Bulletin 193 – 22.05.1986 – National Heroes


Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications,
Lotus Road,
Colombo 01,
Sri Lanka.
20th May 1986.

The Philatelic Bureau of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications of Sri Lanka will issue on 22nd May, 1986 five commemorative stamps of the denomination of 75 cents to honour the following National Heroes;

(a) Ven. Kalukondayawe Sri Pragnasekara Maha Nayake Thero
The noble child Don Igonis was born at Kalukondayawa on the 30th of December 1895. This child from the very young days showed his skills in reading Buddhist scriptures to the devotees on Poya days. The small child being a brilliant student was first coached for medicine but was ordained on 1911.02.23 by the name Kalukondayawe Pragnasekara under the pupillage of the Ven. Katuwawala Sri Sumanatissa Maha Therо, the Chief incumbent of the Sugathabimbarama, Nawagamuwa.

This small monk in his novitiate entered the Vidyodaya Pirivena in 1913 and passed out, becoming the first in the 1921 final examination. He completed his pirivena education after winning number of prizes including the Siamese Royal award. The thero became widely popular after his appointment to the tutorial staff of the Vidyodaya Pirivena in 1922.

The ven. thero who took a special interest in social service published two booklets titled “Modern Buddhist concept” and “Rural Reforms and Prevention of Crime” with the sole intention of setting up a prosperous and righteous society. He was a pioneer in the temperence movement throughout his life.

This thero who was one of the cleverest teachers at the Vidyodaya Pirivena also held the posts of Vice Principal and Principal of the Pirivena, At the same time, he was appointed to the post of Mahanayake of the Sri Kalyani Samagri Dharma Maha Sanga Saba in 1958.

He was also the Chief incumbent of the Nawagamuwa Sugathabimbaramaya and the Sri Bodhiraja Vihara in Fort and was awarded such honorary degrees as the “Aagama Chakravarthy,” “Thripitaka Vageeswaracharya, Mangala Dharmakirthi Sri Upadyaya” and Pandit. He toured several countries like India, Burma and Siam and rendered valuable service as a teacher, author, orator and a social reformer. The thero passed away on the 12th of November 1977.

(b) Brahmachari Walisinghe Harischandra
Brahmachari Walisinghe Harischandra was a most illustrious social reformer who led a non-violent struggle for the protection of Buddhist rights and Buddhist antiquities in the Anuradhapura area.

He was born at Maha Hunupitiya Negombo on the 09th of July 1876. He had his education at the Sinhalese school of his native village and at St. Mary’s High School, Negombo.

While doing his studies, he took an interest in studying the Dhamma and the methods of meditation. He was studying at the Wesley College, Colombo to qualify as a lawyer when he became an eloquent orator due to his work in student unions and also succeeded in improving meditation methods.

Brahmachari Walisinghe Harischandra at the age of 25 gave up his studies against the wishes of his parents in order to safeguard the heritage of the degenerating Sinhala Buddhists.

By this time the Sinhala Buddhists were in a very ignorant and subjugate state due to foreign domination. He however received the full blessings of the Maha Sanga of the time.

In order to serve the people he observed the “Discipline of Celebacy” before the Ven. Maha Sanga on the 1st of January 1899 and came to the Anuradhapura Sacred City on the 16th of November 1899 making a brave public call “Save Anuradhapura” and staged a non-violent struggle with the government of the time.

The first discourse in this connection was delivered near the Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi on the 18th of January 1899.

He has written a number of books including the two books titled “Anuradhapura Sacred City” and “Archaeology.” These books have greatly helped those with a knowledge of archaeology to gain a better knowledge on the subject.

He has conducted 1363 public discourses throughout Sri Lanka with the object of setting up a righteous society. In 1902 he founded the “Ruwanweli Chaittiya Wardana Samitiya” and functioned as it’s first Chairman. He also held posts in several leading societies which existed at that time.

It was he who pioneered the struggle to build a new town by demarcating the sacred area after the Sinhalese kings. Brahmachari Walisinghe Harischandra who dedicated himself to the service of the country at the age of 21 passed away on the 13th of September 1913 plunging the entire nation in great sorrow.

(c) Mr. Martin Wickramasinghe
Martin Wickramasinghe, considered the foremost intellectual of Sri Lanka in this century, was born on the 29th May 1890 in the southern village of Koggala. Although his formal education ended at an early age, he was able through self education to read widely in Sinhala and English.

The search for cultural roots is the central theme in Martin Wickramasinghe’s writings. He imaginatively explored and applied modern knowledge in natural and social sciences, literature, linguistics, the arts, philosophy, Buddhism, comparative religion and education to guide us to the enduring roots of our common national identity embodied in our folk life and culture. His insight into the tolerant, humane, realistic attitude to life of Buddhist folk culture charactorized his work. He valued the intellectual freedom inspired by the Buddha’s “Kalama Sutta” which he saw as a tradition, unlike the Western scientific attitude.

Martin Wickramasinghe’s best known works include the trilogy Gamperaliya, Kali Yugaya, Yuganthaya and Madol Duwa which have all been filmed. The film of Gamperaliya won the Golden Peacock at the First Indian International Film Festival held in New Delhi in 1964. The trilogy is an exploration of changing human attitudes, customs and relationships in the context of a traditional feudal society facing the challenges and inroads of capitalism and commerce. Bavatharanaya, a fictional life of the Buddha written in his 84th year proved to be highly controversial. Sathva Santhathiya, a book on the theory of evolution first published in 1930 remains to this day the best exposition in Sinhala on the subject.

His career as a writer spanned sixty years in which he published 86 works, besides writing numerous articles to newspapers as Editor of the leading Sinhala newspaper, the Dinamina. A number of his works have been published in English, Hindi, Tamil, Russian, Chinese, Rumanian, Dutch and German.

(d) Mr. G.G. Ponnambalam
Ganapathipillai Gangaser Ponnambalam was born on the 8th of November 1901, in the Nothern most village of Alvai in the Jaffna Peninsula. Ponnambalam had his education at St. Patricks in Jaffna and St. Josephs in Colombo.

Whilst at the University College in Colombo in 1917, he won the Government Science Scholarships and left for England. There he joined the University of Cambridge and did the Tripos in Natural Science. Later he joined Lincoln’s Inn in London and passed out as a Barrister-at Law.

Ponnambalam came home almost immediately thereafter, and soon plunged into politics, after being called to the Bar in Ceylon in May 1927. He was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in July 1948 and was admitted to the Madras Bar in April, 1961.

He joined the United National Party in 1948 and became its Minister of Industries, Industrial Research and Fisheries. Ponnambalam, led the country’s delegation to the General Assembly of the United Nations both in 1965 and in 1966 as Prime Minister’s Special Representative and, Minister Plenipotentiary and Extra Ordinary.

In ethnic matters, Ponnambalam was a firm believer in dialogue and since 1961 was a lone campaigner for a Round Table Conference to resolve racial discord.

(e) Mr. A. M. A. Azeez
Aboobucker Mohammed Abdul Azeez, Sri Lanka’s first Muslim Civil Servant was born in Jaffna on 4th October 1911. He had his early education at Vaideshwara Vidyalaya and Jaffna Hindu College and entered the University of Ceylon in 1929.

Having served in various capacities, he resigned after 13 years sacrificing a brilliant carrer, to serve his community by becoming Principal of Zahira College, Colombo. Founder of the All Ceylon Y.M.M.A. Conference and the Ceylon Muslim Scholarship Fund he guided these Institutions to become instruments of educational and cultural activity, in the service of the Muslim Community.

In 1963 he won the Ceylon Government Sahitya Award for his pioneering work “Islam in Ceylon”. His intellectual contributions were stimulating, witty and thought-provoking.

Having actively associated as founder-member of the Naleemiah Institute of Islamic Studies, which gave birth to the Jamiah Nalemiah in 1973, he left an indelible stamp on the Muslim intellectuals of the country, particularly the younger generation, who still look to him for inspiration as a charismatic leader.

He died on 24th November 1973 at the age of 63, fondly remembered by the people, for the service he rendered to his country and his Community.

Philatelic Details

Date of issue1986.05.22
Denomination.75 cents
DesignerS. S. Silva
Stamp size30mm x 40mm
Printing processOffset Lithography
Sheet Composition50 stamps per sheet
Perforations12 1/2
PrinterMessrs. Format International Security Printers Ltd., U.K.
Colours usedFour Colours
PaperSpecial Security Stamp Papers
GumPVA Tropical Gum
Catalogue CodesStanley Gibbons LK 1064
Michel LK 863
Stamp Number LK 913
Yvert et Tellier LK 871


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