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RATNAPALA UNNANSE v. APPUHAMY.
D. C., Ratnapura, 807.
Buddhist law—Sannas—Grant to Buddhist monks (“ priests ”)—Sdnghikaproperty—Pudgalika property—Ordinance No. 3 of 1889, s. 20.
Where it was set forth in a sannas of a King of Kandy that a certainvillage was “ granted, so that the income derived therefrom might be“ appropriated by D. and his successive pupils and by priests who reside“ in the Kiriella Vihare, they maintaining the services of the vihare ”—Held, that the grant was not one of pudgalika property but sdnghikaproperty, intended primarily for the benefit of the temple.
HE plaintiff, who described himself in the plaint as a
Buddhist priest and the incumbent cf the Kiriella Vihare,sued the defendant, a trustee appointed under the Buddhist Tem-poralities Ordinance to manage the said Kiriella Vihare, for therecovery of a village called Dumbaragama, which the plaintiffclaimed to be entitled to absolutely, and which he alleged thedefendant, as trustee aforesaid, held wrongful possession of.
Plaintiff’s claim was founded on (1) a royal sannas granted bythe last King of Kandy to Rakkitta Unnanse and his successors inpupillary succession; (2>) a deed of gift from Rakkitta Unnanse tohis pupil Sobita Unnanse; and (3) a deed of gift from SobitaUnnanse to his pupil, the plaintiff. Plaintiff alleged that by apower of attorney bearing date 4th December, 1889, he appointedthe defendant to be his agent and authorized him to collect all therents and produce of the said land; that the defendant enteredinto possession under the said power of attorney and collected therents and produce till h;s appointment as trustee of the saidvihare in the month- of March, 1892, under the provisions of theBuddhist Temporalities Ordinance, 1889; that after suchappointment the defendant refused to account to the plaintiff, butasserted title thereto as trustee of the said vihare.
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The sannas ran as follows: —
“ On the occasion when Deva Rakkitta Unnanse, of KiriellaVihare in Kuruwiti korale of Sabaragamuwa Disava, showed theMedun Sangiya after he had finished transcribing it upon an ordergraciously made by His Supreme Majesty, Lord of prosperousLanka.
“ On this Monday, the 11th lunar day of the bright half of themonth Navan, in the year 1723 of the Saka era, this sittuwa wasgraciously vouchsafed to the effect that the village called Dumbarain the Palle pattu of Kukulu korale of the aforesaid Disava, andbounded [boundaries given], was granted, so that the incomederived therefrom might be appropriated by the successive pupilsof Deva Rakkitta Unnanse, of Karanda, and by priests who residein the Kiriella Vihare, [such pupils and priests] maintaining theservices of the vihare hereafter without dispute.
“ In attestation hereof,” &c.
The defendant admitted the sannas and deeds referred to in theplaint, but pleaded that the deeds, so far as they purported to giftand convey the said land inconsistently with the provisions ofthe sannas, were invalid; that the land was s&nghika property andwas always part of the temporalities of the Kiriella Vihare; andthat defendant was not in lawful possession of the said land forand on behalf of the said vihare.
On the trial day plaintiff called only one witness, DharmaRama, a Nayake Unnanse, to prove the meaning of the terms“ s&nghilca ” and “ pudgalika.” He cited a Pali work of authorityto the following effect:—“ If it be said that the property is givento you and your pupils, it becomes pudgalika property,” that is, itbelongs to the individual personally. He further deposed:“ According to the Buddhist religion, a priest can only possess“ the four necessaries, clothing, medicines, furniture, and food.“ Efe cannot possess rice or money, except it is in charge of some“ agent, such as a pupil or servant. The principles of the Buddhist“ religion are not opposed to a priest holding landed property as his” own property, if it has been given to him in a befitting manner.“ I could accept the gift of a paddy field and hold it as my own“ property, provided that I forewarned the donor by saying, ‘ If” ‘ you say that you give us a field, we cannot receive it; but if you*' ‘ say that you give us the produce of a field, we can receive it“ ‘ for the four necessaries.’ ”
For the defence, Sri Sumangala Nayake Unnanse was theonly witness examined. His evidence was as follows: —
“ I am the Chief High Priest of the Adam’s Peak temple andNdyaxa of the Colombo District and Principal of the Vidyddaya
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College. I have been High Priest since 1867. 1 have studied theBuddhistic religious books and I am well versed in them. I amfamiliar with the terms “ sdnghika ” and “ pudgalika ” properties.Pudgalika is almost equivalent to the English personal propertywith a slight difference, that is, a priest can do what he likes withsuch property. Landed property cannot be the subject of pud-galika, as the priests are forbidden to hold it. If landed propertyis given to priests they cannot take it, but they can take theproduce for their maintenance. Except in this manner priestscannot hold property, either pudgalika or sdnghika. If a priestwrongfully accepts the property, the priesthood must reject it,but at law it would be different. If a priest, who has been givena property, dies, the property, if in terms of the gift, could beaccepted; if it has been property dedicated as sanghika, it becomessdnghika, otherwise it is rejected.
“ Q.—Can a priest hold land except as sdnghika property?
“ A.—No; a priest cannot accept a land if offered as personalproperty, but a house or vihare property can be sometimes usedas pudgalika. (Witness is shown the true copy of the sannas filedwith the case A.) I have read through the sannas.
“ Q.—Does this sannas contain a grant of property to the priestand his pupils ?
" A.—With regard to the Kiriella Vihare, ‘ for the purpose ofperforming the rites and for the maintenance of the priest,Dewarakitta Unnanse and his pupils ’ is my reading of the sannas.
“ The dedication of the property is only to the priest residing inthe vihare, not to the general priesthood. It is sanghika propertyonly to priests residing at the temple, not to the general priest-hood.
“ Q.—This being partly dedicated to the vihare, does it not becomegenerally sanghika after the death of the donee?
" A.—Yes, absolutely.
“ I have authority for what I have stated, viz., MahawaggaThiwarakandakachulawagga, Senasanakkhandaka, Pali Muttaka,Vinaya Vinisbthya, Sarnantapasadika.
“ The immovable property becomes sdnghika because he cannotgive them away, but robes, bowl, mats, carpets, if given to any oneduring his lifetime, then it is not included in the sdnghika; but ifit is not given so away, it becomes sdnghika. (The passage quotedby Dharmasane Unnanse and in the record is shown to witness.)The property referred to in this passage refers to robes and sundrysmall articles and not to immovable property, nor does it refer togaru badu, such as beds, couches, &c. It refers to property suchas could be carried.
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(Shown C.) “ The property in this deed is referred to as belong-ing to the Kiriella Vihare.
Cross-examined by Mr. Bawa.—“ The Buddhist books divideproperty which priests enjoy into three kinds—sknghika, pudgalika,and gana santhaka. Gana santhaka means property belonging incommon to two or three. Sknghika means property belonging tothe whole priesthood. When property is gifted to the priest-hood the following words are used:—‘ Senpasse sangayataganna pinissa,’ or ‘ preyogenaya vidina pinissa me thaga watteor ketta demi,’—i.e., the priests may enjoy the producefor their maintenance or take it for their maintenance. Whena grant of pudgalika landed property is made the form isthe same. Although the property is offered as pudgalika,it is accepted as sanghika. Pudgalika does not mean offered aspuja; it is offered to an individual. Although there is a prohi-bition against priests holding lands, yet I know that for hundredsof years past priests do hold lands in this manner. The bulk ofthe property of this College is s&nghika. The deeds for the landare in my name as manager. On the occasion of the presentationof the book Medun S&nghika, the Dumbara village was given as anoffering to the vihare, Dharmarakkita Unnanse, and his pupillarysuccessors, residing priests. The offering is made to the vihare,but the priests take the profits to themselves, as well as give toother priests who come to the vihare.
" Dharmarakkita Unnanse could not, according to the deed, givethe property to any other priest than his pupils. Only a residentpriest in the Kiriella Vihare can take the profits of this Dumbaravillage. I notice the words “ Dharmarakkita Unnansege sisyanusisiya paramparawa ” in the sannas. According to the sannas apriest who is not resident at the Kiriella Vihare could not enjoythe profits of the land. In order to enjoy the profits of the landtwo things are therefore necessary: first, the priest must be apupil of Dharmarakkita Unnanse; and second, he must be resi-dent of the vihare; but there is an ambiguity in the sannas, andit may be that any resident priest, though not a pupil of Dharma-rakita Unnanse, could enjoy the profits.
Apart from the Buddhistical books in the time of the Kandyankings, the practice has been for the residing priest—the incum-bent—to enjoy the profits of the land. I am aware, although it iswrong, that priests have appointed their successors by deed andhave also given over sangika property to others. This is a practicethat has come into use recently within the last eighty years. I amnot aware that any lands have been given as a pudgalika for thepriests to enjoy the rents and profits of the land. If the rents and
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profits are gifted to a priest and the priest dies, the land does notrevert to the donor, but becomes sanghila. I am aware of a casewhere a king had gifted to the priest himself a village as pudgalika—this was contrary to the Buddhist religion-—i.e., the village ofPallebedde. I do not know who holds it now. I know that forthe last eighty years priests have bought and sold lands althoughprevented by their religion.
Re-examined.—“ But this practice is never recognized by Bud-dhists. Some of them have been granting lands to priests throughignorance of the Buddhist law.
“ The priest who holds lands to enjoy the rents and profits isbound to give the suppasa to the priests for their maintenance, andanything that is left over is given to priests who cannot maintainthemselves at the vihare. When the grantor, a priest, in a deedsays that it is to take effect ‘ after my death,’ the property doesnot go to the donee named in the deed, but becomes sanghika.
“ I want to add that there is a fourth classification of property,viz., chathiya santhaka.”
The District Judge (Mr. Murty) dismissed the plaintiff’s casewith costs, in the following judgment: —
“ The plaintiff in this action is the incumbent and officiatingpriest of the Kiriella Vihare. The defendant is the trustee of thattemple appointed under the Buddhist Temporalities Ordinance.
“ In the year Saka 1723 (A.D. 1800) Sri Vikrama Raja Sinha,the last king of Kandy, granted by a sannas or sittuwa, the villageof Dumbara to one Devarakkita Unnanse of Kiriella Vihare andhis pupillary successors.
“ Devarakkita Unnanse entered into possession of the land,and was succeeded on his death by Kuruwita Sobita Unnanse,whom he had duly appointed his spiritual successor.
“ In like manner, Kuruwita Sobita Unnanse was succeeded onhis death in 1861 by bis pupil, the plaintiff.
“ In 1889 plaintiff appointed defendant his agent and attorneyto collect the revenues of and generally manage the temple lands.Defendant took up this appointment and continued to act asplaintiff’s agent until 1892, when he was made trustee for thetemple under the Buddhist Temporalities Ordinance. There-after defendant, as trustee, refused to account to plaintiff asbefore for the temple revenues; hence this somewhat belatedaction.
“ Plaintiff contends that the grant of Dumbaragama, being areward for a meritorious book, was personal to the grantee, andthat the latter and his pupillary successors were entitled to treatthe gift as pudgalika property.
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“ On the other hand, the defendant trustee maintains that thegrant is s&nghika and not pudgalika, and 'was intended as anendowment for the vihare, to be enjoyed only on the usual condi-tions of the grantee continuing to reside there, maintaining thetemple in a state of repair and carrying oft'the customary religiousservices.
“ It is, I believe, a well-established principle of Buddhist lawthat a priest cannot nold any kind of property, whether movableor immovable, except in trust for a temple. The only exceptionto this rule appears to be that a priest can possess in his ownright what is termed pudgalika property.
“ To explain the exact meaning of “ pudgalika ” plaintiff anddefendant have each called as a witness a Buddhist priest of highstanding.
“ As well as I can judge from their evidence, pudgalika propertyincludes only actual necessaries for a Buddhist priest, namely,clothing, food, furniture of a simple kind, and medicines. Allother property is apparently sanghika, that is, held in commonand in trust by the resident priests of a particular temple. Itwould seem, therefore, to be clear that land cannot be included inthe term pudgalika property. This is not, however, the opinionof the plaintiff’s witness Dharmarama Unnanse, for he has statedin evidence that he believes the royal grant of Dumburagama tobe pudgalika. This witness has also stated, ‘ I could accept thegift of a paddy field and hold it as my own property, providedthat I forewarned the donor by saying, If you say that you give usa field, we cannot receive thwl, but if you say that you give as theproduce of a field, we can receive that for the four necessaries.’
“ It would seem, therefore, that a Buddhist priest cannot acceptland as his own property, but may accept only the produce of theland. The gift may be made as pudgalika, but, according tostrict Buddhist law, can only be accepted as sanghika.
“ The opinion of the witness appears to me, therefore, at directvariance with his evidence; and how he can reconcile the onewith the other I find it impossible to understand.
“ The defendant’s witness, the High Priest of Adam’s Peak, hasexpressed the op..,ion that the royal grant of Dumbaragama iss&nghika. This witness’s opinion has, at least, the merit of beingconsistent with his evidence.
The right, however, of a Buddhist priest to hold landed pro-perty has long been recognized by our courts of law, and itbecomes necessary to look carefully into the terms of the royalgrant so as to ascertain its nature. A translation (marked P) of theoriginal sittuwa or sannas, prepared by Mudaliyar Guhasekara,
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Chief Sinhalese Translator to Government, has been accepted ascorrect by the parties.
“ After a careful perusal of this document I am of opinionthat the grant was made, not to DevarakMta Unnanse personally,but to him and his pupillary successors and to priests who shouldin future reside in the Kiriella Vihare, to be held in trust for thattemple. While the motive for the grant was the king’s desire torecognize in a suitable manner the grantee’s literary services, itseems to me to be clear that the object of the grant was to providea perpetual endowment for the temple.
“ This construction of the sannas is, I think, confirmed by aperusal of the deed (C) under which plaintiff became the incum-bent of the vihare. In document C it is set forth that the plaintiffor his sisyanu sisiya pupils, or any persons appointed by thoplaintiff,, shall have the power to possess the temple property andreceive its revenues after the demise of the grantor, on theseconditions: (1) that the temple pupils are properly cared for;
that the temple properties are duly maintained in a stateof repair; and (3) that the customary religious services arecarried on.
“The deed enumerates twenty-eight different lands belongingto the temple, including the village of Dumbara now in dispute;bub there is nothing to show that the grantor did not considerDumbaragama. to be sanghika property like the other lands. Thedeed makes no distinction whatever, and moreover lays downexpressly that the plaintiff shall not have power at any time tosell any portion of the temple property; and, in the event of theplaintiff disrobing himself, provides that the property shalldevolve upon the temple—i.&., shall become sanghika.
“ Document B, by which the original grantee appointed Kuru-wita Sobita Unnanse his spiritual successor, similarly makes nodistinction between the lands now in dispute and other landsadmitted to be temple property. As has been seen, Sobita Unnansetreated the land in dispute as sangika, and the presumption isthat the original grantee, Devarakkitta Unnanse, did so too.
“ In conclusion, I find that the royal grant of Dumbaragamais sanghika property, gifted to the original grantee and hispupillary successor in his spiritual office as an endowment forKiriella Vihare, and that this grant is properly of the naturewhich, by section 20 of the Buddhist Temporalities Ordinance,vests in the defendant trustee.
“ The plaintiff’s action is accordingly dismissed with costs.
“ The matters of plaintiff’s claim for damages (if this judgmentis reversed in appeal) and the defendant’s claim in reconvention
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have been, by consent of parties, deferred for decision hereafter,when judgment has been delivered by the Appeal Court.”
Wendt, Acting A.-G., with Bawa, for appellant, contendedthat the property in question must be regarded as pudgaliha—i.e., “ an offering for the exclusive personal use of an individualpriest,” as distinguished from what would become the commonproperty of the whole priesthood. Only the grantee under thesannas, and his successor for the time being in the incumbencyby sisiyanu sisiya paramparawa, would be entitled to enjoy theland granted. It was granted primarily as a reward for thepersonal services of the grantee, and the limitation is to hisecclesiastical heirs in the incumbency. The trustee therefore, asrepresenting those entitled to the sdnghika or common propertyof the whole priesthood, would not take this land under section 20.
'Sencviratne (with Sampaya), for respondent, was not calledupon..
I think the District Judge has quite rightly construed this royalsannas as being a grant not intended for the personal benefit of thepriest, although the donor’s motive was gratitude to the priest forhis services. The fact that the grant was limited to the priestand his pupillary successors, and that it was made on conditionof their maintaining the services of the vihare, shows clearly thatit was intended primarily for the benefit of the temple, andtherefore comes within section 20 of the Ordinance No. 8 of1889.
Moncreiff, J.—I agree.