First anniversary of Sri Lanka's Buddhist Mission to Germany

By Janaka Perera, Asian Tribune, Feb 9, 2007

Berlin, Germany -- This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the first Sri Lankan Buddhist Mission to Germany. The German Dharmaduta Society is planning to commemorate the anniversary (1957 - 2007) in a fitting manner in both Colombo and Berlin in June.

The first SL Buddhist Mission to Germany was led by the late Asoka Weeraratne who established the German Dharmadutha Society in 1952. He later entered Buddhist order as the Venerable Meetirigala Dhammanisanthi.

Germany has the oldest Theravada Buddhist temple in Europe. Das Buddhistische Haus (the Buddhist House) is a strong cultural link between two countries, Sri Lanka and Germany. It has played a significant role in maintaining a Theravada Buddhist presence in Germany, providing a congenial atmosphere introducing both Buddhism and Sri Lanka to several generations of Germans.

The vihara which is situated in the picturesque suburb of Berlin Frohnau - was built in 1924 by the German Buddhist scholar Dr. Paul Dahlke. It is the oldest and largest Theravada Buddhist Temple in Europe. It attracts considerable amount of visitors daily ranging from researchers to school children. It has one of the best Buddhist Libraries in Europe. Meditation retreats, dhamma classes, Saturday discussion circles and Sunday lectures are a regular feature of the programme of the Temple.

It is now owned and maintained by the Colombo based German Dharmaduta Society which purchased the property in 1957. Since that year a stream of Buddhist monks from Sri Lanka and other countries have resided at the Berlin Vihara to propagate the Dhamma in the West.

On February 2 Foreign Affairs Minister Rohitha Bogollagama and Foreign Affairs Ministry Secretary Dr. Palitha Kohona, on their two day visit to Germany visited the Berlin Vihara. The delegates from Sri Lanka were accompanied by Sri Lanka 's Ambassador in Germany Jayantha Palipane to Germany, members of the Embassy staff and German officials.

The Ven. Wilachchiye Dhammavijaya Thera and a Reception Committee headed by Tissa Weeraratna, Administrator of the Berlin Vihara and Vice -President of the German Dharmaduta Society welcomed the visitors at the temple. Leading officials of the local authority in Berlin - Frohonau, patrons of the Vihara comprising both Germans and Sri Lankans, German Buddhists and residents of Frohnau greeted the Sri Lankan visitors. The official party was given a guided tour of the temple premises and entertained to tea.

Among others present on this occasion were Ms. Schultze Berndt, Town Counsellor for Culture and Education in Reinickendorf, Tobias Siesmayer, an active supporter of Das Buddhistische Haus and former Samanera Santuttho.