There are many religious faiths in the world. Most of the religious faiths started in this world based on some kind of fear. Buddhism however is not based on any concept of fear. It is based on cause and effect. Thus Buddhism is oriented towards the human being and human mind. Why is this? It is because the Teaching of the Buddha very strongly pays attention to human values, nature and the reality of man’s mind. Therefore, we can recognize Buddhism as a man and mind oriented religion.
The aim of this noble gift of Dhamma is to elaborate the greatest and magnanimous qualities of supreme mother in order to wish “Oh our great Mother, may you attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana”for Late Mdm (Mrs.) Goh Pek Lian who left us 90 days ago.
When we consider the concept of dana (giving, generosity, charitable acts), we see mainly three concepts of it as follows:
1. Amisa dana
The concept of giving of material things as
2. Abhaya dana
The concept of giving what belongs to
your body-organs etc. without any fear.
3. Dhamma dana
The concept of Propagation of Dhamma
(The gift of Dhamma).
The concept of Dhamma dana is the best one among other danas (offerings). Once the Buddha himself declared in the Dhammapada “Sabba danam Dhamma danam jinati” the gift of Dhamma (truth) excels all other gifts. Furthermore, on one occasion, the Buddha admonished his disciples “Dhammadayada bhavatha bhikkhave ma amisadayada” “0’ venerable monk practise in Dhamma not in worldly gains. This is the only way to liberate from deep transmigration. There is no other way.” As was admonished by the Buddha before 2500 years ago to King Bimbisãra, since then, Buddhists in all part of the world continue to perform rites and rituals when they celebrate their departed ones’ memorial celebration (Service).
One night, while King Bimbisara was having a sound sleep, he had a dream. A group of relatives who passed away at the time of Kassapa Buddha appeared in his dream wishing to get spiritual assistance (Merits) from their own relatives. The King who became afraid in the dream approached the Buddha and reported the matter to him. The Blessed one who understood the meaning of the dream recommended that alms be offered to the great community of monks. The King did so and the group of relatives who were in a miserable state were liberated from that awful existence and were reborn in the heavenly world. This is how “the transference of merits towards departed ones” came into existence in the Buddhist world.
Prior to Buddhism, there were very complicated religious views in India. The founders of each religion had introduced various types of ways (method), which could be used to commemorate the departed ones. But all those methods were meaningless and fruitless. The Buddha himself acknowledged that those customs were of no value and were meaningless. The founder of Buddhism Sakyamuni Gotama Buddha introduced a very useful, meaningful, fruitful and very scientific method to the Buddhist world to commemorate their departed relatives and friends. Following this method King Bimbisara firstly, commemorated the departure of his own ancestors. This is a very simple method of transferring merits towards the departed. First, you have to accumulate some meritorious power or thoughts by performing a very suitable meritorious deed in the name of the departed one. When you are ready with those merits, you are entitled to radiate your good feelings in the name of your departed one. This should be done within seven days from the demise of a person. Why? We Buddhists believe, according to Buddhist literature, that the vanishing (passing away) consciousness (cuti citta) of the deceased is wandering around us to get merit for their liberation from their miserable state of existence. It is very obvious as mentioned in the Tirokudda Sutta:
“Dvahabaharasu titthanti .... agantvãna sakam garam”
One who has passed away, having come into his own house stays at the doors and windows expecting merits from their relatives for their awful existence.
Actually, nobody can predict or say about the departed (separated) consciousness of a man once he has died. It is unpredictable. “Gati vishayo achinttyo.” “Different modes of birth are unthinkable.” That is why, Buddhist people commemorate their departed ones from time to time doing some sort of meritorious deed. In this connection the Buddha has advised us to perform Dana which includes every requirement for mankind, to the great community of monks
The word Mother (Ma/a) is a very beautiful and lovely word for children. There is no other to equal this beautiful word Mother. Let us know how to become a mother according to the Buddhist point of view.
“Yato ca kho Bhikkh u mata pitaro sannipatita honti. Mata ca utuni hoti. Gandhabbaca paccupatthito hoti. Evam tinnam sannipatitã honti. Gabbh assã vakkanti”
“0’ monk! When parents come together, mother gets her menstrual purity. The embryo is established. Therefore, with the combination of these three factors, there, takes place the foetus.
As revealed above, this is the first step of mother’s character - how to become a mother. Thus, generated, the foetus may grow in the mother’s womb taking food through the mother.
‘Pathamam kalalam hoti kalalam hoti abbudam abbudam jãyate pesi pesi nibbattati ghano Ghana pasakhã jayanti kesa loma, nakh ani ca yancassa bhunjanti mãtã annam panam ca bhojanam tena ... yäpenti matukucchigato naroti.”
As first, the kalala takes birth and thence the abbuda; Therefrom the pesi grows, developing as Ghana in its turn. Now in the Ghana appears the hair. And the nails. And whatever food and drink the mother takes, thereby the child in the mother’s womb both lives and grows. This is how one becomes a mother in this world.
One who gets mother-ship thus, has great responsibilities according to Buddhist culture and she has to maintain great and noble qualities in order to keep honour in mother-hood. The Buddha has described noble qualities of a mother on many occasions in his lifetime, This is how; one can become a mother in this world.
A mother has to accomplish great responsibilities according to Buddhist culture and she has to maintain esteemed and noble qualities in order to keep the honour of mother-hood. The Buddha has described the great responsibilities and noble qualities of a mother on many occasions in his lifetime. Before discussing subject matters or collecting material from the Pali Tipitaka (Canon), it is better that we define the term “Mata” (mother).
Grammatically, as explained in Veda the term Mata (mother) derived from the stem mathar. It called mata in Pali and mathu. in Sanskrit, It called mater in Latin. There is a popular definition of mother in the Pali scripture as stated below:
“Mamãyatit’i mätã” One who loves and cherishes children than others is called mätã (mother). Mother has been defined in other Pãli scriptures as “Bahu kara bhikkhave mata pitaro puttanam äpadaka posakä imassa lokassa dassetäro.”
As narrated in this definition, our noble mother nurtures us, cherishes us, and introduces us to the world. Here we called her mata (mother). According to Anguttara Nikaya, the term mata (mother) is defined thus:
“Brahmat’iBhikkhave matapitunnam eta madhivacanam, Pubbacariyat ietam .... Ahuneyyat ietam….”
The term Brahma, Pubbacariya, Ahuneyya are indicated as a mother’s magnanimous qualities and are synonymous names for mother. Sometimes, we may be ablc to find out such a statement “mata viya Buddho” from the Pali canon. So, we can understand how great a mother is in this world system
Why we do say mother is a Brahma at home? Brahma is an almighty, supreme for followers of Hinduism. As revealed in Hindu literature, Brahma was attributed by four noble qualities, such as metta (loving kindness), karuna (kindness), mudita (altruistic joy) and upekkha (equanimity). As almighty Brahma radiates his loving thoughts, compassionate thoughts, altruistic joy thoughts and equanimity thoughts for mankind, a mother too radiates the same feelings towards her children equally. That is why we designate mother as a Brahma at home. When a baby (child) is conceived in a mother’s womb, a mother generates loving thoughts on the child thinking when will we be able to see our baby. It is called mettá After the child is born, when the child gets into trouble, pain, and disturbances from various types of insects, when the infant cries, a mother feels so worried. She generates compassionate thoughts on the child. It is called karuna. Gradually, when they (children) grow, when they begin to play, when they start saying lovely words, when they pull and push everything here and there, a mother who notices all those activities or actions of children may feel altruistic joy on her children. It is called mudita. Parents may treat their children with equanimity way when they perform activities with. self- confidence. It is called upekkhã.
How does a mother become an embodiment of pubbacariya, the first teacher of the children? An infant does not know good or bad during its childhood. Gradually, when the child grows up, he or she learns everything from their parents. Most of the time a child lives with the mother. So, she is able to teach them the primary (preliminary) syllabus. Mainly, a mother influences good and bad (ethics) to her children. These are the main subjects in her syllabus. She inculcates in them; how to sit nicely, how to talk politely and truthfully, how to eat mindfully, how to behave ethically, how to respect elderly people nicely, how to respect teachers nicely, how to protect their own traditions and customs, how to carry on their own lineage, inheritance, how to be a good citizen, how to recognize their own kith and kin. A mother teaches all this in an informal way she does not use any classroom for her teaching. She does not use any Textbook or any educational method or any educational equipment for her teaching. Sometimes a mother teaches them when she feeds them. When a child refuses to cat, she takes effort to feed them, telling nice short stories or singing songs. While bathing, while walking, while giving milk, a mother teaches her child language, moral education and other activities. Before children go to the nursery, Kindergarten or primary school they learn from their beloved mother and father. So, mother is a teacher (pubbacariya) of the children.
Ahuneyya, it is another appellation for mother in Buddhism. It is one quality of Arahanta having brought suitable objects. Arahantas are worthy to be offered by the followers. Therefore, they are recognized as an Ahuneyya. In a similar way, our mother is worthy to receive anything from children. So, mother too has been embodied with the quality of Ahuneyya. A mother bears her baby ten months in her womb. Since baby’s delivery, a mother makes every effort to look after her infant’s feeding, providing every requirement, medicine and drinks, protecting him from harm, danger flies and ants etc, giving love and affection. Mother is a great supporter of the children. She tolerates all difficulties, pain, suffering, hurt, problems and troubles for the sake of her children. Sometimes, a mother starves for the happiness of her children. She works hard for the benefit of her children. Normally, a mother takes her meal after feeding her children. She is so kind. So, she is worthy of children’s veneration, respect and gifts.
There is another name for mother such as Pajaya Anukampaka. Here, Pajä (in Sankrit, prajã) means children. Anukampaka means sympathy. Though they face numerous troubles and calamities from their children, they tolerate everything. They have sympathy on them. To prove this matter, we can take as an example, the story of King Bimbisara.
Now, shall we pay our attention to discuss how to behave towards our parents? Buddha has mentioned how to behave towards parents in His Teaching as mentioned below:
“Tasmahi ne namasseyya — Sakkareyy mpakatha pandito
Annena atha pãnena — Vattena sayanena ca
Ucchadanena nah apanena-pädanam dhovanena ca”
Thus, the Buddha directed wise people to look after their own parents. Wise and intelligent people nourish their mother and father providing food and drink, garments and bedding, rubbing the body and bathing.
Teenage children are unable to treat parents well except venerate them because they’ don’t earn. Elder sons and daughters who earn something monthly are able to provide parent’s needs. Our parents are worthy of veneration by the children because, virtues of a mother and father are endless “‘mãtapituno guno ananto”. So, when we venerate our parents we are advised to do it in the proper way. There are a few methods to be followed by the children to venerate parents. Having knelt, touching the-floor with two knees, two elbows and forehead, we should venerate our parents. Actually, this is not the only way. There may be other very appropriate systems to be followed by the children to venerate their parents. According to our Buddhist culture, children must respect/venerate parents before they leave for work, before they go to bed and when they are ready to leave very auspicious journey. When they do so, definitely, they may succeed in their purpose and they get pure blessing from them. These blessings are greater than any other blessing in the world.
All children are indebted to their parents because there is no other person who assists children like parents. Children are unable to be free to the parent repay. It is said in the Pali scripture below:
“Dvinnäanam Bhikkhave na suppatikaram vadami matucca, pitucca ....”
“0’ venerable monk, I declare that it is impossible to treat two people. who are they? Mother and Father.” Children will never be able to be released from the debt they owe their parents, even if they attend to their parents by carrying them on their shoulders forever. Not even, if the Earth was drum and the space filled with 7 (seven) kinds of gold up to one’s knee and parents kept in the kingdom of Sakka, even then they cannot get rid of their debt to their parent.
In Anguttara Nikaya, duka nipata, how to get liberation by repaying the debt owing to the parent has been mentioned.
“There are two persons who can never be repaid; mother and father.” Even if one should live a hundred years during which love one attends upon one’s mother and father, heaps all one’s attention, love and personal service on them, one can never repay them for having brought up, fed and guided one through his life.
But if a person makes his parents who are non-believers to become established in the faith and to take refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha: if he causes his parents who do not observe the precepts to become established in morality; if he causes his miserly parents to become generous so that they come to share their wealth with the poor and the needy; if he causes his ignorant parents to become established in the knowledge of the Four Noble Truths, then such a person repays and more than repays his parents for what they have done for him. (A 11 Para 33-34 quoted at the compendium of Buddhism Guide to Tipitaka p. 121-122.) According to Angostura Nikaya Tika Nipapta, there are three dangers which cannot be shielded by the mother as such old age, disease and death. (A. Para 63)
There is a very important point with regards to mother and father in Matuposaka Sutta of Samyutta Nikaya. A Brahmin of Savatthi visits the Buddha and having told him that he supports his mother with food obtained from begging asks if his action is worthy. The Buddha declares his action to be very good and one, which will bring him birth in heaven. What we can understand from this Sutta is that even monks are allowed to assist their parents by providing food what they’ get begging for alms
Sama, Matuposaka, and Nandiya Jataka shows us how does Bodhisatta assists parents during his cultivation of ten perfection for Buddhahood. After Bodhisatta‘s great Enlightenment, He himself ‘vent to heaven in order to deliver Abhidhamma to His great mother. And also the Buddha in the same manner, spiritually, assisted His father and stepmother, Mahaprajapati Gotami. His great disciple, venerable Sariputta visited his mother and preached Dhamma before his passing away. As revealed in the story of the King Agbo V 111, he looks alter his mother as Buddhist pagoda. The result of the attendance of parents is mentioned in Buddhist scripture.
Yo mãtararn väpitaram vã — Macco dhammena posati
Taya nam paricariyaya — Matãpitusu pandita
Idheva nam pasamsanti — Pecca sagge pamodati
If somebody nourishes his or her parents well providing food and drink, providing medication when they fall ill, helping them when they have some work, they are praised in this world as well as in next existence, One who looks after parents well is shielded from the non-human beings. We can take this story as a example.
Bodhisatta was born in a very poor family in his past life and he looked after his parents doing the work of a labourer’s. One day, the King of Baranase in India, went hunting. While he was hunting, one deer came in front of him and he shot it, hut the deer escaped and pretending to be dead was lying down on the earth. When the King came near the deer ran away and the King chased and killed the deer. So, the King became very tired, Therefore, he lay down under the shadow of the tree on his way back to the palace. Suddenly, he woke up and he got ready to leave for the palace. Yakkha (demon) Makhadeva came down from the tree and told him, “You cannot go back you are my prey.” ‘[he King who was afraid of hearing the demon’s words questioned the Yakkha, “Do you want to eat only today or every day?” Then, Makhadeva said that he would like to eat every day. “If so, today you eat this deer. I shall provide for you a rice parcel together with a man as prey from today onwards.” The Yakkha told him, “If so, now you can go but if you don’t supply as you promised I shall take you on that day.” The King also provided a basket of rice along with one human prey as promised. In due course, the King had a shortage of human prey. Therefore, the King sent a message to the public asking whether there was any man who would wish to become a prey to Yakkkha, Makhadèva. Hearing this message, the Bodhisatta accepted the challenge and took a heap of gold and gave his mother, and went to the King. The King asked the Bodhisatta what do he needed for his journey. So, he said that he needed King’s royal shoes and white umbrella only. The King gave him all the necessary items and he went to the demon, Yakkha Makhadeva
Having approached the shade of the tree where the Yakkha lived, the Bodhisatta wearing the couple of royal shoes of the King holding a white umbrella, and putting a parcel of rice on the sword, stood by the edge of the shadow of the tree. The Bodhisatta gave the Yakkka the parcel of rice.
The cunning Yakkha thought, “Anyhow I want to eat him.” Thinking thus, he asked him to conic in because if some body entered his residence, he has a right to eat him or her. The Bodhisatta knew that so he said, “If you eat me by making me enter your residence cunningly, you are not eating me, but a person who looks after his great Mother, “Sutana”. Then, you won’t get any more rice or human prey for your daily diet. Also you don’t have any right to eat me because I am not in your residential area. If you don’t listen to me, I will split you with my sword.”
Having considered, that what he was saying was the truth, the yakkha permitted him to go hack. After that, the Bodhisatta made him observe the precepts and preached the Dhamma and having brought him to the city made arrangements to provide food daily for him.
If some one does not look after parents well misfortune befalls them. It is mentioned in Vasala sutta (discourse on the outcastes) in Khuddaka Nikaya as below:
“Yo mataram va piataram va— Jinnakam gata yobbanam
Pahusanto na bharati — Tam janna vasalo hoti”
“If somebody, does not treat parents well when they become old, he is an outcaste.
There is an another statement in the Parabhava Sutta in Khuddaka Nikaya (discourse on ruin) as mentioned below:
“Yo mataram va piataram va— Jinnakam gata yobbanam Pahusanto na bharati — Tam parabhavato mukham”
Even if one doesn’t look after parents who have grown old and whose youth is gone, that is the cause of ruin or downfall of a ruining being.