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The great virtue - Sugato

Chandani Abeynayake

A noble follower paying obeisance to the Buddha, Dhamma and the Sangha would always begin by chanting with faith the Nine Special Qualities of the Buddha in veneration.

There he recollects the fourth sublime virtue of the Buddha as the virtue of Sugato. The uniqueness of the word Sugato is mainly attributed to the Bosat as an aspirant to Buddhahood, striving on with diligence to perfect himself in the journey through samsara or the repeated cycles of Birth and Death adhering to pleasant manners and habits.

From the time the Bosat made His firm resolve at the feet of the Buddha Dipankara countless aeons earlier He remained steadfast to His noble resolve, existence after existence or the samsara to the moment of Full-Enlightenment or Buddhahood at Buddhagaya.

Plunging into samsara, He never turned back midway or gave up His noble strife of attaining Buddhahood. His manner of going about was pleasant throughout samsara striving for perfection and had gone to an excellent state, the attainment of the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana, the Deathlessness.

It must be mentioned that through countless aeons of time the Bodhisatva followed the path to Buddhahood fulfilling the Ten Virtues (Paramitas) to perfection amidst many sacrifices.

He had trodden upon the path of detachment, the Noble Eightfold Path or the Middle Path. Avoiding the two extremes of self indulgence and self mortification, the Bosat discovered and followed the Middle Path in eradicating all defilements and attaining Samma Sambodhi, the perfect Enlightenment.

He had gone correctly and never did He ever go back to the defilements which He had abandoned. Thus Sugato means 'Well-Gone' (Sobhana-Gaman). The Bosat adhered to pleasant manners and habits in going through all His endeavours.

By complete destruction of cravings connected with the wrong view of an everlasting soul and the wrong view of Nihilism or the non-existence of a soul, the Buddha took the Middle path to attain Nirvana. It was the Noble Eightfold Path, the path taken by the Buddhas. For this reason too, He is called Sugato.

During His lifetime He worked steadfast to enlighten mankind of the transient nature of all component things in the universe. He suffered the insults and humiliations of His fellow men at times, but more from sympathy with the sufferings of others, wandering from place to place, sleeping only for about one and a half hours at night, carried forward His selfless service for the good and happiness of mankind for forty five long years. Thus His great service to humanity is also defined in Sugato.

The Buddha was also endowed with incomparable physical beauty. An aura consisting of six colours surrounded the Buddha radiating over quite a distance. All along the pathways it dazzled with splendour wherever the Buddha walked. Therefore, Sugato also means excellent and beautiful.

His walk was graceful and the measured treading of the feet was gentle and steady. It has been said that no foot prints were visible on the ground where the Buddha traversed and He always proceeded without blemish. Even the soles of His sacred feet never got soiled of dust or dirt.

As a result of accumulated meritorious deeds in His sojourn through samsara, it was said that mounds of earth and the troughs along those ancient gravel roads as well as the rugged surfaces were spontaneously created into smooth paved pathways, where the Buddha was journeying through. Thus He advanced majestically on His missions unscathed.

The Compassionate Teacher in focusing His visual perceptions at a close range ahead (an extent of Sathara Riyans or two yards) would lead the procession of the Sangha to expound the Dhamma while His depth of insight penetrated into the true nature of the whole world.

Many were drawn to the Buddha due to His faultless supreme voice the uniqueness of which was described with relevance to eight great qualities known as the "Brahma Swara". (This is well defined in the virtue of Bhagava, the ninth great virtue of the Supreme Buddha).

Though the Buddha spoke in the Pali Language, it was said that each one heard the Dhamma in his own language. All these qualities too attribute to the virtue of Sugato.

The arrival of the Blessed One accompanied by His disciples to preach the Dhamma to His followers would have been a magnificent sight. Deities from the six Heavenly Realms and the men paid reverence with flowers and incense wherever the Buddha set foot.

They accursed much merit in doing so. Furthermore His speech too was Sublime - Sugato. The Buddha adhered to certain moral principles in the choice of His words, conducive to good and well-being of His followers. Of His method of Preaching, it was said: Such speech as the Blessed One knows to be false and untrue, harmful to people, displeasing and unwelcome to the listener, He did not speak and refrained from using.

Such speech as was true but harmful to people, displeasing and unwelcome to the listener, He did not use.

Such speech as He knew to be true, conducive to good, yet displeasing and unwelcome, He knew when to speak. Such speech as was untrue and incorrect, harmed others, yet pleasing and welcome to still others, He did not use. Such speech as He knew to be true, but harmful, though pleasing and welcome to still others, He also did not speak.

And of speech He knew to be true, pleasing and welcome, contributes to the good of others, He knew the time and where to speak. The Buddha thus displayed supremacy in addressing His followers transforming them to lead righteous lives. He was Sugato, His speech too was sublime.

Throughout its peaceful march for nearly 2,500 years, no conversion has been made either by force or implementing other methods, such as favouring charities to the poor and the needy with the ulterior motive of getting them under one's control and unethically converted.

Today the downtrodden are compelled to change their religion, under obligation to such organizations. Living upon this planet amidst catastrophes of great magnitude, the tsunamis, hurricanes tonados, whirlwinds, floods, droughts, earthquakes, landslides, avalanches, wild fires, heatwaves, volcano eruptions, infectious diseases, other fatal accidents, strikes by lightning, acid rains, even explosions across the cosmos with intense radiations, the sentient beings have no place to hide themselves for protection.

Furthermore considering other crisis with regard to food, energy, pollution, poverty, shortage of water, rising sea levels due to global warming etc. the human race should strive to lead the journey through this short spell of life on a virtuous path - "Shabana Gaman", the Path of Sugato.


Source: Sri Lanka Daily News, https://www.dailynews.lk , 11 January 2006

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