- As a genuine Buddhist and patriot, DS rendered a yeomen service to the religion and nation with dedication
- DS wanted to revive the ancient kings’ concept of the Tank, Dagaba, village and Temple (Wewai, Dagebai, Gamai, Pansalai)
I thought of writing this article on the First Prime Minister of Ceylon D.S. Senanayake-the- father-of-the-nation, with great respect and reverence and I, strongly believe that it is the right time to educate the present generation about this great exemplary leader and his religious activities as well as commitment to Buddhism.
During 253 AD a group of Buddhists with regional leaders brought a Sapling of the old Bo tree from Mahiyangana to be planted at the shrine of the innocent King Sri Sangabo at Attanagalle.
On their last stop before reaching Attanagalla, they remained for the night resting at Botale. In the morning they found that the sapling had taken root in the soil, where they had left it. The Bo tree planted at Botale was the direct descendant of the tree at Mahiyangana-traditionally one of the places in Sri Lanka visited by the Lord Buddha.
Botale is the village where D.S. Senanayake was born and brought up. The above historic event itself shows that the ancestral roots of this great leader were tied up with Buddhism and unique, undetachable link to the strong followers of the Buddhist footpath.
DS always followed the footpath of his elder brother F.R. Senanayake, who was a religious and Temperance leader.
This intelligent group with its coherent plan was able to win Independence for our Motherland without shedding a drop of blood
DS also had the habit of always worshipping his mother before leaving out of home for any activity.
That was the traditionally brought up culture of all children belonging to Buddhist families in Ceylon.
Ceylon became a British colony in 1815 under the treaty signed with hill country leaders.
However, conditions of the treaty were broken when the British’s arbitrarily removed that Buddhism to be protected and nurtured under government.
This was in the hidden thinking of DS and as a patriot and faithful Buddhist DS wanted to get the government to restore the dignity of the Buddhism by the Ceylon Government.
He worked very hard to get that to be realized during his term as the first Prime Minister of the Ceylon.
However, he always followed the footpath of Lord Buddha and practise the Buddhist way.
The gaining of independence is also a result of compassionate thinking in refusing hatred against enemies. That is the thinking of DS for fighting against the British dictators.
DS spearheaded the independence struggle of the then Ceylon. He followed the Buddhist way of achieving victory in gaining Independence.
He and his eminent team consist of an elder brother F.R. Senanayake and colleagues, namely Sir D.B. Jayathilaka, Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan, Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam, T.B. Jayah, E.W. Perera and many others were the stalwarts of the Independence Movement.
This intelligent group with its coherent plan was able to win Independence for our Motherland without shedding a drop of blood.
In considering the way of Lord Buddha he followed the Lichchavi Concept when the United National Party (UNP) was formed, bringing various political and social organizations such as Sri Lanka Jathika Sangamaya, Sinhala Maha Sabha and the Muslim League under one umbrella and gave guidance to the freedom struggle with new vigour and foresight.
He also took steps to restore many ancient shrines and gave special attention to the planned development of sacred Ruwanweli Seya being a member of the Chaitya restoration committee- Anuradhapura.
He pioneered the restoration of ancient historical monuments in Polonnaruwa. The activities related to rehabilitation of Mahiyangana chaitya was himself the president of the Mahiyangana Restoration Society when it was started.
In addition to the renovation of Mahiyangana Sthupa, amny other city development components were also undertaken.
He considered the religious reawakening in the south of the Ceylon. Accordingly, he initiated restoration activities of the Katharagama Kiriwehera.
It was finally ceremonially offered to the Mahasangha by Dudley Senanayake, the son of D.S. Senanayake.
The Salgala Forest Monastery - hermitage -also established by DS and donated most of the ancestral lands to the Buddha Sasana and respectfully watch the development process.
In searching for information on DS and his religious activities, I noted that there are many instances that he attended religious ceremonies in various temples around the country.
I had the opportunity to discuss with the most Ven. Thambavita Wimalawansha, the Chief Incumbent of Kotahena Sri Paramananda Historic Temple regarding those religious activities.
There was a paper-cutting dated 1927 February 29 Sinhala Baudhdhaya reporting D.S. Senanayake as the Chief Guest for laying the foundation for the Bo Maluwa - a shrine to the Botree - along with Chief Priests (Mahanayaka Theras) of both Malwatta and Asgiriya Chapters and Mrs Mallika Hewawitharana, mother of Ven. Anagarika Dharmapala.
When Dudley was borne on 19th July 1911, D.S. and his father Mudliyar, Don Spater Senanayake was in the Botale temple where ceremonially offering 25 acres of land owned by them to the temple and to the Mahasangha. This shows how generously and lavishly donated the assets belonging to them, to the Buddha Sasana.
As soon as DS was sworn in as First Prime Minister of Ceylon on gaining independence, he went to Kollupittiyapolwatte Temple and worshipped the Buddha by offering flowers and got the blessings of the Mahasangha.
Later in remembering this historical event, DS planted a mango tree within the premises of the temple.
On that occasion he emphasized that the Government of Ceylon need to give Buddhism the foremost place.
He had said that it was the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana, while assuring all religions their right for their observances.
D.S. Senanayake was invited to participate at San Francisco World Leaders Conference in September 1951 after the 2nd World War, to propose Japan to punitive provisions and to the enforcement of arbitrary restrictions and embargoes.
At that time DS was not in a position to attend that meeting and sent J.R. Jayewardene representating Ceylon.
JR prior to his departure consulted DS and he strongly advocated the idea of granting freedom to Japan.
Ceylon should request the world leaders that Japan be given pardon and global leaders to assist the suffering Japan and not to follow hatred
DS emphasized, that Ceylon should request the world leaders that Japan be given pardon and global leaders to assist the suffering Japan and not to follow hatred.
The action he took to make this a reality has been documented by J. R. Jayewardene. (D.S. Senanayake - The reflection of Prakramabahu, Page226)
As a Buddhist by faith, he was a great lover of animals and the environment. By establishing farms and encouraging cattle rearing, he sought to educate the rural folk in methods of housing, breeding and feeding livestock.
Also, he set up the Ruhuna and Wilpattu National Parks by legislation introduced in 1938 prohibiting the game of killing animals.
D.S. Senanayake was instrumental in celebrating Buddha Jayanthiya -2,500 years of Enlightenment of Lord Buddha. He inaugurated the first meeting with the Mahasangha and after his sudden demise, Sir John Kotalawala continued his vision towards achieving his endeavours.
Later it was celebrated by S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike.
The initial activities of printing of Thripitaka were also a priority to D.S. Senanayake.
Subsequently, the Prime Minister of Ceylon Sir John Kotalawala gave his fullest cooperation towards this meritorious deed and it became a reality.
DS wanted to revive the ancient kings’ concept of the Tank, Dagaba, village and Temple (Wewai, Dagebai, Gamai, Pansalai) after neglecting it in so many centuries.
This concept was given priority by DS when he developed new settlements along the irrigation and agriculture systems in the eastern and northern regions of Ceylon.
As a genuine Buddhist and patriot, DS rendered yeomen service to the religion and nation with dedication.
Without any kind of division, each and every person belonging to independent Sri Lanka should pay utmost respect to this great leader demonstrating their gratitude as civilized human beings.