Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 26 October 2014





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Ven. Buddhaghosha Thera:

A great scholar and commentator

The Buddha was born to the world to relieve the suffering of man. India, the birthplace of Buddhism reached the zenith of her glory during the Buddha's time. It encouraged learning and provided a great scope to all intellectual activities, including the fine art of writing.

Buddhaghosa wrote a guide to Theravāda doctrine called the Visuddhimagga.

Ven. Buddhagosha Thera was a great commentator. History records that Emperor Asoka built the Mahabodhi Temple to mark the site of the supreme enlightenment. Ven. Buddhagosha Thera, the great writer, is said to have resided in the monastery before he came over to Sri Lanka.

According to the Mahavamsa he is believed to have seen the light of the world as a Brahma in close proximity to his temple in the kingdom of Magadha, in the early fifth century. As a member of Brahman family he had mastered the Vedas. With a philosophical mind he toured India participating in intellectual debates.

Ven. Revata opposed him vehemently at a debate over Vedic doctrine where he cited examples from Abhidhamma, which opened a new chapter in the life of Ven. Buddhagosha Thera.

He became a Bhikkhu developing a keen interest in the study of Tripitaka and its commentaries. He visited Sri Lanka to study Buddhism in depth. He had heard that the Dharmadweepa was in the proud possession of a large volume of literature on Buddhism consisting mainly of the Pali Canon and Jataka stories. These were the first literary works to be introduced to the island. Arahat Mahinda Thera brought the Theravada doctrine to Sri Lanka. He was closely associated with Mahavihara where Theravada reigned supreme.


Mahavihara which had resisted all heresies proclaimed that it was the headquarters of Buddhist learning, Sumangala Vilasini records that it was the practice of all Bhikkhus to come to Mahavihara and recite the texts and commentaries. Besides, foreign Bhikkhus and scholars too had visited it to fulfil their ambitions. Among them Ven, Buddhagosha, the great scholar, was the most reputed personality. He was one of the most intellectually gifted personalities of the era, to visit Mahavihara.

Another prominent feature was that most of the authors of literary works were Bhikkhus and Pali was the language the Bhikkhus used originally in their studies. Hence Buddhist scriptures were mainly in Pali, though the influence of Sanskrit was noticed in the style and language of certain works. The Mahavamsa and Mahabodhivamsa are cited as good examples of Pali works.

Ven. Buddhagosha Thera on his arrival at Mahavihara, was astonished by the large volume of literary works preserved by the Bhikkhus here. After perusing them carefully, for a few months he wished to translate the Sinhala commentaries into Pali for which he had to seek permission. The outcome was Visuddhi Magga, “the path for Purification”, the great work of his, based on loving kindness and subsequently Sila, Samadhi Pragna the truth of Buddhism. That it reached a very high standard could be judged from the remarkable acceptance of the sacred text by the past and present Buddhists. He elaborates Pragna by comparing it to different parts of a tree. He was highly convinced by this most important concept in Buddhism.


Bravery and impartiality were prominent characteristics in his writing. His literary works were Pali-centred. More correctly, it was the Pali commentaries found in Mahavihara that were highlighted in his literary works. In other words, it was the literary and cultural scenario prevalent at Mahavihara at the time that helped him no his work.

Major works of Pali canon such as commentaries on Vinaya Pitakas and Jataka Attakatha were committed to writing by him. Another chronicle Samantha pasadika of great historic value is said to have been compiled by him. Then there is Padya-Chudamani attributed to Ven. Buddhagosha Thera describing the life of the Buddha from his birth to the passing away in 10 chapters.

Attasalini is another work written during his stay at Mahabodhi before coming to Sri Lanka.

Thus Ven. Buddhagosha Thera made an impact on Mahavihara tradition upholding Pali the language shared by all Theravada learning centres. Hence his arrival and the significant role he played, is said to be of great historic, religious and cultural importance in the annals of Buddhism.


LANKAPUVATH - National News Agency of Sri Lank
Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL)
Donate Now |

| News | Editorial | Finance | Features | Political | Security | Sports | Spectrum | Montage | Impact | World | Obituaries | Junior | Youth |


Produced by Lake House Copyright Š 2014 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

Comments and suggestions to : Web Editor