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April 03, 2017
A profile of Ven. Dr. Witharandeniye Kassapa Nayake Thera - O.B.E.
Birmingham Buddhist Maha Viharaya

M.I.B.A.U.K. (The Midlands International Buddhist Association in the United Kingdom
I.B.R.O. (International Buddhist Relief Organisation attaché to the United Nations

Vice-President - Sri Lanka Sangha Sabha of Great Britain

Chaplain Aston University - Birmingham
Chaplain West Midlands Police force
Chaplain N.H.S.

Dharma Pariyapthi Visaradha Rohana Keerthi Sri - University of Ruhuna
Sri Rohana Rathna Pariyapthi Visaradha - Sangha Sabha of Ruhuna

Ven.Witharandeniye Kassapa Thera was born on the 16th of September, 1953 at Witharandeniya of Hambantota District in the Southern Province called "Ruhuna" of Sri Lanka and was ordained at the age of 14 years old as a Buddhist monk in 1968 at Gangaramaya Temple in Colombo under the preceptor, the Most Ven. Deundara Wachchissara Nayaka Thera and Ven. Dr.Galaboda Gnanissara Nayaka thera.

Since then he received his training as a novice monk at Sri Jinaratana Bhikkhu Training Centre, at Gangaramaya in Colombo until completion of his monastic studies of junior, senior and secondary education whereupon he completed the Pirivena (Monastic College).

He proceeded to advance his higher education in 1977 entering to the University of Sri Lanka, Kelaniya Campus, where he studied Sinhala, Pali and Buddhist Civilization. The authority of Sri Jinaratana Bhikkhu Training College and the University College appointed him as a teacher while he was still an undergraduate of the university in 1980. He graduated in 1981 and remained a member of the staff even after the graduation until 1983 when he was selected to teach at Sudharmarama University Pirivena in Avissawella for a short period and later on he followed his M.A. course at the University of Birmingham U.K. in his community involvement.

Ven. Kassapa was sent to Tanzania in 1983 to propagate the teachings of the Lord Buddha by the World Fellowship of Buddhists as the incumbent of Dar Es Salaam Buddhist Temple in Tanzania, East Africa. This particular Buddhist temple which was first established in 1922 by Sri Lankan expatriates remained at the time the only Buddhist temple in Africa. This energetic strong and active young monk travelled in many parts of Africa - Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Botswana on Buddhist and cultural missions while he was residence in Tanzania. This eminent venerable monk was responsible for introducing Buddhism to the son of President Julius Nyrere the former and first President of Tanzania. The President's son Mr. Andrew Nyrere became a Buddhist under the guidance of Ven. Kassapa where he later came to Sri Lanka for further studies of Buddhism at Gangaramaya temple for one year. Needless to say such a privilege would naturally be of great joy to Ven. Kassapa and for all Buddhists who are in search of peace for themselves as well as for others.

In 1986 Ven. Kassapa was invited by The Baba Saheb Ambedkar Buddhist Association in Birmingham, United Kingdom, to teach Buddhism and lay the foundation for Buddhist cultural and social activities amongst the Ambedkarite Indian Buddhist community. However devoted and motivated by the teachings of the Buddha his activities were not confined only to one stratum of the community. He was determined to make available the Buddha Dhamma to all the different nationalities - Sri Lankans, Indians, Burmese, Thais, Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese, English and Europeans.

As his ordained followers and activities increased he had to establish temples with Sri Lankan monks in many cities and towns in the United Kingdom. Ven. Kassapa founded the EAST MIDLANDS BUDDHIST ASSOCIATION in the city of Derby in 1987 where he managed to buy suitable residence for monks in Leicester city which is known today "The Leicester Buddhist Vihara". To this day he remains the prominent patron of the Association and temple. He was dedicated to the establishment of this temple single-handedly. The temple is flourishing as a place of worship for Buddhists in Leicestershire. Since his arrival in the United Kingdom and up to 1992 he has been working in the West Midlands for the benefit of Indian and other communities from his base in Birmingham.

In 1988 the Government of the former Soviet Union and the Most Ven. Hambo Lama, the Chief Sangha Nayaka of Mongolia and the Soviet Union cordially invited Ven. Kassapa thera to set up the "SOVIET ANGLO FRIENDSHIP ORGANISATION." Since Ven. Kassapa's visit to the former Soviet Union there has been significant activity between the two countries culminating in the visit of the Most Ven. Hambo Lama to the United Kingdom in 1988. In 1989 Ven. Kassapa pioneered a Buddhist newspaper named "THE WISDOM" where learned Buddhist scholars contributed to the newspaper in providing articles. The newspaper distributed free of charge was well circulated among Buddhists and in educational institutes in the United Kingdom.

In 1992 the The MIDLANDS INTERNATIONAL BUDDHIST ASSOCIATION of the United Kingdom came into existence under the guidance of Ven. Kassapa. The present address of the Association is 216 New John Street West, Hockley, Birmingham, B19 3UA. The premise of the Association is also a place of worship and residence for the monks. Local branches have been established in the cities of Derby, Manchester and Bristol.

In addition to all stated services above Ven. Kassapa also founded the INTERNATIONAL BUDDHIST RELIEF ORGANISATION (I.B.R.O.) with the assistance of the devoted members who are dedicated to the peace and prosperity of humanity. In recognition of these services The United Nations granted the I.B.R.O. permission under the "IN SPECIAL CONSULTATIVE STATUS WITH THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL OF THE UNITED NATIONS" to carry out its activities as a "NON GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATION". At present, the I.B.R.O. operates branches in Sri Lanka, Singapore, Belorussia, Tanzania, Italy, Switzerland, India, Germany, United States of America (Texas and New York), Malaysia, Brazil, Zambia and France.

The management committee pledges that with hard work courage and enterprise it will pay keen attention to achieve targets and work together with other charity organizations such as Red Cross, Oxfam, Spastic and others.

Every year a particular project is selected from the Third World for which money is allocated. The I.B.R.O. will respond to natural disasters anywhere in the world. In 1996 wells were drilled for villagers in Malawi. The Same year in 1996 a second project was initiated and completed in Thailand for women who have been infected by HIV viruses. The next project the I.B.R.O. offered to distribute hundred thousand spectacles to remote villages in Sri Lanka. The work is ongoing. This project is specially assigned to help people who cannot afford to buy spectacles. The local branch of the I.B.R.O. in Sri Lanka is working hard with volunteers towards this goal. The scholarships were provided for the education of the children of impoverished families in Sri Lanka.

In spite of the incapability of providing enough to meet the needs of the beneficiaries of the Organization, the I.B.R.O. will continue to do its best to accomplish their obligations. This organization is meanwhile donating wheel chairs, artificial limbs, crutches, walking and hearing aids to those who are in urgent need of them.

In 1996 Ven. Kassapa inaugurated the MILAN BUDDHIST SOCIETY with the establishment of the first ever Buddhist temple "Lankaramaya" on the 30th of March in 1997 in Milan, Italy. This society caters to the spiritual and cultural needs of over two hundred thousand Sri Lankans in Italy. He is also a life Patron of the Lankaramaya Temple.

Although Ven. Kassapa is involved in numerous religious and social activities he still finds time to teach Buddhism in schools in England and Wales. This gives him an added impetus as Buddhism is now recognized in British schools and included in the curriculum. Ven. Kassapa attends international conferences and seminars regularly on inter - faith matters. Also in 2002 he started "THE BUDDHIST CULTURAL AND COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION IN THE U.K." to bring together all Buddhists in order to create strong bonds of support and goodwill among the various ethnic groups in the region.

Ven. Kassapa has been conferred an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Sri Lanka "Ruhunu Campus" by its Senate for his untiring work for humanity. Simultaneously the Supreme Sangha Council of Sri Lanka "Rohana Chapter" conferred another Honorary Doctorate for the marvellous services for international community.

In January 2008 he was conferred O.B.E. (OFFICER FOR "ORDER OF BRITISH EMPIRE") by Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth-ll on Her New Year Honour list for his untiring relief works for the world community during last two and half decades. This is one of the highest honours one can be conferred by British Queen. At present Ven. Kassapa is the only Sri Lankan Buddhist monk who holds this prestigious honour from Great Britain.

Very recently in the month of June 2008 the President of Sri Lanka His Excellency Mahinda Rajapakse honoured Ven. Kassapa thera with an invitation to his Official Residence in Colombo - Sri Lanka because of the untiring dedication of his team for the world community. Currently he is the president of the both organisation and engaged with Buddhist Chaplain in Aston University of Birmingham, United Kingdom.

Brief profile of the IBRO

The International Buddhist Relief Organisation(IBRO) is a registered U.K. charity which has been in existence since March 1995. The IBRO is made up by members and friends who are our only "life-line" and on whom our organisation depends for human and financial resources. It was founded by Ven W. Kassapa 1995 and it has been nourished and supported ever since.

The IBRO's aim and objectives are to give practical and direct help to people and other living beings anywhere in the world, who are in conditions of need regardless of their status, creed or geographical location.

During the past six years, the IBRO has provided help and support to people in Sri Lanka(1995,1996,1997,1998,1999), Africa (1997,1998 and 1999), Thailand(1996 and 1998) and very recently to Kosovo, Albania and Romania(2000,2001).

One of our project Officers (Linda Dhammika) currently in Zambia has been the driving force in establishing a clinic near Chipata which now meets the needs of people from 58 villages. The Clinic (called the Tithandizane Clinic) although not well equipped or properly staffed has already made a great deal of difference by relieving suffering, preventing diseases and even death amongst the adults and the very young. Founds to buy medicines, vitamins and basic equipment continued to be an ongoing necessity.

Other forms of support have been given by the IBRO (Wheel chairs, clothing, spectacles, basic medical equipment, etc.) directly to poor people in countries such as Sri Lanka and India. In 1997 our Project Officer spent time in Thailand to help children with Aids being cared for in a clinic in Bangkok.

Money and other help has also been given to children in need overseas (orphaned or otherwise) as well as to other charitable organisations in support of their ongoing projects. (i.e the Amida Trust - UK involved in specific relief work to help the Kosovo refugees and the Mettha Foundation in Great Britain proving artificial limbs for disabled people in Sri Lanka.)

The IBRO is a small organisation with a big heart which makes sure that every single penny raised counts when helping others. Administrative and other expenses are met directly by the members, relief workers and officers out of their pockets and their services are totally free.

The main objectives of the organisation are to relieve the sufferings of tall living beings anywhere in the world who find themselves in distress and hardships due to social, economic or environmental conditions. This is in accordance with the principles of Lord Buddha of compassion and selflessness. Our organisation endeavourers to help needy people (and even animals) directly, regardless of their status, caste, creed or geographical location.

We have been able to provide humanitarian aid in many parts of the world such as Zambia, Tansania, Thailand, India, Taiwan, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. We have also been able to provide aid to European countries like Romania.

With greater resources we could of course do a lot more but whether or not we are able to generate more support in the future. The International Buddhist Relief Organisation will continue to pursue humanitarian work and to ensure that help reaches the needy without fuss and wasteful costs in the spirit of selfnessness and compassion.

Our organisation has now been granted special consultative status which the Economic and Social Council(ECOSOC) of the United Nations which includes the appointment of official representatives to the UN Headquarters in New York and to the UN office in Geneva and Vienna.
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