Sravasti (or Shravasti) is on the pilgrimage site for Buddhists. One of the reasons is because it is where Buddha performed the Miracle of Pairs.
The miracle occurred in a contest with heretics, who wished to perform their own miracles. It is said that in Sravasti, standing on a jeweled walk, the Buddha proceeded to perform the Yamaka-pātihāriya (Twin Miracle), unattainable to any disciple and so called because it consisted in the appearance of phenomena of opposite character in pairs. Buddha emitted flames from the upper part of his body and a stream of water from the lower, and then alternatively. Flames of fire and streams of water also proceeded alternatively from the right side of his body and from the left.
You will find representations of the Miracle of Pairs in a lot of Buddhist art.
As I mentioned in my last post we are in town with 2500 Tibetan Monks and lay people. They are in the middle of a conference and we are here to chant.
Today our monks took the stage and chanted parts of the Dhammapada for one hour.
This was followed by the entire Tibetan audience chanting a goodly portion of the Dhammapada in one hour. Tibetan chanting is done at lightning speed and is considerably more musical than Thai or Burmese chanting.
The Dhammapada is a collection of sayings of the Buddha in verse form and one of the most widely read and best known Buddhist texts.
During the chanting, the Indian contingency that is traveling with us came in, and wow, what an entrance. It really was so delightful to see. I have mentioned before, this is the first native group to actually participate in this ceremony, and that is both very important and historic.
I sat behind two young Tibetan nuns that were just a tad restless. However, when it came to their turn to chant they were as focused as could be.
We will be chanting at Jetavana. Jetavana, one of Buddha’s monasteries, was the place where the Buddha gave the majority of his teachings and discourses, having spent nineteen out of 45 summer retreats here, more than in any other monastery. We made a quick trip to the park to check it out. The monks began circumambulating the Bodhi Tree and chanting. It was a beautiful way to end the evening.
The instant the sun went down a good 30 to 50 monkeys descended upon the park.
This is Kavisara. He is Burmese, his mother is Thai. He is studying Pali and trying to learn English. He has only been in India for 5 months, but he did attend the chanting ceremony in Bodh Gaya in 2012.
Today was another road trip. We were to start at 5:00 as the monk’s last meal must be before noon, and we had a long drive to reach our lunch spot.
This is actually their last meal of solid food, afternoon they are allowed liquids, so soup is always served to the monks about the time that we would normally have dinner.
We didn’t actually hit the road until 6:00 and that was in the deep fog, so driving was slow.
The monks informed us that there were no watches during Buddha’s time and that there are special dispensations for travel, but we still did not reach our destination until around 1:00. There were some monks that adhered to the rules, and as I write this at 9:00 at night, they are really very hungry.
Our lunch spot was at the Buddha Vihar Shanti Upvan in Lucknow. They served us royally in their stunning dining room
We were many miles from lunch to our final destination and I was able to give two lectures, one on Ashoka and one on Sravasti, our next stop. I was truly honored when the monks thanked me, and are starting to call me teacher.
Behind us is an entire large bus of lay people and monks from the temple that hosted us that will be joining us in the chanting ceremonies at Sravasti. We are honored and pleased to have Indians attending this ceremony, this is the first time that native Buddhists have taken part.
The problem is there are already 2500 Tibetan monks in town for another event. We had made arrangements for our monks and ourselves to stay in a monastery, but the plans for our traveling companions fell through, so our crew was on the phone for hours, madly trying to make other arrangements. The head monk in Sravasti, or Rinpoche, did all the arranging, including some that will spend tonight in tents.
Our crew will have arrived ahead of us, and I understand that an entire crew of Thai people are in town just to help decorate the event with flowers.
It is truly amazing to watch this all unfold when you realize how far out in the country we are. We are only about 50 to 60 miles from Nepal.
This is Kavasara. He is still working on his English so I did not get much from him. He is from Burma and his Mother is from Thailand. She is 51, and he is here to do Buddhist studies.