President Chandrika Kumaratunga yesterday said the open economy and globalization have posed challenges to Buddhism, but she said the answer to the challenges also lies within the Buddhist Philosophy.
The President made these observations after she presented the `Aktapatra` to the newly appointed Anunayake of the Malwatta Chapter, Venerable Niyangoda Sri Vijitha Siri Thera, at the Historic Magul Maduwa in Kandy.
The President said on several occasions she had met Anunayake Niyangoda Vijitha Siri Thera and found in him a erudite monk living a simple life and the venerable Thera`s advice on various matters were of immense benefit.
After Venerable Mahinda Thera brought Buddhism to Sri Lanka there was constant development in various spheres. Buddhism was also instrumental in the cultural and socio life of the country.
It taught the people to live graciously and think wisely. This development existed until the ancient Kings of Kandy, despite times of decline. Yet with the foreign invasions and various other factors, there was a decline of Buddhism during the Kandyan era. There was a decline of Buddhism and also of the various Viharas in the country.
The biggest obstacle was the decline in the number of Upasampada monks in the country and finally it came to a point where there was not a single Bhikkhu with Upasampada in the country.
In this situation the President said that it fell on the shoulders of the Sangharaja Welivita Asarana Sarana Sarankara Thera, for the revival of Buddhism. The Thera on his own collected books and developed the necessary conducive atmosphere to bring back Upasampada to the country.
The Thera was able to call upon King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe as a benefactor to bring Upasampada ceremonies from Siam ( Thailand ) and on Esala Poya Day in 1753, Upasamapda was established in the country again.
It is a known fact that the State took an interest in the development of Buddhism and nurturing it with a close relationship between the State and the Maha Sangha.
After the British signed a Treaty in Kandy, said the President, they too accepted and assured the protection and development of Buddhism.
The present ceremony of presenting the Aktapatra to the Maha Sangha is one of the undertakings of the British administration.
The President said that this relationship has continued from the time of King Devanampiyatissa and is being continued up to the present.
The Republican Constitution of 1971 and Constitutions thereafter had given foremost place to the protection and development of Buddhism.
The President said the new Anunayake comes from a lineage of great monks and that he would have all the courage to face the obstacles and other challenges that Buddhism faces and bring about a better understanding among the people.
The Aktapatra was read to the audience by the Secretary Malwatta Chapter Rajakeeya Panditha Walgowawe Vimalabuddhi Thera.
A large gathering of the members of the Sangha from various parts of the country were present including Anuanayake of Asgiri Venerable Galgama Atthadassi Thera.