The University of Kelaniya in Sri Lanka awarded renowned Buddhist scholar and venerable monastic emeritus professor Kuala Lumpur Dhammajoti an honorary doctorate in literature during its 137th convocation on August 18.
The award was given for the “outstanding contribution made by Ven. Professor Emeritus Kuala Lumpur Dhammajoti for uplifting Buddhist scholars, for improving the University of Kelaniya, and for working to increase the international recognition of the University of Kelaniya. (UOKtoday)
The presentation was made at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall in Colombo, and the citation was read by Ven. President and Head Teacher Madawachchiye Dhammajothi, Director of the Postgraduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies (PIPBS).
The ceremony was presided over by Aggamahapandita Most Ven. Professor Kollupitiye Mahinda Sangharakkitha Maha Thera, Chief Holder of Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara and Chancellor of Kelaniya University. Also present were Professor Nilanthi de Silva, Vice-Chancellor of Kelaniya University, Faculty Deans, the Registrar, academic and non-academic staff, as well as graduates and their families.
“Congratulations to Bhante. Bhante has made incredible contributions in the Buddhist academic field and in promoting the University of Kelaniya. Therefore, Bhante truly deserves this honor,” said Dr. Amrita Nanda, Honorary Lecturer at the Center for Buddhist Studies (CBS), University of Hong Kong (HKU) and disciple of Ven. Dhamamjoti, in a post on the Facebook page of the Buddha-Dharma Center of Hong Kong (BDCHK). (Facebook)
"I am very happy to see the university's decision to do so," said Bhikkhu Pragnapal, who will begin his master's degree in Buddhist studies at CBS in September on a BDCHK-sponsored scholarship. “I am proud of the University of Kelaniya, where I studied and worked as a scholar member for some time, for showing gratitude to Professor for his academic achievements and compassionate support to hundreds of students and at many institutes around the world. (Facebook)
In his award speech, titled “The Buddhist Ideal of Transformational Education, Inspiration for Modern University Education,” Ven. Dhammajoti emphasized the Buddhist ideal of balance, harmony and personality development, as explained in the teachings of the five spiritual faculties: faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom. Fri. Dhammajoti observed that these offered a completely integrated strategy that resulted in intellectual integration and liberating understanding. (Youtube)
Born in Kuala Lumpur, Ven. Dhammajoti is founder and director of BDCHK. He is the founding editor of Journal of Buddhist Studies, published annually by the Sri Lankan Center for Buddhist Studies. He is also considered one of the greatest scholars of the earliest Buddhist text, the Sarvastivada Abhidharma.
Fri. Dhammajoti has already received the following academic posts and honors: Professor of Philosophy Chair at Renmin University of China; Glorious Sun Retired Professor (endowed) in Buddhist Studies, HKU; Honorary Rector of the International Buddhist College, Hat Yai, Thailand; and Assistant Professor, University of Pune, India.
Fri. Dhammjoti started his academic career at the University of Kelaniya. He described his academic background in an interview: “I was an associate professor at the University of Kelaniya. I also worked at the Postgraduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies as a teacher. There, I was first a lecturer from 1982. Then I left for the University of Hong Kong. . . . I went there as a guest speaker and they asked me to stay, and they made me an endowed teacher. . . . I retired in 2015 and then started my own center called Buddha-Dharma Center of Hong Kong. I am its director and president. My courses are affiliated with the University of Kelaniya, where I originally come from. (Daily News)
In addition to his academic works and activities, Ven. Dhammajoti carries out charitable activities, mainly in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. In recent years, during the economic crisis in Sri Lanka, the BDCHK, with the help of Ven. Dhammajoti, donated basic necessities to vulnerable Sri Lankan families. Part of the funds raised were distributed to educational institutions in Sri Lanka, including the University of Kelaniya, which are experiencing financial difficulties due to the unexpected withdrawal or reduction of grants promised by the Sri Lankan government.