Ven. Talgaswewe Seelananda Thero

(Index N0. DJ/97/E/ 843 )

Project report submitted to the University of Colombo

for the

Diploma in Journalism 1997/98


Chapter 1.(The coming to be of a great and good individual)

  1. Aim
  2. Communication
  3. Place of birth
  4. Parents and close relatives
  5. Education and employment
  6. Place of Ordination
  7. Education of the Dhamma and Discipline(Dhamma Vinaya)
  8. The Teacher , Preceptor and his brethren
  9. Launching the mission

Chapter 2.(A SocialRevolution toSamma Ajiva- Right Livelihood)

    1. The Revolution
    2. Two events of the day
    3. Bodhi Puja
    4. Sermons

Chapter 3. (Ven. Ariyadhamma and his language )

  1. The language he used
  2. Language as a medium
  3. Two types of language
  4. Five factors
  5. His goal

Chapter 4.(Ven. Ariyadhamma through the eyes of the people )

  1. Ven. Dodampahala Chandrasiri Maha Nayaka Thera
  2. Ven. Kottegoda Sri Nanalankara Nayaka Thera
  3. Ven. Yogawacara Bhikkhu Amarasiri
  4. GA Ratnapura (Mr. A.M.B. Weligepola )
  5. ASP Ratnapura (Mr. Sirisena Herath )
  6. An Indigenous Eye specialist, ( Mr.P.W.S. Weerasundara)

Chapter 5. (Conclusion )

* Bibliograaphy

* Index



In our daily life ,each and every one communicates with each other. There are many ways and means of communication. The birth of communication runs upto the birth of human being. We cannot live in society without communicate with others. The ways and means of communications are also different from person to person , place to place and time to time.

A message is to be sent through a medium . The success of the message mainly depends on the medium and the purpose of sending the message. The Ven. Panadure Ariyadhamma was a great communicator who used to communicate the message of the Buddha to the people. Bodhipuja was his medium to convey the message. It is an accepted fact that his pujas were very successful. He did a social change in the first half of the eighth decade in this Century.

As a part of the Diploma in Journalism course conducted by the University of Colombo I decided to look into the Ven.Panadure Ariyadhamma’s Communication .Preliminary instructions were received from our Prof. J.B. Disanayaka, and continued this investigation.

My conclusions are arranged at the end of the conclusionary Chapter in summarised form.

To make this effort a success many persons assisted me in various manner. First , in general I must thank , for all those who helped me to study on Ven Ariyadhamma .

When I informed that I need some information to study on this subject the devotees of the temple handed over some booklets and audio cassettes I sincerely thank them all.

While I was searching the facts , it was Bhikkhuni Bhadra and her brother Mr. Mohendra who introduced me to the Ven. Ariyadhamma’s family members and collected some important facts regarding his lay life and the relatives. I convey my thanks for both of them and bestow merit upon them . At the same time I sincerely thank all the members of the family of Ven. Ariyadhamma for being kind to give me necessary facts and information about the Thera.

Further to do this research I had to collect some information from the SLBC. For this purpose the Mr. Chairman ,Mr. Susil Jayanetthi ,and the members of the staff of the Library assisted me. May I thank them too.

My language instructor and the Dhamma Mitta Dr. Walatara put in his valuable time to read this thesis and correct some errors kindly for the purpose of refining my English .I sincerely thank him and wish him good health.

Finally , my sincere thank is due to Mr. Mohendra for finding some facts and binding this book in a presentable manner.

--Bhikkhu Seelananda



Sanasume randoratu arila lo satun

sit sisil vewa

Siyaluduk domnas sidewa daham


Gatalu indahita negena taramata

visadumat e smagavewa

Samadanaya sisila ativee loka

samaya udavewa!


Tunuruwan satu guna balen lowa

hemadenatama sapa lebewa

Waradi adahas napuru situvili met

sisil balayen mekewa

Lovata wadaati utum jivita budu

balen bohokal dinewa

Lovtura budu sasuna babali siyalu

yahapata udavewa!



(The coming to be of a great and good individual )


Great beings are born to this world to serve mankind ,only for a short period .They are era makers. Ven. Panadure Ariyadhamma was one such Buddhist monk who moulded his skills to guide the people in the dhammic way of life .

The Buddha said " O monks, go now and wander for the welfare and happiness of many ,out of compassion for the World, for the gain, welfare and happiness of gods and men." 1 Ven. Panadure Ariyadhamma Thera adhered this admonition of the Enlightened One and served mankind irrespective of social barriers. He was a great Communicator of the Dhamma who won the hearts of thousands of people of this country.

a. Aim

The aim of this thesis is to study his methods of Communicating the Dhamma in the latter part of the 20th century and to survey how far it was successful .

b. Communication

There are two types of Communication:

  1. Verbal Communication
  2. Non-verbal Communication

Today we live in a mega information society. Unlike the past today the whole World has become not a global Village but a global family. Certainly it is because of the development of modern dynamic electronic technology . When we think of communication the simple idea is sending a message .There is a message ,a sender and a receiver .Robert D. Murphy says in his book Mass communication and Human Interaction , "Communication is the essence of humanity. Through communication individuals bridge their islands of loneliness and through communication societies are formed. The ability to communicate is essential both to individual success and to group activity" 1 Little by little this basic principle of communication developed . The framework for the modern study of Mass Communication was established in 1940 by professor Harold Laswell. He said "The study of mass Communication is essentially the study of who says what to whom and with what effect"2 Through this background we can categorise the phases of communication as follows:

  1. Intra -personal communication
  2. Inter -personal Communication
  3. Group communication
  4. Mass Communication
  5. Satellite Communication

The whole World today is inter -twined by satellite communication so that we can send a message to a certain place in the world within six seconds. The World Wide Web, "The Internet" is the most powerful medium which we use today to communicate with, people in the World. This Concept of a network through satellites was introduced by the famous science-writer, Arthur C Clarke, in 1945.He said that with the assistance of three geo-synchronous satellites the whole system of communication could be changed by fixing a satellite over 22.300 miles in the sky. Making it a reality, the USA. launched the first satellite, "The early bird", in 1965. With it this new era of satellite communication emerged.

During the latter part of the 20th century Ven. Panadure Ariyadhamma performed a social and religious revolution through the Dhamma .Let us examine what and how he did it .When we examine his communication we can clearly see that the most important point is his language. Therefore in this thesis we will mainly consider the language he used in his communication . Unfortunately for this purpose there is not enough written material available in English . I had to obtain information, instructions and input from public sources . For this purpose I interviewed some people who were closely associated with Ven. Panadure Ariyadhamma Thera.

c. Place of birth:

Usually the first name of a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk gives the place of his birth. In like manner, "Panadure Ariyadhamma" introduces the place of his birth. He was born on 22nd of June 1940 and was then named ‘Buddhadasa’ meaning slave of the Buddha. The name given at the ordination by Ven. Kudawelle Wangeesa Maha Nayaka Thera ,the chief Abbot of the Gotama Tapovanaya Mulleriyawa, was Tapowanaye Atthakusala. But later on it was converted to "Panadure Ariyadhamma". Panadura is a township about 25 Km away from Colombo along the Galle Road.

This is the place where the great debate (Panaduravadaya)took place in 1873 between Buddhists and Christians. It was by reading the report of this great debate that the American Theosophist, Colonel Henry Steele Olcott, came to Sri Lanka in the latter part of the 19th century and assisted in many ways to establish a Buddhist system of Education.

Ven. Ariyadhamma was the second son of a family of seven members. His exact home-town is Nalluruwa . "It was his father who donated the block of land to build this temple of the village even before the birth of his great Son Lal Buddhadasa, who became the famous Ven. Panadure Ariyadhamma".said the eminent scholar, Ven. Pandit Kottegoda Sri Gnanalankara Nayaka Thera, the incumbent of Galawetimodara Temple, Nalluruwa ,Panadura.

His father was Mr. W. Solomon Fernando, a farmer, and mother was W. Linie Fernando, a very simple, devout, Buddhist woman. He had three brothers and three sisters .Of them, three sisters and only the elder brother are alive at present . They are very pious Buddhists and reluctant to gain fame from the name of Ven. Panadure Ariyadhamma. When I went to their home to get some information and to inquire about any material regarding this Venerable monk’s life, one of his sisters said "As our brother monk, told us we do not want to give the monk or the family publicity". But ,I thank them ,for the help they gave me .

e, Education and employment

Buddhadasa received his primary and secondary education at Siri Seewali Vidyalaya, Nalluruwa , Panadura;Cyril Jansz Vidyalaya, Panadura, and Vidyarathna Pirivena, Horana. During his childhood he was fortunate enough to associate with some eminent scholar monks like Ven. Panadure Ariyawansa, Keselwatte Chandamuni,Ven.Dr. Horana Vajiragnana, and Ven. Kottegoda Gnanalankara Nayaka Thera. He received his Dhamma Education at Sri Wimala Daham Pasala, Nalluruwa, Panadura.

Unlike the other youths in the prime age of youth , Buddhadasa was always attracted to the serenity of the temple, so that, after his education, he chose the most suitable place for work in the sacred city of Anuradhapura. He was employed as a clerk in the Preservation Board in accordance with his wish . Everyday, during his leisure, he took the opportunity to visit the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi Tree, and the image of the Buddha in concentration (Samadhi Pilimaya) in the Mahamevna Grove in Anuradhapura. He always admired the pleasant atmosphere of the Sacred City of Anuaradhapura and,devotionally, he paid his homage to the Buddha and meditated under the Bo tree and also where-ever possible.

For many years he was engaged in meditation and practised Buddhism as a layman . Ultimately he realised that it is not easy while living in a home to lead a holy life. The household life is close and dusty, the homeless life is as air(Sambodayamgaravaso rajapatho abbhokasova pabbajja)1.Thus he decided to go forth (pabbajja) from the home to homelessness.

f. Place of Ordination

As I mentioned in the preceding lines ,while he was in Anuradhapura he spent hours and hours meditating under the Sri Maha Bodhi Tree. Once he visited the "Kaludiya Pokuna" forest hermitage, at Mihintale, Anuradhapura, and there he met a dedicated Bhikkhu, Ven. Dodampahala Chandrasiri, who was highly engaged in meditation. He expressed his willingness to enter the Sasana to the Bhikkhu, who is the present Chief Abbot of the Gotama Tapovanaya hermitage, Kalapaluwawa, and the Mahanayaka Thera of the Sri Kalyanawansa Nikaya.

The Ven. Thera consented and directed him to his Master, the Ven. Kudawelle Wangeesa Maha Nayaka Thera . Mr. Buddhadasa accepted the monk’s advice and decided to meet the Ven. Maha Nayaka Thera.

During this time, from Anuradhapura, he wrote some very beautiful, poems. Most of his poems are devotional quatrains . As he wanted to enter the Sasana once he wrote some quatrains to his mother asking her permission to go forth(pabbajja). Those poems are very beautiful, meaningful and heartening.

This is the last poem of the series:

Apawenuwen vindapu duka behe Iwasanna

Mata ida denna amme oba sanasanna

Amme menna wenda oba buduwanna

danvat mahana wennata avasara denna

(O…mother it is very difficult to bear up how you suffered for us, now let me console you , I worship you my mother, may you attain Enlightenment, and please allow me to enter the Order).

One day he went to Gotama Tapowanaya Kalapaluwawa and sought the assistance of the Ven.Maha Nayaka Thera who was pleased to ordain him as his pupil and all the necessary things were arranged. With the consent of the parents he was ordained on the 22nd of December, 1966 ,under the tutelage of Ven. Kudawelle Wangeesa Maha Nayaka Thera, the then Chief Abbot of the Gotama Tapoavanaya and the Maha Nayaka Thera of Kalyanawansa Nikaya.

At the Ordination his name, Lal Buddhadasa, was changed into Tapowanaye Atthakusala .This newly ordained novice spent a few months under his teacher and practised meditation and got instruction from his teachers and brother monks to be a well disciplined and well conducted monk .

g. Education of the Dhamma and Discipline(Dhamma vinaya)

After his ordination he learnt the Dhamma and the discipline necessary for a Bhikkhu,under the most Ven. Nayaka Thera ,and Ven. Dodampahala Chandrasiri Thera. He learnt how to conduct Bodhi Pujas and how to preach the Dhamma from them and he himself developed his skills and inborn abilities to write poems and recite them melodiously. But neither did he want to pass any examination nor to learn Buddhist Philosophy at deeper levels. He strove to write simple but meaningful devotional religious quatrains .

In the same manner, from his novice-hood ,he did not like to stay in a particular place for a long time. Therefore he went from place to place , (in the different branches of the same Sect), in Sri Lanka and spent much time on meditation. Even after his higher Ordination and towards the end of his life he did not like to confine himself to one temple though he had been given many a temple to live permanently in . Some of his close associates whom I met in order to get information about his career, did not appear to like this kind of life led by him.

Actually , as far as I am concerned , this type of life reminds me one of the supreme qualities of the Enlightened Ones. According to the Dhammapada, Verse Number 91, they are not attached to any home. Just like swans that abandon the lake, they leave home after home behind.1 Did he put these noble qualities into practice?

From his novice-hood Ven. Ariyadhamma was very skilful in the use of his mother tongue in poetry. He himself developed his methods of composing devotional and religious quatrains on many occasions . According to some of his close friends, for this purpose, sometimes he was instructed by Anagarika Narada of Horana.

h. The Preceptor, Tutor and his brethren

There are two teachers for a novice to be looked after from his ordination.

As he was ordained under the Ven. Kudawelle Wangeesa Maha Nayaka Thera, he was his Upajjhyaya (superviser). The Ven. Ariyadhamma Always remembered his teacher(Guru) and respected him very much. When he was ready with what is to be learnt by a novice to obtain Higher Ordination he was conferred Higher Ordination at the Insight Meditation centre of Kanduboda.The Ven. Kudawelle Wangeesa Maha Nayaka Thera himself was his Tutor(Achaiya) in his Higher Ordination and his precepter(Upajjhaya) was the renowned Meditation Master Ven. Kahatapitiye Sumatipala Maha Thera.

Ven. Ariyadhamma was bred among some honest and very compassionate brethren like Ven.Tapowanaye Satimanta, Ven.Tapowanaye Santamanasa, Ven. Tapowanaye Mitabhani, Ven.Tapowanaye Sutadhara, Ven.Tapowanaye Damitha, Ven.Tapowanaye Niwata and Ven.Tapowanaye Samwara. As I came to know from the hermitage itself, they all had friendly attitudes towards each other and were with each other on very good terms . It brought to my mind, monks like the Ven . Anuruddha , Ven.Nandiya and the Ven.Kimbila who were in concord with mutual appreciation, in the forest of Gosinga Sala-tree. Once when the Buddha visited them, inquired whether they were all living in concord, with mutual appreciation, without disputing. Then they said "Surely ,Venerable Sir, we are living in concord, with mutual appreciation, without disputing ,blending like milk and water, viewing each other with kindly eyes"1. (kirodakibhuta annamannehi piya cakkhuhi vitudanta viharanti).

i. Launching the mission

Ven. Ariyadhamma had an unparalleled inborn ability to sing religious and devotional stanzas. He used his skills to recite religious and devotional stanzas and quatrains composed by himself praising the qualities of the Buddha, Dhamma and the Sangha. By composing poems he practised the art of melodious and devotional recitation . During the apprentice-ship of his early days in Tapowanaya, his teacher Ven. Kudawelle Wangeesa Maha Nayaka Thera used to conduct many kinds of Pujas like ‘Tesatta nana puja’ ‘Nanavandana’ ‘Nanapuja’ Buddha puja’ ‘Suvisi vivarana puja’ etc. But according to Ven. Chandrasiri Nayaka Thera, he did not conduct these pujas in poetic language . It was for the first time done in that manner ,when the Ven. Ariyadhamma himself used poetic language to conduct Bodhipujas. The Ven. Ariyadhamma learnt his teacher’s methods of conducting pujas and developed the style adopting it to his own method to its zenith. He did not want to confine his mode of conducting pujas, to the hermitage itself. So to go ahead, he opened a new chapter in the history of conducting Bodhipujas in Sri Lanka.

Fulfilling his great desire, he started the first Bodhi Puja at Jaltara Hanwella and since then for the 20 years of his life as a monk, he conducted Bodhi pujas in almost all Districts in the Country. Thousands and thousands from every stratum of society flocked to listen to his sermons and participated in his Pujas. Certainly it was like a miracle, where-ever and whenever he conducted a Bodhi Pujas the premises were over crowded and there was pin drop silence. When there is of an immense crowd it is natural for the Police of the area who strive to keep law and order to become excited and take necessary actions to protect the people and property. But the people who gathered for his Pujas never committed wrong . Therefore policemen of the area too were able to listen to his sermons without disturbance. They all got together and listened to his sermons patiently and devotionally.

According to some Police reports the rate of crime in the areas during the BodhiPujas had come down. Specially this was disclosed by the then ASP and the AGA of Ratnapura when I met them both for the purpose of this study . Once for the first time in history, the Commanders of the Army, Navy and the Airforce together with the I.G.P attended his Bodhipujas. It was in Ratnapura. The puja conducted in Ratnapura has been recorded as the most successful puja and sermon.

Surprisingly due to the most significant observation is that most participants at his sermons were the youngsters. Still we cannot say why such a vast number of people came to listen to him and participated in his sermons.

Certainly it was a revolution in thought and social structure of our society. We shall now try to study this revolution in thought which brought forth a new culture and religious practice specially among the Buddhists of this country .



( A Social Revolution to Samma Ajiva -Right Livelihood-)

a. The Revolution

Ven. Ariyadhamma initiated a revolution in the practice of Bodhipuja. His revolution was a revolution in the process of conception. He started a new trend in the Buddhist way of Bodhi-worship in Sri Lanka. People from every stratum of society respected him because of this different way of conducting Bodhi Pujas throughout the country and abroad as well. As a very good orator and a melodious reciter he was revered and blessed by all ,irrespective of their creed or caste.

He moved in society to teach people what is good and bad, what is wholesome and unwholesome, and what is right and wrong. In Sri Lanka it is a the duty of the monks to teach the people what is Dhamma and lead them on the correct Path. According to Buddhism people should lead a righteous life ( Samma Ajiva). Samma Ajiva or Right livelihood is a decent occupation that does not cause harm or injustice to others. The venerable Thera’s Right effort(Samma Vayama) was to established a righteous society where people fulfil their duties and obligations towards each other.

"What monks, is Right livelihood?" The Buddha said, "The noble disciple avoiding wrong ways of living, gets his livelihood by a right way of living. This is called Right Livelihood". It is the fifth link of the Noble Eight fold Path and the last member of the morality group. Right Livelihood entails abstinence from dealing in arms and lethal weapons, the animals for slaughter, trafficking in human beings, intoxicating drinks, and poison.1 In this present society there are so many kinds of activities which are harmful to society. Ven. Ariyadhamma understood this sordid situation of society and made a righteous effort to lessen types of wrong living. That was why he always emphasised the need for abstaining from intoxicating drugs, slaughter of animals and misconduct and the need to lead a contended life.

When we examine the Thera’s way of teaching we can clearly understand that he never wanted to dwell on abstruse aspects of dhamma like "rebirth" "Dependent Origination" or "Characteristics of Nibbana" etc. That is certainly not because of lack of knowledge, but because always his aim was to teach the word of the Buddha to the mass of people to live in happiness. His instructions were based on Samma Ajiva.

Using very simple language as well as a simple way of communication he brought to light the importance of the teachings of the Buddha and he instructed people how to lead a life without harming any one, in society. He spoke softly and gently but to the heart of the people. As a consequence of his sermons many robbers of the areas where the Bodhipujas were held became saints, butchers closed down their abattoirs and drunkards became teetotallers and there was concord. It is the opinion that most of these people sat under the same Bo-tree and observed the Precepts which set them going on a completely new chapter of their lives.

As a peerless communicator, this Venerable bhikkhu did not confine himself to the traditional way of conducting Pujas. He wanted to introduce some changes in the way of life of the people of this country. Therefore he introduced a new system which became very popular among the Buddhists in the country. Composing some lively and forceful four-line poems he talked to the hearts of the people. He conducted these pujas not to obtain any sort of material benefits . Both many monks and laymen agreed , during our conversations , that he never wanted any material or personal gain from the pujas.

It is true that many items were offered to him as "parishkara" but he never hoarded them for his personal use; he gave all these away instead. When I interviewed some monks who associated with him closely, revealed this fact as the special characteristic of his life. I must mention that again I see in him some of the supreme qualities preached by the Enlightened One. Surely these qualities are to be developed by oneself during one’s life time.

For a long time in Sri Lanka , Bodhi pujas were not so popular among the people. But after the introduction of this new way of reciting devotional poems and stanzas, it became very popular .Even most young monks followed his method of conducting Bodhi Pujas . Today in many temples in the country his method of reciting and conducting Bodhi Pujas is imitated by many novices and the monks alike. Though they follow the Ven. Ariyadhamma and the way he conducted pujas and recite the same stanzas they cannot come top the same tone. According to the natural phenomena in the world there should not be two things equal in totality.

b. Two events of the day

According to the sources of information ,in the 1980 s, among youngsters there were two popular events .

They were :

1.The Ven. Ariyadhamma’s "Ba" or Bodhi Puja and

  1. Victor Rathnayaka’s "Sa" or a musical show .

People from various parts of the country participated in both types of events. Where-ever and whenever this Venerable Thera’s melodious voice reverberated people of various strata of society came to listen to his sermons because using very simple language for the Dhamma he preached to the hearts of the people.

In his sermons often he concentrated on the subjects that mainly help to mould character. He used to explain the virtues of the Buddha(Buduguna) and the duties of children towards parents and the duties of parents towards their children. He simplified and translated some traditional stanzas, too, into Sinhala to adopt them to the common understanding. In his sermons he did not recite many Pali stanzas or used Pali prose . As I interviewed some of his friends and close relatives to understand his explicit way of preaching, some monks said that the success of his preaching was nothing but specially his simple and modified language as well as the unparalleled pleasant voice which was his endowment .

In order to understand his method of conducting Bodhi Pujas and giving sermons I listened to some recorded sermons from the SLBC1 and recorded cassettes and also read some printed articles and booklets in Sinhala . I also met some of his intimates and relatives.

C.Bodhi Puja

As said earlier this Ven. Thera conducted Bodhi Pujas in many parts of the Island. After his untimely death on the 27th of May 1986, many booklets and recorded audio cassettes came up in various forms . He never expected to popularise his humble and noble activities according to his Sister .But there was no way to control the growth of these as people wanted them and so more and more were produced . Now there are many cassettes and booklets on his method of conducting Bodhi pujas. At this point, I suppose that it is not inappropriate to discuss his method .

According to sources , for the Pujas all necessary things were very beautifully and neatly arranged by some of his followers who had been trained for the purpose very well by the Thera himself. They were all clad in white, and were very polite and courteous to all. Before the arrival of the Thera, they arranged every thing necessary, like trays of flowers, glasses of gilanpasa , pure water, catumadura, incense sticks, coconut oil lamps, "parishkara" ,etc.

The Venerable Thera reached the place at the proper time and after exchanging courteous greetings with the elder monks who were present and the people, he started his puja with homage to the Triple Gem. Thus he continued his puja composedly, and in a tranquil manner . In the end, in very simple language he delivered a sermon, mainly, on respecting parents and elders or on how to live in society.

While he talked to the young people he never forgot the elders and vice versa. For the better understanding of the way which he adopted I wish to present some of his very famous religious poems from a reliable booklet which was published by his family members for the commemoration of his 10th death Anniversary on the 27th of May 1996. This booklet was given to me by his sister herself.

  1. Ranvanpatin dalulana bodhiya

Nilvan patin kola lana bodhiya

Gautama munidun pitadun bodhiya

Apit vadimu jaya sirimmaha bodhiya

2. Dambadivtalaye hatagat bodhiya

Sirilankavata wedamev bodhiya

Gautama munidun pitadun bodhiya

Apit vadimu jaya sirimaha bodhiya

3 .Dambadiv talaye hatagat bodhiya

Sangamit teraniya gena wedi bodhiya

Gautama munidun pita dun bodhiya

Apitt vadimu jaya sirimaha bodhiya

4. Dambadiv talaye hatagat bodhiya

Mahamevnave ropita bodhiya

Gautama munidun pitadun bodhiya

Apit vandimu jayasiri maha bodhiya

5. Devlova deviyan pudakala bodhiya

Nalova satiyak pudalada bodhiya

Denodahak dena vandina bodhiya

Apit vandimu jayasiri maha bodhiya

6. Mama me maluwata yanava enava

Bomul bo pat mata pe genawa

Samawa di mage pav arawanava

Bo rajune mata awasara denawa

7. Udamaluwe bo raju weja bennawa

Deveni maluwe mal pahan d ilenawa

Welimaluwe maha senaga wadinawa

Matu matte api nivan dakinawa

8. Sudubudu ras daharin lowa nawa

Buduhamuduruvo honda bana kiwa

Pudami pahan mama siripada gawa

Bindabhawa duka senasuma himi vewa

9. Me mal men sita pirisidu vewa

Me mal men kaya gena wetahewa

Me mal muniduta puja vewa

Me mal se nivanata yomu vewa

10. Gunadam rasa apamana bava danimi

Nibanda ama guna sayure gilemi

Mahada sisil ganda kiliyak karami

Suwanda dumin mage budu himi pudami

11. Punsanda men kandu mudunen disvena

Ranwan sivrak porawa ras dena

Tun loketa met karuna wassana

Anna balan budu saminduge lassana

12. Samma sambudu daminduge mune

Lassana vena kisi malakat nene

Apapudadena mal miti miti gane

Saminduge idiriye paravena vane

13. Neta sanasilla budu himi ruwe dekimaya

Gata sanasilla budu himi hata wedimaya

Sita sanasilla budu himi guna sitimaya

Bhava sanasilla himi gat maga genimaya

14 .Karadara tamai jivitayaka hemadama

Maranayatai tikatika vat lanvima

Pina pamanai taramakavat sehima

Nivana tamai api katat sanasima

d. Sermons

Ven. Thera delivered sermons on many topics and those sermons are still popular and delectable to all in society. As I listened to some of his recorded sermons I can point out some special features and give their main characteristics .

Tape No.1:

Suppabuddham pabujjhanti sadagotama savaka….(Those disciples of the Gotama ever awaken happily ..Dh.296) is the topic for this sermon delivered over Radio on the 19th August 1979.1 In this sermon he uses very simple language and simple sentences .His way of talking is charming and very pleasant. There were similes and parables. He narrated some short stories of unfortunate people like Punna and Patacara. When one listened to his sermons one automatically concentrated on the subject and became very happy . He manipulated the language skilfully.

Tape N0. 2

This is a sermon specifically delivered to the young people . Nabhaje papake mitte na bhaje purisadhame ( Do not associate with evil companions; do not seek the fellowship of the vile. Associate with good friends; seek the fellowship of noble men. Dh. 78) is the topic of this sermon.

In this sermon he emphasises the importance of associating with a good friend . "Do not cast your friend away just because he has some faults ,you can mould your friend" he says . Here, sometimes, he uses verses from classical collections of poems such as Subhasitaya, and Lokopakaraya, "Guttilakavya" etc ,through which he stressed the need for a good friend . This was also a very forceful sermon by him for the younger generations.

Tape N0. 3

Aroggyamicce paraman ca labham …( Health is the precious gain …Atthassadvara Jatakaya-) is the topic for this sermon . In his sermons on most occasions , at the very outset he did not address the people ,like saying "Good friends" or "Ven. Sirs , Ladies and Gentlemen" etc. He directly comes to the point of the Dhamma and grasped the attention of the people very quickly. That is a very good characteristic of a good communicator. Arresting the mind of the people is very important in communication. The Communicator should grasp the audience as fast as possible to give his message . As he was very skilful in using the language here , in this sermon , he says in Sinhala:

" Sri saddharmaya tamai pinwatuni api labapu lokuma labhaya .Siyalu denama balaporottu wenne hite sanasillai "which means ‘Good friends, the Noble Dhamma is the highest good we gained . What we all expect is release for the mind’. In such a way he talked to the people in pleasing manner. What I want to stress here is that the term "Sri Saddharmaya" itself is a forceful word to start a sermon. He knew such things and used them in his sermons. On many occasions he pointed out that society was neither corrupted by the youths nor the elders but by vicious things that exist in society. From this expression we can understand how he sees the problems in society objectively. He did not put blame on persons but always strove to see things as they were.

He points out six doors for the well being of the people in this sermon. This is a sermon for both elders and the youth. Here he urges the need for conducting Sil Campaigns (Observance of precepts) for the youth.

Tape N0. 4

Attamhi jatamhi sukha sahaya…… "Good are friends when need arises; good is contentment with just what one has; good is merit when life is at an end, and good is the abandoning of all suffering" ( Dh. 331) is the topic of this sermon .At the Commencement he directly comes to the point and describes the importance of having a friend in need, contentment , merit and eradication of suffering. This is also a very important and affective sermon delivered by him.

Tape N0. 5

Brahmati matapitaro Pubbacariyati Vuccare… ( Brahma, O monks , is a term for father and mother. The early teachers ,… -A.N.iv.54 Sutta) is the topic for this sermon delivered some where in Kekirawa in the central Province. The people were mostly farmers there and emphasising the need of fulfilling the duties and obligations of parents and children he preached this sermon. He says "Ape jivitavala asaranakama sehenna nati kale demapiyo" which means it was our parents who expelled helplessness in our lives. In a like manner he explained the noble qualities of parents in this sermon.

All these sermons were very productive and beneficial to the general public in the country .Another feature of his sermons is that there is no sign of wanting to gain cheap popularity through his sermons . He said what was beneficial to the people. But he did not scold others and did not make enemies .On the other hand, as a fact , he did not rebuke other religious teachings in this country. Therefore not only Buddhists but also many people from other faiths, too, came to listen to his sermon. He mostly preached on the Supreme qualities of the Buddha and the duties of parents and children.

While he preached the qualities of parents he practised what he preached . According to his sister he treated his parents very well but, she said, "he never gave things to his brothers and sisters as a monk of family loyalty. One occasion he got the assistance of a doctor to his sister who was expecting a baby , but finally said " I helped my sister considering her as a mother". This Ven. Thera always practised loving kindness to all beings. That was why he was often happy and contended. His pujas was 100% successful because he practised what he preached .

During his childhood once he had preached as a monk using a big breadfruit leaf as a fan though he had not the fan used by the monks while they were preaching or chanting. From the early days of life he was very keen to understand the great qualities of the Buddha. Being a monk he started to seek the Dhamma and spread it throughout the country. His message given to the Nation about one decade ago was "Do not divide people, respect them each other". He said "help the people of the world because it is considered as a special puja to the Buddha (Jagaduka krutirewa Buddhapuja).

The Ven. Thera offered many things in the name of the Buddha ,Dhamma and the Sangha . Buddha puja and Bodhipuja both conveyed satisfaction and mental relief for himself and the whole mass of people alike for many years. Let us now study the impact of his great offerings of Bodhipuja to the society of his time .



( Ven. Ariyadhamma and his Language )

The name "Panadure Ariyadhamma" was on the lips of many a Buddhist in the country during the latter part of the eighties of the 20th century in Sri Lanka. Undoubtedly he started a "Golden Era" which cannot be erased from the hearts of Buddhists for the many years to come. It was really a social change. As I understand, this revolution of thought was successful because of his exemplary character and the gift for expressing ideas .

When we examine the social impact of his pujas and sermons we cannot forget his powerful and very effective, as well as very simple language. Most people accept that the success of his communication was mainly because of his incomparable and inalienable language. Therefore let us first examine his language through which he brought about a social change .

1.The Language he used

How did he use language effectively in his communication of the Dhamma?. What were the significant features in his language?. And how far was it exemplified in his Dhamma Communication?. These are the questions that have to be considered .

To answer these questions, I do not have to guess or use my imagination. I did some research in and observation of his sermons and also collected the necessary facts and figures from the people who associated with him very closely .Ven. Thera talked to the people everyday. He talked on the Dhamma. He never misled people through the words. He used language very carefully and effectively.

2.Language as a medium

Language is a means for one to communicate with himself. Language is the food of life. It is the golden thread through which man and man is bound. But, it is this same language that pierces the heart of the people like a sharp dart . When we use it in our day-to-day activities, it becomes flexible, and when we do not use it , it remains a stiff tool. Language is the medium through which a culture and a system of Education are transferred from generation to generation.

According to the Professor of the Department of Sinhala in the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka , Prof. J.B. Disanayaka ,language is just like a being. It has a birth, growth, and a death . Like a being it has a face. When the being grows, its face changes little by little. In the same way the face of a language changes from time to time. 1

In the whole World only man can speak and write a language. Through language he expresses his views and feelings. "Words and other symbols are the building blocks of a communication system, but they can convey only rudimentary information unless they are used together.", says Robert D. Murphy, University of Kentucky, in his work ‘Mass Communication and Human Interaction’1 . Ven. Panadure Ariyadhamma used words, sentences, and poems, etc in very useful manner. His words had a power to form a character because of that those who listened to him could not neglect his kind instructions.

3.Two types of Language

Ven . Panadure Ariyadhamma Thera used his words effectively and forcefully to give the message of the Buddha to the mass of the country.His words and sentences are not verbose . As a skilful preacher he used words mindfully. When we study his language we can categorise his language into two groups .

They are:

  1. Poetic Language and
  2. spoken Language.

As I mentioned earlier, Ven. Ariyadhamma composed poems in different metres, using various rhythm and rhymes . Specially in poetic language, there are certain fixed arrangement of accented and unaccented syllables. When one composes poems these are to be taken into consideration by oneself .The regular succession of weak and strong stresses are rhythms in poems . Rhymes are , sameness of sound of the endings of two or more words at the ends of lines of verse. Ven. Thera used them in his poems competently. His poems are meaningful and heartening. From his childhood he cultivated his own way of expressing a situation in poetic language.

Most of his quatrains are short but sweet, because he expressed ideas naturally. He did not attempt to forge special terms to put into his poems. What he wanted was not to use big or classical words in his poems but to express his ideas very clearly in order that the common people may understand . Therefore his poetic language is effective and very successful.

In his poetic language , He did not adhere to the tradition. For example, theoritically , in Sinhala poetic language, Sanskrit terms like "Dharma, Karma, Sraddha, Shanta" etc are not used in poems . But the Ven. Thera used these terms also successfully in his quatrains. See this example:

Dharma vadi bawa sit tulanava

Dharma kami pirisak etivewa

Dharma rasen apasit senasewa

Dharma balaya tun lowa babalewa

Shanta suvisi guna sihi vewa

Shanta suvisi guna kiya vewa

Shanta suvisi guna raja vewa

Shanta nivanama mata himi vewa

When we examine his language further, through his recorded sermons we come across such specific features as rhymes, rhythm , alliteration, intonation , elegant expression etc. Of course he used language very powerfully and precisely. Therefore his Dhamma communication was very successful. That was why thousands of people flocked to listen to him. Most of his poems are mainly focused on the Buddha, his supreme qualities and the sublime teachings of the Buddha.

Whenever he expressed his feelings ,he expressed it through the simple poetic language. So the people could understand it very well and as a result many people became his loyal and devout followers. They were not only the people at grass roots level but also in the hierarchy of the Government , such as the administrators ,MPs., Ministers and even the Prime Minister. In the eve of his life ,the then Prime Minister, himself was one of the chief devotees .

Whoever listened to his sermons, automatically tended the path which he emphasised by conducting Bodhi Pujas and Sil campaigns throughout the country.

4. Five factors in speech

In his language he never used jargons of the language. According to the teaching of the Buddha, there are 5 factors to be considered in using a language. They are as follows :

  1. Kalena bhasitam ( speaking at the proper time )
  2. Sacca ca bhasitam ( speaking what is truth )
  3. Sanhaca bhasitam ( Speaking gently )
  4. Atthasanhitena bhasitam( speaking connected with what is good)
  5. Metta cittena bhasita.( speaking with a mind of loving-kindness) 1

Admonishing the monks, in the Kakacupama Sutta, of the Majjhima Nikaya, the Buddha said, " Bhikkhus, when others address you ,their speech may be timely or untimely, true or untrue, gentle or harsh, connected with good or with harm, with a mind of loving-kindness or with inner hate. Herein, Bhikkhus , you should train thus: ‘Our mind will remain unaffected ,and we shall utter no evil words; we shall abide compassionate for their welfare, with a mind of loving-kindness, without inner hate. We shall abide pervading that person with a mind imbued with loving-kindness; and starting with him, we shall abide pervading the all- encompassing world with a mind similar to a catskin bag, abundant , exalted , immeasurable, without hostility and without ill-will. That is how you should train ,Bhikkhus" 1

This kind admonition of the Buddha is very important regarding the using of words and sentences. One should speak at the proper time, otherwise his or her words are useless. When one speak one should talk what is true because falsehood has no permanence . If one’s speech is in harsh language people cannot endeavour it, therefore one should speak gently. Whatever one talks, if it is not useful ,not beneficial, such an utterance is not welcomed by the people. Finally, when one speaks out, one should think of others and should pervade loving-kindness towards them .These five factors are very important in our daily life. Ven. Ariyadhamma ,in his career ,while talking with the people and conducting his pujas manifested such qualities through his language .

It is a well known fact , that, in his spoken language , the Ven. Thera spoke gently and with loving-kindness to influence for the good. Personally I have seen him and talked with him. His way of speaking reminds me of a phrase in the Brahmajala Sutta( The supreme Net) and the Samannaphala Sutta( The fruits of the homeless life) of the Digha Nikaya and also in some other Discourses of the Buddha. Referring to the life of a monk ,it explains, how he speaks refraining from harsh speech, It is said " He speaks whatever is blameless ,pleasing to the ear, agreeable, reaching the heart, urbane, pleasing and attractive to the multitude." (ya sa vaca nela kannasukha pemaniya hadayangama pori bahujana kanta bahujanamanapa tatharupam vacam bhasita hoti).2

5.His goal

According to many people whom I spoke to , his goal of conducting pujas was to generate faith and wisdom in the mind of the people and educate them to lead a good life. We all have a goal in our activities. In order to achieve our goal we fulfil certain objectives one by one ,and when these objectives are fulfilled, the task would be necessarily successful .

He had a vision . He believed that the Dhamma should be taught to the people by germinating faith in them first. In order to achieve his goal he performed Bodhipujas and delivered sermons.

In Buddhism there are two things to be generated and cultivated by oneself to tread on the Path of the Buddha .

These two are:

  1. Saddha (faith)
  2. Panna (wisdom )

Of the two ,the Ven. Panadure Ariyadhamma Thero mainly concerned himself with faith, because faith is an indispensable factor in the teaching of the Buddha. For the attainment of the final knowledge one should undergo a gradual training, gradual practice and gradual progress (Anupubbasikka, anububbakiriya, anupubbapatipada). According to the Paharada Sutta(The Similie of the Ocean) of the Anguttara Nikaya , it is compared to the Ocean which slopes away gradually, falls gradually, inclines gradually, and not in an abrupt way like a precipice.1 For this purpose of gradual understanding of the Dhamma and following of the path faith is of very significant. It is the forerunner .Those who have faith in the Buddha, have faith in the highest;(Aggappasada) and for those who have faith in the highest, the highest result of action will be theirs. Among all things conditioned, the Noble Eight-fold Path is reckoned to be the highest of them all. *

According to the Kitagiri Sutta of the Majjahima Nkaya, the one who has faith (in a teacher) visits him; when he visits him, he pays respect to him; when he pays respect to him, he gives ear; one who gives ear hears the Dhamma; having heard the Dhamma, he memorises it; he examines the meaning of the teachings he has memorised; when he examines their meaning, he gains a reflective acceptance of those teachings; when he has gained a reflective acceptance of those teachings, zeal springs up in him; when zeal has sprung up, he applies his will; having applied his will ,he scrutinises ;having scrutinised ,he strives; resolutely striving, he realises in the body the ultimate truth and sees it by penetrating it with wisdom.1

In order to understand the teachings of the Buddha correctly one’s faculty of faith(Saddhindriya) should be balanced with that of wisdom(Pannindriya).

Buddhism precisely says that one should not accept anything by mere faith .One is most strictly forbidden to believe or accept any teaching of the Buddha by mere faith.2 That is blind faith or baseless faith(amulikasaddha). As human beings we can think out and understand what is right and what is wrong. A Buddhist is said to have faith in the perfect One’s Enlightenment or in the triple Jewels by taking his refuge in them3

Panna is wisdom .It is endowed with knowledge or insight, and possessed of the highest cognition. Wisdom is to be cultivated by oneself to realise Nibbana; meditation is the medium of cultivating wisdom . Faith is its counterpart .That was why the Ven. Panadure Ariyadhamma Thera attempted to breed both the seeds of faith and wisdom in the mind of the people, conducting Bodhipujas and sil campaigns throughout the country .

There are four things conducive to the growth of wisdom, namely: 1. Association with noble-minded persons 2. Hearing the Good Dhamma 3. Wise reflection and 4. Leading a life in accordance with Dhamma.1 His aim was successful because of the language he used in his sermons and pujas. Everyone accepts that he used to conduct pujas and sermons in simple language . But it was very powerful and effective.

In society most people’s minds are not acute , so they cannot understand the philosophical teachings . But they can understand how to offer flowers, gilampasa and incense to the Buddha. They can understand how to decorate the environment of the Bo-tree and pour some water on the root of the Bo-tree. That was the medium he sued to mould the common people. As most are the common people in the country, they flocked in large numbers to perform pujas with him. So considering all these we can now come to a conclusion that the Ven. Panadure Ariyadhamma’s Bodhipujas were very successful because of his medium of communication. Simple, but very powerful language , adopted by him was his medium to convey his message to the people.

With this background we can now read some interviews to understand what the people say about him and his unprecedented method of conducting Bodhipujas and sermons.


The Ven.Ariyadhamma’s words in Sinhala

"Ras kara kara yama novei kalayutte, as kara kara yamai. Samahara udaviya dadiya hala hala hambakaranawa e labuna dekin satutak natiwa kandulu hala hala merila yanawa.

Pinvatuni ,

Me loke ath herima hemotama lesi ne. as kara kara yana eka jivitaye hugak duk dila purudu karannata one deyak. Raskarana eka pinay uthsahayai dekam uda siddha wenawa. Ewa as karana eka e taram lesi deyak hetiyata salakana jana samajayaka, yamak as karakara yanta yamkisi kenekuge jivitaye huru purudu wenawa nam eka bodhisatva caryawak"


(Ven. Ariyadhamma through the eyes of the people )

In our mega information society, public opinion is highly valued in any country .What people say is more reliable than what the media says in a country . In other words, public opinion can be accepted as more reliable, in any case. Normally people say what they perceive through their senses. They do not want to distort what is truth. Most probably truth is distorted by politicians and some media-men for their own benefits. But according to the rules of ethics to Journalists, act number 162/5A of 14th October in 1981, Journalists must refrain from distorting the truth by any act of commission or wilful omission. In Buddhist perspective, there are three distortion or perversions(vipallasa) of reality. They are ,perversion in perception(sannavipallasa ),perversion in thoughts (cittavipallasa) , and perversion in views(ditthivipallasa).1 In an ultimate sense, the people are the reliable source through which we can come to a conclusion on any issue.

We can say many things about a particular person or a thing. But sometimes it is not palatable to the readers. Readers are always intelligent enough to understand what is going on in their environment . Today our press and electronic media , provide us sometimes, distorted news ,facts, and information .But people are well aware of what that truth is and what is false.

In this survey we hope to get some accurate, balance and clear information from the people who were associated with Ven. Ariyadhamma and those who participated in his Bodhipujas and the sermons.

Let us now interview those who were closely associated with Ven. Ariyadhamma Thera:

1. Ven. Dodampahala Chandrasiri Maha Nayaka Thera, the abbot of the Gotama Tapowanaya, Kalapaluwawa, and the Maha Nayaka Thera of the Sri Kalyanawansa Nikaya : (He was interviewed by me on 02.12 .1997 at Tapowanaya , Kalapaluwawa, Rajagiriya. )


  1. Ven. Sir, will you tell us how did you come to know the Ven. Panadure Ariyadhamma Thero?

A. Well , first , I came to know him at Kaludiyapokuna hermitage ,Mihintale, Anuradhapura. In 1966 ,one day , a gentleman came to me when I was staying at the hermitage and, after a brief discussion he told me that he wanted to enter the Sasana .He was none other than, Lal Buddhadasa, who was known as the Ven. Panadure Ariyadhamma after his ordination .

Q. Did you agree to ordain him as your pupil?

A. No, as my teacher Ven. Kudawelle Wangeesa Maha Nayaka thero was living at Kalapaluwawa hermitage at that time, I directed him to my Teacher.

Q. So, was he ordained at Kalapaluwawa hermitage ?

A. Yes , he was ordained at Kalapaluwawa Tapowanaya hermitage .

Q. Did you take part in the ordination ceremony ?

  1. Yes , I participated in it.

Q. What was the name given to him at his Ordination?

A. The first name of all the monks of this hermitage have been given as "Tapowanaye" . Therefore he was called "Tapowanaye Atthakusala".

Q. Then ,Ven. Sir, how did he come to be known as Ven. Panadure Ariyadhamma?

A. It was after his higher Ordination that his name waschanged according to his wish.

Q. How long was he living here, in this hermitage?

A. Only a couple of months .Afterthat he wanted to go to another meditation centre. He did not like to stay at one place for a long time

Q. Many people say that his Bodhipuja had a protective power; can you comment ?

A. Yes , his pujas were powerful because of his new way of conducting it, and he did it genuinely . He planted faith or confidence in the heart of the people so that, that confidence of itself, gave them protection .

Q. Ven. Sir, some say ,that the rate of crime in some areas of the country went down because of his Bodhipuja ; do you know of any such a places ?

A.Yes, in some places Bodhipujas were held for days and weeks. I think,specially it was in Ratnapura, where crimes had come down as a result of his Bodhipujas ;the then ASP of Ratnapura had mentioned that there had not been any serious criminal activity during the period he conducted his Bodhipujas.

Q. Did you see anything extraordinary , in his way of conducting Pujas?

A. Yes. Initially , this method of Buddhapujas and Bodhipujas started here in this hermitage .It was a method of our Guru, the Nayaka Hamuduruvo. He performed many pujas like Gnanavandana and Gnanapuja , but he did not use devotional poems in his pujas. Ven. Panadure Ariyadhamma learnt these methods very well from our Teacher, and he used some poems too in his pujas. He had a very good knowledge of Sinhala. He used language skilfully, so as to be able to compose poems. When he adopted poems in his pujas , people praised it and participated in large numbers in the Pujas.

  1. As far as you are aware , Ven. Sir, what is the main reason for the success of his Bodhipujas and sermons?

A.Well ,to be frank, as far as I know , the reason or the secret of the success of his pujas is nothing but his powerful ,simple, and poetic language .

Q .Did, he himself compose these poems or did anyone else help him to do so?

A. Most probably he himself composed his poems, but if he wanted to know any thing about the subject from any monk or a layman he did not hesitate to ask for their assistance . He had very good relation with the monks of the area. Whatever he collected as offerings the pujas he gave away among the monks and the poor.

Q.Some say that he collected material goods from his Pujas; how do you see it , Ven. Sir?

  1. No, no, it is wrong; I should say that he never wanted to collect any thing from his Pujas. If he wanted to, he could have collected billions . But at the end of his life, though he was living in Colombo 7, he had nothing. Even the robe to cover his dead body was carried by us from this hermitage .But in one sense , it is correct to say that he obtained a lot. Yes ,he won a lot of people.

Q . Now Ven. Sir, in Buddhism there are mainly two things to be cultivated, faith and wisdom. As you see it what was the aim of his Bodhipujas , was it to generate faith or wisdom ?.

A .Through his Bodhipujas faith was mainly generated .If was generation of wisdom it was to ensure the continuity of the same way of conducting pujas even after his death. But I think he converted people to wisdom by skilful means.

Q.I have heard that he went abroad to conduct the same pujas in the countries like Thailand and Burma. It is crystal clear that his Bodhipujas and sermons were very popular among the people of this country. Ven. Sir, was his way of conducting puja a success abroad?

  1. I don’t think, as far as I know, that his way of conducting pujas and sermons were not successful in abroad .

Q. Finally, Ven. Sir, What can you say about his rebirth ?

A. We know very well that he led a purified life. He must have obtained a good rebirth .

  1. Ven. Kottegoda Sri Gnanalankara Nayaka Thera, Galawetimodara Temple, Nalluruwa, Panadura.(He was interviewed on 11.12.97 at his residence Nalluruwa ,Panadura )


Q.Ven. Sir, I came to know that these temple premises were donated by Ven. Panadure Ariyadhamma’s father. Can you please tell us how this came to pass?

  1. Well , it was in 1934 ,even before the monk’s birth ,that his father, Mr. Solomon Fernando, donated this 14 perch block of land to be used for a temple. By that time I was a novice and my teacher was alive. In the 1940s,when Ven. Ariyadhamma’s mother was pregnant ,expecting him , I myself went to his home and chanted seth Pirith. And also it was I who got him to read the first letter according to the custom. Certainly ,this family is a devout Buddhist family of this area. Until his death, Mr. Fernando loved the temple very much and he helped us in many ways.

Q.Ven. Sir , he had received his primary Dhamma Education from

Wimala Daham Pasala . Was it here in this temple ?

A.. No, it is from Bodhirukkharama Road, close to Pinwatte , that temple is the Jayabodhi Viharaya .

Q.Now, Ven.Sir, This is the closest temple for him to get ordained. Do you know why he selected a temple far from here to get ordained ?

  1. Yes, as I told you, these temple premises were donated by his father. If he was ordained here in this temple people might have said that he was ordained to be the heir of the father’s donated property. So before he was ordained he had to go to many temples seeking a proper place to be ordained .Ultimately he went to the Tapowanaya hermitage, at Kalapaluwawa, and get ordained there. On that day I also participated in the ceremony and even delivered a speech. After his ordination and higher Ordination, he started his Bodhipujas and continued them till his untimely death.

  1. Ven.Sir, Bodhipuja is not a new concept to the people of this country because they have been conducting Bodhipujas for many thousand years. Then what is the difference of his new approach to the Pujas?
  1. Well , Bodhipujas have been conducted for many year in Sri Lanka. Actually ,it is difficult to say when and where it started first. But earlier it was confined to the temple itself. Mostly it was between the monk of the temple and the devotees. I should say, it was Ven. Panadure Ariyadhamma who introduced it to the whole mass of people . Surely it was a new approach in conducting Bodhipujas.

Q. Whatever his pujas were they were popular; Ven. Sir, what are the extra-ordinary features that one sees in his Pujas?

A. The extra-ordinary features that I came across was his simple poetic language ,and his inimitable melodious voice .That is why many youngsters flocked to listen to him. It is because of his voice people were attracted to his pujas. He also led an exemplary life.

Q.Can you point out any other reason for the success of his Bodhipujas?

A.Ah…. I think , mainly it is because of his simple and powerful language. His language is very simple and understandable to all. He did not use many Pali stanzas and prose.

  1. How do you see the impact of his Bodhipujas on society?

A.. As I see it ,if he had been alive for some years more , the youth unrest of the JVP in 1988-1989,may have been prevented, at least to some measure.

Q. In Buddhism there are two things to be cultivated by one self, namely faith and wisdom . What do you think, Ven. Sir , of the two, which one was generated by the Ven. Ariyadhamma through his Bodhi pujas?

  1. Buddhism is a process , one should first cultivate faith and then wisdom , Ven. Ariyadhamma, mainly focused on , faith in the mind of the people and then converted it to wisdom. By conducting pujas he promoted faith and at the end of the pujas he encouraged people to meditate for a few minutes . That is how he paved the way for wisdom.

Q.Now. Ven.Sir, Did he intend any sort of personal gain through his pujas.?

A.No, no . I never saw such endeavour in his life. Whatever he did gain as "parishkara" he distributed among the monks of the area or directly gave them to the poor.

Q. My last question is ,Ven. Sir. as Buddhists we talk of rebirth. Can you predict of his next birth?

A.. Well, as we all know he led a very good life . Therefore his next birth, according to Buddhism , has to be favourable .

3.Ven. Yogavacara Bhikkhu Amarasiri, Meditation Institute Parama Dhamma Cetiya Ratmalana. (He was interviewed on 28.03.1998)


Q.Ven. Sir, first of all ,could you tell us ,when you first came to know of Ven Panadure Ariyadhamma and how ?.

A.I came to know Ven. Panadure Ariyadhamma Thero during the late 1970s , when I was teaching at Rajagiriya. I remember the first Puja that I saw , when I was passing Sri Parakumba Pirivena , kotte .The temple was fully crowded and I stopped to see, for the fist time ,how this procession and the pujas were organised . As I was very impressed with how he conducted pujas , on some occasions I also participated in a few in various places in Colombo suburbs .

Q. Did you notice any special features in his pujas , which you have never seen in others,?

  1. Yes, one special feature that I noticed was that unlike in our present day Pujas , where only the older ladies assemble to take part, in the Ven. Ariyadhamma’s pujas it was the youth who lead, both males and females. They took the lead .The other feature was there were no unnecessary decoration or preparation for the pujas. The stage was arranged with the pictures of the Buddha and with offerings like incense, flowers, gilampasa. When they went in precession they all had some flowers or incense stick in their hands as offering. When they came to the temple, all the offerings were handed over to Ven. Ariyadhamma and it was he who placed all the offerings on the stage .That I noticed.

And from the time he started the puja,( sometimes it last for two or three hours), the whole crowd was very silent. That is another special feature. He had a charming voice ,it was very melodious and he had a peculiar style of enchanting the people with his voice and recitation . Everybody, whatever his religious adherence, joined . I should say they were tamed by his voce . I felt that he had been born for this purpose. He may have practised this as parami in his previous life. Another thing I noticed was that he was using this type of puja for a purpose, the purpose of taming the people.

  1. Your point is very clear. Ven. Sir. , I have heard that the rate of crime in the country had come down as a result of his pujas. Have you ever heard of a certain place where crime had been reduced as a result of his pujas.
  1. Well, as far as I can remember , during the late 1970s ,most of the successful pujas were held at Ratnapura , Galle, Kalutara, Ambalangoda and some other places. In certain places he had pujas for several weeks. Some times pujas were organised by High Government Officers like GAs and leading police Officers. During the time of the pujas the police had noted that the rate of crime in that areas had fallen and they had noticed that most of thugs and drunkards in the towns were tamed by his voice . They came to listen to his Dhamma. At Certain places the leading part was taken by these criminals themselves ,sometimes they were people who were not accepted by the people. Thus they became very law abiding citizens and followers of Buddhism.

Q. Ven. Sir, what would you consider the main reason for the success of his pujas?

A. Mainly his simple language, and the method he adopted. He preached in simple language and he had his own way of using language pure and simple sometimes musical . His method was that first he conducted the puja and by the end of it all the people were in a certain state of absorption. It was at that time that he delivered a sermon. It was a great successful.

  1. Did he gain any material benefits from his pujas ?
  1. Yes, but he never hoard them . What he did first, when he went to a puja ,was that he met all the inmates in the temple, saluted them and at the end of the puja most of the gifts offered to him were distributed among the members of the Sangha .

Q. Ven. Sir, there are two things to be cultivated by a Buddhist namely "saddha" and "panna". What was his purpose ,was it to cultivate sadda or Panna. ?

A. Well, he used to produce saddha in those gathered first . In the procession and the conducting of the puja he promoted saddha and in the end led them to panna by giving a sermon and practising a few minutes meditation.

  1. This is my last question, Ven. Sir. We Buddhists believe in re -becoming, or rebirth. What do you think is his rebirth ?

A. h…h…Actually ,he will be in a divine bourne . When we think of his last days and things that he did. we may even say that he had gained a high attainment. It is quite possible. At least he should be in a higher condition than the human.

4.In 1970s and 1980s the GA Ratnapura was Mr. A.M.B. Weligepola (He was interviewed on 02. 04. 1998)


  1. Sir, I learnt that you were one of the very close associates of Ven. Panadure Ariyadhamma Thera. Specially when you were the Government Agent of Ratnapura in 70s , you had assisted him in many ways to conduct his pujas, and to spread the teachings of the Budhha. Could tell us how you came to meet him .
  1. Well, I first met him many years ago. I think it was one week before the starting of the Vassana season in 1979. It was at the Vipassana Meditation centre ,situated in Wijerama Mawatha, Colombo 7, where he was residing .I was then the Government Agent, Ratnapura.

Q.Sir, did you ever participate in his pujas.

  1. Yes ,I have participated in some of his pujas and have listened to some Dhamma sermons at Ratnapura.

  1. Could you kindly explain us ,any special features you noticed from his pujas and the sermons ?
  1. Well, I must state that he conducted Atavisi Buddhapujas and delivered Dhamma sermons. The Atavisi Buddhapuja was conducted in a large semi-permanent building ,specially erected for the purpose. There were well framed 28 pictures of Buddhas and the whole building was tastefully decorated . There the devotees were all over the 8 acres of ground and also on the Colombo -Badulla Road. The pujas were held everyday from 6.3o p.m. to about 9.30p.m. and continued for three months. On the Poya day of the first month about 5.000 people observed Sil, on the Poya day of the second month the number doubled and on the final month’s Poya day the number was over 25.000 participants. The public who organised these pujas provided all what was necessary for the ceremony .

One of the special features was that there were no publicity at all for these pujas. There were no posters ,newspaper advertisement, or Radio announcements. He made a special condition that no politicians should be invited or informed . If they wanted to come on their own they were welcome he said that.

Q. Sir, what was the social impact of these Pujas?

A. You know , in Ratnapura, at that time, many people were rich young Gem Mudalalis. They got into their cars with their friends, took bottles of whisky and made their way to five start Hotels in Colombo. Ven. Ariyadhamma’s Sermons influenced to them very much. At the end of his Pujas he delivered a sermon for about half an hour. Sermons were mainly about the noble qualities of the Buddha. Some times he touched on the value of the parents. Specially on the mother. His voice was melodious and sweet and the people stayed spell bound . I must state that because of this type of sermon people ,specially the younger generations of the area, became courteous and well disciplined .People gave up their wrong behaviour and most of the them observed Sil and became good citizens.

Q. Sir, did he expect any rewards or gain, through his pujas ?

  1. No, I don’t think, I must say that he expected absolutely nothing from his Pujas. I know very well that whatever he was offered as Parishkara he handed over to other monks and the poor

Q. What do you think was the main reason for the success of his pujas and sermons?

  1. We cannot point out one reason for the success of the pujas ,but I think it was mainly due to his inborn ability to express ideas in simple language.
  1. Now, Sir, in Buddhism there are two factors to be cultivated by oneself, faith and wisdom . Of the two, as you noticed , what did he emphasise?

A. Mainly he cultivated "Sadda" in the mind of the devotees, but he did not neglect "Panna" .At the end of every puja he delivered a sermon and practised meditation for a few minutes.

Q. Finally, Sir, what would do you think has been his next birth?

A. In my opinion his rebirth may be in the Brahma World or it may be even in a heaven like Tusita ,so that he would be born again in the future in Sri Lanka in better time.

5. ASP Ratnapuara In the 1980s , Mr.Sirisena Herath (He was interviewed at his residence ,Dehiwala on 26-02-1998 )


Q. Ratnapura is the place where Ven. Panadure Ariyadhamma conducted his most successful Bodhipujas and sermons . They were very popular among the people. He conducted pujas at Ratnapura for months. You are one of the core members of the group that promoted of his pujas. As I know , You were the then Assistant Superintendent of Police of the area and you had assisted him in many ways. Sir, Could you tell us when and how you came to assist him . ?

  1. Well, it was during 1979 and 1980 .When the Ven.Ariyadhamma first came to Ratnapura to conduct a Bodhipuja at the end of the 70s, I was there as the ASP . In the early days some people and even some monks did not like to participate in his pujas. But, day by day, unexpectedly immense crowds gathered for his pujas and many people assisted him .I decided to give him the fullest co-operation because pujas are not harmful to anyone. So we went to the venue and assisted the people to take part in the pujas comfortably. The people who participated in his pujas abstained from wrong doing. Therefore there were no criminal incidents that could be reported. I can remember very well that the day on which my son was born in 1979 .There were about 50.000 to 75.000 people on the street , with trays of flowers in their hands. It was in September 1979 .I was very happy. We helped the people to take part in the pujas in this manner . Once the Ven. Ariyadhamma came to know of my assistance to the people to participate in the pujas he talked with me. After that we associated closely.

Q.Sir,I have read in some articles that during the period of the pujas in Ratnapura , the rate of crime had come down .Is there evidence?

  1. Well, Ven. Ariyadhamma himself wanted to know whether there was any change , any impact , on society from his Bodhipujas. When he met me he asked me about this. Therefore I did some investigations and my investigation revealed that the rate of crime ,complaints, family disputes ,and conflicts among the people of the area had reduced in number during the period of his Bodhipuja . This report was published in the news papers too.

Q. As a responsible police Officer in Charge , what are the other social impacts you have noticed from his Bodhipujas?

A. Well, as I see , social impacts varied . Specially the relationship between the temple and the devotees strengthened. Most schooling children participated in these Pujas so they did change their attitudes and develop discipline. Really his pujas caused a complete change of attitude in the whole mass of society. I can remember that regarding his pujas the earlier attitudes of the hierarchical monks in Ratnapura was not positive. Some of them disliked him having pujas there . But later on all of them were pleased by what the Ven. Ariyadhamma did. Thereafter most of them participated in the pujas and many pujas were held in the temple premises themselves. Thus the relationship of the Community of monks too strengthened in Ratnapura.

  1. Did you find any non-Buddhist attempts aimed at the destruction of his way of life he introduced ?

A.No ,not at all, I never saw such a thing.He never spoke against other religions. Sometimes non-Buddhists too helped him

  1. What was his approach, Sir. Was it to cultivate Saddha (faith),or Panna(wisdom)?
  1. As I see it, he strove to cultivate both ,in the hearts of the people. Doing Bodhipuja he cultivated faith and at the end of his every puja he gave a very powerful sermon and then meditated for few minutes. With that he cultivated wisdom. So he paved the way for both faith and wisdom. As a person who worked in many parts of the country holding various post in the department I have experience of how people behave in society. This type of puja is necessary to mould the people. What he did was very successful. First he bred faith and then wisdom .

  1. Do you see any other special features in his sermons regarding the cultivation of Saddha and Panna.?

A. In his sermons , the most important thing that I learnt is that he always made observation on feedback of his sermons. As I told you, during the pujas held for weeks and months , in the beginning he gave sermons for the common people and made his investigation. Day by day people came to part take his sermons from various strata of society. When he understood that there were people who wish to learn some thing more,in deeper level he preached to them in deeper level too. But very important thing is inquiring the feedback. With that comprehension he preached and his preaching was successful.

  1. Sir what are the main reasons you find, for the success of his Pujas?

A. I think mainly, the time he selected for the puajas influenced very much. The time he selected was from 5.00 to 7.00 or 730 in the evening . This is of course , not inconvenient time to the lay people.1

Q. Finally , as a Buddhist who believe rebirth , can you say any thing about his next birth?

A. Well as Buddhists ,we believe rebirth, and we believe kamma . During his life time he did what is punna (wholesome) , therefore we may say that he must have been born in a very good status .

6. An Ayurvedic eye specialist , Mr. Weerasundara , No. 26. 1st Lane ,Ratmalana. (I met him on 31.03.1998).


Q.Mr. Weerasundara, as a devout Buddhist who have participated in Ven. Panadure Ariyadhamma Thera’s Bodhipujas , first of all could you tell us when did you first see Ven. Ariyadhamma and his Bodhipuja.?

A. As I remember , first I came to know about Ven. Ariyadhamma in 1978. In 1979, once when I went to my home town ,Wadduwa, from Ratmalana , I saw a large crowd at Panadura Municipal ground .There were about 30.000 to 40.000 people in the ground and the whole area was crowded . The whole venue was decorated with Buddhist flags. Most people were clad in white and also the most peculiar thing was ,that the most present were the youth.

I was very happy and compelled to get down from the bus and participate in it. So getting down from the bus I also participated in the puja .As I enter the Municipal ground I came to know that it was the last day of the puja continued for about one month. When I reached there Ven. Ariyadhamma was delivering his vote of thanks for those who helped him for the success of the puja. It was the first day I saw him.

  1. Have you participated in his pujas on some other occasions?

A. Yes, I have participated in several times .

Q. What can you say about his pujas?

A. Actually I have never seen any other monk who is conducting Bodhipuja in this manner . His voice is wonderful and his instructions are heartly.

Q. What were the attractive features you noticed , in his pujas.

A. Well, as I understand, the most attractive things were his voice, language, beautifully decorated environment , and the serenity of the place.

Q. As you think what was the main reason for the success of his pujas.

A. m..m…. the main reason was, his language and the melodious voice. I think.

Q. have you ever heard that the rate of crime had reduced because of his Pujas?

  1. Well, on that very first day itself , at Panadura, after the Ven. Thera’s speech, the superintendent of police of the area spoke. In his speech he explained very well that although he had instructed to bring some extra police Offices from Kalutara and Horana ,and take an extra vigilant for precautionary measures , there had not been major incidents during the period of this Bodhipuja .Further he said that the two theatres in the town had to be closed because of the lack of viewers ,and also some Arrak- bars had to be closed because people did not go to bars to take liquor. According to him most drunkards at panadura area had become teetotallers after the Bodhipujas and sermons conducted by Ven.Panadure Ariyadhamma Thera.

In this chapter we interviewed six persons to get their views and opinions about Ven. Panadure Ariyadhamma Thera. We do not want to say any thing about their genuine expressions born from hearts .Let us now come to our conclusion.


( Conclusion )

Ven. Panadure Ariyadhamma was an extra-ordinary monk . He was born and bred at Panadura . After his primary and secondary Education he went to the most sacred city of the Country; Anuradhapura .He worked there as a clerk , but according to his destiny he was compelled to enter the Order of the Monk.

He used to meditate while doing his service at the preservation Board in Anuradhapura. Finally , in the prime of life ,he abandoned his parents and relatives and all his wealth and property. Then he went forth from home to homelessness.

He was ordained and after that he learnt under his teachers . He received full admission and there after commenced a new approach of offering pujas.It was really a new chapter of the way of conducting Bodhipuja in Sri Lanka. He was very popular among the people of the country .His new approach of conducting puja spread all over the country very soon. Thousands of people came to see him and listen to his sermons. I understood that his way of communication was very successful. Therefore I decided to study on him and do a research to look into his ways of communication of the Dhamma.

For this purpose I interviewed some people who were associated with him very closely and attentively listened to some of his Bodhipujas and sermons. Through that examination I could be able to come to a conclusion.

Now this investigation into the Ven. Panadure Areyadhamma’s communication have revealed that his language and pleasant voice was unquestionable and incomparable .With the opening of a new Chapter of the conducting of pujas in Buddhist perspective, Ven. Thera has introduced a new approach. The emergence of this new trend is in fact of his own and of utmost important in the way of life of the people in this couintry.

Further , our investigation discovered that his aim was to enlighten people through Bodhipujas. For this purpose first he planted saddha and then on that basis led the people to develop wisdom, panna.

The social impact of his pujas were of very much commendable and compatible .We all are aware the , Ven. Ariyadhamma conducted pujas during 70s and 80s. These two decades were the crucial decades in the history of politics in Sri Lanka. Many youths as well as Senior politicians of the country were massacred . Liberalisation of economy was introduced .As a result , most people started to compete each other so that human qualities , values and norms degraded day by day. Religious teachings were discarded by some of the people in society. They started worshiping and respecting not the religious leaders , parents and the elders but money and wealth. They neither went to respect their neighbours nor their their own relatives. Always they strove to earn money by hook or by crook . It was to such a society Ven. Panadure Ariyadhamma had to give his message of truth through the Bodhipujas and sermons.

Being restricted by some difficulties such as the availability of sources only in Sinhala, and trying to keep in touch with those who were associated with the Thera we have disclosed the attempt made by him to mould the people in society.

In order to evaluate his endeavour I strove to find out some other people who assisted him in many ways. But, unfortunately most of them are not alive. The most important fact that I came across was his unalienable ability to express views in simple language. As accepted by many in society, that was the main reason for the success of his pujas and sermons.

Our investigation revealed that some of the people are inclined to believe that he was poisoned at the end but his relatives to whom I spoke to do not believe it. Anyhow it may be inferred that such things also could be possible as there are no lack of jealousy and enmity in society.

I tried to examine pros and cons for the revelation of what he did ,during his 20 years of monk-hood. I can say that this study have uncovered that Ven. Panadure Ariyadhamma was a great man who endowed with the best qualities of men and with such a qualities he worked for the betterment of man in the street and on the throne as well.

He knew very well what is men-hood and served to mankind to preserve their humane.

According to the opinion of many people ,and the relevant facts that I have gathered from his recorded audio cassettes and written booklets and articles, mainly in Sinahala, our conclusion can be summarised as follows :

  1. Ven. Ariyadhamma changed the attitudes of the people to lead a

righteous life.

  1. The success of his sermons depended on his unequivocal and very simple language
  2. His sermons germinated faith (saddha) first and then cultivated wisdom(Panna)in the hearts of the people
  3. He did his service to man regardless of blame or praise.

Finally, I would like to state that this investigation is only an attempt made by us to place some relevant and significant fats before you .But his great service rendered to man cannot be restricted to a dissertation of this kind .I hope that further attempts will be made on this subject by those who have inquisitive mind in future too.




1.Anguttara Nikaya , The discourse collection in Numerical Order, An Anthology , Translated by Nyanaponika Thera, Buddhisst Publication Society Kandy,Sri Lanka- 1988.

2.Digha Nikaya , The long Discourses of the Buddha, Translated from the Pali by Maurice Walshe ,Buddhist Publication Society ,Kandy Sri lanka-1995

3.Donald J. Bogue. Mass Communication and Motivation for Birth control ,Community and Family study ceenter, University of Chicago -1967

4.Dissanayaka J.B.Sinhala Bhashawe nawa Muhunuwara(The new Face of the Sinhala Language) Cultural Publication series 1-1996

5.Mahhjima Nikaya, The middle Length Discourses of the Buddha,Translated from the Pali by Bhikhu Nanamli and Bhikkhu Bodhi ,Buddhist Publication Society,Kandy,Sri Lanka - 1995

6.Murphy Robert D. Mass Communication and Human Interaction, Houghton,Mifflin Company ,Boston, USA 1977.

7.Michael C Emery.Readings in Mass communication concets and issues in the Mass Media , San Fernando Valley State College, WMC Brown Company Publishers USA -1972

8.Samyutta Nikaya. by John D. Ireland. Buddhist Publications Kandy- 1981

9.Samadhi-2 Edited in Sinhala by Ven. Tapowanaye Santamanasa and Pranith Abhayasundara (Tapowanaya Kalapaluwawa Mulleriyawa-1986

10.William E Francois. Mass Media Law and Regulation, School of Journalism Darke University USA 1978



Alliteration 27

Acariya 12 ,13

Anuradhapura 10,11,33,47

Abandon 12,13,22,47

Abstaining 16

Amassed 39

Atmosphere 10

Attitudes 49


Buddhism 30,39,41

Buddhapuja 40


Communication 4,7,8,17,22,25,26,31,47

Compassion 7.13.28

Concentration 10,21

Contentment 22,23


Discipline 12,41

Distorted 32


Electronic 7

Eradication 23

Enlightenment 30,47

Environment 32,45


Faith 29,30,34,38,43

Faculty 30


Humanity 7,48

Hermitage 11,14,33,35

Harmful 16

Hierarchy 27


Information 4,5,7,8,10,18, 32

Individual 7, 8

Injustice 16

Incomparable 25, 47

Inalienable 25

Interaction 26

Investigation 43, 44, 47, 48


Language 8, 18, 21, 25, 26, 27, 28, 28, 29, 31, 35, 39, 41, 45, 47, 48,

Layman 10

Livelihood 16


Message 4, 7, 26, 31, 47,

Meditation 10,12,13,33,40,42

Melodious 12,13,38,41


Network 8

Newspapers 41,43


Ordination 9,11, 12,13,33,36


Philosophy 12,31

Preceptor 13

Perversion 32


Quatrains 11,13,27

Qualities 17,23,29,41,48


Research 5,25

Revolution 15,16,25

Rhymes 26,27

Rhythm 26,27


Satellite 8

Stratum 14


Technology 7

Theosophist 9


Unearth 48


Unequivocal 49


Wisdom 29,30,31,41,43