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Ven. Aggamaha panditha Madihe Pagnaseeha Mahanayaka Thero Memorial Museum - Maharagama
Most Venerable Madihe Pagnaseeha Maha Nayaka Thero
Madihe Maha Nayaka Hamuduruwo

Most Venerable Madihe Pagnaseeha Maha Nayaka Thero Memorial Museum Page

Agga Maha Pandita Most Venerable Madihe Pannasiha Maha Nayaka Thera was appointed Chief Prelate of the Sri Amarapura Dhammarakshita Nikaya to succeed Venerable Pelene Vajiranana Maha Nayaka Thera. He was later appointed Supreme Patriarch of the Sri Amarapura Mah Nikakya embracing all the sub-orders.
This article appeared in the Sunday Times - 14 September 2003 after the passing away of the Maha Nayaka Thera at the age of 92.

Serving the Sasana and the people

 “Mine was a selfless service towards the furtherance of the Buddha Sasana, the preservation and expansion of the Buddha Dhamma, the continuity of the lineage of the Maha Sangha, development and protection of the nation, nourishment of the language, welfare of humanity, unity of race and religion and the progress of the Buddhists both in this life and the next.

I devoted the better part of my life towards the achievement of these ideals using my maximum effort and energy while strictly following the principles laid down to lead the life of a monk.”

The Most Venerable Agga Maha Pandita Madihe Pannasiha Maha Nayaka Thera thus summed up his efforts over 78 years as a monk, in his autobiography Penasiha Pehesaraniya released to mark his 91st birthday on June 21, this year.

Reminiscing on his 90th birthday last year, he said: “Looking back, I feel happy on the life I have lived. I have no regrets about my monkhood. Although I have led most of my life on the road (travelling widely to serve the people), I feel consoled that it was for the benefit of others. Following the path of the Buddha, moulding my life on that of my revered teacher Pelena Vajiranana Maha Nayaka Thera, I have done my utmost towards the upliftment of the Sasana and society. Till I attain Nibbana, the eternal bliss, my aim is to serve the Buddha Sasana, the Sinhala nation, the Sinhala language and human society in general.”

The Maha Nayaka Thera considered the establishment of the Maharagama Sri Vajiranana Dharmayatanaya, the bhikkhu training centre which has now grown into a fully-fledged educational institution, as his greatest achievement. It was 45 years ago that he and Ampitiye Rahula Maha Thera started the training centre in a dilapidated house, taken on lease, on Lake Road, Maharagama.
Today, this fully-equipped, two-storey building on an 11-acre block of land, is the residential quarters for 50 pupil monks and 12 teacher monks. Within the building are a sermon/alms hall, a library, a computer room, an administrative office, meeting hall, stores and other facilities.

The complex also has an image house, a dagoba, a bo tree, a seema malaka based on a traditional architectural design and a line of meditation rooms with a path for walking meditation.

A lotus pond greets the visitor at the entrance and the recently set up Samadhi statue, the largest creation since the Polonnaruwa era, on the right, creates the right atmosphere for devotees.

Amidst the large trees in the well laid-out garden are the three big halls, for children, youth and adults, where thousands observe ata sil on poya. Separate programmes are conducted on a detailed plan prepared by the Maha Nayaka Thera many years ago. On Sundays, the halls are used for the Daham Pasala.

Having left the Vajiraramaya in 1958, the Maha Nayaka Thera stayed at the Dharmayatanaya, conducting the activities of the institution, pondering over national issues, attending to the religious needs of the laity and planning social service projects.

He was a prolific writer. The letters written to those persons holding high government positions, articles to newspapers, books and journals are countless. The Maha Nayaka Thera’s service to the nation and the Buddhist cause is immeasurable.

As Venerable Weligama Gnanaratana Anu Nayaka Thera, who was his brother monk for 77 long years told me immediately after the passing away of the Maha Nayaka Thera, “The voice of the Sinhala Buddhists is now stilled. Who on earth can replace him?”

During the Maha Nayaka Thera’s 3-month stay in hospital - at the Apollo Hospital and thereafter at the neuro-surgical ICU of the Colombo National Hospital - the care and kindness of the staff towards this illustrious monk were commendable.

It was with much respect and devotion that the medical team led by neuro- physician Dr. Ranjani Gamage, neuro-surgeon Dr. Sunil Perera and Sri Jayawardenapura Hospital Consultant Dr. Ananda Perera attended on him.
Their instructions were carried out to the letter by the nursing staff whose commitment was immense. Helping them at every instance, rushing to bring a blood report or an urgent drug, were Rajavelle Subhuti Thera and Kanishka Levangama.

Earlier when the decision was made to perform brain surgery two days after he was admitted to the Apollo Hospital, surgeon Dr. Ravi Pallur offered his hands and told Tiricunamale Ananda Thera, “Please bless my hands.” Ananda Thera chanted seth pirith. The surgery was a success.

On the Maha Nayaka Thera's 91st birthday on June 21, when Apollo officials wanted to know what should be done to mark the occasion, they were requested to make arrangements to chant pirith to bless him. They had the foyer on the floor which houses the intensive care unit ready and at 9 p.m. 21 monks led by Weligama Gnanaratana Anu Nayaka Thera began the chanting of pirith.

“It is a historic occasion,” the Maha Nayaka Thera’s most senior pupil, Maharagama Dhammasiri Thera (now the resident monk and President of the Washington Buddhist Vihara founded by the Maha Nayaka Thera) said. For over an hour, the whole building echoed and re-echoed with the chanting.

Ven. Madihe Pannasiha Thera donned robes as a boy of 13. For 78 years he led an exemplary life as a monk. The large crowds who flocked to the Dharmayatanaya from all parts of the country, to pay their last respects were ample testimony as to how the masses appreciated and recognized the Maha Nayaka Thera’s service to the nation. May he attain Nibbana.

D C Ranatunga
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