Why Navam Poya is important?
by Premasara Epasinghe
In the English calendar, the first month is known as January and in the Sinhala calendar this is known as Duruthu or month of Duruthu.
According to Buddhist traditions and literature, the first two utmost significant incidents that took place on Navam Purapasalosvaka Full Moon Poya Day were:
(a) Appointment of Buddha’s two chief disciples - Saraputta and Moggallana
(b) The first-ever Buddhist Council - meeting was held on this important Duruthu Full Moon Poya Day.
As mentioned earlier, the appointment of Sariputta and Moggallana as the two main disciples - "Aggrasavaka" took place on this significant day of Navam Poya.
Sariputta was appointed to the prestigious position of "Dharmasenadipathi" and Moggallana as "Dharmapurohita" respectively. Some monks were discussing as to why some of the senior monks were overlooked in making these key appointments. The Exalted one - Gautama Buddha with HIS divine eye saw what the disciples or Buddhist monks were contemplating and explained to them the appropriateness of those two appointments. In order to clear the doubts of the monks and to elucidate or to make clear, Buddha explained the fact that seniority was not the only criteria or qualification that had been taken in to consideration in these two key appointments. To clear all doubts of the Monks, the blessed One, related the interesting story woven round Sariputta and Moggallana during the time of Anomadassi Buddha.
The story of Sariputta and Moggallana
The Arahat Sariputta was born during the period of Anomadassi Buddha. He was known as Sarada. He was a man who had about 74,000 followers. He inherited massive wealth after the death of his parents. Sarada, as a "Good Samaritan" distributed by wealth among the poor, needy people. Through meditation, he developed his mental faculties, and gained "Attasamapatti" - the eight attainments. Sarada’s, intimate friend was a person by the name of Siriwardane. With HIS divine eye Buddha Anomadassi, met Sarada with his chief disciples namely Nisaga and Anoma. Buddha Anomadassi, preached about the merits of offering seats and flowers to HIM. At the end of the sermon or Dharmadesana, except Sarada, all others attained Arahatship. Sarada’s ambition was to be become one of the chief disciples of incumbent Gautama Buddha. Anomadassi Buddha gave Sarada the assurance or "Vavam" to be one of the chief disciples of the future Gautama Buddha.
In the meantime, his close friend Siriwardena too offered alms to Anomadassa Buddha for seven days, and aspired for the other position of chief disciple - Aggrassawaka.
During the period of Gautama Buddha, there were two villages known as Kolitha and Upatissa, in Rajagaha. There were two young men, who were very close intimate friends. They were known as Upatissa, and Kolitha. Upatissa, was the son of Brahmini Sari. Upatissa was later known as Sariputta or Sariputra and Kolitha was known as Moggalana or Mugalan.
These two close friends one day attended a festival held on a basin. A gigantic sports festival called the festival of Giraggasamajja. While witnessing this festival, they realised that lives were impermanent and how transient were all sensual pleasures. Two of them first went to Sanjaya, as Ascetic to discover the path of Emancipation or Vimukthi, which they could not achieve.
One day, Kolitha’s friend Upatissa met an Arahat - Assaji, one of the first five disciples of Gautama Buddha. Through Assaji Thera, those close associates met Gautama Buddha and the Blessed One, by mere utterance of the following words - "Ehi Bhikkhu Bhawaya" and entered the Sasanaya. Within a week Moggallana, attained Arahatship. Later Sariputta attained Arahatship on listening to Vedana Pariggan Sutta, expounded by the Enlightened one.
In the Buddhist Sasana history, it was on the Navam Full Moon Poya Day the first ever Buddhist Sangayanawa or Buddhist congregation was held, under Maha Kassapa Thera. Physically, Maha Kassapa resembled very much the Gautama Buddha. As a very senior monk, after the passing away of the Blessed one, Mahakassapa had the distinction of presiding over this important congregation. According to Zen school Buddhism, Mahakassapa was considered as the first Patriarch.
Vinaya - Discipline
In the modern world, Management plays an important rule. Administration of business concern or public undertaking can be defined on Management. Bhikku order too maintained Management principles 2,500 years ago. This was known as Vinaya or Discipline. It was well established with the first Buddhist council which was held on Navam Purapasalosvaka Daya at Veluwanaramaya, Rajagaha.
There are two important Discourses in Buddhism. They are "Ovada Prathimoksha" which means to give advise. Through this, you develop self-discipline. It was on Navam Poya Day, Buddha delivered a sermon on "Ovada Prathimoksha" to Sariputta and Moggallana.
Many lay Buddhists observe the Eighth Precepts (Atasil) on Navam Poya Day. On this day (today) temples will be filled to the capacity on this day. It is heartening to note, today many youths actively participate in Buddhist activities.
May the Triple Gem Bless You!