Bandaranaike — the Great Sinhala-Buddhist Liberal
Posted on March 23rd, 2013

H. L. D. Mahindapala

At the annual SLFP convention held in Kurunegala in 1959 Prime Minister S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike was feeling the rising heat of the right-wing forces, within his own party, ganging up against him. There were several disaffected forces railing against him but the most vicious and deadly thrust was spearheaded by the business-oriented, right-wing Buddharakkita Thero, head of the Kelaniya Temple. His arrival at the Kurunegala session turned heads with all eyes focused on him. His muscular frame, dripping with energy, was covered in yellow robes baring the naked right shoulder of a heavy weight boxer. He walked in sure of himself as if he was the king-maker, exuding power and authority.

A tense feeling, arising out of a sense of impending crisis, dominated the sessions. The two leading newspaper groups, Lake House and the Times, were targeting Bandaranaike relentlessly. Radio Ceylon, the only state-run media, was no match to the private sector media. The Government Information Unit headed by his loyalist, Lionel Fernando, an ex-Times jounalist, too was ineffective in countering the anti-Bandaranaike media barrage. The right-wing Lake House papers virtually blanketed the nation. The Marxist Left was hammering him with unrelenting strikes in the port and mercantile sectors. In their usual deluded misreading of Marx they thought that they were spearheading the vanguard of the revolution by striking against the comprador mercantile houses in Colombo along with some remnants of feudalism in the plantation economy.

They were the Quixotes of Sri Lanka who were tilting at colonial mercantile houses owned by the local bourgeoisie and the last remnants of the dwindling British companies which they mistook for Bastilles of capitalism. Regular strikes at Wellawatte Spinning and Weaving Mills, or mercantile houses in Colombo, or in the port made them feel like Trotsky at Petrograd in 1917 waging the good fight to take over the Winter Palace. Misguided by a misreading of Marx they collapsed eventually under the weight of their irrelevant theories that did not resonate with the historical aspiratons of the people. In the end it is the nation that had to pay for their delusional politics. Bandaranaike too was a victim of their bogus theories that never worked for them or the nation. Bandaranaike was a man besieged, standing all alone, fighting with his back to wall with whatever resources he had which was miniscule, compared the massive forces of the right, the left and the English-speaking Westernized elite ranged against him.

In those heady days, the right-wing UNP, manned by J. R. Jayewardne in the absence of Dudley Senanayake who had left the party, was waiting eagerly in the wings to get back into the seats of power which they thought was rightly theirs in perpetuity. Ananda Tissa de Alwis, the right-hand man of JR and ex-journalist of Lake House, was arguing that it was the first-past-the post electoral system that defeated the UNP and not the millions who voted for them in 1956. This is one of the main reasons why the UNP went for the proportional voting system later. JR and Ananda were quite sure that the electoral voting system would return the UNP next time round. The Left, on the other hand, thought that if they got rid of Bandaranaike the people would automatically turn to them and not go back to the UNP. Their political weapon was to mount waves of strikes to paralyse Bandaranaike’s administration. And the gossip going round swore that Buddharaikkita Thero was told by an astrologer that after the death of Bandaranaike a woman would come into power and he read it as Vimala Wijewardene, the Minister of Health, who was also known to be his mistress. This suggests that astrological predictions can be correct but those who interpret it get it wrong because the woman who came into power was Bandaranaike’s wife and not Buddharakkita’s mistress.

Getting back to the Kurunegala session, while the anti-Bandaranaike forces were ganging up inside the convention C. A. S. (“Sinhala”) Marikkar, Minister for Posts and Telecommunications, created a momentary diversion by arriving on the back of an elephant. It was a bit of comic relief. He was addicted to publicity. Once he rang his Lake House contact and complained seriously: “Mokadda ishay, api ganna cartoon ekakwath naha nay than?” (What I say, there isn’t even a cartoon about me now?)

The morning session, however, was gruelling with the right-wing forces demanding their pound of flesh. Buddharakkita & Co were cocky arguing that it was their balavegaya (force) — Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (People’s United Front)  — that brought Bandaranaike into power and, therefore, he owed everything to them. Buddharakkita was out to break Bandaranaike, one way or another, if his demands, which were mainly commercial ventures related to a shipping line, were not granted. The best defence put up by Bandaranaike at the Kurunegala session was to deflect attacks with his rapier wit. During the lunch break he was lying on a hansiputuwa (reclining chair) in the open verandah of the Kurunegala Rest House. He was surrounded by foreign and local journalists. I was one of them.

He was holding forth on the crises faced by post-independent nations in the region. He was blaming it on the transplanted Westminster model which he argued was unworkable in the oriental political culture. He preferred the Committtee system of the old State Council in which subjects were handled collectiively by a committee, the head of which was appointed as the Minister. He favoured the collegiate approach that cut across party lines and embraced, within each committee, a proportionate quota of elected representatives in the making of public policy rather than the confrontational either/or approach of party politics. The participatory process in the Committee system was inclusive and not exclusive as in the polarised party system in which those who lose power were excluded from the decision-making process. In the Committee system every elected representative, was included as a member of one committe or another, thereby giving them a role to play in the decision-making process.

Power-sharing was not a viable or a respected tenet in the two-party system. In the party system the winner takes all. Losers become the loyal opposition and are forced to wait for their turn in the land of hope or hopelessness. Bandaranaike was for the consensual approach instead of the divisive party politics of the Westminster model. In his case he had no option but to work within the inherited Soulbury Constitution which was, more or less, a replica of the Westminser model. But what is little known is that within those parameters he was the first to lay down the first outlines for the revision of the Constitution without breaking away from the fundamentals of the Westminster model. He was working to introduce a Bill of Rights that would have addressed most of the issues bedevilling his time — and later. But before he could complete his work in this field the right-wing of the SLFP got him.

The transplanted Westminster model failed to take root in most new nations in Afro-Asia because the political climate was conducive mainly for traditional authoritarian regimes and not for parliamentary democracy which thrived on the soil of broader, liberal and tolerant traditions for diversity. Sri Lanka was a notable exception which stands today as the oldest democracy in Afro-Asia. Besides, the written constitutions were not functioning as effective legal and political mechanisms to ward off the rising ethnic, religious, economic and political tensions. Centuries of colonialism which suppressed the indigenous forces could not be contained within the strait-jacket of the Westminster model which had grown as a natural, flexible and adaptable English plant that was born out of the unique political culture of the Ango-Saxons. The Westminster model, the mother of all parliaments, that grew out of wars of supremacy between the King and Parliament, common laws, constitutional conventions and political practices could not be absorbed overnight by most of the the ex-colonies which were rooted in stagnant economies, political turmoil, the rise of indigenous forces suppressed for centuries and the rush of modernity invading and destabilizing traditonal societies.

In short, the saplings of twentieth century parliamentary democracy transplanted from Westminster could hardly thrive inside post-colonial political borders that were drawn arbitarily by departing British bureaucrats who failed to recognise the embedded contradictions of the new political sovereignities that were partly tribal, partly feudal, partly capitalist and mostly state-dependent individuals who had not shared the burdens of existence outside the traditional and protective collective. The new rulers — mainly the Brown Sahibs who took over from the White Sahibs — too found it difficult to manage the atomistic individualism running amok, armed with the unaccustomed new freedoms — a new liberal force which was exploited by the enemies of political freedom like the Marxists.

Individualism that ran parallel with parliamentary democracy — the rose of the capitalism in all its splendour pricked, of course, with its thorns — broke up the traditional authoritarianism of hydraulic societies that transited through colonial rule, administering a revisionist authoritarianism of its own, and rushed into the 20th century releasing gigantic socio-political forces which only few leaders managed to wrestle in the immediate aftermath of the post-World War II period. It was a period of transition where the imbalances left behind by the colonial past had to be adjusted to restore the rights of the victims of historical injustices.

In 1956 centuries of bottled up historical forces had reached the bursting point and could not be corked any longer. Aspirations and ideas of a suppressed people found its time in “1956”. The subterranean forces were rearing to burst out and find a political outlet through a compatible a leader. Bandaranaike was the chosen leader of the time, by the times and for the times. He gave leadership to the swelling ground forces with prophetic accuracy which was supposed to be in the hands of the Marxists who claimed to have the secret key to open the hidden doors of history. The historic drama that exploded in 1956 was not a Marxist class war but a culture war. Bandaranaike picked the dynamic political trend operating at grassroot level from the time he came from Oxford in the twenties while the Marxists who also returned from Western universities in the thirties took the theoretical train to Leningrad. Bandaranaike took the bus to the villages and won hands down.

There was, of course, a fusion of the diverse forces meeting in the person of Bandaranaike. If he was not there the subterranean forces would have had no option but to follow the Marxist Left to Leningrad and the consequences of that would have been incalculable, both to the economic and political structures, as seen in the case of the lumpen Marxists in tbe JVP. Bandaranaike was there at the right time in the right place to prevent the extreme ideological Left from hijacking the nationalist movement that was in search of a leader. In 1956 when the electorate elected Bandaranaike the entire weight of suppressed history fell on his shoulders. Maintainig democracy, restoring the lost historical rights, strenghtening the individual rights, protecting the rights of minorities, ensuring equality and justice, and creating a new social order came all at once like an avalanche on the back of S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike.

Managing those gigantic, and even convulsive, forces was a Herculean task. It was like managing the waters of a burst dam. It was a daunting task. The old world had died and the new world was struggling to be born. He was in a sense “Wandering between two worlds, one dead, / The other powerless to be born (Mathew Arnold, Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse). Bandaranaike’s victory was just not to overthrow the UNP. He overthrew nearly 500 years of colonialism. The novelty of the cultural wave of “1956” was a shock to the established colonial system which maintained the status quo even after gaining indepedence in 1948. The English-speaking elite — the uppity 6% at the top — were thrown off balance. They were alarmed by the native bells tolling for their impending demise. The most sneering, contemptuous opposition to Bandaranaike came from this English-speaking elite drawn from all communities. They constituted the ancien regime that was bent on hanging on to their English-speaking elitism which created an unacceptable inequality based on a colonial legacy.

Bandaranaike was anathema to them because he represented all what they were not, all what they hated. Of all the elements in the historic “1956” agenda it was the enthroning of the Sinhala language they resisted most. Contrary to the poopular belief Bandaranaike was not aiming to overthrow Tamil language. His attempt was to democratise the adminstration and bring it closer to the people who were adminstered by an alien language. The Sinhala Only Act was to overthrow English not Tamil. English was the language of the priviligentsia that ruled the nation. Upward social mobility in Jaffna and the south depended not on Tamil and Sinhalese but on English. The Jaffna Tamils dominated the public service and the professions not because they were hard working but because they had most number of schools that turned out English-speaking clerks needed for the running of the British administration. No hard-working Tamil of Jaffna or Sinhalese of south could have gone anything beyond that of drawers of water or hewers of wood if they were not competent in English.

Bandaranaike’s great achievement was in the levelling of the playing field by restoring the right of the people to be adminstered in their own mother tongue — both Sinhala and Tamil. The elite had everything to lose if English was dethroned and Sinhalese/Tamil restored to their traditional places. The balancing act he performed, amidst all the hostile ethnic, linguistic, right-wing, left-wing, the powerful English-speaking elite in the private and public sectors, Hulftsdorp hucksters that ruled the nation then, is a remarkable feat of political management. It was this act of steering the unleashed forces through democratic channels that was caricatured as the failure of a weak-kneed political opportunist.He was a man of steel who stood by his word to make Sinhala Only and Tamil also, as promised in his manifesto. It was because he stood by the people that the English-speaking elite scorned him as “sevala Banda” (slippery Banda).

Though he was demonized by the combined forces of the rump of the colonial elite it his sole, determined and committed efforts to maintain a fair, civilized and reasonable balance between the old and the new that makes him stand out as the greatest liberal of the Sinhla-Buddhist forces. He was standing at the cross-roads of a critical moment in history. It needed great courage and determination to stand by his vision when it was pounded by waves of anti-Bandaranaike forces. And to his credit he stood his ground. He represented the quintessence of the tolerant, enlightened liberalism of the new nation that had suddenly rediscovered its traditional roots and historical identity, rejecting the veneer of colonial respectability and Westernized elitism.

Though he came from the English-speaking ancien regime he was more in tune with the rennaisance of the time that reinvigorated the nation with the renewed aspirations of the people who were denied their historical birthrights for nearly five centuries. The anti-Bandaranaike forces — including his daughter, Chandrika Bandaranaike, the psuedo-intellectual who is attempting to revive her yesterday’s celluloid phantom, Vijaya Kumaratunga, abandoning her father to whom she owes everything — have failed to beat, erase or ignore the indelible Bandaranaike heritage that keeps the nation alive to this day. His prophetic vision of reviving and reinforcing the suppressed Sinhala-Buddhist ethos, as opposed to the inapplicable and irrelevant dogmas of imported Marxism, continues to be the dynamic political force that rules the nation and will continiue to rule the nation in the foreseeable future.

Though the Senanayakes ushered in independence without much fuss the fundamental foundations of post-independence era were laid down by Bandaranaike. The great war that was fought and won by President Mahinda Rajapakse was the latest manifestation of the Mahavamsa-Bandaranaike tradition that runs in the historical blood of the people. It is the war that gave new life and hope to the nation. If May 2009 marked the end of a violent war and breathed new life to a despondent nation to raise its head with pride and glory, as in the days of yore, 1956 is its precursor representing the silent, non-violent revolution that restored the lost identity and dignity of the people who built a new civilisation, new culture, new language and a brand new history that fought and won impossible victories against all odds. With his victory Mahinda Rajapakse became the true and genuine successor to Bandaranaike and his great tradition. The daughters of Bandaranaike unfortuantely prefer to sleep with the enemies of Bandaranaike who denigrate his name day and night. Next to Kasyappa it is difficult to find any other parricides than his daughters, particularly Chandrika Kumaranatunga. When she praises, in glowing terms, Vijaya Kumaranatunga’s politics and his looks (which, according to late Ossie Abeygoonesekara who knew the family secrets, didn’t keep her attached to him too long) she is openly rejecting the politics of her great father. She has joined the bandwagon of the enemies of her father who not only buried him but continues to demonize him and his historic heritage.

She has never raised her voice, or lifted a pen to pay homage to her father like the way she has praised Vijaya Kumaratunga, the yesterday’s matinee idol who has no future. She has yet to grasp that the 20th and the 21st centuries were shaped by Bandaranaike and will continue to do so because he represents the essence of the nation’s historic ethos. Without her father she would have been another bimbo from Beaujolais — the French equivalent of our Botalay village — running after cheap carboard cutouts gathering dust and mud by the roadside. Her latest character certificate issued to boost Vijaya Kumaratunga and his politics reflects her infantile politics. How many votes will she get if she runs on a platform condemning and rejecting her father’s politics and praising the politics of celluloid Vijay Kumaratunga? Prostituting politics seems to be her second nature. This explains why the people have lost faith in her. How can anyone trust her? If she can betray her father who gave his life to make the Bandaranaikes iconic figures in the political landscape of Sri Lanka whom will she not betray? When it came to the crunch she even betrayed her husband and exonerated the JVP murderers in the hope of getting political mileage by accusing the UNP,

The record states unambiguosly that she has no qualms of betraying her father, her mother, her brother and even her husband. However, if she thinks that she can stage a come back by blowing up the image of Vijaya Kumaranatunga’s politics then her best bet for the future would be to engage, 24/7, in blow jobs as a permanent profession. Her big mouth too may serve as a useful aid to complete the blow jobs without any mechanical pumps. She has no hesitation in climbing on her father’s grave to advance her political career and then discard him giving her father the karapincha treatment. The homage and gratitude owed to Bandaranaike did not come from the ingrates who came from his loins or from those who were close to him and benefited most but from the humble people who has rewarded, over and over again, those came in his name.

Bandaranaike will go down in history as the first great leader of the nation who defeated a reigning government non-violently with the popular will of the people. He stood like a colossus guarding the entrances at the critical cross-roads of the post-independence era with stalwarts like D. A. Rajapakse who stood by him from the day he crossed over from the UNP to the SLFP. It is natural and logical for the son of “D.A.” to march down the historical route taken by Bandaranaike and his father to protect and foster the ingrained sense of destiny and history enshrined “for the serene joy and emotion of the pious” (Mahavamsa). It is in this spirit that the history of the nation was built by the founding  fathers who welcomed, with open arms, all those who came to share the land with them as the common property held in trust for generations to come. It is in this spirit that King Siri Sangabo sacrificed his head. It is in this spirit that the kings offered shelter to the Catholics and the Muslims persecuted by their oppressors. It is in  the spirit of “serene joy and emotion of the pious” that our ancestors built monumental structures that could match the glories of the ancient world. The preservation and restoration of “the serene joy and the emotion of the pious” is concept unique to the history of Sri Lanka. The nation’s historic struggle is to achieve this  goal.

Of course, like any other chapter in human history there are the infirmities of the blood-stained segments that go against this spirit. We have just come out of one of those segments. We have come out of the dark tunnel into the light. President Mahinda Rajapakase  who led the way out has joined the daring ancestors who carved out a unique chapter that can stand shoulder to shoulder with pride in  recorded history.  More  than the living it is the generations to come who will reap the benefits of his monumental achievements. While all his carping critics, enemies and the theoretical pundits will go into oblivion located in the dustbins of history he will rise to a peak which only a selected few had attained in the annals of Sri Lanka.

(To be contnued)

18 Responses to “Bandaranaike — the Great Sinhala-Buddhist Liberal”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    That convention in Kurunegala was a turning point of the SLFP. Bandaranaike should have allowed and promoted Sinhala capitalists instead of disrupting them. This shortsighted approach costed Sinhalese a strong position in business. It also aligned the SLFP with communists that ended up in total disaster in 1977. Absurdity of Marxism was for all to see when the Soviet Union and most communist countries collapsed.

    I’m glad the Rajapaksas follow capitalist policies. It need not be only private sector driven. A competitive state sector managed commercially is the successful variant of capitalism.

  2. S.Gonsalkorale Says:

    Disagree with Dilrook on “promotion of Sinhala Capitalism”.
    Why ? can he name 1 rich Sinhala Capitalist who sided with the great Bandaranayake at the time of his democratic revolution.
    All those capitalist joined the bandwagon of the “Colombans”. Can’t even call them Sinhala.

    Nationalisation of privately run Busses was a great example of an excellent State Controlled eterprise until it was ruined by “Politics First” decease which was not created by the Great Banda.

    Before a scussesful enterprise can be used to serve a nation, systems of government controls should be properly established. Pre-Banda enterprises of Ceylon were all run by British or by thier puppets.
    The great Banda wanted to properly esablish all these systems. Unfortunately he was not carful to protect himself.

  3. Christie Says:

    Please leave my comment.
    Here we go, Bandaranayaka the great Sinhala demcrat or a puppet of India and Indian colonial parasites of the island nation. He had highest ranking Indian frienfds in India or should I say Highest Ranking Indians had a friend, a puppet to to destroy the island nation. Thyere were a lot of Indians from India and other Indian colonies studying with him in Londaon when he was studying in London. Indian intelligence service the Third Eye set the policies that sent the country back almost a century. While the Sinhalese were fed Sinhala his kids were fed English and French.
    He was living off the Pettah and Main Street merchants who paid for his and his cronies election expenses and living expenses. India did not want what happened to Indian colonial parasites in Burma to happen to Indian colonial parasites in Ceylon. It is this puppet who did not allow Ven Buddharakkita to transport milled rice from Chartered rice mills from Burma. Thre is non question that Pettach ,merchants told SWRD to reject Ven Thero’s tender. An Indian merchant from Pettah had a mortgage over his house @ Rosmead Place.

    This puppet destroyed the massive infra structure the great policies built by the then UNP to free the Sinhalese, Moors, Burghers and Malays from the IMperial and colonial hold of Indian colonial parasites.

    There is no difference between the Father and the daughter.

    Please leave my comment.

  4. Senevirath Says:

    THANKS to S W R D”S Sinhala language policy educated sinhalese could defeat the dominating educated tamils.before that sinhalese could not even become a clerk in govt. service.
    This is more than enough to respect him.THIS “56 DARUVO” were the people who freed this country from prabhakaran
    and not U>N>P ers
    D. S . WAS AGAINST free education. He didnot want to send indians back to india He was a colonial parasite wearing tophat and tail coat He refused to help the upliftment of buddha sasana . U>N>P still the same party with same policies

    Marxists and sinhala capitalists ruined him
    His intentions might not be pure but today we are there to protect our country because of him. “PANASHAYE DARUVO”
    continued his work and freed the country . we dont care about his children -all colonial parasites—S.W R D ‘S chinthanaya gave us the courage and knowledge to chase away even his children

    He had to change everything upside down to give back the deprived sinhala rights. At that time no body knew exactly what to do to awake sinhalese because our leader ANAGARIKA DHARMAPALA was harressed and chased away by those colonial parasites.But he did an experiment. we are the result of that experiment. we have to develope that chinthanaya and go foward
    even my farther had weaknesses ,but he was a great father

  5. Fran Diaz Says:

    As the Buddarakkitha sad and misguided saga started with ‘money making’, I wish to address this subject.

    Temples have to have some funds to meet their daily needs. Usually they depend on Dayakayas to fund the Temple. This arrangement may not be satisfactory, particularly in modern times.

    As such, Temples may have to use other methods to make some funds. Temple lands ought to used to grow organic food and make organic shelf foods such as soy milk & other soy products, or grow other organic foods. Dayakayas in the surrounds of each Temple can share the work and produce.

    Bodu Bala Sena, here’s more work for you to save the country & the Sasana !

  6. David Appuhami Says:

    We were teenagers during 1956 elections, and it appears to me that your perception was quite different from ours during that period. By the way, S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike got help from the grass root level and , and we called that the power of Pancha Maha Balawegaya. It was an invisible class struggle representing the spectrum of people from middle class to under privilege class in Sri Lanka. Definitely not representing the Colombo merchants whether they are from Singhala, Tamil or Muslim community. As you can see, only since 1956, the average man in the street could use the benefits of free education in Sri Lanka. However, It took almost five years , since then, to see the visible results of this great revolution and then, only you could see how Medical faculties, engineering faculties and other universities were gradually getting filled by students from rural mass. I am happy to say that I am one of them. Because of Bandaranayke, my dream came true, a distance dream that a Sri Lankan village boy could rise up to the level of the most senior engineer in London. What you say is absolutely not true about Bandaranayeke family also. As I can remember, sometime ago, it was published in the papers that even though Bandaranayke’s mother tongue was English, he never used English at home to communicate with the children.
    I am originally from Meerigma, which is the D.S Senannaye’s own constituency in the parliament. When he was in power, he never wanted to give better education facilities to the rural mass even in his own constituency . The first senior ( Central) school was opened almost 10 years after DS and after 1956 revolution. That is why you can not find so many Senanayake loyalists even in the midst of DS’s home village –Bothale.

  7. Nanda Says:

    Younger generation has no idea how Bandaranaike is arguably a giant of a politician, who was 20 years in front of most other world leaders. Only fools will disagree.

    Think this way.
    In 1955 higher education was limited to Colomban Elite and Vellala Tamils.
    Even in 1970 intake to Universities, 80% were Tamils (by cheating , after own language based schooling- Bandaranaike was not there to complete safeguards ).

    What was expected around 1956 was that Ceylon should run by Tamils, similar to Malaya (run by Chinese).It took until Mahathir Mohamed 1980’s to turn the power to deserved majority in Malaya.
    Bandaranaike did this in 1956, envied obviously by Lee Kuan Yew who is a Chinese and the father of “Chingapore”. Ofcourse, LKY is admired by Chinese citizens because he kept the migrant Chinese in power, after breaking from Malaya and was a big Capitalist, who could aford it , joining as an allay of USA.

    Rajapkse is comparable ato Mahathir. But his weakness is his backbone is much weaker than Mahathir.
    He should show his leadership by booting YenDIA NOW.

  8. Lorenzo Says:

    The BEST thing SWRD did was Sinhala only.

    We should all be grateful to him for that. That is SUPER DEMOCRACY.

    He should have gone the whole hog.

  9. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Neela Perumal serving under the kings of Kandy was made high priest of the Temple of God Saman, and commanded to take the name of Nayaka Pandaram (chief record keeper) in 1454. If this tradition has truth in it, we may surmise that the Indian name Nayaka Pandaram came in time to adopt the form of Pandara Nayaka. By the time it had turned into the Sinhalese Bandaranaike, the Hinduism of its bearers had been replaced by Buddhism; just as we know, from written genealogical records dating back to the early 17th Century, that Buddhism was itself replaced in the family by Christianity in its Catholic and later Protestant forms. However, the occupation of the scribes seems to have descended in the family down the centuries, together with a tradition of service to the court
    Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike, was born on January 6, 1899 the son of Maha Mudaliyar Sir Solomon Dias Bandaranaike K C M G. After completing his higher education he returned from Oxford University in 1925, and apologized for not being able to speak in the Sinhala language to a delegation that had gathered at his Walawu, at Horagolla, Veyangoda, where he had his ancestral home.
    He came from a Westernized family that had been converted from Hinduism to Buddhism and again to Christianity, and finally to Buddhism. He told the people who came to receive him, “The first thing I must do is to apologies to you for speaking to you in English. Owing to my long absence [only six years] from my country, I am not sufficiently fluent in Sinhalese to be able to address you in Sinhalese at length. I can assure you that my heart is Sinhalese to the core.”

    Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike was an Anglican Christian by birth. Canon Samuel William Dias Bandaranaike, one of Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike’s ancestors, was the first to translate into the Sinhala language the Book of the Common Parayer. He was the Sinhalese Colonial Chaplain at the All Saint’s Church at Hultsdorp, Colombo. The Bandaranaikes were alleged as “lackeys of the British, and flunkeys at the Governor’s Court”.

    Sri Lankans should have retained their friendly, childlike nature and combined it with the inventiveness of their European conquerors. Sri Lankans inherited the power lust of their European colonisers, but none of their vision. Sri Lankans also inherited Portuguese lethargy, Dutch hedonism and British snobbery.The British left no room for the leadership to emerge from the truly indigenous people.
    The Portuguese who arrived in 1505 with a gun in one hand and the bible in the other, occupied the coastal areas and soon became a constant source of aggression, annoyance and terror to the large mass of people. In the coastal areas that they occupied, almost all Viharayas and Privenas were destroyed, including the Kelani Raja Maha Viharaya, the famous Totagamuwe Vijayaba Pirvena, Padmavathi Pirivena of Keragala and Sunethra Devi Pirivena of Pepiliyana.
    The Dutch who ousted the Portuguese in 1640 and were instrumental in destroying temples, monasteries including the royal palace at Hanguranketa.
    The British who ousted the Dutch in 1796 had a well-planned program of activities, for a continuous period of about 150 years, led to the greatest damage to the country’s culture, social cohesion, unity and dignity.
    All colonial powers acted on pure and absolute “self interest”. British occupation of Sri Lanka was one of sheer exploitation and devastation. Whatever benefits that were derived by local inhabitants were merely incidental to their exploitation of the country’s natural and human resources in order to reap enormous benefits for the British government. The vast changes that they brought about in almost all areas of life in the country, led to the disruption of the long held culture, values and way of life of local inhabitants, particularly those of the main stream community the Sinhala Buddhists.
    To serve their self interests the British practiced the “divide and rule” policy by setting communities against each other. The British gave special privileges to the Tamil minority and those of the Christian faith, by providing with better opportunities for education, employment and other government services to became privileged communities. Jaffna district had the highest density of schools per unit area. In 1870 there were only two Buddhist schools left in Sri Lanka – in Panadura and Dodanduwa, with an attendance of 246 children as against 805 Christian Schools with an attendance of 78,086 children. Several people went after the British and then started to follow their religion and culture in order to gain various positions and other material benefits.
    Colombo assumed prominence as the commercial centre and also the center of learning and opportunities for better employment and better amenities for living. This created an outer-oriented, English-speaking urban sub-culture consisting mostly of Christians, with attitudes and behavior patterns seemingly akin to that of the British. Most of the outer-oriented urban elite which included the so called Sri Lankan leaders, held to half-baked foreign values, superficialities and strange ways of living. They were barely conversant with the plight of the majority of the ordinary people. They were not representative of the large mass of people, but they were the ones who became the trusted servants of the British administration. Almost all of the qualified professionals belonged to or subscribed to this sub-culture. The excessively poor living conditions of the large mass of rural youth led to migration to Colombo and other big towns. Some were subjected to the influence of the extremes forms of undesirable urban culture including alcohol abuse, crime and underworld activities that was gaining ground in urban areas.To make matters worse, power -political, administrative, and economic was inherited by those belonging to the westernized Colombo sub-culture.
    Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy urged Sri Lankans to develop a sense of their own traditions and national culture. He challenged the intrusion on eastern values by the expansion of western society. Besides, he was one of the world’s greatest exponents of oriental art, comparative religion and aesthetics.
    There were also fearless Buddhist monks who openly spoke out against British rule and the colonial mentality of our so called leaders. Prominent among them was Ven. Migettuwatte Gunananda Thera whose Panadura debate with the missionaries in August 1873 was a remarkable event in the country’s history.
    Great Patriot Anagarika Dharmapala (1864-1933) spoke of the superficiality of the lives of those of the Colombo sub culture who have joined up with the colonialists to run the country.
    On February 4, 1948 we obtained the so-called Dominion Status with the Queen of England as the Head of State and with the British maintaining military bases in Katunayake and Trincomalee. Aging Englishmen became our first Governor Generals, whereas India became a free republic with an outstanding Indian Dr. Rajendra Prasad as its first President. It was in 1957 through the initiative of Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike that these British bases were taken over by the Sri Lankan government. Even though Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike became a Buddhist to please the masses, Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike was a christian till the day died. Dr. P.R. Anthonis testified that Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike was wearing a cross when he died.

  10. Dilrook Says:

    Nalliah Thayabharan :

    [Quote] Neela Perumal serving under the kings of Kandy was made high priest of the Temple of God Saman, and commanded to take the name of Nayaka Pandaram (chief record keeper) in 1454. If this tradition has truth in it, we may surmise that the Indian name Nayaka Pandaram came in time to adopt the form of Pandara Nayaka. [Unquote]

    Some of this is pure racist fiction created by Stanley Thambiah in his book which is full of anti-Sinhala rantings. There never was any title at the Devale by the name Nayaka Pandaram. The correct name would have been Niyamaka Bandara. He may have come from South India but he didn’t remain a South Indian in Sinhaladweepa (as it was known then).

  11. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Yasvine Goonaratne, a member of the Bandranaike clan, when tracing the origins of the Bandaranaikes, in her book Relative Merits mentioned that Neela Perumal serving under the kings of Kandy was made high priest of the Temple of God Saman, and commanded to take the name of Nayaka Pandaram (chief record keeper) in 1454.
    Also R L Dias Bandaranaika, in his Genealogy of the Family of Dias Bandaranaike of Ceylon confirmed this.

  12. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    It was S.W.R.D Bandaranaike who opened the doors for low caste Tamil speaking Sri Lankans to attend schools & temples – places that were taboo to them by their own Tamil speaking brethren.
    The Social Disabilities Act No. 21 was passed in the parliament in 1957 giving lower castes of Tamil speaking Sri Lankans the right to attend schools & temples as the part of S.W.R.D Bandaranaike’s plan was to penetrate into the “low caste” votes of Tamil speaking Sri Lankans.
    Lower castes Tamil speaking Sri Lankan children could attend school regularly only after this act. A reawakening happened in the north among previously marginalised lower caste Tamil speaking Sri Lankans.
    No sooner Vellalar realized the dangers of SLFP government led by S.W.R.D Bandaranaike courting the low caste Tamil speaking Sri Lankans, Vellalar devised their response. It was to create the best division possible. A rift between the Tamil speaking Sri Lankans and Sinhala speaking Sri Lankans which would strike better success than low caste – Vellalar divisions among Tamil speaking Sri Lankans. It is important to note that the satyagrahas, the tarring of Sinhala letter “SRI” instead of English letters on vehicle licence plates launched by the Veluppilai Chelvanayagam led Federal Party and G.G Ponnambalam led Tamil Congress – both Vellala high class political parties happened a year after making Sinhala the official language. Why did Federal Party and Tamil Congress not cry foul over the Sinhala Only Act in 1956 but oppose the Social Disabilities Act on 1957 with such venom? It is because Tamil speaking Sri Lankans wanted to deprive their own.
    Wijeyananda Dahanayake who was the Minister of Education in 1957, gave teaching appointments to many lower caste Tamil speaking Sri Lankans who had three credit passes in the S.S.C Exam (G.C.E O/L). Appapillai Amirthalingam who was an Federal Party MP then, opposed this move under the pretext that it would bring down educational standards.

    Similarly, when the Sirimavo R.D.Bandaranaike led SLFP Government introduced university standardization in 1973 those that opposed were those who were against equitable distribution. The schools in thirteen out of twenty two districts did not produce a single engineering or medicine student until 1974. Students from Colombo and Jaffna who had been privy to education opposed opportunities that would be enjoyed by students from Mannar, Monaragala, Vavuniya, Ampara, Kilinochchi & other less developed districts. While the composition of the ethnicity did not change entrance, for Tamil speaking Sri Lankans it meant not only the Vellalar but lower caste Tamil speaking Sri Lankans too would gain university entrance. This was why Vellalar opposed the 1973 university standardization introduced by Srimavo Bandaranaike led SLFP Government.

  13. S.Gonsalkorale Says:

    Argument of wooing low cast Tamil votes is questionable due to the fact that mere percentage of votes or the “seats” won based on that is pretty low. Even one assumed he remained Christian (based on the observation that he wore a cross, assuming it is true) benefits to the common man and child from his revolutionary ideas rather than changing policies based on blind following the communist faith are clearly visible.
    Few years before 1973, university section process was revamped, recognising the fact that Tamils (both markers and professors conducted practical tests) cheated the exams. 1973 saw the practicals taken completely out and “District Basis” selection rather than “Standardization”. There was a big reverse of Tamil to Sinhala student intake (especially Medical and Engineering) around 1970-71.

  14. Dilrook Says:

    Nalliah Thayabharan:

    Neither Yasvine Goonaratne nor R L Dias Bandaranaika was a historian. There was no such position in Saman Devale at any time.

  15. Voice123 Says:

    “Bandaranaike should have allowed and promoted Sinhala capitalists instead of disrupting them. This shortsighted approach costed Sinhalese a strong position in business.”

    – well said Dilrook, well said Christie.

    Bandaranayaka should have done what Tungku Abdul Rahman and Mahathir Mohammed did in Malaysia. They foresaw the threat from Socialist India, Communist insurgents and foreign capitalists and encouraged Bhumiputra capitalist to grow the wealth of the country patriotically. Look at Malaysia today compared with Sri Lanka. We are dependent on foreign aid and dependent on what donor countries want. We even have our workers lining up to do menial jobs there. The truth is whilst some aspects of SWRD’s social and linguistic policies were progressive and long overdue, he played into the hands of the British and Indians and helped impoverish Sri Lanka and took the country well into India’s sphere of influence.Thank heavens the Rajapaksas have more common sense.

  16. Fran Diaz Says:

    Are we really interested in the genetics of any person here ? I for one am not interested.
    What we are interested is that a person who is a citizen of Sri Lanka is loyal to this land and its people, and not tell blatant LIES abroad to harm the country and its people.

    We truly appreciated people like Mr Lakshman Kadirgama, and moderates like Dr Neelan Tiruchelvam, both killed by the ltte.
    Why ? because they were loyal to this Nation ?

    Sri Lanka may have her weaknesses and her drawbacks, but it is still the nation that supports and nurtures us. We ought to all do our bit to uplift the lives of the people of the country, instead of trying to ‘sell it out’ to outside elements.

    Of the some 64 yrs of Independence after British rule here, nearly 30 yrs have been wasted in ltte terrorism. And all those efforts to eradicate terrorism here ends with a set back from the UNHRC, which really ought to be encouraging and helping Lanka.

    Let us make lemon aide out of lemons handed out to us. The President has said “there can be no Peace without Development”. There’s a lot of truth in that.

    There has to be some spiritual Truth in our daily life too, whatever religion.

  17. Voice123 Says:

    Well said Fran Diaz. Chandrika herself says she has a Tamil ancestor. There is NOTHING WRONG with that. It speaks volumes for Sri Lanka that we can absorb people from any part of the world as nationals – something India cant do without stratifying people into castes, oppressing and humiliating them. This is nothing to do with genetics, but working for the greater good of their country. If they are loyal, then even aliens from other planets (if they exist) should be welcomed. All loyal people are welcomed and equal.

  18. Naram Says:

    I agrree that studying the genetic makeup of a person is a futile exercise as we then have to study the anticedents of women also who contibuted the gene pool, making the exercise far more tedios. It is the environment that makes the man. Nayakkar kings were often excellent Pali and Sinhala scholars, though they may have been hated by the Kandy aristocracy.
    In this interesting discussion I would like to add a little snippet I learnt from a good friend ofthe older generation- about the meeting allegedly SWRDB had with Anagarika Dharmapala, sometime after his return from UK. SWRDB had gone to see him, Dharmapala had stated the conversation by ‘Umba neda ara kamakata nethi Mudaliyage Putha’.
    I can well understand their antagonism, as his forefathers were behind the butal massacres ordinary Sinhala Sinhala folks suffered in 1915. Anagarika Dharmapala lost his elder brother, a Physician who died in Police custody. SWRDB showed his readiness to accept past guilt, among many progressive acts in that short period included funding many ventures to resusscitate Buddhist Pirivena Education, Vidyodaya, VIdyalankara Pirivenas were raised to University status.

    Sadly CBK preferred to turn the clock back like stopping the teaching of history to kids.

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