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Meegomuve Jinawansa Nayaka Thera: Bhikku who promoted religious amity

The 95th birth anniversary of Meegomuve Jinawansa Nayaka Thera who radiated the light of Dhamma in Negombo called the 'Little Rome' falls on January 25, 2007. The incumbent of Abhayasekeraramaya, Negombo Meegomuve Jinawansa Thera and the deyaka sabhava of the temple has organised a Pinkama for the occasion.

The well-known Buddhist prelate, preacher of bana, writer, poet and social reformer, Ven. Meegomuve Jinawansa Thera promoted religious amity in the area.

Negombo known as 'Little Rome' is a Catholic stronghold in Sri Lanka. Over 65% of the population in Negombo are Catholics. There are over 50 Catholic churches and shrines within the Negombo Municipality. The majority of the Catholic Bishops and the only Cardinal in Sri Lanka have hailed from this Catholic fortress.

Although there are comparatively few Buddhists in Negombo about 15%. their religious fervour is remarkable. The renowned Buddhist leader and patriot, Brahmachari Walisinghe Harischandra was born in Thimbirigaskatuwa, Negombo and a leading school in Negombo, Harischandra Vidyalaya was named after him.

Bhodirajaramaya, the well-known Buddhist temple in Negombo is a popular religious centre. The beautiful Buduge there, contain fine sculptural works and paintings on the life of Buddha and Jathaka stories. Its Pilima Ge contains important Buddhist events in Sri Lanka as well as life size imager of all the Sinhala Kings from Vijaya to Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe.

Ven. Meegomuve Jinawansa Thera was born at Thimbirigaskatuwa, Negombo on January 25, 1912. He entered Buddha Sasana at the age of 12, as a pupil of Madampe Aggawansa Tissa Thera, the then Nayaka Thera of Abayasekerarmaya, Negombo.

As a Samanera, Jinawansa Thera had his early education at Vidyabandhu Pirivena, Kirimetiyana under Ven. Pindapathika Saddhammalankara Thera, the Maha Nayaka of Amarapura Mula Vamsa Nikaya. In 1931, he joined Vidyodaya Privena for higher education. He passed the Pundit examination from Vidyodaya with honours in Pali and Sanskrit and carried many prizes.

After completing his education, Meegomuve Jinawansa Thera returned to his native temple, Abayasekeraramaya in Negombo. As a young Bhikku, he took a leading part in all the Buddhist religious and cultural activities in Negombo. During his time Abhayasekeraramaya became a hive of spiritual and social activity.

Meegomuve Jinawansa Thera set up Susilodaya Dhamma School in Negombo and was its head for 40 years. He was the patron of Negombo Bauddha Sadachara Vardana Samithiya and played a leading role to establish the Bauddha Mandiraya in Negombo overcoming many obstacles. He also initiated the formation of Bauddha Kulangana Samithiya in Negombo.

Even the Catholic lawyers participated in Philosophical discussions conducted by Meegomuve Jinawansa Thera in this society.

In 1961, when Madampe Aggawansa Tissa Thera passed away, Meegamuve Jinawansa Thera succeeded him as the incumbent of the Abahayasekeraramaya Temple in Negombo. It was Jinawansa Thera who built the beautiful Chaithaya at the temple.

The Buddhists in Kochchikade on the outskirts of Negombo were in dire need of a temple for their religious activities. Meegomuve Jinawansa Thera with the assistance of businessmen there established Sri Dharmodaya Vihara, Kochchikade.

Ven. Meegomuve Jinawansa Thera was a well-known supporter of the SLFP. He was close to the SLFP hierarchy. However he was not a political activist and he never gave a political dimension to religion. He worked with all and sundry irrespective of their political convictions for the progress of mankind.

 

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Produced by Lake House Copyright 2006 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

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