New Rooftop Solar Power System inaugurated at Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya
Posted on September 8th, 2014

Senaka Weeraratna

A new rooftop solar power system that has been installed at the new building complex situated at the entrance to the Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya (Mitirigala Forest Hermitage) was declared open by Mr. Senaka Weeraratna, Hony. Secretary, German Dharmaduta Society on Sunday August 17, 2014 at the conclusion of a commemorative meeting held to mark the 15th death anniversary of Asoka Weeraratna (Ven. Dhammanisanthi Thera) the founder of the Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya.

The German Dharmaduta Society and the Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya Sanrakshana Mandalaya acting jointly organised the meeting.

The eco friendly solar powered lighting system will illuminate the new buildings while easing to a considerable extent the burden of high operational costs in obtaining conventional electricity. The solar panels project at Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya Meditation Centre was conceived, initiated and co – ordinated by Mr. Tissa Weeraratna of Das Buddhistische Haus (Berlin Vihara) acting in co-operation with the German Dharmaduta Society, based in Colombo, utilizing Solar Panels purchased from voluntary contributions made by two generous individuals namely Frau M. Weber (German) and Mr. Chanaka Wijesinghe.

Two important factors inspired the co-ordinated effort with the support of the donors to install Solar Panels at Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya Meditation Centre. Firstly to maintain a suitable clean environment as prescribed in the Mangala Sutta being conducive to human habitation and meditation using sources of energy from nature i.e. Solar Power, and secondly to ensure energy security.

Solar power helps to reduce global warning, which now threatens the survival of both humans and countless species of animals. As fossil based fuel becomes scarce and expensive the future lies in the intelligent and planned use of alternative sources of energy i.e. hydro and solar. Today efficient solar panel systems can produce electricity without causing pollution and adding to global warming. In installing a roof top solar panel system at Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya Meditation Centre it helps the Buddhist Forest Hermitage to preserve nature and protect the natural environment while at the same time becoming an example and good role model for others to follow suit particularly as it helps to reduce the cost of electricity drastically.

The value of energy security brought about by the installation of this solar system cannot be gainsaid. There is not likely be any disruptions in the supply of electricity to the Meditation Centre as it will not be relying any further on outside entities to provide energy for lighting. The money invested in the installation of Solar Power at the Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya Meditation Centre is expected to be recovered within a few years through the considerable saving on payment of electricity bills.

The first stage of this project was focused on lighting the premises while the second stage of the project anticipates the installation of more solar panels and use of the electricity generated for purpose of cooking, cooling and storing of electricity.

The solar power system was installed by SolSpectrum(Pvt.)Ltd. acting on a purely voluntary and non – profit basis.

Dr. Manel Lakdivdas (President, GDS), Mr. Senaka Weeraratna (Hony. Secretary, GDS), Mr. D.Ananda de Silva (Hony.Assistant Secretary, GDS), Mr. Hemantha Ranavaka (Hony. Secretary, Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya Sanrakshana Mandalaya), Mr. Nissanka de Silva ( former Principal, Mahinda College, Galle), and Mr. Navin de Silva (Engineer and founder of Solspectrum Pvt. Ltd) addressed the meeting.    Professor Jayasiri Lankage (Committee Member, GDS) proposed the vote of thanks.

The meeting highlighted the significant contributions made by Asoka Weeraratna towards the spread of Buddhism in Germany by sponsoring the First Buddhist Mission to Germany (1957) under the banner of the German Dharmaduta Society and the purchase of Das Buddhistische Haus in 1957 (founded by Dr. Paul Dahlke in 1924) in Berlin – Frohnau and converting it into a Buddhist vihara ( the first Buddhist Vihara in Germany and continental Europe) by placing Buddhist monks on a residential footing to propagate the Dhamma in the West.

The speakers also spoke highly of Asoka Weeraratna’s unique effort in establishing the Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya in 1967 at a time when Buddhism in Sri Lanka had lost its most supportive and protective structure, meditation.  The Forest Hermitage had thirty fully equipped independent dwellings for yogi monks constructed for meditation. Asoka Weeraratna who spent his private wealth exclusively in establishing the Hermitage was successful in getting the wholehearted support and co-operation of the most respectful meditation teacher at that time, the late Ven. Matara Sri Nanarama Maha Thera, widely recognised as one of Sri Lanka’s outstanding meditation masters of recent times, to become the Chief guide and instructor. Ven. Nanarama Maha Thera is today considered as the Sri Lankan equivalent of the world renown Burmese meditation master the late Mahasi Sayadaw.

Ven Nanarama Maha Thera was one of the first meditation masters in Sri Lanka to incorporate the Burmese Vipassana techniques into local meditation traditions and balance them in the teachings of samatha meditation.

In addition to Sinhala Buddhist monks and laymen, a number of foreign monks and laymen drawn from both the East and the West also have had the opportunity to engage in the practice of meditation at Mitirigala with total commitment unobstructed by other tasks and duties.  In August 1972 Asoka Weeraratna renounced the lay life and became himself a monk under the monastic name Ven. Dhammanisanti.

The present incumbent of the Hermitage and the chief preceptor is Venerable Uda-Iriyagama Dhammajiva Maha Thera. There are a number of fully committed yogi monks engaged in practicing meditation. In addition the Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya Meditation Centre also offers on – going retreats throughout the year for both male and female lay yogis under the able guidance of Ven. Uda-Iriyagama Dhammajiva Maha Thera.

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One Response to “New Rooftop Solar Power System inaugurated at Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya”

  1. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Such small solar panel fields are okay on the land and in such a place like Sri Lanka but large solar panel fields have proven to fry flying birds over them.
    since that is now the case it would be prudent if one is contemplating building solar panel fields to place them on the ocean where the winds would dissipate the heat they produce and few birds fly over such a region.

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