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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 at mahaiyangana to be planted at the shrine of the innocent king sri sangabo at attanagalla. 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.First prime the bo tree planted at botale was the direct descendant of the tree at mahaiyangana — traditionally one of the places in sri lanka visited by the gauthama buddha.


Botale is the village where DS was born and brought up. The above historic event itself shows that the ancestral roots of this great leader were tied up with the buddhism and unique, non-detachable link to the strong followers of the buddhist foot path.

DS always followed the path of his elder brother FR senanayake who was a religious and anti-temperance leader. DS also had the habit always of worshipping the mother before leaving out of home for any kind of activities

DS always followed the foot path of his elder brother F.R.Always followed who was a religious and anti-temperance leader. DS also had the habit always of worshipping the mother before leaving out of home for any kind of activities. That was the tradition of all children belonging to buddhist civilized 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 by the british arbitrarily and buddhism to be protected and nurtured under the government ruling was virtually neglected .This was in the hidden thinking of DS and as a patriot and faithful buddhist he wanted to get the government to restore the dignity of buddhism by the ceylon government.Prime minister he worked very hard to get that to be realized during his ruling as the first prime minister of ceylon. However he always followed the foot path of lord buddha and practised buddhist way, equal treatment for all nation.

The gaining of independence is also a result of a compassionate thinking in refusing a hatred against enemies. That is the thinking of DS for fighting against the british dictators. He spearheaded the independence struggle of the then ceylon. He followed the buddhist way of achieving victorious results. He and his eminent team consisted of FR senanayake and colleagues, namely sir D.B. Jayathilaka, sir ponnambalam ramanathan, sir ponnambalam arunachalam, T.B.Buddha sasana jayah, E.W. Perera and many others who 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 gauthama buddha he followed the lichchavi concept when the united national party 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. In this manner he appreciated the strategy in taking decisions in resolving the contradictions, collectively arriving at compromise and consensus.Buddha sasana

He also took steps to restore many ancient shrines and gave special attention to the planned development of the sacred ruwanweliseya being a member of the chaitya restoration committee- anuradhapura. He pioneered the restoration of ancient historic monuments in polonnaruwa. The activities related to rehabilitation of mahiyangana chaitya was himself the president of the mahiyangana restoration society when it was started. Due to the commencement of renovation of mahiyangana stupa most of the other city development components have also taken place. He considered the religious reawakening in the south of the ceylon. Accordingly he had initiated restoration activities of katharagama kiriwehera.Prime minister it was finally ceremonially offered over to the mahasangha by dudley senanayake late prime minister and the son of DS. The salgala forest monastery hermitage also established by DS and donated most of the ancestral lands to the buddha sasana and respectfully watched the development process.

In searching for information about DS and his religious activities, we noted that there were many instances that DS attended religious ceremonies in various temples around the country. I had the opportunity to discuss with the most ven.ThambavitaWimalawansa, the chief incumbent thera of kotahena sri paranananda historic temple regarding those religious activities.Buddha sasana there was a paper cutting dated feb 29, 1927 “sinhala baudhdhaya” reporting DS was the chief guest at the foundation laying ceremony for the bo maluwa – shrine to the bo tree – along with chief priests (mahanayaka thera) of both malwatta and asgiriya chapters and mallika hewawitharana, mother of ven. Anagarika dharmapala.

When dudley was born on july 19, 1911, DS and his father mudaliyar don spater senanayake were in the botale temple where ceremonially offering 25 acres of land owned by them to the temple and to the maha sangha. This shows how generously and lavishly donated the assets belong to them to the buddha sasana.

No sooner DS was sworn in as first prime minister of ceylon after the independence, he went to polwatta temple at kollupitiya, and worshipped the buddha by offering flowers and received blessings from the priests.Prime minister later in remembering this historical event, DS planted a mango tree within the premises of the temple. At that occasion he emphasized that the government of ceylon need to give buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it is the duty of the state to protect and foster the buddha sasana, while assuring to all religions the rights will be granted for the freedom in association with others to practice and follow their religion or belief in worship, observances.

DS senanayake was invited to participate at the world leaders’ conference in san francisco in sept 1951 — after world war II to propose japan to punitive provisions and to enforcement of arbitrary restrictions and embargoes.Buddha sasana at that time DS was not in a position to attend that meeting and proposed to send JR jayawardane as representative of ceylon. Prior to his departure consulted DS and the latter strongly advocated the idea of granting freedom to japan. We should request from the world leaders that japan be given a pardon and global leaders to assist not follow hatred way to just be as buddhists everybody should be compassionate, kind and forgive this suffering nation.The action he took to make this a reality has been documented by JR. (D.S. Senanayake – the reflection of prakramabahu, page 226)

As a buddhist by faith he was a great lover of animals and the environment.Always followed 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.

DS senanayake was instrumental to celebrate buddha jayanthiya to celebrate 2500 years of enlightenment of gauthama buddha. He inaugurated the first meeting with maha sangha and after his sudden demise sir john kotalawala continued his vision towards achieving his endeavours. Later it was celebrated by SWRD bandaranaike. The initial activities of printing of thripitaka was the priority activity of DS senanayake.Buddha sasana subsequently, the prime minister of ceylon sir john kotalawala given 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 was developing new settlements along with irrigation and agriculture systems in the eastern and northern areas of ceylon.

As a genuine buddhist and patriot, DS rendered a yeomen service to the religion and nation with dedication, honest and genuine ways by expelling an extraordinary contribution to this country as a whole.Always followed without any kind of division, each and every person belongs to this independent motherland sri lanka should pay their utmost respect to this great leader demonstrating their gratitude as civilized human beings.

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