The Vipassana Bhavana Movement in Sri Lanka

The 2500th Buddha Jayanti saw a great revival in Buddhism in Sri Lanka. There was renewed attention to Vipassana Meditation. With this revival an international level meeting was held in order to discuss what needs to be done to mark the Buddha Jayanti. This meeting was chaired by then Prime Minister Sir John Kotelawala. The Burmese ambassador U Ba Lwin, Mr. H. Sri Nissanka, Mr. Abeysundara and Mrs. Regina Fonseka were also present. The Burmese ambassador suggested that the best thing to do to mark Buddha Jayanti was to promote Insight meditation techniques to the Sri Lankans, which is the only way to bring immense satisfaction to them. The Lanka Vipassana Bhavana Samitiya (Lanka Insight Meditation Society) was formed.

The society with the help from the government, made a formal request to the main meditation center in Burma the Thathana Yeiktha meditation center to send teachers to Sri Lanka to begin meditation courses for laypersons and monks. The chief in charge of this meditation center the Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw U Sobhana accepted the request after having long discussions with Venerable Kahatapitiya Sumathipala who was in Burma when the request came. Soon after this Ven. Sumathipala returned to Sri Lanka and organized the arrangements here. With his help the lay society acquired land for the first meditation center and laid other plans for promoting vipassana meditation. .

Formation of the Meditation Center

On 28th July of 1955, a Burmese delegation of four theros led by U Sajata, a close assistant to Mahasi Sayadaw, arrived in Sri Lanka. Under their guidance and with very much help from locals a complete meditation center was built in about six months at Kanduboda, a serene suburb 25kms from Colombo. On 8th January of 1956 the Kanduboda Siyane meditation center was officially declared open. Ven Kahatapitiye Sumathipala thero was elected as the chief instructor and in-charge of the meditation center as an honor to his immense commitment to the creation of the meditation center.