Friday, October 26, 2007

Pavarana Day

Now today is a holiday worthy of the title; the day on which we invite (pavarema) each other to point out to one another of any shortcomings seen, heard or suspected during the three months we spent together. We were to conduct it with the entire district, so I memorized our short speech:

Sa"ngha.m bhante pavaaremi. Di.t.thena vaa sutena vaa parisa"nkaaya vaa, vadantu ma.m aayasmanto anukampa.m upaadaaya. Passanto pa.tikkarissaami.

which we were to say three times, kneeling on our toes, in order of seniority after the preliminary homage and chanting of preliminary duties, which I expected the head of the district to perform. We conducted the preliminary homage to the Buddha, his teaching, and his disciples, and then the head of the district turned around and looked straight at me and said, "nimon".
Startled, I told him I'd never chanted the preliminary duties for the pavarana before, but I realized they expected that, having chanted the patimokkha for the district all three months, I should also be prepared to chant the preliminary to the pavarana. I wasn't. I told him. He frowned. I asked if they had the patimokkha book, a faux palm-leaf manuscript which surely, I thought, must have the pavarana as well, them being almost the same. They did. So, I got up once more in front of the 20 other monks, this time with a big folded manuscript on my lap, and started to recite as I remembered, replacing uposatha (m.) with pavaranaa (f.) and changing gender declension accordingly, using the book as a guide. It went okay, with the district head's guidance, and I had the honour of being the first to invite, as a result. I don't expect any of the other monks from our monastery to take me up on the invitation, they having already made me pointedly aware of my perceived faults without requiring such an invitation, but it felt good as always to follow the ancient tradition, and I was honoured to have such an opportunity as is normaly reserved for the eldest in the district.

Tomorrow morning I go to pay my respects to Ajaan Tong and request my next mission.