Close to the wilderness of the Sinharaja strict natural forest reserve there is a place by the name of Kalugala Arannanaya, a Buddhist monastery - a perfect setting for peaceful meditation. For that reaso, for the monks in this monastery, meditation has become a daily ritual in their search for a path to nirvana. People from far away places comes here to give their offerings to the monks . Kalugala Arannaya is indeed a safe haven for those looking for peace of mind. Founded in 1940 by a great philanthropist in the area, P. Samaradivakara Ralahamy , Kalugala now has become a land of hope in showing the path to end suffering for the monks and Buddhist devotees a like.
Reaching Kalugala is not that easy. The motor able road is available only up to a small village called Gurulu Bedda in Badurelia Agalawatte.
From Gurulu Bedda, travelers have to walk for at least an hour to reach Kalugala Arannaya. The area is surrounded by spectacular scenery and involves crossing of water paths. As rain is an everyday affair in the area, the foot paths turn into water ways making the journey harder.
As you walk up hill soon you will realize that you are now entering the wilderness of the Sinharaja. Climbing some cement steps will take devotees into a natural setting of trekking in the wilderness.
The waterfall and the sound of water falling through the rocks breaks the silence of the forest.
One can also spot strange trees, insects and birds and if you are lucky, giant squirrels jumping here and there. After walking and climbing the mountain you arrive at the Kalugala Buddhist Monastery . At the entrance you will find the care taker or the office of the monastery giving instructions to the visitors.
When Life visited the monastery there were large crowds of Buddhist devotees preparing a danaya for the monks.
According to Aruna Ranaweera and Kapila Ranaweera, two brothers who had come there from Thebuwana, every year on the same month, same date they come here to give their alms to the monastery.
“When we were little kids our parents used to bring us here to give alms. Now they are no more but we continue our task of giving a danaya to the monastery like our parents used to do”, said Aruna Ranweera.
“We see these monks only during meal times. Otherwise they are engaged in meditation in their individual quarters” said Aruna
The monastery also offers accommodation for the devotees who comes there to prepare the alms for the monks and for that reason there exsists a small electricity generator to light up the place(only the kitchen). Other than that the whole place is lit up with kerosene lamps at night.
As you walk pass the main kitchen section, you will arrive at the much awaited place with peace and harmony.
Almost all the Buddha statues at the monastery are built on solid rock.
As you pass the Bo tree you arrive at the main meditation area, a building with an open space especially made for mediation. At the centre of the mediation hall there is a Buddha statue and a skelton of a human. Monks are not to be seen except during their meal hours.
According to the Chief Incumbent of the Kalugala Monastery Ven. Nahalle Kallyana Wansa, the monks in the monastery have a strict time table.
Their daily meditation starts at 4.30 in the morning and will go on until 10.30 in the night.
As Ven. Nahalle Kallyana Wansa points out that human mind is like an untamed wild buffalo and meditation is all about taming the mind and at the end attaining supreme bliss. Cut off from the rest of the world, the Kalugala Buddhist Monastery is a wonderful place to tame the unruly mind of humans in order to realize the truth by mediation..
By Deepal V. Perera
February 3, 2007