Category Archive: Buddhist Heroes

Jun 25

Arahat Saṅghamittā’s Story – (from Extended Mahāvaṁsa V, XV, XVIII-XX)

Arahat_sanghamittaThe sections presented here are those that pertain to the Arahat Saṅghamittā’s story. This is not told, as we might like, in a continuous narrative, but rather – as it is incidental to the main story – comes to us it isolated sections.

Be that as it may, we still have a fairly large and interesting amount of information on a Nun who was – and still is – held in the very highest esteem in Sri Lanka.

The episodes cover her birth, going-forth, journey to Sri Lanka and the central role she played in establishing the religion in that country.

It also records her passing, along with the passing of the first generation of missionaries.


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Jun 04

Asoka and the Missions (from Extended Mahāvaṁsa V, XII-XV, XVIII-XX)

King_asokaThe text concerned is mainly of importance for the information it gives on the early years of Asoka, his conversion to Buddhism, holding the Third Council, and then the spread of Buddhism in the Missionary period of the Dispensation.

In the first selections, which are made from Chapter V of the text, we are informed about Asoka’s career when he was vice-sovereign, the birth of his children Mahinda and Saṅghamittā and his ascension to the throne after murdering his brotherly rivals.

This is followed by his meeting with the novice Nigrodha, who so greatly impressed him, his disillusionment with the other ascetic groups and his growing faith in Buddhism.

Once converted Asoka proved to be a great support to the Dispensation and besides building 84,000 monasteries in honour of the 84,000 teachings that the Lord Buddha had given he also gave his children for ordination, purified the Saṅgha and organised the Third Council which ratified the Teaching.

Incidently as these stories are being told there are also many interesting accounts included in the text, like a previous life-story of Asoka and his relatives; his seeing of an image of the Buddha thanks to the Nāga-King Mahākāla; and a retelling of the Partridge Birth-Story (Tittirajātaka, Jā 319) in verse.


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May 30

A Majestic Tree of Merit Biography of The American Bhikkhu Kovida

A Majestic Tree of Merit - CoverUnlike in the case of a novel, when a biography comes out in its complete form, its real author is no longer  among the living. The author, in this case, sacrifices even his very life to provide the lessons, variety and coherence to his narrative.

Venerable Kovida too, brought his exemplary biographical narrative to completion with dedication and self-sacrifice, using a ‘terse’ style. The accompanying biographical sketch is but an attempt made by a bhikkhu practising meditation at the Meetirigala Nissarana Vanaya, to recapture his terse but meaningful style of life, for the benefit of the future generation keen on the righteous path.

I am my pupil, I am my teacher too’. These are not whimsical utterances. They are indeed meaningful and are in keeping with the sayings of the  Buddha such as: ‘One is one’s own saviour’; ‘Live, being an island unto yourself’; ‘You yourself should make the effort’.

We should proceed on our procession towards inward peace being both a pupil and teacher to ourselves, at the same time. The light we get from the Buddha’s dispensation, is a search-light that enables us to see ourselves, and to recognise ourselves. In other words, a light to see our inner selves. This is an aspect that cannot be seen by ordinary light. There is an ‘inner self’ in everything. The magnitude of miracles accomplished by that inherent power staggers one’s imagination.


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