Dr. Bhaddanta Candævaræbhivaµsa
International Theravada Buddhist
Missionary University, Yangon
About 588 BC, Buddhism appeared in the world. Before Buddhism, there were no firm Law and Order in the religious societies. It is found that only when the Buddhism appeared, the Law and Order by the name of Dhamma and Vinaya started to appear.
By the words of Dhamma and Vinaya, Dhamma means policy and Vinaya is Law. These two were the law and order in the establishment of the Order of the Sangha.
The Buddha established the Law and Order in the Sangha through performing the two Dhamma and Vinaya to pervade in it. Wherever He arrived, the Buddha taught by himself the fundamental principles called ‘Ovædapætimokkha’ to bhikkhus every full moon day and New moon day. Ovæda-pætimokkha means only the three stanzas: “Khantø paramaµ tapo titikkhæ”, etc. All the bhikkhus around there were surely to go there and had to listen Ovædapætimokkha taught by the Buddha. This is a task that the fundamental principle of the Dhamma is firmly established in the Order of the Sangha. The heart of the Order of Sangha is fastened with dhamma.
The Buddha, from time to time, used to promulgate the disciplinary rules for the order of the Sangha.
There was no media to distribute these disciplinary rules. As nowadays, these were also not recorded on the books. Only the bhikkhus, who had a good chance to hear these rules by themselves, took responsibility and distributed them handing down from generation to generation. Bhikkhus, at the time of the Buddha, did not use to stay at one place for a long time. In accordance with the Buddha’s instructions, “Caratha bhikkhave cærikaµ” etc., they went round among the people and carried out the welfare of all the humans. They distributed the Buddha’s Teaching among the people. They themselves practised dhamma for the attainment of Magga and Phala and also they taught it to the lay-people. In this way, they got belief from the lay-people. Finally, the knowledge of the disciplinary rules promulgated by the Buddha were given in exchange among one another, distributed and recorded by them. In this way, the disciplinary rules promulgated by the Buddha reached to all the bhikkhus on time.
It is very interesting mode that the disciplinary rules were distributed by the bhikkhus from generation to generation.
Every full moon day and new moon day of the months, all the bhikkhus at the place where they reached, had to assemble in the fixed place by Elder bhikkhus without fail. If they were absent due to illness or Sangha’s affairs, they had to give their consent to the assembly of the Sangha. When the Sangha were all together (in Simæ), they were to submit the list of Sangha who gave their consent. And also they had to proclaim their purity (pærisuddhi) in order to know how they followed the disciplinary rules promulgated by the Buddha.
The bhikkhus had to declare the current date, state the number of Sangha assembled, and since there were bhikkhunøs at that time, they had to report the admonition requested by the bhikkhunø-sangha. (Bhikkhunø-sangha had to receive the admonition from the bhikkhu-sangha twice monthly.)
After that, a learned and able bhikkhu had to recite the disciplinary rules laid down by the Buddha to that day in order that all of the bhikkhus could hear it. In this way, all the Sangha had an opportunity to know the disciplinary rules laid down by the Buddha, and had a chance to follow them. It was not sure to read those rules recorded on the books. When the afore-said method enacted, as the Sangha had to listen to every fifteenth days of the months, the disciplinary rules were established in the heart of the Sangha. It was a good system for the Sangha order. By performing this, it was understood to be the Sangha-performance.
By performing (uposatha), the bhikkhus not only recognized the disciplinary rules, but also it gave rise to the unity of the Sangha. Then, the bhikkhus could follow the rules and could know the date. The number of the bhikkhus from different places had been counted, and the respect from bhikkhunøs had been won. The Law was to be practically followed. If it was practiced only when knew, but not practiced if not knew. This idea (policy) was from about over 2500 years ago. If it is still to be used until now. The Buddha himself, within twenty years after enlightened, regularly preached the doctrine so-called ‘Ovædapætimokkha’ to the bhikkhus twice a month. The bhikkhus also regularly recited the Law so-called Vinaya twice a month. In this way, the doctrine and the rules so-called dhamma-vinaya have been established and pervaded in the heart of the bhikkhus.
The Buddha’s disciplinary rules are divided into seven divisions: Nidæna, Pæræjika, Sanghædisesa, Aniyata, Nissaggiya-pæcittiya, Suddha-pæcittiya, and Pæ¥idesaniya. During the Sangha’s performance (Uposathakamma), the appointed bhikkhu to recite Pætimokkha (disciplinary rules) asks whether they follow the rules or not whenever a division has been recited. The Sangha responses by remaining silent that they live in accordance with Law. If, among the Sangha, there is a bhikkhu who breaks the rules, must be taken into action in accordance with procedure of Vinaya.
After that, he has to continue to recite the next division. In this way, the Order of the Sangha, from the time of the Buddha up to now, is preserved by the bhikkhus by handing down the rules from generation to generation, by taking action by giving punishment in accordance with the Law, by re-accepting him by the Sangha. By making the rules flourished the law and order will be established and the Sangha’s order becomes stable and steady. There is a saying, “When there is Vinaya, there is Sæsana”. It is also said that Vinaya is the life of the Sæsana. If so, should not the Law be said the life of the human society. It is to be considered. To conclude, the dhamma-vinaya in Sæsana is the same with the Law of human society. Among the dhamma and vinaya laid down by the Buddha, the dhamma makes our mind steadfast and vinaya makes to have discipline. These dhamma and vinaya not only maintain the Buddha-sæsana but also bring about the benefits of all human societies. So, this article presents that it is necessary to make the dhamma and vinaya flourished everywhere.