In rememberance of Venerable
"The sun of wisdom has set,
the moonlight has become vague,
mountain and river also seem faded,
biksu-biksuni and upasaka-upasika are all mourning."
This is what Indonesian Buddhist community wrote in remembrance of Venerable
Mahabiksu Ashin Jinarakkhita (Ti Zheng Lau He Shang), who was usually
known as Bhante Ashin. He's said to be the pioneer of Buddhism revival
in Indonesia after 500 years - since the fall of Majapahit and Srivijaya
The late Bhante Ashin passed into Nibbanic Bliss on Thursday 18 April 2002 in Pluit Hospital, North Jakarta, and was rested in Ekayana Buddhist Centre, Duri Kepa, West Jakarta. Since then, hundreds and thousands of Buddhists from different places went there to pay last homage to the late Bhante Ashin. Flowers were arranged around the deceased who was sat in a perfect samadhi posture. The coffin was specially designed for this particular posture.
Besides Buddhists, there were also many high-ranked officers and spiritual
leaders who attended the funeral. Among them were: vice-president Mr.
Hamzah Haz, ex-president Mr. Abdurrahman Wahid, Cardinal Leo Suryaatmaja,
and president of MUI/Rois A'am of PBNU Kyai Sahal Mahfudz. Minister of
Religion, Mr. Said Aqil Husin Al Munawar hosted the final deliverance
service for the departure of Bhante Ashin's cortège for cremation.
The remains of late Bhante Ashin was cremated at Bodhisattva Foundation
Crematorium, Lempasing, Lampung last Sunday (28/4). There were thousands
of relics found in the ashes from the cremation. On Tuesday (30/4), the
ashes and relics were brought back to Sakyavanaram Temple at Cipendawa
Cliff, Pacet, Cianjur, West Java, where Bhante Ashin used to live when
he was alive.
Spiritual Leader - Intellectual
The late Bhante Ashin was born in Bogor, West Java on 23 January 1923. He was a spiritual leader with intellect insight and good organization skill. Since youth, he had shown his ascetic attitude. In order to help his parent, he worked as a lopper. He used to share his snack from his hard-earned money with his playmates. After graduated from primary school in Bogor, he furthered his study at PHS and HBS B (high school) in Jakarta. Then he proceeded to THS Bandung (ITB now), which he didn't finish because Japan invaded Indonesia. Eventually, in 1946 he furthered his study to Netherlands, where he studied his favorite science, chemistry, at Falkuteit Wis en Naturkunde in Universiteit Gronigen.
Since youth, he was always fascinated by both modern and old philosophy.
In Gronigen, besides taking formal courses, he also learnt philosophy
from Prof. Poleesner, Sankrit and Pali from Dr. Van der Leeuw. During
three years time, he took spiritual courses from Dr. J.E.v.d. Stok, an
emeritus professor of Landbouw Hogeschool Wageningen.
After he returned from Netherlands, he became teacher in several secondary schools in Jakarta. However, the fascination of non-mundane life motivated him to become an anagarika. As the president of Indonesian Sam Kauw Union as well as the vice-president of the central committee of Indonesian Theosophy Youth, on 22 May 1953 he organized the first national celebration of Vesak Day in Borobudur Temple, Central Java. After the celebration, on 29 July 1953, in coincide with the celebration of Avalokitesvara Enlightenment Day, he proceeded his holy life by becoming sramanera (novice monk) by the name of Ti Zheng. The ordination ceremony was done in Mahayana way by Venerable Mahabiksu Ben Qing Lau He Shang at Guang Hua Si Temple in Jakarta.
In 1954 he heeded his first guru's, Ven. Ben Qing, advice and went to
Burma (Myanmar now) to learn more about Buddhism. It was then and there
he received full ordination (upasampada) and became a bhikkhu under guidance
of spiritual Guru (upajjhaya) Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw. It was the Guru who
gave him the name Jinarakkhita that mean "victor in protecting Buddha's
In the history of Indonesian Buddhism, he was the founder of Sangha Suci
Indonesia (The Holy Sangha Of Indonesia) which developed into Sangha Agung
Indonesia (The Supreme Sangha of Indonesia) now and PUUI (Indonesian Fellowship
of Upasaka-Upasika) in 1954 which developed into MBI (Indonesia Buddhayana
Council) now. MBI is the largest Buddhist organization in Indonesia with
branches in 24 provinces.
He was known for his speech "The true experience is very different for Indonesian to choose which tradition to follow, whether it is Theravada, Mahayana, or Vajrayana. It depends on individual tendency". His knowledge about various schools and practices in Buddhism allowed him to guide followers from different background.
It's not surprising if Buddhism followers said, "Dharma has lost
a support, human and heavenly beings are all in grief."
(Translated from Indonesian by Chen Zi Hao)
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