Na Uyana Monastery

Na Uyana Aranya (‘Ironwood Grove Forest Monastery’) is one of the oldest Buddhist forest monasteries in Sri Lanka, dating back to the time of King Uttiya (3rd Century BCE). The modern revival of this ancient monastery during the past few decades has seen its emergence as one of the main meditation centres in the country. Today it is again a home to a thriving community of monastic and lay Buddhist practitioners.

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Nā Uyana Aranya is the largest
meditation monastery of Śrī Kalyāṇī Yogāśrama Saṃsthā (also known as Galduwa Tradition), the main forest monastic organisation of Sri Lanka.

CONTACT INFORMATION
Na Uyana Monastery,
60554, Pansiyagama,
Melsiripura,
Sri Lanka.

(+94) 37 4947378
(+94) 71 8455332
(+94) 70 2228183 – Mr. Ranatunge

nauyana@gmail.com
AT A GLANCE

In this guide

General Information

ORIENTATION OF THE MONASTERY

Na Uyana Forest Monastery covers a total of more than 5000 acres, which can be divided into 5 main sections: (1) Lower-Monastery Section, (2) Middle-Mountain Section, (3) Kospotha Section (4) Āndāgala Section and (5) Dharmayathana Section (Academic Center for Na Uyana)

The Lower-Monastery Section is situated within an Ironwood forest, and contains the following structures: two pagodas, two bodhi-trees, an Uposatha hall (Sīmā sālā), a meditation hall (Bhāvanā sālā), a refectory (Dāna sālā) and Alms food hall (Piṇdapāta sālā), a library and offices, in addition to more than 250 kuṭis (Monk’s residences).

The Middle-Mountain Section is the newly developed area on the main hill of the monastery, which has about 63 kuṭis and includes a bodhi-tree, a meditation hall and Gilanpasa sāla (Upaṭṭhāna sālā). This area has already reforested.

The Kospotha Section has a pagoda, and two bodhi-trees, about 20 kuṭis and includes a meditation hall, a refectory and an alms food hall too. It is situated among grassy hills on the eastern side
of the monastery.

The Āndāgala Section is a remote, reforested area, situated in the north-eastern part of the monastery with structures such as a pagoda, a bodhi-tree and three kutis.

The Dharmayathana Section (Academic Center) is situated in a Coconut estate which is now being reforested. And it contains the following structures: a pagoda, two bodhi-trees, an Uposatha hall (Sīmā sālā), a meditation hall (Bhāvanā sālā), a refectory (Dāna sālā) and Alms food hall (Pinḍapāta sālā), a library and offices, in addition to more than 50 kuṭis (Monk’s residences).

Section Name Altitude Landscape Accommodation Type
1
Pansiyagama
Lower Monastery
200-350m
Ironwood Forest
Caves and built kutis
2
Mountain
Middle-Mountain
350-480m
Acacia and teak forest
Newly built kutis
3
Matale
Kospotha Monastery
450-500m
A forest of Acacia and other trees
Newly built kutis
4
Andangala
Āndāgala Area
200-400m
Reforested area
Newly built kutis and wattle-daub kutis
5
Dharmayathanaya
Academic Center
200-350m
Basically a coconut estate and now being reforested
Newly built kutis

COMMON DAILY ACTIVITIES

Meditation Programs: There is a special meditation retreat going on throughout the month in the Middle-Mountain Section while in other places is a retreat goes on every month in parallel to the Lower-Monastery meditation retreat in main.

Dhamma Talk: Most Ven. Angulgamuwe Ariyananda Mahathero normally gives a dhamma talk on Wednesdays at 4:00 p.m. in both Sinhala and English at the Bhāvanā sālā on the Middle-Mountain, on Fridays at 7 p.m. there is a Sinhala-only dhamma talk for the local community and on Sundays at 7 p.m. there is an English-only dhamma talk for the foreign community in the Sīmā sālā at the Lower-Monastery—both talks are on the Dhammapada. All are welcome.

Dhamma talks in both languages (Sinhala and English) are held when there is a meditation retreat going on every month.

Opportunities are arranged to be able to watch all the above-mentioned talks as recorded series to monasteries like Dharmayathana, Kospotha, Āndāgala and Sudhammikarama-one of the nunneries.    

Chanting (Pūjā): Morning and evening chanting are held in all the places to suit their day’s program.

Special Information for Monks

Robe Washing: Natural detergent and sinks for robe washing are available at the Pandu sālā (Robe Dying Hall) on Sundays.

Shaving: Every Sunday, monks are permitted to do the shaving, and to trim nails if necessary.

Disciplinary Inquiries (Vinaya) and Community (Sagha) issues: Disciplinary or Community issues may be addressed to Most Ven. Saṅghasobhana Mahathera, who is usually available after lunch in the library.

Special Information for Lay Practitioners

Etiquette around Monks: Please be mindful when relating to monks and other spiritual companions at the monastery. Paying careful attention to the way Sri Lankan laity behave towards the monks is perhaps the best way to learn the appropriate etiquette of lay-monastic relationships. Laypeople should never sit on the same seat or mat as a monk, or wear footwear in their company. Lay practitioners are also expected to help with simple duties for the maintainence of the monastery.

PLANNED EVENTS

Please check the notice board in the upstairs area of the Dāna Sālā which gives information about future events, e.g. the day of the Uposatha, when the doctor is coming, etc.

Food and Accommodation

FOR MONKS

Breakfast/Lunch (Dāna):

Lower Monastery: Breakfast is served at 6:00am and lunch is served at approximately 9:35 am, both collected from the Pinḍapāta Sālā. After the wooden block has been sounded, monks should meet outside the Sīmā Sālā with both shoulders covered. A line is formed according to seniority (vassa) and the monks then proceed to the Pinḍapāta Sālā. Monks can eat their alms food at the Dāna Sālā.

Mountain: Monks on the mountain retreat are served breakfast at 6.00am and lunch at 9.00am, both at the Mountain Upaṭṭhāna Sālā.

Matale: At approximately 6.20am, monks from the Matale area meet at the small kuṭi near the Cetiya, where rice gruel is normally served. At 6:40am they line up according to seniority with both shoulders covered and proceed onwards to the Pinḍapāta Sālā. Monks can eat their alms food either at the Dāna Sālā or back in their kuṭis.

Andangala: All monks staying in the Andagala area go to the surrounding villages for Pinḍapāta.

Village Pinḍapāta (Alms Round):

If you want to go to the village to collect alms food, please get permission from Ven. Ariyananda or Ven. Saṅghasobhana. Monks wishing to do Pinḍapāta in the Pansiyagama area must refer to the map in the Gilanpasa Sālā. Please write down the appropriate route number on the calendar below the map.

Photo: Monks going for Alms round

FOR LAY PRACTITIONERS

Lower Monastery: Breakfast is served at 6:00am and lunch is served at approximately 9:35 am, both collected from the
Pinḍapāta Sālā. Laymen should meet outside the Sīmā Sālā after the wooden block has been sounded. Foreign Laymen should line up with the Sinhalese Laymen, behind the saffron-clothed Upāsakas. Laymen can eat their alms food in the downstairs of Pinḍapāta Sālā. It is prohibited to take any food back to Kutis(rooms), you must have your alms food in the downstairs of the Pinḍapāta Sālā alone with other laity. Please do not feed the monkeys or dogs any scraps of food.

RESIDENCES

Please take care of the kuṭi you are assigned. Please do not make any improvements or remove furniture without permission from Ven. Saṅghasobhana or Ven. Ariyananda. Between 7:00 am and 7:30 am residents should clean their kuṭis and sweep and clear the surrounding areas. Please be careful when using candle-lanterns and candles and don‘t leave valuables lying around in obvious places. If the lodging is left for more than a short while, doors and windows should be closed to prevent rain and windblown debris from entering. Please make sure you return the key when you leave.

Cave kuṭi’s (monks’ residence) at Na Uyana Aranya

Meditation

Na Uyana is one of the two principal meditation monasteries of the Śrī Kalyāṇī Yogāśrama Saṃsthā. The main meditation method taught is Pa-Auk Samatha Vipassana, and the senior meditation teacher is Ven. Ariyananda Thera. Practitioners may join the group sittings conducted in the two main meditation halls, or continue on their own in their individual kuṭis.

Please visit Meditation Techniques page for meditation instructions.

Meditation Instructions (Kammaṭṭhāna)

Please see the table below for scheduled interview times with the meditation teachers. These times may vary according to circumstances.

Teacher Day of the Week Time Location
Ven. Ariyananda
Sat
4.00 pm
Lower Monastery Bhāvanā Sālā
Ven. Ñāṇasiri
Tues, Sat (Sinhala and English. Fri (Chinese)
4:00 pm
Mountain Upaṭṭhāna Sālā
Ven. Ariyavimala
Everyday except on the Uposatha
4:00 pm
Lower Monastery Cetiya

MONASTIC RETREAT

Na Uyana provides an environment for intensive group meditation in the mountain retreat area, situated in and around the Bhāvanā Sālā and the Upaṭṭhāna Sālā on the mountain. Each retreat lasts 14-15 days and starts the morning after the Uposatha and finishes on the morning of the following Uposatha. If you are interested in joining, please see Ven. Ariyananda.

RECOMMENDED READING

The following books are recommended to those interested to know more about the system of practice that is taught here:

1. Teaching and Training by Bhikkhu Moneyya
2. Knowing and Seeing by Pa Auk Sayadaw

 

Common Facilities

THE LIBRARY

New visitors are required to get permission from Ven. Saṅghasobhana before using the library. If you wish to borrow a book, please enter the book code, the book title, your name and date in the borrowers’ book. If you wish to donate books to the Saṅgha, please deposit them in the donation box located in the library or give them to Ven. Saṅghasobhana.

Laymen are kindly requested not to sit on the chairs in the library, which are reserved for the monks. If you would like to read in the library, you may sit on a mat on the floor or on the Plastic stools provided for laypeople.

STORE ROOM

The store room is open every day from 11.30 to 12.00am. Please note that the monastery supplies only the following items for lay practitioners: soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes and razors. Other items can be bought from Pansiyagama or Melsiripura.

Communication Facilities

EMAIL

If you need to send an e-mail, type your message in an MS Word, Open Office or Plain text document in the following format:

To: email@example.com
Subject: From [Your name]
[Your message here]

After you have typed the e-mail, you may save it on the email thumb drive (normally hanging outside the office door). The email will later be sent from the Na Uyana email account nauyana@gmail.com. Please inform anyone who wants to email you at this account to include your name in the subject field of the email, so that it can easily be identified. Received emails sent to this account will be printed out and placed in one of the small slots above the postal box in the Sīmā Sālā.

SENDING POSTAL MAIL

If you wish to send a letter, then please place it in the outbox section of the postal box in the upstairs area of the Sīmā Sālā. For monks, stamps are available from the store room. Please ask Ven. Saṅghasobhana about current international postal rates. Na Uyana postal address: Na Uyana Aranya Senasanaya, Pansiyagama 60554, Sri Lanka.

INTERNET

Na Uyana does not provide internet facilities; however, you can go to an Internet Cafe at Melsiripura.

View from rock point at Na Uyana Aranya

Travel and Visas

TRAVEL

There is a bus station in Pansiyagama village which has buses going every hour to Melisiripura. It is a 30-minute walk to Pansiyagama village and a further 45 minutes bus ride to Melisiripura. From Melsiripura, there are buses going to Kurunegala and Colombo. Monks who do not use money can get special bus coupons which allows monks to travel on government buses (CTB). These coupons can be got from the store room. Please see the office monk to check whether there is a vehicle going to Kurunegala or Colombo on the day you wish to travel.

DIRECTIONS TO NA UYANA

Take the road to Madahapola at the Melsiripura junction (between Kurunegala and Dambulla) on the A6 highway. At the Pansiyagama junction on the Madahapola road, take the road to Galewela. About 500m on this road is the Na Uyana road, which leads to the monastery.

By Bus: From the Kurunegala bus station, take the bus to Dambulla and get off at Melsiripura. From Melsiripura, take the bus to Pansiyagama. From Pansiyagama Village, you can either take a three-wheeler (taxi) to Na Uyana or you can walk (around 35 mins). To walk from the bus station at Pansiyagama, take the road going up the small hill which passes a school on your right. After about 500 m, turn to the right, onto a track called Na Uyana Road. Walk about another 500m, then turn to the left, onto a small dirt road. Walk another 700 m and you will see Na Uyana Monastery on your right, just after passing the Bodhi Tree (also
on your right-hand side). You can ask the villagers for directions at any time.

Foreign monks and nuns who visit Na Uyana could be provided with transport from the Colombo airport. Please contact the monastery office prior to making your travel plans.

Maps courtesy of Google Maps

VISAS

If you wish to extend your visa past the initial 30-day entry in Sri Lanka, you can apply for a single 3-month extension. If you wish to stay for more than 3 months, you need to apply for visas prior to arrival. Na Uyana can support you with a sponsorship letter. In Sri Lanka, Buddhist monks get a free one year residence visa which needs to be extended annually. You need to have your monk photo in the passport for this. You should apply for your extension at least one week before the expiry date of your current visa. The monastery may be able to assist you with your visa application, depending on circumstances. Please see Ven. Ariyananda or the office monk for more information. Also visit www.immigration.gov.lk.

Visit Visa Application Procedures page for more information.

Health

Western-trained doctors make frequent visits to the monastery. For non-serious complaints, there is a medical room on the first floor of the Sima Sala with Western and Chinese medicines. Please inform Ven Ariyananda or the office monk if you need to take something from this room. There is also a detailed and comprehensive medical book, The Merck Manual, available in the library, which can be used to assist diagnosis of any illness or complaint. For a serious complaint or illness, please see Ven.Ariyananda or the office monk, and they will be able to arrange a visit to a doctor or hospital in Kurunegala.

TEA & REFRESHMENTS

Herbal teas, medicinal tonics and various other drinks are available. Allowable items in the afternoon are butter, ghee, oil, honey and sugar, as well as various teas and medicines. Chocolate, Nestomalt, milk, cheese and non-diary creamers, as well as any other solid food products, are not allowed in the afternoons.

WATER

The water here comes from mountain springs and when tested recently, it was deemed safe to drink. Most people use a ceramic filter to clean the water and remove traces of mud before drinking; some use a cloth filter. Filtered water is located throughout the monastery.

DISEASES AND BODILY AILMENTS

Title Definition
Malaria
There is no malaria in this region of Sri Lanka.
Dengue Fever
There is a very small chance of contracting dengue fever although it is more common in urban areas rather than rural and forested areas. Symptoms include high fever, severe headache and body ache.
Rabies
There is rabies in Sri Lanka. If you are bitten by a stray dog or cat, a fruit bat or monkey, you will need to go to a local hospital to get an anti-rabies shot.
Worms
Intestinal pin-worms are common. These harmless creatures are spread through food, particularly raw vegetables, touched by the unwashed hands of an infected person. The pin-worms will go away by themselves within a few days. There are worm pills available if necessary.

INSECT AND CREATURE BITES

The following noteworthy creatures can be found at Na Uyana:

Creature Description Resultant Contact Prevention and Cure
Scorpions
Large, black and bluegreen coloured or small, red and black coloured.
Painful bite but is not dangerous.
Prevention: Be careful after rain, use a torch at night. Cure: Anti-Histamine, Sarvavishadi Oil.
Centipedes
Large red and brown striped.
Very painful bite and can cause major swelling.
Prevention: Be careful after rain, use a torch at night. Cure: Anti-Histamine, Sarvavishadi Oil.
Tarantulas
Large grey or black coloured.
Very painful bite.
Prevention: Exercise extreme caution, do not try to move it – these spiders can jump. Cure: Anti-Histamine, Painkillers. Seek medical attention.
Hohaputus
Very small mosquito-like biting fly
Minor swelling and itchiness.
Prevention: Mosquito repellent, Citronella oil, Siddhalepa balm. Burning incense. Low lighting and cloth over window at night. Reduction of itchiness: Sarvavishadi Oil.

SNAKES

Sri Lanka has many varieties of snakes and and several are very dangerous, notably the Indian cobra, Russell Viper and the Krait. If you are bitten, remain calm and if possible, wash the bite with soap and water. It is important to note the colour, the shape of the head and any other distinguishing features of the snake that bit you. Then slowly make your way down to the area around the Sīmā Sālā and inform someone of what has happened. Antivenom is available in Kurunegala and Galewela. The most common incident of snake bite that occurs at Na Uyana is from the Hump-nosed Viper (Kunakatuva), which is only mildly venomous and can be treated with anti-histamine or a trip to the local snake doctor.

CLIMATE

Na Uyana is situated in the intermediate zone of Sri Lanka, in between the wet zone and the dry zone. It has a comparatively moderate climate with temperatures ranging from 16°C in the cool season (November-January) to 36°C in the hot season (March-April and August-September). Na Uyana is
affected by the North-Eastern Monsoon (November-January) and to a lesser extent the South-Western Monsoon (May-June).

DIET

The diet here at Na Uyana is vegetarian and includes fresh fruit and a choice of either brown/red or white rice. Most curries contain moderate amounts of chilli, however there are chilli-free dishes available, especially for foreigners. No special diets are provided.

Other Information

SUGGESTED ITEMS TO BRING OR BUY

The following is a list of suggested items that would be useful to bring to Na Uyana:

Vitamin and herbal supplements; herbal teas; light, comfortable, easy-to-wash WHITE clothing; dental floss; toiletries; towel; talcum/medicated powder; large umbrella; earplugs; water resistant sandals; torch/flashlight; battery-powered alarm clock; mosquito repellent; yoga mat (if you practice yoga); get dental work done before coming. Most everyday-items can be obtained locally, name brands excluded; voltage here is 220V.

PROHIBITIONS

Smoking cigarettes, consumption of alcohol and use of any other intoxicants and mind-altering substances is strictly prohibited.

CLOTHING

Laymen are required to dress modestly at all times. They are kindly requested to wear clothes that are entirely white in colour.

CUSTOMS AND CULTURE

The Sinhalese culture, being part of the Indian cultural sphere, allows for more individualism. The Sinhalese, like Asians in general, are quite indirect and can get offended by someone with a direct and critical manner. If you have a genuine complaint that needs addressing, then it is advisable to do so in as polite and indirect manner as possible, so as to avoid any possible misunderstandings. It can be useful to ask a local monk for advice about the best way to address a certain problem. For a harmonious stay in Sri Lanka, it is best not to expect the conditions to be the same standard as you are used to back in your home country. Sri Lanka is a great place to practice patience, simplicity and renunciation. According to Ven. Ñāṇatusita’s guide to Sri Lankan monasteries, the conditions and facilities at Na Uyana are comparatively excellent in catering for foreigners’ needs.

Ordination, Lay Precepts

For laymen interested in ordination the following books are useful to read:

1. The Buddhist Monastic Code Vols. I & II by Bhikkhu Thānissaro
2. Vinaya Notes by Ajahn Brahm
3. The Bhikkhu Rules, a Guide for Laypeople by Bhikkhu Ariyesako

Ordination ceremony and chaitya

APPROXIMATE TIMELINE TO BHIKKHU ORDINATION

1-4 months: Upāsaka (8 Precepts)
6-12 months Pabbajjā (going forth) and abiding as a Sāmaṇera (Novice monk) (10 Precepts and 75 Sekhiya rules)
January – March: Vinaya Classes
April: Vinaya Exam
June: Upasampadā (higher ordination) at Galduwa Monastery

THE MORAL PRECEPTS

When staying at Na Uyana the laymen are required to observe the 10, 8 or 5 precepts, as laid down by the Buddha. Please see Ven. Saṅghasobhana for more information.

The Eight Precepts

1. I undertake the training to refrain from intentionally taking the life of living beings (Pāṇātipātā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṁ samādiyāmi)
2. I undertake the training to refrain from taking what is not given (Adinnā-dānā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṁ samādiyāmi)
3. I undertake the training to refrain from all sexual activity (Abrahma-cariyā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṁ samādiyāmi)
4. I undertake the training to refrain from speaking untruthfully (Musā-vādā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṁ samādiyāmi)
5. I undertake the training to refrain from taking intoxicating drinks and drugs (Surā-meraya-majja-pamādaṭṭhānā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṁ samādiyāmi)
6. I undertake the training to refrain from taking food after mid-day (Vikāla-bhojanā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṁ samādiyāmi)
7. I undertake the training to refrain from dancing, singing, playing or listening to music, attending public performances and from any kind of self-adornment including cosmetics, perfumes, garlands and jewellery (Nacca-gīta-vāditavisūkadassanā mālā-gandha-vilepana-dhārana-maṇḍana-vibhūsanaṭṭhānā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṁ samādiyāmi)
8. I undertake the training to refrain from lying on high and luxurious sleeping places (Uccā-sayana mahā-sayanā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṁm samādiyāmi)

Uposatha Day

The Bhikkhu Pātimokkha recitation starts at 3:00 pm in the Sīmā Sālā, please start arriving at 2:45pm. The Pātimokkha is followed by the Sāmaṇera Dasa-Sīla (10 precepts) which starts at around 4:00 pm.

The formal undertaking or renewing of the 8 precepts for lay people can be taken at 4:15pm on Uposatha day, after the Sāmaṇera Dasa-Sīla (Novice monks undertaking the 10 precepts).

See also –
Taiwan Na Uyana branch website http://www.nauyana.org.tw/

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