Venerable Nadimale Suddhamma Meheninwahanse,
Sri Subodha Sangamitta Dhamma Education Institution,
Developing Education for Nuns
The Buddha is considered to be the foremost educationist. The Buddha repeatedly instructed through the teachings given to his disciples, how to incorporate ‘right living’ in a practical sense in day to day life. The doctrine of Buddhism includes various aspects of teaching that will develop the three domains of learning – physically, emotionally and intellectually. This amply helps students of the modern day in every sense. The Dhamma as taught by the Buddha, leads to the gradual development of purity and wisdom.The Path he taught was the Noble Eight Fold Path, and the training is a gradual process starting with sila (virtue) followed by Samadhi one-pointedness/concentration) finally leading to panna (wisdom).
When teaching a variety of disciples from all walks of life, the Buddha used the most modern methods of teaching, i.e. student-centered learning, development-oriented learning and appropriate, contextual-learning. Indeed, the Buddha was the foremost educationist. When teaching the Dhamma to the four-fold assembly (Bhikkhu, Bhikkhuni, upasaka, upasika) the clarity and penetrative nature with which deep and subtle teachings were imparted, resulted in many of those who listened to the Buddha realizing Nibbana. The Dhamma that was preached by the Buddha made it possible for all monastics irrespective of gender, monks as well as nuns, to attain Nibbana.
The prosperity and development of a nation is best measured by the education it imparts to its citizens, irrespective of their age, gender, status in society, race, religion, disability or creed. A nation should be proud of its citizenry, proud of their culture, their self-esteem and their ability to co-exist with those of all races and religions with kindness and compassion, peace and tolerance. This should be the aim of an ideal education system. The same principles should be applied to monastics and laity, alike.
Indeed, this is the fundamental principle enshrined in the Dhamma taught by the Buddha.
Certain developed and developing nations in the world have begun to understand the value of such teachings and have begun to model their education systems accordingly. It is our belief that the same principles should apply when addressing the education systems pertaining to monastics. The basic tenets of the Buddha’s teachings are extremely applicable when developing education programs for bhikkhus and nuns alike.
At a time when Asian countries are still struggling to provide equality in education for all monastics, the education for Nuns particularly remains suboptimal. During such a time our most Venerable Nayaka Thero has been able to uplift the education and wellbeing of the entire four fold assembly of Sangha. We believe that this great effort has been made possible through the power of his past meritorious deeds. The Buddha repeatedly reminded us : ‘as long as the sasana consisting of bhikkhu, bhikkhuni, upaksaka, upasika persists, the Dhamma will remain.’ We need to constantly remind ourselves of this.
The main purpose of developing this institution is to propagate the dispensation of the Buddha, with the goal of Nibbana in mind. According to the Buddha’s advice the Nuns are expected to be “competent, have self-confidence, be well learned, be upholders of the Dhamma, practitioners of the Dhamma, be followers of the Dhamma, and illuminate the community.” So that in the future we will see skilled and disciplined, educated and cultured, visionary and enlightened female monastics. They will live by the teachings of the Buddha and be a sterling example for generations to come. Undoubtedly such a group will be a beacon of inspiration for other females to follow the Path of the Buddha and his teachings, and contribute enormously to the sasana, as the Buddha envisaged. We hope that in the near future these Nuns will be qualified to teach the Piriven system of monastic education to other Nuns.
Let this institute be a guiding light to a blossoming female monastic order and let it be a tribute to the thousands of bhikkhunis and nuns, and the lay female disciples of the Buddha who sacrificed so much to hand this tradition down, from 2600 years ago. This challenging initiative taken by our Most Venerable Wattegama Dhammawasa Nayaka Maha Thero in the midst of many obstacles is extremely praiseworthy. Our deepest gratitude to all of you.
Our great appreciation goes to the well learned senior monks, the most Venerable Nayaka Theros, Sasthraparhi Watagoda Vijitha Nayaka Maha Thero, (retired assistant Director of Education) Most Ven, Sasthrapathi, Udugama Sasanarathana Maha Thero for their generosity and service. Most Ven.Udaeeriyagama Dhammajiva Maha Thero for conducting meditation retreats for our student nus at Meethirigala Nissarana Wanaya and at Sri Subodha Retreat Centre. We also acknowledge the guidance and advice given by the Pirivenadipathi of the Sri Gnanalankara Bhikkhu Training Centre of Sri Subodharama Buddhist Centre, Sasthrapathi the most Ven. Madadeniye Punnarathana Maha Thero and the other Bhikkhus and Nuns, Sasthrapathi, Ven. Oruwita Dhamma Wijitha Meheninwahanse and Ven. Idamegama Vajira Meheninwahanse who are teachers and all other lay teachers and supporters.
We cannot forget the great contribution and hard work that Royal Pandith, Ven. Peramandiye Sunanda Bhikkhu, (The Course Coordinator of the Teaching Program) put in from the beginning until this day.
Our deep gratitude also goes to: Dr. Arosha Weerakoon from Brisbane Australia for being the primary sponsor of this teachers thanksgiving event. Our treasurer, Dr. Shirani Jayasinghe for being the main sponsor of the magazine. Dr. Mahesha Weerakoon for sponsorship (Australia), Dr. Mangalika Nugaliyadda for providing the fresh flowers to decorate the venue, organising Dana for Nuns, as well as her many other contributions. Those who supported in many ways from the beginning, Dr. Inoka Karunaratne for coordinating the computer studies, Mrs Rani Rajapakse and Mr K. Navinna who supported with the administration work with Mrs Kumari Jayasinghe and Miss Wasana Abeydeera for her tireless efforts in printing work. We also thank all other supporters of this institution living both here and in Australia and those who offered Dana to the nuns.Through the merit you gained from this punya-karma may you all realise Nibbana in this life itself. May you all be able to lead a happy and peaceful life.
We wish that our student Nuns realise the path to Nibbana and be competent to deliver the Buddha's message to others.