An outstanding philanthropist | Daily News
Ven. Pelpola Vipassi Thera

An outstanding philanthropist

The birthday of Ven. Pelpola Vipassi Thera; Pelpola Vipassi Foundation President, Japan-Sri Lanka Cultural Friendship Association President, Japan-Sri Lanka Friendship Free Childrens' School Director-General, International Pelpola Buddhist Viharaya Chief Incumbent, and Chief Sangha Nayake in Japan; falls today.

To mark the thera's birthday, a bodhi pooja to invoke blessings on him, will be held at the Japan-Sri Lanka Friendship Free Children's School today, at 9.00am.

The following is a brief outline of the yeoman service rendered by Ven. Pelpola Vipassi Thera to the country, as well as for the education of its children, for more than four decades, regardless of community, caste, creed or other differences.

In order to improve education among the children affected by the 30-year conflict, Ven. Vipassi Thera has extended his generosity to the East by distributing schoolbooks, school bags, and other stationery among over 1,000 underprivileged children to mark his birthday, at a ceremony held at the M.K.D.S. Gunawardena Memorial Hall in Kantale, on March 2.

At the age of 14, he was ordained under the name of Ven. Pelpola Vipassi Thera. Then, he entered the Maligakanda Pirivena in Maradana and received many opportunities to hold various top positions; including Deputy Administrator of the Indian Mahabodhi Society Kolkata and Bodh Gaya branches and Deputy Administrator and Examiner of the Sarnath Mahabodhi Society and the Mahabodhi Society Mumbai branch, where he had rendered a great service towards Buddhist missionary work in India for more than four years.

Building close ties with Japan since 1974, Ven. Vipassi Thera has made tremendous contributions to promoting the Buddhasasana between the two countries. He had been able to obtain the support of several Japanese philanthropists and donors to reach funds and other assistance for his religious and social work. The Peace Pagoda was constructed in Sri Pada by Ven Vipassi Thera, with the assistance of Japanese philanthropists and the dharmasala beside the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura is another symbol of his philanthropy.

He has also contributed and sponsored the setting up of many religious constructions, including Buddha statues, stupas, and sanghavasayas in many a temple throughout the country and abroad. Ven. Pelpola Vipassi Thera had an influence on one of his friends, Japanese Philanthropist Riyoichi Sasakawa, to make great donations, including the Sasakawa Hall, which plays a key role in promoting the Japanese language among Sri Lankan youth.

He also made several donations for many social and religious projects. On the request of former President J.R. Jayawardene, he made an initial donation of Rs.4 million to the President's Fund, as well as several other donations to the Mahaweli Fund and the Sevana Fund. He also contributed to constructing a new surgical ward donating Rs.50 million to the Colombo Castle Street Women's Hospital and the Vijaya Kumaratunga Memorial Hospital at Seeduwa, with the assistance of Japanese funds.

Ven. Pelpola Vipassi Thera has also made donations to construct the Kandy Sri Dalada Maligawa Ran Viyana (Golden Canopy) by providing an initial contribution of Rs.3 million to then Prime Minister R. Premadasa. The thera was also instrumental in initiating direct air links between Sri Lanka and Japan.

In order to appreciate the remarkable service rendered by this thera, the Japanese government has paid attention to build an International Pelpola Vipassi Buddhist Temple and Peace Centre in Gunma, Japan. Japanese people will be provided with an opportunity to listen to the speech delivered by late President J.R. Jayewardene at the Japanese Peace Treaty Conference in San Francisco in 1951, as the then Finance Minister of Sri Lanka, through this new center. The people of Japan always appreciate his noble task. Japan was about to divide into several parts and it united back because of the former President’s speech, the thera said. He said that a discussion was under way with the Japanese government to include late President JR Jayewardene's speech in Japanese school textbooks as well. The thera has also provided school equipment to promote education among the children belonging to members of the Security Forces and Police, as well as low-income families, on many an occasion. The donations made to improve the welfare of children of the Armed Forces and Police, as well as the welfare of disabled war heroes and the police, have exceeded Rs.80 million. Every year, nearly 200 children receive free pre-school education and training at the Japan-Sri Lanka Friendship Free Nursery School he has been running at the Pelpola Vipassi Foundation premises in Borella for over 30 years.

The social and religious services rendered by Ven. Pelpola Vipassi Thera is commendable, and we hope his initiatives reach out to more and more people in future.

Irangika Range


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