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.

Administrative  Structure

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)

Judiciary (Adhikaranaya)

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

samanera=novice monk

upajjhaya=monk responsible for training  the novice monk

upasampada=higher ordination

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  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: