Ven. Wewaldeniye Medhalankara Maha Navake Thero – a pious, pure 100 years

Venerable Weweldeniye Medhalankara, who was called Benjamin Appuhamy before ordination, was born on December 7, 1909, as the youngest child of Singankutti arachchige Isan Appuhamy and Rajapakse Vitaranalage Liyanguhamy of Millawala, Weweldeniya. He had his primary education at Junior School, Tolangamuwa, which was later elevated to a Central College. He was ordained on May 26, 1922, under the pupilage of Venerable Kataluwe Silavansa, the chief prelate of Abhayagirya Temple, Anuradhapura and Venerable Kadiragama Sumanasara. He had been practising monastic disciplinary rules and studying doctrine for about four years before he returned to Sasanawardana Piriven Vihara in Mirigama.

He received his higher ordination under the guidance and supervision of his great teachers, respectively, Venerable Kodagoda Upasena and Venerable Kadiragama Sumanasara. He completed his secondary education studying logic, philosophy and Abhidharma under erudite monks, such as, Venerable Rerukane Ariyagnana and Pundit W. D. Vagisvara. He became the chief incumbent of the Sasanawardhana Piriven Vihara in 1972.

In 1950, he commenced to contribute his pious support to Sri Lanka Ramanna Maha Nikaya, in its administrative affairs, especially in relation to monastic affairs which are most crucial to protect the Sri Lankan Buddhist order. In 1966 he became a member of the administrative working committee of Ramanna Maha Nikaya and was inducted as a member of the executive committee of the said Nikaya. In 1974 he became the senior monastic judicial prelate of the said Nikaya. In 1985, the said Nikaya appointed him as the registrar of the Nikaya and in 1987 he was nominated as the chief judicial prelate-Adhikarana Sangha Nayaka of the Nikaya. In 1993 he was appointed a member of the supreme body of the Sri Lankan Buddhist order. In 1998 most Venerable Medhalankara Thero was nominated as Mahanayaka of the Sri Lanka Ramanna Maha Nikaya at Dharmagupta Mula Mahavihara, Payagala.

Apart from his valuable contribution to the Nikaya, he has been endeavouring to uplift the social values through various religious and educational activities to which he gave leadership. He is also the chief patron to many social organisations. Among them, the Hospital Committee, Ayurvedic Doctors’ Association, Sinhala Traders Society, Maha Bodhi Children’s Home and Seth Sevana Adults Home in Mirigarna, have been carrying out social service activities under his guidance. He launched several institutions, such as, Sasanawardhana Dhamma School, Millawala School, D. S. Senanayaka National School, Ambana Children’s Home, Sasanawardhana Nursery School and Hospital Development Society , Mirigama.

Since 1997, he has travelled immensely in disseminating Buddhist philosophy and the Sri Lankan Theravadic monastic tradition among various countries. Among them, India, Pakistan, Singapore, Myanmar, Thailand, Korea, Japan, China and Australia, are some of the countries in which the great prelate participated in missions in association with Baddegama Vimalawansa Anunayaka Thero. He was appointed a member of the Senate of the Buddha Srawaka University, Anuradhapura. Later he was nominated as the chancellor of the same university and also of the Buddhist and Pali University of Sri Lanka.

In appreciation of his great services to the Buddhist order, Republic of Myanmar conferred honorary "Agga Maha Saddhamma Jothika Dhaja" on him. His contribution to uplift great Buddhist seats of learning has been appreciated by conferring honorary positions, such as, "Sahitya Chakrvarti", by the Pali and Buddhist University of Sri Lanka, "Dharma Shastra Shiromani" by Vidyalankara Pirivena, Kelaniya, and "Sasana Sobana Sri Saddharma Vagisvaracharya Siri Saranankara Upasena Vansawatansa" by the Ramanna maha Nikaya. His great knowledge in Buddhism has been admired by the Anagarika Dharmapala Foundation and in consequence of that he was awarded "Tripitaka Vagisvaracharya" honorary degree by Amarapura Mula Vansika Nikaya.

Although he is 100 years old and fragile in physique, he manages to continue with his daily routine in attending alms rounds with other junior monks and pupils, irrespective of his busy schedule as the chief prelate of the Nikaya. So that he, in the perspective of Buddhist teachings, has been a humble monk devoting himself to social service, helping both minor to adult, laymen and clergy.

His method of counselling the bhikkhus was successful owing to his pleasing monastic mannerism and boundless kindness. Moreover, he never sought publicity but did what he thought fit in a silent manner. As many of us know, he played a pivotal role in moulding his students to be exemplary. He inculcated discipline among most of his pupils. We indeed owe a large debt of gratitude to this genial personality, being a great teacher, guide and philanthropist.

We always have to pay homage to the Maha Nayaka Thero for his invaluable guidance, advice and kindness; a person full of compassion and determination. Thus Venerable Thero for almost 80 years to this day, has dedicated his life to religious and social activities to uplift Sri Lankan society. Venerable Thero celebrates his 100th birthday on December 7, 2008, on which occasion all of us have the good fortune and opportunity of invoking the blessings of the Maha Nayaka Thero and in return we wish him all good health and happiness. May he live long with the blessings of triple gem.

A special Rupavahini programme on the thera will be telecast over Rupavahini at 2.30pm on Dec.6.

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