28 May, 2022


Sobitha Thero; A Selfless Warrior Of Our Times

By Mass L. Usuf

Mass L. Usuf

Mass L. Usuf

Anicca vata sankhara – All conditioned things are impermanent

Uppada vaya dhammino – Their nature is to arise and pass away

Uppajjitva nirujjhanti – To live in harmony with this truth

Tesang vupasamo sukho – Brings the highest happiness.
(Maha Pari Nibbana-sutta, Digha-nikaya)

“Sri Lanka is a small island in which live the Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Malays and Burghers. We all must think how to live together and not how to live divided. Each time we were divided, the result was defeat. In the 30 year war, no one was victorious. We were all losers”. These words of the Most Venerable Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero reverberate in the ears of many and shall continue to do so for a very long time. The intonation characteristic of a matured, experienced and insightful personality; the composure and the aura of confidence all pointed to the sincerity of the words he spoke at that time. There was not an iota of doubt in his statement.

This great son, The Most Venerable Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero, The Chief Incumbent of the Naaga Viharaya in Kotte, departed from this mundane life leaving mother Lanka weeping, weeping and weeping. His demise is a loss to humanity, a loss to democracy, a loss to civil society and a loss to all Sri Lankans. Venerable Sir, you have made all of us ‘orphans’ in the sphere of clean politics and good governance.


Staunch in justice, fearless in opposition and lion-hearted in approach he has been a beacon of guidance, a tower of assurance and an expanse of sensibility. During the past period of terror not by terrorists but, by the then establishment and its agencies many looked up to Sobitha thero for support, comfort and to show the way forward. There are today several in the Sangha who are in the helm of affairs but, unfortunately, not many to fill in the vacuum created by this noble personality. Is not this a tragedy upon tragedy?

maduluwawe-sobitha-theroPrior to the January 2015 Presidential election, the Thero counselled the then incumbent President against contesting for re-election but the over-confident Mahinda Rajapaksa did not take the Thero seriously. It is no secret that the Venerable Thero contributed immensely to pave the way for the common candidate for Presidency. He was, in fact, even willing to stick his neck out as the common candidate if there was no brave person to come forward. Not in greed of power but in order to abolish the executive presidency which had plagued the nation for a long time. He was a selfless warrior. A true patriot who lived up to the word.

Post election, he did not rest with the inauguration of the Yahapalana President. He was unabatedly continuing his advocacy. This time ensuring the implementation of the promises made by the new President, Maithripala Sirisena. A brave man indeed, who stood up to the test of bravery and passed it victoriously. The Thero said that if the promises are not kept everything will be over. The constitutional amendments and several other proactive measures that followed were the fruits of his indefatigable efforts.

As the Convener of the National Movement for a Just Society, The Most Venerable Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero never mixed his words nor was his message vague or compromising. During the last general election, he clearly guided the nation stating that the people need to take steps to ensure that corrupt persons are not re-elected to Parliament. His resounding words were that there is no need to make individuals victorious, but instead it must be ensured that policies of the country are victorious.

He was a strong advocate of clean politics. He cautioned the nation in the run up to the election not to vote for the corrupt, persons with racing interests, ethanol dealers and owners of taverns etc. His campaign to put pressure on the political parties not to provide nominations to unsuitable candidates saw the absence of many infamous and notorious actors thrown out of the election arena. We thank you, Venerable Sir, for this great contribution.

True National Hero

Today, in Sri Lanka if people are breathing the air of freedom and liberty, walking about with peace of mind and dignity and striving for peaceful co-existence let us give credit to this great Thero. There have been many in the past who are hailed as national heroes but they were heroes of the Sinhala people only. It is a misnomer to call such people national heroes. They were heroes who worked on the basis of raciality and many a times contributed to the division of the society. A sample of a true national hero is seen in Sobitha Thero. A hero par excellence who has earned the respect, reverence, approbation and admiration of not only the Sinhala people but also of the Tamils, Muslims, Malays and Burghers. For those in the Sangha community be proud of this great Thero and learn his ways. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero, Venerable Sir, you are a manifestation of a true Sinhala Buddhist son of our mother Lanka. The government must declare him a National Hero.

Venerable Sir, in this nation where humans dwell, you have proved to be a great human being. In this nation where Buddhists live, you have proven that you are a true Buddhist. As a person who renounced pleasure to take the path of the Teacher, you have been a devout Sangha. To the Sasana you have been exemplary and a model worthy of emulation. For the Buddhist layman and the Sangha you have left behind the legacy of metta (loving kindness), karuna (compassion), mudita (sympathetic joy) and upekkha (equanimity) not confined to words but practiced in its true and exemplary perspective.

It would be the greatest tragedy of contemporary Sri Lanka if there is no other Sobitha Thero who will rise up from among the Sangha, to take his place.

Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero, our hearts are weeping for you, Venerable Sir.

“Every soul shall have a taste of death: and We test you by evil and by good by way of trial. to Us must you return”. (Chapter 21: Verse 35, Holy Quran)

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Latest comments

  • 16

    There were many people and organizations that worked hard to make a change in this country in January this year. But if were to choose the one person who made the greatest contribution in a spirit of a selflessness, on behalf of the common good of all, that person would undoubtedly be the Ven. Sobitha Thero.

    He had the stature, the charisma, the respect and the trust not only of Buddhists, but people of all faiths and ethnicities in this country.

    There are many in government today who have crept into positions of importance on the back of Sobitha Thero’s tireless work and who are a total and utter disgrace to the values and ethics he stood for.

    We the people of this country who worked and voted for a genuine change in the body politic are utterly appalled at some of the appointments made to high office and at the cynical way that ‘business is continuing as usual’ less than a year after this administration came into power.

    We cannot expect anything better from most of the corrupt, shameless leaders . It is for the people of this country to come together and continue the fight that Ven, Sobitha initiated.

    This is the greatest tribute that we can pay him.

    • 9

      The Venerable Thera was a warrior par-excellence, not with the sword, but on the political platform. He did so much to restore hope of Sri Lanka’s Muslim population. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala grant him Jannatul Firdous

  • 7

    “Anichcha Watha Sankhara – All conditioned things are impermanent”

    “A great being is fearless like a bull, noble, strong, wise, diligent, sees through delusions, is clear, attentive and awake”
    (#Dhammapada v.422)

  • 7

    Mass L. Usuf,

    Great piece of writing,

    Ven. Sobitha took on then hitherto known a roaring lion & made it to kneel before him, whole nation saw this , he unveiled the lion & showed it’s only fox wearing lion’s clothing, this happened on 8th January 2015.

    May Ven Sobitha attain nibbana

  • 5

    Jihadis and wahabists will not like what you wrote here . Your opinion column is beautiful and inspiring but neither Islamic nor christian born again evengelical types will approve you freely using simple truths from Buddha’s teachings . Thank you for your enlightened views. Lateef will blow fuse .

    • 2

      Sobitha Thero Left Us When The Country Needed Him Most- Latheef Farook in CT. Please see this

    • 1

      dear sheik cheng can you please enlighten to me as to whom you refer as ‘ jihadis’ and ‘wahabists’ ?

  • 6

    To my knowledge, Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero was the most respected, kind and loved human being in Sri Lanka. He should be conferred the title of Mahatma or Father of Nation.

    We, Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalese, have always cried that Sri Lanka has never produced a great national leader.

    But, he was surely such a great man, great leader and wonderful human being; he was such as national leader and well deserves the title of Mahatma or Father of Nation!

    Rest in Peace, Guruji.

  • 1

    Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero brings to mind the following quotation:

    If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. (John Quincy Adams)

    In my opinion, the greatest acheivement of Ven. Sobitha Thero is not that he demonstrated courage, spoke a lot and did a lot for freedomand democracy of our country, but that he inspired many others do so.

    The disappointment he sufferd on seeing his efforts going like sticks down the river must have worsened his illness and accelrated his apawath veema.

  • 3

    Cannot agree more to every single word penned with in-depth sorrow felt.

    As commented by: Sivas – deserves the title of Mahatma or Father of Nation! No number of statues in nook and corner erected will pave way to the heroic work done by our dearest Thero,

    May you attain Nibbana – Aameen

  • 2

    inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rajioon – From Him we come and to Him we return.

    The late Venerable Maduluwawe Sobitha had the courage to restore Buddhist values of Sri Lanka at a crucial time specially at the risk of an absolute dictator’s madness. Every Sri Lanka should be grateful and his memory / legacy will remain for a long time.

  • 1

    Hello Sheikh Cheng

    Did you or the Islamic scholars, have the courage to meet Sobitha Thero to explain about Islam, don’t you think that you are answerable to Allah on Yawmul Kiyama. Do the Muslim Sheikhs, Moulavies practice what they preach. Go and educate the Jihadist NOT to kill their own Muslim Brothers and also to Wahabis to demolish all the Darkas in all parts of the world. Dear Sudara Ustad Mass Usuf, you article is a 5 Stars product.

  • 0

    I am a Catholic and my family has been for 8+ generations. I always enjoyed listening to the great Ven. Sobitha Thero. May he attain Nibbana! (R.I.P.). My family and I don’t live in SL anymore, but looks like SL is losing great people and we wait eagerly for the next ‘Sobitha Theros’ from whatever race or religion!

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