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The SANGHA - lit. the Assembly, or community - is the Order of Bhikkhus or Mendicant Monks, founded by the Buddha and still existing in its original form in Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, and Chittagong in Bangladesh. It is, together with the Order of the Jain monks, the oldest monastic community in the world. Amongst the most famous disciples in the time of the Buddha were: Sariputta who, after the Master himself, possessed the profoundest insight into the Dhamma; Moggallana, who had the greatest supernatural powers; Ananda, the devoted disciple and constant companion of the Buddha; Maha-Kassapa, the President of the Council held at Rajagaha immediately after the Buddha's death; Anuruddha, of divine vision, and master of Right Mindfulness; Rahula, the Buddha's own son.

The Sangha provides the outer framework and the favourable conditions for all those who earnestly desire to devote their life entirely to the realisation of the highest goal of deliverance, unhindered by worldly distractions. Thus the Sangha, too, is of universal and timeless significance wherever religious development reaches maturity.

(Adapted from 'The Word of the Buddha' by Nyanatiloka)

Dhamma Essay:
The Dhamma of the Blessed One by Ayya Khema

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