What are Paramitas?
In Buddhism discussion of the Dhamma has been considered a vital part
of the study and understanding of the Dhamma.
However this is rarely done today. In instances where most Buddhists
congregate, such as temples on poya days, they idle away the time. If
the excess time had been used for discussions based on the Dhamma, it
would not only make up for the excess time, it would also benefit the
upasaka (lay adh erent) by expanding their knowledge in the Dhamma.
Dhamma Discussion is solely for the benefit of our readers.
Any questions our readers may have regarding the Dhamma may be
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Q: By worshipping Gods and deities and performing devil dances
does one’s faith in ti-sarana (the threefold refuge) get blemished?
A: When one lacks proper knowledge of the Triple Gem, doubts
it upholds false opinions of them, ones faith in the threefold refuge
gets blemished. Consequently such people’s faith can acquire little
merit. A clear and unblemished vision of the Threefold Refuge brings
forth great advantages and consequences.
Most Buddhists worship Gods such as Vishnu and Katharagama, seeking
blessings from them. Although some claim that this will cause the faith
in the Threefold Refuge to be soiled, this is not so. When asking for
something that you yourself cannot obtain, from someone whose capable of
providing it, it is permitted to worship or make offerings accordingly.
Most Buddhists, when they require something from the Gods, worship
and make offerings for them. It is like worshipping Lords and Kings, it
does not blemish ones faith in the threefold Refuge. Even people with
unwavering faith in the Threefold Refuge, worship Lords and Kings. There
for worshipping Gods and deities for the same purpose will not damage
However ones faith in the Threefold Refuge will definitely be subject
to defilement if one worships the Gods and deities, as non Buddhists
would, exhausting them above the Triple Gem.
Q: What are Paramitas, do all merits we acquire fall under
A: The classification of the enlightenment is three folds.
Samma-sambodhi, pacceka-bodhi and savaka-bodhi.
The enlightenment that is the cause of the omniscience and all other
powers of the Buddha is referred to as Samma-sambodhi or Maha-bodhi, the
enlightenment of the independently enlightened one is referred to as
pacceka-bodhi and the enlightenment of the noble disciple is referred to
as savaka-bodhi. Any merit acquired in the aspiration of attaining one
of the above threefold or nibbhana is termed as parami or paramita.
Most engage in meritorious deeds in order to obtain worldly or
heavenly benefits. These merits, in truth acquired through craving
itself, are only capable of providing one with material and worldly
benefits and is incapable of assisting one in attaining nibbhana. Such
merits, which in fact extends the samsara, do not fall under paramita.
Some people engage in meritorious deeds craving fame and
commendations. Such deeds are incapable of providing one with material
or worldly benefits let alone nibbhana. These also do not fall under
Some in hope of exhibiting their prestige, capabilities, virtue and
wealth engage in meritorious deeds. Some others in order to supersede
others gives alms, observes sil with more zeal than others, builds
bigger temples and Vihara than others. These merits also, born out of
arrogance, do not fall under paramita.
Some others give alms and observe sil without considering the
significance of meditation, with the deluded opinion that these
activities alone are enough to attain Visuddhi (Purity). These deeds
which are devoid of the right insight do not fall under paramita.
Some others engage in meritorious deeds in hope of obtaining worldly
benefits as well as attaining nibbhana. The question arises whether
these merits fall under Paramita. Because the person did aspire nibbhana
therefore there is no reason that it should not fall under paramita. But
since the merits acquired are also blemished by craving, it will take
much longer, for that merit assist the person in attaining nibbhana.
Q: What are the types of lay adherents (upasaka)?
A: There are two types of lay adherents - upasaka chandala and
upasaka ratna. Upasaka chandala has five defining characteristics
according to the Buddhism.
1. Possesses no saddha - faith and confidence
2. Possesses no sila - morality or virtue
3. Upholds the belief that things one see and hear indicate good or
4. Upholds the belief that things one see and hear indicate good or
bad omens while also disregarding karma.
5. Seeks persons outside of the sasana to give alms to in order to
acquire merits and hold them in higher regard than the sangha
Upasaka ratna is the complete opposite of upasaka chandala. There are
five characteristics that define upasaka ratna.
1. Possesses saddha - faith and confidence
2. Possesses sila - morality or virtue
3. Do not upholds the belief that things one see and hear indicate
good or bad omens
4. Are not superstitious and has a high regard and faith karma.
5. Gives alms first and foremost to the Sasana. Do not seek persons
outside of the sasana to give alms to.
Q: What are the virtues of the upasaka (lay adherent)?
A: This has been preached by most Ven. Nagasena Thera to King Milindu.
Upasaka of the Buddha sasana must....
1. As the sangha, have the utmost highest regard for the dhamma.
2. Have the yearning to give.
3. Sense the deterioration of the sasana and work towards its
4. Not be superstitious and possess the right insight
5. Not consider any one, apart from the Buddha, as ones teacher, even
for the sake of ones life 6. Be conscious of what one speaks and do 7.
Embrace peace 8. Not be envious 9. Not be in the sasana in order to
delude others 10. Seek refuge of the Threefold refuge of the Buddha,
dhamma and sangha.
Sources: Pohoya Dinaya, Most Ven. Rerukane Chandrawimala Thera, 2005
Bauddhayage Athpotha, Most Ven. Rerukane Chandrawimala Thera, 2005
Paramitha Prakaranaya, Most Ven. Rerukane Chandrawimala Thera, 2005.