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Myanmar Buddhist Pioneer

Posted: November 4, 2011 in Articles, U Chandra Mani

Myanmar Buddhist Pioneer
Venerable Baddanta U Chandramani Mahathera (1875-1972)
Chief Resident Monk from 1920-1972,
Myanmar Buddhist Vihara, Kushinagar, UP, India
sayadaw_u_chandramani-copy.jpg‘Buddha Sasana’ or the ‘Dispensation of the Buddha’ is kept alive and prolonged through the support of ardent devotees and patrons from all over the world. Despite their efforts, history has witnessed aspects of its waning after the Parinibbana of the Buddha due in part to foreign invasions, usurpation, vandals and wanton destruction of pristine areas of original holy places, landmarks and artefacts. During such periods of unstable unsettled situations, particularly misunderstanding by local communities, devotees and patrons everywhere were prevented or deliberately barred from providing necessary assistance, a crucial factor that caused the partial decline of the Buddha Sasana. 
Attempts at restoration and revival of the Sasana through reconstruction, repairs and developments to historical holy sites related to Gotama Buddha, and the perpetuation and propagation of the Buddha’s Teachings had been made and carried out by various Monarchs, notable patrons and Buddhist Monks from time to time. We learned of such supportive works and activities from stone inscriptions unearthed during archaeological excavations and from books and articles.

The life story of one such pioneer and dedicated supporter of Buddhism emerged from Myanmar who stands out as iconic stature deserving the accolade of “Dhamma Arzanee” (Dhamma Hero) was the late Sayadaw Baddanta U Chandramani Mahathera, the Chief Resident Monk of 1920-1972, at the Burmese Buddhist Vihara, Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh State, India. Sayadaw was the second resident monk of the Burmese Buddhist Vihara of Kushinagar, but the first resident monk of Migadawon Burmese Buddhist Vihara.
The Sayadaw was born on the 25th May 1875 (Burmese era Tuesday afternoon, on the 16th day after the full moon month of Kason in the year 1237) to the family of U Kyaw Aung and Daw Mi Win Yae of Pauk-pin-kwin village, Myo-haung Township, Sittwe District, Rakhine State, Myanmar. His name at birth was Tha Pan Oo. When he was 10 years old, his parents sent him to Sittwe to study at the Sandimar-Rama Monastery where his uncle, Sayadaw Ashin U Sandimar (Candima) was famous for Buddhist literature. After 2 years at this monastery, he was initiated a novice samanera titled: Shin Chandra (Shin Sandar) and continued Buddhist studies.
The Early Days
Around the mid-1889, Anagarika Dhammapala of Sri Lanka, a celibate full time worker for Buddhism, who despite donning a yellow robe but did not shave his head according to the Buddhist tradition, accompanied by Colonel Oracle from England, arrived in Sittwe to promote and establish a branch of Mahabodhi Society, similar to those they helped established in Yangon and Mandalay. There, the visitors exchanged views on how best to promote and re-establish declining Buddha Sasana in the middle-land – Majjhimadesa, and of their fervent intention to relocate a suitable person there which they had come to seek. Their choice for a candidate they propose to put to further training when chosen, would be a young Buddhist monk with good moral courage and qualifications.
From the Mahabodhi Society in Sittwe, they found young Shin Chandra, whose credentials matched those in their resume. When Shin Chandra, still a novice, was approached for a decision by the visitors, he agreed, and further proposed that he would be better encouraged if he was companied by his friend and colleague, Shin Thuriya (Suriya). They were thus chosen and assigned to join the monastery in Majjhimadesa. The teen-aged novices, Shin Thuriya and Shin Chandra, whose names if translated meaning – ‘sun and moon,’ were both happy to accept the responsibility and tasks of staying and propagating Buddhism at Majjhimadesa.
On November 1890 (Tazaungmon of Myanmar era 1252), Shin Chandra and Shin Thuriya, were brought to India by a Government Official, U Tha Doe Wai, and an Inland Revenue Official, who were visiting Calcutta (Kolkata), the capital of British India. After passing through Calcutta, the two novices arrived and stayed at Mahabodhi Society in Bodh Gaya. At that period in time, Bikkhu Ashin Sandazawti (Candajoti), a Sri Lankan monk, was the chief resident at the Kuthodaw Myanmar Buddhist Temple which was built and donated by King Mindon of Myanmar. Along with an attendant Thar Doe Oo from Myanmar, Anagarika Dhammapala arranged for the two Myanmar novices to join the Sri Lankan monk. There, the two novices together with Thar Doe Oo would visit the Maha Bodhi Ceti and the Bodhi Tree daily to do religious rites and to clean the compound. Among the littered rubbish and leaves, they also had to clean food offerings discarded by the Hindu priests after their ancestral religious rites.
In February 1893, local people who had been instructed and encouraged by the Hindu Mahant, a Zawgyi Raza (Sadhu), raided the Kuthodaw Myanmar Temple, with knives and batons and destroyed every thing in the temple and beat up people whoever were present there. A visiting monk Ashin Thumingala (Sumangala) suffered severe head and body injuries and had to be treated at the hospital in Gaya. The two novices – Shin Chandra and Shin Thuriya luckily escaped the assault, since they were visiting other Buddhist religious sites with pilgrims from Moe-gok of Myanmar at that time.
After the incident, Shin Chandra, Shin Thuriya and Thar Doe Oo were taken to the Mahabodhi Society building, established by Rakhine Merchants in Calcutta. They stayed there together with an Indian monk – Bikkhu U Zina-nanda (Jina-nanda), under whose guidance they continued their Buddhist study. There, Shin Chandra went for daily rounds of alms to obtain food from nearby houses of Rakhine families. One day, due to heavy torrential downpour, the Mahabodhi Society building in Kolkata collapsed and they had to move to another Buddhist Temple – the Maramargree Temple in Wari Pagan Road, Calcutta managed by Venerable Sayadaw Mahawira (Mahavira).
Sayadaw Mahawira was a Buddhist monk of ethnic Rakhine Maramargree parentage, who later became an Indian national. Sayadaw Mahawira, seeing the novices needed better education, decided to send the young and eager Rakhine novices to a Head Teacher, Gawwinna Sarsakareen for continuing their education, and thereafter, to another Head Teacher, Ziwa Nanda. Sayadaw Mahawira also rented a house at Gamma village in Wasipur district of Calcutta, for the novices to study Pali, Hindi as well as modern sciences.
The village became overcrowded with noise and traffic that Sayadaw Mahawira decided to look for a place in Kushinagar. A Rakhine merchant U Kyi Zayi (Khee Zarhee) who heard about the Sayadaw’s plan offered to donate money. On his journey to Kushinagar, the initial one thousand Indian Rupees donated by U Kyi Zayi for the purchase of land and building of the temple was robbed by the Station Master and his associates. The robbers were eventually caught and tried and later jailed for 3-years.
Before long, Sayadaw Mahawira received additional donation in replacement for the same amount from Rakhine Merchant U Kyi Zayi that enabled him to purchase a plot of land and build the first Burmese Buddhist Vihara in Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh, India. Shin Chandra assisted Sayadaw in every way for three months until the completion.
Moved to Moulmein
There was an outbreak of cholera at that time of epidemic proportion. Fearing the safety of Shin Chandra, U Kyi Zayi made arrangements to transfer him to a safe place. He was accompanied by U Doe Aung, younger brother of U Kyi Zayi, and Moulmein City Commissioner U Kyaw Khine to Moulmein (Mawlamyaing), capital of Mon State in Myanmar. There, arrangements were made for him to study under Sayadaw U Sagara at Kadoe-KawHnat Monastery. There were also a German Bikkhu, a Japanese Bhikkhu and 40 other local monks residing at the place. After the rain-retreat, Shin Chandra was transferred to Mandalay to continue Buddhist study at various monasteries under four Sayadaws. They include: Myataung Temple, Padamya Temple, Northern Khinmakan Temple and Visuddha-rama Temple respectively, where he specialized in the three main Buddhist Canons, namely the Suttas, the Abhidhamma and Vinaya.
From Novice to Bhikkhu
At the age of 28 in the year 1903, Myanmar era 1265, on the 9th day of Tapodwe, sponsored by the Rakhine Merchant U Kyi Zayi, his wife, Daw Mi Chan Mra and younger brother, U Doe Aung from Calcutta, Shin Chandra was ordained a full-fledged Bhikkhu titled Ashin Chandramani (Ashin Sandaramani), in Panwar (which is situated now in southern Bangladesh). The ordination ceremony was presided by Sayadaw U Sandima of Akyub (Sittwe), in the presence of Visudayon Monastery Sayadaw of Mandalay, and forty invited monks in the Myanmar era 1265 on the 9th day of Tabodwe month, Monday at 8:00 am. Maung Kyaw Zan Hla, son of U Kyi Zayi and Daw Mi Chan Mra, was also initiated a novice at the same time. The ordination ceremony was attended by famous Sayadaws from various places from Myanmar, friends and Arakanese relatives from Kolkata and Bangladesh, known as Baruas and Maramagree.
A few months after the ordination in Sittwe, Ashin Chandramani went back to Kushinagar to join Sayadaw Mahawira. He assisted Sayadaw complete the building of Kushinagar Monastery, and spent time teaching three fellow Myanmar monks in Hindi and Sanskrit, and Buddhist literatures to five local Indians.
For the next few years, Venerable Ashin Chandramani, who was well versed in Hindi and Pali languages, translated and published many books which include ‘The Dhammapada’. He also translated into Myanmar, two well-established traditional medicine books, entitled ‘Thaw-raw-da-ya’ and ‘In-sa-na Nidan’, which were available in Sanskrit. Other religious books included Mahasatipatthana Sutta; Anatta-lakkhana Sutta and Singi-ti Sutta. Sayadaw had written many other Buddhist books, documents and journals and also translated them into Hindi to enable the Indians to understand and develop interest in Buddhism.
The Fight for Bodh Gaya Myanmar Vihara
A brick and mortar building located near the Maha Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya, called the ‘Kuthodaw Rest House’, was donated by King Mindon of Burma during his reign. Many years after, the local Hindu inhabitants one day attacked the residents, and the resident monk, Sayadaw Ashin Sanda Zawti sustained injuries and had to leave the building. Ironically, Burmese monks and lay Buddhist worshippers from that time on were driven away from the building and were not allowed to stay, as Hindu Zawti Razar, Mahanttaki wrested control of the building through a deed which they claimed to be the owners.
In 1891, Anagarika Dhammapala who was on a pilgrimage to the Mahabodhi Temple was shocked to find not only the Temple in hands of the Hindu priests, but the Buddha image was altered and desecrated into a Hindu idol. All Buddhists were barred from worship there. On behalf of Mahabodhi Society, Anagarika Dhammapala, in 1908, filed a lawsuit against the Hindu Brahmin priests at the local court to have the Mahabodhi Temple and related structures such as Myanmar Buddhist Vihara donated by King Mindon, be returned to the Buddhist community.
The Hindu Mahant engaged famous lawyers to defend the suit. Lawyers from Mahant side claimed that King Mindon had given the deeds of the building to them. The documents were presented to the court as evidence. The deeds were actually given for safekeeping, and thus, the Mahant had no authority to fully take over the Temple. The judge asked that more evidence be provided to prove that the building was intended solely for Buddhist monks and Buddhist pilgrims. Dhammapala indicated that King Thibaw, the son of King Mindon, exiled by the British to Ratanagiri, a place near Bombay, was still alive, and could therefore provide better information. Dhammapala requested Venerable Ashin Chandramani to assist him to get information from King Thibaw.
Dhammapala accompanied by Ashin Chandramani and team went to Ratanagiri and met with King Thibaw. The King explained to them that while he was a prince, he organized a collection of diamonds, emeralds, gold and other valuable items from the Palace to be decorated at the Mahabodhi Temple. He also sent a Myanmar mission led by Nyaungwun Scribe, Mahahminhla Thinkharya to construct a Vihara for accommodating the monks and pilgrims at a cost of around five thousand silver rupees.
King Thibaw mentioned to Ashin Chandramani that the eleventh Haymanarayan Guru, the Hindu Mahant was given one thousand silver rupees by his father King Mindon to look after the safety of the building. The twelfth Mahant, Trishargardayar Guru who defended the law suit, succeeded Haymanarayan Guru upon the latter’s demise, was not aware of the arrangement made by King Mindon. Although Dhammapala recounted the evidence of the meeting and the discussion held with King Thibaw, the Judge decided in favour of the Mahant since such evidence was inadmissible. The loosing of the court case meant that the highly valued Myanmar Buddhist Vihara at Bodh Gaya, donated by King Mindon, which was primarily meant for the benefit of Buddhist monks and pilgrims to Bodh Gaya, was lost forever to the Hindu Mahant (Zawgi Razar) and their descendents.
Expansion of Myanmar Viharas
Around 1905, Venerable U Chandramani managed to acquire a plot of land and built a small monastery near the Migadawon Dhammekha Ceti, long before the Government of India declared the Migadawon Deer Park as an archaeological site. It is the prime property adjacent to it and west of Nandiya Vihara, donated by the rich man Nandiya during the time of the Buddha. A two-storied rest house – DHAMMACHAKKA VIHARA – was built for pilgrims in 1908 and completed in 1910 with donations from U Mya Tun and family of Rakhine State.
In 1921, Venerable Ashin U Kittima, son of Ashin Chandramani’s sister Daw Hnin Nyo from Rakhine, joined U Chandramani at the Migadawon Monastery. In 1928, U Kittima took over the management of Migadawon Dhammachakka Vihara. Venerable U Kittima organized and supervised the construction of additional buildings at the Migadawon Vihara, such as Pilgrim rest house, Maha Wizitawi Sima House, and Thadhammayanthi Pitaka Library with the donors from Myanmar, under the guidance of Ven. U Chandramani.
Venerable U Chandramani of Kushinagar with the support of Venerable U Thuriya of Tha-yet-taw-taik, Yangon, Venerable U Kittima of Sarnath, Venerable U Kawthala of Pha-yar-gyi-taik, Yangon, together with four Upasakas and four Upasikas established the “Sarnath Buddhist Society” with the sole aim of reviving the decadent Buddha sasana in the land of origin.
Around mid-1940s during the Second World War period, Venerable U Kittima organized and supervised the construction of a monastery in Sigara, Varanasi, with the donations from his Arakanese devotees from Sandarvan (Bangala-awa island). The monastery was named as “Sigara Burmese Buddhist Temple”. In 1958, a Dhamma Hall was added to this Temple, with the donation from Sir U Thwin and family. The Sigara Myanmar Buddhist Vihara in Varanasi still exists to date and pilgrims from Myanmar, Bangladesh, and elsewhere from India are still using as a pilgrim centre.
Taking the helm of Kushinagar Vihara
Venerable Mahawira was responsible for restoring the main stupa of Mahaparinibbana to put it back to its right place as a sacred shrine. Sayadaw also built a Buddhist Vihara and Dhamma Hall in 1902-03. In 1920, Sayadaw Mahawira passed away at the age of 85, and Ashin U Chandramani succeeded as Head Sayadaw of Kushinagar Vihara, its related structures and other assets. Sayadaw changed the name of the Vihara to “Kushinagar Myanmar Buddhist Vihara”. Many people around Kushinagar knew the temple as “Chandramani Bhikku Dhammasala”. Sayadaw U Chandramani was granted permission by the court with the responsibility to supervise and manage donations only from pilgrims coming to the Mahaparinibbana temple, but not the monuments and temple ground. He nevertheless continued the good work of his predecessor by gaining the management, cleared the forest growth by cutting away trees and bushes and maintained and managed the actual site of Buddha Parinirvana, founded by archaeologists during the excavation in 1877. The present form of the stupa and the temple with reclining Buddha in nibbanna posture was restored in 1927, by Venerable U Chandramani, with donations from U Po Kyu and U Po Hlaing from Burma. The Indian Government in 1954 celebrating 2500 years of Buddhism, rebuilt the “Parinirvana Ceti” and a monastic cave to house the statue of the reclining Buddha.
The Sayadaw also established the “Kushinagar Bhikkhus Sangha Association” and was able to buy and manage 50 acres of land for cultivation and produce paddy and other crops for use at the monastery. Sayadaw started a primary school, called “Chandramani Primary School,” to give education and accommodate the children of poor families. Within a year, the school population increased to more than 350 students and 3 full-time teachers were hired. The school was later upgraded to middle and high school levels, and eventually handed over to the Government to run as public school. A few years later, Sayadaw built the Kushinagar Degree College, with a capacity to accommodate 500 students, using donations from local wealthy well-wishers. This college still stands today as a symbol of the Sayadaw’s love and affection for the poor people in and around Kushinagar. Sayadaw also built a traditional medicine clinic in the compound of Vihara to provide health care to the poor people from nearby villages.
Since 1924, the Sayadaw organized an annual event of a month-long Buddhist festival, in conjunction with water pouring for the Bodhi tree commencing from the Myanmar months (Kasone and Nayone) or May and June, in commemoration of Gotama Buddha attainment of enlightment under a Bodhi tree on the full-moon day of Kason (vasek). In 1956, coinciding with the 2500 years of Buddha Sasana, the celebration was named “Buddha Jayanti”, and with the support of Indian Government, similar celebrations spread to other places of India. This traditional annual Buddha Jayanti festival in May/June is still conducted till date.
Around 1930, Sayadaw asked all Buddhist monks staying at various Buddha Places to join him as “Majjhimadesa Maha Sangha Organization”. Since the Indian Government would not accept an organization formed by non-Indian nationals, Sayadaw U Chandramani of Kushinagar and Sayadaw U Sandimar of Varanasi decided to become naturalized Indian citizens. The Sangha organization was formed with Sayadaw U Chandramani as President, and Ashin Sandimar as Secretary. Sravasti Jetavana Sayadaw U Mahinda, Migadawon Sayadaw U Kittima also served as members.
Sayadaw also participated as a representative of Buddhist monks from India at the Sixth World Buddhist Council Conference, organized by the Government of Myanmar under the leadership of Prime Minister U Nu, held at the Mahapasana Cave in Kaba-aye, Yangon in May 1954. The Sayadaw was involved in the discussion of a topic in Hindi and Sayadaw U Kittima of Migadawon translated them into Myanmar. In 1955, Sayadaw also joined the World Buddhist Conference organized by King Mahindra of Nepal, in Kathmandu.
Sayadaw received thousands of lower caste ‘untouchable’ Indians to become Buddhists, and one of the largest one was the ordination of over 200,000 people on a single day at the gathering at Nagpur in the presence of their leader Dr Ambedkar in October 1956.
Sayadaw passed away at the age of 97 years, in the second month of Tagoo, Myanmar era of 1334 (May 1972) at the Myanmar Buddhist Vihara, Kushinagar.
Successors
Sayadaw Venerable Acharya Buddharakkhita, founder-President of Maha Bodhi Society, Bangalore was born to a Bengali Brahmin family in the then eastern state of Manipur in Imphal, India, on March 12, 1922, a full moon day. A bright student, he graduated from the Institute of Engineering Technology, Calcutta in Automobile Engineering. He joined the Government of India Defence Ordinance. The job took him to various places during the Second World War. He saw destruction of life and property and misery that the war brought to the lives of people, which led him to turn towards spirituality. He resigned his job and left his home in search of truth and freedom. For some years, he travelled through the length and breadth India and studied Indian religions in various institutions.
He studied Buddhism as a novice under the guidance of Sayadaw U Chandamani, Chief Abbot of Maha Parinirvana Myanmar Buddhist Vihara at Kushinagar. He undertook extensive Buddhist studies, both in India and Nepal, the same year. Sayadaw Chandramani sent him to Sri Lanka to study Pali and Buddhism. He worked hard and passed Buddhist study examinations gaining the title of “Tripitaka-cariya”. In 1948, he returned to Kushinagar Burmese Temple, and took ordination as a Buddhist monk sponsored by pilgrims from Sittwe. He was sent to Burma (Myanmar) to study Buddhist literature and to practice meditation under the renowned master Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw. He was a member of the Indian delegation to the Sixth World Buddhist Congregation held at Yangon (Burma) in 1954, and served as a member of editorial board, which published a complete edition of the Pali canon. He taught Buddhist literature for a few years at the Nalanda Pali Postgraduate Institute, Bihar.
In order to spread the teachings of the Buddha in his own way, he established the Mahabodhi Society in Bangalore, southern India, on a piece of land offered by Maha Upasika Mrs. B. Moonasinghe, niece of Anagarika Dhammapala, which she received from the Maharaja of Mysore for the purpose of building a Buddhist centre in Bangalore. Thus, the Maha Bodhi Society of Bangalore was founded in 1956. In 2001, seeing the urgent need of training good monks in India, Sayadaw Buddharakkhita started another historic movement by opening Mahabodhi Monastic Institute in Bangalore, on the auspicious day of 2545th Buddha Jayanti Celebrations. At age 85 years, he went on to establish the Mahabodhi Academy for Pali and Buddhist Studies, the first of its kind in the whole of India, which provide Diploma courses with the aim of spreading the teachings of the Buddha as widely as possible. This is one of the fruits and trees grown by Myanmar Buddhist pioneer Sayadaw U Chandramani, in his revival of Buddha Dhamma in India.
Sayadaw U Nyanissara
Sayadaw U Chandramani called Ashin U Nyanissara (present Chief Resident Monk, Kushinagar Myanmar Buddhist Vihara) from Myanmar to join him at Kushinagar in 1963, to study Buddhist literature and modern education in India, and also to help him to manage the Monastery. In 1969, the ailing Sayadaw U Chandramani handed over the management of the Kushinagar Monastery and related works to Ashin Nyanissara.
After Sayadaw U Chandramani passed away in 1972 at the Myanmar Buddhist Vihara, Kushinagar, Ashin Nyanissara succeeded as the Chief Resident Monk of Kushinagar Myanmar Buddhist Vihara.
In 1987, Sayadaw U Kittima of Sigara Monastery handed over to Sayadaw Nyanissara, the control and administrative responsibilities of Sigara Burmese Buddhist Monastery in Varanasi and Migadawon Monastery in Sarnath. Later Sayadaw U Nyanissara requested Sayadaw U Wannadhaza to look after the Migadawon Monastery at the same time.
Epilogue
Through out his entire life, Sayadaw U Chandramani had dedicated his unselfish services and efforts towards the restoration, revival and reclamation of the Buddha Sasana. He shines like a beacon that lights the path for those who had lost their ways and became deluded, thus putting Buddhism back on track to its rightful place of origin. He was the proud son of Myanmar, of Rakhine-Arakanese parentage.
A Burmese poem roughly translates his attributes:
“When an opportunity arises
and the time is ripe,
he will become well-known and
famous like a lotus leaf
fully spreads out in the midday sun.
Compare and observe.”
Compiled by Dr. U Than Sein, 6 November 2007
Edited by Harry Than Htut, November 30, 2007.
 
Reference:
1. The Life Story of Sri Bhaddhanta Chandramani Mahathera, published by U Chandramani Foundation, Myanmar Buddhist Temple, Sarnath, Varanasi, May 2002
2.     The Light of Majjhimadesa, Volume 2, May 2004, U Chandramani Foundation, Myanmar Buddhist Temple, Sarnath, Varanasi  
3.http:/www.rakhapura.com/UChandramani/ Saradawgree_Birthplace.asp
{Ashin U Nyanissara is also known as Sant Gyaneshwar}
4. Paragu, Working People’s Daily’, 15-5-72, Rangoon, Burma
5. Myint Swe, Working People’s Daily’, 23-6-72, Rangoon, Burma

……….
Sources: Myanmarvihara


The greatest religious conversion in the history of mankind took place on 14 October 1956 at a 14-acre vacant plot of land now known as ‘Diksha Bhumi’ in Nagpur, Maharashtra. On that historic day, 380,000 Dalits (Untouchables) converted to Buddhism under the leadership of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. The person chosen by Dr. Ambedkar to administer the Three Refuges and Five Precepts was none other than Sayadaw U Chandramani of Kushinagar, whom Dr. Ambedkar regarded as his true mentor. The Nagpur conversion was indeed a great miracle because never before in the history of any religion in the world has so many people at one time and at the instance of one man changed their religion voluntarily.
Why, of all Buddhist monks living in India at that time, did such an intelligent leader as Dr. Ambedkar choose Ven. U Chandramani, a Burmese Sayadaw to be his Dhamma guru and mentor? The answer to this question is revealed by reading life story of this noble personage, whom many regard as the “Hero of the Sasana” in India.
The Early Years
Sayadaw U Chandramani was born on June 1876 in Akyab district (modern Sittwe) of Arakan (Rakkhine) State in Myanmar. He was the eldest of three siblings, born to rich parents. At the age of ten, he studied under his uncle Sayadaw Ashin U Sandimar, a famous
Tipitaka teacher. Two tears later he became a samanera and was named Shin Chandra (‘Shin’ in Burmese means ‘novice’). At that time, Anagarika Dhammapala and Colonel Olcott, founders of the Maha Bodhi Society of India had arrived in Sittwe to help form a
Maha Bodhi Society there. At a meeting in Sittwe, Colonel Olcott explained the necessity of reviving the Buddha Sasana in India and suggested that a young novice who had the necessary courage and qualifications should be selected, trained and posted to India. Finally two novices from Sayadaw U Sandimar’s monastery, Shin Chandra and Shin Thuriya were chosen for the task. In November 1891, Shin Chandra and Shin Thuriya, together with student, Thar Doe Oo, as attendant and companion, set sail on the noble mission for India.
On arrival, the trio went to stay at to the Kuthodaw Rest House in Bodhgaya built by King Mindon (1808−1878) near the Bodhi tree. They were placed under the charge of a learned Sri Lankan monk, Ven. Chandajoti, who lived there with three other Sri Lankan bhikkhus namely: Ven. Sumangala, Ven. Pemmananda and Ven. Sudassana. The Hindu Mahant who was occupying the Mahabodhi Temple objected to the presence of the bhikkhus. In February 1892, he instigated his followers to ransack the Rest House resulting in two of the monks being severely beaten up by his men. Luckily, theBurmese novices and their attendant  were out with some visitors.
When news of the attack reached Anagarika Dhammapala and Colonel Olcott, they travelled from Calcutta to rescue Ven. Chandajoti, Shin Chandra, Shin Thuriya and Thar Doe Oo. A pupil of Ven. Sumangala, who also suffered some beating, accompanied them to stay in a house near Gaya. It took Ven. Sumangala four months in hospital to recover. From that time onwards, no Buddhist monks or lay worshippers were allowed to stay at the Kuthodaw Rest
House.
Horrified by the incident, Shin Chandra went back to Burma in 1892 but returned to Calcutta within a few months, in 1893, with great determination to continue his mission in India. In Calcutta, Shin Chandra and Thar Doe Oo met the Arakanese merchant U Kyi Zayi who was so impressed by the young samanera that he decided to provide them lodgings at the Arakanese Maha Bodhi Society building. They stayed there with an Indian monk, Ven. U Jinananda who acted as their tutor. Unfortunately the Society broke up just before the start of the 1895 rains-retreat, and the novice and his friend had to move to another temple under the charge of Ven. Mahawira. He was so impressed by the keenness of Shin Chandra,
that he rented a small house for them at Gamma Village in Ghazipur District, where Shin Chandra studied Pali, Hindi and Sanskrit under an Indian Pandit Jarnegayran. It was in Gamma Village that both Shin Chandra and Thar Doe Oo started to eat only vegetarian meals.
Meanwhile Ven. Mahawira was thinking of returning to his permanent abode in Kushinagar. When U Kyi Zayi heard this, he approached Ven. Mahawira and expressed his wish to donate a monastery provided a suitable plot of land was found in Kushinagar. Ven. Mahawira went there to search for a suitable site and found one. He negotiated with the Hindu landowner to sell him a five-acre plot of land at thirty-five rupees per acre and informed U Kyi Zayi who
donated one thousand rupees to start the building. Unfortunately on the way to Kushinagar, Ven. Mahawira was robbed of all the cash and he had to put up temporarily with a Hindu Sadhu nearby.
Shin Chandra Comes to the Rescue of Ven. Mahawira
One day, a letter came from U Kyi Zayi in Calcutta explaining that he had donated one thousand rupees to Ven. Mahawira to build a monastery in Kushinagar. He suggested that Shin Chandra should go there to assist. Although he only had half a rupee for the train fare, Shin Chandra and a Punjabi friend named Yogi set out on foot. After three days walking, they got a train and arrived at Deoria Station the next morning. There they heard the bad news that Ven. Mahawira had been robbed. They did not know where he was but heard rumors that he was still at Gorakhpur town, about 50 miles away. So they took a train to Gorakhpur only to learn that he was actually in Kushinagar 35 miles away. Shin Chandra and Yogi started off on foot on that 35-mile journey to find Ven. Mahawira staying with a Hindu Sadhu. Shin Chandra cabled U Kyi Zayi with details of what had happened. Soon they received another donation of one thousand rupees from U Kyi Zayi to start the building, with a further guarantee that any additional money required would also be provided by him. Ven. Mahawira then bought the plot of land in 1898. Shin Chandra assisted him with the buying and storage of building materials including timber, bricks and mortar.
Scriptural Training and Higher Ordination in Burma
Three months later, Shin Chandra returned to Gamma village to resume his studies. While he was there the Head Teacher suddenly died of cholera. Shin Chandra became very sad and depressed. When U Kyi Zayi learned about the tragedy, he quickly arranged to send him back to Moulmein to spend the rains-retreat in 1899. After the rain-retreat, Shin Chandra was transferred to Mandalay where he studied the Pali Scriptures under several renowned teachers and attained mastery in Pali and Buddhist Philosophy. While studying, he also was teaching Sanskrit to other students, notably to a novice, Shin Sakkapala, who in later life was to become a well-known Aggamahapandita, Taung Pauk Sayadaw.
While in Mandalay, Shin Chandra also received Higher Ordination (Upasampada) at the Panwar Vihara (also known as Ramugrama Vihara) in February 1903. His preceptor was his uncle Sayadaw U Sandimar of Akyab. Our new Bhikkhu, Ashin Chandramani, followed Sayadaw U Sandimar to Akyab. After two months in Akyab, he returned to Kushinagar to stay with Ven. Mahawira.
Together with three other monks, they spent vassa (rain-retreat) that year in Kushinagar. He spent his time teaching his three fellow monks Hindi, Sanskrit and Pali, as well as Buddhist literature to five local Indians. Ashin Chandramani also assisted in completing the unfinished parts of the building that U Kyi Zayi had donated.
Thereafter Ashin Chandramani started to translate the Dhammapada into Hindi and in 1909 a thousand copies were distributed in India. He also translated two important medical books from Sanskrit to Burmese. His translation from Pali into Hindi and Sanskrit included Maha Satipatthana Sutta, Anatta Lakkhana Sutta and Sangiti Sutta. He spent most of his time translating other Buddhist books, documents and journals into Hindi and Sanskrit so that Indians would become interested in Buddhism and understand it better.
Passing Away of Venerable Mahawira
Ven. Mahawira, who was of Arakanese-Indian parentage, was the first Hindu in modern times to become a Buddhist monk. He was formerly a wrestler and while in Sri Lanka, he became interested in Buddhism. In 1890, he was ordained as a monk. In 1891, he returned to India and took up abode in Kushinagar. At that time, Kushinagar was a deserted place. Through the generosity of the merchant U Kyi Zayi and his wife Daw Mi Chan Mra, Ven. Mahawira was able to purchase a 5-acre plot of land near the Mahaparinibbana Temple and
construct a Rest House in 1901, followed by a Buddha Vihara in 1902. It was in that monastery he passed away in March 1919, at a ripe old age of 85. Sayadaw U Chandramani was left to make the funeral arrangements in consultation with his local devotees and
friends, and upon hearing the sad news U Kyi Zayi donated one thousand rupees towards the funeral expenses. The body of Ven. Mahawira was cremated and his ashes were enshrined in a small brick stupa within the grounds of the Mahaparinibbana Temple. Sayadaw U Chandramani then continued his mission as Abbot of the Burmese Buddhist Monastery in Kushinagar.
Establishing a Monastery in Sarnath
After the demise of Ven. Mahawira, Sayadaw U Chandramani worked even harder to revive the Buddha Sasana in India. In 1908, he established a small monastery in Migadarvoon (Deer Park) forest in Sarnath where the Lord Buddha had preached the First Sermon. Later, his nephew Ashin U Kittima came to stay in the Migadarvoon forest (Isipatana) and was trained in the local languages and Buddhist literature. Thereafter he was put in charge of the monastery and Sayadaw U Chandramani returned to Kushinagar. The weather at Migadarwoon Forest was bad and food was scarce. Some devotees from the Andaman Islands built a brick building in Varanasi at a cost of some thirty thousand rupees and donated it to Ashin Kittima. The Forest Monastery at Migadarwoon had no permanent resident monk
at that time; however, a watchman was employed to look after the Monastery and the pilgrims.
Confirming Kushinagar as Site of Mahaparinibbana
In 1901 Sayadaw U Chandramani and the merchant U Kyi Zayi applied to the English Governor of India in Calcutta seeking his permission to allow pilgrims to worship the historic reclining Buddha image inside the Mahaparinibbana temple. The Governor in turn referred their application to the Indian Law Department in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. The Lucknow Law Department replied that it had not been officially established that Kushinagar was the site of Lord Buddha’s Mahaparinibbana although the minister-in-charge of the Antiquities Department had stated that it was so but others had disputed it. Further excavations of the Mahaparinibbana site revealed the presence of several copper blocks containing Brahmi characters.
As the Indian Stone Inscription Research Department was unable to decipher them, the copper blocks were sent to London for verification. After two years, the British experts deciphered the Brahmi script to read as follows: The Lord Buddha passed away here on this site.” Only then did the Indian Government officially recognize Kushinagar as the site of the Buddha’s Mahaparinibbana. Thus the ancient Mahaparinibbana Temple once again became a living shrine. Its possession by Sayadaw U Chandramani in 1904 was a significant step in the Buddhist revival movement. It has made Kushinagar one of the most sacred Buddhist shrines for pilgrims to visit and worship.
Acquisition of land to support Sasana growth
To support the growth of the Buddha Sasana in poverty-stricken rural India, it was necessary for the Burmese Buddhist Temple to be selfsufficient. Before long, fourteen acres of bush situated thirty miles from Kushinagar were acquired. Volunteers cut down the trees and the local villagers who rented the land prepared it for cultivation and planted various crops. The villagers had prepared the deed of the rented land in the name of U Chandramani. This was followed by the acquisition of ten acres situated at the front of the Kushinagar Temple, and another ten acres at the back of the Temple at a total cost of two hundred fifty rupees. These twenty acres of land were contracted out to a supporter at a nearby village for cultivation.
Gradually, this land became very important to Sayadaw U Chandramani and a vital aspect of his Sasana promotional work.
Twelve years passed by. One day an Englishman named Nicol Masaye, District Commissioner of Deoria came to Kushinagar to pay his respects first to the Mahaparinibbana Buddha statue and then to Sayadaw U Chandramani. Mr. Masaye mentioned that he had travelled to many countries and had seen many large and attractive images but had never seen one as life-like and capable of arousing the emotions as this Mahaparinibbana Buddha image. In his opinion it was the most original and most beautiful object in the world. Mr. Nicol Masaye further enquired how a foreign Bhikkhu like Sayadaw could survive in Kushinagar; whether he had any friends there to rely upon, and how many acres of land he had to survive on. Surprised to find out that Sayadaw only owned 34 acres he suggested that Sayadaw should look for more land and make an application to him. He added that as the Indian Government was then in the process of drawing up legislation to nationalize the country’s farmland, Sayadaw should act quickly and he would help. Before he returned to
Deoria he also asked Sayadaw to inform him if he ever was in need of urgent help as Sayadaw was a foreigner.
Accepting the District Commissioner’s offer, Sayadaw selected a plot of bush measuring about fifty acres situated about 2½ km from Kushinagar. The application was submitted in the name of Sayadaw U Chandramani to the District Commissioner’s Office in Deoria. When news of the application leaked out, people from five nearby villages protested strongly and filed an objection as follows:
• U Chandramani was a foreigner and as such he should not be  given the right to hold the         deeds of any Indian land;
• The fifty acres was not bush but pasture used for grazing cattle  and oxen and belonged to    the five villages;
• There was a Mahashiva Cave, a religious cave respected by all races living in the land (Note: the Cave was installed overnight  as soon as the news of Sayadaw’s application leaked out and  spread to the villagers);
• If it were to be given away as agricultural land, only the surrounding villagers should share it.
Not only did the villagers protest against Sayadaw’s application, they also boycotted the five families who supported Sayadaw. The Land Office came to investigate and found that the land actually was bush and the Cave was a new one hastily put up overnight. However, a
District Officer examined the case and decided that U Chandramani should not be given all fifty acres but only ten acres.
Sayadaw U Chandramani was not satisfied with the District Officer’s decision and hired a lawyer to lodge an appeal. The District Commissioner, Mr Nicol Masaye, advised Sayadaw not to send the appeal in his name alone because the law did not permit sole ownership of fifty acres or more of Government land. He suggested that Sayadaw should form an association and apply for ownership in the name of the association. Sayadaw therefore invited bhikkhus from Kushinagar and Varanasi, and together they formed an association called ‘Kushinagar Bhikkhu Sangha Association’, headed by Sayadaw U Chandramani as President. The Committee members were Ashin Dhammarakkhita of Kushinagar, and U
Kittima, U Ezzutananda and U Pyinna Wontha of Varanasi.
Not long after that, the Deoria DC invited Sayadaw and the leaders of the five villages to his Office and tried to mediate an amicable settlement. Mr. Masaye explained that even though U Chandramani was a foreigner, the Bhikkhu himself had been living amongst them and struggling to survive in that land, and therefore he thought the Bhikkhu deserved the fifty acres. The village leaders disagreed and continued to strongly protest against the Bhikkhus’ application. Mr. Masaye gave up trying to mediate between the Bhikkhus and the
villagers. Using his authority, and in line with the prevailing law of the country, he finally made a decision and granted ownership of the fifty-acres of land to the Kushinagar Bhikkhu Sangha Association.
 Decision of Indian High Court
The villagers were very unhappy with the Deoria DC’s decision and appealed to the High Court in Allahabad. While the case was in progress, Sayadaw instructed his workers to prepare the land for cultivation. Immediately, the villagers armed with sticks and swords
tried to stop the workers. Sayadaw, convinced that having won the DC’s decision he had the right to cultivate the land, instructed his men to continue working. The Government then sent fifty policemen to guard the workers and stop any untoward incident. After three months, the Allahabad High Court decided in Sayadaw’s favor. The villagers had to pay court costs as well. Dissatisfied with the outcome, they appealed to the Supreme Court in :ew Delhi.
While awaiting a decision from the Supreme Court and with the policemen still there guarding the land, Sayadaw continued to fell the trees. The villagers came out to buy the timber and the Association made about 2500 rupees in the first instance and altogether 5000
rupees. Using that money Sayadaw had transformed a wild bush into cultivated farmland in spite of opposition by the protesting villagers.
After one and a half years, the decision from the Supreme Court in New Delhi came. Sayadaw had again won the case and the villagers had lost including the court costs. Only then did they accept the verdict and give up their fight. But they made so much trouble for Sayadaw’s supporters, that the five families were afraid to continue living in the village. The police were doing their best to protect Sayadaw as well as his supporters. Such were the hostile circumstances in which Sayadaw had to face to promote the Buddha Sasana, always urging his supporters to work hard and transform idle bush into arable farmland.
Five more village families came over to support Sayadaw, making a total of ten families. However, there was still no peace, since the protesters from the five villages continually sought every possible opportunity to create trouble for them. It took seven years to transform the bush into arable farmland. In the meantime, the Kushinagar Bhikkhu Sangha Association decided to insert into the Land Title that whatever produce obtained out of those fifty acres of land, the resident Bhikkhus of the Kushinagar Temple would have sole responsibility to manage and benefit from it. Sayadaw then had over fifty acres of farmland, including the thirty-four acres bought previously in his own name. That farmland was rented out to the
villagers and every year he collected about twenty wooden bowls (one hundred kilos) of rice in place of rent.
There was a five-acre plot of land on which Sayadaw had planted fruit trees and these trees were growing to form a beautiful garden. The rest of the land produced other crops and vegetables according to the season. Sayadaw appointed five of his Indian supporters from
the village to oversee the work in the fields and the security of the workers. Slowly but surely the situation with the surrounding villagers improved and peace was restored. The villagers could buy the seasonal produce cheaply from Sayadaw’s fields including rice, fruits and vegetables; they could also rent plots of land from Sayadaw to raise farm animals such as cows, pigs and chickens. The situation therefore improved so much that the people from the five villages, except a minority of the stubborn leaders, happily greeted Sayadaw as their ‘Chandramani Baba’ and respectfully touched his feet in Indian custom whenever they met him in the street. Hence through his untiring efforts, patience, determination and
goodwill, he earned their respect.
Not long after peace had been completely restored with the villagers, Sayadaw received a letter from his childhood friend, the former Shin Thuriya, who first came to India with him. Thuriya was now a layman and he had established himself in Akyab as a prosperous rice
merchant. Sayadaw was very happy to receive his friend’s letter and reminisced about his long past as he replied to his friend. Sayadaw then allowed Maung Pho Yin who had accompanied him to Kushinagar to go on leave to his native village. As for Sayadaw, he was quite content to remain in Kushinagar looking after the pilgrims, monks and lay people alike. He made sure his guests had the things they needed and supported them morally and physically in any way he could. He was always looking forward to the revival of Buddha
Sasana and better days to come in Majjhimadesa or India.
Facing problems even with a Puja Ceremony
Once, Ven. Mahawira and Sayadaw U Chandramani organized a Puja ceremony to commemorate the Parinibbana of the Lord Buddha by burning a 25-foot long paper model of the Mahaparinibbana statue at the Cremation Stupa. The celebration was conducted on the
full moon day of Wesakha. It was organized by the DC of Deoria and was very well attended. In order to include the Hindus in the celebration, a Hindu Sadhu was invited to light up the paper figure of the Buddha. His act drew protests from the crowd who declared that the Sadhu had become their enemy. By putting a torch to the effigy of the Gautama Buddha who was their enemy and who had different views from their own, the Sadhu had sinned. They screamed and shouted at the Sadhu and boycotted him. He suffered so much abuse in his village that he could bear it no longer. Therefore, he applied to DC’s Court in Deoria seeking to prevent discrimination against him. The District Commissioner invited all the Hindu leaders from Kushinagar and Deoria District to a meeting. Among those attending the meeting were Ven. Mahawira and Sayadaw U Chandramani, the representative from the Antiquities Dept. and many Hindu Sadhus. The DC who chaired the meeting asked the Hindu leaders why the person in question should be ostracized. They unanimously replied
that the Buddha was their enemy and because the Sadhu had put a torch to the effigy of the Buddha, he had sinned.
The DC then quoted from the Ramayana Epic citing the abduction of King Rama’s wife, Sita, by the wicked King Dasagiri and asked if Dasagiri was a foe or a friend of Rama whom they all worshipped. They replied that King Dasagiri was the foe of King Rama. The DC
asked if it was true that they made an effigy of King Dasagiri their enemy, and put a torch to the effigy each year. They agreed and said that as Hindu sages they took turns to burn the effigy. When asked if that person was sinning against their belief they agreed that was not
the case. The DC then concluded that if a Hindu sage were to put a torch to their enemy Buddha’s effigy, he was not committing a sin by the same reason. The DC warned that there were laws to prevent discrimination and victimization and he had no choice but to take
appropriate action. The Hindu leaders were reluctant to press on with their argument and agreed to take the Hindu Sage back into their association. Satisfied with this, The DC compensated the Sadhu one hundred rupees, with an instruction that he should invite all the
Hindu sages to celebrate the occasion with a big feast.
No Drinking from a Well Belonging to a Low Caste
Ven. Mahawira and Ashin U Chandramani organized the digging of a well in the grounds of the Kushinagar Temple; its water was pure and very clear. Everyone including the surrounding villagers were allowed to use the well, in view of the scarcity and difficulty of
obtaining potable water in that area. However, a few Hindu Sages started to spread rumours that U Mahawira and U Chandramani were of low caste and hence the well dug by them should not be used for drinking or washing. It had not gone through a purification ceremony
as required by Hindu custom; therefore, Hindus must not drink or use that water and rumours were spread throughout the villages and surrounding district.
Sayadaw Mahawira and U Chandramani explained that as Buddhist monks, they were sons of the Buddha and as such, they had no high or low caste system. In Sri Lanka and Myanmar, the people did not perform any purification ceremony when they dug a well as there were no such instructions in the Buddhist texts. The villagers had been given permission to drink or make use of the water from the well and it was up to them to use it or not. Some villagers decided to drink and make full use of the water and some did not; even today, the situation remains as before, although some present day villagers are changing and are not bothered by this matter.
Opening of Free Schools And Colleges
In attempting to promote Buddha Sasana, it is acknowledged that young people are more acceptable to change than their elders. Keeping that in mind and in consultation with a visitor from Sri Lanka named Anagarika :uhawkawdar, Sayadaw U Chandramani had a bamboo-shed built within the compounds of the Kushinagar Temple and opened it as a non-fee paying Primary School. That was an opportunity for his antagonists to arouse the surrounding villagers and to cause some resentment. They declared that if the children were to go to that school, all of them would become Buddhists and lose their Hindu belief. At a meeting they decided that none of their children would be allowed to attend the Chandramani School.
However, the poorer families could not afford to take their children elsewhere; they had no choice but to educate them at a free school. As a result the Chandramani School had a first intake of five students secretly sent by their parents. A full-time teacher who was very dedicated and hard working was available to teach the five children. After failing to persuade the parents against sending their children to the school, the antagonists now abused and threatened the children on their way to the school and even harmed them. In spite of all this
mistreatment, the antagonists’ attempts failed; the number of students increased to forty within the first year.
In order to accommodate the increased intake, it was decided to erect a new brick building. Soon donors came forward to pay for the cost of the one-storey brick building named “Chandramani Primary School”; the name was carved in stone and a signpost proudly
displayed. The Chandramani Primary School gradually grew and enrolment reached 350 students and 3 full-time teachers. The children were very disciplined and their education improved. In consultation with the School Committee, Sayadaw U Chandramani then organized and built a Secondary School and handed it over to the Government. Again Sayadaw worked very hard to build a ‘:ew High School’ to his own taste and specifications; he organized and planned it with the help of the School Committee and was very successful. Sayadaw completely furnished the New High School and handed it over to the Government to run it. Not content with just building high schools, Sayadaw also built the ‘Kushinagar Degree College’ with an intake capacity of over five hundred students. This was made possible with the help of a rich man who owned a sugar mill, together with city dignitaries and parents of Gorakhpur town, who had great respect and regard for the Most Venerable Ashin U Chandra. The famous Kushinagar Degree College still stands today, as a symbol of the Sayadaw’s love and affection for his people.
Many pupils graduated from the Chandramani Primary, Secondary and High Schools and, even today, are working all over India, all of them occupying responsible positions. They were very grateful to Sayadaw and deeply respected him for his good deeds. Daily, between 100-150 pilgrims visit Sayadaw to pay their respects. Sayadaw was like a college professor and very highly regarded for his intimate knowledge of Hindu languages and local dialects and also for the appropriate use of them.
Sayadaw U Chandramani becomes an Indian Citizen
The promotion of the Buddha Sasana by Sayadaw U Chandramani alone could only achieved satisfactory results. In order to expand the Dhammaduta activities, Sayadaw invited all the Buddhist monks to a meeting. During the meeting, they agreed to form an organization called ‘Majjhimadesa Maha Sangha Organization’. (:ote: In Buddhist texts, Majjhimadesa is defined as the districts where the Lord Buddha was enlightened, traveled and preached His Dhamma.) The Majjhimadesa Maha Sangha Organization (MMSO) was headed by Kushinagar Sayadaw U Chandramani as President and Sravasti Jetavana Temple Sayadaw U Mahinda as Second President. Other members of the Committee were Varanasi Temple Sayadaw U Sandimar who was famous for his patience, and Sayadaw U Kittima, an expert in Myanmar and Pali literature, English, Hindi, Sanskrit and Urdu languages, as well as stone inscriptions. All the rest of the participating Sangha became members of MMSO.
Because the Indian Government did not recognize an organization formed by non-nationals, Saradaw U Chandramani and Saradaw U Sandimar decided to become naturalized Indian citizens. After that they could register MMSO officially. To fulfill the Organization’s aims, two Suttas, namely; Mangala Sutta and Parabhava Sutta were translated from Pali to Hindi and distributed countrywide. This was followed by translations & distributions of the Anattalakkhana Sutta and Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta.
With the formation of an officially recognized Bhikkhu Sangha organization, the Buddha Sasana is now set to grow just as a giant tree can only grow if its main root is firmly established. By becoming Indian citizens, Sayadaw U Chandramani and Sayadaw U
Sandimar had permanently planted their roots in India. The main person, who enthusiastically carried out the duties of the MMSO, was Ashin U Sandimar.
Revival of the Buddha Sasana in Nepal
According to history, Buddhism was a dominant religion until the time of King Jayasthiti Malla who ruled Nepal during medieval times (around 1382 C.E.). He imposed the Hindu caste system in Nepal and banned Buddhist culture and tradition forcing the celibate monks to disrobe and return to lay life.
Suppression of Buddhism by the Hindu rulers is seen by the fact that after Nepal came under British rule around 1816, Brian Hodgson went there as Assisant to the Resident in a new office. He obtained many manuscripts from Buddhist pundits such as Amrutananda and sent the collection to Asiatic Society of Bengal and to India House in Paris and other libraries. Once, Minister Rana Bahadur Jang of Nepal seized a Buddhist Vihara and threw away all the books on the street. Dr. Wrights, who was the Physician to the British Resident salvaged them and presented them to Cambridge University. It was from these sourses that Burnuff and his disciple Max Muller compiled the early history of Buddhism.
The situation worsened during the Rana regime, which ruled Nepal from 1846 to 1953 reducing the Shah monarch to a figurehead and making the Prime Minister and other government positions hereditary. That was the age when Buddhism was totally forgotten by the people of Nepal. The Rana regime banned all Buddhist activities and forbade people from converting to Buddhism but traditional Buddhists were allowed to become Hindus.
Ordination of Nepalese Bhikkhus
Sayadaw U Chandramani played a dominant role in reviving the Buddha Sasana in Nepal by ordaining Nepalese into the Sangha and guiding them in the Dhamma and Vinaya. At that time there was no Bhikkhu Sangha in Nepal. For centuries Nepalese were aware of only Buddhist priests (Vajracharya) from !ewar Buddhism (Vajrayana) and Tibetan Lamas. They were unaware of Theravada Buddhist monks and nuns. Vajracharyas are household monks. They lead domestic lives and are not celibate. Not all Tibetan monks are celibate. It depends on the school they belong to.
The first Nepalese to take ordination was Ven. Mahapragna, a Khattiya by birth. He was initially ordained as a ‘Gelung’ (Tibetan monk) in 1926. Later, he was arrested for his conversion from Hindu to Buddhist monk and exiled to India. There he met Sayadaw U Chandramani in Kusinagara. Impressed by Sayadaw, he ordained as a Bhikkhu paving the way for Theravada ordination once again in the history of modern Nepal after almost 600 years. Another Nepalese who converted from Gelung to bhikkhu under Sayadaw U
Chandramani was Ven. Pragyananda. He was the first yellow-robed monk to appear in the streets of Kathmandu valley at the end of 1930’s. He stayed at Kindol Vihara at the invitation of Dasaratna Shahu (later Ven. Dhammaloka) and gave discourses. The attendance at his discourses increased day by day and it worried the Rana government, which arrested all the members of Vihara all of whom were imprisoned, fined and later released. Fortunately, Ven. Pragnananda was away at that time on pilgrimage in India.
Soon after his release from prison, Dasaratna Shahu, came to Kusinagar and ordained under Sayadaw U Chandramani as a novice under the name of Dhammaloka in 1932. He returned to Nepal as a monk but was arrested immediately on his arrival in Kathmandu and was imprisoned once again for six days and on the seventh day was taken to Court. When questioned by the Judge, he told him that he was a Kathmandu resident and a Buddhist. The Judge asked why he was wearing such clothing; he replied that in India there were two
kinds of Buddhists, one ‘Gahatta’ and the other, ‘Anagariya’; the Anagariya Bhikkhus wore the kind of clothing he was wearing.
The Judge then asked the police why such an obviously innocent person had been arrested. The police said that if all Nepalese were to dress like that there would be all kinds of problems for the country, and that was the reason Dhammaloka was arrested. The Judge said
that not every Nepalese would act like that; only those who truly wished to reach Nirvana. The Judge therefore ruled that Ashin Dhammaloka was completely innocent and ordered him to be freed. Following his release from prison, he went to stay at Kindol Vihara and continued his religious activities. He was finally able to carry out religious activities freely in Nepal. He succeeded in propagating Theravada Buddhism in the streets of Kathmandu valley.
Ven. Ammitananda was another well-known Buddhist scholar and pioneer who ordained in 1936 under Sayadaw U Chandramani in Kusinagara but was imprisoned along with Ven. Mahapragna at Bhojpur in 1937. In 1942, he came back to Nepal from abroad after completing his study and gave discourses at the request of Ven. Dhammaloka in Swayambhu during vassa. His public discourses impressed many people who came to listen to him. Other bhikkhus, samaneras and nuns of Nepal studying abroad also returned to join him and gave public discourses in different places of Kathmandu valley. This was a great breakthrough during the repressive Rana government. The Rana government had banned all public assembly for fear of political unrest and demand for political reform in Nepal.
Because of their religious activities, the monks were arrested on 30 July 1944 and brought before the then Prime Minister Shamsher Jung Bahadur Rana. He made new rules to curtail the Buddhist activities. Those who didn’t follow these rules were asked either to
leave the country or return to worldly life. All the venerable monks, who were active in revival of Theravada in Nepal refused to obey the order and were exiled once again from Nepal. The exiled monks this time included Ven. Pragnananda, Ven. Dhammaloka and many other monks. The exiled monks formed ‘Dharmodaya Sabha’, Nepal’s first Buddhist organization on 30th November 1944 in India with Sayadaw U Chandramani as chairman and Ven. Amittananda as its general secretary.
When World War II ended in 1945, a Nepalese Bhikkhu returned home to test the situation; he found no one was giving him any trouble. Before long, some Nepalese Bhikkhus and Nuns in Kushinagar, bearing the powers of Triple Gems foremost in their minds, left for their homeland to carry on with the promotion of Theravada Buddhism. Sayadaw U Chandramani arranged to send some Bhikkhus to Myanmar and some to Sri Lanka to improve their education and knowledge of the scriptures. In Kathmandu, Ven.
Dhammaloka took charge of building a Theravada Buddhist temple. Another temple ‘Yanmangala Vihara’ was built in the same city where Ven. Buddhaghosa took charge as the Head Bhikkhu.
The King of Nepal donated one hundred thousand rupees to the Dharmodaya Sabha to build more Buddhist rest houses for the Theravada Buddhists. Ven. Dhammaloka and Ven. Amittananda, both Nepalese nationals, played leading roles in the building programme. Thus, Theravada Buddhism came to thrive in Nepal and Buddha Sasana was once again firmly established.
Thanks to Sayadaw U Chandramani, the Buddha Sasana has been revived in the land of Lord Buddha’s birth. Today there are 96 Theravada Viharas in the country, 303 Bhikkhus and Samaneras and 135 Anagarikas. Some are resident in Nepal and others are either studying or practising Dhamma overseas. (Source: The Ananda Bhoomi; year 33; issues 32 and 33).
Passing Away of Sayadaw U Chandramani
The Most Venerable Kushinagar Sayadaw Ashin Chandramani possessed all the necessary qualities, such as patience, courage, stamina and untiring effort to rebuild the Buddha Sasana in India, and to develop it in Nepal, and to carry on teaching and practicing both Vipassana and Loving Kindness meditation. In addition to his Dhammaduta activities, he took a keen interest in the education of the young people of Kushinagar because he knew that any change of mindset would have to come from the younger generation. As Kushinagar is world famous as the final resting place of the Buddha, many pilgrims as well as tourists make it a point to visit the Burmese Temple to pay their respects to Sayadaw, who was always concerned about the welfare of the pilgrims. While doing all that, he passed
away in the Kushinagar Burmese Temple on 8 May 1972 at the age of 97, having lived nearly 80 years as a Bhikkhu in India serving the cause of the Sasana with great determination and patience, despite all the hardships he faced including a very poor diet, poor
living conditions and environment.
To all of Sayadaw’s devotees, especially in India and Nepal, the news of his death was a great blow. He could never be replaced and they could never again find such a great missionary. He was truly the Hero of the Sasana in India. His death was a great loss to
everyone, especially his devotees in Kushinagar. A total of thirty-two countries mourned his death and hundreds of messages expressing deep sorrow were received. Devotees of his native town of Akyab (Sittwe) made a bronze statue of him and installed it in the local
monastery in 1973. A Burmese writer, U Tha Doe Hla of Mizan Quarter, Akyab wrote the book entitled “The Life Story of Sri Bhaddanta Chandramani of Kushinagar which was published in 1975 and translated into English in 1999. This article is extracted
from the book.
As a tribute to his life-long service to the Buddha Sasana in India, the U Chandramani Foundation Trust was established in 2000 AD to continue his noble task. In 2004, a devotee of Nagpur in Maharashtra State donated 13 acres of land with two old buildings at Bhanegaon Village near :agpur to the Foundation with the objective of starting a Buddhist center to propagate the Buddha’s Teaching among the local villagers who are mostly Dalits. The present Bhikkhu-in-charge of this centre is Sayadaw U Rakkhita Dhamma, a Myanmar monk closely associated with the author since 1996 in Chanmyay Yeiktha Meditation Centre in Yangon. Presently, Sayadaw U Rakkhita Dhamma has a busy schedule teaching the local villagers about the Buddha Dhamma and conducting Vipassana and Metta meditation
classes. Each year, he holds a novitiate programme for the local youths and leads them on alms round to the surrounding villages to acquaint them with Buddhist traditions.
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The Origin of Ref:
Buddhist Pilgrimage
New Edition 2009
By
Chan Khoon San
Printed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia by:
Majujaya Indah Sdn. Bhd.,
68, Jalan 14E, Ampang New Village,
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Tel: 03-42916001, 42916002, Fax: 03-42922053

Building Buddhist Viharas And Temples

U Chandramani Foundation
7/7/2007

The Second World War was just ending when a Nepalese Bhikkhu returned home to test the situation; he found no one was giving him any trouble. Before long, some Nepalese Bhikkhus and Nuns in Kushinagar, bearing the powers of Triple Gems foremost in their minds, left for their homeland to carry on with the promotion of Therawada Buddhism. Saradawpharagree arranged to send some Bhikkhus to Myanmar and some to Sri Lanka to improve their education and knowledge of the religion. In Kathmandu, Ashin Dhammaloka took charge of building a Therawada Buddhist temple. Another temple `Yanmingala Vihara’ was built in the same city where Ashin Buddhaghosa took charge as the Head Bhikkhu. In India, Sangha Vihara Temple and Ratanazawti Vihara Temple were built in the town of Patna followed by Sakyamuni Vihara in the town of Battagy, Mahapantatha Temple in the village of Barnipa and Dhammananda Vihara in the village of Durisae.

Similarly in Nepal, many temples were built in various places. The King of Nepal donated one hundred thousand rupees to the Dhamawdayasaba Association to build more Buddhist rests for use by Therawada Buddhists. Ashin Dhammaloka and Ashin Amittarnanda, both Nepalese nationals, played leading roles in the building programme. In order to collect more donations for the new buildings, Ashin Amittarnanda went to China and from there he collected over eight hundred thousand rupees. Thus, Therawada Buddhism came to thrive in Nepal and Buddha Sasana was seen to be improving.

Ref: Rakkhapura


U Chandramani Foundation
7/7/2007

The Dhamawdayasaba Association and Therawada worshippers in Nepal invited Saradawpharagree U Chandramani to go and bless them. Saradawpharagree went there on foot and visited several places where he delivered Therawada Dhamma talks.

In every city and village he visited, many people were there to receive him, to listen and take notes of his Dhamma talks and to give donations to the cause of Buddhism. Saradawpharagree laid foundation stones on the plot where the Padumazediya Maha Vihara was to be built in the town of Buddhawadi, the Sakyanandar Vihara in Karnathena, the Buddha Vihara in Paukkharar and the Sakyamuni Vihara in Bawjapur. After completing all the necessary duties and chores, Saradawpharagree, with great satisfaction and in good health, returned on foot to Kushinagar.

Second Visit To Nepal

U Chandramani Foundation
7/7/2007

A World Buddhist Conference was organized in Kathmandu, Nepal. The main organizer was the King of Nepal himself. Having received an invitation from Dr. Ambedkar and the King, Saradawgree U Chandramani left Kushinagar for Kathmandu, Nepal for a second time; this time he travelled by train. Several thousand members of the Dhamawdayasaba Association and other Therawada Buddhists met Saradawgree at the station. On the Opening Day, King Mahindra of Nepal himself declared the ‘World Buddhist Conference’ open in the presence of the representatives of many Buddhist countries from all over the world.

The King then requested Saradawgree Ashin U Chandramani to kindly bless them all with the five precepts. There were over one hundred thousand participants present. Saradawpharagree blessed them all by the powers of Triple Gems and asked them to observe the five Buddhist precepts. Saradawpharagree then took the initiative to speak in Hindi. He spoke clearly and precisely so that even school children would be able to understand him; he explained in great detail all there was to know about Therawada Buddhism.

There were many religious subjects discussed at the Conference and many decisions were taken. When the Conference was over, Saradawpharagree stayed on in Nepal before returning to Kushinagar. Not long after that international conference was over, Dr. Ambedkar passed away.

Third Visit To Nepal

U Chandramani Foundation
7/7/2007

A The Nepalese Dhamawdayasaba Association and Therawada Buddhists met and organized a series of ceremonies in every Buddhist city, town and village where chanting of Dhamma Parittas and Dharnma talks were carried out. They invited Saradawgree U Chandramani for that purpose. Saradawpharagree travelled by train to Nepal for the third time. In accordance with the pre-arranged schedule, Saradawpharagree was taken around the cities, towns and villages where he led the ceremony by chanting Parittas and delivering Dhamma talks and the people were very happy and so grateful to Saradawpharagree.

At that time, Therawada Buddhists in Nepal numbered about three hundred thousand and the necessary numbers of Therawada Temples had also been built by donations. Saradawpharagree, having blessed Parittas ceremonies and Dhamma talks, returned to Kushinagar.

Ref: Rakkhapura

Memorial To Dr. Ambedkar

Posted: September 5, 2010 in U Chandra Mani

Memorial To Dr. Ambedkar

U Chandramani Foundation
7/7/2007

Dr. Ambedkar was a national leader, a Professor of Law, and the first to become a Buddhist amongst his people and had succeeded in persuading all his people to become Buddhists as well. He too could not overcome the `Sankhara-Dhamma’ – the cause and effect of living and death -, which no one could. When he passed away, it was a very sad occasion for all the Buddhists associated with him. His Buddhist followers organized for a stone memorial of their leader to be erected in Minamardit near Bombay.

The Principal of the Minamardit Municipality invited Saradawgree to the unveiling of the Memorial Stone to Dr. Ambedkar. On 20 February 1960, Saradawgree U Chandramani, accompanied by his resident Bhikkhus, Tipitakarsariya Ashin Dhammarakkhita, M.A.; the volunteer of the Maha Bodhi Society, Sri Lankan Bhikkhu Sangharatana, and Ashin Dhammaloka, who was then in Nepal. Saradawpharagree led the Opening Ceremony at 8 pm, in Minamardit.

Saradawpharagree delivered a speech in Hindi to a crowd of over one hundred thousand people. Firstly, Saradawpharagree blessed them with the powers of Triple Gems and asked them to observe the five Buddhist precepts. He explained very comprehensively in his talks about `Anicca’ (impermanence), `Dukkha’ (suffering), and `Anatta’ (no power to hold back), the three principles overpowering all living beings. The following morning at 8 o’clock, members of the municipality invited Saradawpharagree and his party to travel in two cars to visit six villages outside the town. The villagers requested Saradawpharagree to lay foundation stones where they planned to build Buddhist temples. Only after 2 pm, did Saradawpharagree and his party return to their host temple. Alter successfully completing all their tasks, Saradawpharagree and his party returned to Kushinagar.

Ref: Rakkhapura

Building Buddhist Monasteries

Posted: September 5, 2010 in U Chandra Mani

Building Buddhist Monasteries

U Chandramani Foundation
7/7/2007

On 10 April of the same year, Saradawpharagree received an invitation from Railway Officers in the city of Andrat, Maharashtra district. Saradawpharagree left on the twelfth and arrived in the city of Panama the next day. As requested by the city’s Buddhist dignitaries, Saradawpharagree laid foundation stones for a Buddhist monastery. After that he delivered a Dhamma talk in Hindi to over five thousand people after having asked them to observe the five Buddhist precepts.

As pre-arranged, Saradawpharagree continued his journey from Panama to the town of Jalana and arrived at the train station at six o’clock in the morning where there were thousands of people waiting to see him. The Military Police had to help restore order and see Saradawpharagree board a car that was decorated with masses of flowers. Saradawpharagree was taken to a Government Guest House and the local police took care that people did not disturb him when he was resting. From 4 pm. To 6 pm. Saradawpharagree was taken around to bless the town folk, and at 7 pm., he was taken to a large marquee where there were more than three hundred thousand people. He blessed them all with the power of Triple Gems and asked them to observe the five Buddhist precepts, and then delivered a Dhamma talk until midnight. He spoke in Hindi in a manner which even women and children present were able to understand. People had great respect for him and bowed down to him several times showing their feelings of deep veneration.

The next day, Saradawpharagree went to the town of Uruna where he blessed over five thousand people and converted all twelve thousand to Buddhism. From there, Saradawpharagree was again taken to the town of Pusawa to conduct an `Anekazar’ ceremony (to venerate a statue of the Lord Buddha). Due to continuous travelling to many towns and long hours of Dhamma talks, Saradawpharagree became unwell when he arrived at the town of Pusawa; a doctor requested him to refrain from speaking to his devotees who were similarly asked to refrain speaking to Saradawpharagree. Because of his illness, he could not go to the `anekazar ceremony’ where a stone statue of the Lord Buddha had been brought from Myanmar. At Saradawpharagree’s request, a Volunteer of the Maha Bodhi Society, Ashin Sangharatana, deputised for him. Only when his illness became less serious, did the doctor allow him to return to Kushinagar. Saradawpharagree continued to receive medical attention in Kushinagar until he had recovered.

Saradawpharagree was a notable Bhikkhu who worked very hard to rebuild Buddha’s Sasana in India where Buddhism was waning. As a result of his efforts he met success after success. He translated many books into Hindi; amongst them a book called `Dhammapadapalidaw Nisaya’. His pupil, Mahapandit Rahula was able to translate that book into Sanskrit. His other pupils Anandakawsalayana and Dhammarakkhita then translated it in greater detail into Hindi. Another pupil, Jakarti Kassapa was able to translate into Hindi two books called `Milindapinnyar Palidaw’ and Mauggalana Byarkaroon Kyan’. Yet another, Ashin Dhammananda of Bombay, Maharashtra district, translated into Sanskrit the book called `Abhidhammatthasangaha’. All these books were widely distributed in India and made a great impact on today’s Buddhist India.

Ref: Rakkhapura


Passing Away Of The Most Venerable Saradawphara

U Chandramani Foundation
7/7/2007

In the teachings of the Lord Buddha, it is stated that a mere mortal cannot escape from growing old, or from sickness and death. This was the ultimate truth of cause and effect, which no one could overcome including Ashin U Sandimar of Akyab; Saradaw Ashin Zinananda; Saradaw Mahawira;-Shwekyin Saradaw of Withuddharon Temple, Mandalay; Depayin Saradaw; Patamya Saradaw; Kyakkalat Saradaw; Saradaw U Nandiya, Yangon; Aggamahapandita Saradaw U Sakkapala, Taungpauk Kyaung, Mandalay; all of them had returned to their original dwelling places in Devaloka (a higher realm than man). Colonel Oracle and Anagarika Dhammapala, who established the new prospering Maha Bodhi Society of India, had also passed away.

The original sponsors of the Kushinagar Temple, U Khee Zarhee and his wife, Daw Mi Chan Mra Oo, the wealthy merchant and devotees of Saradawpharagree Chandramani had also passed away after suffering an economic disaster. So also had the younger brother of U Khee Zarhee and his wife, the merchant who lived in Akyab. A devotee of Saradawpharagree, Dr. Ambedkar who was a Minister of Law in India, and had many hundreds of thousands of Buddhist followers who were at one time lower caste people of India, had also passed away.

The Most Venerable Saradawpharagree U Chandramani of Kushinagar had the necessary courage, stamina and untiring effort to rebuild Buddha’s Sasana in India, and to develop it in Nepal, and to carry on teaching and practising Vipassana-Bhavana – loving kindness meditation. While doing all that, he passed away (returned to Devaloka) in Arakanese era on the Monday morning of the 11’n, the second month of Tagoo, the year 1334 (8-5-1972) in the Kushinagar Temple, India.

To all Saradawpharagree’s devotees, especially in India and Nepal, the news of Saradawpharagree’s death was a great blow. He could never be replaced and they could never again find such a great missionary. His death was a great loss to everyone. A total of thirty-two countries mourned his death and a total of five hundred and sixty nine telegram messages expressing deep sorrow were received.

In this book it is impossible to describe and compare our indebtedness to the Most Venerable Saradawpharagree U Chandramani with the loving kindness – Karuna and Metta – he had for us. It can only be likened to a drop in the ocean.

Ref: Rakkhapura