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An erudite Bhikku dedicated to uplift the Sasana

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Appreciation for a unique personality: Dr. Welamitiyawe Sri Kusaladhamma Nayake Thera

By Eng. Dimuthu Punsara Colambage

Lecturer, University of Moratuwa

punsarauom@gmail.com

The Most Venerable Tripitakavageeshwaracharya, Upadhyaya, Aggamahasaddhammajotikadhaja, Dr. Welamitiyawe Dharmakeerthi Sri Kusaladhamma Nayake Thera, Parivenadhipathi and Director of Vidyalankara Pirivena, Peliyagoda and Chancellor of University of Kelaniya, Chief Sangha Nayake of Colombo- Chilaw two divisions who passed away after a brief illness at the age of 84, the funeral is scheduled to take place at the Independence Square today (31) with full state honours. The nayake thera was a prelate having led an exemplary life of a disciplined and selfless religious leader can be described as a great prelate who was prudent, wise, erudite and learned in the Dhamma according to the discourse of the Buddha.

Ven. Thera was a great prelate endowed with a unique personality of his own. Over 30 years he had provided the leadership to Vidyalankara Pirivena, Peliyagoda, the crest jewel of Education for the Buddhist monks. He was a great Buddhist prelate who has rendered an enormous religious service over a long period of seventy years to uplift the Buddhist education in Sri Lanka. He was the guide of all religious and socio-cultural activities launched in affiliation with Vidyalankara tradition.

Vidyodaya Pirivena in Maligakanda and Vidyalankara pirivena in Peliyagoda are the two main reputed Buddhist educational institutions in the country. Vidyalankara pirivena was founded on Nov 1, 1875, by Most. Ven. Ratmalane Sri Dharmaloka Maha Thera, a prominent Buddhist scholar in 19th century. The parivenadhipathi position was succeeded by great scholars of Most Ven. Ratmalane Sri Dharmarama Nayake Thera, Lunupokune Sri Dharmananda Nayake Thera, Kiriwattuduwe Sri Pragnasara Nayake Thera, Yakkaduwe Sri Pragnarama Thera and Nattandiye Sri Pragnakara Nayake Thera. The seventh parivenadhipathi position was conferred to our speaker, the Most Ven. Sri Kusaladhamma Nayake Thera in 1990.

Vidyalankara Pirivena has functioned over period of 146 years as a great seat of Buddhist learning which has spread its fame not only Sri Lanka but also over the world. The pirivena is carved the name in gold as a reputed centre of education renaissance of Sri Lanka. As one of the main Buddhist educational institutes, the pirivena has contributed for the betterment of the country, nation, Buddhism and oriental studies including Sinhala, Pali, Sanskrit languages. They have initiated a separate tradition in their academic works which is called as Vidyalankara tradition. Ven Kusaladhamma Nayake thera tried his best to protect and continue the Vidyalankara tradition to future.

Eighty-four years ago, on Feb 20, 1937 a son was born to the family of Palihawadana Arachchilage John Sinyo and Ratnayake Mudiyanselage Gunamalethana who were residing at the village of Welamitiyawa in Kurunegala district. He was the third of the family with seven children and named as Tikiri Banda. It may be due to the merits accumulated over a ling cycle of Sansara, Little Tikiri Banda was destined to enter the Buddhist order of Sangha at a later date and handed over his responsibilities to Hurukgamuwe Gunaratana thera, chief incumbent of Hurukgamuwa Raja Maha Viharaya. Due to the untiring efforts of Most Ven. Yakkaduwe Sri Pragnarama Nayake Thera, then parivenadhipathi of Vidyalankara Pirivena, little boy was taken to Vidyalankara Pirivena,.

The boy was lucky to see and participate to the prestigious tripitaka sangayana in Vidyalankara Pirivena in 1950s. At the end of Tripitaka Sangayana, he was ordained as a novice monk under the tutelage of Most Ven. Kiriwattuduwe Sri Pragnasara Nayake Thera, parivenadhipathi of Vidyalankara Pirivena and first vice chancellor of Vidyalankara University. At the pirivena, he was able to enrich his young life as a buddhist monk in close association and company of most learned and celebrated Buddhist monks of caliber of Ven. Kotahene Pagnakeerti Thera, Walpola Rahula Thera, Bambarende Siri Seewali Thera, Hedipannala Pragnaloka Thera, Degammeda Sumanajoti Thera, Etulgama Dewarakkitha Thera etc. The novice monk was higher ordinated at Malwathu Maha Viharaya, Kandy in 1957.

When Vidyalankara pirivena was elevated to the university level in 1959, Ven. Kusaladhamma Thera was eligible to enter the university as a member of the first student intake due to the excellent academic records in piriven life. After completing the Bachelor of Art degree in Sinhala, he was invited to the academic staff in the university. Ven. Thera refused the invitation and started his career as a teacher of his own alma mater, Vidyalankara Pirivena in 1963. Later he was appointed as the inaugural director of Pannipitiya Vidyalankara Pirivena, an affiliated branch pirivena of his almamater.

In 1983 Ven. Kusaladhamma thera was nominated to the next parivenadhipathi position by Vidyalankara council due to the recommendation Most. Ven. Yakkaduwe Pragnarama Nayake Thera., After the demise of of Ven. Pragnarama thera In 1986, Ven. Kusaladhamma thera was eligible to become the head master of the pirivena, but paying respect to the teachers, Ven. Kusaladhamma thera handed over the parivenadhipathi position to Nattandiye Pragnakara Nayake Thera, one of his teachers who was alive in those days. Thus, Kusaladhamma thera was appointed as the director of the pirivena.

In 1990, Ven Pragnakara thera was passed away and then Ven. Welamitiyawe Sri Kusaladhamma thera was elevated to the parivenadhipathi position. The supreme sangha council of Malwatta chapter of siam sect conferred the prestigious positions of Chief Sanghanayake of Colombo Chilaw two divisions and Upadhyaya position with ‘Tripitaka Vageeshwaracharya’ and ‘Dharma Keerthi Sri’ titles. As the chief monk of western Sri Lanka, Ven. Nayake thera rendered a great leadership to the Sri Lankan sangha community. While serving as the Upadhyaya of Malwathu Maha Viharaya, he hold the leadership of upasampada ceremonies of thousands of novice monks.

Ven. Thera was appointed as the chancellor of Kelaniya University in 1997 by the President of Sri Lanka. Kusaladhamma thera made the reputation of the names of Vidyalankara pirivena and Kelaniya university known world ever. In addition to being the principal and director of Vidyalankara Pirivena, Nayake thera became the chief incumbent of more than 40 temples including Ratmalana Purana Viharaya, Hunupitiya Wijayasundararamaya, Waragoda Bodhirukkharamaya, Keragala Padmawathi Pirivena, Dematagoda Dharmaprasada Viharaya, Nattandiya Vidyaratna Pirivena, Galahitiyawa Weluwanaramaya, Batapota Sarananda Pothgul Viharaya, Gonawala Wardhanaramaya.

Most Venerable Nayaka Thera has become famous for his qualities of humbleness and friendliness. He accepted all the invitations for Dhamma sermons, almsgivings, opening ceremonies throughout the country without concerning his health conditions. Nayake thera helped thousands of disable people to protect and secure their lives.

The people of our country are familiar with his name do much. It is not necessary to reiterate that the venerable thera had performed an enormous service on behalf of the country and the religion. The voice he raised on behalf of the Sinhalese Buddhist was unique.

The selfless services rendered by Most Ven. Welamitiyawe Kusaladhamma Nayake Thera, brought greater light to the Buddha Sasana. His actions portrayed a most efficient and esteemed personality. The Most Ven. nayake Thera earned the respect of the Maha Sangha by his tireless efforts towards the unification of the three Maha Sangha chapters. Most Ven. Welamitiyawe Kusaladhamma Nayake Thera was a mine of knowledge. His pleasant charismatic personality, along with his humbleness added colour to his brilliance. May he attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana.



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NGO to move SC against acquittal and discharge of first accused

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Welikada Prison killings

‘The BASL should make its position clear now’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Chairman of the Committee to Protect the Rights of Prisoners, Attorney-at-Law, Senaka Perera, says his outfit will soon move the Supreme Court against the acquittal and discharging of Inspector Neomal Moses Rangajiva, the first accused in the Welikada Prison killings.

The civil society activist, in a brief interview with The Island, over the weekend, said that the relatives of those who perished in the violence in the Welikada Prison compound on Nov 09 and 10, 2012, had requested him to pursue this matter.

Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar last Wednesday (12) sentenced to death ex-Welikada Prisons Chief Lamahewage Emil Ranjan over the Welikada killings. He was the second accused in the high-profile case, whereas Rangajiva, at that time attached to the Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB), was acquitted and released from all charges.

Lawyer Perera said that as the verdict had been given by a Trial-at-Bar, the appeal would have to be made to the Supreme Court. The Trial-at-Bar bench comprising High Court judges Gihan Kulathunga (President), Pradeep Hettiarachchi and Manjula Thilakarathna was unanimous in its decisions.

The Trial-at-Bar said that the prosecution failed to prove its case against the PNB officer beyond reasonable doubt.

Responding to questions, Senaka Perera said that if it hadn’t been a Trial-at-Bar, his group would have moved the Court of Appeal. Senaka Perera explained: “We intend to write to Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam, PC, in this regard. We are of the view the AG should appeal against the acquittal and discharging of Rangajiva. However, if the AG refrained from doing so,  the Committee to Protect the Rights of Prisoners will accept the responsibility.”

In terms of the Trial-at-Bar proceedings, the eight prison inmates who were killed in the incident are Kankanmalage Malinda Nilendra Pelpola alias Malan, Attapattu Sangakkara Nirmala Atapattu, Mohammed Wijaya Rohana alias Gundu, Chinthamani Mohottige Thushara Chandana alias Kalu Thushara, Asarappulige Jothipala alias Ponna Kapila, Harshan Sri Manakeerthi Perera alias Manju Sri, Raigamage Susantha Perera alias Mala Susantha, Devamullage Malith Sameera Perera alias Konda Amila.

However, lawyer Senaka Perera said that altogether 27 inmates had been killed after the deployment of the Special Task Force (STF) and the Army inside the Welikada Prison. According to official records, in addition to 27 deaths, at least 43 other inmates received injuries. The then Prisons Minister Chandrasiri Gajadeera informed Parliament of the deaths of 27 inmates.

The then Police Spokesman SSP Prishantha Jayakoday said that inmates had triggered violence as the STF was looking for drugs and hand phones inside the prison.

The Attorney General filed indictments against IP Rangajeewa, Lamahewage Emil Ranjan and Indika Sampath, an officer attached to the Prisons intelligence unit under 33 counts, including committing murder, conspiring to commit murder after being members of an unlawful assembly.

The Court proceeded in spite of the third accused Indika Sampath who managed to evade the police so far.

The human rights activist recalled how Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, PC, named a Trial-at-Bar to hear the Welikada case on a request made by Rajaratnam’s predecessor, Dappula de Livera, PC. The latter made the request in late June 2019. Rajaratnam succeeded de Livera in late May 2021.

The Prisons Department and the Justice Ministry couldn’t absolve themselves of the responsibility for ensuring safety and security of those in their care, lawyer Senaka Perera said. Those who had been remanded and sentenced could be serious offenders and some may even deserve a death sentence but the State shouldn’t under any circumstances resort to extra judicial measures, the public litigation activist said.

Lawyer Senaka Perera said that he believed the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) should examine the Welikada case and make its position known to the public. “Perhaps, the BASL, too, should consider moving the SC against the acquittal and discharging of the first accused,” the lawyer said.

Lawyer Senaka Perera said that before the former AG made an intervention the progress in investigations had been slow. In fact, real progress was made since 2017, two years after the change of government following the 2015 presidential election, the lawyer said, alleging that the powers that be continuously hindered the investigations.

According to lawyer Perera and other sources, there had been four separate investigations at different levels beginning with the one launched by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) immediately after the Welikada killings. Subsequently the then Prisons Minister the late Chandrasiri Gajadeera named a three-member team to inquire into the Welikada killings. The committee comprising retired High Court judge Bandula Atapattu, retired DIG Gunasena Thenabadu and Prisons Ministry Legal Officer Lalith Andrahannadi produced two reports in Feb 2013 and Nov 2013. There had been two other investigations ordered by the then Prisons Chief P.W. Kodipillai and the Human Rights Commission.

Lawyer Senaka Perera said that the four investigations undertaken during the Rajapaksa administration should be examined. The lawyer emphasized the importance of appraisal of the investigations as the Trial-at-Bar declared that the progress had been made only since 2017.

In addition to those four investigations, there had been another report prepared by the three-member committee comprising retired High Court judge Wimal Nambuwasam, retired Senior DIG Asoka Wijeyatilleke and senior public servant S.K. Liyanage. Appointed on January 22, 2015, less than two weeks after the presidential election, the committee handed over its report to the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC, on June 09, 2015 as the latter appointed it.

Lawyer Perera said that the former Prisons Chief claimed that the inmates after having broken into the Prisons armoury seized weapons, including machine guns.

The activist pointed out that the 2012 incidents were the worst since the 1983 massacre of Tamil terrorist suspects. The public have lost faith in law enforcement authorities and the political leadership regardless of the party that held power, the lawyer said. There couldn’t be better example than how the current dispensation handled the then State Minister for Prisons Lohan Ratwatte’s ‘raids’ on Welikada and Anuradhapura prisons in September last year.

The report prepared by retired High Court judge Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena into the incidents involving Ratwatte should be made public as the police were yet to at least record the State Minister’s statement, lawyer Perera said.

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China donates shipment of rice to Sri Lanka

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By Anura Balasuriya

China will soon send a shipment of rice to Sri Lanka as a donation, a Ministry of Trade spokesman said.

The donation comes in the wake of the 70 year anniversary of the Sri Lanka – China Rubber Rice pact on 1952.

Minister of Trade Bandula Gunawardane had discussed the matter recently with a senior Chinese Embassy officia, the Trade Ministry Spokesman said.

“The Chinese Embassy in Colombo is already doing the needful. The Trade Ministry has informed China of the varieties of rice that Sri Lankan consumers like,” the Trade Ministry Spokesman said.

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Rating downgrades discourage investors – JVP

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JVP MP Dr. Harini Amarasuriya, on Friday (14) day, said investors were discouraged by the continuous downgrading of the country’s credit ratings.

Speaking at an event in Colombo, MP Amarasuriya said import costs had increased as the country was going through a forex crisis. The President’s agricultural policy had been a disaster and that in the coming months, the government would have to import large volumes of food.

Amarasuriya added that Sri Lanka’s relations with other nations had deteriorated and that too would have an adverse impact on the country.

Dr. Amarasuriya said that international rating agencies were independent and that their ratings were very important for investors to make decisions.

“Investors don’t consult Ajith Nivard Cabraal before investing. Besides, in other countries, it is economic experts, not politicians, who become Central Bank Governors,” she added.

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