It is not necessary to explain, especially for followers of Buddhism, the reality behind joy and sorrow as it had already been preached by Lord Buddha. Buddhism maintains a significant position when analysing the past, present and future of mankind. Buddhism explains in and out of every element of life – for everyone including followers of other faiths. This beautiful philosophy compels manipulating the use of intelligence and wisdom. It empowers its followers and enlightens them on the fact that anyone can conquer the world, either be it the clergy or laymen.
Nepal is very close to the hearts of Buddhists because Lumbini, a pilgrimage site in the Rupandehi District of Nepal, is considered the homeland of Lord Buddha. I feel it is important to mention to Sri Lankans about Ven. Maithri Thera who visited Lumbini to help those affected by abject poverty.
In 1976, the prelate was awarded the higher ordination in Kalutara Seema Malakaya. He was in charge of the Hindi section of Nepal’s programme in the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation during 1977-1979. A degree holder of the Kelaniya University, Ven. Maithri Thera has served in the Hindi section from its inception.
Ven. Maithri Thera didn’t give up. He toiled day and night to address these alarming problems. Once, he was a victim of a terrorist attack in Nepal. The writer was taken aback when he heard the attempts made by the Ven. Thera to save his life
When Ven. Maithri Thera left for his motherland Nepal on the instructions of his superior Ven. Amithananda Thera in 1980, he launched a programme to guide Buddhists and to ease the various difficulties faced by monks. The Ven. Thera has handed over 400 children to the Buddha Sasana within a period of 10 years. The priest has also extended his invaluable services to Nepal TV and the broadcasting of ‘Kathmandu.’ Furthermore, the Ven. Thera had initiated the Training School for Bhikkhus upon his arrival in Nepal.
The priest was compelled to shoulder a greater burden following the demise of Ven. Amithananda Thera. He went to Lumbini from Kathmandu and observed a completely different situation. He saw people suffering from various illnesses. He was entrusted to look after Lumbini – however it happened only for a brief three months as communal tensions broke out in the sacred area. The situation was so bad that people started pelting stones at the official residences of monks.
Nevertheless, Ven. Maithri Thera didn’t give up. He toiled day and night to address these alarming problems. Once, he was a victim of a terrorist attack in Nepal. The writer was taken aback when he heard the attempts made by the Ven. Thera to save his life.
During the height of the problem, the late President R. Premadasa visited Nepal and established the pilgrims rest with funds from the Sri Lankan Government. He held the management of this for some time and later gave up for reasons hitherto unknown. An award has been presented to President Premadasa in Kathmandu, the Capital of Nepal, under the patronage of Ven. Maithri Thera.
After studying the changes taking place in Lumbini, he spoke about the requirements of the people. He sought assistance from international bodies and empowered people’s representatives.
Like a smile amidst tears, he mentioned the incident in which the child of a doctor tasted death following a snake bite. We understood in his speech that he put in effort to help the victims of natural catastrophes. He also provided clean drinking water to villages and made arrangements to install tube wells for schools and hospitals. He has been engaged in social work in more than 69 villages in Nepal. He is today the Chief Sangha Nayake.
The Buddhist Shrine Room built by the Ven. Thera in Lumbini is of pivotal significance for Buddhists. The Katina Ceremony that was held last month displayed cultural features of Buddhists. I always feel that the Ven. Thera is not a Nepalese but a Sri Lankan because he conversed with us in Sinhala.