Ven. Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Nayaka Thera

 

He was one of the pioneer monks of the Buddhist revivalist movement in the 19th century, Sri Lanka. The service rendered by him to the Buddhist Education is unparalleled. He was the founder of Vidyodaya Pirivena Maligakanda.

The Ven Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Thera was born on 20th January 1827 at Hikkaduwa, in the Galle District. He was the 5th in the family. His Father was Mr. Don Johanis Abeyweera Gunawardhana. The name given to him by birth was Niculas. He received his primary Education from the village’s Temple.

At the age of 13 he entered the Sasana at Thotagamuwa Temple. From his childhood he was an eloquent speaker, and a very good writer. In 1848 he obtained higher Ordination from the Malwatte Chapter, Kandy

He was well versed in Sinhala, Pali, Sanskrit, English, Buddhism, History, Arithmetic and Archaeology. He received his education from Parama Dhamma Chetiya Pirivena Ratmalana, under the guidance of Ven. Walane Sri Siddhartha Maha Thera. The Ven. Ratmalane Dharmaloka Thera was one of his contemporaries. As an erudite monk he has written many books. He was the main source for the success of the Panadura Debate held in 1873. It was after reading the report of this debate that Col. Henry Steele Olcott came to Sri Lanka. He learnt Buddhism and Pali under Ven. Sri Sumangala Thera and with the guidance of Maha Thera he established the Ananda College, Colombo (1890), Mahinda College, Galle (1892) and Dharmaraja College, Kandy for Buddhist Education.

Panadura Debate 1873
Panadura Debate 1873

The newspaper ‘Lankaloka’ was started by Ven. Sri Sumangala Thera himself and afterwards he assisted in many ways to publish papers like “Sarasavisandaresa” and “Sinhala Bauddhaya”. Awarded by many titles he was honoured not only by Sri Lankans but also by the people of Ireland, Italy, Hungary and many other countries in the East and the West. He was appointed as the Head of the Sripada Viharaya, the sacred mountain of Sri Lanka (Where Lord Buddhas sacred foot print was located). Ven. Sri Sumangala Maha Thera passed away on 29th of April 1911.