Guide to Tipitaka

Canonical Pâli Buddhist Literature of the Theravâda School

by U Ko Lay | 48,543 words

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Part 1 - Khuddakapatha Pali

First of the treatises in this Nikaya, Khuddakapatha, contains "readings of minor passages" most of which are also found in other parts of the Tipitaka It is a collection of nine short formulae and suttas used as a manual for novices under training, namely, (a) the three refuges (b) the Ten Precepts (c) the thirty-two parts of the body (d) simple Dhammas for novices in the form of a catechism (e) Mangala Sutta (f) Ratana Sutta (g) Tirokutta Sutta (h) Nidhikanda Sutta and (i) Metta Sutta.

Taking refuge in the Three Gems, the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Samgha, by reciting the formula, "I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge m the Dhamma, I take refuge in the Samgha/' is a con- scious act of expression of complete faith in the Three Gems, not mere profession of superficial belief nor a rite of traditional piety It implies (i) one's humility, (ii) acceptance of the Triple Gems as one's guiding principles and ideals; (in) acceptance of discipleship and (iv) homage.

In the section on 4 Kumara pan ha', questions for young boys, the dhamma is tailored to suit the young intellect of novices

  • What is the One 7 - The Nutriment which sustains the life of beings
  • What are the Two? - Nama and Rupa
  • What are the Three 7 - Pleasant, Unpleasant, Neutral Vedanas.
  • What are the Four? - The Four Noble Truths.
  • What are the Five? - The five groups of grasping.
  • What are the Six 7 - The six bases of senses
  • What are the Seven 7 - The seven factors of enlightenment
  • What are the Eight 7 - The Noble Path of Eight Constituents
  • What are the Nine 7 - The nine abodes or types of beings.
  • What are the Ten? - llie ten demeritorious courses of action.

Maha Mangala Sutte, the discourse on the great blessings, is a famous sutta cherished highly in all Buddhist countries It is a comprehensive summary of Buddhist ethics for the individual as well as for society, composed in elegant verses The thirty-eight blessings enumerated in the sutta as unfailing guides throughout one's life start with advice on 'avoidance of bad company' and provide ideals and practices basic to all moral and spiritual progress, for the welfare and happiness of the individual, the family and the community The final blessing is on the development of the mind which is unruffled by vagaries of fortune, unaffected by sorrow, cleansed of defilements and which thus gains liberation the mind of an ArahaL

The Ratana Sutta was delivered by the Buddha when Vesali was plagued by famine, disease etc He had been requested by the Licchavi Pnnces to come from Rajagaha to Vesali The sutta was delivered for the purpose of countering the plagues, by invocation of the truth of the special qualities of the Three Gems, the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Samgha

The Metta Sutta was taught to a group of bhikkhus who were troubled by non-human beings while sitting in meditation at the foot of secluded forest trees The Buddha showed them how to develop loving-kindness towards all beings, the practice which will not only protect them from harm but also will serve as a basis for insight through attainment of jhana

The Khuddakapatha which is a collection of these nine for- mulae and suttas appears to be arranged in such a way as to form a continuous theme demonstrating the practice of the holy life how a person accepts the Buddha's Teaching by taking refuge in the Three Gems, then how he observes the Ten Precepts for moral purification Next he takes up a meditation subject, the contemplation of thirty- two constituents of the body, to develop non-attachment He is shown next the virtues and merits of giving and how one handicaps oneself by not performing acts of merit. In the meanwhile he safeguards himself by reciting the Mangala Sutta and provides protection to others by reciting the Ratana Sutta. Finally, he develops loving-kindness towards all beings, thereby keeping himself safe from harm, at the same time he achieves jhanic concentration which will eventually lead him to reach the goal of spiritual life, Nibbana, by means of knowledge of Insight and the Path  

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