By Virgini Perera – Photos By Asoka Fernando
Ven. Rajakeeya Panditha Dharshanapathi Ambanpola Seelarathana, Master of Philosophy, Chief incumbent of Shanthi Vihara of Kelaniya who was ordained by Rev. Meegoda Kalyanatissa, is the son of Wijetilaka Banda and Gnanawathie Menike of Yatawatte Matale. He served as a vice principal and is renowned for his knowledge of astrology.
Following the example set by Lord Buddha, his heart holds a compassion unsurpassed. As the Bodhi leaves sway in the soft breeze, the compassion of the Buddha is felt everywhere here.
Devotees sit in reverence as the serenity fill their minds. It is to the Rev. Seelarathana that they all look upto for guidance and help in the ways of the Dhamma.
Rev. Seelarathana’s work however goes beyond all borders. He has generously contributed to the hospital where he was born and uplifted the standards of several educational institutions where he studied. His services at Shanthi Viharaya to a large number of people who attend it for numerous astrological matters have been much appreciated. He happens to be a student of Pundith Erman of Kerala India. He has been utilising the funds collected from these activities for the benefit of society. Shanthi Viharaya celebrates it’s 15th anniversary on June 29. The land where this viharaya is built was a quagmire and the priest purchased it for the purpose of constructing a temple.
“I purchased this quagmire and without the guidance or supervision from any engineer, architect or draftsmen I managed to construct this beautiful viharaya with all the essential features. This has been completed with a six floor building as a hostel for student priests, two storeyed house for the priests, a shrine room, a Bodhi and four Devalas. Matters have been finalised for the construction of a Dagaba. This was done within a short period of 15 years. There were no special donations only the earnings from the educational activities performed by this institute helped to take this off the ground. The services are not confined merely to Kelaniya but to the entire country. The country has benefited from this viharaya — both psychologically and physically. Foreigners are entranced by its tranquility,” said Ven. Seelarathana.
During the last two years about 70 student priests were boarded here and they followed courses in English as well as Tamil. This was aided by the Ministry of Buddha Sasana. There are future plans for similar educational activities. Educational assistance to needy children is given by this institution irrespective of caste, colour and creed. The services here bring great credit to this great monk. However it is not credit that he is looking at. News reports in newspapers have brought in great help. So far 12 houses have been constructed for families without homes; six are currently being constructed. The priest has also constructed a social centre in his own village called Ambanpola. He has helped to renovate the houses of the area and also to construct new houses. He has made contributions to meet the needs of school-going children
The construction of a maternity home at Yatawatta hospital located at a distance of 14 miles from Ambanpola, Matale, named after his mother Gnanawathie Menike, is another remarkably meritorious deed by the venerable priest. He has also made arrangements to open savings accounts with an initial deposit of Rs. 1000 for every child born in that maternity home. He is contemplating continuing this arrangement until his passing on. To rescue the cattle destined to slaughter is one of the more greater deeds of this priest.
“When I was serving at Colombo North Agamethi Vidyalaya ( Primary College) I did not accept my salary. Rather, it was utilized for the benefit of the students. I constructed a shrine room at a cost of Rs. 8,000,000 which has a statute of the Lord Buddha. It can accommodate about 40 children,” he said.
He was responsible for constructing a home for the Sangha worth Rs. 4 million at the Dharmawardenaramaya of Galketigama, Puswelitenna in Kurunegala. He has also offered a van worth Rs. 2.5 Million to Kapukotuwa Shanthi Nikethana Pirivena and has been responsible for constructing a hostel for the priests. Water service facilities were provided by this exceptional priest to Udasgiriya school along with a library. “I have organised another nine priests to follow me in this process of meritorious deeds. Astrology is a noble study. I call out to people to participate in these meritorious deeds. I take this opportunity to transfer merit to those who participated in these deeds for the last 15 years.”
The social service organisation called Wayamba Sarana Ikada has conferred the title of “Jothisha Seva Vibhushana” to this priest in consideration of the great service rendered by him to society.