Reminiscences of Dharmaraja heard from my elders
(This article first appeared in "Digital Pencil", Issue 1).
By P.B. Ellepola
I was requested by my nephew Anil Ellepola to write this article as I am privy to information of the early pe-riods, although not a Rajan myself. I am an octogena-rian living in retirement at Pannipitiya, Sri Lanka.
Thus I have heard from my elders, some of which are their past reminiscences.
My beloved father Loku Banda Ellepola was an Old Rajan (1897 -1902). He attended College having taken lodging at Gangaramaya Raja Maha Viharaya. Born on 2nd May 1885, and after his primary education at Palapathwela School, he entered Dharmaraja. His principals were Mr,H. Banbury and Mr. C.S. Rajarat-nam. He did well as a cadet in Dharmaraja. Father spoke very highly of his principals specially Mr. C.S. Rajaratnam who was a good disciplinarian and an excellent teacher.
T.B.Ellepola, a “Rate Mahaththaya” was my Mother's maternal uncle. He left Dharmaraja probably after matriculation. Later he passed the Calcutta University entrance examination.
My maternal uncle S.J.B Dharmakeerti, attorney- at- law born in 1900, was once a brilliant student of Dhar-maraja where he passed the London Matriculation with honors. Right through his College career he took a keen interest in all extra-curricular activities, showing himself well in Scouting, drama and religious affairs of the college. He joined and left school during Principal Billimoria's tenure of office.
It was when Ven. Anagarika Dharmapala addressed the Rajans that he was so impressed and took a great interest in Buddhism. Ven. Dharmapala's sobriety in speech, and his lovable, gentle and pleasing words it is said brought tears in the eyes of his listeners.
Mr. S.J.B. Dharmakeerti further goes down his memory lane. On a later date Ven Dharmapala addressed a large gathering of town-folk near the Maligawa. Here he was a different man well suited to the adults of his time. He was vociferous, forceful and almost spelt a vengeance against the Anglo imperialists and their followers. Mr.Dharmakeerti realized, being astonished listening to the speaker, how oratory could change people's hearts even to rise in mutiny for a just cause.
Mr. Dharmakeerti watched a demonstration - a protest march against his principal Mr. Billimoria at Matale by a few teachers and some members of the B.T.S. (Buddhist Theosophical Society). He was furious but was helpless. The cry was that Mr. Billimoria was a fire worshipper and a non Buddhist, and that he should be removed. It was very unfortunate that a handful of non-conformists, forget the yeomen services Mr. Billimoria was rendering to Dharmaraja. However their protest went unheard. Their objective was never achieved.
JAYA ! JAYA ! DHARMARAJA !