Wednesday, 21 July 2010

SIMA (1)

The salient features of Sømæ consecration in Myanmar tradition in conformity with canonical treatises
Sømæ plays a major role for the existence of Buddhism because it brings about the continuous generation of monks and also it is wholly concerned with all of the formal acts of monks. The 'sømæ' is a pæ¹i word which means a jurisdiction consecrated by the order in a suitable place where Buddhist monks basically utilize to assemble and perform any formal acts of order in unison such as Ordination ceremony, uposatha performance, paværa¼æ performance, kathina ceremony and so on. It represents a bounded place exclusively with fully authorization of the order and with the proper permission of authority concerned. 
Twenty years after the Buddha has achieved His enlightenment, the assembly of monks increased in number. It was very difficult to carry out formal acts collectively as the vicinity of residential area was too wide. Therefore the Buddha allowed monks to consecrate sømæ on condition of formal act of Uposatha. The invaluable result of it is that monks could conveniently perform any formal acts of the order in a separated place having a chance not to collect other monks living the outside area of sømæ.
            Being wished to carry out a formal act, the monks have to gather closely, without leaving aside two and half cubits far from one another, in sømæ. While performing it, if they are not close to two and half cubits respectively, the formal act will be invalid due to the divided grouping of the order.
Since ancient time, monks and Buddhist lay devotees in Myanmar have been emphasizing the appearance of sømæ wherever possible. In the period of Sarekhettaræ (Pyay/Prome city at present) dynasty when King Dwuttabaung was ruling over the country, some Arahants consecrated a sømæ at foot of the Myinbahu Mountain which is known as a first sømæ in Myanmar.  In Bagan period, King Aniruddha managed to consecrate a Sømæ in Bagan city which is of 162 cubits in length and 147 cubits in breadth, and also in Innwa period, the monks chaired by Ven Vimalæcæra consecrated a sømæ in Innwa city with 215 cubits in length and 150 cubits in width. Myanmar monks re-ordained in Kalyæ¼ø River in Ceylon; having retrieved back to Myanmar, they consecrated the Kalyæ¼ø Sømæ in Haµsævatø (Bago at present) at the time of King Dhammacetiya. Nowadays due to the gratitude of ancient elder monks a large number of Sømæ can be viewed in different parts of Myanmar which show the strength of Buddhist sovereignty.
           The source materials about this essay in English are hardly within a reach of hand, but a great hold of references in Myanmar version and canonical sources are reliable since those had been written in conformity with the guidance of Lord Buddha. For that reason this essay will be provided with the sources from original canonical texts, Myanmar materials, a few books of English, my own experiences and interviews.


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