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National Anthem: From “Namo Namo” to “Sri Lanka Matha”

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

The current controversy surrounding the Sri Lankan
national anthem is an unwanted and unnecessary issue at this juncture.
In the aftermath of a long but successful war against separatism the
immediate task facing the nation would be healing the wounds of war
and strengthening a unified nation.

Military victory in war does not automatically result in genuine unity
being established.There is an imperative need to address the
underlying causes of the war by formulating an acceptable political
package acceptable to an estranged people. Capturing the hearts and
minds of the long suffering Tamil people of Sri Lanka is more
important than re- capturing territory held by the Liberation Tigers
of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the Northern and Eastern provinces.

Despite the sensational military triumph the Rajapaksa regime has
displayed woeful lethargy in initiating meaningful political
initiatives aimed at redressing valid grievances and accommodating
legitimate aspirations. On the other hand issues like the National
anthem controversy are creating new problems and embittering hurt
emotions further.

At a time when the emphasis should be on ethnic reconciliation and
amity moves are afoot to cause despair to Tamils by tampering with
prevailing arrangements regarding the singing of the national anthem
in Tamil. Sinhala hardliners are demanding that the Tamil version be
done away with and that only Sinhala should be used. Some go to the
extent of saying that singing the national anthem in Tamil is illegal.

The official version of the Sri Lankan national anthem is in Sinhala.
That is the authentic anthem and there is no doubt about that but
there has also been a Tamil version (a translation or transliteration
of the Sinhala original)from the time Ananda Samarakoon’s “Namo Namo
Matha” was duly recognized as national anthem.

While the Sinhala version was sung in most official functions in
Colombo and Sinhala majority provinces the Tamil version was sung in
Tamil majority areas and Tamil medium schools. This accommodative
attitude was displayed at a time when Sinhala was the sole official
language and Tamil had no official status at all.


Tamil received national language but not official language status in
the 1978 Constitution. The National anthem in Sinhala was given
Constitutional status through clause seven of the same Constitution.
However the Tamil translation was also given Constitutional
recognition by way of the third schedule to the seventh clause.

Tamil received elevation as an official language along with Sinhala by
way of the 13th amendment to the Constitution in 1987. Tamil as an
official language received further enhancement in the administrative
and legislative spheres through the 16th amendment to the Constitution
in 1988.

It is therefore ironic to find that attempts are being made to do away
with the national anthem in Tamil at a time when the language is an
official language of the country whereas the anthem had been sung in
Tamil during times when the language had no official status.

There is also another and more compelling reason for allowing the
status quo to continue. The Tamils who want to sing the national
anthem in Tamil are not separatists or extremists. A recent article
in the state –controlled media stated that the pro-LTTE diaspora
wanted the national anthem to be sung in Tamil. Nothing could be
further away from the truth as this idiotic assertion

The silent majority of Tamils living in Sri Lanka want to sing the
national anthem in Tamil because they belong to and want to identify
with Sri Lanka. It is not a new right they demand but only the
continuation of what has been and is available. While giving pride of
place to the national anthem in Sinhala they only want to sing it in
their mother tongue wherever and whenever possible or applicable.


Let it not be forgotten that the practice of singing the national
anthem had gone out of vogue in the Tamil polity for more than three
decades. Federal Party (FP) and later Tamil United Liberation Front
(TULF) politics saw to it that alternative “Tamil state” anthems were
sung at political meetings. At least three different songs were used.

One was “Vaalha Eezhath Thamizhaham, Vaalha endrum Vaalhave” (Long live Eelam Tamil homeland,Long live forever) by Paramahamsathasan. The other is “Engal Eezhath Thamizh Thirunaadu,Kalai Vaazhum Ponnaadu” (our great Eelam Tamil land, the golden land where arts flourish) by “Thirukkovil” Ariyanayagam. The third is “Vazhiyave, Vazhiyave,Vazhiyave,Engal Thanga Maamanith Thamizh Eezham”(long live,long live, long live, our golden gem Tamil Eelam) by Kasi Anandan.

All these versions of a “Tamil Eelam national anthem” were sung
during the past decades when Tamil ultra-nationalism and separatism
rode high. These are different to the songs sung in “praise of
mother Tamil” or “Thamizh Thaai Vaazhthu”. This is a must in all Tamil
cultural functions.

Personifying the mother tongue as mother Tamil and singing praises is
something difficult for non – Tamils to understand. Usually
Subramania Bharathy’s “Vaalha Nirantharam , Vaalha Thamizhmozhi,
Vaaliya Vaaliyave” (Long live in perpetuity, long live the Tamil
language, long live, long live) or Bharathidasan’s “Thamizhukkum
Amuthendru Per , Anthath Thamizh Inbath Thamizh Engal Uyirulkku Ner”
(Tamil is a name for Ambrosia. That Tamil,sweet Tamil is equal to our
life)are sung in honour of the “Tamil mother”.

After the ascendancy of Tamil militancy in general and the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) in particular the practice of singing the
national anthem in Tamil in the North and East began declining. Very
often the music alone would be played on official occasions.After the
LTTE established territorial control over certain regions in the North
and East the Sri Lankan national anthem was virtually discontinued.

The LTTE did not have a substitute Tamil Eelam anthem. Instead they
extolled the virtues of the “Pulikkodi” or tiger flag. The tiger flag
was portrayed as the Tamil Eelam or Tamil national flag. The LTTE’s
poet laureate Puthuvai.Rathinathurai wrote the song “Eruthu Paar,
Kodi Eruthu Paar” (See it being hoisted,See the flag is being
hoisted). This was sung during the mandatory hoisting of the tiger
flag at most ceremonies.

After the Sri Lankan armed forces began re-capturing territory from
the LTTE the writ of Colombo regained its dominance and authority. A
corollary to this situation was an inevitable yet pervasive military
presence. Consequentially the national flag fluttered proudly in the
North and East and the national anthem too began resonating.


Initially the national anthem was sung or played only in Sinhala in
the North but due to the persistent efforts of the solitary Sri Lankan
Tamil Cabinet minister Douglas Devananda , the use of Tamil in singing
the national anthem also commenced.

Slowly and steadily the national anthem was being sung in Tamil also.
What prevails now is a “mixed” state of affairs where Sinhala andTamil
are being used to sing the national anthem in Jaffna on different

It is against this backdrop that the current crisis has to be viewed.
After decades of alienation the Tamils of Sri Lanka are getting drawn
into the mainstream again. Once again they are emphasising their
overarching Sri Lankan identity. What better way to illustrate this
than by singing the national anthem?

At the same time Tamils also want to retain their ethnic identity by
singing in their mother tongue if possible. The finest example of
being Sri Lankan and being Tamil would be to sing the national anthem
in Tamil.

Sadly this basic home truth is not being realised in certain
quarters. As a result an unwanted and unnecessary controversy is
brewing over the issue of singing the national anthem in Tamil.

A campaign is being conducted by majoritarian hawks to do away with
the practice of singing the national anthem in Tamil. There are
however indications that saner counsel is prevailing and that the
current National anthem controversy may turn out to be a tempest in a
tea cup.


Controversy however is nothing new as far as the national anthem of
Sri Lanka is concerned. A retrospective gaze into the evolution and
growth of our national anthem shows that the song has been mired in
controversy right from the beginning.

The concept of a national anthem was introduced by the British to what was then Ceylon. The modern Ceylon nation itself was a colonial
construct.It was the British who integrated different territories
under their control into a single entity and set up a unified
administration for the Country.

“God save the King/Queen” had become the British national anthem by
1745. This was through usage and custom and not by Parliamentary
decree. With the British empire expanding gradually “God save the
King/Queen” was sung as the national anthem in all countries and
territories ruled by the British.

Ceylon was no exception and under Queen Victoria’s rule “God save the
Queen” became in practice the national anthem for Ceylon too. This
continued throughout the twentieth century also.

The Ceylon National Congress (CNC) set up in 1919 on the lines of the
Indian national congress received new impetus in the second quarter of
the 20th century when Dudley Shelton Senanayake and Junius Richard
Jayewardene became its joint secretaries.

The CNC resolved to adopt a national song for Ceylon.Accordingly a
lyric was composed by DS Moonesinghe and set to music by the legendary Devar Suryasena son of Sir James Pieris. This was sung in 1943 at the CNC sessions. But “God save the King” continued to reign supreme under the rule of King George the sixth.


Thus when Ceylon gained dominion and later full independence status
there was no approved indigenous national anthem .The Lanka Gandharva Sabha was assigned the task of formulating a national anthem. A competition was organized and a panel formed by the Sabha was entrusted the duty of selecting an appropriate anthem.

This panel comprised SLB Kapukotuwa, Dr.OHD Wijesekera, Lionel
Edirisinghe, Mudliyar EA Abeysekera, LLK Gunatunga and PB Illangasinghe. In a controversial decision, two of the panellists were declared winners.

A song written by PB Illangasinghe and set to music by Lionel
Edirisinghe was announced to be the new national anthem.It began as – “Sri Lanka Matha/Pala Yasa Mahima/Jaya Jaya” and ended as “Jaya Jaya Dada Nanga/Sri Lanka Matha”.

The fact that a song submitted by two members of the selection panel
had “won” the national song competition evoked widespread resentment and protests.It was seen as blatantly unfair.

Although the song by the Illengesinghe-Edirisinghe duo was broadcast
over “Radio Ceylon” on the morning of Independence day as the
national song it was not sung at the official Freedom day ceremony due
to protests.

While the song itself was flawless and above reproach it was the
perception of favouritism in the decision to adopt it that fuelled
criticism and protests. Thus the song which won the national song
competition was unacceptable as far as the people were concerned and
began losing credibility.

Meanwhile another song was slowly beginning to capture popular
imagination of the people as a potential national anthem. This was the
famous “Namo Namo Matha” written by Ananda Samarakoon who was a
well-known painter as well as poet.


Ananda Samarakoon was born on January 13, 1911 in a small village,
Liyanwela, near Watareka in the Padukka area. His parents, Samuel
Samarakoon and Dominga Pieris were Christians. The son was christened George Wilfred. His full name was Egodahage George Wilfred Alwis Samarakoon. There was no Ananda in his name then and he was known as George Wilfred during childhood and early twenties.

Ananda Samarakoon ~ pic courtesy of: sundaytimes.lk

Young George Wilfred studied at Christian College, Kotte (now Sri
Jayewardenepura MMV)In 1934, he joined the staff of Christian College,
as a teacher of art and music. Inspired by Rabindranath Tagore ,
George Wilfred joined Shantinekathan, Tagore’s School of Fine Arts
in Bengal.

He joined Shantinekathan in 1936 and studied art under the famous
Bengali artist Nanda Lal Bose, and music and singing under Shanti Devi
Gosh. He came back in 1937 without completing his course and started teaching again. Upon his return George Wilfred became known as Ananda Samarakoon. In 1940, he joined the staff of Mahinda College,Galle.

“Namo Namo Matha” was not written originally for the purpose of being
a national anthem. Its genesis is interesting. Samarakoon used to pay
frequent trips to India even after his academic pursuit at
“Shanthiniketan” had ended.

On one occasion he returned from India by air on his first ever plane
trip. Samarakoon looking down was enthralled and excited at the sight
of his native land. He jotted down a few words and lines that came to
mind immediately after landing.

On October 20th 1940 he was at his ancestral residence in Padukka .
Unable to sleep he tossed and turned in his bed. Suddenly he got up at
about 10 pm and began writing a tribute to his motherland relying on
the short notes written after his air trip from India.


Samarakoon wrote late into the night and the immortal “Namo Namo
Matha” was born. He then took it to Mahinda College where he was
teaching and taught it to Students after setting it to music. The song
became popular and was included in a musical record in 1946. Being a
fine singer himself Samarakoon recorded the song with his partner
Swarna de Silva the sister of famous flautist Dunstan de Silva.

The song was also included in a book of poems published by him. It was
called “Geetha Kumudini”. Sadly Samarakoon was unable to re-imburse
the printing costs incurred to the printer RKW Siriwardena and handed
over copyright to him.Samarakoon was to regret this later when his
creation was acknowledged as national anthem.

When the Gandarva Sabha conducted the competition to select a national song Samarakoon was away from the Island in India but his wife and brother had submitted “Namo Namo Matha” for the competition. Though fully deserving it was overlooked and “Sri Lanka Matha ,Yasa Mahima” by the Illengesinghe-Edirisinghe duo was selected.

Despite “winning” the competition “Yasa Mahima” was spurned by most
people because of the manner in which it was declared winner. “Namo
Namo Matha” without any official status was enjoying wide exposure and popular acclaim. Its popularity among ordinary people was so great
that public opinion favoured “Namo Namo Matha” over “Yasa Mahima”.

The song became famous after a 50 member choir from Museus
College,Colombo sang it on a public occasion. It was also broadcast on
Radio frequently. “Namo Namo Matha” though without official
recognition was now becoming popular as a “de-facto” national anthem.


In 1950 the then Finance minister JR Jayewardene presented a cabinet
memorandum that the widely popular “Namo Namo Matha” be formally
acknowledged as the official anthem. Prime minister DS Senanayake set
up a select committee under the Home Affairs and Rural Development
minister Sir EAP Wijeratne (Father of Dr.Nissanka Wijeratne) to
finalise the issue. He had succeeded Sir Oliver Goonetilleke

The committee headed by Wijeratne considered “Namo Namo Matha” and some other lyrics and decided that Samarakoon’s song should be the national anthem.

There was however a minor hitch. The committee wanted a minor change in the words.Samarakoon was then in India and returned home in mid -1951 after being summoned by Sir Edwin AP Wijeratne

The song had originally been composed when the country was under the British.Now it was independent.It was therefore felt that the 10th
line in the song was inappropriate and had to be changed. Samarakoon
agreed to change the line.

So the line “Nawa jeewana Damine” was altered to “Nawa Jeewana Demine Nithina Apa pupudu Karan Matha” with the wholehearted consent and approval of Ananda Samarakoon.

Sir EAP Wijeratne then presented a cabinet paper in August 1951
recommending “Namo Namo Matha” as the national anthem.It was
unanimously approved by cabinet and formally adopted on November 22nd 1951.

There were two Tamil ministers in the DS Senanayake cabinet then. They were GG Ponnambalam and C.Sittambalam.It is said that even before they could make a request Premier DS Senanayake stated that a suitable Tamil translation be formally adopted.The select committee headed by Sir EAP Wijeratne had accepted in principle that there be a Tamil version of the national anthem.


The Tamil scholar Pundit M.Nallathamby was entrusted this task and a
neat Transliteration was done.The Tamil version came into use and was
extensively used in official functions in the pre-dominantly Tamil
speaking Northern and Eastern provinces.

The remarkable attribute of Sri Lanka’s national anthem is that it
sings paeans of patriotic praise to the country alone and not to any
race, religion, caste,creed or community. It is not parochial or
partisan and appeals to the patriotic sentiments of all children of
the Lankan mother.

Hence, the Tamil people found no reason to reject or protest against
the national anthem. Once the meaning of the Sinhala words was known no Tamil found it objectionable. With an appropriate transliteration available the Tamils of Sri Lanka found themselves singing the national anthem with emotion and fervour in their mother tongue.

Four years after Freedom on February 4th 1952 , “Namo Namo Matha” was sung at Independence day ceremonies as the official national anthem.

The Tamil version “Namo Namo Thaye” was sung in related independence day functions at the Jaffna,Vavuniya,Mannar, Trincomalee and Batticaloa Kachcheries.When Sir John Kotelawela visited Jaffna in 1954 the Tamil version of the national anthem was sung at functions felicitating the Prime minister.

On March 12th 1952 the Government published huge advertisements in
Sinhala,Tamil and English newspapers announcing that “Namo Namo Matha” was the national anthem. While words in Sinhala and Tamil were
published in the Sinhala and Tamil newspapers respectively the English
newspapers had Sinhala words written in English.

While Namo Namo Matha was now being sung as the official anthem there was no uniformity in the melody or manner of singing. Different choirs and singers were rendering it in different ways.This was causing much confusion.

So the Government decided to appoint a committee to ensure that
uniformity was ensured in rendering the national anthem.An eleven
member committee was appointed in 1953. Among its members were Ananda Samarakoon himself, Devar Suryasena and JDA Perera.

This committee set out guidelines as to how the anthem should be sung
and also defined the exact tune for it.The melody was a refined
version of the original tune composed by Samarakoon.The reputed firm
Cargills then agents for HMV records was given the order to make
records of the national anthem.


A disc was also cut for the Tamil version of the national anthem.
While the melody and music was the same as that of the Sinhala version by Ananda Samarakoon the Tamil words written by Pundit Nallathamby were sung by two women Sangari and Meena. The Tamil version was first broadcast officially on “Radio Ceylon” on February 4th 1955.

On June 24th 1954 the cabinet of Sir John Kotelawela formally endorsed
the tune and singing of the National Anthem. The copyright ownership
of “Namo Namo Matha” was formally acquired by the Government after
payment of Rupees 2500 on that day. The money however did not go to Ananda Samarakoon as he had already transferred copyright to
Siriwardena the printing press owner who had first published the song
in a book of poems.

Having one’s composition officially recognized as the national anthem
is indeed a great achievement.Ananda Samarakoon having accomplished
this feat was entitled to bask in glory after reaching that milepost.
Alas!That was not to be so.Instead of a dream existence there
commenced an ordeal that turned out to be a cruel nightmare.

In 1956 SWRD Bandaranaike became Prime minister riding the crest of a
Sinhala nationalist wave. The new Government hailed as “Apey Aanduwe” ran into a series of problems and difficulties soon. There were political demonstrations against the government, strikes by workers, communal violence and natural disasters like floods, fires and

In the search for scapegoats certain elements (with vested interests
perhaps) pounced upon the national anthem.In a burst of superstitious
or irrational frenzy “Namo Namo Matha” was singled out as the cause
for all the troubles afflicting the country under the Bandaranaike


A vicious campaign was launched against “Namo Namo Matha”. The charge was that the notations in “Namo Namo Matha” were unlucky and the cause for the Country’s ills and misfortunes. The letter “Na” at the
beginning was described as a malefix.The inauspicious “Ganaka” or
“Gana” at the beginning of the national anthem had an ill-effect on
the country it was alleged.

A ‘gana’ is the placing of the first three syllables – how the long
and short syllables occur. The opening words of the anthem ‘na-mo-na’
short-long-short constituted an unlucky gana it was stated.

As criticism mounted Ananda Samarakoon was constrained to defend
himself against the charges. He engaged in many newspaper debates and also spoke at public meetings in defence of “Namo Namo Matha”.

To make matters worse Samarakoon underwent financial difficulties.
Although he conducted a regular program on the Educational service run by “Radio Ceylon” his creative compositions did not meet with much
commercial success.He produced a song and dance pageant “Amaraneeya Lanka” in 1957 but it was a major flop. The onslaught against “Namo Namo Matha” destroyed Samarakoon’s peace of mind.

In September 1959 ,the Prime minister SWRD Bandaranaike was
assassinated. Elections to Parliament in March 1960 saw a hung
Parliament emerge. Dudley Senanayake’s short lived minority government fell. Fresh elections were called. The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) was swept to power in July 1960. Bandaranaike’s widow Sirima became Prime minister.

The new Government took the campaign against “Namo Namo
Matha” seriously. The Home and Cultural Affairs minister Maithripala
Senanayake appointed a committe of “experts” to examine the issue and determine whether the national anthem was the cause of the Country’s troubles.

The committee recommended that the words “Namo Namo Matha” be changed to “Sri Lanka Matha”. Ananda Samarakoon protested vehemently and opposed the proposed change. The Government however went ahead and unilaterally amended the national anthem from “Namo Namo Matha” to “Sri Lanka Matha” in February 1961.

Ananda Samarakoon’s consent was not obtained.Since copyright was now vested with the Government there was no legal remedy available to the poet to prevent this arbitrary action.


The act however had a distressing and debilitating effect on the poet.
The well –known journalist Kumudini Hettiarachchi wrote a poignant
article about Ananda Samarakoon in the “Sunday Times” some years ago.

In that article she quotes the poet’s nephew Sunil Samarakoon about
how the matter affected his uncle.

One day when Sunil was eleven years old his uncle had parked his baby
Austin car near the gates and shouted out to Sunil “Puthe ,Mage oluwa
galawala, wena ekak hikarala” (son my head has been removed and
another fixed instead)

“When Loku Thaththa told me that his head had been removed and another placed there, I was just a child and didn’t catch the significance, until much later. He was, of course, referring to the substitution of Namo, Namo Matha, with Sri Lanka Matha in the National Anthem,” said Sunil Samarakoon, nephew of Ananda Samarakoon, the composer of Sri Lanka’s National Anthem.

“I remember the day he came home to talk to my father, as he usually
did when he had a problem. When I went to greet him as soon as he
parked his car, he put his hand on my shoulder and said those words
about the oluva (head) in despair. He was never the same again. He
became morose. They had changed it without even consulting him.”
Writes Kumudini quoting Sunil.

On April 5th 1962 Ananda Samarakoon was found dead.. His door was
broken open as he was not answering knocks on his door. The inquest
revealed that he had died of an overdose of sleeping tablets.There was
a letter on his desk to then opposition leader Dudley Senanayake
complaining of how his anthem had been mutilated. There was also a
serene painting on his easel of Lord Buddha meditating and a deer
looking on.


A few days before his death, Samarakoon wrote a letter to the
‘Timesman’ column on the “Times of Ceylon” newspaper .He wrote, “The
anthem has been beheaded. It has not only destroyed the song, but also destroyed the life of the composer. I am frustrated and
broken-hearted. It is a misfortune to live in a country where such
things happen to a humble composer. Death would be preferable”.

January 13th 2011 is the birth centenary of this great poet and
lyricist who bestowed upon this country its national anthem. The
nation owes him a grand commemoration. It would be far more useful to
celebrate the birth centenary of the man who gave us our national
anthem instead of squabbling over the language in which to sing it .

DBS Jeyaraj can be reached at djeyaraj2005@yahoo.com


  1. Delighted to start the new year reading another superb article by DBSJ. I am sure that the national anthem will continue to be sung in both Sinhala & Tamil.

    Very happy to see your comment as the first for this article Harshe……….DBSJ

  2. Happy new year Mr.Jeyaraj

    Congratulations on a wonderful article tracing the history of our National anthem. I dont think you were born at the time of our independence and obviously you have devoted painstaking research to write this one

    It evokes some memories.I recall as a Schoolboy the triumphant visit to Jaffna by the Prime minister Sir John Kotelawela. The national anthem”Namo Namo Thaye” was sung in Tamil wherever he went

    He went to Delft where they mounted him on a pony, placed a crown of flowers and dubbed him King of Neduntheevu.

    Sir John returned beaming with happiness and addressed the Kokuvil Hindu College school assembly whare the national anthem was sung. The principal Handy Perinbanayagan queried about the status of Tamil as an official language

    Sir John declared parity of status for Sinhala and Tamil as official languages and was widely cheered. But all hell broke loose in the South. SWRD latched on to this and demanded Sinhala only.Ultimately Sir John did a somersault and the UNP too opted for Sinhala only at the Klaniya convention

    Nowadays I am reminded of this controversy as I see some Sinhala extremists demanding tht the national anthem should be sung only in Sinhala


    Thank you for your insight Mr.Thillaiambalam. I also appreciate the fact that you are always among the first to comment after I post a new article

    Happy New Year

  3. Dear DBS,

    Yet another much in need article when a big issue is being made out of a non issue on the subject. Unfortunately the national anthem which is the pride of any country highlighting all its glory is caught in a quagmire in the case of Sri Lanka right from its beginning. The birth pangs of the national anthem of the pearl in the Indian Ocean is very pitiable.

    Hope the pseudo secular Tamil protagonists who are making a mountain out of a molehill, would have the patience and better sense to look back into the pages of history. That look back on all things would pave way for looking ahead in better pragmatic perspective.

  4. An Interesting research work as usual with a reminder of Samarakoon’s centenary that falls shortly.
    Many people still sing the Anthem as Namo Namo Matha as it was well entrenched in their minds.

    The post independent Ceylon/Sri Lanka has 3 periods.
    1948 – 1951 No National Anthem
    1952 – 1961 Namo Namo Matha
    1961 – On Sri Lnka Matha

    If the second period was unlucky due to the ‘gana’ significance(short-long-short), the third period(long-short-long) was worse and period 1 was comparatively proseperous, peaceful and lucky.

    So lets change it to long-long-short(UK,US,Canada) orr short-short-short(India) or music only(Spain),

  5. The late Mr. Ananda Samarakoon was a close friend of my father. He used to visit us frequently and at times entertain us with dance and song. He also taught us the nuances of Baila

    I was in the University at Peradeniya when the “Gana” controversy over Namo Namo Matha broke. Ananda Mama was devastated.

    I also wrote a letter to the newspapers in support of Namo Namo. When he died our famiy was in shock

    Even today I sing the national anthem as “Namo namo Matha”. Fortunately no one has challenged me for that so far

    I thank you Mr.Jeyraj for this brilliant article

  6. .
    Very informative article.

    Now we know the history of Lankan anthem.

    Since we always had jokers in power, isn’t that another joker changed ‘Sri’ Lanka to ‘Shri’ Lanka?

    Also, if British united the island under ‘Ceylon’, maybe we should change back to ‘Ceylon’.


  7. • Mahavamsa mindset described by Mr JLD and others in the previous article was once again present in the national anthem selection panel because it consisted SINHALA ONLY members. Tamil contestants had no opportunity…….

    • If you look at the very first national flag it represented SINHALA ONLY mindset……

    • Similarly LLRC members ….

    DBS can you show us your journalistic talents on the above two as well please..

    A through analysis of these mistakes made either knowingly or unknowingly must be corrected.
    The Germans , South Africans made it ……

  8. A great article DBS and timely too

    Obviously you have done diligent research to write this. Through your writing we are able to understand the historic progress of the national anthem

    I have been amazed by the time and energy you devote in researching or gathering information for your articles. The fact that you are living in Canada and writing about Sri Lanka for Lankan media enlarges my admiration

    This article written in elegant prose is eminently readable.

    In this context I must say how angry I get when pro-LTTE critics accuse you of fabricating stories. Any person who has been reading you like me will know at once the amount of research you put into an article

    I hope you will continue to inform us in 2011 with your illuminating journalism

  9. As always great article. Thank you DBSJ for a great year, and hope to read your great writings in 2011 too.


    Thank you and wish you the same…….DBSJ

  10. Another masterpiece from the maestro only confirms that the SLFP and it’s cohorts are the bane and the curse that has ruined the pearl of the Indian ocean.

    After the antics of the UN, the happenings on the emperors trek to the UK, the national anthem and the word CEYLON have become the scapegoats.

    At the rate the talibans in the land of serendipity are proceeding this sad island will have to undergo another name change and a new national anthem.

    Sunil Perera and the gypsies who aptly wrote the song comedy country in honour of the politicians should be given the task of coming up with a newer version and the likes of the JHU will have to redesign the national flag to keep pace of developments. A j.

  11. Thank you so much Mr.Jayaraj for this beautiful article. I have been singing our anthem for so many years without knowing the history behind it. I am so happy to know all this from your article.

    Thank you again

  12. If the national anthem is causing such disharmony why don’t we adopt “Hai Hooi Babbi Achige Bicycle Eka!” as the national anthem! 😉


    Wont work as the song goes like this -“Kello kollo watakaragena, kollo kello watakaragena gavva belleka”. Now the bell has become the JVP symbol. So no way –

  13. Dear Mr DBS
    Wish you and your family a happy new year
    Wish to read more balance , interesting , informative articles in 2011 too from you.
    Any chance of you visiting Washington DC area in2011?


    Thank you. Wish you and family a very happy new year. As of now there are no plans to visit Washington but then who knows what will happen?

  14. A very great article again. For me Sri Lanka’s national anthem is one of the most beautiful out of all national anthems that are out there. As you pointed out, the words have absolutely no references to races and religions.

    It was sad to read about Ananda Samarakoon. I have always sung the anthem as “Namo namo matha” and we never had any problem with either version. I always though that AS never received his proper dues as a first rate musician.

    It is sad to see that at least one of the Tamil commenter has some how found a “Mahavansa mindset” angle in this story as well.

    A very happy new year to you DBS and to all the participants in this blog.

    Thank you Ranjan. Happy new year………DBSJ

  15. Thanks Jeyaraj for your detailed column on national anthem, you are not only a knowledgeable but also very intelligent journalist.

  16. I always read Jeyaraj’s articles with a great enthusiasm.
    This article indeed revealed the entire history of the national anthem.It is amazing that only few hours ago that I listened to the national anthem on U Tube.Thanks to Jeyaraj ,Wishing you a happy 2011

    Thank you.Happy new year……..DBSJ

  17. Thanks DBS for this knowledgable article about our national anthem history. Never read anything like this before. You are truly a patriotic son of Sri Lanka

  18. Thank you Mr. DBSJ for the well written article…. an illuminating start for the new year! There is a photograph at the Musaeus College archives of the choir singing “Namo namo matha”. It is very good to know the history behind our National Anthem…

    A very happy new year to you and your family!

    Thank you.Happy new year to you and family too…………DBSJ

  19. A fantastic and very informative article, Mr Jeyaraj! We need this kind of insightful essays on matters that concern all Sri Lankans. This is the only way we can be enlightened and come out of the parochial mentality

  20. Appoi Jeyaraj! Fabulous article no aney. Write more articles ;ike this in the new year no aney? Happy new year!


    Amme Nelum!Thank you aney!Will try and write more like this in the new year aney! Happy new year

  21. It is sad that superstition and racist tendencies reign over commonsense and the unity of this nation. The decision to have a Tamil version at the very inception was correct and so was Namo Namo, meaning ‘Homage or Honour’.

    However narrow minded people who also changed the number plates of vehicles were allowed to hijack this nation and resulting in bloodshed and turmoil. Still we dont seem to have learned the lessons from our gory past and persist in these symbolic racist tendencies to the detriment of uniity and progress of the Nation.

  22. Ananda Samarakoon’s consent was not obtained.Since copyright was now vested with the Government there was no legal remedy available to the poet to prevent this arbitrary action.


    I disagree with you in this Sir. Even if the author is divested of the copyright he has got the right to protect his works. He can defend his work in a court of law.

    Of course in the situation where the rulers are against him it is doubtful to get justice.

    As per the Law it is possible.

    It is sad to see him dejected and pass away.

    If Nehru was there he would not have allowed a controversy surrounding the gana.

    He would have pooh poohed it, called it a superstition and would have stood behind the original version.

    India was fortunate in having a statesman like Nehru as its leader when the foundations were laid for the country.

    It is unfortunate your island lacked a Man of His calibre.





    I feel sorry for your island.

  23. Ananda Samarakoon’s consent was not obtained.Since copyright was now vested with the Government there was no legal remedy available to the poet to prevent this arbitrary action.


    I disagree with you in this Sir. Even if the author is divested of the copyright he has got the right to protect his works. He can defend his work in a court of law.

    Of course in the situation where the rulers are against him it is doubtful to get justice.

    As per the Law it is possible.

    It is sad to see him dejected and pass away.

    If Nehru was there he would not have allowed a controversy surrounding the gana.

    He would have pooh poohed it, called it a superstition and would have stood behind the original version.

    India was fortunate in having a statesman like Nehru as its leader when the foundations were laid for the country.

    It is unfortunate your island lacked a Man of His calibre.





    (Please post this one sir instead of the previous one)

  24. A well researched article.

    SLFP failed in many ways to bring peace and indulged in Sinhala but S W R D Banadaranayake had different ideas which were simply thrown out by his party later.

  25. Dear Mr. Jeyarajah,

    Very illuminating article. It is a mirror for all of us to see how Sri Lanka was governed.

  26. I was sad to read about how the poet Ananda Samarakoon was treated by the SLFP govt. They used the creation but mistreated the creator

  27. Thank you for this enlightning article Mr.Jayaraj. I hope you will write more and more like this this year

  28. Iniya Puththaandu Vaalthukkal to all our Sinhalese friends.

    and Suba aluth avuruddak weva to all our Tamil friends !!

    Wondering what is this ??
    let us learn each others and understand and respect from 2011 !!

  29. Marvelous !
    Please, DBSJ write write & write and feed us. We are greedy of your nourishing columns.

    We wish you good health and long life !

    Thank you. wish you the same……..DBSJ

  30. Wish you and your readers a very happy and peaceful new year!

    Thanks. Well reserached and a very informative article.

    Hope that those who squabble over the language would have the patience to read the whole article and understand the evolution of it.


    Thank you.Happy new year………DBSJ

  31. Dr Kumarakuru Vasanthi,
    * Thanks for your comment and analysis though i could not get the point ‘…or unknowingly….’ What did u Mean?

    Good to Know
    * Sir John Kothalawela Did not walk out when the anthem was sung n Tamil.

    * Ananda Samarakoon did not have the mindset of mahavamsa.

    * SLFP was the main traitor in plunging the country in dark at several occasions.

    * Never do anything good for the majority of the sinhalese who mostly are racist (That’s how SWRD and Mahinda came to power on pure racial lines) or you will have to suicide or end in prison.

    * The national anthem of Sri Lanka is a beheaded one.

    Luckily Gauthama Buddha the noble man was not alive today or else he would have also took sleeping tablets on the way buddism is practiced in sri lanka. Leave alone the high ranking buddist monks speaking against granting rights to minority, In a public bus if a buddist monk get in even when a old lady is seated on the front row have to leave the seat . Worse she can’t sit on even the adjacent seat . The monks who says sacrified their life for buddism cannot sacrifice a seat or cannot control emotions. Where a normal man can sit beside a woman without causing any problem. I am interested to know how buddism is practiced in other countries?

    DBSJ can you verify the truth regarding ” Deputy Director of Education for Valikaamam, Mr. Markandu Sivalingam was murdered around the controversy related to National anthem in Tamil.” Can u please let us know the fact?

    Wish you Very happy and prosperous new year 2011 DBS. Jeyaraj.

    Thank you.Happy new year……..DBSJ

  32. Hi DBS,

    This is a classic really appreciate the time you invested in completing the part 2 of this very important topic and wish you will get strength and courage to continue your work for the good of humanity.

    Wish you all the best for 2011.

    I have a few questions to get the complete picture.

    1.How can I listen to Tamil version of the Anthem?

    2.When the government changed the opening verse of the Anthem to ‘Sri Lanka matha’ on Gana grounds what is the scenario with Tamil version on Gana grounds with and without change to original lyrics and impact on Tamil community? Usually they consult experts in this field even from India.

    3.Unlike a popular song with its melody, lyrics and so on, what is the etiquette to be maintained when singing our Anthem? which wasn’t covered in your piece.

    If my memory serves right you have to stand when you sing or heard when being sung and not suppose to sing in certain venues.

    It is true the lyrics of the Anthem is free from any bias towards race, creed etc therefore this should be kept without tinkering round the edges in memory of late Mr.Samarakoon specially to signify Christians’ contribution towards gaining independence in that era. like M/s E W Perera, David Hewawitharana later Dharmapala to name a few.

    It also proves the then premier DSS was far sighted to propose a Tamil version of the Anthem to maintain the national harmony and loyalty of Tamil community toward their country Ceylon (as with repatriation issue some Tamils members would have been loyal to India and politicians may be fuelling uncertainties and distorting the picture)

    Also he who has pioneered in gaining independence without a bloodshed which also a greater achievement by this old boy from STC who told his father once that he was the 4th in the class and his father found out later there were only 4 students in that class. He was ridiculed by his opponents as ‘Jungle John’ but he achieved thing far greater than other pundits couldn’t achieve. This isn’t a politically bias comment.

    I am unsure whether his demise in 1952 was due to change of lyrics in the Anthem or not, because the event of falling from a horse back at Galle Face green won’t cause a death generally.


    Thank you for your wishes.Happy 2011!
    As far as I know there was no issue with “Gana” in the Tamil translation.The opposition to Namo Namo was an intra-Sinhala phenomenon

    As I wrote in the previous article a cabinet paper presented by the Home affairs and Public administration minister Seneivarathne was taken up for discussion on December 8th. This paper recommended the proper procedure and protocol to be adopted when the National anthem is sung. Since discussion became controversial due to suggestions made that the Tamil translation of the NA be done away with President Rajapaksa has deferred the matter for now

    I think “Jungle John” or “Kalay John” referred to Sir John Kotelawela

  33. dear all, including Dbsj
    it is our year, sinhala will knee down to tamil,wait and see
    let them change what ever.answer will this year


    What a new year wish.I am reminded of “Col” Bhanu’s new year proclamation in 2009 where he declared that the Sri Lankan armed forces would be totally annihilated . We all know who got wiped out in May 2009.

    Do not utter such provocative things on an auspicious day. It may rebound on you

    Despite the military victory over the LTTE neither the Sri Lankan state nor the Sinhala people have compelled the Tamil people to “Kneel”. Then why do you vengefully crow like this in anticipation of a non -existent victory

    Your ranting from abroad has no relevance to our suffering people in Sri Lanka. The fallen Tamils are grasping the hands of Sinhalese wherever extended to rise up.Otherwise they know they will have to be on the ground.

    The need of the hour is not to make one kneel to another but for all children of Sri Lanka to clasp each others hands in friendship and move forward

    As I keep on emphasising the destiny of the Sri Lankan Tamil people is irretrievably inter-twined with that of the Sinhalese

    I hope we will move closer towards our inevitable tryst with our common destiny this year

  34. Thank you DBS for great article,and wish you Happy New Year.

    Could you also please write an article about our Sri lankan National Flag and its history too. I’m sure we all like to get informative article about it too from you.

    Only national flag in the world with an animal in it.


    Thank you.Happy new year!

    As for your suggestion on writing about the national flag it may be very soon because the Supremist elements wanting to do away with the Tamil version of the national anthem are also demanding that the orange and green stripes denoting the Tamil and Muslim ethnicities be done away with too

  35. It looks like that majority of the writers in this blog have learnt from your article what actually happened, and the sad end of Mr Samarakone. I was a little boy when this controversy re. national anthem took place. Some people were so angry about changing ‘Namo Namo Matha’, they said that it should be ‘Kano Kano Matha’ instead.

    I bet there are lot of people in this country who doesn’t know this story. Are you publishing this article in the Daily Mirror and Lankadeepa. I think you should.

    Happy new year all.

    It is on Daily Mirror and I hope Lankadeepa will translate it in Sinhala and Tamil Mirror in Tamil…………DBSJ

  36. “India was fortunate in having a statesman like Nehru as its leader when the foundations were laid for the country.

    It is unfortunate your island lacked a Man of His calibre” —– Mahesh

    ***300 Million people live below the poverty line of Rs 20 a Day. According to the WB

    ***Most of the Indian population live in abject poverty, lacking basic needs such as food and clean water—Outreach Foundation

    Srilanka has less than one Million below the poverty line which is Rs100 a day.

    These people are mostly in the North and the East because of the situation there for the last three decades.

    Yet Mahesh says –“.I feel sorry for your island” ——- Comment 24

  37. This story of National antham give us the insight of the soul of Sinhala Srilankan mind set in the Island of Ceylon. It will never change until it completely destroyes itself. New omen!!!! In the new year is CEYLON is going to be whiped out.Perhaps another Tsunamy.

  38. What happened to A.Samarakoon and lots of other Interlectuals Revels the condom/the sheath culture of Srilankan ruling politicians.

  39. DBSJ,

    I feel this is somehow this more than a great piece of history you have written, the story of Namo Namo and the demise of Ananda Samarakoon is a rich parable for the ruin of Sri Lanka post-Sri Lanka. Oh what’s in a name? Such a rich metaphor is lost on some of your readers.

    The recent controversy surrounding the Tamil version puts to shame commentators like Ranjan from Toronto who fervently deny that 21st century mainstream Sri Lankans are beyond being whipped up into communal frenzies.

    The fact that the hitherto uncontested language status of the Tamil anthem has been floated for public debate shows even today naked chauvinism is a seam of political feeling that can be mined, just as it was done during Ranjan’s daisy days spent blocking out the reality.

    Oh Ranjan when will you ever wake up and realise that the Tamils had a point all along about how their status continues to be vulnerable to being reduced to second class citizens in a country they had hoped to participate in making world-class….it is now 2011 and we see not the past repeating but new lows threatening to be reached….

    Bravo DBSJ! And good health to you fo the year ahead!


    Thank you Ravin. Best wishes to you for the new year.

    I am so happy you referred to the “metaphorical” aspect of the national anthem saga.

    I’ve been missing your comments lately.Hope you willpost more frequently in 2011

  40. Happy New Year DBSJ.

    Hope to see more informative writing to unite and strengthen the Sri Lankans.

    Guess what! During the 31st night partying, a Canadian journalist asked me where did the screaming of Tamil ‘genocide’ go? I said it was the Tamil terrorists who were responsible for that ‘genocide’… and the demise of the Tamil terrorists means no more Tamil ‘genocide’.

    Hearing that, she fainted!

    Seriously… Did I say anything wrong?

    You should ask the fair lady who fainted. Happy new year……….DBSJ

  41. Under Sri Lankan law an author(and his heirs} has ” Moral Rights” enforceable at law, if the work of the author is mutilated or corrupted etc., irrespective of the fact that the owner of the copyright is another person..

  42. Happy New Year to DBSJ and the members of the blog.

    Excellent article, very well researched a with lot of information.

    It is sad that ‘Sri Lanka Matha’ killed the man that composed it. Today it continues to kill.

    The Deputy Director of Education Markandu Sivalingam’s murder occurred following his opposition to sing the national anthem in Sinhala in Jaffna by the paramilitaries who are aiding and abating with the government forces.

    What is going on? Are we going back to the 1956 era?

    Once again we a back to square one with a Sinhala-Buddhist Racist government.

    What is the point in calling Sri Lanka a beautiful country when its rulers are ugly and dirty.

    Thank you.Happy new year…………DBSJ

  43. It was lovely to open the DBS J webpage to find a gem on the first day of this new year. Just to add that the first page i open on the net is yours.

    Wish you a lovely year ahead.

    I cannot believe that we still have such idiots who would even dream of not singing the national Anthem in Tamil.

    To my Tamil brethren wherever you are my best wishes. To my Sinhala brethren too I wish you peace.

    Thank you Dilshan.Happy new year………..DBSJ

  44. A great write-up on how our national anthem came to be. And being so far away from home, I’m happy to read about this on the 1st day of the year.

    “The remarkable attribute of Sri Lanka’s national anthem is that it sings paeans of patriotic praise to the country alone and not to any race,religion, caste,creed or community. It is not parochial or partisan and appeals to the patriotic sentiments of all children of the Lankan mother.”

    As DBS sums it up well from the above paragraph, the singing of a national anthem should inspire, and bring feelings of patriotism to all inhabitants of that country, and not just for one dominant community in that country.

    I think the best tribute we can pay to Ananda Samarakoon is to revoke the injustice done to him, and bring back the original “Namo Namo Matha” back as our national anthem, and Pandit Nallathamby’s original Tamil translation of the anthem be recognized as the official anthem for the Tamil speaking community.

    It would have been nice if sound clips of both the original version of Ananda Samarakoon’s anthem, and Pandit Nallathamby’s Tamil version were included in this article.

    Thank you.

  45. Two features of this well-researched piece will not escape the attention of discriminating readers.

    ..’The Committee headed by Sir EAP Wijeratne accepted there shall be a Tamil version of the National Anthem…”

    …”Samarakoon – a Christian producing Music venerated by the majoirity Buddhist public ..”

    We have killed that wonderful, tolerant and inclusive society of people who respected the feelings, views
    of otherb people with divine tolerance. The Animal Kingdom that succeeded through a trail of deception has taken us to the edge of the precipice.

    Sensitive matters like this should be presented to a readership with responsibility and after careful research.
    You seem to have surpassed your normal high standards here. Young journalists ought to draw a lesson from this.

    Happy New Year. Here’s to greater strength to your elbow – more for the sake of what is often viewed as that dwindling hope of regaining lost unity.


    Thank you. Happy new year…..DBSJ

  46. Happy New Year to you and your family DBSJ.

    Happy New Year to the readers of this column.

    Thank you for sharing with us this living history.

    The hawks have brought us to what we are today. They will continue to wreak havoc in our motherland.

    Cheers Mateys.


    Thank you.Happy new year to you and family too…………DBSJ

  47. An appropriate piece of journalistic purple patch. Thanks.

    As an old student of Christian College,Kotte I take pride.

    The Tamil version was sung with no malice in heart, even
    at the height of LTTE subjugation, and should therefore
    continue, despite the superstitions that can be imputed
    by the Regime for devious purposes.

  48. DBSJ
    Wish you a happy and Prosperous New Year!
    Did you observe the Bengali influence in the Indian Sub Continent?
    The national anthem of India is in heavily Sanskritised Bengali whereas the national anthem of Bangladesh is in pure Bengali both written by Dr Rabindranath Tagore,the Nobel laureate and the Sri Lankan national anthem is written by a student of Shantineketan established by Rabindranath Tagore.
    The Bengali influence is unmistakable in the music of our national anthem.
    I am sure Sinhala music is heavily indebted to Bengali/Hindustani music

    Thank you.Happy new year………DBSJ

  49. Ask Indian and Malaysian govt for Tamil anthem. Even in Singapre the anthem is only (legally) sung with its original Malay lyrics, although there exist authorized translations of the lyrics of the anthem in three other official languages:
    Why double standards?

    Since our Tamil are so demanding we can include some verses in Tamil. But be sure to include verses in English and our original and near extinct language Vaddha…., even Arabic;
    baby-army syndrome, apartheid fascism and unfair demands need not be the only reason to include them!

    Mixing/translating a few lines onto the said 3 to 4 languages from each verse would be ideal.

  50. Nice article. It is sad to read about how Mr. Samarakone felt about the changes made to his song. It was a callous act of disregard of the author and capitulation to stupid superstitious attitudes. However, I don’t see why Mr. Samarakone had to get so depressed about it and resort to the terrible act of taking his own life. So sad that such a poet who wrote such a beautiful song had to lose his life that way.


    Poets, artists, musicians and creative writers are generally very emotional persons. They live in an ethereal world and very often their responses to existential problems may seem irrational to others

  51. 38. Mahawansa

    Whatever our problems are we do not fight like you do. Compared to you ours is a Paradise.

    For your information this controversy surrounding the NA would not have occurred in India.

    In the Freedom at midnight, the authors say that Aug 15 was tentatively fixed by Lord Mountbatten as the Independence day without discussing about it with the Indian leaders.

    The astrologers went about doing calculations and came out against that date and they preferred to obtain Independence a few days later citing the planetary conditions.

    Nehru would have none of it. He pooh poohed it and stood by Mountbatten in his decision and India got Independence on the 15th of August.

    India with all its faults is still a great country. I know many in the neighborhood feel envious about us. We cannot help it.

  52. Thank you Mr. Jeyaraj for this poignant piece of history. My heart bleeds for the late Ananda Samarakoon. As shown in your article, the song with the original wording captured the imagination of the people without any state patronage or similar sponsorship. This in my mind speaks of the power/attraction of the song. Enthroned in the minds of the common masses, due recognition was inevitable because the people wanted it. Could an ‘unlucky’ song-as vilified by the then government-be so lucky in the first place?

    In effect, it was a popular anthem, a people’s anthem. And it deserved to be the national anthem. But that’s where the fairytale ended.

    Two things come to mind. It is ever the SLFP and its cohorts who tend to commit sacrilege with the country’s most sacred treasures(No, I am not an UNPer and I certainly can’t forgive the UNP for its share of other atrocities, but my ire in this is reserved for the SLFP). And the other thing is that the ‘traitor card’ was being used even then, its recipient being the national anthem.

    Yes, let us properly celebrate the birth centenary of Ananda Samarakoon to give him his due. It is only fitting in the face of all the injustice he faced. And let the status quo regarding the national anthem remain as it is. To do otherwise would be beneath our dignity as Sri Lankans, and an act beyond redemption.

    Happy new year, Mr Jeyaraj and keep that ink flowing!!

    Thank you.Happy new year………..DBSJ

  53. i have not doubt about your art of writing. At the same time, the author reinforce the aggressor’s behavior by failing to point out that anything that is imposed is always resisted as it is a human nature. By enforcing sing national antham in Sinhalese in Jaffna, the government of Sri Lanka proved against it an aggressor of Tamils. I would appreciated it if the author make the Sri Lankan think beyond national or language or religious, or anything. When people are blinded by Mahavamsa, they failed to see the world with a different perspective. Patriotism does not come as a just loving the country, it should come as a building common values that can be shared by all communities, and not by abduction or killing.

  54. Author is living in a country where freedom of speech is respected, but he is writing about a country that restrict freedom of speech by imposing extra judicial killings, self sensorship, and threat. If the author respect the country where he lives, he would not have wrtten something for a country that does respect those values.


    I regret very much that I begin the new year on a sour note.

    You are an idiot and a moron or a moron and idiot. T

    ake your pick as first preference

  55. 33. Ananth , ref ” mistakes made unknowingly ” ,
    I strongly believe that none involved in these matters did those things with intent to cause mayhems to the country, but their inexperience and knowledge in social psychology is the root cause to many problems.
    Most politicians in Srilanka knew how to win votes but only few know how to build a nation.

    similar things are happening now ,

    social psychology is a very important element in policy making .


  56. 33. Ananth

    Luckily Gauthama Buddha the noble man was not alive today or else he would have also took sleeping tablets on the way buddism is practiced in sri lanka

    Interesting thoughts. But by the same token what do you think Jesus would have done if he was alive during the crusades or the Spanish inquisition? Or what would he have said or done if he lived in Germany when the good German Christians were roasting Jews by truck loads in the ovens of Auswchwitz?

    Or what do you think Rama would have done when present day Indians destroyed the Islamic place of worship in Ayodhya and killed hundreds of Muslims? I think that noble Rama with Luxman and Hanuman would have certainly come to the aid of the Muslims without any hesitation.

    Do you think Rama would have intervened when the high class Brahamins of Jaffna physically prevented the low cast Hindus from worshiping at Mavadipuram temple?

  57. 41. RS

    You seems to be particularly spooked by my posts that you had to mention my name! Wonder why? Perhaps something I wrote struck close to home? In any case thanks for the honor.

    Getting back to the current topic and controversy over Namo namo matha, an idea was floated by someone to do away with the Tamil version. By the account given by DBS in the previous article, it was done by a bureaucrat. The proposal was vigorously debated within the Cabinet and shelved. Shouldn’t that be the proper way things should be done?

    As for your last para, I don’t have to wake up to realize how vulnerable the Tamils in Sri Lanka are. If you are trying to imply that ONLY we Sinhalese are to be blamed for that, you are the one that needs to wake up and smell the coffee and not me.

    Happy new year to you and your family.

  58. —-“The Animal Kingdom that succeeded through a trail of deception has taken us to the edge of the precipice” —–ISS.

    I am not sure which Kingdom Mr ISS is referring to.

    Recent economic and social statistics indicate that Srilanka is moving rapidly towards prosperity , post war.

    * Economic growth over 8%

    * Stocks up 250%

    * Sovereign bond yields reaching US levels.

    * 30th most desirable place to do business / visit among all countries.

    * Among the top 10 most desirable destinations for the Western tourists

    * Per capita heading towards US $ 3000 in the next couple of years.

    * US $ 500 Mil for a resort in Kalpitiya,

    * US $ 500 Mil for a Shangrilla Hotel in the Fort.

    Not bad if this is the view looking down the precipice?

  59. Ref64 Mahawansa ,
    • 30th most desirable place to do business / visit among all countries.
    • Among the top 10 most desirable destinations for the Western tourists
    • US $ 500 Mil for a resort in Kalpitiya,
    • US $ 500 Mil for a Shangrilla Hotel in the Fort

    4 out of the 8 signs listed above from the comment are not good signs in social aspect ,

    because this will lead to Thailand or Mumbai red light area trend,
    hence prostitution , etc on the rise,
    people will grow addicted to these ,
    they will not see good side of live,
    but feel that they are happy.

    “ all money generating businesses are not good ”

    • 30th most desirable place to do business / visit among all countries.
    • Among the top 10 most desirable destinations for the Western tourists
    • US $ 500 Mil for a resort in Kalpitiya,
    • US $ 500 Mil for a Shangrilla Hotel in the Fort

  60. Reference 64
    • 30th most desirable place to do business / visit among all countries.
    • Among the top 10 most desirable destinations for the Western tourists
    • US $ 500 Mil for a resort in Kalpitiya,
    • US $ 500 Mil for a Shangrilla Hotel in the Fort

    4 out of the 8 signs listed above from the comment are not good signs in social aspect ,

    because this will lead to Thailand or Mumbai red light area trend,
    hence prostitution , etc on the rise,
    people will grow addicted to these ,
    they will not see good side of live,
    but feel that they are happy.

    “ all money generating businesses are not good ”

    • 30th most desirable place to do business / visit among all countries.
    • Among the top 10 most desirable destinations for the Western tourists
    • US $ 500 Mil for a resort in Kalpitiya,
    • US $ 500 Mil for a Shangrilla Hotel in the Fort

  61. Hello DBS,

    Thank you for this wonderful article. As a child, when ever I went for a celebration at Asoka Student’s Hostel in Kandy where my father A.L.Perumal was the Administrative Secretary, I always took part in singing the National Anthem in Tamil. Unfortunately, after approx 35 years, today I cannot remember the words. Is it possible for my benefit and for the benefit of all your readers you publish the Tamil version of the National Anthem in this site. It will help us immensely.

    In my opinion if a Tamil or any other Sri Lankan truly believes in equality, then he or she irrespective of the persons mother tongue, should learn the National Anthem in all languages and sing in every appropriate occasion. If it is being sung in Sinhala no one can stop another person singing it in Tamil simultaneously and I have heard it being done, and does not create any problems as the tune is same in any language.

    Thank you once again for a wonderful article.

  62. Mahawamsa (#64) … It certainly will benefit me if the statistics the Govt/CBSL gives out is in line with reality. FDI has dropped. CoL going over the roof is not shown in inflation statistics.If the economy is as good as you say this should be reflected in the price of the daily basket of food. Even the middle class is unable to afford daily essentials. What is the point of a Per Capita of $2,000 if an average family of 4 today needs Rs.40,000 a month – whereas they earn less than Rs.17,000. China, India and ASEAN rise in incoming levels will boost Asian tourism. Our gain can be over half a million (from the current 400,000) if we get the aggregates right. Our private tourism factor will perform unless the Govt messes it up with a bad appointment at the top – like in the case of 2 in recent years.
    The artificial buoyancy in the Stock market, save some blue chips, is said to be bubbly according to market sources.
    The rupee has strengthened due to borrowings. The Shangri La deal still lacks transparency. What is the value of the sale, the extent of land/location, terms. Shangri La is
    a good investor and the Govt needs to be congratulated for getting them in. Dismissing Harsha de Silva in Parliament may not serve us all too well. Good economic figures are as a result of our complying with the stiff IMF conditions, which I think is necessary. I am for short time pain for long time gain
    as the IMF/WB prescribes.

    If all is as well as you insist why does the Presiden nowt say
    “everyone has to make sacrifices”?


  63. Comment 57

    “–Compared to you ours is a Paradise.–” — Mahesh,

    I hope the 300 Million souls who are trying to survive with less than 20 Rupee a day will agree with you because nobody in my Island would for sure.

    India is a fascinating country with good resources and excellent fertile land.Yet to allow this many people to wallow in abject poverty in the 21st century is beyond belief.

    What is the reason for this unimaginable gap between the haves and have not. ?

    Is this what people like Mahesh advocate to us ?.

    Srilankans living on their home soil are n’t worried or give a tuppence about the national anthem as long as they have peace and prosperity.

    Whether we start the anthem with Namo Namo or Srilanka wouldn’t bother one iota.

    Neither would they, even if the anthem is sung in Arabic .although it is becoming a moot point with the Muslim minority now running ne and neck with the Tamils.

    Despite these arguments here and the doom and gloom predictions for mother Lanka because some one suggested a change, I haven’t seen any body in Srilanka writing and carrying on about the merits and demerits. in the Srilankan media.

  64. Fantastic work. This sort of information should be taught in schools if Sri lanka is to create a peaceful future.

    One suggestion DBSJ.
    Obviously you put in a lot of work and we are grateful indeed. But many important info in your article are new indeed for me. I appreciate that you can’t be referencing all your work for newspaper. But the online versions are almost permanent records and more useful than wikipedia.
    If possible if you can reference the online versions it will be a very useful source of info for many decades to come.
    I am archiving every article of yours.

    Wish you a long and productive life.

    Thank You………..DBSJ

  65. Comment 69,

    So your” precipice” remark was an aberration?

    Rapid Economic Development goes hand in hand with Inflation and it is fundamental Economics?

    In light of this exacerbated debate about the Mahawamsa and Namo Namo Matha, it must be mentioned that the poor rural Sinhalese which is the overwhelming majority will one day be grateful to the late Mr Prabakaran for awakening them from their induced slumber ,to regain their identity as well as their rightful place in the land on which the Sinhala race evolved and managed to survive for over two and a half thousand years.

    Prabakaran is the only person who helped the Sinhalese in this manner since King Elara.

    Wish all our Canandian, US and European Srilankans a peaceful , happy and stress free New Year.

    And to my fellow Lankans, may the New Year bring a permanent peace,tranquility and Economic success.

  66. 70. Mahawansa

    “–Compared to you ours is a Paradise.–” — Mahesh,

    I hope the 300 Million souls who are trying to survive with less than 20 Rupee a day will agree with you because nobody in my Island would for sure.

    India is a fascinating country with good resources and excellent fertile land.Yet to allow this many people to wallow in abject poverty in the 21st century is beyond belief.


    Our people may be living in abject poverty. Our Govt is doing its bit to bring them up. Our people are also working towards that end and many people have already moved up in the economic ladder.

    Millions and millions of jobs are created in the IT sector and the people/common man, middle class and low class people have benefited out of this IT sector.

    Other sectors are also doing good. If you see the economic reports India is one of the fastest growing economies of the world.

    Our size is big and therefore the problems are big.

    But we do have a large heart.

    Our Nehru stood against the astrologers when they opposed the date august 15th.

    Your leaders, sadly lacked the courage to do that.

    In having a Nehru at that crucial time of our history we were lucky.

    Your island was not that lucky.

    If a person of the Nehru’s caliber was there in your island then all these problems would not have happened.

    Naturally many envy at our success.

    We cannot help it though.

  67. It’s true that that the beginning of the national anthem was changed for superstitious reasons. But in replacing “Namo Namo” with “Sri Lanka” the government was also using the national anthem to their partisan advantage, because their party’s name began with “Sri Lanka”. The same government also changed the name of the country from Ceylon to Sri Lanka. This symbolizes the change of our beautiful, pluralistic and peaceful pre 1956 Ceylon into the corrupt, majority dominated, and ugly Sri Lanka of today.

    Our people always called their country Lankava or Ilangai, and never “Sri Lanka”. “Sri Lanka” occurs only in the bombastic proclamations of ancient and mediaeval tyrants who ruled the island before the advent of modernity, a part of our colonial heritage that empowered individual rights over feudal rights derived from ancestry. Naming the country “Sri Lanka” was an arrogant and self-serving act that meant the naming of the country after their parochial political party, the opposite of the patriotic pratice of naming a party after the the country. The LSSP to their credit patriotically began their name with Lanka, and not Sri Lanka, a credit which the present pathetic leadership of that party squandered when they astonishingly voted for the 18th amendment.

    Changing “Ceylon” to “Sri Lanka” is part of the preoccupation with administering opium to the people so that they are desensitized to corruption, nepotism and the high cost of living. We could have retained Ceylon as the country’s international name, with some obvious economic and other advantages, while using Lanka (not Sri Lanka) as the local name, a practice illustrated in, for example, the cases of modern countries like Japan and Germany, which are international names of these countries. Their local names are Nippon and Deutschland respectively. The recent decision to reportedly get rid of any mention of Ceylon is a sign of desperation that the regime is running out of opium.

  68. Beautiful article Mr.Jeyaraj.

    I am truly fascinated by the way in which you have researched the history of the national anthem and woven those facts in an eminently readable journalistic article

    As someone else also commented you make even drab themes of history come vibrantly alive

    I read and re-read and re-re -read this piece

  69. Thank you very much for a very good article. I am sure that like me many lankans would read this again and again.

    You have given a very good account of the past.

    But in one article written by you few years ago you had predicted the future also very well. That was written within few days of Mahinda Rajapakse becoming the President for the first time.
    The title was”Mainda Rajapakse adopts a definite policy towars Tamils”. That was the best article I have read from your web site.

  70. This is a very rare article and very interesting indeed. I was wondering how DBS got all these information while living in a far away land, but then that is good journalism. You are not second to shylock Holmes even though the subject is different. Keep up your good work.

  71. Great article Jeyaraj annan. First I thought this article will be boring but when reading I found it one of the very best interesting ones I have ever read.

    Keep on writing

  72. Belated wishes for a happy, peaceful and prosperous 2011 to you and your family.

    I remember that when I was living in Colombo till the late eighties on a Sunday reading your column was a must along with the Muslim gentleman who wrote for a rival newspaper especially what was happening on the war front.

    Reading the Saturday Review and especially the work of my friend the late Siva was also a must and had to burn these to prevent any unnecessary issues from the midnight prowlers who drop in for a cup of horlicks at unsavory hours of the night honoring the fact that I was born a Tamil.

    Can you please let me know as to how I could download a Tamil musical version of the namo namo matha, I enjoy the sinhala version which to me is priceless,

    I have tried to do it through you-tube but have had no joy.

    Now living in Melbourne, Australia and confined to a wheel-chair having lost a leg reading your creations keep me invigorated. Keep up the good work

    May the good lord bless and protect you and your kith and kin. Cheers. A j.


    Thank you for your wishes. Wish you a very happy new year. As for the Tamil version of national anthem I am sorry but I dont know.I hope someone who knows will enlighten us on how to get hold of it on the net.

  73. On second thought I changed my mind. If they say singing in Tamil is illegal we must break that unjust law by singing it in Tamil.Let them punish us if they dare

  74. DBS Jeyaraj!

    Thank you for posting a very informative article on the history of national anthem in Sri Lanka and provoking a healthy debate.

    I very much like to bring some little known facts about the national anthem in India

    We know very well that both national anthems of India and Bangaladesh are in Bengali-Indian national anthem is in heavily Sanskiritised Bengali and Bengaladesh national anthem is in pure Bengali.

    The author of both was Dr Rabindranath Tagore- the noble laureate.

    It is significant to note that Bangaladesh –a Muslim country has adopted a song written by a Hindu as their national anthem.

    Another Bengali song that deserved to be the national anthem of India is “Vande Mataram or Bande Mataram, (I worship the Motherland as Mother) that inspired the freedom fighters of India,

    The author of this song was Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay ( 1838 – 1894) – an Indian Bengali poet, novelist, essayist and journalist.

    The source of this song was the political novel Anandamath (The Abbey of Bliss, 1882) which depicts a Sannyasi (Hindu ascetic) rebellition against the foreigners.

    He belongs to a generation before Tagore

    But unfortunately the Muslims of India were not comfortable with this song especially the line- “I worship the mother land as mother’ since Muslims worship none other than Allah!

    Precisely for this reason, the independent India had chosen another song as the national anthem instead of Vande matharam.

    However Vande Matharam was later declared as the National Song of India.

    It was the greatness of Indian leaders to recognize the susceptibilities of Muslim minorities even after a bitter partition

    Incidentally the music for this song was also composed by the great Rabindranath Tagore.

    In this we Sri Lankan, both Sinhalese and Tamils have a lesson.

    It is really irrelevant whether the national anthem is in Sinhala, Tamil or both in Sinhala and Tamil as long as we accept the fact in word and sprite that Sri Lanka belongs to all who are living in Sri Lanka and all have equal rights not only in words but in deed also
    and all communities are ready to compromise and accommodate the sensitivities of other communities irrespective of whether they are majorities or minorities!

  75. Rahul Gandhi, the UN and US Express Concern Regarding Sri Lanka

    •A political solution to the ethnic problem should be found within a united Sri Lanka enabling the Tamil people to participate in their own governance in the North and East. Implementing the 13th amendment is an important first step.
    •The IDPs released for resettlement have not been provided with basic facilities nor compensated.
    •A large number of Tamil prisoners are detained under Emergency Regulations and the PTA and not indicted. A complete list of all those Tamils who are in custody must be released.
    •The military presence is continuing at war time levels in the North. The artillery range High Security Zones prevent people from resettling on their private lands. Outsiders are permitted to access these lands.
    •Involvement of the security forces in civil administration and public affairs creates impediment in the resumption of a civil administration.
    •Establishing settlements of security force’s families will drastically alter the demographic composition in the Northern and Eastern provinces of the country.
    •Local Tamil youths have been ignored in appointments to the posts in Government institutions in the North or as labour in government projects.
    •The real issue is why the government of Sri Lanka is stonewalling on addressing these issues. The influence of a handful of majoritarian ethno religious nationalists should not be allowed to prevent the essential reconciliation measures that are needed in the post war period.
    By Harim Peiris, Daily Mirror

  76. DBS

    Wish you a happy new year

    Thank you very much for this article

    I also wish to cmmend you for your response to Janthi. People like Janthi are the fundamental cause of troubles faced by Tamils

    Thank you.Happy new year………DBSJ

  77. This brought tears to my eyes reading what happened to the true patriot AS.

    since the death of the wise leader DSS we have been suffering at the hands of shortsighted leaders.

    My hope & prayer for this new year is let there be reconcilliation no more segregation. Let all human beings overcome their insecurities, fears and inferiorities. May the leaders of our nation be wise. May the good Lord shower His mercy upon all Sri Lankan citizens.

    Lastly I quote from Hellen Keller ‘ the only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision’ and MLK ‘the greatest sin of this generation is the silence of the righteous men/women’

    wish you many more year of success and God’s guidence in your mission DBSJ.

    Thank you very much. Much appreciated…………DBSJ

  78. I think singing the national anthem in Tamil for half a century did no good to the country. Tamil version may have spurred the diaspora terrorist, who lick the backs of the whites, and want a piece of our country to sell to the “Human Rights” spin doctors.

    We must give one Sinhalese song a try for the next half century.

    Thank you Sir DBSJ! for enlightening us of the historical account of the national song.

    Wishing you and all readers of this blog a happy new year!


    Thank You and Happy new year

    However I dont agree with you on what you say about singing the national anthem in Tamil. You display a parochial mindset that has been the bane of Sri Lanka

  79. Dear Jaya,May you walk the sunlight shining and a blue bird in every tree. May there be silver lining, at the back of every cloud you see. May your troubles all will be small one and your fortune ten time ten. May the good load bless you and your family. HAPPY NEW YOUR my friend. Mark.M.

    Thank you for the poetic greeting. Wish you a happy new year……..DBSJ

  80. Mahawansa (#72) Your logic is strange. My (#69) constructive comments critical of the Govt’s lack of economic performance remains. I hope someday soon they will offer us a chance to congratulate them. No sane person takes the role of critic merely for the purpose of criticizing. You may have not failed to notice the slow rise of the JVP and the paralysed UNP – boith on account of this factor.

    Your comments on VP is just as flawed. Sinhala thugs – at the behest of Sinhala politicl leaders and others – beat, killed, dehoused and robbed innocent Tamils beginning around 1954/55 (Gal Oya, Inginiyagala areas), 1956, 1958, 1977, 1981/82. ( I refer only to major incidents targeting entire Tamil communities and not individual cases ) VP was to show up much later after the Tinnevely incident
    In 7/83.

    This is not the time of the year to open wounds but I do so because you – like many Sinhalese – notably the young – seem to have misdirected yourselves that the militant Tamil youth attacked others first. This fabrication is the work of sinister forces that have taken upon themselves to divide the nation and set the country aflame. They have succeeded so far is plain for all to see. It is only a wise, objective strong and single country-centered political leadership that can put a halt to this slide towards permanent disintegration. We have not seen such a leadership in a long time although CBK came close to it.
    Unfortunately, other temptations took her focus and
    concentration away. Ranil certainly tried – but failed to carry the Sinhala majority with him sadly due to his Christian background.


  81. DBSJ Greetings of the season!

    One of the best researched articles in recent times. You do have a penchant for extensive reseach and my hats off to you! I did not realize that so much had happended since the evolution of the National Anthem, but I did have the feeling that the word SRI LANKA somehow spelt disaster and continue to do so. Now that the administration is trying to change CEB etc. into SLEB, only time will tell us whether it will aggravate the situation.

    From down-under I feel that this is another issue thrown to the wolves of fundamental elements like Wimal and JHU who thrive on such issues. I would not undermine the Machiavalli tacticts of MR, given the 13th Amendment is coming under review – this is definitely with a purpose, there was no need to bring these trivial issues right now.

    Thank you.Compliments of the season…….DBSJ

  82. I am suprised that an important news item is not posted yet. According to the news item the dicision to omit the Tamil anthem has already been decided.
    Dr. N. Satchi uk


    Please dont post WRONG news on this site and mislead readers. I did not carry it as it is completely wrong

    I am surprised that you are posting such items here after I had written in detail about what exactly happened in the cabinet meeting of Dec 8th 2010

    At least extend to me the elementary courtesy of reading what I have written before posting these items

  83. jey it is really heartening to see you write articles on various topics which i guess is well researched and a person like me sitting in tamil nadu know a lot about srilanka its politics,culture everything under the sun offcourse pertaining to srilanka.as you have mentioned about the anthem which never mentions race,ethnicitiy,religion i guess ananth having trained in shanthiniketan would have been refined and thus refrained from mentioning about it.government of srilanka should celebrate centenary of ananth samarakoone which falls this year in a fitting manner.another aspect i have noticed is srilanka and india given the fact we are separated only by 18 miles may be except for nepal and bhutan share an identical cultural heritage we have to take pride in it. it is not only tamils of srilanka who share a cultural heritage even sinhalese share, their names sound very indian i am rather puzzled by the names ramesh,rohan,ranjith,sajith,ravi which is very common in india .i guess this year is gonna be a good one ferry service between colombo and thuthukudi will be introduced and may be six months later between rameswaram and thalaimannar which will give a fillip to tourism in srilanka imagine we in tamilnadu going to simla,nainital faraway for summer when we could go to kandy.hope this year turns out to be a good year for tamils.

  84. A well-researched fine piece of journalism that is timely and relevant. Thank you.

    Wish you the very best in the New Year DBS

    Thank you. Wish you the same too…..DBSJ

  85. Very intersting article. Thank you. First time I actually read the whole storey behind it. I feel, Ananda was proably too harsh on himself. I do not see anything wrong in either version of the song. They both sound very much the same. We all like to think artists are very sensitive people. But sometimes too sensitive? (coming from a creative industry I can understand what he felt. But taking your own life.!!!)

    Anyway, All the best wishes for 2011 to you DBSJ and and to your family. May you have the energy to keep writing..!!!

    Thank You. Best wishes for 2011…….DBSJ

  86. Why not adapt the following as Tamil version of national antham



    This is the “Thamil Thaai” Vaalthu officially approved by the Tamil Nadu state govt and is sung in all state official functions. This is an ode to the Tamil language personified as the Tamil Mother

    It is not a Tamil substitute for the Indian national anthem.It is only a song in praise of the Tamil language

    Now why on earth should we in Sri Lanka use this as a Tamil version of the national anthem? We have a national anthem which is the one written by Ananda Samarakoon.

    We have a Constitutionally accredited Tamil translation of it which was done so by Pundit Nallathamby

    All that we want is the right to sing the national anthem in Tamil wherever and whenever possible

    There is no debate here about a new Tamil version.So why are you making such stupid suggestions?

  87. Thank you again for a great article DBSJ!

    Wishing you peace and health for 2011. God Bless you!

    Thank you.Happy new year………..DBSJ

  88. Although the Tamil version of the national anthem has not been abolished, it will be interesting to know if the practice of singing the Tamil version in the North and East will continue or be stopped. If it is stopped, whether there is Cabinet approval or not, the end result is the same.

  89. A good piece of article,

    All over the world Tamils are disappointed with Sri Lanka. So the country should take necessary action to bring all under an umbrella.

    Best Wishes,

  90. Well written article!!

    I am a young singhalese. To me, besides learning history of various isses, I learn a lot of good english from your writing. Thank You

  91. What an elucidation not only on the history of the Anthem itself but also on the moral qualities of Ananda Samarkoon. Ananda with inborn intelligent must have been blessed to have studied in Santiketan in Bengal which produced great humans like Vivekananda, Ramakrishna, Tagore, Subas Chandra Bose and so on.
    DBSJ, You have done proud to Samarakoon and to the Matha he defined.
    If alive Confucius won’t fault both of you because he said :
    1.The object of the superior man is truth.

    The political leaders of both the parties who governed the nation have not only hurt Ananda Samarkoon but also let their Matha down for more than 60 years in the name of patriotism and knew what will sell in one man one vote system.

    Again Samarkoon true to his Bengal connection was ahead of his time and still standing taller than the contemporary leaders of the Island since independence.
    This reminds me of another saying by Confucius :
    2.The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell.

    Last but least this how Confucius made comparision between two animals :
    3. An oppressive government is more to be feared than a tiger.

  92. Hi DBS,
    Thanks for your response and clarification to #34

    Your response to #36 if you wish to write on the subject will wait patiently and don’t wish to preempt, however my patience is wearing thin when I read the extremist elements try to fiddle with national symbols when they have no creative ideas to move forward who think Sri Lanka is still a kingdom. Any government with a backbone shouldn’t allow whim and fancies of extreme elements to raise their ugly heads as our flag if not the oldest then one of the oldest in the world.

    They should study the recent history and learn that there were Tamil leaders who fought for independence. A committee appointed for the flag by premier DSS consists of Nadeasn,GG,JRJ,SWRD, Sir John etc made the decision on present flag acceptable to all communities at the time and will stay that way.

  93. I thought it is appropriate to translate a news item related to this topic published on a popular Sinhala medium paper today. It will demonstrate the attitude of the traditional Sinhalese Buddhist leaders who have the power to make the last say on these matters.
    Following is a direct translation of a news item appeared on page 6 of “Lankadeepa” on 03rd January 2011.


    “Do not create any issue with the language of the National Anthem” – Anunayake thero of Malwatte chapter tells the PM
    – reported by J.A.L Jayasinghe

    “Different ethnic groups should not allow there to be any dispute among them over the issue of the language of the national anthem. If there are serious differences with this regard, then it is advisable to play only the music of the national anthem without singing it, so there will be no conflict on that.”
    This is said by Ven. Niyangoda Vijithasiri Thero, the Anunayake of Malwatte chapter, to the Prime minister D.M. Jayaratne who visited the temple yesterday. (2nd)

    Anunayake thero further said:
    “Some monks do not stand for the national anthem while some others do. If we go abroad we have to stand when the national anthem is sung or played. This happens in India. So there should not be any issue with that here in Sri Lanka. There should be an open discussion on this with the Mahanayake theros.”

    Prime minister said to the Thero,
    “What matters is not the language or the music of the national anthem. What matters is its theme. People who create problems with the national anthem are those who are obsessed with politics.”

    He said he came to see the thero to invoke blessings for the new year.
    Anunayake thero blessed the PM to have the ability to develop mutual friendship between different ethnic groups while ensuring religious, cultural and the national progress.”


    So it is clear that this is just an issue raised by an official/ minister without much thought and does not have the backing of the majority. What most Sri Lankans yearn for is reconciliation, peace & friendship between different communities. Any way we have learnt a lot out of this debate. Finally the most appropriate decision will be taken, which is allowing the current status to continue.


    Thanks for posting this.A friend told me about this statement.I feel this issue will gradually become a non -issue but extremists on either side will be disgruntled

  94. —-Comment 89——

    Immediately after your assertion that Srilanka is at the precipice ,now we are sliding to wards disintegration as well because we do not have the right political leadership,

    Lets have a look at the alternative leadership to save us from disintegration..

    Ranil and Sajith Factions of the Elitist UNP which gets its guidance , advice and finances from the anti Sinhala Western Governments.

    Sarath Fonseka and the recalcitrant members of the Marxist JVP..

    Dr Vickremabahu,

    And the TNA.

    What are the constructive criticisms these leaders of this opposition alliance have come up with to convince the majority that the current social and economic agenda and the policies of the government are not good for the country?

    What alternative policies have they articulated to convince the majority that they can deliver a better future.in this new era of peace?

    All they have done so far is to beg the Western Countries to conduct an Economic War against Srilanka with insurgent style attacks on the lively hoods of poor export industry workers. .

    Discourage Tourists and Foreign Investments.

    Lobby the WB and the IMF not to provide assistance, hoping that the economy will collapse and cause social turmoil.

    Beg the West to drag Srilanka to the ICY to punish the leaders for defeating terrorism .

    Of course if the West succeeds in carrying out the above actions with the help of the opposition your predictions will come true.

  95. As I don’t know the Sinhala versions, reading your article, I believe it must sound/feel sweet as it does in Tamil too; it must be since it the parent version. I used to love singing the Tamil version in school days. I admire and respect Mr. Samarakoon for producing such a beautiful masterpiece and Mr. Nallathamby for translating in such a way. My personal opinion, Neeraarum Kadaludhutha & Valha Thamil molzi, both are rich but when comparing, I think SL national anthem is more pleasant; more inclusive (includes all).

    I also find it more unifying, inclusive and pleasant than compare to the SL flag. I don’t understand why some wants to alter something that is already working beautifully instead of spending their precious time addressing many other important, needy & unresolved issues. While officially not removing the Tamil version (yet), I hope government does not unofficially (indirectly or dirtily) impose to use Sinhala only, as it reported in the news in a School gathering in Jaffna recently.

    Just out of curiosity, DBSJ, what is the word “Eelam” exactly means? Does it mean the North-East portion of the Island OR is it just simply a poetic Tamil word of Island/Ilankai/Lanka/Ceylon as a whole? As I used to see “Eela-seron-mani, val-vuru-pumani” and “Eelam-engal na-deda, inpa-mana vee-deda” in school books.


    Eezham is an ancient name for the Island. The classical Sangham period records the presence of a poet from the Island called “Eezhathup Poothanthevannar” or Poothanthevanaar from Eezham.

    It was generally used in literature and had gone out of popular usage .In modern times the Tamils called the country Ilangai just as the Sinhalese called it Lanka or Lankawa.Sri Lanka was not inpopular usage

    When the Samasamajists formed a party it was Lanka Samasamaja Party (LSSP) not Sri Lanka Samasamaja Party

    When SWRD Bandaranaike formed his own party he called it Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP)From that Sri Lanka (resplendent Isle)began entering the discourse. Ultimately the 1972 Constitution renamed Ceylon as Sri Lanka but allowed Ilankai to be used in Tamil

    When C. Sundaralingam espoused separatism in the 50’s he called Ilankai Eylom but when V.Navaratnam spoke of self – rule in the sixties he did not use the word Eelam

    When the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) acquired its separatist ideology their construct was a Tamil state called Tamil Eelam. The rationale was that the entire Island was Eelam but the Tamil majority Northern and Eastern provinces be called Tamil Eelam and form a separate country

    The militant groups used both terms. The more nationalistic organizations like LTTE,TELO and PLOTE used Tamil Eelam. (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization, Peoples Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam)

    The more left leaning organizations like EROS,EPRLF, EPDP used Eelam (Eelam Revolutionary Organization, Eelam Peoples Revolutionary Liberation Front, Eelam Peoples Democratic Party)

    In a bid to popularise the Tamil Eelam term Tamil ultra-nationalists began discarding the use of Ilankai and promoted Tamil Eelam. At the same time they began referring to Sri Lanka as Sri Lanka instead of Ilankai to emphasise the contrast.

    The need of the hour is to revive the Ilankai term. The Tamils of Sri Lanka must start calling themselves (rightfully so) as Ilankai Thamilar again


    Please do not post items from dubious websites here for propaganda purposes. The “Colombo media is largely siilent on this issue” as you put it because the news is not true.Deploy your trickery elsewhere please

  97. Sorry DBS this should have posted to your previous blog. I found this when Googled


  98. “The need of the hour is to revive the Ilankai term. The Tamils of Sri Lanka must start calling themselves (rightfully so) as Ilankai Thamilar again”

    I strongly endorse your view DBS

  99. So far the discussion on national anthem has presented two positions articulated on various websites. One is the newly found position based on essentially ignorance encouraged by victor’s justice imposed by the arms of the state even though according to sources the Government has deferred decision on this subject. The opposing view argues the Tamil version the anthem should be retain as it was the practice since 1950’s.
    However there is a constitutional obligation for the state to retain the Tamil version under the 13th amendment which incorporated the provisions of the Official Languages Act 1987 declaring Tamil as an official language of Sri Lanka.
    If people in Sri Lanka still have faith in the legal system, they should challenge the government position that “a decision has been differed” on the position of Tamil version of the anthem and the state machinery including the army which “imposed it in recent state event in Jaffna” without any legal basis.
    There are several issues when you challenge the state and its apparatus, even a slightest protest would trigger avalanche and people are rest assured that they would pay dearly as in the case of education director recently and as in the past.
    Well those who cannot see beyond their noses are bent on banning the Tamil version of the anthem and the future generation may have to suffer for the sins of the present. Although the majority of the majority believe that Sri Lanka is a democracy but what they don’t realise is the fact that over the past 60 years by removing democratic rights of the minorities the majority Sinhala people also have undermined their own rights.
    The majority people who elect and sustain the government must first stop digging if they want to get out of the pit. I am not sure whether they know that they are in a pit is another matter for discussion in the future given that a minister who was elected by the majority who believes Tamil national anthem was a “joke” and Indian national anthem is in “Hindi”. To large extend the calibre of the elected representative determines the future of the nation. When you have Ministers like Weerawamsa you don’t need enemies.

  100. For Sri Lanka to have both sinhalese and tamil versions in national anthem may not be necessarily caused by the same reasons that other nations having bi-lingiual anthems.

    South Africa and New Zealand sing their anthems in both native and english languages because english rulers later had to admit that their own mistakes in carrying out colonial rules suppressing natives.

    In Sri Lanka there is no conquerer or a colony as such to feel guilty of. But a rational decision might have to be taken considering how the practise so far could be affected entire population in the country.

    Since sinhalese and tamils lived in SL for centuries it is better to have one anthem with both sinhalese and tamil in it. But with the human nature you cannot control which part would be sung by whom as it’s visible with countries having bi-linguial anthems.

    How many of you have noticed most of white people do not sing the native part of their anthems in the countries that it applies?

  101. DELETED

    Dear Dr.Satchi

    I have deleted your post.

    You are posting erroneous news items here and trying to mislead people. Despite my trying to point this out gently you are not taking the hint.

    As a professional journalist of the old school type I do not explicitly refer to other media and say their news items are wrong. It is also not my business to be nitpicking and correcting mistakes in other media. If and when necessary I will write what I know to be the correct version without saying pointedly that something else is wrong

    But you are trying to provoke me into departing from this professional tradition by your obstinate posting. I am in no mood to oblige you

    Even Homer nods. The media institution you refer to is not infallible and has often made mistakes just as I too have made mistakes.These things happen

    Genuine media professionals do not point these out openly as you would like us to do. “Dog does not eat dog” is the adage. As a medical professional do you issue public statements criticising mistakes made by professional colleagues?

    So I will not state specifically that somebody has made a mistake but simply write the correct version and continue with my work

    So please understand this basic truth and let me do my work in peace without posting wrong news items as right and continuing to insist they are right

    DBS Jeyaraj

  102. if the meaning and concept remains the same as the Sinhalese version , what is the issue ? why president try to speak in Sinhalese and Tamil in addressing the nation ? why no one found wrong in it ?

  103. It was good to learn from reader Harshe (#103) the Sinhala media is reflecting the concerns of the Tamils resulting in the Ven. Theros of the higher order appealing for reason.
    I am sure if the Sinhala media is to educate the majority of the real problems faced by the Tamils the country can take a welcome different path than now.

    Lakshman (#102) may be interested to learn S. Nadesan QC recorded a dissenting view on the National Flag taking exception from the minority angle. His fears were to since exacerbate speaks for itself.

    The Southern electorate will do well to take note at a time such as this when issues relating to totally unaffordable food prices, health, law-order and other are the urgent priorities of the people homing on the National Anthem and creating a fuss to ban mini skirts are calculated moves only of a divertionary nature.


  104. Comments 91 & 113,

    Dr Satchi must be one of those Militant British Diaspora, whose recent actions indiacate that they do not care about the repercussions of their behavior on the Tamil community in Srilanka.

    Attacking the messenger must be part of their tactics.

    There are many posters who present their case for or against the topics that are published here.

    Some of these encompass thought provoking, and novel ideas, which can contribute immensely to the reconciliation which is the need of the hour.

    Dr Satchi seems to be an an exception


    Present national anthem was included as a part of our constitution which legalised in 1978. Therefore no one can make any chage as their wishes without amend the constitution.

    The tamil virsion is new to me. I don’t know was it include in the constitution. Due to unfamiller with tamil letters I am not in the position to find it out. If so which verson is get the validity. The interpritation section said it there is any clarrification, the facts that are in sinhala language is regard as legalise one. The law experts should be answere these questions.

    I too know what was happend in New Zealand because I was there for few months.

    New Zealand’s indegenous people call MOURY people. They were not defeated by British.

    Like KANDIAN CONVENTION , some where in 1818 year the brtish make a convention with Moury people and started to look after them and their country. That’s why New Zealand people are singining their national anthem in Moury and English. But the rethem is same.

    I too had opportunity to sung these two versions in a convercation at Cantebry University .

    Because of we had not any convention with tamils it is impossible to get New Zealand’s example applicable to Sri lanka.


  106. #103 Harshe

    Majority of Buddhist leaders and monks are very kind and preaching racial harmony and also helping under privileged people. Poor Tamil people living in border villages of Batticola, Trincomalee and Amparai know it very well. Monks in those temples still helping poor Tamil people. One of my Tamil friend told me that he used to stay overnight in Polonaruwa Buddhist temple when he travels. He has appreciated their exceptional kindness.
    It is regrettable that some narrow minded Tamils generalise the few racist Buddhist leaders to majority of descent kind Buddhist leaders.

  107. Happy New Year DBSJ.

    So, the anthem even killed (one way or other) the author. Who else are going to get killed?

    Thank you.Happy new year……..DBSJ

  108. [The public sector have over 160 holidays this year, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga said today and advised his staff to make the best of the remaining working days to provide an excellent service to the public.

    Addressing the staff of the Presidential Secretariat marking the first working day of the public sector today Weeratunga pointed out that out of the 365 days, 122 are holidays with an additional 45 days, the President’s office said.

  109. Dear Mr. D. B. S. Jeyarajah,

    Thank you for your reply. Noted everything you had to say but still fail to understand the reasons for deletion. Journalism is not my profession and for any reason if I had inadvertently undermined the ethical codes of journalism my apology as it was not my intention.

    Let me assure Kalu Albert that while I belong to the Tamil Diaspora I would not want to be in any way a racialist whatever the rewards. Wish he had read my entire postings. The polity in Sri Lanka will determine the well being of the communities in Sri Lanka. If any community were held as hostages it would be very difficult to help them however much we may wish. We see this all over the world

    I have never mentioned I was right and have always given the benefit of the doubt to the author of the article. I was responding in the spirit that I have referred to you before and stated that I would do so. I do not want to enter a debate and in any case it is not the appropriate place. I have never used abusive language in my comments or accused anyone in particular. Let me assure you I shall not intrude on your journey nor shall interfere with your work by posting any more comments on this blog.

    Dr. N. Satchi UK

  110. Thank you so much Mr.Jayaraj for this article. I hope the govt will take steps to celebrate and honour the birth centenary of Ananda Samarakoon as you have suggested. This is the least we can do to make amends for the great wrong done to this sensitive poet

  111. 57.- Mahesh

    “Whatever our problems are we do not fight like you do.”

    Sorry, but going against my new years resolution, I just couldn’t resist – You are kidding right? You don’t fight like the Sri-Lankans do? Have you forgotten about how you handled the Sikhs in the 80s and Kashmir all the way up to the present day? How about how you handled the tribals during Veerapan’s reign and now the Maoists? The IPKF really showed the tamils what India was all about – seriously – I know many of you Indians live in fantasy worlds when it comes to your hallucinations of what India is and how your army behaves, but let me give you a common refrain of the Jaffna tamil during the IPKF presence – “We should be praying the Sri-Lankan soldiers, compared to the IPKF they are saints”. Don’t think I am joking here, I am serious, this really was a common refrain. It was during the IPKF’s reign that the LTTE swelled its ranks among the common masses literally overnight, especially the womens’ wings.

    “Compared to you ours is a Paradise.”

    I’m being totally honest here, out of every 10 Indians I have spoken to, 9 out of 10 have called India exactly the opposite of paradise and I’ve spoken to thousands of Indians in my lifetime. I’ve been to India numerous times and I can not see how anyone can keep a straight face and call it a “paradise”. Yes, you do have a growing middle class, but the poor are dirt-poor and still form a major bulk of the society. The scores of beggars in India is unmatched in any other part of the world. Your politicians don’t care for them and are the only politicians that I know of that are more corrupt than the Sri-Lankan politicians. Infact, the word corruption is an understatement, they need to invent a new word to define corruption in India. Your politicians will never let India come out of the dung-hole and become a truly prosperous nation just as I firmly believe that Sri-Lanka’s politicians will never let the Sri-Lanka be at peace. It is only this way that they can remain in their seats of power and prosper themselves.

    “I know many in the neighborhood feel envious about us. We cannot help it.”

    I have heard this from a number of Indians – truly boggles the mind. I believe it is people like you who fail to see the country’s state for what it really is and superimposing your own hallucinations on it, stop it from coming out of its current state by simply not doing anything whatsoever about it – just like your final statement shows – “We cannot help it”.

  112. I am confident I express the view of many readers in this page if Dr. N. Satchi (UK) continues to participate in the


  113. India a paradise? What a laugh! From being the AIDS capital of the world to killing its baby girls….

  114. 124. Rajah

    Your politicians will never let India come out of the dung-hole and become a truly prosperous nation just as I firmly believe that Sri-Lanka’s politicians will never let the Sri-Lanka be at peace.


    You yourself is now acknowledging my statement that compared to you India is a Paradise.

    May be my country will not be truly prosperous nation but we will be peaceful unlike yours.


    I have heard this from a number of Indians – truly boggles the mind. I believe it is people like you who fail to see the country’s state for what it really is and superimposing your own hallucinations on it,


    Read my post and understand the comments in the context.

    Or if it is too much to expect these things from you then go as you want to.

    Truly we cannot help it.

  115. Eastern province chief minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan has said that the national anthem will be sung at official functions of the provincial council in East

  116. Dear Mr. DSB,
    I am happy to note your comments on the National Anthem of Sri i Lanka.I am one of the sons of MuthuTamil Pulavar , Pundit M.Nallathamby,but I knew very little about the history behind the various stages of evolution of the Sinhalese song written by the (late) Ananda Samarakoon and its its Tamil transliteration by my father. It was mainly because of our father’s death while all of his children were very young, when he passed away. All I knew was that the national anthem in Tamil was sung in the school I studied in Jaffna and it appeared in the Tamil primary texts written by him and used in most of the schools in the Northern Province. Later on, I saw the song in the Tamil texts published by the Government and my father’s name was incorporated under it. When I went to Sri lanka after a long spell of time I noticed that the Tamil National anthem was still there but without my father’s name being mentioned. I used to wonder what the reason behind this change was. Now when I am living abroad, I am seeing my father’s name cropping up again and you have given a true picture of the whole history. Thank you.

    Thank you.I am very happy to hear from Mr.Nallathamby’s son……….DBSJ

  117. Mohd Anas (#126) While it is true some terrible things are happening in India. But the country, as a whole, has taken giant steps economically, politically and socially. Sunnis and Shiites feel far safer in this India – you describe somewhat partially – than in Pakistan or any where in the Islamic world. In 85% Hindu India until recently the highest political post was held by a Muslim – which looked in perspective is paradise in a way. . Killing baby girls or any other is a punishable offence there – although in tribal areas there can be the odd incident or two. India has to take a lesson from China in lifting its poor and illiterate from the state they are in which is a distortion of its amazing progress of recent years. In Mumbai for a man who rose from a middle class background to boast to have “the largest and most extravagant palace-house in the world” is a travesty. More so because he comes from the people/State from which the world found the Mahathma – the very personification of austere and simple living.
    As Arundathi Roy described “India lives in several centuries simultanesouly” Or as the Reader’s Digest ran an article decades ago titled “the many world’s of India” I suspect the quality of the Indian people will gradually rise – because that should be the priority of the Indian polity and, who knows, in your time and mine we might see an India rid of the negatives you point out.

    I say these because a stable and prosperous India is in the interest of Sri Lanka and its plural population, although I concede there will be many that disagree with me on India’s role in the region. But they will come around soon as those who run the country have. .That’s no laughing matter, uh?


  118. 130. Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan


    I learnt more about my country from your posting like India lives simultaneously in several centuries etc.

    Compared to many countries in our neighbourhood with all our drawbacks we are head and shoulders ahead in many fields and we have to progress as well.

    China example we can only see, we cannot follow the example of China as it is not a democracy but we are a democracy. though we have to learn from everybody without losing our individuality.

  119. ISS #115
    It was recorded S Nadesan disagreed but other senetors wo represented other communities agreed, then moved forward. Don’t have aceess to read the view of SN at the time, which is a different topic hope DBS will present some day
    Just try to keep up with DBS’s protocols outlined in preamble
    Southern electorate always use diversionary tactics to remain in power what you experinced over the years even today nothing new, more slogan shouters.
    When a country’s real productive hours are reduced due to public holidays and inefficiency, increase of cost of living
    it a part and parcel of this scenario.

  120. My friend Mahesh (#131) … Many will not agree with you we are a democracy – and that includes Ranil W, Mangala S (Son of Sam as he seems to enjoy being referred to) former CJ Hon’ble Sarath Silva – and, last but by means least – the darling of the Rajapakses until Dec 2009 – Gen Sarath Fonseka. This includes over 75% of the people of the country today – per what I understand.This very long list may even have Daya Dissanayaka in it but the man appears to have changed his mind after “many hours in the wee hours of one morning” – if you know what I mean.

    The very professional Chinese political leadership in Beijing show the world how a country can be lifted from the level of a poor 3rd world country to that of the financial-industrial-social leader of the world. And – all that in around 25 years make the story utterly incredible.
    With a combination of the better features of socialism and “capitalism” their latest People’s Congress has pledged to raise the PQL of their giant farmer population (30-40% of their population?) to a rising Per Capita close to those of the
    Asian Tigers. If you agree with Napoleon Bonaparte’s notion an army walks on its stomach, then what we know has democracy here now can come later. If Colombo and the South complain of the absence of democracy imagine what the Tamil people of the North-East must be going through – now that even the Police-Army tell them via leafllets and loudspeakers “they have to take care of themselves” Do you hear our friend JRJ repeating the same words from beyond?


  121. “I am deeply interested in the progress and elevation of journalism, having spent my life in that profession, regarding it as a noble profession and one of unequaled importance for its influence upon the minds and morals of the people. -Joseph Pulitzer “

    DBS, you are a sensational example. I look forward to reading more. I hope soon, your articles will be translated in Tamil and Singhala, so that every one in Sri Lanka will have access to a factual, dispassionate and ‘straight up’ journalist!
    Thank you.

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