Worthy Ones of a Great Assembly | Daily News

Worthy Ones of a Great Assembly

Realising that there were now sufficient disciples to start the pioneer movement for the propagation of the Dhamma, the Buddha addressed them “Oh, Bhikkus, you should now wander forth for the welfare of the many out of compassion, for the benefit of gods and men. Do not go together two of you in the same direction. Preach the Dhamma glorious at the beginning (Sila) in the middle (Samadhi) and at the end (Panna).

Sakyamuni Siddhartha Gautama’s search for the truth leading to enlightenment was the most sacred event unparalleled in human history. Then He set out from Rajagaha the capital of Magadha Kingdom to Benares the capital of Kasi and delivered His first sermon - Dhammachakkapavattana Sutta or the wheel of Law to the five ascetics. The Ven. Kondanna who attained the eye of Dhamma became his first disciple. Subsequently, the Buddha delivered the second sermon Anantalakkhana Sutta. The disciples listened with utmost faith and became Arahants. While at a park He instructed a youth named Yasa and his 54 friends with a sermon called Anupubbikatha a discourse on moral values until all of them became Arahants. The number then was 60.

Realising that there were now sufficient disciples to start the pioneer movement for the propagation of the Dhamma He addressed them “Oh, Bhikkus, you should now wander forth for the welfare of the many out of compassion, for the benefit of gods and men. Do not go together two of you in the same direction. Preach the Dhamma glorious at the beginning (Sila) in the middle (Samadhi) and at the end (Panna). Then the Buddha himself set out for Rajagaha where on his way He preached the doctrine to three Jatila brothers helping them to attain Arahantship. It was Adittapariyaya Sutta meaning ‘all in flames’. Their 1,000 disciples too were to become Arahants. Soon the Sangha grew in numbers.

Chief Disciples

The next important event in the expansion of the Sangha order was the arrival of the two youths - the two faithful and true friends. Kolitha Upatissa came with their retinue numbering 250. They belonged to the leading families of the day well brought up and well disciplined. They all listened to the doctrine and here they got the unique opportunity of entering the order.

Subsequently, the Buddha assembled them to one place and pronounced them, the Chief disciples of the Sasana are Sariputta and Moggallana. He explained the significance of the rare occasion. It was revealed that they received (Niyatha Vivarana) permission from a previous Buddha-Anomadassi who with His divine vision and insight had predicted that they would be the next chief disciples in the sasana. Ever since they had fulfilled Parami Dhamma, leading a life of piety and sanctity devoted to the doctrine. This supreme position was the outcome of extreme pious lives spent throughout samsara, by the two friends and the culmination was on the Navam Full moon day.

The period of two decades after the enlightenment is described in Sasanic history as the first “Bodhi Period”. The code of discipline of the Sangha is said to have been perfect during this period. This was attributed to the proper observance of Kusala Kamma throughout samsara till they finally met the sacred master under whom they attained Nibbana. They listened to the Buddha very earnestly and the outcome was the attainment of margapala immediately. Hence there was no urgency to formulate rules and regulations for the sangha. The discourse Ovada Patimokkha did the needful.

Ovada Patimokkha

This signifies the early period of the establishment of the Sangha commemorating the day when 1,250 Arahants came together to hear the teachings of the Buddha. It was on this day that the Buddha preached the discourse known as “Ovada Patimokkha” which established the tradition of the Sangha coming together before the rules of Vinaya.

This discourse which is referred to as the basis and the foundation of the Buddha’s teachings was delivered on Navam full moon poya day after the enlightenment. It is said to have created a very disciplined and orderly Sangha Samaja to preserve the doctrine. Ovada Patimokkha was the guiding principle in Sangha life covering the entire sphere of conduct and moral progress of them. Hence the Navam poya has a special significance regarding the emergence and the inauguration of the Sangha for the propagation of Dhamma for the sake of humanity.


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