Venerable K. Anuruddha graduated from the University of Ceylon in 1963, obtaining an honours degree in Pali and Buddhist Studies, with Eastern Philosophy and Psychology as his subsidiary subjects. In recognition of his superlative performance at the final examination he was appointed as an Assistant Lecturer at the University of Ceylon. However, in 1964 he opted to join the academic staff of the newly founded Kelaniya University, where he continued to serve until his retirement in 1994.
For his doctoral research he entered the University of Lancaster in the United Kingdom where he pursued research on the social dimensions of Buddhist teachings. He reached the peak of his academic career when he had the very rare privilege of being appointed by the President of Sri Lanka as the first-ever Vice Chancellor of the Buddhist and Pali University of Sri Lanka. During his stewardship as its Vice Chancellor, with the advice and guidance of Venerable Walpola Rahula, he was able to elevate it to the level of an international centre of excellence for Buddhist studies attracting both local and foreign students. It was during his tenure as Vice Chancellor that the university was admitted to the Commonwealth Union of Universities headquartered in London. It was also during this period that the Sri Lanka Journal of Buddhist Studies was launched.
After his retirement he taught for four years at Fo Kuang-san in Taiwan and at the University of the West in California and also in The Buddhist Library of Singapore, Foo Ei Chan Buddhist College, and Buddhist Mission in Singapore. His latest appointment was as a Visiting Professor at Centre of Buddhist Studies of the University of Hong Kong, while serving as a teacher in Pali and Buddhist Studies at Chi Lin College in Hong Kong.
Among the books he published while in Hong Kong are (1) A Dictionary of Pali Idioms, (2) The First and Second Buddhist Councils, Five Versions, English Translations from Pali And Chinese, which he prepared in collaboration with Mary M. Y. Fung and S. K. Siu, and (3) A Guide To Pali: The Language of Theravada Buddhism.
In 2009 Venerable Professor K. Dhammajoti and I co-edited a felicitation volume to be presented to the Venerable Professor Kakkapalliye Anuruddha Mahathera on his 80th birth day, in recognition of his contributions to the multiplex branches of Pali and Buddhist Studies. It was an anthology of learned papers written by his students, colleagues, friends, and well-wishers from Sri Lanka and abroad and it was presented to him at a grand ceremony held in Colombo on 27th January 2010.
I have had the honour and privilege of closely associating with the Venerable Professor since 1959 as a fellow-teacher at the Universities of Kelaniya and Hong Kong. Our Venerable Professor was a scholar-monk with vast erudition, critical acumen, and long professional experience. As Venerable Professor Bellanwila Wimalaratana, the Chancellor of Sri Jayawardhanepura University says, “He was indeed an epitome of Buddhist recluseship, a treasure-house of Dhamma-knowledge, a role model for all bhikkhus, and an invaluable jewel in the Sangha Sasana.” He had a winsome personality and was full of the spirit of camaraderie, endearing himself to his students as well as fellow-teachers.
It was on the 4th of September this year, together with my wife, Mr. Ho Sai Yiu from Hong Kong, and Professor and Mrs. Endo, that I met him last at his monastic residence in Sri Lanka – some three weeks before he passed away.
May the Venerable Kakkapalliye Anuruddha Nayaka Mahathera attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana.
Icchitam patthitam tuyham khippam’eva samijjhatu;
Purentu citta-samkappa cando pannarasi yatha.
Centre of Buddhist Studies
The University of Hong Kong