|Nayoun (Nayone): June|
The Month of Scriptural Examinations
|Sabai (Jasmine) Queen of Fragrance|
A Month of Thunder, Lightning and Rain
|With Nayone (June), the third month of the Burmese calendar, the monsoon is in full swing. Gone are the lyrical dreams inspired by showers that fall like, multicolored bead strings through the sunbeams and fragrant vapor rising out of the sun-scorched earth, as gentle drops fall like mercy from heaven.|
Now, everything is wet… just WET through and through. Dark skies, torrential rains and storms. 'Fair is foul, and foul is fair' sort of weather. Anyway it is a change, perhaps not, so nice as one would wish, but a change from those hot-days. Nature is in full splendor and the mind 'creates a green thought in a green shade'. The weather is ideal for curling up on a sofa with a nice book, It is also story time when kids gather round the old granny.
If the blonde, blue-eyed children of the West are fascinated by the story of Persephone who brings in spring, sunshine and flowers, the Burmese children are no less so by the legend of the rains caused by the warfare between the gods above.
The booming of thunder was the sound of the celestial drum whose frame was made of the shell of a giant crab who breakfasted on mammoth mastodons. The crab’s claws served as drumsticks. Thagyarmin, King of the celestials (he’s the same who comes down to bring in the New Year, remember ?), strikes the drum to rally his forces.
It is in this month of Nayon that scriptural examinations for monks and nuns are held. The lay people, mindful of the service of the monks and their life-long dedication to the study of the Buddha’s teachings, do their best to supply the comforts and amenities of the candidates. It is necessary to offer daily alms food to those who come from other towns to the examination centers. Contributions to the cause are donated by the community and organiza-tions.
Organizations take charge of offering daily alms food to a large number of monks. Each household takes in one or more monks, according to their means. Everyone is anxious to do the meritorious deed of giving support to the monks, the Order of the Sangha, custodians of the Buddha’s Dhamma.
Apart from written examinations, there are those where the candidates have to recite all the scriptures by rote. It is a tremendous undertaking to commit to memory all the Buddha’s discourses, known as the Three Baskets of Learning.
There are but few -who could pass the recitation tests and those who do are showered with honors and gifts. It is in deep gratitude to the Theras (monks) of olden times, who enshrined the Word of the Buddha in their hearts, that the tradition of recitation by rote is still kept up to this day.
It was only after 400 years after the demise of the Buddha that the discourses were written down on palm leaves. There were hard times when there was famine and monks had barely anything to eat. They buried themselves up to the waist in sand dunes -to ease the rumblings of their empty stomachs and went on with their daily recitations of the discourses.
In this way, the monks kept the Word of the Buddha alive even without sophisticated tools like tape recorders and microfilms. Today scriptural examina-tions are an important feature in Buddhist life. This month is a busy time for Buddhist households. There is a lot to do for the monk candidates who carry aloft the torch of Buddhist learning by dedicated study and devotion.
|By Daw Khin Myo Chit|