Chief Incumbent of the Godagedara Rajamaha Vihara Ven Pamunuthenne Dhammaloka said that enhancing the spiritual wellbeing of people should be given priority at all times and even more at times like this when people who are facing difficulties due to the worsening economic crisis are resorting to vice and violence.
Ven Dhammaloka was appointed as the chief Incumbent of the Godagedara Rajamaha Vihara in December 2021, at a time the local community was distancing themselves from the temple. The Thera who hails from Hunnasgiriya in the Kandy district was ordained at the tender age of ten and has been a resident at the temple for the past 22 years.
“As the economic situation in the country worsens people are resorting to vice and violence amidst their struggle to survive and it is the duty of the clergy to help minimise these tendencies”, he said. He said that his first priority was to rebuild the bond between the temple and the 3000 or more Buddhist families that live in the area and enhance their spiritual wellbeing.
The actual period the Godagedara Rajamaha Vihara was initially built has not been confirmed as the ruins of the temple is believed to have been built by King Valagambahu during his reign between 89 to 77 BC.
Ven Dhammaloka said that ‘Godagedara’ is mentioned in a book named ‘Nampotha’ written during the Kandyan era which leads to the belief that the temple was initially built during the same period as the Maligatenna, Kosinna, Pilikuttuwa and Uruwela Rajamaha Viharas which are in proximity of Mudungoda in the Gampaha district where the temple presently stands.
The Godagera Rajamaha Vihara belongs to the Malwathu Maha Vihara of the Siyam Maha Nikaya and according to a booklet by Deshabandu. G. Weerasinghe it is said to have been re-established on the premises it stands today in 1814, by venerable Weeragule Kondagngna a resident bhikkhu of the Uruwala Valagamba Rajamaha Vihara.
Ven Weeragule Kondagngna was succeded by Ven Pethiyagoda Dharmadarshi Thera, Ven Weeragule Rathanajothi Thera, Ven Rambukpotha Pagnasara Thera, Ven Buthpitiye Sri Somasara Thera, Ven Thimbiriye Sri Sidaththa Thera, Ven Yagoda Sri Devananda Thera, Ven Weeragule Sri Saranathissa Thera, Ven Kiththamahara Sri Sumanathissa Thera, Ven Thalagune Buddarakkitha Thera, Ven Madugalle Dhammasiddhi Thera and Ven Balagama Pagnasara Thera who are known to have served the community and improved the temple.
Of these bhikkhus, Ven Rambukpotha Pagnasara Thera was appointed as the chief Incumbent of the sacred Sri Padasthana revered by Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and Muslims alike.
The present temple complex situated on eight acres of fertile land comprises of an ancient bo tree (a sappling of the Sri Maha Bodhiya) which is over two centuries old and believed to have powers of healing, a stupa, a large shrine room, a statue of the Buddha that looks upon the paddy fields on the northern border of the premises, a bell tower, the ‘Sedapalu Devalaya’ a shrine to the guardian deity of the area and resident halls for bhikkhus.
The rest of the land has been cultivated with fruit and vegetable crops including pineapple, rambuttan and banana.
The Godagedara Rajamaha Vihara is a ten minute walk from Belum Mahara junction on the Colombo – Kandy main road.