by Udeni Saman Kumaras article on November 8, 2015, in Sri Lanka Guardian)
Ven. Maduluwave Sobitha Thera (1942-2015) was like a lighthouse to the nation who showed the path to people without giving up the struggle for a better world following the footsteps of the Buddha.
He was critically ill recently and underwent a heart surgery. He has passed away in a hospital in Singapore, early hours, today.
This is the best time to trace the place of Ven. Maduluwave Sobhitha Thera in the history of politics and religion in this country. The Bhikkhus such as Ven. Udakendawala Saranankara Thera, Ven Yakkaduwe Pragnarama Thera, Ven. Kotahene Pannakiththi Thera and Ven. Walpola Rahula Thera were the prominent Bhikkhus who led the freedom struggle in early times.
The politicians who were embarrassed due to their struggles said Bhikkhus should keep away from politics. However, this ideology was defeated by Ven. Walpola Rahula Thera who showed the importance of social engagement of Bhikkhus.
Ven. Prof. Walpola Rahula Thera highlighted that a programme that causes good to the people of the country without harming the character of the noble bhikkuhood, it was apt for Bhikkhus, regardless of the fact that they are named as political.
Ven. Sobhitha Thera followed in the footsteps of Bhikkhus such as Ven. Walpola Rahula Thera and Ven. Udakendawala Saranankara Thera. He was struggling for good causes residing in Naga Vihara of Kotte for almost four decades.
He did not give importance to his own life in his struggles against injustice. He was manhandled, arrested and put in jail. He narrowly escaped gunfire. Once his opponents tried to knock his car and kill him.
He is the only Bhikkhu leader who faced tear gas and baton charges. Once, a group of thugs sent by politicos brutally assaulted him and Prof. Ediriweera Sarachchandra in a meeting at the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress Hall in Colombo. While lying on the floor, Ven. Sobhitha Thera raised his head and asked Prof. Sarachchandra if he was all right.
None of such attacks could discourage Ven. Sobhitha Thera. He never betrayed his conscience and always fought for justice.
He is such an active Bhikkhu that his diary was full of social activities. He was under surveillance very often. Defeated politicians consulted him for regaining political power. But when they come to power, they did not visit Naga Vihara or had a word of gratitude. This was never a new phenomenon to Ven. Sobhitha Thera.
He relentlessly struggled against the Executive Presidency created by J.R. Jayewardene in 1978 although politicians from time to time took different stands on this crucial issue.
“The President appoints the Chief Justice and all the Judges of the Supreme Court. He took over the Attorney General’s Department also. How can we expect independence in this context? What happened to the cases? When some accused are about to be punished, the Attorney General suddenly withdraws the cases. While those who are loyal to the government are acquitted, the opponents are penalized. Thus the law is denigrated,” Ven. Sobhitha Thera said.
He signalled the Opposition to make use of the opportunity to bring about change. The change was made but the wrongdoers were not punished. Then he said he would re-start the struggle.
Entire Sri Lanka knows Ven. Sobhitha Thera. However, many people do not know where Maduluwava is. It is a small village in Padukka. Pathirage Don Peiris Appuhami is the father of Ven. Sobhitha Thera. He was a carpenter. His wife was Balagala Kuruvita Arachchige Karalina Hamine. Ven. Sobhitha Thera who was born on 09 May 1942 was the second son of the family. He was named Rathnasekara. The way Rathnasekara became a Ven. Sobhitha Thera is another interesting story.