Gangodawila Soma Thero (24 April 1948 - 12 December 2003) was a pioneer Buddhist monk from Sri Lanka. Following tradition, he used the name of his birthplace, Gangodawila, in front of his name. Ven Soma thero followed the example set by his teacher, Most Ven Madihe Pannaseeha thero and served the Buddha Dhamma and the Sinhala Buddhists both as a learned monk and as a social reformer.The cause of his death remains in dispute.
Venerable Gangodawila Soma Thera was born in Gangodawila, a semi urban locality in the outskirts of the capital city of Colombo.Soma Thera was ordained in 1974 when he was 26 years of age under the tutelage of two of the most revered monks in Sri Lanka. Most Reverend Venerable Madihe Pannasiha Maha Nayake Thera and Venerable Ampitiye Rahula Maha Thera. He received training at the Bhikkhu Training Centre, Maharagama an institution established by these two monks for the training of novices who enter the Order of the Maha Sangha. Having obtained his higher ordination in 1976, Some Thera continued to study the Buddhist texts in Pali, their original language. He was particularly interested in doing research into the teachings of the Buddha and have written several books based on such research.His mission was to mould the younger generation to live according to the Dhamma. He had the right approach in handling youth problems and soon they rallied round him in an organisation called 'Tharunu Saviya' (Strength of the Youth).A keen student of meditation, he also took time off to be in solitude in distant, lonely locations where he could meditate undisturbed. His interest in meditating on the qualities of the Buddha made him work on an exhaustive study on the subject. His published work 'Buddhastupa' is a useful guide to those interested in such meditation.Soma Thera's links with Victoria dates back to 1986 when he was invited by some Sri Lankans to spend some time preaching the Dhamma. After six months he returned to Sri Lanka. When he came back in 1989, the groundwork had been done to set up the Buddhist Vihara Victoria.Soma Thera's last visit to Sri Lanka made him realise the need to inject Buddhist values into the minds of people, travelling widely throughout the country spreading the message of the Buddha on how to lead simple lives based on the Five Precepts. Thousands flocked to listen to his sermons, which were delivered in simple language yet most effectively. Most of the listeners were young men and women. He discussed religious and social issues on television and these became popular.
Venerable Gangodawila Soma Thera of the Vajiraramaya Maharagama died in St. Petersburg, Russia on 12 December 2003 in his 56th year. He was in Russia to accept an honorary doctorate conferred by the Russian Government. He was rushed to a hospital in St Petersburg after a heart attack. He underwent two emergency operations.
Sri Lankans were shocked and saddened by his death. The circumstances of his death aroused suspicion. It was widely believed that he was murdered by Christian fundamentalists. Therefore two autopsy tests were carried out. A commission was appointed to investigate the death. Out of the four people in the commission, 3 deduced that it was intentional but the other thought the evidence was not enough.
Soma Himiyani... Obata NIWAN SUWA labewa.....