Significance of the month of Navam
After attaining Enlightenment at the age of thirty five the Buddha
delivered his first sermon-Dhamma Chakka Pawathna Sutta to the five
ascetics- Kondangna, Vappa, Baddiya, Assaji and Mahanama in the Deer
Park at Isipathana near Benares.
From that day for nearly forty five years, the Buddha continued to
preach the Dhamma to all classes of men and women equally- kings and
ordinary people, Brahmins and outcasts, the wealthy and beggars, holy
men and robbers.
It is through one's behaviour that a person becomes either a Brahmin
or an outcast, not by his/her birth, the Buddha taught the world about
2585 years ago. The path he showed was open to all men and women and
they soon became his followers.
Lord Buddha's teachings have come down from generation to generation
as a result of the great service rendered by the Sangha. The month of
Navam bears significance in this context as many important incidents
related to the Sangha Sasana had taken place on this day apart from the
other incidents related to the life of the Buddha.
The Buddha observed his first three month Vas retreat at Isipathana
after delivering his first sermon to the five ascetics.
His number of disciples soon increased up to sixty during that
period. At the end of the Vas season the Buddha despatched his first set
of disciples to disseminate the Dhamma, setting in motion his sublime
Assaji Thero (one of the five ascetics before he entered the Order)
too was among this group. It was in the month of Navam that Upatissa of
Upatissagrama came across Assaji thero who was spreading the Buddha's
teachings. This historical event has a great significance in the history
of the Buddha Sasana and it is worth reading how Buddhist literature
elaborates on this great event.
Kolitha and Upatissa
In fact Assaji Thero arrived in Rajagahanuwara at a period when many
a Brahmin youth had developed an interest in investigating the truth.
There were several Paribrajak who had the same interest and they spent
time in temples (paribrachakarama) with their disciples.
Sanjaya was one such paribrachaka who had Kolitha and Upatissa of
Kolithagrama and Upatissagrama respectively as his disciples along with
another two hundred and fifty. Kolitha and Upatissa soon realised that
they are on the wrong track.
So the two friends decided to go on two routes in search of truth
promising each other that if one of the two could find a way out of
suffering first, he would inform the other about it.
So young Upatissa arrived in Rajagaha Nuwara to see Assaji thero
walking on the street in a serene manner with his bowl of alms. So
pleased with the Thero's way of conduct, Upatissa waited till the Thero
finished having his Dana and offered him water to drink, from his own
bowl. Knowing for sure that the thera is an Arhat, Upatissa then
inquired him about his teacher and his teachings.
"I'am a disciple of the Buddha , but still I'am a beginner" said the
thero. Further on the invitation of Upatissa, Assaji thera summed up the
Buddha's teachings: "Ye Dhamma Hethuppabawa,/ Thesan hethu thathagatho
Aha,/Thesan thaya Nirodo,/Evanvadhi Maha samano" (If there is a
particular nature of a thing causing from a reason, the Buddha preaches
what that reason is. If there is a way out he teaches that as well.")
After listening to this discourse Upatissa could attain the first
stage of the path to Nibbana. Then together with Kolitha he went to meet
Since he was not willing to join them, the two friends headed their
way towards Veluwanarama together with Sanjaya Paritbrachaka's two
hundred and fifty disciples.
Seeing Upatissa and Kolitha reaching towards him the Buddha had thus
addressed his set of monks.
"O, Bikkhus, those two will become the two Chief disciples of the
Thathagatha." They were soon ordained and came to be known as the
sariyuth and Mugalan. Mugalan thero became an arhat on Navam Pura
Atawaka poya day.
Sariyuth thero entered Arhathood after listening to 'Vedana Pariggaha
sutta' which was preached to Deega Nakha on Gijukulu mountain. During
the first council of bhikkhus which took place in the month of Navam at
Veluwanarama, the Buddha appointed them as his chief disciples (Agasavu)
and told the Bikkhus how both Sariyuth and Mugalam engaged in
meritorious deeds through out their past births in order to become the
Chief disciples of the Gauthama Buddha.
The first Council of Bhikkus
The first Council of Bhikkus consisted of 1250 bhikkus. There the
buddha also proclaimed a code of fundamental ethical precepts (Owada
Prathimoksha) for the monks.
During the first twenty years it was this set of advice that the
bhikkus had to abide by. In fact it was a mere set of advice: "Sabba Pa
Passa akaranan,/Kusalassa Upasampada,/Sachiththa pariyo dapanan,/Ehan
Buddhanu sasanan" (Refraining from all evil, attainment of what is good,
cleansing of one's thoughts- this is the advice of the awakened one.)
During the first twenty years the Buddha did not have the need to
enforce a set of rules than this type of advice. It was mainly because
the people who entered the Order during this period did it out of
But later people began entering the Order for their personal benefits
and for security and as a result the Buddha had to impose a set of
vinaya rules to the Bikkhus. Also it was on a Navam poya day that the
Buddha declared that he would be passing away three months later(Giving
up ayu sanskara).
In fact while observing his last Vas retreat at Veluwagrama the
Buddha was suffering from Lohitha Pakkandhika. So the buddha decided to
pass away in another ten months of time.
But he did not reveal it. But seven months later at Chapala Chethi in
Visal Pura the Buddha told Ananda thera that if a Buddha wishes to live
the full term of life (120 years), he can do so.
But Ananda thera could not understand what the Enlightened one
implied, so he remained quiet, not inviting him to live his full term.
(It is also said that it was Vasawarthi Mara who influenced Ananda thero
at that moment).
So on Navam Poya day the Buddha declared "Itho thinnanmasana
achchayena thathagatho parinibbayissathi. (Maha Parinibbana Sutta)
So Navam Full moon poya day which falls on February 20th is of utmost
important to the Buddhists. Among various religious deeds of the day,
navam perahara of Gangarama temple stands as the most important one in
On this Navam poya day Buddhists should concentrate on the teachings
of the Buddha.
A good understanding of the Dhamma could stand people in good stead
through the ups and downs of their lives, forcing them to refrain from
evil deeds and encouraging them to engage in good... following the
middle path avoiding extremes.