A tussle between two fractions of monks over the Chief Incumbent post of Kotte Sri Naga Viharaya led to the deportation of a Korean monk, who was living in the temple last night. He was deemed to be the successor of late Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera.
Officials of the Department of Immigration and Emigration arrived at the Sri Naga Viharaya yesterday afternoon on a directive of Minister of Internal Affairs S. B. Navinna to deport the Korean monk Byung Moon Oh from the country with immediate effect, sources said.
Following a four hour struggle at the temple, the Immigration authorities with the backing of Mirihana Police took the Korean monk into custody amidst intervention of many supporters and lawyers that were obstructing the Minister’s decision.
Ven. Sobhitha Thera’s chief disciple Ven. Wathuruvila Sri Sujatha Thera backed by many supporters who believes and supports Moon Oh Thera to be the rightful heir to the temple had tried to prevent the latter being taken away by the Immigration officials.
The Attorneys appearing for Sujatha Thera had claimed that they will disregard Minister Navinna’s directive to deport Moon Oh Thera and had strictly denied to handover the Korean monk to the authorities.
The tussle for the chief incumbent post of the Kotte Sri Naga Viharaya was sparked when Nugegoda Magistrate had issued an order preventing Ven. Wathuruvila Sri Sujatha Thera from entering the temple on the day in which the late Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera was cremated on (Thursday), November 12, 2015.
The Nugegoda Magistrate Kanishka Wijeratne on November 16, 2015 ordered the Mahanayake of Kotte Sri Kalyani Sri Dhamma Maha Sangha Sabha Ven. Ittepane Dhammalankara Nayaka Thera, Ven. Udathalakande Ariyarathana Thera and Chairman and Secretary of Kotte Naga Vihara Dayaka Sabaha to appear before court on the following day over this issue at the temple.
A case had been filed by the seventh disciple in line of late Ven. Sobhitha Thera about rightful heir of the chief incumbent post of the temple in the early stage of last year.
According to the sources, the first and second disciple of Sobhitha Thera had been expelled as disciples by the Sobhitha Thera himself sometime prior to his death. The third and the fourth disciples had reportedly left their robes in the past and the fifth disciple was the Korean monk.
In the developing court case the Nugegoda Magistrate had reportedly stated recently that the Korean monk was suitable for the heir of the temple’s chief incumbent post and that the case was to be summoned again in the near future to finalise the issue.
The Minister’s directive comes in the meantime that the Korean monk be deported with immediate effect with no specific reason mentioned to the authorities.
Moon Oh Thera had first met Ven. Sobhitha Thera in 1987 when he first visited Sri Lanka as a layman following Mahayana. Since then he had been in close company of Sobhitha Thera until he started following Theravada and became a Buddhist monk and ordained in 2000 by his teacher.
Since then, Moon Oh Thera was residing in Kotte Sri Naga Viharaya though his visa status in Sri Lanka was 'Tourist'. He had travelled many times back and forth and had been staying in the country renewing his tourist visa, the Immigration sources disclosed.
The Thera was to be boarded on a Thai Airways Flight TG 308 that was scheduled to depart from the Bandaranaike International Airport at 1.15am this morning bound for the Republic of Korea, to the Thera’s motherland, which he left for almost three decades.
The Daily Mirror’s attempts to get Minister S. B. Navinna’s comment on the sudden deportation of the Thera were futile. (Kurulu Koojana Kariyakarawana)