Sunday, November 28, 2021

Weligama Sri Sumangala Thera

Ven Weligama Sri Sumangala Thera (1825-1905) was a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk and an oriental scholar.

Life events
He was born in 1825 to a respectful family at Weligama in Matara District (Carus, 1905; Paranavitana, 1983). At the twelve years of age he entered the Buddhist order and completed his education from Ven. Bentara Attadassi Thera, one of the the most famous Sanskrit scholars at the time (Carus, 1905; Paranavitana, 1983).

Sumangala Thera, in a short period, became a recognized Sanskrit scholar. He wrote several commentaries on Sanskrit grammar and his work Mugdhabodha Vyakhana comprising 700 pages was printed by the Government of Ceylon in 1897 (Paranavitana, 1983). He has been consulted as an authority in Sinhala, Pali, and Sanskrit by scholars from the West as well as from the East (Carus, 1905). He also pioneered in establishing the Saugathodaya Vidyalaya at Rankoth Viharaya (Paranavitana, 1983). Sir Edwin Arnold (1832-1904) the author of the famous work "Light of Asia" and Colonel Henry Steel Olcott (1832-1907), an American who played a major role in the revival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka were among his close associates (Paranavitana, 1983). 
 
Sumangala Thera belonged to the Amarapura sect of Buddhist monks. In 1894 he was elected as its Maha Nayaka Thera (the Chief High Priest) and further honored by the conferment of the title "Sasana Vamsalankara"

Sumangala Thera passed away on 13 March 1905 (Carus, 1905).

Publications
# Hitopadesa Padartha Vyakhyanaya
# Upadesa Vinischaya
# Siddhanta Sekharaya (Mugdhabodha Vyakhana) (1897)

References
1) Carus, P., 1905. The Open Court, Volume 19. Open Court Publishing Company. p.510.
2) Paranavitana, K.D., 1983. Scholar monks of the nineteenth century and the tragic transformation of the high priest Ven. Kapugama Dhammakkhanda Thero. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Sri Lanka Branch, 28, pp.123-164.


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