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ROBES OFFERING DURING RAINING SEASON (WASO THINGAN)

Vivekarārama Buddhist Centre has been established in the North East of UK for almost five years. It is, nonetheless, not a fully-fledged as it is relied on the support of a very small number of Burmese Buddhist families who have been settling in the area. The trustees therefore would like to organise Buddhist people who live in this country to conduct the robes offering during raining season (Vaso Thinghan) this year.  It was not able to do every year for variety of reasons.  This year it will be conducted on the 1st August, 2010.

A Brief History of Vaso Thinghan

According to the Dhammapada Buddhist story (Dhp.A.I.4), the great devotee such as Anāthapindika and Visākhā usually went to visit the Buddha and Saṅgha twice a day. In the morning, they took some food items and in the afternoon they usually took soft drink, butter and honey that are allowed for monks to consume in the evening. Sometimes the Buddha and monks were invited to homes to serve them lunch. This seemed to be a routine commitment for those who were dedicated to the Buddha and his teachings during his lifetime.

According to Book of Discipline (Vin.I.290- 4), one day the Buddha and monks were invited home for lunch by the great devotee Visākhā upāsikā. As monsoon has begun, there was heavy rain that morning. The monks in the monastery were taking bath in the heavy rain without robes. Then coincidently, a messenger was sent to the monastery to report to the monks about the lunch was ready.  The messenger who saw all the naked monks went back home, thinking that there were no Buddhist monks in the monastery. The messenger has mistaken the monks with the naked acelaka sectarians, other religious teachers who usually lived naked, were taking bath in the rain. Thus she reported to Dāyikāmagyi, Visākhā.  By that Visākhā was convinced that Buddhist monks were actually taking bath in the rain naked but not sectarians who were from other religions.  She therefore sent the messenger again to fetch the Buddha and monks home as the alms offering was ready.  When the messenger had arrived to the monastery, she saw no a single monk.  It was because every single monk had finished bathing and entered their own rooms.  The messenger went back home again reporting to her mistress that were not a single monk in the monastery.  She was ordered to go back to the monastery again.

This unnecessary delay seemed to urge the Buddha to order monks to be ready to get home of Visākhā in time for lunch.  The great devotee reported about her arrangements in detail to the Buddha.  And at the same time, she asked eight boons from the Buddha to allow her to do it freely in her lifetime or as long as she lived.  The Buddha granted to her. 

They are:

This is how the robes offering ceremony to use in the raining season, has come into being in Buddhism.

It is good here to note that the great devotee Visākhā asked only to do the basic good conduct called donation or dāna which is necessary in Buddhism.  Then from that one of course can develop satisfaction with one’s wholesome deeds.  From that, rupture can arise.  From that, one’s body and mind can be clam.  From that, happiness can be achieved.  From that, one can obtain concentration.  Then one will see things truly as they are, if one’s mind is well concentrated.  This is how donation can lead one to achieve higher attainments.

The Venerable Nandapala