Sith Gimanhala, a live TV counselling programme
Pilgrimage to India - Luxury tour organized by Damrivi Foundation
Violence Against Women – A Buddhist Perspective. Advocacy with Buddhist monks and nuns
Group counselling with Buddhist insights at the Cancer Hospital
Buddhist tours of Sri Lanka
Bringing up your child the dhamma way – Childrens Programmes
Beyond the Net – A world renowned web site on Theravada Buddhism
Group therapy for social phobia
We pioneered a professional counselling course with Buddhist insights
Weekly meditation programmes at the Damrivi Center
We provide a Counselling service with Buddhist insights
For a happy and contented married life through the Buddhist Philosophy
Sankalana – exclusive Buddhist gift items
Some comments from the participants of our last tour - October 2010
A must its said that for all Buddhists during their life to visit the four main places, namely, Lumbini – the birthplace of Buddha; Bodhgaya – where Buddha attained enlightenment; Sarnath – where Buddha gave his first discourse of Dhamma to the world; and Kushinagar – place of Buddha’s Maha Parinibbana.
A group of 35 pilgrims left the shores of Sri Lanka on a Mihin Air flight to Bodhgaya, on the 3rd of October, on a pilgrimage with a difference, organised by the Damrivi Foundation. The difference in this pilgrimage from most other pilgrimages is that it focused not only in developing our “Saddha” with various Poojas and Dhamma Danas, but also in developing our inner strength through meditation necessary for our spiritual journey towards Nibbana.
In the evening on the day we reached Bodhgaya, we visited the Mahabodhi Temple. Your eyes meet a high rising - similar to a pyramid structure - having intricate and detail work of architecture – typically Indian, when you move towards the steep flight of steps at the entrance to the Main Temple. A Buddha statue in bhumisparsha mudra inside is adorned with a Sivura – different every time we visited the temple vis-a-vis in gold, white, yellow, brown, etc., as donated by the devotees. Our request was performed on the 3rd day of our stay in Bodhgaya by the monk – where the statue was draped in white. Behind the statue is the “Vajrasana”, the seat of enlightenment and the Bodhi Tree – a place where you find a continual stream of devotees engaged in meditation, chanting, worshipping, etc.,
For those who wished to , the day started at 4.30 in the morning, where we met for meditation. In Bodhgaya, some of us visited the Temple to meditate till 6 a.m. Thereafter, the whole group visited the temple around 7.30 a.m. again with the Kiripindu Pooja and stayed on at the temple in the morning in meditation under the guidance of our guru Gamini Priyantha. The afternoon was generally spent at the hotel - in meditation. We went to the temple around 5.30 p.m. again and offered Gilanpasa Pooja, and sat in meditation till the temple closed to the public at 9 in the night. On the final day of our stay in Bodhgaya, we gave a Dana to the poor children of a school run by the Mahabodhi Trust, and also did not forget to pick up some souvenirs and gifts for our loved ones and friends.
Rajgir – our next location, the kingdom ruled during Buddha’s period by King Bimbisara and Kind Ajasattu, is located around 80 kms away from Bodhgaya. It took us around 2 hours to reach there and our first stop was at the Gijjakuta Hill - the hill of vultures, a place where Buddha spent a Vas period, Sariputta Thero spent time meditating, and Devadatta Thero pushed a huge stone and injured Buddha. Our ride to the top was partly on a chairlift, half way to the Vishwa Shanthi Stupa built by the Japanese, and thereafter by foot. The chairlift journey moving on a thick rope to heights of more than 100 feet from the ground – although nervous to some, was a breathtaking view to many. The Buddha’s Kuti is located at the top of the hill – a square structure less than a foot in height. On our way up the hill, we saw Venerable Sariputta’s Cave, Ven. Ananda’s Cave and also where Buddha was injured from the stone rolled over by Devadatta. On our walk down the hill we quenched our thirst with “Jambola” and passed Jivaka’s mango grove. In the afternoon we went to the Saptaparni Caves and chanted Maha Kassapa Bojjanga Piritha as it’s mentioned that this Sutta was chanted there by the Buddha to bless Ven. Mahakassapa when he was sick. It is also the place where the first Buddhist Council was held six months after Buddha’s Mahaparinibbana.
We proceeded to Kushinagar next day early morning via Vaishali, the capital of Lichchavi rulers. In Vaishali, we visited the Kutagarasala Vihara where the Ananda Stupa and Asokan Pillars are erected, and chanted the Ratana Sutta which was chanted by the Buddha, and as a result of which the famine , epidemic disease and fears that gripped Vaishali disappeared.
We reached Kushinagar, the capital of Mallas, late evening on our 5th day, and visited the Parinirvana Temple next day morning. We carried a beautiful golden viyana to drape the reclining Buddha statue inside the Parinirvana Stupa and chanted Budhu Guna walking down the path. The sight of the reclining Buddha statue brought tears to many – and a slight distance away is said to be the place where Mahaparinibbana took place between two Sal Trees. We spent time close to this site in meditation – where most of us truly felt the vibrations of this very special place. Thereafter, we visited the Angara Stupa where Gautama Buddha was cremated.
The next day the group proceeded to Lumbini being the 6th day morning – where we crossed over to Nepal, the land of mountains and hills. We visited Maya Devi Temple the next morning – where price Siddhartha Gautama was born under a Sal Tree. We travelled 2-3 km by rickshaw tagged to a cycle - peddled by a cyclist – a unique experience to many, and then by foot, to reach the Temple. The holy pond where it’s said that price Siddhartha’s mother took a dip after his birth, and an Asokan Pillar erected, can be seen in the compound. We spent some time meditating in the garden. On the same day after lunch, we proceeded to Savatthi.
Savatthi is where Jetavana is located, and it’s said that Buddha spent 19 rainy seasons there. On the 8th day morning, we prepared Kiripindu and visited the Jetavana Monastery. We observed “Ata Sil” administered by a Burmese monk under Ananda Bodhi, and thereafter offered the Kiripindu & a large collection of poojas and Pirikara to the Bodhi; and draped the tree with colourful Buddhist flags. The Indian Buddhist monks in the vicinity were offered Dana – the Kiripindu, milk powder, medicine, biscuits, etc., After lunch we restrained from partaking any solid food till breakfast - the next day. In the evening we visited Jetavana again and lit more than 500 lamps around the Gandhakuti - Buddha’s dwelling in Jetavana. Those lamps lit by us and another group of Sri Lankan devotees down the pathways of Jetavana was a breathtaking view and turned Jetavana truly in to a ‘devram vehera’. At dusk, some of the group members engaged in chanting Budhu Guna and Pirith whilst most others meditated.
We proceeded to Varanasi the next day morning, and reached our hotel for a late lunch. We visited the Sri Lanka Mulagandha Kuti Vihara in Sarnath in the evening and offered Pirikara and Gilanpasa Pooja, and thereafter took part in the chanting of the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta – the first discourse by Buddha to the five disciples, after attaining enlightenment. Next day we visited Dhammika Stupa – the site where Buddha gave his first sermon, and in the vicinity Mulagandhakuti Vihara - where Buddha spent his first rainy season. We also made a visit to Anagarika Dharmapala Museum – a great son of Sri Lanka who fought to preserve the Buddhist historical sites in India, and thereafter to the Sarnath Museum to see the artifacts – parts of the Asokan Pillar erected in the deer park, as well as one of the most beautiful Buddha Statutes – if not the most beautiful - in the world – from the Gupta period. Our last day – in the afternoon, we went shopping in Varanasi, and bought beautiful sarees, shawls and other indian items, for us, our loved ones and friends.
The various poojas we performed at every place where we visited were organised very well, attending to all details by Mrs. Beeta Koswatta. Her efforts in arranging beautiful Udu Viyanas and Umbrellas as well as ensuring that all Poojas were performed with no detail unattended to, gave us the opportunity not only to develop our saddha but also knowledge on how such activities should be performed. The meditation sessions, focusing on the “Nama-Rupa” was well conducted by Mr. Gamini Priyantha – veteran meditation teacher who is known island-wide and no stranger to Damrivi. We benefited immensely by the numerous Dhamma discussions conducted throughout the long journey.
On the 13th of October, we left the shores of India and reached our motherland safely – fulfilling our wishes of seeing, observing, and worshipping those places treaded by Buddha - who showed us the path of emancipation.
A special thank you goes out to Mrs. Yuki Sirimanne and Ms. Sureksha Dissanayake for organizing such a wonderful pilgrimage , a pilgrimage with a difference. May the blessings of the Noble Triple Gem be with the Damrivi Foundation.