Brief history of Mangala Vihara Buddhist Temple
Mangala Vihara Buddhist Temple (MVBT), founded by the late Ven. M.M. Mahaweera Maha Nayaka Thera, had a very humble beginning. It started as a small hut in the 1960’s, built on a piece of land donated by the late Madam Chew Quee Neo. Over the past few decades, it had grown to become one of the largest and most reputable Buddhist temples in Singapore.
Realising the importance of educating, and especially propagating the Dhamma in the proper light to, the public, Ven. Mahaweera started the Sunday Dhamma Classes in Mangala Vihara. These classes were conducted free-of-charge and in affiliation with the Young Men’s Buddhist Association (YMBA) of Colombo. The students of the Sunday Dhamma Classes have consistently done very well in the annual YMBA examinations.
Ven. Mahaweera laid down a systematic approach towards the study of the Dhamma in MVBT, a practice which is still carried on today. Puja and blessings are conducted prior to the commencement of classes, after which students and teachers proceed to their respective classes for lessons. Over the years this has built a solid foundation for the discipline and conduct of the students which is of fundamental importance to Dhamma practice.
The seeds of Theravada Buddhism were firmly planted in Singapore by Ven. Mahaweera. He dedicated his life to educating the lay people on its noble doctrines and popularizing Buddhist education in Singapore. He will always be remembered by the Buddhists in Singapore for the services he had rendered and the legacy he left behind.
The Formation of MV Dhamma Fellowship (MVDF)
Since the first Sunday Dhamma Classes were conducted fifty years ago in 1960, the enrolment of students had grown from strength to strength. More and more YMBA Diploma graduates were recruited to be teachers after their graduation to cater to the ever increasing number of students for these classes. In 2009 the Sunday Dhamma Classes was renamed Mangala Vihara Buddhist Studies (YMBA).
To stay relevant and to continue to seek improvements in our fast changing society and to provide a platform for both current and past students and teachers of Mangala Vihara to stay connected, Ven. Raja saw the need for the establishment of the Mangala Vihara Dhamma Fellowship (MVDF). He proposed the formation of the Fellowship during a Teachers’ Meeting. Seeing how the MVDF would benefit the teachers, students and the temple, the Chairman and his committee gave their full support.
Ven. Raja subsequently held a meeting with the Dhamma teachers on 25th Sept 2009. The then Dhamma Supervisor, Jessy Phua was also present at the meeting. At the next meeting on 4th Oct 2009, the MVDF committee was formed with Ven. Raja as the Adviser. Bro Raymond Yow was nominated to be Chairman and Sis Cheng Seow Eng was appointed Secretary. The other committee members include Bro Lee Teng Yong, Sis Lily Chan, Sis Nina Wong, Sis Lee Mee Yin and Sis Ellen Lim.
To foster better interaction and to encourage the current students to play an active role in the MVDF, Ven Raja felt that representatives from each class should also be included in the committee. Thus on the 8th Nov 2009, William Tong, Angelin Chong, Alex Lim, Suriaty Simon and Leong Peng Ho were added to the existing committee.
Hence, the MVDF committee comprises representatives from current students and teachers as well as ex-students who are YMBA Diploma graduates.
The objectives of the MVDF are:
- to enhance the bonding of current students, ex-YMBA Diploma students and teachers through the various activities organised
- to promote closer integration, caring and sharing amongst its members
- to put into practice the teachings of the Dhamma
In order to achieve the above objectives, the following activities have been proposed:-
1. Dhamma Education and Enhancement
a) Dhamma Talks
Speakers from within the temple as well as external sources will be invited to give talks and share their knowledge on Dhamma related topics based in particular, on rationality and applicability. In this way, our misconceptions and doubts can be reduced, and our knowledge enhanced. This would benefit both teachers and students alike.
b) Dhamma Studies Assistance Programmes
Teachers and students can form small study groups for discussions to help students develop a better understanding of the Dhamma and to prepare them for the YMBA examinations. This will also provide opportunities for more interactions between the teachers and students. The teachers can also act as facilitators to motivate the students to become more actively involved in MVDF.
c) Dhamma Teaching
Mangala Vihara needs to constantly recruit new teachers to relieve those who wish to take a break and to replace those who decide to leave. In this way, the Buddhist Studies programme will not be hampered by any shortage of teachers. Through the MVDF, potential teachers from each batch of YMBA Diploma graduates can be identified and encouraged to take up this responsibility and duty of teaching the Dhamma in MV.
d) Dhamma Exchange Programmes
MVDF, being a newly formed group, can take the initiative to seek out innovative and constructive ideas in order to keep pace with changes in modern times. It can for instance, network with other Dhamma schools in Singapore as well as those in the region to gather feedback and fresh ideas to make improvements to its existing curriculum. This activity can be an eye opener for teachers and students when they experience first hand how other Buddhist schools conduct their lessons and organize themselves.
2. Spiritual Support
This activity is aimed at providing spiritual support to members in times of sickness or bereavement. Members can go in a group to visit a member who is sick to give support and comfort, and attend funeral wakes of members’ relatives to show sympathy and offer condolences. MVDF members can also perform the Maranasati chanting and Transference of Merits to the departed at these wakes.
3. Small Scale Humanitarian Assistance
MVDF members can assist the needy and less fortunate people locally and in some of our neighbouring countries by providing material support in the form of food, medicine, clothing and other basic necessities. Small groups can be organized to visit places in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, in collaboration with other aid groups or other contacts in these countries. Small scale relief efforts may also be carried out in nearby disaster stricken areas.
4. Events Organisation
In our effort to promote a better understanding of Buddhism, visits will be organised for members to visit the birthplace of Buddhism in India and other holy or historical sites in countries such as Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand. Such excursions will further enrich the educational and spiritual development of the participants and also foster closer bonding and a sense of belonging amongst the members.
Join the MV Dhamma Fellowship
Your spiritual journey to a beautiful beginning, a beautiful middle and a beautiful ending.
1. Dhamma Talks & Sharing– to invite our Venerables and external speakers to share their knowledge on Dhamma related topics based in particular, on rationality and applicability.
2. Dhamma Studies Assistance Programme – to form small study groups to help students to develop a better understanding of the Dhamma and to prepare them for the YMBA examinations.
3. Dhamma Teaching– to identify potential teachers from each batch of YMBA Diploma graduates to encourage them to take up this responsibility and duty of teaching the Dhamma in MV.
4. Spiritual Support – to visit a member who is sick to give support and comfort, and to attend funeral wakes of members’ relatives to show sympathy and offer condolences
5. Dhamma Studies Exchange Programmes – to network with other Dhamma schools in Singapore as well as those in the region to gather feedback and fresh ideas to make improvements to its existing curriculum.
6. Small Scale Humanitarian Assistance – to assist the needy and less fortunate people locally and in some of our neighbouring countries by providing them material support of food, medicine, clothing and other basic necessities.
7. Events Organization – to organize visits to the birthplace of Buddhism in India and other holy or historical sites in countries such as Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand.
Membership is FREE!
All YMBA Diploma graduates and current students and teachers are automatically eligible for membership unless they opt out by providing a letter of their intention.
MV Dhamma Fellowship has put in place interest groups to achieve its objectives. It is also hoped that by reaching out to all members, a close harmonious relationship can be built to help propagate the theme of ‘Caring and Sharing’.
In the coming years, MVDF will continually strive to improve on its agenda and to bring forth a greater sense of belonging amongst the members.
Just as in the Buddha description of the Dhamma, MVDF’s mission is to deliver a beautiful beginning, a beautiful middle and a beautiful ending. These may be summarized as follows :
Learn the Dhamma to develop Right Understanding.
Practise compassion, gratitude and generosity.
Share our knowledge selflessly and propagate the seeds of Buddhism.
We need volunteers to serve in the sub-committees to organise and execute the various interest group activities. Please register at firstname.lastname@example.org with your particulars – name, class, telephone contact and email address and indicate ‘Join Sub-Committee’ and we will contact you shortly.