Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tapussa and Bhallika: The Earliest Disciples of the Gotama Buddha

During the time of Padumuttara Buddha, future Tapussa and Bhallika aspired to be the foremost disciples of the Buddha. Then again at Sikhi-Buddha's period they wished to get the chance of offering the first alms-food to the future Buddha. They made meritorious deeds together throughout their various past lives. Finally, they became the earliest disciples of the Gotama Buddha.
Tapussa and Bhallika were the two sons of travelling merchant who resided in Pakkharavati town of Okkalapa. They travelled from place to place to trade, carrying their goods in five hundred bullock carts.
Gotama Buddha who had gained the perfect enlightenment was at the root of a linlun tree. He had just arisen from the seventh-seven days abiding in the attainment in cessation of all defilements.
At that moment, Tapussa and Bhallika were not very far from that linlun tree. Their bullock carts were immobilized by their deva mother of previous life. The deva told them about the Buddha's extreme need of food for his survival after fasting for forty nine days.
Without hesitation, Tapussa and Bhallika took the best preserved food they had and offered them to the Buddha. After having their alms-food the Buddha gave them a discourse. At the end of the discourse, both the two brothers were established in the ''Two Refuges'' (dve vacika saranagamana).
Then they asked the Buddha to give them something to revere everyday. The Buddha bestowed on them eight hairs from his head as relics. They put up a shrine on the Singuttara Hill and enshrined the hair relics with the guidance of King Okkalapa. Myanmar kings, their successors, together with the people sustained the shrine. At present, it is famous as the Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar.
Later in Rajagaha, they visited the Buddha. Again, the Buddha gave a discourse to them. On hearing the Dhamma, Tapussa attained Sotapatti Fruition. Bhallika became monk and then gained Arahatship.
Buddha declared that Tapussa and Bhallika were the foremost disciples who had taken refuge earliest in the Buddha and the Dhamma.
Certainly, continuous merits of Tapussa and Bhallika in all their past existences had fulfilled their aspirations of becoming the earliest disciples, offering the first alms-food to the Buddha. More than that, they also attained Fruition and Arahatship.
Posted by Aye Sat

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Saranagamana and Fruition

At the beginning, the corner-stone of the Theravada Buddhism started with the Saranagamana as a core of faith. The Saranagamana was then provided with the Dhamma shown by the Buddha in the middle. The Sanghas were much obliged to do at well service till the end. So, the Arahat Fruition in the Buddha Sasana will never be extinct.
As in the Dhammapada, Saranagamana makes danger and fear free. It is also said that one who took refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, met with the Magga insight. That is the Four Noble Truths, namely Suffering, the cause of Suffering, the overcoming of Suffering and the path leading to the extinction of Suffering.
Moreover, if a person has steadfast faith in the Tisarana, but not endowed with quick wit, ready wit and the knowledge of liberation from defilements, he can become a Stream-winner (Sotāpanna) or a Once-Returner (Sakadāgāmi).
In Anguttara Nikaya, the disciples had firmly absolute belief in the Buddha; they all mean Sotapana. It is sure of [very great benefits, i.e.] the noble gratitude of one who gave the tisarana according to the Lord Buddha’s sermons. Saranagamana is very special for refuge of living being. It can give protection against evil deeds and rewards of merits. If you do not accept with firm belief, no tisarana will be taken in your heart whoever gives it. Someone can get only in deep faith (saddha). Whether in front of the image of the Buddha, or with the help of a Sangha or by self, it can be sure to take refuge in the Tisarana.
Someone once takes refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, Tisarana is existing throughout the life. In the period of faith and understanding for refuge to the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, everybody continually exists as a Buddhist. But if one gives up the Buddhistship and professes other religion, Saranagamana is naturally lost. The more the period of having a firm belief in the Three Refuges is long the more the benefits is formed.
For life-long having the Tisarana somebody should be reciting repeatedly, believing and understanding forever to act according to intention of the following words of belief:
From today onward I surrender myself to the Buddha, to the Dhamma and to the Sangha. 
Until my life ends, I am taking refuge in the Buddha, in the Dhamma and in the Sangha.

This is the giving over of one’s self to the Tisarana. It may also be done in this way:
To the Buddha I am giving myself, 
to the Dhamma I am giving myself, 
to the Sangha I am giving myself. 
Until the last the Buddha is my refuge, 
my shelter and my protection.

Posted by Nyan U

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Saranagamana and Benefits

The Pali word saranagamana denotes the solemn recognition of the Three Refuges. It is suitable for everybody including children. Without running out of cost and energy, having firm belief in the Tisarana or the Three Refuges, can be attained. What is the taking firm saranagamana? 

The mundane refuge is of four kinds:
[1] The surrender of self with strong belief or faith (Saddha)
[2] The taking refuge in the Tisarana as one’s guiding ideals, 
[3] The acceptance of discipleship (Upasaka)
[4] The homage by prostration.

Doing one of the four above must be bared in mind as one who has taken refuge in Tisarana.

In the world the Tisarana, the real refuge is the Exalted One; nothing more than the noble sarana can exist. Self-surrender with true faith in the Tisarana is very beneficial. Buddha preached how the great benefit is:

As to the meaning of the word Pali sarana,” the commentator relates it, not in the sense of a linguistic derivation. According to the PaliHim satiti saranam,” taught by the Buddha, however, for the purpose of exposition, to the verb sarati, “to crush,” having the same meaning as himsati, “to kill”.

The refuge is explained in that way, because, for those who are going for that refuge, it kills and destroys danger and fear, suffering of body and mind, and defilements leading to evil destiny. The refuge is called as the Three Gems. More than that, when transformed into the realm of devas, deva who is taking refuge gains ten more benefits in different than the other without refuge. These ten benefits are as follows in keeping with “Salayatana Samyutta”:
[1] Longevity 
[2] Beauty 
[3] Richness 
[4] Attendants 
[5] Influence 
[6-10] Suberb in five senses: sight, hearing, smelling, tasting and feeling.
Similarly the human beings can gain the benefits of saranagamana. In the world the three refuges are the most superior. Getting how is very easy. So some Buddhist think lightly about faith in tisarana. Tisarana definitely benefits everyone who tries his best till death to take refuge in. Those are:
[1] not reborn in lower realm after death, 
[2] born as human beings or celestial beings
[3] excel in ten virtues such as: beauty, sound, odour, taste, touch, long life, appearance, happiness, power, and companion.

If one takes refuge respecfully in Tisarana, he will gain such advantages. Suppabuddha, the leper is the best example. At the Jetavana monastery, Suppabuddha sat listening to the Buddha's teachings at the back of the crowd. He was an attentive listener to the discourse given by the Buddha. Due to his deep faith in the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha, he actually attained Sotapatti Fruition

Suppabuddha was born in Tavatimsa deva realm after death. Having unshakable faith in the tisarana, is the prime-factor to produce the highest result, the Enlightenment that can be obtained here and hereafter. But, if someone neglects them, he cannot attain the fruition of Magga and Phala. Besides that he will be reborn in the nether world (Apaya).

Moreover, the Buddha says in the Dhammapada, “Whoever goes to the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha for refuge, that one sees the Four Noble Truths with his right insight; that is to say: suffering (dukkha), the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering and the noble path leading to the extinction of suffering. This, indeed, is the best and safe refuge. Having depend upon this refuge, one frees from all sufferings.

Posted by Nyan U

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Tisarana, the Three Real Refuges

Tisarana is the threefold refuge. It is also known as the three jewels, the three treasures, the triple gem or tri-ratana. Tisarana is referred to the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. All three refuges offer protection from the fickle and unstable world we live in.
A common formula recited by someone wishing to become a Buddhist and by Buddhists more generally is:
Buddham saranam gacchami. 
I go for refuge to the Buddha.
Dhamman saranam gacchami. 
I go for refuge to the Dhamma.
Sangham saranam gacchami. 
I go for refuge to the Sangha.
Dutiyampi Buddham saranam gacchami. 
For a second time, I go for refuge to the Buddha.
Dutiyampi Dhamman saranam gacchami. 
For a second time, I go for refuge to the Dhamma.
Dutiyampi Sangham saranam gacchami. 
For a second time, I go for refuge to the Sangha.  

Tatiyampi Buddham saranam gacchami. 
For a third time, I go for refuge to the Buddha.
Tatiyampi Dhamman saranam gacchami. 
For a third time, I go for refuge to the Dhamma.
Tatiyampi Sangham saranam gacchami. 
For a third time, I go for refuge to the Sangha. 
---Khuddakapatha Sutta 

Saranam means refuge or protection. By reciting the above formula three times, one professes his faith and confidence in the Ti-sarana. One who takes refuge in the Three Refuges (Saranagamana) is generally accepted as a Buddhist.
Taking refuge in the Triple Gem is generally considered to make one formally a Buddhist. Thus, in many Theravada Buddhist communities, Tisarana is often recited by both monks and lay people. This is the correct way to take refuge in the tisarana. By constantly reciting them day by day, the meaning of the Dhamma becomes clearer and clearer in realization.
In the ‘Sīlekkhan’ commentaries, it is said that the Three Refuges are more supreme than the Five Precepts. In the time of the Vipassã Buddha, the samanera Tisaranagamaniya decided that it would be beneficial to recite the Three Refuges all the time. After his death, the results of having constantly recited the Tisarana made him the Sakka thirty-two times. That is how powerful the Three Refuges are! In Gotama Buddha's time, he also attained enlightenment at the age of seven.
The three refuges remind us that the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha are very precious. This is because they lead us the opportunity to work towards enlightenment. At the same time, they save us from being swept along by samsara, its delusion, attractions and its suffering. Tapussa and Bhallika were the foremost lay disciples who had firm belief in the Buddha and the Dhamma. The Buddha gave them a discourse at the end of which both the two brothers were established in the Two Refuges (dve vacika saranagamana).
Concerning the virtues of the three real refuges, most Buddhists had better take some words of Buddha. In the Apannaka Jataka the Buddha declared and then admonished, “By taking refuge in the Triple Gem, one escapes from rebirth in states of suffering. In forsaking such a refuge as this, you have certainly made a mistake. In the past, too, men who foolishly mistook what was no refuge for a real refuge, met disaster.
Posted by Nyan U