Sri Lanka’s President Inspects Progress of Nagananda International Buddhist University
Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena visited the site of Nagananda International Buddhist University at Bollegala in the suburbs of Colombo on Tuesday to view the progress of construction. Also present were Ven. Dr. Bodhagama Chandima Thero, executive director of the university and chief incumbent of Manelwatta Viharaya, along with ministers Lakshaman Kiriella, Ruwan Wijayawardena, Arjuna Ranathunga, and Jagath Sumathipala.
The university is modeled on the ancient Nalanda University, the site of which lies in the eastern Indian state of Bihar. Believed to have been the world’s first international residential university, Nalanda was a renowned mahavihara or Buddhist monastery and seat of learning from the 5th century to circa 1200. At its peak, the school accommodated more than 2,000 teachers and over 10,000 students, attracting scholars from as far away as China, Korea, and Tibet.
Although still under construction, with completion scheduled for next year, Nagananda International Buddhist University is already functioning in temporary buildings, with 300 Sri Lankan and foreign students undertaking studies, including students from China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Thailand. The foundation stone was laid in June 2013.
The university is being built on 50 acres of land belonging to Manelwatta Viharaya at an estimated cost of US$500,000. The completed complex will comprise lecture halls, administrative buildings, a library, an auditorium to accommodate 1,500 people, and segregated residential facilities for male and female students and monastics. The university operates faculties of Buddhism and Philosophy, Holistic Medicine, Social Sciences, Early Buddhist Sources, Practical and Applied Buddhism, and Systems of Medicine.
The site for the institute was donated by the late former president J. R. Jayawardene and his wife in 1962 on the understanding that it be used to establish a center of Buddhist education. The university is being built under the instruction of Ven. Bodagoda Chandima Thera. Ven. Master Chin Kung Thera, president of the Pure Lands Learning College Association, Australia, is the university’s main sponsor and advisor.
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Nagananda International Buddhist University
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