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Ceylon Buddhism

Amarapura Fraternity


Monks of the  Amarapura fraternity belong to the Theravada School of Buddhism, which has been preserved by the Mahavihara tradition of Sri Lanka.  Anybody - irrespective of caste difference - can join this fraternity and receive the higher ordination.


Amarapura (Immortal city) is the name given to identify the old capital in Burma which is known at present as Myohaung or as Taung-Myo.  In 1799 a learned Sri Lankan Buddhist monk named Ambagapitiye Nanawimala Tissa who was accompanied by five novices ( sàmaõera) and two laymen went to Amarapura, the then capital of Burma, to obtain higher ordination during the reign of King Bodwpaya (1782-1819).  The five novices received higher ordination from the elder named Nanabhivamsa; the two laymen also joined the monastic order.  In 1803 they returned to Sri Lanka with five other Burmese monks and performed the higher ordination ceremony in the consecrated boundary at Balapitiya.  Eventually a new fraternity known as Amarapura Nikaya was established in Sri Lanka and Nanamiwala Tissa was appointed as the Maha Nayaka of this fraternity.
     The underlying reason for originating the Amarapura fraternity is associated with the Sri Lankan society and culture and not with Buddhism.  Buddhism grants permission to anyone, irrespective of cast, creed or nationality, to enter the monastic order.  However, when a decree was issued by Kirti Sri  Rajasimha restricting higher ordination of the Siamese fraternity only to the members of the Goyigama (agricultural) caste, brethren of other castes, such as Salàgama, Karawa and Durawa etc. were compelled to seek assistance from Burma and receive the higher ordination.  Thus the Amarapura fraternity was established allowing the members of both Goyigama and non-Goyigama castes to received the higher ordination. 
     In the course of time this fraternity began to split into several subgroups each having a Maha Nayaka of its own.  These subgroups became united at a later stage under a new organization known as Sri Lanka Amarapura Maha Sangha Sabha.


Members of this fraternity shave their eyebrows; wear robes covering either the left shoulder or both shoulders and carry umbrellas when they go out.


The Amarapura fraternity has nearly 3400 monks and 1300 monasteries (Bechert 1973, 582).

Main Centre

Dharmàyatanaya, Maharagam, Sri Lanka.