I was in a Buddhist Meditation Centre – Pallekelle Devenapetis Samatha Vipassana Meditation Centre, in Kundasale, not far away from Kandy. Peradeniya University and the Polgolla Open University are not far away from it. Some times students from these Universities meditate at the Centre.
This Meditation Centre is a unique place founded by late Venerable Amatha Gavesi. He was a retired Director of the Police Training School. He was well versed in the teachings of the Buddha, and well known for his knowledge of the Sutta Pitaka- the Canonical writings on the discourses of the Buddha.
After his retirfement, he became an instructor of meditation at the Kanduboda Meditation Centre , but left it as he did not agree with the object of meditation used by the Centre. There after he was ordained and donned the yellow robes of a Buddhist Monk, and set up his own Meditation Centre in Krunegala. Subsequently when he was offered a building by President R.Premadasa at the Gamudawa in Pallekelle, he founded the present Devenapetis Samata Vipassana Meditation Centre.
He raised the social status of the women who donned yellow robes to keep the ten precepts as Dasa Sil Mathavo, popularly called Manio. He trained a group of them to become instructors in Meditation, now there are nearly 35 of them in Pallekelle and in its Branch Centre in Kurunegala. Today the Centre after the death of the Venerable Amathya Gavesi is Administered by the Manio and they continue the work of their teacher the late Amata Gavesi by conducting 14 day meditation retreats giving instructions to meditators.
The Centre provides free accommodation to those who follow the meditation retreats. The daily morning breakfast and the lunch are also provided free for the meditators . These two meals –the breakfast and lunch and the morning rice broth are offered mostly by the
Villagers from distant and some timese quite remote villages in Sri Lanka.
They come to offer these meals the_Dana to around 50 to 60 Manios, and lay meditators every day. When one group has offered the Dana they go away in the evening after offering the evening cup of plain tea. And soon after arrives another busload or lorry load of villagers from else where for the next days Dana. That continues without a break. If a group of people fails to come for some reason the Centre provides the meals from contributions made in advance by well wishes for such an eventuality.
During my stay the meals were provided by villagers coming from Walapone, Mahakanda, Alawatugoda, Dehiovita, Inginiyagala, Anuradhapura, Wetakeiya; Medamahanuwara, Wilenegama, Maiyangana , Hasalaka and so on.. Some of these are distant villages.
I spoke to many of them and broached the question of “high cost of living” which the anti government forces keep on harping and for which the already very highly paid University professors have gone out on strike. But they who do not earn as much are satisfied and with what they earn and spend generously for alms giving, and thus to help the dissemination of the teachings of the Buddha.
They told me thanks to the Government of the President Rajapakse and the peace that he has brought to the country they have enough to eat and live well enough and educate their children. They say above all what they are mostly grateful to the President Rajapakse is that he ended the terrorism and allowed them to live without fear of death.
Some of them who are living in boarder villagers to the land held by the terrorist have many of their kith and kin massacred and knows what it was under terrorism. Listening to them it was obvious they will not let the President Rajapakse off the high pedestal of respect and affection on which they have placed him for quite some time.
It is only in the towns and among the highly paid university dons and JVP sponsored trade unions one finds the critics of the Government and the President, making him responsible for the high cost of living, which had been a source of complaints from the very beginning of our independence.
I asked the villagers what they think of the UNP whether they would vote for UNP to come back to power. They said UNP did lot of damage and when they could have defeated the tigers they did not do so . Under UNP they were not better off and there is no reason why they should vote for UNP to come back. They are happy with the present Government of the President Mahinda Rajapakse.
About Sarath Fonseka , an old man said that he spoilt every thing because of his bad mouth He is a military man and will never be a good President even if he is elected he said and the others laughed in agreement.