514 T. S. FERNANDO, J.—Dhammiasara Thera v. Kalyanawansa Thera
1966 Present: T. S. Fernando, J., and Sri Skanda Rajah, J.D. SRI DHAMMISSARA THERA, Appellant, and D. SRIKALYANAWANSA THERA, Respondent
8. C. 275/62—D. G. Galle, 6075/L
Buddhist ecclesiastical law—Incumbency of a temple—Sisyanu siaya paramparawarule of succession—Succession when incumbent dies leaving no pupils.
Under the sisyanu sisya paramparawa rule of succession to the incumbencyof a Buddhist temple, if a viharadhipathi dies leaving pupils surd also fellow-pupils, the senior pupil succeeds in preference to any of the fellow-pupils.Where the succession by pupils fails and one of the co-pupils of the deceasedincumbent has to succeed, 1 ‘ logic must favour the passing of the successionto the senior among the co-pupils ".
Plaintiff claimed to be declared the lawful viharadhipathi of a temple. Herelied on the sisyanu sisya paramparawa rule of succession. Defendant’scase was that the appointment of the viharadhipathi was effected by the sanghasabha from among monks belonging to the Kalyanawansa paramparawa.The evidence of the principal witness for the plaintiff showed (1) that in 1882the incumbent, when he died, was succeeded by a brother priest and not byany of the surviving pupils of the deceased, (2) that in 1924, when the incumbentdied leaving no pupils, he was succeeded by a co-pupil who was not the senioramong the co-pupils.
Held, that the claim of the plaintiff was not maintainable.
PEAL from a judgment of the District Court, Galle.
H. W. Jayewardene, Q.C., with S. WaMegama and U. A. 8. Perera,for the defendant-appellant.
N.E. Weerasooria, Q.G., with G. P. J. Kurulculaauriya, for theplaintiff-respondent.
Gur. adv. wilt.
July 5, 1966. T. S. Fernando, J.—
In this action the plaintiff claimed a declaration that he is the lawfulviharadhipathi of the Buddhist Temple known as Sailabimbaramayasituated at Dodanduwa in the Southern Province and which is said to bethe original temple of the Kalyanawansa sect to which both the plaintiffand the defendant belong. The plaintiff's claim was dependent on proofthat the viharadhipathi ship or incumbency of the said temple wasgoverned by the sisyanu sisya paramparawa rule of succession. Thedefendant denied the application of this rule to this temple, his case beingthat the appointment of the viharadhipathi was effected by the sanghasabha from among monks belonging to the Kalyanawansa paramparawa.
T. S. FERNANDO, J.—Dhammiesara Thera v. Kalyanauxmea Thera
After a very long contest in the District Court, the District Judgeheld that the sisyanu sisya paramparawa rule of succession applied tothis temple and that the appointment to the office of viharadhipathiwas not by selection by a sangha sabha as claimed by the defendant.He held also that the viharadhipathiship passed to the plaintiff on thedeath of the previous incumbent and ordered the ejectment of thedefendant from the said office. It is not disputed that the defendant,being a monk of the Kalyanawansa paramparawa, is entitled to the rightof residence at this temple and to the other rights which monks of theparamparawa have in relation thereto. Those rights therefore wereunaffected by the judgment of the District Court.
The defendant claimed to have been appointed as viharadhipathi bythe sangha sabha at a meeting held at this very temple on the 30thAugust 1952 and, although we have heard argument by counsel appearingfor him before us, we are unable to say that the learned District Judgewas wrong in the conclusion he reached that those assembled in meetingon the 30th August 1952 could not have made a valid appointment orelection of a viharadhipathi for this temple.
Learned counsel for the defendant has, however, advanced a strongargument against the finding that the sisyanu sisya paramparawa rulegoverned succession to the incumbency of this temple and we havetherefore to consider the validity of that argument.
It was common ground that the original incumbent of this temple wasKoggala Dhammasara Thera whose death occurred in the year 1855.The incumbency then passed to Sumanatissa Thera, his principal pupil,who held that office till his own death in 1882 when Dodanduwe Piya-ratana Thera became the incumbent. This last-named monk was aco-pupil of Sumanatissa Thera, both being pupils of the original incumbentDhammasar v Thera. The plaintiff sought to establish that PiyaratanaThera was a pupil also of Sumanatissa Thera, but even on an assumptionthat he was such a pupil, it was not disputed that the senior pupil ofSumanatissa Thera was one Sobita Thera. It was not clear on the evi-dence why Sobita did not succeed on the death of Sumanatissa Therain 1882 if the sisyanu sisya paramparawa rule applied, but the possibilityof. Sobita’s death before 1882 could not be ruled out. Counsel for theplaintiff suggested that there was nothing in the nature of an obligationon the senior pupil of a deceased incumbent to accept office. Whateverthe reason might have been, Piyaratana Thera did become incumbent,and that fact, as I have stated above, was not in dispute at the trial.This monk held office till 1907, and on his death his senior pupil Seelak-kanda Thera succeeded him, and the incumbency fell vacant again onlyin 1924 in which year Harumalgoda Sumangala Thera became theincumbent. Sumangala Thera was not a pupil of Seelakkanda. Indeed,Seelakkanda left no pupil. Sumangala was a pupil of Dodanduwe Piya-ratana Thera aforesaid and a co-pupil of Seelakkanda. PiyaratanaThera had left a number of pupils of whom it is necessary for the purposeof this appeal to notice only the 7th pupil Tel watte Ariyawansa Thera,
T. 8. FERNANDO, J.—Dhammissara Thera v. Kalyanasvansa Thera
the 9th pupil Harumalgoda Sumangala Thera (who was incumbent from1924 to 1952), the 10th pupil the defendant and the 12th pupil theplaintiff. The monk who succeeded Seelakkanda was, therefore, his 9thpupil Sumangala although a pupil senior to Sumangala was alive.
It has been argued on behalf of the defendant that, if the sisyanusisya paramparawa rule was in operation here, Ariyawansa Thera shouldhave succeeded. On behalf of the plaintiff it ha3 been suggested thatAriyawansa Thera was not resident at this temple and had become theincumbent of a temple in Colombo and had probably abandoned anyclaim to succeed a3 viharadhipathi here. Such an abandonment was,however, not pleaded by the plaintiff; and even if it had been, it ispertinent to observe that Ariyawansa Thera’s conduct at a meetingheld in 1952 shortly after Sumangala Thera’s demise was quite incon-sistent with an abandonment of that nature. The evidence demonstratesthat Ariyawansa Thera claimed at the meeting in question that theviharadhipathiship had devolved on him and that the plaintiff, althoughpresent at that meeting, neither demurred nor made a claim for himselfas senior pupil of the deceased incumbent, Sumangala Thera.
Even if the defendant has been unsuccessful in satisfying the court ofhis appointment or election as viharadhipathi in 1952, the plaintiffhimself cannot maintain the judgment and decree in his favour if he isshown not to have made good his own contention that the rule ofsuccession applicable to Sailabimaramaya was that of sisyanu sisyaparamparawa.
It is unnecessary to examine the entire mass of evidence led at thetrial as, in holding for the plaintiff, the learned trial judge has purportedto base his decision mainly on the evidence of Buddhadatta NayakaThera and the material contained in the book PI entitled “ KalyaniSasana Wansaya ”, a history of the Kalyana Wansaya Sect compiledby this Nayaka Thera himself. He reached the decision that the offici-ating viharadhipathis of this temple were Dhammasara Thera, Sumana-tissa Thera, Piyaratana Thera and Seelakkanda Thera in direct pupillaryline of succession and that the succession of Sumangala Thera asviharadhipathi was not in conflict with the principle of pupillary succes-sion. Learned counsel for the defendant has drawn our attention tocertain evidence elicited during the cross-examination of BuddhadattaNayaka Thera. This evidence is of the utmost importance in examiningthe maintainability of the plaintiff’s contention and, surprisingly enough,appears to have escaped the attention of the learned trial judge. Themost material part of this evidence is reproduced below in question andanswer form as it appears in the record of the court below :—
“ Q. Rev. Dodanduwe Piyaratana was not a pupil of Rev. Sumana-tissa by ordination ?
A. Yes—nor by robing.
At page 127 of PI I have stated that Rev. Piyaratanatissa(same as Piyaratana) was a pupil of Rev. Sumanatissa.
T. S. FERNANDO, J.—Dhammisaara Thera v. Kalyanawanea Thera
Q.Rev. Dodanduwe Piyaratana could not have called himself apupil of Rev. Sumanatissa according to law ?
After the death of Rev. Sumanatissa Rev. Dodanduwe Piya-ratana was the viharadhipathi. That was not in accordancewith the rules of sisyanu sisya paramparawa.
On the death of Rev. Sumanatissa as Rev. DodanduwePiyaratana was a priest of that temple he was appointed theviharadhipathi of this temple, and not according to the rulesof sisyanu sisya paramparawa. Rev. Dodanduwe Piyaratanamay have been appointed by the sangha sabha because hewas an outstanding priest
At the time there were other pupils of Rev. Sumanatissa.Passing over all of them, Rev. Piyaratana a brother priestwas appointed. According to the rules of sisyanu sisyaparamparawa, if there is a pupil, a brother pupil cannot beappointed. I do not know how Piyaratana was appointedto succeed Sumanatissa. ”
This evidence was that given by the principal witness for the plaintiff.Buddhadatta Thera was the Mahanayake or chief monk of the entireKalyanawansa Sect. Any statement contained in this book PI thatPiyaratana was a pupil of Sumanatissa must undoubtedly be regardedas modified by his testimony in the witness-box. An omission to do soand a reliance only on the statements in the book constitute misdirectionof a material nature. The evidence in court was unequivocal in respectof the lack of legality' in the claim that Piyaratana was a pupil of Sumana-tissa, and the chain of succession appears to have been broken in 1882which was the year of Sumanatissa Thera’s death.
Mr. Jayewardene for the defendant contended that there was anotherbreak in 1924 upon the death of Seelakkanda Thera. Seelakkanda Theraleft no pupils, but there were several co-pupils, all of them being pupils ofDodanduwe Piyaratana Thera. Sumangala Thera who succeeded tothe incumbency in that year was not the senior of these co-pupils. Ariya-wansa Thera was senior to Sumangala Thera. No abandonment byAriyawansa Thera can, as I have indicated above already, be inferredin the circumstances in evidence at the trial. If a co-pupil of a deceasedincumbent monk is to succeed in the absence of a pupil, could anyco-pupil succeed or must it not be the senior among the co-pupils so long
T. S. FERNANDO, J.—Dhammieeara Thera v. Kalyana/wansa Thera
as they are in the same paramparaiva ? No clear specific precedent wascited before ns, but Mr. Jayewardene referred to the dissertation on theSisyanu Sisya Paramparaiva by G. W. Woodhouse (1916). At pages32-33 of this monograph the undermentioned rule of inheritance orsuccession is quoted :—
“ If an incumbent of a vihare die leaving pupils and also fellow-pupils, the senior pupil succeeds in preference to any of the fellow-pupils. But if he leave no pupils, the senior fellow-pupil succeeds,provided he is in the line of pupillary succession to the vihare. ”
The acceptability of the earlier part of this rule is evidenced by manydecisions of our courts, e.g., Gunananda Unnanse v. Devaraklcita Unnanse1and Fernando v. Jinalankara Tissa Thera 2. In regard to the latter partof the rule, I have examined the old cases cited by the learned authorbut am unable to say tha t this part of the rule as quoted above is culledverbatim from any of them. I am, however, bound to observe that therule has the virtue of being complementary to the allied rule that thesenior of the pupils succeeds to the tutor. Where the succession by pupilsfails and one of the co-pupils of the deceased has to succeed, logic mustfavour the passing of the succession to the senior among the co-pupils.Moreover, there is nothing impractical in the working of a rule such asthat as no monk is obliged to accept office. Where the senior is unwillingto accept, the next senior willing to accept will succeed to the office.The second break in the chain of succession is also, in my opinion,established.
The result one had, therefore, to reach on the evidence was that theplaintiff failed to establish the application of the sisyanu sisya parampa-rawa rule to this temple. Such a result received, in my opinion, somesupport by the conduct imputed to the plaintiff at the meeting provedto have been held at this very temple soon after the death of SumangalaThera at which, according to Buddhadatta Nayaka Thera himself, oneof the matters brought up was the appointment of a viharadhipathi.It remains only to add that there was nothing sufficiently strong in thedocuments produced at the trial revealing correspondence between theplaintiff and the defendant after the death of Sumangala Thera in 1952to avert this result.
For the reasons set out above, I would set aside the decree entered inthe District Court in favour of the plaintiff and direct that his action bedismissed. Each party will bear his costs in the court of trial, but thedefendant is entitled to the costs of this appeal.
Sri Skanda Rajah, J.—I agree.
Decree set aside.
(1924) 26 N. L. B. at p. 275.
(1945) 49 N.L.B at p. 522.
D. SRI DHAMMISSARA THERA, Appellant, and D. SRI KALYANAWANSA THERA, Respondent