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Buddhist Chanting - Paritta

It is indeed heartening to note the increasing number of people who are becoming interested in Buddhism. Broadly speaking they can be divided into two groups: the first group is seriously interested in learning about the Teachings. As such they attend talks, lectures, read Buddhist literature and generally take an intellectual approach to understand the Dhamma. The second group on the other hand is more concerned with the devotional aspect of Buddhism as a popular religion. This group is more concerned about chanting (Paritta), offerings, temple worship and so on and is not too interested in actually learning about what the Buddha taught.

Ideally however, good Buddhists should take the middle path between these two groups: We must make a serious effort to improve our knowledge of the teachings and at the same time should not neglect the devotional aspects of our religion which have become a part of our culture.
As such this collection of "paritta chanting" and "pujas" listed here should prove very useful for practicing Buddhists. "Parittas" are a collection of suttas for protection, which contain certain aspects of the Buddha's Teachings. Now another name for the Buddha's Teachings is the Dhamma or the Universal Truth, because the Buddha's Teachings contain only the truth they have from the time of the Buddha himself been used to help people to live a happy life. When one listens to the Teachings attentively one gets into a peaceful and happy frame of mind. Again when one is sick in mind or body, one can attain positive states of mind which can aid tremendously the healing process.

This is why they are called "parittas" which means "Protection." Of course there are some intellectuals and cynics who will say that these things cannot be proved "scientifically." Of course these things cannot be proved "scientifically" because the methods of science are good only for the matters pertaining to coarse material phenomena. "Paritta" chanting belongs to the realm of spiritual beauty. The soothing and sonorous sounds of the chanting, if listened to with the correct attitude, can calm and develop one's confidence. One can never get tired of listening to the "parittas".

In the same way "pujas" have an aesthetic value, which helps to refresh the mind. "Puja" means offering. Buddhist traditionally make offering of light, flowers, incense and even fruits, which they place before an image of the Buddha. But these are not offerings in the general sense because Buddhist know they are not making these gifts for the Buddha to enjoy. Rather, Buddhist make these offerings to remind themselves that all these beautiful things are only temporary, like their own lives. We enjoy the beauty while we can but are mindful of the fact that they are not permanent. Real beauty is only realized when old age, sickness and death are overcome by purifying the mind. Thus a Buddhist offering does not benefit the Buddha but the devotee who sees the real significance of the "puja".

These Parittas or Chants should prove useful to Buddhists with many different levels of understanding. However, parents especially will find it helpful to train their children to grow up as Buddhists. In an ideal Buddhist home, the whole family should assemble before the family altar for a few minutes each day and pay homage to the holy Triple Gem-the Buddha, the Dhamma (which He taught) and the Sangha the community of beings who have attained sainthood.

As Buddhists we must remember that the "Parittas" and "pujas" have in themselves no magic powers to help anyone. But their power is in their being able to help individuals purify their mind and develop their moral stature (sila). The person who recites or listens to these age-old verses must do so intelligently. He must know the meaning of what is being chanted he must recognize the truth contained in the verses and he must mindfully apply the truths he learns to his daily life so that he becomes a better human being. Only then will the "parittas" and "pujas" become effective.

BUDDHIST PARITTAS

The Five Precepts
Three Refuges
Homage to Buddha Dhamma and Sanga
Salutation To The Three Main Objects Of Venerations
Offering of Lights Incense and Water
Offering of food drinks
Transference of merit
Blessing to the world
Asking for Pardon
Great Discourse On Good Fortune
Jewels Discourse on Good Fortune
Loving Kindness Discourse : Karaniya Metta Sutta
Stanzas of Victory and Blessing : Jayamangala Gatha
Maha Jayamangala Gatha

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