The Washington Buddhist Vihara

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The Washington Buddhist Vihara
5016 16th Street
Washington, DC

The Washington Buddhist Vihara usually is considered the "Mother" of all Theravadan Buddhist temples in North America. Although Anagarika Dhamapala introduced Theravadan Buddhism to America at the 1893 world Parliament of Religions in Chicago, it was not until 1965 that the first Theravada temple was opened. That temple was The Washington Buddhist Vihara.

Prior to 1964, there were some Chinese and Japanese Mahayana Buddhist temples in the United States but there were no Theravadan centers, monks, or other teachers. The Washington center and its monks provided the first Theravadan Buddhist organization, building, and clergy in American history.

The Venerable Bope Vinta was invited to go to America to open the center. He has experience in pioneering Buddhist Viharas in England and Germany and had spent some years studying at Harvard University prior to coming to Washington DC.

There has been a succession of scholarly monks who have come to take over the Presidency of the Vihara Society and oversee the administration of the temple. Each of these monks possessed the skills, knowledge, insight, and commitment to add important improvements to the temple, as well as the status of Buddhism in America.

The Vihara Society purchased property at Briggs Chaney Road, Silver Spring, Maryland, to further expand the activities of the Vihara, particularly to provide a more suitable environment for extended retreats and the practice of Vipassana Meditation. Fund-raising is underway to fund the necessary structures for these purposes.

The Washington Buddhist Vihara is now in its 33rd year. It has and will continue to be a center for the learning of Theravadan Buddhism and the practice of Buddhist Medication for all interested persons. Most services are conducted in English.

In 1966, the Venerable Weihene Pannaloka, a simple, pious scholarly monk, who has written several books in his native language, Sinhalese, became the head monk and the President of the society. He is assisted by Venerable Badulle Kondanna who has served in several Southeast Asian countries. In addition, he conducts meditation classes and Dhamma discussions in the English language. In a very short time the Venerable Kondanna has become very popular with the devotees of the Vihara.