The University of Kelaniya in Sri Lanka awarded the renowned Buddhist scholar and monastic Venerable Professor Emeritus Kuala Lumpur Dhammajoti with an honorary Doctor of Literature degree at its 137th convocation on 18 August.
The award was given for the “exceptional contribution made by Ven. Prof. Emeritus Kuala Lumpur Dhammajoti for the upliftment of Buddhist academics, for the betterment of the University of Kelaniya, and for working toward increasing the international recognition of the University of Kelaniya.” (UOKToday)
The presentation was made at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall in Colombo, and the citation was read by Ven. Chair and Sr. Prof. Madawachchiye Dhammajothi, director of the Postgraduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies (PIPBS).
The ceremony was presided over by Aggamahapandita Most Ven. Prof. Kollupitiye Mahinda Sangharakkitha Maha Thera, chief incumbent of the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara and chancellor of the University of Kelaniya. Also attending were Sr. Prof. Nilanthi de Silva, the University of Kelaniya’s vice-chancellor, the deans of faculties, the registrar, academic and non-academic staff, and graduates and their families.
“Congratulations to Bhante. Bhante has made incredible contributions in the Buddhist academic field and in promoting the university of Kelaniya. Therefore, Bhante truly deserves this honour,” said Dr. Amrita Nanda, honorary lecturer at the University of Hong Kong’s (HKU) Centre of Buddhist Studies (CBS) and a disciple of Ven. Dhamamjoti, in a post on the Facebook page of The Buddha-Dharma Centre of Hong Kong (BDCHK). (Facebook)
“I feel very happy to see the university’s decision to do this,” said Bhikkhu Pragnapal, who will undertake his master’s degree in Buddhist studies at CBS in September with a scholarship sponsored by the BDCHK. “I feel proud of the University of Kelaniya, where I studied and worked as an academic member for some time, for showing gratitude to the professor for his academic achievements and compassionate support for hundreds of students and many institutes around the world.” (Facebook)
In his award acceptance address, titled “The Buddhist Ideal of Transformational Education Inspiration for Modern University Education,” Ven. Dhammajoti emphasized the Buddhist ideal of balance, harmony, and development of the personality, as elucidated in the teachings of the five spiritual faculties: faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom. Ven. Dhammajoti observed that these offered a thoroughly integrated strategy that result in intellectual integration and liberating understanding. (YouTube)
Born in Kuala Lumpur, Ven. Dhammajoti is a founder and director of the BDCHK. He is the founding editor of the Journal of Buddhist Studies, published annually by the Sri Lankan Centre for Buddhist Studies. He is also regarded as one of the foremost scholars on the early Buddhist text the Sarvastivada Abhidharma.
Ven. Dhammajoti has previously been awarded the following academic posts and honors: Chair Professor, School of Philosophy, Renmin University of China; Retired Glorious Sun (Endowed) Professorship in Buddhist Studies, HKU; Honorary Rector, International Buddhist College, Hat Yai, Thailand; and Adjunct Professor, University of Pune, India.
Ven. Dhammjoti began his academic career at the University of Kelaniya. He described his academic background in an interview: “I was a professor attached to the University of Kelaniya. I also worked at the Post Graduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies as a professor. There I served first as a senior lecturer from 1982. Then I left for the University of Hong Kong. . . . I went there in the capacity of a visiting lecturer and I was asked to stay, and they gave me the appointment of Endowed Professor. . . . I retired in 2015, and then I started my own center called the Buddha-Dharma Centre of Hong Kong. I am the director and chairman there. My courses are affiliated with the University of Kelaniya, where I initially came from.” (Daily News)
In addition to academic work and pursuits, Ven. Dhammajoti conducts charitable activities, mostly in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. In recent years, during Sri Lanka’s economic crisis, the BDCHK, with the assistance of Ven. Dhammajoti, donated necessities to vulnerable Sri Lankan families. A portion of the funds raised were distributed to educational institutions in Sri Lanka, including the University of Kelaniya, which have been struggling financially as a result of the Sri Lankan government unexpectedly terminating or reducing pledged grants.
The Buddha-Dharma Centre of Hong Kong (Facebook)
137 Convocation of the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka (YouTube)
Helping Others, My Mission – Ven. Prof. K. L. Dhammajoti (Daily News)
Venerable Professor Emeritus Kuala Lumpur Dhammajoti, awarded the Honorary Degree Doctor of Literature (UOKToday)
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