One of Sri Lanka's most learned monk passes away

By Walter Jayawardhana, Asian Tribune, Nov 18, 2006

"Country lost an authority on Buddhist law and a pious monk by the passing away of Mirisse Dharmasiri Maha Thera" - The Anu Nayaka Thero of the the Ramanna Maha Nikaya the Venerable Balangod Pannawansa Thero

Colombo, Sri Lanka -- The Anu Nayaka Thero of the the Ramanna Maha Nikaya the Venerable Balangod Pannawansa Thero said the country lost one of the leading scholars among Buddhist monks who had an expert knowledge on the Vinaya Pitakaya of the Tripitaka , the three baskets of the Buddha Dharma and a deep knowledge of the Tamil language with the passing away of Venerable Mirisse Dharmasiri Maha Thera.

He was delivering an eulogy at the funeral ceremony amidst a distinguished assembly of hundreds of monks of all three sects of the island and laymen in thousands who gathered at the Maha Vidyalaya grounds, Mirissa in Southern Sri Lanka to pay their last respects to the erudite monk who headed Yatala Menik Maha Viharaya, the oldest Buddhist Stupa built in Ruhuna, in the 3rd century BC.

The Venerable Anu nayaka Thero of the Ramanna Nikaya said, that Dharmasiri mahatheraís wide knowledge of the Vinayaka Pitaka, the democratic laws governing the lives of monks and laity was extremely evident in his scholarship exhibited by the treatise he wrote- Sanghadhikarana Jothika, a comparative study of the Buddhist canonical laws with modern jurisprudence.

The most Venerable Balangoda Pannawasa Thero said Venerable Dharmasiri was a pious monk and he was appointed an Arbitrator and a Mahopadya of the Ramanna Nikaya. He received both these positions due to his exhaustive knowledge in Vinaya rules, he emphasized.

The Anu Nayaka Thero of the Ramanna Nikaya speaking further said that
one of his latest publications "Sirilaka Yatala Manik Pudabima", describes about the historical relations of the temple he managed at Yatala, Tissa in the deep South of the country. The book revealed, he said, that the Yatala Manik Vehera as the earliest built stupa in Ruhuna by Prince Mahanaga and other information hitherto unknown about the stupa and its times.

The Venerable Anunayaka Thero reminded that the Venerable Dharmasiri maha Thero had contributed to the Budusarana weekly under the pen name Dhammika for more than three decades and his radio discussions have been compiled as a book proving that he was a superior communicator in the common manís language on matters of dharma.

Venerable Omalpe Sobhitha mahathera also spoke.

Mrs. Shanthi Fernando read a message of condolences sent by President Mahinda Rajapaksa which said that the passing away of the maha thera was a great loss to the country, especially to the Ruhuna, and the generally to the Buddha Sasana.

Venerable Dhammasiri's body lay in state in the newly built library building in the Sunandarama Piriven Viharaya .and was taken in a two mile long procession to the cremation site at the Mirissa Maha Vidyalaya grounds.

Thousands of people watched in silence when two nephews of the Maha Thera lit the pyre.