6 Questions on ‘Death’ Meditation (Recollection of the Death)
It was the Most Ven. Mātara Sri Gnānārāma Mahāthēra who became of great support for the Most Ven. Kadawedduwē Sri Jinawaṁsa Mahāthēra to initiate Sri Kalyāni Yōgāshrama Saṁsthā (The Association of Sri Kalyāni Hermitages). The Most Ven. Gnānārāma Mahāthēra pioneered with perseverance, exercising all of his hard-earned knowledge, will power, vigour, powers of virtue and wisdom etc., in order to make the institution, ‘Sri Kalyāni Yōgāshrama Saṁsthā’ a strong fortress of virtuous bhikkhus which came to existence in winning combination with the Most Ven. Kadawedduwē Sri Jinawaṁsa Mahāthēra.
Gnānārāma Mahāthēra was born to the fortunate parents, Mr Don Bastian and Mrs Wattaggoda in the village Tikkānāgodagama which belonged to the sub-division of Gangabada in Matara district, on the 11th of December in 1901 being the 8th child of the family and was named, ‘Dedduwē Jayathuṅga Don Diyes Jayathuṅga. Even though the child had reached the school-age, he hadn’t been fortunate enough to have the formal school education but later was lucky enough to receive a primary education under several learned Mahāthēras while staying at their places helping and attending to them.
Most Ven. Gnānārāma Mahāthēra undertook his going forth by the Pali name, ‘(Matara) Gnānārāma’ in December of 1917 under the Preceptorship of Most Ven. Matalē Sri Aggadhammālankāra Mahāthēra who then held the post of ‘First Information Secretary’ to Sri Lanka Ramañña Mahā Nikāya. Mahāthēro carried on his Dhamma and Vinaya learning further to be able to be eligible enough for his Higher Ordination. Then he received his Higher Ordination on the 04th of July in 1922 at the Udakuḳḳhēpa Sīma Pavilion built on Kelani river at Totalanga under the Preceptorship of austere practitioner Most Ven. Shāsthravēlliyē Upasēna Mahāthēro. Ven. Mahāthēro worked hard for the proficiency in languages like Sinhalese, Pali and Sanskrit while working even harder to enjoy deep experiences in Samatha-Vipassana meditations too.
Pioneering to start Sri Kalyāni Yōgāshrama Saṁsthā in the year 1951, bhante strived round the clock with a view to creating a new generation of yogi bhikkhus by teaching them Samatha-Vipassana meditations which, by then, he had painstakingly mastered for a longer period of time. And not only that, engaging himself in austere practices (dhutānga) and understanding well their significance for ordained life, not once did he hesitate to employ his students in that grand training too. Bhante, who possessed a marvellously profound understanding along with “knowhow” in Dhamma and Vinaya while inherited a wonderful skill to teach in a way, others can absorb it well and clearly, led the last time of his unblemished bhikkhu life doing a great service to the Sāsana.
Last, leading an amenable, exemplary and well-behaved bhikkhu life in a best way possible as good as a great bhikkhu can be, and, working harder and giving his possible fullest to the Buddha Sāsana, the Most Ven. Matara Sri Gnānārāma Mahāthēro peacefully passed away on the 30th of April in 1992 giving the whole world another chance of realizing the impermanency of all the conditional formations.
The Mahāthēro, in his quest for preserving and maintaining the supreme Buddha Sāsana for a very long period of time and also compelled by the great compassion to free worldly beings from the saṁsāric ocean, developed with immense strength the virtue, concentration and wisdom by fulfilling all the requirements known as “Pārami”. He had selected as one of his resting places on his saṁsāric journey, a place called “Kadaweddūwa” village, in Matara district of Ruhuna, and was born on the 01st of April in 1907 at 7.30 am becoming the fourth child of a well-disciplined family, being one of the sons of Mr. P. Don Punchiappuhāmi and Mr. Wickramaratne Dissanayake, by the name of “Don Dinesh”.
At the age of 5, he entered Yatiyana vernacular school and was educated skillfully for 5 years. When Dinesh was 10 years old, his father made arrangements for him to stay and attend upon Ven. Kadaweddūwe Siri Sugunathissa Mahāthēra—the chief incumbent of Yatawara Sri Wardhanārāmaya, the brother of Dinesh’s father.
There Dinesh commenced learning Pāli and Sanskrit from Ven. Siri Saddhammawaṁsha Mahāthēra, and was further educated in the shade of Ven. Pandit Sri Dhammawaṅsha Mahāthēra.
After acquitting brilliantly required Dhamma knowledge and accomplishing basic Dhamma practices, Dinesh was ordained at the age of 13, by the name “Kadaweddūwa Jinawaṁsha”, by Most Ven. Kōdāgoda Upasēna thēra, the Chief Disciplinarian of Ramañña sect, on the 21st of August in 1921 at Pūrwārāmaya-Horana under the Preceptorship of Most Ven. Sugunathissa Mahāthēra while Most Ven. Ariyavilasa Mahāthēra became the chief mentor.
Thereafter, he carried on his further studies at Dharmaguptha Pirivena in iPayāgala, as well as at Dharmōdaya Pirivena in Wellawaththa. After being 20 years old, he was higher ordained on the 03rd of July in 1927 at the ‘Udakukḳhēpa Sīma in Polwathumōdara-Mirissa, this time under the Preceptorship of Most Ven. Siri Saddhammāchārya Matara Sri Gñanindāsabha Mahāthēra.
1 ‘Pirivena’ is the Pāli term of ‘Parivēnaŋ’ which means ‘the school for monks’ normally held at a temple.
2 ‘Udakukḳhēpa Sīma’ is the Pāli term for the special pavilion built on water especially for giving Higher Ordination.
Ven. Jinawaṁsa Mahāthēra exhibited great skills in learning from very early stages of life and succeeded in completing the elementary level of Oriental examination in 1931, and started “Granthākara Pirivena” in 1932, with the intention of providing a great number of students to study Dhamma. The thēro further continued his learning and was able to successfully complete the secondary level of Oriental examination in 1940 as well as the final examination with flying colors. He thereby acquired the honorary title of “Rājakīya Panditha” with high achievements in 1945. In the year 1946, the thēro obtained the honourary membership of the Oriental Languages Society, the very same organization which conducted the series of Oriental Examinations. In the meantime, the thēro was able to complete successfully the Final Pirivena Examination with merits in 1934.
While continuing his exemplary religious life by acquiring Dhamma knowledge and enriching with Dhamma practice, he was obsessed with the idea, that the time was opportune for a re-awakening exercise with a cleansing process of the Order. Our thēra’s this great thought was supported and guided by the most Rev. Matara Sri Gnānārāma Mahāthēro who possessed abundant and very wide knowledge on Thipitaka Dhamma and languages. Having Rev. Sri Gnānārāma Mahāthēro in the forefront, Mahāthēra, with only the 3 robes, alms-bowl and palm leaf umbrella commenced his forest monastic life and ventured into establishing “Sri Kalyāni Yōgāshrama Saṁsthā”-The Association of Sri Kalyāni Hermitages, and became an excellent example for the others who followed the path of emancipation.
The Ven. Thēra was offered many important key positions and honorary titles such as “The Distinguished Great Preceptor of Sri Lanka Rāmñña Mahā Nikāya”, “Sri Ariyavilāsawaṁsālankāra”, “Saddharmavāgīshwarācariya”, “Patipattisōbhana”, “Gaṇapāmoḳḳhācariya”, “The Founder and Administrator of Sri Kalyāni Yōgāshrama Saṁsthā” (The Association of Sri Kalyāni Hermitages), and “Rājakīya Panditha”.
The Ven. Thēra acted like a golden lamp to illuminate the Sambuddha Sāsana to secure by opening the path for an authentic way of monastic Theravada tradition to other bhikkhus and provided with necessary guidance and leadership to the followers.
After living an exemplary religious life of 96 years, just 2 days prior to his demise, he summoned all the bhikkhus into his kuti and delivered an extremely eloquent sermon explaining his religious life and the services he rendered for the upliftment of the Buddha Sāsana.
In the gathering, The Ven. Thēra announced the listeners that his exit will take place after 2 days. Exhibiting the impermanence in everything as his final message, he passed away at 10 pm on Sunday, 13th of July in 2003, still maintaining the high level of mindfulness.
Honourable men with good virtues are rare in this world. Such nobles do not descend to this world frequently. Wherever such a wise lord is born in the world, it brings great happiness to that caste-nation.
The rest of the document carries a bit of information about a great Buddhist Thero, who dedicated his life to the Buddha Sasana and resided in the Sri Kalyani Yogastrama Corporation, which was established based on noble ideals of the aforementioned honourable men of the most significant kind.
Kudapola alias Imihaminegama belongs to the village boundary of Keeralankadawala of Ihala Othota Korale in Kurunegala District.
Father was Dissanayake Mudiyanselage Kalubanda, who belonged to Dissanayake Adikaram lineage, which continued from the Kurunegala kingdom.
Mother was Dissanayake Mudiyanselage Maaningamuwe Gedara Punchi Manika.
Born on Monday, April 24 1939, the lucky prince was named Dissanayake Mudiyanselage Heenbanda.
He had two older brothers, an older sister, a younger brother, and two younger sisters.
Focusing on the Priesthood
Due to the Na Uyana monastery, founded in 1954 and his acquaintance with Mathara Sri Gnanarama Thero and Kadawadduwe Sri Jinawansa Thero, at the age of 14, his thoughts projected more and more towards priesthood.
Abhinikmana – Pandupalasa Stage (Abandoning the lay life).
On October 27 1956, the year of Buddha Jayanthi, he went with his father and handed himself over to the Vigoda Bodhirakkhita Thero, who resided in the Na Uyana monastery. Afterwards, he was observed with dasasil (Ten meritorious deeds) after shaving his head and attired with the red-brown colour robe. Following necessary rituals, he went to Galduwa on March 2, 1957, where they practised Pali language, sermons, meditation techniques, and other rituals.
Becoming a priest in the Buddha Sasana
He became a Buddhist priest by Na Uyane Ariyadhamma in the morning of March 27, 1957, from the Most Venerable Matara Sri Gnanaramabhidhana Thero and the chief patron Most Venerable Kadawadduwe Sri Jinawansabhidhana Thero.
Herana Bana Dhamma Training (Studying and Practicing Dhamma as a Monk)
Educated during the novice (samanera) period in the presence of his teacher, The Most Venerable Getamaanne Wimalawansa Panditha Thero – The Head of Naathagana Monastery. Memorized the whole Majjhima sect (Majjhima Nikaya) and also memorized grammatical texts such as Baalaawathaaraya and Roopasiddhi while learning their meanings.
The monk who even memorized the Pirith book, sathipaththana sermon, Dhammapadaya, Suthra Sangrahaya at the novice stage also practised cutting and sewing robes. Completing Kankhawitharani Maathikaththakathawa, Sikhawalanda, and Sikhawalada Winisa while learning Abhidharmaartha Sangrahaya and memorizing Praathimoksha Pali within a week qualified him to enter highly meritorious upasampada territory.
Receiving the Higher Ordination
On July 15 1959, with the assistance of the Most Venerable Madawala Dhammathilakabhidhana Thero who was the Head of Nimalawa Aranya Senasana, He attained the precious higher ordination in Kuda Oya Udakukkhepa Palace Chambers (Seema Malakaya) at Ashoka Monastery premises, Alawwa, in front of twenty-seven sangha group (a group of Buddhist priests) headed by Venerable Mathara Sri Gnanarama Mahopadyaya Thero, Kadawadduwe Sri Jinawamsa Panditha Thero, Getamaanne Sri Wimalawamsa Thero, Munugama Sirisumana Thero, and Dewagoda Mangalasiri Thero.
Further Study and Memorizing Capability
Learned Vinaya Pitakaya, including Atuwa from Venerable Getamanne Panditha Thero and rewarded as ‘Vibhangachariya’ as he completed memorizing the Vibhanga section of Vinaya Pitakaya by the time of 10th Anniversary celebrations of Yogasharama Cooperation which was held in July 1961. He finished memorizing the entire Vinaya Pitakaya on February 2, 1962 and then studying Abhidharmaya Pitakaya and Suthra Pitakaya. He mainly studied Abhidharma Pitakaya very well from Venerable Renukane Chandawimala Maha Thero and Devinuwara Gnanawasa Maha Thero.
Fame and Service towards Buddha Sasana
Did an amicable service to heal the hearts and minds of many by doing many meritorious deeds, including holding Dhamma Sermons, Giving Kamatahan, teaching fellow monks, and performing Upasampada (Higher Ordination).
While the wisdom which Maha Thero received on Meditation and Dhamma ascends to the sky as his Dhamma Sermons, he wrote many Dhamma books, namely ‘Soowisi Pattana Prathyana Sangrahaya – an abridged version of Patthana Sannaya’, ‘Patthana Thrirashiya with Weethi Wibhagaya’, ‘History of Sri Kalyana Yogasrama’, ‘Sanshiptha Bhikkhu Seelaya’, ‘Saaraaniya Dharma Chintha’, ‘Bhawana’, ‘Yamaka Waachana Maargaya’, ‘Karmasthana Pradeepaya’, ‘Buduguna Bhawana’, ‘Daham Guna Bhawana’, ‘Sanga Guna Bhawana’, ‘Maithree-Asubha-Marana Sathi Bhawana’, ‘Sathipattana Bhawana’, ‘Vipassana Bhawana’, ‘Abhidharma Bhaawana’, ‘Wishesha Abhidharma Bhaawana’ etc. More than a thousand books are written based on his grace’s Dhamma Sermons in addition to these books. The Venerable Maha Thero, who was self-sufficient with Dhamma, did not forget to take care of his teachers and Lord Buddha. When Mathara Gnanarama Thero and Kadawadduwe Sri Jinawansa Thero fell on ill, he did his duty without any less by treating and taking care of them well. He also took good care of his father. Our great Thero did not limit himself to Sri Lanka as he visited other countries around the world with the determination of exploring the core concepts and spirituality of Buddhism.
He visited Burma eleven times and gained Vidharshana by practising Mahasi meditation and then favouring Samatha Purwangama Vipassana Meditation method more. As a result of acquaintance that he made with the chief in charge of Pa-Auk Sayado Monastery, Venerable U Aachinna Pa Auk Sayado Thero, a great teacher, received Samatha Vipassana Meditation Training. He thereby gave his advice to build a Nobel policy resort called Na Uyana Monastery. Thero conducted Dhamma Sermons and Meditation programs in many countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Java, Sumatra Islands, Hong-Kong, Taiwan, China, Australia, New Zealand, and Nepal to enlighten the minds of thousands of people.
Positions and Awards
The Venerable Maha Thero obeyed his teachers’ advice and adapted to the yogashramic discourse and daily routine. He did not chase after awards and accepted whatever he got. Due to his competency to bear the Tripitaka Buddha’s word, his grace was awarded the honorary degree of ‘Tripitakadharaacharya’ and awarded the ‘Mahakammattanachariya’ award Burma in 2006 for his long-term practice of Samatha and Vipassana Meditation. Maha Thero rendered an excellent service to Sangha Sasana by holding Sangya Secretary’s post up to General Secretary of Yogashramiya Sangha Sabha (a congregation of priests) respectively from 1968 onwards. After the Venerable Panditha Thero’s demise in the year 2003, the Venerable Maha Thero has conferred Chief Patron and Chief Incumbent of Yogastrama. He appreciated the service rendered towards Buddha Sasana by Maha Thero, who was given the honorary name of ‘Tripitaka Vaageeshwaracharya Sasanadhaja’ along with the position of Mahopadya in Sri Lanka Ramanya sect in 2012, also granted the position of Anunayaka (Deputy Leader) of the Raamanna Sect which carries the title of Sri Jinawansa Gnanaramawanshawathansa in the year 2014 on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Sri Lanka Ramanna Maha Nikaya (The Great Ramanna Sect). Altogether, Maha Thero was one of the most significant fatherly figures in Sangha Sasana who was endowed with virtues of exemplary priests who followed a religious path according to Buddhist Philosophy.
The Last Minute
On July 17 2016, Maha Thero held his 69th Sangha conference and advised his students, and the next day, he gifted a child to the Sangha Sasana for the last time. He did an amicable service for sangha sasana throughout a whole half-century by higher ordinating more than eighty priests. After that, Thero rested for a while and received heart disease treatments and other ailments and got hospitalized on July 21 2016. There he underwent a 13-hour operation at the Durdans Hospital in Colombo, where he recovered very well after the first surgery but became critically ill after the second one. Thero received care and blessings from the whole sangha community, including Venerable Angulgamuwe Ariyananda Thero and Venerable Naagapokune Ariyaseela Thero. Maha Thero lived for another month and a half amidst Pirith Chantings and passed away at the dawn of 2.15 on September 7 2016, with full consciousness depicting uncertainty and instability of life and all otherworldly subjects.
Hidden by the sands of time, what’s now called Na-Uyana, before being discovered by the Most Ven. Vigoda Bodhiraḳḳhita Mahāthēro, had been a dense forest well-covered with a scenic canopy of lustrous greenery, making a free roaming ground for ferocious wild animals and separated from the dwelling of monks while hiding and protecting its long-existing treasures of a dilapidated stupa, balustrades and rock caves is said to be claiming to inherit a long and prestigious history dating back to the era of King Devanampiyatissa.
Having amply understood the promising significance of peace, tranquillity and mind-consoling properties of such a hallowed ancient spot of green woodland, the Mahāthēra, with a determination to re-start the lineage of virtuous yogi bhikkhus lost in the thick fog of time, came to stay here after renovating old caves by the generous patronage of his faithful kappiya devotee Mr Amarasinghe, which afterwards came to be well known worldwide as ‘Na-Uyana Forest Monastery’.
On his first day, to test its suitability to live in, bhante entered a cave and placed aside his robes and bowl, determining to stay from the very day of coming here by showing silently but distinctively the qualities of a matured great bhikkhu, such as diligence, contentment and indifference. There, he did lead a life attached to seclusion while spending the whole day with mindfulness held to his meditation object and was obviously sparing of speech, which necessarily enabled to call to the mind of viewers at that time the typical lifestyle of great arhants such as Elder Sariputta and Mahakassapa theros during the great time of the Blessed One. So, no wonder that the surrounding atmosphere with ferocious animals roaming all the time here and there did feel bhante’s powers and spell of virtues lingering over the place. And not only once was it rare and too much of a spectacle for the viewers then to be awestruck to find bhante deep in meditation in the very same cave with big rough bears resting and sleeping on the other side there as domesticated cats.
Needless to say that it was the Most Ven. Vigoda Bodhiraḳḳhita Mahāthēro, who became the very first teacher of the Buddhahood aspirant well-known Most Ven. Na-Uyane Ariyadhamma Mahāthēro’s holy celibate life of going forth.
Bodhiraḳḳhitha Mahāthēra, lived adjusting his life to the Dhamma itself and making the Dhamma his one and only refuge for 47 years to the end of his life as an exemplary bhikkhu, out of which he had lived 40 years in Na-Uyana Forest Monastery itself.
Living a remarkable ordained life being true to the full sense of the word ‘bhikkhu’, Bodhiraḳḳhita Mahāthēro, last took leave of life 3 months prior to reaching 87 years of age, while leaving only the streaks of meritorious memories of a heap of virtues in the minds of all then living.
The Most Venerable Pa-Auk Tawya Sayadaw Bhaddanta Āciṇṇa (“The Sayadaw”), is the Abbot and Principal teacher of Pa-Auk Forest Monastery, Mawlamyine, Myanmar. (“Sayadaw” is a Burmese honorific title meaning “Respected Teacher”).
Born in 1934, the Sayadaw was ordained as a novice monk (sāmaṇēra) at age ten. He studied the Pāli Texts under various teachers and passed the three Pāli language examinations while still a novice. At age twenty, the Sayadaw received higher ordination as a bhikkhu. He continued his studies of Pāli Texts under learned elder monks and passed the Dhammācariya examinations at age twenty-two. This is the equivalent to BA in Buddhist Pāli Studies and it confers the title of “Dhamma Teacher”.
In 1964, the Sayadaw intensified his meditation practice and began to practice “forest-dwelling”. While he continued with his studies of the Pāli Texts and investigation into the Dhamma, he sought out and gained instructions from revered meditation teachers of those times.
In 1981, the Sayadaw became the Abbot of Pa-Auk Forest Monastery, at the invitation of Venerable Aggapaññā (the late Abbot). Since 1983, both monastics and laity have been coming to study and practice meditation under the Sayadaw. Foreign meditators began to arrive at the Monastery in the early 1990s.
In 1997, the Sayadaw published his magnum opus, a massive five-volume work titled “The Practice that Leads to Nibbāna”, explaining the entire course of teaching in detail and supported by copious quotations from the Pāli Texts – it is currently available only in Burmese, English and Sinhalese. The Sayadaw’s teachings have been published in several books in English which are highly regarded internationally (see ‘Books by The Most Venerable Pa-Auk Tawya Sayadaw’).
The Sayadaw is both a highly esteemed Dhammācariya (Dhamma Teacher) and an accomplished Kammaṭṭhānācariya (Meditation Teacher). He speaks fluent English and has lectured and led retreats in Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Germany, UK and USA.
In public recognition of his achievements, the government of Myanmar bestowed upon him the title “Agga Mahā Kammaṭṭhānācariya”, which means “Most Highly Respected Meditation Teacher” in 1999. In 2009, the Sayadaw has bestowed the title of “Shwekyin Nikāya Rattaññūmahānāyaka” at the 17th Shwekyin Nikaya Saṅgha Conference in Myanmar.
It is the Most Venerable Pahalavitiyala Janānanda Mahāthēra, who at present, holds the post of ‘the Chief Advisor of Sri Kalyāni Yōgāshrama Saṁsthā (The Association of Sri Kalyāni Hermitages), which has been existing up to now prioritizing the forest monastery tradition. The Mahāthēra was born on the 6th of May in 1938 in the village of Pahalavitiyala in Thihagoda electorate in Matara district. He, who loved very much enjoying the country scenery, attended the Buddhist mixed school in the village of Kitalagama.
Unveiling the parami powers endowed on him, he was ordained by the name of ‘Pahalavitiyala Janānanda’ at the Kirinda monastery under the Preceptorship of Most Ven. Panditācāriya Kekunēwela Indaguptta Mahāthēra on the 22nd of December in 1961. Thereafter, learning all the necessary parts of Dhamma and Vinaya required for a bhikkhu, he was higher ordained on the 20th of August in 1964 at Udakuḳḳhēpa Sīma Pavilion built on the Mādu river near Vivēkārāma – Delduwa, under the same Preceptorship of Most Ven Indaguptta Mahāthēra. It was Most Ven Godagama Vijayapāla Mahāthēra who was his ‘Ācariya’ – the teacher.
The Mahāthēra, who exhibits a calm and peaceful demeanour and a lifestyle, shines up among bhikkhus by lighting up his pure life well by powers of virtues like ‘appiccatā’ (contentment), ‘santuṭṭitā’ (satisfaction), ‘pavivēkatā’ (seclusion), and ‘asaṁsaggatā’ (non-attachment) without being attached to benefits, civilities, reputation and praise while safeguarding and sticking to the customs of his own sect by making him a living example of a great bhikkhu for all the big and small in the Sāsana at present. Bhante, who lives a simple monastic life, whose only property consists of the three robes and bowl, is a pleasing spectacle in the eyes of viewers.
Holding the honoured title of ‘Shāsanakīrthi Sri Patipattisōbhana’ along with the appointment for the post of ‘the Great Preceptor’ bestowed on him by Sri Lanka Ramañña Mahā Nikāya, the Most Ven. Mahāthēra is a distinguished bhikkhu, who is serving as ‘the Chief Advisor’ to ‘Sri Kalyāni Yōgāshrama Saṁsthā’ while rendering a yeoman service for the betterment of the Dispensation.
The Most Ven. Meegoda Saṅghasobhana Mahāthēro–the magnanimous principal teacher of Na-Uyana Forest Monastery, is the most senior Mahāthēro residing there shouldering a considerable burden of some of the key responsibilities while playing a magnificent role inside the monastery and to the Sāsana alike.
He resides there in the monastery making a lofty example of himself to the later generations of bhikkhus and engages in the genuine dhamma practice following the age-old idealistic path that his ācariyas and upajjācariyas (teachers and preceptors) have well-trodden.
He was born on the 28th of December, 1933 to a good family and was educated in English medium at a leading school at that time.
He was ordained by the Most Ven. Kadawedduwē Sri Jinawaṁsa Mahāthēro as to be one of his students on the 17th of June, 1981 at Galdoova Sri Gunawardhana Hermitage – Ambalangoda. He received his Higher Ordination on the 18th of June, 1982 at the Mōdara Udakuḳḳhēpa Sīma Pavilion at Kosgodadoova under the preceptorship of Most Ven. Kadawedduwē Sri Jinawaṁsa Mahāthēro.
Our Mahāthēro fulfilled learning all the primary dhamma studies and the training of Samatha-Vipassana meditations living under the Most Ven. Matara Sri Gnānārāma Mahāthēro – the great preceptor and the co-founder of the Association of Sri Kalyāni Hermitages. Working with perseverance and exhibiting most encouraging manner of living an authentic bhikkhu life mentioned in the Canon, he, at present, resides as the principal of the monastery. Not only does he work as an office-bearer of the General Saṅgha Community of Sri Gunawardhana monastery – Galdoova but also he is a Kammācariya there. Older in Sila, in asceticism, in virtue and in age, the Mahāthēro resides there giving enormous energy and making a living example of himself to the Na-Uyana Saṅgha while being committed to energizing the longstanding of the Buddhist Dispensation in his scope.
The Most Ven. Na Uyane Ariyadhamma Mahāthēro can be interpreted as an extraordinary buddhist monk who emerged from The Sri Kalyāni Yōgāshrama Saṁsthā (The Association of Sri Kalyāni Hermitages), which was founded by Most Ven. Matara Gnānārāma Mahāthēro and Most Ven. Kadawaddūwē Jinawaṁsa Mahāthēro. Ven. Angulgamuwē Ariyananda Mahāthēro can be introduced as one of the important buddhist figures who was born during the Sāsanic renaissance carried out by the aforesaid great sons of The Blessed One.
This humble Ariyananda thēro works with a strong determination, courage, and perseverance for the upliftment of Buddha Sāsana by dedicating himself to build a disciplined generation of monastic bhikkhus as well as to expand Buddhism not only in the country but also in foreign countries while explaining deep and complex concepts of Buddhism in a simple, accessible and understandable way to the grassroot Buddhists drawing down-to-earth examples. He now lives in the Na Uyana monastery leading a simple lifestyle.
Most Ven. Angulgamuwē Ariyananda thēro was born on the 27 th of February 1964 as the 5 th and the youngest son of Mr. D.M. Muthubandā and Mrs. D.M. Lokumenikā. At the age of 11, his parents offered him to the Sāsana (The Dispensation of the Buddha) in front of Most Ven. Kadawaddūwē Jinawaṁsa Mahāthēro, from whom he received happy predictions.
When he was still a child he showed inborn talents and competencies for learning. He received his primary education from the village school and then his secondary education from Ibbagamuwa Central College. He completed his higher education by qualifying himself as a competent Electronic Engineer.
On such a sound footing of completion of his formal education, he led a virtuous life as a layman until he renounced his lay life on 18 th March 1992. On 18 th June 1992, he decided to have the going-forth in the Buddha Sāsana by the name of “Ven. Angulgamuwē Ariyananda” in order to fulfil his ‘Pārami’ powers to call a halt to the cycle of saṁsāra. He lit up his bhikkhu life by the influence of both Most Ven. Kadawaddūwē Jinawaṁsa Mahāthēro and Most Ven. Na Uyane Ariyadhamma Mahāthēro who could be considered as great sources appeared in the world to lit up the Buddha Sāsana. On 18 th June 1993, he obtained higher ordination which elevated him to a higher step in his religious life.
Most Ven. Ariyananda thēro has now traversed a long distance of his arduous religious life as a buddhist monk while doing meditation and studying Dhamma and Vinaya. The knowhow he received during the Myanmar Meditation Program became a real test of his mettle and a milestone on his journey. During his stay in Myanmar for a period of one year, he expertized the Pa-Auk meditation method even he was gravely ill but forgetting all his physical inconveniences he had to suffer in the poor health condition. Thero, who now lives by practising qualities required for a great follower of The Blessed One, by coming to Na Uyana monastery along with 10 other bhikkhus on the 10 th of November 1997, initialized a project to build a Meditation Centre to bring out exemplary bhikkhus for the community of Sangha in the motherland who would be able to taste the flavor of real monasticism in this emancipation-bound Sāsana.
Since then, he has been rendering a yoeman service manly possible for the upliftment of Buddha Sāsana beyond words up to today. Committed to give advice and admonitions without any reluctance to enhance the virtue, concentration and wisdom of his student bhhikkhus while giving priority to meditative monks and nuns, he gives dhamma talks on a basis of a regular timetable to all who may like to reap the benefit of dhamma.
The Mahāthēro is an exemplary character who demonstrates the advice he may give others through his actions. The monastery which was founded with 10 bhikkhus then, now is committed to housing for nearly 200 including lacal and foreign monks. Mahāthēro who dedicates his time and labor for the betterment of the Dispensation of The Blessed One, lives his life while travelling abroad and interpreting the core concepts of Buddhism in an accessible manner to other peoples in other countries too.
Having embodied the whole bhikkhu life through Dhamma, the venerable Mahāthēro has been working hard to introduce the comfort and the sheer contentment he experienced from the strenuous training, to the vast majority of people out there who may be not even at the border of the understanding and bliss of the Dhamma, for, they are stuck fast in the mire of the world of endless suffering owing to the ignorance.
Seeing thus his effort in full blossom now, he would sigh sighs of relief, for, his assigned duty of coming to this world is seen almost accomplished.