Kshirabdhi Aruliah (Nee Nagendra) :
She was an exceptional lady
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
She was their North, their South, their song,
We thought this love would last forever. We were wrong.
‘Funeral Blues’ by W.H.Auden
I began to love Kshirabdhi very dearly when, as a little girl of
about five, she came to my speech and drama
classes. Petite and beautiful with wide eyes and buttermilk skin she
would sit in class and listen attentively and very obediently. Her voice
had a bird-like timbre and at a very early age she was able to bring out
the subtle shades of meaning in whatever she read out loud or recited.
Now that she is no more, many of those who knew and loved her remember
her reciting poetry with such confidence in a clear and expressive
voice. I quote from two poems in memory of our shared love of poetry.
Kshirabdhi is the daughter of two of our dearest friends, Sarla and
Sega Nagendra. She is the fond elder sister of Prashan and sister-in-law
of Chameli. They are a loving and close family and losing Kshirabdhi is
a terrible blow.
Like our mothers before us, Sarla and I were together at Ladies
College and our children too grew up together. Kshirabdhi was at Ladies
College until her O/Levels. She was a keen student and like her mother
and grandmother before her, excelled in athletics. She then went on to
Colombo International School where she was Games Captain.
Kshirabdhi married Jekhan Aruliah and after a few years, the couple
and their young son Karnan, moved to England. Despite the time consuming
tasks of running a house and looking after a young child, Kshirabdhi
found time to do a course in teaching differently-abled children and
began helping out in a nearby school. She continued to work with these
children completely free of charge, until her demise.
While she was in England we communicated mostly via emails and phone
calls. It gave me joy to see this young girl grow up into a strong and
confident woman who coped remarkably with a crippling illness. Her
positive attitude was an inspiration. She never spoke ill of anyone or
complained of the excruciating pain she endured on a daily basis.
Karnan was Kshirabdhi's pride and joy and indeed he is worthy of her
great love and sacrifice. Whenever Karnan won an award or took part in a
school event I would receive pictures of him from his proud mother.
Kshirabdhi also told me that she spent long hours talking with her son
guiding him and instilling in him the right values and beliefs which
were so precious to her. I believe her efforts were not in vain for
today Karnan is an exceptional young man, mature for his age, pleasant
and caring. In this day where the generation gap widens and clashes
between the old and the young seem irreconcilable, theirs was a bond
made in heaven. Though for a very short time, Karnan had the very best
mother he could have got in this world and in turn, Kshirabdhi had the
Kshirabdhi herself was aware that despite everything modern medicine
had to offer, there was the ever-present likelihood that she would
succumb to her illness. It is truly amazing that in the face of all this
she remained undaunted, brave, positive and cheerful. She is a shining
example to all of us who grumble with much less cause.
Kshirabdhi was an angel who walked amongst us for a short while. She
is now free of pain and despair, and back with the angels. While we
mourn her death let us celebrate her life and all she stood for.
Fear no more the heat o’ the sun,
Nor the furious winter's rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art done, and ta'en thy wages:
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.
Nothing ill come near thee!
Quiet consummation have,
And renowned by the grave!
Harindranath Sandrasekera :
A true Trade Unionist
The Ceylon Workers Congress has lost a veteran Trade Unionist in
Harindranath Sandrasekera, Senior Vice President (International Affairs
and Industrial Relations) popularly known as Harry who passed away
peacefully on April 15, 2013.
He shone as an ardent exponent of workers’ rights especially of
plantation workers at forums of the Labour Ministry and Labour
Relations, Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, National Labour Advisory
Council, the ILO Colombo office, trade union organizations at national
level and at international forums of the International Labour
Organization, Geneva, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC
Asia Pacific) the South Asian Regional Trade Union Council, Kathmandu, (SARTUC),
the Public Services International (PSI), Japanese International Labour
Foundation (JILAF) and others.
Harry moved and worked closely with all tripartite partners. He stuck
to the CWC ideals and objectives. Many collective agreements were signed
by CWC leaders with his expert advice and nuances of the trade union
He worked very closely with the late CWC leader Savumiamoorthi
Thondaman and the present leader Arumugan Thondaman in shaping and
moulding the CWC to bring it to its present heights.
I had the benefit of associating him from the days of my long career
in the Department of Labour and Labour Relations as Assistant
Commissioner of Labour, Senior Assistant Commissioner of Labour in the
regions and later as Deputy Commissioner of Labour, Colombo.
I was fortunate to work with him subsequently as a colleague in the
CWC. Sandrasekera's approach to workers’ problems was unique and humane
which satisfied both the employers and workers.
His departure has created a void which is hard to fill.
May be attain Nibbana!
A. Vincent Wickremasinghe :
He provided us a good education
My father D. Alfred Vincent Wickremasinghe married my mother Premeani
Therese Adeline Ekanayake on 16th August, 1958 at St. Mary's Church,
Lauries Road, Bambalapitiya. I remember the ancestral house in which all
us lived for 27 years when my mother expired in July 1991 due to a heart
attack aged 65 years, which shocked all of us. She was the daughter of
Dr. Hector and Mable Ekanayake.
My father was a Senior Clerk at the Grand Oriental Hotel where he
always took us for Christmas parties, which is an annual event at the
Hotel even now. He retired from his hotel career in the 1970s and looked
after my mother as she was not well. Father used to go to hospital and
get medication for my mother and even looked after my sister and me in
providing good education though we were financially handicapped.
He was of a family of 13. soon after I finished my school education,
I managed to join the Mt. Lavinia Hotel as an Assistant Kitchen Helper
which kept me going until my mother's untimely death in July 1991.
Being the only son, I cared for my father and as he got a stroke and
was confined to bed for almost four months and never recovered, we
looked after him as best as we could, and finally god called him to rest
with in April,1992.
When both my sister and I were young, my father used to take us
either to his home town in Panadura or Colpetty during our school
holidays, and we had fun with our cousins.
I was told that he was the football Captain at St. John's College
Panadura, which his other three brothers namely, Willie, Edward and
George also attended. He was also a keen cricket fan and very
enthusiastically listened to commentaries over the pocket radio. He is
remembered on his 21st Death Anniversary by his family.
May his Soul Rest in Peace!
Dr. Subramaniam Arulthasan :
A gentleman all round
It is now more than six months since Dr. S. Arulthasan departed from
this world leaving his siblings, brother-in-law, sisters-in-law and
those associated with him immersed in deep grief. He passed away in
Colombo after a brief illness on 12th August 2012. He was a gentleman
par excellence whose integrity and honesty were unquestionable. He was
straightforward, disciplined and had certain principles and ideals in
life and one who did not compromise his principles under any
circumstance. Being a septuagenarian, he was born on 17th May 1937 as
the second son in a family of seven.
Dr. Arulthasan received his primary education at the Velautham School
in Puloly and his secondary education at Hartley College, Point Pedro.
He entered the Ceylon Medical College and followed the Apothecaries
course for two years which final examination he passed with excellent
results in 1959. He joined the Medical Department as an Apothecary, now
designated as Assistant Medical Officer. He served in many parts of Sri
Lanka with dedication and his sole concern was the welfare of the
patients who came to him for treatment and earned their re spects.
In 1983 he was attached to the rural hospital at Gokerella in the
Kurunegala District. While serving there, in July 1983 he went on leave
to his home town Point Pedro to see his parents. While he was enjoying
the company and nearness of his parents, the July 1983 riots broke out
in Colombo and its suburbs and it was feared that it would spread to
other places as well. Dr. Arulthasan did not return back to the
Gokerella Rural Hospital to resume his duties there, not minding the
fate of his job.
While he was in a perplexed mental state in this manner, another
heart-rending event dealt a heavy blow not only to him but also to his
entire family by the passing away of his father in August 1983 at the
age of 94 years. Thus, while being amidst happenings of sad events and
an uncertainty of his future, by unexpected luck, nay by providence, he
got an opportunity to go to Oman a Middle East country and to join the
medical sector there in the same capacity as he was in Sri Lanka. In
Oman he served the medical sector and the citizens whole heartedly and
with dedication. While serving in Oman he made use of every opportunity
that came his way, to come to Sri Lanka and see his mother and spend
some moments in her company and enjoy her nearness as he was deeply
attached to her.
After completing ten years of service in Oman he relinquished his job
and returned to Sri Lanka in 1994, which enabled him to be in the
company and nearness of his mother as often as he wished. By his demise
I have lost an intimate and worthy friend and a mentor. Death is
inevitable and everyone born on this earth has to depart one day as
May his soul attain Eternal Bliss and Moksha and rest in peace at the
feet of God almighty!
Sumithra (Amitha) De Silva:
Everything she touched turned to gold
It is not very long since the death of my mother Sumithra De Silva in
Wellington, New Zealand. My brother Manoraj, informed me over the phone
that she passed away in a military hospital in Wellington. In the final
moments of her life, by her side were an Indian nurse, my father and
brother-in-law. Clean thinking and simple living, made her live upto the
age of eighty seven. She hailed from Tangalle and was the only child in
the family. She was born in 'Carlton House' and was educated at Museaus
College, Colombo. She lived a well-led life in Wellington under the care
of my sister and her family.
My mother married Victor De Silva who was Assistant Commissioner of
Elections, Kalutara, Kegalle and Colombo Districts. Later he became an
Advocate of the Supreme Court. He was privileged to own the first Caltex
Petrol station in Hatton. His contemporaries were W.T. Jayasinghe, D.C.L.
Amarasinghe, O.A. Weerasinghe, D.B.I.P. Siriwardena and Eardley
Gunawardena. She was a God-fearing and honourable person, who was an
object lesson to posterity. Today she is remembered by her in-laws Ivan
and PHLU in New Zealand and Australia respectively and also by her
grandchildren, Owanaka, Rajiv, Nimesha, Ishali and Nikeetha.
A fitting epitaph for her would be 'Everything she touched turned to
May she attain Eternal Rest!
A loveable personality
The sudden demise of Shelton Coswatte was a great shock to many of
his friends and relatives. Coswatte who took ill suddenly while
holidaying with his daughter at Ratnapura was rushed to Colombo and
passed away peacefully. He was in the local government service for many
years and served as Municipal Commissioner for a considerable period in
Nuwara Eliya, and thereafter as the Secretary to the Governor in the Uva
Province. He counted many friends in Sri Lanka, was a loveable
personality and served the public in several parts of the country. He
was an old boy of St. Sylvester's College, Kandy and the father of two
sons, one who is a Brigadier in the Army and the other, a Planter. His
daughter is a Medical Doctor in Ratnapura. He is survived by his wife.
May his soul Rest in Peace!
K B Ratnayake:
The minister who ushered the golden era of sports
They say that all heartaches fade away with the passage of time. But,
the great humane qualities of this incredible personality, one of the
‘Dasamaha Yodayas’ of modern times, a giant from the ‘Weuwbandi Rata’,
North Central Province are still etched deep within to such an extent,
that the many memories I have of this great national leader will never
be erased from my mind. The fine human being was K B Ratnayake, a Sports
Minister and a highly respected speaker of the house.
“The first duty of a leader is to make himself be loved without
playing upto any one even to himself” - stated Andre Malraux. It is with
a feeling of deep sorrow, I pen these few lines in memory of this
kind-hearted – sincere honest politician who served not only NCP but the
entire country on his ninth (9) death anniversary – April 30, 2013. He
was a shining star in our political area.
The secret of greatness is simple. “Do better work than any other in
your field – and keep doing it – Wilfred A Peterson.”
KBR possessed all qualities mentioned by Andre Malraux and Wilfred
His ‘Guru’ was another National Leader, Patriot and an honest
politician, who served this country for more than five to six decades.
He was known as the ‘Father of NCP’ – Maitripala Senanayake, from
Kebetigollawa, Anuradhapura. Today, his nephew, Tissa Karaliyadda,
continues his good work as a sincere, honest social service worker and
genuine honest dynamic politician. Tissa Karaliyadde is also a main of
honest and integrity, like Maithripala Senanayake. Both Senanayake and
Ratnayake are six footers. These two remind one so much of our great
ancient heroes – ‘Yodayas’ of Anuradhapura period. They were born
leaders. Both were fluent in Sinhala, Tamil and English.
My first contact with KBR
In early 1960’s, when I was teaching at Sigiriya MV, Sigiriya, as the
first graduate teacher, I came into contact through Dr S Sivamamelingam
a doctor attached to Kimbissa. Two of us used to play tennis at Dambulla
Hospital Premises with Dr A D John the DMO – Dambulla. Siva was a good
friend of K B Ratnayake when he was serving at Kahatagasdigiliya.
Incidently, Siva and KB were good friends and Tennis partners. Through
Siva, I too, came to know K B Ratnayake. In facts, two of us used to go
all the way to see K B R’s beloved father, another giant personality who
was residing at Kahatagadigiliya.
Towering figure in SL’s politics
K B Ratnayake was a towering figure in Sri Lanka’s political
firmanent. This great leader took victory and defect with true spirit.
Probably the training he gained in the playing fields of Hartley College
must have helped him.
K B Ratnayake was an outstanding sportsmen. He had the rare honour of
captaining, the Hartley College First XI. As a left hand dashing batsmen
he always led ten, other tamil boys to the field. He was moulded by the
great traditions and discipline of this great seat of learning in the
country – Hartley College. He not only learnt books, but he developed
his personality to be a honest gentlemen. He never cared for caste,
creed, colour, but always stood for One Country – One Nation – Sri
Man of honesty and integrity
K B Ratnayake as a government servant, served the farmers of North
Central Province. Later, he served as the private secretary to
Maithripala Senanayake and gradually entered the field of policies. He
was a very sincere honest politician. Through polities he never earned a
quick ‘Buck’. For that matter, he seen field his wealth, and time for
the betterment of his people. This great son of Sri Lanka, one of the
leading lights of North Central Province, the highly respected Sports
Minister and the speaker of Parliament passed away nine years ago, on
April 30, 2004. Roslyn Carter, once said “A leader takes the people
where they want to go. A great leader takes them where they don’t
necessarily want to go but where they ought to be. K B Ratnayake
followed these golden rules.
K B Ratnayake was born on February 23, 1924. He was in reality
multi-lingual, multi-cultures man. He moved with kings and queen, but
the beauty was he remained a ‘pure-villager’.
Political career in nut-shell
He was first elected from Anuradhapura on June 6, 1962. He served as
the Minister of Sports, Parliamentary Affairs from May 31, 1970 to May
22, 1972. Hon K B Ratnayake served as speaker from August 25, 1994 to
August 18, 2000.
Efficient Sports Minister
I assume there is no other minister, who was cricketer soccerite and
Tennis player, who knew what the sports philosophy. A sportsman, sports
administrator he had so much to promote Sri Lanka sports. All credit
should go to that lovable lady Madam Prime Minister Sirimavo
Bandaranaike in appointing the correct man to the correct position.
The demise of this great man K B Ratnayake was not only an a great
irreparable loss to his family, but to the whole country.
Anagarika Dharmapala :
The patriot who propagated Buddhism
There are many definitions relating to leadership. Leading marketing
management authorities, such as Philip Kotler, Kenneth Clark, John
Gardiner, James McGregor, Gary Yuke, etc. claim leadership as one of the
most enduring human responsibilities. Leaders must have craft, vision,
inspired action and empower others. These leaders can be categorized
broadly as religious, political and national leaders. Great religious
leaders such as Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, Jesus Christ, Islam Religious
leader Mohammed, were outstanding. In the field of politics, Nelson
Mandela – South Africa, Shri Jawaharlal Nehru - India, Sir Winston
Churchill – Great Britain, shone brightly. There are other national
leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi – India and a noble son of Sri Lanka
I pen these few lines to pay my humble tribute to Anagarika
Dharmapala – Ven. Sri Devamitta Dharmapala, who passed away at the age
of 63, eighty years ago on April 29, 1933.
He was an outstanding national patriot, who fought a lone battle to
safeguard Buddhagaya and was instrumental in spreading Buddhism
Dharmapala was born on September 17, 1864, at Hittetiya, Matara to
Don Carolis Hewavitarana and Mallika Hewavitarana, a highly
distinguished family. The parents named the child David.
David Hewavitarana studied at S. Thomas College, Mutwal, which was
later shifted to Mount Lavinia, St. Benedict’s College, Kotahena and
finally at Royal College, Colombo. He learned the Bible, sang hymns. His
mother Mallika Hewavitarana, sent him to Vidyodaya Pirivena, Maligakanda,
Maradana, where young David learned Sinhala, Pali, Sanskrit and
Buddhism. This association with Vidyodaya, changed his entire life.
David as an ebullient youth, was very fortunate to come under the
influence of great monks, such as Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala and
Vadhibasinhe – Miggettuwatte Gunananda. He also pursued his studies
under erudite scholars such as Walane Siddhartha, Ratmalane Dhammaloka,
Waskaduwe Sri Subhuti etc.
The Great “Panaduravadaya” - Buddhist – Christian Debate, held at
Panadura was a landmark of Buddhists revival and a renaissance in
Ceylon. This debate got worldwide coverage and as a result, an American,
Henry Steele Olcott and Russian lady Blavatsky came to Ceylon to study
Buddhism. Olcott and Dharmapala set up Buddhist schools such as Mahinda
– Galle, Dharmaraja – Kandy, Ananda – Colombo.
In 1891, Dharmapala visited Buddhagaya, where Gautama Buddha attained
Enlightenment. He was shocked to see Buddhagaya in a dilapidated state.
Dharmapala visited Buddhagaya in the company of Ven. Lunuwila
Chandrajothi, Ven. Galle Sudassana and Ven. Anuradhapura Pemananda Thera
on July 10, 1891. Hindu Priest Mahantha opposed the presence of the Sri
Lankan Bhikkus. Dharmapala became the champion of the Buddhist cause,
when he took legal action against Mahantha who forcefully occupied
Anagarika Dharmapala was resolute in his struggle. After a determined
effort from 1893 to 1935, he opened the doors of Buddhagaya to the
Buddhists all over the world. Bihar Parliament passed an Act known as
“Buddhagaya Act” which gave equal rights to Buddhists in the
administration of the Buddhagaya. Due to Anagarika Dharmapala’s untiring
efforts, eventually the administration of the Great Temple, Buddhagaya,
became the sole right of the Buddhists. With his master-stroke, the
doors of the Buddhist Temples at Saranath, Kusinara and Lumbini were
also opened to the Buddhists.
This great son of Sri Lanka, Anagarika Dharmapala, under difficult
conditions, propagated Buddhism throughout the world. First, his slogan
was “Sinhalayini Avadi Wewau – Buddhagayawa Beraganiou”. On and off, he
visited Sri Lanka and played a lead role in the independence struggle.
He opposed cattle slaughter and voiced to ban liquor from Sri Lanka. He
was a very forceful orator. He always called spade a spade.
Another important achievement of Anagarika Dharmapala was his
magnificent contribution in the literary field - the publishing of
Mahabodhi Buddhist Journal in English in 1930. Further, he travelled
extensively to Japan, England and United States of America taking the
message of Buddha. He stand only second to Great Emperor Asoka in the
field of Buddhist missionary activities.
The Mulagandakuti Viharaya, a renowned place of worship in India, was
constructed by Anagarika Dharmapala. The construction was sponsored by
Mary Foster of Honolulu, USA. It was opened on November 11, 1931.
Grateful Buddhists all over the island honour Anagarika Dharmapala.
If not for the great commitment, sacrifice, efforts on the part of
Anagarika Dharmapala, Buddhists in Sri Lanka and abroad, would have been
denied an opportunity of visiting important places of Buddhist worship
Anagarika Dharmapala, the great man of honesty and integrity, who
sacrificed his entire life to prorogate Buddhism, entered the order as
Venerable Sri Devamitta Dharmapala. He passed away on April 29, 1933.