Ven. Weliwitiye Sri Soratha Thero


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Ven. Weliwitiye Sri Soratha Thero was a prominent Buddhist monk and scholar who played a key role in establishing the Piriven University system and the University of Sri Jayewardenepura in Sri Lanka. He was also a prolific writer, translator and editor of many Buddhist texts and journals.

Ven. Weliwitiye Sri Soratha Thero was born on 18th March 1898 in Welivita, a village in Kandy district. He received his primary education at the local temple and later entered the Vidyodaya Pirivena, a leading Buddhist monastic college in Colombo, where he studied under the guidance of Ven. Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Thero and Ven. Ratmalane Sri Dharmaloka Thero. He excelled in Pali, Sanskrit, Sinhala, English and Buddhist studies and obtained his Vidyalankara degree in 1921.

He was ordained as a monk in 1922 and continued his studies at the Vidyodaya Pirivena. He also taught there as a lecturer and later became the principal of the institution. He was instrumental in developing the curriculum, facilities and academic standards of the Pirivena and made it a center of excellence for Buddhist education. He also initiated several publications, such as the Vidyodaya Journal of Buddhist Studies, the Vidyodaya Library Series and the Vidyodaya Text Series.

In 1956, he was appointed as the first Vice-Chancellor of the Vidyodaya University of Ceylon (later became the University of Sri Jayewardenepura in Sri Lanka), which was established by an act of parliament to provide higher education for Buddhist monks and lay students. He was responsible for setting up the academic departments, faculties and administration of the university and also served as the head of the Department of Pali and Buddhist Studies. He envisioned the university as a modern institution that would preserve and promote the Buddhist heritage of Sri Lanka and also foster dialogue and cooperation with other religions and cultures.

He was also involved in various social and religious activities, such as organizing Buddhist conferences, delivering public lectures, participating in interfaith dialogues, supporting Buddhist missionary work abroad and promoting peace and harmony among different communities. He was respected and admired by many people from different walks of life for his wisdom, compassion and leadership.

He passed away on 25th July 1963 at the age of 65 after a brief illness. He was cremated at the university premises with full state honors. His ashes were enshrined in a stupa at the university campus, which is now a place of pilgrimage for many Buddhists.

Ven. Weliwitiye Sri Soratha Thero was a pioneer of Buddhist education who made a lasting contribution to the intellectual, spiritual and cultural development of Sri Lanka. His life and work exemplify the ideals of Buddhism and inspired many to follow his example.