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July 18, 2018

Full moon of Tawthalin, Garudhamma Sutta Day

Maha Saddhamma Jotika Dhaja, Sithu Dr. Khin Maung Nyunt
In Buddhism, and Buddhist literature there are three types of Garudhamma Sutta which Lord Buddha discoursed on the full moon day of Tawthalin. They are as follows in brief.
Firstly, eight Garudhamma Rules for Mahapajupati Gotami who was the foster mother of Prince Sidahartha [Buddha to be] who became a bhikuni [female monk] at her request and with the consent of Lord Buddha.
Secondly four Parajikas and 13 Samghadisesas is also called Garudhamma in Vinaya Discipline.
Thirdly Five Pancha Sila [moral Precepts] is also Garudhamma or Kurudhamma [Jataka athakatha. Vol.2.p.331.]
This article is on the third type. Garudhamma which Lord Buddha discoursed on full moon day of Tawthalin.
In the kingdom of Kalinga, there was frequent visits of natural disasters, flood, draught, too much rain, no rain, scarcity of food and outbreak of contagious diseases and crimes, armed conflicts and no peace and no security.
In the kingdom of Kuru, there was no natural disasters, good climatic condition, more than enough food, no diseases, no crimes, no armed conflicts only  peace and security.
The King of Kalinga thought that because of the white Elephant in the kingdom of Kuru, they enjoyed peace security and plenty of food. The King sent his envoys to lend him the white Elephant to his kingdom. But to no avail, in spite of the white Elephant’s presence there. Upon another equirey of the King for the real causes of peaces, plenty, progress and security of the kingdom of Kuru, the King found out Five moral precepts then known as Garudhamma Sutta [Discourses on Five moral Precepts which we know very well as Pancha Silla [yOöoDvd]. So he issued a royal order that himself his entire court and his people should observe and pratise Garudhamma Sutta. This Sutta in essence is nothing but to-day Pancha Sila.
1. Abstain from Killing
2. Abstain from taking what is not given you [stealing]
3. Abstain from Sexual misconduct
4. Abstain from telling lies and
5. Abstain from taking intoxicants of all Kinds.
After the king, the whole court and his people throughout the kingdom, observed and practiced. The precepts of Garudhamma Sutta, natural disasters ceased. Good rain, good harvest and plenty of food, contagious diseases disappear. No crime, no stealing no armed conflicts. The entire kingdom enjoyed peace, security and harmony.
Full moon day of the month Tawthalin [September] had been ceremonially held and observed as Garudhamma day successively by Myanmar Kings. King Thalun [1629-48 A.D] of Nyaung Yan dynasty [1605-1752 A.D] of Myanmar history issued a royal order to celebrate and observe and practice Garudhamma by the King at the top to the grass root people at the bottom. The happy impact of the observances and practice of Garudhamma Sutta was his kingdom enjoyed, peace, progress and prosperity, politically, economically and socio-culturally. Agricultural production increased every year, trade and commerce boomed at home and abroad road. The Arabs (Moors) merchants and the Dutch traders came to his kingdom. King Tha Lun personally welcomed them by holding acrobatic and performing arts displays ahead of the business dialogues which followed.
The King personally conducted the auction of his country’s main agriculture product—rice, and mineral products precious stone ruby, saphaire and jade and lead, bronze and silver.   In the conduct of business the King proved a shrewd diplomat. When the Dutch East India delegation tried to bargain the price of rice, the King replied that rice buyers should know not only the quality of rice but also how to cook good quality rice. Regarding Myanmar rubies he said that he knew Myanmar rubies have demaning market in Europe. Ruby merchants obtain many fold gains. As to Myanmar rice it is on great demand and the price is rising in the Dutch. East Indies [Now Indonesia] where the Dutch had to feed farm workers on spice plantation.
The Dutch East India Company was surprised to know that the King was well informed of current international relations. Later they found out the Arab merchants,  brought information for which the King rewarded them handsomely.
Trade and commerce with China flowed through peaceful border areas. To gather with them, Myanmar domestic products easily went down to Hamsavadi Kingdom Lower Myanmar and thence to overseas countries like India, Lanka dipa and Europe by fleets of galleons.
King Tha Lun made a good monarch in Myanmar history. He carried out Tha Lun Sittan Revenue Inquest land, Gabe Land [religious land] Public Land were examined and systematically enlisted. Types of crop grown in three seasons and professions of the members of a family were recorded. He was very strict in using revenue tax and public money. He openly reprimanded his daughter princess who was leaning against an unclean post in the palace saying that her dresses were bought with public money. On one incognits occasion, as he was touring country side, he found a rural girl was draining off the boiling water in which she was cooking rice. She not only wasted the boiled rice water but also made the road dirty. She was given caning as punishment. After telling to her the mistakes the King pitied her and so gave her some cash.
Today some of pagodas, monument and villages Tha Lun had founded and built can still be seen in Sagaing. The famous Sagaing Kaung Hmutaw Stupa is a dome shaped on the model of Sanchi Stupa of Emperor Asoka. Close by in its precinct is Metta kan or water tank to supply water for the maintenance of the Pagoda. A big Lake emerged where earth was dug to make fired bricks for the Pagoda. It is now called Yey Myet Kyi In around which many fishermen villages cropped up.
For division of labour needed for the annual festival of Kaung Hmutaw Pagoda three villages were founded,
1. Siti village which provided music and musical performance at the Pagoda festival,
2. Lethlote village which provided dancers and
3. Swan chet village which provided rice cookers for donating cooked rice to the monks during the festival.
Rajah mani culla is the official name King Tha Lun gave to the Pagoda. Stone Inscription the King set up at the western entrance of the Pagoda gives a full acount of why, when, how and total cost of the building of the Stupa.
We can glean political, economic and socio cultural data of that time. In the time of King Bodawpaya [ME 1146 — 1784 A.D] royal order of Garudhamma Sutta Day was proclaimed by an officer on the back of the elephant at all corners and directions of inside anal outside of the Palace City and across his kingdom to the public [both clergy and laity] to observe and practice.
The happy results of if   there were peace, progress and prosperity. His reign was long lasted.  Many foreign envoys arrived including English and French who witnessed peace, progress and prosperity of the country.  Four colossi of this King which survive till today are
(1) the biggest monument Mingun Pagoda
(2) two gigantic Lion statues
(3) the biggest ringing Bell in the world [Mingun Bell] and
(4) the largest water tank into which water is pumped by means of Myanmar traditional mechanism at high tide.
The message of Garudhamma Sutta is that if Pancha Sila is observed and practised by the highest authority at the top [King] to the grass roots peace, progress, prosperity and security would reign.


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