S HUMANE, J.—Saranapalu. Terunnan.se v. Soratha Thero
1975 Present: Sirimane, J., Vythialingam, J., and Sharvananda, J.
GETAMANNE SARANAPALA TERUNNANSE, Appellant, andTARAPERIYA SORATHA THERO, Respondent
S. C. 657/69 (F)—D. C. Tangalla 1172/L
Buddhist ecclesiastical law—Law of pupillary succession— Rule ofSisyanu Sisya Paramparawa—Incumbent disrobes leaving nopupils—Right of co-pupil in the same line to succeed.
A line of pupillary succession under the rule of sisyanu sisyaparamparawa does not become extinct on the disrobing of anincumbent who leaves no pupils if, however, he leaves a co-pupilin the same line. For such a line of succession to become extinct theincumbent must die or “ disrobe ” without leaving pupil orco-pupils in the same line.
PPEAL from a judgment of the District Court, Tangalla.
H. W. Jayawardene, with Ranil Wickremasinghe and Miss S.Fernando for the Plaintiff-Appellant.
A. C. Gooneratne, with D. H. Panditha Goonawardene, for theDefend ant-Respondent.
Cur. adv. vult.
January 21, 1976, Sirimane, J.—
The plaintiff-appellant sued the defendant-respondent in thisaction for a declaration that he was entitled to the Viharadhi-pathiship of the temple known as Aswaththaramaya situatedat Nihiluwa and the management of its temporalities and forthe ejectment of the defendant therefrom. The defendant-res-pondent denied the plaintiff’s claim and prayed that theplaintiff’s action be dismissed and that he be declared theVidharadhipathi of the said temple. The learned District Judgeafter trial held that neither the plaintiff nor the defendant hadestablished their claims to the Viharadhipathiship of the saidtemple and dismissed the plaintiff’s action with costs. Theplaintiff has appealed from this order.
It was the case for the plaintiff that Getamane SaranankaraThero was the controlling Viharadhipathi of the temple knownas Aswaththaramaya situated at Nihiluwa (sometimes herein-after referred to as the Nihiluwa Temple) and on his deathin 1924 his senior pupil Kumbalgoda Sadatissa Therosucceeded to the incumbency of the said temple. The saidSadatissa died in 1933 leaving two pupils Getamane Ratnapala
SIRIMANE, J.—Saranapala Terunansa v. Soratha Thero
and Getamane Dhammananda and though Ratnapala was thesenior pupil Dhammananda officiated as Viharadhipathi of thetemple. Ratnapala disrobed in 1954 leaving no pupils andDhammananda his co-pupil lawfully suceeded to the incum-bency and continued to officiate as the controlling Viharadhipathitill his death in May 1965. The plaintiff as the senior pupil of thesaid Dhammananda claims that he is the lawful successor to thesaid incumbency and complains that the defendant who is thejunior pupil of the aforesaid Dhammananda is in wrongful andand unlawful possession of the said temple and its temporalitiesdisputing the plaintiff’s rights.
The defendant in his original answer admitted that Saranan-kara Thero was the Viharadhipathi of this temple and on hisdeath Sadatissa Thero succeeded him. He also stated that onthe death of Sadatissa his senior pupil Ratnapala succeeded tothe incumbency and the latter disrobed in 1954. He then wenton to say that since 1960 he was officiating as the Viharadhi-pathi of this temple and was in exclusive and sole possession ofits temporalities. He denied that Dhammananda was ever thelawful Viharadhipathi of this temple and claimed that in anyevent the plaintiff could not maintain this action as it wasprescribed. The defendant however amended his answer andwent back on his admission that Sadatissa succeeded Saranan-kara Thero but stated that Sadatissa functioned as the Vihara-dhipathi, though he had no right to do so, till his dealh in 1933.He also pleaded as a first alternative that even if Dhamma-nanda succeeded Sadatissa to the incumbency, that Dhamma-nanda had appointed him to succeed as Viharadhipathi. As asecond alternative he pleaded that since Ratnapala the seniorpupil of Sadatissa who was the rightful successor disrobedwithout leaving any pupils, the Sanga Sabha of the Nikayawhich in the circumstances had the right to appoint a Vihara-dhipathi appointed the defendant as such in 1965. He thereforeprayed that the plaintiff’s action be dismissed and that he bedeclared the lawful Viharadhipathi of the said temple. Thelearned District Judge dismissed the plaintiff’s action on theground that Sadatissa was the junior pupil of SaranankaraThero and he could not have succeeded to the incumbency asit would be the senior pupil Indasara Thero who would havesucceeded to the incumbency. He also held that even if Sada-tissa succeeded Saranankara, on the death of Sadatissa itwould be his senior pupil Ratnapala who would succeed andnot the junior pupil Dhammananda, and since Ratnapala haddisrobed leaving no pupils the line of succession became extinct
SLRIMANE, J.—Saranapala Terunnanse v. Soratha Thero
and it was for the Chapter to which the temple belonged toappoint a Viharadhipathi. The learned District Judge alsodismissed the defendant’s claim on the ground that neither thealleged appointment by Dhammananda nor that by the SanghaSabha had been proved. The defendant has not appealed againstthis finding nor did the learned Counsel appearing for him inappeal canvass it. Having examined the evidence on this matterand the reasons given by the learned Trial Judge we see noreason to disturb his finding against the defendant in thatregard. Learned Counsel for the plaintiff-appellant contendsthat there is no reliable evidence that Indasara Thero was thesenior pupil of Saranankara Thero and also that when Ratna-pala Thero disrobed without leaving any pupils the line ofsuccession did not become extinct but Dhammananda hisco-pupil was entitled to succeed him. Learned Counsel for thedefendant-respondent resisted the appeal on the ground that theplaintiff had failed to discharge the burden of proving that hewas the lawful Viharadhipathi as the evidence disclosed thatIndasara was the senior pupil of Saranankara Thero and in anycase on the disrobing of Ratnapala the line of pupillary succes-sion came to an end.
It was admitted at the trial that Saranankara Thero was theoriginal incumbent of this temple and two other temples andthat succession to the incumbency of this temple was governedby the rule known as Sisyanu Sisya Paramparawa. The twoquestions that arise for decision on this appeal are firstlywhether Indasara Thero was the senior pupil of SaranankaraThero and secondly whether the line of pupillary successionbecame extinct on the disrobing of Ratnapala the senior pupilof Sadatissa.
Taking the second matter first, it was contended both at thetrial and by learned Counsel for the defendant-respondent inappeal that on the authority of the cases reported in 57 N.L.R.518 and 59 N.L.R. 79 the line of pupillary succession becameextinct on Ratnapala disrobing without leaving pupils. I thinkthese decisions could be distinguished as the facts in those caseswere quite different to the facts in the instant case. In theformer case Dhammaloka Thero v. Saranapala Thero (57 N.L.R.518) the admitted Viharadhipathi Rev. Ratnapala of the templein dispute to which the rule of Sisyanu Sisya Paramparawaapplied, by a deed gifted that temple and its temporalities tohis only pupil Rev. Wanaratana and one Rev. Sobita who wasnot in the line of pupillary succession. Wanaratana Therogave up his robes and Sobita Thero by another deed purported
SLRIAIANE, J.—iSaranapala Terunnanse v. tSoraiha Thero
to gift the temple and its temporalities to Rev. Piyadassi whofunctioned as Viharadhipathi and died leaving two pupilsnamely, the plaintiff and defendant in that case. The defendantin that case got himself appointed by the Mahanayaka of theChapter to which the temple belonged. It was not disputed thatthe line of pupillary succession became extinct with the dis-robing of Wanaratana Thero. Sobitha Thero and PiyadassiThero were admittedly not in the line of pupillary successionand were therefore “ outsiders ” who could not have succeededto a temple governed by the rule of Sisyanu Sisya Paramparawa.It was held in these circumstances that,
“ Upon the extinction of the line of pupillary successionto a Buddhist temple governed by the rule of successionknown as sisyanu sisya paramparawa, the temple vests inthe Sangha and the right of appointing a new Viharadhi-pathi vests in the Mahanayake of the fraternity which hasjurisdiction over it. The fact that a stranger has functionedas Viharadhipathi for a long period does not entitle himto defeat the Mahanayake’s right of appointment, which isa right that cannot be lost by prescription. ”
It must be observed that Wanaratana Thero who disrobedhad neither pupils nor co-pupils and the question for decisionin the instant case is therefore quite different as though Ratna-pala Thero disrobed without leaving pupils—he admittedly lefta co-pupil Dhammananda Thero. It has therefore to be decidedwhether the line of pupillary succession came to an end withthe disrobing of Ratnapala or whether his co-pupil succeededhim. The second case cited was that of Attadassi TJnnanse v.Indajothi Unnanse (59 N.L.R. 79). It was held there.
“ When the incumbent of a Vihara to which the rule ofSisyanusisya Paramparawa applies dies without leaving apupil, the line of pupillary succession becomes extinct, andthe right of appointing his successor is vested in theSangha. It cannot be contended that the chain of pupillarysuccession includes not only the descending line but also,when the descending line becomes extinct, the ascendingline. ”
The facts in that case briefly were that one Gunaratana Therohad succeeded and was admittedly the Viharadhipathi of thetemples called Niyangampaya and Udawela. He had a numberof pupils of whom we need notice only the senior pupil D.Piyaratna and two others H. Ratnajothi and K. Devarakkitha.Gunaratana Thero transferred the right of succession to Niyam-
91R1MAXE, J.—Utiranapala Tcrunnanse v. Soratlia Thero475
gampaya to his pupil Devarakkitha and the right of successionto Udawela to H. Ratnajothi and his pupils by Sisyanu SisyaParamparawa. H. Ratnajothi executed a deed in 1944 conveyingUdawela to his co-pupil Devarakkitha and after Devarakkitha’sdeath to Devananda. Devarakkitha disrobed in 1952 leavinga pupil Attadassi and Devananda disrobed in 1953 leaving nopupils. Piyaratana senior pupil of Gunaratana died, leaving hispupil Indrajothi. That action was filed by the said Indrajothiagainst Attadassi aforesaid claiming the Viharadhipathiship ofthe Udawela temple. It is quite clear from the above that whenDevananda disrobed without leaving pupils the line of succes-sion became extinct in respect of Udawela and the right ofappointing a successor vested in that chapter to which thattemple belonged. It was there contended on behalf of theplaintiff in that case that when a line of pupillary successionbecame extinct, the succession notionally reverts to the originaltutor and through him to his senior pupil and the senior pupil’spupil. It was there claimed that on the disrobing by Devarakki-tha and Devananda the succession to the Udawela templenotionally reverts to the original incumbent Gunaratana Theroand through him to his senior pupil (Piyaratana) and his seniorpupil (Indrajothi) the plaintiff in that case. This contentionwas rejected in that case. These cases however did not decidethe question that arises in the instant case namely whether aline of pupillary succession could be said to become extincton the death (or disrobing) of an incumbent leaving no pupilsbut leaving a co-pupil. Though a pupil’s claim must undoubtedlybe preferred to that of a co-pupil in the rule of Sisyanu SisyaParamparawa it does not mean that a line of pupillarysuccession comes to an end when an incumbent dies leavingno pupils but leaving co-pupils. In my view a line of pupillarysuccession can run through any one of the pupils of the incum-bent but if it descends to the next step through the senior pupilor a co-pupil, then the other co-pupils will be precluded fromsucceeding thereafter as it would then mean that one has togo up the ascending line to reach them. If for example anincumbent (A) died leaving a senior pupil (B) and anotherpupil (C), then in the absence of (A) selecting his junior pupil(C) to succeed him, the senior pupil (B) will succeed. Butif (A) selects his junior pupil (C) to succeed him then the lineof pupillary succession will run through (C). Then again if (B)having succeeded as senior pupil dies (or disrobes) withoutleaving pupils his co-pupil (C) will succeed as it cannot thenbe strictly said that one has t° S° UP the ascending line toreach him, since he is really a collateral and one through whom
SIRIMANE, J.—Saranapala Terunnansc a. Soratha Thero
the line of succession could run. On the other hand if (B)having succeeded dies leaving a pupil (D) who also succeeds(B) and then dies (or disrobes) without leaving a pupil the lineof succession would be at an end. Once (B’s) pupil (D)succeeds the line has descended to the next step through (B)and it cannot thereafter run through (C) as that would meanthat one has to go up the ascending line to reach him. All pupilsof a tutor could be said to be his potential successors as the tutorcould select any of them to succeed him or in case the seniorpupil dies before the tutor without leaving any pupils of hisown, the next senior co-pupil will succeed. Thus in the aboveexample if (B) dies (or disrobes) without leaving a pupil of his. own his co-pupil (C) will succeed to the incumbency on thedeath of the tutor (A). On the other hand if (B) dies (or dis-robes) leaving a pupil (D) then (D) will succeed to the incum-bency on the death of (A) and not (C). (See DammaratnaUnnanse vs. Sumangala Unnanse—14 N. L. R. 400 and 20 N. L. R.506) .Then again where a senior pupil renounces his right ofsuccession the next senior co-pupil will succeed—see PanditWathugedera Ameraseeha Thero vs. Tittagalla SasanatillekeThero (59 N.L.R. 289). A co-pupil therefore is as stated earlier apotential successor and it therefore cannot be said that the line ofpupillary succession comes to an end when an incumbent dies(or disrobes) without leaving a pupil if he leaves a co-pupil.In the case of Dhamissara Thero vs. Sri Kalyanawansa There(69 N.L.R. 514) it was stated that,
“ Under the sisyanu sisya paramparawa rule of succes-sion to the incumbency of a Buddhist temple, if a vihara-dhipathi dies leaving pupils and also fellow pupils, thesenior pupil succeeds in preference to any of the fellowpupils. Where the succession by pupils fails and one ofthe co-pupils of the deceased incumbent has to succeed,
‘ logic must favour the passing of the succession to thesenior among the co-pupils. ’
T. S. Fernando J, in referring to this question in his judgmentin that case stated,
If a co-pupil of a deceased incumbent monk is tosucceed in the absence of a pupil, could any co-pupilsucceed or must it not be the senior among the co-pupils solong as they are in the same -paramparawa ? No clearspecific precedent was cited before us, but Mr. Jayewar-dene referred to the dissertation on the Sisyanu SisyaParamparawa by G. W. Woodhouse (1916). At pages
SIRIMANE, J.—Strranapala Tennimme v. Soratha Thero
32-33 of this monograph the undermentioned rule of inheri-tance or succession is quoted : —
‘ If an incumbent of a vihara die leav'ng pupils and alsofellow-pupils, the senior pupil succeeds in preference toany of the fellow pupils. But if he leave no pupils, thesenior fellow-pupil succeeds, provided he is in the line ofpupillary succession to the vihare. *
The acceptability of the earlier part of this rule isevidenced by many decisions of our courts, e.g. GunandaUnnanse v. Devarakkita Unnanse and Fernando v. Jinalan-kara Tissi Thera. In regard to the latter part of the rule,I have examined the old cases cited by the learned authorbut am unable to say that this part of the rule as quotedabove is culled verbatim from any of them. I am, however,bound to observe that the rule has the virtue of being com-plementary to the allied rule that the senior of the pup'lssucceeds to the tutor. Where the succession by pupils failsand one of the co-pupils of the deceased has to succeed,logic must favour the passing of the succession to thesenior among the co-pupils. Moreover, there is nothingimpracticable in the working of a rule such as that as nomonk is obliged to accept office. ”
In an earlier case Ferndndo et al vs. Jinalankara Tissa Thero(46 N.L.R. 219). It was held.
“ Where an incumbent of a temple dies leaving no pupilshis fellow pupil succeeds. ”
In a still earlier case. Sumana Terunanse vs. Kandappuhamy(3 Ceylon Law Reports page 14) Lawrie A. C. J. (with Withers
J.agreeing) held that
“ Under the law of pupillary succession to a Buddhistvihare, if the last incumbent leaves no pupil, and has notnominated a successor by deed or will, the incumbency canpass to h's co-pupils only if their common tutor was himselfin the line of succession from the founder or originalgrantee of the vihare. ”
It would thus appear that a line of pupillary succession underthe rule of sisyanu sisya paramparawa does not become extinctif an incumbent dies (or disrobes) leav ng no pupils, if heleaves a co-pupil in the same l'ne. For such a line of successionto become extinct the incumbent must die (or disrobe) withoutleaving pupils or co-puplls in the same line
SIRIMAPTE, J.—Svr~ina,p%la Terunnanse v. Soratha Thero
I am therefore of the view that in the instant case whenRatnapala disrobed without leaving a pupil but leaving a co-pupil, Dhammananda, the latter rig-Hly succeeded to theincumbency and functioned as such till his death n 1965 whenthe plaintiff as his admittedly senior pupil would be entitled tosucceed him.
The other matter for decision is as to the rightful successorof the original Viharadhipathi Saranankara Thero. The defen-dent claimed that it was Indasara Thero who was the seniorpupil of Saranankara Thero and that Sadatissa Thero was thejunior pupil. The learned Trial Judge came to the conclus;onthat Indasara Thera was the senior pupil of Saranankara Thero.He based this conclusion mainly if not entirely on what hecalled an admission by the plaintiff that he had “ heard thatIndasara was the senior pupil ” and also a statement later inhis evidence that “Indasara was the senior pupil’’—the plan-tiff however also slated in his evidence that he had neitherknown nor seen either Indasara or Sadatissa. The lea.ned TrialJudge apart from say ng that the admission by the plaintiffsupports the suggestion of the defendant did not refer to or placeany reliance on the other evidence led by the defendant onthis point. After coming to the conclusion that Indasara is thesenior pupil and rightful successor to Saranankara Thero herefers to Indasara being succeeded by his pupil PallaUaraPannatissa and states,
“so that according to the defendant’s position
Court will have to hold that Pallattara Pannatissa appearedto be the lawful incumbent of this temple. But it is to beclearly understood that court is not deciding this mat.erbut merely commenting on the evidence led
Taking into consideration all the ev'dence and the circums-tances in this case it seems to me that the finding of thelearned Trial Judge on this point was not based on reliableevidence. Be that as it may, even assuming that Indasarawas the sen'or pupil of Saranankara the evidence reveals thatthe latter was the Viharadhipathi of many temples includingthe Nihiluwa Temple and the Gangodagama Sri Sudharsana-ramaya Temple with which we are here concerned. After thedeath of Saranankara Thero in 1924 Sadat ssa succeeded him asViharadhipathi of N'.hiluwa Temple whilst Indasara succeededas the Viharadhipathi of Sri Sudharsanaramaya which wasadmittedly the bigger and more important temple. On the deathof Sadatissa in 1933 his pupil Dhammananda officiated as Vxha-
STRIMANE, J,—Saranapala Terunnanse v. Soralha Them
radhipathi of Nihiluwa Temple and continued so to functionafter Ratnapala the senior pupil of Sadatissa disrobed in 1954and up to Dhammananda’g death :n 1965. Indasara whosucceeded to the Viha -adhipathiship of Sri Sudharsanaramayawas succeeded on his death by h’s pupil Pal’atara Panrat'ssawho continues to function as the Viharadhipathi of that templeup to the present time. It would therefore be seen that afterthe death of Saranankara Thero there were two lines of succes-sion—one under Sadatissa and his pupils in respect of the N'hi-luwa Temple and the other under Indasara and h:s pupils inrespect of the Sri Sudharsanaramaya. From 1924 onwards therespective incumbents of the said two temples made no claimsto the other and even the present ncumbent of Sri Sudharsa-naramaya, Pallatara Pannatissa, who was on the list of wit-nesses for the defendant and present at the trial in this case,was not called and made no claim to the incumbency of theNihiluwa Temple. It must also be observed 'hat the defendanthimself had accented the line of succession to the NihfuwaTemple under Sadat'ssa and even in his amended answer lays aclaim to the Viharadhipathiship of Nihi’uwa based on anaonomtment by Dhammananda, thus accepting the position t^atDhammananda was the rightful Viharadhipathi of that temple.It may also be observed that the defendant, who is admittedlythe junior pupil of Dhammananda, was born in 1944, robed in1957 and ordained in 1965 as shown in the declaration fP2> madeunder the Buddhist Tempo-aVties Ord'naoce. That declarat:ondescribes his rob ng tu'or Gatemans Dhammananda as theViharadhipathi of the Nihiluwa Temple. The declaration (PI)in resoect of the plaintiff shows that he was born in 1919, robedin 1933 bv Gatemane Dhammananda and orda'ned in 1939. Theev:dence therefore reveals that even assuming 'hat Indrasa-aThero was the senior pupil of Saranankara Thero, the succes-sion to the two temples we are here concerned with, for aperiod of ove- 40 years was. as stated earlier, one unde- Sada-tissa and h;s pupils and 'he other under Indasara and h'spupils. I think therefor^ that the inference is irres'stible thateither Dhammananda Thero divided these two tempos and gaveSri Sudharsanaramava to Indasa-a and Nihduwa to Sada+issaor the two pupils themselves divided it amongst themselvesand the pupillary succession to each of the temples thereafter ranunder Indasara and Sadat'ssa. Even if Indasara w^s the ren'orpuoil +he facts proved in this case war-ant the inference thathe had renounced anv r'ghts that he h'mselF may have had tothe Nih'luwa Temple. In the case of Esmatte DhammatilakeThero vs. Domve Dhcimmaratana Thero (76 N.L.R. 73) thefacts were similar to those in the instant case. There one'
SIHIMANE, J.—Siranapila Terunnanse v. Soratha Thera
Attadassi Thero was the Viharadhipathi of two temp’es VaranaVihare and Dangalla Vihare. He left a Last Will accord'ng towhich his two sen or pupils Sumanjala and Sunanda could bymutual arrangement be the Viharadhipathi of one temple eachand that the rule of Sisyanu S sya Paramparawa should fol’owthem.. Sumangala the senior pup'l possessed Dangalla Vihareand was quite content to have Sunanda as the incumbent ofVarana Vihare wi hout any interference whaLsoever. By thsarrangement Sumangala impl edly renounced any riehts that hehimself may have had in respect of the Varana Vihare. Fromthis time there were two lines of succession at the two templesnamely Sumangala and his pupils at Dangalla and Sunanda andh;s pupils at Va-ana. The plaintiff in that action cla;ming tobe in Sumangala Thero’s line of success'on prayed for a decla-ration that he was entitled to the incumbency of Varana V hareas against the defendant who was in Sunanda’s line ofsuccession. It was there held *hat though Attadas-i Thero wasthe original V haradhipathi of both Dangalla and Varana, hissenior pupil Sumanga’a had renounced or abandoned any cla’mhe had to Varana where Sunanda and his pupils had functionedas Viharadhipathis not merely de facto but de jure and theclaim of the defendant who was in Sunanda’s line ofsuccession was up-held.
Here too even if Indrasara was the senior pupil of Saranan-kara, the facts proved show that he had renounced or abando-ned any claim he may have had to Nihiluwa where Sadatissa andpupils functioned as Viharadhipathis not merely de facto butde jure. The plaintiff who claims as the senior pupil of Dhamma-nanda who was in the line of succession under Sadatissa in res-pect of the Nihiluwa Temple must therefore succeed.
For these reasons I would set aside the judgment and decreeof the District Court and enter judgment for the plaintiff asprayed for in paragraphs (1) and (2) of the prayer to the amendedplaint. The plaintiff appellant will also be entitled to his costsboth here and below.
Vythialingam J.—I agree.Shahvananda J.—I agree.
GETAMANNE SARANAPALA TERUNNANSE, Appellant, and TARAPERIYA SORATHA THERO, Respon