Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The Uposatha performance (1)

[The Uposatha performance: the significant differences between Burmese practice and early canonical tradition]


The uposatha performance, comprising and collecting all the monks in the same territory of monastery compound, is commonly carried out throughout the Buddhist lands every full-moon-day and new-moon-day. In the process of uposatha ceremony, the whole disciplinary rules are recited by an experienced and competent monk with the permission of the most senior monk. The locality of doing it is within the jurisdiction (sømæ) like all the common affiliation of formal acts which is regularly held in it. The valid territory of the monks’ congregation needs to be noticeably fixed in the monastery in order that all types of formal acts can easily be done with straightforwardness. The advent of uposatha performance in relation to saµgha  society(members of monks) formulated by the Buddha himself is a key to solidarity and tranquility beneficial to all of monks, bhikkhunøs and lay devotees who are graspingly under the influence of Buddhist laws and orders. It is important to note that it is not just to show the integrity of monks in a manner of mental volition and physical actions but also to gain respect and appreciation of lay followers. The features of harmony among some of the monasteries in Burma can be seen in terms of particular disciplines in addition to original monastic rules such as, all monks and novices within same territory of monastic compound, regardless of a huge number, wearing robes neatly with the same colour, shaving the hair in the same day, having a meal quietly and so on. Even when they go alms-round quarter to quarter in stead of arranging themselves in procession according to seniority, they get in line beautifully with their heights fittingly so that the scenery view of thousands of monks with a series of fit height, same colour of robes, same shaved-head under the dawn sun that encourage lay people to respect Buddhist monks increasingly. That is what unity surpasses all the figures of different community individually. As a record of mahævagga canonical text mentions, the function of uposatha performance is an excellent paradigm of a strong integration of Buddhist society.

Buddhism carrying several types of duties on its back has walked a long journey since the inception of its original appearance occasionally faced with disastrous experiences and unavoidable situation all along with its long trip. Therefore, it has produced difference and discrepancy of branches accepting some rules and regulations, rejecting others and adding a few theories in large measure. Theravæda which is generally and widely accepted closest to early Buddhism, however, is thought to be preserving genuine all the teachings of Buddha.  Burma is one of the distinct Theravæda countries where a large number of ethnic groups, the majority of them are Theravæda Buddhists, have been settling for many years. Among about 60 million of population, the availability of monks and novices are over 400,000. All the monks in Burma unanimously perform uposatha in particular places relevant to the instruction of Buddha himself. Some facts and figures, nevertheless, meet merely afield from the original sources of Buddha’s direction. This paper will outline some of the key differences between Burmese practice and early canonical tradition related to the uposatha performance.

No comments: