Ven. Rerukane Candavimala

2. From Burma to Sri Lanka

After arriving from Burma I first stayed at the Dematagoda Visuddhārāmaya temple. There was a special reason for this. In those days it was a requirement that when people return from abroad they had to present themselves to the authorities for quarantine purposes. So staying in Colombo was more convenient. I used to listen to Ven. Siridhamma’s Abhidhamma classes. Since I had been in Burma for a long time, everyone thought I would be an expert in Abhidhamma. Some students asked me to teach the Abhidhammaṭṭhasaṅgraha. I did not like that, but they kept asking me, so one day I taught them the Abhidhammaṭṭhasaṅgraha.

Some started saying that I was a better teacher than Ven. Siridhama. I thought that was not a very auspicious thing to say in his own temple, and that I should leave as soon as possible. At that time Ven. Siridhamma was a world-renowned Abhidhamma scholar. If talk started that a young person like me was a better teacher, it would be a slur to his good name. So I decided to leave but I did not like to tell anyone.

I gradually started staying away for a few days on and off, then completely removed myself from the temple. We remained on good terms that way. When I arrived first at Visuddhārāmaya I was in awe of the student monks who were coming to learn the Abhidhamma. I thought they knew far more than me. When I investigated closely though, none of them knew very much. They used to study really hard from morning until night. I never studied that way. If I read something even once I remembered it. I know most of the Tipiṭaka by heart even now in my old age.

After Visuddhārāmaya I stayed for a while in a temple in Panadure. The head monk was Ven. Dheerananda. It was close to the sea, so it was also called the seaside temple (Vallabada). It was very conducive to ones health so I stayed there for a while.

About a year and a half later I wrote my first book there, නිර්වාණ විනිශ්චය (Nirvāṇa Viniścaya, An Enquiry into Nibbāna). There was a reason for this. There was a journal called Dharma Sri and the editor asked me to write an article on Nirvāṇa. After it was published a lay gentleman wrote a critique of it. I cannot remember his name. I wrote a few articles in reply but then decided it was not useful to write like that and decided to write a book on Nirvāṇa. Nirvāṇa Viniścaya was that book. I was about 29 at the time, and it was written in high scholarly language. Perhaps some may have read it, but may not have found it very palatable. Nirvāṇa is a deep Dhamma, and is not easy to understand. It is difficult to choose the right words to explain it too. Therefore I think it was not as popular as my other books. However my knowledge of Sinhala was also not very good at the time. In those days I learned my Sinhala from scholarly books like the Jātaka Pansiyapot Vahanse, Saddharmaratnāvaliya, Pūjāvaliya These are three very popular books in Sri Lanka, that made a marked inpact on the Sinhalese knowledge of the Dhamma. However, they are written in High Sinhala, and hard for most people to understand these days. and so on. I got used to that style of writing. I think many of the words that I have used in Nirvāṇa Viniścaya were from those ancient books.

The style of writing that I used to write Nirvāṇa Viniścaya I didn’t use again. All the later books were written in simple language. That is, in the common language of the people in the 20th century. In all honesty I did not want to re-print Nirvāṇa Viniścaya, but somehow even though I have objected, it has been reprinted.

I later wrote a book called පටිච්චසමුප්පාද විවරණය (Paṭiccasamuppāda Vivaraṇaya, An Exposition of Conditional Origination). In that I explained Nirvāṇa in greater detail. That is why I did not want Nirvāṇa Viniścaya to be published again. I had this idea to stop publishing that book completely. I did not write that book to earn money. I actually have no objection that someone else had published it, taking sections of it and not even mentioning my authorship, and putting their name on it. It is illegal but I did not forbid it.

I wrote to eradicate my own ignorance rather than to share the sublime Dhamma with the people. It can be said that by learning and researching the Dhamma, one’s ignorance gets eradicated.

3. This is a Burmese Temple