Today was a repeat of yesterday. We started quietly, in the heavy fog, chanting under the tree. We broke for lunch and returned to find the holy day we experienced yesterday was taking place again today.
I am just going to share photos of the event, they say more than words.
*This time the band stopped when the police asked, as you can see by their body posture they were not very happy.
After the ceremony we walked through the fields to visit another part of the Sankasya grounds. These grounds have been buried and forgotten for thousands of years, and archeologists have still not spent much time digging and working, so farms have sprouted up over most of the other buildings from Buddha’s time.
Sankasya is where Buddha spent most of his rainy day retreats which is why the area is so important to the Buddhist culture and on the pilgrimage trail. Buddhists still go on a retreat during the rainy season as walking and spreading the word of Dharma is pretty hard to do in the mud. The length of the rainy season depends on the length of the summer monsoon season in each country.
The story is also told that Queen Maya, The Buddha’s mother died seven days after the Buddha’s birth and was reborn in the heavenly realms. Since she had no opportunity to hear his teaching in this life, the Buddha manifested in the Heaven of the 33 Gods to preach the Dharma and ensure her progress on the path to enlightenment.
After teaching his mother for three months the Buddha descended from the Heaven of the 33 Gods on a celestial ladder down to Sankasya. He was accompanied by Brahma on a golden ladder to his right and Indra and his host of devas on a crystal ladder to his left. The ladders sank into the earth leaving only 7 rungs above earth.
Chinese travelers from the 5th and 7th century recorded that ladders covered in jewels were still in place during their travels. However, since Ashoka found nothing, it is most likely these ladders were placed by believers during these times and replaced as needed.
This is one of the spots where archeologists know something exists but have yet to uncover, as you can see it has become a Hindi shrine.
Throughout India you will find dung gathered and pressed into patties for fuel, this woman was just bringing hers to the kitchen when I ran into her and her son.
Despite the young men of the bands, the women of the area were content to sit and listen to the chanting, it was truly a wonderful blend of cultures.
This in Nandamala. He was from the Mandalay region of Burma. He is the only boy and has three sisters. His dad died when he was very young and his mother sold vegetables to make a living. He became a novice monk at 9 years old. His uncle started a monastery to do missionary work, and Nandamala is following in his footsteps. He is studying Pali and hopes to get a degree and then further his studies in English, he wants to be a teacher one day.