Ancient kings rendered yeoman service to propagate Buddhism - PM
By Ananda Kannangara
DN Monday Jun 16 2003
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Saturday commended the great religious service rendered by king Kavantissa to propagate Buddhism in the country and said that construction of the Tassamaharama Maha Dagaba by this great king is a fine example for his endeavours in spreading of this religion.
He made these observations at a ceremony held at Tissamaharamaya to coincide with the unveiling of the pinnacle at the renovated Tissamaharama Maha Dagaba on the Poson Full Moon poya day.
The Premier unveiled the pinnacle at the auspicious time of 9.10 am. amidst a large number of Buddhist clergy and devotees. Tissamaharama Viharaya chief incumbent Ven. Dr. Devalegama Dhammasena was present.
Thanking the Government of Myanmar for presenting an invaluable Chudamanikkaya to be placed on the pinnacle the Premier highlighted the importance of renovating this ancient dagaba without tarnishing its prestige glory.
"Our ancient dagabas not only helped to preserve Buddhism but also to spread the religion through Buddhist monks who are closely associated with these dagabas."
The Premier outlined the history of Theravada Buddhism which existed in our country from the time Buddhism was brought during the period of king Devanampiyatissa and said that several kings including Kavantissa and Dutugemunu immensely helped to preserve Buddhism.
"When king Kavantissa built Tissa Maha Viharaya in Ruhuna with the objective of preserving Buddhism his son King Dutugemunu constructed the Ruwanweliseya at Anuradhapura for the benefit of Buddhists in that region", he said.
Wickremesinghe also recalled that king Parakramabahu too fostered Buddhism in our country as well as countries such as Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Burma. He said even countries such as Japan and Korea highly accepted the Theravada Buddhism due to the tireless efforts made by these kings to spread Buddhism.
Delivering an anusasana Ven. Dr. Devalegama Dhammasena Thera said that renovating the ancient Tissa Maha Dagaba is a meritorious deed and thanked Mr. Yasasiri Kasturiaratchchi for providing financial assistance to carry out the entire renovation work and also the Cultural Affairs Ministry for providing all the assistance to fulfil this obligation. Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapakse valued the religious service rendered by king Kavantissa and said that the king developed the country in agriculture too.
"King Kavantisa also provided forces to his son Dutugemunu during the period king Dutugemunu fought with king Elara," he said.
Rajapaksa also requested the Government to take steps to renovate at least 262 ancient Buddhist temples located in the Northern and Eastern areas.
Education Minister Dr Karunasena Kodituwakku thanked former President J.R. Jayawardene for establishing the Central Cultural Fund which is helping the Government to carry out several projects including the renovation of ancient religious places.
Power and Energy Minister Karu Jayasooriya highlighted the importance of conducting this nature of religious ceremonies frequently as they immensely help to create a just society and a religious atmosphere in the country.
Deputy healthy Minister Sajith Premadasa said that renovating ancient dagabas and other religious places are needed to create a religious society and requested the public to take steps to renovate other religious places located elsewhere in the country.