Ananda College Colombo stands tall at 135

“Ananda College imparted education to many men of action, who played a prominent role to uphold the interests of the people, country, religion and culture by infiltrating the slaves who embraced the alien culture then, and held in high esteem the worldly pleasure provided by them, than the freedom of the people and religion,” states a passage written by old Anandian and anti-imperialist freedom fighter Philip Gunawardena.

The above passage clearly illustrates the reasons for the birth of Ananda College, Colombo, which is engaged in social service and walks majestically even today, after 135 years to the day (November 1).

Despite the fact that the Anandians were more proficient in the English language than the Englishmen, they stood by their principles without becoming slaves to it. Then principal of Ananda College, L.H. Mettananda and the academics at Ananda College strongly supported the granting of the foremost place to the mother tongue, Sinhala, and that it should be the official language.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, an old Anandian, opening the new Sath Mahala building at Ananda College in February last year.

In addition, when it was said that science cannot be taught in Sinhala, the intellectuals such as then Ananda Principal M.W. Karunananda firmly expressed that science could be taught in Sinhala and engaged in writing and publishing the books needed in Sinhala. Hence the contribution made by Ananda College in making Sinhala the official language is immeasurable.

Ananda College laid the foundation for the establishment of many schools similar to branches spreading from a tree. As a result glittering schools such as Dharmaraja College, Kandy, Mahinda College, Galle, Rahula College, Matara, and Maliyadeva College, Kurunegala, emerged. The main reason for Ananda College to march forward even after passing a 100 years, is because from its very inception, the College did not have any differences or discordant views.

Founder Col. Henry Steel Olcott

Principal S.M. Keerthirathne

Anandians who held their own ethnic group in high esteem, never displayed racism. While they showed due respect to Buddhism, they never displayed any differences or discordant views about any other religion. This situation was understood by many from the very beginning. Hence, Christian priest Rv. Fr. Leadbeater who was the first principal of Ananda College, took steps to teach Buddhism, not only to the students, but also to the teachers, according to the vision of the college. Even though subsequent principals Bultjens, Devies Moor and Frita Kunz belonged to different ethnic communities and religions they worked with firm determination from the day they assumed duties as principals of Ananda College, to establish a future generation of Buddhists following the right path.

The endeavour made by the experts belonging to other ethnic communities such as T.B. Jayah, A.H. Sundararaman, V.T.S. Sivaguranathan and E.M. Selvarathnam in the Administrative Committee to attain the vision of Ananda College was indeed a marvellous deed.

Principals of Ananda College irrespective of their status dedicated their service considering the country first and made gigantic efforts to create great personalities the country needed at all times. That was indeed a stupendous feat. Among them, the services rendered by Sir D.B. Jayatilaka, P. De S. Kularatne, Prof. G.P. Malalasekara, L.H. Mettananda, M.W. Karunananda, Col G.W. Rajapaksa, Col V.S. Kudaligama, A.P. Gunaratne and T.B. Damunupola to the country, should be held in high esteem.

The vision of Ananda College to create dynamic personalities and achieving that task within 100 years is indeed a matter to be proud of. Hence, incumbent Principal S.M. Keerthiratne and the Administrative Committee, the Old Boys’ unions, the students, along with the Buddhist populace, should be determined to forge ahead on the occasion of the 135th anniversary of Ananda College.

(The writer represents the Ananda College 1993 Group Old Boys’ Union.)

Ananda College, Circa 1900s

Kularatne Hall, Ananda College


– Daily News Sri Lanka

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