amidst a canopy of green
By D. C. Ranatunga
Over one hundred monks were present for the midday 'dana'. It was
a rare sight to see them walking silently down the pathway on pindapatha
in keeping with tradition dating back to the days of the Buddha
when monks went on alms rounds for their food.
came in single file, one after the other, each carrying the alms
bowl. Once their feet were washed, they moved on and patiently let
the devotees serve the dana into their bowls. Then they retired
into the alms hall a little distance away and sat down to eat the
food they had been offered.
monks were followed by a group of nuns clad in their deep brown
robes. We were at Nauyana forest monastery, a few miles away from
Kurunegala on the Dambulla road. Turning left just before reaching
Melsiripura, we drove along a newly tarred road, certain sections
of which were still being given the final touches.
neatly kept pathway led us on a steady climb through the forest,
the greenery all around providing a cool canopy. It was a hot sunny
morning, yet the shade protected us from the heat. The serene undisturbed
environment seemed ideal for meditation and the pathway led to the
kutis where monks stay and meditate.
monastery is in the midst of a 200-acre forest. The government reserve
has been given over on the strict understanding that the trees will
be protected. The temple authorities are going one better. While
protecting the existing flora, they have a programme planned to
grow more trees including mahogany and other species.
all, there are kutis for at least 60 monks. These have been built
away from the entrance to the monastery where the shrine room and
the preaching hall are located. Facilities are also provided for
the devotees who come to offer alms. It's only during a restricted
period that visitors are allowed into the areas where the kutis
are. This is to avoid disturbing the meditating monks.
visit coincided with a 'pinkama' organised to commemorate the birthday
of the chief monk, the highly respected and renowned meditation
teacher Venerable Nauyane Ariyadahamma Nayaka Thera.
forest monastery is one in a chain of nearly 150 meditation centres
functioning under the Nayaka Thera throughout the island. It has
its headquarters at Galduwa near Ambalangoda. The entire operation
is managed by a Sangha Sabha, the Galduwa Kalyani Yogashrama Sansthawa
assisted by the lay 'dayaka sabhas' at each venue.
there are monks in permanent residence at the different monasteries,
foreign monks also come here for short periods. Laymen both local
and foreign can also stay for short periods and practise meditation.