Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Thero

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Agga Maha Pandita Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Thero
Ananda Maitreya ceyloneseThera ca1954.jpg
Most.Ven Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Thero
TitlePresident, Amarapura Nikaya
Vice Chancellor, Vidyodaya University
Professor of Buddhism
Abidhadja Maharattaguru [1]
Agga Maha Pandita [2]
Thripitaka Vaagishwaracharya Pravachana Visharada Raajakeeya Panditha
Saahithya Chakrawarthi
Born(1896-08-23)23 August 1896
Died18 July 1998(1998-07-18) (aged 101)
Religion Buddhism
Nationality Sri Lankan
School Theravada
Lineage Amarapura Sect

Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Thero (Sinhala : අග්ග මහා පණ්ඩිත බලංගොඩ ආනන්ද මෛත්‍රෙය මහනාහිමි;23 August 1896 – 18 July 1998) was a Sri Lankan scholar Buddhist monk and a personality of Theravada Buddhism in the twentieth century. [3] [4] He was highly respected by Sri Lankan Buddhists, who believe that he achieved a higher level of spiritual development through meditation. [2] [5] Sri Lankan Buddhists also considered Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Thero as a Bodhisattva, who will attain Buddhahood in a future life.

Sinhala language language of the Sinhalese people of Sri Lanka

Sinhala, also known as Sinhalese, is the native language of the Sinhalese people, who make up the largest ethnic group in Sri Lanka, numbering about 16 million. Sinhala is also spoken as a second language by other ethnic groups in Sri Lanka, totalling about four million. It belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. Sinhala is written using Sinhala script, which is one of the Brahmic scripts, a descendant of the ancient Indian Brahmi script closely related to the Kadamba script.

Sri Lanka Island country in South Asia

Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island country in South Asia, located in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal and to the southeast of the Arabian Sea. The island is geographically separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait. The legislative capital, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, is a suburb of the commercial capital and largest city, Colombo.

Theravada Branch of Buddhism

Theravāda is the most ancient branch of extant Buddhism today and the one that preserved their version of the teachings of Gautama Buddha in the Pāli Canon. The Pāli Canon is the only complete Buddhist canon which survives in a classical Indian language, Pāli, which serves as both sacred language and lingua franca of Theravāda Buddhism. For more than a millennium, Theravāda has focused on preserving the dhamma as preserved in its texts and it tends to be very conservative with regard to matters of doctrine and monastic discipline. Since the 19th century, meditation practice has been re-introduced and has become popular with a lay audience, both in traditional Theravada countries and in the west.


Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Thero lived a modest life and did a great service for the propagation of Buddhist philosophy. In recognition of his valuable service at the Sixth Buddhist council held in Burma, the Burmese government conferred on him the title "Agga Mahapandita" (Chief Great Scholar) in 1956. Later in March 1997, the Burmese government conferred on Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Thero the highest Sangha title, "Abhidhaja Maharatthaguru" (Most Eminent Great Spiritual Teacher), which is equivalent to Sangharaja, in honor of his unique service to the Buddhist religion. [3] [6]

Buddhist philosophy elaboration and explanation of the delivered teachings of the Buddha

Buddhist philosophy refers to the philosophical investigations and systems of inquiry that developed among various Buddhist schools in India following the nirvana of the Buddha and later spread throughout Asia. The Buddhist path combines both philosophical reasoning and meditation. The Buddhist traditions present a multitude of Buddhist paths to liberation, and Buddhist thinkers in India and subsequently in East Asia have covered topics as varied as phenomenology, ethics, ontology, epistemology, logic and philosophy of time in their analysis of these paths.

The Sixth Buddhist Council was a general council of Theravada Buddhism, held in a specially built cave and pagoda complex at Kaba Aye Pagoda in Yangon, Burma. The council was attended by 2500 monastics from eight Theravada Buddhist countries. The Council lasted from Vesak 1954 to Vesak 1956, its completion coinciding with the traditional 2500th anniversary of the Gautama Buddha's Parinibbāna. In the tradition of past Buddhist councils, a major purpose of the Sixth Council was to preserve the Buddha's teachings and practices as understood in the Theravada tradition.

Sangharaja is the title given in many Theravada Buddhist countries to a senior monk who is the titular head either of a monastic fraternity (nikaya), or of the Sangha throughout the country. This term is often rendered in English as 'Patriarch' or 'Supreme Patriarch'.


Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Thero was born on 23 August 1896 in Kirindigala, Balangoda, to the family of N. A. Mathises Appuhamy (Maddumahamy) and B. Heenmanike. [2] His birth name was Punchi Mahattaya aka William. Because Punchi Mahattaya's mother died when he was 14 days old, he was brought up by his father's brother and his wife. [2] Punchi Mahattaya had his primary education at Kumara Vidyalaya, Balangoda.

Balangoda Town in Sabaragamuwa Province, Sri Lanka

Balangoda is a large town in Ratnapura District, Sabaragamuwa Province, Sri Lanka, governed by an urban council located 143 kilometres (89 mi) away from Colombo and 43 kilometres (27 mi) from Ratnapura on Colombo - Batticaloa Highway(A4). It is one of the largest towns of the Sabaragamuwa Province. According to the 2001 census, Balangoda has a population of 16,875 and area of 16.2 km2.


Appuhamy or Appuhami from Appoe (Gentleman) and Hamie (Lord)(Hamie is a derivation of Sanskrit word Swami) is a Sinhala surname or a given name used in Sri Lanka (Ceylon). It is also a term used for Dugaganna Rala of Kandyan era kings.

At the age of 15 he had decided to enter the order of Buddhist monks and was ordained as a Samanera at the temple Sri Nandaramaya, Udumulla, Balangoda on 2 March 1911. [2] He was ordained under the guidance of Ven. Daamahana Dhammananda Thero and Deniyaye Seelananda Thero was his primary teacher (Upaadhyaayanwahanse). Balangdoda Ananda Maitreya Thero received his Upasampada on 14 July 1916 at Olu Gantota Udakukhepa Seema, Balangoda. [5]

Bhikkhu male Buddhist monk

A bhikkhu is an ordained male monastic ("monk") in Buddhism. Male and female monastics are members of the Buddhist community.


A sāmaṇera (Pali); Sanskrit śrāmaṇera, is a novice male monastic in a Buddhist context. A female novice is a śrāmaṇerī or śrāmaṇerikā.


Upasampadā (Pali) literally denotes "approaching or nearing the ascetic tradition." In more common parlance it specifically refers to the rite and ritual of ascetic vetting (ordination) by which a candidate, if deemed acceptable, enters the community as upasampadān (ordained) and authorised to undertake ascetic life.

Thero continued his studies after becoming a monk and later became a scholar in Buddhism and languages. Thero entered Ananda College, Colombo in 1919 and became a teacher of the same school in 1922. [5] Unusually for a Theravada teacher, he publicly studied some other traditions, such as Mahayana Buddhism, mantra and esoteric yoga. This is understandable when one realizes that he was a theosophist as well as a Buddhist. He was a self learner in most of his areas of studies.

Buddhism World religion, founded by the Buddha

Buddhism is the world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and spiritual practices largely based on original teachings attributed to the Buddha and resulting interpreted philosophies. Buddhism originated in ancient India as a Sramana tradition sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, spreading through much of Asia. Two major extant branches of Buddhism are generally recognized by scholars: Theravada and Mahayana.

Ananda College boys school in Sri Lanka

Ananda College is a national school for boys, with a student population exceeding 8,000 across 13 grades from primary to secondary classes, on a campus of 10 acres (40,000 m2) in Maradana, Colombo. The College was incepted as a result of the Sri Lankan Buddhist Renaissance which took place in the late 19th century. It was established on November 1, 1886, by the Buddhist Theosophical Society led by Colonel Henry Steel Olcott and became a government school in 1961. As of 2018 an academic staff of more than 300 was led by Mr. S.M. Keerthiratne. It was originally formed as a Sunday school.

Colombo Commercial Capital in Western Province, Sri Lanka

Colombo is the commercial capital and largest city of Sri Lanka by population. According to the Brookings Institution, Colombo metropolitan area has a population of 5.6 million, and 752,993 in the city proper. It is the financial centre of the island and a popular tourist destination. It is located on the west coast of the island and adjacent to the Greater Colombo area which includes Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, the legislative capital of Sri Lanka and Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia. Colombo is often referred to as the capital since Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is within the urban area of, and a suburb of, Colombo. It is also the administrative capital of the Western Province and the district capital of Colombo District. Colombo is a busy and vibrant place with a mixture of modern life and colonial buildings and ruins. It was the legislative capital of Sri Lanka until 1982.

Ananda Maitreya Thero was the first Dharmarcharya (teacher of Buddhism) at Nalanda College Colombo, when it was first established in 1925. It was Venerable Thero who named it 'Nalanda' and chose Apadana Sobhini Panna meaning wisdom beautifies character as Nalanda College's motto, which is still being used. [5] Later he became the professor of Mahayana Buddhism at Vidyodaya University, Sri Lanka. He was appointed to the post of Dean, Faculty of Buddhist Studies in 1963. On 1 October 1966, he was appointed to the post of Vice Chancellor at the same university. [5]

Motto Short sentence expressing a motivation

A motto is a maxim; a phrase meant to formally summarize the general motivation or intention of an individual, family, social group or organization. Mottos are usually found predominantly in written form, and may stem from long traditions of social foundations, or from significant events, such as a civil war or a revolution. A motto may be in any language, but Latin has been widely used, especially in the Western world.

Dean is a title employed in In academic administrations such as colleges or universities for a person with significant authority over a specific academic unit, over a specific area of concern, or both. Deans are common in private preparatory schools, and occasionally found in middle schools and high schools as well.

Ananda Maithreya Thero's first overseas Dhamma journey was to Kerala, India in 1926. He opened the Sri Dhammananda Pirivena, Colombo in 1930. On 18 January 1954, Thero was appointed to the post of Sangha Nayaka of Sabaragamu-Saddhammawansa Nikaya and in the same year he participated in the Sixth Buddhist council held in Myanmar. On 2 September 1969, Ananda Maitreya Thero was appointed as the President of Amarapura Sangha Sabhā of Sri Lanka.

Ananda Maitreya Thero was famous for his achievements in Buddhist meditation. He was known to have practiced both Samatha meditation and Vipassana meditation to a great extent and was considered to be having a highly developed mind through his meditation. Many Buddhists have experienced his powerful spiritual blessings in many more ways than one. His teachings and life have been an inspiration to many aspiring monks and lay followers.

Venerable Ananda Maitreya Thero along with Venerable Narada Thero and Venerable Madihe Pannaseeha Thero was and still is one of the foremostly revered and respected Buddhist monks of the twentieth century in Sri Lanka. His work and sacrifices with Anagarika Dharmapala was one of the steering forces of the upholding of Buddhism in Sri Lanka at one stage. Thero also traveled to many countries in the world for the propagation of Buddhism. Most Venerable Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Thero died at 11.40 p.m. on 18 July 1998 at the age of 101. [5]

Degrees and titles

In 1955, the Government of Myanmar (then Burma) conferred him the title "Agga Maha Pandita" (Great Chief Scholar) to honour his unprecedented service at the Sixth Buddhist council. [7] To honor his unique service to the Buddha Śāsana, Myanmar also conferred him the highest Sangha title, "Abhidhaja Maharatthaguru" (Most Eminent Great Spiritual Teacher), which is equivalent to Sangharaja in 1997. [7] Ananda Maithreya Thero received the "Thripitaka Vaagishwaracharya Pravachana Visharada Raajakeeya Panditha" honours degree from the Government of Sri Lanka. In addition to that, Nayaka Thero has received two honorary titles, "Saahithyasuuri" from Vidyodaya University and "Saahithya Chakrawarthi" from Vidyalankara University.

The humbleness of Maha Nayaka Thero's character is clearly shown, when he publicly stated that he had no liking whatsoever for titles and awards, but that he was rather accepting it to satisfy the presenter. He quoted Lord Buddha in his speech saying "I often remind myself of My Great Buddha's preaching in the Sanyuktha nikaya of the Abhidhamma Pitaka of the worthlessness and futileness of the craving for awards, titles and commanding positions".

Survey of writings

Ananda Maitreya Thero wrote nearly fifty books on sutras (scripture), vinaya (monastic discipline), on abhidhamma (metaphysics), and on Pali and Sanskrit grammar. [7] His book, Sakyasimhavadanaya hevat Buddha Charita (The Life of the Buddha), is considered as a textbook. [7] Most of his books are written in English and Sinhala languages.

Ananda Maitreya Thero translation of the Dhammapada is published internationally.

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  1. "Religious and Cultural Relations". Aggamaha Panditha Awardees. Embassy of Myanmar Sri Lanka. Archived from the original on 10 December 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Fernando, Thilak (1994-09-24). "Face to face with late Ven. Aggamaha Panditha Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Thero". The Island - Saturday Magazine. Retrieved 2010-05-04.
  3. 1 2 "Ven. Balangoda Ananda Maitreya: A Personal Appreciation". Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi. 2009. Archived from the original on 29 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
  4. "Famous People and the impact of the Theosophical Society". Katinka Hesselink. Archived from the original on 25 April 2010. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Wijenayake, Walter (17 July 2010). "Most Ven. Balangoda Ananda Maithreya thera". Sri Lanka Guardian. Archived from the original on 16 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
  6. "Ajivatthamaka Sila (Eight Precepts with Right Livelihood as the Eighth) in Burmese Buddhism". Buddhist Group of Kendal. 2015.
  7. 1 2 3 4 Yodhasinghe, Lionel (1998-07-20). "State Funeral for Ven. Ananda Maitreya" (in Sinhala). Daily News. Retrieved 2008-09-06.

Further reading