|Saturday, 5 July 2003|
Fourth death anniversary of founder of German Dharmaduta Society
The German Dharmaduta Society will be commemorating the fourth death anniversary of Asoka Weeraratna, the founder of the Society, at a public meeting which will be held at the Mahaweli Centre Auditorium today (July 5).
The following is a news report of a meeting held on August 7, 1956 on the occasion of the opening of the Headquarters and Monks' Training Centre of the German Dharmaduta Society (extracted from the Ceylon Daily News of August 8, 1956).
The Prime Minister opens training centre for Buddhist Missionaries
The Prime Minister, Mr. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike said yesterday that Buddhism could be spread only on Buddhistic principles whether in this country or outside. Before one tried to preach Buddhism to others one should practice it oneself, he added.
Mr. Bandaranaike was speaking at a public meeting after declaring open the headquarters and training centre of the Lanka Dhammaduta Society who are the sponsors of the Buddhist Mission to Germany. The buildings are in Bullers Road.
The mission to Germany was a very wise move because a number of people in the West were interested in the Buddha's teachings, he said. The mission would give them an opportunity to study the religion and also spread the Dhamma themselves.
Paying a tribute to Ven. Nanatiloka Maha Thera, the 80-year-old German Buddhist Monk, Mr. Bandaranaike said that they were all aware of the valuable contribution he had made to Buddhism.
If there was any assistance the government could give the society, it would not hesitate, he added.
U Ba Lwin, Burmese Envoy, said that the teaching of Buddhism in the West would be a priceless contribution to world peace and to a better understanding between East and West.
The Ven. Nanaponika Thera said that it was an occasion for happiness for German monks to be present when those buildings were being formally opened to provide a local centre for preparing for Buddhist missionary activities in Germany and other countries.
Apart from the long-cherished wish of German Buddhists to have Bhikkhus in their amidst, it was more than a century ago that the West had come to the East in earnest search of Eastern wisdom and, particularly the wisdom of the Buddha.
That quest was not solicited by the East. It would have been improper to offer their most precious possession, the Dhamma to unwilling and disinterested ears.
Speaking further, the Ven. Nanaponika said that in that spirit of respect the monks would not be going to Germany with a desire to convert or persuade anyone. Their first object would be to minister to the needs of the German Buddhists, and to train for ordination those who wished to join the Sangha in Germany. As for the non-Buddhists, the monks would provide opportunities to study the Buddha's teaching to those who wished.
The Ven. Henpitigedera Nanasiha Thera said that criticism had been levelled at the sponsors of the missionary movement and various allegations made against them. They should ignore it all and carry on the good work.
Mr. Asoka Weeraratna, Hony. Secretary of the Society, in his annual report said that it has been asked why they had to advertise in the Ceylon Press.
"I can boldly say that but for some of the newspapers of Ceylon our cause would never have been known so widely in so short a time.
I am therefore grateful to the press for the widespread service done to this movement." he said.
Among others who spoke were: Mr. Jayaweera Kuruppu, Minister of Local Government and Cultural Affairs; Mr. R.G. Senanayake, Minister of Trade and Commerce; Ven. Heenatiyana Dhammaloka Thera, Ven. Madihe Pannasiha Maha Nayaka Thera; Ven. Balangoda Ananda Maitriya Nayake Thera; and Mr. H.W. Amarasuriya.
The Ven. Baddegama Piyaratana Nayaka Thera presided.
Produced by Lake House