Jagath Sumathipala was privileged to serve as ACBC President for three consecutive terms in the past from (2006 to 2014). During his tenure, he has delivered exemplary, disciplined and skillful leadership for the ACBC, bringing unprecedented operational stability from its disarrayed past, thus fostering respect, significance and esteemed community perception towards ACBC. Jagath Sumathipala’s leadership strategies have successfully and consistently achieved fine balance of economic viability and reputation building of ACBC, which was understandably a challenging and arduous task. But, most importantly, he has launched and completed numerous initiatives, nationally and internationally, to deliver unparalleled contributions to promote Buddhism and culture through ACBC activities. Wider Sri Lankan and overseas Buddhist communities, and the ACBC membership have overwhelmingly recognized and endorsed with gratitude his intense personal devotion and the highest priority given to uphold Buddhist values in a society fast changing with diminishing respect for Sinhala cultural traditions and Buddhist tenets.
Serving the cause of Buddhism and its advancement is an inherent trait in his personal character and belong to a very strong and conservative Buddhist family. This disposition was enhanced by the guidance and direction that he has received from his education at Ananda College, the leading Buddhist School in Sri Lanka. Even during school days he developed an enthusiasm to participate in Buddhist social activities. He was actively involved in the school Buddhist Society, which he continued even after leaving school by becoming the President of the Old Anandians’ Buddhist Association. He is currently the Patron of this Association.
Supported by Jagath Sumathipala’s established family business background, he has pursued in adulthood his life-long ambition to serve Buddhism. Jagath Sumathipala’s association with ACBC commenced when he initially worked alongside his late mother Mrs. Milina Sumathipala, who was the ACBC’s first lady President. Subsequently, he was elected as ACBC President. In both these phases, he made well-regarded and unique contributions to the consolidation of Buddhism of which some milestone achievements/deeds of the highest significance are listed below for purpose of information and reference.
Jagath Sumathipala acted as Chair of ACBC’s Media and Publicity Committee whilst his mother was the President. At that time, ACBC was in a grave financial crisis with highly diminished and negative recognition coming from virtually all sections of the Buddhist community in Sri Lanka. It needed an immediate and urgent salvaging operation. Jagath Sumathipala’s entrepreneurial strategies and acumen coupled with foresight, effectively addressed the precarious financial situation the ACBC was in, reversed the decline, and made it into a financially sound institute of high repute. The public assessment of ACBC was thus elevated to high unprecedented levels, helping sustenance and re-vitalization of Buddhism all over Sri Lanka. Key underlying evidence of these includes:
- Establishing Buddhist Society Branches in Kovil Kanda Purana Rajamaha Viharaya and Udukawa, Matara
Jagath Sumathipala and the Executive Committee of the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress were participated in this event in Matara on 23 February 2018.
- The Annual Buddhist Literature Festival
The Buddhist Literature Festival was conceived and initiated by Jagath Sumathipala in 2007, to highlight and celebrate on – going contributions to Buddhist literature and felicitate dedicated Buddhist writers and authors and place on display their literary work and publications.
- Bauddhaloka Vesak Festival
Bauddhaloka Vesak Festival was commenced in 2002 under the guidance of the late Dr. Mrs. Milina Sumathipala, to illuminate Colombo during Vesak celebrations and showcase the Buddhist themed artistry and festivities at Bauddhaloka Mawatha to the larger world. Since then the Bauddhaloka Vesak Festival has continued as an annual 'Festival of Lights with Buddhist Themes' event.
- 2600 Sambuddhathwa Jayanthi Festival
In commemoration of 2600th year anniversary of the Enlightenment of the Buddha, ACBC organized the 2600 Sambuddhathwa Jayanthi Festival on a grand scale. Furthermore, Mr. Sumathipala was served as a Steering Committee Member for organizing the Sambuddhathwa Jayanthi festival.
The commemorative coin which was manufactured to mark the occasion of the 2600 Sambuddathwa Jayanthi Festival was presented to Jagath Sumathipala by the then Hon. Prime Minister D M Jayaratne
- Vishwa Shanthi Buddha Pratima Vandana (Exposition of Jade Buddha Statue)
Acting on the initiative taken by Jagath Sumathipala, the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress joined hands with the President’s Office in getting down the Jade Buddha Statue for Buddhists and other well wishers to view and pay respect. The Jade Buddha Statue was exhibited at both the BMICH and ACBC with all facilities provided to the devotees for their convenience.
- 60th Anniversary of the World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB)
The WFB was founded by Dr. Gunapala Malalasekera in 1950 with 129 foreign delegates from 29 countries, attending the inaugural session held in Colombo. Under the guidance and the leadership of Mr. Jagath Sumathipala the 25th General Conference marking the 60th anniversary of the WFB was held in November 2010.
Around 500 participants including Officer Bearers, Delegates and Observers from 65 Regional Centers of 26 countries attended the Conference.
- Commission of Inquiry on Unethical Conversion
A Commission of Inquiry on Unethical Conversions was established in 2006 under the auspices of the ACBC to investigate the incidence of conversion of Buddhists into other religions by illicit and unethical means. A comprehensive Report on the findings of this Commission of Inquiry was published in 2009.
- National, Religious, Economic Renaissance Program
A National, Religious, Economic Renaissance program was launched in 2004 to enable inputs from patriotic scholars directed towards the revival and restoration of Buddhism to its rightful place in the country as in the pre-colonial era under Sinhalese Kings when a Buddhist Social Order prevailed to uphold both peace, justice and extension of compassion to all living beings. Under this program re-awakening projects were launched in several villages.
- Installation of “Sathara Bhramma Viharana” Inscribed Stones
Four stones carrying inscriptions highlighting the “Sathara Bhramma Viharana” concepts of Meththa, Karuna, Muditha, Upekka were installed at the Kanatte Cemetery roundabout in 2004, with the lofty aim of instilling these Buddhist values in the minds of the public.
- Katina Pinkam - Lumbini
Under Jagath Sumathipala’s leadership a Katina Pinkama was organized in Dambadiva, Lumbini in 2006. An overnight Pirith Ceremony and an Alms Giving for 100 monks representing several Buddhist countries was held around the time of the Katina Pinkama.
Katina Pinkam - Savathnuwara
In 2008, Katina Pinkama was conducted at the Jethawanaramaya Temple at Savathnuwara, on a big scale. Prior to the Pinkama the Katina Cheevaraya was displayed to the public at the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress premises to pay homage.
- Katina Pinkam - Sanchi Temple
In 2010, the Katina Pinkama was conducted at the Sanchi Vihara in India with the participation of leading Monks from Sri Lanka and the Executive Committee Members of the ACBC.
- Katina Pinkama at Historical Henannagala Aranya Senasana
In 2012, the Katina Pinkama at the Henannagala Aranya Senasana was organized under the stewardship of Jagath Sumathipala. This historical place is situated in Ampara District, 10 km away from Mahaoya. This site has a significant archaeological value and we still could see the artifacts in the area. Prior to the Pinkama an overnight Pirith Ceremony was conducted and on the following day the Katina Cheevaraya was carried in a procession. In addition a sapling of a Bo Tree was planted in this historical place.
- Ananda Jaya Bodhi at Sithulpauwa
Under the initiative and funding of Jagath Sumathipala, a sapling of the Ananda Bodhi tree was brought down from Savathnuwara, Dambadiva and was planted at the Sithulpauwa Rajamaha Viharaya on the Poson Poya Day of 2008. This Bo Tree was named as Ananda Jaya Bodiya.
- Inscription of Dhammachakkappavattana Suttra
A stone carrying an inscription being a verse borrowed from the text of the Dhammachakkappavattana Suttra, was installed beside the “Thiloka Shanthi Dharmachakkra Buddha Statue” at Kelaniya, Manelwatta Temple, on 13th May 2017, as a token of remembrance of the late Dr. Mrs. Milina Sumathipala.
- Homes for Elderly/ Feeble Monks
Sumathi Group constructed and donated a building in Beddagama to be used as a Home for the aged monks.
- Vocational Training Center
Jagath Sumathipala initiated and funded the establishment of the first Residential Vocational Training Center for orphaned youth above 18 years. It was opened at the Wijewardena (Girls) Child Development Center in Walana, Panadura.
- Tamil Buddhist Society
In the year 2010, ACBC took the initiative to renew the collaboration it earlier had with the Tamil Buddhist Society of Jaffna. As a result, ACBC commenced a Tamil Language Training program for Monks with the objective of improving the Tamil Language skills among the Monks.
- Sasana Weera Dinaya
Upon the initiative of Jagath Sumathipala, December 20th, the date on which ACBC was inaugurated was named as the “Sasana Weera Dinaya” to honour and commemorate the life and services rendered by the past Presidents of ACBC and Buddhist monks, workers and leaders who had contributed to foster and protect Buddhism and the Buddha Sasana within and outside Sri Lanka, thereby bringing both high esteem and international recognition to Sri Lanka.
- Launch of the Web Site of “Damsarana” Buddhist paper
- Briefing at the media conference held by the National Bhikkhu Convention calling for a ban on the opening and proliferation of fundamentalist preaching centers that are engaged in creating religious conflicts.
- Donating of Buddha Statues to the villagers
- Ordination of 50 young children under the supervision and guidance of the Maha Nayake of Singapore, Most Venerable Parawahara Chandarathana Nayake Thero, at the Buddhist Centre of Minuwangoda
- Participating to an Almsgiving for 2600 Bhikkhunis held at Bollagala, Manelwatta Temple
- Participating to the proceeding sacred Buddha Relics to Buddha Gaya for exposition
- Participating in a Foundation Stone laying ceremony to construct the Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Memorial Hall of Sri Saddhatissa International Buddhist Centre at Nawala
- Presenting a special Award to Venerable Master Chin Kung, the Founder of Pure Land Learning College Association, Australia
- Visited and inspected the damage caused to the Vihara Mandiraya of Sudharmashrama Temple in Beliatta, Matara, by the tsunami disaster. It was later reconstructed by the Sumathipala family
- Participating in the opening ceremony of the renovated Dharma Shalawa at Vajiraramaya Temple