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 Trainnig 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. Rhyd Davids who pioneered to establish The Pali Text Society in London, Col. Henry Steele 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.Litt 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 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). Re-setting 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 premises 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 Lanaka 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 bikkhus in the temple and with the full cooperation of Temple Committee and the Conservation Board manages and maintains this historically important Buddhist institute.
- 8.00 AM – Meditation program Rev. Yodhakandiye Ariyawansa Thera, Samadhi Buddhist Centre, Ratmalana
- 10.00 AM - Dhamma sermon, RevRev. Karambankulame Siridhamma Thera , Dep. Principal, Parama Dhamma Chetiya Pirivena
- 11.00 AM - Buddha Pooja followed by Sil Dana
- 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.Ayagama Suseela Thera, Principal, Sri Sugatha Pirivena, Rankoth Vihara, Panadura
- 03.15 PM - Buddhist lecture Dr. Hemasiri Kuruppu, Vice President, Buddhist Congress, Sri Lanka
- 04.45 PM - Dhamma Sermon, RevRev. Hegoda Vipassi Thera, Chief Incumbent, Dhamma Research Vihara, Moratuwa
- 06.00 PM - Buddha pooja/Bodhi pooja
Breakfast : Mrs.Nandani Dayananda Jaya Mawatha, Ratmalana
Tea (10 AM) : Mr.D.D.Amarasiri
Lunch : Mr. Prem Deheragoda, Galle Road, Ratmalana
Sil Dana sponsors:
- 06.00 AM – Conducting Sil, Buddha pooja Rev.Mawanane Pagngnatissa Thera ,Honorary Principal of Parama Dhamma Chetiya
- 08.00 AM - Meditation program Rev. Yodhakandiye Ariyawansa Thera, Samadhi Buddhist Centre, Ratmalana
- 10.00 AM - Dhamma sermon Rev. Hewisse Nandarama Thera , Chief Incumbent, Rajamaha Vihara, Ratmalana
- 01.15 PM - Dhamma discussion Rev.Madapatha Dhammasara Thera, Chief Incumbent, Parama Dhamma Chetiya Pirivena, Rev. Karambankulame Siridhamma Thera, Deputy Principal, Parama Dhamma Chetiya Pirivena
- 02-15 PM - Dhamma Sermon Rev.Weeraketiye Thilakaransi Thera, Chief Incumbent, Dhammikarama, Ratmalana
- 03.15 PM - Buddhist lecture Mr. W.A.Ariyasena, High School, Moratuwa
- 04.45 PM - Dhamma Sermon Rev.Dodanduwe Sirikara Thera, Chief Incumbent, Chiththa Meditation Centre,Paraththa,Panadura
- 06.00 PM - Buddha pooja/Bodhi pooja
Morning breakfast for Devotees observe Sil will be provided by:
- Mrs.K.Batuwangala, Sumangala Road,Ratmalana
- Mrs Wimala Wijesekera, De Zoysa Mawatha
- Mrs H.H.Karunawathie, Sri Jana Mawatha,Attidiya
- Mr Benette Perera, Huludagoda Road
Lunch for Devotees will be provided by:
- Mrs Chandanie Silva, Major Gooneratne Mawatha, Templers Road
Parama Dhamma Chetiya Pirivena completed 173 years on 07th January 2014. To commemorate its founder Prelates and Dayakas who established and maintained this historical Buddhist Institute, an alms giving to Mahasangha was organized on the guidance of Chief Incumbent Rev. Madapatha Dhammasara NayakaThera by Temple committee with the assistance of devotees of the Pirivena on 07th January 2014. Distinguished Mahasangha were invited to participate in this important occasion. Among them, Rev. Akuretiye Nanda Thera Director of Vidyodaya Pirivena,Maligakanda, Rev.Navinne Sugunadhamma Thera Vice Principal of Vidyalankara Pirivena, Peliyagoda, Chief Incumbent of Wimalarama,Ratmalana, Rev. Attudawe Piyarathana Thera, Chief Incumbent of Raja Mahavihara,Ratmalana, Rev.Hewesse Nandarama Thera, Chief Incumbent of Samadhi Buddhist Institute, Kothalawalapura, Rev. Mapalagama Buddhasiri Thera and Chief Incumbent of Sudharshanarama ,Hadigama Rev. Nakiyadeniye Premarathana Thera were there with other distinguished Mahasangha. Honorary Principal of Parama Dhamma Chetiya Pirivena Rev. Mawanane Pagngnatissa Thera addressing the occasion welcomed the Mahasangha and conducted the proceedings of the alms giving. During the commemorative addresses Mahasangha highlighted and appreciated the Great Prelates Rev.Walane Sri Siddhartha Maha Thera, Rev.Walane Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera , Rev.Walane Satthissara Maha Thera, Rev.Pimbure Soratha Maha Thera and Rev.Dr. Mapalagama Wipulasara Maha Thera for their devotion in establishing and developing of this important educational institute and centre of Dhamma propagation. At the end of the alms giving, all merits were invoked to late Prelates and devotees who took initiation to establish, upkeep and maintain Parama Dhamma Chetiya Pirivena.
The 2nd Annual General Meeting of Parama Dhamma Chetiya Conservation Board was held in the evening of 22nd December 2013 at Sri Siddhartha Hall. After lighting the traditional oil lamp by invitees and the officials, the meeting was commenced which was chaired by Chief Incumbent and President of the Board, Ven. Madapatha Dhammasara Nayaka Thera. Also present were Deputy President and Honorary Principal Ven. Mawanane Pagngnatissa Thera and Deputy Principal of Pirivena, Ven.Karambankulame Siridhamma Thera. The distinguished guests were Deputy Mayor of Dehiwela- Mount Lavinia Municipal Council, Mr. Kesaralal Gunasekera and Divisional Secretary of Ratmalana Mr Hemasiri Piyathillake. The meeting was attended by a large number of members and other invitees.
During his address, General Secretary Mr George Kulatunga highlighted the importance of setting up of fund on his annual report and Treasurer Mr D.G.A Karunathillake forwarded the annual financial reports ,for the approval of the members. It was a great pleasure for everybody as it was revealed that balance of the fund has reached more than 2.5 millions after the expenses and it is well above the target set for the past period of 2 years. The meeting was addressed by Chief Guest ,Deputy Mayor Mr Kesaralal Gunasekera and Special invitee Divisional Secretary Mr. Hemasiri Piyathillake. The launching of newly established official web site for Parama Dhamma Chetiya Pirivena also took place during the meeting. Chair person, Rev Madapatha Dhammasara Thera addressd the meeting after launching the web site revealing past and present activities of the temple and highlighted the future plan of re-establishing “The Parama Dhamma Buddhist Institute” to train Buddhist monks to propagate Buddhism in the foreign lands.
The same officials were re appointed unanimously as office bearers for the year 2014. The thanks giving speech was presented by Treasurer Mr D.G.A.Karunathillake and the meeting was concluded after chanting pirith by prelates to invoke blessings to all and offering refreshments by organizers.
An Alms Giving is being arranged to commemorate Founders Day of Parama Dhamma Chetiya on 07th January as it was in previous years. Prelates of other Temples in the area also will be invited for the alms giving. Those who wish to donate contributions for this meritorious event are requested to contact officials of the Dayaka Sabha.
Chief Incumbent Ven.Madapatha Dhammasara Nayaka Thera is making arrangements to re-commence the Parama Dhamma Buddhist Institute to train Bhikkus from Sri Lanka and abroad for propagation of Buddhism in foreign lands. The Institute was functioning earlier also attached to Pirivena and there were many Bhikkus who got the training from that. According to Nayaka Thera the Library building is being renovated to accommodate the Institution and seeking for qualified group of staff to initiate the training programs in early 2014.
Katina cheewara pooja of Parama Dhamma Chetiya this year was held at the Dharma Shala on 26thof October with the presence of the Chief Priest and a large number of bikkhus and the participation of a large number of devotees. The procession carrying the Katina cheewara started from the residence of the main benefactor, Mrs Alikewelas’s at 4 am and passed through streets of the area and entered the temple premises at 6 am. The procession was very colourful with small students of the Daham School who participated in cycles decorated with flowers. The Katina cheewara which was brought to the temple very respectfully was offered to the Maha Sangha who were present there, by family members of Mrs. Alikewala. Chief Priest and Principal of the Pirivena, Ven.Madapatha Dhammasara Nayaka Thera , Honorary Principal Ven. Mawanane Pangathissa Thera and other bhikkus of the temple were present at this great meritorious event. Ven. Hewesse Nandarama Nayaka Thera, Chief Priest of Dharmarama Temple of Ratmalana and Ven.Nakiyadeniye Premarathana Nayaka Thera of Sudharshanaramaya of Hedigama were also present at the occasion with other prelates of nearby temples of the area. The Katina cheewara pooja was followed by an alms giving to Mahasangha who were present. In the evening, the traditional Dhamma sermon was delivered by Deputy Pricipal of Pirivena, Royal Pandith Karambankulame Siridhamma Thera.