Most Venerable Ahangama Rathanasiri Mahathera


 Venerable Ahangama Rathanasiri Mahathera was born at Ahangama in the District of Matara in Sri Lanka, on April 9 1950. He had his primary education at Dharmarama Vidyalaya and Rohana Maha Vidyalaya, both at Ahangama. At the age of 13, he was ordained a sāmanera (novice) on October 26 1963 at Jayasumanarama Vihara, Ahangama, under the tutelage of Most Venerable Pathegama Saddhatissa Mahathera and Most Venerable Godauda Sorata Mahathera. He received Upasampadā (Higher Ordination) at higher ordination ceremony presided over by His Holiness Madihe Pannasiha Mahanayaka Thera, Supreme Patriarch of Amarapura Dharmarakshita Nikaya (Fraternity) of Sri Lanka, which took place at Gangarama Vihara, Pelena, on June 30 1971.

 From 1963 to 1968, he was a student at Dharmodaya Pirivena (Buddhist Monastic College), Ahangama, where he received his primary monastic education. Venerable Rathanasiri then got admitted to a prestigious seat of Buddhist learning in Sri Lanka, the Vidyodaya Pirivena, Colombo, where he studied from 1969 to 1973 and graduated with the Certificate in Final Examination, offering Sinhala, Pali, Sanskrit, Buddhism and Culture, History, and Logic and Theory. It was in 1973 that he got his admission to Pirivena Teachers’ Training College, Rathmalana, where he earned his Diploma in Parivenacarya upon successful completion of the studies and submission of his thesis on “Buddhist Education Methods.” In 1982, he entered the University of Kelaniya and obtained his B.A. (Honours) degree in Buddhist Philosophy and German. During the period 1981-1982 he studied English at Aquinas College in Colombo and graduated with a Diploma. Continually enthusiastic about further knowledge in Oriental Studies, he continued monastic education and obtained the highest qualification in the filed in 1983: the Pundit Degree. From 1983 to 1985, he studied at the Postgraduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies of the University of Kelaniya and obtained his M.A.

 Venerable Rathanasiri Thera was Principal of Sri Naga Pirivena, Weliweriya, Gampaha, from 1981 to 1985, and Principal of Nalanda Pirivena (Monastic Training Institute), Mount Lavinia, from 1985 to 1989.

 In October 1989, he left for Canada, where he assumed duties of Buddhist spiritual and academic service as a resident monk at the Toronto Mahavihara Buddhist Meditation Centre, the oldest Theravada Buddhist Centre in Canada. In 1992, he was appointed Head (Viharadhipathi) of the Mahavihara. In June 1997, Venerable Rathanasiri Thera became the Viharadhipathi of Jayasumanarama Vihara, Ahangama, after the passing away of his teacher.

 With the unanimous consent and approval of the Sri Dharmarakshita Chapter of the All Sri Lanka Amarapura Maha Sangha Sabha headed by His Holiness Madihe Pannasiha Mahanayaka Thera, Venerable Rathanasiri was elevated to the position of “Sammāna Nāyake” (Honourary Prelate), in recognition of his deep understanding of the Dhamma and his devotion to the services of the Buddha Sāsana in Sri Lanka and abroad.

Toronto Maha Vihara 2004