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Ananda created patriotic leaders:

Ananda College - Symbol of the New Nation

I had about forty years of experience in the field of education and had the opportunity to serve in every part of Sri Lanka. If any College could claim to be truly representative of the spirit and aspirations of the Nation of Sri Lanka, I am of opinion that Ananda College along could claim that distinction.

I am an old boy of Ananda and am proud of it, though it was only a short period I spent in this College, after completing my studies at the national College in the North, the Jaffna Hindu College. Royal, St. Thomas, St. Joseph's and Trinity had been moulded on British Imperial traditions and the 'elite' of the country had flocked into them for obvious reasons. Ananda had to break through these established traditions and create new ones, blazing through the whole gamut of changes from colonial to national rule.

It was in the early twenties that I joined Ananda. There is a story behind it. When the time came for me to proceed to Colombo for higher studies, then unavailable in the provinces, my parents and well-wishers directed me to St. Joseph's as the College the safest for a youth at that time. It was famous for its discipline and training.

At Jaffna Hindu, I had worn only the national consume, getting into shorts only for my scout activities. Rigged in Western paraphernalia I was led into St. Joseph's. A few weeks had passed and I had made a few acquaintances, among whom, I may mention was the present Archbishop of Colombo.

I studied Botany under rev. Father Le Goc. A few weeks had passed when disparaging remarks were passed among us about the national dress, then the rage at Ananda. I was determined to maintain my cultural rights. I took a bet with them and walked into the College in my national dress.

I did not want to hurt their feelings and would seek a College that respects our national traditions. I walked into Ananda and Principal Kularatne welcomed me into its portals in the same dress. I was then, often, a matter of dispute whether the dress was Sinhala or Tamil. It belonged to both.

It was at Ananda that I felt, more than at Jaffna Hindu, that common screams of Buddhist and Hindu, Sinhala and Tamil cultures met and fused into what me might now consider the national culture of Sri Lanka.

Western materialism and customs were still more attractive to the youths of our country.

Anandians had to face odds and to take upon themselves the sacred task of selecting the best from the West and shaping them to suit or national needs and aspirations. We were often the laughing stock of the country. Those in seats of authority frowned upon these efforts. The struggle went on.

Ananda stuck to national traditions as far as practicable and blazed new trials. Soon it drew level with other Colleges and it was not long after Independence that it got a clear lead over the other long established institutions. Today it is the symbol of the new nation in the educational field.

Mr. P de S. Kularatne, the veteran educationist, could be considered the most noteworthy pioneer in the field. To him all communities were alike. His Assistants then were doughty fighters like Prof. Sundaralingam and Principal Jayah, all of whom made their mark in political life also. Mr. Jinendradasa, I admired as a great actor and a teacher of Chemistry. Miss. Westbrook, later Mrs. Kularatne and a pioneering Principal at Puspadana at Kandy later, taught us English.

There were on the staff also Principal Weeramantry, professor Malalasekera, Principal Mettananda and Headmaster V.T.S. Sivagurunathen.

Many of them made distinct contributions to Education and Buddhism.

Their names will live for ever in the history of education in our country and I consider myself lucky in having come under their influence.

I met them later, from different angles, and I always cherish their friendship and memories. They had carried the torch of Ananda throughout the Island.

The contribution made by Old Anandians to the life of the nation is remarkable. A Nation has to develop an "Ethos" of its own.

Sri Lanka cannot completely ignore the happenings of the past, the impact of colonial traditions on the past, the impact of colonial traditions on the people and the march of History. It was but natural that various ethnological groups shared the travails of the land through the ages and survived to form the Sri Lanka of today.

Buddhist traditions were mellowed by Hindu traditions both coming from the same cultural origins. They had gone through the crucible of imperialism and cultural impacts.

It is to an Institution like Ananda College, that one could look forward for giving the lead in building up a strong and integrated nation, proud of its heritage and looking forward to greater achievements in the field of education in the future. May the Devas bless our land and lead us in the right direction.

Extracted from "Anandaya" (1973)


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