Some of great
sayings of Bodhisattva Anagarika Dharmapala :
“Without efforts, progressive development is impossible. The Buddha built His Religion on the foundations of Energetic Effort and Vigilant Activity".
“Buddhism is a religion of strenuous endeavour. Its mission is to enlighten each human being to cleanse himself from psychical impurities of covetousness, anger, pride, stubbornness, conceit, malice, envy etc".
“Pessimism has no place in the dynamic doctrine of the Lord Buddha. The wise man is a potential god. His powers are infinite; but they must be brought into existence by effort. The way to become a god is to practise the Noble Eightfold Path".
This noble Buddhist patriot and towering personality in the revival and propagation of Buddhism was born on 17th September 1864, to a prominent Buddhist aristocratic Sinhalese family in Matara, Sri Lanka (then Ceylon). He was named David Hewavitarane.
Though educated in missionary schools and destined by his father to a civil service career, he resolved at the age of eighteen to dedicate his life to the revival of Buddhism and the service to humanity. This prompted young David to take up the Buddhist name Dharmapala (meaning Guardian of The Dhamma). From there on he dedicated his life to the Buddha Sasana, observing firmly the eight precepts and taking on a homeless life although not ordaining himself as a monk (Anagarika). He made Buddhism a living faith in India - the country of its birth and crested awareness towards The Buddha, The Dhamma and The Sangha all over the world. In January 1891, on his first visit to Buddagaya in India, he was deeply saddened to witness the neglected state of affairs of the Maha Bodhi Temple, the very holy place where Prince Siddhartha attained Supreme Enlightenment. He took the unshakable resolve while touching his forehead over the 'Vajràsana' (the Diamond Seat on which The Buddha sat in meditation to become enlightened) to revive Buddhism in India - the land of its Origin. He visited Sarnath and was shocked to see the utter neglect and indifference shown towards the sacred place of The Buddha's First Sermon - the Birth Place of Buddhism. He decided to stay at Sarnath for the rest of his life and make it again a live centre of Dhamma Activities.
Bodhisattva Anagarika Dharmapala founded the Maha Bodhi Society of India to revive Buddhism and rediscovered the Holy places related to the life of Buddha e.g. Buddhagaya, Sarnath, Lumbini, Kushinagar etc. He was able to persuade the authorities who were in power at that time to take all possible measures to preserve the sacred sites. He took the noble teachings of The Sakyamuni Buddha to the West when he attended the Parliament of World Religions in 1893, where he won accolade and support from many high standing personnel who helped him in his efforts towards The Buddha Sasana and social service works.
As he resolved Bodhisattva Anagarika Dharmapala rendered an invaluable and limitless service in the revival and spread of Buddhism. He also worked hard to bring social revolution against the injustice done to the downtrodden. Thus, He went down in history as a noble man, who made a pioneering contribution in the revival of Buddhism in India and in other countries, and also for the social service works he did.
The crowning glory of Bodhisattva Anagarika Dharmapala was the saving of Buddhagaya, where the Buddha was Enlightened, from its cruel neglect and restoring it as a rightful place of worship and homage for all in the world. Further for the construction of the Mulagangha Kuti Vihara at Sarnath, which he built in close proximity to where The Buddha delivered his first sermon.
On 13th July 1931 at Holy Isipatna, Sarnath, Varanasi he became ordained by the name of Venerable Sri Devamitta Dhammapala. His ordination was the first to be done at this Holy place for nearly 800 years. This was because forces antagonistic to Buddhism had taken control of this hallowed site, consequently there had been no ordination ceremony for so long. Ven. Dhammapala received his higher ordination on 16th January 1933.
After doing yeomen service to the Buddha Sasana worldwide, this great being Bodhisattva Anagarika Dharmapala (Ven. Dhammapala) breathed his last on 28th April 1934, at Sarnath, India leaving a great void which is not easy to fill. His ashes are enshrined in front of Mulagandha Kuti Vihara at Sarnath.