 Having pondered over the significance of this sacredness of Vesakha Full Moon Day as true Buddhist should resolve to encourage, foster and develop noble practices as well as to cultivate harmony and understanding in the area of implementation of the principles of Buddhism。


Noble are the Four Great Truths, Noble is the Eightfold Paths。 Its glory and effects remain afresh even after hundreds of generations。 In the Buddha’s own words:



Of paths, the Path of Eight Constituents is the noblest。

Of truths, the Four Noble Truths are the noblest。

Of the Dhamma, the absence of craving (i.e., Nibbana) is the noblest。

Of the two-legged beings, the All-seeing Buddha is the noblest。”


Recent years Sri Lanka Government backed by all Asian Buddhist countries has proposed to United Nations to observe Vesakha Full Moon Day in UN head quarter and its branches around the world。 When United Nations and around the world observe and celebrate the significance of Vesakha Full Moon Day of Buddhism, then it will be ushering a new era of peace to mankind because even today twenty six centuries latter, Buddha’s sublime teachings are still followed and practiced throughout the world, with each passing year, we see more and more people drawn towards the essence and graciousness of noble teachings of the Buddha。 


The Great lost of the world

(Culture tragedy)

By A. S. Nayaka


Standing at crucial juncture of 21st century of new millennium human race may feel proud of being becoming close harmony among the different religions of the world。 Recently, United Nations held the first ever world religious meeting at its Head Quarter New York to find out peaceful solution to the problems of the world。 Different spiritual leaders around the world have participated and important resolutions have been adopted in the historical meeting on the eve of new millennium that added a ray of hope for peace。 However, the glorious march of world civilization seems to have come to a halt because of failure of the international community to save the worlds tallest and priceless Buddha statues from destruction by Afghanistan’s hardliner ruling Taliban。 It was a tragedy and it was a sad but often inevitable truth of history: the victors destroyed the past to stamp their future on conquests。 Over the time, this cycle has led to the loss of culture and heritage in much of the world。  However, in today’s global village such acts cannot go unnoticed and evade outrage。 At the heart of the global outcry was demolition of the two historical giant Buddha statues。 Attempt has been made to focus the lost of Buddhist cultures in Afghanistan based on historical and archaeological background as well as international media reports on attacking Buddha statues in March 2001。


The birth of Buddhism in the 6th century B.C. was great landmark that ushered a new era of human history based on love, liberty, equality and fraternity。 Since then down centuries Buddhism spread over the whole Asia and the world at large as religion, philosophy creed and the way of life, molding a new culture and civilization。 A new creative spirit in art, architecture, sculpture, and literature and in fact the entire gamut of human endeavors in every country of Asia in particular was the most decisive out-come of the influence of Buddhism。


After the Buddha, Asoka, the great Maurya emperor of Magadha and of course one of the greatest rulers of the world ever produced, was the first person to accept the responsibility of convincing Buddha’s massage with universal message appeal not only to different regions of India but over beyond its frontiers。 Ashoka sent missionaries to spread Buddhism over to countries of Srilanka, Burma, Afghanistan etc。 which due course became one of the most dominant living faiths in almost the whole of South, South East and East Asia。 (Later centuries of course Islam and Christianity in Malaya, Sumantara, Java, Beerneo, Philippines, Afghanistan and central Asia have replaced it。) The spread of Buddhism to such an extend was the result of its adaptability of different culture of the places it has traveled。 This is an evident in Gandhara art, which is an admixture of the culture of India, Persia and Greek。


For centuries of the colossal images of Buddha carved into the Hindukush Mountain at the Bamiyan with its striking honeycomb rock-cut sanctuaries were symbols of the glory of Afghanistan’s ancient past of grand history。 When the famed Chinese traveler Hsuan-Tsang saw them in the 7th century A.D. he wrote, “Its golden hues sparkle on every side and its precious ornaments dazzle the eyes with its brightness。” Since then the standing Buddhas have survived the march of Islam and more recently the two-decade-old civil war that has turned Afghanistan into one of world’s bloodiest battlefield。 Now these historical statues along with thousands of Afghanistan’s precious artifacts have lost to the world forever。


 Afghanistan was called Gandhara, which had been center of spreading Buddhism to all parts of Asia, and it was great civilizational reach of India。 Chinese traveler Fa-hien also recorded it was central to Indian consciousness。 Indian historian R.C. Majumdar concluded that the eastern regions of Afghanistan were always regarded politically as part of India, and the rest of the territory remained Indian in culture and predominantly within the political orbit of India。 Buddhism having been introduced to the region first by Ashoka, in 3rd century B.C. and subsequently by the Kushnas, the world’s largest Buddhas were carved out of the mountain cliffs during the 3rd and 4th centuries A.D. The figures, towering at a height of 175 feet and 120 feet, were good example of Gandhara art。 These rock-hewn figures of the Buddha in Bamiyan have been objects of curiosity down to present day。 They were seen during the campaign in Afghanistan in 1843, and doubtless remain to till recent destroyed by the Taliban。 That school of the Ganghara sculpture had strong Hellenic influence and was marked by the crimpled robes and moustaches。


Bamiyann, located at the entrance to a pass on the foot of the Hindukush linking the Kabul valley with the silk-road at the Balkh (Bactria), was the foremost symbol of civilisational link。 When Hsuan-Tsang visited it in 630 A.D. Bamiyan was a thriving Buddhist center, with many thousands of monks living in the carved dotted around the statues。 It was ruled by a king whose family had migrated from the Kapilavastu, the birthplace of Buddha in Nepal。 Bamiyan was also linked to neighbouring Kapisa (also called Kafiristan and renamed Nuristan after its people were converted to Islam in 1890s) where a Kashatrya Buddhist king patronized some 100 monasteries with 6,000 monks and a few Hindu temples。 Hsuan-Tsabg recorded that there was a figure of Buddha lying in a sleeping position in a convent that figure is length about 1000 feet。 According to I-Tsing, a Chinese who visited India between 671 and 695 A.D., there was a Kapisa in Buddhagaya, with the priest from Afghanistan。

Nor was Bamiyan the only major center of Buddhism。 In Hadda, visited by both Fa-hien and Hsuan-Tsang, archaeologists unearthed the ruins of 531 stupas and many examples of Buddhist sculpture in the Gandhara style。 Dige in the Kushnummer the capital of Bragam, North of the Kabul, unearthed painted glass from Alexandria, plaster matrices, bronzes, porphyries, alabasters, from Rome, carved ivory from Mathura and lacquers from China。 A massive Kushan city of Delbarjin, north of Balk, and a major hoard of beautiful gold ornaments have been excavated。 A surya image and the remains of a temple in the Gupta style were found in the khair Khaaneh hill, North West of Kabul。 Many of the artifacts unearthed in Afaghanistan fortunately preserved in Berlin, Peshawar and Calcutta have large collections of Gandhara arts。


The Buddhist presence in Afghanistan was maintained till the early 10th century by the Shaivite shahi kingdom that in its heyday extended from Kabul to Kashmire。 The Shahi kings, notably Jayapala and his son Anandapala, resisted the encroachments of the neighbouring Ghazhavids for 25 years。 Their final defeat at the hands of Mahmud is said to have begun the process of civilizational truncation of India。 With destruction of the historical Bamiyan Buddhas in February 2001。The most enduring reminder of Indian civilization and Buddhist culture in Afghanistan have been removed but the world would never forgive and forget it as culture tragedy in history of mankind。  


Afghanistan was a center of Buddhist culture before the arrival of Islam more than 1,200 years ago。 Gandhara was the seat of an ancient Buddhist kingdom and the center of strong hold of Buddhist world。 It is well-established fact that Gandhara School of arts, sculptures obtained its full swing till 10th century。 Chinese traveler Fa-hien noted that Dharma-vivardhana, the son of Ashoka ruled in the country of Gandhara and there were about three thousand monk-students of both Mahayana and Hinayana in the kingdom of Lo-e。 The two historical giant Buddhas, 52。5 and 36 metres (175 and 120 feet) tall was victim of civil war for centuries during early rounds of fighting。 Witnessed who have climbed to top of the Buddha said that Russian soldiers, who invaded Afghanistan during the 1980s, carved their names in the statues。 Caves at the top of the Buddha statues had become home to families of refugees and soldiers stashed their weapons in these caves。 At last, using explosives, rocks and heavy artillery Taliban soldiers blasted away at the two ancient historical Buddha statues in February 2001。 The fates of the colossal Buddhas at the Bamiyan, hewn out of the rock face were sorrowful to cultured world。  About 6,000 statues were housed in Kabul museum and all were destroyed。 They were brought down by a Hitlerian edict issued by the most bizarre government in the world, run by the Taliban。


Not only international Governments strongly condemned but also Islamic scholars in other Muslim countries and Islamic Institutions have questioned their interpretation on attacking Buddha statues。 The Taliban Government has been neglected and unmoved by international outcries and appeals to save Buddha statues from demolition。 The international community called it “crime against humanity because this is a global cultural heritage which the rest of world cannot be different to”。 The Taliban’s destruction of pre-Islamic artifacts is only the latest episode in ugly history。 Their religious fanaticism and vandalism are not acceptable to modern society。


As an immediate result, now the Afghan people and international community toppled the vandals of history and civilization。 Young generation people of Afghan now can study their glorious history of past as it has banned in schools since the Taliban ruled in 1996。 The country is now facing with the catastrophes and wars attacked by international alliance force led by American and British。 Millions of people fled to neighboring countries in order to save life from the dogs of war and extreme miseries。 Although we all the Buddhists are unfortunate that our worship sacred objects have tragically destroyed, we share our great sympathy to suffering Afghan people。


According to Buddhism all phenomenon are subjects to change, and our sacred ancient Buddha statues have been destroyed。 The failure of the world community to rescue these historically valuable sacred Buddha statues has added a black spot in the history of culture in the beginning-chapter of new millennium while the world is steadfastly marching into the global village through collaboration with different religions。 The Buddha stood for peace。 Buddhism today is glorious heritage of mankind。


As the world community claimed that destruction of the Buddhist historical artifacts in Afghanistan is such a heinous socio-culture crime, international criminal court of justice will never hesitate to give appropriate retribution to the vandals or the cancer of human civilization。  We all the Buddhists firmly believe that the law of karma will guide in judging whatever we have done。 Culture sites under such vandal’s areas are at risk, they are still threatening global cultural history of mankind。 While these recent sordid acts reverberated around the world it has deeper meaning in the heart of Buddhists and the most important point is about the demolition of a symbol of civilization。 So what we all have to constantly remember is that the Buddha’s last two-words before his Prinivirna “be diligent and mindful (Appamadena samppadetha)”。          


(The paper has been published by Buddhist College, Taiwan in December 2001)


Buddhism and humanism

Ven. A. S. Nayaka


Buddhism is humanism par excellence。 Human welfare and a life module to work for human welfare are the supreme concerns of Buddhism。 Human rights are universal and very important to the people of all countries in the present era。 It is a matter of vital interest to the people all over the world。 The world at present is thirsting for peace as perhaps never before in human history。 The entire heritage of mankind, its very existence is in peril due to the threat of nuclear weapons, warfare, ethnic conflict, and genocide, and terrorism, violation of human rights, communal riot, religious fanatism, cultural aggression, economic exploitation and military imperialism。 Now the question is whether Buddhism or the teaching of Buddha could remove this tension and bring solace to humanity?


Buddhism, being a practical religion of peace and non-violence, has to play a major role in guiding the destiny of mankind in this present crisis。 Through Buddhism human rights could be eternally achieved and preserved, without any danger to life on earth。 Buddhist attitude towards human beings is a fortunate opportunity to proceed on the path of liberation。 Buddha admonished that birth, as a human being among the numberless species of the earthly beings is the best of all。 Therefore, such rare opportunity should not be ruined by any means。


Buddhism is based on the cardinal principles of universal peace and love。 It is entirely devoted to the well being of mankind。 The Buddha, throughout his 45 years of teaching the Dhamma, preached about the sufferings and the end of sufferings。 People from all walks of life put their trust in him, that trust made them understand the various economical, political, sociological, psychological and moral problems of life。 He maintained that all human beings are equal at birth and that only their actions elevate or deprave them。 He was vociferous to condemn the social injustices and infringement of human rights。



Humanism: Meaning and Definition:


The word ‘Humanism’ is derived from Latin term ‘Homo’ which means ‘being’。


In English Dictionaries, the meaning of ‘humanism’ is ‘the service of Humanity’ and ‘Humanity’ denotes ‘the quality of being human’。 It is a kind of feeling which believes that all men are born equal and similar and all the distinctions are artificial。 According to M。 Roshwald in his Humanism in practice, “Humanism is a philosophy demanding the fullest possible development of the faculties of all human being in order to secure to each and every one the conditions of the happiness”。 In the words of J. Maritain, “Humanism essentially tends to render man more truly human and to make his original greatness manifest by causing him to participate in all that can enrich him in nature and history”。 Today the term ‘Humanism’ has got a socio-political term。 ‘The specific commitment of any man towards other men that add dignity or value to their lives on the surface of the earth irrespective of the race, nation or religion’ is considered as the central idea of the Humanism。



Some aspects of Humanism: Traditional Views:


All great religions of the world unanimously approved the dignity of man。 The birth in human race is indeed a rare case and most fortunate occasion, so a man should do some thing good for his own welfare as well as for other’s。 This attitude of all great personalities is really humanitarian。


As the human being is completely a social creature, his all necessities-biological, social, physical, mental and other can be fulfilled in a social life only, therefore his all efforts towards his society may be regarded full feelings of humanism, provided this society is not a limited a group of particular caste, race of nation only。 Even a limited social life certainly stands upon the humanism can not be accepted a complete humanism。


Modern Concept of Humanism:


The concept of modern humanism is based upon the socio-political ground。 The economic condition of very individual has been given most importance in this regard。 Equal social status, fulfillment of basis needs and freedom of faith, speech, religion etc。 are recognized as the human rights and thus the modern humanism does not need the faith in God and the instructions of scriptures。 Moreover, modern humanists have rejected the traditional ideas of humanism。 They named it ‘Pragmatism’ and relate it with the theory of knowledge rather than the humanism。  The ‘Self’ ‘whatever is within this every body, the whole Universe is the same are also considered in against of humanism, because these and like these principles stand upon the idea of Igo and Self。


It has been named Anthropocentric Humanism and J. Maritain calls it the tragedy of Humanism。 The contention of modern humanism is that the desirable end is not greatest happiness of the greatest number, but the minimum happiness of all。 The true humanism does not center on individual or group individuals。



The Scope and Limitations of Humanism:


The modern humanism is centered around the man on the surface of the earth irrespective of his race, religion or nation。 Thus being every wide in the scope, the true humanism is really not only hard but also impossible also to observe in the right way, so it has been accepted by modern humanists that humanism can not be given a concrete shape, it remains a vague idea。 But inspite of limitations, efforts to achieve the idea fulfilled have been made in the past and are being made in present time also。

The U.N.O. on the 10th of December 1948 has accepted a charter in regard of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights。 Its preamble reads the following:


“We the people of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our life time has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other source of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standers of life in large freedom, and for these ends to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors”。


“The spirit of non-enmity echoed in the preamble of UNISCO charter which mentions the following。 Since wars begin in the minds of men it is in the minds of men that defenses of peace must be constructed” (United Nations Yearbook 1946-47, New York 1947 P.712f.)。


Again, a decision was adopted in the meeting of the international scientists belonging to multi disciplines like Biology Genetic and Physical Anthropology to justify equal of all human beings living in the world today。 Racism was grossly condemned and that grossly falsified the knowledge of human biology while they are descended from the same stock and belong to some species。 (In the minds of men, UNISCO 1946-47, Paris 1972 p.227 ff.)。



Areas of Human Values from Buddhist Perspective:


The words Human values signify those virtues or qualities, which make a person humane, enlightened and a perfect social being。 Such virtues under the purview of Buddhism may be religo-spiritual, ethical, academic, professional, scientific, judicial, socio-economic, sexual and political。 Toleration, communal harmony, aesthetic art may constitute the religo-spiritual group。 respect for lives of all living beings, honesty, integrity may come under the ethical。 academic programs right of education, removal of illiteracy under the academic。 right to work, punctuality, observation of professional ethics under the professional。 scientific temper and discoveries as well as inventions for the welfare of humanity under the scientific。 administration of justice under the judicial。 socialism, anti-casteism, distribution of national wealth, trade and commerce, agricultural and industrial activities under the socio-economic。 equality of sex under the sexual。 while democracy, nationalism, national integration under the political。 These and many other groups and areas of human values are extremely significant since they assist to uplift the human life in this very existence。



Humanism in Buddhist Perspectives:


Buddhist attitude towards Humanism is quite clear。 Like other faith, Buddhism also is of opinion that to born in human race is a fortunate opportunity for proceeding on the path of liberation。 Man himself is his master, nobody can also, is a strong slogan of Buddhism, but at the same time the true of life is also realized that ‘nobody is of his own’。 Thus, on other hand, Buddhism inspires the man to become ‘Attadipa’, independent and self-guided while on other, it warns man not to be remained self-centered only。 Even the Buddhist monks do their moving and tours not only for the gain of many and for the welfare of many but for the showering forth compassion on the world, for the good, for gain, for welfare of gods and men also。 This is religio-philosophic aspect of Buddhist Humanism。


Buddha declared the Equality of man。 In Kalama Sutta, many arguments are listed in support of the concept of Equality of man。 Prof. Jayatilake has classified them into seven categories viz. 1.Biological, 2. Anthropological, 3.Sociological, 4.Legal, 5.Moral, 6.Ethical, 7.Spiritual Arguments。


The question of human rights really rest on an enlightenment code of social behavior followed by each individual。 The five precepts advocate for every Buddhist to confirm to ensure an excellent way of life which could inherently produce a social climate that would not necessitate a cry for human rights at all, since such a way of life would ensure all the necessary social graces that would bring about the grantee of all the rights of every human being。 The five precepts of Buddhists, namely abstention from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying and taking of intoxicants all tend conduct beneficial both to individual in particular and to the society in general。 The five precepts ensure every person’s rights to life and adherence to the five precepts would prelude a world of social conflicts, which bring about human rights to be flayed。 Thus, it is very manifest that the five precepts followed by Buddhists, it carefully adhered to, would most efficiently bring about a social condition that would ensure a satisfactory acceptance and maintenance of human rights without necessary for any rigid legal enforcement。


The teaching of the Buddha is realistic system of ethics such as, the ethics of non-violence, loving-kindness, compassion and harmony amongst people, a penetrative analysis of life a profound philosophy and practical method of mental culture and training, leading to perfect wisdom。 Buddhism lay great stress on development moral and spiritual character for a happy, peaceful and contends society。 Buddhism is religion designed to attain universal peace。 The Buddha not only taught non-violence and peace, but also he taught man not to create the problem leading to disappearance of peace and happiness of himself and others。 In the time of the Buddha, there were rulers who governed their countries unjustly。 People were oppressed and exploited, tortured and persecuted, excessive taxes were imposed and cruel punishments were inflicted。 The Buddha was deeply moved by these inhumanities。 The Dhammapada recorded that the Buddha directed his attention to the problem of good government。 His view should be appreciated against social, economic and political background of his time。 He has shown a whole country could become corrupt, degenerate and unhappy when the heads of its government, that is the king, ministers and administrative officers become corrupt and unjust。 For a country to be happy it must be a just government。 How this form of just government could be realized is explained by the Buddha in his teaching of  “The ten Duties of the king” (Dasa Raja Dhamma), as found in Jataka。


Of course the term “king” (Raja) in the ancient time should be replaced in the present day by the term “Government”。 The ten duties of the king, such as the head of the state, ministers, political leaders, legislative and administrative officers etc。


The first of “the ten duties of the king” is liberality, generosity and charity (Dana)。 The ruler should not have craving and attachment to wealth and property, but should give it away for the welfare of the people。


Second: A high moral character (Sila)。 He should not destroy life, cheat, exploited others, commit adultery, utter falsehood and take intoxicating drinks。 That is, he must at least observe the Five Precepts of the layman。


Third: Sacrificing everything for the good of people (Paricaga)。 He must be prepared to give up all personal comfort, name and fame even his life, in interest of the people。


Fourth: Honesty and integrity (Ajjava)。 He must be free from fear or favour in the discharge of his duties, must be sincere in his intentions and must not deceive the public。


Fifth: Kindness and gentleness (Maddava)。 He must possess a genial temperament。


Sixth: Austerity in habits (Tapa)。 He must lead a simple life, and should indulge in the life of luxury and he must have self-control。


Seventh: Freedom from hatred, ill will, enmity (Akkodha)。 He should bear no grudge against anybody。


Eighth: Non-violence (Avihimsa), which means not only that he should harm nobody, but also that he should try to promote peace by avoiding and preventing war, and everything which involves violence and destruction of life。


Ninth:  Patience, forbearance, tolerance and understanding (Khanti)。 He must be able to bear hardships, difficulties and insults without losing his temper。


Tenth: Non-opposition, non-obstruction (Avirodha) That is to say: he should not oppose the will of the people, should not obstruct any measures that are conduced to the welfare of the people。 In other words, he should rule in harmony with his people。


If a country is ruled by men endowed with such qualities, it is needless to say that: the country must happy。 This was evident that there were kings in the past like Asoka of India who had established kingdom based on the Buddha’s teachings regarding these ideas。 For the advancement peace and human rights, democratic set up has been approved which is evidenced from the observation of the Buddha about the seven conditions strictly being followed by the Vijjian Republic of Vesali。 The Buddhist Sangha is also a glaring example, itself based on the principle of democracy, secularism, morality, equality, liberty, fraternity, love and compassion。


The Buddha says “He who is faithful, leads the Buddhist way of life and possesses the four-Dhamma-values。 truth, justice, firmness and liberality。 does not grieve when passing away。 He does not ask the other religious teachers and philosophers whether there is any thing of greater human values other than truth, self-restrain liberality and forbear ness。


Buddhism is rational, liberal and noble method for those who sincerely want to understand the reality of life。 It is a righteous way of life for man to do well, be good and lead a happy life without depending on external powers。 It is a gradual path of mental evolution which culminates in supreme wisdom and perfection or liberation。 No matter what label is attached to teachings, the Dhamma remains as the absolute truth which can lead people to perfect peace and bliss。



The Buddhist Way of Life

Ven. A. S. Nayaka


Buddhism gives scientific answer to the life’s problems。 It insisted upon reason and enlightenment, raised morality from mere of superstition, ignorance, fear and faith, turned man’s attention from heavens to his own life and the life of his follow-men, inspired him with confidence in his own capacity and provided him with a means of shaping and reshaping his own destiny, gave him the hope of better and perfect life, and cultivate in him with strength of character to share that happy life with the rest of mankind。


The fountainhead of the Buddhist way of life is the Noble Eightfold Path which was enunciated by the Buddha in His First Sermon at Saranath, the Holy Isipathana。 The Eightfold Path may be regarded as the practical ethics of Buddhism for the purpose of building up the human character and improving it, but at the same time it is the path of the holy religion for attaining the highest enlightenment。 This path consists of the following eight steps:


1. Right Understanding。

2. Right Thought。

3. Right Speech。

4. Right Conduct。

5. Right Livelihood。

6. Right Effort。

7. Right Mindfulness。

8. Right Concentration。


Of these eight steps of the Noble Eightfold Path, the first two are grouped under the heading of Wisdom。 the following three under Morality and the last three under Concentration。 But according to the order of development, the sequence is as follows。 Morality (Sila), Concentration (Samadhi), and Wisdom (Panna)。 These stages are closely inter-related。 Morality is the foundation of the life or righteousness。 Without moral culture there cannot be meditation or mental culture, and without mental culture there cannot be wisdom。 So, for the gaining enlightenment and attaining the Nibbana one has to tread the Noble of Sila, Samadhi and Panna。


The first step on the royal road to Nibbana is observance of the five Precepts (Pancha Sila), which are the core of morality in Buddhism。 The five Precepts are in essence the combination of Right Speech, Right Action and Right livelihood。 The diligence observance of the Five Precepts (Pancha Sila), viz。 Not to injure or kill。 Not to steal。 Not to indulge in lust。 Not to speak untruth。 and Not to take intoxicants, is the best way to avoid all sins and to purify one’s mind。 In brief, “the practice of morality (Sila) consists in observance of all moral precepts。 in feeling fear shame and remorse at the smallest violation of any of them。 in not giving room for blame or disgust。 in practicing those deeds which lead to moderation and contentment”。


By following the Buddhist way of life, we can learn how to use our life to the fullest to be meaningful。 When we analyze the kinds of happiness that the Buddhist laity can think of we see that they are nothing but the idealization of the Buddhist moral values based on humane principles which enhance both individual and social welfare。 In other words, in pursuing one’s own happiness the lay follower takes himself to rightful means ensuring the wellbeing of others living around him。 Therefore, the fourfold happiness of a layman is consisted of。


The first happiness is to enjoy economic security or sufficient wealth acquired by just and righteous means (Atthi sukha)。


The second is spending that wealth liberally on himself, his family, his friends and relatives, and on meritorious deeds (Bhoga sukha)。


The third to be free from debts (Anana sukha)。


The fourth happiness is to live faultless and a pure life without committing evil in thought, word or deed (Anavajja sukha)。


In order to lead a successful life as a lay devotee economic stability is considered as an essential ingredient。 Wealth in this connection is described as “acquired by energetic striving, amassed by strength of arm, won by the sweat of one’s brow, lawful and lawfully gotten”。 Wealth thus acquired is to be enjoyed by oneself and to be used for meritorious purposes。 Debtless ness in any measure to any body and blameless actions of body, speech and mind are also contributive to his happiness。 Therefore, happiness as human value is to be achieved by resorting to ideals conceived on moral binding。


And further the moral values that the generality of men hold in high esteem have been approached and analyzed totally on an ethical point of view where the Buddha recounts the four wishes of men while living the life of a layman and then describes at length as to how they can be fulfilled to their satisfaction。 The four wishes of the people as explained by the Buddha to Anathapindika are:


1。 To acquire wealth by lawful means to be wealthier person。


2。 To acquire wealth by lawful means, to be a wealthier person, to live along with relatives and teachers, to be of good of reputation。


3。 To acquire wealth by lawful means, to be a wealthier person to live with relatives and teachers, to be of good reputation and to live long life。


4。 To acquire wealth by lawful means, to be a wealthier person to live along with relatives and teachers, to be of good reputation and to be reborn in a heavenly world。


The Buddha pointed out these wishes of men are very rarely fulfilled and those who resorts to perfections of faith, virtue, generosity and wisdom could only anticipate their fulfillment。 Apparently, these values are conditional and depend upon the satisfaction of four moral values as prerequisites which are called perfection of faith, virtue, generosity and wisdom。


A man named Dighajanu once visited the Buddha and said: Venerable Sir, we are ordinary lay men, leading the family life with wife and children。 ‘Would the Blessed One teach us some doctrines which will be conducive to our happiness in this world and hereafter’? The Buddha tells him that there are four things which are conducive to a man’s happiness in this world:


1。 He should be skilled, efficient, earnest, and energetic in whatever profession he is engaged, and he should know it well (Utthana-sampada)。


2。 He should protect his income, which he has thus earned righteously, with the sweat of his brow (Arakkaha-sampada)。 (This prefers to protect wealth from thieves, etc。 All these ideas should be considered against the background of period。)


3。 He should have good friends (Kalayana-mitta) who are faithful, learned, virtuous, liberal and intelligent, who will help him along the right path away from evil。


4。 He should spend reasonably, in proportion to his income, neither too much nor too little, i。e。, he should not hoard wealth avariciously, nor should he be extravagant---in other words he should live within his means (Samajivikata)。


Then the Buddha expounds the four virtues conducive to a layman’s happiness hereafter (1) Saddha: he should have faith and confidence in moral, spiritual and intellectual values。 (2) Sila: he should abstain from destroying and harming life, from stealing and cheating, from adultery, from falsehood, and from intoxicating drinks。 (3) Caga: he should practice charity, generosity, without attachment and craving for his wealth。 (4) Panna: he should develop wisdom which leads to the complete destruction of suffering, to realization of Nibbana。


To understand what is Buddhism is better to know the teachings of Buddha。 The Buddha has found his doctrines on four pillars。 They are known as Four Noble Truths namely: (a) The Truth of suffering (b) The Cause of suffering (c) The Cessation of suffering (d) The way of cessation of suffering。 Psychologically, men are endowed with these Truths。 If we examine them critically for the sources of problems that exist in the world today, the cause that we find out disregards less to these Four Noble Truths。


The Buddha says “He who is faithful, leads the Buddhist way of life and possesses the four-Dhamma-values。 truth, justice, firmness and liberality。 does not grieve when passing away。 He does not ask the other religious teachers and philosophers whether there is any thing of greater human values other than truth, self-restrain liberality and forbear ness。

The ultimate value of human perfected life is Nibbana and the Path promulgated by the Enlightened One for this goal is Noble way of life。 It is by the perfected self through charity, self-sacrifice, self knowledge, with tauntless energy, patience, truth, resolution, love and equanimity, that the goal Nibbana is realized。 This Noble way of life is most practical would unfold its pure nature of how it influences the members of our family, relatives, friends, associates and community in a larger perspective and help us to conquer all the obstacles for progress and to achieve the ideal goal of absolute perfection of Nibbana-existence if we are to follow the path of Buddha。


Unlimited Love

Ashin Nayaka


Almost of religion teaches that Love is unlimited and immeasurableLove involves wishing everyone to have the cause of peace and happinessThat means we wish them to cultivate positive, wholesome attitudes and behaviorThe soft love involved in immeasurable love is genuine feeling of caring and respect for othersWe wish them to be happy and to have whatever they need for a healthy, satisfying life


To have peace in life, one must have boundless love, selfless love and kindness for all beings, and he would be loved by the whole worldHe would sleep happily, awake happily, see no evil dream。 Love will protect him, will compose his heart and will give him infinite charmHe would be happy through out the lifeHe would be happy at death and he would be happy thereafterThis is the life of one who lives in the atmosphere in the boundless and selfless loving kindness


Metta is a Pali word which all Buddhists have come to knowThe term Metta is generally rendered into English by friendliness, but it is more akin to kindness and loveThus it may conveniently translated Loving - Kindness Metta is one of the Paramis or perfections to be fulfilled by a Bodhisattva or Buddha to be in future Metta means loving kindness, friendliness, goodwill, amity, benevolence etcIt is a moral volition of well - being of allIts scope is not confined to a particular person, or community and a nationIt is the boundless extension of friendly conscious from self to all


Love is inexhaustible energyLearning to be more loving is like discovering a natural spring within us: however much love we give, more will always come build upIt is our habitual self - centeredness and self - limiting ways of thinking that constrict the flow of love。 As we gradually lessen these our ability to love will increase。


In Mettanisamsa Sutta, Buddha emphasized to his followers that Loving - kindness conduces the unshakable of the mind 。 An individual who is familiar with the Metta , practices it frequently, becomes good at it until it becomes his nature, such an individual so developed in loving - kindness will gain eleven benefits 。 They are: He sleeps well。 He wakes up feeling good。 He does not have bad dreams。 He is well liked by fellow men。 He is protected by Devas。 He will not be harmed by fire, poisons or weapons。 He achieves concentration (Samadhi) fast。 His facial complexion is healthy。 He will not cause death through bewilderment。 He may not achieve anything superb, but the Brahma world will still be within his reach。


Thus, one should cultivate goodwill for the whole world with friendly and limitless consciousness without hatred and enmity。 With such friendly consciousness one should live making all the directions of life filled and saturated within and without。 Now there is a radiation of waves friendless from one to other and they embrace all beings without discrimination and feeling of ill - will towards all is finally uprooted。 All beings of different temperament and behavior become friendly and there remains no enemy in any of the directions。 As such there is absolutely no change of functioning of the feeling of ill - will, violence, antipathy and hatred。


According to Buddhism, sensual love (Raga) is like fire。 Once it is produced, it searches and burns even the possessor。 That is why。 Lord Buddha has said that there is no fire like lust。 On the other hand, Metta has a cooling effect like the soft touch of gentle hand。 It creates a cooling and pleasant effect。


One should cultivate goodwill for the whole world with friendly limitless consciousness without hatred and enmity。 With such a friendly consciousness one should live making all the directions of life filled and saturated within and without。 Now there is radiation of the waves of friendliness from one to other and they embrace all beings without discrimination and the feeling of ill - will towards all is finally uprooted。 All beings of different temperament and behavior become friendly and there remains no enemy in any way of the feeling of ill - will, violence, antipathy and hatred。


The Buddha exhorts us to cultivate loving - kindness and we can radiate it anywhere anytime by thinking thoughts of goodwill towards others。 As we cultivate Metta we should find our hearts softening。 We should find our anger becoming less and less。 Metta is a wonderful quality and we never have enough of it 。 In addition to Metta, we need to cultivate mindfulness and wisdom if we are to uproot the defilement of anger such that it can never arise again。 We can radiate thoughts of loving - kindness to all beings or anybody as we go about our various activities in everyday life。


In the Pali Suttanipata and the Khudhakapatha there is a discourse called “ Metta - Sutta ” wherein Buddha gives conscious description of loving - kindness 。 It is the love of the mother towards her only child。 Just as a mother would protect her only child at the risk of her own life, even so let him cultivate a boundless heart towards all beings。


According to Buddhism hatred is the greatest sin。 forbearance is the supreme austerity。 The Buddha said in Dhammapada , hatred is, indeed, never appeased by hatred in this world 。 It is appeased only by loving - kindness。 This is eternal law。


Love, peace, kind, compassion, devotion, brotherhood, friendliness, non - violence and equal right of wisdom are essence of Buddhism。 There are two forces that bind human beings to act in unison。 These are hate - force and love - force。 Love force can be equally or even more powerful in uniting people, biding people hearts common goal of peace and harmony。


The religion of the Buddha based on universal loving - kindness was able to influence the social, cultural, political and religious life of the people。 As a religious teacher and the founder of a religious community he was expected to offer a creed and a set of doctrines but in his teachings we find him creating an environment, a habit of life, a scheme of spiritual development。 He wants his followers to obtain happiness。 Buddha’s messages are more ethical than philosophical in character。 He has contributed a dynamic view of reality which has proved itself to be of far - reaching effects on human civilization。


For the first time in the history of mankind, the Buddha speaks of and shows the way to the conquest of hatred by love, falsehood by truth and meanness and magnanimity。 He summons his adherents to eradicate the evil by good, vice by virtue and to acquire virtue by amity。 He instructed his followers to strive always for the good of others and exhorted them to wander and preach the truth for welfare and happiness of many。


Right from the beginning it became his mission to raise the suffering multitude from the whirlpool of miseries and Samsara the Buddha directed all his followers to find out happiness, dignity and mental integrity of mankind。 He has always insisted on his followers creating a state of mind where the love for self is drowned in the flood of compassion for all creatures。


According to Buddhism love is not limited to the Buddhist community or any society alone。 It is universal in its application。 Whoever practices Metta will keep him well and benefit his follow - beings。 It goes beyond the frontiers of creed, community and nation for the benefit and welfare of all human beings irrespective of their being attached to any set and religion。 It is directly related to man’s welfare in this world。 its practice and fruits are felt by man’s himself in the present life。 and its resultant consequences blossom into welfare and happiness of mankind。


By cultivating and radiating Metta loving - kindness with understanding Dhamma as one puts it into practice one’s life transferred into a righteous pathway to ultimate happiness of Nirvana 。 May you be full of bliss。



Arakan: A Promised Land

Ashin Nayaka

The paper, which deals with the profound influenced of Buddhism on social, cultural and historical developments of Arakan, is intended to provide some accounts remained unresolved among the scholars。 Buddhism, as religious belief of Arakanese society, has had influenced the nation-making and it endowed with very imperative thriving civilization。 To portray an account of the development of Buddhism in Arakan is a fragile and demanding accountability and one will never be quite satisfied with the result。 However, available evidence on which to build any argument with reference to the Buddhism in Arakan according to chronicle sources that suggest persuasive accounts to the problems are major concerned of study。 As anticipated it involves some degree of personal interpretation。 I have given importance to sources that were mostly associated in our investigation as some innovative notes were taken from those sources, as I feel that in this credible case the pioneering grounds may well be more trustworthy than modern historians would generally acknowledge。

Arakan, a land that cherishes Buddha's principles of moral code, tranquility, love, compassion and wisdom, has patronized Buddhism for more than two millenniums。 It was the seat of an ancient sovereign country and religion, the nursery of art, and the center of the Buddhist stronghold。 Myriad ancient pagodas and vast ruins of priceless archaeological treasure lying scattered all over the country are glorious symbols of past, calling up recollections of a great past enjoyed by Arakan。 Many more artifacts still lie deeply buried under the earth。


The large number of statues and pagodas one can see lying all over the country not only offers wonderful examples of Buddhist arts, but also makes it one of the richest repositories of Buddhist sculptures。 Buddhism has been the national religion of Arakan and (Arakan has been) the epic center for the transmission of faith to Southeast Asia。 The insightful influence of the Buddhism has been compelling testimony of a prosperous Buddhist country dotted with the pagodas on countless hills and hillsides。 The yellow robe, as the symbol of the religious order of monks, and monasteries in almost every village- shape the character of the people and their institutions。


Being isolated from the rest of world for centuries it has preserved unique customs and traditions in addition to Arakan’s own history, and religion since the dawn of civilization。

In the past Arakan was known (in various times in numerous names such) as Thuwannapura, Ramathuwannapura, Ayujjhapura, Rakkhapura, Dynyawaddy, Mahawihika and Mahinthakamandala。 According to tradition Indo-Aryan people reached Arakan from India Gangha delta and settled in Kaladan Valley at a very early period。



 Before migrating to Arakan, those Indo-Aryan are thought to have mixed and intermarried with a migrant Mongoloid tribe in eastern India and Arakan。 An eminent Arakanese archaeologist, U San Shwe Bu, pointed out that the Indo-Aryan came to Arakan from Majjhimadesa who were living on the bank of river Ganges。



Moreover, early Arakanese originally belonged to Magadha region before moving to and settling in Arakan。 They consequently found their first capital city at Dynyawaddy。 The Dynyawaddy was classified in three different ages known as the first Dynyawaddy (3500- 1483B.C.), found by Marayu, the second Dynyawaddy (1483-580 B.C.) by King Kanrazagree。 the third Dynyawaddy (580-B.C. to 326 A.D.) was found by King Canda Suriya。 The second period in history of Arakan was Vesali Kyauk-HleGarr (321-1018) found by Dven Candra, and the history recorded the highest civilization in the Bay of Bengal had thrived with the international trade and commerce。 Gold and silver coins of five denominations were used during that period。



Located east of Vanga and Smatata of ancient India of which great religion, culture and politics had enormously influenced on the Arakanese people since immemorial。 The historians believed that the Mongoloid race in Arakan was mostly inter-related with Indo-Ariyans, who came over and probably ruled the native population, gradually impressing on their culture and religion。 Arakanese chronicles said that the name of Rakhine was originated from Pali word Rakkhapura meaning the land of Rakasha, Rakhasa, Rakkha, Rakkhaing, who are titled this name in honor of preservation on their national inheritance and moral values。


"The Zambu among the islands

The Rakhine among the nations

Such are their fames circulated。

Virtuous as they are, and patriotic,

Diligent in work and charitable to all-

Equally liked deities and men。

Let theirs be the coveted Nibbana"。


True to this stanza, as illustrated in the Buddhawan-an early Arakanese libretto, the Arakanese (Rakhines) determinedly lived in their antediluvian native soil of Arakan devoting to safeguard the two fundamental characters, unequivocally nationality (Amyo) and morality (Sila)。 This attributed verse illuminated how the true moral fiber of the Arakanese way of life and their highest expectation is to achieve the ultimate goal of Nirvana。 The Buddhist ecumenical outlook and way of life seems to have enough scope for adjustment and subsequence change of indigenous believes and practices, so that religion became swiftly acknowledged by the local inhabitants but was able in the process to bring about harmonious development in social values and traditions in the nation as a whole。


The remoulding of Arakanese Buddhism took place in the social background of Arakan's unfolding society which played a determined role in giving shape to the characteristic features of Arakanese society。 Buddhism has long been an important part of the cultural heritage of Arakan, and it flourished in Arakan receiving royal patronage。 It has not been a mere system of believes to Arakanese。 it encompasses the totality of our culture and civilization and national character the very essence of our lives。 Of all the bonds, which defined Arakanese as the people as a nation, religion was undoubtedly strongest。 Arakanese national identity becomes indistinguishable from its religion。 It is undeniable fact to say that everyday life of an Arakanese from the cradle to grave, together with his art and craft and literature and culture, and arts other element of his life, are all based upon and moulded by the one common factor, the spirit of Buddhism。


The advent of Buddhism in the 6th century B.C. was an epoch-making event not only in the history of Indo-Arakan sub-continent, but also it was in the history of the world。 We know very little about pre-Buddhist India。 The historical materials on the basis of which ancient history has been written are inadequate。 The true historical knowledge, which we gather, is from the time of the Buddha。  The most authentic sources of ancient history are the inscription, copperplates, coins, traveler's reports, historical accounts, and religious texts from various religions。 Out of them, the inscriptions, coins, and copperplates are associated with the epigraphic records of ancient time。 The Greek Ambassadors and Chinese travelers have left valuable accounts relating to Indian sub-continent。


 Arakanese claimed to be the first state in Asia to have received Buddhism from India as Arakan’s historical traditions are inseparably interlined with Buddhism from India。 It is known that the early Buddhists of India had a strong inclination to carry their religion, and with it their civilization into the Arakan region which lay immediate frontiers。 There can be not doubt either those Buddhist adventures, traders and missionaries managed to reach the Arakan region at very early period even before the advent of Christian era。 These adventures, missionaries, and their followers brought with them the arts of civilization which were laid the foundations of political and cultural history of Arakan。


Most of the Arakanese chronicle sources unanimously stated that Buddhism, which had existed during the reign of Sanda Suriya, who dedicated the illustrious Maha Muni Image in B.C. 554, has become the prime faith the phenomenon now called Buddhism in Arakan。 Ancient Arakanese legendary gives detail accounts of King Sanda Suriya who endowed the great shrine Maha Muni on the occasion of Lord Buddha landing to Arakan in 123 Bowdaw Inzana Era, 25 years before Buddha's Mahaparinibbana。 The Buddha visited to Arakan expressly to enable King Sanda Suriya to build a life-size image of himself and Buddha blessed on alighted on the top of Thelagiri Hill situated  the east of Kyawtaw  on the bank of Kaladan。 The Buddha had parted His Holiness teeth emitted rays of light that shone forth with a dazzling vividness in all directions, and to the reverend Ananda, his beloved cousin。 He blessed the wishful remarks: "Danyawaddy is great and splendid country which shall have ninety-nine towns on its eastern bank of the Gacchapanadi and ninety-nine towns on its western bank。 Its kings shall continue to be the ancient Kshatriya stock and particularly our Sakya race has been descended from Ajjuna Hermit-King of Kapilavastu。 As a Bodhisattva, I was reborn many a times here。 I shall have in this noble country。 my own image built that shall enclose in this land for 5000 years during the life of my Sasana or Buddhism"。 Arakanese were justly claimed to be the first in Asia outside India to have heard the word of the Buddha that was too from his His Holiness lips。 When the image was finished, it was established in Thiriguta Hill amidst universal rejoicing when gods and men could mingle freely to worship the great image of Maha Muni。


How deeply intertwined the image of Maha Muni was in the heart of Arakanese might be gathered from the following classical passage in poem Arakanese Princess Egyin written by Badu Mong Nyo in 15th century。



                                                   (Rakhine Princes E-Chun)


Truly peculiar and noble indeed,

That banner of king of king,

Sadden elephant of snow-white variety

Possessed while ruling Dynyawady,

Golden Land, country complete with prosperity。

The reign of Sanda Thuriya, generous monarch,

Coincided with the life of the Buddha。

Invited Him to Dynyawady with all his heart。

Due to his request in earnest,

Lord mercifully let him cast

Maha Muni Image, now we have。

Visukamma and Sikra Deva came to help。

Alloy of five noble metals was used by them

But they could not accomplished by then

Only after the Buddha offered

Seven Handfuls of His bodily warmth to the sculpture,

Beloved Brother, His Holiness comes to life,

As His representative exact, the image he left。

Man, Deva and Brahma have a chance

To worship Him in great respect。

Great image was held in reverence。

(Rahine Roma Magazine)


 Later Maha Muni, the great image of worship became symbol of an independent Arakan, has retained its deep spiritual vibration  inspired countless beings to contemplate upon higher principles life, and the shrine itself has been the most focus of attention for millions of pilgrims throughout centuries。 Its history supplemented by geographical, archaeological, and literacy sources of Arakan as well as travelers accounts had enlightened us。


Information regarding early introduction of Buddhism in Arakan is from two sources。 first from the archaeological discoveries and the second from the records of Arakanese literature。 From archaeological evidence, we find a number of symbols that are of religious significance, special to Buddhism。 Perhaps most importantly, there have been discovered several image stone figures。 An ancient stone inscription in Nagari character was discovered by renowned Archaeologist Dr。 Forchhammer。 Known as Salagiri, this hill was where the great teacher came to Arakan some two thousand five hundred years ago。 Somewhere from eastern part of this hill, a stone image in Dhamma-cakra-mudra now kept in Mrauk-U museum, was found earlier in 1923。 This relief sculpture found on the Salagiri Hill represents Buddha preaching King Canda Suriya belongs to 5th century A.D.。 five more red sandstone slabs with the carving were found close by the south of this Salagiri Hill in 1986。 They are the same type as the single slab found earlier in 1923。 These carving slabs of Bhumispara-mudra, Kararuna-mudra, Dhammacakra-mudara, and Mmahaparinibbana-mudra represent the life of Buddha。


These sculptures provide earliest evident about the advent of Buddhism into Arakan。 during the life time of the Buddha and these discoveries were therefore assumed as the figures of King Canda Suriya of Dyanawady, who dedicated the Great Maha Muni Image。 These archaeological findings have been studied by eminent scholars and conclusion is that the Maha Muni was made during the king Sanda Suriya era。 But some historians and scholars viewed the creation date of Maha Muni shrine still remains a mystery and the lack of comprehensive data, and this subject remains controversy till date。


The oldest artifact, stone image of Fat Monk inscribed "Saccakaparibajaka Jina" in Brahmi inscription comes to the date of first century A.D.。 the stone inscriptions are of Sanskrit, Pali, Rakhine, Pru and Arabic languages。 The cubic stone inscriptions record the peace making between the governor of Thandaway Mong Khari (1433-1459) and Razadhiraj the Mon Emperor in Arakanese inscription。 This was found from a garrison hill at the oldest site of Parein。 A stone slab with the alleged figure of the Buddha preaching, King Canda Suriya bored testimony to the Salagiri tradition, depicting of the advent of the Teacher to Dyanyawaddy


Since after receiving Buddhism and uninterrupted Buddhist tradition has been in the main fabric of the Arakan society which was influenced by Indian Buddhist tradition and culture as evident from important Arakanese historical sources and archaeological findings in the region。 Monumental edifices, inscriptions, pagodas and images of the Buddha discovered in Arakan are compelling evident-witness to the prosperity of kingdom。 Located in various ancient royal sites, the edicts and inscriptions of each king -clear indication of personality and heritage along with the pious activities-he had performed in support of the Buddhist religion during his reign。 Even today crumbling ruin of ancient statues and pagodas in all parts of Arakan are surviving example of what was once architectural genre。 The principal pagodas and monasteries once a lofty and richly decorated structures, still stand and pitifully throughout centuries。 Other precious antique pagodas, monasteries, pillared halls, shines, railing, and original established parts all over the country have been ruined to the ground level。 A number of archaeological treasures have been stolen and many have been broken into the pieces。 Many have savagely ruined by man and nature。 Some are left out as a witness to the original grandeur of the Chaitya。


U Shwe Zan, an erudite Arakanese historian gave reliable information in his works The Golden Mrauk U that Anandacandra Inscriptions date back to 729 A.D. originally from Vesali now preserved at Shitethaung indicates adequate evidence for the earliest foundation of Buddhism。 Dr. E. H. Johnston's analysis reveals a list of kings which he considered reliable beginning from Candra dynasty。 The western face inscription has 72 lines of text recorded in 51 verses describing the Anandacandra's ancestral rulers。 Each face recorded the name and ruling period of each king who were believed to have ruled over the land before Anandacandra。  Archaeology has shown that the establishment of so many stone pagodas and inscriptions which have been totally neglected for centuries in different part of Arakan speak of popular favored by Buddhism。 Mrauk-U, the last kingdom of independent Arakan founded by King Mong Saw Mon in 1430, has become the principle seat of Buddhism, reached at zenith of the golden age。 Mrauk-U was divided into three periods: the earliest period (1430-1513), the middle period (1531-1638), and the last period (1638-1785)。 In Arakan antiquities at the Mrauk-U seems to give rational evidence as to where Buddhism was settled down。 These include stone inscriptions, Buddha images, the Buddha's foot-prints and the great pagoda itself which, stripped its later-constructed top, would be of the same design as the Gupta style of ancient India。


 The crowing event in the history of Arakan was the Convention of the Buddhist Council at the top of golden hill of Vesali under the royal patronage of King Dhammawizaya in 638 AD。 through joint effort of two countries, Arakan and Ceylon。 This momentous triumph of the great council was participated by one thousand monks from Ceylon and one thousand monks from Arakan kingdom。 As a fitting celebration of the occasion, the lavish construction of pagodas, statues and monasteries were undertaken for the purpose of inscribing the Tripitaka。 After Vesali, Pyinsa was found by Lemro dynasty in 181 A.D. the great king of dynasty was King Mim-Yin-Phru, who turned his attention towards the development of Buddhism, and in 847 A.D. he conveyed the second Buddhist council in Arakan attended by 800 Arahants。 Arakanese chronicles report that therein the Tripitaka and Atthakatha were inscribed on the golden plate and enshrined。 Never has there been impediment in the practice of Theravada Buddhist faith since it has introduced in Arakan。 The copious findings of inscription Ye Dhamma verse were practical evidence that Theravada was dominant faith if epigraphic and archaeological sources were to be believed。 The Royal patronage has always been significant factor contribution to stability and progress of the religion in Arakan。


Now how far these accounts are credible for the modern scholars? Arakan is the only state in Southeast Asia to be geographically connected to India by both land and sea route which is considered as the transition center of spreading Buddhism to Southeast Asia。 There can be no denying factor that Buddhism has been great cultural forces in Arakan and rallying point for Buddhists over other parts of Southeast Asia。 Ancient Indian historians concluded that eastern regions of India were always regarded culturally and strategically as part of India, and the rest of the territory remained Indian in culture and predominantly within geopolitical orbit of India。  The famed Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsan recorded in his travel account that one of Chinese monks。 a priest of King-Chau (in Hupeh) of China went to India by southern sea-route and arrived at A-Li-Ki-Lo known as Arakan。 A-Li-Ki-Lo (Arakan) was the eastern limit of India。 It was part of Jambudipa。 Bing ancient geographical part of Jambudipa, Arakan exists as a contiguous land with India, and thus Indian civilization has spread over Arakan since the very beginning of Arakan history。 This geographical proximity and Arakanese literature records are more historical realistic and considered that Buddhism had spread to Rakkhapura before Asoka period of India。


It has become customary with modern scholars to play a double role。 On one hand, they use Arakanese sources for their research material。 On other hands, they neglect the significance of the narratives in Arakanese sources。 Whatever historical enlightenment modern scholars could get from the Arakanese sources, they avail of it while they cast aside whatever they do not find their own liking, branding it as neither “nationalism”, “mysticism” or “mistake”。 This seems to be unfair and misinterpretation to the spirit of Arakanese authority and the value of their national treasure。


 By dismissing the long-settled Arakanese theories on such an important subject of Buddhism which had arrived to this region formerly part of Jambudipa earlier before commencement of Christian era, in fact Sappadanapakarana-a palm leaf manuscript found by Dr. Forchmer gives interesting accounts that the Buddha with 500 Arahans came to Dynyawaddy by aerial journey。 The earliest known artifacts discovered were a Fat Monk dating back to first century A。D。 and other Buddha images preaching to King Canda Suriya, and the earliest important inscription found at Taung-paukgree village are good sources to be believed that Buddhism had existed in Arakan during reign of Canda Suriya。 On the other hands, vast collection of less known Arakanese literatures are great volume to be examined if literature sources are to be believed, and archeological unearthed are the foremost symbol of earliest Indian Buddhist civilization link to this region, as geographical proximity between India and Arakan is still unquestionable。 But some outside observers do not seem to accept these indications of Arakan preserved。 According to Arakanese chronicle sources, Buddhism had arrived Arakan first by visiting Buddha himself with five hundred Arahants in 554 B.C. and subsequently by arriving missionaries sent by Asoka in third century B.C. it is not that easy, as it might seem to the modern scholars who are working in consultation with Arakanese sources。 If they find the materials inconceivable, and then either they should not go after it, or they should refute it in clear terms, and that is they do should do。 Their position therefore is far from satisfactory。 Their attitude has the shortcoming of the outsider’s approach。 They have not been able to show any grasp of the Arakan way of opinion and currently have only managed to come with sarcasms。


To give an example, when an Arakanese historian simply says that the Maha Muni Image was made during the life time of the Buddha, he is regarded as an authority。 but when he enters into details with traditional background and with its original literature source, he is said making mistake。 What is that? Should one say so, without having looked deeper into the significance of scholar’s statement that might have been made on logical and historical grounds? In fact, statements occurring in older classics cannot be interpreted in a straightforward manner--we live in a world different from that of theirs and that has intervened a shift of linguistic and idiomatic convention, followed by revolutionary changes in the concept of science and technology。 What one should do in respect of philosophical classics is to adopt an objective and unbiased attitude。 It may quite well be the fact that the complex statements which were once reasonable and intelligent。 Before we come to say that they are “discreditable”, we should first consider the possibility that the statement could be interpreted to have some forgotten sociological implication。 We should have the tolerance to wait till the so-called incomprehensible statements are finally settled by endeavoring and persevering scholars。 Such an honest attempt by the scholars concerned is badly needed today, especially for Arakan history research。


A scholar, desirous of knowing the history and culture of ancient Arakan, can in no way discount an enormous treasure of Arakanese literatures。 They have been partially laid down contribution of a large volume of worthy still lies buried to be translated into other languages, which the scholars have not yet explored。 A careful study of them will be a valuable contribution not only in the sphere of influence of Buddhist literature, but also on Indian history, civilization, and culture of India and Arakan。 Arakan, thus, proves to be in some respects as important an apparatus for the study of certain periods of Indian civilization as language of that subcontinent。 At the same time, the process of the contribution of Buddhism and assimilation of Indian culture in Arakan proves us with extraordinary interesting and historical valuable example should prove another culture and religion without totally forsaking its own deeply rooted tradition。 Scholarly venture upon various aspects of Arakan is, therefore, desirability。 This pious task may very well be shouldered by the scholars。


In the circumstantially, the Arakanese are left with no other means than either to surrender to the impositions of the modern scholars as mentioned above, or to refute their views by appealing to logic and history and to start to do scientific research maintaining the culture, literature and spiritual heritage which is based on the teaching of the Buddha and pristine legacy of Arakan。 Nothing greater can be said to credit the Arakanes' appeal of the teaching of Buddha and their commitment to safeguard to their ancestral land and the pristine faith of Buddhism。


After introduction of Buddhism to Arakan, history records, how it has been preserved by the Arakanese with the patronage of rulers, as the greatest national treasure to be protected, interpreted, followed, and propagated。 Even through during the colonial periods, the protection of this has continued to be the main policy of Buddhist Arakan, which has taken a leading role in nationalist movements for their freedom。 Downfall of Arakan independence suffered a great lost of Arakanese Buddhism at hands of vandals, and it was an undeniable truth of history: the victors destroyed symbols of ancient civilization in Arakan to stamp their future on conquests。 Since 1785 onwards the painful legacy of colonial rule has brought Arakanese to untold miseries and thousands of Arakan's historical statues and precious artifacts that have lost forever。 Among them, the lost of Maha Muni was the greatest sorrowful to the Arakanese than the lost of their independence, as the Arakanese themselves resolutely regarded that their devoted life and the Maha Muni were inseparable by any mean。 The victors may take the Maha Muni as booty in the name of conquest but they can never break the spirit of Arakanese to demand nothing less than---it is immortal legacy of Arakan given by the Buddha---it is traditionally unquestionable。 The belief in and sentimental attachment of Buddhism and unshakable adoration to Maha Muni could not be erased from their mind and replaced by one another。


Even today, the very holy name of Maha Muni still remains as living legacy in the hearts of Arakanese although it has taken away from its birth place of Dynyawady to Burma, which is now enshrined in Mandalay, and it is considered as the oldest sole surviving legacy and is one of the most important sacred images in the Buddhist history of Southeast Asia。 Being landmark historical testimony towards the presence of the greatest of mankind has ever witnessed the fame of Maha Muni as the heart of prime faith inspired countless people throughout its history and given the most enduring legacy of pride to the Arakanese in Buddhist world。 Indeed, nation as whole owes much to the religion and Arakanese wholeheartedly acknowledging their indebtness to Buddha's teaching。 It is therefore not surprising that the Arakanes are always obliged to be cherished and to be proud of belonging to THE LAND OF THE MAHA MUNI, whose legacy is universal truth。




Thezin pan khaing ta mraing mraing

Rakhine phara paung。


The Thazin's sprigs in cheer clusters

Sum the total of Rakhine phara grandeur。

(U Tha Hla, The Rakhaing Vol。 (I) No。 (7)


Not only Arakan is rich in natural resources, but it is also rich in the establishment of the Buddhist monasteries, pagodas which play a very creative role to development of Arakanese culture and civilization。 Arakan offers some of the richest archaeological sites in the Southeast Asia。 A number of Buddhist landmarks erected by the Arakanese are still be found intact or the archaeological ruins under the earth。 In the city of golden Mrauk-U there are scattering innumerable temples and pagodas which preserved as places, thereby exerting a great influence on spiritual life of the people。


Arakanese chronicle records that more than six million shrines and pagodas flourished in Mrauk-U。 In fact, they formed the pride of golden Mrauk-U。 Dr. Forchhammer described in his Arakan, "in durability, architectural skill, and ornamentation the Mrauk-U temples far surpass those on the banks of Arrawaddy"。 Buddhist arts both in the field of architecture and Buddha-image constructions are on the same line of flourishing。 An illustrative example of this fact can be seen in the temple of Chitthaung pagoda and colossal Dukekanthein temple。 Hence Arakan with its rich legacy has been able to achieve a great success in enriching and disseminating their culture and civilization。 Even at the present, these cultural heritage lives sources are precious legacies of sacred symbols of Buddhism since the Arakanese are conscious of the contributions of their ancestral land towards the growth and development of their culture, literature and spiritual heritage, they are anxious to see their ancestral land once more restored to its pristine glory。


These truths to be the self- evident, Arakanese adopts religion in their totality and ever since has been giving them as a consummate taste of spiritual life。 Buddhism is the religion of the mainstream of the people of Arakan, and it is pervading force in Arakanese society。 The propound influence of religion can be seen in Arakanese life-style, mannerism, tradition, character, art, architecture, language, and all other aspects of the Arakanese culture。 Religion has become to integrate in providing basis unity of Arakanese people that unfold itself as a creative force that inspires them to higher goals of achievement。 How Arakanese had decisively upheld Buddhism and how they were impressed by Buddha's teaching that is to the Arakanese Buddhism means their entire life, and fulfillment of all---holding near and dear to them---while Arakan to be very truly is the Land of the Great Image, preserving its blessed legacy of Buddha。





1. San Shwe Bu, U. Legend of the early Aryan Settlement in Arakan, Journal of Burma Research Society, Rangoon, Vol-II-1921。

2. Rakhine Prene Phritsaingthamaing, Vol. I-II-III. 1984。

3. The Economic Treasure Trove of the Arakan state, Rangoon, 1979。

4. Aung Tha Oo, U. History of Rakhine

5. Collis, Maurice, The Land of the Great Image, London, 1943。

6. Forchahmmer, Dr. The Arakan, Rangoon, 1891。

7. Pandi, U. Mahapyinnyakyaw Shoute Htome (Burmese) Rangoon, Hanthawaddy Press。

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