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Contribution For Saddhamma

In the Dhammapada, the Buddha said:

The greatest man like the Buddha is rare. The Buddha is never born everywhere. The country and nation where he is born have become rich and happy.

It is incontrovertible that the appearance of the Arahants, Buddha, his disciples, and the Pacceka Buddha is the rarest. These greatest men are never born in all places, every nation or time. Upon their birth, people can find a path to get rid of greed, hatred and delusion. They can get the chance to abolish all physical and mental cravings generated from their ignorance. It can also be said that appropriate understanding and realization of the greatest Buddha’s Dhammas can be beneficial to human beings in avoiding the sorrows of birth, age, disease, and death. In addition, many Devas (Beings of Kāmasugati abodes) and human beings (Beings of Kāmasugati abodes) are able to receive the Buddha’s continuous blessings through the practice of Dāna (donation), Sīla (precept), and Bhāvanā (meditation). As the wisest person, Buddha’s appearance would therefore bring enormous happiness, blessings, and prosperity to those countries and nations where he is born.

The most Venerable Sadhanananda Mahathera, also known as Banabhante (a forest-Bhikkhu), is the ultimate venerable and Ariya-person, like the brightest star in the sky of the Rangamati district of Bangladesh. He is a Sāvaka Buddha and an Arahant.

He left his home and traditional family life around him at his young age of 29 to discover the ways of freedom from suffering as explained by the Buddha. Banabhante attained Pabbajja under the supervision of the Venerable Dipankar Sreegyan Mahathera in the Vihāra at Nandan Kanan in the city of Chittagong. This was in 1949. Failing to find an atmosphere for spiritual freedom, a hospitable environment, and proper guidance there, he left the place. At last he came to his birthplace, Muroghona. He was thinking to find a calm, silent place. By impeling the Gautama Buddha and his disciples such as Sāriputta, Mahāmoggallāna, Mahākassapa, Ananda, Anuruddha and Rashtrapala as his teacher started his meditative lives. He entered a dense forest of Dhanpata near the Kaptai hydroelectric dam in Rangamati, started meditations for getting rid of all kinds of suffering, and immersed himself in a deep meditation for 12 years, from 1949 to 1960. In 1960, a large area of the forest suddenly became flooded because of some damages caused by the Kaptai dam. Venerable Bhante then moved to another forest at Dighinala by the invitation of a householder and Upāsaka, Mr. Nishimoni Chakma, and he remained in the state of meditation, maintaining a forest dwelling life until the end of 1970. Through these long-term practices of tracing out the truth of freedom from suffering, Bhante was gradually attaining a glory of light scattering from his body. His bright appearance, calm movement, and peaceful personality attracted the villagers, especially Mr. Anil Bihari Chakma at Dighinala who motivated the people to invite him to a Vihāra in Tintila at Langadu. Originally, the Vihāra at Tintila was the place for the Venerable Banabhante to start spreading and propagating his Dhammas and teachings. Later on, Banabhante came back again to Rangamati on the full moon day of Baishakh (Bengali calender month) in 1976 in response to the earnest requests of Chakma Queen Arati Roy, Chakma King Debasish Roy, and many other royal people.

Until Banabhante’s stay in the Rajbana Vihāra, starting from the deep forest, it has been said that there exists some supra-mundane energy around Him. Banabhante, after attaining Nibbāna (freedom from suffering), has been teaching the Four Noble Truths, the principles of Paticcasamuppāda (Dependent origination), the noble eight-fold path, and the importance and significance of Nibbāna. He re-initiated the similar Kathina Civara Dana like the one during the Buddha’s lifetime, a variety of Pujas such as Chimitong Puja, the Puja of Upagupta Bhante, listening to the Paritta Sutta throughout the whole night, and many other varieties of donations, offerings, Bandanā, and cultures. He is our ultimate respectable and venerable person.

Venerable Banabhante is the self-view restrained, sense-view restrained and mind-view restrained Ariya-person. He is the Arahant having the six supra-mundane experiences such as various Iddhi-power, divine eyes, divine hearings, the ability to analyze other’s minds, ability to know the past lives, and knowledge of declining the Asava. Above all, he is the wisest person, the Sāvaka Buddha, who observed the continuous peace by achieving the same disciplines as the Gautama Buddha. There is no doubt that at present he is the pioneer of extending Buddha’s Dhammas among the people who are not aware of the post-interval effects of their own deeds, the fruits of Kamma.

Venerable Bhante did not reach this point or become a Buddha in a day. It is the fruits of Kammaof of righteous perceptions earned by him during his previous births. It should also be remembered that Bhante needed to do hard work to attain the stage of Arahant. In his own speech, “I received the Pabbajjā at the age of 29. During that time, I read not only the Bangla books about Buddhism but also the other religious books written for Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. Hinduism at that time had dominant effects in Chakma society, but I was very much attracted to the calm and quiet nature of Buddhism. The then society had no belief in Pabbajjā at all when i went forth. As a result, I was the first young boy who remained unmarried during my whole life and spent my whole life as a Bhikkhu.”

He also mentioned, “I had never thought to lead the life of the traditional Bhikkhu. I had only the Buddha and his greatest disciples such as the Sāriputta, Mahāmoggallāna, Mahākassapa, Ananda and Anuruddha’s livelihood in front of me. In order to obtain and hold their life livings, staying in a forest became essential to me after failure to find an environment in a village Vihāra for practicing the Sīla-Samādhi-Paññā (precept-concentrationwisdom). I could not even meet an appropriate teacher who could help me in practicing meditation. As a result, I was not fortunate to know any specific technique to meditate to overcome specific stages of meditation or practice to destroy greed, hatred and delusion. I had to discover the paths by myself. That’s why I needed to go through the long-term pains of staying in the forest to make my mind free from greed, hatred and delusion.”

Banabhante for the Happiness of Human Beings

Venerable Banabhante was especially inspired to spread, improve, and enrich the Dhamma since 1977. At the invitation of the people, he went to many cities and the villages of Rangamati, Khagrachari, and Chittagong town. After listening to the significance of the Buddha Dhamma, the people started avoiding false views and wrong perceptions. People were happy in their lives by following Banabhante’s advice and orders. Thus, his name and fame spread everywhere, and many others used to come to the Rajbana Vihāra every day. So, the contributions of Venerable Banabhante and the Rajbana Vihāra for spreading the Dhamma and its continuation are extraordinary and unforgettable. The Rajbana Vihāra is the best place to learn the Dhammika behaviours as well as to create bridges among all human beings with the touches of love, intimacy, relations, and communications.

The following is one of Venerable Banabhante’s doctrines given at the Subalong Jurachari branch of the Vihāra: “If one survives with knowledge and truth, he or she will always be happy, while ignorance and false views bring all sufferings. At present, people do not have knowledge, truth so they are doing any mean work like an ignorant. So people are having unbearable and limitless suffering. Those who are wise cannot do any mean work. At present, the Chakma is passing the inclement days. If it runs long, the Chakma nation will be destroyed. The Chakma cannot do any Punna works or good works. What can they do? They can drink, become a drunk, or gamble when they get some money. And what else can they do? They can bring misdeeds, then run away and hide. Many Chakmas tell me, ‘Bhante, you say that the nation which gives birth of the greatest man, that nation cannot be destroyed. Rather they become happy and rich. So, why would we be ruined?’ I also agree with these words, but you are not listening to or obeying me. For example, a patient with a gastric ulcer is groaning with pain. A doctor from Britain gives the patient a prescription, saying that ‘if you take this medicine in this amount, you will be cured completely.’ But if the patient leaves the medicines without trusting the doctor, would that patient ever be cured? No, he will not be. If a patient does not take a medicine, what can a doctor do at that time? Similarly, if you do not believe the Banabhante’s words, the Kamma, the fruits of Kamma, this life and after life, the Four Noble Truths, the Paticcasamuppāda principles, the Eight-fold Path, the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha; and also if you do not practice and behave the Dhamma, then what can Banabhante do for you?”

“Let me tell you an incident. During the World War II, a news story came out in Thailand that a huge group of soldiers of the enemies were approaching to attack Thailand. As a result, people in Thailand were afraid. People were screaming everywhere, ‘we all are going to be destroyed soon; we will be killed soon. We do not have any way to survive.’ Observing this situation, an Arahant woman named Chondraboti made determination, saying that ‘In my existance, I will not let this nation be destroyed.’ Then she called all the Thai people and said, ‘Do not be afraid. If you listen to me then no matter how powerful our enemies are, they cannot do any harm to us.’ The frightened Thais believed her words and started obeying Dhammika behaviours. Finally, with the help of Arahant Chondraboti’s power, the Thais survived from the sure destructions.”

  • “All of you also listen to me. Remember, Dhammika persons are protected by Dhamma. You all speak up with me ‘from today onwards, we will follow Dhammika rules. We will follow the Sīlas, be wise and pious being high ambitious and keeping great heart.’ Also, from today announce it everywhere that Banabhante said to us, ‘the Chakma (or any) nation should reach to the highest peak of progress and so they should follow five rules: (1) Those who talk about love and patience, one should listen to their Dhammika advice. (2) The Buddha’s Dhammas should be followed and believed deeply. (3) Craving should be thrown away, such determination must be observed. (4) The emancipation from suffering, Nibbāna should be expariencedsuch determination must be observed. (5) Perseverance and inspirations are required for chief assistance of successes in life.” [This discourse are advised in Subalang Jurachari brance Vihāra in 1995 on the occassion of Katina Civara ceremony: Pracarak Chakma, Jurachari.]

This doctrine clarifies a few statements:

  • Always do the Punna or good works. Those who follow the Dhamma can never be defeated.
  • Give up all bad deeds. Only Teacher or Banabhante cannot rescue anybody; man himself is his own releaser. Who can do others’ work?
  • A deep intention is required to destroy all attachments or to experience Nibbāna.

Real Happiness Cannot Be Attained by Enjoyment

Once Venerable Banabhante told some laymen and women, “Please listen to the Dhammika doctrines with full attention. If you listen to Dhammika doctrines with full attentions, you can remember these. Otherwise, you cannot recall them. If you can guide your life according to these doctrines, it fulfils the significance of listening to them. The Buddhism is the religion of giving up, not enjoying more. It is found that during the time of the Buddha, almost all Bhikkhus were kings, princess, or rich people. They all left their kingdoms and wealth, became Bhikkhus and went for Nibbāna. Many of you may ask me, ‘Bhante, what did you leave for becoming a Bhikkhu?’ I say that I did not have any kingdom or wealth to give up for becoming a Bhikkhu. However, I discarded my life-organ after being a Bhikkhu! When I stayed at the Dhanpata forest, I promised that I would never attach to any material things; I would never think about enjoying life like an ordinary person. Also, I thought about the Tathāgata Buddha, Sāriputta, Mahāmoggallāna, Mahākassapa, Mahākappina etc,—kings and rich personalities who ordained their lives with forest lives after leaving their kingdoms and wealth. I was inspired myself thinking of them, and so I was ready to give up my own life-organ. Many Bhikkhus told me at that time, ‘if we give up our lives-organ, we will die; so we cannot practice like you.’ Here many of you may also tell me the same. Then, what Dhamma teachings I should teach you? The Buddha used to tell in every doctrine that ‘there is no peace in enjoying materials; rather it is the most peaceful by giving up!’ So you should also tell me, ‘We will not enjoy; we will only give up. Giving up is the best and brings all happiness.

“What we see in this world are subject to impermanence. So, enjoying the impermanent objects will only lead to mental and bodily aggregates. A constantly grasping person can never see peace. As soon as one thing is attained, his or her mind is always burnt by dissatisfaction of not getting another ten objects. There is no satisfaction through getting. What is predicted as happiness is in reality a symbol for distress. The Enlightened One explains to King Vimbisar that, ‘A real happiness cannot be attained by grasping. Rather it brings Dukkha, the unsatisfactoriness. It pushes a life towards intolerable Dukkha. A grasping person gets a lot of wealth but becomes a miser and poor.’

“Buddhism is the religion of giving up. This Dhamma teaches us to give up all material objects, wealth, life, and even the organs of a body. All of these defilements look empty to general people. However, it does not mean emptiness-rather, it expresses the best expressions. One who can give up pleasant, painful, and ignorant feelings is free of unwholesome tendencies and has the right outlook. He or she secures his or her future existence by being free from all sorts of cravings. The Buddha’s teachings are now acceptable throughout the world. Many high officials such as secretaries, ministers, and prime ministers of our country and foreign countries come to Banabhante to hear the Dhammika teachings. They listen to the Buddha’s wisest and giving perceptions and leave merrily after getting blessings from me. Rangamati is more comfortable for communications than Khagrachari, Baghaichari, and even Jurachari. Rangamati is located at the center of all these places. Also, the people and environment here are pre-known to me, so I feel more comfortable staying at Rangamati than other places.

“The most common question people ask is: what is the real happiness? How can it be attained according to the Buddha Dhamma? The actions of giving up, restrictions and detachments are happiness that can be termed as Nibbāna in a word. To the Noble Ones, the cessation of the existing body is considered as happiness. Those who can overcome the attachments of existence can realize the state of happiness. Nibbāna can be realized by giving up ignorance, lust, desire, ten kinds of suffering, five aggregates, etc. It is the main philosophy and real happiness of the Buddha Dhamma. Again, Buddha said, ‘a wise person does not urge wealth, children, countries for himself or others. He or she does not expect his or her own prosperity and thus he or she is a happy person.’ There is no happiness in absorbing worldly happiness. Wealth and respect cannot satisfy human beings. There is no real happiness in gaining wealth or love. There is also no merit in gaining worldly happiness. Rather it is the hindrence of getting knowledge and emancipation.”

Venerable Banabhante also says, “It is a wise act to make friendship with a wise person rather than an ignorant one. Avoiding ignorance brings happiness. It is suffering to stay with an enemy but to stay with an ignorant person is more dangerous, for the ignorant person can only do harmful acts. They always do harm to themselves and others. They are ignorant of their responsibilities, full of lust, pride, mercilessness, irreligiousness, jealousy, revengeful, are inspired by doing bad works, and are determined to do bad works. Ignorant people can do or say anything. They are more dangerous than snakes. Even though ignorant people do not do any harm to you, the sighting of them is also suffering. Therefore, ignorant people should always be avoided. On the other hand, the sighting of wise people and Ariyas is happiness. Wise persons are the right guides and honest advisors. They always bring happiness to a society.”

Venerable Bhante then asked the lay people, “Are you staying with happiness in your married life surrounded by husbands and wives, sons and daughters? I can see that you are staying in sorrow. There are endless stresses and unhappiness. Husbands do not like to listen to their wives, wives also do not like to hear from husbands, sons do not like to be obedient to their fathers, and daughters do not hear their mothers. Wives do not understand husbands’ grieves, husbands do not understand their wives, neither sons nor fathers understand each other, and it is the same for daughters and mothers. Thus, there are indescribable grieves, mental agonies, ego problems, quarrels, etc. in a family. Moreover mental irritations about sons and daughters, problems with relatives, quarrels with neighbors, conflicts and fights for lands, wealth, jobs, and business are not giving you any peace in your minds. Your lives are like boats on a surging ocean. They can sink at any time by a big accident. So, see how sorrowful, unhappy, agonizing, and risky the moments in a life are! Even then you do not like to free yourselves from all these attachments! You do not try to walk on the path of Nibbāna! You are immersed in the sea of suffering without having any sense. Do you know the reason for your silence? Ignorance. Your minds are so full of ignorance that it is impossible for you to open the wise eyes to observe these sufferings as grieves.

“As soon as you open the wise eyes that penetrate the ignorance, you will gain the path-fruit. Then you also do not need to wait for any certain time because when the true Dhamma is followed, its results can be obtained instantly. There are many examples from the time of the Buddha. For example, a Bhikkhu became an Arahant as soon as he was ordained with the Upasampadā. In another instance, the elder sister of King Prosenjeet went to the Buddha walking with her walking stick. The Buddha advised her, ‘Oh, lady, take some rest.’ Hearing this, King Prosenjeet’s elder sister became an Arahant. On the other hand, a housemaid of ten kids’ mother became an Arahant too, just right after her ordination. Do you know how they obtained the Arahantship so easily? They were able to remove their ignorance quickly and generate knowledge. So they attained the path-fruit without waiting for a certain period of time.

“Life is full of distresses; there is nothing that is real happiness. Though ignorant people think making a family is a source of happiness and so imagines to gain something, when they enter into the real life there is no real happiness. Everything is burnt into ashes of suffering and pain. So, you made a great mistake by becoming a family person. And so you are falling into various grieves insults, and dangers. You are chasing your minds downwards at every moment.”

Finally Venerable Banabhante said, “If you do unwholesome works, you will not prosper. Evil doers always fall downwards. On the other hand, if you do good works, you will prosper day after day. There is no fear of falling down after obtaining knowledge. If anybody asks you what Banabhante’s advice is, then please say that Banabhante’s advice is not to do any unwholesome work that can lead to Hell. We should not do any work that can harm this life or the next life. Stay with knowledge, not with ignorance. Do you know what can lead you to Hell? Those who do not follow the five percepts go to Hell. So follow the Pañca-sīla and do wholesome works. Obtain knowledge to increase your wisdom rather destroying your lives. Stay with an alert, conscious mind. Do not place any ignorance in your mind. Nurture wisdom. Do Dāna (donate) to remove any obstructs. Please be attentive to remove lust by Dāna, envy by following Sīla, and ignorance by Bhāvanā. Then my doctrines will be successful, and you will be able to realize Nibbāna properly. You will attain Nibbāna.”

Case Study 1:

The Solution by Venerable Banabhante to eight-precepters Upāsikā: There was a person named Rangachan at Dighinala. He was like an influential leader in a village at Dighinala. He did not believe in the Buddhism at all. He used to think that the beliefs were false imaginations. Most of the time, he used to lie and debate on things that he believed. In addition, he used to drink alcohol. He used to show himself by speaking on many unrelated matters and asking questions to people. One day, Rangachan asked some women who were fasting for the Attha-sīla (Eight Precepts-the eight chief rules followed by the Buddhists), “Have you ever seen the Buddha?”

They answered, “No, we have never seen the Buddha.”

Rangachan then said to them, “Listen, if you do not see the Buddha, then on what basis are you following the Attha-sīla?”

Thus, Rangachan often put questions to the Attha-sīla followers. They also remained silent, not being able to answer his questions. One day, a few of these women went to Banabhante. They told Banabhante, “Bhante, there is a person, Rangachan, who always asked us if we have seen the Buddha. He asks if we do not see the Buddha, then why we are following the rules of Attha-sīla? We cannot answer anything. Dear Bhante, we are humbly asking an answer to this question.”

Venerable Bhante asked them, “Oh, Upāsikās, if Rangachan asks this question again, please ask him, ‘have you ever seen your grandfather’s grandfather? If you have not seen him, then did your grandfather not have a grandfather?’ Then you will tell him, ‘He must be there, because you are one of his offspring. If your grandfather’s grandfather would not be there, then you would not even have any identity as his offspring.”

Banabhante also said to the Upāsikās, “In the similar manner, though we have not seen the Buddha with our own eyes, those who were born at the time of the Buddha, they saw the Buddha with their own eyes. So, Buddha was there. He showed the path of Nibbāna as well as the four-fold noble path, the Paticcasamuppāda principles, the eight-fold noble path, etc. His disciples and later were able to attain Nibbāna by following the advice of the Buddha. It is of no doubt that people in the future will also be benefitted as long as the Buddha’s Dhamma and reign will remain. So there is no choice but to believe the Buddhism blindly.” The Attha-sīla following women were pleased to hear the answers from Banabhante and accepted the doctrines with the salutations of “Sadhu, sadhu and sadhu.” Later, they replied to Rangachan properly. Rangachan could not say anything after that. Though Rangachan used to make people foolish by asking many strange questions, surprisingly he never went to Banabhante.

Being Advised by Banabhante, Rangachan became righteous: Rangachan’s sons and daughters became anxious and disappointed with his misbehaviour. Their dignity was about to be abolished in the society. One day, his son came to Banabhante to bring his father back to an honest way. He vowed to Banabhante, sat at one side, and asked him humbly, “Venerable Bhante, my father Rangachan is tremendously unfaithful towards the Buddhism. I have come to you to bring my father to an honest way and to promote his happiness for this birth and the next. Bhante, I would like to invite you to my house. Please accept my invitation and visit my house to advise Buddha’s doctrine to my father.”

Banabhante asked him, “Your father drinks alcohol-does he listen to me?”

Rangachan’s son said, “that’s why, Bhante, we humbly request you to come to our house.”

Banabhante accepted his invitation. Everyone in that area came to know about Banabhante’s visit to Angachan’s house. They were saying, “Banabhante will come to fang to Rangachan’s house on this day. It will be interesting to see how the war will be between a Buddha and Albok Yakkha.” Banabhante came to Rangachan’s house on the pre-determined date. A lot of people gathered there. At some point, Banabhante asked Rangachan, “I heard that you drink alcohol. Do you think that you should drink alcohol? Drinking alcohol is not good for your health. Please do not drink alcohol anymore, do you understand?”

Rangachan said, “yes.” He did not say anything after that. Then Banabhante gave Nibbāna doctrine and made Rangachan promise not to drink alcohol anymore. People were surprised to see Banabhante’s influence and strength of presence. That Rangachan, who used to make puzzles to everybody, did not make any sound at last. Truly, Banabhante was the greatest human being! He was showing the Nibbāna paths to general householders and saving people from four lower levels of existence (Apaya). The people saluted the meditative Banabhante by listening to his supramundane doctrines.

Case Study 2:

Observation of the Results of Immense Respect and Devotion: One day after Bangladesh became independent, Mr. Gangadhan Chakma and Mr. Pratul Chakma were returning from Banabhante’s Vihāra around 4 p.m. after donating some drinks to Bhante. On their way back, they met a Thana Cooperative officer, Mr. Shamsul Haque, and a Thana Fishari officer, Mr. Sukumar Barua. They came to know that they were going to Banabhante’s Vihāra for a special reason. With their requests, especially that of Mr. Shamsul Hoque, they went to the Vihāra. Venerable Bhante asked them, “What happened for you to come back?”

Then Mr. Pratul indicated Mr. Shamsul and said, “Bhante, we are back due to his request. We have come here for a special reason.” Banabhante asked Mr. Shamsul for his reason for coming to Bhante’s Vihāra. Shamsul Haque, with his mind full of respects for Bhante, told him about his wife’s incurable disease. He continued, “I have tried a lot of doctors but still there is no improvement of my wife’s disease. Venerable Bhante, I have tremendous reverence, respect, and belief. It is my strong belief that my wife’s disease can only be cured by your blessings. Bhante, please bless me and my wife.”

Banabhante said to him, “I am not a doctor, Ayurvedic practitioner, or any other kind of a physician. If I would be such, I would write down a prescription for you.” Then he gave much good advice to Mr. Shamsul. Bhante also mentioned to him, “Sometimes it is possible to be cured from complex diseases by donating something to great, honest people with money earned in an honest way.” On their way back from the Vihāra, Shamsul Hoque was so nervous and asked Mr. Pratul, “What should I do now? Venerable Banabhante did not say anything to me.” Mr. Pratul said to him, “Haven’t you understood anything about it?” Mr. Shamsul then said, “No, he did not tell me anything!” Mr. Pratul then asked Mr. Gangadhan, “Have you understood anything about it?” He also answered, “No.” Then Mr. Pratul Bikash said again, “Among the four of us, I might understand the hints of Venerable Banabhante’s advice. Great men do not talk directly. They give indications of peoples successes, depressions, dangers, welfares, harms, happiness, and sorrows. Human beings sometimes cannot understand the symbolic meanings of their words.” Mr. Pratul Bikash said to Mr. Shamsul Haque, “Venerable Banabhante said that donating to the greatest persons by earning in an honest way can sometimes be helpful to cure diseases. You must have agreed that Venerable Banabhante is the greatest person. He cannot say that donating to me will be helpful to cure your wife’s disease. So, I would say that please donate something to Venerable Banabhante with your honestly earned money and having the greatest belief and respects for him. Hope that your wife will be cured soon.” Mr. Shamsul Haque bought some food using fifteen taka of his monthly salary and donated it to Venerable Banabhante through Mr. Gangadhan Chakma. Within one week of his donation, Mr. Shamsul’s wife became well again from the disease. Many people came to know about this incident, and thus their respects, reverence, and beliefs were increased about Banabhante.

Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu