ලෝවැඩ සඟරාව is a didactical poem written in Sinhala in the 15th century. The author was Venerable Vidagama Maitreya Maha Thera, a scholar monk of great repute and head of Ghanananda Pirivena in Vidagama. of his literary works the Loweda – Sangaräva was the first and the best known, inter alia, for poetic excellence and popularity among the Buddhists of Sri Lanka. ‘l’hough written 500 years ago, the message of being diligent in performing wholesome deeds for one’s own welfare and of others is very relevant even today because of ultra-secularism we see around without respect for human dignity and true human welfare.
‘l’he Term Lovæda Sangaräva literally means compendium (of verses) for Universal Well-being. The purpose for which the book was written is clear from the title given by the author. It was customary until recent times for a person who is literate to read aloud from the Buddhist texts and the rest to listen. The expectation of the author was for the verses to be read or recited aloud and the listeners getting inspired to lead a virtuous and fruitful life: that is a life that will be beneficial to one’s self and others, both here and hereafter.
The reigning king at the time was Parakramabhahu VI of Kotte (1410-1468 CE) during whose reign the kingdom of Kotte reached its zenith. With the victories Of Prince Sapumal in the North defeating the recalcitrant Tamil sub-rulers of the Jaffna peninsula, the whole of Sri Lanka was effectively brought under one rule. With peace there was prosperity and joy that provided the suitable milieu for a literary revival.
The reign of Parakramabhahu VI has been acclaimed the golden era of Sinhala poetry. Some of the great literary works that have survived the ravages of the subsequent periods of vandalism and human carnage are Küvyasekharaya, Pårkumbä-sirita of Ven. Totagamuve Sri Rahula, Guttila Kävya of Ven. Wettewe, Budugunälankäraya, Lovæda Sangaråva Of Ven. Vidågama Maithreya, the Sandesa Kävya (courier poems) such as Parevi Sandesaya, Sælalihini Sandesaya, Gira Sandesaya, Hansa Sandesaya, and Kokila Sandesaya.
Lovæda Sangaräva was written not for the erudite but for those who were not able to read and understand the books on Buddhism written in the Pali language. The purpose was to wean them from unwholesome deeds and to urge them to do wholesome actions that will be beneficial for them in their lives here and hereafter. The book also seems to be written to evoke deep saddhå or confidence in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. The wish Of the author is amply fulfilled because in almost every Buddhist home in Sri Lanka, even to-day, at least a few of its verses are recited by rote. The benign influence this exegetical work has had on the lives of people living in this country is immeasurable.
Many recitations of the Lovæda Sangaräva are available in CDs that could be downloaded free from the web. To get the best out of the verses one should listen to them when recited with quiet reflection and should get absorbed in their deep meaning. They echo the last exhortation of the Buddha to all his disciples. The world is fragile. Exert heedlessly and put an end to those conditions that make one continue in the cycle of birth, decay and death, i.e. sansära.
The message of Vldagama Maitreya Maha Thera in his timeless work the Lovæda Sangaräva rendered into English as “Towards Universal Well-being” is to make the best use of being born a human where alone through one’s effort development is possible, weaning off from ten unwholesome actions and cultivating ten wholesome actions and enjoying its benefits in this life and future lives until the attainment of perpetual happiness in Nibbana.
in preparing the hand-written manuscript Of the English rendering of Loveda Sangaräva for printing I may have gone through entire book five to six times. What struck me most was the sence of urgency that Venerable Vidagama Maitreya Maha Thera wanted to instil in the minds of the listeners to do good abandoning unwholesome deeds. How powerful are the following verses in motivating a person to be diligent and lead a virtuous life.
Do not think that your putrid decaying body is everlasting ;
Impermanent it is like the flash Of lightening.
Never allow this body to tilt towards evil;
Forever strive to perform skilful deeds with diligence. (V. 24)
The archer poised to shoot in darkness at a horse’s hair from afar,
Will miss the mark if the fails to take advantage of a swift lightening flash.
This human form of yours is like the flash Of lightening;
By not seizing this opportunity to do good, you will miss heavenly and
Nibbäna’s bliss. (V.25)
There is no haven that is inaccessible to certain death.
Whatever comforts enjoyed, isn’t that only until your accumulated merit lasts?
Without hearing the words of the Buddha to end sansaras woes,
What for is dancing, playing, jesting and laughter? (V 26)
Always have the mind alert to perform good deeds.
Is not developing of such a mind the path to Nibbana’s bliss?
Why is it that you do not heed such words of good counsel?
Are you waiting until you are born in hell to realise? (V.31)
“However much one weeps and laments there is no seeing again once dead.
Not performing good deeds with resolve Why continue to amass wealth to be left behind?
Why enjoy sensual pleasures when this putrid body too will be left behind?
Listen to the dhamma as stated by me and overcoming defilements gain entry to Nibbana. (V.56)
Siri Vajirärämaye Nänasiha