Late Mahanayake Thera protected Buddhism - President
By Thameenah Razeek
The Final Rites of Former Chief of the Sri Lanka Ramanna Maha Nikaya Aggamaha Panditha Most Ven. Napane Pemasiri Mahanayake Thera was held at the Bandaranaike National School Ground in Warapitiya, Kundasale under State patronage yesterday (22).
Late Ven. Pemasiri Thera passed away at the age of 98, on 17 November, while receiving treatment at the Peradeniya Teaching Hospital. The casket carrying the remains of the Late Thera was taken from the Sri Vidyasagara Pirivena, which is far about 7 km away, to the Bandaranaike Grounds by the Army and a vehicle parade where the ceremonial State funeral was scheduled.
After the Cremation Committee decided to allocate a limited number of seats in the grounds to maintain social distancing, large crowds gathered beside the road to pay their last respects. Even residences were flying yellow flags yesterday as a mark of respect to the Thera.
Then, the cortege was led by the Maha Sangha of the Three Sects to the special pavilion placed in the Bandaranaike Grounds.
The Maha Sangha, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, Cabinet of Ministers, Tri Forces’ Chiefs, Religious leaders, politicians and State Secretaries, arrived at the Bandaranaike Grounds yesterday to pay their last respects to the mortal remains of the Most Ven. Pemasiri Thera. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa could not attend the even due to unavoidable circumstances.
A monk of the Ramanna Maha Nikaya said that the late Ven. Pemasiri Thera was one of the most valuable characters who took a lead in the country by his decision making at the proper time and he was one of the monks that worked with a correct foresight and made the predictions. He thanked the incumbent Chief of the Sri Lanka Ramanna Maha Nikaya Aggamaha Panditha Most Venerable Makulewe Wimala Thera and the President for arranging a ceremonial State funeral with the highest respects. He also noted that the president-led Government will be blessedby the three sects.
“The cremation committee informed us that the ceremonial funeral should be arranged according to the health guidelines taking to the account the current situation in the country. We agreed without a second thought since the late Thera would have also thought wisely and would have done the same if he was in this position,” he noted.
Then, President Rajapaksa paid his last respects to the late Thera before his departure after which he visited the Tri- Sects and Ven. Wimala Thera for a quick discussion. After worshipping at the Ramanna Maha Nikaya and the Tri-Sects the President inked a Commemorative note praising the late Thera’s great work and his unique dedications to the country and to the Buddhist community.
After the commemorative note the religious observations were resumed. The Mathaka Wasthra Pooja was conducted by the relatives and close associates of the late Thera and the Pooja was given to the Ven. Ven. Wimala Thera and other monks in the Tri-Sect while the State and Government officials remained standing.
Last rites were conducted by the family members and then blessings were invoked.
The Biography of Late Ven. Pemasiri Thera was presented. It cited the most valuable and remarkable moments of the Thera in his lifetime. While presenting the book, the monk said Ven. Pemasiri Thera was also spelt either as Napana Premasiri Thera or Napana Pemasiri Thera.
He was born on 30 November 1922. He served as the 13 Chief of the Ramanna Maha Nikaya since 2012 September and also served as the chief incumbent of Menikhinna Hurikaduwa Vidyasagara Privena. He was ordained on 8 July 1933. On 3 September 2012, he was appointed as the 13 Mahanayaka of the Ramanna Maha Nikaya succeeding Weweldeniye Medhalankara Thera, who passed away in August 2012.
Former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, the Chairman of the Ramanna Nikayarakshaka Sabha, addressed the gathering. He thanked the President and Government for organising the ceremonial funeral. Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said,
“The Late Ven. Pemasiri Thera faced the crucial issues that arose in the country in a very brave manner and also educated the others on how to face them without panicking. Nevertherless he also pointed out that as the Opposition Leader he and his party will help in the Incumbent Chief of Ramanna Maha Nikayain their future plans.
Keheliya Rambukwella, delivered Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Condolence Message, which said that the Sasana policies that the Late Thera used followed helped him a lot in making tough decisions in his life.
The message also noted that every time when he visited the Late Thera he gained a lot of knowledge by talking to him and getting his blessings.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said, the departure of Late Ven. Premasiri Thera has badly affected him.
President Rajapaksa said that the Thera had done an enormous service by spreading Buddhist philosophy and devoting his whole life to protect and develop the Maha Sangha during the past two decades.
The President also remarked that Late Thera was one of the great Leaders that protected Buddhism in the country.
“Late Thera worked tirelessly and protected the Sasana policies after becoming the Chief of the Ramanna Maha Nikaya. He dedicated himself to fill the gap between the Nikayas,” he noted.
Speaking further the President noted that the dedication the late Thera showed in order to develop and synchronize the links between the village and the Temple was significant.
The Character of Late Thera is a lesson for other monks since the Late Thera raised his voice in crucial situations.
“The Late Thera was educated, talented and was fluent in many languages and he took Theravadi Buddhism to International level because of his talent,” he added.
After the 17 gun salutes, at around 6 p.m., the remains in the special casket was taken to the Chithakaya for the final rituals and blessings by the Maha Sangha.