NEW POSTAL STAMP TO COMMEMORATE THE MOST VEN.HAMMALAWA SADDHATISSA NAYAKE THERO |
by Dr. Tilak S. Fernando from London
After the passing away of Ven. Prof. Hammalawa Saddhatissa fifteen years ago, his closest apostle in London, Ven. Galayaye Piyadassi MBE, the Head of the Kingbury Temple, named the holy place as Sri Saddhatissa Internatinal Buddhist Centre (SSIBC) with devotion and gratitude to perpetuate the memory of the pious and humble Buddhist monk,Buddhist scholar, a prolific writer and a well known propagator of Buddhism to the West and his inimitable services to Buddhism and the Sinhala Nation during his life time.
Over a period of fifteen years, and on every anniversary of the master's death engaging in some significant event to commemorate the venerable's death, SSIBC went on an arduous journey amidst pitfalls, boulders and strewn thorns, moving from rented premises to acquire its own buildings, making additions and expansions to accommodate the growing congregation of devotees and supporters and to move abreast on a par with the advancing techonogical progress by computerizing its activities with centre's own website. Today Sri Saddhatissa International Centre is remembered as a unique symbol that personified the great achievement and service of a 'Bikku who illumined the like like the moon freed from clouds'.
The World Buddhist Foundation (an affliate of the SSIBC) commemorated the fifteenth death annivery of Ven. Prof. Hammalawa Saddhatissa this year ( 2005) in an impressive magnitude from the Bandaranaike International Conference Centre not less than Her Excellency the President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge as the chief guest along with the Prime Minister, Government Ministers, scholars and distinguished invitees.
On this occasion Mr.D.Mjayaratne, the Hon. Minister of Posts, Telecommunications and Udarata Development with the fullest cooperation of of the Director of the Philatelic Bureau, Geetanjana Gunawardene, Hon. Deputy Speaker of the Sri Lanka Parliament rendered an invaluable service and unyielding reminder of the late Ven. Prof. Hammalawa Saddhatissa by issuing an official postal stamp, under the Sri Lanka Philatelic Bureau, Department of Posts Bulletin No. 584. The first day issue carries a Rs.5 stamp with a screne photograph of the venerable priest and an official rubber stamp dated 22-03-2005, with the words Most Ven.Porf. Hammalawa Saddhatissa Mahanayake Thero Commemoration, First Day of Issue, Colombo B.M.I.C.H., with an impressive colour photograph of the Sri Saddhatissa International Buddhist Centre building in London surrounded by five ' gems of buddhism' authored by the late monk.
Venerable Prof. Hammalawa Saddhaissa M.A., PhD, D.Lit, born in 1914 was ordinated as a Buddist monk in 1926. The venerable was educated in Benaries, London and Edinburgh universities. In 1963 a Ph.D was conferred upon the thero from the University of Edinburgh.
Prof. Hamallawe Saddhatissa was proficient in Sinhala, Pali, Sanskrit, Hindi and English. He had been the professor of Pali and Buddhism at Benaries Hindu University, Professor at the University of Toronto, lecturer at the University of London and a visiting lecturer at Oxford Unversity. In addition the venerable monk had lectured in Universities in Europe, the United States, Korea and Japan.
At the invitation of the Mahabodhi Society of Sri Lanka the Ven. Prof. Hammalawa Saddhatissa went on a Buddhist mission to India to continue with work work which had been initiated by the late Anagarika Dharmapala. In 1954, the London Buddhist Vihara which had been closed down during the second world war reopened and once more , the Mahabodhi Societh of Sri Lanka needed Prof. Saddtissa's purposeful leadership and clear direction in the running of the newly opened LBV. Having accepted the responsibility of the London Buddhist Vihara, which was the only Theravada center for the UK and Europe in 1957 Prof. Saddhatissa rendered a yeoman service as an exemplary teacher of Buddhism. The thero's charismatic personality, profound knowledge of the Buddhist doctrine, of the pali and Sanskrit texts the venerable monk's skill as an expositor of the doctrine generated interest internationally among scholars thus the LBV becoming the cynosure for academics and various nationalities who were inquisitive and earger to learn about Buddhism..
Ven. Professor Saddhatissa was a versatile author who published numerous books and researched articles in Sinhala, English and Pali on Buddhism, Pali, Sri Lankan History, Culture, Sinhala Language and literature. Some of the Prof. Saddatissa's books that have been translated into German, French, Spanish and Japanese have received both local and international recognition.
Most Ven. Prof. Hammalawa Saddhatissa Nayaka Maha Thero's new Postal Stamps and First Day cover could be obtained from the Director Philatelic Bureau, Department of Posts, No. 27, Bristol Street, M.I.C.H. Building, Colombo 00100, Sri Lanka. Orders should accompany an International Money Order or Bank Draft drasn in favour of ' People's Bank, No.68, York Street, Colombo 00100. Postmaster-Genera;'s Account No. 1010003010 . ' Uncertified personal cheques are not acceptable'. Telephone no. 2325588, 2326163, 2326177, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.