Most Ven. Dr. Medagama Vajiragnana Nayaka Thera remembered

Photographs by Tissa Madawela

A special memorial Puja was held at London Buddhist Vihara to commemorate the 12th Anniversary of the passing away of Ven. Dr. Medagama Vajiragnana Nayaka Thera, former head of the Vihara and the Chief Sangha Nayaka of Great Britain.

Ven. Bogoda Seelawimala Nayaka Thera paying homage to the late Nayaka Thera said that "as a longstanding Viharadhipathi of the temple, the late Venerable Nayaka Thera imparted among the Europeans,as well as the Sri Lankan and other Buddhist communities the pure Buddhism lucidly, a task he performed untiringly with the greatest dedication".

Ven. Vajiragnana Nayaka Thera joined the London Buddhist Vihara in 1967. At the request of the English Buddhists he founded the Buddhist Association of the United Kingdom in 1973 and occupying the position as its Director established a Dhamma school to promote the Buddhist education among children.

In 1985 Nayaka Thera was appointed as the Head of the London Buddhist Vihara by the Anagarika Dharmapala Trust in Colombo.

n recognition of his Sanskrit literary compositions, he was given a doctorate by England and the Myanmar Government honoured him with the title "Aggamaha Saddhamma Jothikadhaja" while Maha Chulalankara University of Thailand bestowed upon him the honorary title "Dharmadutha Visarada". He was also appointed as the Chief Sangha Nayaka of Great Britain.

Ven. Vajiragnana Nayaka Thera was a founder member of the Interfaith Network for the UK, founded in 1987 to promote good relations between people of different faiths living in the United Kingdom. In the New Year's Honours List in 2006 Ven. Vajiragnana Nayaka Thera was appointed O.B.E."Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire" for his services to Inter Faith Relations in the UK.

To unite the Sri Lankan Sangha in the UK he started the "Sri Lankan Sangha Sabha" in 1991, and in 1998 he was instrumental in founding the Rahula Trust, a charity aimed at helping needy children to receive a good education. Ven. Nayaka Thera passed away on the 15th of December 2006 at the age of 78.