Friday, 16 November 2012

Sasanarakkha, Taiping

[UPDATE: The title of this post has been amended from Sasaranakkha (wrong spelling) to Sasanarakkha (correct spelling). My apologies.]

This has been a rather odd week: working days alternating with public holidays. I know that some people have commented that each of this week's working days - Monday, Wednesday and Friday - all felt like Fridays to them!

My wife took Monday off so that she could have the benefit of four days off from the office, Saturday to Tuesday. We were wondering what to do with the extended weekend and then decided that perhaps we could drive to Taiping on Monday. It would be a good time to visit the Sasanarakkha Buddhist Sanctuary where the Ven Aggacitta Mahatera was the chief monk.

But first, we would have to be at the Taiping Insight Meditation Society before eight o'clock in the morning if we wanted to offer food to the monks from the Sasanarakkha. From there, we would then proceed to the Greeneries Remembrance Park. We didn't know it then but this park was right smack in the centre of one of Taiping's Chinese cemeteries. A four-wheel drive would then take us up the steep road to the SBS. We stayed there until about 12.30pm before the car took us down.

This is the Taiping Insight Meditation Centre. It's not my picture but lifted from someone's facebook photo collection. The TIMS is just a short distance from the Taiping Lake. Turn left at the roundabout outside the Flemington Hotel and a five minutes' drive would take you here. Every morning, the monks would walk down from the Sasanarakkha Buddhist Sancturary, take a shortcut through the cemetery and arrive by 8.30a.m. By then, the devotees would have prepared and laid out the food for the monks' once-a-day meals.

The main prayer and activity hall on the upper floor of the TIMS. 

A close-up picture of the image of the Buddha.

A smaller image of the Buddha on the ground floor of the building.

The Ven Aggacitta leading the monks to receive the food.

So this is the first time that we were meeting the Ven Aggacitta. While Saw See went on to ask him some Buddhist questions, the first question that left my lips were, "So you were from Saint Xavier's Institution?" I guess the question caught him by surprise because momentarily, he let his guard down. "Yes, and what about you?" he asked in return. "Free School," I said. "Then we must be enemies," he said. We laughed.

"How about your wife? From Convent Green Lane?" he asked. No, no, I told him, she was from the mainland. "There's no one here from Convent Light Street, or is there?" I said. And we laughed again. Little joke which perhaps only an Old Free and an Old Xavierian can appreciate.

Pretty soon, we took our leave of the TIMS and sought breakfast in the town. By 10.30a.m. we were already back at the Greeneries Remembrance Park to wait for the SUV to take us up to the SBS. I suppose a normal car would not be able to travel up there so easily as some of the slopes were very steep. So we spent about two hours there. Took the time to walk around the place. Needless to say, from such an elevation, the view was magnificent although it was all foliage, foliage, foliage. We couldn't see the Taiping town or its famous lake. Nevertheless, a great and quiet place to hang around for meditation or self-reflection. A good book will also be very helpful.


Kumara Bhikkhu said...

It's Sasanarakkha actually. I wonder why some people tend to misspell it in this particular way. Could it be that it's like sasaran (target in Malay)?

Quah, Seng-Sun said...

Thank you for pointing out the spelling error. The title has been corrected.