雨安居/Varsa

雨安居/Varsa

From the peak of the rainy season till the full moon in October, the Buddhist monks of Myanmar attend retreats known as ‘Varsa’.
‘Varsa’ is derived from the period where the Buddha taught his five disciples. For three months the monks worship at the monasteries and are only allowed to leave for work or if they are ill.
Traditionally, the Buddhist people of Myanmar invite monks to auspicious occasions such as weddings, house warmings and the opening of new businesses; and they donate generously believing it is virtuous.
However, since monks avoid going out during the retreat period, the people try to attain virtue by visiting monasteries more often.
I asked the people if they are longing for ‘Varsa’ to end. They do, however many people take it seriously and are therefore happy to come to the monasteries.
Recently, Myanmar’s military regime is changing rapidly and becoming more democratic. With an open market development should spread from the urban areas.

I live in Tokyo in Japan, a city where people chase time and focus on pursuing profit, which results in us losing the richness of our humanity. The change in environment where the nation becomes more of an Americanized consumer society like Japan may affect the ways that grew from Buddhism.

However, for now, I see no change in the temperament of the people, when I see those who, as Buddhists, are waiting quietly for the conclusion of ‘Varsa’.

Varsa(Sanskrit)
-During the meditation retreat period for 90 days starting on 15th day of the 4th month of the Iunisolar calendar.

雨季の最盛期になる7月から10月の満月までミャンマーの仏教徒は雨安居の期間に入る。
雨安居は悟りを開いた釈迦が弟子5人に教えを説いた時期とされ、3カ月のあいだ僧侶たちは遊行に出ることをせず僧院で修行に励み、病気などを除き外泊が許されない。
 ミャンマーでは結婚式や引越し、会社設立など慶事に僧侶を招き盛大に寄進をする習慣がある。しかし雨安居の期間は僧侶が修行に籠るため慶事は控えることになり、ふだん以上に僧院へ通い寄進に励み得を積む。彼らに聞くと雨安居明けが待ち遠しいと話しつつも今は僧院へ毎日寄進に行くのが得を沢山積むことになると力強く話す人も多い。
 昨今、ミャンマーは軍事政権から民主化へと急速に動き始め、この先市場開放路線のもと都市部から開発が進んでいくのだろう。私は時間と利益追求に追われる日本の東京という都市で生きているが、欧米型消費社会を目指す環境の変化が彼らの生活に影響を与え初めているかも知れない。しかし雨安居明けを待ちながら静かに仏教徒として暮らす彼らを見ていると今のところ気質に変わりは無いと思える。

 

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