He was born in Kotahena, Colombo to a middle-class family, educated at St. Benedict's College and Ceylon University College, and ordained at the age of eighteen.
In 1929 he represented Sri Lanka at the opening ceremony for the new Mulagandhakuti Vihara monastery at Sarnath, India, and in 1934 he visited Indonesia, the first Theravadan monk to do so in more than 450 years.From that point on he traveled to many countries to conduct missionary work: Taiwan, Cambodia, Laos, South Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, Nepal, and Australia. In 1956, he visited the United Kingdom and the United States, and addressed a huge crowd at the Washington Monument. On 2 November 1960 Narada Maha Thera brought a bodhi tree to the South Vietnamese temple Thích Ca Phật Đài, and made many visits to the country during the 1960s.
Along with others (such as Piyadassi Maha Thera) he contributed to the popularization of the bana style dharma talk in the 1960s and brought the Buddhist teachings "to the day-to-day lives of the Westernized middle class in Sri Lanka."
See also: Venerable Narada Maha Thera
A biographical sketch by Gunaseela Vithanage
Ven. Narada Maha Thera's warnings
Ven. Narada Thera in an open letter to the then Prime Minister Hon. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike in March 1957, had pointed out with almost prophetic vision, the dangerous trends appearing in the Armed Services due to the constitution of their personnel. The Venerable monk had said that if prompt action was not taken to remedy the problem, a situation similar to the one that arose in South Vietnam was likely to arise here. He had drawn the attention of the Prime Minister to the disproportionate low number of Buddhist staff officers in the Armed Services. Roman Catholics and other non- Buddhists were holding most of the key positions in the Armed Services.
Though copies of this letter had been submitted to the Ceylon Daily News, Ceylon Observer, Times of Ceylon, Dinamina and Lankadipa, none of these newspapers had published this letter. Only the Journal ' Buddhist Opinion ' had published the letter in its March 1957 issue.
The Press Commission Report has published extracts of this letter, which points out to the aims of a World - wide Catholic Movement called' Catholic Action '. Ven. Narada says:
"Vietnam is a country with a predominantly Buddhist ( 90 % ) population. It is now under a Catholic dictatorship. The dictatorship was established through the aid of the World - wide Catholic movement called CATHOLIC ACTION. The movement was initiated by the Pope in 1923. Its purpose is to utilise the services of lay Catholics for increasing the power of the Pope and the Church. The Modus Operandi of this movement is to infiltrate into key positions in the Aimed Services, the Police and the Public Services, and the organs that mould public opinion such as the Radio and the Press. Through the Press and the Radio and other modes of propaganda, they create confusion, cause tension and bring about a state of social unrest. Thereafter they always wait for the opportune moment to capture power and control the Department. It was through infiltration into commanding positions in the Armed Services, the Police and the Public Services and by obtaining the control of the Press and the Radio and by obtaining foreign aid during a period of unrest that Catholic Action succeeded in obtaining supreme power in Vietnam."
The Monk adds:
"In this Memorandum I wish to point out that a similar process of infiltration has been going on in this country (Ceylon) since independence was granted. The extent of the infiltration shows the danger with which we are faced. As a Bhikkhu I know what would happen to the Sangha if Catholics gain control of the State "
Catholic Action controls the English language newspapers
Ven. Narada Thera further says:
"It is well known that Catholic Action controls the English newspapers. The two Managing Directors of the Times Group of newspapers are ardent Catholics. The Editorial Staff of their English newspapers are almost entirely Catholic. You will be most surprised to know the number of Christians and Catholics on the Editorial Staff of the ' Daily News ' and the ' Observer '.
"As I mentioned earlier Catholic Action is always bent on creating social unrest and this they do through the newspapers by distorting facts and presenting news in a particular manner. The Catholic Church with Press support has opposed almost every national and progressive movement in this country. They were opposed to Free Education; to the use of Sinhalese as the Official Language; the teaching of Buddhism to Buddhist children in State Schools; and the use of National dress and Prohibition. "
The Press Commission Report states that " the events of January 1962 when Ceylon almost miraculously escaped from the brink of disaster, justified the fears of the Venerable ( Narada ) Thera. " (PRC para 54 pages 29 -30).
Anti — Buddhist Activities
The Press Commission Report devotes around 24 pages to the examination of the evidence on the anti - Buddhist activities of the mainstream newspapers of the country. This is the topic that has been allocated the largest space in the Report. The Report cites several examples to illustrate the anti- Buddhist policy and conduct of mainly the English language newspapers.