The reason is that the good name of the late Anunayake Thera is inextricably enlivened in our minds forever to such extent. Many are aware that the late Anunayaka Thera has played a prominent role in any sensitive situation on behalf of the ordained and the lay people alike. In this manner, he was able to win the highest veneration and admiration as a monk who pioneered to resolve any issues in unbiased manner, without any hidden interests, whenever the country was faced with various national and religious issues.
People born with many talents, skills or exceptional abilities are reported from time to time. Where such abilities are concerned, we can rightly say that late Most Venerable Professor Bellanwila Wimalaratana Anunayaka Thera belonged to that category of illustrious personalities born with such intellectual abilities.
In my personal view, it is only the few virtuous people who can invariably be equated to the calibre of the late Most Venerable Professor Bellanwila Wimalaratana Anunayake Thera as such great personalities are very scarce today when we consider educational background, honorific titles and accolades, temples they stayed, talents and so on. Going by this line of thinking, there are only few persons who are fortunate to be born with all these aptitudes, potential and unique qualities and in this sense, the Anunayake Thera is one of them.
He descends from the Udugampola Sangha community, of much repute and historical significance. The temple where he was ordained is also a well-known sacred place in the country. Most Venerable late Bellanwila Somarathana Nayake Thera dedicated himself much to bring this historic Bellanwila temple back to its glory.
His brother in ordination, Most Venerable Dr. Bellanwila Dhammarathana Thera is well known for his illustrious career as a renowned Dhamma preacher and propagator the world over in his Buddhist missionary activities in Singapore and Asian countries.
The name of Bellanwila Raja Maha Viharaya stands synonymous with the Bellanwila Perahera, late Most Venerable Bellanwila Somarathana Nayaka Thera (the former late chief incumbent and his teacher), Bellanwila Viharaya, then Bellanwila pinnacle tusker, generations of indigenous medical practitioners of Bellanwila, Bellanwila Bo Tree, bird sanctuary, ponds for the elephants and reservoirs, to name a few.
It has to be mentioned that the whole Buddhist community is in profound grief today because late Most Venerable Prof. Bellanwila Wimalarathana Anunayake Thera who has followed the footsteps of these erudite generation of monks, has radiated in the world as a famous Buddhist leader and a great national peace crusader, the void of which he created cannot be filled in many more years to come.
As a respected academic, his service and contribution to restore multi-religious, multi-ethnic peace, unity and reconciliation is immeasurable. His praiseworthy contribution and dedication to the literary world to quench the thirst of Dhamma knowledge for the people would certainly be well treasured in the minds of the whole Buddhist community in the future too.
May the late Most Venerable Professor Bellanwila Wimalarathana Anunayake Thera be born again among us to survive and preserve Buddha Sasana with more vigour, vim and vitality with the blessings of all the virtuous effects he accrued by his noble service to Buddhism, the world Buddhist community and the nation!
Agga maha panditha Kotugoda Dhammawasa Nayaka Thera,
Sri Lanka Amarapura Nikaya
Fearless voice of the motherland
The sudden demise of Most Venerable Professor Bellanwila Wimalarathana Anunayake Thera, who was ordained as a monk at the very famous Bellanwila Rajamahaviharaya in Sri Lanka, generated painful tremors in the hearts of all patriotic and peace-loving citizens.
He provided an unprecedented and unique service to our people and the international and inter-religious communities by transforming the Bellanwila Rajamahaviharaya into an outstanding icon of the Sambuddha Sasana, our country, our national cultural heritage, and the intelligentsia by the sagacious manner in which he was able to outstrip in that process the traditional beliefs, approaches, and administrative limitations that hindered.
The highly regarded service he rendered to the Buddhasasana Karyasadhaka Mandalaya as one of its senior members and many other national and religious organizations as an active participant became clearly evident because of independence of thought, impartiality in appraisals, impersonal and apolitical objectives that were underlying. His service in support of the national effort to build up lasting national reconciliation and development through national and religious harmony by his fearless articulations and critical writings wase not second to his scholarly contributions to literary and Dhamma publications.
It is because of that unique contribution made by the late Most Venerable Anunayake Thera that his untimely demise is felt by all impartial and like-minded people as a deep loss to the nation that is hard to replace.
The highest honour that we could bestow on the late Most Venerable Anunayake Thera is to impartially, equitably, correctly and jointly enliven all such efforts of true patriots for the protection of the Buddhasasana, our motherland, and our people by providing necessary guidelines to the government and the people.
May the late Most Venerable Anunayaka Thera attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana.
Tirikunamale Ananda Mahanayaka Thera
Prof. Agalakada Sirisumana Thera
Jt. Secretaries Buddhasasana Karyasadhaka Mandalaya
An erudite and deeply religious prelate
It is with profound sadness that I learnt of the demise of the Most Venerable Bellanwila Wimalaratana Anunayake Thero.
I have known him for many years personally as I have worked with the Venerable Thero in the “World Organization of Religions for Peace” very closely. The late Anunayake Thero was the President of the Sri Lanka branch and I served as the Vice President for Christian denominations. It was a very enriching experience to work with him as he was an erudite and deeply religious prelate in pursuing the cause of peace in a multi-religious context.
Even during the civil war, we travelled together as an Inter-religious group to many parts of the country including the war zone to promote peace and understanding. Also, at International Fora sponsored by “Religions for Peace”, he championed the cause of peace with justice and dignity for all.
His untimely demise is a great loss for the country at a time when our beloved land is in the process of endeavoring to achieve peace, reconciliation and unity.
Rt. Rev. Dr. Vianney Fernando,
Bishop of Kandy,
Most respected religious leader, worked for unity
The Chancellor of the University of Sri Jayawardhanepura late Prof. ven. Bellanwila Wimalaratane Thero was one of the most respected religious leaders in the country and his demise is not only a loss of most distinguish venerable priest but also someone worked whole-heartly with sincerity for Sri Lanka’s unity as the President of Sri Lanka Council for Religious and Peace.
His leadership was recognized not only nationally, but also globally. He was recognized and identified as an erudite and theologist, whose knowledge and wisdom knew no bounds. He was one of those rare people, who could walk with the kings but keep close touch with common men and women. He dedicated to his service for the betterment of the country.
May he attain supreme bliss of Nibbana….!
Dr. Jezima Ismail, Educationist
Former Chancellor, South Eastern University of Sri Lanka
A life of erudition and service
The passing away of the Venerable Bellanwila Wimalarathana Nayaka Thera marks a conclusion of a life dedicated to scholarly pursuits and service for the Sasana and society. By the time he passed away, he was Chancellor of Sri Jayewardenepura University, where he served as a professor in Pali and Buddhist Studies for a long period of time and Chief Incumbent of Bellanwila Rajamahaviharaya which was not only a well-known centre of religion, but also a centre for social service.
He gave leadership and guidance to the multiple activities of the Vihara on behalf of his monastic brother, the Most Venerable Bellanwila Dhammarathana Nayaka Thera who is active in Singapore running a centre for Buddhism and Buddhist higher learning.
The Venerable Thera had both traditional monastic learning and modern university education which he completed by getting his doctorate in Buddhist studies from Lancaster University, UK. During his university days in UK, the Venerable Thera lived at the London Vihara associating with such great Buddhist scholars and leaders as Ven. Dr. Hammalawa Saddhatissa Thera and Dr. Walpola Rahula Thera, a Buddhist scholar monk known throughout the world who later became the Vice Chancellor of Sri Jayewardenepura University.
The life of the Venerable Bellanwila Wimalarathana Thera is a good combination of both erudition characteristic of a typical Sri Lankan Buddhist monk and social service. At the university, he taught Buddhist studies to many generations of students while continuing with his academic research. His work on the great physical marks of the Buddha, dealing with the Buddhist history, art and doctrine, remains his unique contribution to the field of Buddhist studies. In addition, he published several works both in English and Sinhala on themes such as Prajnaparamita literature of Mahayana Buddhism.
By the time he passed away, the Venerable Thera was completing a work on Anagarika Dharmapala whose service to the nation, he felt, was not adequately understood or appreciated by the subsequent generations.
Beyond his academic pursuits, the Venerable Thera was keen to maintain the Bellanwila Rajamahaviharaya as a proper Buddhist vihara with clean, neat and well-organized environment equipped with facilities for the thousands of devotees who flock there every day. As one of the most popular religious centres around Colombo, Bellanwila Viharaya had substantial material resources at its disposal with which the Venerable Thera turned the monastery into a social service centre by establishing a vocational training centre for the youth, and a day care centre for the elderly. Through these acts of social consciousness, the Venerable Thera was establishing a new identity to the traditional Buddhist monastery as a place where not only the religious needs of the people were taken care of, but also provided material support to the society.
All these activities did not stop him from playing a very active role in national, religious and social issues of the country. A remarkable character of his activism was that he did not represent the narrow interests of any particular group of people or of any particular political party. He transcended such narrow boundaries and represented the national and religious interests from a broad perspective.
While he believed that Buddhism should be preserved in this country and as the main religious tradition of the country that Buddhism should provide guidance to all other religious communities of the country, he did not neglect the presence of religions other than Buddhism and communities other than Sinhalese amidst us. In this sense, his sense of justice and fairness was exemplary.
The Venerable Thera retained his independence by not going after those who are in power to receive undue favours. This made him a straight speaker in matters of religious and national interest, and he was not hesitant to be outspoken when he felt that society was not on the right track.
His demise marks a loss of one of the leading spokesmen of the Sangha on broader national and religious issues. He leaves behind a great legacy of an erudite monk with a keen sense of social service and also leaves for the rest of the Buddhist monastic community a great challenge of national and religious leadership to take upon itself.
May the Venerable Nayaka Thera attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana!
Senior Professor of Pali and Buddhist Studies
University of Colombo
A great propagator of Dhamma
The death of the Most Ven. Bellanwila Wimalarathana Thera, a brilliant scholar and highly respected Buddhist Monk, is an irreparable loss to the entire Buddhasasana and the country.
Prior to his appointment as Chancellor of the prestigious University of Sri Jayewardenepura, the Venerable Thera was an Associate Professor, Lecturer and Visiting Lecturer at the University.
Venerable Dr. Bellanwila Wimalarathana Thera hailed from a highly respected family. His parents were Omatte Paul Perera and Buthsilina De Silva.
The Venerable Thera was born on an auspicious day – New Year’s Day - April 14, 1942. The fortunate parents were blessed with six boys – Oliver, Tudor, Herbrt (Ven. Bellanwila Dhammarathana who is in Singapore), Gilbert (Bellanwila Wimalarathana), Edmund and Kapila. The fortunate parents gifted two of their sons to Buddhasasana, a highly meritorious deed.
After obtaining his degree from Vidyalankara University (Kelaniya University), Venerable Bellanwila Nayaka Thera obtained a PhD from the University of Lancaster, United Kingdom.
On February 28, 1956, 14-year-old Gilbert entered the Order and assumed the name of Wimalarathana which rhymed well with his brother’s name Dhammarathana. They were pupils of the highly respected Nayaka Thera Ven. Bellanwila Somarathana who ushered the beginning of the Golden Era of the Temple.
Venerable Dr. Bellanwila Wimalarathana Nayaka Thera was a brilliant student at Pravachchanodaya Pirivena in Molligoda, Wadduwa and Vidyalankara Pirivena and entered the University of Vidyalankara, Kelaniya.
Internationaly famous, Bellanwila Wimalarathana Thera was a pious monk who committed his whole life to serve Buddhism. Undoubtedly the learned monk was an ornament to Buddhasasana. He was an eloquent Dhamma preacher. The Venerable Thera’s presentation and deliverance were very appealing to the heart of the listeners.
This noble monk was a prolific writer. Some of his writings were Buddha Sampradeya Sankruhya – 1984, Buddhadhamma Saha Venat Agam – 1989, Budupilimaya Mudra Saha Asana – 1991, Budupilimaye Vikasanaya – 1995, Prajaparamita Sahityaya – 2001, Vihara Lipi Saraniya – 2006, Hityaya Saha Kalawa – 2006 and Budupilimayata Pera Buduhamuduruwo – 2010.
Venerable Bellanwila Wimalarathana Thera gained fame as a promoter of Buddhism not only in Sri Lanka but also in the UK, USA, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Butan, Japan, etc.
The Nayaka Thera played an important role in spreading Buddhism in the world. Further, the Venerable Nayaka Thera organized sil campaigns every Poya Day, held discussions and conferences for the benefit of those who observed Atasil and Dasasil.
The late Nayaka Thera possessed a golden heart. He helped the poor. The Venerable Thera played a vital role in educating children in Buddhism both in Sinhala and English conducting Dhamma classes on Sundays. Further Dr. Wimalarathana Thera organized vocational training centres for the youth. He also granted university scholarships for undergraduates. The Venerable Thera organized health camps for the benefit of men, women and children and initiated housing projects for the poor.
The Venerable Nayaka Thera was instrumental in organizing the annual perahara at Bellanwila Temple. It was not second to the cultural pageant of the historic Kandy Perahara.
Venerable Bellanwila Wimalarathana Nayaka Thera was loved by all irrespective of colour, caste or creed. He was humble, unassuming and always ready to help anyone who needed his assistance. He gained lot of happiness in helping others. It may have been a habit he gained in his Sansaric journey.
Venerable Sir, I go down on my knees and worship you. The meritorious acts and social activities that you performed in this birth will undoubtedly help you to attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana.
Ven. Wimalarathana built bridges between communities
We express our condolence at the demise of Ven. Professor Bellanwila Wimalarathana Thera, who has served the Sri Lankan community. He was highly respected in the Buddhist as well as Muslim community. He always stood for building bridges of understanding between the communities. He was a great friend of the late Chairman Mohamed Hanifa Mohamed.
Ven. Bellanwila Wimalarathana Thera will be remembered and missed for many years to come. He has left behind dynamic work for the next generation to follow and build peace between the communities.
It was indeed sad to learn the news of the demise of the beloved professor. The Thera was a pillar of the Sri Lankan community. He will be remembered in history as a kind soul who was respected by all communities. The late professor was always in the forefront as a chief monk. He attended all interfaith dialogues and facilitated them with his cooperation.
Muslim communities are committed to keep the dialogue, peace, tranquility and close relationship with the Sri Lankan Buddhist community and its leadership and be a role model to the world.
Dr. Abdullah Omar Nasseef,
President Dr Malik S. Khan,
Permanent UN Representative,
World Muslim Congress (Motamar Al-Alam Al-Islami)
Treated everyone equally without differences
I am deeply saddened by the sudden demise of most Venerable Professor Bellanwila Wimalarathana Thero who rendered an immense service to the Buddha Sasana as well as the educational and social sectors of the country.
After receiving a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Vidyalankara, Kelaniya in 1965, he obtained doctorate in Philosophy from the University of Lancaster in United Kingdom and held the position of chancellor of the University of Sri Jayawardenepura until his demise. Wimalarathana Thero rendered a unique service to the field of education holding various positions such as Professor, Associate Professor, Lecturer and visiting lecturer at the University of Sri ]ayawardenepura.
Being Anunayaka of Kotte Sri Kalyani Samagri Dhamma Maha Sanga Sabha of Shyamopali Nikaya hls immense contribution to propagate Buddhism throughout the world would be marked indelibly in the history of this country. Ven Thero wrote several Buddhist books and bequeathed them for the social and religious advancement.
Venerable Thero had been engaging for many years in the establishment of inter religious harmony and cooperation among the communities in Sri Lanka. His views on the national issues were moderate and impartial. Being a humanitarian, he treated everyone equally irrespective of their race, religion and other differences.
His unexpected demise caused an irreparable loss to the country. As the Leader of the Opposition of Parliament I express my heartfelt condolence and join all sorrowing ones.
May he attain Supreme Bliss of Nibbana.
R Sampanthan, MP
Leader of the Opposition of Parliament