A vibrant personality- Ven. K.Sri Sumedha of Mulaganda Kuti Vihara, Saranath (India)

saranath.gif (34815 bytes)The thousands of Buddhist pilgrims visiting Saranath, where Lord Buddha preached his first sermon is today a place of worship brought to the lime-light and focus by a young Dynamic Bhikku with admirable leadership qualities in Ven. Kahawatte Sri Sumedha Thero, High Priest and Bhikku In-charge, Mulaganda Kuti Vihara Saranath. This young Bhikku’s hidden talent of leadership qualities and administrative ability were spotted by none other than Ven. Dodangoda Revatha Maha Thero, himself a Dynamic Leader who through sheer dedication perseverance and hard work built up Saranath to it’s present glory.

When Ven. Dr. Dodangoda Revatha Maha Thero was appointed to the coveted position of Gen. Secretary, Mahabodhi Society of India succeeding the late Ven. Mapalagama Vipulasena Nayake Thero. Ven. Sri Sumedha Thero was selected and now continues in the foot steps of Ven. Revatha Maha Thero in the development and administration of Saranath maintaining a very high code of discipline and standards.

Discipline is a key factor in the daily routine of Ven. Sumedha Thero, administering a number of resident Sri Lankan Buddhist Priests and Bhikkuni’s including student Bhikku’s from other countries. The Mahabodhi Headquarters of Saranath, the Anagarika Dharmapala Museum, new Mulaganda Kuti Vihara, where the sacred relics are enshrined are meticulously maintained. In addition, the Saranath Centre runs two schools, Mahabodhi Primary School and Mahabodhi Junior High School providing free education, mid-day meals and uniforms for deserving students. The Mahabodhi Birla Dharmashala provides accommodation and food for pilgrims visiting Saranath and is maintained by voluntary donations.

The chanting of the Dhamma Chakka Sutta daily at 6.30 pm in the Mulaganda Kuti Vihara takes pride of place where hundreds of Sri Lankan pilgrims and others gather to listen in pin-drop silence. The sermon delivered on conclusion of the chanting by Ven. Sumedha Thero traces the early struggle of Anagarika Dharmapala and his disciples, who underwent immense hardships making many sacrifices to revive it’s prestine glory. The Thero describes the improvements done through contributions received from generous donors to Saranath and the facilities now available for the thousands of pilgrims who come to pay homage to Saranath.

The resident Bhikku’s and Bhikkuni’s have been given a thorough training to conduct pilgrims on guided tours of Saranath describing the historic monuments spread across the beautiful gardens of the Deer Park, reviving ancient history that can never be erased from the minds of pilgrims listening to these in-depth narractions.

The pilgrims are captivated by the magnetic charm of Ven. Sumedha Thero who has a colossal task in the maintenance and unkeep of this vast area and the consortium of buildings spread across.

Public relations is Ven. Sumedha’s forte and this has paid dividends in getting active support for the improvement and development of Saranath. The exposition of the sacred relics in November each year attracts thousands of pilgrims from all over and the casket containing the relics is taken on elephant back in procession along the streets of Saranath virtually portraying a mini Kandy Perahera.

Ven. Sumedha with his magnetic personality, personally invites the Head of States the Prime Minister, diplomats and VIP’s from time to time to participate in the numerous ceremonies at Saranath. Ven. Thero’s organizing ability is displayed by the meticulous arrangements made at these functions.

Ven. Sumedha personally undertakes missions to affluent Buddhist countries like Japan, Thailand, which readily respond with generous donations for the improvements at Saranath. Very recently Ven. Sumedha got engraved on a stone slab brought from a distant place in India the entire "Dhamma Chakka Sutta" - The first sermon delivered by the Buddha at Saranath to the five disciples. This helps pilgrims to chant the Suttha by looking at the words engraved on the stone slab.

Ven. Sumedha’s name will go down in history along with the other stalwarts for the contribution he is making for the uplift of Saranath.

May the Ven. Thero be blessed with good health and, long life to continue his missionary activities.