"Comparing others with oneself, one should neither strike nor cause to strike."
Austin Buddhist Vihara is a Buddhist temple of Theravada Buddhism and affiliated with Sri Lankan Buddhist Association (Inc.) at Austin, a not-for-profit organization.
The Austin Buddhist Vihara was founded on June 3rd, 2006 under the patronage of the resident monks, as a place of observance of the Theravada principles of Buddhism.
Panditha Yatagama Sumanajothi Thero was the Chief Resident Monk at the Austin Buddhist Vihara. He was ordained on September 24th, 1957 and received his higher ordination on May 24th, 1968 from Gaspe Sri Somananda Maha Ishtavira Thero and Panditha Vinayacharya Gaspe Deerananda Maha Ishtavira Thero in Sri-Lanka. After completing his primary education at the Vidyalankara Pirirvena, he obtained his Bachelors degree from University of Kelaniya, Sri-Lanka in 1968. In 1969, he obtained the “Prachina Panditha” degree, with proficiency in the languages of Sinhala, Pali, Sanskrit and Hindi.
He was the head resident monk of “Gampaha Hirikuluwa Vidyadarshi Pirivena”, Sri Lanka from 1968 - 1992. He continued his community service as the head resident monk at Lumbini Vihara, Nepal (2001-2003) followed by The Stockholm Buddhist Temple, Sweden (2003-2005). He assumed duties as the Chief resident monk of the Austin Buddhist Vihara in 2006.
Bhante Subodha was born in 1984 at Kehelovitigama, Ratnapura in Sri Lanka. Six months after his birth, his mother tragically passed away. Orphaned, he lived in many different homes with his relatives, until he started school in 1989. He went to the local temple in 1990 with his father’s permission and got ordained one year later under the most Ven. Morawatte Sumanatissa Nayka thero, the chief incumbent of Godakawela Sri Mahinda Maha Viharaya, and Ven. Kompitiye Suseela Thero. He studied at the Pirivena for eleven years and passed the high school exam and the Prachina Panditha exam. In 2002, he attended the Vidyalankara Pirivena located at Peliyagoda. In 2003, he started his studies at the University of Kelaniya for four years and earned the university degree. In 2004, he took higher ordination at Malwathu Maha Viharaya in Kandy.
Bhante Subodha came to the United States in 2008 and he was sponsored by Bhante Gunaratana. For one year, he stayed at several Sri Lankan temples. Bhante Sumanajothi invited him to stay in the Austin Buddhist Vihara in 2010. After about six months, Bhante Sumanajothi made a visit to Sri Lanka and India. At his holy pilgrimage, Bhante Sumanajothi passed away in India. Bhante Subodha then became the chief monk and took over the responsibilities in the temple. He enjoys living Austin and working with the people in the community.
Bhante Nalaka, whose lay name was Steven Waite, was raised in western New York state. He was first inspired to become a Buddhist monk in 1972 after seeing the popular TV show Kung Fu. After high school he continued a family tradition and joined the U.S. military and served at Ft. Hood in Texas. After completing his service he moved to Austin, Texas, where he attended community college for two years. Around this time he read Zen Mind, Beginners Mind by Shunryu Suzuki, the influential Japanese Zen Master who was popular in the US. This book inspired him to begin mindfulness of breathing meditation and he practiced for an hour nearly every day for two years. In 1981, he came across Living Buddhist Masters where he was introduced to the vipassana meditation technique taught by Ven Mahasi Sayadaw of Burma. He felt this technique offered promise and he was determined to pursue instructions for his practice. This zeal led him to attend a ten-day intensive retreat at the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, Ma. This retreat was lead by Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, and Sharon Salzberg, westerners who had practiced vipassana in Asia and were then beginning to teach the Mahasi method in America. At this retreat he learned the noting technique - central to the Mahasi method - where the meditator calmly observes and non-judgmentally notes each experience from moment to moment as it arises in the mind or body. He applied himself wholeheartedly to this technique and by the end of the retreat he was so absorbed in the practice he didn’t want to leave and he continued on until the staff left for winter break.
A year and a half later he did another retreat at IMS and not longs after that another in Niagara Falls, NY, with Anagarika Munindra, the well-known Mahasi teacher who was visiting from Asia. In 1983, Bhante’s dedication to the practice and the teachings of the Buddha led him to travel to Sri Lanka to the Vipassana Meditation Center at Kanduboda, the forest monastery founded by Mahasi Sayadaw and the revered Sri Lankan elder monk Ven K. Sumathipala. He received both the samanera and bhikkhu ordinations at Kanduboda and further devoted himself to meditation. In addition to his vipassana practice, his efforts included the practices of anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing), metta (loving-kindness) and the contemplation of the thirty-two parts of the body. To further his practice he has returned to Sri Lanka five times since then, re-ordaining under the Ven Pemasiri Thero in 1987. He also taught vipassana to the western yogis at Kanduboda.
Bhante Nalaka continues to pursue his goal to reach a state of mind in which not even a single thought of greed or hatred can arise. He looks forward to sharing his experience with others who want to understand the Buddha’s teaching and to deepen their meditation practice.
To reside in a suitable locality, to have done meritorious deeds in the past. And to set oneself on the right course. This is the Highest Blessing.
Padmasiri Chandrakumara Jayakody was the given name to a boy born on August 02, 1973 to the family of Jayakody Arachchige Don Rupawansa Jayakody and Wijesuriya Arachchige Annulawathie of Nedagamuwa Kotugoda in the Gampaha District. At nine years of age with the blessings of the parents the young son was ordained as a Samanera monk at the Kelaniya Peliyagoda Vidyalankara Pirivena headed by the Parivenadhipathi and Director of the Pirivena the Most Venerable Sahithya Chakravathi (D;Lit), Prof. Yakkaduwe Sri Pragnarama Nayaka Thero of the Colombo and Chilaw (Halawata) divisions of the Malwatta Chapter accompanied by the most Venerable Vinayacharya Naththandiya Sri Prangnakara and also Most Venerable Dr. Welamitiyawe Sri Kusaladhamma Thero, who became his tutors. Rev. Nedagamuwe Pragnaloka as now named had his primary education till 1991 at the Weerahena Vidyaratana Maha Pirivena Naththandiya. Later for the post primary education joined the Pannipitiya Vidyalankara Pirivena from where he successfully completed the GCE – A Level examination. At the age of 20 having mastered the requirements for the higher ordination he received by the Karaka Sabha of the Siyam Maha Nikaya of the Malwatta Chapter and admitted as a Upasampada priest on June 20, 1993.
After entering the Kelaniya University in 1994 he earned his Sasthravedi degree (BA) in 1998 and the Sasthrapathi degree (MA) in 2000. Rev. Pragnaloka assumed duties as a teacher at the Kelaniya Singharamulla Maha Vidyalaya thereafter.
Rev. Pragnaloka while been a teacher at the Kelaniya Singharamulla M. V. also worked as a part-time teacher at the Vidyalankara Maha Pirivena. He successfully completed the post-graduate Diploma in Education at the University of Colombo in 2002.
Obliging the request made by his mentor the Parivenadhipathi and the Director of the Vidyalankara Pirivena the most Venerable Dr. Welamitiyawe Sri Kusaladhamma Nayaka Thero of Colombo and Chilaw Divisions of the Chapter, Rev. Pragnaloka had to bid farewell to his teaching career at the school and assumed duties both as the custodian of the assets of the Vidyalankara Pirivena and also as the Priest in charge of its ongoing academic curriculum. Due to the heavy load of work he had at the Vidyalankara Pirivena in Sri Lanka Rev. Pragnaloka forfeited an opportunity he had to go to the U.S.A. for a period of three years for studies in 2008. However, in response to an invitation received from the Maryland Buddhist Vihara he visited the United States in 2010 and spent a year helping the Chief Priest in his religious activities. In 2012, the Chief Priest of the Austin Buddhist Vihara in Texas Rev. Kehelovitigama Subhoda requested Rev. Pragnaloka’s services and accordingly visited the Austin Buddhist Vihara. The devotees have appreciated his arrival very much due to the very active part he is taking in conducting the day to day activities of the Vihara. He was instrumental in bringing the whole set of the Tripitakaya from Sri Lanka with the help of devotees and enriching the library. Presently Rev. Pragnaloka is conducting classes teaching Suttas to widen the religious knowledge of the devotees.