Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Buddhist Councils held in Burma

Buddhism in Burma
According to legends connected with Buddhism, the two merchants Tapassu and Bhallika who met the Buddha during the seventh week after enlightenment were Burmese. The lock of hair they received as a token of veneration is enshrined in the Shwedagone pagoda. This shows that the influence of Buddhism reached Myanmar even during the lifetime of the Buddha.

The great  chronicle of Sri Lanka, the Mahavamsa records that the two Sona and Uttara went to Burma as missionaries after the third Buddhist council and over 60,000 realized the doctrine having listened to the Brahmajala Sutta. About three thousand five hundred youths joined the order of Bhikkhus and one thousand five hundred female joined the order of nuns.
According to historical records in Burma, Buddhism thrived during the period of king Anuraddha (1044-1071 A.D) Thera Dharmadarsi converted him to Buddhism. His capital became the center of Buddhism in Burma. At the time, the Tipitaka texts were in the custody of a contemporary regional kind by the name Manohari. Through king Anuruddha made a request to the regional king for the canonical texts, he refused to hand them over. Then king Anuruddha waged war against him and brought the canonical texts and also the Mons who were there to his own city Pagan. He placed the canonical texts in a special library in his capital. Is son Keyan Sittha ( 1084- 1113 A.D) and Dhammacetiya ( 1472-1495 A.D) who succeeded him contributed much for the development of Buddhism. Later those texts were compared with the Sri Lankan canonical texts and necessary amendments were made in them.
The 5th Buddhist Council

It was during the reign of king Min Don Min (1852-1878) the Buddhism flourished well in Burma. This king, who was the last of the Buddhist kings in the royal dynasty of Burma. Caused a Buddhist Council to be held in the city of Mandalay in 1871 under the patronage of the Sanghraja Jagarabhivamsa Thera with an assembly of 2200 elders of Buddhist order. After the council, the entire Tipitaka was inscribed in about 739 marble plaques and stored safely in houses especially erected for the purpose.
The 6th Buddhist Council

When Burma came under British oppression, there were drastic religious abd cultural changes. But after the second world war, conditions changed and there was a great revival of Buddhism in Burma. The Government  took all steps to make Buddhism the state religion, and as a result there was another Buddhist council in collaboration with the Buddha Jayanti celebrations to mark the 2500th anniversary of the passing away of the Buddha. The council was held in Rangoon in the period 1954-1956. Distinguished learned monks from Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Sri lanka attended this ceremony. About twenty thousand elders participated in this convocation, which was recognized as an international unction.
The entire Tipitaka was divided into three hundred sections and each section was entrusted to a group of fives Bhikkhus who discussed in detail the contents of part allotted to them. Their findings and conclusions were presented to the final committee for approval. These committee served in three stages.
Famous Theras two were expert both Pali language and the Canon represented Sri Lanka and rendered valuable service in the preliminary arrangements and also in the actual discussion.
Some of them were Pundit Velivititye Sorata Thera, Dr. Parawahera Vajirannana, Hapuvalane Nanaloka, and Mirisse Gunasiri, Balangoda Ananda Maitereya, Polwattee Buddhadatta, Thera and Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Thera served as chairman at two different states in the main editing committees. Their views and opinions were highly valued and accepted and as a result the Burma Government honored both of them with the title Aggmahapandita. After the council the entire Tipitaka was edited and published as Buddha Jayanti publications. 
References - Class take note


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