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13th September 1998

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Let's have an efficient Sasana Mandala

A statement by Ven. Madihe Pannaseeha Maha Nayake Thero of the Siri Vajiragnana Dharmayatanaya, Maharagama.

A Buddhist Council was held in Burma to mark Buddha Jayanthi year 2500. In order to conduct the affairs of that Buddhist Council between the years 1954-1956 a Sasana Mandala was established. Both clergy and laity were pleased and encouraged by the achievement of the Buddhist Council, which conducted its affairs most efficiently. But even though it was hoped that a permanent Sasana Mandala would be established, this was not possible because of the fall of the government in power.

One hundred years after the passing away of the Buddha there was an upheaval in the Buddha Sasana due to the activities of the Vajjiputtaka. In order to crush their activities the assistance of the state became essential.

Once the conflict was subdued the Second Buddhists Council was held. By the time of King Dharmasoka, not only had the assistance of the state to be sought, its authority too had to be used. King Dharmasoka used the power of the state to cleanse the Sangha of indiscipline and impropriety. Consequently the Third Buddhist Council consolidated and protected the Buddhist Sasana.

In Sri Lanka too when there were conflicts in the Buddha Sasana, the bhikkus of old held Buddhist Councils and ordained that 'kathikavat' be formulated.

On April 2, 1954 the Buddhist Commission was appointed by the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress to inquire into all matters related to the Buddha Sasana and present a report. In the report presented by the Commission on Feb. 4 1956, it was recommended that a Sasana Mandala be appointed in this country. The Buddhist Commission also presented in 1959 the guidelines under which an Act of Parliament should be drafted.

The aims and purposes of such a Sasana Mandala are as follows:

      1. The protection of the rights of both Buddhist clergy and laity.
      2. Advising the government on all matters pertaining to the Buddha Sasana.
      3. In the past the Kings undertook responsibilities and obligations connected with the Buddha       Sasana. In instances where these responsibilities are not undertaken by modern       governments, those responsibilities to be devolved to the Sasana Mandala.
      4. Those responsibilities, which from time to time, the government is unable to undertake or       fulfill, also to be devolved to the Sasana Mandala.
      5. The creation of unity amongst the Buddhist public.
      6. The organisation of Buddhist practices and rituals.
      7. The carrying out of research in order to meet the problems of the modern world. To mould       Buddhist society and re-establish the proper place due to Buddhism.
      8. Steps to be taken to promote the education of Bhikkus and the improvement of the       knowledge of Buddhism among the Buddhist laity.
      9. Training of young persons so that they could take a lead role in Buddhist affairs.
    10. Assisting Buddhist organisations engaged in religious and social affairs.
    11. Protection of common funds and their proper use.
    12. The maintenance and repair of Buddhist places of worship.
    13. The acceptance of assistance and the establishment of relevant funds.
    14. Improvement of Buddhist art and literature.
    15. The undertaking of all steps to protect the Buddha Sasana.

In order to achieve these noble purposes the following organisations will have to be established.

1. A Supreme Sangha Sabhawa
2. A Sasana Sangamaya
3. An Executive Council

The Sanga Sabhawa will comprise 51 bhikkus and it will take a leading part in all matters connected with the Sangha. The mode of the appointments of these bhikkus is stated in the draft Bill. The Sasana Sangamaya which will comprise 101 members from both the clergy and laity will be divided into eight sub-committees as follows:-

1. Finance
2. Executive Committee of the Sangha.
3. Education and promotion
4. Legal matters
5. Social affairs
6. Vihares and places of worship
7. Common funds
8. Buddhist associations.

The Executive Council which will have heavy responsibilities will comprise 14 members

I believe that the appointment of a Sasana Mandala is very appropriate at the present moment. No other previous government has appointed such an organisation. The Buddhist public looks to the persent government to take this most important step.

(Released by the Dharma Vijaya Foundation)

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