Venerable W. Wimalagnana Thero
Venerable Wagadapola Wimalagnana Thero

Venerable Wagadapola Wimalagnana ordained 25 years ago and has received his higher ordination as a monk 20 years ago when living at Na Uyana Forest Monastery near Pansiyagama Village (which is part of the Galduwa tradition). He understands the Buddha's teachings very well and teaches them in an engaging and lively manner with a sense of humour. He is also welcoming, generous and helpful, which are the main ingredients that have contributed to the success of the Hermitages today. In 2011, Venerable W. Wimalagnana visited Australia for the first time and encountered a keen interest in the Buddha's teachings and the Group of Hermitages he had founded. Since then, he has been invited to visit Australia annually to conduct retreats, and to give Dhamma talks and to lead Dhamma discussion sessions.

  More about Bhaddeka Vihari Group of Hermitages

In the ancient Buddhist language of Pali, "Bhaddeka Vihari" means "one who lives alone fortunately or auspiciously". "Fortunately" in the sense of one who is practising meditation at a deep level in order to attain the wisdom that leads to Enlightenment.

The Buddha encouraged his monks to live alone after their initial training in the monks' rules and meditation and the ancient Buddhist texts often record "that after not a long time" living alone that monk attained Enlightenment. In accordance with the Buddha's encouragement, the main purpose of these Hermitages has been to provide monks of all traditions with an opportunity to live and practice independently on their own in the peaceful forests and mountains of the Tanjan Taenna area.

The Tanjan Taenna area is 23 km from Balangoda, towards the end of the central mountainous area. The area still has much forest and considerable wildlife. Honeycombing the hills are many ancient caves, some of which have inscriptions. There are many streams and the Walawe River flows through the area. The climate is dry and warm, though it can be hot from June to September. The main rainfall is in October - January, and there is also some rain in March - June.

Now, there is a group of more than 25 monks practising in secluded huts or caves (some from ancient times). Some of them are over 20 km, by road, from the central meeting place, the Gilanhala at Tanjan Taenna.

These hermitages (huts or caves) range from basic wattle and daub huts to comfortable brick huts. Most huts are at least one kilometre from the nearest village, and two or three kilometres from each other. Monk collects their food daily on almsround in separate villages nearest their caves or huts. The food is simple, but adequate. Monks living here do not participate in any religious ceremonies, nor are they involved in any social or religious work in the villages. Their primary aim is to practice and realisation of the Buddha's Path.

Venerable W. Wimalagnana thera, the senior monk who started the group in 2003, speaks some English (as do some of the other monks) and is very friendly and helpful.

There is a central meeting place, or 'Gilanhala', which Venerable W. Wimalagnana opened in January 2010. It is only intended for the use of monks living in the Group, as well visiting monks. There are no religious ceremonies (Kathina, pujas, etc) or meditation programmes conducted here. People, who support the Gilanhala and the Group, do so only for the well being of practicing monks. Some of the monks gather here for the fortnightly recitation of the monks' rules, especially on the full moon. There are also good facilities for sick monks; a Library (Sinhala and English);

an office (with telephone); a storeroom with medicines and other basic necessities for monks; a sewing machine, and a monastery worker. The ongoing support for the Gilanhala and the Group is provided by a committee based in Colombo (the Bhaddeka Vihari Upasthana Samithiya) as well as a group in Australia (Bhaddeka Vihari Group of Hermitages (Australia) Inc.).

The Gilanhala and the Group is affiliated with the Galduwa tradition, one of the strictest in the observance of the monks' rules. The Group welcomes any good monks, local and foreign, who are affiliated with other traditions. Usually there are about 5 foreign monks living in the Hermitages. It suits monks with some experience (ideally, at least 5 years as a bhikkhu or samanera) wishing to practice in solitude but with the resources and support of a group. To be able to speak some Sinhala is important for foreign monks.