The rainy season and offering of robes to the Maha Sangha

  • The word “Vas” means the rains; “Viseema” means the dwelling. Therefore, Vas Viseema means to sojourn during the rainy season.

  • Vassana Kala, or the rainy season of three-months starts from the Esala Full Moon Day

  • Vap Pinkama is performed during the period from Vap Full Moon Day to Ill Full Moon Day. The most important event is the Katina Pinkama, or offering of robes to the Maha Sangha.

  • Buddha set an example to his followers by observing Vas himself.

  • Amongst the religious activities, the most important event is the ‘Katina Puja’.In the words of Buddha, this is the noblest religious activity for Buddhists in which limitless merit is accumulated.

By Gamini Jayasinghe
According to the Buddhist literature, monks in the past did not have permanent homes. They made ‘Pallankans’ or bedsteads under the shade of trees, sat there and meditated. They had to go from door to door with a bowl to beg for food. The food thus received in the bowl is called ‘Pindapatha’.

However, during the rainy season a monk remained with a house holder. Whilst there, it is usual for him to give religious instructions to the inmates and others who attend on him. Dwelling in this manner is known as ‘Vas Viseema’. The word “Vas” means the rains; “Viseema” means the dwelling. Therefore, Vas Viseema means to sojourn during the rainy season.

Vassana Kala, or the rainy season of three-months starts from the Esala Full Moon Day and ends on Vap Full Moon Day. The monks end or give up Vas on Vap Full Moon Day. This is called Vas Pavaranaya. From Vap Full Moon Day, Buddhists commence a series of special religious events. Vap Pinkama is performed during the period from Vap Full Moon Day to Il Full Moon Day. The most important event is the Katina Pinkama, or offering of robes to the Maha Sangha.

Buddha set an example to his followers by observing Vas himself. The seventh Vas period after attaining Buddhahood is of special significance because it was during that season that Buddha dwelled in the divine world ‘Thausitha’ or ‘Thautisa’. Buddha decided to dwell in ‘Thautisa’ during this Vas season to be of assistance to the mother god. Queen Mahamaya died seven days after giving birth to prince Siddhartha and was born as a mighty god in the divine world ‘Thausitha’. Buddha gave religious instructions to the mother god and other divine beings. Mother god attained ‘Sowan’ or the first of the four stages or steps leading to Nirvana.

During this Vas period Buddha delivered ‘Abhidharma’ or transcendent doctrine to gods. He accomplished twin or double miracle – a power said to have been possessed by Buddha to cause a stream of fire to emanate from one pore of his body and a stream of water from another, simultaneously.

Buddha used this power exclusively for the purpose of clearing the doubts of celestial beings and not to entice them through miracles. He taught his followers that no one should be charmed or enticed through miracles but that they should be made to understand the reality.

Buddha did not exhibit supernatural powers but made his followers to realize the truth. He accomplished miracles only on three other occasions where it was the only way to subdue arrogant persons. Once it was to overcome the pride or arrogance of the relatives. The other two occasions were to subdue non-Buddhist heretical monks and ascetics known as ‘Jatilas’.

He taught the four noble truths, i.e. that existence involves suffering, the cause of suffering, the extinction of suffering or Nirvana and the way to the extinction of suffering. The way to Nirvana is eight fold, i.e. ‘Samma Ditti,’ right view (orthodoxy); ‘Samma Sankappa’, right volition or determination; ‘Samma Vacha,’ right speech; ‘Samma Kammantha’, right action; ‘Samma Ajeeewa’, right living or livelihood; ‘Samma Vayama,’ right effort; ‘Samma Sathi,’ right remembrance or contemplation of past and ‘Samma Samadhi,’ right meditation.

After completing the seventh Vas season in ‘Thawatisa’, Buddha returned to this world on the Vap Full Moon Day attended by Devas and Brahmas. According to Buddhist literature, Buddha decended from ‘Thawatisa’ to this world down a ladder made of ‘Sath Ruwan’ or seven precious things i.e. gold, silver, pearls, gems, cat’s eyes, gems, diamonds and coral. ‘Shad Varna’ i.e. an aggregate of six colours – Blue, Yellow, Crimson, White, Red and the colour formed by their combined radiance emanated from His body and formed into a halo around him.

Thousands of Devas and Brahmas including the king of gods, Sakra stood beside the ladder to pay their honour to the Buddha. Sahampathi, Maha Brahma held the ‘Chathra’ parasol and god Suyama (Chief god of the divine world Yama) fanned Buddha with a ‘Vijinapatha’ or ‘Vatapotha’. Panchasikha played the Veena.

When Buddha descended, followed by Sakra Brahma and Suyama, the people were overcome with “Buddhalambana Preethiya” or the pleasure connected with Buddha. People who could not make offerings to Buddha during a period of three months were happy about His return to the world of men and with that ‘Buddhalambana Preethiya’ they made it a religious festive season. Amongst the religious activities, the most important event is the ‘Katina Puja’.

In the words of Buddha, this is the noblest religious activity for Buddhists in which limitless merit is accumulated. ‘Katina Cheewara’ are sacrificed or offered to monks.

‘Katinaya’ is a web of cloth made in a day and night and presented to a Buddhist priest. ‘Katina Cheewaraya’ is a robe made of thick cloth to be worn during the oncoming wet and cold season.

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