LJM Maha Kusala Yama Monastery Celebrates Sramaneras Passing State Exam
Five sramaneras from the Ling Jiou Mountain (LJM) Maha Kusala Yama Monastery School of Sramaneras at Naung Mon, Myanmar took part in the state examination this year and all passed with flying colors. The success can be ascribed to the grand vision of Dharma Master Hsin Tao, LJM Founding Abbot, and manifested via the School's robust curriculum and solid programs since 2019 to offer classes in Pali as an integral part of its syllabus for cultivation of international talents on their way to become Buddhist Sanghas.
Of the annual state examinations conducted by Myanmar's Ministry of Religious Affairs, Pahtamapyan means ‘Recitation foremost’ and is the fundamental level test, whereas Dhammacariya is the advanced level test fit for learned monastics. When turning 12 years of age, sramaneras can register to take the first of the four-tier fundamental tests of Pahtamapyan. Passing all four tiers of Pahtamapyan qualifies one for taking the advanced level test Dhammacariya. Only those Dhammacariya-certified may cite Buddhist scriptures and chant mantras at state-held Dharma assemblies.
Sanghas are highly esteemed in Myanmar, and the demand of their qualifications is understandably quite stringent. The fundamental level test of Pahtamapyan, for instance, takes the form of both an oral test and an examination in writing. Besides Buddhist scriptures, canons and precepts, footnotes plus remarks accompanying the ancient texts belong as part of the test as well. It is rather common that people spend up to two years to cross the hurdle of any of the four tiers.
The five sramaneras who passed the test of Pahtamapyan with flying colors are Shin Acainna, Shin Kalainda, Shin Rajainda, Shin Visittha, and Shin Indavamsa. They show no sign of pride nor complacency. Instead, they continue to study hard in preparations for the next tier of the test. In recognition of their success in passing the test, the Maha Kusala Yama Monastery School of Sramaneras announced a scholarship for them.
Master Heng Ming, who is now the supervisor of the school, said that their quintessential principle in education follows Venerable Master Hsin Tao's ideal in incubating future Sanghas with international visions and well-equipped to promote Buddhism in the best possible manners. From early childhood onward, sramaneras study Chinese and Burmese. In the course of learning the Chinese language, principles for daily living are installed to help grow their character - one mind, two kinds of love, three acts of goodness, four gifts, five virtues, and six perfections- plus exploring the ideal of ‘Loving the Earth, Loving Peace’. Accordingly, Chinese will become their bridge to connect with the world, whereas Burmese lends itself well to the studies of Pali for Theravada Buddhism.
During the process of course design for environmental protection for ecology in general and for the LJM ‘Loving the Earth’ ideal in particular, it proved too demanding a task to assemble ecology-minded teaching materials for children in the Burmese language. Finally, it was decided that faculty members for the Chinese program were to develop their own teaching and learning modules based on the LJM core values of ‘Compassion & Chan Meditation’ alongside the ‘Loving the Earth, Loving Peace’ ideal. COVID-19 has hindered the launch of the Chinese program, but distant learning via a digital platform is being put together for a breakthrough to overcome the temporary setback owing to the pandemic so that the long-term objective via education can proceed as planned.
Master Heng Ming expressed delight in the sramaneras's passing the state examination with flying colors as the result of the school's hard work as a whole. It marks a positive beginning as the school takes baby steps in the course of long-term development for international talents for future Sanghas. The school aims at graduating students qualified for the Dhammacariya certificate. And when the sramaneras reach the age to vow for the precepts of Bhikkhus, the school will help arrange for them to continue their college education at the University for Life & Peace as future Bhikkhus with proper Dharma knowledge ready to acquire the profundity of Buddha's teachings and to develop their skillset while broadening their horizon in preparations to bring Buddhism further in the world, and for the Dharma seeds to spread out the world over.
The LJM Maha Kusala Yama Monastery at Naung Mon has been encountering multiple challenges in the course of establishing the School of Sramaneras. Not once did it allow itself to be halted for long. Not even in the face of COVID-19. More determined than ever before, the Naung Mon School will most certainly carry on its mission by observing Venerable Master Hsin Tao's education ideals of cultivating a steadily growing supply of fit international talents for future Sanghas and help pave the way for a bright future for Buddhism in Myanmar.