Ven Yakkaduwe Pagnarama Thero was the source of strength and the founder of the modern day University of Kelaniya and the giant who battled the mighty for the equal oppertunities for the sangha in the sphere of education in Sri Lanka. Yest he is still being considered as a controversial figure due to his unorthodox appearance and unorthodox attitudes compared with the majority of Buddhist clergy in Sri Lanka.
He was born on 20th May 1907 at Yakkaduwa as the third son and was ordained in 1918 at the age of 11, under the tutelage of Ven Batapotha Sarananda Thero at the Batapotha Ghanananda Pothgul Vihara. He received monastic training at the Doranegoda Piriwena and at Vidyalanka piriwena. His higher ordination was in the year 1928. Though he never received any formal higher education his command in the Dhamma was astounding.
He wrote several books that are still being considered unique among the Dhamma works published. His view that the Buddhist monks should have the right to engage in the political affairs in the greater interest of the public became the most argued topic of the day. He was able to convince the majority of the opponents that the sinhala sangha should continue to protect the interest of the masses and should engage in educating the politicians to serve the public as was done from the ancient times. The University of Vidyalankara made history in approving this decision and issued the “Vidylankara declaration on Bhikku Politics” He was not biased or affiliated with any single party but made his alliances with who served the greater good of the country. This led to immense hardships to him as well as to the Vidyalankara Piriwena as wealthy powerful political opponents tried to influence them by bulldozing to their own benefit.
Ven Yakkaduwe Pannarama Thero later bacame the Vice Chancellor of the Vidyalankara Univesity in 1966. and was offered the position of Chief of Buddhist clergy in the Colombo and Chillaw districts in 1970.
His simplicity and the wisdom won him many followers over the years. He shunned publicity and did whatever it took to serve the interest of the Sangha and the public behind the scene or out of the lime light.
Ven Yakkaduwe Paanarama thero passed away 1st March 1986 and his last rights were conducted with state honours at the Vidyalankara University premisses in the presence of President J.R.Jayawardena, Primeminister Ranasinghe Premadasa and thousands of public.
It is a pity that I was unable to find any newspaper clipping about this great sangha father in the Sri Lankan newspapers or press and request you to send me any such material if you come across to include on this blog.