When I ordained there was a chanting book in my ordination temple, but only in Sinhala letters, and then without a Sinhala translation, so one of the first books I worked on, back in the 90s, was a text and translation of that book in Roman letters and with my own translation into English. This has subsequently been published a number of times and gone through a number of editions, and is available now as Daily Chanting which is a chanting book on a weekly turnaround schedule.
Later I expanded that book considerably to include all the texts that were chanted overnight in a popular eight-hour recital in Sri Lanka. The work is known as මහා පිරිත් පොත් (Mahā Pirit Pot) or පිරුවාන පොත් වහන්සෙ (Piruvāna Pot Vahanse) in Sri Lanka, and contains not only the main recitals, but also many supplementary texts also. My version entitled Safeguard Recitals has the main text but only a selection of the supplementary texts.
These books are very useful, and contain in fact some of the best texts in the tradition, like Karaṇīyamettasutta, Ratanasutta, Mahāmaṅgalasutta, the first discourse and a number from the Suttanipāta. However, I always felt there was a need for a chanting book orientated more towards meditators, and many times thought of compiling one myself.
Then, around five years ago, I was approached by my good friend the American monk Ven Subhūti, asking if I would translate the book that is in use at the Pa-Auk Tawya in Myanmar, and looking at that book, although it was not exactly what I had in mind, it was close enough to agree to do the work. The work, besides all the normal paritta texts, includes a more-or-less complete recital of the Mahāsatipaṭṭhānasutta, and important supplementary texts from the Abhidhamma.
I already had about half the texts in translation anyway, and it was a few months work to get the rest in translation, and get them ready. And there they sat as we waited and waited, as the powers that be asked for this change (text must agree with Burmese texts), then that change (cover must be plain), and another change (no credits can be given), and then even longer on promises to publish, which never happened.
Eventually I decided to take things into my own hands and publish it not as an official publication for the Pa-Auk Tawya, but as a general book suitable for meditators everywhere, and only based on the original book. Even that has taken a couple of months to come to fruition as the book was checked against recordings of the chanting made in Myanmar.
The book has now been published on Ancient Buddhist Texts and is a major 200-page addition to the chanting texts now available. It has also been sent for hard copy publication with the Buddha Educational Foundation in Taiwan, who also published my earlier chanting books.
I have to thank Ven Subhūti for all his help in preparing this book, and making sure mistakes were removed before publication and that the book conforms in general to what is in use in Myanmar. He stayed with this project long after it was ready for the mortuary, and it is thanks to him that I revived interest in getting it published.
I need to note here, that the texts agree with the Burmese texts in readings, etc. but not in the way it is formatted, which follows the conventions used elsewhere on the Ancient Buddhist Texts website. Presentation is also line-by-line in the hope that the English can be followed along with the chanting text itself, which makes it more meaningful. I hope this will encourage more people to take up chanting, which is a very good way to familiarise oneself with the original teachings of the Buddha.
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