Kagama Sirinanda Thero; a unique Buddhist preacher
Ven. Kagama Sirinanda Thero is a popular Buddhist preacher in Sri Lanka. He has a unique dialect and presentation style. His sermons contain Buddhist philosophy as well as the social view that helps the listeners to learn about both Buddhism and day to day life.
He was born in remote Kagama village in Anuradhapura as Anurasiri Gunarathna in a farmer family. He was ordained at 23 years of age in Pahaminiyawa Abhinawaramaya, close to his village under Pinwatte Wijayananda Thero.
“I associated Buddhist monks for a long time before that. When I expressed my wish to ordain, the chief monk invited me to ordain in his temple. The temple house was a mere shack. The chief monk slept in it while I slept outside,” the Thero says.
He preached for the first time after seven days of his ordaining. “It was after a heavy downpour. The roads had flooded. Chief monk was old and was reluctant to cross the floods to go for a religious ceremony of preaching. It was the seventh-day sermon of a man who had committed suicide by colliding with a running train. I went there and preached for one hour and fifteen minutes.”
Kagama Sirinanda Thero has a unique style of preaching and he attributes it to the Sinhala dialect of the Wanni community to which he belongs. He is a very good singer and also a person with a brilliant appreciation. He uses these skills as techniques to simply explain the Buddhist philosophy.
“People do not understand Pali. We have to present the sermons in very simple terms.”
Now he lives in Pahaminiyagama Siri Samadhi Maha Vihara temple situated on a beautiful hillock near Kala Weva reservoir in Anuradhapura.
The Thero is now 51 years old. He never wears footwear. “I am used to the ground and if I wear footwear, I feel unbalanced,” he says.
He is a teacher by profession who has even taught Drama and Theatre to his students. “I learnt drama from life,” he says.