Ven Rerukane Chandawimala Maha Swaminwahanse
Very few of our learned Sangha had the ability and proficiency to dispense the teachings of the blessed one, in a way that many sinhala Buddhists could understand. The Tipitaka has been translated several times to Sinhala by eminent scholars yet the translations suffers somewhat due to the limitations of the vocabulary or lack of understanding. Many lay scholars and members of Sangha has written books in sinhala for the benefit of the ordinary man. But upto now no one writer has been able to do justice to this task as the Most Venerable Rerukane Chandawimala Maha Thero. He had written over 3o books in sinhala language extending from the basic lay mans duties up to the deepest Abhidhamma teachings. These books has been instrumental in countless laymen entering the sasana and millions getting in to following Dhamma.
Ven Maha Thero was born on the 19th July 1897 in the Rerukana village in the Kalutara district. His father was Don Bastian Paulis Gunawardena and mother was Munasinghage Podinona. His lay name was Reubel Gunawardena and he attended the government school at Veediyagoda up the the Class 2. He entered bhikkuhood under the tutelage of Ven U Vinayalankara of Burma on 8th January 1906., who resided in Rerukana area during the time. Two years in the robes he was sent to Burma with several other sinhala novices for training on 27th January 2008. Ven thero spend nearly ten years in Burma and learned Tipitaka in greater detail under the Burmese masters. Ven Chandawimala Thero recieved higher ordination on 26th October 1917 at the Dhammikarama in Burma.
After returning to Ceylon he stayed briefly in the Dematagoda Maha Visuddharama temple, where he met Ven Arangala Siridhamma Thero who was an expert in Abhidharma. Ven Siridhamma noticed the clarity with which this new monk could explain the difficult doctrine and encouraged him to write Dhamma books in sinhala. Ven Thero left Dematagoda and staied at Wellabada Pansala closer to Panadura., where wrote his fist book “Nirwana Winishchaya” at the age of 29. Ven Thero moved from temple to temple staying in about four places for periods not exceeding three years. Ven thero praciticed diligently during all possible hours and wrote what he learned whenever possible.
When the books were published they became very popular and the venerable thero became famous. Yet he shunned publicity and refused many honorary titles many organisations wanted to bestow on him. He was persuaded by Ven Yakkaduwe Pannarama thero to teach Abidharma at the Vidhyalankara Bhikku College.
Ven thero was bestowed with Sahithya Chakrawarthi title by the Vidyalankara University in 1963 and the Amarapura nikaya maha sangha sabha .
All books he wrote are made available in Sinhala language at a very nominal price from the organisation set up at the Pokunuwita Temple.
Ven thero passed away on 4th July 1997 at the age of 101 at the temple premisses and the last rights were conducted on the same day as he wished. We believe he already achieved the supreme bliss in his life time.
An interview by late Mr Gunadasa Liyange on the life story of the most Venerble Maha Swaamin wahanse. This video includes scenes from the funeral also.