Thursday, 3 September 2015

Maha Aung Mye Bon Thar Pagoda in Pyin Oo Lwin



This Pagoda is located in the downtown area of Pyin Oo Lwin, just south of the main market, and near some of the town’s historic sites. It is therefore a favorite for local residents, and its spacious compound and numerous structures also provide a welcome refuge for any yogi passing through to make use of the site for practice. On the Mandalay-Lashio road, heading towards Lashio, it is on the right side just before the main intersection with Zeiygo Road.

According to Lonely Planet, never a particularly careful or sensitive arbiter of social customs, it also “insists on broadcasting Buddhist lectures through its loudspeakers just in case you weren’t already awake” in the mornings; although likely this was just the complaint of a travel writer who stayed up too late and didn’t take the time to understand the common Buddhist practice of reciting suttas at pagodas. 


A wiser discussion on the Burmese practice of disseminating Buddhist suttas comes from 
Paññobhāsa Bhikkhu, an American forest monk who has lived here for almost two decads. He writes:

"Anyone who has spent much time in Burma will be familiar with the Patthan pweh, or Paṭṭhāna festival—an event in which monks recite Paṭṭhāna, the last portion of the Abhidhamma Piṭaka, over loudspeakers, in relay, sometimes around the clock for several days in succession. To a Westerner who appreciates peace and quiet they are little more than an affliction, but the Burmese love and esteem them. I have often considered that it would be more to the people's benefit to recite something they would actually understand, like a Burmese translation of the Dhammapada; as even most of the monks who chant Paṭṭhāna in Pali don't really understand it. It is considered to be 'unreadable' as a literary document, even to those who know Pali... The reason for these very loud chanting festivals is that, according to the commentarial tradition, the last book of the last section of the Canon (i.e., Paṭṭhāna), will be the first portion of the Tipitaka to disappear from this world, in accordance with the inexorable effects of impermanence. So by repeating these practically incomprehensible texts the monks are doing their best to keep Buddhism from disappearing from the earth. However—while Burmese monks revere and preserve Abhidhamma, the other two sections, Vinaya and the Suttas, are studied but not practiced all that much, allowing the disappearance to occur from first to last."