Damrivi History in brief
The initial discussions on establishing an organization of the nature of Damrivi Foundation took place in 2002 between Asanga Tilakaratne, then the professor of Buddhist studies at Postgraduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies (University of Kelaniya), Yuki Sirimane, then a graduate student studying for her doctorate in Buddhist studies in the same institute, and her husband, Maithri Asoka Sirimane. It was observed that although there were a large number of Buddhist organizations devoted for helping people materially, organizations devoted for the inner development and social wellbeing of people based on the teachings of the Buddha were not many. Further it was felt that the great potential that lies in Buddhism remains to be explored, articulated and actualized. Further it was felt that the there was a need for a Buddhist Organization capable of dealing with the problems arising with modernity and globalization to be managed by professionals with accountability and transparency.
It was further noticed that, by this time, there was a tendency among some academics and professionals, who were Buddhist, to be reluctant to acknowledge that they were Buddhist. It seemed that they were with the impression that to acknowledge so was something not befitting their being academics or professionals. This tendency was felt to be detrimental not only for their own wellbeing but also for the Buddhist society in general. There was a need to establish a platform where Buddhist academics and professionals of diverse fields could come together to work with dignity to serve society –in fact, all beings- by making use of the teachings, insights and practices of Buddhism.
The idea was encouraged and blessed by the late Most Venerable Nauyane Ariyadhamma Maha Thera, the head of the Galduva meditation tradition of the Kalyani Yogashrama Sansthava (the forest meditation wing of Sri Lanka Ramanna-nikaya) who served as the Anusasaka of the foundation till his demise in September 2016.
The organization –Damrivi Foundation for spiritual, social and economic development- was officially inaugurated at the residence of Maithri and Yuki Sirimane on 2nd August 2003 withthe signing of the Deed of Trust amidst religious observances and pirith chanting by the Most Venerable Nauyane Ariyadhamma Maha Thera. The initial board of trustees comprised the following: Professor Asanga Tilakaratne (Chairman), Maithri Sirimane(Chartered Accountant), Yuki Sirimane (Attorney-at-law, later PhD. In Buddhist studies), Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera(Sri Lanka Navy), G.A. Somaratne (PhD.), Nimal Weerasinghe (Engineer) and Mangala Boyagoda(Banker) .
Among the past board members are: Ravi Bamunusinghe (Marketing Consultant), Dr. Pushpakumara Kandapola Arachchige(Consultant Psychiatrist), Dr. Palitha Bandara (Director Medical Services, North Central Province), Late Mr. Senarath Attanayaka ( Attorney –at Law).
The name’ Damrivi’, meaning ‘rays of the Dhamma,’ was given by Mr. Arisen Ahubudu.
The foundation was initially housed at Dharmaratana Road, Madiwela, Mirihane, property that belonged to Mr. and Mrs. Nihal De Saram who were generous to accommodate the organization for 2 years free of charge which was facilitated bya friend of Damrivi,Mrs. Maureen Weeratunga. The foundation was moved to the current premises at 51A, Isipathana Mawatha, Havelock Town, Colombo 5in 2007. This land was received from Isipatana Vihara Trust on a long lease. It was the goodwill of Dr. H.N.S. Karunatilake, a past Governor of the Central Bank and his wife, Mrs. Malini Karunatilake, a Trustee of Isipatana Vihara Trust that made this transaction possible. It must also be recorded gratefully the ready willingness of the Venerable Kirama Wimalajothi Maha Thera, who had leased the land by that time, to surrender his lease agreement with Isipatana Vihara Trust in our favour. Architect Dhammika Weerackody who redesigned the building that existed to suit the needs of Damrivi Foundation deserves special mention for his dedicated voluntary work.
The construction of the new building started in 2019 was completed in 2022 amidst many challenges including the epidemic of Covid-19, with the generous support and goodwill of many including the Most Venerable Ashin Nyanissara, Sitagu Sayadaw who made an initial donation for the work to begin.
During the twenty years of its existence, Damrivi Foundation has remained faithful to its initial visionand has designed and implemented many spiritual and educational programs with the support from many philanthropists, academics and professionals. Among the highlights of the past activities are;
- Meditation Programmes and Dhamma discussions by renowned local and foreign monks and lay Dhamma teachers and practitioners
- Psychological support Programs specially designed for Tsunami victims and terrorist victims
- Research, publications and workshops on Counselling Cancer patients with Buddhist insights and counseling programmesat the Maharagama Cancer Hospital
- Research, publications and workshops on Violence against women – A Buddhist perspective ( funded by UNFPA)
- Research, publications and workshops on Gender sensitive counseling – funded by UNIFEM
- ‘For a happy and contented married life through Buddhist Philosophy’ (Yahapath Yugadiviyak Sadaha Bududhamin Athwalak)
- ‘Bringing up your child the Dhamma way’ – a creative children’s programme addressing common attitude issues of children
- Managing Beyond the Net (www.beyondthenet.net)– a world renowned website on Theravada Buddhism
- Sith Gimanhala – A live TV counseling programme on Derana TV – addressing victims of domestic violence
- Sankalana – a gift shop of Buddhist arts and crafts and exquisite gift items
- Dambadiwa Pilgrimages
For the foreseeable future, Damrivi will continue to adhere to its initial philosophy and will continue to work ‘for the happiness and wellbeing of the many (bahujana-hitaya, bahujana-sukhaya)