About Bandula Monestary

Among the many ancient monasteries in Mrauk-U, Bandula Monastery, which is situated in the south-western part of Mrauk-U, received more recognition as it pays homage to a Sanda Muni bronze Buddha image cast during the Dhannywadi dynasty as well as a Buddhas’s tooth relic.

Bandula Monastery has a rich cultural heritage and houses a special exhibition hall that stores historical artefacts such as Buddha images, human sculptures, royal items and coins from various Rakhine dynasties, as well as Buddha images, Buddha relics and Arahat relics that past Kings have paid homage to in the palace. Some of the other Buddha relics were donated or sold to the late Abbot by people who found them from old stupas. There is also a row of 6 intricately crafted gold Buddha images from the Wesali dynasty (327AD to 828AD). Believed to be the smallest in the world, these images can only be seen clearly under a magnifying glass. The Buddha images from left to right, or past to future, consist of: Taekm Muni, Katku Than Buddha, Kawnaga Mana Buddha, Kasapa Buddha, Sakyamuni Buddha and Maitreya Buddha. Precious as these artefacts may be, most are stored in squalid glass cabinets, except for the Buddha tooth relic which is stored in a safety box. These cabinets are all congested in an ancient wooden structure with insufficient lighting. Should there be fire or theft, the consequences are unimaginable.

There is a story behind Bandula Hill, the hill on which Bandula Monastery is situated on and from which the name is derived. It was said that when King Min Saw Mon founded the Mrauk-U dynasty in AD1433, he wanted to prevent Mrauk-U from attacks and so he sought advice pertaining to the design and planning of the city. He subsequently constructed five stupas and eight shrines within the town and its vicinity, as well as ten guardian Yakshas surrounding the town. There was a Yaksa by the name of Bandula situated on a particular hill and so the hill was named as Bandula Hill.

Story of the Sanda Muni Image

King Sanda Suriya, who assumed the throne in BC580 was the first King of the third Dhannywadi dynasty. During his reign in BC554, Buddha brought 500 Arahats to this land to preach the Dharma to the King and the people.

When Buddha was about to return, King Sanda Suriya requested Buddha to leave behind a resemblance of his image for people to pay homage to. Buddha agreed. King Sanda Suriya thus consolidated all the gold, silver, bronze, metal and other jewellery in the country and made a big Buddha image out of them. This Buddha image came to be known as Maha Muni Buddha image. The remaining materials were made into three smaller Buddhas known as Shinkyaw Muni, Shwebontha Muni and Manaungmyin Muni. Finally, the King hid all the remaining materials under the Maha Muni Buddha image.

When the sixth King of the Dhannywadi dynasty, King Suriya Sakka, assumed the throne in 316, King Asoka gave him some Buddha relics and a Buddha image made after a similar one paid homage to in the celestial realm. The latter is named as Sula Muni. The overjoyed King presented King Asoka with a Buddha image made in resemblance to the Maha Muni Buddha image.

King Suriya Sakka was extremely interested in Sula Muni. He used the remaining materials which King Sanda Suriya hid under the Maha Muni Buddha image to build five Buddha images, in resemblance to the Sula Muni image. These five Buddha images were named as Sanda Muni, Tekka Muni, Tekwa Muni, Yaza Muni and Sula Muni. These collectively came to be known as Mahajan Buddha images (jan: remaining).

These five Buddha images were paid homage to on Debababeta Hill, located close to Mrauk-U. They have been through the Dhannywadi, Vesali and Lemro dynasties.

In the year 1430, King Min Saw Mon of the Mrauk-U dynasty sent one of the five images -- the Sanda Muni image -- to Barbu Hill in Mrauk-U and constructed a stupa there to pay homage to the image.

The Sanda Muni image was eventually moved to the refurbished Ordination Hall in Banduala Monastery. King Bodawpaya, son of King Alaung Paya, subsequently conquered Rakhine in 1784AD and stole this Sanda Muni image together with other Buddha images.

The Sanda Muni image was actually made of gold, silver, tin, copper and zinc but the entire image was coated with a layer of plaster to prevent the British from using these metals to make weapons during the 1st Anglo-Burmese war in 1824 where the British controlled the Western part of Myanmar (including Mrauk-U). Rakhines hid the Sanda Muni image for about 10 years by submerging it in the “Wa” lake at the foot of Barbu Hill. When community peace was restored, the Rakhines pulled out the image, had it cemented over and gilted it. Then it was placed among other images standing in the sima, making it look like an ordinary marble statue. The responsible people protected this secret; after many years the whereabouts of Sanda Muni image became almost unknown. It was only uncovered in 1988 by the late Abbot, Ven. Sakapala.

When the gilt mortar covering of the image was removed, some damage, particularly to the back of the head, ears, some fingers and covering were seen. A Committee for Repair and Renovation of the image was duly formed. It repaired and renovated the image, using gold, silver and bronze donated by well-wishers.

Due to the skills of the bronzesmiths, the Sanda Muni image was restored to its former shining and magnificent state, ready for more veneration by one and all.

Later, even more noteworthy features of the image were claimed: shades of holy water lilies are observed on the breast; day by day, changes in the colour of the image are observed such as that of bronze, gold, white or dark These claims were made by members of the board of trustees, caretakers or pilgrims from near and afar. As such, the image was presumed to have not only “reappeared” but also brought forth more glorious power. It was said that the Sanda Muni image displays a unique characteristic. Whenever an important event is about to happen, the right eye of the image will become red in colour.

Story of the Buddha’s Tooth Relic

From AD1501 to 1513, King Min Yaza sent a Buddhist missionary group to Sri Lanka to assist in some problems which have arose in the development of Buddhism over there. The delegation consisted of twenty Sanghas and a troop led by his Crown Prince Min Bar Gyi. When they restored the position and dignity of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan King decided to bestow a Buddha tooth relic worshipped on Wanabaya Hill to the leading Sangha in the delegation as a gesture of gratitude. This Buddha tooth relic came from a reputable Sangha named Dhammika who obtained the relic during the cremation of Buddha using his superpowers.

When he returned to Rakhine, Min Bar Gyi constructed a Pagoda on Wathula Hill to pay homage to the Buddha tooth relic. When he assumed the throne in AD1531, he then sent the Buddha tooth relic to the palace. In AD1593, King Min Raza Gyi, the grandson of Min Bar Gyi, enshrined it in Anddaw Thein (Ordination Hall), one of the ancient stupas to the north of Shittaung Pagoda, in 1598 AD.

When the Mrauk-U dynasty came to an end in AD1748, the royal line was cut off and the stupas and other architecture buildings, like the country, fell into neglect.

The Buddha tooth relic was subsequently found by an Indian Muslim living in the nearby village while he was looting for treasures. He also took away two small diamond Buddha images and some precious jewels. The angry villagers found their way to his residence and his wife, in panic, threw the bag containing the treasures out of the window. People subsequently found the Buddha tooth relic and Buddha images glittering amidst some dense pineapple trees. For safety reasons, people decided to send the Buddha tooth relic and Buddha images to Phayabaw Monastery where the Abbot could look after it. Upon the demise of the Abbot, people again sent the Buddha tooth relic to LawkaManaung Pagoda located in the east, whilst the Buddha images stayed in Phayabaw Monastery. Later, the Buddha tooth relic is sent to a shrine at the bottom of Hari Hill which was located to the north of the palace. For 42 years, the Buddha tooth relic was constantly relocated.

In 1900, when the Buddha tooth relic went for its annual procession around the town for people to pay homage to, a bridge named Nyuanbinzay collapsed under the weight of the procession team and the tooth relic was lost after people saw a glowing light and heard a loud noise. A persistent medical practitioner by the name of U Thet-ka-phyu finally found it among the grass near a small hill by the name of Yat-ka. He then took it back home to pay homage to.

In the meantime, there were some disputes between villagers from opposite sides of Nyuanbinzay bridge over the custodianship of the Buddha tooth relic. This matter was brought up to court and subsequently to the British Royal Court, where it was decided that the village who found the Buddha tooth relic will be given custodianship of it.

Subsequently, people brought the Buddha tooth relic to Abbot U Pandissa of Bandula Monaster, who invited three goldsmiths in 1949 to construct a small stupa measuring 13 feet to hold the Buddha tooth relic. This stupa is made from over 600g of gold, 2160g of silver, one diamond and 141 gems. The Buddha tooth relic was subsequently transferred to the present third generation, Ven. Sakapala, who passed away in 2002.

Abbots of Bandula Monastery

Bandula Monastery was founded by Bhaddanta Punna, who had sila-morality and concentration and kept to the Vinaya disciplinary rules. He first resided at Pakham Monastery, then moved to Padommar (now Bandula) Hill to live alone as a forest-dwelling monk. Later his disciples built a small bamboo monastery for him. In 1887, under the initiative of goldsmith U Tha Baw and other donors of Taung-yat village, a big monastery named Bandula Monastery was built for the monk. An Ordination hall to house Buddha images was subsequently built and it came to be known as Payamaya Sima or Padamya Sima. Ven. Punna passed away at the age of 75.

His disciple Ven. Pandicca took over the duties of the presiding monk. Named Oo Maung Mya, he received his education under the Abbot of Bandula Monastery. While studying at Than Kyaung of Sittwe, he was ordained as a bhikkhu. He learnt the Scriptures at Mandalay, Pakokku, etc and Sanskrit and Pali in India and Ceylon. He had also visited Bodhigaya. Being a prominent mahathera of Mahadvara sect when sangha organisations at different levels were formed, he was allowed to serve as a State Ovadacariya Sayadaw. He was awarded the “Aggamahapandita” title in 1983. Another historic Buddhist event also took place under his leadership. The Sanda Muni image which had lain hidden as a marble statue in the Ordination Hall for so many years was rendered possible to “reappear” in its polished and shining state to receive public veneration, thanks to the efforts of his junior bhikkhu, Ven Sakapala, who subsequently became the next Abbot. When Ven Sakapala was sweeping the floor among the Buddha images, he noticed a broken-off eye-object in front of the throne on which the “marble” Sanda Muni image stood. On closer inspection, he found that it was indeed a bronze image. When this image was uncovered, the news spread and multitudes of people came to pay homage to it.

When Ven Pandicca passed away at the age of 93 on 1990, Ven. Badanda Sakapala took over and became the third Head Monk. Initiated at the age of 14, he proceeded to do his studies at big monastic learning centres of Yangon, Mandalay and Wakema. Later he was given the duties of Nayaka-executive (Mahadvara Sect) at different levels of sangha organisations and was a member of the Central Working Committee of Sangha. He also went abroad on Buddhist missions in 1978 to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) including regions where many Buddhists lived. His sect, the Maha Dawra Nikaya, of which he is the Chairman, is the biggest in this region. From 1988 onwards, Ven. Sakapala began collecting Buddha relics, arahat relics, ancient Buddha images with different mudras and arahat images, based on his faith and experience. As explained above, a sort of musuem has also been constructed in Bandula Monastery to house these religious objects for all to venerate. In recognition of his endeavours he was awarded the title of “Mahasaddhammajotikadhaja” by the State in 2002. Based on observation and experiences gained by visits to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, Ven Sakapala continued to endeavour for the preservation of Buddhist heritage objects systematically at Bandula Monastery. He had coordinated and tried to form an ovadacariya committee for his musuem-building. Having worked in Bandula Monastery for 11 years, he passed away in 2002 when the second Sutra Recitation Chamber was still under construction. Ven Sakapala had remained a true successor to his former elder bhikkhus, who had initiated the commendable collection and preservation work connected with the Sasana. He had also rendered the Bandula Monastery well-known locally as well as internationally. He had achieved the basic work needed for emergence of a musuem-building at Bandula Monastery. It is indeed a significant milestone.

Ven Fazhao appreciated all the efforts of Ven Sakapala. Hence, he donated 5,000,000 Kyats or S$10,000 for construction of the Gandhakuti Chamber to house the Sanda Muni image. There was a welcome ceremony for the missionary group held in this Chamber in which a total sum of 737,000 Kyats or S$1,474 was donated. Ven Fazhao also invited Ven Sakapala to for the Singapore Buddha Tooth Relic Exhibition before he passed away. Ven Fazhao further donated 40,000,000 Kyats or S$80,000 for construction of a musuem where Ven Sakapala’s collection of religious objects could be exhibited, to be sited at the entrance of Bandula Monastery.

Funeral Ceremony of the late Abbot

The entire funeral ceremony of the late Ven Sakapala was an interesting event to witness, filled with much pomp and celebration instead of the usual tears and sadness. Burmese believe that the death of a Venerable is a joyous event as this signifies the breaking free of suffering and his progress towards Nirvana.

When the missionary group went to Bandula Monastery for the first time, a group of female villagers, dressed beautifully in their ethnic costumes, were performing a Rakhine dance for the the late Ven Sakapala, whose body was placed in a box above. In Myanmar, different ethnic groups have different ways to commemorate the demise of Sanghas. Some sing to praise the late Sangha’s merits.

This was followed by a funeral procession which is also known as Phongri Byan Pwe (Phongri: Monk, Byan: Death, Pwe: Festival). The order of the procession, starting from the front, goes thus:

  1. Board of Trustees holding Sasana flag;
  2. Rakhine drummers;
  3. Young monks from various monasteries;
  4. Board of trustees with senior monks of Bandula Monastery. Some trustees were in a car with the portrait of the late Abbot in front and yellow umbrellas on the car. Those who were not in the car were holding the plague. All monks were in the car;
  5. Older monks from various monasteries in a car;
  6. Board of trustees;
  7. Car containing the body of the late Abbot. Pulled by women, some were from the Board of Trustees. Some were pulling from the front, some were pulling from behind. It represented the conflicting wishes to let Abbot go yet not bearing to part with him.

This procession went round the town once for villagers to pay their last respects. Refreshments were served along the way.

The completion of the procession marked the beginning of a pompous carnival, something which was considered quite rare in a quiet town in Mrauk-U. Held in a soccer field, there were food, games and entertainment. The entire carnival was filled with an exciting atmosphere and the hustle-and-bustle of villagers.

The songs and dances performed during the carnival were meant to praise the late Abbot so that he would be well remembered. The same rationale applied for the overnight drama performance on stage consisting of songs, dance and jokes.

There was also a dance competition meant to achieve a carnival effect. The dancers were supposed to dance with the coffin inside the hut but there were too many groups so it was not possible. It was basically a Rakhine dance where the participants (divided into groups along the line of gender) danced until late at night and danced again in the morning after resting. People offered money for their performances.

However, amidst the excitement, in a corner, a group of people, dressed in colourful Rakhine costumes and with heavy make-up, were crying as they rocked the Abbot’s coffin in an emerald cradle, signifying their last respects and honour to a teacher, his past deeds and experiences. The swing of the cradle was done in conjunction with the songs and dances performed and is considered the highest contribution made by laymen, even more respectful than clasped hands.

When the carnival came to an end, it was time for the late Abbot to be cremated. Sanghas from other monasteries were present to take charge of the cremation ceremony.

There were four structures at an end of the field which served as the cremation center. Abbot’s coffin would move from one structure to another before moving to the main structure to be cremated. The names of the structures, from left to right, were as follows: Sanyar, San Chein, Laung Taik (also the main structure; Laung: going to be burnt, Taik: place) and Than Kyaung. The 3 structures towards the right were donated by Golden Pagoda Buddhist Temple. Songs and dances would be performed around these structures, such as a doon (rocket) dance performed out of happiness and the desire to pay respects.

During the cremation ceremony, anyone could purchase a doon at 500 Kyats or S$1 which would be ignited and shot towards the main structure, as the highest form of last respects towards the Abbot. This process is known as doon taik pwe (taik: to fire, pwe: ceremony).

Bibliography & Websites

Bibliography:

  1. Report on Golden Pagoda Buddhist Temple Myanmar Missionary Tour, 10th March 2003 to 9th April 2003, Submitted by: Jason Chiew & Lee Wai Leng, Vaidurya Media House
  2. Myar Aung; Ah Lonn Maung trans. Famous Monuments of Mrauk-U. Yangon: U Kyaw Hin, 2007
  3. U Shwe Zan. The Golden Mrauk-U: an Ancient Capital of Rakhine. Yangon: U Shwe Zan, 1994
  4. Tun Shwe Khine. A Guide to Mrauk-U, an Ancient City of Rakhine, Myanmar. Yangon: U Tun Shwe, 1993
  5. Gutman, Pamela. Burma’s Lost Kingdoms. Orchid Press, 2001, ISBN 974-8304-98-1, pages 73 – 162, map: pages 76 – 77

Websites:

  1. Mrauk U – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  2. DPS Online Myanmar – Burma Map : Mrauk U Map (Mrauk Oo Map) – The Map of Mrauk_U, Myanmar (Burma)
  3. File:Map of Mrauk U.jpg – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  4. What to see around remote Mrauk U in Myanmar | Travels With Sheila
  5. Sanda Muni Pagoda – Where to visit – Myanmar Travel Information
  6. Arakan Eagle: May 2011
  7. Rakhine State: Andawthein Pagoda AD 1596

般陀喇佛寺

缅甸妙务有许多古老的佛寺,位于妙务西南部的般陀喇佛寺(Bandula Monastery)是广为人知的一座。这里供奉着著名的Sanda Muni铜佛,以及一颗珍贵的佛牙舍利。

般陀喇佛寺拥有丰富的文化遗产,寺中设有展览厅,收藏了许多历史文物,包括佛像、经书、皇家物品、若开(Rakhine)历代王朝的钱币,以及历代帝王供奉于皇宫中的佛像、佛陀舍利及罗汉舍利等等。有些舍利是人们在古老的佛塔中发现后,捐赠或售卖给般陀喇佛寺的前任主持的。这里也有6尊Wesali王朝时期(公元327至828年)的黄金佛像,据说是世界上最小的佛像,只能在放大镜下才看得清楚,但雕工非常精致。这六尊佛像代表了过去到未来的六佛,那就是Taekm Muni佛, Katku Than佛, Kawnaga Mana佛, 迦叶佛(Kasapa Buddha), 释迦牟尼佛( Sakyamuni Buddha) 和弥勒佛( Maitreya Buddha)。这些文物虽然珍贵,却只能摆放在简陋的玻璃柜中,只有佛牙舍利收藏在保险箱里。这些橱柜都挤在一间昏暗的古老木房子里。一旦发生火患或盗窃,后果是难以想象的。

般陀喇佛寺坐落于般陀喇山上。传说国王Min Saw Mon于公元1433年建立妙务王朝时,希望王朝能够免于侵略,因此在都城的设计和规划上征询了不少意见。后来,国王在都城内和周围地区建造了五座佛塔和八座寺院,并立了十尊夜叉像环绕都城,作为都城的守护神。其中一尊名为般陀喇,而般陀喇像所在的山丘,也就被称为般陀喇山。

佛像的故事

Sanda Suriya国王于公元前580年即位,是第三个Dhannywadi王朝的第一位国王。他在位的公元前554年,佛陀带领500罗汉来到其国土,向国王及人民宣说佛法。

佛陀临走前,国王恳请佛陀留下一尊佛像,供人们供奉。佛陀答应了。于是,国王搜集了国内所能找到的金、银、铜、其他金属和珠宝,打造了一尊大佛。这尊大佛就是著名的摩诃牟尼(Maha Muni)佛像。余下的材料用来制造成三尊较小的佛像,分别为Shinkyaw Muni佛, Shwebontha Muni佛 和 Manaungmyin Muni佛。最后,国王把剩余的材料收藏在摩诃牟尼佛像之下。

Dhannywadi 王朝的第六位国王Suriya Sakka于公元316年即位。国王登基后,阿育王送给他一些佛陀舍利,以及一尊佛像。这尊佛像传说是根据供奉于天界的另一尊佛像制造而成,名为Sula Muni。Suriya Sakka国王非常高兴,并且回赠阿育王一尊模仿摩诃牟尼佛雕塑而成的佛像。

Suriya Sakka国王对Sula Muni十分珍爱。他利用Sanda Suriya藏在摩诃牟尼佛像下的材料造了五尊与Sula Muni相似的佛像。这五尊佛像分别名为Sanda Muni、Tekka Muni、 Tekwa Muni、 Yaza Muni and Sula Muni,也被合称为Mahajan佛像(jan: 剩余)。

这五尊佛像供奉在靠近妙务的Debababeta 山上,历经了Dhannywadi、 Vesali 和Lemro 三个朝代。

公元1430年,妙务王朝的Min Saw Mon王把其中一尊佛像,也就是Sanda Muni佛像移到妙务的Barbu山,在那里盖了一座佛塔供奉佛像。

后来,Sanda Muni佛像又被移到般陀喇寺重新修建的大殿中。Alaung Paya王的儿子Bodawpaya王于公元1784年占领了若开v,盗走了Sanda Muni及其他佛像。

Sanda Muni佛像原本以金、银、锡、红铜和锌打造而成。1824年,第一次英缅战争在英国人控制的缅甸西部(包括妙务在内)爆发。为了避免佛像的材料被英军用来制作武器,若开的人们为Sanda Muni佛像裹上一层石膏,并把佛像沉到Barbu山脚下的Wa湖里长达10年。局势平静后,若开人把佛像捞上来,再铸上一层石灰,并镀以黄金,然后将佛像同其他佛像一起放置在佛寺的戒堂(sima)中,让佛像看起来和一般的大理石像一样。负责制造佛像的人们一直保守这个秘密,多年后几乎没有人知道Sanda Muni佛像的下落。直到1988年,般陀喇佛寺的前任主持舍葛帕喇大和尚才发现了这尊佛像。

当Sanda Muni佛像的镀金石灰外层被去掉后,人们发现佛像有多处损伤的痕迹,尤其是头部后侧、耳朵、一些手指和身体的遮盖物等部分。佛寺成立了一个维修委员会,用信众捐出的金、银和铜重新修复了这尊珍贵的佛像。

工匠的精湛手艺使得Sanda Muni回复了昔日的光芒与庄严面貌,得以再度受到人们的供奉。

随后,佛像出现了许多不可思议的现象:人们见到佛像胸前有莲花的影子,佛像的颜色每天也会变化,呈现铜色、金色、白色或深色。信托委员会的成员、寺院管理人员和众多信众都宣称亲眼目睹这些现象。人们相信,佛像不只重现人间,而且产生更为强大而独特的力量。据说,每当有重大事件即将发生,佛像的右眼甚至会变成红色。

佛牙舍利的故事

公元1501年到1513年之间,Min Yaza王派遣一批特使前往锡兰,协助解决当地佛教发展出现的一些问题。这支队伍由20名僧侣及太子Min Bar Gyi率领的一支军队组成。在他们的协助下,佛教得以在锡兰重建其地位及声威。为了表达谢意,锡兰国王决定将Wanabaya山上供奉的佛牙舍利赠予带领使节团的僧人。据说,这颗佛牙舍利是圣僧Dhammika在佛陀火化时,利用神通获得的舍利。

回到若开后,Min Bar Gyi太子在Wathula山上造了一座佛塔供奉佛牙舍利。当他于公元1531年即位时,他把佛牙迎入皇宫中供奉。公元1593年,其孙子Min Raza Gyi王把佛牙舍利供奉于八万尊佛像塔(Shittaung Pagoda)以北的其中一座古佛塔——安都定塔(Anddaw Thein) 中。

公元1748年,妙务王朝灭亡。境内的佛塔与其它建筑也随着王朝的终结而逐渐荒废。

后来,住在佛塔附近村庄的一名印裔回教徒在企图盗窃佛塔中的宝藏时,发现了这颗佛牙舍利。他也取走了两尊小型的钻石佛像和一些珠宝。愤怒的村民找上了他的住家,小偷的妻子惊慌之下把装着宝物的包袱扔出窗外。人们后来在一片凤梨田中发现散落一地的舍利和宝物。为了安全起见,人们把舍利和宝物送到Phayabaw佛寺交给住持保管。住持圆寂后,人们把珍宝留在该寺,佛牙舍利则送到东部的LawkaManaung塔中收藏。过后,佛牙舍利又被移到皇宫北部的Hari山下一座寺院。随后的42年,佛牙舍利一直被迁往不同的地点。

1900年,一年一度的佛牙舍利绕城游行再度举行。当佛牙舍利的游行队伍经过一座名为Nyuanbinzay的桥梁时,桥身因为承受不了重量而坍塌。人们在一道光亮和一阵巨响之后,发现佛牙舍利失去了踪影。一位名叫U Thet-ka-phyu的医生契而不舍地寻找舍利,后来终于在Yat-ka山附近的草丛中发现了佛牙舍利,并把舍利带回家中供奉。

这时,Nyuanbinzay桥两岸的村庄为佛牙舍利的监护权发生了争执。争执被带上法院,后来甚至被带到英国皇家法院。法院裁定,发现佛牙舍利的村庄拥有监护权。

之后,人们将佛陀舍利交托给般陀喇佛寺的住持U Pandissa。住持在1949年请来三位金匠,盖了一座13尺的小佛塔供奉佛牙舍利。佛塔由600克黄金、2160克银、1颗钻石和141颗宝石制成。佛牙舍利后来传了三代,最后一代为2002年圆寂的舍葛帕喇大和尚(Ven. Sakapala)。

般陀喇佛寺历任住持

般陀喇佛寺的创立人是Punna尊者(Bhaddanta Punna),是一位慈悲、精进并严格遵守戒律的高僧。他最初居于Pakham佛寺,后来迁移到Padommar山(即今天的般陀喇山)的丛林中隐居。他的弟子用竹子为他盖了一座小道场。1887年,金匠U Tha Baw和Taung-yat村的信众合力为Punna尊者建了一座规模较大的道场,取名般陀喇佛寺。随后,佛寺增建了一座戒堂,取名Payamaya Sima 或Padamya Sima,作为供奉佛像之用。Punna尊者于75岁圆寂。

法师圆寂后,其弟子Pandicca法师接任住持的职务。Pandicca法师俗名Oo Maung Mya,受教于Punna尊者。他在缅甸实兑的Than Kyaung法师处学习时,受戒为比丘。他在曼德勒和帕克库等地研习佛经,在印度和锡兰研习梵文和巴利文。他也曾参访菩提迦耶。法师是Mahadvara 部派的长老(mahathera),并被委任为国家导师长老(State Ovadacariya Sayadaw)。1983年,他获颁“第一大智者”(Aggamahapandita)封号,深具历史意义。法师任住持期间也发生了一件佛教史上的重要事件。其弟子,也就是后来的住持舍葛帕喇法师(Ven. Sakapala),发现了Sanda Muni佛像原有的面貌。有一次,舍葛帕喇法师在供奉佛像的戒堂中扫地时,发现当时还是一尊石像的SandaMuni佛像座前掉落一片看起来象眼睛的碎片。仔细观察后,他发现原来佛像的石灰中竟包裹着一尊铜佛,也因此发现了Sanda Muni佛像。消息传开后,信众纷纷涌到佛寺瞻仰这尊消失已久的佛像。

Pandicca法师于1990年圆寂,享年93岁。舍葛帕喇法师接任成为第三任住持。他14岁出家,曾在仰光、曼德勒和瓦溪码等各大寺院中研习。后来,他受委负责在多个僧团中Mahadvara 部派的 “大导师执行委员”(Nayaka-executive)职务,也是僧伽中央工作委员会(Central Working Committee of Sangha)的成员。1978年,他前往东巴基斯坦(今天的孟加拉)许多地区,包括佛教徒聚居的地方弘法。他所领导的Maha Dawra Nikaya教派也成为当地最大的教派。1988年起,舍葛帕喇法师开始根据他的信仰和经验搜集佛陀舍利、阿罗汉舍利、不同手印的古老佛像和阿罗汉像。如上所述,般陀喇寺中设立了一处类似博物馆的地方收藏这些宗教文物,供信众瞻仰。2002年,缅甸政府颁发“Mahasaddhammajotikadhaja”封号予法师,以肯定他维护佛教付出的努力。舍葛帕喇法师根据参访新加坡、马来西亚和泰国的观察和经验,继续在般陀喇寺有系统地进行佛教文物的维护工作。他曾经尝试协调和成立一个委员会,以进行建设博物馆的工作。担任住持11年后,法师于2002年在寺院第二座诵经堂建设中途逝世。舍葛帕喇法师可说是前任长老的真正继承者,他开始了对重要佛教文物的搜集和维护的工作,也让般陀喇寺享誉海内外。他也为般陀喇寺的博物馆建设工作打下了基础,为该寺的发展树立了一个重要的里程碑。

法照法师非常赞赏和支持舍葛帕喇法师的努力。他捐出500万缅元(相等于1万新元),资助建设供奉Sanda Muni佛像的佛堂Gandhakuti Chamber。佛堂为法师带领的参观团举行了一场欢迎仪式,仪式上参观团也捐出73万7千缅元(相等于1474新元)。舍葛帕喇法师过世之前,法照法师也邀请他前往新加坡参观佛牙舍利暨佛教文物精粹展。之后,法照法师再度捐出4千万缅元(相等于8万新元),资助般陀喇寺设立一所博物馆,以展出舍葛帕喇法师的佛教文物收藏。

舍葛帕喇法师的葬礼

舍葛帕喇法师的葬礼没有眼泪和悲伤,而是一场盛大的庆祝会。缅甸人相信,法师的逝世代表法师脱离人间的痛苦证得涅磐,因此是值得庆贺的大事。

当新加坡代表团抵达般陀喇寺时,当地村庄妇女穿着民族服装,在已故舍葛帕喇法师的棺木前呈现传统的若开族舞蹈表演。在缅甸,不同的民族用不同的方式纪念僧侣的逝世。有些民族就以歌唱歌颂已故僧侣的功德。

紧接着的节目是送葬队伍的游行,缅语称为Phongri Byan Pwe(Phongri:僧人;Byan:去世;Pwe:庆典)。游行队伍依序由以下人士组成:

  1. 手持佛旗的信托委员会成员;
  2. 若开族鼓手;
  3. 各寺院的年轻僧侣;
  4. 般陀喇寺信托委员会,包括辈分较高的僧侣。有些委员乘坐挂有已故舍葛帕喇法师遗照、插着黄色雨伞的汽车;其他则步行并手持牌匾。所有僧侣都乘坐汽车;
  5. 各寺院的年长僧侣共乘一辆汽车;
  6. 其他信托委员会成员;
  7. 载着已故舍葛帕喇法师遗体的灵车。一群妇女,包括一些信托委员会成员,从车座前后两方拉着车子,代表她们对法师的送别及不舍之情。

游行队伍饶市一圈,让人们向法师致最后的敬意。途中,大家也一起分享饮食。

游行结束后,盛大的嘉年华会开始了。在妙务这个安静的小城,这样的庆典是很少见的。庆典在一个足球草场上举行,准备了各种饮食、游戏和娱乐节目,周围的村民都到场参与活动,非常热闹。

庆典上的歌舞表演赞颂舍葛帕喇法师作出的贡献,并对其致以深深的怀念。庆典也准备了一场通宵演出的戏剧表演,有歌舞表演和逗趣的笑话,内容讲述的也是对法师的悼念。

为了增添热闹气氛,庆典还有一项舞蹈比赛。参赛的舞者原本应该在棚内的棺木旁表演,但参赛队伍实在太多,所以表演的形式有所改变。舞者基本上根据性别分为几组,在当天通宵表演若开族舞蹈,第二天早上休息后继续演出。观众都对舞者的演出给予赏金。

在一片欢腾的气氛中,一群身穿彩色若开族服饰、脸施厚妆的人,一边哭泣,一边用一个翡翠吊架摇晃着法师的棺木,象征他们对法师功德最后的致敬。整个仪式与歌舞表演同时进行,是当地人对法师最高的敬意。

庆典结束后是法师的火化仪式,由来自其他寺院的僧侣住持。

仪式在草场的一角举行,那里搭了四个架子,法师的棺木从一个架子被抬上另一个架子,然后才被安置在主要的架子上火化。这些架子从左至右依序为:Sanyar,San Chein,Laung Taik (也就是主要架子。Laung意即“将被焚化”;Taik是“地方”)以及Than Kyaung。右手边的三个架子是护国金塔寺捐献的。架子旁同样举行歌舞表演,包括称为doon(火箭)的舞蹈,以表达欢庆以及对法师致敬。

在火化仪式上,任何人都可以用500缅元或1新元购买一支火箭炮,将火箭炮点燃后射向火化仪式的主架,作为对法师最高的敬意。这个仪式称为“doon taik pwe” (taik: 点火;pwe:仪式)。

参考书目及网站

参考书目

  1. Report on Golden Pagoda Buddhist Temple Myanmar Missionary Tour, 10th March 2003 to 9th April 2003, Submitted by: Jason Chiew & Lee Wai Leng, Vaidurya Media House
  2. Myar Aung; Ah Lonn Maung trans. Famous Monuments of Mrauk-U. Yangon: U Kyaw Hin, 2007
  3. U Shwe Zan. The Golden Mrauk-U: an Ancient Capital of Rakhine. Yangon: U Shwe Zan, 1994
  4. Tun Shwe Khine. A Guide to Mrauk-U, an Ancient City of Rakhine, Myanmar. Yangon: U Tun Shwe, 1993
  5. Gutman, Pamela. Burma’s Lost Kingdoms. Orchid Press, 2001, ISBN 974-8304-98-1, pages 73 – 162, map: pages 76 – 77

参考网站

  1. Mrauk U – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  2. DPS Online Myanmar – Burma Map : Mrauk U Map (Mrauk Oo Map) – The Map of Mrauk_U, Myanmar (Burma)
  3. File:Map of Mrauk U.jpg – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  4. What to see around remote Mrauk U in Myanmar | Travels With Sheila
  5. Sanda Muni Pagoda – Where to visit – Myanmar Travel Information
  6. Arakan Eagle: May 2011
  7. Rakhine State: Andawthein Pagoda AD 1596