A Man of Heroic Stature

26 October 2017 12:05 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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In Modern Times he Served the Cause of Promoting the Buddha Dhamma

To understand and appreciate the calibre of Sir Cyril de Zoysa one needs to place him against the historical background of our nation and see how he is a product of the very genes that created our nation. Prince Vijaya of the Lion Race in India arrived in Sri Lanka along with seven hundred warriors, struck a strategic relationship with a local Princess, Kuveni of the Yaksha race, and brought the State of Lanka under his suzerainty.

Historical facts reveal that the Yaksha dynasty was in a state of degeneration for several centuries after the fall of King Ravana, their ancient head of state. By this time their Kingdom of Sireesavastu and that of Lankapura were in a state of deterioration. It was during such a time that the advent of Vijaya and his band of followers took place. Prince Vijaya succeeded in winning over Kuveni, descendant of the royal line of King Ravana and through this liaison succeeded in winning over full control of the state of Lanka.   

Meanwhile, the Naga Race had made Kelaniya, lying along the Western sea coast, the chief kingdom, while the Deva Race lived in the middle of the country. Between them there were no open dissensions; yet there was no unity either. For this very reason that the Yaksha, Deva and Naga Races were disunited Prince Vijaya found it opportune to subdue the entire country by capturing the kingdom of the YakshaRace.   

After the arrival of Thera Mahinda or Mihindu in Lanka, Emperor Dharmashoka the Great, dispatched to this country his daughter Sanghamitta along with a retinue of Bhikkunis or Buddhist nuns, with a sapling of the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi or the Great Resplendent Bodhi Tree and with a large retinue belonging to eighteen clans of artisans skilled in different arts

Meanwhile again, after the arrival of Princess Bhaddha-kachchanaa of the Sakya Dynasty in Lanka, large numbers of the Sakya Dynasty under the leadership of some of the Princess’s own brothers such as Uruvela, Ramagona, Anuradha, Vijitha, Dheegaayu and Rohana, arrived and settled in Lanka and integrated with the people of the Lion Race. After the arrival of Thera Mahinda or Mihindu in Lanka, Emperor Dharmashoka the Great, dispatched to this country his daughter Sanghamitta along with a retinue of Bhikkunis or Buddhist nuns, with a sapling of the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi or the Great Resplendent Bodhi Tree and with a large retinue belonging to eighteen clans of artisans skilled in different arts.   

All these communities, much impressed by the devotion of the great King Devanampiyatissa and the great Mahinda Maha Thera, sought ordination as Buddhist monks. Accordingly, they were all ordained without discrimination. As a result, the Sinha-Deva-Naga tribes – all gradually joined the ranks of Buddhist monks along with Bodhigupta who accompanied the Sacred Bo sapling and the eighteen clans of skilled artisans.   

Thus seven or eight generations later, the people, along with the Lion or Sinha tribe that occupied the throne, had imperceptibly become Buddhists. Moreover, owing to such gradual transformation into being Buddhists there was no cause for friction in living together as a community. In the same token, they all became Sinhalese. Meanwhile, in emulation of Sanghamitta, women of all tribes sought and received ordination. She was Anula Devi who took the lead in this matter. From such time onward, the people of Sri Lanka gradually became the subjects of a Buddhist state.   

In terms of these historical facts set out so briefly, it is patently clear that the Sinhala race dedicated its very life for the preservation of the Word of the Budddha. In the same token the religious life of Sir Cyril de Zoysa was one of great success. Sir Cyril born in Southern Sri Lanka following the footsteps of the ancient kings and ministers of state spent his wealth, time and knowledge entirely in the cause of sustaining the Sasana.   

Sir Cyril de Zoysa held positions of dignity and responsibility moving right up to that of the President of the Senate and the boundless services rendered by him are a result of the power and strength of the genes of the Sinhala people carried through thousands of years

His religious life was a very special one. Some aspects of this religious life are the Restoration of the Kiri Vehera, the development of the Kalutara Bodhi to become one of the Sacred Places par excellence and the setting up of the Young Men’s Buddhist Association (YMBA) Building Complex. Apart from these, he adopted various measures appropriate for the development and preservation of Homes for Elders, Homes for Children, a Ward exclusively for sick Bhikkus, Buddhist Schools and other such. These should be perceived as some aspects of his intellectual ability. His political life too was a rich one. He served for some years as a member of the Upper House of Parliament viz. the Senate, then as its President and thus as an exemplary politician.   

It has to be imperatively asserted that, as stated at the very outset of this piece of writing, Sir Cyril de Zoysa who held positions of dignity and responsibility moving right up to that of the President of the Senate and the boundless services rendered by him are a result of the power and strength of the genes of the Sinhala people carried through thousands of years.   

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