LKR 70 million of the funds raised by The Buddha-Dharma Centre of Hong Kong for Sri Lanka has been given as an outright gift to the Postgraduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies (PGIPBS) of the University of Kelaniya. In addition, as of today, some LKR 45 million has been given as food aid for the poor in Sri Lanka. The ‘Sri Lanka Relief Project’ is ongoing, under the direction of the Ven. Prof. K. L. Dhammajoti.
The Buddha-Dharma Centre of Hong Kong was founded in 2012 by the Ven. Prof. K. L. Dhammajoti with the support of a group of his postgraduate students of the Centre for Buddhist Studies, The University of Hong Kong. It is a registered charity that aims ‘to promote the study and research of Buddhism through academic courses and publications’ and ‘the integration of Buddhist Studies and spiritual praxis.’
The Centre has very close ties to Sri Lankans, not least because its founder, the Ven. Prof. K. L. Dhammajoti, has spent decades in Sri Lanka, first as a postgraduate student from 1978. This was followed by 22 years of lecturing at the PGIPBS before joining The University of Hong Kong in early 2004 (with two years of sabbatical leave, he formally terminated his teaching post at PGIPBS in 2006). At the University of Hong Kong, he became the Glorious Sun (Endowed) Professor of Buddhist Studies.
The Buddha-Dharma Centre of Hong Kong’s academic courses are affiliated to the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka: postgraduate courses to the PGIPBS, and the undergraduate diploma course to the Department of Pāli and Buddhist Studies.
Under the Ven. Prof. K. L. Dhammajoti’s stewardship, the Glorious Sun Group makes a magnanimous annual contribution towards the education of students at the PGIPBS. Every year the Glorious Sun Group funds six MPhil/PhD scholarships of USD 2000 every year and 15 MA scholarships of USD 1000 for Sri Lankan students and USD 2000 for non-Sri Lankan students as part of its long-term dedication to promoting the social, moral and cultural development of society, In April this year, the Ven. Prof. K. L. Dhammajoti and the Centre’s students, impelled by their compassion and feelings of gratitude towards Sri Lanka, set up a ‘Sri Lanka Relief Fund’. The response from the residents of Hong Kong has been unstinting and inspiring. Their donations have made it possible for the PIGPBS, an invaluable centre of learning, to proceed to the final phase of the construction of its new building, as well as for relieving the food insecurity of thousands of Sri Lankans in the last few months.
The Director of the PGIPBS, the Ven. Prof. Medawachchiye Dhammajothi, speaks with great appreciation of the unprecedented donation made to the PGIPBS. He notes that the donation was made in response to his appeal at a time when the construction was suspended due to the financial crisis in Sri Lanka.
Also, as part of the relief project, food aid has been given in Mount Lavinia, Wadduwa, Balapitiya, Aluthgama, Elpitiya, Kebithigollewa, Padaviya, Anuradhapura, Mihinthale, Polonnaruwa, Rathnapura and Kurunegala. These donations have been made to all religious and ethnic groups. In at least three distribution centres, 500 families at each centre have received donations, equally divided between the Buddhist and Hindu families. To date, over 5800 households, (that is at least over 23,200 Sri Lankans) have received food packs and some cash handouts, amounting to Rs 7000 per family.
Prof. K. L. Dhammajoti, the founder and director of The Buddha-Dharma Centre of Hong Kong, is very familiar with the Dhamma tradition of Sri Lanka. A world-renowned Buddhist scholar and prolific writer, he also holds numerous other titles, including Chair Professor at the School of Philosophy, The Renmin University of China. He is also the Rector Emeritus of the International Buddhist College in Thailand. Since 2002, he has been editing the Journal of Buddhist Studies for the Centre of Buddhist Studies, Sri Lanka (presently being jointly published with The Buddha Dharma of Hong Kong).
All these have given him a very deep appreciation for Sri Lanka. As Prof. K. L. Dhammajoti said in his appeal, this gift from Hong Kong was “also a way of expressing our gratitude to the island for preserving and disseminating Buddha’s teachings, which has benefitted us so greatly”.
Ramya Chamalie Jirasinghe