Thotagamuwe Sri Rahula himi


Thotagamuwe Sri Rahula himi Thero was born in 1827 to a wealthy family in the village of Thotagamuwe, Sri Lanka. His parents were Don Adam and Doña Alicia de Silva Gunasekera. He was the second child of six children. When he was five years old, his father died and he was brought up by his mother.

In 1834, at the age of seven, he started his schooling at a local school named Hendala Wattakele Vidyalaya. In 1840, he entered into Ananda College, Colombo and became one of its first students. After passing the Senior Cambridge Examination in 1850, he decided to become a monk instead of entering the University of London as his brothers had done.

In 1851, he entered the Sri Dharmaraja Vihara in Kandy and became a novice under the guidance of Ven. Upali Thera. He was given the name Sri Rahula Thero by Ven. Migettuwatte Gunananda Thera. On completion of his novitiate, he received Higher Ordination as a Bhikkhu on 1853 at the age of 26.

thotagamuwe sri rahula himi

After his ordination, he started teaching Pali and Buddhist Philosophy at the newly opened Malwatta Chapter House in Kandy. In 1862, he went to Burma (Myanmar) with Ven. Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Thera at the invitation of King Mindon Min. While in Burma, he helped to establish the Mandalay Pitakathala and also taught Pali and Buddhist Philosophy at the newly opened Dhammayut Order Monastery in Mandalay.

In 1864, he returned to Sri Lanka and started teaching at the Vidyodaya Pirivena in Colombo. In 1867, he was appointed as the Head of the Department of Pali and Buddhist Philosophy at Vidyodaya Pirivena. He held this position until his death in 1911.

He was a prolific writer and wrote many books on Buddhism, Pali literature and Sinhalese grammar. Some of his notable works are ‘Buddhism for Beginners’, ‘A Manual of Abhidhamma’, ‘The Life of the Buddha’ and ‘Pali Primer’.

He was also a great teacher and helped to spread the teachings of the Buddha in Sri Lanka and abroad. He was one of the main organizers of the Panadura Debate in 1873 which resulted in the revival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. He was also instrumental in setting up many Buddhist institutions such as schools, colleges, libraries and temples.

Sri Rahula Thero passed away on 11th February 1911 at the age of 84. even though he is no longer with us physically, his teachings and his work continue to inspire people all over the world.

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