The Venerable Witiyala Seewalie Nayaka Thera was born in Sri Lanka.He was ordained as a monk when he was 12.Eight years later, he received full ordination as a Buddhist monk or Upasampada. His preceptor was the late Venerable Narandeniye Pannarama Nayaka Maha Thera, who was an uncle of his mother.
His education spans both the monastic and secular. He received his primary monastic education from Migadaya Ratanapala Pirivena, Matara. He further studied at Vidyalankara Pirivena, a monastic university in Peliyagoda, where he studied for a Royal Pandith degree, a special traditional monastic degree in Eastern languages: Pali, Sinhala and Sanskrit. At the University of Kelaniya, he received a B.A. degree (with honors), in Buddhist culture and Buddhist philosophy. Subsequently, he received DLitt degree from Vidyalankara Pirivena. He has also received an M.A. from the Buddhist and Pali University of Sri Lanka in Buddhist Studies and studied further for diplomas in Buddhism and the Pali language from the same institution. He obtained a Diploma in Bible Studies from the Bible Society in Kandy. He has also received training and certification in teaching methods, educational administration and management from monastic universities and the relevant government departments.
He has presented radio programs on Buddhism on the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation. In 1996 he was appointed the 27th, and thus far the youngest principal of the Parama Dhamma Cetiya Pirivena. This historic monastic university is Sri Lanka’s premier institution for training monks. It has an international reputation. In addition to his teaching and administrative duties he was engaged in various projects of social welfare and interfaith dialogue. He built relationships with lay people, organization and non-profits in Sri Lanka and outside. With their assistance he was able to complete these projects. He has traveled to army camps and refugee camps in areas affected by the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka providing humanitarian relief and essential supplies. He has also worked in partnership with the Rev. Oscar Abeyratna a Catholic priest, in aiding civilian victims of terror. Some of the projects he has organized include: distribution of clothes on foot on a 50-mile route, distribution of free eye glasses to people in 14 villages, distributed wheelchairs to hospitals and senior homes. He has also organized regular blood donation campaigns. Working together with the Rev. Abeyratna of the Prasansaramaya Church in Ragama and, others he participated in programs of interfaith dialogue.
In 2003, he moved to a Buddhist Temple in Los Angeles, California. On invitation from the Sri Lankan Buddhist Community in the Twin Cities, he visited this area and founded the Minnesota Buddhist Vihara in 2004. The Vihara is registered as a 501 C (3) with the state of Minnesota. It moved to its own premises in 2006. He is also the founder and President of the Buddhist and Pali College-USA an affiliated College of the Buddhist and Pali University of Sri Lanka. The first years of the Minnesota Buddhist Vihara was graciously hosted by the Vietnamese Buddhist Temple in Blaine. We have engaged in many activities and programs, religious, educational and cultural. The most important and most popular is the Buddhist program for children. Venerable Seewalie also conducts monthly Buddhist talk and meditation sessions for inmates at South Dakota State Penitentiary, Sioux Falls together with monastics.
The Ven. Seewalie continues to build relationships with the Sri Lankan community while building ties with neighborhood churches, communities, as well as the wider community. With help of the community, he organized humanitarian relief to the affected in Sri Lanka after the great Asian Tsunami of 2004. Subsequently, he organized efforts to gather and donate relief supplies to survivors of hurricane Katrina. He counseled and offered spiritual guidance to many families and individuals in times of great stress and crisis and continue to do so. He participated to the Interreligious Symposium at Bethel University St. Paul. He served as a member of the board of directors in McKinley Community and as a volunteer teacher at City View School for two years. He also serves a volunteer chaplain for the Minneapolis Police Department and an advisor for Sri Lankan Student Association at University of Minnesota. In June 2009, he received Basic Emergency Service Chaplaincy Diploma from Minnesota Emergency Service Chaplain Association, MN, USA.
On June 17, 2011, Malwatta Chapter of Siam Sect appointed him as the Deputy Chief monk (Sangha Nayaka) of North America with the title “Dharmakeerthi Sri Pragnarama” for his services to disseminate the teachings of the Buddha (Buddha Dhamma) in Minnesota and surrounding states. Mahinda Rajapakse, president of Sri Lanka, invited Venerable Seewalie to president’s official residence “Temple Trees” to honor and recognize monk's new position.
Being a Buddhist monk is his calling. He moves closely with people of all races, creeds and backgrounds. He has made friends with people from all walks of life both in Sri Lanka and the United States. He has moved to understand people-their life goals and their point of view-and help them to create a stronger community and a more compassionate world.
Buddhism, one of the major world religions, founded by Siddhartha Gautama popularly known as the Buddha (the Enlightened One), is regarded as one of the three most widespread religions in the world today. Buddha was born in India during the sixth century BCE into a royal family of the Sakyan clan. Though He had all the comforts for a good life with wealth, palaces for three seasons and so on He was not satisfied with them. He saw life as suffering due to impermanent nature of phenomena and determined to find a lasting solution to the problem of suffering. So he gave up all material things and became a homeless wanderer. He practiced severe self-mortification for six long years in the hope of realizing Nibbana in order to eradicate suffering. Having realized that there are two extremes with regard to religious practices, Siddhartha Gautama decided to follow the Middle Way (Majjhima Patipada). Through the combined practice of Tranquility (Samatha) and Insight (Vipassana) meditations he realized Nibbana and became Enlightened.
The basic teaching of the Buddha includes epistemology, theory of knowledge and ethics which is called Vijja (wisdom) and Carana (practice). Buddha’s basic teaching includes the Four Noble Truths, Three Signata (Tilakkhana), Karma, Dependent Origination, Nibbana, theory of perception. The foundation of Buddhist ethics is non-violence, compassion and loving kindness. He emphasized the self-analogous ethical theory which is more effective in solving social problems. In Buddhism there is room for investigation and inquiry.
The teachings of the Buddha have the power to close many prisons within and without, when people live according to the Dhamma. Please join us in this noble endeavor. As the Buddha instructs us, “Dhammo have rakkhati dhamma cari”, the Dhamma protects those who protect the Dhamma. Wishing you and all beings Peace and Happiness.