|Tuesday, 21 January 2003|
by Colombo East Group Correspondent
Dr. Risiman Amarasinghe, Director, Dharmapala-Olcott International Research Institute of Sri Lanka addressed a public meeting on 'The Buddhist Revivalist Movement' at the Panngnaloka Hall, Vijayarama, Wellawatte last Sunday. Ven. Migettuwatte Gunananda Thera's resounding victory in the Panadura Vada or Panadura Controversy in 1873 brought Col. Henry Steele Olcott to this island said Dr. Amarasinghe.
Col. Olcott set up the Galle Buddhist Theosophical Society in May 1880 and the Colombo Buddhist Theosophical Society in June 1880, which became the main centre of Buddhist activities. As stated by Col. Olcott in the journal 'The Buddhist' of November 1890, Lansage Don Andiris Perera Dharmagunawardena an affluent Buddhist of Colombo was the livewire of the movement. He was the President of the Colombo Buddhist Theosophical Society and the Buddhist Defence Committee from its inception until his death in 1890. He had donated the land to establish the Vidyodaya Pirivena in Maligakanda and was its Chief Dayakaya as long as he lived.
In the activities of the Buddhist Revivalist Movement Col. Olcott initiated his intimate friend Ven. Migettuwatte Gunananda Thera and his other friend Lansage Don Andiris Perera Dharmagunawardena and Abensuge Carolis Poojita Gunawardena, Hewavitaranage Don Carolis and Anagarika Dharmapala were ardent supporters.
Col. Olcott established the Colombo Buddhist Theosophical Society to promote Buddhist education by founding Buddhist schools in the island. Mahinda College, Galle, Ananda College, Colombo and Dharmaraja College, Kandy became the leading institutions. Abensuge Carolis Poojita Gunawardena was elected Secretary of the Colombo Buddhist Theosophical Society in 1882 and held the post from 1890 to 1897 and from 1910 to 1920. He was also its Treasurer from 1910 to 1914, Lansage Don Andiris Dharmagunawardena was elected President of the Society in 1883 and held the position until his death in 1889.
In January 28, 1884 Col. Olcott formed the Buddhist Defence Committee to strengthen and propagate Buddhist activities. Lansage Don Andiris Perera Dharmagunawardena was elected its President, his son-in-law, Hewavitaranage Don Carolis was elected Vice President, H.A. Fernando its Treasurer and Abensuge Carolis Poojita Gunawardena, Secretary.
With the assistance of Ven. Migettuwatte Gunananda Thera, Lansage Dharmagunawardena, Abensuge Carolis Poojita Gunawardena and several Buddhist leaders in Colombo and other cities, Col. Olcott established Buddhist schools in Matara, Galle, Colombo, Kandy, Gampola and other cities. The other leaders who supported Col. Olcott in this endeavour were Mudaliyar Samson Rajapakse, Mudaliyar Sri Chandrasekera, R.D. Mirando, William De Abrew, Peter De Abrew, Hendry Amarasuirya, Naidehamy Rende Mahattaya, Pilo Arachchi, Muhandiram N.S. Fernando and D.D. Pediris and their friends. Anagarika Dharmapala and Walisinghe Harischandra were behind all these activities said Dr. Amarasinghe.
Produced by Lake House