The First Institute of Buddhist Education(Pirivena) of Sri Lanka Founded in the 19th Century (1841).
Located in a serene environment at Ratmalana, Colombo district this was the seat of Buddhist Education in 19th century (Under British Rule) in Sri Lanka. It is the birthplace of two National Universities namely, Vidyodaya Pirivena (currently University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka) and Vidyalankara Pirivena (currently University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka). The founder of Parama Dhamma Chetiya Pirivena was Ven. Walane Sri Siddartha Maha Thera (1811-1868). This Pirivena (School for novice monks) was established in 1841. It was started with a small humble kuti (hut) built at this location. Gradually this institute gained faith and fame from people of this country and abroad. From the beginning it became the foremost and leading Training Centre in the country for Buddhist monks. It is because of its well organized system of oriental and occidental education that it became popular as a centre of learning as well as propagating Buddhism here and abroad. This Pirivena has produced many learned Buddhist intellectuals who did a great service to this country. Today it is a well recognized International Buddhist Education centre for novice monks from Sri Lanka and abroad, and a leading temple in the area with all the facilities including a meditation centre which provide services to Buddhist devotees.
Parama Dhamma Chetiya Pirivena was established by Ven. Walane Sri Siddhartha Maha Thera in the year 1841. When Maha Thera was at Siddhattharama temple Walana, Panadura, he was invited by some pious devotees Don Prolis Lekam Ralahami, Don Philip de Silva Epa Appuhami and Jayasuriya Aracchige Tedonis Perera Appuhamy of Ratmalana to observe rainy retreat at Ratmalana. A block of land was offered to him and in this land a small Kuti was built as a mark of a temple. Ven. Walane Maha Thera spent most of his time in this humble Kuti until such time proper buildings were established later.
The present ‘Awasa Mandiraya’ which consists of 7 rooms together with the adjoining 21 rooms for students was opened in 1861. For this ceremony, there was a Pirith chanting for three months. Since then the Institute was named “Parama Dhamma Chetiyaramaya”. In the beginning there were only a few students and within a short time it increased up to 17 students and gradually more students entered. Ven. Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Nayaka Thera (1827 – 1911), who established Vidyodaya Pirivena Maligakanda, Colombo, and the teacher of many foreign scholars like Mr. T.W. Rhys Davids who pioneered to establish The Pali Text Society in London, Col. Henry Steel Olcott and Ven. Ratmalane Dharmaloka Nayaka Thero (1828 – 1887) who established Vidyalankara Pirivena at Kelaniya were two of many brilliant students of Parama Dhamma Chetiya Pirivena.
Ven. Suriyagoda Sumangala Thera with Dr. Paul Victor Ernst Dahlke
Ven. Suriyagoda Sri Sumangala (1879-1939), the first Buddhist monk in Sri Lanka to obtain a B. Lit degree in English medium from the University of Oxford, England also the Pali Teacher of Dr. Paul Victor Ernst Dahlke (Famous Actor in German Cinema) who involved in the propagation of Buddhism in Germany
and Ven. Vidurupola Siri Piyatissa Mahanayaka Thera (1888-1954), who won the Pandit degree of oriental studies together with a golden plate for his erudition in three languages: Sinhala, Pali and Sanskrit, were also great students of this Pirivena.
Ven. Walane Sri Siddhartha Maha Thera passed away in 1868. His successor was Ven. Walane Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera. In 1915, the then Director of Education Mr. J. Harward Proposed for a grant for the Pirivena Education. The grant was launched by allocating funds to this Pirivena and the Ananda Pirivena Kitulampitiya, Galle.
On the 7th of January 1911, during the time of the Ven. Walane Sri Dharmmananda Maha Thera, the name “Parama Dhamma Chetiyaramaya” was changed to “Parama Dhamma Chetiya Pirivena”.
One of the great disciples of Ven. Walane Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera was Ven. Walane Sri Satthissara Thera who became the chief incumbent in 1942. During this period the Cambodian King arrived for the opening ceremony of the renovated Dhamma sala(preaching hall). Resetting of the Menik Pilimaya (statue of gem) in the current Vihara building also took place in this period. This historic statue of gem embedded with Relics which was a work by King Dutugemunu was brought to the temple from Kumburulena, Kurunegala. Ven. Satthissara Thera is the one who started Pirivena Teachers Training School at this premise, which was the first of such schools in Sri Lanka. After his great service Walane Satthissara Thera passed away in 1960.
Ven. Dr. Mapalagama Wipulasara Maha Thera took over the duties of the temple since then. Most devotees believe that this is a golden Era of the Pirivena. Ven. Wipulasara was a well-known Artist and a sculptor and gained fame in the island and outside as well. He has sculpted Buddha’s statues for many well-known places in the country and abroad. He was able to hold Exhibitions in Soviet Russia and China in the years 1961 and 1963 respectively. He has gained many awards and titles from various countries too. In 1984 he was awarded the “Kalasoori Merit Award” by the Government of Sri Lanka for this great service.
It was he who decorated the special stage for the Pope, when he visited Sri Lanka in 1997. During his tenure a meditation hall cum Simamalaka, a library, a conference hall, a dining hall, a new shrine room and the beautiful gateway were established in the premises. Especially the name “Parama Dhamma Chetiya” (P.D.C) was made famous abroad by Ven. Dr. Mapalagama Wipulasara Maha Thera.
After Ven. Dr. Mapalagama Wipulasara Thera passed away in the year 2000, his disciple Ven. Madapatha Dhammasara Thera was appointed as chief incumbent of the P.D.C. Today it is an International Buddhist Institute which teaches Buddhism, Pali, Sanskrit, Sinhala and English etc. Mainly for novice Buddhist monks from Sri Lanka and abroad. At present Chief incumbent Ven. Dhammasara Thera with the assistance of other bhikkhus in the temple and with the full cooperation of Temple Committee and the Conservation Board manages and maintains this historically important Buddhist institute.
On guidance of Chief Incumbent Rev. Madapatha Dhammasara Thera, Rev. Maitipe Wimalasara Thera and Rev. Mawanane Pannatissa Thera a Meditation Program at every fortnight to be held at Parama Dhamma Chetiya Pirivena commencing on 23rd August 2014, for dayakas of the temple organized by the Conservation Board. This was a long awaited program after repairing the meditation centre recently with the guidance of Rev. Mawanane Pannatissa Thera.
Whilst conducting the program, instructions for the followers will be given by one out of following priests (who were at Thalagala Aranya) at every session of meditation.
1) Rev.Hanwalle Medhankara Thera
2) Rev.Bulathsinhala Samitha Thera
3) Rev.Batuwita Sumana Thera
After the first session on 23rd August , there will be 2 sessions on every month, ie on 2nd Saturday and 4th Saturday of every month. The program to be started at 9 A.M in the morning and will last for about 3 hours. The Conservation Board invites all its members and all dayakas of the temple to attend for this meritorious act of purification of mind.
(please ensure to come in a suitable white dress)
- 6.00 AM – Conducting Sil, Buddha pooja Rev.Mawanane Pannatissa Thera ,Honorary Principal of Parama Dhamma Chetiya Pirivena
- 8.00 AM - Meditation program Rev. Yodhakandiye Ariyawansa Thera, Samadhi Buddhist Centre, Ratmalana
- 10.00 AM- Dhamma sermon Rev. Porathota Premaratnabhidhana Thera , Chief Sanghanayake of Pallepaththu, Salpitikorala and Chief Incumbent, Sri Vivekarama, Borupana.
- 11.00 AM- Buddha Pooja followed by Sil Dana
- 12.30 PM- Pirith chanting
- 01.15 PM- Dhamma discussion Rev.Madapatha Dhammasara Thera, Chief Incumbent, Parama Dhamma Chetiya Pirivena Rev.Karambankulame Siridhamma Thera, Dep. Principal, Parama Dhamma Chetiya Pirivena
- 02-15 PM- Dhamma Sermon Rev.Lelwala Thapassi Thera, Chief Incumbent, Sri Deeparama Vihara, Kaduruduwa, Gorakana
- 03.45 PM- Buddhist lecture Dr. Madulugiriye Wijeratne, Manager, Bank of Ceylon
- 04.45 PM- Dhamma Sermon Rev. Madagampitiye Vijithadhamma Thera, , Lecturer Sri Jayawardenapura University
- 06.00 PM- Buddha pooja/Bodhi pooja and end of Sil programme.
Sil Dana sponsors;
Breakfast: Mrs. H.S.A.Karunaratne , Templer Road, Mount Lavinia
Mr. Janaka Soysa, Dhammananda Mawatha, Mount Lavinia
Tea(10 AM) : Mr.D.D.Amarasiri
Lunch : Mr.D.W.Gunasekera, Hena Road, Mount Lavinia
Miss D.N.S.Wijewickrema, Templers Road, Mount Lavinia
6.00 AM – Conducting Sil, Buddha pooja Rev.Mawanane Pannatissa Thera ,Honorary Principal of Parama Dhamma Chetiya Pirivena
8.00 AM - Meditation program Rev. Yodhakandiye Ariyawansa Thera, Samadhi Buddhist Centre, Ratmalana
10.00 AM- Dhamma sermon Rev. Gonadeniye Sumanarathana Thera , Chief Incumbent, Bodhirukkharama, Soysapura.
11.00 AM- Buddha Pooja followed by Sil Dana
12.30 PM- Pirith chanting
01.15 PM- Dhamma discussion Rev.Madapatha Dhammasara Thera, Chief Incumbent, Parama Dhamma Chetiya Pirivena. Rev.Karambankulame Siridhamma Thera, Dep. Principal, Parama Dhamma Chetiya Pirivena
02-15 PM- Dhamma Sermon Rev.Udugama Wimalakiththi Thera, Chief Sanghanayaka Raigam, Hewagam & Pasdun Korala Chief Incumbent, Kande Vihara Sri Nivasarama
03.45 PM- Buddhist lecture Professor. Kamal Waleboda, Colombo University
04.45 PM- Dhamma Sermon Rev.Hadigalle Chandraloka Thera, , Sri Deeparama Vihara, Gorakana
06.00 PM- Buddha pooja/Bodhi pooja and end of Sil programme.
Si l Dana sponsors;
Breakfast: Miss. Geethanjali Samaranayake , Templer Road, Mount Lavinia
Tea(10 AM) :Mr.D.D.Amarasiri
Lunch: Mrs J.P Fonseka and family Hena Road, Mount Lavinia
“Was Aradhana “ 2014 and offering of”Wa si Salu” to Mahasangha who observe rainy retreat atPar ama Dhamma Chetiya Pirivena will be held after at 6 pm on Esala Poya Day at Sri Siddhartha Dhamma Hall.