Talk:Gangaramaya Temple

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When Ven. Sumangala had completed 20 years of age, in 1848, he received Higher Ordination at Malwathu Vihara Uposhathagara. His scholary work of Pali poems presented to the Sangha Sabha on this occasion was highly commended.

He continued his studies at the same Pirivena, where he was later appointed as an assistant teacher, by Walane Sri Siddhartha Thero. All the books of the day were written on ola leaves. One of the foremost requirements of the day, was to make available sufficient books. The book had to be revised adding glossaries etc. The Centre selected for this purpose was the preaching hall of Pelmadulla vihara, built by the Iddamalgoda Bandara, her Basnayake Nilame of Sabaragamuwa Maha Saman Devale. The revision was done under Ven. Sumangala’s supervision. But unfortunately, with the passing away of Ven. Walane Sri Siddhartha Thero, this project had to be abandoned. Ven. Sumangala had to assume duties as the Head of Paramadhammacetiya Pirivena. Here too, he could not continue with this work for long. The Buddhists of Colombo requested him establish a Pirivena in Colombo.

At the request of Don Phillip de Silva Epa Appu, Ven. Sumangala, started the task of establishing a Pirivena in Colombo. Initially he started a residential course at Paramananda Vihara, Kotahena. Vidyodaya Pirivena was started in 1873, with seven students.

(Two years later, in1875, Peliyagoda Vidyalankara Pirivena was established by Ven. Ratmalane Dhammaloka Thero.) The syllabus of the Pirivena included subjects such as Pali, Sinhala, Sanaskrit, Prakrit, Grammar, Prosody etc. With the establishment of the two Pirivenas began the revival of Sinhala culture and the discipline of the Dhamma. Gradually, the quality as well as the number of students of the Pirivena improved. Students, who received their education here, established branches in many parts of the island.

Intenational Service of Ven. Sri Sumanagala Thero

Ven. Sumanagala’s incomparable display of erudition, energetic nature and piety were spoken of far and wide, energetic nature and piety were spoken of far and wide, even internationally. The arrival of Col. Olcott in Ceylon gave an impetus to his activities. Under this Thero’s guidance, the Theosophical Society, Ananda College (Colombo) and the Mahabodhi Society were established. Publication of "Sinhala Bauddhaya" Paper was also a feature that emerged about that time.

Indian Pundits of the calibre of Satischandra Vidyabhushana and Sarveshwara Chairman who associated with him praised his scholarly attainments and work of erudition. In books written about Ceylon (Sri Lanka) he was referred to as the ‘High Priest of Ceylon’. The various English Governor Generals appointed in his time, consulted him first, in all national and religious matters.

This was a period when many public debates were conducted on matters like religion, language, grammar etc. Ven. Summangala was the leader or the advisor in most of these debates. He Was an author. He produced works of outstanding quality, where he displayed exceptional knowledge of the Pali language and Sanskrit grammar. Apart from the Indian scholars mentioned above, his scholarly circle consisted of learned Sinhala Bhikkhus such as Ven. Mahagoda Sri Gnaneshwara, Heiyantuduwe Siri Devamitta, Bihalpola Siri Devarakkhita, Kahawe Siri Ratanasara, Dewundara Siri Saranankara Yagirala Sri Pragnananda, and lay pundits such as P.P. Wickramaarachchi. His guidance was given to Anagarika Dharmapala and the famous debater Ven. Mohottiwatte Gunananda. Prestigious titles were bestowed on him. The titles of Tripitakavagishwaracharya, was a title that had not been conferred from the time of Jayawardhane Pura period. In Ven. Sumanagala was found a worthy recipient. This prrestigious title was bestowed on him, on his outstanding piety, discipline and erudition. He was also honored with the title of Maha Nayaka of Southern and Western Provinces. Though not advanced in age he also was made the Sri Pada Nayaka Thero. He had no connections lineally or with Sabaragamuwa and was only 40 years. Of age, but had excellent qualifications to receive this distinguished title.

This Bhikkhu, of great virtue and attainments in Dhamma and literature, rendered an immeasurable service to Buddha Sasana and the Sinhala nation. After a brief illness he passed away on the 11th of April 1911, at the ripe old age of 84.

The architect of the present day Gangaramaya (Hunupitiya) was Dewundara Sri Jinaratana Thero, the chief pupil of Ven. Hikkaduwe Sri Sumanagala. He was born on the ................ in Dewundara. His father was Don Francisco Mahanama Abhayawardana, a descendant of Mahanama, the Prime Minister of King Dapulusena who ruled over Dewundara. His mother was Dona Gimara Alahapperuma.

After his primary education, he was ordanined as Dewundara Jinaratana Thero, by Ven. Angahawatte Ratanajothi of Dewundara Paramavicitrarama, the Chief Incumbent.

Education and Higher Ordination

Ven. Dewundara Jinaratana received his education under the tutelage of Ven. Angahawatte Rathanajothi and Dodampahala Dipankara. In 1873, he was admitted to Vidyodaya Pirivena, where he proved to be a student of outstanding ability. In 1879 he received Higher Ordination at Malwatu Vihara, as the Chief Pupil of Hikkaduwe Sumanaga Thero.

Appointment as the Head of Gangaramaya

Ven. Dewundara Sri Jinaratana was made the Head of Gangaramaya, while Ven. Sri Sumangala was alive.

At that time, the imposing Gangaramaya of today was only a little hermitage built on a bit of marshy land, on the bank of Beira Lake. Ven. Jinaratana was treated with great affection, by the Buddhists and non-Buddhists of the area. He had an exuberant personality. Within a short time with the co-operation of the people of the area - both Buddhists and non-Buddhists he transformed the little Avasa into the fully equipped temple of today. He began acts of worship, which the devotees of the area were longing for. The place became rather noisy with the ringing of bells and beating of drums, at the pujas. This was a headache for an army General, who lived in the vicinity. His aim was to chase Ven. Jinaratana and destroy the temple. The monk was too clever for the General. Finally, it was the General who had to move away from his residence. Gradually Gangaramaya became an important place of Buddhist worship. It also began to serve the three Nikayas for their practice of Vinaya Traditions.

At that time, the temples in the city of Colombo were compelled to pay the usual rates, to the Municipality. Ven. Jinaratana negotiated with the authorities and got exempted from the rates.

The old Simamalaka was also repaired in his time, by the generosity of Mr. S.H. Moosajee.

He practised Dana very generously and gave alms and Pirikara to thousands of monks. He provided accommodation and other facilities to many Bhikkhus who came for their education from far away places.

He was also acclaimed as a preacher who disseminated the Buddha Dhamma with clarity and ease.

He produced ola books whenever he had spare time he was seen with stylus and ola leaves. He also collected rare ola books, with the help of friends and pupils. They are preserved in the Gangaramaya today. He was keen to make these valuable books accessible to the public. He saw the need to have a printing press to achieve this end. Through the generosity of Mr. J. Hlomes Pollock a Scotsman, this requirement was fulfilled. Ven. Jinaratana started the Jinalankara Printing Press in 1890. As a result Ven. Jinaratana’s dream of making books available to the general public became a reality. More than fifty books, including Pansiya Panas Jatakaya, were printed and distributed. Today many modern features are added and is a fully equipped printing press.

He was a collector of antiques. Gangaramaya has a Valuable collection of relics of the Buddha, elephant tusks and rare artefacts acquired locally and from abroad.

On his tours to Siam (Thailand) and Burma (Myanmar) he received royal honours. Culalakara, the king of Siam promised to give an award called ‘Syamarajathagaya’ to Vidyodaya Pirivena. Another Siamese king gifted a Siamese Tripitaka to Sri Lanka, to show his appreciation of Ven. Jinaratana.

He was able to expand the temple premises by acquiring land around it.

In honour of his services, the committee of Malwatu Vihara, made him the Chief Sangha Nayaka of Kolamba Nava Korale on 20th June 1926 a position made vacant by the passing away of Ven. Kahawe Sri Sumangala Ratanasara Thero. Ven. Jinaratana was also the Head of Maligakanda Vidyodaya Pirivena, Hikkaduwe Thilakaramaya and Nalagasdeniy Vihara. His distinguised pupils included Ven. Mahagoda Sri Gnaneshwara, Ven. Walane Sri Sattissara, The head of Ratmalane Paramadhammacetiya Pirivena, Ven. Morontuduwe Sri Dhammananda Nayaka Thero of Sri Pada, Ven. Dewundara Sri Vacissara, who later became the Chief Incumbent of Gangaramaya and Avissawella Wimalananda Thero. Gangaramaya today serves Buddhism and the Sinhala nation in numerous ways and is one of the most important temples in the capital.

This noble member of the Maha Sangha passed away one the 20th of May 1954.

The chief incumbent of Gangaramaya after the demise of Ven. Mahopadhaya Dewundara Sri Jinaratana was Ven. Keerthi Sri Sumangala Jinaratana Vacissara Thero. He was born on the 23rd of September 1902 in Dewundara and was named Mahagammullageyi Don Rapiyel Abhayawardane. His Father was Don Pediris Abhyawardane, a descendant of Mahanama, a Minister in the Court of King Dapulusen of Dewundara. His mother Dona Sisiliyana Abesuriya Ratnayake belonged to a respected family of Udarata (up country). He was also a nephew of Ven. Dewundara Jinaratana. After he received his primary education up to the age of 13 years, the parents who were very pious decided to hand him over to Gangaramaya. He was ordained at an auspicious time on the 18th of June 1916, as Dewundara Vacissara. His teachers were Dewundara Siri Jinaratana, Mahagoda Sri Gnaneshwara, Kahawe Ratnasara and Hikkaduwe Pemananda Theros.

Education and Higher Ordination

He entered Vidyodaya Pirivena and studied Pali, Sanskrit, Sinhala, Dharma Vinaya and Grammar. He was a keen student and proved to be a great scholar, when he had completed his 20th year he received Higher Ordination on the 21st of June 1923, at Malwatu Vihara.

Education and Higher Ordination

He entered Vidyodaya Pirivena and studied Pali, Sanskrit, Sinhala, Dharma Vinaya and Grammar. He was a keen student and proved to be a great scholar, when he had completed his 20th year he received Higher Ordination on the 21st of June 1923, at Malwatu Vihara.

In 1928 he was appointed as an assistant teacher of Vidyodaya Pirivena by Kahawe Sri Ratanasara Thero, the Vice Principal (of Vidyodaya Pirivena) He had to teach many subjects to hundreds of students. His knowledge of English enabled him to join the staff of Nalanda Vidyalaya in 1929. Most of his pupils scattered in various parts of the island are even today, performing national and social service. While working as a teacher in both these institutions, he continued to improve Gangaramaya. The old image house was replaced by an artistic Vihara Mandiraya. He with the help of well-wishers, acquired some additional land and constructed a three storeyed Pirivena Hall, and a residential hall for the Bhikkhus. A library too was started. His aim was to produce virtuous and learned Bhikkhus. Therefore he established the "Sri Jinaratana Bhikkhu Training Centre on the 8th of November 1954, and the Sri Gnaneswara Pirivena in 1955. These two institutions have rendered immensurable service to the novices. Bhikkhus who had free accommodation in the hostel and were educated here, are now serving in various parts of the country. Some of these learned Bhikkhus are working in foreign countries, propagating the Buddha Dhamma. This it has been possible for Mahayana countries to acquire a knowledge of the philosophy of Theravada and maintain cordial relationships with the Sri Lanka Bhikkhus. He laid the foundation for the Sri Jinaratana Vocational Training Centre and the Sri Jinaratana English Academy. Today they are a blessing to thousands of students, with the financial support of local and foreign philanthropists these establishment are progressing. The Buddhist Centres in New York and Tanzania were initiated by him. In recognition of his services he was made the Sangha Nayaka of Kolamba Kadawat Satara, by the committee of Malwatu Viharaya in 1954. He was treated with respect and affection by His excellency William Gopallewa the Governor General and Lady Gopallewa.

More and more books were printed at the Jinalankara Printing Press, Pali and Sinhala which included works such as Sinhala Stupavamsa, Pali Stupavamsa, Chatubhanavarapali, Dharmapradeepika, Kawusilumina, Kusajataka Kavya, Lowedasangarawa and Sinhala Pansiyapanas Jatakaya. A language laboratory was established to teach foreign languages. Every encouragement was given to the Bhikkhus to sit the ancient Pracheena Examinations. Simamalaka in the Beira Lake was modernised and a Cetiya and a Samadhi Statue of the Buddha were consturcted. This place has now become a tourist attraction. Every effort was made by him to improve the Avissawella Sudharmaramaya.

He made pilgrimages to Siam (Thailand) Malaysia and India. The present incumbent of Gnagaramaya Ven. Glaboda Gnanissara Nayake Thero is his Chief Pupil.

From 1962 Ven. Dewundara Vacissar’s eyesight was impaired and his health deteriorated. He passed away on the 23rd of May 1984.

Ven. Galboda Siri Gnanissara was born on the 13th of December 1943. His parents were Galboda Kankanamge Dona Juwanis and Amarawickrama Liyanage Selenahamy.

After his primay education at ................... he was brought to Gangaramaya by Ven. Galboda Dewananda. He was given over to Ven. Dewundara Vacissara Thero. On that occasion, Ven. Dewananda made a prediction. "This boy was born under Sinha Lagna (Planetaria sign of Leo) and will be like a lion in the future."

On the 8th of November 1954 at an auspicious time he was ordained as Galboda Gnanissara. Dewundara Ratanajothi was also one of his teachers. His lay sponsor was Dr. D.E. Vijewardane.

"If you do well, Podi Hamuduruwo, (small monk) I’ll send you even to England for your studies" he made a promise on that day. On the same day was established the Sri Gnaneshwara Pirivena at Gangaramaya with a few novices. Ven. Galboda Gnanissara studied the Dhamma and other essential subjects at this Pirivena. On the 21st of June 1967 at the University of Vidyodaya. (Jayawardhanapura).

From 1961, Ven. Dewundara Vacissara Thero began to suffer from an eye complaint. As it worsened, Podi Hamuduruwo (Ven. Gnanissara) had to give up further studies. He had to shoulder the burden of carrying on the various projects - both religious and national - that his teacher had started. Due to his forunate birth (good Karma) wisdom, and indefatigable energy, whaterver he set his mind on, became a success. Such vast and varied projects have received praise and appreciation from the Buddhist clergy and the laymen alike.

The international recognition of Gangaramaya, is due mainly to the efforts of Podi Hamuduruwo. He is instrunemtal in counteracting the anti-Buddhist forces and strengthening the power of the Buddhist in the country in general and in Colombo especially.

He has performed an immense service to the under-privileged youths and traditional artists.

He has revived and developed the services initiated by his predecessors. He had the willing support of the various committees of Gangaramaya, as well as that of the highest in the land. They were the Governor General William Gopallewa, Presidents J.R. Jayewardene and R. Premadasa the first woman Prime Minister Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranayake and her family and the Ratwatte family. He has the inherent ability to attract goodwill and support. This quality has enabled him to active his selfless aims. All the constructions on the Vihara premises are completed artistically. The Vihara premises are completed artistically. The Vihara Mandira, Atavisi Buddha Pooja Mandira, Bodhimandapa, the preaching hall and the Simamalaka are works of art and inspire saddha in the devotees. Today Beira Lake and its environs are serenely beautiful and from a Buddhist colony, which attracts thousands of tourists annually.

Sumangala Dhamma School and the Pre-school on the little island named Singithi Uyana, make their valuable contributions to wards the education of children.

Sri Jinaratana Vocational Training Centre was established to give professional training to thousands of unemployed and half-educated youths. Many people learn the English language at the English Academy. These are people who would have had no access to the English language due to financial difficulties. The vocational centre was established with the aim of finding selfemployment for thousands of drop-outs from school. Today there are many branches of the Centre in various parts of the island, performing this useful service.

Various services carried on under the guidance of Ven. Gnanissara are many. Printing of books in Sinhala and Pali, necessary for Bhikkhu education was started in 1890. Ven. Gnanissara is Continuing with this valuable work. The library contains thousands of books on Buddhism as well as on a variety of subjects.

The Museum has very rare objects, some of which are said to bring about good fortune and prosperity. The Gajamuthu (Elephant pearls) and the conch with clock-wise whirls are some of them. Ancient coins of gold and other metals, antique brass copper objects with intricate carving and ola books are on display in the museum.

At the time of Ven. Vacissara’s demise, in 1984 the temple possessed four pairs of small and medium elephant tusks. Today the number has risen to twenty-two.

Ven. Gnanissara’s pets are pachyderms- elephants. All six of the elephants are treated with love and affecton. One can see Ven. Gnanissara feeding them with plantains. When Raja, the elephant which carried the Relics Casket in the historic Dalada Perahera of Kandy died, Navam Raja, one of Ven. Gnanissara’s elephants was gifted. Since then Navam Raja had gone in the Perahera, to perform this noble task.

Dhatumandira houses the relics of the Buddha and Arahant Seevali.

Kataragama Pilgrims Rest and the Homes for the disabled and the Elderly at Madiwela, Kotte, are the results of Ven. Gnanissara’s planning ability and the enthusiasm to serve the needy. A new scheme that is being implemented is to build a village of new houses for one hundred families at Kataragama and provide them with basic needs.

Ven. Gnanissara has been instrumental in providing the under privileged temples with toilets, bathrooms, three-wheelers, robes, shavers and other requisites. All the approved Pirivenas in Sri Lanka 563 in number, have been supplied with sets of office requirements through the generosity of Podi Hamuduruwo.

The annual Navam Perahera which began in 1979 with support from the late President R. Premadasa, is a festival of arts. Many dancers and other artistes get the opportunity to display their talents. These art forms, which are fading due to the arrival of Western culture are revived by this venture the Perahera.

The temple in Staten Island (U.S.A.). Birmingham Vihara (U.K.) and the Buddhist Centre in Dar-es-Salam in Tanzania, are affiliated to Gangaramaya and are receiving the necessary guidance in their activities.

Through the activities of Podi Hamuduruwo, Gangaramaya has gained fame both nationally and internationally.

Ven. Gnanissara the ever energetic Bhikkhu became the Head of Gangaramaya at quite a young age. The prediction of Ven. Devananda, when he handed over the young lad (who later was to be Podi Hamuduruwo) the Ven. Vacissara, has to be judged in the light of what Podihamuduruwo has achieved so successfully.

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two images accidentally deleted upon editing - please restore these two images by the third[edit]

i tried adding a third image but for some reason the first two disappeared from the final edit. they are one of a temple, another of a monk. The third is an elephant. thanks