Arhath Mahinda
Posted on June 3rd, 2023

Sugath Kulatunga

Today is Poson Poya, the day that Arhath Mahinda introduced the Buddhist Dharma to Lanka. It is the day that the seeds of Sinhala Budhist civilization was planted in this country. Every act of Arhath Mahinda had a specific significance. He ensured that the ruler of the county was intelligent. He tested him with a simple set theory test which used two examples. His first subject of the mango tree was associated with the environment and the next test on relatives was based on the family and community.

Arhath Mahinda could have brought a team of only learned monks who had attained Rahath status. But he had a layman and a young samanera to show that Buddhism is inclusive and caters to different levels of religious attainment.

He was preaching to a population which followed other faiths and beliefs. His first two sermons therefore were motivational and on Pretha and Vimana vasthu which dealt with punishment and reward.

Arhat Mahinda preached a few immutable precepts to the King on the conduct of governance. One was that the King was only a trustee and not the owner of the land.

There us no doubt the son of Dharmasoka, Arhath Mahinda introduced in this country the wisdom and sagacity which Asoka exhorted in his messages in his edicts. Among which were the Buddhist values of morality, compassion, moderation, tolerance and respect for all life.

The stipulation in edict 13 on the importance of prompt feedback on the affairs of the public would have helped in efficient governance.

The impact of Arhat Mahinda was not confined to only religion but was all pervasive. He ushered in the Mauryan culture and ensured that when his sister Ven.Sanghamitta came to Lanka with a branch of the Sri Maha Bodhi, she brought with her skilled craftsmen to propagate craft industries in several areas.

Arhath Mahinda ensured the endurance of the religion by establishing the strong institution of the Sangha and the tradition of state participation in the protection of the religion. This foundation of Theravada Buddhism later became the repository and fountainhead of Theravada tradition to the countries in the far East like Burma, Thailand and Cambodia.

Arhath Mahinda is also credited with the elucidation of the doctrine in Sinhala aṭṭhakathā which tragically the alien Buddhagosha unexplainably destroyed after translating them to Pali.

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