Political, Religious & Cultural (Thailand)
Siam (Thailand) and Lanka (Sri Lanka) which profess Buddhism as their state religion have excellent relationship, especially in religion, arts and culture that extend over a span of seven centuries. Ayutthaya of Siam and Kandy of Lanka are the epicenters of these historical relations.
Historical records proves that the historical relationship of Buddhism between Thailand (Siam) and Sri Lanka (Ceylon) in the forms of continuity, development and revival of Buddhism in both countries. Each ‘country has played a vital role of transmitter and receiver, brotherly support at crucial moments in the history of the two nations. As results, Buddhism has been firmly established in both countries until today.
According to “Mahavansa”, the historical Great Chronicle of Lanka, “Lankan or Sinhala is a group of people living in Lanka Island. The Lankans are descended from King Sihabahu, King of Vatsa region. King Sihabasu exiled Prince Vijaya and his followers from his region and Prince Vijaya took a ship to Lanka, defeated Raksod giants on the island. After the battle, he built a city on that island. The descendants of Lanka are therefore called Sinhala or descendants of King Sihabahu”.
“Lankavong” or “Lankavansa” Buddhism in Siam (Thailand)
For Siamese, Sri Lanka is recognized as the ‘Land of Buddhism, inherited by Lord Buddha’. According to the “Atthakavagga” scripture, ‘all three predecessor Lord Buddhas who lived in Bhadrakalpa (Auspicious aeon, in which Buddhas appear) have visited Lanka. Sri Lanka is the site of the ancient Theravada Buddhism and has maintained the teachings of BuddHism for over two thousand years. In Siam (Thailand), Buddhism has been spread since the Dwaravadi era. The “Lankavong” or “Lankavamsa” Buddhism in Siam has been introduced since the time of King Ramkhamhaeng the Great’.
The last phase of Buddhism that was introduced to Thailand was Ceylon (Sri Lankan) Buddhism. It was during the time of Parakramabahu the Great (1153-1186 CE) who became the King of Ceylon. Under his strong patronage, Buddhism was consolidated in the whole island Kingdom. According to some scholars, there was even the 7th Buddhist Council held at this time under the chairmanship of Kassapa Thera of Dimbulagala to revise and strengthen the ‘dhamma’ and ‘vinaya’. While this good news spread to the neighboring countries like Burma, Cambodia, Laos and also North Thailand, Buddhist monks flocked to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) to receive the pure form of the ‘dhamma’. Thailand sent monks to obtain ‘upasampada’ ceremony from Ceylon. Those monks returned to Thailand with Ceylonese counterparts and settled in Nakhon Si Thammarat. Stupas and Buddha images were at that time greatly influenced by the Ceylonese Arts. King Ram Kamhaeng, who had his Kingdom at Sukhothai invited those monks and gave his royal support to spread the ‘buddhadhamma’. Mahasami Sangharaja, who lived in forest at Nakhon Si Thammarat visited to the capital and preached Dhamma. And also introduced the higher ordination. It is called this vamsa as ‘Lankavong’ even today. Thai people also received the Sacred relic of Buddha and skill of making the Buddha images, pagodas and art regarded to Buddhism. This is evidenced from one of the King’s Rock inscriptions dated back to 1277 CE. This form of Buddhism in Thailand was widely practiced and continued until today.
“Upaliwong” or “Siamwong” “Siam Nikaya” Buddhism in Lanka (Ceylon/Sri Lanka)
By the mid – 18th century, ‘upasampada’ (higher ordination, as distinct from samanera or novice ordination) had become extinct in Sri Lanka again. The Buddhist order had become extinct thrice during the preceding five hundred years due to colonial influence by Portuguese, Dutch and English and was re-established in the reigns of Vimala Dharma Suriya I (1591-1604) and Vimala Dharma Suriya II (1687-1707) as well. These re-establishments were short lived.
In the reign of King Borommakot, the King of Ayutthaya in Siam (Thailand), King Sri Vijaya Rajasingha, the King of Kandy reigned in Sri Lanka and Buddhism was on a critical stage of decline in Sri Lanka. Therefore, King Sri Vijaya Rajasingha of Lanka sent an envoy with a royal epistle and tributes to the Siamese King Borommakot of Ayutthaya Kingdom inviting Siamese Sanghas on mission to revive Buddhism in Sri Lanka, on the initiative of Ven. Weliwita Sri Saranankara Thero (1698-1778). But King Sri Vijaya Rajasingha died in 1747.
“Chulavamsa” scripture recorded that during reign of King ‘Kittisiri Raja Siha’ or ‘Kirti Sriraj Singha’ (1747-1782), the successor of late King Sri Vijaya Rajasingha, sent a Sinhala envoy to present the royal epistle and tribute to King Borommakot of Ayutthaya, requesting Siamese monks to ordain the Sinhalese.
As recorded in the “Chulayutthakanvamsa” scripture during the Ayutthaya Period of Thailand stated that; ‘At that time, King of Lanka sent an envoy with a royal epistle inviting the Siamese monks to ;-e-establish Buddhasasana in Lanka. King Borommakot of Ayutthaya granted. Buddhist Scriptures Thripitaka and 25 monks under the lead of Phra Upali to establish ordination in Lanka’.
First Voyage -The vessel carrying the monastic mission led by Phra Upali Maha Thera was bombarded by enormous tidal waves, suffering leaks, with two masks torn down. It finally ran aground offshore in the bay of Nakhon Si Thammarat. The contingent had to return to Ayutthaya.
Second Voyage – The Siamese monastic mission and envoys once again took off on board the Dutch sea-going ship ‘Cecilia’. The mission consisted of 2 royal-appointed ranking monks, Phra Upali Maha Thera and Phra Aryamuni; 5 Pali-schooled monks as act-announcing teachers, 11 non ranking monks, and 5 envoys, not to mention attendants of various departments.
His Royal Highness the Prince Damrong Rajanubhab, son of His Majesty the King Rama IV, recorded in ‘The Story of the establishment of Siamese Monks in Lanka” as follows;
‘The diplomatic corps left Kandy on 12 July 1750. It reached the estuary of the Chao Phraya River on 14 May 1751. The envoy attended the royal consecration to His Majesty the King Borommakot of Ayutthaya on 17 July 1751. The envoys went to worship at Puttaisawan Temple and Chai Wattanaram Temple. They also traveled to worship the footprints of the Buddha at Saraburi Province and Wat Pa Mok Worawihan, Ang Thong. Until September 21, the envoys consecrated the epistle to the Supreme Patriarch of Siam (Sangharaja) at Mahathatwarararm Temple for re establishment of the ‘Theravada’ Buddism in Sri Lanka. The Supreme Patriarch of Siam agreed to send the Siamese clergy to Sri Lanka with the envoys so that they could give their supports and to ordain the Sinhalese in Lanka. The group departed from Ayutthaya on 4 December 1751 and arrived in Siriwattanaburi in July 1752. The Siamese clergy were welcomed by King Kirti Sriraj Singha. The King of Lanka led the royal procession and royally granted facilitation at ‘Buppharam’ or ‘Malwaththa’ Temple in Kandy.
Within his three years in Ceylon, Phra Upali settled in Kandy and established the ‘Siam Nikaya’ or ‘Siam Wongse’, denomination of ‘Theravada’ Buddhism, performing ‘upasampada’ (higher ordinations) for as many as 700 monks and 3,000 novices. The first ritual of Buddhist ordinations was done during the full moon in July 1753. Siamese book “Sayamupasampadawat” recorded the same. After that, another set of Siamese monks led by two Phra Racha Kana (Siamese Prelate) named Phra Wisutthachan and Phra Vorayan Muni replaced the first group of Siamese Sangha to Sri Lanka.
The Siamese Sangha’s journey to revive Buddhism in Sri Lanka flourished Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka again. Sri Lanka, therefore, named the Lankan monks who were ordained by Phra Upali as “Upaliwong” or “Siamwong”, “Siam Nikaya” becomes one of the most respected Buddhist sects in Sri Lanka, respected by the majority of Sihalalese descendants, until now.
After extraordinary services to the two nations of Lanka and Siam, Phra Upali Thero passed away in Kandy, Sri Lanka.
On the occasion of the 260th anniversary of the establishment of Siamese Buddhism in Sri Lanka, the Royal Thai Government approved the budget to construct Phra Upali Maha Thera Museum and to restore Thammaram Temple, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province and official opening ceremony was held on 26 December 2013 at Thammaram Temple, to honour the religious mission of Phra Upaii Malla Thera and to tie the relations between the Kingdom of Thailand and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
Further, the Royal Thai Government and Government of Sri Lanka has declared City of Ayutthaya in Kingdom of Thailand and City of Kandy in Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka as “Sister Cities” of the two brotherly nations.
This year, 2023 marks the 270th anniversary of the establishment of Siyam Nikaya in Sri Lanka.
People of both countries are bound by the Theravada Buddhist links, and following the establishment of formal diplomatic relations in 20th November 1955, cooperation between the two countries has continued to flourish and diversify in multiple areas.
This year, 2023 marks the 68th Anniversary of the establishment of formal Diplomatic relation.
The Royal Audience and the Presentation of the Letter of Credence by Ambassador C.A. Chaminda I. Colonne to the King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua of the Kingdom of Thailand
The King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua of the Kingdom of Thailand has graciously granted a Royal Audience to C.A. Chaminda I. Colonne, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Sri Lanka to the Kingdom of Thailand, and Permanent Representative to UNESCAP, on 04th November 2021, for the Presentation of Letter of Credence at Ambara Villa, Dusit Palace in Bangkok.
The King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua extended sincere best wishes to the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and recalled strong long-standing relations with Sri Lanka. While congratulating Sri Lanka’s newly appointed Ambassador Chaminda Colonne, the King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua assured fullest support of the Kingdom in discharging her official duties and fulfillment of the mission.
Ambassador Chaminda Colonne conveyed warm greetings from the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka to the King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua, and assured her fullest cooperation and support in enhancing and consolidating excellent longstanding bonds of friendship and cooperation with the Kingdom. Ambassador Colonne also extended an invitation for His Majesty to visit Sri Lanka.
Ambassadors of Vietnam, Slovakia, Kenya, Turkey and Nigeria also presented their Letters of Credence on the same day.
Ambassador Colonne is also concurrently accredited to the Kingdom of Cambodia and Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
From Sri Lanka to Thailand
- Visit by Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka (2009)
Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka in 2007.
- Official visit of HE the President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena to Thailand from 1-4 November 2015.
- HE the President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena & the First Lady undertook a Working Visit to Thailand from 7th to 8th October 2016 to attend the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) Summit accompanied by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Dr. Harsha de Silva and delegation., where he met the Prime Minister of Thailand .
- HE the President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena visited Thailand on 30th October 2016 to pay his respects to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, accompanied by Hon Minister of Buddhasasana, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe.
- Hon Minister of Science, Technology & Research Susil Premajayantha and a delegation attended the 1st session of the Committee on Information and Communications Technology & Innovation at UN ESCAP from 5th-7th October 2016.
- Hon Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Harsha de Silva, attended the 23rd Asia Regional Forum (ARF) in July 2016.
- Hon State Minister of Science, Technology and Research Mr. Thilanga Sumathipala and delegation attended the 72nd Commission Session of ESCAP in May 2016.
- Hon. Minister of Sustainable Development and Wildlife Gamini Jayawickrama Perera was elected Chair of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) at the UNESCAP in April 2016.
- Hon Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Harsha De Silva and a two-member delegation attended the Ministerial Meeting of ACD in Bangkok in March 2016.
- Hon Sujeewa Senasinghe, State Minister of International Trade and two member delegation from the EDB and the BOI visited Thailand in May 2016 to study Amata Nakorn Industrial city.
- The former Hon Minister of Justice & Buddhasasana Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe visited to extend invitations for the UN International Vesak Day to the King, the Princess and the Prime Minister through the Foreign Minister in 2017.
- Hon. Rishard Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry & Commerce and delegation at the Fourth session of the Ministerial Council of the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) on 13 January 2017.
- Visit of Hon. Ajith P. Perera, Deputy Minister of Power & Renewable Energy and delegate at the 1st session of the Committee on Energy from 17 – 19 January 2017, where Hon. Dy Minister was elected as the chair.
- Visit of Hon Minister of Sustainable Development & Wildlife and delegate at the Asia Pacific Forum for Sustainable Development (APFSD) from 29 – 31 March 2017.
- Visit of then Hon Minister of Finance Mangala Samaraweera and a 6 member delegation, including the 2 Deputy Secretaries to the General Treasury at the Fourth High Level Dialogue on Financing for Development from 28 – 29 April 2017.
- Visit by Hon Ajith P Perera, Deputy Minister/Power & Renewable to the 73rd Commission Session of the UNESCAP from 15 – 19 May 2017.
- Visit of Hon SB Dissanayake, Minister of Social Empowerment and Welfare who chaired a side event on Social Development in June 2017.
- Visit of Hon Deputy Minister of Mahaweli Development & Environment Anuradha Jayaratne & delegate at the Asia-Pacific Ministerial Summit on Environment from 5 – 8 September 2017.
- Visit by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in 2018.
- Visit of the Hon Minister of Development Strategies & International Trade Malik Samarawickrama to Thailand with a delegation including, Minster of Fisheries Rajitha Senarathne and State Minister of Agriculture, Chairperson/EDB and DG/BOI from 16th – 18th February 2018.
- Hon. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa transited in Bangkok enroute to Colombo in 2018. A meeting was arranged between the Thai Minister Kobsak Pootrakool attached to the Prime Minister’s Office. Hon. Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade was also associated.
- A study tour undertaken by Minister of Justice and Prison Reforms Thalatha Atukorale to ascertain the working of the legal system and treatment of offenders. She met with the Deputy Prime Minister & Justice of Thailand and visited the jail in 2018.
- Hon. Minister of Primary Industries visited Thai Fex as a booth had been organized by that Ministry and facilitated by this Embassy in 2018.
- Hon. Sagala Ratnayaka, Chief of Staff to the Hon. Prime Minister and Minister of Project Management, Youth Affairs and Southern Development visited AMATA Industrial Park in Rayong together with the representatives from China Harbour Limited, Sri Lanka in 2018.
- Hon. State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene visited Thailand and met Minister of Defence in Thailand in 2018.
- Hon. Sagala Ratnayaka, then Chief of Staff to the Hon. Prime Minister and Minister of Project Management, Youth Affairs and Southern Development visited AMATA Industrial Park in Rayong together with the representatives from China Harbour Limited, Sri Lanka.
- Visit by Hon. Daya Gamage, Minister of Primary Industries and Social Empowerment also attended the 6th APFSD, 27-29 March 2019.
- Visit by Hon. Tilak Marapana, Minister of Foreign Affairs at the 26th ARF Ministerial Meeting, and Sri Lanka delegation at the ASEAN SOM, 02 August 2019.
- Visit by Hon. Harsha de Silva, Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution at the launch of the ‘ASEAN and WHO-SEARO Network for Road Safety Legislators’, an unanimous election as the Vice Chair of the same, 9 August 2019.
- Minister of Justice M.U.M. Ali Sabry led the Sri Lanka delegation for the 9th Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) held hybrid mode at the United Nations Economic and Social Council for Asia and Pacific (UNESCAP) Secretariate in Bangkok from 28 – 31 March 2022.
- Minister of Education Susil Premajayantha of Sri Lanka led the delegation for the 2nd Asia-Pacific Regional Education Minister’s Conference on SDG4-Education 2030 (APREMC II), Bangkok, Thailand.
- State Minister of Finance, Hon. Shehan Semasinghe led the Sri Lanka Delegation to the 10th Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (AFPSD) at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, (UNESCAP) in Bangkok, Thailand from 27th to 30th March 2023.
From Thailand to Sri Lanka
- His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great, and Her Majesty Rajawongse Sirikit Kitiyakara, Queen Mother visited Sri Lanka in 1950.
- Visit by HM King Vajiralongkorn when he was Crown Prince in 1993.
- Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (2003).
- Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (2013).
- Visit of HM Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn in 2013.
- Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand accompanied the Sacred Relics of Mahiyangana back to Sri Lanka 8th – 12th March 2016.
- President Maithripala Sirisena offered the sacred relics to the Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand Somkid Jatusripitak when he called on President Sirisena at the Presidential Secretariat.
- Deputy Prime Minister in charge of economic affairs of Thailand, Dr. Somkid Jatusripitak, visited Sri Lanka from 8th – 12th March as a follow up visit to the Presidential Visit in November 2015, accompanied by the Ministers of Commerce, Industry and officials from the Foreign Ministry, Tourism Authority of Thailand and Agriculture, Marine and Fisheries departments.
- Official visit of Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, Executive Secretary of UNESCAP to Sri Lanka in October 2016, and the visit of Ms. Susan Stone, Director/Trade Investment & Innovation of UNESCAP.
- Hon Minister attached to the Thai PM’s office in charge of religious affairs visited Sri Lanka for the UN International Vesak Day 2017 celebrations together with a delegation. He also visited Anuradhapura for discussions with the Atamasthanadhipathi on Gifting of sacred bo sapling.
- Official visit of the Thai Prime Minister H.E. General Prayut Chan-o-cha to Sri Lanka in July 2018.
- Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Thailand led a delegation for the Political Consultations at Secretary level held in Sri Lanka, February 2018.
- Minister of Culture visited Sri Lanka, to invite the hierarchy of the monks from the Siam Sect to Thailand for chanting on 31st December 2018.
- Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai visited Sri Lanka to conduct the Royal Katina Ceremony in November 2018.
- Deputy Prime Minister, H.E. Don Pramudwinai visited Sri Lanka for the 5th BIMSTEC Summit held in Colombo in March 2022.
Sri Lanka-Thailand Political Consultations
The First Bilateral Political Consultation between Thailand and Sri Lanka was held in Colombo on 24th August 2012 as an implementation of the MOU signed in May 2012 between the respective Ministries of Foreign Affairs during the Official Visit by H. E. the President of Sri Lanka for 9th UN Vesak Day celebrations held in Ayutthaya, Thailand. Second Bilateral Political Consultations was held on 14th December 2012. This meeting was provided a forum to discuss and formulate the work plan for the year 2013, mainly focusing on the 260th celebrations of the establishment of Siam Nikaya in Sri Lanka. Third Bilateral Political Consultation was held in Bangkok, Thailand on 30th June 2014 at the Foreign Secretaries level. Fourth Bilateral Political Consultations was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 28th February 2018.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka has conveyed its willingness to hold the 5th Sri Lanka- Thailand Political Consultations at the level of Foreign Secretary, on 28th August 2023 in Colombo 2023. Due to financial situation in Sri Lanka, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand has suggested to hold the 5th round in Colombo.
Embassy & Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka