Bulletin 262 – 25.05.1989 – National Heroes

Stamp Bulletin No. 262

Department of Posts,
Lotus Road,
Colombo 01,
Sri Lanka.

The Philatelic Bureau of the Department of Posts will issue on 22nd May, 1989 five commemorative stamps in the denomination of .75 cents to honour the following National Heroes:

(a) Ven. Parawahera Vajiragnana Nayaka Maha Thero

The Most Venerable Dr. Parawahera Vajiragnana Nayaka Maha Thero who was born in an autocratic Sinhala Buddhist Family on 26.09.1893, in Parawahera, Matara and received his first initiation as a Samanera in Purana Vihara, Meegahagoda, Pelmadulla, Ratnapura in 1909. He obtained his Upasampada ordination from Malwatte Chapter, Kandy in 1913, and was educated in the Vidyodaya Maha Pirivena, Maligakanda, Colombo, wherein he was appointed as an assistant lecturer from 1921 to 1928 in the same College. He also as a Dhammachariva served in the Ananda Maha Vidyalaya and Nalanda Maha Vidyalaya during the same period.

In 1928 as the leader of the first Buddhist Mission to Europe and America, was sent by the Maha Bodhi Society of Sri Lanka. He went to the western countries and did his sefless mission very successfully for eight years. He was the first Buddhist monk to receive Ph.D. degree from a western university like Cambridge University by writing a very authentic and monumental Thesis called “Buddhist Meditation in Theory and Practice” in 1936.

Holding the Presidentship of the Ceylon Maha Bodhi Society for 23 years Dr. P. Vajiragnana Nayaka Thero opened a golden chapter to its history by erecting two Aggasavaka Maha Vihara in Sanchi, Bhopal State, India and at Maha Bodhi Society, Maligakanda, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Being appointed as the Chief Inspector of Pirivenas he raised up the Buddhist education to a higher standard of its functioning. During 2500th Buddha Jayanthi Celebration as the Editor and Secretary in Chief to the Tripitake Translation and Revising Board Dr. Vajiragnana Neyaka Maha Thero rendered a monumental service to the course of Buddhasasana. In 1959 he became the Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy, in the Vidyodaya University of Sri Lanka and gradually was appointed as the Vice Chancellor and the Vice Chancellor Emeritus till he peacefully passed away in 1970.

(b) Fr. Maurice J. Le Goc

Fr. Maurice Jacques Le Goc was one of the greatest educationists among the Christian Missionaries in Sri Lanka. He was born on 21st February, 1881 in Brittany, France and joined the Oblate Congregation in 1903. He was Ordained priest in Rome in 1907. He studied there obtaining the Ph.D. and Licentiate degrees in Theology at the Gregorian University, Rome.

The first Rector of St. Joseph’s College, Colombo, Fr. C. Collin, chose him for training in the United Kingdom for teaching in Sri Lanka. He secured the B.A. at Cambridge (1911) and the Bs.C. in London with a first class and M.A. in 1914.

He arrived in Colombo on 3rd January, 1914 and was appointed to St. Joseph’s College in the same year. He became Rector of St. Joseph’s in 1919 and served in that capacity for 21 years. He retired from school work in 1941 and then worked for the church as Vicar General, Colombo Archdiocese.

He was lecturer in Botany at the Ceylon Medical College and in Nature study at the Government Training College. His publications include “Introduction to Tropical Botany”, “Simplified Astronomy” and “Dignity of Labour”.

From St. Joseph’s, he founded three other schools in the suburbs of Colombo, St. John’s Dematagoda, St. Peter’s College, Bambalapitiya and St. Paul’s, Waragoda, Kelaniya.

He died of a car accident during the war in March, 1945.

A man of rare distinction, he endeared himself to all his students and had an impact on the educational scene beyond the confines of his own college. A whole generation of students passed through his hands. The nation as a whole has good reason to be thankful for his life and service.

(c) Hemapala Munidasa

Hemapala Munidasa was an unimitable writer who weilded his powerful pen for 35 years (1922-1957) for the enrichment of the Sinhala language and Literature. Born on 22.06.1903 in the village of Ambagasdowa in Welimada, his preliminary education was only upto the 6th standard. But reading every book and paper that reached his hand he felt an unquenchable thirst of knowledge and literal taste. He came down to the capital to get a practical education to be a weaving instructor. Though he succeeded in this attempt, his yearning towards writing and literary taste made him to write and publish his first novel ” Viola “when he was 19 years of age.

His real literary life began when he joined the Editorial Staff of “Swadesa Mitraya”, the then most popular weekly in 1922. There he formed a lucid and vivid style of Sinhala writing and earned a reputation through his special articles, “Legal Court Scenes” and “Life Sketche of Heroes”. Later he joined the ” Sinhala Bauddhaya” as its co-editor and in 1934 became its Editor-in-Chief, which paper he served with abundance of writing on various topics. The young sinhala poets rallied round him due to the artistic matter and style of this able writer whose patriotic writing generated a new enthusiasm among them in addition to a religious ferver.

Later he started” Sinhala Balaya” as the organ of the Sinhala Maha Sabha and later “The Sinhale” in 1951. While editing the above mentioned weeklies, he wrote a number of novels, short stories and classical translations. Malawun Atara Jeevitaya, Sekaya, Sakala sena, Punaralokaya, Kinnara Pissuwa, Nari Getaya, Wahal Wendesiya, Rasawadanaya, Ratu Keta, Yaka Bas, Jeevita Poojava were some of them. Pancha Thantra translation was acclaimed as a classic. Combining the essence of Maha-Bharata and Bhagavat Geetha he wrote his largest work entitled “Bharatha Geethaya” in his last days. He passed away on 29th December 1957 when he was only 54 years of age.

(d) Ananda Samarakoon

Mr. Ananda Samarakoon, the composer of the national anthem of Sri Lanka was born in the village of Liyanwala, Padukka in the Colombo District on the 13th of January, 1911. He was educated at the Wewala Government School, Piliyandala and the Christian School, Kotte and was later appointed as the Arts and Music teacher of the same Christian School. Mr. Samarakoon who was highly impressed by the performances of Ravindranath Tagore when the latter visited Sri Lanka in 1934 with a group of forty dancers left for India in 1936 in quest of the Tagore arts tradition. There, he joined the Tagore’s Shanthinikethan and studied arts and music from teachers like Nandalal Bose and Shanthilal Ghose.

Mr. Ananda Samarakoon, on his return to the Island, became extremely popular among the people by the songs he sang for Gramaphone Records. “Endada Menike Mamath Diyambata Nelanna Kekatiya Mal”, “Podimal Ethana”, “Wile Malak Pipila Kadimayi”, “Punchi Suda Sudu Ketiya”, “Ese Madura Jeevanaye Geetha”, “Besa Seethala Gangule, Peena Peena Namuko Nago”, “Ramya Wana Male” and “Pudamu Me Kusum” are some of his songs which became very popular. In fact, the song that is presently being used as our national anthem was also a popular gramaphone record. In April 1950, the then Minister of Finance Hon. J. R. Jayewardene in a memorandum to the Cabinet proposed that the song “Namo Namo Matha” which had become very popular among the people be adopted as the national anthem. Accordingly, the Cabinet decided on 22.11.1951 that the song ” Namo Namo Matha” should be our national anthem.

It is not only his composition of the national anthem that carned him such widespread popularity. At a time when our musicians and singers were composing Sinhala songs by copying the tunes of Hindi and Tamil songs, it was Mr. Samarakoon who started composing songs independent of the tunes of other languages and became very popular.

Further, Mr. Samarakoon was the first person who took pains to trace the national identities of music and who significantly improved the standard of composition of Sinhala songs utilising his wide knowledge of folk literature.

Mr. Ananda Samarakoon has conducted arts exhibitions in the cities of Bombay, Singapore, Kualar Lumpur, Keang, Penang, Bangalore, Lucknow and New Delhi and most of these exhibitions won the admiration of foreign experts and enthusiasts of art.

(e) Simon Casie Chitty

Simon Casie Chitty was born at Kalpitiya in the Puttalam District on 21.03.1807 and commenced his education in the Tamil School there and later in Puttalam. Without any formal educational facilities, besides his mother tongue Tamil, he acquired a mastery of Sinhala, Sanskrit, Hebrew, Arabic and English and proficiency in four European languages, Portuguese, Dutch, Latin and Greek. His father Gabriel Casic Chitty was the Tamil Translator to Government and was later appointed Mudliar of Calpentyn, a post to which his son succeeded him to on his death in 1833. While holding this post he was allowed to practise as a Proctor of the District Court of Puttlam. His study perserverance and unremitting application enabled him to surmount many obstacies and lay the foundation of his Scholastic and literary career. He made his debut as an author with 3 essays. Sir Alexander Johnston later Chief Justice of Ceylon, President of the Royal Asiatic Society of London proposed him as a corresponding member of the Society. In 1832 he published his magnum opus. The Ceylon Gazetteer, the first attempt of its kind and a mine of information on the topography of Ceylon. This book was highly commended by many eminent contemporary scholars.

In 1850 he printed and published the Tamil Plutarach. A full list of his literary undertaking by D.P.E. Hettiaratchi is published in Vol.30 No.80 of the Journal of the R.A.S. (Ceylon) Branch in 1927.

In 1838 he was appointed to the Legislative Council in succession to Coomarasamy Mudliar, deceased.

He established and maintained at his own expense a Tamil School at Calpentyn for about 50 students to be taught free of charge.

He put out a Tamil Newspaper called “Udaya ditya” or “The Rising Sun” which enjoyed an extensive circulation.

In 1845 Mr. Casie Chitty resigned his seat in the Legislative Council. He accepted the Police Magistracy of Calpentyn.

Shortly afterwards his appointment to the Civil Service was confirmed making him the first native appointed to the Service.

In 1847 he was appointed Acting District Judge, Chilaw and confirmed as District Judge in 1847.

Despite his heavy Court duties he continued his unremitting literary output. He succumbed to a virulent attack of endemic fever and passed away peacefully on 5.11.1860 at Calpentyn.

Simon Casie Chitty’s literary achievements and the Social impact he made will continue to inspire all these who want to work for the improvement of society in modern Sri Lanka. He was an ornament of public life, one who thought and lived as a true Sri Lankan.

Philatelic Details

Date of issue1989.05.22
Denomination.75 cents
DesignerS. S. Silva
Stamp size29.85mm ‹ 40.64mm
Printing processOffset Lithography
Sheet Composition50 stamps per sheet
PrinterSecurity Printers, Malaysia
Colours usedCyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black
Paper102 gsm stamp security paper
GumTropical gum
Quantity printed1,000,000
Catalogue CodesStanley Gibbons LK 1064
Michel LK 863
Stamp Number LK 913
Yvert et Tellier LK 871


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