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12 03 2012 LESSON 548 FREE ONLINE eNālāndā Research And Practice UNIVERSITY And BUDDHIST GOOD NEWS LETTER Through The Dhammapada Verses and Stories Dhammapada Verses 98 Khadiravaniyarevatatthera Vatthu Dwelling Of The Unblemished Is Alluring
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12 03 2012 LESSON 548 FREE ONLINE eNālāndā Research And  Practice UNIVERSITY And  BUDDHIST GOOD NEWS LETTER Through The Dhammapada Verses and Stories Dhammapada Verses 98
Khadiravaniyarevatatthera Vatthu Dwelling Of The Unblemished Is Alluring



Practice a Sutta a Day Keeps
Dukkha Away


Verse 98. Dwelling Of The Unblemished Is Alluring

Whether in town or woods,
whether in vale, on hill,
wherever dwell the Arahats
so pleasing there the earth.

Explanation: Whether in the village, in the
forest, in a valley or in the plain, wherever arahats - noble saints - dwell,
that place is alluring in the extreme.




Sacred Statues in the Museum of
Chiang Mai, North Thailand


The standing Buddha in Myanmar is associated
with travelling and with leaving a footprint for followers. His right hand
makes the mudra that symbolizes peace, protection, and the dispelling of fear
and his left hand makes the mudra that symbolizes generosity and accomplishing
the benefit of others.


Metal casts of Lord Buddha’s

worshipped in a temple &




exhibited in the museum in Chiang
Mai, North Thailand

Shin Arahan converted the King
of Pagan, who unified Upper & Lower Burma



Dhammapada Verse 98
Khadiravaniyarevatatthera Vatthu

Game va yadi varanne
ninne va yadi va thale
yattha arahanto viharanti
tam bhumiramaneyyakam.

Verse 98: In a village or in a forest, in a
valley or on a hill, wherever arahats dwell, that place is delightful.

The Story of Thera Revata

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the
Buddha uttered Verse (98) of this book, with reference to Thera Revata of the
Acacia (khadira) Forest.

Revata was the youngest brother of the Chief
Disciple, Sariputta. He was the only one of the brothers and sisters of
Sariputta who had not left home for the homeless life. His parents were very
anxious to get him married. Revata was only seven years old when his parents
arranged a marriage for him to a young girl. At the wedding reception, he met an
old lady who was one hundred and twenty years old, and he realized that all
beings are subject to ageing and decay. So, he ran away from the house and went
straight to a monastery, where there were thirty bhikkhus. Those bhikkhus had
been requested earlier by Thera Sariputta to make his brother a samanera if he
should come to them. Accordingly, he was made a samanera and Thera Sariputta
was informed about it.

Samanera Revata took a subject of meditation
from those bhikkhus and left for an acacia forest, thirty yojanas away from the
monastery. At the end of the vassa, the samanera attained arahatship. Thera
Sariputta then asked permission from the Buddha to visit his brother, but the
Buddha replied that he himself would go there. So the Buddha accompanied by
Thera Sariputta, Thera Sivali and five hundred other bhikkhus set out to visit
Samanera Revata.

The journey was long, the road was rough and
the area was uninhabited by people; but the devas looked to all the needs of
the Buddha and the bhikkhus on the way. At an interval of every yojana, a
monastery and food were provided, and they travelled at the rate of a yojana a
day. Revata, learning about the visit of the Buddha, also made arrangements to
welcome him. By supernormal power he created a special monastery for the Buddha
and five hundred monasteries for the other bhikkhus, and made them comfortable
throughout their stay there.

On their return journey, they travelled at the
same rate as before, and came to the Pubbarama monastery on the eastern end of
Savatthi at the end of the month. From there, they went to the house of
Visakha, who offered them alms-food. After the meal, Visakha asked the Buddha
if the place of Revata in the acacia forest was pleasant.

And the Buddha answered in verse as follows:

Verse 98: In a village or in a forest, in a valley or on a
hill, wherever arahats dwell, that place is delightful.

At the end of the discourse, all those bhikkhus attained

Buddhism In TamilNadu

The present day Tamil Nadu, the
land of the Tamils, was formed in November 1956 consequent upon the
reorganisation of the Indian States on linguistic basis in the light of the
recommendations of the States Reorganisation Commission. Its capital is Madras,
and in area Tamil Nadu is 1,30,069 sq. kms.

(1) Royal Patronage

The first royal patron of
Buddhism in the Tamil land was no doubt Asoka the Great. He built stupas at
Kanchi in the third century BC. According to the Tamil classic, Manimekhalai,
king Killivalan built a Buddha Vihara at Kanchi, The king is also said to have
dedicated a park to the Buddhist Sangha in which a shrine containing an imprint
of the Buddha’s feet was also created. The first Pallava king, Skandavarman,
who flourished towards the close of the third century AD, also helped the cause
of Buddhism. He had a son, Buddhavarman, who is mentioned as Yuvaraj in a grant
issued by his queen, Charudevi, perhaps a Buddhist. His other son was

The history of Tamil Nadu,
after Skandavarman till the sixth century is rather obscure. In the Tamil
literature, this period is called as one of the darkest period of history, and
the modern scholars often refer to this period as ‘the Kalabhra Interregnum’.
Not only that, the Kalabhras, who seem to have come to power in the Kanchipuram
area, the TondaimandaJam, as it was then called, are called ‘barbarians’ and
‘enemies’ of civilization’. About this Period, K.A. Nilakanta Sastri says:

“A long historical night
ensues after the close of the Sangam age. We knew little of the period of more
than three centuries that followed. When the curtain rises again towards the
close of the sixth century AD., we find a mysterious and ubiquitous enemy of civilization,
the evil rulers called Kalabhras (Kalappalar), have come and upset the
established political order which was restored only by their defeat at the
hands of the Pandyas and Pallavas as well as the Chalukyas of Badami.”

The identification of the Kalabhras
is a big question mark on the South Indian History. It is now generally agreed
that the Kalabhras originally hailed from the area around the modern Tirupati
in Andhra, and had migrated to Kanchi sometime in the third century AD. The
Tirupati hills were also known earlier as Pullikunram or the hill of the
Chieftain Pulli. The Sangam Age literature refers to Pulli, the chief of the
Kalavartribes in the Venkata or Vengadam hills. “The name of the hill was
Vengadam. . Milmulanur, the most important and perhaps the oldest poet, has
seven poems referring to Vengadam. He refers to Vengadam as belonging to Pulli,
the Chieftain of Kalavar, and notes that Vengadam was famous for its festivals.
In another poem he refers undoubtedly ta Tirupati as Pullikunran, the Hill of
Chieftain PulIi. Another poem says these Pullis were liberal in gifts.

The Pullis have been identified
with the Kalavaras or the kalabhras, who appeared to have migrated under
political compulsions from their native place to Kanchi where they made fortune
having established their rule there. According to Dr. S. Krishnaswami Aiyangar,
“The tightening of the hold of the Pallavas even as viceroys of the
Andhras by a pressure applied both from the north and west must have dislodged
these people from the locality of their denzienship, and set forward their
migration which ultimately overturned the Tondaimandalam first, Cholamandalam
next and a considerable part of the pandimandalam after that the Kalabhras then
were the Kalavar of the region immediately north of Tondaimandala who being
dislodged by the pressure of the Andhras penetrated the Tondaimandalam itself,
moved southwards till .. they produced the interregnum referred to in the
Velvikkudi plates in the Pandhya country

It the identification of the
Kalabhras, R. Sathianata Aiyer says “The identification of the Kalabhras
is very difficult problem of South Indian History. They have been identified,
with the line of Muttaraivar of Kondubalur (eighth to eleventh country). Others
regards them as Karnatas on the strength of a refrence in Tamil literature to
the rule of a Karnata king over Madura. A third view is that the Kalabhras were
Kalappalar, belonging to Vellala community and referred to in Tamil literature
and inscriptions. But the most satisfactory theory identifies the Kalabhras
with the Kalavar, and the chieftains of destribe mentioned in Sangam literature
are Tiraiyan of Pavattiri and Pulli of Vengadam or Tirupati. The latter is
described safe lifting robber chief of the frontier. The Kalavar must have
dislodged from their habitat near Tirupati by political of the third century
A.D., viz. the fall of the Satvahanas,in political confusion in Tondamandalam
in the following century. The Kalabhra invasion must have helmed the Pallavas,
the Cholas and the Pandyas.

In the Brahmanical literature,
the Kalabhras are “roundly as evil kings (kali-arasar) who uprooted many
and abrogated brahmadeya rights”. However, the modern researches have
shown that the Kalabhras were neither nor enemies of civilization but were a
very civilized people and in fact their reign saw the creation of excellent
Tamil mixture. The primary reason as to why they were ignored or by the
brahmins was because they were Buddhists. To the Nilakanta Sastri again from
some Buddhist books we of a certain Acchutavikkanta of the KaIabhrakula during
the region Buddhist monasteries and authors enjoyed much in the Chola country.
Late literary tradition in Tamil avers that he kept in confinement the three
Tamil kings “ the Chera, Chola and Pandya. Some songs about him are quoted by
Amitasagara, a Jain grammarian of Tamil of the tenth century A.D. Possibly
Accuta was himself a Buddhist, a political revolution which the kalabhras
effected was provoked by religious antagonism.”

The only Kalabhra king who is
known with a specific name is Accuta Vikranta. He is believed to have ruled
towards the close of the fifth century AD and the beginning of the sixth
century AD. Buddhadatta, a well-known Pali commentator who flourished in the
fifth century says in the Vinaya-viniccaya that “he wrote this work for
the sake of Buddhasiha while he was residing in the lovely monastery of
Venhudas (Vishnudas) in a city on the banks of the Kaveri, by name
Bhutamangalam and it was begun and completed at the time when Accuta Vikranta
of Kalabhra Kula was ruling over the earth.

The memory of Accuta Vikranta
lingered on for long among the Tamil Buddhists. In Yapparungalam, a Tamil work
of eleventh century AD, written by Amitasagarangar, the poet “prays to the
Buddha to grant Accuta with the long arms like the clouds in charity and with
the fighting spear so that he might wield his specture of authority over the
whole world”. From the testimony of Buddhadatta, who was contemporary of
Accuta Vikranta, and the praise showered upon the Kalabhra king by the poet in
Yapparungalam, it is evident that Acchuta Vikranta was a Buddhist and a liberal
patron of Buddhism

It is significant that during
the Kalabhra reign which lasted nearly 300 years, Buddhism was at its best in
and around Kanchi, ancient Tondaimandalam. And there flourished a number of
Buddhist saints and scholars, such as Nagaguttanar, author of Kundalakesi, (4th
century), Buddhadatta, the Pali commentator, (5th Century), Dinaga, the great
logician, (5th century), Dhammapala, another Pali commentator, (6th century),
and Bodhidharma, the great Dhyana teacher, (6th century). The association of
Buddhaghosha, the greatest Pali scholar and commentator, who was contempoary of
Buddhadatta, further confirms the ascendency of Buddhism during the Kalabhra
Interregnum in the Tamil land.

Even the Tamil literature got a
boost during the Kalabhra reign and this period was marked by great literary
activity. Nilakanta Sastri observes: “This dark period marked by the
ascendency of Buddhism and probably also of Jainism, was characterized also by
great literary activity in Tamil. Most of the works grouped under the head The
Eighteen Minor Works were written during this period as also the
Silappadikaram, Manimekhalai and other works. Many of the authors were the
votaries of the ‘heretical’ sects.

The Kalabhras were ousted by
the Pallavas who rose to prominence again under Simhavishnu (575-600 AD) who
founded a new dynasty which ruled for nearly 300 years. During the region of
the Pallava king, Narasimhavarman II (c. 700-728 or 69s,.722), a Buddhist
Vihara was constructed at Nagapattam for the use of Chinese mariners who called
over there for purposes of trade. This monastery was known as the Chinese
monastery and was been by Marco Polo in 1292 AD.

During the reign of the Cholas
(850-1200 AD), there were 1st settlements at Nagapattam (Na!:apattinam) on the
cast and at Sri ulvasam in the west. Raja Raja I, (985-1014 AD), particular,
gave generous support to the Buddhist institutions. And even Buddhism was,
considered sufficiently important for some scenes from Buddha’s life to be
represented in decorative panels in a balustrade of the great temple at Tanjore
(Thanjavur) built by him. He also encouraged Sri Mara unagavarman, the
Sailendra ruler of Sri Vijaya) to build a Buddha Vihara at Nagapatam. This
Vihara is called Sri Cudamani Vihara after the father of the ruler of Sri.
Vijaya. Later, another Sri Vijaya king sent embassy in 1090 to the Chola King
Kolotlunga ! (1070-1122) to enquire about the affairs of the Buddha Vihara
which his ancestors had built at Nagapattam. Chola endowments to the Buddha
Vihara at Nagapattam have also been recorded in their copperplate.

Evidence of royal support to
Buddhism after the Chola period is Jacking, though the Buddha Viharas at
Nagapattam flourished till about the 17th century.

(II) Buddhist Saints And Scholars


The first Tamil Buddhist poet was
IIambodhiyar who flourished during the last Sangam period of Tamil literature
(1st-2nd century AD). Iambodhiyar’s very name indicates that he was a Buddhist.
Since the Buddhists worshipped the Bodhi Tree, the Shaiva and Jaina Tamil works
often refer to Buddhists as “bodhiyar” or worshippers of Bodhi tree.
Several of Iambodhiyar are found in a work called Nattrinai or Narrinai
composed during the last Sangam period

Sittalai Sattanar

The most famous Buddhist poet
in the Tamil land was Sittalai Sattanar, the author of the celebrated Tamil
epic Manimekhalai. Sattanar was a grain merchant of Madura (Madurai) and lived
in the second century AD. The Manimekhalai appears to have been composed by him
with a view to propagating the Buddha - Dhamma but its setting is historical.
Another great Tamil epic, the Silappadikaram (The Book of the Anklet), written
by lIango-Adigal, a jaina ascetic and brother of the Chera monarch,
Senguttuvan, deals with the tragic story of Kovalan, a rich merchant of
Kaveripattinam or Puhar who neglecting his wife, Kannaki, fell in love with
Madhavi, a dancing girl. Later, having realized his foIly, Kovalan returned to
his wife. Then both set out for Madura where Kovalan wanted to start life
afresh by pursuing trade. And when he went out to sell one of his wife’s gold
anklet, he was falsely accused of theft of queen’s anklet, and was executed by
the king without any investigation.

On hearing the news of the
death of Kovalan, Madhavi became disgusted with life. She, alongwith her
daughter, Manimekhalai, Sought solace from a Buddhist monk, who consoled in her
grief preaching the true Dhamma, The young Manimekhalai was so much impressed
by the teaching of love and compassion of the Buddha that she became a Buddhist
nun, Bhikkhuni. While narrating the story of Manimekhalai, Sattanar shows the
superiority of Buddhist doctrine evaluating it against the contemporary Hindu
and Jaina thought. Manimekhalai is a lasting monument to his scholarship,
encylopaedic knowledge, and excellence as a Tamil poet.

Several verses from other poems
of Sittalai Sattanar ate found in other works, such as, Nattrinai, Kurunthokai,
Purananuru and Ahananuru

Aravana Adigal

Aravana Adigal was the first
Tamilian Buddhist monk who engaged himself in propagating the Dhamma in the
ancient Chera, Chola and Pandyan kingdoms of South India. He lived in the
second century AD, and was the head of a flourishing Buddhist monastery at
Kaveripattinam, also known as Puhar, This illustrious monk was the preceptor of
Manimekhalai, whose life story has been told told by Sittalai Sattanar, in the
classic Tamil epic, entitled ‘ManimekhaIai’, When Kaveripattinam was ravaged by
a ideal wave, Aravana Adigal went to Vanchi or Vanji, the Chera capitaI, where
he stayed for a short while before moving on to Manimekhalai, who had earlier
embraced Buddhism and the Sangha, the Order of the Buddhist nuns, also followed
in the footsteps of his preceptor, and came to live at kanchi. What was the
righteous path of the Dhamma expounded by Aravana Adigal has been summed up by
the poet in Book XXX of Manimekhalai. The saint begins with the Four Noble
Truths and then goes on to explain the essence of twelve Nidanas, (Dependent
Origination) and finally exhorts Manimekalai in these words:

Realizing that friendliness,
compassion and joy (at the well-being of others) constitute the best attitude
of mind, give up anger. By the practice of hearing (sruti), mentation
(cintana), experiencing in mind (bhavana) and realizing in vision (darsana)
reflect, realize give up all illusion. In these four ways get rid of the
darkness of mind.”


The daughter of Madhavi from
Kovalan, Manimekhalai, is the heroine of the famous Tamil epic, named after
her, and Written by Sittalai Sattanar. When Kovalan was executed on a false
accusation by the king of Madura (Madurai), Madhavi became disgusted with the
life, and sought solace in her-grief from Aravana Adigal, a Buddhist monk, who
was head of a Buddhist monastery at kaveripattinam (Puhar). On hearing the
excellent Dhamma, both mother and daughter became Buddhists. The young and
pretty Manimekhalai, who was already feeling disenchanted by the life of dance
and music, was immediately drawn to the sublime teachings of the Buddha and
decided to adopt the life of a Buddhist nun. Soon thereafter, she went on
pilgrimage to SriLanka and worshipped at the Buddha’s footprint at the Nagadipa
shrine on an island off the northern coast of Sri Lanka. There a deity gave her
a miraculous, bowl from which she could feed any number of people without the
Supply of food becoming exhausted . On return to Kaveripattinam, Manimekalai
gave alms daily to the poor in a public hall. Later, Manimekhalai was
Implicated in a murder case on a false charge and imprisoned. When, however,
true facts came to light, she was freed, and the Chola queen, who had
manipulated her imprisonment begged her pardon.

Realizing that it was no longer
safe for her to live in Kaveripaitinam. Manimekhalai went on a pilgrimage to
Java. On return from this pilgrimage, she went to Vanchi, the Chera capital,
and further studied the Dhamma. Finally, she came to Kanchi where in the
meanwhile Aravana Adigal, her preceptor, had permanently settled. Thereafter,
she lived the holy life of a Buddhist nun in a Vihara specifically built for
her at Kanchi, and spent her life in meditation and service to humanity. The
present day Darupadiamman kovil is said to be on the site of the Manimekhalai


Nagaguttanar, who lived in the
fourth century AD, was, another Buddhist poet of eminence. He was the author of
Kundalakesi, one of the five famous kavyas in Tamil language. The story of
kundalakesi in this work is based on the biography of the Dhikkhuni Kundalakesi
found in the commentary on the Therigatha as well as in the Dhammapada
commentary. While narrating the story, the author had made an effort to refute
the judic and Jaina dectrines. Kundalakesi was originally a Jain nun, who was
fond of challenging anybody to refute her views. Duriputta, the chief disciple
of the Buddha, took up the challenge defeated her in a debate. Consequently,
Kundalakesi, need Jainism and embraced Buddhism. The author of the Tamil poem
depicts the Buddhist nun Kundalakesi championing because of Buddhism,
Kundalakesi is now lost, But the Jaina Nilakesi, written in response to
Kundalakesi, is still extant, at the Jain work contains references to
Kundalakesi. A commentary on the Nilakesi also refers to the story of


The first Pali scholar of Tamil
Nadu was Buddhadatta. He was at Uragapura, modem Uraiyur, in the fifth century
AD. He called Pali and Buddhism at the Mahavihara at Anuradhapura of Sri Lanka.
Buddhadatta was contemporary of the great Pali and commentator, Buddhaghosha.
It is said that when Buddhadatta was returning to India after completing his
studies, beat crossed another boat carrying Buddhaghosha to Sri Lanka. As they
met, they introduced themselves and exchanged countries. On knowing
Buddhaghosha’s plans, Buddhadatta was departing requested Buddhaghosha to send
copies of the commentaries, as and when compiled, to him in India. Buddhaghusha
appears to have done this.

To return from Sri Lanka,
Buddhadatta resided in a Vihara by a Buddhist minister named Krishnadasa,
Nagapattanam. While staying here, he wrote Madhurattha Vilasini (Commentary on
the Buddhavamsa). He wrote another famous work Abhidhammavatara (Summary of
Buddhaghosha’s commentaries on the Abhidhammapitaka) at the request of a
bhikkhu named Sumati. His another important work is Vinaya Vinicchaya (Summary
of the Buddhaghosha’s commentaries on the Vinaya-Pitaka). In a colophone at the
end of this Work, Buddhadatta says that “he wrote this work for the sake
of Buddhasiha while he was residing in the lovely monastery of Vehnudasa (Vishnudasa)
in a city on the banks of the river Kaveri, by name Bhutamangalam, and it was
begun and completed at the time when Accutata Vikranta of Kalabhra Kula was
ruling over the earth.

Another work attributed to
Buddhadatta is the Ultara Vinicchya which he is said to have written while he
was residing at Anuradhapura.


The greatest Pali scholar and
commentator was Buddhaghosha who flourished in the fifth century AD. According
to Mahavamsa , a chronicle of Sri Lanka, where Buddhaghosha accomplished his
literary pursuits, he was born in the vicinity of Bodh Gaya. Another tradition
is that he hailed from South India. K.R. Srinivasan contends that Buddhaghosha
was born at Morandakhetaka which he identifies with Moranam near Kanchi.

By the time Buddhaghosha came
on the scene Pali Buddhism had lost lustre in India. More and more scholars
were turning to Sanskrit. But the Bodh Gaya monks stood firm in their
allegiance, to Pali. Under their guidance, Buddhaghosha studied Buddhist
Philosophy diligently. He also compiled a treatise on Buddhism ‘Nanodaya’. He
also planned to compose commentaries on Abhidhamma and the Suttas. On knowing
his intention, his teacher, Mana Thera Revata advised Buddhaghosha to go to Sri

Thus encouraged and inspired,
Buddhaghosha went to Sri Lanka during the reign of King Mahanama (410-432) AD
and reached the Mahavihara at Anuradhapura. While staying in the Mahavihara,
Buddhaghosha made a thorough study of the inhalese commentaries. He also heard
the tradition of the elders him. Thera Sanghapala. Convinced of their
usefulness, he then sought permission of the bhikkhu-Sangha of the Mahavihara
to translate the commentaries from Sinhalese to Pali. In order to test is
knowledge and his capabilities, the learned Theras asked Buddhaghosha to
comment on a Pali stanza. In response to this, buddhaghosha compiled a
compendium of the whole of the tripitaka, and named it Visuddhimagga or
“The Path of purification.”. Highly pleased with his performance, the
bhikkhus of the Mahavihara gave all the facilities to Buddhaghosha and placed
all the Sinhalese commentaries at the disposal.

Besides the Visuddhimagga,
Buddhaghosha wrote commentaries on the Vinaya-Pitaka, Patimokha, Digha-Nikaya,
hima-Nikaya, Anguttara-Nikaya, Khuddaka-Patha. The commentaries on the
Dhammapala and the Jataka are also described to Buddhaghosha. The voluminous
literature produced by Buddhaghosha exists to this day and is the basis for the
explanation of many crucial points of Buddhist philosophy which without them
would have been unintelligible.” The commentaries and the Visuddhimagga of
Buddhaghosha are not only a great achievement in post-Tripitaka literature but
they are be a key to the Tripitaka.

Buddhaghosha may or may not
have been born in Tamil Nadu but the - fact remains that he resided for some
time at Kanchi and some of the commentaries while staying there. ln the pohon
to the commentary on the Anguttara Nikaya, Manorathapurani, Buddhaghosha says
that at the time of impling the work he lived at Kanchipura with his friend
Mikkhu Jotipala, Again in the commentary on the Majjhima, Papancasudani, he
says that when he was formerly being at Mayrrapattanam ( the present day
Mayavaram), with the Buddhamitta, he was invited to write this. Buddhaghosha
and also visited Nagapattanam, the poor city, from where he had worked for Sri


Another Pali scholar produced
by Tamil Nadu was Dhammapala. He lived in the sixth century AD, and was a
native of the city of Tanja, which has been identified with Tanjore (Tanjavur).
According to Hiuen Tsang, Dhammapala was born at kanchipuram. Dhammapala also
stayed for some time at Nagapattam in the Dharmasoka Vihara. In the
Nettipakarna commentary, Dhammapala says that “he wrote this commentary
while he was residing at the monastery built by King Asoka at Nagapattam which
is like unto a port for embarking on the ocean of the Dhamma”.

Most probably, Dhammapala had
studied at Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka as he mentions in his works the Atthukatha
of the Mahavihara of Anuradhapura. Further, he not only refers to the
commentaries of Buddhaghosha but also follows aImost his style. Dhammapala
wrote seven commentaries on such books of the Khuddaka-Nikaya, which had not
been covered by Buddhaghosha. His famous work the Parmattha-dipani, is an
exposition of the Khuddaka-Nikaya covering mainly Udana, Itivuttku,
Vimanavatthu, Peta-Vatthu, Thera-gatha, Theri-gatha, and Cariya-Pitaka. The
other commentaries attributed to Dhammapala are: Parmatta-manjusas (Commentary
on Buddhaghosha’s Visuddhimagga), and Netti - Pakarnassa Attha Samvannana
(Commentary on Netti, a post­ canonical work).

Another work attributed to
Buddhadatta is the Ultara Vinicchya which he is said to have written while he
was residing at Anuradhapura.


A mighty Buddhist intellectual of
the early fifth century AD was Dinnaga or Dignaga. He was the founder of the
Buddhist logic, and is often referred to as the Father of the medieval Nyaya an
a whole

Dinnaga was born around 450 AD at
Simhavaktra, a suburb of kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu. After completing his
studies, while quite young, Dinnaga became a Buddhist monk and joined the
Vatsiputriya school. It is said that one day, Nagadatta, his preceptor, asked
Dinnaga to meditate over the principle of the (Atman) which from the stand
point of the Vatsiputriyas was expressible and was neither identical with the
groups of dements (Skandhas), nor differing from them. When Dinnaga expressed
some scepticism about the existence of Ego, he was spelled from the community
by his teacher. After meeting similar failure and experiencing dissatisfaction
with some other teachers, Dinnaga finally came to Vasubandhu. Under Vasubandhu,
Dinnaga studied all aspects of the Buddhist philosophy and became well-versed
with all the texts of Buddhism. Thereafter, he began his literary career.

Dinnaga travelled all over India
holding religious contests with scholars. At Nalanda, he defeated a Brahmin
logician named durjaya in a religious discussion, In Orissa, Dinnaga is said to
be converted the royal treasurer, Bhadrapalita, who built in Dinnaga’s honour a
monastery. Generally, Dinnaga stayed in this monastery in the Bhorasila
mountain in Orissa. Often he also stayed in the Accra monastery in Maharashtra.

Dinnaga wrote about a hundred
treatises on logic, most of which are preserved in Chinese and Tibetan
translations. His most important works are Pramanasamuccaya ( The totality of
means of correct knowledge). Alambana- Pariksha ( The lamination of the Three
Times), Hetuchakradamru ( The wheel of capital Reasons), Nyaya-mukha, Hastavala
- prakarna, Arya naparmitavivarana, and Abhidharmakosha-MArma-Pradipa, a
commentary on Vasubandhu’s Abhidharmokasa

Prior to Dinnaga all the Indian
schools of logic followed the epic of the realist Nyaya school. Dinnaga for the
first time produced new ideas in that logic, which then came to be recognized
as Buddhist logic.


An outstanding Indian
missionary who went to China was Buddhidharma, a seer of royal family of Kanchi
in Tamil Nadu. On seeing the Buddhist Sangha, he was initiated into Buddhism
by, a renowned teacher of the Dhyana or meditative form of Buddhism. After his
teachers death, he worked for few years to popularise the Dhyana teachings in
India. Later, he left for China in A.D. 526 for propagating his system of

Bodhidharma was cordially
welcomed by the emperor Wu-ti, who was a devout Buddhist, at his capital,
Nanking. Later, finding that the emperor was not able to appreciate his mystic
trend of philosophy, Bodhidharma left the capital, and went to the Shaolin
monastery, near Lo-yang, in north China.

It is said that Bodhidharma sat
at the Shao-Jin Temple doing pi-kuan­, deeply absorbed in contemplation with
his face to the wall, without interacting with others for nine years. In
Chinese, pi means “wall” and kuan means “observation”. Thus
Bodhidharma to well-known for pi-kuan or “wall meditation” in China.
He lays stress on meditation by which alone, he said, “awakeness should be
attained”. The meditative school founded by Bodhidharma is known as Ch’an
Buddhism in China. The Ch’ an or Dhyana School teachers that we must discard
blind acceptance of scriptural authority. It also deprecates the worship of
images and priest craft. According to it, “Buddha is in the heart of man.
And Buddha-nature is always pure and bright, illuminating everywhere” The
mystic philosophy of Bodhidharma has exercised an abiding spiritual influence
among the Japanese Buddhists, where the Ch’an Buddhism become Zen Buddhism
(contemplative Buddhism) with certain modifications.


Dharmapala was the only South
Indian Buddhist savant who became the Vice-Chancellor of the world famous
Nalanda University, He was born at Kanchi in the seventh century AD. It is said
that when he was about to be married, he secretly went to a Buddhist monastery
and joined the Buddhist Sangha. Hiuen Tuang gives the traditional account of
Dharmapala’s initiation Buddhism as under: “The city of Kanchipura is the
native place of Dharmapala Bodhisattva. He was the eldest son of a great
minister of the country. From his childhood he exhibited much cleverness, and
as he grew up it increased and extended. Then he became a young man, the king
and queen condescended certain him at a (marriage) feast. On the evening of the
day heart was oppressed with sorrow, and being exceedingly decided, he placed
himself before a statue of Buddha and in earnest prayer (supplication). Moved
by his extreme, the spirits removed him to a distance, and there he hid
himself. After going many hundred Ii from this spot he came to a contain convent,
and sat down in the hall of Buddha. A priest opening to open the door, and
seeing this youth, was in doubt whether he was a robber or not. After
interrogating him on the , the Bodhisattva completely unbosomed himself and
told in the cause; moreover he asked permission to become a people. The priests
were much astonished at the wonderful and forthwith granted his request. The
king ordered to be made for him in every direction and at length finding in
that Bodhisattva had removed to a distance from the world, by the spirit (or,
spirits), then he redoubled his deep and admiration for him. From the time that
assumed the robes of a recluse, he applied himself unflagging earnestness to
learning. Concerning his brilliant we have spoken in the previous records.

Dharmapala travelled widely in
India. While at Kosambi, he in with the opponents of Buddhism displayed his
brilliant and encylopaedic knowledge tearing to shreds the of the Hindu
scholars. He became famous after his, and was selected to head the Nalanda
Mahavihara. He quite young at the age of 32. His pupil Silabhadra, succeeded
Vice-chancellor, under whom Hiuen Tsang studied Buddhism at Nalanda.


Dharmakirti, who lived in the
seventh century AD, was the great Buddhist logician. He was the son of
Korunanda of iaya in South India. In his childhood, Dharmakirti and the Vedas.
Later, he studied Buddhist philosophy at veda. While at Nalanda, Dharmakirti
joined the Buddhist. Order as a disciple of Dhannapala who was at that time the
Sanghasthavira (Chief) of the Nalanda Mahavihara, He studied logic from
Isvarsena, a direct pupil of Dinnaga, and made a thorough study of the
Pramanasamuccaya of Dinnaga. The date of Dharmakirti is not very clear, Some
scholars are of the view that he lived from circa AD 620-690.

Dharmakirti wrote seven
important works. These are,
1. Pramanavartika,
2. Pramanavinischaya,
3. Nyayabindu,
4. Hetubindu,
5. Vadanyaya,
6. Sambandhaparikasha, and
7. Santanantarasidhi.

As in other cases, all the works of Dharmakirti were lost in India. For a long
time in modern India, nothing was known of Dharmakirti’s works except
Nyayabindu. Thanks are due to the Tibetan scholars who preserved his works,
Some in original Sanskrit and all in Tibetan translation. In modem times,
credit goes to Mahapandit Rahul Sankrityayan who made many hazardous trips to
Tibet and brought back to India some of the manuscript of Dharmakirti’s works
in Sanskrit and commentaries on them. Rahul Sankrityayana also edited
Dharmakirti’s monumental work Pramanavartika with three commentaries, as well
as Vadanyaya.

All the works of Dharmakirti
generally deal with the Buddhist theory of knowledge. Dharmakirti was a subtle
philosophical thinker and dialectician, and his writings mark the highest
summit reached in epistemological speculation by later Buddhism. Acknowledging
his unsurpassed genious, Dr.Stcherbatksy calls Dharmakirti, the Kant of India.

Apart from being a great
Buddhist logician and philosopher, Dharmakirti was also a great missionary. He
travelled throughout India and tried to re-establish, through philosophy, the
glory of Buddhism which was showing signs of decline.


Bodhiruchi, which literally
means “intelligence loving”, was orginally called Dharmaruchi. He
hailed from Tamil Nadu and to China in the seventh century AD duriag the days
of early ang dynasty. His original name Dharmaruchi was changed to Bodhiruchi.
By the orders of the empress Wu Tso- thien (AD - 705). In China, he studied
Buddhism under Yasaghosa, a Mahayana. There and became well - acquainted with
the entire Tripitaka within a period of only three years. Thereafter,
bodhiruchi devoted all his time and talents to the work of translating Sanskrit
works. During the period AD 693 - 713, he translated 53 works which ran into 111
volumes in Chinese. He is aid to have died in AD 727 when he was in his 156th


Vajrabodhi (661 - 730) was born
at Podiyakanda in the Pandiya country. Another view is that he was a native of
Kanchi. He called at Nalanda, and returned to his native place as a Mchayana
monk. He was contemporary of the Pallava king. Narasimhavarman II (c.700 - 728
AD). His missionary tours took him to Sri Lanka where he stayed for six months
at the bhayagiri Vihara. Later, along with his discipline Amoghavajra, went to
China for missionary work. He is said to have carried the text of
Mahaprajnaparamita with him to China.

How To Lead a Life

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The spread of Buddhism in Germany

The Berlin Buddhist Vihâra (”Das
Buddhistisches Haus”) is now the most striking symbol of interaction
between the German and Sri Lankan cultures and a source of pride and
inspiration for people of both countries. It is the key centre in the dissemination,
learning and practice of Theravâda Buddhism in Germany and other continental
European countries.

Of the many and varied figures who have left
their indelible mark in making Das Buddhistische Haus in Berlin – Frohnau, the
beacon for the propagation of Theravada Buddhism in Germany during the last
eighty four years, two outstanding figures rise high above the rest.

They are Dr. Paul Dahlke, founder of Das
Buddhistische Haus and one of the ‘ most efficient and able pens’ for the
Buddhist cause in Europe, and Asoka Weeraratna, founder of the German
Dharmaduta Society and indefatigable Buddhist missionary who pioneered the
establishment of the first Buddhist Vihara in continental Europe and the entry
of the Venerable members of the Maha Sangha to propagate Buddhism in Germany
and other European countries on a continuing footing. Both these figures
further contributed in their own distinctive ways in opening new vistas for the
strengthening of links between the people and the cultures of Germany and Sri

This article focuses briefly on the
contribution of Asoka Weeraratna to the propagation of Buddhism in Germany. He
is destined to be ranked in history as one of the notable figures of Sri
Lanka’s post-independence Buddhist resurgence. He will be remembered for three
monumental contributions that he made to the cause of Buddhism. They are:

1) The Founding of the German Dharmaduta
Society in 1952 (initially known as the Lanka Dhammaduta Society) with the
principal aim of propagating Buddhism in Germany and other Western countries,

2) The establishment of the Berlin Buddhist
Vihara in Germany ( in 1957 ) with resident monks, drawn mainly from Sri Lanka,

3) The founding of one of Sri Lanka’s finest
Buddhist Forest Monasteries i.e. The Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya ( Mitirigala
Forest Hermitage ) in 1967

All three achievements were substantial
undertakings that captured the imagination and spirit of the Buddhist public in
the 1950’s and 1960’s and made Asoka Weeraratna a household name.

Asoka Weeraratna was born on 12th December,
1918 as the youngest son of P.J.Weeraratna, the proprietor of a reputed
jewellery establishment in Galle. He was named Alfred by his parents who
followed the general trend in colonial Sri Lanka in naming their children after
members of the British Royalty. In his adult life he renounced the name Alfred
and adopted the name Asoka – an apt name for the Buddhist Dharmaduta work he
was to undertake later. He attended Mahinda College, Galle. (a leading Buddhist
School in South Sri Lanka).

Upon the death of his father, both Asoka and
his elder brother, Dharmasena became partners of the family business. In 1948
they re-located their business to Colombo. The business expanded rapidly after
they had diversified it to become importers and dealers in Swiss watches. Asoka
made a number of business trips to Europe in the 1950’s and imported a range of
well-known Swiss watches such as Paul Buhre, Boilat, Henry Sandoz, Roamer and
Enicar, and the German pen ‘ Reform ‘. In the late fifties, P.J.Weeraratna and
Sons became the largest importers of Swiss watches to Sri Lanka and a leading
business establishment in the country.

Though Asoka energetically developed the
family business as it was the source of his income, his main interest lay in
work associated with the dissemination of the Buddha Dhamma and strict
cultivation of the spiritual life through meditation and abstinence. In fact
the life he led, it could be said, was fashioned in response to two fundamental
questions that he would have asked himself, very early in his adult life:

a) What is the life worth leading?, and

b) How can one best serve the Buddha Sasana?

First visit to West Germany

On his first business visit to West Germany in
1951 the young Asoka came across many people who had lost their families – lost
their wealth – lost almost everything. It left in him a deep impression. At the
time the widespread sentiment all over Germany was “kaput, kaput, alles
kaput (finished, finished, everything is finished).” Asoka also realized
the growing thirst in that country, which was slowly recovering from total
devastation in the Second World War, for an alternative moral and spiritual
philosophy, that placed a very high emphasis on peace and non-violence.

War weary Germans failing to find answers to
their personal and their country’s political problems, in their own Western
religious traditions, without resorting to violence, were anxiously seeking to
experiment with moral and ethical ideas emanating from the East.

About the same time in post-independent Sri
Lanka, Lankans for the first time after 450 years of colonial rule were
beginning to dream of new vistas unfettered by the restrictions of the foreign
dominated past. They were acquiring a new sense of historical destiny and a
growing confidence that they were capable of playing a larger role in world
affairs than hitherto was thought possible. Taking Buddhism to the West was one
of these ambitious ideas which fired the energy and imagination of the public,
particularly that of the Buddhist Sangha.

It was the convergence of these factors i.e.
the upsurge in interest ‘ to look towards the East ‘ of the Germans and ‘take
Buddhism to the West ‘ spirit of the Sri Lankans that led to the events that
were to follow.

Founding of the Lanka Dhammaduta Society

On his return from West Germany and convinced
of the potential for growth of Buddhism in that country, Asoka Weeraratna
founded the Lanka Dhammaduta Society, on September 21, 1952 which was later
re-named the German Dharmaduta Society on May 8, 1957. The idea of forming this
Society was conceived by Asoka when visiting Europe in 1951. Ven. Ñânatiloka
Mahâthera, the well known German Scholar monk was the first Patron of the

In 1953, Asoka Weeraratna, who was by this
time the Honorary Secretary of the Society, paid a second visit to Germany and
conducted a survey of Buddhist activities in that country. On this trip Asoka
travelled widely all over Germany, meeting leaders of Buddhist organizations in
various German cities and enlisting their support for the cause of establishing
the Buddha Sasana in Germany. He was also asked to inspect a suitable site for
a Buddhist Centre and Vihara, and a Settlement for lay Buddhists and Upasakas.

Asoka visited a series of German cities and
towns i.e. Hamburg, Munich, Berlin, Stuttgart, Bremen, Frankfurt, Bonn, Cologne
among others. In Hamburg, he met Dr. Helmut Palmie, President of the Hamburg
Buddhist Society. Dr. Palmie was a Pali Scholar and an ardent Buddhist. Dr.
Palmie convened a special meeting of the Hamburg Buddhist Society on 10th
March, 1953, on the occasion of Asoka’s visit. About 200 German Buddhists
attended the meeting which Asoka addressed. Asoka presented an ola-leaf book on
the Buddha Dhamma to Dr. Palmie as a token of good will from the Lanka
Dhammaduta Society.

In Munich, Asoka met Dr. Von Meng, the
President of the Munich Buddhist Society and attended a meeting of this
Society. Asoka presented a small Buddha statue to Dr. Von Meng. This Society
published a monthly journal devoted to the propagation of Buddhism called ‘
Indische Welt ‘ (or ‘ Indian World ‘).

In Berlin, there were two Buddhist Societies
in 1953. One was called ‘ Gessellschaft Fur Freunde Des Buddhismus ‘ or
‘Society of the Friends of Buddhism ‘. Herr. F. Knobloch led this Society. The
other Society was called ‘ Buddhistche Gemeinde ‘ Herr Lionel Stutzer was the
head of this Society. Asoka attended a meeting of this Society held at
Stutzer’s house. In Berlin, Asoka also met Dr. K. Schmidt, a Pali Scholar and
lecturer on Buddhism.

On his return to Sri Lanka in early May 1953,
Asoka Weeraratna prepared a report under the heading ‘ Buddhism in Germany ‘
giving his impressions of his visit to Germany and the details of his meetings
with German Buddhists. This Report was subsequently published by the Society in
both English and Sinhala and thousands of copies were distributed to the public
all over the country.

German Outlook on Buddhism

In this Report, Asoka Weeraratna says:

” The general outlook of Germans has
greatly changed after the war. The bitter experiences of two great wars have
taught them but one lesson, that ” All conditioned things are impermanent
“. If you stop to ask about the past war, a German would have nothing else
to add but the words ‘ Alles kaput ‘, which mean ‘ All destroyed ‘.

Buddhism with its elucidation of the Four
Noble Truths and the Three Signs of ‘ Impermanence, Suffering and Soul-lessness
‘ as the characteristic feature of all things, has appeared to them as the most
perfect teaching ever made known to mankind ‘.

Public Meeting at Ananda College, Colombo on May 30, 1953

The main purpose of this meeting held at
Ananda College was to make public the findings of the survey carried out by
Asoka Weeraratna on the current state of Buddhist activities in Germany and the
prospects for a Buddhist Mission to Germany before the Buddha Jayanthi
celebrations in 1956, and to embark on a membership drive.

Hon. Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara, Minister of
Local Government presided at the Meeting, which was largely attended and
comprised a very representative gathering of leading Buddhists.

Mr. Asoka Weeraratna in welcoming those
present explained the object of the meeting and presented a detailed account of
his survey of the present state of Buddhism in Germany made during his recent
visit. He pointed out the importance of Germany and the unique contribution it
has made towards the enrichment of European thought, culture and science. He
stated that Germany was the pulse of the European continent, and that the
largest number of Theravada Buddhists of Europe was at present found in

At the end of Asoka’s detailed presentation,
Hon. C. W. W. Kannangara moved the following Motion:

“This House is of the opinion that the
public of Ceylon should fully support the efforts of the Lanka Dhammaduta
Society for the establishment of the Sambuddhasasana in Germany and propagate
Buddhism in Europe “

Ven. Pandit D. Revata Thera seconded the
Motion, which was unanimously adopted by the House.

Next, Mr. C. D. A. Gunawardena moved the
following Motion:

“This House is of the opinion that the
Lanka Dhammaduta Society should take immediate steps to send a Buddhist Mission
to Germany before 1956 in order to commemorate the 2500th year of the birth of
the Buddha and further that the Society should take immediate steps to
establish a permanent Buddhist Centre in Germany comprising a Vihara, Preaching
Hall, Library, and Settlement for Upasakas”. Ven. Pandit Akuretiye
Amarawansa Thero seconded the Motion, which was unanimously adopted by the
House. Ven. Baddegama Piyaratana Maha Nayake Thera, Principal of Vidyodaya
Pirivena, Ven. Kirivattaduwa Pannasara Nayaka Thera, Principal of Vidyalankara
Pirivena, Ven. Nyanatiloka Maha Thera (the German monk) and Mudaliyar P. D.
Ratnatunga and Mr. H. L. Caldera all spoke in support of the work of the
Society and the great importance of sending a Buddhist Mission to Germany
before the Buddha Jayanthi celebrations in B.E. 2500 (1956 AD).

Ven. Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Maha Thera
added that one of the greatest services that one can do to the Sasana is to
help the Society to establish the Buddhist Dispensation in Europe with Germany
as its center.

Hon. C. W. W. Kannangara, Minister of Local
Government, speaking from the Chair said that he had known the Hon. Secretary
of the Society, Mr. Asoka Weeraratna from his boyhood and that he could vouch
for his integrity. The Hon. Minister added that the Society was going to serve
one of the greatest causes of Buddhism launched after the Great Emperor Asoka
of India. He therefore urged that all Buddhists should back the Society in
every way in order to help it to establish the Buddhasasana firmly in Germany
before the Buddha Jayanthi of 1956.

Friedrich Moller

One significant outcome of Asoka Weeraratna’s
visit to Germany in 1953 was the recruitment of Friedrich Moller, a teacher of
Rackow College, Hamburg to engage in Buddhist propagation work. The Society
paid for the passage of. Moller, who arrived in Sri Lanka on the 5th of June,
1953. He became an Upasaka and was placed at the Island Hermitage, Dodanduwa.
Ven. Nyanatiloka Mahathera instructed him. Moller was the first German trainee
of the Society. It was originally intended to train Moller in Dhammaduta work
for two and a half years and then make Moller a member of the first Buddhist
Mission to Germany that was planned to leave Sri Lanka in 1956 (the year of the
Buddha Jayanti). However he preferred to remain in Sri Lanka upon completing
his period of training and receiving ordination under the name of Bhikkhu
Nyanawimala. A pious monk, he was later known as Ven. Polgasduwe Nyanawimala
Maha Thera. He passed away in October 2005.

Ven. Nyanatiloka’s

The German Dharmaduta Society was
privileged to have had Ven Nyanatiloka Maha Thera as its first Patron. The
Venerable monk stands like a colossus in the history of Buddhism in Germany. He
was the first German to join the order of the Buddhist Sangha. He arrived in
Sri Lanka in 1903, became a monk in Burma in 1904, and later settled down at
the Island Hermitage, Dodanduwa that became reputed as an excellent Buddhist
Training Centre drawing spritually inclined and resolute individuals from many
foreign countries. It trained erudite and scholarly monks of the caliber of
Nyanavira, Nyanamoli, Nyanaponika, Nyanawimala, Lama Anagarika Govinda and
the like.

Ven. Nyanatiloka was hailed as the ‘
Buddhagosha ’ of Germany for his great literary output.

In a memorable message published in the
booklet ‘Buddhism in Germany ’ (1953) Ven. Nyanatiloka says as follows:

“ It was just 50 years ago in 1903, that I
came first to this Island which, since then, I have considered my spiritual
home, and I am therefore happy to be now a citizen of Sri Lanka. Yet, it will
be understood that it was the great wish of my heart to give the country of my
origin the best I possessed, i.e. the Dhamma. And to that end I have devoted
the greatest part of my 50 years in the Sangha. I did so in the firm conviction
that the Dhamma will take root in my home country, Germany, and may have a
great future there. Now it has been a very great pleasure to me to hear that
Mr. Weeraratna returned from Germany with the very same conviction, and was
able to report on lively Buddhist activities there. I believe that the chances
for Buddhist mission work in Germany are now greater than ever before. I am
therefore very happy that the Lanka Dharmadutha Society has undertaken that
great task of sending a well-prepared mission to Germany and to support
Buddhist work there, in general.

I greatly appreciate the initial work done by
the Society up to now, and particularly the sacrificing labour, devotion and
energy shown by the Founder and Secretary of the Lanka Dharmadutha Society, Mr.
Asoka Weeraratna. I should, indeed, regard it as a happy culmination of my life
if Vesak 1956, i.e. the year 2500, will see a well – established mission in
Germany, which will not fail to have a far-reaching influence on the other
Western countries, too. I wish the Society full success in their great and
noble enterprise. Selfless effort to give the Dhamma to those who are most in
need of it will be of great blessing to those who give and receive ”.


(May 25, 1953)

The Million Rupee Trust Fund

With great determination and energy, Asoka
Weeraratna launched in 1954 under the auspices of the Society a ‘ Million Rupee
Trust Fund ‘ for the permanent establishment of the Buddha Sasana in Germany,
as Arahant Mahinda had done it in Sri Lanka, and appealed to the public for
contributions. The Million Rupee Trust Fund was inaugurated at a Public Meeting
held at the Colombo Town Hall on September 6, 1954. Mr. Dudley Senanayake, the
former Prime Minister presided at this Meeting. The Board of Trustees of this
Trust Fund comprised the following persons:

Dudley Senanayake Former Prime Minister

H.H. Basnayake, Q.C. Attorney – General

H.W. Amarasuriya Proprietary Planter

H.Nelson H. Soysa Proctor S.C.

Asoka Weeraratna Merchant

Asoka Weeraratna contributed a sum of Rs. 25,
000 (Twenty Five Thousand Rupees) from his own personal funds to this Trust
Fund at the Inauguration of this Fund. This was in addition to the Rs. 1,000
(One Thousand Rupees) he had contributed to the Society on the day of its
formation i.e. September 21, 1952.

The Collection of Funds

With growing public support the Society soon
won the recognition and encouragement of the State and the Government declared
the ‘Million Rupee Fund’ an Approved Charity. Among the many benefactors who
contributed to this Fund, particular mention must be made of Dr. Walther
Schmidt, a German Buddhist, who left a valuable legacy of DM 550.000 to the
Society upon his death in 1957.

In 1955 the Government granted to the Society
an acre of vacant crown land in Bullers Road, Colombo on a 99 year old lease.
In August 1956, Hon. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, Prime Minister, declared open at a
ceremonial public meeting, amidst a large gathering, the newly built
Headquarters and Training Centre of the Society at 417, Bullers Road
(Bauddhaloka Mawatha), Colombo 7 consisting of a two-storeyed dormitory of 14
rooms, an Assembly Hall, Office and Library, built at a cost of Rs. 125.000.

First Buddhist Mission to Germany

The Society sponsored the first Buddhist
Mission to Germany, which left the Colombo Harbour by ship ‘SS Orantes ‘ on
June 15th, 1957. The three monks in this historic mission comprised Ven. Soma,
Ven. Kheminda and Ven. Vinîta. They were all recruited from the Vajiraramaya
Temple, Bambalapitiya. They were accompanied by W.J. Oliver Soysa, a close
associate of the Vajiraramaya monks. Dharmapriya Mahinda (formerly known as
Nelson Soysa) a Vice-President of the GDS had left for Germany earlier. Asoka
Weeraratna joined the Mission in Berlin having flown in from Colombo.

The purchase of “Das Buddhistische Haus”

One of Asoka Weeraratna’s most significant
contributions to the spread of Buddhism in the Germany was the critical role
that he played in the purchase of “Das Buddhistische Haus” built by
Dr. Paul Dahlke. This Buddhist Haus was considered the Center of German
Buddhism during Dr. Dahlke’s time.

Asoka Weeraratna personally negotiated with
the nephew of the late Dr. Paul Dahlke and overcame several obstacles that
stood in the way of the purchase of ‘Das Buddhistische Haus’. Asoka bought the
property in 1957 on behalf of and in the names of the five Trustees of the
German Dharmaduta Society. Asoka had to personally visit at his own expense the
owners of Das Buddhistische Haus who lived in an island called ‘ Sylt’(near
Denmark), in the extreme north of West Germany (over 500 km. from Berlin) to
negotiate the transfer of the land.

Asoka spent nearly six (6) months in Germany
in 1957 ( from June to December ) at his own personal expense attending to
various matters connected with the purchase of ‘Das Buddhistische Haus’ and the
settling in of the first Buddhist Mission of three monks comprising Ven. Soma
Thera, Ven. Kheminda and Ven. Vinita Thera. ‘Das Buddhistische Haus’ was
subsequently converted into a Buddhist Vihâra, by the German Dharmaduta Society
by providing residential and other necessary institutional facilities to
Buddhist Dharmaduta monks drawn mainly from Sri Lanka.

Since 1957 there has been a stream of Buddhist
monks from Sri Lanka and other countries, taking up residence in the Berlin
Buddhist Vihâra. Of these dedicated monks, special mention must be made of Ven.
Athurugiriye Ñânavimala Mahâthera who served as the Vihâradhipati of the Berlin
Vihâra for a period of 15 years (1966-1981).

Some of the more notable monks who spent more
than three years in residence were:

Ven. Badulla Shanthi Bhadra (1958 – 1962)

Ven. Talpitiye Anuruddha (July, 1964 – April,

Ven. Pandit Athurugiriye Sri Gnanawimala Maha
Thera (1966 – 1981)

Ven. Udugampola Wijayasoma (1968 – 1982)

Ven. Shanthi Deva (German Monk) (1972 – 1977)

Ven. Dikwelle Mahinda (1982 – 1991)

Ven. Attanagoda Pannavisudhi (1986 – 1990)

Ven. Walpola Kalyanatissa (1991 – 1994)

Ven. Rambukwella Devananda (1992 – 1998)

Ven. Rathmale Punnaratana (1996 – 2005)

Ven. Medhayo ( Scottish Monk) ( 2003 – 2006)

They have braved the cold winters of Europe
and the innumerable difficulties that prevail in Western countries,
particularly for Buddhist monks from Asia. These monks together with other
visiting monks and lay teachers comprising both men and women, using as their
base ‘Das Buddhistische Haus’ have contributed in no small measure towards
correcting centuries old negative impressions about Buddhism in the Western
consciousness, and have given solace to a large number of Europeans seeking a
philosophy that places an emphasis on self- reliance, non – violence and loving
kindness to all living beings. It is an inspiring achievement.

The Berlin Vihara currently has two resident
monks namely Ven. Dikwelle Seelasumana Thera and Ven. Wilachchiye Dhamma Vijaya
Thera. The Vihara is being administered under the supervision of Mr. Tissa
Weeraratna, Trustee and Vice- President of the German Dharmaduta Society.

A German assessment of the Contribution of the German Dharmaduta

In a seminal article on the state of Buddhism
in Germany, Dr. Hans Wolfgang Schumann, the reputed scholar and chronicler of
the history of Buddhism in Germany, states as follows:

” Another important Buddhist Centre is
the ” Buddhist House’ founded by Paul Dahlke in Berlin – Frohnau in 1924.
It survived World War II in a dilapidated condition and probably would have
been auctioned and dismantled if the Ceylonese ‘German Dhammaduta Society’
(founded 1952) which inherited a large sum of money from a German Buddhist had
not come to its rescue. The GDS purchased the house in 1958, renovated it,
furnished it with additional rooms and a good library, and stationed some
Ceylonese Bhikkhus (monks) there who take charge of regular lectures and
meditation courses.”

Refer Hans Wolfgang Schumann ‘Buddhism and Buddhist Studies in
Germany’, Maha Bodhi Journal, Vol. 79, (February – March 1971) page 99.

Dr.Schumann further says in the concluding
paragraph of the above named article as follows:

” Seen from another angle, however, Asian
Buddhist mission was successful. The organizational help which Buddhist Societies
in Asia, in particular Ceylon, in several critical periods have extended, has
saved the flame of the Dhamma in Germany from being blown out by the storm of
historical events. Isn’t this for the Germans reason enough to be grateful?

Refer Hans Wolfgang Schumann ‘Buddhism and Buddhist Studies in
Germany’, Maha Bodhi Journal, Vol. 79, (February – March 1971) page 101

Mitirigala Forest Hermitage

At a period of time when Buddhism had lost its
most supportive and protective structure, namely meditation, Asoka Weeraratna
turned his attention in the 1960s to the construction of a Forest Hermitage not
very far from Colombo to enable Buddhist Yogi Monks to meditate and contemplate
in a suitable and peaceful environment. The Forest Hermitage was named
Nissarana Vanaya where thirty fully equipped independent dwellings for yogis
were constructed for meditation. Based at Mitirigala, it became one of Sri
Lanka’s most respected meditation monasteries under the guidance of the
outstanding Meditation monk Ven. Matara Sri Gnanarama Maha Thera. It was
declared open in 1967.

In addition to Sinhala Buddhist monks and
laymen, many foreign monks and laymen alike had the opportunity to engage in
the practice of meditation with full dedication, unobstructed by other tasks
and duties. Some of them arrived from USA, some from Canada, England,
Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Portugal, Italy, Yugoslavia,
Czechoslovakia, Greece, India, Singapore, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Australia, and
New Zealand. Upon returning to their respective countries after a period of
training at Mitirigala, they themselves have given leadership to Buddhist
communities in areas of learning and practice of the Dhamma and meditation.

Asoka Weeraratna enters the Order of Sangha

Asoka Weeraratna resigned from the post of
Secretary of the German Dharmaduta Society in 1972 having served the cause of
Buddhism in that capacity for a period of nearly 20 years. Having completed the
construction of the Mitirigala Forest Hermitage, Asoka himself entered the
Buddhist order under the name Ven. Dhammanisanthi Thera in August 1972. It is a
remarkable example of renunciation of all worldly possessions given that in the
1950’s and early 1960’s Asoka was one of Sri Lanka’s leading businessmen.

Ven. Mitirigala Dhammanisanthi Thera spent 27
years in the Sangha most of the time as a forest monk. He passed away
peacefully on July 2, 1999 at the age of 80 years.

Being an ascetic monk he left detailed
instructions that his funeral should reflect the fundamental Buddhist concepts
– Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta. The funeral was conducted in a very simple austere
manner on July 3, 1999, the day following his death, at the General Cemetery
Kanatte in Colombo where his remains were cremated amidst the cries of
“Buduweva” “Buduweva” from a small crowd of faithful
mourners. Amongst them were a band of solemn monks from the Mitirigala Forest


Asoka Weeraratna’s courageous efforts,
sacrificial labours, unrelenting drive and limitless energy brought to bear on
whatever task he undertook is legendary. The full extent of Asoka
Weeraratna’s contribution to the spread of Buddhism in Germany awaits a
deeper study. However it is gratifying to note that his pioneering work in
sending the first Sri Lankan Buddhist Mission to Germany for the benefit of the
German people and thus paving the way for a series of successive Buddhist
missions thereafter, and his involvement in establishing the first
Buddhist Vihara in that country with resident monks, have contributed immensely
to the strengthening of religious and cultural links between Sri Lanka and

Senaka Weeraratna is the Honorary Secretary of the German Dharmaduta Society


BSP not to contest
local body polls: Mayawati

Lucknow: Smarting under poll debacle, BSP on Sunday
expressed fears about return of ‘goondaraj’ in Uttar Pradesh and said it would
not contest the upcoming local body polls, apprehending that the ruling
Samajwadi Party might target its candidates.

“SP’s record has always been bad in this regard. Under such circumstances
not only there is question on free and fair conduct of forthcoming local bodies
elections, but there is also apprehension of large scale violence and loss of
lives of our men, which I cannot tolerate,” BSP supremo Mayawati said
addressing a national workers convention here.

Announcing that the BSP had to take some strong decisions under the prevailing
circumstances, she ruled out BSP’s participation in any election in the state
which is not held directly under the supervision of the election commission or
the central forces.

“Barring Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, polls of
local bodies and panchayat are not held under direct supervision of the EC and
CPMF, but are conducted by state election machinery and police,” the
former chief minister said.

“As a result of this the BSP has decided not to contest any election,
including forthcoming local bodies elections, which is not held under the supervision
of the EC and CPMF…if any party leader or office-bearer participate in it
then he will be immediately suspended,” she said.

She said the decision was taken to protect the partymen from loss of life or

The BSP chief alleged that free and fair
elections were not possible under SP government with its administration and

She said the recently concluded elections had exposed the bitter truth that
despite a difference of 24.5 lakh votes, SP got absolute majority in the
Assembly as compared to BSP.

“Now the SP people are claiming election results to be a mandate in their
favour. They are considering that after this they have also got mandate to
estbalish jungleraj and goondaraj in the state,” she alleged.

She said after recent incidents of violence apprehensions of return of
goondaraj were being expressed.

“This is a matter of concern. It is a matter of special concern for the
BSP as partymen are being targeted,” she alleged.

Civic body polls are due to be held in Uttar Pradesh this year for which the
dates have not been announced.

Going into possible reasons behind the BSP’s defeat in UP, Mayawati said when
Congress raised the issue of Muslim quota, BJP opposed it and in the process
made an attempt to attract OBC votes.

“Wary of the fact that BJP may come to power, Muslims keeping in view weak
position of Congress transferred their nearly 70 per cent votes to SP
candidates,” she said.

Reviewing outcome of the assembly elections, she said difference of 24.5 lakh
votes between SP and BSP made unprecedented difference in 144 seats.

She said the political situation in the wake of assembly results of five states
would certainly affect state and national politics.

Noting that possiblity of mid-term polls cannot be ruled out, she said,
“It seems that the general elections of Lok Sabha would be held much
before 2014. Therefore, the party workers should remain prepared at all
levels,” she said.

Referring to issues of price rise, unemployment and corruption, Mayawati alleged
that anti-people and poor policies of Congress-led UPA government were
responsible for these problems.

She said time has come when power at the Centre should be in the “right
hands”. Mayawati also announced major changes in the organisation in the
state by dissolving all committees including bhaichara and zonal, party sources






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