THE BUDDHIST ANNUAL OF CEYLON
Vol. 3, No.3; 2473/1929            page 189
The "Island Hermitage" (Polgasduwa Tapas-arama).
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This picturesque little island in the midst of the palm-bordered Ratgama Lake near Dodanduwa, Southern Province Ceylon, is the seat of a little band of European and Asiatic Buddhist monks under the leadership of the Ven. Nyanatiloka Thera.
The island had been dedicated to the Ven. Nyanatiloka by his Buddhist friend, a Swiss Knight, Monsieur R.A. Bergier. Here , in complete solitude and far away from the turmoil of the world, the Ven. Nyanatiloka and his pupil monks before the war lived in little single-roomed cottages - about 12 in number - which had been erected here and there in the midst of the jungle, and were engaged in study and meditation. However, when war broke out in 1914 all the Germans on the island were made prisoners and later on in 1915 transferred to Australia. It was only in 1926, after about 12 years of banishment from Ceylon, that the Ven. Nyanatiloka again was allowed to return to Ceylon. However, during these long years the houses had crumbled down and the ruins were covered with impenetrable jungle. At present there are found again 4 little houses and a good number of cottages are under construction; besides the neighbouring island with a large bungalow on it has been leased, and again European and Asiatic monks and lay brothers are to be found in these islands and many more Europeans are expected in the near future.

 

The Buddhist Annual of Ceylon, Vol. 3,No.3,1929, page 247
THE INTERNATIONAL BUDDHIST UNION.
Working Centre for Earnest People.
"BUILDING UP FROM WITHIN" THE WATCHWORD.

A meeting of the International Buddhist Union (Jâtyantara Bauddha Samâgama) was held recently.
The following were elected office-bearers for the ensuing year:-
Consul-General of the I.B.U. for Ceylon:- Dr.W.A.de Silva,M.L.C., and President of the Buddhist Theosophical Society.
Honorary Councillors:- Mr.W.E.Bastian,J.P.,Merchant;
Rev. Bhikkhu Narada; the Hon.Mr.D.B.Jayatilaka,M.L.C.
Consul for Colombo:- Dr. Cassius A. Pereira.
Consul for Kandy District:- Mr.S.W.Wijayatilake.
Consul for Galle District:- Mr. W. Wijayasekera, Coroner.
Treasurer:- Mr. Amadoris Mendis, Dodanduwa.
President:- The Venerable Nyanatiloka, Maha-Nayaka Thera.
General Secretary:- Brahmacari Govinda (E.L.Hoffmann).
Treasurer for the Publication Fund:- Herr Ferdinand Schwab, Publisher and Consul of the I.B.U., Muenchen-Neubiberg.
Headquarters:- Island Hermitage, Dodanduwa, Ceylon.
Publication Centre and Headquarters for Europe:- Buddhist Publishing House, "Benares Verlag," Muenchen-Neubiberg.
Correspondence of Eastern countries to be addressed to Island Hermitage, Dodanduwa, Ceylon, and of Western countries to the European Headquarters of the I.B.U. "Benares Verlag," Muenchen-Neubiberg, Germany.

Object of the Union.

The object of the I.B.U. is to create a working centre for all earnestly striving Buddhists, i.e.for all those who regard the Buddha as their spiritual guide and are ready to live in accordance with the truth, discovered and proclaimed by him for the enlightenment and spiritual welfare of the world. It is not the intention of the I.B.U. to turn the world into so-called Buddhists but to unite all the scattered forces already existing into one strong body. Before teaching others we wish ourselves first to become perfect in the Buddhist virtues of self-denial and tolerance and thus by example of our solidarity and readiness for mutual help prove the value of our view of life. And if all of us really follow the Buddhist path, the rest of the world will soon be convinced of the Universal Truth of Buddhism. The living example is the most dignified and most effective way to convince others.

Hence our watch-word is not "external propaganda," but

Building Up From Within

Thus our programme turns out to be entirely different from that of all the other international Buddhist Associations, which have been founded in the past. The immediate object is to form a cucleus of really reliable and experienced Buddhists and to start work in a calm and considerate way. Building up on such a safe foundation, we are sure that by organic growth the Union will expand more and more and finally include in it all the Buddhist Associations all over the world.

The basis for mutual understanding shall not be so much the written word as above all personal contact. Only after establishing personal connection may valuable results be also achieved by way of writing. For this reason it will be the primary task of the Secretary-General of the I.B.U. to visit all the chief countries concerned and to come into touch with the leading personalities and scholars there.

Working Programme.

Following is the working programme:-

(i) Unifying the forces scattered within each of the different countries.
(ii) Forming an International Union of all leading Buddhist personalities.
(iii) Establishing contact between East and West.
(iv) Practical mutual help.
(v) Spiritual co-operation.
(vi) Translating and publishing the Canonical books of Buddhism into the principal languages of the world.

Means for its Realisation.

(i) By forming local and district unions (groups), each of which shall choose its representative or leader, who will, maintain contact with the other leaders and have to give reports to the president of the Union for the country as a whole.
(ii) By appointing an agent fro the purpose of establishing personal contact with the leading Buddhists of the various countries concerned.
(iii) By creating a centre in which Buddhists of the East and West may live together and devote themselves to the study and the realisation of the Dhamma.
(iv) By establishing Buddhist Consulates in all the civilised countries, which will, as far as possibale, give information to inquirers and assist by word and deed any member of the I.B.U. unacquainted with the place or country.
(v) By publishing international and national Buddhist magazines, and by forming a Union of Buddhist scholars for the purpose of a more extensive programme of work.
(vi) By establishing funds for printing purposes.

Present State of Things.

(i) In many Eastern and Western countries already many Buddhist groups and associations have been founded, e.g. Young Men's Buddhist Associations in the Asiatic countries; the Buddhist Lodge in England; the Bund für Buddhistisches Leben in Germany; Dr. Dahlke's Buddhist Group in Frohnau, Berlin ("Das Buddhistische Haus"); Die Gemeinde um Buddha in Berlin; the numerous Buddhist local groups in many towns of Germany; the Mahabodhi Society, etc. All such associations and groups may be incorporated in the I.B.U., without however losing their own independent constitution. A list of all the societies affiliated with the I.B.U. will be published within a short time.
(ii) Personal contact of the I.B.U. with the leading Buddhists of the different countries will be established by the General Secretary appointed by the president of the Union. The travelling programme of this year will extend to the following countries:- Ceylon, Burma, India, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Czecho-Slovakia, Holland, England and France. The travelling expenses are paid partly by the Benares Publishing House or its owner Herr Ferdinand Schwab, partly out of private means.

The Headquarters.

(iii) The Headquarters of the I.B.U. where Bhikkhus and Upasakas from all parts of the world may meet together for private or joint study is the Island Hermitage (Polgas-duwâ-râma) in the Ratgama Lake near Dodanduwa, Ceylon, which is under the leadership of the Maha Nayaka Thero the Ven. Nyanatiloka. Here any Buddhist in whose country the Bhikkhu Sangha does not yet exist will find the opportunity of getting acquainted with the religious life under specially favourable conditions, or to enter the Order, especially if his intention is to work later on in his own country for the spreading of the Dhamma. In this way will be avoided the one-sidedness of book-knowledge and at the same time certain wrong Western habits of thinking.

Favourable Conditions.

The favourable conditions are:-

1. Healthy climate.
2. Peaceful and beautiful natural scenery.
3. Easy communication by steamer and train in spite of the solitude of the place.
4. Possibility of mutual understanding and instructions in various European and Asiatic languages.
5. Vivid spiritual interchange through the diversity of the nations represented on the island. At present Buddhists of the following countries are living on the island:  America (U.S.A.), Burma, Ceylon, England, France, Germany, India, Japan, Poland, Portugal, Tibet.
6. Maintaining the anicient Buddhist tradition in point of living and teaching; hence absence of all particularism, sectarianism, etc.
7. Existence of a good library (Pali, Sinhalese, German, English, etc.)
8. Accomodation for Bhikkhus in single-room cottages scattered in the jungle; and for upasakas in bungalows.
9. Solitary places suitable for mental training (meditation).
10. Opportunities for daily swimming and bathing in the lagoon or the sea.
 

The Island Hermitage.
The Island Hermitage is the first Buddhist monastic community, in which a living co-operation between East and West has been realized, and which is destined to become a true nursery of Buddhist culture. Instead of sending Buddhist Missionaries into foreign countries, where the difference in language, in psychic qualities, and in the habits of the people present unaccountable obstacles, the opportunity ius here offered to akll those foreigners who either are already on the way to Buddhism, or who wish to live the religious life, to flocjk together at the Island Hermitage, and after here accomplishing their training to return to their native countries in order to work for the Dhamma.

Work of the Consuls.
(iv) The Consuls will supply the inquirer with all particulars about the present state of the I.B.U., specially with regard to the headquarters, the Island Hermitage, and everything relating to travelling there (expenses, best communications, best season, passport formalities, landing conditions, travelling outfit, etc. Inquiries about Buddhism should as far as possible be made in person (orally). The I.B.U. however does not undertake any responsibility for the information given by the Consul. All inquiries by letter should be concise, and return postage should be enclosed.

Besides the above mentioned information, the Consul also has the honourable duty of being of assistance by word and deed to any member of the I.B.U. who is unacquainted with the country or place, especially if the latter has not full command over the language of the country, and to help him with letters of recommendation to other Buddhists, etc. etc. Hospitality at the same time should be practised in this widest measure. Before entering on a great journey the local Consul may be asked to inform the Consul at the intended destination to receive the traveller on his arrival and see to his comforts.

Buddhist Literature.

(v) A number of Buddhist magazines already exist in many parts of the world, but their efficacy may be largely increased through methodical co-operation with the I.B.U. As everywhere so also here, we shall endeavour instead of wasting our energy in founding new societies to support already existing ones and co-operate with them. Several papers have already published reports about our projects and placed further space at our disposal. The names of the magazines co-operating with us will be published after concluding the agreements. Besides, pamphlets and circulars will keep the members of the Union well informed. The medium of communication will be English.

Spreading the Dhamma.

(vi) One of the principal tasks of the I.B.U., consists in publishing and spreading Buddhist Literature; Publication Centre and Headquarters of the Union for Europe is Buddhist Publishing House: "Benares Verlag," Muenchen-Neubiberg, Germany. This Publishing House for about 15 years has worked for the spread of the Dhamma in Western countries and is at present the most important establishment of its kind in the world. Most prominent Buddhist writers and scholars are found among its contributors:

Prof. Wilhelm Geiger (Germany), The Rev. Nyanatiloka Thera (Ceylon), Dr. Paul Dahlke+ (Germany), Prof. Stcherbatsky (Russia), The Rev. Silacara Thero (Burma),* Dr. Seidenstucker (Germany), The Rev. Ananda Metteyya Thero+ (Burma), R. Sobczak (Poland), E.L.Hoffmann (Italy), Mrs.C.A.F.Rhys Davids,M.a.,D.LITT,(England), His Eminence Tai Hsu (China), Prof. Dutoit (Germany), Prof. S.Kuroda (Japan), Dr. Paul Carus+ (U.S.A.), Prof. Podznejev (Russia), Prof. Tilbe (Denmark), E.H.Brewster (U.S.A.), Prof.S.Nagao (Japan), Dr. Baeler (Holland), Prof. Lakhsmi Narasu (India), Prof. A. de Costa (Italy).

Activities of the International Buddhist Union.

Brahmacari Govinda (E.L.Hoffmann), the General Secretary of the International Buddhist Union, who left Colombo on the 5th of March, arrived at Rangoon on the 10th and was met on board by the German Consul, representatives of the Foreign Buddhist Association, U.Ba Sein, T.P.S., who is acting now as Consul of the I.B.U., and a number of others. On the evening of the same day he was greeted by Mahatma Gandhi on the platform of the Shwe Dagon Pagoda and had a talk with him. A week later the Brahmacari held a meeting at U.Ba Sein's Dharmasala near Shwe Dagon, where the first Burmese group of the I.B.U. was founded.

On the 24th of March the Ven. Nyanatiloka Thera, the President of the Union, arrived in Rangoon, from where he proceeded together with Brahmacari Govinda to Upper Burma, visiting Prome, Pagan, Sagaing, Mandalay, Maymyo Bhamo, etc. At Mandalay on the 22nd of April they held a meeting in the hall of the Buddhist Mission School, founding a branch of the I.B.U. for Upper Burma. U.Kyaw Hla and Maung Maung Hmin were elected as Consuls of the I.B.U. and U.Kyaw Yan as Honorary Councillor. The Hon. U.Maung Maung,MLC. will represent the I.B.U. at Sagaing. Before leaving Burma the leaders of the Union were invited to lecture at a meeting convened by the Sri Ramakrishna Mission in Rangoon, on the 28th of April. The Office-bearers of the Union at Rangoon are: U.Ba Sein, T.P.S., Consul; The Hon.U.Bah Too, former Minister and M.L.C., and U. Shwe Zan Aung,M.A., Hony.Councillors.

The two travellers, who were given an exceptionally kind reception and treatment by the Burmese people, left this hospitable country on the 2nd of May and reached Colombo on the 6th of May. Of the many gifts presented to them may be mentioned a full set of the Holy Scriptures (Tipitaka) together with the Commentaries, given by U.Khanti, the great hermit of the Mandalay Hill, U.Bah Kyaw (Fambu Mitsue Press) and Maung Tint Swe (Kaviar Myat Man Press).

After a short stay at the Headquarters of the I.B.U., at the Island Hermitage near Dodanduwa, Brahmacari Govinda left for Europe on the 6th by the ss. Haruna Maru (N.Y.K. line) in order to organise the Buddhist movement in Europe. He reaches Naples on the 31st of May. His travelling programme includes the following countries:- Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Czecho-Slovakia, Holland, England and France. In all these countries the International Buddhist Union will be represented.

+ Now dead.__Edd. B.A.C.
* i.e. Mr. J.F.McKechnie now in England, having left the Order through  illness___Edd. B.A.C.