February 2024

Honouring the Appointment of Ven Prof Pallekanda Ratanasara Thero and Ven Dr Madampagama Assaji Thero to Positions of Leadership in the International Buddhist Confederation in New Delhi, India at the Felicitation Ceremony held at the YMBA Auditorium,

The National Peace Council was pleased to congratulate Ven Prof Pallekanda Ratanasara Thero and Ven Dr Madampagama Assaji Thero on the international recognition they received for their contributions to peace and justice in the world. Both of these reverend monks are sources of strength to the peace movement in Sri Lanka. Their presence at any civil society meeting adds stature to it. Ven Prof Ratansara was a member of the presidium of NPC at its inception in 1995. Ven Dr Assaji is chair of the Colombo District Inter Religious Committee that is supported by NPC.

Both of these religious leaders have stood for justice for the ethnic and religious minorities and for a just political solution to the ethnic conflict in the country for over three decades. We are proud that their good work has been recognized by the Government of India which has given them positions of leadership in the International Buddhist Confederation in New Delhi, India.

Lord Buddha’s teaching is that all beings should be well and happy. Accordingly, they seek to unite people and not to divide them. During the time of war, in 1987, they undertook the mission of going to the war zones to meet with the LTTE and persuade them to take the path of peace. During the Covid epidemic of 2020, they stood for the right of the Muslims to bury their dead rather than have them forcibly cremated as ordered by the government. At present, they are once again involved in a peace mission with members of the Tamil Diaspora with whom they have signed the “Himalaya Declaration” for lasting peace and reconciliation.

When acting on behalf of members of minority ethnic and religious communities both Ven Ratanasara and Ven Assaji have remained in the mainstream tradition of Buddhist monks and been respectful of the established order. They have risen high in the Nikayas to which they belong and achieved high office. They have also held office in the Amarapura-Ramanya Samagi Maha Sangha Sabhawa (Grand alliance of Buddhist monks) which was formed in 2019 to be the social movement of an alliance of two Buddhist Nikayas. They have achieved these positions as they are seen as effective organizers and hard workers whose interest is the wellbeing of all people.

As members of civil society, we admire them for the example of their lives which are mindful of others, respectful of differences, and living simply. Their frugal life style is accompanied by personal discipline. They are also kind and forgiving to those who make mistakes. We are confident they will stand by their principles and give their support to right causes and oppose wrong ones. Guided by principles from the Buddhist teachings, Venerable Ratansara and Venerable Assaji have no fear or favour in their heart when they reach out to all sections of the people to improve their welfare. We are inspired by them.