The Dhammacakka (Esala) Festival marks the delivering of the First Sermon known as Setting in Motion the Wheel of Truth (Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta) by the Buddha, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, near Benares, India. This is considered to be a record of the first teaching given by the Buddha after he attained enlightenment. According to tradition, the Buddha gave this teaching to the Five Ascetics, who were his former companions with whom he had spent six years practicing austerities. The main topic of this Sutta is the Four Noble Truths, which are the central teachings of Buddhism that provide a unifying theme, or conceptual framework, for all of Buddhist thought. This Sutta also introduces the Buddhist concepts of the middle way, impermanence and dependent origination.
This event was celebrated at the London Buddhist Vihara on the Sunday 13th July 2014. Dhamma Chakks Pinkama started with hoisting the Buddhist flag followed by Administering Eight Precepts and Admonition, by Ven. B. Seelawimala Nayaka Thera, Head of the Vihara and Chief Sangha Nayaka of Great Britain. Homage to the Buddha, Buddha Vandana & chanting was led by Ven. Tawalama Bandula Thera. After a short meditation practice a sermon entitled “The Wheel of the Dhamma is Set in Motion” was delivered by Ven. Tawalama Bandula Thera. Mid day Buddha Puja was conducted by Ven. K. Kassapa Thera. Dana to Venerable Monks, Upasakas and Upasikas observing Eight Precepts was Organised by devotees from New Malden. All the lay devotees who attended the Pinkama were also provided with a mid day meal.
Afternoon session started with a lively Dhamma Discussion skilfully conducted by Ven. Konwewe Ariyarathana Thera, Ven. Kassapa Thera, Dr. Upali Abeysiri and Mr. Richard Jones. Ven. Bogoda Seelawimala Nayaka Thera delivered a Sermon on ” Samma Ditthi ” or Right View. Samma Ditthi is the first of the eight path factors in the Noble Eightfold Path, and belongs to the wisdom division of the eight noble path. In his sermon Ven. Nayaka Thera explained how in the Noble Eightfold Path Samma Ditthi is defined as knowledge of the Four Noble Truths. “The complete definition is the knowledge of suffering (dukkhe nanam), the cause of suffering (dukkha samudaye nanam), the cessation of suffering (dukkha nirodhe nanam) and knowledge of the path leading to the cessation of suffering (dukkha nirodha gamini patipadaya nanam). Sosamma Ditthi focuses directly on the core of the Buddha’s philosophy” he explained.
A Sermon in Sinhala was delivered by Ven. Kassapa Thera. On this occasion, a formal invitation to observe the rainy retreat ” Vas Araadhana” was also extended by devotees in the traditional manner to the venerable monks. Esala programme concluded with the chanting of the Dhammacakka Pawaththana Sutta (The First Sermon of the Buddha) followed by Punyanumodana (sharing of merit) by the Maha Sangha.