Dearest Frens @ CAS ( Phuntsok Cho Ling ),
We have tramped off to the holy island of Sri Lanka over Singapore's long-weekend: the National Day holidays.
Even though it spans a mere miserable 4 short days, we managed to cover more than 800 km, from the capital, Colombo to Kandy, then on to Anuradhapura, back to Kandy, off to Mahiyangana, returning to Kandy, then back to Colombo, where we finally flew back to Singapore.
We were slightly wary and concerned about what has sometimes been suggested in the popular media of the somewhat militaristic-nationalistic inclination in the Sri Lankan Buddhist orthodoxy, but, in fact, we were able to listen to, firsthand, THE other side of the story.
This is CAS's second pilgrimage cum mission relief trip to Sri Lanka and from what we can see, Sri Lanka is an amazing country, most of her people extremely devout, gentle, kindly and innocent. The scenery is stunningly breathtaking at many places and the atmosphere is historic, cultural and deeply spiritual.
Not wishing to waste our time in the human realm, we struggled to complete sessions of Tara pujas, Drikung Yangzab practices during the painfully long hours on the roads ... everything, as much as we could, solely for the good of all, the many, for others.
At all the holy sites, we gave ourselves over completely that all which CAS ( CASonline + her education centre ) and Phuntsok Cho Ling have done, may serve the highest good possible, the holy Dharma and all mother sentient beings.
We have not forgotten to pray and dedicate for the long-life of all holy Teachers as well as all of you who have, with so much trust and support, travelled the long road with CAS ( Phuntsok Cho Ling ) since 1995.
Holy Tara bless.
bb & other frens @ happily back from Sri Lanka
"In regions where the supreme, precious teaching has not spread
Or where it has spread but then declined,
May I illumine that treasure of happiness and benefit
With a mind deeply moved by great compassion."
- Lama Je Tsongkhapa
Lord Buddha, transporting through space, arriving at Kelaniya, Sri Lanka, to settle a dispute between two Naga Kings over a precious jewelled throne.
Lord Buddha, being greeted by Maniakkhika, the Naga King of Kelaniya, on His second visit to Kelaniya, with 500 great Arahant disciples, and the attendant deities, shielding Him with a great gilded parasol.
The great stupa of Kelaniya enshrining the great jewelled throne upon which and marking the very spot at which Lord Buddha taught the holy Dharma.
The great, historic temple of Kelaniya, soaring from the ashes after even the Portuguese burnt and razed it to the ground, forbidding any Buddhist adoration of the Buddha for over a century.
The Inner Sanctum, with a gold stupa, containing a precious relic of Lord Buddha.
One of the oldest Bodhi Trees in the world at Kelaniya with thousands of devotees circumambulating daily whilst holding the holy Eight Precepts.
An unending stream of devotion cascading into the temple everyday ...
A fearsome Protector Deity sturdily watching over the temple ....
TEMPLE OF THE TOOTH
The Temple of the Tooth, housing a sacred tooth of Lord Buddha.
Entrance to the Inner Sanctorium with spread of mountains of lotus flowers offered with infinite love and reverence by thousands upon thousands of devotees ....
Imposing ceiling of adjunct temple to the main shrine.
The intricate, meticulous masterpieces of the main temple.
Amazing craftsmanship, as befitting the holy shrine !
Magnificent facade of an appendixed temple ....
The Princess of Kalinga, arriving in Sri Lanka with the holy Tooth of Lord Buddha, hidden in her diadem.
The solid gold stupa encasing the holy tooth of Lord Buddha.
An exquisite Buddha in another supplementary temple.
The great tusker, Raja, who carried the tooth of Lord Buddha for well over half a century. His apparent insight into the magnitude of his duty is legendary.
Kandy Lake, the pool of nectar, swirling as an eternal offering beside the temple.
Two arches of spectacular rainbows painted right over the holy temple in the evening although no single drop of rain had fallen for the whole day.
Light rain has also been known to sprinkle right over the temple, neatly delineating off at the temple's boundaries.
The literally thousands of devotees who throng the temple, holding the Eight Precepts, praying in front of it well into the night ...
For villages from the impoverished countryside, this is their once-a-lifetime pilgrimage and culmination of years of frugal savings and sacrifice.
The holy monastery where the Pali Tipitaka is first committed to writing.
Depiction of the great convention with assemblies of arahants and elders ...
Breath-taking view from the highest point of Alu Vihara.
The ancient, holy stupa crowning Alu Vihara.
The 4th century stupa is the largest brick structure in the world, after the Great Wall of China, as well as being the third largest structure of the ancient world, after the Egyptian pyramids.
A clay pot containing the Mahayana "Prajna Paramita Sutra" written on sheets of pure gold was found recently during renovation.
A Protector still on guard over the stupa.
The most venerated of stupas in Sri Lanka, sometimes simply called "The Great Stupa".
Mystical exaltation to The Great Stupa.
The very sacred Thuparama Stupa is the first stupa in Sri Lanka, enshrining the right collar bone of Lord Buddha.
SRI MAHA BODHI
The Sri Maha Bodhi is the world's oldest documented tree and is the direct offspring of the Bodhi Tree in Bodhigaya, India.
While the "original" Bodhi Tree in India has been desecrated a few times in the past, the Sri Maha Bodhi has been kept relatively unperturbed and protected throughout the milleniums.
This is, in fact, the most venerated object of devotion in the whole of Anuradhapura.
Built in the 1st century BCE, the stupa enshrines a stone on which Lord Buddha has left His footprint.
When the ancient Chinese monk-pilgrim-scholar Fa Hsien saw the stupa during the fifth century, the stupa was "covered with gold and jewels" and its attendant monasteries housed tens of thousands of monks who were famed for their learning and purity of practice.
The "Saman Devale", sometimes correlated to the Mahayana Bodhisattva Samantabhadra, lodged beside the holy stupa.
Lord Buddha, forseeing that the island of Lanka shall be the bastion of the holy Dhamma for 5,000 years, transported Himself to Mahiyangana, emitting fiery flames from His body in order to dispel and subdue the Yakshas then inhabiting the island.
The great stupa of Mahiyangana enshrining strands of hair and relics of Lord Buddha within a golden urn, this, again, inside a small blue sapphire stupa, externally protected by the mounds of white-washed walls of the great stupa externally.
The stupa marks the very spot where Lord Buddha manifested the great miracles over the yakshas.
MISSION RELIEF -
Fantastically fat luggages with belly full of 300 over Paracetamols, 100 over Antacids, tubes of anti-bacterial creams, anti-fungal creams, toothbrushes, lozenges, Salonpasses, balms, vitamins, Danzen pills, Lectose pills, children's paracetamol, cough mixtures, exercise books, full-scap papers, hundreds of pens and pencils, London Choco-Rolls, bars of Snickers, Uncle Tobys, chocolates, candies, a few hundred incenses and so on and on .... all generously bought and donated contributed by so many of you @ CAS ( Phuntsok Cho Ling ) who have given to CAS's "Dharma Propagation Fund".
It was a shock when all were finally assembled the night before take-off ...
How potentially life-saving they could be and how potentially excruciating it would be to get past the airplane weighing machines !!
We landed at this village school of 800 over students near Anuradhapura.
The distribution begins with our first class of pupils who stayed back for supplementary classes !!
Fat wads of cash could never buy these sunny, beautiful squeals of delight from the children ....
A typical classroom which is later to hold our "goods", locked up by a conscientious teacher.
The primary section ofthe school ...
The washroom is to the right and the entire class of boys gleefully escorted us to them wherein we found a grey-tailed squirrel which scurried off before we could grope for the camera.
Families of beggars, widows or simply homeless who lived around the Mahiyangana Stupa, to whom we dispensed the best possible medical items we brought along, some of whom we helped to clean horribly infected wounds ....
The lady in the middle has just lost her husband a few months ago and she is still in deep grief and shock, struggling with her 3 young children.
The one-legged old man to the right rode from far on his home-improvised bicycle when he heard from other needy people that a group of strange humans were giving out free medicine and help ...
There were of course much sweat and tears and now they still live somewhere in our hearts and also with Mother Tara.
And, so, the Seers sing of me as Tara;
the Saviouress; the Hearer of cries of the world ...
"Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha !!"
tELL A fRIEND
"KNOW DHARMA; SHARE DHARMA !!"
Be part of our thousand++ "Friends @ CAS" ( that belongs to Chenrezig & other holy beings )
"I wanna number my days in samsara. sUBSCRIBE mE NOW !!"
See www.casotac.com ( available 24 hrs a day / 7 days a week )
CASonline - Your Buddhist online news and teachings.
( All online articles lovingly archived at http://www.casotac.com/casonline.htm )