Ven Kiribathgoda Nanananda (Mahmeunawa) & Ven Sri Samanthabadra (Sri Lankan monks)

Most entertaining current Dhamma debate in Sri Lanka in Sinhala language.
Ven Kiribathgoda Nanananda (Mahmeunawa) VS Ven Sri Samanthabadra
This is the most worrying revelation of the practice of Mahameunawa temple and the teaching of Ven Kiribatgoda Nananada.

Sarath, can you give us any more information about this? It says “face to face”, but so far as I can see it’s only one monk. Can you summarize the issues for those of us deprived of the Sinhala tongue?


Ven. Samanthabadra is challenging Ven Nananada to come to an open debate with him.
Instead Ven. Nananada resort to his media to answer Ven Samatabadra’s questions.
When Ven S post his videos in Ven N’s face book Ven. N took action to remove them.
Samanthabadra has raised 100’s of questions it is impossible to list them here.
The basic criticisms are.

  • Ven Nananada interpret Buddhism in line with his former religion Christianity
  • Ven N encouraging his followers to keep their goal as heavenly realms
  • Ven N encouraging his followers to adhere to rites and rituals
  • Ven N introducing Sri Lankan folk devil rituals to temples
  • Ven N has translated the Tipitaka inappropriately.
  • Ven N is operating a Dhamma business and exploiting old women (money)
  • Ven N restricts his followers from Dhamma investigation. (other traditions and views)
  • Ven N reject the Abhidhamma Pitaka
  • In 2008 Ven. N said that the year 2012 is the end of the world. These statements are more in line with Abrahamic religions.
  • Ven N has distorted the traditional Buddhist symbols such as Buddha’s statue.
  • According to Ven N, it is not possible to attain Ariya state in this day and age. This is misrepresenting the Buddha’s teaching
    Just a few. Perhaps other Sri Lankan members may help with the question.

Just a matter of interest Ven. Samanthbadra is declaring that this is his last birth. ie: That he is an Arahant!!!


Thanks so much. These debates usually happen completely outside the awareness of those in the English-speaking world, even for someone like myself who was just in Sri Lanka.

I have met Ven Nyanananda, and found him to be a very nice monk. I’ve heard some of those criticisms before. Some of them are obviously a worry, while others are either just prejudice (that he’s a former Christian, etc.) and some are actually good things (telling the truth about the Abhidhamma).

But as for Samanthabhadra, anyone who calls himself "the enlightened one " on Twitter and “arhat” on Facebook, well, it’s not for me!


I have posted about him in this forum before. I can’t locate the thread.
I found the following thread from DW.

Previous post in SC.

It appears now he is in a damage control mode.

Considering the fact that even the Sutta’s are latter compilations there is no reason to doubt the teaching in Abhidhamma. I have a problem with any monk who discourage his followers learning Abhidhamma (in fact anything) . I generally encourage people to read even Bible and Koran.

Certainly, no one should be discouraging anyone from “learning” anything.

But there are more Abhidharmāḥ than just that recension which finds itself expressed in Pāli.

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Many of those monks (Ven. Abhaya, Ven. Thannisaro etc) are very nice people.
But when it come to core teaching they distort it.

Sadhu! I couldn’t agree more. We should learn and take an interest. The Abhidhamma represents the way Buddhists organized and learned the Dhamma in the centuries following the Buddha, and it has proven a resilient and meaningful vehicle. Like the Mahayana texts, its authors clearly had a deep knowledge of the EBTs. If only our modern traditions had a similarly deep knowledge of the EBTs, they could appreciate these things for what they are.


It is important that English-speaking world is aware of the teaching of Ven Gnananda as he got many branches in Australia and around the world.


I think ven. S is “a force to be reckoned with” by the younger generation while ven. N is someone Sri Lankan achchis (grandmas) would prefer to listen to as his talks have the content they are conditioned to listen.

I think Sri Lankans need to hear brutal truths. If I am generalising (I hope not too much) I think most of us have post civil war trauma. We have seen death in many ways on tv, live as it happened, family and friends getting killed and blown to pieces etc., and we have suffered in so many other ways due to political turmoils and economic draw backs. So being soft about things and relating to jataka stories and making grandmas cry while relating “patachara” no longer can sustain the attention of the younger generation. They have seen and experienced worse. So giving them something more substantial that can be practiced daily is what ven. S seems to be doing. For that I am not really in the team “we don’t like ven. S”. As for his arahantship I cant really comment whether it’s good or bad to state it publicly (considering the context) and whether there is still some “self” left in him because he seems quite riled up by ven. N. :joy:

I think both these monks’ intentions are not bad. Perhaps both are doing their best to teach what they know and they might have different understandings of dhamma.
But I hope people will get some inspiration from them to start this peaceful journey in the right way without only practising mere rites and rituals.


For me, it is the same medicine in two diffrent bottles.


2.07 of the following video Ven. Samanthabadra says that Arahants and Muslims after death go to the same place!! (Nibbana)

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Samanthbhadhra suddenly changed his name to his current one and then said he was the Sammasambuddha, an arahanth, built a statue of himself and now has withdrawn these claims and says he is an bodhisattva instead. He appeals to a young generation that is in sorely need of some general counselling type dhamma as is popular in the west but unheard of in Sinhala- he borrows from Mahayana. The other monk started of sutta based but then focuses a lot of various pujas and made Sri Lankan dhamma sermons into a bit of pageantry- with set decorations etc and the media lapping it up as it is nice visually.

He says that we can’t say there is re-birth or not based on the following stta.
He use this argument to prove that we can nt answer the question of re-birth.
This Dhamma discussion took place in Sydney Australia.

Does the Tathagata exist after death?

He use the term “Satvaya” ie being instead of Thathagata.
Generan understanding is Thatahgata refers to Arahant or Buddha.
There is another argument presented the saying “Uppada Vayadhammino” does not support re-birth.
counter 2.13

I think he is talking about “sammuthi marana” which is death according to general worldly understanding. He still says that beings go on in the samsara and the “death” is just an incident. If I am not mistaken even Ajahn Brahm says we don’t die. We get born.

I agree there is a mistake here. He says that “we” attain nirvana, “they” go to God and we meet at the same place. But he also says deities can’t help you and they are beings who have been projected and written about as amazing but they are not.

I am surprised to see that he managed to grab the attention of a Muslim who seems to be eager to learn and pleased with the dhamma.

Can I apply this Tathagata) to beings?

Sorry I didn’t concentrate on the pali gatha he was referring to but the explanation.