Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnanananda Thero
The Most Venerable Kiribathgoda Gnānānanda Thero is the founder of Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery. The Venerable Thero was born into a Catholic family, and at the age of six months his whole family embraced Buddhism. At the age of seventeen, he was ordained at Seruwila Mangala Raja Maha Vihara under the preceptorship of the Most Venerable Dambagasare Sumedhankara Mahā Thero who was the Chief of Sri Kalyaniwansa Nikāya and the Abbot of Seruwila Mangala Raja Maha Vihara at the time. After a traditional Sri Lankan monastic education, while studying for the Sinhala Honours Degree at Sri Jayawardhanapura University, he had an unexpected opportunity to read the Buddha’s discourses in the Pāli Canon; because of this, he abandoned temple life and began to frequent forest monasteries and hermitages, offering his life to the Dhamma with a great desire to practice it.
Thereafter, having acquired a profound knowledge of the Dhamma by studying the Pāli Canon for a further ten years, the Venerable Thero collected myriad experiences in his life while living in the Himalayas in India and the jungle of Sri Pada in Sri Lanka. Venerable Kiribathgoda Gnānānanda Thero, utilizing the experience gained from many years in monastic life, started Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery in August 1999. And while preaching the Dhamma and holding Dhamma programs in various parts of the island, he kindled in the people enormous faith in the Buddha’s Dispensation. The Venerable Thero has written over 300 books in Sinhala and also several more books in English language on the Buddha’s Teachings in the Pāli Canon, revealing the sacred Word of the Buddha to the public. Those Dhamma books along with CDs containing his melodious Dhamma sermons and Vandana verses which explain the Buddha’s discourses in simple Sinhala language have received much praise from the people. Venerable Kiribathgoda Gnānānanda Thero’s translation of the Sutta Pitaka into simple Sinhala language, helping it to be read and understood by people of any status in society, is a magnificent service to the Buddha’s Dispensation undertaken by the meritorious hand of the Venerable Thero out of compassion for humankind. Preaching the Dhamma devoid of capricious personal opinions, by revealing only the Pure Word of the Buddha, is the unique quality of the Most Venerable Kiribathgoda Gnānānanda Thero’s outstanding Dhamma service.
A Message from our Founder
The rarest and wonderful event occurred two thousand, six hundred years back down the road of history, the emergence of the wisest sage, the mighty Supreme Buddha. In the same era, there was an unquenched thirst among humans to find the truth of life, and to that end, they practiced various methods. However, such earnest people were fortunate enough to be illuminated by the supreme wisdom of the Gautama Buddha. Supreme Buddha went looking for them and showed them the hidden truth of life in a unique way that no one had ever come across. It was the astonishing and ultimate truth that the Buddha discovered. Once they heard the Buddha’s beautiful words, they became the sages of that time, bringing the ‘Golden Era’ to India. With the teachings of the Buddha, the people freed themselves from ongoing misery, anxiety, agony, emptiness, and grief. They learned to face their life challenges without heartaches, and ultimately managed to declare that they have reached the end of Samsara – The birth and death cycle. The Buddha, with his ultimate kindness, saved the people from pain and suffering. This was the most successful and most beautiful time that had ever occurred in recent history. The level of intelligence of people in our time pales in comparison to the wisdom of the people in the time of the Buddha. They were very advanced in rationale and contemplation about life and were not trapped by the simple, false tastes of life…. unlike the present time. Supreme Buddha had spoken of different ways to realize the path with intelligence by rejecting the myths of life with proper explanations from the ‘cause & effect theory’. Buddhism is a collection of such noble discourses, the Dhamma, which awakened the true wisdom of the people at that time.
After the passing away (Parinirvana) of the Gautama Buddha, all his noble disciples (Sangha) who attained Enlightenment safeguarded the Dhamma for the future in ‘Magadhi’ (Pali) language, which was used in the Buddha’s time in India. The noble Sangha became ambassadors of the Buddha’s Dhamma and spread the word of the Buddha throughout the world. This vital mission was implemented and driven by the great King Dharmashoka. As a result, his son Arahant Mahinda Thero arrived in our little Island with the unaltered, exact words of the Supreme Buddha. Most respected Arahant Mahinda Thero delivered the original sermons of Supreme Buddha to our fortunate ancestors. The Arahant Mahinda Thero later introduced our ancestors to monkhood (becoming a Buddhist monk) to help them follow a greater sacred life than the fruitless and futile secular livelihood they have become accustomed to. Lay disciples also successfully learned how to apply this practice of Dhamma teachings into their day-to-day lives. The noble mission of Arahant Mahinda Thero established Buddhism in Sri Lanka and secured its existence for many future generations.
As time passed, anonymous changes did hit the economic, social, political, educational, and religious sectors in every part of the world. As a result, the original Buddhism and the practicality among followers had disappeared. But fortunately, the most precious teachings of the Buddha that were rendered to us by Arahant Mahinda Thero had been safely protected.
Although the practicality in Buddhism among people started fading away, people still persevered in their search for something better and realistic for themselves. Presently, the public is not so keen on searching for the truth about life in comparison to the Buddha’s era, but there are still wise groups who are interested in investigating the hidden side of life. I have tried so hard to learn the Dhamma, facing many challenges on my way in uncovering this ultimate truth. I was so fortunate to read the noble Dhamma of the Buddha in full – The glorious inheritance of Arahant Mahinda Thero. Buddhism is the most wondrous wisdom in the world. These teachings show us the immense talent, kindness, fully self-conscious, pure-minded, intelligence and the unmatched identity of the most exceptional person ever appeared on this earth – The Buddha. All these points reflect on one fact; the uniqueness of the Tathagata (one of many names that were used to address the Supreme Buddha).
I started a Dhamma service with the name of ‘Mahamewnawa’ in 1999, as a memorial service gift for the noble mission of Arahant Mahinda Thero. When we began preaching the lucid Dhamma of the Buddha, intelligent groups from all over the Island gathered around us with an improved interest in this ultimate truth. We encourage fondness in only the right truth that the Buddha perseveringly revealed to us. If someone respects and worships the Dhamma, develops a perspective of life following the Dhamma and truly lives according to the Dhamma, then it will be enough for the disciple desiring truth, to find the truth.
I welcome you all to Mahamevnawa organization with Loving Kindness. Within our Dhamma service, we have no restrictions regarding race, cast, language, color or religion. The truth unveiled by the Gautama Buddha is open to everyone. If you are wise to understand that truth, then that truth is for you and your good and protection. Therefore, let us gather around that truth, the righteous Dhamma. Let us learn it, understand it and live accordingly to it. It is currently our noble duty to share this splendid gift of sweet Dhamma with everybody. May you all be blessed by the Supreme Buddha, the Sublime Dhamma, and the Noble Sangha, Noble friends in Dhamma, and all deities!
~ Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnanananda Thero ~