The sole authority in the administration of Buddhist Temples rests in the hands of the chief prelates of these temples and hence neither the State nor any State institution has any right to interfere in their administration or to intervene in their affairs in any way, said Minister of Buddha Sasana and Justice Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe when he spoke on Wednesday at the Mahiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya.
He stressed that no state institution will be allowed to intervene or meddle with the affairs of these temples. "If the Lord Buddha was alive today, he would have thought that this is the ideal time to make his fourth visit to the island having considered the frustration prevalent in our society today".
The minister went on to say that from the time of the Kandyan Convention of 1858 till the 1978 Constitution it has been a responsibility of the government to give the pride of place to Buddhism and to nourish it. "We are working with a great awareness of this position. At a time the International Vesak Festival was celebrated in our country and a great resurgence and awakening of Buddha’s teaching is taking place, it is not a shock that people with ulterior motives are trying to undermine this resurgence. Facing these moves is not an issue for us," he said.
"We were very hurt by come of what is being said in the media with regards to our temples. There are reports of financial misappropriation taking place at the Rangiri Dambulu Raja Maha Viharaya. I as the Buddha Sasana Minister wish to clarify our position in this regard. Our responsibility does not end with only protecting temples. Among the Nikayas there are traditions that have gone on for thousands of years.
For example the Asgiriya Chapter has traditions handed down from the Anuradhapura era and the Malwatta Chapter too is the same. The Asgiriya Maha Viharaya Karaka Sangha Sabha controls many temples around it including the administration of the Athkanda Viharaya where the Anunayake Thera resides and this Mahiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya, Muthiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya, Rangiri Dambulu Viharaya and the Rambewa Viharaya in a manner that is different to the administration of ordinary temples. They are administered under a special system, by the Asgiriya chapter. During the recent past there was criticism and allegations with regard to the running of the Rangiri Dambulu Viharaya by the Cultural Triangle and institutions such as the Archaeological Department.
It should be noted that the present incumbent of the Rangiri Raja Maha Viharaya, Dr. Godagama Mangala Thera was not the Chief Incumbent during the time the alleged discrepancies took place. Therefore the Cultural Triangle and the Archaeological Department should probe these irregularities and take action against those who were there at the time when these alleged incidents took place. No one has the right to put the blame on the Sangha for this,"he said.
The Minister made these remarks while participating at a ceremony to ordain 48 novice monks at the Mahiyangana Raja Maha Viharaya.