Venerable Mitirigala Dhammāvāsa Mahā Thero was the third Abbott of Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya.  At the time of his passing away, he was one of the oldest living students of Venerable Mātara Sri Ñānārāma Mahā Thero and had spent over forty years at the hermitage.

Born in 1931, Venerable Dhammāvāsa recollects having a strong desire to become enlightened during his childhood years.  As he grew older, deep within him developed the urge to become a monk and he set foot on a journey in search of a suitable teacher and an appropriate place to cultivate the practice.  Yet, wherever he went, he was faced with disappointment.

By the time he was in his thirties, he had made a firm resolution to become ordained at  Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya.  His wish was to renounce all worldly pursuits.  With each day that passed, the thought of renunciation preoccupied his mind.  This earnest quest for liberation became a pressing fact after he first arrived at Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya.

In a biographical excerpt, Venerable Dhammāvāsa recollects his first meeting with his teacher, Venerable Mātara Sri Ñānārāma, as one of his greatest moments.  During his first visit, he observed the eight precepts and slowly made his way towards Venerable Ñānārāma’s kuti.  He paid homage to the Venerable teacher to be and sat by his bed side.  Venerable Ñānārāma was seated on his bed and was sorting out a few things and putting them into a bag in preparation for a visit.

Although Venerable Ñānārāma noticed the arrival of the young lay disciple, no words were spoken and they remained silent for a few minutes.  Then, from the corner of his eye, Venerable Ñānārāma looked at the lay disciple and asked why he had come to visit him.  He responded, “Venerable Sir, I have a strong desire to become a monk, yet, there is no one to assist me on this journey.  I have met with many people.  Yet, nothing has worked out for me and I have not been able to find a suitable mentor”.  To this gentle plea, Venerable Ñānārāma gave a gentle assurance, stating “this is why we are here; we have all travelled through samsāra together”.

Since that day, Venerable Ñānārāma became his teacher.  A suitable mentor and an appropriate place for the practice were found.  Soon thereafter in 1971, he entered the order of sangha at Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya as Venerable Mitirigala Dhammāvāsa.

Venerable Dhammāvāsa was a diligent student and strove hard in his practice.  Owing to the dedicated effort and determination, he went through enormous hardship, often limiting his food intake and spending many nights without sleep.



There were times when he became ill due to the strain imposed on his body. Recollecting a significant moment in his practice, Venerable Dhammāvāsa once mentioned, “I felt enormous joy in my heart, to simply realise that I had undertaken a task that had been undertaken by the Buddha” and to have benefited from a practice that assured of the desired results.

Until his passing away in January 2015, Venerable Mitirigala Dhammāvāsa Mahā Thero led a life of solitude at Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya, celebrating over forty years of his life of monkhood.