Ceremony recognises yeoman service rendered to perpetuate Sasana
Loss of the Bhikkhuni order a great setback to the Sasana
Bhikkhuni was a keen student and best amongst all clergy studying Buddhist Philosophy
Country yet to recognise the work done by Bhikkhuni Kusuma
As internationally-acclaimed scholar and Buddhist monastic Ven. Dr. Bhikkhuni Kusuma turned 90 years, her clergy and lay disciples gathered on October 5 at MahamegaramaTemple in Maharagama to felicitate their beloved teacher.
Chief Incumbent of the temple, Amarawansa Thera delivered the introductory sermon and went on to explain the yeoman service rendered by Bhikkhuni Kusuma and her husband in lay life the late Asoka Devendra. The temple which was started 60 years ago as a small mud hut is today an elegant institute.
Ven. Angirasa Thera from Galaha spoke at length about the Bhikkhuni order. Although the hall was packed to capacity, the Ven. Thera declared that he was disappointed by the numbers present. He said thousands of saffron-robed nuns should have been there to pay homage to Bhikkhuni Kusuma. He made reference to a statement made by Ven. Kirinde Dhammananda Thera, Chief Sangha Nayaka of Malaysia, who had likened the Buddhist dispensation today to a three-legged table. One leg is missing. The Buddha instituted the four-folded society – Bhikkhu, Bhikkhuni, Upasaka and Upasika. The loss of the Bhikkhuni order is a great setback to the Sasana, the Bhikkhu reminded. He elaborated on the arduous task undertaken by Bhikkhuni Kusuma to study Pali and Vinaya despite being a science scholar. Ven. Angirasa said the country was yet to recognise the amount of work done by this scholar Bhikkhuni to perpetuate Sasana and insisted that everyone recognise and acknowledge her selfless service.
Prof. Ariyapala Perera of Sri Jayewardenepura University, who was the Buddhism lecturer of Bhikkhuni Kusuma at the varsity, spoke about her academic career. Bhikkhuni by then had a first degree in Buddhist Philosophy, Pali and English. One day, she had told her lecturer that she wanted to read for a master’s degree in Buddhism and he being the Professor of Buddhist Philosophy had agreed and was happy to support her. A few years later she had visited him again and said she wanted to do a PhD in Buddhist Philosophy and again, the professor had obliged and assisted her. Prof. Perera revealed that the Bhikkhuni was a keen student and best amongst all clergy studying Buddhist Philosophy at the university then. He said it was a pity that monks, the government and Buddhist lay society had not recognised the value of Bhikkhuni Kusuma who pioneered the Bhikkhuni order of today.
Bhikkhuni Kusuma also spoke, not about herself, but about the Eight-fold Path. She said as human beings it was an opportunity to follow the path laid out by the Buddha. It leads to the ending of all suffering because it is the ending of rebirth, Bhikkhuni reminded. It was a great joy for her, Ven. Bhikkhuni said, to see all of her friends, well- wishers and relatives in the audience. She thanked her pupil Ven. Kotte Dhammadinna who succeeded her as head of Ayya Khema Centre at Olaboduwa in Gonapola for organising the ceremony.
The ceremony was followed by a Sangikadana offered to both monks and Bhikkhunis. Lunch was also served to over 300 guests who attended the event.