This remarkable soul was born as Sanath Deepa Kumara on 24th February 1975 in Galle, Sri Lanka. From his childhood he was extremely intelligent and was brought up under the influence of the village temple. He was inclined towards spirituality by birth and even in his childhood he had an extraordinary memory of most of the Buddhist sutras. Sanath Deepa Kumara studied science and completed his education from Richmand College, Galle and later he entered the University of Kaleniya to pursue a degree in Microbiology. During the final year in university, Sanath realized that the freedom he is searching for cannot be found in the mundane, materialistic life. He was ordained as a Buddhist monk at the Wijayananda Pirivena and was named “Pitiuwe Siridhamma Thero”. Being an extraordinary figure and a charismatic speaker, he became famous across Sri Lanka attracting the youth by using his remarkable knowledge on Buddhism.
The Turning Point of His Life…
Even though he was seeking enlightenment as a monk for years through different practices, with time he realized that he cannot find it by living a traditional monastic life. In 2010, he travelled to the United States where he experienced his first spiritual awakening in him. After returning back to Sri Lanka, he realized that he has become a completely different person. He then changed his name to “Siri Samanthabadra”. Towards the end of 2011, Siri Samanthabadra Thero declared that he had reached the highest peak of enlightenment.
Many young men and women renounced everything in their lives without any expectations and entered the Buddhist order and became ordained as monks under him. He roared as a lion claiming that there is no one in this universe who could challenge or oppose his teaching of path to enlightenment. That Lion’s roar still exists without any challenge.
A Lion’s Roar…
Controversy was inevitable as the Sri Lankan Buddhist community found it difficult to absorb his message and his presence. There were many who raised objections against his realization of truth. He was condemned for openly claiming that he is enlightened. In 2011, a large group lead by some prominent Buddhist monks attacked the monastery he was living and tried to disrobe him. But they could not succeed with their attempts. He was not affected by any of it and continued to stress on the need for meditation rather than the formal ritual practices of the Buddhist religion in Sri Lanka and the pointlessness of becoming a scholarly Buddhist monk. This infuriated the well-known scholarly Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka. Many attempts were made to silence him but he continued to speak and deliver discourses. His security was a major cause of anxiety for the devotees. He received many threats. Several times he was attacked when he travelled outside Colombo to deliver discourses. The reporters and police showed a blind eye to these events. Fortunately, he was not harmed. Once a woman came to the monastery in the middle of a discourse and claimed that he was the father of her baby. But this was proved to be a lie and later she fell on his feet and begged for forgiveness. Regardless of all the criticism, opposition and attacks, the number of followers and devotees keep increasing into thousands day by day.
He founded the Siri Sadaham Monastery in Dehiwala, Sri Lanka where thousands of people come to listen to his talks and discussions which cover everything from the individual quest for truth to the most urgent social and political issues facing society today. He has published over 150 books and this is the highest number of books on Dhamma published by a person in Sri Lanka.
Founding Umandawa in Kurunegala…
In 2016, Umandawa Maha Vihara Monastery which is an international vipassana meditation centre and a model agricultural commune rises from 55 acres of barren land in Melisiripura, Kurunegala, Sri lanka. It is where Samanthabadra thero has actualized his vision of building a commune by creating a healthy, nourishing environment where people can learn the art of living in harmony with one another and with the Earth. Both monasteries are run by hundreds of active and dedicated volunteers. Currently, there are several multiphase projects implemented to support individual growth, rebuild communities, support rural education system and restore environment friendly farming.