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Balagalla Saraswathi Pirivena celebrates Golden Jubilee

by Nadira Gunatilleke

The Golden Jubilee of Balagalla, Sarasvathi Pirivena will be celebrated on April 6. Maha Nayaka of Sri Lanka Ramanna Nikaya, Most Ven. Weweldeniye Medhalankarabhidana Mahanayaka Thera will be present. The Pirivena was established on March 7 in 1903 in land donated by the Jayakody clan.

According to Lakshman Jayakody, the Advisor to the President and the organiser of the celebrations, the Balagalla Saraswathi Pirivena holds significance for numerous reasons.

Mr. Jayakody said that the Pirivena had produced several well known scholars and freedom fighters such as Ven. Panditha Henpitagedara Gnanaseeha Nayaka Thera and Ven. Panduwalane Gnanaloka Nayaka Thera.

It has also influenced several Buddhist leaders in the country such as former Prime Ministers D.S. Senanayake and S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike.

The Pirivena was established in January 12, 1892 at Muddaragama, Chethiyaramaya and later shifted to Jayawardena Sri Visuddharamaya which commenced with the support of Migel Jayakody, Don Juan Jayakody Vidana Arachchi, S.A. Bastian Silva and others.

The Pirivena re-commenced on March 3 in 1903 and named as Saraswathi Pirivena. The founder of Saraswathi Pirivena is Most Ven. Mudagamuwe Sirinivasa Mahanayaka Thera. The first Principal of the Pirivena was Rajathyaguru W.D.C. Vageeshwara.

The most honoured Buddhist Thera created by this pirivena is Agga Maha Panditha Thipitaka Vageeshwaracharya Most Ven. Hisselle Sri Gnanodaya Mahanayaka Thera.

The Pirivena continued the Buddhist education system introduced by Arahath Mihindu Thera. Several scholars who held positions in universities and other higher education institutes were products of this Pirivena.

Panditha Hisselle Sirisumangala Thera, Panditha Hapuwalane Gnanaloka Anunayaka Thera, Gold Medallist Panditha Henpitagedara Gnanasinghe Adhikarana Nayaka Thera, Gold Medallist Panditha Hisselle Dhammarathana Thera, Henpitagedara Gnanawasa Adhikarana Nayaka Thera, and present Viharadhipathi Dr. Yatagama Dhammapala Thera are among the scholars produced by Saraswathi Pirivena.

Public money was not used to build this pirivena and no donations were collected from the people. Whenever the villagers made furniture they offered to the temple. The Bhikkus' robes were turned into yellow by using `Kospandu' according to the ancient tradition.

Mats were available for all rich and powerful people to sit during Bana preaching and other religious activities. Saraswathi Pirivena has no devalas and this is one of the most significant characteristics of this pirivena.

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