Challenges of Sri Lankan Buddhist scholarly tradition to create Sri Lanka as the hub of Pali and Buddhist education

Ven. Medawachchiye Dhammajothi


This article is for the purpose of examining the challenges that Buddhist scholars have to face when making Sri Lanka a hub of education. These challenges can be understood in two areas. They are: Challenge of language skills and Challenge of subjects’ knowledge. Original Theravada Buddhist tradition is unique to Sri Lanka. Its sources have been preserved in Pali language. Thus, the knowledge of Pali language is compulsory for the study of Buddhism. During the Anuradhapura period Sanskrit language came into vogue. So, study of Pali, and Sanskrit Languages and teachings prescribed by them is the challenge for Sri Lankan Buddhist scholar tradition. During the colonial period English language influenced Sri Lankan Buddhist education. Today, as English has become more prominent as an international language acquisition of fluency in English is the challenge faced by Sri Lankan Buddhist scholars. As an immense amount of researches have been done in English, English language knowledge with Pali and Sanskrit turned to be a decisive factor in Sri Lankan Buddhist scholasticism. However, as Buddhist research stands at present proficiency in English with a sound knowledge of Pali and Sanskrit is not enough. Since, Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese, and Tibetan are recognized as primary source languages for Buddhist studies, knowing these four languages and doing comparative researches on literature written in these languages is a new arena for Buddhist scholar tradition. So, the aim of this paper is to examine challenges faced by Sri Lankan Buddhist scholar tradition in the past and present and try to discuss its path and direction towards the building of Sri Lanka as a hub of Buddhist education.