IV – Illustrious Contemporaries

1. Ven. Tripiṭakavāgishvarācārya Upādhyāva Hikkaḍuwe Śrī Sumaṅgala Nāyaka Mahā Thera the Doyen of Buddhist Scholar Monks (1926–1911)

[xliv] The letters presented in this Volume make frequent reference to Ven. Hikkaḍuwe Śrī Sumaṅgala Nāyaka Mahā Thera, sometimes simply as Hikkaḍuwe, sometimes as the Nāyaka Thera of Śrī Pāda and occasionally as Principal of Vidyodaya Pirivena or Oriental College of Māligākanda – the premier seat of traditional Buddhist learning, he founded in 1873. He was, no doubt, the most active scholar-monk of the time. What was remarkable is that he wielded equal influence in all circles – British colonial administrators, the Saṅgha of Kandyan districts, the low-country monks, scholars, controversialists, educators and religious propagandists. Many organizations of diverse character and objectives received his support and patronage. His catalytic role in these organizations had been as impressive as it was productive. He was equally at home in a heated religious controversy as well as in an objective scholarly discussion. During the Buddhist-Christian Controversy at Baddegama, he is said to have produced, on the spot, an eleven foolscap page reply to a question posed to him; at Panadure, he was a prominent participant providing technical support to Ven. Migettuwatte (Mohottiwatte) Gunananda Thera. In the words of Anagārika Dharmapāla, “Mohoṭṭiwatte Gunānanda supplied the oratory; and Venerable Sumaṅgala furnished him with scholarly material and references”. One of the earliest to recognize the importance of the Press for the National and Buddhist Revival Movement, the Nāyaka Thera had a hand in founding both the newspaper “Sarasavisandaresa” and the periodical “Samaya Saṅgarā”.

It is abundantly clear from all references made in the letters in this Volume that the Nāyaka Thera not only maintained very close contacts with almost all the Western Orientalists of his day but he was held in very high regard and respect by them. For a comparison made by Geiger between Ven. Hikkaḍuwe Śrī Sumaṅgala and Ven. Śrī Subhūti, see Section X, 2 of this Introduction. Particularly [xlv] moving is the expression of joy by Reinhold Rost on coming to know that he would receive a photograph of the Nāyaka Thera (paragraph 157). The Nāyaka Thera was also a close collaborator of Mudliars Corneille Vijesimha and E. R. Gunaratne mentioned in the correspondence. Satish Chandra Vidyābhūshan and Kosambi Dharmānanda were among his pupils. Anagārika Dharmapāla has bequeathed to us a charming thumb-nail sketch of this great scholar:–

In the world of Oriental scholars our President is recognised for his profound scholarship. The Bhikkhu Saṅgha of the Pali school of Buddhism all over Siam, Burma, Cambodia and Ceylon accept him as a Mahā Thera, both on account of his lofty character as well as for his great learning. The Ceylon Ecclesiastical Council of Mahā Theras of the Royal Monastery at Kandy have unanimously elected him “Upajjhāyo” and conferred on him the title of “Ti Piṭaka Vāchissarāchariya,” a title which was held by the illustrious scholar, Śrī Rāhula, who flourished in between 1410 and 1462 A.D. It means the Lord, who is master of three Piṭakas. Henceforth the Mahā Thera, Pradhāna Nāyaka Sumaṅgala, will be known as the Tri Piṭaka Vāchissarāchariya Upajjhāya Sumaṅgala, Pradhāna Nāyaka Mahā Thera. In private life the “Great Teacher” is simple as a child. He is now in his 74th year, and yet it is astonishing to find him actively engaged in teaching his yellow-robed pupils daily from 8 to 11 a.m. and from 2 to 5 p.m. He is an early riser, takes a light breakfast at 8 a.m. and a full meal at 11 a.m. and a cup of tea or lemonade at about 7 p.m.

Of the scholar-monks of the nineteenth century, the one on whose life and work a fair amount of published material is available is Ven. Sumaṅgala. A well-documented biography was prepared by Ven. Yagirala Śrī Pragñānanda Nāyaka Thera in 1947 and a special memorial volume was published by Vidyodaya University of Sri Lanka in 1961.

Ven. Hikkaḍuwe Śrī Sumaṅgala’s support to pioneering Western Orientalists could have been very different from what Ven. Waskaḍuwe Śrī Subhūti provided. Ven. Sumaṅgala was, himself, a [xlvi] scholar of no mean standing and his works on Pali and Sinhala grammar, as well as the Sinhala translation of Mahāvaṁsa (in co-operation with Baṭuwantuḍāwe Devarakshita), vouch for his depth of knowledge and critical acumen. He wrote clearly and elegantly in Sinhala, Pali and Sanskrit and his metrical compositions in these languages evince a perfect knowledge of prosody, rhetoric and poetic conventions. He wrote many letters in Pali to leading monks of Burma, Thailand and Cambodia. Even a short message like the following, which he sent to the Parliament of Religions Chicago in 1893 displays his mastery of Buddhism:–

“The Sinhalese followers of Ārya Dharma, miscalled Buddhism by Western scholars, through their chosen delegate, Mr. Dharmapāla, greet the delegates representing all the world’s religions in open Parliament assembled at Chicago, in the year 2436 of the Buddha’s Nirvāṇa – A.D. 1893. To the Advisory Council of the exposition, and to all and several delegates, the salutations of peace, tolerance, and human and divine brotherhood.

Be it known to you, brethren, that ours is the oldest of missionary religions, the principle of propaganda having been adopted by its Promulgator at the very beginning and enforced by Him in the despatch of His immediate followers, the Brethren of the Yellow Robe, shortly after His attainment of the state of perfect spiritual illuminations 2481 years ago, under the Bodhi Tree at Buddhagayā in middle India.

Traces of these ancient missions have been discovered of late years, and the influence of their teachings recognised by Western scholars in various directions.

The spread of these ideas has invariably been affected by their intrinsic excellence and never, as we rejoice to know, by force, or appeal to the superstitious weakness of the uneducated masses. No blood stains our temples and no profitable harvest have we reaped from human oppression. The Tathāgata, the Buddha, has enjoined His followers to promote education, foster scientific inquiry, respect the religious views of others, frequent the company of the wise, and avoid unproductive controversy. [xlvii]

He has taught them to believe nothing upon mere authority, however seemingly influential. He has taught them to discuss religious opinions in a spirit of love and forbearance, without fear and without prejudice, confident that truth protects the righteous seeker after truth.

It is evident then, brethren, that the scheme of your Parliament of Religions recommends itself to the followers of Sakya Muni, and that we, one and all, are bound to wish it the most complete success. We should have been glad to accede to the wishes of your Council in sending one or more of our ordained monks; but being ignorant of Western languages, their presence as active members of the Parliament would be useless. For centuries, circumstances have put a stop to our organised foreign propaganda, and the life of our monks has been one of quiet study, meditation and good work in and near their monasteries. It is therefore, a joy to us that, through the liberality of your Council, our young lay missionary, Mr. H. Dharmapāla, has been enabled to undertake the honourable duty of presenting this address of greeting and taking part in your parliamentary deliberations. We commend him to you as worthy of confidence, and hope that good may result from his mission.

Education in Ceylon on Western principles has been backward because until quite recently our children could not procure it, save at the risk of the destruction of their religious belief under the interested tuition of anti-Buddhist instruction. This is now being remedied by the opening of secular schools by our people under the leadership of the Theosophical Society.

To Colonel Olcott we owe the very catechism out of which our children are being taught the first principles of religion, and our present brotherly relations with our co-religionists of Japan and other Buddhistic countries. The religious future of Ceylon, brethren, is full of promise and with the growth of our enlightenment, we shall be more fit to carry abroad the teachings of the Great Master, whose mission was to emancipate the human mind from the bonds of selfishness, superstition and materialism. [xlviii]

The labours of Orientalists especially of Pali scholars, have of late resulted in spreading very widely throughout the world, some knowledge of the Buddha’s teachings. Sir Edwin Arnold’s epic, “The Light of Asia” has created a popular love for the stainless and compassionate character of Gautama Buddha. Justice is being done to Him now and His personality is seen to shine with exceptional brilliance among the figures of human history. We think that our Ārya Dharma reflects the spiritual sunlight of His own pure nobility and the luminousness of His own wisdom. We invite you all to examine and test it for yourselves.

Our Founder taught that the cause of all miseries is ignorance; its antithesis, happiness, is the product of knowledge. He taught religious tolerance, the kinship of human families with each other and the universe, and the existence of a common law of being and of evolution for us all. He taught the necessity for the conquest of the passions, the avoidance of cruelty, lying, lustfulness and all sensual indulgences, the avoidance of clinging to superstitious beliefs whether traditional or modern, and the avoidance of the belief in the alleged infallibility of men or books.

He inculcated the practice of all virtue, a high altruism in word and deed, the following of blameless modes of living and the keeping of an open mind for the discovery of truth. He taught the existence of a natural causation called Karma, which operates throughout the universe, and which, in the sphere of ethics, becomes the principle of equilibrium between the opposing forces of ignorance and wisdom and the agent of both retribution and recompense. He taught that existence in physical life is attended by fleeting pleasures and passing pains. Therefore the enlightened mind should recognise that fact and conquer the lust for life in the plane of physical being. Every effect being related to an anterior, formative cause, the joys and sorrows of life are the fruits of our individual actions; hence man is the creator of his own destiny and is his only possible liberator.

Liberation is enfranchisement from the trammels of ignorance which not only begets the sorrows that scourge us, but also, by keeping active the thirst for bodily life, compels us to be incarnated [xlix] again and again indefinitely until wisdom dries up the salt spring at which we try to quench our maddening thirst for life and life’s illusive activities, and we break out of the whirling wheel of re-birth, and escape into the calm and full wisdom of Nirvāṇa.

The literature of Southern Buddhism is copious, yet its fundamental ideas may be easily synthesized. Our scriptures are grouped into three divisions, called “piṭakas” of which the first (Sutta) comprises sermons or lectures on morality; the second (Vinaya) specifies the constitution and rules of the Order and of our laity; and the third (Abhidhamma) propounds the psychology of our system. Ed. note: As the Vinayapiṭaka was presented first at the First Recitation following the passing of the Buddha, it is normally held to be the first of the Piṭakas.

Of course, it would be useless to lay before a transient body like yours a collection of these religious books, written in an unfamiliar language. We must trust our delegate to the inspiration of your presence to give you a summary of what Southern Buddhists believe it necessary for the world to know, in the interest of human progress and human happiness.”

But the major role of Ven. Śrī Sumaṅgala had been that of an inspiring promoter and animator rather than of a plodding researcher. He had been generally looked upon for stimulation, guidance, opinion and approval, rather than for detailed information. He operated at a macro–level, functioning as president and patron of several organizations, such as the Mahā Bodhi Society, as the founder-principal of the leading seat of Buddhist learning and as a trusted adviser of the ranking officials of the British administration on matters religious and cultural. His authority was respected and invoked in many quarters. His leadership was widely recognized. No document purporting to reflect the consensus of the Saṅgha of Sri Lanka during his life-time was issued without his being a prominent signatory and what is remarkable is that he was usually in the company of the other savants who feature prominently in this Volume: viz. Ven. Weligama Śrī Sumaṅgala, Ven. Doḍanduwe Śrī Piyaratana Tissa and Ven. Waskaḍuwe Śrī Subhūti.

More needs to be known on Ven. Sumaṅgala. It is hoped that his 75th death anniversary which falls on 29 April 1986 will provide the incentive for an in-depth evaluation of his historic role. [l]

2. Remarkable Teacher-Pupil Dyad of Sarasvati-maṇḍapa, Shailabimbārāmaya, Doḍanduwa

Much of the information available to us on Ven. Ariyavaṁsālaṅkāra-sāsanadhaja-vinayācariya Doḍanduwe Śrī Piyaratana Tissa Mahā Nāyaka Thera (1826–1907) and Ven. Śrī Bauddha-siddhāntācārya Kalyāṇavaṁsāvataṁsa Dharmarakshita Candrakīrti Alutgama Śrī Seelakkhandha Nāyaka Thera (1848–1924) has been presented in the body of this Volume in Parts 1 and III of Book Three. What is noteworthy is how the two of them, jointly and severally, made the Sarasvati-maṇḍapa a leading seat of Buddhist learning, serving, not only local students, but also many foreign visitors. It is there that they welcomed Madame Blavatsky, Colonel Olcott and their party in 1880.

Both these Nāyaka Theras viewed their mission as both national and international. Their pioneering undertakings for the spread of Buddhist education in Sri Lanka and their own literary efforts were as remarkable and far-reaching as the contacts they developed in many parts of the world to assist the serious and objective students of Buddhism and to support those who were keen to propagate the benign message of the Buddha. Little has been known about Ven. Piyaratana Tissa’s connection with Colonel Olcott before his arrival in Sri Lanka. The Nāyaka Thera was held in high regard by both local and European scholars. When the Pali Text Society was founded by Rhys Davids in 1881, several leading monks of Sri Lanka were invited to comment on the project. In the appendix to the first report of PTS were reproduced the letters of the more important scholar-monks and the first among them was that of Ven. Piyaratana Tissa. In Sinhala, with profuse quotations from Pali, he wrote:–

“What I wish to recall in writing, besides my wishes and thanks, to the members of the Pali Text Society of London and to Mr. Rhys Davids who has assumed its presidentship is as follows:

Gentlemen,

At this time when erudite and reputed scholars living in various countries in Europe and elsewhere are searching for a pure religion, it is my impression that it is a noble undertaking [li] to publish, on a world-wide basis, the teachings of the Buddha in English script for the benefit of the many. Therefore, I hope you will make an effort to complete the task, you have begun, without abandoning it half-way... (Here he lists the books of the Tripiṭaka)... Only these thirty-one books, i.e. Pārājikāpāli, etc belong to the three Piṭakas, preached by the Buddha. In addition are books like Visuddhimagga which scholars of the past had produced in elaboration of certain aspects of the Tripiṭaka. Among them the commentaries on the Tripiṭaka have been declared by the commentators to be in keeping with the views of the Buddha. Therefore, while the five books of the Vinaya, the nineteen books of the Sutta and the seven books of the Abhidhamma, as mentioned above, are printed separately, the later treatises like Kudusika and Mulasika He is referring to two Vinaya commentaries, the Khuddasikkhā and the Mūlasikkhā. should not be included with them. If out of the pure and correct texts of Thailand, Burma and Sri Lanka, any particular reading is preferred for printing, the readings of the other two countries must be entered in footnotes. In publishing the commentaries, it will be better if the commentary on each text is printed separately...”

In one of these letters, namely the one written by a very senior monk of the time, Ven. Śrī Sumana Tissa of Minuwangoḍa, a list of contemporary monks has been included with the recommendation that Rhys Davids should seek their advice and guidance. In this list, among such other prominent names as Ven. Hikkaḍuwe Śrī Sumaṅgala, Ven. Weligama Śrī Sumaṅgala, Ven. Waskaḍuwe Śrī Subhūti, Mudliar Louis Corneille Vijesimha, Baṭuwantuḍawe, is also the name of Ven. Piyaratana Tissa.

What his pupil, Ven. Seelakkhandha, achieved by way of international recognition is even greater. Until I had examined the vast collection of letters he had received from foreign scholars from all over the World, I had no idea that this indefatigable monk even surpassed Ven. Subhūti in the number of persons with whom he maintained contact. It is true that he provided much less assistance to the foreign scholars from the point of view of either research or [lii] evaluation. Yet, his contribution to retaining the reputation of Sri Lanka as the living fountain of Buddhism was indeed very significant.

3. Ven. Yātrāmulle Śrī Dhammārāma Thera (1328–1872)

Popularly known as “Y Therunnanse” among the officers of the Ceylon Civil Service, who studied Sinhala and sometimes Pali from him, Ven. Yātrāmulle Śrī Dhammārāma, whose name occurs in several letters in this collection, counted among his pupils at least two very prominent British Orientalists: namely Robert C. Childers and Rhys Davids.

Ven. Dhammārāma died young at the age of 44 years and Childers published obituaries in Trübner’s Literary Register and Indian Antiquary eulogizing his silent service, humility and erudition. His death was described as a blow to students of Pali. In the Preface of his Pali Dictionary, Childers mentioned the assistance he received from Venerable Dhammārāma with the comment that his premature death in January 1872 “deprived the Buddhist Church of one of its brightest ornaments”. In 1881 in the course of his Hibbert Lecture, Rhys Davids acknowledged Ven. Yātrāmulle as his Pali teacher and paid him a compliment specially for the Thera’s sense of dedication to learning. Ven. Dhammārāma had daily walked some distance inspite of his failing health so as to teach Rhys Davids.

In the British Museum Library are several documents which vouch for his erudition in the field of Pali and Buddhism as well as his ability in metrical composition in Pali, Sanskrit and Sinhala. Among them is a eulogy on Childers written in 1862 and called the “Childers Aṣṭakaya” There are three such aṣṭaka poems in honour of Childers, the other two being by Ven. Walagedara Dhammadassi and Ven. Tuḍuwewatte Paññāsiha. Those of Ven. Dhammārāma and Ven. Dhammadassi were sent to Childers in 1862 with a letter containing 342 signatures of monks and laymen. i.e. “eight-stanza poem on Childers”. The library catalogue describes it as consisting of “eight tetratichs in elegant Pali, two in Sanskrit and one in Sinhalese, composed by [liii] Mr. Childers’s Pali tutor This note by D. M. de Z. Wickremasinghe in his “Catalogue of the Sinhālese Manuscripts in the British Museum”, again, refers to Ven. Dhammārāma as Childers’s Pali tutor. What appears more probable is that Childers, to begin with, studied Sinhala from the Thera for purposes of efficiency bar examinations. This is a point on which Mrs. Childers wanted verification in her correspondence with Ven. Subhūti after her husband’s death. Yātrāmulle Dhammārāma Thera. In addition to the high encomium, each stanza ends with the usual wishes for Mr. Childers’s health and prosperity”. I reproduce this poem not only to give the reader an idea of his metrical compositions and his command of prosody and rhetorics but to publicize a text which is little known: no translation is, however, attempted as the elaborate play on words, based on the traditional principles of śabdālaṅkāra makes it extremely difficult to be rendered into English:–

චිල්ඩර්ස් අෂ්ටකය
යාත්‍රාමුල්ලේ ධම්මාරාම මහාස්ථවිරයන් විසිනි

Cilḍars Aṣṭakaya Ed. note: In the original this poem is written in Sinhala only, here I have added a transliteration in Roman letters.
Yātrāmullē Dhammārāma Mahāsthavirayan visini

1. සිව සිව සිවදන්තී කුන්‍ද දෙවින්‍ද දන්තී,
තුහින සුරසවන්තී සාදිසො’දාත කිත්තී,
මුඛ ජිත සිතකන්තී දීඝකාලං සුමන්තී,
ජයතු ජයතු චීල්ඩර්ස් නාම භූපාලමන්තී

1. Siva-siva-siva-dantī kunda-devinda-dantī,
tuhina-sura-savantī sādis’ odāta-kittī,
mukha-jita-sita-kantī dīgha-kālaṁ sumantī,
jayatu jayatu Cilḍars nāma Bhūpāla-mantī.

2. ලලිත ගති සුදන්තී මාඝසංකාස දන්තී
සරද ජලදපන්තී සෙතවණ්ණො සුසන්තී,
මුඛ ජිත සිතකන්තී දීඝකාලං සුමන්තී
ජයතු ජයතු චීල්ඩර්ස් නාම භූපාලමන්තී

2. Lalita-gati-sudantī māgha-saṁkāsa-dantī
sarada-jaladapantī seta-vaṇṇo susantī,
mukha-jita-sita-kantī dīgha-kālaṁ sumantī
jayatu jayatu Cilḍars nāma Bhūpāla-mantī.

3. විබුධජන පණීතො සො නිරුත්තා’ප පූතො
සවණ මන පණීතො කන්ත වාක්‍යො පණීතො
මුඛ ජිත සිතකන්තී දීඝකාලං සුමන්තී
ජයතු ජයතු චීල්ඩර්ස් නාම භූපාලමන්තී ෴

3. Vibudha-jana-paṇīto so niruttā ’papūto
savaṇa-mana-paṇīto kanta-vākyo paṇīto
mukha-jita-sita-kantī dīgha-kālaṁ sumantī
jayatu jayatu Cilḍars nāma Bhūpāla-mantī.

4. විදිත විවිධසත්‍ථො’නන්ත විඤ්ඤෑපසත්‍ථො
විතරණ සුචිහත්‍ථො නෙක භාසා සමත්‍ථො
මුඛ ජිත සිතකන්තී දීඝකාලං සුමන්තී
ජයතු ජයතු චීල්ඩර්ස් නාම භූපාලමන්තී

4. Vidita-vividha-Sattholananta-viññūpasattho
vitaraṇa-suci-hattho neka bhāsā samattho
mukha-jita-sita-kantī dīgha-kālaṁ sumantī
jayatu jayatu Cilḍars nāma Bhūpāla-mantī.

5. සුජනභජන සඞගො දුජ්ජනාසඞග’සඞගො
අහිත රිපු පභඞගො චාරු රූපෙන’නඞගො
මුඛ ජිත සිතකන්තී දීඝකාලං සුමන්තී
ජයතු ජයතු චීල්ඩර්ස් නාම භූපාලමන්තී

5. Sujana-bhajana-Saṅgo dujjanāsaṅga-saṅgo
ahitaripu-pabhaṅgo cāru-rūpena ’naṅgo
mukha-jita-sita-kantī dīgha-kālaṁ sumantī
jayatu jayatu Cilḍars nāma Bhūpāla-mantī.

6. ජනහිත සුවිලග්ගො ඤායමග්ගෙ සුඅග්ගො
විරත අගතිමග්ගො සග්ග මග්ගා’නුමග්ගො
මුඛ ජිත සිතකන්තී දීඝකාලං සුමන්තී
ජයතු ජයතු චීල්ඩර්ස් නාම භූපාලමන්තී

6. Jana-hita-suvilaggo ñāya-magge su-aggo
virata-agati-maggo saggam-aggānumaggo
mukha-jita-sita-kantī dīgha-kālaṁ sumantī
jayatu jayatu Cilḍars nāma Bhūpāla-mantī.

7. විවිධ ධරණිපා’ළී පාළි සංසෙවිතඞඝී
නලින නුපමහෙසී’නුද්දයා ලඬ භොගො
මුඛ ජිත සිතකන්තී දීඝකාලං සුමන්තී
ජයතු ජයතු චීල්ඩර්ස් නාම භූපාලමන්තී

7. Vividha-dharaṇi-pāḷī pāḷi-saṁsevitaṅghī
nalinanupamahesī ’nuddayā laṇḍa-bhogo
mukha-jita-sita-kantī dīgha-kālaṁ sumantī
jayatu jayatu Cilḍars nāma Bhūpāla-mantī.

8. සුමති රතනසාරො චාරු කාරුඤ්ඤ නීරො
සුජනචරිත තීරො සින්‍ධු භාග්‍යග්ගභීරො
මුඛ ජිත සිතකන්තී දීඝකාලං සුමන්තී
ජයතු ජයතු චීල්ඩර්ස් නාම භූපාලමන්තී

8. Sumati ratana-sāro cāru-kāruññanīro
sujana-carita-tīro sindhu-bhāgyaggabhīro
mukha-jita-sita-kantī dīgha-kālaṁ sumantī
jayatu jayatu Cilḍars nāma Bhūpāla-mantī.

9. ස්වස්ති ශ්‍රීධර සුඬවංශ ශරසී
සෞභාග්‍ය පඞකොදභවම්,
ශබ්දාදීත්‍ය ප්‍රබුඬි ධීර
භ්‍රමරාකීර්‍ණ්ණං කෘපාකර්‍ණ්ණකම්,
වර්‍ණ්ණාමොද සුධී පරාගවිෂරං
සංවෘත්ත පත්ත්‍රොජ්ජවලම්,
චිල්ඩර්ස් මන්ත්‍රී ශිතාර්‍ණ්ණජං
චිජයතාන්නිත්‍යං සුවාර්‍ණ මධුම්

9. Svasti-śrīnadhara-suṇḍa-vaṁśa śarasī
saubhāgyata paṅkodabhavam,
śabdādītya prabhabuṇḍi-dhīra
bhramarākīrṇṇaṁ kpākarṇṇakam,
varṇṇāmoda-sudhī parāgaviṣaraṁ
saṁvtta-pattrojjavalam,
Cilḍars mantrī śitārṇṇajaṁ
vijayatānnityaṁ suvārṇa-madhum.

10. ශ්‍රීමත් එඞගලන්ත දුග්‍ධෙ දධි
සමධිභවො වද්‍ය ධ්වාන්තාපහීෂ්ණුඃ
ප්‍රඥාප්‍රෙමාදි නානා ඟුණ
රුචිනිහෛර්‍ජ්ජන්තු කුන්‍දාභිනන්‍දඃ
ලඞකාඛෙ ව්‍යක්ත තාරාවාතරහිතමනඃ
පද්ම සංකොචයන් සො
චිල්ඩර්ස් භූපාලග්‍රමන්ත්‍රීශ්වර ශශි සුචිරං
රාජතං ත්‍යක්ත ඊතී

10. Śrī‍mat Eṅgalanta-dugdhedadhi
samadhi-bhavo vadyadhvāntāpahīṣṇuḥ
pragnāpremādi nānā-guṇa
rucinihairjjantu kundānabhinandaḥ
Laṅkākhe vyakta tārāvātarahitamanaḥ
padma-saṁkocayan so
Cilḍars Bhūpāla-gramantrīśvara śaśi suciraṁ
rājataṁ tyakta ītī.

11. සරද පහණ ඟුණ මඬලැති තම හර ණ
පබඳ චියැතිසුරු දියදන නද කර ණ
නොමඳ රුසිරි තෙද හෙළි කල බස ගහ ණ
සැරද සොබණ චිල්ඩර්ස් මැතිඳු දින මි ණ

11. Sarada pahaṇaguṇa maṇḍalæti tama haraṇa
pabada ciyætisuru diyadana nada karaṇa
nomada rusiri teda heḷi kala basa gahaṇa
særada sobaṇa Cilḍars mætidu dinamiṇa.

12. ඉත්‍ථං සත්‍ථන්තරත්‍ථෙ අපි
ජිනවචනස්සත්‍ථසාරෙ සමත්‍ථො,
ඛ්‍යාතො යො අත්‍ථදස්සීත්‍ථවිර
යතිවරො සාමිපාදො පසත්‍ථො,
මෙධාවී සෙඛරාභො භවි විපුල ගුණො
තස්ස සිස්සස්සවෙන
ධම්මාරාමෙන ධම්මාරතිමති යතිනා
සංහිතො යම්පබන්‍ධො

12. Itthaṁ Satthantaratthe api
Jina-vacanassattha-sāre samattho,
khyāto yo attha-dassītthavira
yati-varo sāmi-pādo pasattho,
medhāvī sekharābho bhavi-vipula-guṇo
tassa sissassavena
Dhammārāmena Dhammārati-mati-yatinā
saṁhito yam-pabandho.

෴ ශිවමස්තු ෴ ජයොස්තු ෴
Śivam-Astu, Jayostu.

මේ වගට,
යාත්‍රාමුල්ලේ ධම්මාරාම උන්නාන්සේය෴
Mēvagaṭa,
Yātrāmullē Dhammārāma Unnānsēya.

More important are the six long letters amounting to 99 folios which Ven. Dhammārāma had written to Childers between May 1896 and April 1870. These contain his replies to numerous questions on Pali words, grammatical forms and Buddhist doctrines which were posed by Childers in the course of his preparation of the Pali Dictionary. His letters to Ven. Dhammārāma were similar to those he wrote to Ven. Subhūti. For example, a trilingual letter of Childers dated 25 October 1867 runs as follows:–

(In Pali) I am writing this to my dear friend, the learned and righteous Dhammārāma who resides in Bentara.

(In Sinhala) I have begun to study Pali with the books I have with me. Perhaps, in a short time I will be able to write the entire letter to you in Pali. I shall be very thankful if you will send me a Pali book written in Sinhala script. I wrote to you about this in my last letter. I want a book by the Buddha on the doctrine (dhamma) and not the one called Dhammapada, because I have it with me. [lvi]

(In English) I should like all the old Buddhist works or texts, not commentaries which are less ancient and not the Dhammapada for it is already published in England with a translation...

Give my kind remembrance to the old priest who used to accompany you when you came to see me at Bentota. Tell me his name and rank in the priesthood.

I have studied carefully the passage you sent me out of Paramatthajotika and found it very interesting. But had not Buddha written at length on the subject of lying. Is there more said by Buddha himself than Musāvādā veramaṇi sikkhā? The Paramatthajotika is, I suppose, not very ancient. Can you tell me how old it is and who wrote it?

The British administrators, possibly as several of them were his Sinhala students, held Ven. Dhammārāma in high esteem. In his letter to Childers on 4 April 1870, Ven. Dhammārāma says how he and twenty other monks of his Nikāya were invited to Colombo on the occasion of the visit of Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh.

Even the briefest note on Ven. Yātrāmulle Dhammārāma must make reference to the uniquely inspiring and fertile intellectual background in which he grew and flourished. He was a pupil of Ven. Bentara Atthadassi Thera, the founder of Bentota Vanavāsa Mahāvihāra, a scholar of great repute and an undaunted Buddhist reformer. For a comprehensive account of the Bentota Vanavāsa Mahāvihāra, see Matugama Paññāvāsa Nāyaka Thera: Bentota Vanavāsa Mahāvihāra Vaṁsaya, Colombo, 1977. A longish letter in Pali, containing over 150 stanzas, addressed by him to the King of Thailand in 1845 is a fine indicator of his mastery in Pali language, his extensive knowledge of the history of Buddhism and his deep understanding of the rules of discipline of Buddhism. His dispute with the prelates of Kandy culminated in the establishment of Śrī Kalyāṇi Sāmagridharma Saṅghasabhā, which performed its ordination ceremonies, independent of Kandy.

Not only did Ven. Dhammārāma have an excellent teacher in Ven. Atthadassi but he also had an equally inspiring band of fellow students. We have already made reference to Ven. Weligama Śrī [lvii] Sumaṅgala. Another was Yen. Ambagahawatte Indāsabhavara Ñāṇasāmi Mahā Nāyaka Thera, the founder of the Rāmañña Nikāya. Ven. Potuvila Indajoti, who continued the tradition of Ven. Atthadassi and who was himself a leading light of the National and Buddhist Revival Movement was another contemporary. Ven. Dhammārāma’s own contribution to this Movement was restricted partly because his ill-health interfered with active participation and partly because he passed away almost on the eve of the momentous events of 1873 – the Pānadure Controversy and its aftermath.

4. The Supporting Intellectual Base

It would require years of intensive research to reconstruct a full and comprehensive picture of the enormous number of scholar monks who, in the nineteenth century Sri Lanka, qualified to be described as the LIVING FOUNTAINS OF BUDDHISM. The few, we have hitherto mentioned form nothing more than the tip of a massive iceberg, whose hidden part is of the greatest importance not only because of the magnitude but also the support and sustenance it gives to the whole structure. Ven. Polwatte Buddhadatta, that prolific and ingenious Pali scholar of our days, on whom more will be said later, listed as many as forty in his book “Samīpātītayehi Bauddhācāryayō” (Kotahena, Colombo 1950) and he had even then to meet much criticism on names he had omitted. He said:

“There are many more biographies which should be included e.g. M. Dharmaratna, the editor of Lakmiṇipahana and Ven. Araṅgala Sridhamma Thera. The collection of all biographies is not a task which can be accomplished by one person... So I solicit the hundreds of Oriental scholars in Sri Lanka to take me as an example and compile in book form other worthy biographies. Do not ask me why I have not included a particular biography. I am not bound to search for all. I publish what I could easily find.”

Ven. Buddhadatta’s pioneering effort still remains the main source of information on not only the scholar-monks whose brief biographies are given but also the hundreds of other important monks who are mentioned in course of outlining major events. [lviii]

The leading monks of the nineteenth century, whose work in most cases extended well over to the twentieth century, would fall into four major categories:

Founders of sects and sub-sects in response to a growing demand for institutional change and reform within the Saṅgha on account of social factors as well as interpretations of rites and practices concerning monks: e.g. Ven. Ambagahapitiye Ñāṇavimala Tissa Nāyaka Thera; Ven. Kataluwe Guṇaratana Tissa Thera; Ven. Attudawe Dhammarakkhita Thera; Ven. Bogahapiṭiye Dhammajoti Thera; Ven. Mātara Dhammārāma Thera; Ven. Laṅkāgoḍa Dhīrānanda Thera; Ven. Bentara Atthadassi Thera; Ven. Ambagahawatte Indāsabhavara Ñāṇasami Nāyaka Thera. Almost all of them had very close contacts with Burma or Thailand or both because they either resorted to monasteries in these countries for ordination or referred knotty problems of Vinaya to learned Burmese and Thai monks.

Renowned teachers and founders of seats of learning and educational institutions: e.g. Ven. Wālane Śrī Siddhārtha Nāyaka Mahā Thera of Paramadharmacetiya Pirivena of Ratmalāna; his two eminent pupils, Ven. Hikkaḍuwe Śrī Sumaṅgala Nāyaka Thera and Ven. Ratmalāne Śrī Dharmāloka Nāyaka Thera, the founders of Vidyodaya and Vidyālaṅkāra Pirivenas respectively; Ven. Mirisse Dhammānanda Mahā Nāyaka Thera under whom Aggārāmaya of Polwatte, Ambalangoḍa became a reputed seat of Buddhist learning and research; his pupil Ven. Doḍanduwe Piyaratana Tissa, whose multifaceted contribution is briefly described in this Volume.

Orators who contributed to the revival of national and Buddhist sentiments through their participation in religious and literary controversies: e.g. Ven. Migettuwatte (Mohottiwatte) Guṇānanda Thera, whose fame needs no further [lix] elaboration; Ven. Mihiripenne Dhammaratana, who launched the famous literary controversy “SAV-SAT-DAM VĀDAYA”, which exerted a crucial impact on the modernization of Sinhala language and the rise of modern Sinhala literature; Ven. Bulatgama Dhammālaṅkāra-siri Sumanatissa Thera, who is reputed to have established the first Buddhist printing press; Ven. Bedigama Ratanapāla Nāyaka Thera who is best remembered for his biting wit and satire.

Scholars and writers who devoted themselves to research, textual criticism, exegesis, lexicography, translation and interpretation in the promotion of the discovery and appreciation of the vast literary heritage of Sri Lanka in Sinhala, Pali and Sanskrit; their primary interest, of course was Buddhism (this list will naturally include many of the monks already listed above, under the other three categories): e.g. Ven. Laṅkāgoḍa Dhīrānanda Thera (editor and translator of Vinayavinicchaya); Ven. Ratmalāne Śrī Dharmāloka (editor of Guruḷugomi’s Dharmapradīpikā and author of such works as Vinayakatikāvata and Satyavilāsinī); Ven. Hikkaḍuwe Śrī Sumaṅgala Nāyaka Thera (editor and translator of Sidat Saṅgarā, Kāvyaśekhara and Bālāvatāra and author of many treatises of grammar and religion); Ven. Vimalasāra Tissa Mahā Nāyaka Thera (author of the monumental history of Buddhism in Pali verse, Sāsanavaṁsadīpa); Ven. Doḍanduwe Piyaratana Tissa (a pioneer in the production of popular books on Buddhism); Ven. Weligama Śrī Sumaṅgala Nāyaka Thera (editor and translator of Sanskrit works like Mugdhabodha and Hitopadeśa); Ven. Randombe Dhammālaṅkāra Nāyaka Thera (author of Sīmānayadappaṇa); Ven. Waskaḍuwe Śrī Subhūti Nāyaka Thera, of whose contribution a comprehensive account appears in this Volume; Ven. Kahave Śrī Ñāṇānanda Mahā Thera (author of Sīmālaṇkāra); Ven. Moragalle Buddhasiri Tissa (author of several treatises on Buddhism and history of Buddhism); Ven. Alutgama Śrī [lx] Seelakkhandha Nāyaka Thera whose contribution is also dealt with in detail in this Volume; Ven. Ratmalāne Śrī Dharmārāma Nāyaka Thera (one time Principal of Vidyālaṅkara Pirivena, reputed for his ingenious reconstruction of the Sanskrit poem Jānakīharaṇa); Ven. Ambalangoḍa Devānanda Deputy Saṅgharāja Mahā Thera (translator of Nāmarūpapariccheda and Paramatthavinicchaya); Ven. Ambalangoḍa Śrī Dharmadhara Mahā Thera (another close collaborator of Anagārika Dharmapāla in his efforts to propagate Buddhism and Buddhist studies in India and a founder-teacher of Rabindranath Tagore’s Viśvabharati Śāntiniketan); Ven. Mahāgoda Śrī Gnanesvara Nāyaka Thera (successor to Ven. Hikkaḍuwe Śrī Sumaṅgala as Principal of Vidyodaya Pirivena, editor and translator of Nītisataka and Samantakūtavaṇṇanā and prime mover in the publication of Buddhist literature under Hevawitharana Bequest); Ven. Kahave Śrī Ratanasāra Nāyaka Thera (one time Principal of Vidyodaya Pirivena, editor of the Pali commentary on Dhammapada and author of several exegetical works on Sinhala classics and of a number of works on Sanskrit grammar); Ven. Lunupokune Śrī Dharmānanda Nāyaka Thera (another Principal of Vidyālaṅkāra Pirivena, an eminent Pali scholar with a significant contribution to the study of Pali grammar and collaborator of Lord Chalmers in the Aluvihara Edition of Majjhima Nikāya); Ven. Moratuve Śrī Medhānanda Thera (author of the Pali epic poem Jinavaṁsadīpa); Ven. Welipatanwila Śrī Dīpaṅkāra Thera (prolific writer among whose numerous works is a Pali poem of 1,000 verses on the life of the Buddha); Ven. Vidurupola Piyatissa Mahā-Nāyaka Thera (Pali poet and lexicographer).

These were only the monks. There was an equally active band of lay Buddhist workers and leaders. The elitist service of Mudliars produced several of them like: Mudliars L. de Zoysa, E. R. Gunaratne, Louis Corneille Vijesimha, W. F. Gunawardene, A. M. [lxi] Gunasekera, Simon de Silva, and B. Gunasekera. Ex-monks like: D. J. Panditatilaka, Baṭuwantuḍāwe Devarakshita, M. Dharmaratna, Dharmadāsa Jayawardhana, Dharmasena Vidyāsāgara continued the scholarly traditions to which they were introduced in the Saṅgha. Eminent Christians like James d‘Alwis, a doyen among modem Orientalists in Sri Lanka, were equally active.

These lists, which are in no way exhaustive, do, nevertheless, present a vivid enough picture of the intellectual ferment which produced not only the scholars whose interaction with international scholars is dealt within this Volume but also the numerous scholar-monks of the twentieth century, among whom Ven. Polwatte Buddhadatta Mahānāyaka Thera occupies a very special position.