During colonial rule in Ceylon, Buddhists and the Sasana suffered due to heightened activity by Missionaries. It’s in this backdrop that an attempt was made by foreign and local Buddhist intellectuals to embark on a campaign to establish Dhamma Schools for Buddhist children. On that basis the first Dhamma School in Sri Lanka was declared open at Weliwatta in Galle under the name Weliwatta Sri Vidayananda Dhamma School. Thereafter the number of Dhamma schools in the country grew and at present there are more than 1000 Dhamma school in the island. Among them the Bellanwila Sri Bodhiraja Dhamma School is unique as it marks its 60th anniversary this year.
The Dhamma School at the Bellanwila Raja Maha Vihara premises was inaugurated on May 20, 1957 by Ven Bellanwila Sri Somarathane Nayaka Thera. The monk contributed much to the revival of the temple, under the tutelage of Ven Professor Kotagama Vachissara Thera with about 50 children. Now there are more than 2000 children who are studying Buddhism at this institute.
The late Ven Dr. Medagama Vajiranana Thera, was the founder Principal of this institute before taking over duties as the chief incumbent of the London Vihara. This priest was awarded with the honorary title O.B.E (Order of the British Empire) by the British Government.
As Principal he was succeeded by present chief incumbent of Bellanwila Raja Maha Vihara, also the Head of International Library of Singapore, Ven Dr. Bellanwila Dhammaratana Thera. Afterwards Ven Professor Bellanwila Wimalaratana Nayaka Thera the Chancellor of Sri Jayawardhanapura University and Viharaadikari Bellanwila Raja Maha Vihara accepted the post of Principal of the Dhamma School. He was succeeded by Ven Atapattukande Ananda Thero, The former Deputy Principal of Ananda College Colombo. During their tenure a strong and stable foundation was laid to uplift the religious education of Children, with a new vision.
In this Dhamma school, there are classes from Grade 1 to Dharmacharya level. Efforts are made to finish the recommended syllabus. On Sunday morning administering the precepts and formal religious observances are conducted.
In this Dhamma school, there are classes from Grade 1 to Dharmacharya level. Efforts are made to finish the recommended syllabus. On Sunday morning administering the precepts and formal religious observances are conducted. Afterwards the children are given the opportunity to showcase their skills in public speaking and activities like singing which is followed by an inspirational and advisory speech given by one of the teachers.
A large number of candidates sat for the Dhamma School Final and Dhammacharya examination, conducted by The Department of Examination in the year 2016. Their successes in education are regarded as significant achievements in the history of the Dhamma school. In addition the students have also emerged as winners in the contests conducted by the Boralesgamuwa Sashanarakshaka Mandalaya.
As the world continues to embrace the larest technology, people are compelled to live in a digitalized global village today. In this context to equip ourselves to meet the demands of an ever complex world, knowledge of a global language is absolutely necessary. Realizing this need the Dhamma school inaugurated an English medium Dhamma School branch affiliated to the Bodhiraja Dhamma School.
In the English medium section, which was started in 2008, students are prepared for the international Dhamma Examination in English medium, conducted by Y.M.B.A. in Sri Lanka. Ar present there are about 15 teachers and 400 students in the English section and the Dhamma school has classes from beginners up to Higher Diploma level. Some of the students who joined this section at the beginning, after having passed all the examinations such as the higher diploma and the Dhamma School final and Drarmacharya in English medium, are now engaged in teaching in the Dhamma School. The authorities at the school are very glad to say that some students have received distinctions at higher diploma and Dharmacharya exams, conducted in English medium.
In addition to education, the Dhamma School stresses on the moral well-being of the students and the inculcation of Buddhist traditions in the lives of the students. The majority of students observe eight precepts on all full moon poya days and involve themselves in various activities such as offering alms and helping needy faithful devotees. Furthermore, in connection with the commemoration of Vesak Full moon day a presentation of Buddhist devotional songs was conducted on two days. The presentation was held under the theme ‘Sambudu Siritha Vesak Bethi Gee Saraniya’ following the instructions of the custodian of the school Ven Professor Bellanwila Wimalaratana Nayaka Thero.
The Annual Teachers Day as well as the Independence Day were also celebrated with religious ceremonies. On Poson Full moon day of every year, about 200 students of the primary section of the school hold an afternoon performance of devotional Buddhist songs at the temple premises. The Fundamental aim of the Dhamma School is to produce a young Generation imbibed with Buddhist Values and moral excellence.
On this occasion plans have been made to celebrate the school’s 60th anniversary and conduct the prize giving ceremony for the year 2017. This is also the time to recall the efforts of the school’s founder monks and transfer much merit to their names. Also remembered are the Deputy principals Ven Pattiyawela Chandaloka Thera and Ven Dr. Urupallawe Hemarama thera, the tutorial staff and parents who contributed immensely for the spiritual well-being of the children of the area.
(Venerable Boralesgamuwe Pemaratana Thero (MA)
Principal, Sri Bodhiraja Dhamma School (Sinhala and English)
Rajamaha Viharaya, Bellanwila)
Add commentComments will be edited (grammar, spelling and slang) and authorized at the discretion of Daily Mirror online. The website also has the right not to publish selected comments.