Ven. Bhikkuni Kusuma (MA, PhD), a towering figure in the Bhikkuni Sasana in Sri Lanka, was felicitated recently as a consummate spiritual warrior who practices the Buddha’s path to perfection and is widely revered and respected for her noble aim of leading many others to spiritual liberation through the teachings of the Buddha.
The felicitation ceremony at the Kelani Rajamaha Vihara on September 27, coincided with her 88th birthday.
Ven. Bhikkuni Kusuma is a fully ordained Buddhist nun from Sri Lanka who has pioneered the re-establishment of Theravada Female Buddhist Order in Sri Lanka. She is the first woman (her lay name being Kusuma Devendra) in Sri Lanka to don the robes of a Bhikkuni after a lapse of the Bhikkuni order for nearly 1,000 years. She holds BA (1974), and MA (1982) in Therawada Buddhism. She received her PhD (1999) from the Buddhist and Pali University of Sri Lanka.
Her doctorial dissertation on Bhikkuni Vinaya (rules of discipline for ordained Buddhist nuns) is regarded as a manual for Buddhist nuns in Sri Lanka. She is a well published scholar who has participated in several international conferences. Now in her late eighties, she continues with courage and determination to bring about higher ordination of Bhikkunis in Sri Lanka and abroad. Ven. Bhikkuni, whose abode in Sri Lanka is the meditation retreat, Arya Kema International Buddhist Meditation Centre,Olaboduwa, off Gonapola, Horana, periodically travels overseas to teach meditation.
“Mrs. Kusuma Devendra entered the order of Buddhist nuns in 1996 as Ven. Bhikkuni Kusuma at the Kelaniya Rajamaha Viharaya and I remember as if it were yesterday that I administered her the precepts (Seela) of a Bhikkuni. I find it as a significant event in my personal life and in the history of the Kelaniya temple. Bhikkuni Kusuma has been respected by the Mahasangha in the country.
Addressing the felicitation ceremony Chief Incumbent of the Kelaniya Rajamaha Vihara and Ven. Prof. Kollupitiye Mahinda Sangharakkita Thera said Ven. Bhikkuni Kusuma who pioneered the revival of Bhikkuni Sasana in Sri Lanka would go down in the annals of history of Buddha Sasana as an exalted teacher dedicated to the arduous spiritual path and commands high recognition for her dedicated service to the Bhikkuni Sasana in Sri Lanka.
“Mrs. Kusuma Devendra entered the order of Buddhist nuns in 1996 as Ven. Bhikkuni Kusuma at the Kelaniya Rajamaha Viharaya and I remember as if it were yesterday that I administered her the precepts (Seela) of a Bhikkuni. I find it as a significant event in my personal life and in the history of the Kelaniya Temple. Bhikkuni Kusuma has been respected by the Mahasangha in the country.
She was destined to receive her higher ordination under the tutelage of then President of the Mahabodhi Society Ven Mapalagama Vipulasra Thera at the Migadaya in Isipathana where the Buddha had preached the first discourse Dhamma Chakka Pavattana Sutta. Then other Bhikkunis with her received the higher ordination. It was the revival of higher ordination in the Bhikkuni Sasana in Sri Lanka. Ven. Bhikkuni Kusuma deserves the respect of every Buddhist for her dedication, unstinted courage and determination in re-establishing the Bhikkuni Sasana in Sri Lanka after a long interval of about 1000 years.” Ven. Mahinda Sangharakkitha Thera further said.
The two day “ Guru Upahara” felicitation ceremony organised by student Bhikkunis and the lay disciples of the Ven. Bhikkuni Kusuma included preaching of sermons, Pirith chanting, KapRuk Poojas, Buddha Poojas, and meditation session. Ven. Bhikkuni Kusuma delivered an Anusasana.