Venerable Wewaldeniye Medhalankara who was called Benjamin Appuhamy before ordination, was born on December 7, 1909 as the youngest child of Singankutti Arachchige Isan Appuhamy and Raja-pakse Vitaranalage Liyanguhamy of Milla-wala, Wewaldeniya.
He had his primary education at Junior School, Tolangamuwa which had later been elevated to a Central College. He was ordained on May 26, 1922 under the pupillage of Venerable Kataluwe Silavansa, the chief prelate of Abhayagiriya Temple Anuradhapura and Venerable Kadiragama Sumanasara. He had been practising monastic disciplinary rules and studying doctrine for about four years before he returned to Sasanawardana Piriven Vihara in Mirigama. He received his higher ordination under the guidance and supervision of his great teachers, respectively Venerable Kodagoda Upasena and Venerable Kadiragama Sumanasara. He completed his secondary education studying Logic, Philosophy and Abhidhamma under erudite monks such as Venerable Rerukane Ariyagnana and Pundit W.D. Vagisvara. He became the chief incumbent of the Sasanawardhana Piriven Vihara in 1972.
In 1950, he commenced to contribute his pious support to Sri Lanka Ramanna Maha Nikaya, in its administrative affairs especially in relation to monastic affairs which are most crucial to protect Sri Lankan Buddhist Order. In 1966, he became a member of the administrative working committee of Ramanna Maha Nikaya and he was inducted as a member of the executive committee of the said Nikaya. In 1974 he became the senior monastic judicial prelate of the said Nikaya. In 1985 the said Nikaya appointed him as the registrar of the Nikaya and in 1987 he was nominated as the chief judicial prelate-Adhikarana Sanga Nayaka of the Nikaya. In 1993 he was appointed as a member of the supreme body of the Sri Lankan Buddhist Order. In 1998 most Venerable Medhalankara Thera was nominated as Mahanayaka of the Sri Lanka Ramanna Maha Nikaya at Dharmagupta Mula Mahavihara, Payagala.
Apart from his valuable contribution to Nikaya, he has been endeavouring to uplift the social values through various religious and educational activities to which he has given the leadership. He is also the chief patron to many social organisations. Among them the Hospital Committee, Ayurvedic Doctors’ Association, Sinhala Traders Society, Maha Bodhi Children’s Home and Seth Sevana Adults Home in Mirigama have been carrying out social activities under his guidance. He started several institutions such as Sasanawardhana Dhamma School, Millawala School, D.S. Senanayaka National School, Ambana Children’s Home, Sasanawardhana Nursery School and Hospital Development Society in Mirigama.
Since 1997, he travelled immensely in dissemination of Buddhist Philosophy and Sri Lankan Theravadic monastic tradition to various countries. Among them India, Pakistan, Singapore, Myanmar, Thailand, Korea, Japan, China and Australia are some of the countries in which the great prelate participated in missions in association with Baddegama Vimalawansa Anunayaka Thera. He was appointed as a member of the Senate of the Buddha Srawaka University, Anuradhapura. Later he was nominated as the chancellor of the same university and also of the Buddhist and Pali University of Sri Lanka.
In appreciation of his great service to Buddhist Order, Republic of Myanmar conferred honorary “Agga Maha Saddhamma Jothika Dhaja” on him.
His contribution to uplift of great Buddhist seats has been appreciated by conferring honorary status such as “Sahitya Chakravarti” by Pali and Buddhist University of Sri Lanka, “Dharma Shastra Shiromani” by Vidyalankara Pirivena, Kelaniya, and “Sasana Sobana Sri Saddharma Vagisvaracharya Siri Saranankara Upasena Vansawatansa” by the Ramanna Maha Nikaya.
His great knowledge in Buddhism has been admired by Anagarika Dharmapala Foundation and in consequence of that he was awarded “Tripitaka Vagisvaracharya” honorary degree by Amarapura Mula Vansika Nikaya.
Although he is at the age of hundred years, being fragile in his physical conditions he still manages to continue with his daily routine in attending alms round with other junior monks and pupils, irrespective of his busy schedule as the chief prelate of the Nikaya. So that he, in the perspective of Buddhist teachings, has been a humble monk devoting himself to social service helping from minor to adult either lay or clergy.
The great prelate took no pains at any time to maintain high standards of traditions that Ramanna Nikaya was known for.
His method of counselling the bikkhus was successful owing to his pleasing monastic mannerism and boundless kindness. Moreover, significantly the hallmark in this great prelate is such that he never sought publicity but did that he thought fit in a silent manner. As many of us know he played a pivotal role in moulding his students to be exemplary for laity and clergy. He inculcated principles of discipline among most of the pupils to conduct them with decorum in the Buddhist society.
We indeed owe a large debt to this genial personality being a great teacher, guide and a philanthropist.
We ourselves always have to pay homage to Maha Nayaka Thera, for his invaluable guidance, advice and kindness, who is a person full of compassion and determination.
Thus Venerable Thera for almost eighty years upto this day has dedicated his life to religious and social activities to uplift the Sri Lankan society. Venerable Thera celebrates his hundredth birthday on December 7, 2008 on which all of us have good fortune and opportunity of invoking blessings by Maha Nayaka Thera, and in return we wish him with all good health and happiness.
May he live long with the blessings of the noble triple gem.