Anagarika Dharmapala birth anniversary commemoration | Sunday Observer

Anagarika Dharmapala birth anniversary commemoration

20 September, 2020

The 156th birth anniversary commemoration of Anagarika Dharmapala was held under the patronage of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Mahabodhi Agrashravaka Maha Vihara in Maligakanda on Thursday.

The President was received by Mahabodhi Society Chairman and Chief Sanghanayaka of Japan Ven. Banagala Upatissa Thera.

After paying a floral tribute to the memorial of Anagarika Dharmapala,President Rajapaksa planted a sapling of Rath Handun to mark the launch of Suwa Dharani, the traditional medicine preservation project by the Ministry of Indigenous Medicine.

The President who was engaged in religious observances at Dathu Mandira at Agrashravaka Vihara, paid a floral tribute before the Dharmapala statue in the main hall.

Ven. Upatissa Thera told the gathering that President Rajapaksa who leads the country along a nationally recognised thinking is the only leader to follow the path of Anagarika Dharmapala.

Central Bank Governor Prof. W. D. Lakshman presented the Dharmapala Commemorative Coin of Rs. 500 denomination to the President.

Sudhammika Hewawitharana, a relative of Srimath Anagarika Dharmapala presented a souvenir with the image of Anagarika Dharmapala to the President.

President Rajapaksa presented mementos to Bodhi Chiththa Bhikkhuni, the Head of the Vietnamese delegation and to Secretary of the Mahabodhi Society Dilshan Jayasuriya.

The President launched the Relax TV channel on Peo TV 113 which will go on air under the guidance of the Board Member of the Sri Lanka Mahabodhi Society and the Chief Incumbent of the Agrasrawaka Maha Vihara,Ven. Monaragala Pannalankara Thera.

Ven. Upatissa Thera handed over 10 locally manufactured bicycles, donated by Managing Director of the Raleigh Bicycle Company J. Perumal to the Mahabodhi Society.

The Maha Sangha, including the Most Venerable Ittapane Dhammalankara Thera, Ministers Dinesh Gunawardena, G. L. Peiris, State Ministers Nalaka Godahewa, Sisira Jayakody and UNP Deputy Leader Ruwan Wijewardena were also present.


In remembrance of Anagarika Dharmapala

(The 156th birth anniversary of the Anagarika fell on September 17, 2020. The following lines are in celebration of the event.)

The pioneer of true national thinking
Was none other than the historical
Hate-figure of anti-nationalists
The great Anagarika Dharmapala
Who engineered social reform through it
To kindle hopes of freedom from foreign rule.
History will recognise Dharmapala
As perhaps the first ideological-
Champion of the unarmed fight for freedom,
And the first proponent of modernity
Truly based on the Buddhist tradition.
Though Brits and colonial parasites
Projected him as a Don Quixote
Tilting at windmills against an empire
Through their vile malicious propaganda.
Being a leader gifted with great foresight,
He warned the majority Sinhalese
Of a racially divided country
Where they would be at the receiving end
When the foreigner would leave them at last
Unless they were united as a race.
Today, as we can see, that prophecy
Has come true, sad though it is to say this.
Yet the Anagarika’s life mission
Was passing on the word of the Buddha
Across the world for all peoples’ wellbeing.
He was convinced that Sinhala Buddhists
Had a unique responsibility
To protect Buddhism for the whole world
As Lanka is the repository
Of the Dhamma in its first pristine form
The hallowed Theravada tradition
Committed to writing at Matale,
Central Sri Lanka, one hundred plus-
Years Before the Common Era began.
Though religions are anachronistic
In the human reason ruled world today
Their ethical teachings are relevant
To their politically organised
Adherents, while not being so to others,
A situation that causes friction
Usually with unholy repercussions
That endanger the very survival
Of the future of civilisation.
The Buddha preached an ethical doctrine
Whose essence is wisdom and compassion,
Something that Albert Einstein chose to call
A cosmic religion in the sense that
All humans could embrace its moral code
Based on kindness, reason, and mind culture,
And work to create a safe peaceful world.
Dharmapala knew this before Einstein
As he showed in his great dedication
For spreading the Dhamma across the globe
Without any proselytising aim.
Being a true disciple of the Buddha
He didn’t seek to convert non-Buddhist people.
But he believed that the Dhamma was
The Sinhala Buddhists’ gift to the world
As custodians of the pure Teaching.
Meanwhile he was passionately concerned
About their material wellbeing as well
As any good Buddhist leader would be
He advocated the education
Of the young for acquiring good life skills
And the study of science and technology
In addition to cultural subjects.
Lanka’s freedom movement and its leaders
And all patriotic politicians
That followed in the subsequent decades
Were deeply influenced by this great man.
All our prime ministers and presidents
Have been inspired by his nationalism.
Had the Anagarika been living-
Today, he would have highly commended
The current President Gotabaya
For his moral uprightness, gracefulness
And his commitment to Buddhist values.
All Members of Parliament on both sides,
If they really want to serve the nation
Ought to forget their self-centred concerns
And serve the nation from opposite ends
Through synergetic accommodation
So that this fourth decisive surge that we-
Are in the middle of making since the Year-
The Buddha Jayanti was observed
Towards independence from foreign sway
In order to stand on our own two feet,
Will not be suppressed like the previous three.
May Peace and Progress Bloom in our Land
Fresh and pure out of its muddy waters!