|Tuesday, 9 September 2003|
Most Venerable Rajakiya Panditha Madihe Pannaseeha Maha Nayaka Thera of Amarapura Sri Dharmarakkhita Nikaya, passed away yesterday at the National Hospital. He was 90 years old.
A renowned Buddhist monk and an eminent Buddhist scholar, the Nayaka Thera was conferred honorary Ph.D from the University of Peradeniya in 1987 and 'Agga Maha Panditha' the honorific title from the Burmese Government in 1996 to appreciate his services to the Buddha Sasana.
Among the numerous services to the Sasana, his contribution to the propagation of
Theravada Buddhism overseas takes a special place. He pioneered the establishment of Buddhist 'viharayas' in Western countries. As a result of his efforts there are several temples in cities like Washington, Los Angeles, New York and also in countries like Canada and Australia. He founded the Dharma Vijaya Foundation in 1979. He assisted Monks and Samaneras to receive a sound education. He was an erudite preacher and Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike listened to his sermons on the radio. Born to a Methodist father and a Buddhist mother in Madihe, down South on July 21, 1913, the
Thera entered the Buddhist order on June 24, 1926 at Divigalahena, Kamburupitiya. He has completed 77 years as a Bhikku. He learnt his basic lessons of Buddhism from Ven.Siridhamma Kavidhaja Vinayacharya Weragampita Siri Revatha Thera who was highly respected as the tutor of Ven. S.Mahinda, the Tibetan monk who became famous for his patriotic poems.
As a novice monk he went to Colombo on January 27, 1927 for further studies under
erudite preacher Most Ven. Pelene Vajiragnana Nayaka Thera, at the Vajiraramaya, Bambalapitiya. The young Bhikku continued his Dhamma studies and at the age of 20 received his Upasampada on June 9, 1933 at Udakukchepa Simamalakaya. At the time he went to the Vajiraramaya, its dhamma school was conducted by Ven.Naradha Thera. He completed the Pracheena in 1935 and obtained Vidya Visharadha Degree from Colombo University College, in 1941. This was a Degree course initiated by late Prof.Gunapala Malalaseraka.
Among the titles he received include Sri Vajiragnana Dhamma Keerthi and Sri
Dhammarakshitha Viharavanshalankara (1955), Uttareetha Mahanayake (1992) and Agga Mahapanditha Sarvodaya Jatika Sammanaya (1998). The funeral will take place at the Independence Square on Saturday with full state honours.
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