|German Dharmaduta Society gifts pictures to Heritage Museum
of Mahinda College
The German Dharmaduta Society has presented to Mr. D. K. Athukorale, Principal, Mahinda College, Galle on the occasion of the commemoration of the 110th anniversary of the founding of the College (1892 2002), i.e. March 2, 2002, ten framed pictures highlighting the services rendered to the cause of Buddhism and its propagation in the West, by some of the old boys of Mahinda College.
These pictures will be exhibited together with 75 other pictures that are already in the custody of the College authorities, in a new Heritage Museum of the School that will be opened shortly. The Museum and an Archives Room are now under construction in one of the older buildings of the School.
The German Dharmaduta Society also sponsored a new annual Prize called the Asoka Weeraratna Memorial Prize for Buddhism. This prize was awarded at the Mahinda College Annual Prize Distribution held on February 22, 2002, to Master Sanjaya Damith Jayasooriya. He also won the Colonel Henry Steel Olcott Prize for Buddhism.
The German Dharmaduta Society has further expressed interest in sponsoring an Annual Scholarship at Mahinda College to assist deserving students to pursue studies in Buddhism and related subjects at the tertiary level.
Several of the pioneers of the movement that began in the 1950s to establish the Buddha Sasana in the West, beginning with Germany, had their early education at Mahinda College. These figures include the late Mr. Asoka Weeraratna (Founder and former Hony. Secretary of the GDS), who later entered the Sangha under the name of Ven. Dhamm-anisanthi Thera, the late Mr. Henry Woodward Amarasuriya (a founder Trustee of the GDS), the late Ven. Galle Anuruddha Thera, and Professor Jayadeva Tilakasiri, among several other distinguished alumni of Mahinda College.
Their efforts resulted in the sending of the first Buddhist Mission to Germany in 1957 and the purchase by the German Dharmaduta Society of the Das Buddhistische Haus in Berlin Frohnau, Germany in 1957 and its conversion into a Vihara. Dr. Paul Dahlke, an eminent German Buddhist, originally built this institution, in 1924. At that time it functioned as the Centre of German Buddhism. It is now the oldest Buddhist Temple in Europe, and enjoys protection under German law as a National Heritage site.
The Berlin Buddhist Vihara today stands as a monument to the dedicated efforts, vision and perseverance of Dr. Paul Dahlke, Asoka Weeraratna and several old Mahindians among others.
Mahinda College, which was once guided by the eminent Buddhist and Pali scholar F.L. Woodward, and managed for some time by members of the Amarasuriya family, has a premier standing for inculcating Buddhist values among its students. Some of them later became leading lights of the National Buddhist Revival movement in Sri Lanka.
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