- Maha Saddhamma Jotika Dhaja,
Sithu Dr. Khin Maung Nyunt
Earth, the planet upon which all livings flora and fauna live is composed of four basic elements viz earth [yx0D], heat energy [awaZm], water [tmabm] and air [0ga,m]. Man, most rational being, has made many material progresses and prosperities —from Stone Age to Nuclear and Space Age of today. But, in spite of these progresses and prosperities, he is still left behind in his quest for peace, due to his inability to control his inner enemies —greed [Loba], temper or anger [Dosa], and ignorance [Moha]. Though all other living creatures know how to consume the four basic elements of our planet, Earth, Man, the most rational of all beings is still in ignorance of using the four elements sustainably. He thinks that these four elements are boundless. And when he knows that these four elements are not inexhaustive, he could not control his three inner enemies, Loba, Dosa and Moha, he refuses to utilize the four elements sustainably.
Right now, today, we face armed conflicts in our journey for long lasting peace. Recently we have the bad news of the G.7 Group Summit meeting—that new U.S. President Mr. Donald Trump decided to quit the World Climate Agreement which his predecessor Mr. Obama had signed. Grave concerns of world leaders as well as the U N O Secretary-General swept across the world today while the havoc wrought by the worsening sening climate conditions in the form of Cyclones, Tsunami, Landslides, Sand storms and wild fire and occurring almost every day and every hour and everywhere. Unless timely action is taken, the earth will be destroyed.
Then, why we human beings are so reluctant to take preventive actions?
These current situations of our time reflect similar situations of over two thousand years ago when Lord Gotama Buddha gave his easiest solution to the similar situations of his life time.
India is not merely a big country but a sub-continent with land masses, aquatic bodies, mountain and hill ranges long maritime coastlines, with bountiful resources and fertile population of different ethnic origins. The entire icy Himalayan ranges are the main source fertile soil and water the elixir of life. But natural calamities do visit India throughout its long history.
In the life time of Lord Gotama Buddha there arose a serious water dispute between the two kingdoms —Kapilavatthu and Koliya of the same Sakya race. These two kingdoms by turn watered their agricultural lands by controlling the flow of the channel with a single dam into which fresh water of the River Rohani was stored. But when drought visited or in the hottest months of summer, water in the dam, diminished, causing crops wither. Farmers of both kingdoms held dialogue to discuss that water problem. But each side claimed to use dam water for its own cultivation without paying heed to the other side. Dialogue grew into heated debate using abusive languages and insulting each other’s clan and king. When the matter was reported to their respective kings, animosity went out of control and war was declared. The two sides came out to the banks of the River Rohani, with full armed forces to fight to monopolize the total amount of the River Rohani for its own interest.
At that time Lord Gotama Buddha was residing in the Jetavana Vihara [monastery] in Savatthi. He foresaw that his Kinsmen of the two kingdoms would fight a bloody battle for water. Unless he interved and preached Dhamma of Peace and unity, all his kinsman of the two kingdoms would be destroyed —on the battle field.
In the evening, Lord Buddha came alone to the scene of hostilities. Appearing cross legged in the sky above the warring sides to cause them marvel and contrition, the two sides were frightened by that strange phenomenon. They wondered why Lord Gotama came and behaved that way in the sky. They laid down their arms and asked Lord Buddha why he came there.
The Buddha descended from the sky and calmly sat on the sand bank of the river. He began asking questions to both warring sides.
“What is the real cause of your strife?”
Both sides answered, “Water of this River Rohani”.
“What is the value of water of the River Rohani?”
Both sides answered “It is just a small amount. What is the value of our Earth?”
Both sides answered “It is unlimited”.
Then for some water of this Rohani channel which is of small value, why do you wish to destroy the priceless royal race of Khattiya by waging war upon each other. No pleasure and no benefit in worthless conflicts and wasteful strifes”. The Buddha reasoned to them.
Next, the Buddha expounded the endless enmity arising from a minor cause by narrating the jatakas stories of past lives. First Phandana jataka which taught the lesson of mutual destruction due to endless enmity and hostilities.
The Buddha exhorted both sides to behave like the waters of the two Rivers the Ganges and the Jumna [Yamona] which harmoniously mixing together with loving kindness.
“Therefore, strife only for unity. Every Buddha has praised the value of unity. He who delights in harmonious living, established in the ten modes of good conduct is bound to achieve nothing less than the happiness of Nibbana, the end of all attachments, yogas, which yoke on to re-birth”.
After hearing that exhortation and dhamma teaching both sides laid down their arms and buried their hatchets for good. They were amicably re-conciled and re-united.
Upon their request, the Buddha went on to narrate more Jataka stories such as Duddubha Jataka, Latukika Jataka, to give lesson on the benefit of harmony and unity and Rukkha Dhamma Jataka to give lesson for the peaceful settlement of dispute and the end of strife.
Both sides realized that because of the Buddha’s dhamma lessons they were spared mutual destructions. So each side made over to the Buddha 250 princes whom the Buddha ordained monks. The total 500 monks followed the Buddha who returned to Mahavana Forest for retreat. But the five hundred monks were not happy because of their attachment to their families. Therefore the Buddha invited them to the Lake Kundala in the Himalayan Forest and discoursed on Kundala Jataka. Whereupon all 500 monks became sotapan. The Buddha urged them to practice kamathana dhamma [meditation]. The 500 monks attained arahathood.
Hearing the happy tidings of the peaceful settlement of water dispute between the two kingdoms and the attainment of arahathood by 500 Sotapan monks of both kingdoms, all celestial beings of all Universes, Devas and Brahmas came to assemble in front of the Buddha on the auspicious Fullmoon Day of Nayone. They unanimously requested the Buddha to deliver his sermon on the emancipation from samsara —the endless cycle of births and rebirths, cravings, sufferings defilements, anger, greed and ignorance.
So the Buddha discoursed on Maha Samaya Sutta. After hearing and understanding it, countless number of celestial beings became arahat.
The Buddha’s dhamma was peace, loving kindness, and compassion. It effectiveness were so profound and so far reaching that all hitherto traditional enemies like dragons and garudas, Sakka Deva and Asuya Deva, Tiger, Lions, elephants etc. became friends and lived peacefully and happily ever after.
Only once in the life time of each Buddha that Maha Samaya Sutta was discoursed for unity, reconciliation, peace and harmony.
The relevance of Maha Samaya Sutta to our time need not be over emphasized. Right now, in our country the 21st century Panglong Conference for National Re-conciliations for ever lasting Peace is an ongoing top priority pr ocess which at the latest round has reached 37 Points of agreements. Rays of hope are being shed. Let’s get all the benefits of Harmony and Unity which Maha Samaya Sutta the Buddha delivered on the Fullmoon Day of Nayon gives.