Ven. Daranagama Kusaladhamma Nayake Thera : Pioneer of Lanka’s English Dhamma school | Sunday Observer

Ven. Daranagama Kusaladhamma Nayake Thera : Pioneer of Lanka’s English Dhamma school

Born in 1963, to parents Gunasena Kumarapeli and Caroline Nona Balasuriya, Ananda Neville Kumarapeli, later ordained as Ven. Daranagama Kusaladhamma Nayake Thera had his primary education at the local Daranagama Maha Vidyalaya, Siyambalape, Kelaniya and later at Royal College, Colombo.

Kumarapeli soon realized the emptiness of lay life in his sparkling youthful years and was ordained in 1985 under the tutelage of Ven. Koratota Vimaladhamma Nayake Thera, head of the Dhammika Meditation Centre, Hanwella.

Austerity and modesty were the guiding spirit of Ven. Daranagama Kusaladhamma Nayaka Thera’s disciplined life. He entered the University of Kelaniya and obtained the Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degree having offered Buddhism, Sinhala and Buddhist Culture as subjects.

The Ven. Thera’s sojourn at Sri Vajiraramaya, Bambalapitiya opened new vistas for him to uplift Dhamma education of students, as the Principal of the Vajirarama Dhamma School.

Together with most Ven. Piyadassi Nayake Thera of Sri Vajiraramaya, Bambalapitiya to whom he was a tremendous source of strength, Ven. Kusaladhamma Nayake Thera launched the country’s first ever English Dhamma School at the Sri Sambodhi Viharaya, Colombo 7.

Ven.Kusaladhamma Nayaka Thera began his Dhamma service at Sambodhi Viharaya under the guidance of his teacher, Most Ven.Piyadassi Nayake Thera after the passing away of Most.Ven.Panadure Ariyadhamma Nayaka thera.

The Ven.Thera also served as the Principal of Sri Vajirarama Dhamma School for a period of time.

His agenda for social work knew no bounds. Crutches, artificial limbs, wheelchairs to the disabled war heroes and milch cows saved from the abattoir to the poor, were only a few of the Nayaka Thera’s social services.

Following the demise of Ven. Piyadassi Nayaka Thera he became the custodian of the Sri Sambodhi Viharaya, Colombo 7 on August 18, 1998.

The Ven.Thera was re-ordained in 2005 under the late Most Ven. Udugama Sri Buddharakkhithabhidhana Maha Nayake of the Siyam Maha Nikaya of the Asgiriya Chapter.

Having set up the Udugama Sri Buddharakkhitha Social Development Foundation, the learned Thera launched the first Buddhist TV channel and the Radio Channel, and the Sri Sambodhi Daham Magazine.

Among his other landmark achievements are, Naranwala Gunaratne Sri Sambodhi Sadaham Sevana, and the Sri Sambodhi Meditation Centre in London, Daru Deri Sahana Fund, Peasantry Rehabilitation Program and particularly, Sri Sambodhi Sahana Yatra which readily helped victims of floods, droughts, landslides and other natural disasters.

Various pinkamas such as, Miuguna Maha Seya Vandanawa, Maha Bo Maha Seya Atamastana Vandanawa and Polonnaruwa Solosmastana Vandanawa were organized by him to achieve a Buddhist Renaissance in the country.

Apart from similar Buddhist activities in countries such as, India, Myanmar and Thailand, the Ven. Thera pioneered the dissemination of Buddha Dhamma in Far Eastern countries such as, China and Japan.

The erudite Thera was taken to M.D.Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston, Texas, for treatment a few months ago. Later, Ven.Kusaladhamma thera was treated in three private hospitals in Colombo before he passed away on March 3 at the temple.

May the erudite scholar-monk attain ‘Enlightenement’ as per his wishes!!!

The Buddhist Media Network

Translated by M.Kittampahuwa