Sri Lanka commemorates Swami Vivekananda's 150th birth anniversary
A postage stamp to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Swami
Vivekananda was issued by the Philatelic Bureau of Sri Lanka and the
first day cover ceremonially handed by the Postmaster General to
President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Tress on June 7 in the presence of
a large gathering.
Ministers, Members of Parliament, diplomats, senior government
officials and community leaders participated.
Participants at the 150th birth anniversary commemoration of
Among those present were Acting Indian High Commissioner P Kumaran,
Swami Atmaghanananda from Chennai who was invited by the Sri Lankan
government to represent the Ramakrishna Mission in India, members of a
special delegation from the India Foundation led by Deputy Leader of the
Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ravi Shankar Prasad, four swamis and 18
devotees representing the Ramakrishna Mission in Sri Lanka and two nuns
from the Ramakrishna Sarada Mission, the Principal, Deputy Principal and
senior students representing Vivekananda College, Colombo and
representatives of the Hindu Swayamsevaka Sangha including its President
The perception of the challenge to the authority of the indigenous
socio-religious value systems and cultural ethos of Asian communities
posed by Christian missionary activism stirred the emergence of
movements of religious reform and spiritual nationalism in both India
and Sri Lanka in the closing decades of the 19th and the early decades
of the 20th century.
While the Hindu Revivalist Movement in India was inspired and given
direction by Swami Vivekanada, the Buddhist Revivalist Movement in Sri
Lanka was steered and inspired by Anagarika Dharmapala.
Not only did these two religious leaders scatter the seeds of a
religious - spiritual revival in their two neighbouring countries and
generate the spiritual energy to inspire a whole generation of freedom
fighters to propel the nationalist movements that eventually freed their
people from European colonial rule, they also took the respective
messages of Hinduism and Buddhism to Europe and America as well for the
spiritual uplift of the West.
They met at the historic Parliament of World Religions in Chicago in
1893 where Swami Vivekananda represented Hinduism and Anagarika
Dharmapala represented Southern Buddhism which was the term applied at
that time to Theravada Buddhism.
The two religious leaders, Swami Vivekananda being the elder of the
two by just one year, became close friends and together strengthened the
Hindu - Buddhist tradition of Peaceful Coexistence as a fundamental
tenet of world peace and the spiritual fountainhead of Indo - Sri Lankan
friendship and understanding.