Saturday, October 11, 2008


Recently a priest was arrested for playing pirith over a loudspeaker and causing sound pollution and it became a big issue .A famale neighbour of a monastery assaulted a nun for the same reason.The judge hearing the case quite rightly seemed to be more sympathetic towards the assailant!
In strict buddhist sense chanting pirith serves no purpose.It is only making a public show.Buddha never promoted this and even condmned it.Since the Buddhist priests thrive on these practices they will never agree or disclose the facts.You can refer Geethassara Suththa :Angutththara Nikaya :3 and verify if you are very keen.
Chanting prith is like a patient or patients relations reading a doctors prescription slowly ,with a rhythm without administering medicine.
If you refer to above suththa Buddha condemned the practice particulary because one gets attached to the rhythm.Buddha wants us to renounce. "Sabbe dhamma pahathabban" (renounce every thing) was the teaching of Buddha.He was against hedonism.To be attached to a rhythm is hedonic.In advanced Buddhist doctrine of "Sunnyatha" (nihilism) nothing exists.Things (dhamma) seems to exist due to illusion.Our perception of the universe is an illusion.


Blogger Dushan said...

You are quoting a source has nothing to do with chanting pirith. The source you refer explains the difference between chanting pirith and singing hymns in a melodious manner.

"In strict buddhist sense chanting pirith serves no purpose" - this is totally wrong.

You don't have to dig deep into the doctrine to realize it.Please read "rathan sutta' and why it was recited at the first place. It was a case of Buddha himself chanting pirith.

I cannot remember the exact place you can find another case in tripitaka. In this particular case Buddha assisted a young couple who was having a problem with some evil spirit which was after their new born baby. The remedy Buddha recommend was chanting pirith and Buddha himself joined the chanting at the final stage.

There are quite a few instance of Buddha recommending chanting pirith as a remedy to various issues. Therefore it's totally wrong to say chanting pirith has no sense according to Buddhism; if this is tright then you are saying Buddha did something which has no sense according to his own doctrine

10:28 PM  
Blogger Nilupul said...

With my understanding, Pirith is not a remedy, but most of the Buddhists have taken Pirith as a easy way of getting thing done, in their life. And there are many more other wrong doings in the Sri Lankan Buddhist society.

As you have taken the Rathana Sutta, seems to be a determination and and expressing that we pay mithree not anger, same as the Íthipiso'gatha.

In Pali language, as kind of a poem, you try express that, but there is absolutely no importance in the rhythm, because it's not a song/poem. But we as Budhist in SL
have adopted it as such a remedy to our life.

The other example you have take, is the Angulimala pirtha. if i briefly say that, It was the Angulimala thero after becoming a monk who preached that. Again it's not a poem or song that can chant and get help in to the life. When

Angulimala thero felt really bad about a one pregnant woman who was suffering during her labour, the load Buddha, asked the Angulimala thero to determined that he has never killed any living creature after becoming a Buddhist monk and by the power that determination may that woman have a painless child birth.

This is the truth behind Pirith. i really do not try to criticise these things, but i wish we rather carry on those things as 'Tradition' (I rather do not carry a traditions if they are wrong) But still should understand these fact and start following the real Buddhist teaching.

The real Buddhist teaching is all about understanding the life and mind. Please listen or read real bana/suttra, rather than some 'popular ban.' I personally appreciate Ven Kiribathgoda Gananda theo’s bana, since they have the real base of Buddhism teaching.

Theruwan Sarani

8:35 AM  
Anonymous Lalith Wijesooriya said...

I agree with you completely. I am a Buddhist myself. Lot of people don't know this, but Buddhism is just another religion with lots of things you have to "believe" just like a Christian believes that Jesus can cure you if you pray to him.

Chanting pirith only has psychological effect on a patient. The other thing is that your house will get cleaned and you you will meet your relatives and friends. i.e. it is a social occasion.

If anybody thinks "pirith" can cure sickness, just ask them to only chant pirith, WITHOUT taking any medicine, the next time they get sick. That will solve the question once and for all, if you know what I mean. :-D

3:32 AM  
Blogger Dushan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:31 AM  
Blogger Dushan said...

<< Lot of people don't know this, but Buddhism is just another religion with lots of things you have to "believe" just like a Christian believes that Jesus can cure you if you pray to him. >>

This is not right. There is a fundamental difference between Christian faith and the faith described by Buddha.

Spiritual life of a Christian entirely comprises of his or her faith in God and loyalty to God.

But the faith described in Buddhism is different from that. At the beginning you only need a certain amount of faith to generate some willingness to walk the path described by Buddha. This is like taking a doctor's advice on an unknown medicine. Then your faith goes through stages as you progress in the path as a result of your direct experience of the teaching. It's something you can do in this very life. Not something you have to wait till your ascend to heaven.

To my knowledge, the only understanding you need to start walking the path is the knowledge of what's wholesom and what's not ( Kusala /Akusala). You are not expected to embrace concepts like rebirth at the beginning. Your spiritual growth will eventually take you to a level of understanding about these concepts and your faith will be firmly established at that point.

Hence the faith described in Buddhism is not similar to the kind of faith described in other religion.

Nowadays, some of us practice Buddhism the same way Christians practice their religion. We use pirith for the same purpose Christians use prayers. That's a misapplication of teachings by the followers. If you look at them and take their beliefs and practices as Buddhism, you are making a mistake.

5:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You obviously do not know the meaning of faith. Faith is Faith, belief in something without proof. Taking somebody's word as the truth. It doesn't really matter whether it's Lord Buddha or Jesus. What about all the heavens and hells in Buddhism. Do you know for sure they exist?? is there proof?? NO. So, what is the difference between a Christian's belief in heaven and hells vs that of a Buddhist? Only difference is that since some of the concepts of Buddhism, mainly suffering and impermanence can be experienced by us and also there have been cases of rebirth scientifically studied, the belief in the Buddhas' word is still faith, but not complete blind faith like in Christianity.

Buddhism is experienced truth (suffering, impermanence and cases of rebirth) + faith (heavens, hell + everything we cannot prove) while Christianity is complete "blind faith" since none of the concepts of Christianity can be experienced or proven.

"Pirith" is completely a faith. Nothing else. Has anybody proved sceintifically that it helps to cure the sick??? NO. So, "Pirith" is a very good example of a practice in Buddhism which is done in complete "blind faith" of the Buddha. Nothing else. If you believe that Pirith can cure sickness, then why need doctors??? When you get sick you go to the priest. Buddhism is just like other religions. It has lots of places which has problems and you need the same type of faith as a "Christian" to believe those.

6:48 AM  
Blogger Dushan said...

Thanks for sharing your views. I explained this once but I will do it again.

The faith we claim we have within us is not the level of faith you'll find in a person who have attains any of the fruits of attainment.

All these things you talk about, heaven, hell and rebirth are discussed in Buddhist scriptures but accepting the existence of them is not a requirement you need to meet before you start walking the path. As you progress, through your direct experience, you can verify and then only you establish perfected faith in Buddha and his teachings. What is required is looking at what's going on with open eyes; not a search for something you think should exist.

The fruitless nature of praying and similar methods of dealing with suffering is well explained by Buddha himself. ( Ittha Sutta: What is Welcome - Anguttara Nikaya 5.43). The chanting of pirith was used as an intense recitation of teachings. If you look at their meaning, they are not about repetitive expression of loyalty to Buddha or some endless requesting for worldly gain.

For example; the (karaneeya) metta sutta - where do you find praying in this piece of teaching ? The whole sutta is dedicated to described the qualities which a person aspires to attain nibbana should have and how he/she gradually walks the path using metta as the basis. If anyone thinks that he or she can recite this thrice a day and get on with business as usual and then everything to be ok , I think he or she is fooling herself/himself. The idea is to provide a way to constantly remind what you should be doing and act like a catalyst.

Like I mentioned before some of us use pirith the same way Christians use praying. That's a miuse in my opioion. They shouldn't be the source of understanding of Dhamma for you.

One more thing - searching for scientific evidence to verify Dhamma is a technically wrong approach. Read Kalama Sutta carefully and you will understand why. There, Buddha describes ten reasons you should not use to as the basis to accept teachings. I think the modern science is within those 10 reasons. This is not a question of superiority of science or Dhamma. I myself is sort of a scientist and I don't deny the use of science. My understanding is science and dhamma address two different questions in two different approaches. We should not let the superficial differences to make us think they can be used to explain each other.

7:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will ask you a simple question.

Can you "PROVE" that Pirith has any benefit to a sick patient??? Yes/No.

If yes, then kindly Prove it.

If you cannot, it is just a faith claim no different to a belief in "supernatural" belief in any other religion.

It's very simple really.

7:34 AM  
Blogger Dushan said...

I kindly request you to read what I have said, not what you want to see or read. You certainly should read the sections of tipitaka where Buddha talks about what faith means.

Doing things blindly is not the faith described in Dhamma. If people want to believe in things they don't understand out of fear or respect then that's a mistake committed by them.

If people think just chanting pirith is going to help recovering from sickness or any other difficult situation, I think they are misapplying the teachings.

The idea behind chanting pirith is to recite teachings in a manner so that it will act as a base of contemplation and encouragement to apply and practice teachings. This contemplation and application will be beneficial as it helps you to walk the path. Other than that I don't think simple chanting has magical powers.

Faith, virtuous behavior, generosity and wisdom are described as four essential thing to grow spiritually. Like I mentioned in the beginning, this faith is similar to accepting a theory as a working hypothesis. This accepting itself take you nowhere. You need to work on the application or the practice to gain direct experience so that you can see things for yourself. The faith reaches a complete, perfected status at this point. It's obvious this is not the same faith Christianity demands. For them everything begins and ends with faith. For us , it's an entry point and something result in as a by product of direct experience.

I do not wish to explain this again and again.

Thank you.

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are using fancy words and combinations (basically playing with words) but actually talking nonsense.

The next time you or your loved ones get a serious illness, try chanting pirith "your way", BUT, without taking ANY MEDICINE.

Then you will see for yourself whether it works or not.

Of course, there is big possibility that you (or you loved ones) could die before doing anything..

No wonder we are 3rd world country. We (most like you) have 16th century mindset and have not moved an inch.

12:36 AM  
Blogger Dushan said...

If you are not capable of maintaining conversation without going to personal level attacks, without judging then please avoid discussions with people. I believe, humbleness is a good indication of anyone's level of knowledge, intellectual capability and experience. You certainly lack it. Otherwise you wouldn't be thinking that you know everything just because you have a qualification in medicine.

I don't think I used them any fancy words. But you might have felt that way depending on your fluency of the language.

The summery of my argument was that pirith chanting won't bring you anything unless you understand what you reciting and then applying. So it's clear that I don't think one can cure diseases without medicine and just using rituals. Perhaps they may help in assisting menial illnesses, I don't know.

I can only laugh at your "3rd world country" argument. For your information I have lived and worked with academics and professionals from both worlds. I know the syndromes of typical "I know all" mentality of people who have got basic science/medicine qualifications. Those have gone deep into these areas never talk with your level of arrogance and certainty because they know what they know is very little compared to what they don't know.

Perhaps you must have not heard of scientific research being done of the affects of practices like meditation. Perhaps you may not aware some of the most prestigious medical institutions here have professionals who advice people techniques like mindfulness meditation (sathipattana), breathing ( anapana ) meditation to deal with pain and stress resulting from illnesses and aging. There are so many books on this subject by well respected scientists. Here is a good example

8:08 AM  
Blogger Dushan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:22 AM  
Blogger Dushan said...

If I or one of my loved ones get sick, definitely I will consult the best possible medical professional I have access to; not to monks in the nearest temple.

But when there is stress, frustration or grief resulting from a such a situation, I will use the Dhamma I know to understand and deal with it. If there is some pirith that I can understand the meaning and offers something for me to help dealing with my suffering then I will listen to that as well.

To my understand that's what Dhamma is for. I don't use Dhamma and science interchangeably because I believe they talk about two different set of issues.

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can relieve stress and frustration by reading a book or listening to music.

6:33 AM  
Blogger Dushan said...

Different people have different way of dealing with negative emotions, stress and frustration.

I agree, listening to music and reading can help. I think some people get the same relief using religious rituals. But they won't address the root cause of this negativity. It's useful in the long run to understand the nature of human condition rather than forgetting it.

But Buddhist teachings address the root and talk about these issues at deeper level. If properly applied it remove the problem from the root. It's not easy but that's the end goal.

I like long term solutions than quick fixes so I prefer resorting to Dhamma than listening to music or reading.

Then again it's my belief. I don't expect others to agree with me.

7:18 AM  
Blogger Dushan said...

It would be easy if you use your name or a screenname to comment so that I know to whom I'm responding.

7:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just because you dont know something, understand something or experimented something, It doesnt mean it is wrong. It is beyond understanding.

refer this link, it will show you the little experiments done on pirith chanting. If you want to say it doesnt help you heal, give me scientific evidence

9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are doctors who'd raped patients, taken taboo photographs..bla..bla.. 400 doctors commit suicide annually in US... Medicine is not a miracle but another business... Your idea seems vague a lot. There are some recent studies that confirm it's effect on both animate and inanimate plains .... you can find some interesting facts about tropics like this here ....

12:54 PM  

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