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DateLine Sunday, 23 March 2008

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Buddha's first visit to Kimbulwathpura

Medin Full Moon Poya day fell on March 21:

 


Princess Yasodhara with Prince Rahula

Determined to find the way out of universal suffering, Prince Siddartha decided to leave his palace in search of truth at the height of his youth. It was not out of selfish motives that he took that decision. In fact his bold decision benefitted entire mankind as his teachings which were preached more than 2550 years ago still beckon the masses to the correct path -to attain nibbana.

In his attempt to find the truth, the prince underwent a lot of trouble for six long years. Once he realised that self mortification is not the correct path, he decided to practice the middle path. So at the age of 35 this earnest truth seeker could attain Enlightenment on a Vesak Full Moon Poya day and thus became the Buddha, the Enlightened one.

After spending seven weeks paying his gratitude to the Bo tree that sheltered him through out his struggle in realising the 'truth', the Buddha headed towards Deer park in Benares to meet his former colleagues, Kondangna, Vappa, Baddiya, Assaji and Mahanama. He preached to them "Dhamma Chakka Pawathna Sutta" and all five entered the Order setting in motion the Sangha Sasana. Soon the fraternity of Sangha Sasana began to grow into enormous number.

Though people from all parts of India were lucky to listen to the Buddha's preaching, King Suddhodana, father of Prince Siddartha could not see him until the month of Vesak - one year later since the Buddha's Enlightenment.


Amazed with the performance the king could no longer wait without worshipping the Buddha

The month of Medin is important in that context as it was on a Medin Full Moon poya day the Buddha started his journey to Kimbulwathpura to preach to his father and the Sakya clan on the invitation of minister Kaludai. Also Medin Full Moon Poya day marks the peak of the Sri Pada pilgrim season which normally begins with Unduwap poya in December.

For over six years, King Suddhodana was in great mental turmoil always thinking of his son's renunciation. When he got to know that the Buddha was residing at Veluwanarama the king could not wait any longer without seeing his beloved son.

So he decided to invite the Buddha to his kingdom and sent a minister accompanied by thousand men to Veluwanarama. As they reached the venue they found the Buddha preaching to a large audience and had to wait till he finishes his sermon.

But while waiting they got attracted to its content and soon realised that they have been groping in the dark through out not knowing the truth. Soon they all became the disciples of the Buddha and they were not in a position to present the invitation of the king to the Buddha.

Determined to see his son somehow the king sent similar messengers for seven more times, but of no avail as all of them entered the Order and hence they could not express the desire of the king to the Buddha.

Having failed in all his eight attempts, the king addressed his most faithful minister Kaludai, who is said to have been a playmate of Prince Siddartha and told him how much he yearns to have a glimpse of his son!

Minister Kaludai told the king that he could carry out the order provided he too would be given permission to enter the order. Since the king gave his consent, the minister and the group headed towards Veluwanarama. Having listened to the Buddha's preaching, soon all of them became his disciples. Few days after his ordination, Kaludai thero presented the king's invitation to the Buddha.

As the Buddhist literature reveals first Kaludai thero had given a fine description of the route from Rajagaha Nuwara to Kimbulwathpura.

"This is an excellent season. The cold season is over and trees have just started blossoming."

Having said all that the thero finally put forward his invitation:


The Buddha at Nigrodarama

"O, Thathagatha, King Suddhodana has got to know that the Thathagatha have attained Enlightenment. He is eagerly waiting to see you. He is feeble now. Actually we have been sent by him to invite you to his palace in Kimbulwathpura. So please accept this invitation".

The Buddha remained silent without making any objection and his silence indicated that the Enlightened one had accepted the offer. He decided to go by foot the entire distance of 'sixty yajanas' (yodun) as it would be beneficial to the inhabitants of those areas as well.

Thus the Buddha and his twenty thousand disciples started their journey towards Kimbulwathpura on a Medin Full Moon Poya day. Though he reached Kimbulwathpura two months later in the month of Vesak, normally much significance is given to Medin poya in this context.

A colourful procession awaited his arrival in Kimbulwathpura.

They escorted the Enlightened one to Nigrodarama which had been specially prepared for the Buddha and the other Bhikkhus during their stay in Kimbulwathpura. Anyway though well dressed children of the Sakya Clan came forward to worship the Buddha the elderly Sakyans kept their distance overwhelmed with pride.

They considered it as an insult to them if they worshipped the Buddha as he was their junior. The Buddha who saw all this in his divine eye, decided to perform the 'twin miracle' (Yamaka Prathihara) in order to make them discard their petty prejudices.

Amazed with the performance the king could no longer wait without worshipping the Buddha. So he worshipped the Buddha uttering thus: "O the Enlightened one, for the first time I worshipped you when you were only an infant.

The second time at the ploughing ceremony and now after seeing you performing "twin miracle" I worship you for the third time.

Soon all the Sakyans followed him. Anyway a striking absence was Princess Yasodhara, the wife of Prince Siddartha. She confined to her room assuming that the Buddha would pay her a visit if her virtues were sincere enough.

Through out sansara Yasodhara and Siddartha have been together and the former had always been faithful to the latter in every sense. The Buddha knowing her wishes payed her a visit and the princess wept profoundly clinging to his feet.

Then King Suddhodana started praising the princess for her exemplary behaviour and it was on that occasion that the Buddha narrated "Sanda Kinduru" jathakaya to show she has been like that through out Sansara.

Prince Rahula and Nanda too were ordained during this visit. Accepting the King's request as not to ordian small children without the consent of their parents, the Buddha enacted a rule regarding this.

Though Queen Prajapathi, foster mother of Prince Siddartha, requested the Buddha to establish the Order of Nuns the Buddha dismissed the offer with compassion saying that it was not the right time. The Order of Nuns was established five years later.

Thus it was on a Medin Full Moon poya day that this great mission was inaugurated and hence Buddhists worldwide celebrated the poya with great reverence on March 21.

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