Chief Prelate Ven. Napana Premasiri Thera was a 'pious and kind-hearted' Buddhist monk. (Photo: YouTube)
Sri Lankans including Catholic leaders are mourning the death of a prominent Buddhist monk who dedicated his life to disseminating Buddhism and national unity.
The final rite of Chief Prelate Ven. Napana Premasiri Thera was held at Bandaranaike National School in Warapitiya, Kundasale, under state patronage on Nov. 22. He died at the age of 98 while being treated at Peradeniya Teaching Hospital on Nov. 17.
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo said he was deeply saddened to hear of the demise of the Ven. Premasiri Thera.
"He was a pious and kind-hearted Buddhist monk who was full of knowledge of the Dhamma [the teachings of Lord Buddha]," said Cardinal Ranjith.
"Many times he held my hands and blessed me. In doing so, I saw it as a symbol of true humanity and the openness of the perfect obedience to the discipleship of Lord Buddha."
The archbishop of Colombo said the demise of such a great son of the Lord Buddha is a great loss to the entire Buddha Sasana and the country.
"In the same way, this is an unbearable loss to me, who often listened to his instructions," the prelate added.
Ven. Premasiri Thera was born on Jan. 2, 1922, in Napana in Kandy. He entered the order in 1933 and received higher ordination in 1943. The monk was appointed chief prelate of the Sri Ramanna Maha Nikaya in 2012.
Many people flocked to the Hurikaduwa Vidyasagara Pirivena to pay their last respects to the monk.
His body was taken in a procession on Nov. 22 for the cremation ceremony at Bandaranaike National School in Kundasale following Covid-19 protocols.
Muslim representatives from Kandy Jumma Iyathul Ulama Saba paid their last respects to Ven. Premasiri Thera on Nov. 21.
Ven. Kotugoda Dhammawasa Mahanayaka Thera said Ven. Premasiri Thera dedicated his life to the Sasana.
Nuwan Attapattu, a teacher, said the monk worked hard to build a virtuous society.
"Ven. Premasiri Thera lived a very simple and exemplary life for all. The monk highly appreciated national unity. He donated two acres of land worth of millions to a Tamil cemetery," he said.
The monk served as the 13th head of the Ramanna Nikaya since 2012.
Ven. Makkulawe Wimala Thera has been appointed chief of the Ramanna Nikaya in line with the convention that the new leader should be appointed before the cremation ceremony of the chief prelate.