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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 1555

Ananda College: 124 years (not out) memorable service to the nation

By Nalin Abeysekera - Ananda “94 group”

Ananda College will be celebrating her 124th birthday on November. All Anandians always will be getting blessing from Mother Ananda .First she taught us how to respect others, then the way you have to love and protect your motherland which always helps us to shape our life. In our days we got Muslims as well as Tamil friends in our class.

All of us played, studied like brothers. We were like a family. Still I can remembered how well we performed as a team in different functions. That is the essence of Buddhism which we learned at Ananda.

An educational organization identified as the ‘Buddhist Theosophical Society” was formed in Sri Lanka under the leadership of Colonel Henry Steele Olcott who was a founder member of the Theosophical Society of New York. The names of Ananda College and Henry Steel Olcott always go together in Sri Lankan literature. Olcott was born on August 2, 1832, in Orange, New Jersey. After an early career in agricultural science and journalism, he served during the Civil War as a military investigator of fraud and corruption.

This was followed by a career in law, which he later combined with journalism, reporting on Spiritualistic phenomena .Olcott is especially admired for his work among the Buddhists of Sri Lanka, Burma, and Japan, helping them realize the essential value of their own heritage (that is one of the essence which is inculcating by Ananda throughout last 124 years. The patriot loves to the country!) . The administrative skill and public activities throughout the world were largely responsible for the Society's growth and organizational success.

The Buddhist Theosophical Society opened a number of schools in different parts of in Sri Lanka for the higher education of Buddhist children. In the year 1886 the first of those schools was opened on a modest scale with 37 students in a private house in Colombo. Later this school was named Ananda College after Arahant Ananda, the most devoted disciple of the Buddha. Thereafter the school is producing students not only conquering Sri Lanka but in globe as well.

Ananda College has its memorable events in the school's history. One was the visit of Asia's first Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore, on 10 November 1922, as chief guest at the annual prize giving. He declared on that occasion: "I acknowledge that the life of Ananda is its humility and unassuming nature.".

Furthermore Mahatma Gandhi visited Ananda in 1927. His visit caused great excitement at Ananda College - Mahatma Gandhi addressed the Principal, teachers and Anandians during his historic tour of Ceylon. He said: 'wherever I go I love to see schoolchildren...' The staff, parents and children of Ananda College raised Rs 400.86 and presented the money to Mahatma Gandhi as a donation for his 'Khadi Collection.' Gandhi noted that Ceylon was a 'beautiful island.

Last year we had witnessed the most memorable event of Mother Ananda which immensely contributed to liberate the country from LTTE. The "Anada Viru Harasara" organized by the Ananda College, Colombo, to pay tribute to the Old Anandians in the armed forces and police was held at the Kularathna Hall on 3rd of July 2009.

Distinguished Old Anandians who had performed a pivotal role in the humanitarian mission; Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, General Sarath Fonseka, Navy Commander, Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda and Director General of Civil Defence Force, Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara received the "Anada Viru Harasara" plaques from the President.

Senior Old Anandian officers of Sri Lanka Army Maj General Jagath Rambukpotha, Maj General Jagath Dias, Maj General Kamal Goonarathna, Brig Jagath Wijethilake, Brig Mahesh Senanayake, Brig Prasanna Silva and Brig Chagi Gallage received the "Anada Viru Harasara" plaques from the acting principle of the Ananda College Mr D.M.L.P Dissanayake.

The entrance of Anandians to the forces also was a nice story. In the early days, the Forces' intake was mostly from the elite private schools of Colombo. In an article to the Anandaya Centenary Magazine, Col. G.W. Rajapaksa(one of the transformational leader at Ananda) recalls how this situation changed and the doors of the Forces were opened to Anandians.

"When Ananda won the Governor's Cup, Principal L.H. Mettananda was ecstatic and met Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake. Mettananda asked the Premier - "will the doors of the Forces and the Police be open to Anandians at least now?" The Prime Minister replied that he would take the top four Governor's Cup performers from Ananda to the Forces. This is how Anandians got an opportunity to serve the country by joining the Forces. The contribution made by Ananda is enormous in the war front. Most of war heroes died and lost limbs in the battle field had comes from Ananda and their names will be there forever for generation to generation.

The school is performing in education, sports as well as in Arts. In the University arena whether it is Maths , science or Commerce Ananda always getting the maximum number of students under her belt in admission. Even recently a student from Ananda College in Colombo won several top awards at the 2010 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair held in San Jose, California.

Ananda had the privilege of getting the service of most outstanding educationists like A. E. Bultjens ,Sir D. B. Jayatileke , Fritz Kunz , P. de S. Kularatne ,Dr. Gunapala Malalasekera L. H. Mettananda ,S. A. Wijetileke , Lt. Col. E. A. Perusinghe,Col. G. W. Rajapakse (The goden era of Ananda), Col. V. S. Kudaligama A. P. Gunaratne to name a few. Among those dedicated pedagogues were: Ven. Balangoda Ananda Maitriya, Heenatiyana Dhammaloka, Paravahera Vajiragnana, Tibetan monk poet S. Mahinda, Dr. Kotagama Wachissara, Ambanwelle Pannasekera Theras.

The performance by an Anandians in sport also unbeatable.In1996 Sri Lanka won the world cup under the captaincy of Arjuna Ranatunga. That was the greatest moment in Sri Lankan cricket(or sport?). So far, Ananda has the honor of producing more than 20 cricketers to the national team.

Among the cricketers produced by Ananda are Arjuna Ranatunga, Anuruddha Polonnowita, Bonnie Wijesinghe, Sarath Wijesinghe, Sonny Yatawara, Sanjeewa Ranathunga,Sidat Wettimuny, Marvan Atapattu, Aviska Gunawardena,Thilan Samaraweera and Thilina Kandambhi.

Not only in cricket in athletic, swim as well as in every games the school has producing number of great players so far.

Even in cadetting Ananda excels in a remarkable way. The Herman Loos Cup is considered as the plum of cadetting. This cup is awarded to the best all round cadet platoon annually. Ananda won this prestigious cup in 1987, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2002 - nine (9) times under One Platoon Commander Major Palitha Wijesinghe. It is undoubtedly a unique record in the history of cadetting in Sri Lanka.

Hence the contribution made by Mother Ananda cannot be deleted from the history of Sri Lanka. Now we are heading for economic development in this country.There is a need for the people who loves to the country. Ananda always produced patriots who love their motherland.

But it is the duty for a nation to work without delay (without any difference in politics, culture etc..even once you go to some public institutes you can see people are just staying without working bringing disgrace to the heroes which had won the war. People like to discuss about their privileges, benefits not their responsibilities and duties.

But we have to revisit the well said quote by John F. Kennedy as “ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country”.).That was the success story of well developed countries (developed both in wealth and culture).The most important is work without any delay to grab the opportunity.

That is the essence of management. That is the Motto of Ananda. Appamado - Amatapadam is from a Dhammapada (The Treasury of Truth) stanza in Appamada Vagga (Heedfulness) (Verse number 21)

Appamado amatapadam -
pamado maccuno padam -
Appamatta na miyanthi -
ye pamatta yatha mata -

Heedfulness leads to immortality -
The heedful are immortal -
The heedless, though living,
are like dead -

- Asian Tribune -

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