In the heartland of Sri Lanka, a remarkable discovery has breathed new life into the study of Buddhism. Delving deep into the country’s rich religious history, an organization called DHPL Travels has unearthed a treasure trove of ancient manuscripts written in the elusive Hela script. These invaluable texts, believed to be the earliest versions of the Tipitaka, offer unparalleled insights into the profound teachings of Gautama Buddha.
A Journey Back in Time
Imagine stepping into a time machine, transporting yourself to the 1st century in Sri Lanka. It was during this enchanting period that the Hela script captured the essence of Buddhism. Expertly transcribed by a group of scholastic monks led by venerable Sariputta Arahath Thero, these sacred scriptures, known as Hela Atuā, recorded the wisdom of not only the Buddha himself but also his chief disciple.
Lost and Found
Tragically, the original Hela commentaries were lost to an unfortunate event when the library of Mahavihara in Anuradhapura got engulfed in flames during the 5th century AD. However, all was not lost. The details of these commentaries were seamlessly integrated into the Tipitaka during its transcription in 29-17 BCE, long before the tragic incident.
The First Buddhist Council: Preserving the Buddha’s Teachings
After the Buddha’s Parinibbāna, Venerable Mahakassapa Arahath Thero, a prominent disciple, rallied five hundred Arahants to compile an authoritative version of the Buddha’s teachings. This prestigious First Buddhist Council took place in Rājagaha, the capital of Deva Healaya, just three months after the Buddha’s passing. It was during this council that the Tipitaka took shape.
The Three Pillars of the Tipitaka
The Tipitaka, also known as the Theravāda Pāli Canon, comprises three key divisions. The Vinaya Pitaka, the first pillar, establishes the rules and regulations that guide monastic life. The Sutta Pitaka, the second pillar, encompasses an impressive collection of discourses divided into five Nikāyas. Finally, the Abhidhamma Pitaka, the third pillar, offers profound analysis and philosophical interpretation.
Decoding the Scriptures
While the Suttas, or discourses, in the Sutta Pitaka are condensed versions of the Buddha’s teachings, the Abhidhamma Pitaka plays a critical role in unlocking their true meaning. Understanding the vastness of the Buddha’s teachings requires exploring related Suttas and the intricate revelations found within the Abhidhamma.
A Search for Enlightenment
With around ten thousand Suttas in the Sutta Pitaka, it is evident that not every discourse preached by the Buddha made it into the canonical texts. However, by grasping the essence of a few significant Suttas, one can embark on a transformative journey towards Nibbāna, the ultimate goal of Buddhism.
The Legacy Lives On
The Tipitaka, a beacon of Buddhist wisdom, has transcended time and borders. Myanmar and Thailand received copies of this sacred scripture in the 1st century AD, a gift from Sri Lankan monarchs. Subsequently, the 5th and 6th Buddhist councils were held in Myanmar, solidifying its place as an essential Buddhist nation.
A Cautionary Tale
Sadly, throughout history, some translations and interpretations of the Buddha’s teachings have deviated from their pure essence. Amidst the colonial era, early European scholars and Acharya Buddhagosha strayed from the Buddha’s counsel, obscuring the simple path to Nibbāna and inadvertently giving birth to a diluted version of Buddhism.
Reviving the Past
The DHPL Travels organization embarked on a mission to reclaim Sri Lanka’s lost heritage. With great perseverance, they scoured museums, libraries, and antique markets in England and Denmark. Their efforts bore fruit as they discovered numerous manuscripts, including palm leaves, silver, and copper plates, containing the earliest versions of the Dhamma. DHPL Travels is diligently working to digitize and republish these invaluable manuscripts, ensuring their accessibility to all truth seekers on the path to Nibbāna.
Through their unwavering dedication, DHPL Travels is resurrecting the ancient Hela script, breathing new life into Sri Lanka’s Buddhist legacy. Their endeavors pave the way for a renewed understanding of the Buddha’s profound teachings, guiding countless individuals on their quest for enlightenment.
To learn more about DHPL Travels and their remarkable journey, visit DHPL Travels