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DateLine Sunday, 6 April 2008

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Government Gazette

Life and times of Ven. Kitalagama Seelalankara Thera

The late Ven. Kitalagama Seelalankara Nayaka Thera was born in Kitalagama in the Matara District.


Ven. Seelalankara Thera with his vilage friends participating in the aluth sahal mangalya .

Under the well distilled tutorship of the Ven. Udu Pillegola, Pagnalankara, the Prelate of the Amarapura Sect of the Matara-Akuressa Arannaya Senasana, Ven. Nayaka Himi Kitalagama Thera received his blessings at his feet, on his counsel Seelalankara Thera took recess to follow his ardent meditation practices, as it was running in his blood.

So with perception of the Buddha Dharmaya, with a resolute mind he followed those sacred meditation pursuits relating to the concept of Arannaya Senasana in the recess of a cemetery at Palugasdamana close to Kaduwela nestling in the Polonnaruwa district.

That was the very turning point when much awaited Arannaya Senasana hallowed activities commenced there in the year of 1945.

Highest esteem in Arannaya Senasana

Through his gifted talents of winning the hearts of the villagers and in his inborn skill to promote Buddhist activities by his flaming zeal to activate the meditation chores he established a temple there.

But in 1953, he left the place to seek the solitudes of monastic life to adhere to the precepts of the Arannaya Senasana in an ideal habitat lying close to Yapahuwa of the Polonnaruwa district.

It was lying in the very vicinity of Dimbulagala Arannaya. Leading life of untold hardships encountering great privation.

He lived amidst the wild animals like the elephant, leopard, bear, but no harm came to either him or the wild denizens. There was cordial co-existence. He eked out a bare existence for his sustenance on wild fruits, berries, wild yams, barks and leaves of forest trees.

Next destination

After living and languishing there for five long years, he left the place and took once again to another sanctuary - a cave shelter amidst the temple of Kotavehera sunk in the foot hill of Dimbulagala ancient monastery.

There in his untiring efforts, but with a firm determination in trodding footsteps of Arannaya Senasana meditating practices by getting the moral support of the knots of people around there - mostly jungle dwellers who were also equally like him living in dire straits of utter starvation in abject poverty.

At that time it is said that there were only 12 Sinhala families thriving around Manampitiya and Dimbulagala, whilst other were mostly Tamils and Muslim families. Though this dedicated Buddhist monk was fondly and popularly called Maha Kalu Sinhala Yodaya monk, he never imbibed himself to cleanse the ethnic problems, as the Sinhalese were in the minority.

Sans any communal discord

Sans any iota of communal discord, he won the hearts and confidence of all the two communities - the Tamils and Muslims, as well. But he even in his indefatigable endeavour in a vigorous campaign to promote other religious activities too. He still went in establishing villages for the settlement of the Sinhalese families.

In some instances, there had been hybrid in espousing marriages between the Sinhalese and Tamil communities. Their off-shoots had mixed pedigree names such as Sinnadurai Kiribanda and the like.

By and by, the late Ven. Kittalagama Seelalankara Nahimi through his own initiative and efforts to receive the blessings of the late Hon. Prime Minister Mr. Dudley Senanayake along with the Land Minister, in the incumbent’s ambitious project in carving out more and more villages for the Sinhalese families in the environs of Manampitiya and Dimbulagala.

The next redeeming feature in the creation of these new villages was the unstinted co-operation he readily got from Government Agents, other government and local bodies, school teachers and Parent-Teacher Associations. Such laudable humanitarian pursuits were rendered for the welfare of the people irrespective of caste, race and religion.

Dimbulagala lies in lap of the Bintenna Pattu from time immemorial had been the veritable habitat of Yakkhas whose descendants are our present day aborigines, the Veddhas.

Some of their clans lived in those cave shelters of Dimbulagala, as well. The late Dimbulagala incumbent was in close association with those Veddhas who were his trusted friends. He was a real patriot dauntlessly living close to Tiger territory, from whom there were death threats aimed at him.

He was a true crusader for the uplift of the three communities - the Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims, when at the end he fell into an assassin’s bullet alleged to be from the Tiger Terrorists, while travelling in his vehicle close to Dimbulagala on the ill-fated day of May 26, 1995.

He actually died in harness in fighting for the just rights of those people whom he loved and rendered his selfless services without fear or favour. His noble statue lies in the very premises of this Dimbulagala Arannaya which stands in all glory in his undying memory now and for posterity.

In one of those cave shelters occupied by the Veddhas, lived a Veddha chieftain named Millana alias Yapa and his companion Vel Gamarala Nagamani. Just as much Prince Pandukabhaya got the ready support of an Yakinni chieftainess named Ceitiya, a widow of a Yakkhas chieftain - Jutindara in his waging war against his embittered six uncles.

With his popularity, above board, in its well-earned recognition of it, two Veddha chieftains donated a cave shelter for this late Ven. Kitalagama Seelalankara Himi. Prince Pandukabhaya (5th century BC), had his fortress at Dimbulagala for his battle with his warring uncles, the Yakkha tribes gave their man-power support in fighting rank and file of the king’s forces which culminated in prince Pandukabhaya vanquishing his six uncles’ forces and turned victorious.

After the late Incumbent’s hard toiling that he had executed in those pioneering years which paid him ample dividends. In the same year of 1965, there appeared a Silver Lining, when the late Mr. C. P. de Silva the then Minister of Lands and Irrigation had attended a function held at the Minneriya Maha Vidyalaya.

Under the benison of the last Mr. C. P. de Silva, Members of Parliament, Government key officials and the like, it was decided to transform Dimbulagala Monastery into an Arannaya Senasana which was followed by a Pinkama in the very premises of the Dimbulagala Arannaya under the very patronage of the Late Mr. C. P. de Silva, Minister of Lands & Irrigation. Members of Parliament, other government officials, the Veddha communities, Dayakayas and villagers around it.

‘Brain-child’

Now this Dimbulagala Arannaya Senasana has metamorphosed into a metropolis of fostering Buddhistic activities in full swing. As it has virtually become a fitting training centre for Bhikkhus to gain further higher Buddhist education.

Even scores of Veddha children under the benediction of the Ven. Kitalagama Seelalankara had been ordained by him as samaneras (Novices).

There is a commodious Rest Hall and other buildings fully equipped with electricity, a pipe borne water service.

Even cooking facilities for victualling purposes are fully available for the multitudes of devotes that flock there daily, on the heights of the Dimbulagala Rock in all its sanctity graces a White Pagoda which even could be viewed gloriously from far and near - all his meritorious ventures at his own initiative which were his ‘Brain-Child’ for which he was conferred the honorary title of ‘Asarana

Saranasanasena Sri Kassyapa.

Stone Carvings

The most unique carvings on a rock boulder appear on its summit on a rockboulder under its ledge.

Among those spectacular stone carvings, of paramount importance of proto historical and Pre-historical values are the figures of a man holding a Bo leaf in his hand, there are two authoritative versions in respect of the carvings.

One is that of the man holding a Bo leaf in his hand appears to have the inference of the bringing of the sacred Bo sapling of the Sri Maha Bodhiya, India by Theri Sangamittha in the 3rd century, BC to Lanka in the reign of King Devanampiyatissa, while the interpretation of it, it is said as the ‘Dimbulagala Man’, depicting pre-historic inhabitants of Dimbulagala.

A photo copy of it is reproduced taken by kind courtesy of the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (Sri Lanka Journal Vol. 01 - XXXI). There are eleven symbols in these carvings. Among them are Swastika sickle, small dagaba, crescent moon and other implements.

The swastika is an auspicious symbol in terms of the astrological chart and the planetary movements. Such symbols in Archaeological terms are called as Non-Brahami Symbols etched along with other symbols like Fish at the end of the lines of the Brahami inscriptions etched in stone. Such Swastikas carved bear a railed Swastika with a curvature towards the left.

Swastika was one of the Aryan Symbols. That was the reason why Hitler of the World War II was propagating that the Germans were of Aryan origin.

In Hitler’s draconian rule, it also became the symbol of the Nazis. Even it is said further that the Red Indians of North America had carvings of the Swastika found on rockboulders.

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