The renowned Buddhist spiritual leader Most Venerable Dodampahala Chandrasiri Thera died on 16 May aged 84. Ven. Chandrasiri Thera, the mahanayaka (great leader) of the Amarapura monastic order, had been receiving medical treatment at a hospital in Colombo prior to his death.
Final rites for Ven. Chandrasiri Thera were observed on Sunday in Colombo’s Independence Square. Attending the massive public procession were thousands of Buddhist monks and laypeople, along with dignitaries, including Sri Lanka’s prime minister, Dinesh Gunawardene, speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene, and several ministers and members of parliament.
Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe said that the late Ven. Chandrasiri Thera had “fearlessly stood by his beliefs during times of national, Buddha Sasanika, and social turmoil.” He also referred to the monk as a father figure to the Sri Lankan monastic community who had ensured that its integrity was preserved. (News Radio)
The president offered a note of condolence in the special guest book at the service, and attended the cremation ceremony for Ven. Candrasiri Thera.
Ven. Chandrasiri Thera was appointed to the position of Supreme Mahanayaka, or Chief Prelate, of the Amarapura Maha Nikaya in July 2021. His predecessor was the late Most Venerable Aggamahapandita Kotugoda Dhammavasa Mahanayake Thera (1933–2021). Born on 20 December, 1939 in Dodampahala, southern Sri Lanka, Ven. Chandrasiri Thera was the son of Ediriweera Patabandige Saranelis Silva and Edirisuriya Patabandige Misinona. He entered the monastic order as a novice in 1950 and was fully ordained in 1962.
Ven. Chandrasiri Thera was regarded as a pioneer for his work in setting up quarters for monks, as well as the Thapowana meditation centers, and for founding a Buddhist education institution.
Bishop Harold Anthony Perera, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Sri Lanka (CBCSL), said in a statement: “His passing away is a great loss to the country and its people at this hour.” (UCA News)
In the statement, co-signed by Bishop J. D. Anthony Jayakody, secretary-general of the CBCSL, the two offered their “deepest sympathies and condolences to chief prelates as well as to all Buddhist brethren” across the nation. (UCA News)
Prior to his appointment as Mahanayake, Ven. Chandrasiri Thera served as the Mahanayake of the Kalyanivamsa Chapter from 2013, after fulfilling the roles of Deputy Mahanayake Thera and Nayake Thera responsible for legal affairs within the same chapter.
Devotees and disciples mourned the loss of this revered spiritual leader, cherishing the memories of his remarkable contributions to the propagation and preservation of the Dharma. Nuwani Hasaranga, a Sunday school teacher, expressed appreciation for Ven. Chandrasiri Thera’s humility and openness, saying: “He was a great teacher who was loved and respected by all the countrymen.” (UCA News)
In Sri Lanka, where Buddhism is the state religion, 70.2 per cent of the population of some 20 million people identify as Theravada Buddhists, according to 2012 census data. Hindus made up 12.6 per cent of the population, Muslims accounted for 9.7 per cent, Christians 7.4 per cent, and others 0.05 per cent. While Sri Lanka’s constitution stipulates freedom of religion and the right to equality for all citizens, Buddhism receives special privileges under the constitution. Today, the country is home to some 6,000 Buddhist monasteries and approximately 15,000 monks.
Amarapura Mahanayake passes away (The Island Online)
The monastic moonlight that illuminated the sky of Sasana (Daily News)
Final rites for late Mahanayaka Thera (Daily Mirror)
Dodampahala Chandrasiri Maha Nayaka Thera passes away (The Morning)
“Dodampahala Chandrasiri thera was a father figure who ensured its integrity was preserved” (News Radio)
Amarapura Chief Prelate Most. Ven. Dodampahala Chandrasiri Thera passes away (Sunday Observer)
Sri Lankans mourn Buddhist chief monk (UCA News)
President pays last respects to Most Ven. Dodampahala Chandasiri Mahanayake Thero (Presidential Secretariat)
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