Venerable Walpola Piyananda (“Bhante”) is the founder, president, and abbot of Dharma Vijaya Buddhist Vihara in Los Angeles, California. Born in 1943 in Sri Lanka, he has been a monk since the age of 12. He came to the United States in 1976 to further his education, attending Northwestern University and UCLA, holding two M.A.s and a Ph.D. He is presently the adviser to the president of Sri Lanka on international religious affairs and the chief monk of the Sri Lankan Sangha in America and Canada. He has provided many services for Southeast Asian refugees in Los Angeles and was the Buddhist chaplain for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. He currently teaches Dharma and meditation at his temple in Los Angeles, one of the oldest Theravada temples in the United States.
Bhante Piyananda has been instrumental in the re-establishment of the Theravada bhikkhuni Order. He was there with the planning and work as a Preceptor in 1996 in Sarnath, India when the first group of women became fully ordained nuns (since the Theravadan Order had previously died out in the year 1017). Since that time he has ordained many more women as fully ordained bhikkhunis.
He is author of The Bodhi Tree Grows in L.A., Saffron Days in L.A., and Thus We Heard: Recollections of the Life of the Buddha.