SWRD was born today

7 January 2015 07:02 pm - 2     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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 The ancestry of the Dias Bandaranaikes  describe how an Indian officer ‘of high standing’ -a descendant of an Indian Chetty community, who migrated in the 16th  century, serving under the Kings of Kandy and bearing the name Neela-Perumal, was made high priest of the Temple of God Saman and commanded to take the name of ‘Nayaka Pandaram’ in 1454, meaning chief record-keeper. 


 

olumes have been published; much spoken of his politics: now for a glimpse of his ancestry, and the student days.
Three famous writers, including academic Yasmine Gooneratne, nee Bandaranaike, who happens to be a niece of S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, in her book, ‘Relative Merits: A Personal Memoir of the Bandaranaike Family of Sri Lanka’; [C.Hurst& Co, London, 1986]; and Arnold Wright in his historic epic, ‘Twentieth Century Impressions of Ceylon’-1906  -pp:525 and another famous writer, James T.  Ratnam, in presenting an academic research paper titled, ‘The Bandaranaikes from the House of Nilaperumal’; trace the ancestry of the Dias Bandaranaikes and describe how an Indian officer ‘of high standing’ a descendant of an Indian Chetty community, who migrated in the 16th  century, serving under the Kings of Kandy and bearing the name Neela-Perumal, was made high priest of the Temple of God Saman and commanded to take the name of ‘Nayaka Pandaram’ in 1454, meaning chief record-keeper. 

Yasmine Gooneratne elaborates…, “For convenience in usage, it became ‘Pandara Nayake’, with time, the P was substituted with the locally palatable B; thus ‘BandaraNayake’, later evolved as Bandaranayake. The Pandarams of India are Brahmins and keepers of Court and family records.”

Named ‘West Ridgway’ after his God father and Governor of Ceylon, Sir Joseph West Ridgeway, he was born as a sixth generation member of an Anglophile Christian aristocratic family, that descended from the Neela-Perumals.    

Affectionately called ‘Solla’, the pet name among family circles, he was ‘Banda’ to political colleagues. In later life he converted to Buddhism in order to join politics.

Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranike’s juvenile background was more Westernised than three of his predecessors, D. S. Senanayake, Sir John Kotelawala and Dudley Senanayake.  

At S. Thomas’ he stayed at the Warden’s residence instead of in the common boarding for other students who also came from influential families.
S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike entered S. Thomas’ College, situated in Mutwal, after having moved there. 

In fact he was privately tutored and was sent to S. Thomas’ for the sake of records –[one had to be at a formal school]  a fulfilment or a requirement to gain admission to Oxford, the British University. However, his stint at S. Thomas’  College was brief before he was admitted to  Oxford.

Bandaranaike was born in Horagolla Walauwa in Atthanagalle in the district of Siyane-korale, Ceylon on the 8th of  January1899, to an elite Sinhalese Anglican Christian family and was the son of the powerful Sir Solomon Dias Bandaranaike the Maha Mudaliyar, native interpreter and advisor to the British Governor during colonial rule.  

Young West Ridgeway went on to study modern greats at Christ Church, Oxford University.  He achieved the rare distinction of becoming the Secretary of the famous Oxford Union. He later qualified as a Barrister of Inner Temple.

SWRD was the only son of Sir Soloman Dias Bandaranaike, Maha Mudaliyar of the Governor’s Gate, who was a leading light of colonial bourgeoisie and Lady Dais Obeysekera, both from Siyane-Korale. 

SWRD, who was responsible for the collapse of aristocracy, ironically, was born to an aristocratic family and educated in Oxford UK, his father discouraged him speaking to anybody in his mother tongue during his adolescence and pre-teen years; wanting him to converse only in English.  

A man caught in two cultures, he could not utter a word in Sinhala on his return from Oxford; that he addressed the ordinary village folk, who rushed to Horagolla Walauwa to welcome him in English! Of course with a note of apology and a pledge to make amends soon; which he did in a most admirable way.
Young SWRD wrote a four part article to a national newspaper as far back as 1926 professing federalism for Ceylon, under three states. 

He changed his faith and ideas subsequently. A man, who possessed, to some extent, socialist leanings, ironically became extremely sensitive to Sinhala-Buddhist aspirations in later years.


SWRD, who was responsible for the collapse of aristocracy, ironically, was born to an aristocratic family and educated in Oxford UK, his father discouraged him speaking to anybody in his mother tongue during his adolescence and pre-teen years; wanting him to converse only in English.



Studying Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night at school, I remember Malvolio making  the remark in Act 2 -Scene -5:  

“In my stars I am above thee; but be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon ‘em”.  
Little West Ridgway, named after Governor, Joseph West Ridgeway by his Maha Mudaliyar of the Governor’s Gate  father, Sir Solomon Dias Bandaranaike, was born great, achieved greatness and had greatness thrust upon him too.

  Comments - 2

  • sudesh Thursday, 08 January 2015 03:23 PM

    Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike .. name says all :)

    BKVWHK Thursday, 08 January 2015 12:17 PM

    This, rather than the death anniversary of Lasantha W, may be the reason for holding the Presidential Election today.


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