Most Venerable Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Nayaka Thera remembered
Death Anniversary: The 95th death anniversary of most
venerable Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Nayaka Thera falls on April 29, 2006.
In a sense of gratitude and homage to the erudite scholar monk, I was
impelled to make the following epitomized reference.
Walakuluge Don Jahanis Abeyweera Gunawardana Maha Liyana Arachchi
Ralahamy and his spouse Dandangoda Gamage Christina Hamine of Hettigoda,
Hikkaduwa were blessed with an infant on 20.01.1827.
This offspring was named Don Nikulas at the Baptism in accordance
with the general practice prevailed at the time and was provided with
preliminary education in Sinhala and Pali at Hettigoda Thilakarama
temple (Hikkaduwa) under the tutelage of Ven. Hikkaduwe Sobitha Nayaka
Thera and Ven. Revatha Thera.
He was ordained at the historic Thotagamuwe Vijayaba Pirivena in
November, 1840 when he was only 13 years of age. He received further
education under sagacious monk Rev. Pannamgoda Jethuthara Thera of
Vijayaba Pirivena and acquired proficiency in English from Coranelis
Abayawardana renowned English scholar of the area.
Thereafter he was taken for higher education by parents, kindred and
well-wishers to Ven. Valane Sri Siddartha Nayaka Thea who was acclaimed
as the exalted scholar monk in that era (1844).
Under the guidance of this Prelate within a relatively brief span he
acquired wide knowledge of Buddhist Philosophy and Buddhist Culture and
familiarity of bikkuhood from Ven. Batuwantudawe Devarakshita Thera.
In 1848 he secured the Higher Ordination (Upasampada) at Pushparama
Uposhatagara in Kandy. Being a grown up Bikkhu he reverted to his home
land Hikkaduwa with the primary objective to disseminate the light of
As an outcome of pressure exerted on him by Buddhist leaders of
Sabaragamuwa Province he had to accept the incumbency of Sri Pada for an
inconsiderable period. Also he functioned as the Principal of Parama
Damma Chethiya Pirivena at Ratmalana for a brief span.
It is reported that he played the pivotal and dominant role along
with perspicacious Buddhist Prelates at the council held at Sri
Sudharshna Damma Hall, Pelmadulla on the invitation and insistence of
Ven. Valane Sri Siddartha Nayake Thera, Iddamalgoda Bandara Nilame and
contemporary buddhist leaders of Sabaragamuwa Province (1867).
This dream materialized into reality with the assistance and
co-operation of Don Philip De Silva Epa Appuhamy, Lansage Don Andiris
Perera Appuhamy and other benevolent and bounteous Buddhist leaders of
Vidyodaya Pirivena came into existence in December 1873 at a point of
time when Buddhism, Sinhala Language and Literature had reached the
lowest ebb of degeneration and degradation.
Also it was the epoch of ongoing proselytizing and the Anglicization
campaign. This prestigious educational institution undoubtedly catered
not only to native monks and laymen but also for students from some
corners of the globe.
Without an iota of doubt Vidyodaya Pirivena turned out to be the
premier seat of Buddhist and oriental learning and was also instrumental
in spearheading the revival and renaissance of Buddhism, Sinhala
Language, Literature and the lost heritage. Evaluating the magnanimous
services rendered by Vidyodaya Pirivena it was upgraded to University
Status in the year 1958 by an Act of Parliament.
In recognition of his unique and yeoman services rendered exclusively
to the dissemination of Buddhism he was elevated to top notch position
of Chief Monk of Galle District in 1890 as the Chief Monk of Colomba
Nawa Korale and also as the chief of Siam Nikaya. Further the title "Thripitaka
Wagiswaracharya" was conferred on him by Malwatta Maha Viharaya Kandy.
Reputed and renowned institutions in Ireland, Italy, Hungary and
Germany also bestowed Felicitation Degrees on him.
Antole France, a great French Author also a Nobel Prize winner had
amply be lauded in one of his compositions the immortal services
rendered by Ven. Sri Sumangala Nayaka Thera at Vidyodaya Pirivena for a
duration of nearly 4 decades.
Particularly he won the respect and reverence of colonial Governors,
all outstanding Buddhist leaders as well as of the devout Buddhist
community in general.
The multi-linguist and multi-faceted Ven. Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala
Nayaka Thera peacefully passed away on 29-04-1911 at the ripe old age of
84 years which was an irreparable and irreplaceable loss to the Buddhist
He was indisputably acclaimed as the beacon that irradiated the
gloomy and shadowy epoch under British Colonial domination. Admittedly
this Nayka Thera was one of the few who had enormously contributed
towards the maturation of Sinhala Language and Literature.
The unique and magnanimous contribution he accorded in the arena of
dissemination of Buddhist Doctrine is incommensurable.
May he attain the Blissful State of Nibbana.