Posted on November 28th, 2023


Kurundi vihara supporters were quietly active, where Kurundi was concerned. They set up committees in Colombo to support Kurundi. Ven.Medagoda Abeyatissa of Sunetra Devi Pirivena, Pepiliyana, and Dr Wasantha Bandara   had told Ven. Santhabodhi they would gather the national organizations together for the   Kurundi cause.

On September 25, 2022 the Jatika Sanvidana Ekamutuwa met at Sunetra Devi Pirivena for a two hour discussion on Kurundi. Ven. Medagoda Abeyatissa, Ven. Induragare Dhammaratana and a third bhikkhu whose name Santhabodhi cannot recall presided. Udaya Gammanpila, Jayantha Samaraweera, Sarath Weerasekera and Channa Jayasumana were there on invitation.  

Members of various ‘national associations’ attended and contributed to the discussion.  The

Discussion went on for about two hours. It was decided that Kurundi must be preserved and its conservation insisted on. Colombo must act   in support of Kurundi. A committee must be appointed for the purpose.  

The Committee of Inquiry on the destruction of Buddhist ruins in the North and East and obstruction to Conservation,” held a public session on 17, 22, 24, and 29 of November, 2022. The meeting was chaired by Ven.  Induragare Dhammaratana. Santhabodhi was the first to address the committee. He told   them his experience at Kurundi (agatiya) and provided written documents in support. 

On 3.11.2022 Jatika Urumaya Surakeema Sanvidana met at Sunetra Devi Pirivena, to discuss the   law suits in progress against Kurundi. They discussed the Human Rights case, the Supreme Court case, and   debated whether to go to Appeal Court.

A media conference was held on 27.10.2022.  Medagoda Abeyatissa, Gunadasa Amarasekera,      Kalyananda Tiranagama, Brigadier Athula de Silva and     General Jagath Dias spoke. Three organizations,  Sasunata Saviya Sanvidanaya, Deshapremi Jatika Peramuna and the Colombo Distirct Sahajeevana Padanama, held a program on Kurundi at  Sethsiripaya, Battaramulla to apprise the  government officials. This was organized by   Kosala Pattinige, Nuwan Balantudawe, Matugama Seneviruwan, Brigadier Athula de Silva and Lankesh Herath.

Santhabodhi   organized a demonstration at Independence Square  on 26.8.2022. He wanted to bring together all those concerned about Kurundi, both   public and Maha Sangha . Our aim was to alert the world  to  the opposition shown to Kurundi by the Tamil Separatist Movement, he said..

It was a week day therefore  participation  was limited but   20  leading monks    and about 75 organizations   participated,  recalled Santhabodhi . Businessmen attended, also professionals such as doctors and  lawyers. MPs were invited and some like Sarath Weerasekera attended.

Nuwan Balantudawe took this opportunity to speak to the media on the lawsuits against Kurundi in the Mullaitivu courts.  We then  proceeded to Buddha  Sasana Ministry and presented a memo. After which, a  group led by Nuwan went to  the UNESCO office and handed over a statement .   The publicity  given to this  demonstration led to greater interest in Kurundi. I was told that many had written to President asking that military be deployed to  protect Kurundi, said Santhabodhi . 

Thanks to the demonstration,  Secretary,  Buddha Sasana Ministry  summoned a meeting  of Director , Archaeology  and others and asked them to settle the Kurundi matter quickly.  On 22.11.14 Jagath Sumathipala and Santhabodhi  had met Secretary, Buddha Sasana Ministry and briefed him regarding developments at Kurundi. We told him  a lot that he didn’t know” said Santhabodhi. 

Kurundi came up in Parliament on several occasions. It was discussed on  2021.08.17  and   2021.11. 24.  Moneragala MP  Padma Udayasantha Gunasekera  and Colombo MP Sarath Weerasekera were two MPs who spoke on Kurundi in Parliament .

 Weerasekera spoke on September 12, 2022, after one of the  many  commotions at Kurundi. He showed the significance of Kurundi Vihara and said bluntly that there was no kovil  there.  Also that the Tamil group brought to the demonstration were not from the area, they were from Jaffna, Kilinochchi   and Mannar.

This is a Buddhist country, he said. There is no need for permission to  conserve an ancient stupa.    Tamil MPs who  voiced objections to  Kurundi must remember that in any other country, they would be  dead the next day.   Do not treat the ‘ivaseema’ and ‘anukampava’ of the Buddhist as  ‘nivatakama’ he said. He also drew attention to Sinhala ethnic cleansing in the north and east. In the north and east.  See https://youtu.be/2mnnRlGoLE4       

MP Dharmalingam Siddharthan responded to  Weerasekera’s speech. He said that    Buddhism arose from Hinduism.  There were Tamil Buddhists in   Sri Lanka before the Sinhala Buddhists. There is enough evidence to prove this. While it is  necessary to protect ancient Buddhist monuments, in the  north, it is not possible to permit new temples to be erected there, because that  will lead to settlement of Sinhalese in  that area.  He wanted his statements recorded in the Hansard. (I have taken this from  Kurundi vihara vamsaya” and not  directly from Hansard. Hansard reference is    Vol 293 no 5 of  2022.6. 21. P 1055)

 In July 2023 MPs Udaya Gammanpila, Jayantha Samaraweera, Sarath Weerasekera, and Channa Jayasumana called for a Parliamentary Select Committee to be appointed to investigate and report to Parliament on the destruction of archaeological monuments in the North and East.

The Tamil Separatist Movement has clearly approached  President Ranil Wickremesinghe on the Kurundi matter. In 2018, Ranil Wickremesinghe sent a letter to Director Archaeology,Mandawela ordering him to stop work on Kurundi. Then Mahinda Rajapaksa took over as President. Santhabodhi met him and explained matters. Mahinda Rajapaksa cancelled the letter on 26.10.  2018.  Santhabodhi said he waited in the President’s office till the letter was prepared and sent.  Then Mahinda Rajapaksa left office and Ranil Wickremesinghe took over.

 President    Ranil Wickremesinghe had arrived in Vavuniya on 19.11.2022   to attend a District Development Council meeting.  He met Vavuniya, Mullaitivu, Mannar officials.  Tamil politicians  told him  about their problem with Kurundi. President had then questioned the Vavuniya Regional office of the Department  of  Archaeology   and decided that the boundary stones of Kurundi should  not be removed, they must stay and they must  be gazetted .Tamil farmers who had illegally encroached on the  forest reserve and were cultivating it, were to be allowed to continue their cultivation, instructed the President.  ( Kurundi vihara vamsaya p 386)

This order  met with opposition . Three former military officers including General Jagath Dias, a retired army chief of staff, went  to court against President Wickremesinghe’s order (sanctioned by the cabinet) to release land around the controversial Kurundi ruins to their previous cultivators.” 

The Tamil Separatist Movement has clearly decided to divert  the energies of the Department of Archaeology  away from Kurundi to Maha vihara in Anuradhapura . This was  another desperate measure to   Just Stop Kurundi.” They had briefed the President accordingly.

President  Wickremesinghe  called a historic meeting of the Department of Archaeology officials  and the TNA MPs,  in June 2023, where he  voiced doubts that Kurundi was 400 acres in extend. Even the Maha vihara did not have so much land he said. The boundary stones must be removed immediately and the  Kurundi boundary  surveyed again. The President’s comments are unsurprising, given past and continuing efforts on his part to court Tamil political parties and the minority voter base, said critics.

The media reported In  July 2023 that  the  President questioned the Archaeology Department officials about the  boundary of the Maha Vihara complex in Anuradhapura ,and the status of the excavation work. He also inquired about the number of archaeological officers employed in the Maha Vihara excavation.

The Department of Archeology is sending me letters asking me to protect the archaeological sites. But we  [must first] proceed with the excavation work of the Maha Vihara, he said. Excavations at Maha Vihara should be completed in the  next two years. Retired archaeologists can be contacted if necessary. A Committee consisting of a team of experts from the National Physical Planning Department , the Department of Archeology and universities will be appointed to implement the Maha Vihara Development Plan.

The Maha Vihara project  must be followed by the Malwathu Oya project, Malwathu Oya is where the Sinhalese civilization first emerged, declared Presdient Ranil Wickremesinghe .He then went to  speak of Anuradhapura as a cultural centre. Anuradhapura has a rich history. While other countries emphasize their historical civilizations we have not paid adequate attention to it. A new law that will apply to Anuradhapura should be prepared.

We have successfully completed the Sigiriya project we should develop the city of Anuradhapura in the same way. We can also get assistance from Rajarata University in this regard. This area has to be developed so that visitors can remain for a few days.  If Dimbulagala excavations were done , tourists would come there too. Let’s first finish the Anuradhapura work.

A showroom by the name ‘Rajarata Civilization’ will be built here. It is necessary to establish a separate location for Buddhist culture. Additionally, we are now discussing the establishment of the Maha Vihara University. The historical city of Anuradhapura will gain from these endeavours, said  President  Wickremesinghe .[1] 

The focus of the Department of archaeology  would, in this manner  be transferred from Kurundi to Anuradhapura, to Maha vihara, to Malvatu Oya and later to Dimbulagala, anywhere but Kurundi. (CONTINUED)

[1] https://www.dailynews.lk/2023/07/24/local/43886/special-committee-appointed-to-implement-maha-viharaya-development-plan-president/

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