Today is the Full Moon Poya Day of Esala in the year 2552 as per the Buddhist Calendar. Poya dawns today at 11.50 a.m. and concludes at 01.28 p.m. tomorrow. The day set apart for the observance of sil is tomorrow.
This Poya Day commemorates Queen Maha Maya, the consort of King Suddhodana, conceiving the future Buddha - Sakyamuni - Siddhartha Gauthama Buddha. It was on such a Poya Day that Prince Siddhartha renounced the world and wandered for six years to find the way out of the universe. It was on this same day that Prince Rahula, the only son of Prince Siddhartha and Princess Yasodara, was born. As per the records in Buddhist history, the Buddha had explained Abhidhamma to Matru Divya Rajava (his mother), in Thavuthisa heaven on a Esala Poya Day.
2632 years ago today, after Full Moon Poya Day of Esala, seven weeks after the Enlightenment, the Sakyamuni Siddhartha Gauthama Buddha went to the deer park of Isipatana in Benares to teach Dhamma to the five ascetics - the panca vagga Bhikkus - his former associates - when he considered them capable of understanding the Dhamma quickly and on noticing their reluctance at first to acknowledge his superiority, he dispelled their doubts, convinced them of his greatness and finally delivered to them the Chammaacakkappavattana Sutta - discourse detailing the salient features of his teachings.
The Buddha explained to the five ascetics - Kondanna, Vappa, Baddiya, Mahanama, And Assaji, the fundamentals of Dhamma. He told them that the two extremes - austerity and luxury - should be avoided. Further he explained to them the root cause of all the sorrow and suffering and the way out, which is the Eightfold Path, the Ariya Attangika Magga-one must follow in one's actions, speech and thoughts.
The intellectual five monks who were closely associated with the Buddha for six years when the ascetic Siddhartha Gauthama was struggling to attain Enlightenment were the only human beings who were present to hear the sermon. It is stated in books that many invisible beings, such as Davas and Brahmas, also took advantage of this opportunity of listening to the discourse.
The Buddha at first cleared the issues and removed the false notions of his hearers. When their troubled minds became pliable and receptive, the Buddha related his personal experience with regard to the two extremes. The Buddha realising the error of the two extremes, followed a middle path which he himself discovered. He termed it Majjima Patipada - the middle way. It is the Noble Eightfold Path. These eight factors are then enumerated in the discourse:
1. Right understanding - Samma Ditthi
2. Right thoughts - Samma Samkappa
3. Right speech - Samma Vaca
4. Right action - Samma kammanta
5. Right livelihood - Samma Ajiva
6. Right effort - Samma Vayama
7. Right mindfulness - Samma Sati
8. Right concentration - Samma Samadhi
Prefacing the discourse with the two extremes and his newly discovered middle way, the Buddha expounded the Four Noble Truths in detail:
1. Noble Truth of Suffering - Dukkha-ariya-sacca:
Birth is suffering.
Decay is suffering.
Disease is suffering.
Death is suffering.
To be united with the unpleasant is suffering.
To be separated from the pleasant is suffering.
Not to get what one desires is suffering, in brief, the five aggregates of attachments are suffering.
According to Buddhism, the individual is composed of five groups. They are:
Rupa - matter
Vedana - feeling
Sanna - perception
Sankara - mental states
Vinnanaya - consciousness
2. Noble Truth of the Cause of Suffering - Dukkha-samudaya-ariya-sacca
It is craving which produces rebirth (ponobhavika), accompanied by passionate clinging, welcoming this and that (life), It is the craving for sensual pleasures (Kamatanha), craving for existence (bhavatanha), craving for non-existence (vibhavatanha).
3. Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering - Dukkha-nirodha-ariya-sacca
It is the complete separation from and destruction of this very craving, its forsaking, renunciation, the liberation there from, and non-attachment thereto.
4. Noble Truth of the Path Leading to the Cessation of Suffering - dukkha-nirodha-gamini-patapada-ariya-sacca.
It is the Noble Eightfold Path.
Hearing the discourse, the Dhammachakkappavattna Sutta, Kondanna, the eldest of the five ascetics, attained the first sotapatti later. On hearing the Anattalakkhana Sutta, all five attained Arahantship. They were the first disciples of the Buddha. The venerable Kondanna became the first Arahanth and the most senior of the Sangha. It was Assaji, one of the five who converted the great Sariputta, the chief disciple of the Buddha.
The Buddha spent three months with these panca vagga Bhikkhus in Isipathanaramaya. It was a rainy season. The observation of Vas by the Maha Sangha during the rainy season was introduced by the Buddha when he, with the band of these five monks, initially participated in the rainy season ,starting from the month of Esala.
Vas merely signifies the cessation from going about begging alms (Pimdapatha) in the rainy weather for monks resident in a definite place; either in a sanctuary of their respective viharas or in a particular abode at the express invitation of the Buddhist laity, providing them with food, robes and other necessities of life. In return for this benevolent gesture, the monks have been told by the Buddha to engage in the practice of meditation (bhavana) referred to as 'Vidharsana Bhavana' and make the laity partake of the merit.