Sri Lanka's Chief Justice says Anagarika Dharmapala a great national hero

By T. Farook Thajudeen, Daily Mirror, Sept 18, 2008

Colombo, Sri Lanka -- The Sri Lanka Government should be given a place in the governing  body of the  Mahabodhi Society of India said Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva at the unveiling of the statue of Anagarika Dharmapala at Narahenpita Junction yesterday.

"We should not consider the clothes and personality of a person as his testimony but consider the service that person rendered to his community and religion. In those terms Anagarika Dharmapala was a great national hero who hailed from a leading business family and devoted his time to serving the Buddhists and the Sinhalese", he said.

Although Anagarika Dharmapala hailed from a leading Sinhala business family and was born a Christian, he converted to Buddhism and led a simple life as a clerk in the Education Department. He thereafter dedicated himself to the cause of the Sinhalese Buddhists.

His contemporary Harischandra Walisinghe committed himself to uplifting the standards of Anuradhapura while Anagarika Dharmapala went further and sacrificed   himself to develop Buddhist religious places in India, such as Benares, Saranath and Buddha Gaya.

Mr. Silva said it was not the Indians who hindered this national hero but the Sinhala Buddhists who discomfited him. That was why he migrated to India and spent his last days at the Mulaganda Kuti Viharaya in India.

"It is time now for the Sinhala Buddhists to give Anagartika Dharmapala his due place in Sri Lanka. That could be only done by making the future generation aware of Anagarika Dharmapala, his teachings and his work. To do that societies like Bodhiraja Samithiya of Narahenpita should propagate his work", the Chief Justice said.

 The Chief Incumbent of  Sambodhi Viharaya and Chief  of the TV channel “ Buddhist,” the Venerable Daranagama Kusala Dhamma,  addressing the ceremony, said that today the media gave publicity to dancers like worms. He said that that the media should, instead, make it a point to give national heroes like Anagarika Dharmapala their due place.

"If Anagarika Dharmapala were not there, our history would have been different. He was a hero who propagated nationalism and led the Sinhalese against foreign imperialism. From his young days he loved Buddhism and the Sinhalese. He publicly attacked the weakness of the Sinhala Buddhists and directed them to the correct path. He toiled to make the Buddha’s birthplace a sacred site. His work as a young man should be appreciated by the Sinhala Buddhists", he said.

A life size statue of Anagarika Dharmapala was unveiled at the Narahenpitia Junction at the outset of the function.