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Handy compendium of Dhamma: Vesak Sirisara 2545/2001


Colombo -- The Vesak Sirisara: Buddhist Annual, the sixty sixth issue edited by Rajah Kuruppu and published by P. B. Weragoda, honorary secretary of the Vesak Sirisara publication committee of the Government Services Buddhist Association has been distributed freely as a gift of the Dhamma. Erudite monks and lay scholars well-versed in the Dhamma have contributed articles in Sinhala, Tamil and English, while the overseas edition is entirely in English.

The cover of the Vesak Sirisara radiant with bright oriental colours, depicts a picture of a king presenting ola leaves, presumably inscribed with the Dhamma to a male and female dressed in the fashion of nobles with another man beside who appears to be a commoner. Perhaps it may mean that the kings of yore who believed in good governance were aware that the message of the dhamma should reach the high and mighty as well as the low and the humble if a country is to prosper. The picture, taken in toto, savours of both Kandyan and Low Country styles of art and the credit of its aesthetic beauty goes to Deepal Jayawardena who supplies the cover page annually without charges, as a gift of the Dhamma.

The trilingual editions have a Preface containing a message by H.E. the President and the Prime Minister. P. B. Weragoda outlines the history of the Government Services Buddhist Association from its inception in 1954 and lists in a nutshell its multifarious activities in all three aspects of Dana, Sila and Bhavana. He extends his thanks to the financial assistance received from the President's Fund, Dept. of Buddhist Affairs, Dept. of Cultural Affairs, Ministry of Buddha Sasana, Associated Newspapers of Ceylon, Mr. Deepal Jayawardena, contributors of articles, donors, friends and well-wishers.

Twenty two writers have sent in articles and poems to the English edition, all of which are highly commendable and expounding a particular aspect of the Dhamma. In this review of limited space I shall do my best to touch on many articles as I can.

Dr. Ananda Grero

Late Dr. Ananda Grero's contribution on 'The Timeless Doctrine of the Buddha' illustrates amply that the Buddha Dhamma is for all times and all climes. The Four Noble Truths expounded by the Buddha remain afresh and evergreen throughout human history.

Ven. Dr. M. Vajiragnana

Ven. Dr. M. Vajiragnana's article on 'How Much Can Buddhism Offer to the Modern World?' proves that all the scientific discoveries and technological advances have brought about improvements in the material standard of living but deterioration in true happiness and mental peace. The Reverend has explained very lucidly "that the pressure of modern consumerism and advertising stimulate desires to new heights" and how Buddhist ethics could offer a solution.

Bhikkhu Bodhi

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi's 'Two Styles of Insight Meditation' serves as a compendium on Meditation. He explains how Faith (Saddha) and Right View (Samma ditthi) play a leading role in meditation which is "the eradication of all the fetters of existence and release from the beginningless round of birth, aging and death."

Ven. Bellanwila Wimalaratana Thera

Ven. Bellanwila Wimalaratana Thera's 'Significance of Bodhi Pooja' indeed has a great signifance in today's context when so much of contradictory arguments are presented by the media for and against it. However, the erudite monk has rightly pointed out the three types of Buddha relics that should be venerated and traced the historical significance of the sapling of Sri Maha Bodhi under which the Buddha attained Enlightenment brought to Sri Lanka from India. The Reverend has explained that paying homage to a Bodhi tree is grateful veneration to that which is symbolic of Buddha's Enlightenment.

Olcott Gunasekera

Olcott Gunasekera has well-explained the observance of Vesak in Sri Lanka from the official introduction of Buddhism up to its observance by the United Nations. Alec Robertson's 'Culture of the Mind' is an in-depth study of three-fold training of virtue, concentration and wisdom. Aryadasa Ratnasinha's 'Satipatthana Sutta Develops Mental Culture' elaborates further the article of Robertson.

Asoka Devendra

'Craving the Universal Scourge' by Asoka Devendra illustrates how tanha or craving creates a world for each one of us and at mundane level "how many people have got ensnared, smothered and entangled like a mass of matted roots in their own web of tanha."

Penny Jayawardena

Penny Jayawardena's 'Panatipata' is commendable as she amply illustrates that our food desires satisfied by consuming the flesh of living things is a violation of the First Precept. Those who resort to vegetarianism realise the sanctity of life and honour the teachings of the Compassionate One.

U. Karunatilleka

Sevitabba Sutta presented by U. Karunatilleka gives an account of that which is wholesome to be cultivated and the unwholesome not to be cultivated as given in the Majjhima Nikaya.

Irene Abeysekera

Irene Abeysekera's poem on 'Refuge' stirs the heart of any devout Buddhist as she writes, "Thus to be freed from bondage, I do seek solace and refuge. In the Noble Triple Gem." This indeed is the aspiration of all those who yearn for 'The attainment of ever-lasting peace.

Chandra Wickramasinghe

Chandra Wickramasinghe's poem 'Beyond' and Kamal Premadasa's 'Maya' both speak of impermanence. Danister I. Fernando's 'A Father Betrayed' relates an age-old Buddhist story in verse. It is very apt and should be an eye-opener to all those children who 'dump' their aged parents into Elders Homes and go abroad in search of greener pastures, forgetting the tender care of their parents to bring them up to that stage. Ironically, they expect wonders from their foreign educated children but they set a bad example by neglecting their own.

T. B. Ratnayake

T. B. Ratnayake's extensive contribution, 'Buddhism and Health' described in a very graphic way that the Buddha was not only concerned with suffering and its cessation but also as a unique physician (bhesajja guru) he has guided his followers to achieve physical and mental health. The story of Savhamy by V. M. Fernando breaks the monotony of the deep Dhamma topics in the annual and takes the readers mind to the village folks who lead lives of simple living and high thinking.

Andrew Scott

Andrew Scott's 'Following Buddhist Social Values' and Panduka Mahanama's 'Uniqueness of Buddha and his Teachings' are commendable articles which have a bearing on Buddhist social ethics. 'From the Life of the Buddha' under which Prof. Nandasena Mudyanse has given six stories from Dhammapadatthakatha are quite interesting to both children and adults. The children would enjoy reading them as the language is very simple and also they teach Buddhist ideals in a subtle way.

Rajah Kuruppu

'Right Concentration', an extensive and an intensive contribution by Rajah Kuruppu deals with Insight Meditation, Jhanas and so forth. It is very educative and informative to a student of Buddhism.

Taking all in all, Vesak Sirisara is a handy compendium of Buddha Dhamma. Verily, a Gift of the Truth which excels all other gifts leading the readers on the Right Path to Nibbana.


Updated: 23-7-2001

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