11 August, 2020

Blog

Farewell, Noble Peoples’ Monk

By Hilmy Ahamed

Hilmy Ahamed

Hilmy Ahamed

As we bid farewell to a rare human being who probably changed the political landscape of Sri Lanka from disaster, it is time for us to reflect on his life, times and principles that he adhered to in the spirit of serving mankind and resolve to continue his work. Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha was one of those rare individuals who, despite his limited formal education possessed vast knowledge. He probably was the most influential Buddhist priest in Sri Lanka who was accepted by the Sinhala Buddhists, Tamils, Christians and Muslims alike. The large number of Buddhists, Muslim, Christian and Hindu Sri Lankans who inundated the Kotte Naga Viharaya to pay their last respects is evidence of the high esteem in which the people of Sri Lanka held him. His love and affection for all of god’s creation surpassed his religious and cultural beliefs.

There must be a large number of souls from my Muslim community who consider Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero as a champion who challenged the racist agenda of a few Buddhist extremists when they were destroying the peace and spearheading a campaign of hate towards the Muslim, Evangelical Christians and other minorities in post war Sri Lanka. He believed and articulated strongly that every Sri Lankan had the right and freedom to live as an equal citizen in our blessed land.

Born into a humble village family on the 29th of May 1942, Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero rose up to be one of the country’s best know and respected Buddhist priests. Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha entered Buddhist priesthood at the tender age of 11 and his love for the people steered him to be a prominent socialist and social justice activist. He led campaigns that even changed regimes in true Buddhist-style nonviolent revolutions. He was the chief incumbent of the Kotte Naga Vihara. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero supported the common candidate Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe in January 2015 to form a new government defeating President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Sobitha TheroHe never belonged to any political party and led an influential and assertive political life with significant charisma. Yet, many wanted him to come forward as the common candidate to challenge Mahinda Rajapaksa in his bid for a third term presidency in January 2015. He once told media that his initial inspiration for politics came from the 1956 socialist revolution in Sri Lanka that brought a reformist government to power against the pro-western UNP-led ruling elite.

He was a prominent member that opposed President JR Jayewardene’s efforts to centralize power within the presidential system of governance and continued his fight against the presidency. He was most concerned about the threats against freedom of expression, civil rights and the rule of law.

Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero was also one who campaigned against the Indian military intervention in Sri Lanka. His skills as an excellent orator immensely helped in mobilizing and creating political awareness amongst all Sri Lankans across the spectrum. He was a lead campaigner that propelled the incumbent government to office on assurances given by the leadership to ensure good government. He used his charisma, influence and skill to maximum use by spearheading the fight against corruption, nepotism and impunity within government through the National Movement for a Just Society (NMJS). His sole objective was to bring in a government that would address the burning issues of the people on 8 January 2015. He could be singled out as the key players who helped end the decade long Mahinda Rajapaksa’s administration. He brought together a divided opposition, trade unions, rights groups, artists, professionals and academia alike to fight for justice, democracy and good governance.

According to many media accounts, Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero was a totally unhappy person during the last days of his life due to the failure of the National Governments to address the core issues that he fought and brought this government to office. The government’s failure to inquire in to the massive corruption scandals, nepotism in government, and bringing in reforms that would lead to good governance were issues that saddened the venerable priest. He felt betrayed.

It is ironic that the current government is accused of even capitalizing on his death. A video that has appeared on mainstream and social media clearly states his last wish to be buried without fanfare in the simplest possible way. He has been denied his last wish that has been recorded in a video release.

Maha Sanghanayaka of Sri Jayawardenapura, the Ven. Meegahatenne Chandrasiri Thera said that in the absence of a written last wish, his colleagues and devotees had to decide on the funeral arrangements. He accused “some people” of trying to spread false rumours that the last rites of the Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera were not being conducted according to the Thera’s last wishes.

What ever the truth of the matter is, as we bid adieu to this noble being, let us resolve in honour of this irreplaceable monk to continue his mission and ensure that the rule of law prevails, every single cent of the country’s resources that were illegally siphoned off by politicians and their henchmen are brought back to the country, end political impunity, ensure freedom of religion, thought and expression, bring in the constitutional changes that would enshrine civil rights, forge reconciliation and sustainable peace and work towards bring to Sri Lanka the miracles that have been promised by our politicians in recent history.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 13
    3

    Well said Hilmi. The Miuslim Community and all the citizens of the country should appreciate the good work done by this respected monk

    • 5
      15

      Why do the Sri Lankan Muslims who condemn all Buddhists as racists, extremists and bigots suddenly pouring love towards the late Maduluwawe?

      Is that because he served their interests by helping to topple the Rajapakse government that was too strong for their purposes?

      Another case of Opportunism by the Sri Lankan Moors?

      Just asking.

      • 3
        0

        F… U Amden. Sobitha thero was a rare monk who preached true Buddhism and Ahimsa. You stooges of bloody Mahinda and Ass… h..le Gota wanted to destroy the peace between the communities and Sobitha thero was one who was bold enough to stand up to you bull shitters. He was a true Buddhist and gained the respect of all

        • 0
          0

          [Edited out]

          • 0
            1

            AMDEN.
            YOU OBVIOUSLY ARE AN IGNORANT PERSON AND A BIGOT WHEN YOU SAY THAT ALL MUSLIMS ARE`AGAINST BUDDHISTS.MUSLIMS HAVE BEEN HERE FOR CENTURIES LIVING AMICABLY WITH THE SINHALESE PEOPLE
            PROBABLY YOU DO NOT HAVE ANY ACQUAINTENANCE WITH THE MUSLIM PEOPLE AND ARE AN IGNORAMIOUS.
            I HAVE MANY VERY GOOD BUDDHIST FRIENDS AND WE GET ALONG VERY WELL AND RESPECT EACH OTHER.
            LEARN NOT TO MAKE SWEEPING INFLAMATORY COMMENTS AND CAUSE UNNECESSARY TROUBLE.

            SARRIJ.

        • 2
          0

          Hilmy Hussian smells the Sinhala Buddhist Crusaders- birds of a feather flock together.
          I_slam humanity the poison in the lankan well.

      • 2
        2

        Muslims never condemned Buddhists as racists. We only spoke against those who destroyed our mosques, made hate speeches and insulted Quran. we had been living with the Buddhists very amicably and we are doing it after BBS became quiet

    • 1
      0

      Hilmy Ahamed

      RE: Farewell, Noble Peoples’ Monk

      “As we bid farewell to a rare human being who probably changed the political landscape of Sri Lanka from disaster, it is time for us to reflect on his life, times and principles that he adhered to in the spirit of serving mankind and resolve to continue his work. Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera was one of those rare individuals who, despite his limited formal education possessed vast knowledge.”

      Thanks for the write up. We all should appreciate the good work done by Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera for the Country and Sinhala Buddhism, the rare Gem of an individual, and a religious leader who happened to be a Sinhala Buddhist Monk.

      https://youtu.be/env1HTRZVKU

      May Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera achieve Nibbana.

  • 10
    2

    The country has lost a noble leader who had a vision for a country that would thrive on its merits and not racist agenda

  • 5
    3

    Hilmy said it all. It is time we sri lankans deliver on the promises of yahapalanaya. If not, its time to get on to the streets against yahapalanaya.

    It is disgusting to note that the current government does not even want to respect Sobitha thero’s last wish

  • 10
    4

    Would it not have been a magnificent and noble gesture on the part of the Muslim Community if the ACJU and the Shoora Council had recommended the hoisting of a simple yellow flag at every Mosque to convey the heartfelt gratitude of all the Muslims to this great National Hero who gave political leadership to a movement that resulted in the curbing of the anti-Muslim sentiment that was growing in leaps and bounds. If the Muslims are enjoying peace of mind today, it is solely due to the efforts of the most Venerable Sobitha Thero.

    • 10
      2

      Most of the Muslims felt a deep sense of sorrow in his departure. He was the one of the very few priests who spoke for all Sri Lankans.
      You would have seen how Muslims mourned his death and so please do not bring minor omissions into the forefront and bring a division among the communities. Most of the mosques had special prayers for him. We sincerely miss the great leader. In the decades after independence for the first time we had such a great leader and we mourn his death whether we hoist flags or not.

      • 4
        8

        “Most of the mosques had special prayers for him”. Better check this out. The Holy Quran (9 :113) clearly prohibits the offering of prayers for non-believers after their death.

        • 3
          1

          Ekelbroom, the mosques certainly had special prayers for his recovery and this seems to surprise you. No, I know for a fact that the Muslim community genuinely mourn the death of a fine personality. Rarely do you come across a person of such qualities. Ghandi, Mandela, Desmond Tutu have all been revered but for me, our own Sobitha thero made the difference to Sri Lanka, So he should be above them for all Sri Lankans

          • 3
            0

            Mr Ahamed, if as you say the “mosques certainly had special prayers for his recovery”, then I am indeed not surprised (and in fact very pleased) because it reflects the high veneration that the Muslims had and continue to have for the most Ven. Sobitha Thero.

            If however you read my response to Salma Junaideen more carefully, what I have pointed out is that the Holy Quran (9:113) clearly prohibits the offering of prayers for non-believers after their death (Holy Quran Chapter 9 Surah Taubah verse 113: It is not fitting for the Prophet and those who believe, that they should pray for forgiveness for pagans (after their death) even though they be of kin, after it is clear to them that they are companions of the Fire). The context in which Salma Junaideen makes the statement “Most of the mosques had special prayers for him”, suggest that such prayers were offered after his demise. My understanding of Quran 9:113 is based on the interpretations of various Islamic Scholars. If I have stated it or understood it incorrectly, please accept my apologies and direct me to the correct interpretation please.

            • 1
              2

              Ekelbroom, I am not sure whether any prayers were offered after his death, but I know for a fact that many mosques prayed for his recovery, I too was part of one of those prayers. Regarding your statement about Salma’s comment, Please read Marwan’s post.

        • 1
          0

          If Islam allowed self immolation, I would not have hesitated a second to set myself on fire when Sobitha thero, against his wishes was cremated. May his soul rest in peace. There is a need for all of us to walk in his path and work towards his vision

    • 5
      1

      Along with Late Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero, there were others too who were courageous like Dambara Amila Thero and Athuraliye Rathana thero who spoke against the scourge of racism in our country, specially when it went against their own rank and file. But as Muslims, we never avoid openly expressing our gratitude and respects to the Ven. Sobitha Thero as is due, but putting up yellow flags on our Masjids is a little bit far fetched, and may not be acceptable by all members of the community. But that said, we commend his efforts to diffuse a developing crisis at the time and reign in sanity, and thus save the day for us as Muslims and also for all of Sri Lanka.

      • 4
        2

        “ … but putting up yellow flags on our Masjids is a little bit far fetched, and may not be acceptable by all members of the community”. As minorities of a predominantly non-Muslim Country, there are occasions when the Muslims must be able to place their National Identity over their Global Identity. This was definitely one such occasion. The most Venerable Sobitha Thero delivered the Muslims from the Jaws of Hell – something that not even their self-proclaimed Leaders could do. A spontaneous gesture on the part of the Muslims to demonstrate their sorrow at the passing away of this Great Leader by hoisting a simple yellow flag at all the Mosques would have served boost the image of the Muslims among the Buddhists. Not doing so only serves to boost the image of local Muslims among the more conservative
        foreign Muslims.

        • 0
          0

          Firstly, flying a yellow flag is a voluntary act, and is thus left to the discretion of the controlling body in any Masjid. It cannot be enforced on any individual, organization or place of religious worship. Secondly, flying flags are only representative of a symbol to identify with an event or an occasion, and that is all that it signifies. It does not bring any solace or peace to the spirit of the dead person. On the other hand, special prayers for the dead person held in congregational gathering, such as in a temple, church, kovil or masjid is meant to mourn the loss and invoke the blessings of a higher form, to bestow a better spiritual level or plain on the departed soul. As Muslims we believe that the soul by itself can do nothing, and it is we, the living who can make intervention and representation on their behalf.

          Although, there may be statements as mentioned found in the translation of the Quran, it is clearly meant for new Muslims (i.e. seek divine intervention for those they love through kind words and prayers whilst they were still alive, and not regret when it is too late), and also for consumption by the rest of the Muslim community. It used to happen from the time of the Prophet. When a Jewish funeral was going past the presence of the Prophet, he was in tears and when the people asked him why he was sad when it was only a jew who had died, he replied that he was sad that he had failed in his responsibility to carry the message of Islam to that Jew whilst he was alive, and felt guilty that such things should still be happening during his lifetime.

          There is a special program for Muslims to promote their integration into the rest of the other communities happening in SL. They have been advised on what is permissible to support by religion, and what is not. They are aware that living in isolation amongst themselves is not an option, and need to get involved and take on responsibility roles to sponsor, organize and support events at national level. It used to happen before, but since the sincerity factor in religion prohibits publicity for such noble acts, it was never brought out into the open. However, this is a good move and thus you will hear and see more Muslims in participatory roles henceforth.

    • 10
      1

      I think the Muslim community, by their actions, have done more than showing a yellow flag at mosques. Just respect the Muslim community for doing things their way, why should your force on them your idea. On the contrary what makes me sad is seeing so much crocodile tears from our own kind politcians whose evil plans were thwarted by Ven Sobhita

      • 2
        1

        Weii said bo.
        ekelbroom is a shit stirrer with a political motive.

  • 8
    3

    Not only the government even people like Professor Carlo Fonseka is trying to gain cheap popularity through the demise of Bhikku Sobitha. Professor Fonseka has used this opportunity to blame the doctors. May be the physiologist doesnot know much about clinical practice. In an article the physiologist has written to the Island he insinuates that the death of the ven. Bhikku Sobitha was due to the doctors. He says doctors are behind money and politicians. He has forgotten that he was licking the boots of MR all these days. He started to lick MS also by saying something about his virtues (I cannot remember the rot he wrote).He is a chap who thrives on controversies. People like Professor Fonseka should have the decency to keep their mouth shut.
    Doctors running behind money and politicians had been a problem for a long time. Professor Fonseka should resign from the political post he is holding now.

    • 2
      0

      Yes Carlo Fonseka also earned a tidy sum as a consultant to the Education Department . It was highlighted in the press. Subject to correction it was 50000/- a day.

  • 1
    1

    Why do people bother about an ekelbroom. It is there to sweep the dirt and dirt is all that knows. So, it is just trying to dig shit

    • 4
      1

      In the process of sweeping dirt, ekelbrooms sometimes expose the rot lying underneath. In much the same way, some commentators have the knack of asking questions which reveal weaknesses in arguments previously presented. The objective is not to score points over other commentators, but to enable them to strengthen their respective arguments so that everyone learns and benefits.
      Resorting to hurling derogatory statements of a personal nature only reflects ignorance and immaturity on the part of the commentator

      • 1
        1

        I was at the viharaya most of the time when late Ven. Sobitha Thero was kept for the people to pay their last respect. I have a special regard and respect for the Muslim community. They came in huge numbers and they also distributed water bottles and food to the thousands who came there. Why is it that we did not volunteer to do such a thing to our own gem of a priest. Let us try to appreciate what they have done. Flying flags in mosques is not their culture or religion. Why should they do superficial things when they did much more. There would be always people who would pick on small things to bring out racism.

        • 1
          0

          its called kappan they have learnt it.

  • 1
    1

    ekelbroom pretends to be a know it all and “educate” DT readers and his motive is obviously political.No wonder the commentators think that he is a ignorant fool suggesting that the Muslims should have raised yellow flags.
    sarrij.

    • 0
      0

      blessed are the ignorant fools for they inherit the land…. look around you buruvas

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.