Upasampada

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Upasampada a practice through which a Buddhist novitiate or new Bhiksu is elevated to the status of full Bhiksu. Usually Buddhist novitiates, called shraman, begin their monastic life at 15. This stage of their life is known as pravrajya. During this period, a young Bhiksu learns the Buddhist scriptures under a mature Bhiksu. The minimum age for becoming a full Bhiksu or taking upasampada is 20. No shraman who is disabled, in debt, blind, convicted of a crime, seriously ill, or suffering from leprosy or epilepsy is allowed to take upasampada. There are eight kinds of upasampada, but only vattichatuttha kamma upasampada is administered nowadays.

The presence of at least five Bhiksus is essential at an upasampada ceremony. First the candidate';s fitness for becoming a full Bhiksu is examined. If he is found fit he has to request the Bhiksus thrice to grant him upasampada. The Bhiksus then grant him upasampada according to the prescribed practice. The decision of the Bhiksus must be unanimous.

Upasampada is one of the main Buddhist religious ceremonies. Lay persons attend this ceremony in the hope of earning blessings. This ceremony is, however, observed on a quieter note than the pravrajya ceremony. Upasampada ceremonies are held at different viharas of the country. [Sukomal Barua]