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
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”.
Menik Pilimaya (Statue of Gem)
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 byKing 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 Theratook 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.
4th Annual General meeting of Conservation Board was held on 24th October 2015 at Dharma Shala chaired by Chief Incumbent Rev.Maitipe Wimalasara Nayaka Thera with the participation of Honorary Principal,Rev Mawanane Pannatissa Thera, Principal, Rev. Karambankulame Siridhamma Thera, executive officers of the board and a large number of members. The chief guest of the occasion was Deputy Mayor of DMMC Mr Kesaralal Gunasekera.
After observing Pansil, traditional oil lamp was lighted by invitees to commence the meeting. Secretary Mr George Kulatunga addressed the gathering to welcome the participants. Guest speech was delivered by Deputy Mayor Mr KesaralalGunasekera based on Today’s duties of Buddhists for the existence and upkeep the Buddhism in the country.
Then the report of the last meeting, financial report and the yearly audit report have been
forwarded by the relevant officers.Then current officers have been appointed for the year 2015/2016 with the unanimous agreement of the members.
Chief Incumbent Rev. Maitipe Wimalasara Thera delivered the Chairman’s speech based on The importance, mission and the future scope of the Conservation Fund with respect to the Vihara . The thanks giving speech was delivered by Treasurer Mr D.G.A. Karunathilleke.
After Seth Pirith chanting by Mahasangha the meeting was concluded with refreshments for the participants.
Katina Wasthra Pooja of Parama Dhamma Chetiya this year was held on 08th of November with the presence of the Chief Incumbent Rev.Maitipe Wimalasara Nayaka Thera, Rev Mawanane Pannatissa Thera andother Maha Sangha of the temple with the participation of a large number of devotees attached to the temple. The procession carrying the Katinawasthra started from the residence of the main benefactor, Mrs Ranjani Kodagoda at 4 am and passed through streets of the area and entered the temple premises at 6 15 am.The procession was very colourful with small students of the Daham School who participated in cycles decorated with flowers carrying Buddhist flags etc. The Katinawasthra which was brought to the temple very respectfully was offered to the Maha Sangha at the Dharma shala, by family members of Mrs. Kodagoda. Then stitching of Katina Cheewara out of Katina Wasthra have been started with the participation of very large number of devotees with a great interest.Then the completed Katina Cheewara was offered to Maha Sangha who gathered at Dana Shala by devotees lead by Mrs Kodagodas’s family. Then Sanghika Dana was offered to Maha Sangha who were present for this once a year great meritorious event.
Rev. Diviyagaha Yasassi Nayaka Thera of Dharmayathana Mount Lavinia, Rev.Nakiyadeniye Premarathana Nayaka Thera of Sudharshanarama Hedigama and Kollupitiye Revatha Nayaka Therawere also present at the occasion with other prelates of nearby temples of the area.
In the evening, the traditional Katina Dhamma sermon was delivered by Chief Adhikarana Sangha Nayaka of Colombo new Thotamune including Western Province,Rev. Suriyagoda Siri DhammaThera Chief Incumbent, Ratnarama Vihara Ratmalana. In the previous evening a Kapruk Pooja to the Chaithya and Atavisi Buddha Pooja and Bodhi Pooja was heldwith the patronage of main benefactor Mrs Kodagoda and family members.
Offering of Newly built Bodhiprakara with Golden Fence(Ran weta) to
Ancient Bodhi of the Temple(opening ceremony).
At the beginning of this year, Dayaka sabha of the temple decided to build a new Bodhiprakara enhanced with a golden fence around the Bodhi Tree which was planted during the time of founder Chief priest of the Temple and Pirivena most venerable Rev. Walane Sri Siddhartha Maha Thera. The foundation stone was laid on 01st March 2015 and from there onwards, work was going on for this meritorious act with the generous donations received from Dayaka/Daika of the temple.
On Saturday the 25th July opening ceremony of Bodhi Prakara enhanced with golden fence took place with the guidance of Viharadhikari Rev Maitipe Wimalasara Thera and Honorary Principal Mawanane Pannatissa Thera with participation of Mahasangha of theTtemple and Pirivena with a large number of dayakas. Statues of Lord Buddha were brought to the place by a procession and then positioned at newly built 28 shrines around Bodhi. The first offering of flowers were done by the devotees who donated for this meritorious act.
Then first Gilanpasa Pooja was offered to 28 Lord Boddhas by devotees and the Bodhi Pooja was conducted by Principal of Pirivena, Rev. Karambankulame Siridhamma Thera with other Mahasangha. It was a glorious day for all dayaka,daika, well-wishers of the temple as this act was an expectation of everybody.