Warakapitiya Sangananda Terunnanse v. Meeruppe
1963Present: Sansoni, J., and Herat, J.WARAKAPITIYA SANGANANDA TERUNNANSE, Appellant, andMEERUPPE SUMANATISSA TERUNNANSE, Respondent8. C. 639fI960—.D. C. Matara, 2891L
Buddhist ecclesiastical law—Viharadhipathi—Abandonment of his rights—Proof.
Although a renunciation by a Viharadhipathi of his right to be Viharadhipathimay be inferred from facte and circumstances, such an inference will not bedrawn if the matter is left in a state of doubt.
Where a Viharadhipathi of several temples, which were situated some distanceaway, from one another, resided in one temple and appointed by deed a formerco-pupil, who normally resided in another of those temples, to look after thelatter temple and its temporalities—-
Held, that the appointment could not enable the appointee to call himself,or to be declared, controlling Viharadhipathi of the temple in question, asagainst the senior pupil of the appointor.
SANSONI, J.— Wnrakapitiya Sangananda Tcrunnanse v. Meeruppe 395
-/VpPEAL from a judgment of the District Court, Matara.
A. F. Wijemanne, for the defendant-appellant.
H. Wanigatunga, with H. L. K. Karawita, for the plaintiff-respondent.
Cur. adv. wit.
May 15, 1963. Sansoni, J.—
The plaintiff, who claims to be the lawful Viharadhipathi of Sudassa-narama Temple in Welihinda, has sued the defendant, who is also aBuddhist monk, for a declaration of title in respect of a certain landand for ejectment and damages. The defendant denied that the plaintiffwas the lawful Viharadhipathi of Sudassanarama Temple : he claimedthat he was himself entitled to that position, although he made no claimin reconvention in that respect. The learned District Judge has heldin favour of the plaintiff and given him judgment as prayed for in hisplaint. The defendant has appealed.
It is not in dispute that at one time Akurugoda Sudassi was theViharadhipathi of that temple and three other temples known as theLalpe Sudarmaramaya, Akurugoda Nagarukkaramaya and Waraka-pitiya Tribhumikaramaya. His senior pupil was Meeruppe Gunananda.The plaintiff was also a pupil of his, and he had other pupils as well,but all of them were junior to Gunananda. In 1928 Sudassi executeda deed in favour of Gunananda granting him “ full authority to manage,administer and hold the office of Adikari ” of the four temples subjectto certain conditions.
Meeruppe Gunananda in due course became the Viharadhipathi ofthe four temples, and he executed in the plaintiff’s favour deed PI3 of1930 containing the verj' same terms to be found in deed P12. Thedeed, however, was only in respect of the Welihinda Temple. Itcontains the same conditions as those appearing in P12.
One question that arises on this appeal is the effect that deed P13has on the rights of the plaintiff and the defendant respectively. Thefirst point to be stressed is that the plaintiff is only a co-pupil of Guna-nanda while the defendant, it is common ground, is the senior pupilof Gunananda. It is. quite clear on the authorities that, if deed P13is to be regarded as an appointment of his successor as Viharadhipathi,Gunananda had no right to divert the succession from his own pupilsand appoint tho plaintiff to succeed him.
The plaintiff’s counsel and the learned District Judge have regardeddeed P13 as an act by which Gunananda abandoned his rights as Vihara-dhipathi of the Welihinda Temple, but I am unable to share this. view.There are no words in PI3 which convey the idea of such abandonment.On the contrary, Gunananda has made provision in it for his pupils
396SANS ONI, J.—WaraJcapitiya Sangananda Terunnanse v. Meeruppe
to exercise their rights in the temple and that is inconsistent with anabandonment of his rights. Further, it is not the plaintiff’s case thatdeed P12, which is exactly in the same terms as deed P13, was an actof abandonment by Sudassi. For if that had been his case, Gunanandawould have lost his claim to succeed Sudassi as Viharadhipathi. , Ithink the more reasonable view to take of the deed P13 is that it wasan appointment of the plaintiff by Gunananda to act for him asde facto Viharadhipathi of Welihinda Temple because Gunanandawas residing in another temple. The defendant, at the time whendeed P13 was executed, would have been only 19 years old and it wastherefore only natural that Gunananda should ask an older priestto manage this temple on his behalf.
But the plaintiff’s counsel urged us also to consider the evidencegiven by Gunananda in an earlier case brought by the present plaintiffagaiDst a third party in respect of this temple. That evidence wasgiven in 1935. Gunananda there said that he gave this deed to theplaintiff as be was living 30 miles away. He added “ I was givingthe. deed not temporarily. After two years I found it was difficult tomanage Welihinda.” This evidence may well mean that Gunanandafound it more convenient to appoint a deputy to look after the affairsof this Temple because he could not look after them from 30 miles away .
The law is clear that although a renunciation by a monk of his rightto be Viharadhipathi may be inferred from facts and circumstances,such an inference will not be drawn if the matter is left in a state ofdoubt. It is quite usual for a monk who is the Viharadhipathi of severaltemples to give charge of one or more of those temples to other monks,who would normally reside in and look after those temples and theirtemporalities. It is not always convenient for a Viharadhipathi tolook after temples which are situated some distance away from thetemple in which he resides, and he may appoint managers or deputiesfor this reason. Any acts of possession or management by suchappointees are referable to that appointment; they would all be onbehalf of the lawful Viharadhipathi and would not give the appointeeany olaim to that title.
In this case, it would seem that the plaintiff has managed the affairsof the Welihinda Temple for many years, and that the defendantrecognised him as de facto Viharadhipathi. But that would not enablethe plaintiff to call himself or to be declared controlling Viharadhipathi,because he is not a. pupil of Gunananda. His action must fail becausehe cannot establish the title upon which he claimed to bring this action.
I would therefore set aside the judgment under appeal and dismissthe plaintiff’s action with costs in both courts.
Herat, J.—-I agree.
WARAKAPITIYA SANGANANDA TERUNNANSE, Appellant, and MEERUPPE SUMANATISSA TERUNN