The Venerable Witiyala Seewalie Nayaka Thera, abbot and president of Minnesota Buddhist Vihara, was born and raised in Sri Lanka. He was ordained as a samanera at age 12 and received higher ordination (upasampada) at age 20. Seewalie Thera has had a distinguished academic career spanning both monastic-pirivena and modern university in Sri Lanka. He has earned the following degrees: BA with honors, MA, DLit and Royal Pandit (Oriental Studies Society of Sri Lanka) in addition to diplomas in Buddhism, Pali and Bible Studies. In 1996, he was appointed the 27th, and thus far the youngest, principal of the historic Parama Dhamma Cetiya Pirivena, the premier center of Buddhist monastic education in modern Sri Lanka. He arrived in the United States in 2003. Since 2004, he has resided in Minnesota as the president-founder of the Minnesota Buddhist Vihara. He also serves as a volunteer chaplain for the Minneapolis Police Department since 2007. In June 2009, he received Basic Emergency Service Chaplaincy Diploma from Minnesota Emergency Service Chaplain Association, MN, USA. Venerable Seewalie also conducts monthly Buddhist talk and meditation sessions for inmates at South Dakota State Penitentiary, Sioux Falls together with monastics. On June 17, 2011, Malwatta Chapter of Siam Sect appointed him as the Deputy Chief monk (Sangha Nayaka) of North America with the title “Dharmakeerthi Sri Pragnarama” for his services to disseminate the teachings of the Buddha (Buddha Dhamma) in Minnesota and surrounding states. Mahinda Rajapakse, president of Sri Lanka, invited Venerable Seewalie to president’s official residence “Temple Trees” to honor and recognize monk’s new position.
Bhikkhu Bisho Kirti Maharjan is a resident monk and assistant to the abbot of the Minnesota Buddhist Vihara. He is the principal of MNBV Dhamma School. Born in Nepal, he became a samanera at age 14 and received upasampada at age 20. He completed his monastic education at the Parama Dhamma Cetiya Pirivena, Ratmalana, and obtained a diploma in Pali language from the Buddhist and Pali University of Sri Lanka. He serves the spiritual needs of the community by conducting meditation and sutta study sessions.
Bhikkhuni Satima, who was born and raised in Sri Lanka, migrated to the United States in 1973 as a Montessori teacher. After deciding to lead a spiritual life, she was ordained as a nun in the Zen tradition in May 2000. She returned to Sri Lanka in 2004 to be ordained as a nun in the Theravada tradition. Two years later, she completed full ordination (upasampada) as a bhikkhuni at the Golden Temple in Dambulla. As a resident bhikkhuni of the Minnesota Buddhist Vihara, she serves the Children’s Dhamma Program, Buddhist & Pali College of USA and the Meditation Program.
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