Manusya, Journal of Humanities


Peter Skilling

Publication Date



In Thailand, one of the main vehicles for the dissemination of knowledge about Buddhism is the sermon. This was especially so in the pre-modern period of limited literacy, and it is still so today. In formal contexts, whether in a temple or elsewhere, before a monk preaches a sermon a lay follower will recite a Pali verse inviting him to do so. The verse recapitulates a key event in the career of the Buddha. After his awakening, the Buddha. After his awakening, the Buddha was reluctant to teach the Dhamma that he discovered: profound and subtle, who could understand it? But the mighty deity Brahma appeared before the Awakened One and assured him that his teaching would not be fruitless, that there existed beings with the capacity to understand. The Buddha surveyed the world and realized that this was so; he agreed to teach, opening wide the gateway to the deathless. Recognizing that beings have the potential to realize and to benefit from the Dhamma, out of compassion he went on to teach for forty-five years, bequeathing the legacy of the Saddhamma. After his death, the Saddhamma was transmitted orally by monks and nuns for several centuries, before being written down and transmitted in the form of Tipitakas of the several Buddhist schools. It may be said without exaggeration-at least from the viewpoint of traditional Buddhology-that the existence of the Tipitakas, the collections of the Buddha's teaching, depends on Brahma's request. Thus, the significance of Brahma's request cannot be gainsaid: without it, there would be no Buddhism. In recognition of this, the request is ritually re-enacted by the recitation of the 'ārādhana tham' verse, inviting a member of the order, the sangha, to give a sermon. The paper discusses both the stanza that is recited today and a second stanza that has fallen into disuse. It is a preliminary study of a daily ritual elaboration of a fundamental, multivalent even in the narrative of the transmission of the Dhamma.

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