President Maithripala Sirisena on Saturday officially handed over the proposal to declare the Theravada Tripitaka, the sacred scripture of Buddhists, as a UNESCO Memory of the World document, to the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Sri Lanka, Ms. Hanaa Singer, at the Maha Maluwa of the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy.
Recently, President Sirisena took steps to declare the Theravada Tripitaka as a national heritage to ensure the sustainability of pure Buddhism. Not limiting to this noble endeavour, he initiated the process to declare the Tripitaka as a UNESCO Memory of the World document with the aim of preserving it for thousands more years.
Addressing the ceremony, the President said that the legacy of protecting and nurturing of the Tripitaka, which included the preaching of Gautama Buddha, and to present it to the world in writing, lies on us as Sri Lankans. He added that until the Tripitaka was published, it was preserved by the Maha Sangha of Sri Lanka and by declaring this noble inheritance as a world heritage, Sri Lanka will receive an opportunity to obtain the ownership and trusteeship of it.
Furthermore, the President said that despite the opposition by some people with vested interests and attempting to challenge and confront this endeavour, the steps to take forward the objective to declare the Tripitaka as a world heritage will move ahead successfully. President Sirisena said that the Tripitaka is a vast knowledge resource apart from being a religious philosophy.
He also said that he is pleased to see that all the Maha Nayaka Theros of all the Nikayas sitting together invoked blessings for this noble task. President Sirisena recalled that former Burmese Prime Minister, U Nu, said in 1953 that Tripitaka was the most important historical heritage of Buddhism and described how it was first preserved by memory and then written on ola leaves in Sri Lanka and finally scripted in stone.
The President said even in non-Buddhist countries like Germany there were laudable comments of Tripitaka in their ancient chronicles. Delivering a special sermon at the event by the Maha Nayaka Theros, he pointed out that the initiative taken by the President to declare the Tripitaka as a world heritage will be appreciated by all the Buddhist communities in the world.