The Nāgānanda International Buddhist University to be established in the premises of the Manelwatta temple is the 10th International Buddhist University in the world and the first of its kind after 800 years of Buddhist educational history. During the period from first century to 13th century there were nine International Buddhist Universities in the world. The Nāgānanda Buddhist University is to be established during the 21st century, after a lull period of 800 years.
This 40 acres picturesque land where Manelwatta Temple is situated is gifted to the Buddha Sasana by then President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, late Mr. J. R. Jayewardene and his wife Mrs. Elena Jayewardene for the express purpose of providing facilities to learn Dhamma and live a disciplined life in keeping with the teachings of the Buddha. According to historical document this land area earlier known as “Rajawatta” is located in the area which was gifted to the Buddha by Naga king Maniakkitha at the Buddha’s visit to “Kelanipura”.
This land, first gifted to Welivita Sangaraja temple where the then Mahanayaka Thera of the Malwatta chapter resided, was allocated to Ven. Kandakkaliye Dhammakiththi Nayaka thera who was appointed as the Chief Incumbent of the Manelwatta temple, who initiated the development activities of the temple. When Dhammakiththi Thera was unable to continue his service due to his illness, as recommended by Ven. Kirinde Sri Dhammananda Nayaka Thera, the then Chief Incumbent of ‘Sri Lanka Maha Viharaya’ in Malaysia, Ven. Dr. Bodagama Chandima Thera, Chief Sangha Nayaka in Taiwan, was appointed as the Chief Incumbent of the Manelwatta temple in 2002 and was given the responsibility of developing it to achieve the objective of this donation. Due to commitment, dedication and leadership of the Ven. Dr. Bodagama Chandima Thera it was possible to establish, among others, an academy to provide short term programmes in Buddhist Studies, a Bikkuni Training Institute, and an Āyurvedic hospital. As the first step of establishing an International Buddhist University, the Nāgānanda International Institute for Buddhist Studies has been established in August, 2013. The Institute gained the acceptance of the Ministry of Higher Education, Sri Lanka in December 2015.
It should also be stated that the unique feature of the Stupa located in the Manelwatta temple is that the relics are deposited at three places of the Stupa. Relics of Seevali Maha Thera are deposited near “Pesa Walalu”, relics of the Buddha which had been, at one time, in the possession of King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, later was received by late Mr J R Jayewardene through Sangaraja Viharaya - inside the Sthupa and relics of the Buddha donated by the then President of India to late President J. R. Jayawardena at the “Hathares Kotuwa”.
Most Venerable Master Chin Kun Thera guides and provides all the necessary assistance to Ven. Dr. Bodagama Chandima Thera for all these activities to promote Buddhism and promulgate the Buddha’s teachings globally. To relate in Ven. Dr Chandima Thera’s own words, Ven. Dr. Venerable Master Chin Kun Thera has told him that “Now I am old and unable to commence new programmes, but you have the energy to carry out these activities. Therefore please continue with these activities for the benefit of mankind and I will support you in all such activities.”