Returning the Gratitude to Alma Mater

  • Dr. Nyan Tun

The person who knows, emphasizes and returns the gratitude of others either animate or inanimate is none other than the Buddha Himself and who pave the way for all either Buddhist or non-Buddhists alive to follow this norm to those who know the gratitude of others and He says ‘Kataňňūkatavedi puggalo dullabho lokasmim’ which means it is very rare to see the person in the world who knows the gratitude of others as well as who returns it. Buddhist philosophy and the teachings of the Buddha play the most important role in our Myanma society for majority of the people are Buddhists. Every Buddhist knows and keeps in mind the word ‘gratitude’ little or much due to the guidance of our ancestors. The persons who inscribe the word ‘gratitude’ and the benefits of it in the heart of our people with the strenuous effort are successive respected Buddhist monks, the spiritual leaders who had led the country in education and social sectors and who laid down foundation in religion, culture, literature, tradition and custom highly and firmly as being civilized society since immemorial time. From Buddhist social and ethical point of view, dealing with the gratitude, there are five persons in the world who owned much more gratitude to all their fellows and whose gratitude cannot be returned fully. They are the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha, the parents and the teachers. It is common scene in our community about ‘paying respect ceremony’ especially in education sector in every corner of the country. This is invaluable and civilized Buddhist culture which has been exercising in our Myanmar society even today. I would like to say that knowing and returning the gratitude of others is Buddhists’ inborn spirit.
I would like to focus on the alumnus of State Pariyatti Sasana University (Yangon) who return the gratitude to their Alma Mater. We learned that this is for the third time biannually conducted this function gathering in unity and earnestly at the University campus by performing several functions such as Dhamma talk, paper reading, sharing their experienced in their respective fields in their missions both at home and abroad, paying their respected to their Masters: Venerable monks and lay scholars, both serving and retired ones, and supporting financial and other facilities to the hostels where they stayed while studying at their Alma Mater.
On the eve of the function, the alumnus arranged evening Dhamma Talk for three days at the convocation hall. There are many popular Dhamma preachers (Dhammakathika) produced by the University and the well-known preachers who came to preach at the ceremony were Ven. Dr. Nandamalabhivamsa, Rector, International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University; Ven.Vicitta (known as Manapadayi Sayadaw as well as Korean Sayadaw) and Ven. Dr. Kovida (Majjimagoneyee Sayadaw) respectively. Ven. Vicitta and Ven.Dr. Kovida are the products of the Sasana University (Yangon) who are renowned in Myanmar community as eloquent Dhamma preacher Sayadaws. Before the Dhamma talk started, one programme called ‘Dhamma presentation’ was conducted by the members of alumnus to the audiences. That function was really interested in and attracted to the audiences because it was sharing general knowledge experienced in the fields of mission both at home and abroad encountered by the presenters themselves.
Another function is paper reading or seminar which is the field of academic career and they presented the papers in respective fields that they are practically doing. Let me share you some of the papers they read out at the functions. One paper entitled ‘Korean Buddhism and the ways and means of ordination ceremony’ presented by Ven. Suvanna who is doing his mission in Korea. Another paper ‘America and Myanmar Theravada Buddhism’ read out by Ven. Khemeinda who is performing his career in U.S.A. The next one ‘The situation of European religions and the prospect of Buddhism’ presented by Ven. Kusalasami who is performing his mission in Germany. The next paper ‘Missionary experienced at the hill region’ by Ven. Pannissara who is serving at Chin State. Another paper is ‘Let us produce our new generation by setting up monastic education’ by Ven. Kusala. All papers are presented out of their daily life that they are conducting in those fields so the presenters shed light on the current situation of the environment.
The State Pariyatti Sasana Universities have been serving the welfare of the new generation monks and the people for three decades and within these three decades, the products of the Universities have been spreading around the world doing their missions in the fields they are standing: setting up learning centers, meditation centers; conducting Dhamma talk as preachers; devoting their lives as missionary monks in rural, remote and hill regions; establishing monastic education schools and social welfare of the needy people especially for underprivileged children who are unable to go to schools due to poverty as reformers. They are really fulfilling the blank for the requirement of the country in social, education and religion even in politic at home and abroad. They are really heroes for Buddha Sasana who are stepping into the footprint of their predecessors. Actually, Buddhist monks are the persons who have sacrificed their lives for the welfare and happiness of other fellows because they renounced everything they belonged to even their families by exercising the path stepped by the Buddha.
State Pariyatti Sasana University was opened in June, 1986 under the patronage of State Sanghamaha nayaka Committee and the management of Central Administrated Body. By opening the two Sasana Universities; one is in Yangon, the commercial city and the other is in Mandalay, the last capital of Konbaung dynasty, it opened the new page for the future generation monks to jump into the modern world as reliable sources to impart the philosophy and the essence of Buddhism that lead every affairs for the people: harmony, prosperous, peace and stability for multi social, culture, education, economic, politic and interfaith around the world.
Gathering and paying respect ceremony sponsored by alumnus ‘Takkasilahitadhara’ by name was held at the gracious convocation hall in 22nd December, 2016. Most of old senior and junior students living at home and abroad actively and earnestly participated the function. At the event, Venerable Mahatheras, members of State Sanghamahanayaka Committee, retired and in service senior respected rector, pro-rectors, professors, heads of departments Venerable Sirs and lay scholars attended. This grand function creates the moment of emotional feeling for me to write down this article to return the gratitude, as one of the products of our Alma Mata.
At the function, Ven. Tilokabhivamsa, Aggamahapandita, In-Charge of Insein Ywama learning Center, Pro-Rector (Retired), member of State Samghamahanayaka Committee (Retired) Patron of Patriotic Association of Myanmar (known as Mabhatha) gave admonition to his disciples by relating the historical background that the two main benefactors to whom we must return the gratitude: one who had a dream to upgrade the monastic education into modern world and the other one who carried out the dream do come true so the two esteemed persons played the most important role to open the door to the modern world for the young generation of Myanmar monks by giving them the excellent in the field of education, social and moral as a norm for Theravada Buddhism. Now, the glory of State Pariyatti Sasana Universities spreads and well known by the international community.
While listening to the admonition, I recalled the historical background of our Sasana University and now it has reached three decades by serving the welfare of the nation. We really pay respect and thank all responsible persons both senior respected Venerable Sirs who have foremost and far sighted for the future of Buddhasasana and leaders of the authority and people who supported and gave their hands. All sets of Sangha in Myanmar united together under the organization of State Samghamahahanayaka Committee and the committee adopted new education policy for Buddhist monks and formulated major objectives to implement the policy so that the new education system should meet the challenge of the future among international social and religious affairs. Therefore, State Pariyatti Sasana Universities were established for the nation as well as for Buddha Sasana.
Once, A.P.J Abdul Kalam, the late president of the Republic of India said, “Dream, dream, dream; Dreams transform into thought; And thought into action.” As mentioned earlier, the one who had a dream to upgrade the monastic education into modern world was none other than U Kyaw Lwin, the late Director General of Department for Promotion and Propagation of Sasana (DPPS). He was the one who founded that department and he was really the great reformer for the history of Myanmar Sangha and to carry out his dream, he toured the entire country up and down explaining the project of establishment of Sasana University to the chief monks to big learning centers (Sarthintaik in Myanmar) from door to door for referendum and the consent of high priests of those centers. The high priest of the centers gave divergence views on about his dreams so the university was born under criticisms.
The other one who carried out the dream do come true is the Late Most Respected Venerable Tipitakadharadhammabandagarika Mingun Sayadawgyis who was second to none in the history of Myanmar Buddhism in the 2oth century. The Sate Samghamahanayaka Committee gave the great task to him to build the necessary buildings and fund collecting. Ven.Mingun Sayadawgyi and his Tipitaka Nikaya Mission accepted the great task for the sake of Buddha Sasana and the welfare of the new generation as well as the people. The mission that the late Ven.Mingun Sayadawgyi performed could not be measured and he was the only one in the history of Theravada Buddhism who acted as Respondent in the Sixth Great Council held in Myanmar in 1952. He was the first ever Vice-Chancellor of the university and General Secretary of State Samghamahanayaka Committee. One of the objectives of the opening Sasana University is ‘to bring up morally educated monks who are able to do their missionary work at home and abroad.’
Under the management of Tipitaka Nikayaka Mission the new buildings for Sasana University appeared where it is situated near Kaba-Aya Pagoda within a short time just as created by Visukamma (Vithakyun in Myanmar). The academic year of the University commenced in June, 1986 and it has been running its career for three decades and has been producing many renowned, reliable and morally young monks for Buddha Sasana. The Universities have conferred graduate monks for 22nd times and according to the record, it had been producing over 1980 graduate monks, 397 post graduate monks and 10 research scholars who held PhD. All the products over 2300 educated Sasana resources are serving the welfare and happiness of the nation at home and abroad. The jobs that they are carrying out are successful in every sector for they have been trained both theory and practical method at the Universities so they are really reliable and trusty worthy persons for the future of Buddha Sasana.
Now, the university campus is like a garden attracting everyone who visits it. We come to know that when the university was opened, some Samgha and people who had orthodox view criticized it but within one decade many learned and educated young monks were produced and those monks who were trained systematically could perform every affairs if they are given the chances and they are warmly welcomed where they go and whatever they do. This is one of the keys for their success due to a practical mission method they have learned at the university. The monks have to study both theory and practice in the files of meditation at Mahasi meditation Center. In addition, they have to attend an intensive medical training course: western and traditional medical aid. Information and technology play the most important role in our daily life so IT knowledge also is providing the monk students. Thus, the university provides knowledge what they should know because they have to serve the welfare and happiness of the people at the hill regions and border areas as well as in abroad.

I would like to conclude my article with the message given by Ven. Tilokabhivamsa to his disciples at the function. He kept on saying ‘now, we really need the future architects for our country. The future Sasana of the country depends on you, the new generation monks. As one of Zaw Gyi’s poems urges the nation especially young people ‘be farsighted as well as pursuit knowledge. You are the noble and great sons who are going to lead the country. To be good and reliable architects you must have farsighted and love wisdom. Only if you have wide knowledge, you can realize the good and bad, true or false, pros and corns. Now, in every corner of the world, it is crucial time for us to protect our nation and religion so finally, I would like to wish you to be good architects for the future.’

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