ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 44

Little book of great reverence - Poya feature

By Chandani Kirinde

The world’s smallest book of the Dhamma, the Maha Pirith Potha, a unique concept by the Paramitha Foundation has become a reality in this year of the 2550 Buddha Jayanthi.

The 218-page publication, just one and half inches in length and one and a quarter inches in width, containing all the four sectors of sermons (satara banawara) is placed inside a specially designed casket (karanduwa).

The specially designed karanduwa that holds the Pirith book. Pix by Berty Mendis

The first copy of the Pirith Book was offered to the Dalada Maligawa in the presence of the Asgiriya Maha Nayaka Thera the Venerable Udugama Sri Buddharakkitha Thera and the Diyawadana Nilame Nilanga Dela Bandara on March 14. It came in for high praise from them, according to the Chairman of the Paramitha Foundation Lakshman Attygalle.

It has taken a lot of work to get the book into the perfect form it is today. The book is printed on special paper with special ink, both imported from India. The binding of the pages along with its red outer cover is done by hand. A pirith chanted thread “pirith noola’ is tied around it. “We can guarantee that for the next 50 years, the pages of the book will remain as they are today,” Mr. Attygalle said.

The book has been placed inside the special Karanduwa that was designed by the Foundation. “We met many brassware makers and finally found the person we wanted in D.H. Jayaratna of Gadaladeniya who agreed to design the casket at a reasonable price and also according to the design we wanted,” he said. Once it was decided to print the book, its layout was done by Nalaka Rathnayaka of the Foundation. Initially 2550 copies of the book have been printed and can be obtained from the Foundation.

According to historical records, Pirith which includes four sections (Satara Banawara) of sermons was written on Ola leaves. Buddhists pay great respect to Pirith. On occasions this much venerated book is carried above the head under a canopy indicating the high esteem it deserves.

The world’s smallest book of the Dhamma

Since the presentation of the book to the Dalada Maligawa, the Foundation has presented it to around 25 temples around Colombo. “We want to go to the rural areas and give it to temples in these areas as well,” Mr. Attygalle said.

The news of the launch of such a book has caught the attention of many and there are numerous inquiries including from the Buddhist Viharas in Washington and Georgia in the USA as well as from individuals.

“Our idea is not to just sell a book but to encourage people to read at least one of two stanzas a day. I am a strong believer in the power of pirith and this is what we want to encourage people to do,” Mr. Attygalle said.

More details of the book can be obtained from the website of the Foundation:

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.