The Buddha left behind an invaluable legacy of teachings, the Dhamma-Vinaya, and established the Sangha, a congregation of well-practiced disciples. Over the last twenty-six centuries, people continue to look to His sublime teachings for solace, inspiration and guidance. The contribution of Buddhism towards the spiritual and cultural advancement of humanity is indeed most valuable.
In anticipation of the eventual decay and dispute over the Buddha’s true teachings, the First Rehearsal was called by His most senior disciple, Mahā Kassapa at the Sattapanni Caves in Rājagaha (now Rajgir) just two months after Buddha’s passing. With the objective to preserve the Buddha’s sayings and the monastic rules, 500 Enlightened monks committed these to memory to be passed on to their disciples.
Subsequently, five more Rehearsals were held; the most recent one in 1954, held in Yangon. Commentaries and compilations have also been added to the earliest recitals, and the entirety of it makes up the ‘Tipitaka’. It was in the Fourth Rehearsal held in Sri Lanka, that the scriptures were committed to writing. You can access more information about the recitals at the History of Pali Canonical Rehearsals.
Throughout history, the disciples of the Buddha – monks, nuns, and laypeople – have faithfully carried out the message of the Great Teacher, persistently and diligently serving the world with compassion. They have inspired the masses with their realisation and practice of the Dhamma, spurring others to aspire and achieve the highest human potential.
Many of us owe our spiritual progress to the compassionate efforts of Sangha members, without which we are unable to clarify our doubts, seek direction and identify our mistakes. They have also wisely reminded us for our own benefit, that no other being can make us Enlightened, and that only we can walk this path to Nibbāna through diligent efforts, echoing the words of the Buddha himself.