Religious Missions to teach the Dhamma | Sunday Observer
Significance of Il Poya Day

Religious Missions to teach the Dhamma

10 November, 2019

Important things that happened on Il Poya

It was on an Il Poya that the future Buddha Maithriya or Maithriya Bodhisatva offered two robes he had received from a devotee to the Buddha and received Niyatha Vivarana. Niyatha Vivarana is a firm proclamation of the fact that he would attain Buddhahood.

The Buddha predicted about the future Buddha Maithriya on an Il Poya. He said that in Benares there will be a kingdom called Khethumathi ruled by a King named Sankha. His advisor Subrahamme and his wife Brahamawathi would be the parents of the future Buddha Maithriya who would reach enlightenment under a Banyan tree.

The attaining of Nirvana by Arahath Sariputtha or Sariyuth also took place on an Il Poya. He was one of the two Agga Shravakas or Chief Disciples of the Buddha , the other being Arahath Mugalan. Arahath Sariputtha realised his life on earth was nearing its end and wanted to attain Nirvana in his home. So, he got permission from the Buddha to go to his home in the village of Nalaka , north of Rajagaha in Magadha, India. Accompanied by a group of Bhikkhus Arahath went to his home seven days before he attained Nirvana. Before this, he converted his mother Rupasari to Buddhism. Earlier, she was of the Brahmin faith.

Offering of Katina Cheevara

The sending out of Religious Missions to teach the Dhamma started on an Il Poya. The Arahaths who went on the first Dharmadutha mission were Arahaths Bhaddiya, Vappa, Mahanama, Assajee and Kondanna (also known as the Pas Vaga Arahath Theras to whom the Buddha preached his first sermon, the Dhamma Chakka Suttta), Arahath Yasa and 54 0f his friends who had ordained as Bhikkhus.

Three brothers known as the Thun Bae Jatilayo lived in three separate asapuwas (hermitages) on the bank of the river Neranjana with 1,000 disciples. They were Uruwela Kassapa, Nadi Kassapa and Gaya Kassapa. The Buddha preached, performed Yama Maha Pelahera and the three brothers became disciples of the Buddha.

The Thuparamaya

The Thuparamaya is Sri Lanka’s first monastery complex built by King Devanampiyatissa at the request of Arahath Mahinda. It is sited in the Mahamevuna Uyana in Anuradhapura and was built during the Third Century BC. The foundation for the bell- shaped chaithya was laid on an Il Poya Day. The Dakunu Aku Dhathuwa or the right collar bone of the Buddha is enshrined here.

One of the most notable features of the Thuparamaya is its vatadagae, a dome-shaped structure which housed the dagoba once upon a time. The vatadage was built in the first century AC. It is said that 176 pillars surrounded the dagoba in a circular pattern. These pillars used to support the weight of the vatadage or the dome-shaped roof over the stupa. Of the pillars, over 30 can be seen even today. Some have retained their lotus crowns and polished surfaces.

The name Thuparamaya is a combination of the words stupa and aramaya. (An aramaya is a residential monastery).

Archaeological excavations at the Thuparamaya have brought forth the ruins of an ancient hospital believed to have existed over 2,000 years ago.

The excavations also revealed ancient medical equipment and a latrine system . Ruins of an image house and some tanks can be seen a little way from the stupa.

The Thuparamaya was covered with silver and gold casings in the seventh century and the vatadage had gold en bricks and a golden door.The stupa was robbed of all gold, jewels and treasures by the Pandyan invaders from South India.

King Mahinda IV (956-972) rebuilt the gold casings and doors but again the South Indian Chola invaders stole them and other valuables from the Thuparamaya in the late 10th century.