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Nissarana Vanaya is a famous meditation monastery in Sri Lanka. It is located in Western province close to the town of Kirindiwela.


Asoka Weeraratna

Meetirigala Nissarana Vanaya is a monastery in the Kalyāṇi Yogāsrama Samsthava or Galduwa Samsthava, the strictest forest tradition in Sri Lanka. It is considered as one of Sri Lanka's most respected meditation monasteries and was founded in 1967 by Asoka Weeraratna (the founder of the German Dharmaduta Society and the Berlin Buddhist Vihara in Germany). He equipped the monastery with all the facilities conducive to the meditative life, found an accomplished meditation master, Ven. Matara Sri Nanarama Mahathera (author of 'Seven stages of Purification' and 'Seven Contemplations', both published by the BPS), to direct the meditation training, and then, his mission accomplished, he himself entered the Buddhist order under the name Mitirigala Dhammanisanthi. He died on July 2, 1999 after spending 27 years as a forest monk at Mitirigala. Ven. Dhammanisanthi was 80 years of age at the time of his death.

The distinguished senior monk Venerable Matara Sri Nanarama Mahathera was the first abbot and the meditation master. During his period Nissarana Vanaya became one of the most respected meditation monasteries of Sri Lanka due to the fame of its meditation master as well as its secluded and contemplative life where monks practiced sincerely with the aspiration of attaining Nibbana in this very life. Many foreign monks and lay people also practiced meditation under the guidance of Venerable Matara Sri Nanarama Mahathera. Due to his enormous influence on the revival and study of meditation techniques Ven. Nanarama was appointed as the head meditation master of a chain of forest monastery throughout the island called Kalyāṇi Yogāsrama Samsthava or Galduwa Samsthava. One of Ven. Nanarama's greatest gifts was his ability to incorporate the Burmese Vipassana techniques into Sri Lankan meditation traditions and balance them with the teaching of samatha meditation. It is here that the famous Buddhist nun Ayya Khema was taught by Ven. Ñāṇanārāma in the practice of the jhāna or samatha meditation.

On his passing away in 1992 a senior pupil, Venerable Panaduwa Khemananda became the new abbot and meditation teacher and served the monastery for 15 years. During this time one of the closest pupils of Ven. Nanarama, Ven. Katukurunde Nanananda Thera (famous for his books 'Concept and Reality', 'Magic of the Mind' and his series of 33 sermons on Nibbana) left the monastery due to its shifting away from the meditation training established by Ven. Ñāṇārāma.

Ven. Nanananda moved to Potgulgala Aranya near Devalegama, Kegalla where he is still residing, but until a few years ago was connected with the Mangalarama at Meetirigala; see below. Nissarana Vanaya moved closer to current Burmese Vipassana teachings. After Ven. Panaduwa Khemananda thero died in July 2006 the new most senior meditation teacher became Venerable Uda-Iriyagama Dhammajeewa Thera. Ven. Dhammajeewa (or Dhammajiva) is fluent in English and Burmese and has translated several meditation guides and books from Burmese into English and Sinhalese. Apart from the years of training under Ven. Matara Sri Nanananda he spent several years of training under Sayadaw U Panditabhiwansa in Myanmar (Burma), a well-known teacher in the Mahasi Sayadaw tradition.

Life at the monastery[edit]

The monks are dedicated to meditation practice and stay in solitary huts in the forest. Lay meditators stay in rooms in compounds. The monks and lay meditators regularly receive instructions from Ven. Dhammajiva, who regularly holds retreats for lay meditators at Nissarana Vanaya. Meditation is done in a large meditation hall in the centre of the monastery. Most monks meditate alone in their huts in the forest.

In the morning monks go on alms begging to a kitchen area down the hill where lay-people who have cooked food donate it to them. A few monks go begging in the traditional style to the village. The monks don't eat after mid-day.

In the evening there is a worship of the Bodhi Tree and Buddha followed by Pali chanting.

The monastery is located in a dense low-country tropical jungle and the climate tends to be hot and humid.

Male meditators are allowed to stay after requesting permission and receiving prior invitation. Retreats are held for female meditators at the reception area down the hill.

Other meditation monasteries at Meetirigala[edit]

Meetirigala (sometimes written Mithrigala or Meethirigala) is also the location of two other monasteries. One is the Dharmayatana a place for Tipitaka studies which was later turned into a Vipassana meditation facility for monks to follow Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaws system of instructions. This place is also part of the Kalyāṇi Yogāsrama Samsthava tradition.'

In the third monastery in Mitirigala, called Mangalarama, there is the practice of a meditation system propagated by the layman Mangala Upasaka and a female medium who claims to receive instructions from the late Nanarama Thera (now residing in the Brahma god realm). An Austrian monk is the abbot of the monastery. For some years this place was connected to Ven. Katukurunde Nanananda Thera and his disciples. There is also a meditation center for nuns and lay-women associated with Mangalarama closer to the village.

The Mangalarama is not connected to Nissarana Vanaya and the Dharmayatana.


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nissarana_Vanaya — Please support Wikipedia.
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134 news items

nation.lk - The Nation Newspaper

nation.lk - The Nation Newspaper
Fri, 27 Mar 2015 11:33:45 -0700

He added authorities had conducted raids in the Nissarana Vanaya area in Meethirigala, Gampaha last week in response to complaints that smugglers were chopping down Wallapatta trees in the area. Sathurusinghe said authorities had been alerted to the ...
Sri Express
Mon, 08 Sep 2014 00:30:00 -0700

A new rooftop solar power system that has been installed at the new building complex situated at the entrance to the Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya (Mitirigala Forest Hermitage) was declared open by Mr. Senaka Weeraratna, Hony. Secretary, German ...
Sri Express
Sat, 19 Oct 2013 08:51:46 -0700

Meetirigala Nissarana Vanaya is a monastery in the strict forest tradition in Sri Lanka. It is considered as one of Sri Lanka's most respected meditation monasteries and was founded in 1968 by Asoka Weeraratna (the founder of the German Dharmaduta ...
Sri Express
Wed, 10 Sep 2014 02:33:45 -0700

I was attending Harischandra Vidyalaya at Temple road Negombo then I had a chance to sit for an entrance exam at Kandy Dharmaraja College. I went there with a helper then I met the headmaster Mr Wimalachandra of the junior school when I was near the ...
The Island.lk (subscription)
Fri, 03 Jun 2011 11:35:59 -0700

There is more than one Meditation Centre at Mitirigala. The oldest and biggest one is the Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya (Mitirigala Forest Hermitage). It is a monastery in the strict forest tradition. It is considered as one of Sri Lanka's most respected ...
Sri Express
Tue, 22 Oct 2013 12:19:17 -0700

... to be photographed. On this rare occasion in August 1978, he agreed to be photographed together with the two nephews of the founder of the Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya, Asoka Weeraratna, who had by that time entered the Order of the Sangha, as Ven.
Mon, 17 Sep 2012 14:21:11 -0700

Weeraratne also founded the Berlin Buddhist Vihara and the Meethirigala Nissarana Vanaya (Mithirigala Forest Hermitage). Much of the GDS work in the initial period was done in an upstairs back room of the now-defunct well-known business enterprise, ...
Tue, 16 Oct 2012 14:06:32 -0700

It is when one takes into consideration the scenario of West Germany in the aftermath of the two World Wars “”…” bruised, battered and in political isolation with a bad image to boot, that the arduous task of Asoka Weeraratna could be best appreciated.

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