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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 education.

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 the day.

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 world.

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.

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