Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Most Venerable Arahata Sadanananda Mohathero (Banavantey)

His Holiness Most Ven. Sadhanananda Mahathera (Banabhante), a name of great sanctity pronounced with high veneration amongst the Buddhists of all walks of life living in the greater Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of Bangladesh including that of the Buddhist communities living in others part of the land. Ever since His boyhood, He developed a very keen interest in the reading of books. He would spend most of His time in studying history, science, literature and the book relating to the biography. He earned an enormous inspiration for the future course of life through the reading of books. In comparison to others, He was different by nature and was averse to enjoying pleasure and comfort. He gained the ‘forth-going’ (pabajjja) on the full moon day of falgun (Bengali calendar month) in the year 1949 under Ven. Dipankar Sreegyan Mahathera, the then abbot of Nandan Kanan Bauddha Vihara in Chittagong. Finding the environment not conducive to gaining spiritual development there, he went back to his native area and off the locality, entering into the dense forest of Dhanpata by the Karnafuli, threw Himself in concentration at a stretch for 12 years in solitude. Without teacher there in the woods, He employed Himself in the efforts attaining freedom-of-suffering Nibbana. At time, in the wake of inundation due to Kaptai Dum, He shifted to Dighinala, the north of CHT on invitation. There He was ordained in the order of monks as Sadhanananda Bhikkhu in 1961. Soon He came to be widely known as Bana Bhante (means the forest monk). After 1970, on invitation, He then shifted to Tintila Bana Vihara. In 1974, on the fervent invitation and Royal patronization of chakma Raj family including the upasak-upasikas and also the and also considering the bright and prosperous future of the Buddha’s dispensation, He along with His disciples came up to Rangamati following which, the present Rajbana Vihara came to being. Since then, He has been staying there since then. He was formally received as the Mahathera on 14 February, in 1980. Hiss Holiness Ven. Banabhante authored many books, booklets, on the Buddha’s doctrine His write-ups also includes, poems, religious songs, articles in light of His profound knowledge and experience that He had obtained through concentration. He is universally recognized to have attained the Arahatship and regarded as Ariya Savaka. At present, the Rajbana Vihara has became a international spot of pilgrimage and is regularly visited by diplomats and other dignitaries of both home and abroad, let alone the saddhamma-loving devotees and people of all strata.

The advent of this rear and great noble personality, whose establishment is based on the wisdom of the four-fold noble truth, has become the helmsman of the revival of True Buddhism in Bangladesh. We all, with the ultimate veneration and profound gratefulness, wish a long, long life of this great noble personality.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Conversation between Banavantey and French tourist

In 1982, when Folkland war was taking place between Britain and Argentina, at that time, four French tourists came to Rangamati for traveling. Two of them were male and another two were female. Once they visited the Banavihara along with a chakma interpreter. They discussed about many subjects with Banavantey. The excerpts are:

1st male: Do you know about the world?
Banavantey: I do and I don’t.

1st male: what does that mean?
Banavantey: I am able to know whenever I wish and I don’t know when I have no wish.

1st male: what does that mean?
Banavantey: I know it when necessary.

2nd male: A war is taking place in Folkland, do you know that?
Banavantey: Yes, I know that.

2nd male: Which side do you support?
Banavantey: I don’t support either sides.

2nd male: well, which side will win(in the war)?
Banavantey: You will get the answer from ordinary people.

2nd male: what does that mean?
Banavantey: Ordinary people support any one side. Which side do you support?
2nd male: we support Britain.
Banavantey: Ordinary people like you support any one side. In this world, who fight against each other, they are ordinary and lower people.

2nd male: That means, Britain is also lower?
Banavantey: Yes, Lower. While you will go back to your country, tell it there. The people who are extraordinary and great, they never engage themselves in fight.

1st female: I have wandered most of the places around the world. Even I went a few times to certain places which I liked most.
Banavantey: Don’t you suffer while traveling?

1st female: Yes, I suffer. From various visiting places, I like the Buddhist holy places most. Why I like those places, can you tell me?
Banavantey: among various visiting places, the Buddhist holy places are quiet and peaceful. Another reason is that, you may have Buddhist trends or mental impressions from your previous lives.

2nd female: How many years have you been practicing meditation?
Banavantey: for 35 years.

2nd female: In this long period of time, what experience have you got or felt yourself?
Banavantey: Realization of truths and annihilating the ignorance-craving, I am feeling the knowledge of cessation.

The tourists went away with a satisfaction in their minds.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

life of banavantey part -3

After the life of Banavantey part -2
In the deep forest, He continued meditation with steadfast concentration. That forest was full of ferocious animals. Once a tiger was eating a buffalo in front of Him, but never interrupted Him anyway.

In 1960, His kuthir (hut) was flooded by the water of Kaptai Dam. So He migrated from Dhanpata to Dighinala. The pious people at Dighinala built a monastery for Him. There He was ordained Upasampada(adult monk) in 1961.
In 1970, He migrated from Dighinala to Durchari and then to Tintilla. From His Dhamma deshana (Dhamma talk), it is known that He attained Nibbana (the ultimate bliss) in 1971. In 1976, He settled in Rangamati from Tintilla Longodu and still living there preaching the Dhamma to the people for their prosperity and happiness. In 14th February 1981, He was ordained as a Mahathero (most senior monk).

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Lower cast discourse (Bashala sutta)

This discourse given by Lord Buddha, describes that a lower cast is not determined by his birth, rather by his deeds.
Thus have I heard- once Lord Buddha was living in the Jetabana Monastery built by Anathapindica. In the morning, Lord entered into the Sabatti city for collecting food. There at the house of Varadas, the fire worshipper, fire was made, and necessary stuffs were gathered for sacrifice.

Lord gradually collecting food from door to door, came to the house of the fire worshipper Varadas. Varadas saw the Lord from a distance and shouted- ‘Hey, shaved head, stay there(Lord Buddha was shaved head)! Hey you of lower cast, stand there!’

Then Lord asked the fire worshipper Varadas- ‘Brahmin, do you know the acts of lower casts?’
Vardas said- ‘No, Goutama (Goutama is the name of Lord. He is known as Goutama Buddha). I don’t know the acts of lower casts. Tell me so that I could know the acts with which a person becomes of lower casts.’

‘Brahmin, then listen. Give a good attention to what I am saying.’- Lord said.
‘Yes, Venerable.’- admitted Varadas Brahmin.

Lord said-
‘Who is wrathful, jealous, doing illegal works, ungrateful, possessing a wrong view, non believer in after life, non believer in the results of giving as well as deceitful, you will know him as a lower cast.’
‘Who is cruel to animals, birds and all other living beings, who has no love for creatures, you will know him as a lower cast.’
‘Who destroys villages and cities, robs them, sieges them, he is known as a torturer and you will know him as a lower cast.’
‘Who steals the properties and stuffs from village or forests, you will know him as a lower cast.’
‘Who borrows money and not willing to pay debt, he flees away and while he is looked for debt, he denies everything and says- I don’t owe anything to you, you will know him as a lower cast.’
‘Who robs even little things from passerby by killing them, you will know him as a lower cast.’
‘Who when asked, perjures for the sake of himself, or oneself or for money, you will know him as a lower cast.’
‘Who shows a sudden affection to the wives of the relatives and friends with a view to establish an illegal relationship, you will know him as a lower cast.’
‘Despite having a lot of wealth, who doesn’t take care of his old parents, you will know him as a lower cast.’
‘Who kills his parents, siblings and father-in-law and speaks badly, you will know him as a lower cast.’
‘Who when asked for advice, gives a bad advice, you will know him as a lower cast.’
‘Who commits illegal tasks and with a thought- May nobody know me, he presents an innocent face, you will know him as a lower cast.’
‘Who consumes delicious foods in other’s house and doesn’t serve the same when they come to his house, you will know him as a lower cast.’
‘Who deceives Brahmins, Sramanas (monks) or other beggars with lies, you will know him as a lower cast.’
‘Who abuses the beggars if they come during his lunch time and never gives foods to them, you will know him as a lower cast.’
‘Who represents himself possessing super powers (although he has nothing) with a view to get name and fame, you will know him as a lower cast.’
‘Who admires himself, abuses others and boasts his pride, you will know him as a lower cast.’
‘Who is furious, forbidding the giving, illegal doer, non-giver, cheater, shameless and fearless, you will know him as a lower cast.’
‘Who abuses Buddha or His disciples, His preachers and His lay-persons, you will know him as a lower cast.’
‘Who claims himself as an Arahata ( a salvaged one) although he is not, in this world and in heaven, he is known as a thief. He is counted in the lowest cast.’
‘These people are known of lower casts. O Brahmin! These acts of lower casts are described briefly by Me, now you certainly know who is called of a lower cast.’
‘None becomes a lower cast by birth, none becomes a Brahmin (a higher cast) by birth too. By his deeds, he becomes a lower cast or a Brahmin.’
‘Brahmin, know the causes of such lower casts. As I am giving you an example:- a son of lower cast named Sopak, became famously known as Matanga. ’
‘He achieved great name and fame. Many Brahmins and other upper cast people came to him for his attendance.’
‘This Matanga destroyed his sexual desires and relieved from it. Thus he rode on a heavenly transport and arrived in the Brahma world. (The higher world of heaven. These brahmas were meditators. In fact if a meditator receives at least first level of meditation, then he will be destined to this Brahma world after this human life unless other misdeeds are done. These brahmas are powerful through meditation and they are seen by the deities or humans only if they wish to be seen.)’
‘That Matanga was born in a lower cast, but nobody could resist him to be born to Brahma world.’
‘Bramins of higher casts, who are diligently chanting mantras, are seen to be engaged in misdeeds (like sacrificing animals or indecent deeds) constantly. They have been blamed in this world and suffered afterworld too. Although they were born in Brahmin caste, their blames and sufferings in afterworld couldn’t resist by anyone. That is why you know, nobody becomes a lower cast or Brahmin by birth. By his deeds, one becomes of a lower cast or a Brahmin.’

Having thus spoken by Lord Buddha, then Varadas said- O Goutama! Very beautifully you have told the dhamma (the rules). For example- O Goutama! Someone turns up the bowl which was turned down, uncovers the covered things, shows the right way to a misled passerby, holds a light in the dark so that a person who is able to see, can be able to see things in the dark- Like this, the dhamma has been described in various ways by Noble Goutama. From today till to the last moment of my life, I am taking refuge of Lord, taking refuge of His Dhamma, taking refuge of His disciples. May Goutama accept me as a lay follower of Him.’

This discourse certainly shows that Buddha was a non believer in cast. He rather profoundly claimed His Dhamma on the basis of karma.

A brief biography of Banavantey (part-2)

After partA brief biography of Banavantey (part-1)

He went to many places seeking for His ordination to monkhood. At last in 1949, He got ordained as a samanera (novice monk) of Venerable Dipankar Shrigyan Mahathero in the Chittagong Buddha Vihara. Ven. Dipankar Vantey (monks are usually called vantey) was an arts graduate at that time and a Tipitaka expert( Tipitaka is the Buddhist holy book that contains all the discourses of Buddha). Banavantey lived there for a few months and studied the Buddhist books provided by His guru. He once thought- only study cannot give oneself a lokottara Dhamma (an insight, the salvation). He must seek for the way to salvation. What is the value of shaving off the hair, leaving the ordinary life and wearing the yellow robes if one cannot attain such salvation. He learned all the duties of a samanera for three months and then asked His Guru- What is the kind of Lokottara Dhamma? His Guru, Ven. Dipankar vantey replied- I have not acquired Nibbana (the ultimate salvation). I have no Lokottara Dhamma. Therefore, go there where you have come from. Research it there for yourself and attain Nibbana.

In 1950, Banavantey came to Dhanapata according to His Guru’s instruction. At first He became frustrated without Guru. How can He meditate without His Guru? Then He decided to continue meditation with steadfast determination. He gave up sleeping and ate only once a day. He endured scorch heat and shivering cold with endless patience. He was meditating in a secluded place far from village. He just endured the rain in the rainy season, the insects throughout the whole year, the sun in the summer and the unbearable cold in winter.

Sometimes when indolence or sleep came over His eyes, He went to the field full of shawns in summer( shawn is a kind of long grass with sharp and pointed edges, its scratches are painful), or under the rain in rainy seasons, or in the deep cold water of stream or lake in winter and said to Himself- O Sleep, come now. He continued His meditation with such difficult religious practice till 1960.

He ate only once in a few days. Buddhist monks don’t eat after noon. Sometimes it became late in collecting food from the village. In that case, He threw away the collected food in the jungle and spent the whole day just by drinking water. Villagers called Him Rathindra Sraman, and as He meditated in deep forest, so He became known as forest monk or Banavantey. (Life of Banavantey part-2)

A brief biography of Banavantey (part-1)

Banavantey is actually His title. It means the monk of the forest. His original name is Sadhanananda Mahathero. Formerly, when He was not a monk, His ordinary name was Rathindra Chakma. He was born at 1920 ad, at the Mouroghona of Magban Mouja, near to the Kaptai town of Rangamati Hill District, Bangladesh.

When Rathindra was at the age of five, at that time too, He was calm and steady. He was not used to spend His time in playing games, rather He used to think silently sitting somewhere lonely. Sometimes He was baffled by the scenes of sacrificing the animals by the river or lake, on the peak of the hills or at the root of a big tree.

During His childhood time, a chicken was sacrificed for the god of marriage and then it’s legs and beak were presented for the worship. People and children were very happy at that moment. After marriage, the couple spent a few days with enjoy and happiness, and then most often it was seen that they began quarrel and fight for various inter-family reasons. Rathindra, the boy, observed these problems of a man’s life in His early childhood time.

Bangladesh was then not existed, it was just a colony of British Empire. He studied till class four at that time and could easily read Ramayana and Mahavarata the two great epics of Hindu religion. He also read lots of books on history, literature and science.

It was heard from olders that when He was young, He used to meditate deeply. He was so simple, pious, thinker and apathetic.

At the age of 26, once He was going down the river with a boat. At that time an old man called Him to take him to the other side of the river. Note that this old man used to make fun and jokes with others and was not serious. So Rathindra pretended as if He had not heard anything. Later He thought, if I helped him, I would surely get lots of religious merits. So He took him in His boat. The old man then told Him a far away place in the upside of the river and asked to take him there. Rathindra replied- But you have asked me just to take you to the other side of the river, not to the upside! The old man laughed and said- You hadn’t come when I had called you. So if I had asked you to take me there, you would never allow me in your boat. Rathindra smiled hearing at these words and rowed upward to the river. After a bend of the river, the old man whispered and gestured Him to look at a beautiful girl by the river bank. Rathindra didn’t give any attention to Him and continued rowing. After a while, He saw the old man looking at the girl with a steadfast look. Banavantey later explained about this fact- The old man was staring at the girl just like the jackals staring at the buffaloes. Well, a jackal cannot catch a buffalo. Like this is the old man. Staring at girls is not a naughtiness but it is the desire for pleasure. It defiles your mind. The mind becomes agitated and polluted.

He once noticed that an eleven years old girl had died. He went to the house of that girl with others to see the dead body of her. The dead body of the girl was kept lying at one side of the yard. Her parents were sometimes crying out loudly, sometimes hitting themselves in trees or sometimes they became fit and unconscious. The people took care of them and made efforts to make them calm and give some consolations. The young Rathindra thought that one day He would have to grieve like these parents for losing a daughter. He then decided not to go for marriage in this life and look for a spiritual life- a monkhood- free from all worldly tangles. (Life of Banavantey part-1)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Welcome dear Friends. Please wait for a few moments until this blog becomes alive. Happy new year, 2009!!