Most Ven Kotugoda Dhammawasa Nayake Thera:
Great Dhamma preacher
An outstanding Dhamma preacher in Sri Lanka, Most Venerable Aggamaha
Pandita Kotugoda Dhammawasa Mahanayake Thera, ex-chairman of Sri Lanka
Amarapura Nikaya and Chief Incumbent of the Sri Dharmapalayaramaya
Temple, Mount Lavinia, will be felicitated as a leading Buddhist
preacher by SLBC. He made anusasanas for more than six decades as the
leading Dhamma preacher over the air-waves of the radio.
In appreciation of this stupendous task, this ceremony will be held
today at 3 pm at the SLBC premises.
In Sri Lanka, most of the names of villages or hamlets become famous
when the respective name of the villages or hamlets are coined with the
names of reputed Buddhist monks. For example, Dr Rahula with Walpola, Dr
Vachissara with Kotagama, Soratha with Weliwitiya etc. The list goes on.
The village of Kotugoda lies in the Gampaha District. The name of
Aggamahapandita Dhammawasa and Kotugoda are inseparable. This great
Nayake Thera is responsible in transmitting the message of the
Dharmaraja - the Buddha, not only in Sri Lanka, but also in the world
through his brilliant Dhamma sermons and his committed religious
missionary activities. He is a pious, charismatic, lovable, charming and
Venerable Kotugoda Dhammawasa Thera is a highly skillful preacher.
His identity is his own superb inimitable style of preaching. His
serene, compassionate, pleasing and pleasant delivery, coupled with
rhythmic and enchanting voice with simple but brilliant vocabulary, his
wide knowledge on Buddhist philosophy and of comparative religions, made
him the most distinguished and most learned popular Buddhist preacher in
the island. Regular programmes uninterrupted for more than 60 years,
clearly shows what a genius preacher he is. Millions glued to the radio
sets to listen to Kotugoda Dhamamvasa Maha Nayake Thera. He is
On January 36, 1933 a small scale landed proprietor who lived at
Kotugoda, late Endavitaranage Haramanis Rodrigo and Endavitaranage
Selestinahamy were blessed with twins. The elder one a girl,
Endavitarange Selestinahamy was followed half an hour later by a baby
boy. They named this little boy Sirimevan Rodrigo. They were the last
two in a family of seven. This boy, Sirimevan gained international
recognition as one of the ‘Great Buddhaputras’, namely Kotugoda
Dhammawasa, the reputed Dhamma preacher missionary. The playful little
boy Sirimevan, studied at the village Buddhist Mixed School, Kotugoda.
He was a keen student. The parents who had a big family entrusted their
children with various duties to perform. They owned 15 to 20 cattle.
Sirimevan was given the task of looking after the cattle.
After school, Sirimevan had a habit of visiting the village temple.
Here, with other children, he studied Buddhist books, such as
Buddhagajjaya, Namastasatakaya, Vadankavi Potha etc, Sinhala, Pali and
Sankrit under the chief monk Venerable Kotugoda Pemananda Thera. The
little child Sirimevan was intelligent and hardworking. His meritorious
deeds in Samsara must have motivated him to enter the Order.
Motivation to enter Sasana
His close association with the village temple, motivated him to be a
Buddhist monk. I presume, it would have been his meritorious deeds he
accumulated in his previous births in his Samsaric journeys that
prompted Sirimevan Rodrigo to enter the Buddhist Order. He was an
extraordinary child. He was kindhearted even as a child.
The Chief Priest at Kotugoda Temple, Venerable Kotugoda Premaratana
Nayake Thera, had a close connection with a monk named Unawatune
Dhammapala, who had a small temple or Awasaya at Mount Lavinia. It was
here at Dharmapalayaramaya Temple, Mount Lavinia, that the 15-year-old
Sirimevan Rodrigo entered the Order on August 17, 1948, as Kotugoda
He started his Pirivena education at the Paramadhamma Chetiya
Pirivena, Ratmalana and later at Vidyodaya Pirivena, Maligakanda. The
young Samanera, Kotugoda Dhammawasa was a brilliant student. Further, he
too attended all religious activities conducted by Dharmapalayaramaya
It was during this time he started delivering Dhamma anusasana . He
enjoyed it and was committed to it. As his Guru, Unawatune Dhammapala
suffered from asthma, it was left to young Samanera Dhammawasa, to
deliver anusasana frequently. At a young age, he gained the art of
While studying at Vidyodaya Pirivena, Maligakanda, Ven Dhammawasa
Thera realized the value of English education. He learned English at
Padhanagara Dharmadhuta Vidyalaya and later at the Pembroke Academy
close to Royal College, Colombo.
On July 10, 1954, Kotugoda Dhammawasa Thera obtained Upasampada -
Higher Ordination. The Upasampada ceremony was conducted at the
Kalugange Udakuppeke Simamalakaya, Kalutara. It was conducted and
officiated by late Aggamahapandita Ven Beruwela Sirinivasa Mahanayake
The great and pious monk Kotugoda Dhammawasa is also a reputed
Buddhist writer. He became a ‘Literary Giant’ among the Buddhist monks.
Apart from his lovely Dhamma anusasanas from 1965 to date, he
contributed enormously to Buddhist literature by writing valuable books
on Buddhism and printing them and distributing leaflets on Buddhism.
Anusasana on Radio
Records show that on April 21, 1928, the first ever Dhammadesanawa
was relayed on Radio Ceylon. It was delivered by Most Venerable Pelene
Sri Vajiragnana Mahanayake Thera of Vajiraramaya, Bambalapitiya.
Thereafter, anusasanas were delivered by many reputed Bhikkus and
Buddhist discussion, Buddhist talks, Dhamma chinta and weekly anusasanas
became a regular feature to date, in Radio Ceylon and later at SLBC.
Venerable Kotugoda Dhammawasa Thera, succeeded as the chief incumbent
of Dharmapalayaramaya, Mount Lavinia, after the demise of his ‘Guru
Hamuduruwo’, Unawatune Dhammapala Thera.
Added to his prowess as a leading Dhamma preacher, he took an active
part in propagating Buddhist missionary activities in countries such as
Nepal, Japan, USA, Pakistan, Thailand, Russia, Myanmar, India, Mongolia,
Siberia, Singapore etc.
Further, Venerable Kotugoda Dhammawasa Nayake Thera constructed a
Buddhist centre named ‘Upali Dharma Ashramaya’ close to Sella Kataragama,
in a land donated to him by a devotee, Buddhini Devi Bandaranaike.
Venerable Kotugoda Dhammawasa Anu Nayake of Amarapura Nikaya was
honoured with the titles Dharmapala Vansalankara Saddharma Keerthi Sri
Tripitaka Visharadha and Kotte Kalyani Samagri Dharma Maha Sangha Sabha
gave him the title Pravachana Keerthi Sri Sasana Sobhana.
Venerable Kotugoda Dhammawasa Thera is involved with most of the
national, religious and cultural development projects. He also serves as
the most venerated adviser for the Ministry of Buddha Sasana. He also
functioned as Patron of the All Ceylon Buddhist Association, Dehiwala
Bauddhodaya Samitiya and Sri Lanka Buddhist and Pali Universities.
The Anunayake Thera of Amarapura Nikaya established Buddhist Temples
in Nepal. Before the LTTE attacked the Katunayake International Airport,
there were regular Nepal-Sri Lanka flights. But after the LTTE attacks,
it stopped. Dhammawasa Thera now appeals to authorities to commence
these flights again.
There are more than 20 pupils ordained under Ven Kotugoda Dhammawasa.
There are 12 Nepalese priests, eight are from Czhechoslovakia and two
from Bangladesh. Ven Dr Dhammapala is currently at Los Angeles attending
to missionary activities. At present, Buddhayaye Dhammaloka is the
Viharadhikari of Dharmapalayaramaya, Mount Lavinia. Then there are
Thappasi Dhamma of Nepal and Professor Medawacchiye Dhammajoti, a senior
lecturer at the University of Ceylon, Colombo.
Like their Guru Kotugoda Dhammawasa, all his pupils are pious,
committed and disciplined monks who devote and commit their entire life
to the propagation of Theravada Buddhism.
I presume that many Buddhist devotees are not fully aware that at
Dharmapalayaramaya Temple, Mount Lavinia you will find a branch or a
sapling of the most venerated Ananda Bodhiya of India. It was gifted to
Kotugoda Dhammawasa many years ago. Many Buddhist devotees daily flock
to worship the branch of the Ananda Bodhiya. Bodhi Poojas are held to
venerate this important Ananda Bodhiya daily. This is probably the only
Ananda Bodhi branch on Sri Lankan soil.
The great, pious, compassionate and scholarly monk, Sri Lanka’s voice
of Dharmadesanas, Ven Kotugoda Dhammawasa Thera was the recipient of the
prestigious title Aggamahapandita . He received this title on March 2,
2007 at Swarnaguha Hall, Myanmar.
Most Venerable Sir, I go down on my knees and worship you.
Chiran Jayatu – May you live long!
May the Triple Gem Bless you!