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Present: Ennis A.C.tf. and Schneider A.J.
SIRINIWASE v. SARANANDA.
115—D. C. Kegatta, 5,104.
Buddhist ecclesiastical law—Succession to the incumbency of a vihare—
Right of other pupils to remain in the vihare.
K,who was the chief incumbent of a vihare, died about twentyyears ago. He had a pupil, R, who succeeded him, and died in 1919.On the death of R, plaintiff, who was robed by K (in 1900), claimedto be the chief incumbent, and his claim was contested by defend-ant, who was a pupil of R, ordained in 1916.
Held, that (1) as plaintiff was senior by ordination to thedefendant, and senior in proximity to the founder, he was entitledto be chief incumbent; (2) the defendant was entitled to residein the vihare, and to be maintained from the funds.
f pHE facts appear from the judgment.
A. St. V. Jayawardene (with him R. L. Pereira and D. B.
Jayalilake), for the appellant.
H. J. C. Pereira (with him Cooray), for the respondent.
Gur. adv. vult.
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January 21,1921. Ennis A.C.J.—1981.
* This was an action between two Buddhist priests relating to the siHniwasequestion of succession to a vihare. It appears that one Sonuttara v. SaranandaUnnanse was the chief incumbent of the vihare in question, andhad a pupil, Kukulapone Sonuttara Unnanse, who succeeded aschief incumbent, and died about twenty years ago. Kukulaponeadmittedly had a pupil, Ratnapala, who died in 1919. The plaintiffsays that he also was a pupil of Kukulapone, and was ordained in1900. On the death of Ratnapala the plaintiff claimed to be thechief incumbent of the temple, and his claim was contested by thedefendant, who is a pupil of Ratnapala, ordained in 1916. Thelearned Judge has found as a fact that the plaintiff has not satis-factorily established his contention that he was robed by Kukulapone.
This conclusion is arrived at, not so much on a disbelief in theevidence submitted by the plaintiff, as in a belief that it was insuffi-cient to establish the fact. The defendant admittedly knew nothingon the question as to whether the plaintiff had been robed by Kukula-pone or not, and when the plaintiff first made his claim on RatnapaWsdeath, the parties went to the Disawa, who is the President ot theDistrict Committee, and the Disawa has given evidence that atthe inquiry held by him the defendant took up the position thatthe plaintiff had been robed, but that subsequently he had beendisrobed, and that it was on that groiyid that the defendant wouldnot admit the plaintiff to possession. At the trial the defendanthas taken the position of defying that the plaintiff was robed.
The only witness called by him was one Gunaratne, a priest thirty-five years old, but as the plaintiff asserted that he was robed thirty-six years ago, this priest could know very little on the subject.
There remains, therefore, nothing but the evidence led by the plain-tiff. The plaintiff has sworn that he was robed by Kukulapone.
He called his father, who supported him in the statement. Theplaintiff then further said that Kukulapone handed him over toKondanne and his pupil Sobita to he taught. Kondanne is dead.
Sobita has given evidence that when the plaintiff was brought tothem, Kukulapone informed them that the plaintiff was his pupil.
Later, it appears that Kondanne and Sobita presented the plaintifffor ordination, and a copy of the register of ordination has beenput in. Counsel for the defendant-respondent, suggests that thisregister infers that the plaintiff was a pupil of Kondanne and Sobitarather than of Kukulapone. I am not satisfied that it goes so faras that. It merely shows that these two priests presented theplaintiff for ordination. In addition to the evidence of Sobita,there is the evidence of two priests, who testify to haying seen the.plaintiff with Kukulapone Sonuttara performing the duties of a“ small ” priest in attendance. There is also the evidence of apainter, which is not very strong, to the effect that he actually sawthe robing ceremony. There is not a word in contradiction of this
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evidence, and it is not easy to see what other evidence the plaintiffcould have produced after thirty-six years. There is evidence thatthe plaintiff is a duly robed and ordained priest, that he made aclaim the moment he was entitled to become chief incumbent, andthere is no evidence that the plaintifE was robed by any one otherthan Kukulapone as stated by him. In the circumstances, I feelit would not be right to set aside ail this evidence as insufficient toestablish the plaintiff’s case, and on the finding of fact I wouldaccordingly reverse the decision arrived at by the learned Judge,and hold that the plaintiff was robed by Kukulapone.
One other question only remains to be considered in the case.Mr. Pereira, for the defendant-respondent, argued that if theplaintifE were a pupil of Kukulapone, he would not be entitled asagainst the defendant to.be the chief incumbent. ' On this point wehave been referred to a number of cases by Mr. Jayawardene,the principal of which are Dammaratna Dnnanse v. SumangalaUnnanse 1%and Saranankara Unnanse. v. Indajoti Unname.2 Theevidence taken in the earlier of these two cases has been publishedin 20 N. L. B. 508. A number of experts on Buddhist law gaveevidence in answer to certain questions put by‘the Court, and allof them agree that on the death of the chief incumbent more thanone person could succeed. They do not say to what. But onewitness explained that where A left two pupils B and C, and Bhad a pupil E, and C pupil F, and B died before A, C wouldsucceed and become chief incumbent as the surviving pupil .of A,while E would also have the right to remain in the vihare and tobe maintained out of the income. It would seem, therefore, thatthese experts all regarded the right of succession as a right toremain in the vihare and to be maintained out of the income,while the right to be what has been referred to as the chiefincumbent or the person in authority in the temple was a questionof seniority, or appointment, or experience, or election, or clever-ness. But that generally, as among the pupils of a founder orfirst incumbent, they succeed by seniority of ordination. But asbetween the pupils of these pupils, certain answers seem to suggestthat the seniority of the original pupil may have conferred someseniority between the pupils in the next line. Be that as it may, inthe present case there is no difficulty, as the plaintifE is senior byordination to the defendant, and is senior in proximity to the founder.I would accordingly allow the appeal, and declare the plaintiff tobe the chief incumbent.- I would observe that the defendant also isentitled to reside in the vihare and to be maintained from the funds,and that the plaintiff’s prayer to eject him cannot be granted. Theplaintiff will be entitled to the costs pn appeal and in the Court below.
Schneidjch A.J.—I agree.
• 1 UM) 14 N. L. R. 400.- (1916) 20 N. L. R. 386.
SIRINIWASE v. SARANANDA