helping to care for sick bhikkhus

One of my good Dhamma friends, Ramya Panagoda, sent me this article some time ago. unfortunatley i let it languish, but now I’d like to share it with you. It’s about the work done by one bhikkhu to help care for the sick monks. If you’d like to help, leave a comment and I’ll follow up.

Services provided at this temple.

Attending the sick and debilitated Bikkhus

Ven. Amilasiri in his modest manner explained how he single handed cooks their meals, helps the sick monks to clean themselves and feeds them, when they are unable to do it themselves. He has been providing this noble service for more than ten years, without much help from benefactors, often with his bare hands both metaphorically and literally.

The information about this temple and the services the venerable provides has spread to other areas and it appears that often sick and debilitated monks are brought to the temple and left in the vicinity under the cover of darkness. This simply indicates the need of such services in the country and the Ven. Amilasiri’s willingness and the ability of providing this service.

Upasthana for the sick is one of the noblest of activities which Buddha has valued so much as mentioned in the well known stanza in the Dhammapada.

Providing a haven for the young Saamaneras

In addition the temple accommodates about twenty young Saamaneras who have taken refuge in the Sasana and are being educated in the Dhamma by attending classes in the Pirivenas on a daily basis. All these Saamaneras have been orphans or unfortunate children who had come in to conflict with the law. Ven. Amilasiri is doing a yeoman service in this regard by getting the youth who had gone astray, on to the path of righteousness and spiritual upliftment.

How is it managed at present ?

Although the Dayakas of the temple appreciate and encourage him on these wholesome deeds the assistance that could be provided by them is very much limited and he at present depends mostly on random ad hoc donations from well wishers who happen to hear about this temple.

Challenges for Ven. Amilasiri to provide this service.

I have prioritized them and listed below.

1. Lack of regular and established means of providing food and medication for the inmates both sick Bikkhus and Saamaneras.
2. Lack of consumable items such as soap, bedding, towels etc.
3. Lack of funds to cover the funeral rites of bikkhus who pass away.
4. Lack of personnel to help Ven. Amilasiri in cooking and tending the sick.
5. Lack of educational resources for Saamanera monks
6. Lack of adequate space and infrastructure to accommodate the sick Bikkhus.

Opportunities for us to help to provide this service

As a way of short term assistance to this meritorious activity, we perceive the following as means of helping Ven. Amilasiri

1. Volunteering to sponsor cost of providing food and medicine on a particular day or days. According to Ven. Amilasiri the cost incurred for one day is Rs.4,000/= (app.40U.S.$) inclusive of the cost of medical care. It is important to pledge the assistance and make the money available to him early so that he would not have to look for other resources and could concentrate on caring for the monks.

2. Making donations of consumable items such as soap, robes, Towels, bed sheets, etc… as and when we can.

3. Volunteering to sponsor the cost of funeral rites of the Bikkhus who pass away. Ven. Amilasiri has spent on average of Rs. 18,000/= for each of the monk who passed away during the last 6 months. If a list of volunteers could be developed he could contact them as and when the need arises.

4. Volunteering to pay for a person/ persons to help Ven. in cooking and other works (arrangements have been made to pay for 1 person for the year 2010)
Additional assistance needed could be identified by discussing with Ven. Amilasiri.

5. Further discussions with Ven. Amilasiri and Saamaneras are needed to plan out the necessities to improve the educational facilities

6. It is desirable to form a group of volunteers who could support Ven. Amilasiri to develop and implement plans for improving the infrastructure.

We are submitting this information for your perusal and if you would like to join us in any of the proposed activity please get back to us with your comments as soon as possible.

(the following letter was included from a supporter)

Dear friends,

Two weeks ago I have visited a 150 year old temple in a village named Wallawe in Polgahawela. The chief incumbent of this temple is Ven. Amilasiri who is doing a noble, unique service to the sasana in silence. He is accommodating 12 old debilitated destitute priests who have been abandoned as there is no one to care for them in their old age. Ven. Amilasiri gets very little help from the village due to poverty, and he depends on the occasional donations he gets.

The very ill priests are housed in a separate building. The beds in this building are in a very dilapidated condition. The mattresses are all very dirty and some don’t even have bed sheets. Some priests cannot walk to the toilets and urinate on the bed itself.

In addition there are 23 samanera monks. All of whom are children who have been abandoned by their parents for various reasons. When they reach the correct age they are sent to pirivenas for their education.

Ven. Amilasiri has been attending to washing and cleaning the sick priests and their soiled clothes personally. He never allowed the young samaneras to get involved lest they get disgusted of the monastic life.

He wakes up at 3am to cook the dane for the rest of the priests.

After visiting and seeing the challenging work done by Ven. Amilasiri we as Buddhists realized that we need to support him to carry on with his noble work.

On inquiring we learnt that he needs to cook 8 kilograms of rice per day. On Sundays he goes on pindapathe with 3 other samanera monks and collects the rations.

So let us get together to help Ven. Amilasiri to do this noble work.

Instructions for the Temple
If you wish to visit his temple it is situated in a village called Wallawe which is 4 1/2 km from Polgahawela junction on Kurunegala Road. There are 2 approaches one is a road on the right side after the 18th km post soon after you pass the petrol filling station and a bridge. The other is after the 19th km post, the first turn to the right. If you take the first turn always keep to the right, and if you take the 2nd turn always keep to the left. You drive about 2 1/2 km down to come to the name board Sri Bodhirukkarama temple on the right. Turn here and drive down the path which ends in the temple.

Ven. Amilasiri can be contacted on 0779853518 or 0716269713


10 thoughts on “helping to care for sick bhikkhus

    • Sri Bodhirukkarama Temple, I believe.

      It’s interesting that you post this, Bhante – my mother had recently expressed concern about the sort of medical care a renunciate society’s elders could possibly receive.

    • We also discussed it in the context of the Australian Sangha. There’s no proper organized facilities as yet, but hopefully something will come…

      In many monasteries the old monks are very well looked after. There’s often plenty of young ones to help out, and my experience has always been that old age look pretty attractive for a monk… But obviously some monks slip through the cracks, and the result is very sad indeed.

    • Bhante,

      Where is this temple located? How can we help? Please give us an address where donations can be sent, and/or another way to help long-distance. Anything else?

      I hope this Bhikkhu will find an appropriate way to get the young samaneras involved somehow.

    • Here’s the latest reply from Ramya – it should have all the info you need.

      Dear friends,

      Please consider this message as a follow up to our earlier message sent on 11th January, 2010. The kind and generous response made to our request to support the noble services rendered by Ven. M Amilasiri in caring for sick Bikkhus and young Saamaneras is greatly appreciated.

      As an initial step we felt that it is important to focus the attention on ensuring that Dane (food and medicines) is provided on a regular and pre arranged basis to the inmates.

      Accordingly we have compiled a list of you all who have kindly agreed to sponsor the provision of Dane on selected dates. This list with relevant details is attached for your perusal.

      We would like to draw your kind attention to the following issues.

      1. Funding arrangement: Please credit Rs. 4,000/= (US $40) as the cost of Dane for 1 day (meals & medicines) to the following bank account preferably well ahead of the chosen date.

      Venerable M Amilasiri, Account No: 1426491 (savings), Swift Code: BCEYLKLX Bank of Ceylon, 2nd City Branch, Colombo Road, Kurunagala. It would be desirable if you could intimate one of us when you send the fund to the bank / Ven. Amilasiri directly, so that we could keep tract of the progress.

      2. Please go through the calendar attached to this message and make sure that we have allocated the correct date chosen by you and have entered your personnel details correctly. If not please let us know.

      3. In case you are planning to provide dry provisions or cooked meals on the selected date it would be essential to contact Ven. Amilasiri (contact details given in the calendar) at least 2 weeks before the date to prevent him from making the regular arrangement.

      With your kind hearted response we were encouraged to find that so far 161 dates have been identified for sponsorship. While being thankful to you for the contributions made, we can not help to note that many more dates need further sponsorships. Therefore please continue to spread the word and advocate support from your friends.

      We feel that as you have decided to join us in this venture and thereby have formed a community of Kalyana Mittas, which is one of the main Mangala Karana. We all are blessed with such friends and are sure to take this activity further.

      Thank you

      Shriyani, Lakshman & Geetha

      If you wish to visit the temple

      Sri Bodhirukkarama Purana Viharaya is situated in a village named Wallawe, off Polgahawela.

      Once you reach Polgahawela town proceed along Polgahawela Kurunegala road up to 18th km post, which you would find soon after you pass the filling station and a small bridge.

      Thereafter please turn right at a small junction on to the road leading to Wellawa. Please proceed about two and a half kilometers (2 ½) along this road enjoying the countryside till you reach the Bodhirukkharama Viharaya. (This is the second temple you would come across on this road)

      If you wish to clarify anything further: Ven. M Amilasiri: 0716269713, 0779853518

      Dr. Shriyani Abeysuiya Residence: 0112864519, 0718436954 Surgery 0112873160, Email:

      Dr. Lakshmen Senanayake: 0777730688, Email:
      Dr. Gitanjali Senanayake 0777753966

  1. Sincere thanks! I saw this in the local paper and set it aside, only to have it misplaced. Didn’t the Buddha said “He who would tend me, should tend the sick.” after he and Ven. Ananda personally nursed a monk with dysentary?

    Again, thanks for the reminder.

  2. Visakha Kawasaki :
    Didn’t the Buddha said “He who would tend me, should tend the sick.” after he and Ven. Ananda personally nursed a monk with dysentary?

    Neat, I got to look something new up – here is where I found just such a story.

  3. We came to know of these monks and their situation some weeks ago and have formed a group of women from a small town in Australia called Grafton who are keen to assist.The group of 7 womesn were deeply touched when they heard of the situation.
    We meet at Samadhi Grove and have startted some fundraising and will be offering some assistance to the Bhante soon.
    We all trust that this help will help not only the elderly monks but the little Samaneria’s. Sister Susila.

    • Warm greetings to Ven. Susila and friends at Samadhi Grove and Sadhu! Sadhu!! Sadhu!!!

      Old Dhamma friends from Malaysia are coming to SL next month and they too want to visit and contribute. When we mentioned that to some Sri Lankan friends in Colombo they expressed eagerness to join. We’ll be thinking of you when we visit

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