yeoman service to regain ‘Bodhgaya’ back to Buddhists
Friendly relationship with the Colonial Governor.
Efforts to remove mythical beliefs from Buddhists.
He was born on 07 December 1825 and is the fourth child of Mr. and Mrs. ‘Lokubadujayasuriya Patabandige Don Abraham’. The historical town of Weligam in South of Ceylon is the birthplace of Sri Sumangala Thero, and weligam is also famous as it is the home to great temples like Kushtarajagala, Agrabodhi Rajamaha Vihara and Rajakulavadana Rajamaha Vihara.
Little Jayasooriya was taught to read for the first time by Sri Pareli Jinarathana Chief prelate Mahopadhyaya , who was the chief of Varella’s Paduma Gabbharama,
Venerable Sri Gunarathana thero, who recognized the skill of learning letters and virtues, explained to the Lokubadujayasuriya family that by ordaining this princes, will be a great service done to the country and the nation. Sumangala Samanera, who studied further under Bentara Atthadassi Thero,
Received upasampada in 1850 at Ahangama Goiyapana River Seminary seemamalakaya. In 1868. Venerable thero went to Kalutara Pulinathalarama from Warella and continued his education from there. Famous for his versatility in Pali-Sanskrit languages, thero was appointed ‘Inspector of Pali-Sanskrit Language’ in 1894 by the then Director of Education, Vidyodaya Pirivena.
Even today, many people do not know about the efforts made by venrable thero to get the custody of Bodh Gaya and Sri Maha Bodhi to the Buddhists. Sir Edwin Arnold,was a close friend of Mahamiya. He went to India and visited the Buddhist shrines and understood the situation there very well.
He came back to Ceylon around 1870 and visited Rankot Vihara in Panadura and engaged in a long discussion with the monk. There, venerable monk was the first to point out to him the need to save Bodhgaya, where Lord Buddha was born, attained enlightenment and parinirvana, from the Hindu priests.
He was also informed this. His Majesty requested him to present this ideas to the coloniel rulers of Eastern region of countries including India. Accordingly, Sir Edwin Arnold continued this campaign by providing articles to newspapers in England and India and informing the rulers of countries like India, Japan, Burma. This is well confirmed by a letter sent by Anagarika Dharmapala to His Majesty. It is mentioned in that letter.
It was announced in the papers that Arnold will come to Dambadiva to work in connection with the Buddha Gaya Maha Bodhi Maha Vihara. This happened because of your venerable monks noble deeds. Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu.. Buddhists will get Bo Manda again…’
venerable thero who was well versed in Sanskrit, bequeathed several scholarly books to the nation..
In 1872, a series of articles were published in the newspaper ‘Lakrivi Kirana’ with various accusations against the Amarapura Sect and the Siam Upali Sect. Also, during this period, myths were spread all over Sri Lanka against the Pravrujya dynasty in the countries of Burma and Ramayana and the Ramayana Company of Siam.
Having to listen to such insults, the main members and contributors of the Amarapura Company gathered at Welitara Ambagahapitiya Vihara and decided to write a book in response to these errors and explain the truth. Although the names of various people were suggested for this purpose, finally the unanimous decision of the association was that Weligama Sri Sumangala Thero should write it. Accordingly, Sumangala Thero wrote ‘Mrammawansa Tribhu’ and made it public in 1873.
Sumangala Thero wrote this book at the invitation of Mr. Sir Charles Henry de Soyza at a time when there was intense interest in both the clergy and daity on tribalism when Prince Vijaya came to Lakdiva. Sumangala Thero took up the task as there was no book written in Sinhala to know the type of human being who lived at that time.
The story of the birth of King Vijaya, the story of Ravana and the war of Ravana are briefly included here. The origins of history have been composed with the Sannada written in the sixth chapter of the Mahavamsa with reference to the ancient texts written in this regard in India.
‘Hitopadesya’ is a Sanskrit legal treatise written by Vishnu Sharma, a famous jurist of India. Susevu De Soysa, who was a member of the House of Councilors at that time, wrote and published a Sinhala commentary on Sumangala Thero Hitopadesa at the invitation of Mudali Dishanayake. This was very popular among the people.
The Sri Lankan government at that time invited him, who has a good knowledge of Sanskrit grammar, to make a commentary on this book and to include its details and edit the proverbs in a way that would be useful for school students. Accordingly, in 1884, ‘Hitopadesha Bhava Sannaya’ was also prepared as a lesson book based on its stories suitable for school students. Weligama Sri Sumangala Thero is credited with translating the Sanskrit book ‘Hitopadesha’ first into Sinhala.
Public School Book Revision (1891)
Mr. Panabokke presented facts to the House of Councilors during the governorship of Sir Arthur Elibank Havelock about the existence of various errors in the textbooks of the public schools. Sri Sumangala Thero, who was a member of the Board of Supervisors appointed accordingly, contributed to correct and prepare the textbooks from the first to the seventh.
Also, ‘Upadesa Tibana’, written by him, was printed in the year 1891, including valuable Dhamma parts that a Buddhist must know and follow.1867 දී Representing the Amarapura sect, venerable thero also contributed to the Tripitaka book consecration held at Sudarshan Dharma Mandir in Pelmadulla. In 1878, he was honored with the title of Mahanayake of the Amarapura sect and the honorary title of ‘Sasanavamsalankara Kavidhaja Vinayacharya’.
During the 1873 Buddhist-Christian religious debate, together with other prelates such as Sri Sumangala Thera of Hikkaduwa, Sri Dharmaloka Thera of Ratmalana, Sri Subhuti Thera of Vaskadu etc., they consulted the Buddhist scriptures and found out the necessary facts for Mohottiwatte Gunananda Thero. venerable thero also took the lead in promoting Panaduraism, Vishnuism, Ramanism, Dusseeladanism, Devapujaism and Nirvanaism.
His Excellency took fair judicial decisions to protect the property and to preserve the unity of the two parties, the clergy and laity, who were divided due to certain reasons.
Along with the Buddhist renaissance of Panaduraism, Panadura Sri Sumangala Vidyalaya was founded on March 3rd, 1909 under the leadership of Panadura Gnanavimala Tissa, a resident of Panadura Rankot Vihar, in honor of the Venerable Weligama Sri Sumangala. In 1896, Sri Sougatha Vidyala Pirivena was started in Panadura under the leadership of Mahimiyan with the ultimate intention of teaching the Buddha Dharma in English to both lay and clergy.
His Majesty’s service to the people of Lanka as well as to the Buddha’s order should be appreciated by making various books written in Sanskrit easier to understand by making the Sanskrit language easier to understand. venerable thero, who did great work academically and religiously, passed away on March 13, 1905, after eighty years of life, with the entire nation crying.
A commemorative stamp was also issued in 1988 in memory of the Weligama Shasanavmsalankara Kavidhaja Vinayacharya Siri Sumangala Nayaka Sthavirapadaya. Commemoration of the merits of the Prelate, founded by Agramaha Pandita Beruwala Sirinivasabhidhana Amarapura Nikaya, who was a main disciple of Sri Sumangala Thera, is held every year on the 13th of March at North Kalutara Pulinathalarama Maha Vihara..
Excerpt from internet