Among the various activities for the promotion and propagation of Sasana, the religious activities at home play an important role. A family is composed of parents and their children. The heads of the family are the parents and they are also responsible for the welfare of the whole family. They are also responsible for implementing religious activities within the family successfully. Therefore, the saying goes: “The meanness of the children falls on the heads of their parents”. In Singalovada Sutta, the Buddha mentioned the five duties of parents thus:
“The parents should restrain their children from doing evil; they should encourage their children to do good; they should provide their children with capital to start a business, and they should arrange suitable marriages for their children”.
Since the time of conception the parents prepare everything well for their coming child. Being Buddhists, they recite the discourses of protection to protect their child from any danger or enmity. They also take refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Samgha for the welfare of their offspring. This practice has fully taken place since the Buddha’s time. The mother of Bodhi Prince took refuge in the Three Gems not only for herself but also for her son conceived in her womb.
It is the good tradition of all Buddhists to introduce one’s children to Buddhism as early as possible as the start of family religious activities. During the conception the mother usually takes refuge in the Three Gems and observes the five precepts in order to ward off any danger from the child by the virtues of her meritorious deeds. At the time of the delivery of the child, Angulimala Sutta is usually recited in order to give birth easily. When the woman in labor hears the Sutta, she remembers the virtues of the Three Gems. So she gets relief from the pain and the child can also be blessed with the good virtues of the Triple Gems.
When the naming ceremony is held, the parents invite the bhikkhus to donate offerings. They take refuge in the Three Gems and they listen to the discourses of protection recited by the bhikkhus for the benefit of the child. When the child grows old enough to speak, they teach him to recite “Buddham saranam gacchami” and so on. They give him the invaluable inheritance of Buddhism. When the child is clever enough to understand things to a certain extent, the parents, while embracing him, start teaching him the habit of paying homage to the Three Gems. They teach him to hold his palms together on his forehead and teach him to say “I pay homage to the Buddha”. This is the first physical conduct of a Buddhist. Parents are the first teachers of their children. Their teachings are strongly impressed on their children’s memory. Good parents produce good children. Pure lineage, good character, religious and cultural traditions of the parents are valuable inheritance to their children.
King Kakavanna Tissa, the ruler of Lankadipa, made his two sons (Gamani and Tissa) take a vow before meal at the ceremony of feeding the first meal to them not to take any meal without offering it to the Three Gems. In this way he made the Teachings of the Buddha rooted in their hearts. Wise parents establish the spirit of Buddhism in the hearts of their children.
Then they make their children pay obeisance to the Buddha at least twice a day: once in the morning and once in the evening. They also teach them words of prayers and train them to pay obeisance to the five objects of infinite gratitude (Triple Gems, Parents & Teachers) before going to bed and after getting up from bed. At bed time, they tell their children jatakas and stories on Buddhist culture. When the children ask questions, they give answers which the children can remember forever.
The parents teach their children how to offer alms-food to the bhikkhus every morning. They also teach them how to offer food, water, flowers and lights to the Buddha. In this way, the religious activities in the family get more and more developed. When the children grow older, the parents teach them not to do evil, explaining the disadvantages of doing evil. And they encourage their children to do good, explaining the benefits of doing good.
When the children are old enough to learn, they are sent to the monastery to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic, and also to learn Buddhist literature such as Mangala Sutta, Singalovada Sutta and Lokaniti. In this way there is a progress of religious activities in the family owing to the piety, the devotion and the wise guidance of the parents.
Buddhism and Myanmar are inseparable and they are joined together permanently. The Buddha’s Teachings are the invaluable guidance for the Myanmar cultural traditions. Because of this invaluable guidance Myanmar has been a well-civilized country in the world for thousands of years. The nationality and the religious fervour are also well-safeguarded.
The more successful the family religious activities are, the more lasting and the more developed the Buddha’s Teaching will be. Therefore every Buddhist must try his or her best for the success of the family religious activities which is the foundation for the perpetuation, promotion and propagation of the Buddha Sasana.
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Title-Religious Activities In The Community