On Friday 28 March, the members of the Old Anandians Association of Victoria (OAAV) gathered at the Malvern Buddhist Vihara to listen to a special Dhamma Talk and pay their respects to a very special and unique Anandian – Ven Bikshuni Kusuma.
The Ven Bikshuni was in Melbourne, on the invitation of the Executive Committee of the Malvern Buddhist Vihara to deliver a series of Dhamma Talks as a part of the 50th Anniversary Celebrations of the Temple. It was a great privilege for all those who attended the function, not only to listen to her sermon, which was delivered in a most interesting and listenable manner, but also to meet this very special lady in person.
Bikshuni Kusuma in her lay life studied at Ananda during the “Methananda era” and entered the Science Faculty of the University of Ceylon from Ananda. She did her postgraduate studies in the United States, and obtained a Masters Degree in Molecular Biology. She was a teacher at Ananda for a number of years and taught English at the University of Sri Jayawardenepura for over 20 years.
In her own words, she has been “immersed in the study of the Buddha Dhamma” for over thirty years, and written a number of books and thesis on the Bikshuni Order, Bikshuni Vinaya, “Sathi” (mindfulness) in Buddhist Meditation amongst many others. Recently she completed a Monastery for Bikshunis at Gonapola in Sri Lanka, having raised the funds for that project almost single handedly.
She was ordained as a Bikshuni is 1996 in the holy city of Saranath, in India by Korean Monks. She is the first Sri Lankan to be ordained as a Ven Bikshuni, after Sri Lanka lost the order of Bikshunis over a thousand years ago.
Even the founder of Ananda College Col. Olcott who had such great expectations from Ananda would not have even dreamt that one day Ananda would produce the first Sri Lankan Bikshuni in over a thousand years. As such we were truly honoured and privileged to have this opportunity of meeting her.
Not only is she an (Old) Anandian, she was married to an Anandian (Mr Asoka Devendra) was a Teacher at Ananda, and all her sons attended Ananda. (The only other person who I believe could come close to matching that “achievement” is the Ven. Bikshuni’s friend and contemporary, Mrs Sita Amarasekera - the wife of Tissa Amarasekara our first hon. secretary, who also studied and taught at Ananda and two of her sons attended Ananda) Speaking with the Anandians, after the religious functions The Bikshuni recalled her days at Andnada, and her love, affection, and the loyalty to Ananda was very apparent. With a twinkle in her eye she recalled how she would wear a gold top and a maroon skirt in her schooldays and go for the cricket matches to cheer for Ananda. She was also very happy to meet up with the Anandians who were former class-mates of her sons. She said it was a very happy and memorable day for her to meet some of the Anandians in Melbourne, and as a memento presented one of her books to the Association.
While we were happy that during her entire stay in Melbourne she was hosted by Vinitha and Bandu Jayasinghe our immediate past President, we were sorry that we couldn’t spend more time with her and get the best benefit of her wide knowledge of the Dhamma, especially for our children.
We were truly privileged to spend even that short time with such a unique lady, whose presence touched every one who was present, so deeply. We fervently hope she will be back again with us soon, and wish her a long and serene life in the service of the Dhamma.
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