Venerable Uda Eriyagama Dhammajīva Mahā Thero is a revered present day teacher and is the fourth Abbott and Chief Preceptor of Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya. He is highly respected for his widely encompassing knowledge of the various meditation techniques, including Samatha as well as the Burmese Vipassanā methods.
A former graduate of a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science from the University of Peradeniya, Kandy, Venerable Dhammajiva was a Chief Executive Officer of a company at the time he arrived at Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya.
Venerable Dhammajīva’s spiritual inquiry took shape in his mind whilst he was undertaking his undergraduate degree. In 1977, during the one-month post exam break of his second year of tertiary studies, his father’s health declined. During this time, he took on the task of nursing him and attending to his needs. His father’s subsequent death left in him a strong imprint of impermanence and a powerful spiritual urge to inquire into the unsatisfactory nature of life and a strong desire to renounce worldly life.
Keenly aware of the fruitless pursuit of material enrichment, he left the accomplishments of his lay life to become ordained as a monk. On 16 November 1988, he ordained as a Buddhist monk, adopting the spiritual name, ‘Dhammajīva’ and in June 1990, received his higher ordination at the Sri Kalyāni Yogashrama Samsthā.
Between 1988 and 1992, he underwent training under the close guidance of Most Venerable Mātara Sri Ñānārāma Mahā Thero. During this time, his mentor was Venerable Katukurunde Ñānānanda Mahā Thero. Venerable Dhammajīva fulfilled his duties to his preceptor and teacher as attendant and nurse for the last one and a half years of Venerable Mātara Sri Nānārāma Mahā Thero’s life. The life and death of Venerable Ñānārāma Mahā Thero mixed with teaching and mutual service, served as a profound instruction in his life as a monk.
After the passing away of his teacher in 1993, Venerable Dhammajīva, travelled to Burma, to train under Sayadaw U. Panditabhivamsa at Panditārāma and Hse Main Gone Monastery. Between 1993 and 1996, Venerable Dhammajīva received intense training in Vipassanā meditation techniques under the close guidance of Sayadaw U. Panditābhivamsa.
Venerabla Dhammajīva’s time in Myanmar was well spent and a fourth language, Burmese was added to his repertoire, which served him well in his translations of some difficult works by the Most Venerable Maha-Si Sayadaw and Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw and later in 2005, as the official translator for Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw in Sri Lanka.
Having successfully completed his training, Venerable Dhammajīva returned to Sri Lanka at the request of the Nissarana Vanaya sangha, Sri Lanka, where he continued his practice with great vigor in solitude between the years 1996 and 2006. During this time, Venerable Dhammajīva also undertook formal monastic studies in Pāli, Vinaya and Abidhamma while opting to self-study the Sutta Pitaka.
His silent labour in solitude bore as its fruit over forty publications on the Buddhist meditation practice, some books that he authored on the Theravādha Buddhist tradition as well as translations of rare and invaluable Burmese meditation manuals to Sinhalese and some into English.