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"An attempt to reconcile the disputing parties? The Burmese Saṅgharāja Ñeyyadhamma’s letter to the non-confusionists in Sri Lanka."

Friday, April 14, 2023 at 10:00am to 11:00am

Virtual Event

Please join us for a virtual lecture by Petra Kieffer-Pülz (Academy of Sciences and Literature, Mainz).

Between 1803 and 1813 five ordination lineages were introduced from Burma to Sri Lanka that formed the Amarapuranikāya. In 1851 a dispute concerning the legal validity of the monastic boundary (sīmā) of Balapiṭiya in the southwest of Sri Lanka arose amongst two of them. This was a serious matter, since a sīmā is the basis for all administrative and legally binding activity of a Buddhist monastic community (saṅgha), including ordination. Since the parties were not
able to resolve the conflict themselves, and since their ordination lineage was ultimately based on a Burmese ordination tradition, they turned for help to the highest authority of the Burmese Buddhist monastic community, the Saṅgharāja, who at that time was Ñeyyadhamma. The group who considered the sīmā of Balapiṭiya confused with the village boundary, and, hence, legally invalid, sent the first delegation (1857–1858). The Saṅgharāja agreed with their legal
opinion and in his letter, called “Explanation of the judgment concerning the dispute about the monastic boundary” (Sīmāvivādavinicchayakathā) he quoted from the commentary and sub-commentaries to the Vinaya as justification. The opponents, who considered the monastic boundary not confused and legally valid, assumed that the Saṅgharāja had been misinformed by the first delegation, and sent their own delegation (1859–60). But the Burmese Saṅgharāja stuck to his original judgment. However, he wrote a letter to this party that shows special empathy and devotion, and even contains personal notes to four of the Sinhalese monks of this party. The letter is quite unique among the writings exchanged in the context of this dispute, and might have been an attempt to reconcile the opponents with his judgment.

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