Colombo, February 14 (newsin.asia): The Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, on Wednesday stressed the “priceless” contribution of Sri Lanka’s freedom fighter, Sir. Don Baron Jayatilaka, to India-Sri Lanka relations in the early years of independent Sri Lanka and India.
Speaking at an event here to mark the 150 th.anniversary of Jayatilaka, the envoy quoted Thomas Carlyle to say that the history of the world is nothing but a of biography of great men.
“The history of Sri Lanka is definitely not complete without a special mention of Sir DB Jayatilaka. As High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka, I will add that the history of India-Sri Lanka bilateral relations, is also not complete, without acknowledging, the priceless contribution of Sir DB Jayatilaka,” the envoy said.
“The statue of Sir DB Jayatilaka reminds us today of the struggles and sacrifices of our forefathers, that too when both our nations are celebrating 70 years of independence. It also provides an opportunity for reflection and introspection.”
“Sir DB Jayatilaka was most honorable, scholarly, and selfless in his sacrifice for the country; he was truly giant of a man. We owe our existence today to brave men and women like him. I salute his spirit,” Sandhu said
Long and deep association with India
“His association with India started early. He was a linguist, well versed in several languages including Singalese, Pali, Sanskrit, English& Latin. He graduated from University of Calcutta in 1896 and went on to gain a BA in jurisprudence from Oxford. His formative years in Oxford provided the basis for a life-long friendship with India; he was active in the Society of Indian students in Oxford, serving as its Secretary, Treasurer, and President on various occasions,” the envoy recalled.
“Ceylon turned to India when the food shortage hit the country during the height of World War II; Sir DB Jayatilaka was sent as an emissary, and India did honour his request and sent food shipments to the island.”
“He was later appointed as Representative of Government of Ceylon to India. Unfortunately he fell ill when he was in Delhi; the Viceroy had arranged a special plane for him to return to Ceylon; unfortunately, he passed away when the plane was over Bangalore. He was later cremated in Borella.”
“He was a true son of Ceylon; he would remain forever, a true friend of India. Had destiny allowed him a longer life, who knows, what turn his career would have taken,” the High Commissioner said.
Encompassed East and West
“Sir DB Jayatilaka was a patriot, freedom fighter, national leader, philanthropist and a statesman of extraordinary vision. He was the perfect mix of the best of orient and occident. He was a flag bearer of Buddhism, and was deeply influenced by Theosophical Movement,” the High Commissioner said.
“He was also a great educationist. It might be a strange coincidence but it is true that in 1923, when Sir D.B. Jayatilaka was elected President of Ceylon National Congress, another great educationist, who would later become independent India’s first Education Minister, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, was elected President of Indian National Congress,” the envoy pointed out.
“India’s Prime Minister Modi, in his Vesak Day speech, noted that the friendship between India and Sri Lanka was etched in time by the ‘Great Master’. Sir DB Jayatilaka was a worthy son of the Great Master, and his contributions to strengthening the bonds between our great nations will be remembered forever.”
“As Lord Buddha has said: even death is not to be feared by those who have lived wisely. Sir DB Jayatilaka did live wisely; let us be his worthy disciples and live wisely, today and everyday,” High Commissioner Sandhu said.
(The featured picture at the top shows Indian High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhi at Sir D.B.Jayatilaka’s 150 th.birth anniversary celebrations in Colombo)