by V. F. Gunaratna

by V. F. Gunaratna

The world of English Buddhist literature has been enriched by the publication of this book entitled ‘The Book of Protection’. This is a translation by the Ven. Piyadassi Maha Thera of what is well known to every Sinhala Buddhist home as the ‘Pirit Potha’ which means the book of protection. It contains a collection of suttas or discourses taken from the teaching of the Buddha and are meant to be recited in temples and homes for the purpose of obtaining protection from all harm. This is achieved by recalling with saddha or confidence the virtues of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha referred to in these discourses. There are many who listen to the recitation of these discourses but who hardly understand the import of these discourses and therefore any benefit they may gain must be necessarily slight. This translation, therefore, supplies a long-felt need as it will help such persons to listen with understanding when pirith is being recited. The venerable translator is therefore to be congratulated as being the first to translate a book of this nature.

To translate a book is not so easy as to write a book. The work of translation calls for precision and concentrated thought. A translation that keeps too close to the original is apt to suffer from a failure to convey the spirit underlying the original text.

At the same time a translation that is too free runs the risk of expressing more than the author of the original composition had intended and thereby misrepresents him. The venerable translator has certainly done well by steering clear between these two extremes and therefore deserves special praise.

Further more, he has by the manner of his translation made it evident that he has been at pains to facilitate the purpose for which pirith is recited. By means of explanations in parenthesis and helpful foot notes he has striven to elucidate the meaning of words and phrases where their full significance appears to be obscure. If a further clarification is needed the reader is invited to refer to Ven. Piyadassi Maha Thera’s book ‘The Buddha’s Ancient Path’1 which deals with quite a number of points concerning the Buddha-dhamma.

There can be no doubt that this translation of the ‘Pirith Potha’ by one such as the Ven. Piyadassi Maha Thera – a reputed author of several Buddhist books and a preacher whose sermons have gained great acceptance both in the East and the West – will be hailed with delight by those who desire to obtain a full understanding of the pirith that is recited in temples and homes – sometimes with marvelous effect.

1. The Buddhist Publication Society, P.O. Box 61, Kandy, Sri Lanka (Ceylon).

‘Hitanukampi sambuddho-yadannamanusasati
Anurodha virodhehi-vippamutto Tathagato’

Love and compassion does the Enlightened feel
Towards another when he instructs him
The Tathagata is fully released
From attachment and resentment.

Samyutta Nikaya i. p. iii.