Duruthu Full Moon Poya marks Gautama Buddha’s first visit to Sri Lanka | Daily News

Duruthu Full Moon Poya marks Gautama Buddha’s first visit to Sri Lanka

“In its fullness, the freedom to which the Buddha points as the goal of His Teaching can only be enjoyed by him who has made the realization of the goal a matter of his own living experience. But just as salt lends its taste to whatever food it is used to season, so does the taste of freedom pervade the entire range of the Doctrine and Discipline proclaimed by the Buddha, its beginning, its middle, and its end. Whatever our degree of progress may be in the practice of the Dhamma, to that extent may the taste of freedom be enjoyed. It must always be borne in mind, however, that true freedom — the inward autonomy of the mind — does not descend as a gift of grace. It can only be won by the practice of the path to freedom, the Noble Eightfold Path.”

- Bhikku Bodhi


Today is the Duruthu Full Moon Poya day. It is significant to all Sri Lankan Buddhists as it is a sacred day that marks the Gautama Buddha’s first visit to Sri Lanka, blessed land purified by the touch of the Buddha’s Sacred Footprint and the sublime fragrance of dhamma popularly referred to as ‘Dhamma Dheepa’.

According to the Buddhist scripts, it was the 6th Century B.C. and the Buddha visited Mahiyanganaya in Uva Province of Sri Lanka on the ninth month after attaining Enlightenment with the noble purpose of the settlement of the dispute between Yakkhas and Nagas, two inhabitants of the island. The Yakshas were gathered at a place called Mahiyangana. He wanted to preach the Dhamma to them and to make them understand their foolishness. The Yakshas were hostile and the Buddha had to subjugate or tame them first. He radiated Budu Ras, a halo of colours and the Yakshas were cowed. It is also said that the Buddha used rain, thunder, a gale and a drought to subdue the Yakshas. Then he preached the Dhamma.

One legend says the Yakshas were sent to Giri Divaina after this while another says the Yakshas who did not understand the Dhamma fled to Giri Divaina.

The Deities had also come to hear the Buddha preach at Mahiyangana and after he preached to the Yakshas the Buddha preached to the Gods. According to the legends, God Sumana Saman is a member of the Deva tribe from central hills of Sri Lanka who had attained Sothapaththi, the first stage of sanctity on the Path to Nibbana. God Sumana Saman had asked the Buddha for an object to worship and he had given him a lock of hair (Kesha Dathu). God Saman had built a Dagoba at Mahiyangana which is also called as Miyuguna Seya enshrining the Sacred Relic of hair. Later Arahath Sarabu is said to have rebuilt the Dagoba enshrining the Greeva Dathu or the Sacred Relic of the Buddha’s collar bone. Successive Kings had reconstructed the Dagoba with Culabhaya, King Devanampiyatissa’s brother, increasing the Dagoba’s height to 30 lengths. King Dutugamunu had raised the height of the Mahiyangana Dagoba to 80 feet.

During the month of Duruthu the Buddha proceeded to the Kingdom of Magadha accompanied by Jatila Arahants. This visit was made in keeping with an invitation extended by Magadha King Bimbisara to the Buddha before his Enlightenment. Arahant Uruwela Kasyapa, Arahant Nadhi Kasyapa, Arahant Gaya Kasyapa and their followers accompanied the Buddha. Having seen the Buddha with Arahant Uruwela Kasyapa King Bimbisara hesitated to believe that Uruwela Kasyapa was a disciple of Buddha. Realising the king’s misconception Arahant Uruwela Kasyapa performed a Perahera to indicate that all the Jatila Arahants including himself were disciples of the Buddha. King Bimbisara and his people were very happy and devotedly embraced Buddhism. The Buddha preached Dhamma to all the people who took refuge in the Triple Gem. King Bimbisara offered Veluwanaramaya to the Buddha. The Buddha made a proclamation permitting Bhikkhus to accept monasteries.

King Bimbisara saw in a dream that his deceased relatives were suffering having been born as goblins. The king informed the Buddha about the pain of mind caused to him by having seen his dead relatives in the state of goblins. The Buddha preached Dhamma to offer merit to those goblins as they were in that state for need of merit.

The Buddha, the great leader, has shown us the path to move from darkness to light.

The Buddha’s teaching is focused on the path to liberate ourselves from suffering (dukkha) associated with the birth-death-rebirth cycle (samsara). The moment anyone develops liberating wisdom by learning, understanding and practicing the Dhamma, he/she will end suffering and reach a state of peace and true happiness (Nibbana).

There are three necessities to achieving liberating wisdom, and they are: (1) being a human, (2) having a reasonable intellectual capacity and (3) being born at a time when exposure to a Buddha or His teachings is possible. The existence of all three conditions at the same time is regarded as an extremely rare occurrence.

Today the teachings of the Buddha are still in their pure, original form and continue to survive as a result of the relentless efforts of many generations of the Buddha’s followers. By connecting with the Buddha’s teachings and developing an interest in the Dhamma we can gradually pave our own way towards comprehending the true nature of life and perfecting their knowledge of it in the future.

To walk the path of understanding is to begin to see through the deceptions which have held our imaginations captive through the long stretch of beginningless time. It is to outgrow our passions and prejudices, and to cast off the mask of false identities we are accustomed to assume, the vast array of identities that constitute our wandering in samsaric existence. The path is not an easy one, but calls for great effort and personal integrity. Its reward lies in the happiness of growing freedom which accompanies each courageous step, and the ultimate emancipation which lies at the end.


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