Don Suvaris Ramanayaka - hailing from Raththanapitiya and a deputy police headman by profession, desired to perform a "Katina cheevara puja" (A very meritorious religious ceremony done only once a year). He wanted to have this in a newly built temple house in one of his own lands there just for the purpose. Upon hearing it the chief prelate, most venerable Lenadora Shri Dhammarakhkhitha thero of Paramadhammanivesa pirivena agreed most graciously to appoint a student of his, most venerable Dr. Dankande Upatissa to do the needful. Overjoyed, Police headman Don Suvaris started construction work immediately on the very next day and completed building the temple house in a single month. Then on the evening of 14th of July 1927, which was the full moon day he escorted most respectfully the said priest to begin his rainy season formalities. These include observation of precepts prescribed to most venerable reverend Buddhist monks to follow through all four ensuing months until the "Katina cheevara ceremony" which culminates with the newly sewn robe offered to the said monk. All four essentials prescribed requisites of food, drink, medicine if needed and housing were seen to by Don Suvaris to his heart's desire as wished during this entire rainy season.
On the noon of 30th October, with the Katina cheevara ceremony duly performed saw to the culmination of the rainy season austerities. The most venerable Dankande Upatissa thero continued to live in the same temple house. Two years later on the 7th of June, 1929 most venerable Veralugasthanne Pemananda a novice monk and a dear student of Matale sect chief prelate and head of Nigrodharama temple at Nagolla, was said to have arrived to reside in the same temple house.
During this time, the "Temple Alms Committee" of the above temple house bought another block of land from Don Suvaris with the intention of building a new complete temple. In 1931 on the 26th of January, the land got surveyed with demarcating columns set at an auspicious time. The deed prepared on 2nd March same year. Later on the 27th of July this newly constructed temple was inaugurated with a traditional ceremony presided over by the chief prelate of the training monastery most venerable Lenadora Dhammarakhkhitha Thero. At the same time the most venerable Dr. Dankande Upatissa and most venerable Veralugasthanne Pemananda Theros moved to live there permanently, leaving behind the temple house constructed by Don Suvaris Ramanayake.
On the 30th of July 1931, on the invitation of both Egodawatte and Raththanapitiya laymen, the most venerable monks observed their first rainy season formalities in there. The temple was named "Paramadharmawardhanaramaya" by the laymen with the blessings of the most venerable monks on the 17th of February, 1932.
On the 8th of August, 1941 most venerable Dr. Dankande Upatissa thero passed away. The most venerable Veralugasthanne Pemananda thero assumed duties as the chief prelate of the temple. The most venerable monk in his tenure developed the land into a temple complete with all attributes of a full shrine. The chief prelate passed away on the 11th February 1978 leaving behind a much grief stricken lay community.
Thereafter the most venerable Veralugasthanne Pangnananda thero became the chief prelate. He modernised the temple and performed many a duty pertaining to the order of the monks and the nation. He passed away suddenly on the 24th November 2007. Most venerable Raththota Seelavansa thero has assumed duties as the chief prelate of the temple since then and is continuing to this date.
The most Ven.
Dankande Upatissa Thero
(1929 - 1941)
The most Ven.
Veralugasthanne Pemananda Thero
(1941 - 1978)
He kept to the highest traditions of a Buddha Sravaka
This article is written on the occasion of the special religious observances conducted by the Dayaka Sabha under the direction of most venerable Verallugastenna Pemananda Thera chief incumbent of the Parama Dharma Wardanaramaya at Raththanapitiya, Boralesgamuwa in memory of most venerable Verallugastenna Premananda Nayake Thera who was the chief incumbent of this temple and also to invoke blessings on the people of Sri Lanka and our heroic armed forces. "From the village to the temple and not from the temple to the village" seems to be the maxim that guided the relations between the village and the temple for a considerable period of time.
The resident monks catered to the needs of the village by visiting homes for dana, waru pirith, all night pirith, pansakula and other religious needs of the people when the people felt that they were in need of assistance from the temple. In addition the Loku Hamuduruwo, a pupil monk or the Abiththaya visited home once a month to remind the householders of the monthly dhana that had to be delivered on the day allocated to the household.
Waning this custom that prevailed for a long time resulted in the gradual alienation between the village and the temple. The resident monks limited their involvement to the passing casual inquiry as to the well-being of the dayakas of the temple. However, there is one temple that did not fall into this category. It is a temple that strictly followed the maxim that the temple is an integral part of the village, therefore the activities of the temple and the village was in total harmony with the needs of the villagers and those of the temple.
This was the guiding principle followed by the late Verallugastenna Pemananda Nayake Thera who served his people for more than five decades keeping to the highest traditions of a Buddha Sravaka. His help, advice and guidance was not confined only to the dayakas or the villagers. It was available to anyone who sought his assistance.
After the passing away of this illustrious Buddhist monk the village conducted a religious ceremony in his memory every year. "When is the Pinkama of our Loku Hamuduruwo?" was a question in the lips of every villager for months preceding the event. It was a silent tribute to the late prelate and also an indication of the inherent nature of the villagers for whom gratitude was as important as any other human virtue.
It is for this reason that I consider it my duty to recall some aspects of the life of most Venerable Verallugastenna Pemananda Nayake Thera who passed away in February 1978. Ordained at a very young age Venerable Pemananda Thera was always at ease with the lay disciples. He always involved himself with their problems. If a dayaka fell sick he would visit his home and provided solace by chanting Pirith. When a child ran high fever he would be by his bedside attending to the needs of the patient until he recovered.
His exemplary conduct, his wisdom and his dedication to social service made Pemananda thera stand out as a popular and respected member of the Siam Nikaya. In those days Pirivena education was not confined to religious education alone. Astrology and Indigenous Medicinal system were also taught.
Naturally this enabled this resulted in Pemananda thera a large number of pupils around the Parama Dhamma Nivasa Pirivena of which he was the head. When a child was ordained the child monk received the protection and care as if he was under the shelter of his own parents. Venerable Pemananda Thera left three such pupil monks after him. Of these Venerable Pannananda Thera can be described as one who has faithfully traversed the trail of this Gurudeva.
He visits remote neglected village in the country. He built and donated a house at a cost of Rs. 55,000 to a poor peasant in a village called "Yayathuna Banadara" in distant Rajangana. He donated two houses that cost Rs. 75,000 each to two peasant families on the south bank of Vilachchiya, Thanthirimale. He has indeed upheld the great traditions set by his gurudeva. Every year he travelled to distant neglected villages in the country like Ampara, Bakmitiyawa, Padawiya and Kokila to distribute dry rations, spectacles, and to conduct health clinics.
Venerable Verallugastenna Pemananda thera who was essentially a traditional villager soon acquired the reputation of being the silver tongue of the Salpiti Korale. His pupil Pannananda thera did not seek prominence or publicity. He is content serving the country and the village silently but diligently. That is a characteristic he inherited from his Gurudeva.
By Ven. Meetiyagoda Gunarathana Thero | 2007.02.21 | Daily News