S. Mahinda Himi


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Sikkim Mahinda, commonly known as S. Mahinda, was a Buddhist monk from the state of Sikkim. He was a poet and author, and participated in the Sri Lankan independence movement. Although he was from Sikkim, he identified himself as a Tibetan, presumably because it was more well known in Ceylon.

S. Mahinda arrived in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) at a young age and was ordained as a Buddhist monk. Having learned the Sinhala language, he became a poet, creating several literary works inspiring patriotism among the Ceylonese and urging them to fight for their freedom. He is now considered a national hero of Sri Lanka.

Early life

S. Mahinda was born around 1901 in Sikkim and named Pempa Tendupi Serky Cherin.[1] His family lived in Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. He had three brothers; the first would later become a lecturer of Calcutta University, the second would be the prime minister of the king, and the third would join the Buddhist priesthood.[2] His childhood friend Tashi Namgyal would become the king of Sikkim. S. Mahinda had used his name as a pseudonym in Sri Lanka, leading to the belief that it was his real name.[1]

Serky received a scholarship, with an annual allowance of six rupees, to study Buddhism in Ceylon and arrived there in 1912 or 1914. At the time, the country was under British rule. Sikkim Punnaji, his elder brother who was already a Buddhist monk, accompanied him.[2]

Buddhist priesthood and life in Ceylon

The two brothers stayed at a temple in Polgasduwa in southern Ceylon, and learned Buddhism under a monk named Gnanaloka. He was then sent to the Vidyodaya Pirivena in Maradana, and admitted to a school there to learn English. After this, he returned to the temple in Polgasduwa, and learned Sinhala and Pali languages.[2] With the outbreak of World War I, his mentor Gnanaloka, a German national, was arrested. His brother Sikkim Punnaji also appears to have died around this time,[2] while he was himself interned twice by the government.[3]

He was later ordained into the Amarapura Nikaya as Sikkim Mahinda, although he used his name as S. Mahinda. He was re-ordained into the Shyamopali Nikaya on 16 June 1930, and obtained Upasampada later that year. He identified himself as a Tibetan, presumably because it was better known in Ceylon and was a leading Buddhist country in Asia.[2] S.Mahinda Thera served as a teacher at Nalanda College, Colombo from 1934 to 1936.[4]

Literary work and nationalism

S. Mahinda soon became fluent in the Sinhala language, and established himself as a poet and author. He has written over 40 books, most of them poems inspiring patriotism. His first book was Ova Muthu Dama, which was written around 1921. His final book is believed to be Sri Pada. He also appears to have created a number of unpublished works.[2] In his works, he has focused on the past glory of the country, and the weaknesses of its people in the present, urging them to work towards their freedom.[5] He also wrote several books for children as well, and in these too he has tried to inspire patriotism upon the reader.[3] His most famous works include Nidahase Dehena, Nidahase Manthraya, Lanka Matha, Jathika Thotilla, Ada Lak Mawage Puttu, Nidahasa, Videshikayakugen Lak Mawata Namaskarayak and Sinhala Jathiya.[6]

He was also a member of the temperance movement, which served as the basis for the independence movement of Sri Lanka. After the country gained independence in 1948, he was acknowledged as a national hero for his literary works inspiring the independence movement.[2] He died on 16 May 1951.[6]


  1. ^ a b Edirisinghe, Padma (20 May 2009). “Curtain opens on Ven Tibet S Mahinda’s childhood”. Daily News. Retrieved 29 January 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Ariyaratne, Sunil (1989) (in Sinhala). පූජිත ජීවිත. Ministry of Culture, Education and News of Sri Lanka. pp. 155–160.
  3. ^ a b Gunatilaka, Kumudu (14 September 2006). “Ven. S. Mahinda Patriot of Literary Fame”. Budusarana. Retrieved 29 January 2010.
  4. ^ “Religious Instructors”. Nalanda College Buddhist Association – NCBA. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
  5. ^ Herath, R. B. (2002). Sri Lankan Ethnic Crisis: Towards a Resolution. Trafford Publishing. pp. 101. ISBN 978-1-55369-793-0.
  6. ^ a b “S. Mahinda Thera: Poet and freedom fighter”. Sunday Observer. 25 May 2008. Retrieved 29 January 2010.



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