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Most Ven. Thrikunamale Ananda Mahanayaka Thero

Journal written by: Mr. D C Ranatunga
(Sunday Times)

The passing away of the Most Venerable Weligama Sri Gnanaratana Maha Nayaka Thera created a vacancy in the post of Maha Nayaka of the Sri Amarapura Dharmarakshita Nikaya . Venerable Tiricunamale Ananda Anu Nayaka Thera was unanimously elected as Maha Nayaka Thera by the Karaka Sangha Sabha of the Nikaya.

I remember him as a young monk accompanying Madihe Pannasiha Maha Nayaka Thera many years ago. It was part of his apprenticeship at the Maharagama Dharmayatanaya when novice monks had to take their turn in attending to the needs of the Maha Nayaka Thera and Ampitiye Sri Rahula Loku Hamuduruwo who was second in command. Among the many responsibilities was to accompany them whenever they went out of the temple.

Meanwhile, along with the other monks he attended classes at the Dharmayatanaya reading for the examinations conducted by the Pracheena Bhashopakara Samitiya –Oriental Studies Society of Sri Lanka. He studied Pali, Sanskrit, Buddhist Studies, Archaeology and other subjects linked to Buddhism. He was fortunate to be at the Dharmayatanaya which had been established to conduct classes for the examinations held by the Society as well as to train the young monks in leading a disciplined life strictly according to the Vinaya – the disciplinary code of the Sangha.

A set of scholarly monks handpicked by Madihe Maha Nayaka Thera and Rahula Loku Hamuduruwo taught the young monks who after eight years completed the full course and sat for the ‘Rajakeeya Pandita’ examination, equivalent to a university degree.

The young monk, Tiricunamale Ananda Thera diligently did his studies getting through the examinations with ease. He showed a keen interest in the Sinhala language and following the footsteps of the Maha Nayaka Thera, he was attracted towards the ‘hela’ style of language promoted by Cumaratunga Munidasa. Over time his language skills gave him the confidence to write articles and edit publications. He has served as co-editor of several publications of the Dharmayatanaya.

He soon became a fine exponent of the Dhamma delivering sermons in a lucid style.
I was with him when the Karaka Sangha Sabha of the Sri Amarapura Dharmarakshita Nikaya met after the passing away of Madihe Maha Nayaka Thera. That was ten years ago. The Sangha Sabha unanimously elected him as Anu Nayaka when the incumbent Venerable Weligama Gnanaratana Anu Nayaka Thera was elevated to the position of Maha Nayaka. He was somewhat reluctant to accept the post since there were more senior monks in the Nikaya. However, the Sangha Sabha felt that the position should be held by a disciple of Madihe Pannasiha Maha Nayaka Thera and that it was nothing but fitting that the monk should be from the Dharmayatanaya.

The position of the head of Vajiraramaya also fell vacant following the demise of Madihe Maha Nayaka Thera. The choice was Ananda Anu Nayaka Thera and over the past few years he has worked tirelessly to bring back Vajiraramaya – now renamed Siri Vajiraramaya to its days of glory. The results are evident when one walks in there today.

The simple, calm and collected Ananda Maha Nayaka Thera now holds the distinction of becoming the third head of the Vajiraramaya to become the Maha Nayaka of the Dharmarakshita Nikaya. The other two were Pelene Sri Vajiragnana Maha Nayka Thera and Madihe Maha Nayaka Thera.