Friday, 5 November 2010

Introduction to Pabbajjavinicchaya (2)

A glance at the author and the meaning of Pabbajja
The word pabbajja, literally meaning ‘to go forth [from society] is the term for the process or ritual of renunciation. According to pæcityædiyojanæpæ¹i, there are four types of such renunciation, namely that of the sage (Tæsapa pabbajja), of the hermit (Isi pabbajja), of the novice (Sæme¼era pabbajja) and of the monk (Upasampada pabbajja) [Pæcityadiyojanæ, 206]. The last two are the ‘lower’ and ‘higher’ ordination for Buddhist monks and so are the only two described in the Pabbajjaviniccayakathæ.
However, the word pabbajja should be understood as it has two possible meanings: lower ordination (novice) and higher ordination (monk) [Vinayæla³kæra ¥økæ, vol, 1, p-239]. Initially, according to the evidence of the Pali canon, there was no separation between lower and higher ordination. Thus in case of the ordination of Yasa, a rich man who saw the sensual pleasures as disgusted elements and went to the deer park, finally met the Buddha, the word pabbajja referred to the state of being a fully ordained as a monk (Vinayamahævagga pæ¹i, p-21), while in the story of the ordination of Ræhulæ, the biological son of the Buddha who was born before he left the palace, it refers to the state of being a novice (Ibid, p-115). Rahula’s ordination is the model for childhood ordination, and pabbajja in contrast to upasampada refers to the novice ordination possible from childhood, while upasampada comes to refer to the higher ordination only possible for adults from the 20th year of their life (Pæcittiya pæ¹i, p-168).
Sometimes both words pabbajja and upasampada come together in the texts: pabbæjesuµ (to go forth) and upasampædisuµ (to ordain) [Vinayamahævagga pæ¹i,  p-100). In this regard, the former refers to the novice, and the latter to the monk. This theory is put into practice in every ordination ceremony: the postulant (monk-to-be) is required to go forth (lower ordination) at first, only then can he enter the state of monkhood. Regarding to this interpretation, Burmese scholar monks normally interpret the word pabbajja as the state of being a novice (Shin) and monk (Yahan). The word pabbajja is, which initially interpreted for both monk and novice ordination, gradually interpreted only to the novice ordination. In the practical way of performance in modern time, pabbajja is used just for the novice-ordination ceremony while the word upasamapa is for the monk in the monk-ordination ceremony. We can understand this from the culture of inviting people to join the ordination ceremony practised by the Burmese religious people. The following expressions can be seen in the invitation letter-- pabbajja ma³galæ( the auspicious ceremony of lower ordination [shinphu pwe]); upasampada ma³galæ( the auspicious ceremony of higher ordination [yahann khan pwe]) and punopasampadæ ma³galæ (the auspicious ceremony of higher re-ordination[thein htat pwe]). Even though the word ‘punopasampadæ’ (re-ordination), is correctly interpreted as re-ordination, this word ‘punopasampadæ’ does not find in the section of pabbajjakathæ in mahævagga. There is no recommendation of re-ordination to the same monk who has already been ordained either. Therefore, the concept of re-ordination is performed just for accumulation of merits for the Buddhist believers, especially in Burmese tradition.

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