Sri Lanka Ramanna Maha Nikaya
Ven. Wetara Mahinda
[Origin and development in outline - 10 monks of the first Karaka Sangha Sabha established in 1886- Names of the Most Venerable Mahanayaka Mahatheros of the Nikaya- Organizational structure and activities-Convention or the Katikavata - Administrative structure- Supreme Council- Judiciary- social welfare institutes - international Dhammaduta work- institute of Kalyani Yogasrama Samsthava - the lay committee - Center for Sri Lanka Ramanna Maha Nikaya - Nenwspaper ‘Sasuna’ terms - references]
The establishment of Sri Lanka Ramanna Maha Nikaya can be understood to be the outcome of a requirement of revival of the order of monks with the aim of espousing the ideals of Buddhism during the 19th century in Sri Lanka. It is currently one of the three major fraternities of the Sangha in the country. During the past 150 years of its existence, it has functioned as a unitary organization and has recognized for scholarship and discipline. Among the characteristics of this fraternity, using an umbrella made of palm leaf, taking the begging bowl while traveling implying the dependency over laymen for requisites and wearing saffron color robes, which were considered to be revolutionary at the time of its establishment are noteworthy. The Ramanna Maha Nikaya has made a profound impression on the lay Buddhist public resulting in the establishment of large number of monasteries throughout the island.
Sri Lanka Ramanna Nikaya is accepted to have been established on 13th July, 1863 and this was recorded in earlier the (Katikavata. 2014:Intro- i) with its first higher ordination conducted in Sri Lanka by the monks led by the Venerable Ambagahawatte Indasabhavara Gnanasami Maha Thero, who having set sail from the Gall Fort on 17th September, 1861 and returned to the island of Sri Lanka on 18th August, 1862 (Sri Wimalwvamsa Thero. 1970:50 & 54) as one of the monks who received the Higher Ordination from the monks at a function presided over by Most Venerable Gneyya Dhamma Munivara Sangharaja of Burma on 12th June, 1861 under the patronage of the King Mendung at the city of Mandalay (Sri Wimalawamsa Thero 1970:35 & 37). Venerable Indasabhavara Gnanasami was born on 16th Nov, 1832 as the second child of a family of four children at the village called Ambagahawatta, close to Galle, the capital of southern Sri Lanka situated about 72 miles south of Colombo. He was known as Don Cornelias Madanayaka before ordination. His father was Don Mathes de Silva Madanayaka and mother was Lenohami Rathnayaka.
Don Cornelias Madanayaka was ordained at the temple at Mahamodara near Galle under Ven. Pilane Sumangala as the acariya and Ven. Akmeemana Sobhita as the upajjhaya on 15th June 1847 and was given the name of Ambgahawatte Saranamkara. Venerable Saranamkara (Later Indasabhavara Gnanasami), who was just a samanera at that time was taken to Panadura, (a town in Sri Lanka later became known for a debate between Christians and Buddhists), by a pandit named Don Pedric de Silva Pandithasekara and invited him to stay at Galaboda temple there. After some time, he was sent to the Venerable Bentara Atthadassi, under whose pupilage he received education for about eleven years, as a resident pupil at the Vanavasa Pirivena, Bentara, which is situated about 29 miles north of Galle. Even during this period Saranamkara Samanera had sensed the necessity of a reformation of the Buddhist dispensation of Sri Lanka because he was assisting his erudite teacher in the documentation of material related to important issues involving the Buddhist order of Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, he received upasampada or Higher Ordination from the Malwatta Temple of the Siam Nikaya in Kandy on 15th May, 1856 as a pupil of Ven. Atthadassi Thero. However, the pupil as well the teacher was not happy with the way they were treated in dealing with upasampada.
Wijayananda Temple, which was built in 1851, was the site from which Ven. Ambagahawatte Mahanayaka Maha Thero started to go to Galle Fort to set sail for Rangoon. It was at this temple that the he was received on his return from Myanmar (Burma) having arrived in the Galle Fort after receiving the Higher Ordination. The first ever Higher Ordination Ceremony conducted by the Nikaya after its establishment was also held at Wijayananda Temple. It is worth noting here that the Wijayananda Temple later played a leading role in the course of establishment of the Buddhist schools in the country thanks to the pioneering efforts made by Colonel Henry Steel Olcott and Madam Helena Petrovna Blavatsky who visited the temple on 19th May, 1880 (Gnanobhasa Thero. 1986). This temple also started the first ever Sunday Dhamma school of Sri Lanka in 1895 as a result of their visit. These two became Buddhists on their arrival in Galle after formally observing the five precepts under Ven. Akmeemana Dhammarama, who was a pupil of Ven. Indasabhavara Gnanasami. These two eminent visitors who took initiative in establishing The Theosophical Society with its branches in many countries in the world were also responsible for rendering a great service to Buddhism and its culture in Sri Lanka, Burma, India and many other countries.
Highly pleased with the sermons of Ven. Saranamkara, he was invited to stay at the temple called Dharmasramaya, newly built for his occupation by the devotees led by Don Davith Weerakoon Appuhamy, an ardent Buddhist of Payagala. This temple, eventually, became the permanent residing place of the future to be prelate of the Ramanna Nikaya.
Appointment of the first Mahanayaka Maha Thero was made on 15th February, 1880 at the Mula Maha Viharaya temple, Payagala. Thirty five monks (Maha Theros) signed the document relating to the appointment and they were led by Ven. Deepegoda Seelakkhanda, Ven. Pelpola Dhammadassi, Ven. Puwakdandawe Pannananda and Ven. Warapitiye Sumitta (Sri Wimalawamsa Thero intro. xii- xiii).
The 10 monks (MahaTheros) of the first Karaka Sanghasabha established in 1886:
Ven. Deepegoda Seelakkhanda (chairman)
Ven. Udugalmote Gunatissa
Ven. Narampanawe Indajothi
Ven. Obadakande Wimalananda
Ven. Matara Gnaninda
Ven. Yalegama Siri Sumanatissa
Ven. Payagala Siri Sumanatissa
Ven. Aluthgama Sujatha
Ven. Ilukwatte Medhankara
Ven. Udugampola Suwannajothysabha Dharmakeerhi
The names of the Most Venerable Mahanayaka Maha Theros of the Nikaya
The Most Venerable Mahanayaka Maha Theros of the Ramanna Nikaya appointed so far from its inception are as follows (the time period they held the position is indicated against each name):
Ambagahawatte Indasabhavara Gnanasami 1862- 1886
Deepegoda Seelakkhanda 1887-1916
Obadakande Siri Wimalananda Tissa 1916-1924
Matara Siri Gnanindasabha 1924-1937
Kodagoda Upasena 1937-1940
Matale Siri Dhammasiddhi 1940-1940
Karatota Siri Indasara Tissa 1941-1954
Hisselle Siri Gnanodaya 1954-1966
Deepegoda Siri Chandawimala 1966-1976
Induruwe Uttarananda 1976-1986
Pottewela Pannasara 1986-1997
Weweldeniye Medhalankara 1998- 2012
Napana Pemasiri 2012-
Most Venerable Napana Pemasiri Mahanayaka Maha Thero
The organizational structure and activities of the Ramanna Nikaya
Here, it is opportune to make a short introduction about the origins of the sect as stated by Kitsiri Malalgoda. The most important feature of the incipient Ramanna Nikaya, he says, was its ardent espousal of the ideals of Buddhism even under severe constraints brought about by external political factors (Malalgoda 1976: 172). To describe more fully, this means that the Nikaya was able to rise above the multiplicity of controversies and schools of thought, prevalent at the time based on such grounds as matters of discipline, conduct, practice, regional divisions, caste distinctions, temple identity. The emergence of the Ramanna Nikaya, it is right to state was not tainted by such extraneous pressures (Sasanatilaka Thero 1964: 51).
At the beginning itself the Ramanna Nikaya became popular among the devotees particularly because of its adherence to a principled position as regards the Dhamma. Of especial importance in this regard was the practice of pindapata or alms seeking with the begging bowl, which was popularized by the Most Venerable Weliwita Sangharaja. In spite of this, there were many obstacles preventing its progress. It must be noted that the Nikaya enjoyed wide popularity for the following reasons: Based on the tenets appearing in the Tripitaka, it adopted the practice of pindapata as the most apt way of meals taking for bhikkhus. Deviating from the hitherto conventional preaching style of the monks, it introduced a novel style of preaching characterized by reasoning out and argumentation. It campaigned against the inclusion or the presence of devalaya in the temple premises. Above all, it went ahead with a program to instill the spirit of equality amongst the various groups of bhikkhus who were rallying round groups based on various distinctions such a caste and region. In fact the organizational activities of the Nikaya, at least at the beginning was largely based on the principles described above. However, as noted above, wide popularity also brought resistance.
The Convention (Katikavata) of the Sri Lanka Ramanna Maha Nikaya
The very first document that we come across regarding the organizational structure and activities of the Ramanna Nikaya is the one that was issued in 1891(1871?) at the First Convention, which states the objectives of the Nikaya and the course of action for adherent bhikkhus; subsequently in 1925 this document was re-issued accompanied with a supplement (Sasanatilaka Thero 1964: 158-162). A compendium of rules and conventions relating to the Nikaya known as Sri Lanka Ramanna Nikaya Palaka Sanghasabha Vyavastha Sangrahaya was adopted in 1945 and was published in 1950. This was revised in 1964 and published in 1973 as Sri Lanka Ramanna Nikaya Palana Vyavastha Sangrahaya. Baring on this, in the year 1982, the Karaka Sangha Sabha decided on publishing the Sri Lanka Ramanna Maha Nikaya Katikavata in 1989. Later again it was amended after 1996 and was published in 2003. The most recently edited Katikavata was published on March 21, 2014. This would be generally referred to hereafter in this essay whenever it is mentioned.
The Katikavata of the Sri Lanka Ramanna Maha Nikaya comprises 14 chapters with 8 appendices and is arranged as follows:
Chapter 1 deals with the title and the object of the Katikavata or the Convention. It also provides the interpretation of the terms used.
Chapter 2 carries information about eligibility for monkhood and ordination and also eligibilities of those monks who officiate the above occasions along with documentation relating to these and the basic discipline that is imparted by the teachers.
Chapter 3 consists of twenty general principles governing Buddhist monkhood in accordance with the Ramanna Nikaya principles of the Theravada tradition. This is a combination of basic tenets of monkhood as borrowed from works such as Dasadhamma Sutta and Satipatthana Sutta and the treatises of Vinaya Pitaka such as Parajika Pali and Pacittiya Pali along with those policies that are traditionally associated with the Ramanna Nikaya.
Chapter 4 explains the position and the registration of the chief incumbents of temples in addition to the administration of temple lands and possessions. Last wills are neither promoted nor entertained by the Nikaya, according the contents of this chapter.
Chapter 5 describes the establishment, membership qualifications including objections to membership, rules of meetings and the role relating to the Pradeshiya Sangha Sabhas.
Chapter 6 describes the formation and functions of the Palaka Sangha Sabha. This includes its powers, membership eligibility, functions of the selection committee, selection and approval of membership, rights of the permanent membership and functionaries, selection of Palaka Sabha membership, awards of authority niyukti patra and the functions of the Palaka Sangha Sabha. The procedure relating to the amendment and annulment of provisions of the Convention are also included in this chapter.
Chapter 7 relates to the powers, functions, and procedures of conduct of the Karaka Sangha Sabha and the Visesadhikari Mandalya.
Chapter 8 is titled as Nikaya Samvaddhana Sabha and describes the role of various organizations operating within the Nikaya, namely Pariyatti Samvaddhana Sabha, Paitpatti Samvaddhana Sabha, Nikaya Samvaddhana Sabha and Samaja Samvaddhana Sabha. The position of Mahopadhyaya and also conferring of honorary title as and when necessary are dealt with here/;.
Chapter 9 states the procedure of holding membership of the council/forum that investigates the qualifications for offering honorary posts such as Mahopadhyaya.
Chapter 10 determines the meetings discussions, resolutions and matters relating to chairing and quorum, determinations, and cancellation of membership and the period of tenure of the Palaka and Karaka Sanghasabha.
Chapter 11 elucidates matters relating to Venerable monks holding positions of Mahanayaka, Anunayaka, Adhikarananayaka, matters on Sanna Lekhakadhikari, Adhikarana Lekhkakdikari, Upa Lekhakadikari, and Disapalakas, along with those of tutelage, authority , duration of the posts, resignation and filling of vacant post are described in this chapter.
Chapter 12 deals with judicial determinations amongst the Sangha. The hierarchy of judicial bodies beginning from the regional to the highest appeal level is described here. The questions that may be submitted to these bodies, the procedure of submission, the procedure of hearing a matter submitted before a panel and the various penalties imposed are described in here.
Chapter 13. In this chapter there is information related to the Nikayarakshaka Sabha and its activities, the Center for the Ramanna Nikaya and the functions of the Institute meant for the study of the Tepitaka called Tripitaka Adhyapana Ayatanaya administered by the Nikayarakshaka Sabha.
Chapter 14 contains data on the forest sanctuaries and Yogasrama, with their upasampada vinayakamma, registration and issuance of identity cards, maintenance of data, regulations of enrolling and removing the gramavasi monks to the forest monasteries and etc, Katikavata of the forest monasteries, validity of the newly published Katikavata.
Appendices (upagranthaya): Under this the constitutions of the provincial sangha sabha, and Nikayarakshaka Sabha, sammuti of the Mahopadhyaya positions, sammana upadhi sammuti and viharadhipati sammuti, the list of the temples of the Ramanna Nikaya and the forest monasteries and yogasrama and the Mulika Katikavata of the Sri Lanka Ramanna Maha Nikaya are included.
The Sanghasabhas of the Nikaya are spread throughout Sri Lanka currently numbering 47 in all. A Sanghasabha could be newly established if there are 40 monks or 30 temples in addition to the existing number. Three out of this number is elected to the Palaka Sanghasabha. However, there are exceptional Sanghasabhas. If the number of monks in an exceptional Sanghasabha exceeds 40, the Palaka Sanghasabha may go up to 4. (I.E. Kurunegala). Occasionally the number elected may go up to 6 (i.e. Colombo and Anuradhapura). Karaka/ Palaka Sanghasabhas are dissolved once in every 7 years. With the establishment of every new Sanghasabha, the monks form Palaka Sanghasabha is elected to the he Karaka Sanghasabha. The Karaka Sanghasabha is then selected out of the Palaka Sanghasabha on a proportionate basis. At the end of the 7 year period the functionaries cease to hold office and new functionaries are selected. Each of the Sanghasabha selects 1 member for the Karaka Sanghasabha. If the number coming forward for selection exceeds the number of positions, an election is resorted to. Additionally, 10 monks are admitted to the Palaka Sabha on the recommendation of Karakasabha. Out of these 10 monks, two are admitted on the recommendation of the Mahanayaka Maha Thero.
The Palakasabha holds powers to legislate while the Karakasabha holds the executive powers. The Karakasabha meets once in every 3 months. Extraordinary meetings of the Karakasabha can be called for by the Maha Lekhakadhikari. At l least 2 meetings of the Palakasabha should be held every year.
The office bearers (both chief and subordinate) should be selected by the Karakasabha and confirmed by the Palakasabha. According to the Sanna Lekhakadhikari, the courts of Sri Lanka, on some occasions, have recognized the validity of several of the judicial decisions of the Nikaya for the reason that they relate to the disciplinary matters of the monks and because there is a proper procedure to be followed in arriving at a decision.
The administration of the Nikaya is carried out through the following institutions;
i) Pradesiya sanghasabha
ii) Karaka Sanghasabha
iii) Visesadhikari Mandalaya
iv) Palaka Sanghasabha
Among them, the last three are instrumental in decision making. Apart from this, the goodwill of the laity is enlisted through a Committee set up at the discretion of the Sanghasabha.
The objectives of the Sri Lanka Ramanna Maha Nikaya according to its constitution are:
i)to defend and maintain the Sri Lanka Ramanna Nikaya and ii) to act for the betterment and progress of it. There are 47 Sanghasabhas in the Ramanna Nikaya and the temples numbering 1771 are located all over the country except in northern province.
Ven. Mahanayaka Maha Thero
A salutary feature of the constitution is that he Mahanayaka Maha Thero in his exercise of powers, is expected to recognize the practices established by the Palaka Sanghasbha, Karaka Sanghasabha and the Visesadhikari Mandalaya (Katikavata 2014: 72-75). In case, where the Mahanayaka Maha Thero is in disagreement with any such practice , he can make a request, adducing reasons, to the Karaka Sanghasabha for it to be reconsidered. In such instances, the decision of the Karaka Sanghasabha is final and the Mahanayaka Maha Thero is bound by the Katikavata or the Constitution to confer approval to its decision.
Supreme Council (Visesadhikari Mandalaya)
For the reason that Karaka Sanghasabha meets only once every 3 months, it is the Visesadhikari Mandalaya that considers matters during the intervening period. Accordingly, VM holds powers of recommendation. Such recommendations are subject to the approval of the Karaka Sanghasabha.
The Visesadhikari Mandalaya comprises 7 Chief Executives, 14 office bearing monks and 1 senior member nominated by the Karakasabha.
Current members of the Visesadhikari Mandalaya
Visesadhikari Mandalaya or the Supreme Council of the current Ramanna Nikaya appointed for the years 2008 -2015 (as at 7th December 2008 comprises the following 22 members):
Most Ven. Napana Pemasiri (Mahanayaka)
Most Ven. Balangoda Pragnavamsa (Anunayaka)
Most Ven. Girambe Ananda (Anunayaka)
Most Ven. Waragoda Pemaratana (Anunayaka)
Most Ven. Doranegoda Indasena (Anunayaka)
Most Ven. Bopitye Gnanawasa (Anunayaka)
Most Ven. Galapitiyagama Wimaladhamma (Anunayaka)
Ven. Makulewe Wimala (Adhikarana nayaka)
Ven. Matale Dhammakusala (Maha Lekhakadhikari)
Ven. Ankumbure Pemawansa (Sannalekhkadhikari)
Ven. Attangane Ratanapala (Adhikarana Lekhakadhikari)
Ven. Waleboda Gunasiri (Niyojya Lekhakadhikari)
Ven. Nedagamuwe Wijayamaithree (Niyojya Lekhakadhikari)
Ven. Attangane Sasanaratana (Upa Sanna Lekhakadhikari)
Ven. Halpanwila Palitha (Upa Adhikarana Lekhakadhikari)
Ven. Pallekagama Rathanabharathi (Pariyatti Lekhakadhikari)
Ven. Deewela Mahinda (Patipatti Samvaddhana Lekhakadhikari)
Ven. Seelagama Wimala (Nikaya Samvaddhana Lekhakadhikari)
Ven. Karakole Piyadassi (Samaja Samvaddhana Lekhakadhikari)
Ven. Makkanigoda Assaji (Pariyatti Samvaddhana Upa Lekhakadhikari)
Ven. Akarelle Gnanawansa (Patipatti Samvaddhana Upa Lekhakadhikari)
Ven. Wadduwe Dhammwansa (Nikaya Samvaddhana Upa Lekhakadhikari)
Ven. Walasgala Pannasiri (Samaja Samvaddhana Upa Lekhakadhikari)
The Adhikarananayaka Maha Thero or the Chief Judicial Prelate is in charge of the judiciary (CJP). The Judicial Registrar attends to all activities relating to judicial functions. The CJP has authority to recommend Jyesthanuvijjaka monks. The Karakasabha will confer approval to such recommendations. It is not necessary to be a member of the Palaka Sanghasabha for one to be elected to the Jyesthanuvijjaka Mandalaya. Rather, high reputation in the Nikaya and/or high academic quality may be adequate for appointment to Jyesthanuvijjaka Mandalaya
Regional Judiciary (Pradeshiya Adhikaranaya)
One out of the 3 selected members from each Pradesiya Sanghasabha is appointed to the Karaka Sanghasabha. Another is appointed as Anuvijjaka. The other is appointed to the position of Disapalaka. The Disapalaka is accountable to the administration of the relevant region. The one appointed to the Karaka Sanghasabha participates in decision taking regarding executive action. The Anuvijjaka is entrusted with settling disputes in the region. When a matter arises for determination, it goes before a panel of 3 Anuvijjakas drawn from a Sanghasabha outside the region in question. This is the procedure adopted in the primary judiciary.
Framing of charges
Every complaint should be made in the written form along with the signature and address of the complaint. A complaint to the Primary Judiciary is entertained by the Deputy Judicial Secretary who then appoints a panel of Anuvijjakas to hear the case.
The details regarding the venue, date and the time frame will be informed by the Judicial Secretary to the complaint and the respondent. The right to receive legal advice is recognized for the complaint, the respondent and the judicial panel.
Council of Senior Inquirers
The council consists of 21 monks. There is a right of appeal against a decision of the Council of Senior Inquirers The appeal is heard by a panel of 3 monks selected from the Appellate Council of Inquirers. There is one more appeal available to the Supreme Judiciary of the Nikaya, which sits as a panel of 3 monks. This is the final determinations of the Nikaya as no appeal lies to any other body.
Relationship between laws of the State and laws of the Nikaya
Mula Maha Viharaya
Mula Maha Viharaya, which later came to be known as the Dharmagupta Pirivena, Payagala, situated about 50 Kilometers south of Colombo was associated with the life of the Ven. Ambagahawatte Mahanayaka Maha Thero because he mostly lived there and also the Sri Lanka Ramanna Nikaya spread centering that temple. The Ven. Ambagahawatte Mahanayaka Maha Thero passed away while living at this temple to which he was invited to live initially during his samanera days. As a consequence of his passing away, the second Ven. Mahanayaka Maha Thero was appointed at this place. Taking all these important incidents into consideration, the newly appointed positions of the Mahanayaka Maha Theros are confirmed at this temple customarily.
Social welfare institutes
It must be added that until recently there has not been official sponsorship of the Nikaya either for the missionary work or the social activities. When such activities were directed as they were towards the welfare of the society or the Buddhistic order, they earned the general recognition of the Nikaya. However, current Pariyatti Samvaddhana Lekhakadhikari is to be responsible especially for the missionary work either in the country or outside of the country.
The following are the notable institutes affiliated with Sri Lanka Ramanna Maha Nikaya that conduct social services in a number of ways:
Arogya Seva Sangamaya, Walpola, Matara
Bodhiraja Foundation, Hingura-ara, Embilipitiya
Home for the Elders, Kalawana
International Buddhist Center, Kaduwela
Nesek Foundation, Ranmuthugala, Kadawatha
National Children’s Educational Foundation, New Town, Mulleriyawa
Sri Rathanjothi Foundation, Diyakalamulla, Kuliyapitiya
Sri Sugatha Foundation, Mahaladuwa, Balapitiya
International Missionary (Dhammaduta) work.
A number of monastic members of the Sri Lanka Ramanna Maha Nikaya, were chosen by a society in Singapore for dhammaduta work as early as 1932. The following monks were recorded to have thus engaged in missionary work in Singapore in response to a request made by the relevant society:
Ven. Thelipehe Dayananda
Ven. Kollupitiye Sasanawansa
In addition, the following four monks of the SLRMN were invited to foster and promote Buddhist activities in India by Anagarika Dharmapala in 1841:
Ven. Lunuwila Chandajothi
Ven. Anuradhapura Pemananda
Ven. Udunuwara Sarananda
Ven. Matale Sumangala
Later the following monks also were involved in dhammaduta activities in India.
Ven. Galle Sudassana Maha Thero
Ven. Madabawita Wijayasoma
The monks mentioned here can generally be included in category 1 prepared above. They can be put in category 2 also because Buddhism was to be introduced anew to the people of most parts of India by then.
There were several prominent monks who were carrying out the propagation of the Dhamma outside Sri Lanka after mid 20th century. Thus, in relation to this a special mention must be made to the following three monks who were doing their services in Europe and USA while living in the respective countries in 1960s and 70s:
Ven. Mirisse Gunasiri England
Ven. Dikwela Piyananda USA
Ven. Athurugiriye Sri Gnanawimala Germany
The two monks mentioned first in this list were fluent in English while the third one acquired fluency in German during his stay for nearly ten years there. All of them had a profound knowledge in different aspects of Buddhism. They have made a great contribution to literature in Buddhism as well in various capacities using their expertise in the field.
Two monks participated in the Chattha Sangayana held in 1950s in Myanmar and they were Ven. Madelgamuwe Wijayawansa and Ven. Ransegoda Saranapala. Ven. Induruwe Uttarananda and Ven. Mirisse Gunasiri took part in the conference held as the closing ceremony of Sangayana. Recently, Ven. Nauyane Ariyadhamma Anunayaka Maha Thero visited Myanmar a number of times for missionary work and he also attended conferences on Abhidhamma Studies. As far as Sri Lankan involvement in Buddhist activities in Indonesia is concerned, it should be noted that Ven. Induruwe Ariyakitti Thero carried out dhammaduta work in Indonesia for few years in 1980s.
Currently, the following monastic members of the SLRMN are engaged in international dhammaduta work in the countries indicated against their names respectively:
Ven. Naotunne Vijitha Australia
Ven. Wijayarajapura Seelawamsa Austria
Ven. Theldeniye Amitha England
Ven. Keppitiyagoda Gunawansa England
Ven. Kabalewe Siri Sumana England
Ven. Naluwela Ananda India
Ven. Tissamaharamaye Jinarathana India
Ven. Nakkavita Sugathawansa India
Ven. Kahawatte Sumedha India
Ven. Dambadeniye Dhammarama Italy
Ven. Dodanduwe Nandasiri Italy
Ven. Welimada Jinalankara New Zealand
Ven. Omalpe Sobhita Singapore
Ven. Galle Uditha Singapore
Ven. Kandakkulame Dhammakitti South Korea
Ven. Katuwana Wijithawansa South Korea
Ven. Mandawala Pannawansa USA
Ven. Soorakkulame Pemaratana USA
Ven. Anuradhapura Sugunananda USA
One needs to recognize the educational services intended for international dhammaduta work rendered in the 20th century by the following institutes attached to the temples of the Nikaya:
Maha Mahinda International Dharmaduta Society, Sri Lanka Vidyalaya, Colombo.
Dharma Cakra Vidya Pitha, Rajopavanaramaya, Getambe, Peradeniya.
As regards the establishment of the above mentioned institutes in the island, Most Ven. Baddegama Wimalawansa Anunayaka Maha Thero, and Ven. Labuduwe Siridhamma Maha Thero were instrumental. Ven. Wimalawansa set up the Maha Mahinda Dharmaduta Society, which facilitated monks especially from countries like India and Nepal for training in his temple called Sri Lanka Vidyalaya in Colombo. He ordained laymen from India as well as Nepal and three of his ordained monks have been engaged in missionary work in both Kushinagar and Assam in India, and also in Lumbini in Nepal for quite some time. Activities of Ven. Wimalawansa can be assigned to the categories 2, 5, 8, and 9 in the above list. Ven. Siridhamma established Dharma Cakra Vidya Pitha, a higher educational institute with a vision to train monks to propagate the dhamma in English speaking countries. However, at a later stage that institute used to teach newly ordained monks only from Nepal for training in dhammaduta work both in Nepal and English speaking countries. Two of the Sri Lankan monks belonging to SLRMN including the present writer trained in this center having been recruited in the first group, later, went to USA for missionary work.
Special mention must be made of the Most Ven. Induruwe Uttarananda Mahanayaka Maha Thero for his services rendered from 1969 to 1975 as appointed by the then Government of Sri Lanka as the first Vice-Chancellor of the Buddha Sravaka Dharma Pitha (the University for the Buddha Sravaka Bhiksu, and currently known as Sri Lanka Bhiksu University, Anuradhapura). As a result of his activities, the monastic members of all three major Nikayas of the island gained competency in Buddhism so that some of them became full-fledged dhammadutas in a number of countries in the world.
Ven. Omalpe Sobhita took initiative to establish a Theravada Buddhist Center in Singapore. He also has provided for foreign monks from Cambodia to live and train in both the International Buddhist Center, Kaduwela and Bodhiraja Dharmayatanaya, Embilipitiya, Sri Lanka. Having been engaged in dhammaduta work for quite some time living in Vienna, Austria, Ven. Wijayarajapura Seelawansa has been able to establish a center in Vienna to do his services extensively for the people in Austria and other German speaking countries. There are other monastic members who provide their services in the same way as above but it is practically difficult to give details of them in the current essay. In addition to this, there are quite a number of monastic members of the SLRMN, who have been engaged in dhammaduta activities from time to time while living in the centers like Washington Buddhist Vihara in USA set up by other Nikayas, (Amarapura Nikaya), and Great Lakes Buddhist Vihara, Southfield, Michigan, USA (Siyam Nikaya). Ven. Mandawala Pannawansa can be included in the category 7. Nevertheless, I do not underestimate the services of other similar SLRMN monastics who live in the same way in centers of the other Nikayas in USA, Europe, Australia and even Asia. Ven. Pannawansa also belongs to category 6 because of the huge number of publications he has produced on Buddhism and subjects directly or indirectly related to it while living in France for quite a long time and later in the USA during the recent past.
In view of the above, it should be stressed here that the monastic members of the Nikaya has been making a sizable contribution to disseminate Buddhism in different parts of the world in multiple ways since the early 20th century. It should be noted here that most of the monastics mentioned above went abroad without the directions or even involvement of a recognized body of the SLRMN. Further, one noteworthy suggestion should be made here to set up a well-planned center for international Buddhist dhammaduta work at ( national level so that the monastics who are supposed to be sent as dhammadutas abroad are to be properly educated in a number of specialized fields related to Buddhism and well-trained to undertake their mission properly. This note prepared by the writer is a preliminary undertaking, and without doubt, there can be inadvertent omissions in this and the writer apologizes for the same. In the view of the present writer, there is the paramount need for a suitably undertaken study on the subject of Buddhist dhammadutas of Sri Lanka, being a country that was largely instrumental in disseminating Theravada Buddhism to the world in the historic period.
The institution of Kalyani Yogasrama Samsthava
Apart from the Batuwita and Kirinda forest hermitages which existed from the time of the inception of the Sri Lanka Ramanna Maha Nikaya, the Kalyani Yogastrama Samsathava is in operation as a separate institution of it. Ven. Kadawedduwe Sri Jinawamsa Maha Thero first mooted the idea of establishing this institution after a Dhamma discourse at the town of Tissamaharama, down south of the island. A society dedicated for the purpose was born and it was decided in 1950 that the forest hermitage at Nimalawa, close to Tissamaharamaya should be set up. From there on the institution gathered its momentum (Carithers 1983: 211-212). By 2006, there were 157 forest hermitages associated with this institution (Ariyadhamma Maha Thero 2006:253- 259) throughout Sri Lanka. Sri Kalyani Yogasrama Samsthava acts as an independent entity within the Sri Lanka Ramanna Nikaya and affords priority to forest dwelling laces. The monks subscribing to this institution have no obligation towards the various committees of the Sri Lanka Ramanna Nikaya. However, the institution is officially administered by the Nikaya and the Mahanayaka Maha Thero of the Sri Lanka Ramanna Nikaya places his signature to all the documents of the Yogasrama Samsthava.
A notable constitutional requirement
The mode of appointment of committee members of the Nikaya can be described as influenced by democratic practice. The Pradsiya Sanghasbha appoints one member to the Karaka Sanghasabha, which in turn makes appointments to the body of functionaries and finally to the key functionaries. It must be stressed here that the Nikaya subscribed to the view that all the monks of the Nikaya should be united under one headship irrespective of the differences they may have. It is also the policy that those who are appointed to leading positions should be monks with exemplary discipline and recognized scholarship. The one exalted among them should occupy the position of the Ven. Mahanayaka Maha Thero.
The Lay Committee (Nikāyāraksaka Sabhā)
The Nikāyāraksaka Sabha was established 48 years after the establishment of the Nikāya and it was known as Sugata Sāsanopakāra Sabhā at the time. The chairman elected was C. B. Nugawela Diyawadana Nilame and the secretary pandit W.D.C. Wagiswara. After Ven. Kodagoda Upasena became Mahānāyaka, the then Minister of Agriculture, Hon. D. S. Senanayaka, (who later became the first Prime Minister of independent Sri Lanka) was elected President of the Committee, which came to be established by the name of the Nikāyāraksaka Sabhā.
The objectives of the Nikāyāraksaka Sabhā are to: (a). help assist the national activities of the Sri Lanka Rāmanna Mahā Nikāya, (b). help protect the Sangha and propagate the Dhamma, and (c). ensure that the Nikāyāraksaka Sabhā acts as coordinator for the national and international roles initiated by the Sri Lanka Rāmanna Mahā Nikāya.
Current office bearers of The Nikāyāraksaka Sabhā:
President: Hon. Karu Jayasuriya, the Speaker of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Secretary: Mr. S. V. D. Kesara Lal Gunasekera
Treasurer: Dr. Dhanawardhana Guruge
Centre for the Sri Lanka Ramanna Maha Nikaya
The Center for the Sri Lanka Ramanna Maha Nikaya was built at a site in Narahenpita, Colombo 5, Sri Lanka, and is scheduled to be declared open on Feb 3, 2017 with the participation of the Hon President and the Hon Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. This Center is to be used for the administrative activities of the Nikaya, and, therefore, is set apart for the official work by the Most Ven. Mahanayaka, Ven. Adhikarana Nayaka, Ven. Maha Lekhakadikari, and Ven. Sannalekhakadhikari. This will also be the Colombo Center of the Most Ven. Mahanayaka Maha Thero. The Center consists of a library mainly but not exclusively equipped with the historical documents dealing with the SLRMN.
The center for Sri Lanka Ramanna Maha Nikaya in Colombo.
News paper “Sasuna”
This is considered to be the official news paper of the Sri Lanka Ramanna Nikaya generally published once in every three months.
Terms (mostly Pali and occasionally Sanskrit) used in the texts:
adhikarananayaka= Chief Justice Monk
anunayaka= Deputy Prelate
anuvijjaka= judicial officer
bhikkhu= Buddhist monk
Dasadhamma Sutta= a section of the Suttapitaka of Buddhism
Dhamma= What the Buddha taught or Buddhism
disapalaka= Provincial Administrator
jyesthanuvijjaka = senior judicial officer
Jyethanuvijjaka Mandalaya= Board consisting of senior judicial officers
Karaka Sanghasabha= Body which holds executive powers
Katikavata= Constitution or Vyavastha Sangrahaya
Lekhakadhikari= General Secretary
Mahanayaka Maha Thero= Chief Prelate
maha thero= a monk with 20 years experience after higher ordination
Niyojya Lekhakadhikari= Deputy General Secretary
Niyukti Patra = document given when appointing incumbents or conferring positions
Palaka Sanghasabha= Administrative body of monks
Pariyatti Samvaddhana Lekhakadhikari= Secretary of eduaction
Pariyatti Samvaddhana Upa Lekhakadhikari=Deputy Secretary of education
Patipatti Samvaddhana Lekhakadhikari= Secretary of Discipline
Patipatti Samvaddhana Upa Lekhakadhikari= Deputy Secretary of the Discipline
pindapata= begging with the bowl as practiced by the monastic followers of the Buddha
Pradesiya Sanghasabha= Provincial Councils of the monks
Samaja Samvaddhana Lekhakadhikari= Secretary of the Social Development
Samaja Samvaddhana Upa Lekhakadhikari= Deputy Secretary of the Social Development
upajjhaya=monk responsible for training the novice monk
viharadhipati= chief incumbent of a temple
Vinaya Pitaka= Book of the Discipline
Visesadhikari Mandalaya= Supreme Council
(except Carithers’ and Malalgoda’s books, all the cited references below are available in the original in Sinhala textual material published in Sri Lanka):
Ariyadhamma Maha Thero, Nauyane., 2006. Sri Lanka Ramanna maha nikaye Kalyani Yogasrama Samsthave ada siya vasaraka itihasaya- Prathama- dutiya bhaga. Tissamaharamaya (Sri Lanka): Nimalava aranya senasanaraksaka sri saddharma pracaraka karya sadhaka samitiya.
Carrithers, Michael., 1983. The forest monks of Sri Lanka: an anthropological and historical study: Oxford University Press.
Dhammakusala Maha Thero, Matale., 2001. Ramanna Vamsaya part 2.
Gnanobhasa Maha Thero, Galle., 1986. Sasun keta saru kala ambagahawatte mahimi. Colombo: Department of Buddhist Affairs.
Katikavata (Sri Lanka Ramanna Maha Nikaya Katikavata)., 2014. Ed. Matale Dhammakusala Nayaka Maha Sthavira and Attangane Sasanarathana Maha Sthavira. Kuliyapitiya (Sri Lanka): Ministry of Buddha Sasana, Sri Lanka.
Malalgoda, Kitsiri., 1976. Buddhism in Sinhalese society 1850-1900: A study of religious revival and change. Berkeley: The Regents of the University of California.
Sasanatilaka Maha Thero, Matale., 1964. Ramanna Vamsaya. Colombo: R.A.A. Perera.
Sri Wimalawamsa Maha Thero, Payiyagala. (Ed.) (1970). Kandy (Sri Lanka): W.D. Wimalasena. Samkshipta Sri Indrarsabha Mahanayaka svami caritaya.
(This slrmn.org Website was created by: (Ven.) Wetara Mahinda, Senior Lecturer, Department of Archaeology, University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya 20400, Sri Lanka on the occasion of the 100th birth day of the late Most Ven. Medhalankara Mahanayaka Maha Thero on December 7, 2008. This edited document was prepared on January 30th, 2017 based mainly on the Katikavata published in 2014 and the current situation of the Sri Lanka Ramanna Maha Nikaya. The writer can be contacted using the email address: firstname.lastname@example.org)