The State funeral of the late Mahanayake Thera of the Asgiri Chapter of the Siyam Nikaya -Aggamaha Panditha Most Ven. Galagama Sri Aththadassi Thera- will be held at the Police Grounds in Kandy today. Government has declared today as a day of national mourning to mark the passing away of the Thera. An appeal has [...]


Final rites of the Most Ven. Galagama Sri Aththadassi Thera today


The State funeral of the late Mahanayake Thera of the Asgiri Chapter of the Siyam Nikaya -Aggamaha Panditha Most Ven. Galagama Sri Aththadassi Thera- will be held at the Police Grounds in Kandy today. Government has declared today as a day of national mourning to mark the passing away of the Thera. An appeal has also been made to schools in Kandy to postpone their annual ‘big match’ encounters as a mark of respect.

No liquor today

The Excise Department has announced that liquor shops throughout the island should be closed today in view of the Thera’s funeral.

The remains of the late Thera will be taken in procession from the official residence of the Mahanayake at 1.30 p.m. and the final rites will commence at 3.30 p.m.

A distinguished gathering including ministers, parliamentarians, clergy and laymen are expected to attend the ceremony, while many dignitaries, religious leaders and organisations have conveyed their condolences over the Thera’s death.

Over the past few days, large crowds were seen streaming in to pay their final respects to the late Thera, at both the Urulewatte Temple within the Asgiriya Maha Vihara Complex as well as at the official residence of the Mahanayake Thera after the remains were brought there.

The late Mahanayake was unanimously elected on May 6, 2015 by the Asgiri Sangha Sabha as the 21st Mahanayaka Thera of the Asgiri Chapter. He passed away at the Kandy Hospital on Wednesday (March 9), after suffering a fall.

Before he was elected as the Mahanayake Thera, the Most Ven. Aththadassi Thera was also the incumbent of the Mahiyangana Raja Maha Vihara.

President Maithripala Sirisena, in his condolence message, said the sudden demise of the Mahanayake Thera was a colossal loss not only to the people  of Sri Lanka, but also to Buddhists the world over.

He said the Thera was a Buddhist monk who beautified the Sangha Sasana and  exemplified the Buddha’s depiction of, “eloquent, disciplined, erudite monk with comprehensive knowledge of the Dhamma which illuminates the Sasana.”

Despite the Mahanayake Thera being conferred with a title which had world-wide acclaim, he never ceased being humble.

The Mahanayake Thera, who was proficient in Sinhala, Tamil, Pali and Sanskrit used his knowledge and abundant communication skills to spread Buddhism around the world.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in his condolence message, praised the Mahanayake Thera as one who worked to foster unity among the three Nikayas (chapters) of the Buddhist clergy and as such was much respected and loved by the monks.

He also recalled that the Mahanayake Thera was heavily involved in advocating  a ‘Bhikkhu Kathikawath’ in order to resolve problems that arose within the Sangha community as a result of  extremist views and shortsighted policies of a minority of its members.

He noted that the Thera’s work as a Buddhist monk spanned more than 80 years, and his service to the Asgiri Chapter, the Buddha Sasana as well as to the country and its people, should be recognised and appreciated by all.

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa also offered his deepest condolences on the passing away of the Mahanayake Thera and prayed he attained the ultimate bliss of Nirvana.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka, in its condolence message, said the Mahanayake Thera had rendered a great service to the nation by his committed leadership in matters of national importance.

“We also appreciate deeply the contribution the Venerable Mahanayake Thera made towards fostering inter-religious harmony in our country,” the statement added.

The election of 22nd Asgiriya Mahanayake

With the passing away of Most Ven. Galagama Sri Aththadassi Thera, the 21st Mahnayake of the 704-year- old Asgiri Maha Vihara, arrangements will soon be made to elect the 22nd Mahanayake Thera of the Chapter.

There are no clear-cut norms regarding the election of the Malwatte or Asgiri Karaka Sangha Sabha’s Maha Viharas , nor are there any set rules governing the elections.

The procedure begins with a formal announcement, and a date is announced in consultation with the Karaka Sangha Sabha.  On the date of election the aspirants would present their background and explain why they felt they were worthy of being elected to the exalted office.

Presently there are only 18 members in the Karaka Sangha Sabha, though normally there should be twenty. But, this will not make the congregation invalid.

The Karaka Sangha Sabha has a right to postpone the election so as to select a compromise candidate, to bring unity on the issue, or else go ahead with the election.

At this stage the Secretary of the Karaka Sangha Sabha calls for applications for the position of the Mahanayake of the Maha Vihara.  Those who wish to contest have the applications written out and ready to be presented. This is in the form of a bio-data of the applicant.

If it does come to a vote, it is done openly. The register is opened and the signature for or against is signed in this register.  This Register is the “Voting Book” and is handed over to the Secretary who then reads the number of votes gained by each applicant.

The presiding member of the Sangha Sabha -it could be the Anunayaka or a senior member of the Karaka Sangha Sabha – seeks from all present whether there are any objections against the  intended appointee.  This too is done openly.

If the objections, if any, are genuine as to the status that is expected of a Mahanayake, then  a vote is taken .  otherwise the applicant is declared elected as the Mahanayake.

Once these formalities are ended, the blessings commence with  seth pirith ‘ being chanted.

The Mahanayake elect then takes his place as the head of the congregation.

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