the holy path
The Malwatta Maha Viharaya Upasampada (Higher Ordination)
of samanera (student) monks commenced with Vesak Poya on May 12
and concluded on Poson Poya, which fell on June 11.
Explaining the vinaya rules that should be followed
by a samanera before he seeks Upasampada and the ceremony itself,
Ven. Niyangoda Dharma Kirthi Sri Sangharakshita Vijithasiri Anunayaka
Maha Thera said that the first Upasampada was at the Malwatu Maha
Viharaya on Esala Poya in 1753. This came at a time when there were
no Upasampada Theras in Sri Lanka and Welivita Saranankara Sangharaja
Thera had requested the King of Kandy, Kirthi Sri Rajasinha to invite
a Maha Thera from Siam (now Thailand) to revive Upasampada. The
King of Siam sent a delegation of twenty, headed by Upali Maha Thera
to Sri Lanka, and so the ceremony was held.
During the Buddha’s time there were eight
ways in which Upasampada was conducted, the Anunayake stated. Of
these, the first was Ehi Bhikkhu Upasampada where the Buddha Himself
conferred higher ordination. At present only the eighth, which is
Gnattichatutthasamupasampada is followed.
A samanera has to study at least for seven years
in a pirivena (a school for student monks) or under a Thera in his
temple before he is ready for higher ordination. He may even have
more than one teacher. But at the time of Upasampada, he can have
only one Upadyaya to direct him.
|The samanera with his two Karmacharyas Pix
by Udumbara Udugama
The Bana Potha, the Buddha Dhamma, the Dhammapada
and Gatha have to be memorised, as he will be tested on these at
the time of his Upasampada. He has to learn the Sasanika Charithra,
the Sampradayika Charithra and the Sathara Sanwara Seelaya, stated
the Anunayake Thera.
An Upadyaya (teacher) and two Karmacharyas (they
recite the Karma Vakya) are necessary to conduct an Upasampada.
The samanera has the choice of selecting them. To qualify for higher
ordination, a samanera has to complete 20 years of age. If he is
short of a few months, it is permitted to add up to six months of
his life as a foetus in his mother’s womb to make up 20 years.
When a samanera is ready for higher ordination,
he first informs the Maha Thera in the district where he lives,
who then informs the Secretary of the Sangha Sabha at the Malwatte
Viharaya by letter. The samanera is then requested to send in his
documents such as birth certificate, the name of his teacher, name
of his father, where he studied, etc. If the documents are in order,
he is given a date for his Upasampada.
On the appointed day, the samanera comes to the
Malwatte Maha Vihara with his parents, relatives and people from
his village. He then offers a sheaf of betel wrapped in a silk handkerchief
to his Upadyaya. Thereafter he offers a Dakum Vattiya (a tray with
betel leaves, milk, sugar and other such items) to the Maha Nayake
Thera, Anunayaka Thera and a few selected Maha Theras in the Malwatte
In the morning, the Anunayake Maha Thera tests
the samanera’s knowledge of the Dhamma at length. In the afternoon
he is taken to the Poyage by two Karmacharyas, who conduct the ceremony.
At this stage the samanera is dressed in a thuppottiya (the dress
worn by the Kandyan Nilames or Chieftains, but without the jacket).
He is then considered a lay person. He has neither a name as a layman
nor as an ordained monk. Therefore he is known as Naga.
At this stage in the presence of the Upadyaya,
as a layman he repeats pansil, the five precepts. The Upadyaya gives
him the paatra (begging bowl), depata sivura, thanipota sivura and
andanaya (robes), which he wears and returns to the Seema Malaka
(the consecrated area where the Upasampada is conducted). Again
he goes up to the Upadyaya, who ordains and makes him a monk by
reciting the dasa sil (ten precepts).
In a loud voice, the Karmacharyas question the
samanera in the presence of the Sangha Sabha, which has to consist
of ten or more Maha Theras. If the Sangha Sabha approves the Upasampada,
the Karmacharyas repeat the acceptance three times and the samanera
receives higher ordination. There is an Anusasana by the Upadyaya,
and the Maha Theras chant pirith to complete the ceremony in the
|The Wahala Naga arriving at the Malwatte Maha
Proceeding to the Secretariat which is near the
Poyage, his details are entered in the Sadgeethi Pathraya or Upasampada
Kendraya (a register), that he has to sign. The name of the seema
where it was performed, date, names of the Upadyaya and Karmacharyas
and the new name given to the Thera are entered.
The Anunayaka Thera said that an Upadyaya must
always be a Maha Thera, who has completed ten years of his own Upasampada
(higher ordination). Upasampada can be conducted in the Jala Seema
(Udakukkepa), surrounded by water or Baddha Seema, in a building.
At Malwatte and Asgiriya Maha Vihara, the Siyam or Shiyamopali Nikaya
(Sect) conducts it in the Buddha Seema. The word Shiyamopali is
a combination of the words Siam and Upali to honour the country
and the Maha Thera who came to Sri Lanka to revive Upasampada (Higher
There is no fixed time of the year for this ceremony,
but the Malwatte Maha Viharaya conducts it from Vesak to Poson (May
to June), since after that the Sangha has to retreat for the Vas
Season (rainy season).
From Vesak to Poson, there were five Poya days
and on such days, a selected samanera is named Wahala Naga, who
in addition to the thuppottiya, wears a crown similar to the one
worn by the King of Siam. The Diyawadana Nilame or the Karya Karawana
Korala (officer next to the Diyawadana Nilame) places this crown
on the head of the Wahala Naga at the Dalada Maligawa. This is a
tradition continued from the time of the King, who sponsored a samanera’s
education, robes and all other costs in connection with the ceremony.
At present, the Diyawadana Nilame of the Dalada Maligawa sponsors
the Wahala Naga. He is conducted in a colourful perahera (procession)
on an elephant from the Dalada Maligawa to the Malwattu Maha Viharaya
for his Upasampada. The Maha Nayake Thera is the Upadyaya for the
Last Sunday, June 11, at the conclusion of the
Upasampada for this year, the Secretary of the Sangha Karaka Sabha
stated that 172 samaneras received Higher Ordination.