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Bill to preserve Maha Viharaya Temple in Parliament soon – President

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Ceremonial presentation of Sannas Patra to Atamasthanadhipathi
President Ranil Wickremesinghe presenting the ‘Sri Sannas Patra’ to Atamasthanadhipathi and Chief Sanghanayaka of the Nuwara Kalaviya Most Venerable Dr. Pallegama Hemarathana Nayaka Thera.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe presenting the ‘Sri Sannas Patra’ to Atamasthanadhipathi and Chief Sanghanayaka of the Nuwara Kalaviya Most Venerable Dr. Pallegama Hemarathana Nayaka Thera.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe said that a Bill on Excavation and Conservation work at the Maha Viharaya Temple is scheduled to be presented in the Parliament soon.

President Wickremesinghe made this observation on Saturday (28) addressing the ceremony where Akta Pathra (Credentials) was presented to the new Atamasthanadhipathi, the Chief Sangha Nayaka of the Siam Maha Nikaya, Malwathu Chapter, Nuwara Kalaviya, Most Venerable Dr. Pallegama Hemarathana Nayaka Thera at the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya premises.

The ‘Vijinipatha’ was presented by Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena.

The statement made by President Wickremesinghe is as follows:

According to the tradition commenced by Governor Edward Barnes, the Aktha Pathra was being presented to the new Atamasthanadhipathi Most Venerable Dr. Pallegama Hemarathana Thera. I came to know of the Venerable Thera a long time ago. Especially, when I was the Minister of Industries, I decided to modernize the Vesak card.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe speaking at the ceremony to present the Sri Sannas Patra.

Following the discussions with Ven. Rambukana Siddartha Thera, he composed a song for me. Secondly, we discussed the preparation of this card with Ven. Pallegama Hemarathana Nayaka Thera and the second song was composed by him. By now, Ven. Rambukana Nayaka Thera and Most Ven. Pallegama Hemarathana Nayaka Thera had become recognized lyricists.

Ven. Veedagama Maitri Mahanayake Thera composed the ‘Lo Wada Sangarawa’. Ven. Thotagamuwe Rahula Thera composed the ‘Salalihini Sandeshaya’. There is no doubt that this tradition will be protected and continued by Ven. Pallegama Hemarathana Nayake Thera.

Today, Most Ven. Pallegama Hemarathana Nayaka Thera has been appointed as the Atamasthananadhipathi. At that time, I knew him as the Chief Incumbent of the Ruwanweli Maha Saya. He has been blessed to be in charge of this Mahamewna Uyana where the Jaya Sri Maha Bo tree is situated.

The historical Jaya Sri Maha Bo Tree is considered to be the oldest tree in the world. This Jaya Sri Maha Bo tree is a branch of the Sri Maha Bodhiya under which Gautama Buddha attained Enlightenment. There is another place as important as the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya in this Mahamewuna Uyana which I have already discussed with our Ven. Nayaka Theras. Before the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi Tree was brought to Sri Lanka, King Devanampiyatissa gave this land to Ven. Mahinda Maha Rahath Thera to build a temple. Hence, the Maha Viharaya temple was built.

The Buddha Dharma was protected by the great Maha Viharaya temple. It was in the vicinity of this great temple that King Dutugemunu built the Ruwanweli Maha Seya Dagoba. Theravada Buddhism which was protected by this is what is practiced in Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam today. Anyway, we have not got an opportunity to excavate the ruins of this great temple and develop this place.

Today, India has handed over Nalanda to the Department of Archaeology and the excavation work is being carried out by the Nalanda University and another new university has also been assigned. Article 9 of our Constitution stipulates the protection of Theravada Buddhism. However, we have not been able to carry out the excavation work of the Maha Viharaya.

I hope to submit a special Bill to Parliament regarding the excavation work and conservation of the Maha Viharaya, as I have discussed this with our Ven. Maha Nayakas’ previously.

We hope to carry out these activities with the assistance of the Atamasthanadhipathi, the Chief Prelate of the Ruwanweli Seya, the Cultural Triangle, the Director General of Archaeology, Postgraduate Institute, Raja Rata University and the Faculty of Archaeology of the Kelaniya University who are dealing with this matter.

We hope to talk to Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia about the progress of this Theravada Buddhist centre. I hope to discuss this with the Most Venerable Pallegama Hemarathana Nayaka Thera and then submit the relevant Bill to Parliament.

We cannot forget the kingdom of Anuradhapura. We have focused our attention on the history of this kingdom for some time. I hope that Most Ven. Pallegama Hemarathana Nayaka Thera will get the opportunity to help with these activities.

The Ven. Thera was never one who ran behind positions. He observed patiently and he eventually received the position he deserved. Anuradhapura is a very important city. When this country got its independence 75 years ago, the first activity, D. S. Senanayake started was the Anuradhapura conservation programme.

The programme was taken over by S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike who was then the former Speaker, followed by the Prime Minister. He came to Anuradhapura and started the work. Later he named his son Anura. And that’s how D. S. Senanayake started the Gal-Oya Reservoir project.

That is our relationship with the history of irrigation. Along with that, there was a belief that we will get a strong economy. Also, the only Asian country that had the second largest economy after Japan, was Sri Lanka at that time. But today, as we celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Independence, we are in a difficult economic situation.

Chief Incumbents of Three Chapters and Anunayaka Theras, the Maha Sangha representing Atamasthana, Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Members of Parliament, Governor of North Central Province Mahipala Herath, Chief of President’s Staff and Senior Adviser on National Security Sagala Ratnayaka, Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake, Ambassadors, Government officials, Commanders of Tri Forces and Diyawadana Nilame of the historical Dalada Maligawa, Nilanga Dela Bandara and other guests attended the event.


All should work for country’s benefit Most Ven. Dr. Pallegama Hemarathana Nayaka Thera

Nimal Wijesinghe, Anuradhapura Additional District Group Corr.

Most Venerable Atamasthanadhipathi Pallegama Hemarathana Nayaka Thera in his thanks giving speech stated that the Maha Sanga never expected any undue privileges from the Government. It was most appreciative that today the President openly admitted to the poor state of the country economy. The country is going through a very difficult period. This was not the time to blame each other for the alleged wrong doings, corruption, malpractices etc. as it would be a waste of time. The wrongdoings and mistakes made should be rectified and corrected for the benefit of the country. The affluent class, politicians as well as the clergy who are in charge of the Temples, Shrines, Churches, Mosques and Kovils should feel the pulse of the poor people and be more sensitive to their sufferings and hardships.

“I would like to request the President that in addition to the measures he plans to take in developing the Maha Vihara tradition, to also focus immediate attention to remove the sediments of other cluster of rural tanks system in Rajarata while attending to its renovation without leaving any room for corruption by various political stooges. Such a move would definitely address rural poverty and livelihood empowerment at this critical juncture,” Venerable Hemarathana Nayaka Thera said.

A large number of members of the Maha Sangha including Ven. Niyangoda Vijithasiri, Ven. Anamaduwe Rathanapala Thera, Ven. Dodampahala Chandrasiri Thera, Ven. Udugammana Anomadassi Thera, Ven. Dimbulkumbure Saranankara Thera and Ven. Thrikunamale Ananda Nayaka Thera were present at the ceremony.

The Aktha Pathraya was read over by Anuradhapura Jayanthi Viharadhipathi Ven. Nugethenne Pagnanandanayaka Thera. After conferring the ‘Sanas Pathraya’to the newly appointed Atamasthanadhipathi Nayaka Thera by the President, the Vijinipatha (fan) was presented to the prelate by Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena while the Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena presented Atapirikara.

Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena presenting the ‘Vijinipata’ to Atamasthanadhipathi and Chief Sanghanayaka of the Nuwara Kalaviya Most Venerable Dr. Pallegama Hemarathana Nayaka Thera.

The newly elected Atamasthanadhipathi and Chief Sanghanayaka of the Nuwara Kalaviya Most Venerable Dr. Pallegama Hemarathana Nayaka Thera arriving for the ceremony. (Pictures courtesy President’s Media Division)

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena participating in religious observances.  

A section of the Venerable Maha Sangha at the occasion.

Monday, January 30, 2023 – 01:00

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