Richmond College Buddhist Society had its beginnings in 1962 with the vesting of the school in the Government. The Society was inaugurated on 22nd February 1962 and is now fifty years old. The aim of the society from the outset was to promote Buddhist values among Buddhist students and not to challenge other religions as Richmond is a secular school.
Richmond although for a good part of her near 200 year history was a Methodist Mission school was a secular school and has produced several Buddhist prelates and others who had done much for Buddhism. We record the following names with pride:
Ven Galle Keerthi Sri Sarananda Thero
Ven Kumbalwalle Rathanaseeha Thero
Ven Bope Vineetha Thero
Ven Pitiduwe Siridhamma (Siri Samanthabadra) Thero
Ven Galle Sangasubadra Thero (Mr. Gamini Gunasekera)
Ven Demaluwe Sumangala Thero (Preacher in Trilingual including Tamil )
Ven Akmeemana Dhammarathana Thero
Ven Athdunkale Dammarama Thero
Ven Bibile Dhammika Thero
Apart from the ordained priests the famous Alec Robertson too was a product of Richmond who is well known for his Buddhist sermons on the airways and TV programmes.
The above details were provided by Abhidharmacharya. Mr. S K Sujith Kumara (Head – Buddhist Section and Richmond College Staff).
There are many others who have contributed much for the propagation of Buddhism among them P. D. S. Kularatne and L. H. Mettananda were Richmondites.
The following are the founding office bearers of the Society.
Mr. D. G. Welikala – Principal
Mr. D. P. Hemachandra Gunasekera
Mr. M. D. S. Sumanasekera
P. V. Amaradasa Gunawardena
Mr. Tudor de Silva
N. G. Yassus de Silva
Between 1962 and today the following teachers were in charge of the Society:
Mr. G. Kodituwakku
Mr. H. H. B. Himasiri
Mr. K. H. Kulasena
Ms. S. W. Adihetty
Mr. S. K. Liyanage
Mr. D. S. M. Liyanage (an old Richmondite)
Mr. K. Wickramasinghe
Ven. Porawagama Gnanaseeha Thero
Ven. Kirama Rathanaseeha Thero
Abhidhammikacharya Mr. S. K. Sujith Kumara
There was an interesting incident that happened when the students assembled for the first time to observe the five precepts during Mr. Welikala’s time. Not having a Buddhist priest on the staff a staff member led the ceremony. But what surprised many was that he was a Christian. He was a former Buddhist but by then a convert to Methodism and knew how to lead the ceremony. Although it did not cause a major upheaval it did ruffle few feathers. Later in life he returned to Buddhism and went on transfer from Richmond. He has now passed beyond.
Every student who is a Buddhist gains automatic normal membership. Once every term two members are selected as Full Members from each class to attend meetings of the society and get involved in decision making.
When a student joins the college at Grade I or Grade VI and before they sit any of the public examinations a Pirith Ceremony is organised to bestow blessings for their success. An all-night Pirth ceremony followed by an alms giving is organised on the anniversary day. Special ceremonies are organised during Wesak and Poson weeks. On every school day between 7:30 AM and 8:30 AM the Buddhist students observe the five precepts in front of the Buddha statue and the Bo tree. Students conduct various external religious, shramadhana campaigns and workshops for the benefit of the people. Students are also provided counselling based on Buddhist philosophy.
In the year 2010 a book was published containing many articles by layman, Buddhist Clergy and students of island wide schools, themed “Science and Buddhism”. This is the first time in the history a book under this theme was published.
The Buddhist Society also maintains a website.