Dozens of devotees came to offer lunch dāna at Nalanda Centre on 15 January in honour of Ven. Sri Pandita Henepola Gunaratana Nāyaka Thero on the 61st anniversary of him becoming a ‘Dhammaduta’ (missionary monk). In 1955, then 28 year-old Ven. Gunaratana left Sri Lanka on his first posting to serve the Buddhist community among the ‘untouchables’ in India.
In 1958, at the invitation of the late Ven. K. Sri Dhammananda Nāyaka Thero, Ven. Gunaratana came to Malaysia and assisted in Dhamma teaching at the Brickfields Buddhist Vihāra. After a decade in Kuala Lumpur, Ven. Gunaratana left for the United States in 1968 at the invitation of Washington Buddhist Vihāra for a resident teacher there.
In the United States, Ven. Gunaratana completed his tertiary studies and earned a Ph.D from the American University. In 1985, he established Bhāvanā Society which has become a well-known and regarded Dhamma centre under his leadership.
Ven. Gunaratana’s rare combination of Dhamma scholarship and meditation practice made him a highly-respected teacher. He was invited to many countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australasia to teach Dhamma. He also authored several best-selling books such as ‘Mindfulness in Plain English’, and ‘The Path of Serenity and Insight’. Ven. Gunaratana’s humble, jovial, and friendly personality also endeared him to many Americans and Asians of all ethnicities. His students and devotees affectionately address him as ‘Bhante G’.
On this anniversary of Ven. Gunaratana becoming an illustrious ‘Dhammaduta’ he is today, let us honour him with loving-kindness and gratitude for being a modern torch-bearer of Dhamma! We wish ‘Bhante G’ good health, comfort, peace and success in all his noble endeavours. Sadhu, Bhante!