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A gentle thespian giant

4 November 2019 12:10 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The Professor Ediriweera Sarachchandra’s corner at the University of Peradeniya Library had a ‘gap’ and that was a Bust this man who spotlighted the University of Peradeniya as the premier seat of learning. and also brought fame with plays like Maname This much wanted ‘gap’ was fulfilled by a group of past undergraduates under their flag “ P69 Brotherhood Association “, lead by former Commissioner General of Labour and Motor Traffic. D. S.Edirisingh
Professor Sarachchandra was born on third of June 1914, with his early education at the Wesleyan Mission school Richmond College, St: Aloysius College, Galle. St: John’s College Panadura and St: Thomas College, Mount Lavinia. 
Despite his workloads, Dr Sarachchandra was an outstanding figure so much so to be awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Literature.


His career commenced when he became a tutor at St. Peter’s College, Bambalapitiya, but that did not his lifestyle. He joined the publishing section of Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited and in 1933 gained entrance to the then the University of Ceylon where he offered Pali, Sanskrit and Sinhala for his first degree and passed out in 1936 with a First Class and sat for the then Ceylon Civil Service coming first in the list of the country
During the same period, he travelled to Santiniketan to study Indian Music and also Philosophy, returning to the country in 1940 to take another sting at teaching this time at S. Thomas College Mount Lavinia. 
During this period he did not waste his time but read for his Master’s as an external student of the University of London. He returned to his much-coveted vocation as to become a lecturer at the University of Ceylon from 1947 to 1949.

 

  • A bust statue of Prof. Sarachchandra installed in the University of Peradeniya Library
  • In 1983, the State of Kerala awarded the Kumaran Asian World Prize and then in 1988- the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Literature


His character was personified by his production of the Play Maname signalling the transition from Nadagama- a folk drama of Sri Lanka into the theatrical drama format of the Sinhala drama, which signalled his widespread acclaim not only in this country but worldwide. In 1961 he developed Sinhabahu from which he could not go back as it was a forward march on his character and his popularity.
The Assistant General Secretary then of the Ediriweera Sarachchandra Research and Activation Foundation P.B. Galahitiywa had this to say of Professor Sarachchandra in an article published by him. 


He says,
“It was a well-known fact that unlike the majority of the African, South American and Australian nations which come under the European colonialism. Asian countries continued to have a sophisticated cultural and spiritual heritage which dates back to the 3rd Century BC. Once they were conquered by people rooted in Western cultural values and norms values totally foreign in the East were introduced and cultural friction was inevitable.
“The advent of the West has disturbed the placid waters of Asian life, particularly in the South. This initial impact dazzled the Asians mind and many early ‘ elite ‘ blind imitators of the West. 

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The Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Parakrama Karunaratne unveils the ‘ Bust ‘ of Professor Ediriweera Sarathchandra in the Sarathchandra corner of the University of Peradeniya Library complex. At the far end is the Chief Librarian Dr S. Mahaeswaran.


At the same time, there was a growing recognition of the values of their own heritage among Asia’s intellectuals who received a bilingual education at that time. This dilemma acted by those intellectuals under these circumstances was a question of selection and thesis, what aspects of tradition were to be revived and how. ?.How as a synthesis to be achieved so that the ‘ foreign ‘ world no longer appears “alien”? The solutions for such a question did not open quickly. Asian intellectuals had to go through several phases and experiments with diverse modes. Among them were Sri Lanka intellectuals engaged in this ask and Sarachchandra was one of the Nobelist,”

 

"His character was personified by his production of the Play Maname signalling the transition from Nadagama- a folk drama of Sri Lanka into the theatrical drama format of the Sinhala drama, which signalled his widespread acclaim not only in this country but worldwide"


“The most important event which illustrates the significant transformation Sarachchandra brought about the life of Peradeniya University was that which gave birth within the precincts of that campus itself to the revival of drama combining his intellectual gifts with creative talents. Sarachchandra achievement here was that he was able to bring to life a dramatic tradition which representative of the National identity from the very place which had become the nursery of the initiative Western culture of the majority of both the staff and the students. The cultural movement he initiated was able to enter into a continuous dialogue with the intellectuals within the University and outside as well as the common people,” Galahitiyawa adds.
Professor Sarachchandra was conferred the Degree of Doctor of Literature by the University of Jaffna and Peradeniya in 1982 and was also an Emeritus Professor of Peradeniya. In 1983, the State of Kerala awarded the Kumaran Asian World Prize and then in 1988- the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Literature.

The wife of Professor Sarachchandra near the Bust. with D.S. Edirisinghe

 

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