First Sri Lanka Buddhist Mission to Germany to be honored

By Janaka Perera, Asian tribune, Aug 19, 2007

Colombo, Sri Lanka -- The First Sri Lankan Buddhist Mission to Germany 50 years ago (1957-2007) will be honoured at a grand ceremony at the Savsiripaya Auditorium, Wijerama Mawatha, Colombo 7 on August 22.

The Sri Lanka Government's Philatelic Bureau will mark the event with the issue of a commemorative postage stamp and First Day cover.

Chief Guest at the ceremony will be Public Administration and Home Affairs Minister Karu Jayasuriya and the Guest of Honour will be the German Ambassador in Sri Lanka, Juergen Weerth. Special Guests of Honor will be Posts and Telecommunications Minister Rauff Hakeem.

A public lecture by Dr. Karl-Heinz Golzio, University of Bonn, Germany on "The German contributions to Theravada Buddhism and the Reception of Buddhism in Germany and its influence on German culture," will precede the issue of the commemorative stamp.

The Goethe Institute and the German Dharmadutha Society is jointly organizing the lecture to shed extensive light on (1) the century-old ties between the countries through Buddhist links, (2) particularly the contribution of German monks and scholars to Theravada Buddhism and (3) Sri Lankan Buddhist Missionary efforts in Germany commencing in the mid 1950s.

Karl-Heinz Golzio, born 1947, has studied comparative science and religion, Indology and Oriental Art History. An author of many books and articles on Indian philosophy and Buddhism, he is working today in the 'Indologisches Seminar' at the University of Bonn. A year before the turn of the century, Dr. Golzio edited a book with the intriguing title "Will Buddhism in Europe Gain Even More Followers?"

He will share his thoughts on the shifts in religious adherence now unfolding in Europe, and more particularly on the scope for Buddhism as an alternate source of wisdom for an increasing number of Europeans in the future.

At the ceremony, the Ven. Dr. Bellanwila Wimalaratana Nayaka Thero (Chancellor, Sri Jayewardenepura University) will administer Pansil and the Ven. Wijayarajapura Seelawansa Nayaka Thero will deliver the Dhamma Sermon (Anusasana).

The Ven. Seelawansa was appointed the Chief Sanghanayaka of Europe by the Ramanna Maha Nikaya at a felicitation ceremony held at the BMICH, Colombo , last month, in recognition of his 25 years of dedicated service in propagating the Buddha Dhamma in the West. He is the Chief Patron of the Austria Buddhist (Theravada) Society, Director of the Nyanaponika Buddhist Study Centre in Vienna, Lecturer, University of Vienna and the Chief Incumbent of Sri Naga Vihara Pirivena in Embaralauwa South, Sri Lanka.

Emeritus Professor Jayadeva Tilakasiri (President, German Dharmaduta Society and GDS founder member) will deliver the welcome address.

The first Buddhist Mission to Germany which left the Colombo on June 15, 1957 was sponsored by the German Dharmaduta Society. The Society has since then through successive missions set up an International Buddhist Centre and a Vihara with resident monks in Berlin-Frohnau thus fulfilling a most urgent need of German Buddhists at the time. It has made a notable contribution in maintaining a Theravada presence in Central Europe and in the westward movement of the Buddha Dhamma.