Gnanananda Thero is a meditation teacher in Sri Lanka. He is the founder of Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery, one of the largest Buddhist monasteries in Sri Lanka. Gnanananda was born into a Roman Catholic family. The family converted to Buddhism six months after his birth, going so far as to give up their main source of income: animal husbandry for meat.
Gnanananda became a monk at age 17 on 26 March 1979 under Dambagasare Sumedhankara Thero and Dikwelle Pannananda Thero at Seruwavila. He received a traditional Buddhist academic education and entered the University of Sri Jayewardenepura. He founded Mahamevnawa Monastery in 1999 under the guidance of Kotapola Amarakitti Thero, in Waduwava, Polgahawela. He now teaches Buddhism (Theravada), emphasizing the need to practice it in pure form and casting off what is not advocated by the Buddha.
Thero has written many books based on the teachings of Buddha. These publications are aimed to emphasize uncontaminated Buddhism that can be comprehended by anyone who reads it. Thero has also commenced a culture in Sri Lanka (traditionally known as Damma Island – Island full of Buddha’s Teachings) to preach Buddha’s teaching in the national language of Sinhala, even though the teachings are traditionally preached in the Pali language. Many disciples believe that they are now able to preach Buddha’s teachings with the right understanding.