The arrival of American Theosophist, Col. Henry Steel Olcott and Madam Blavatsky in Galle on 17th May 1880 and the establishment of Buddhist Theosophical Society (BTS) is synonymous with the Buddhist revival in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon). Having read a copy of Panadura Vadaya (a debate held in Ceylon between Ven. Migettuwatte Gunananda Thero and French born Catholic Priest, Fr. Legg), Col. Olcott saw the sad plight of majority Buddhists due to suppression in the hands of Christian Missionaries and ruling Colonial Masters.
The establishment of BTS was pioneered by patriots like Anagarika Dharmapala, Ven. Migettuwatte Gunananda Thera, Valisinghe Harischandra and Ven. Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Thera. Their primary task was to set up English schools for majority Buddhists who were not endowed with a good English education. The fruits of the hard work done by those fearless leaders was amply manifested when on 1st November 1886 an English Buddhist School was opened at No. 54, Maliban Street [a large House with 5 rooms], Pettah with only 37 students. Mr. C. W. Leadbeater was its Principal and the staff consisted of 7 teachers. The average attendance in the first 6 months was only 111, according to a report by Mr. W. Blair, Inspector of Schools. From No. 54, Maliban Street, Pettah, it was shifted to no. 19, Prince Street, Pettah in August, 1889, before Ananda found its permanent niche at Maradana in 1895. By this time the student population had risen to over 130. The Head Master and the Boarders resided in the upper floor. Mr. A. E. Bultjens, a graduate from Cambridge University was in the staff. The formal registration in order to be identified as “The daily Buddhist English Academy“ was realized in March, 1889 and it coincided with the arrival of two new staff members, namely, Mr. Oliver James & Mr. Bath from Madras , India. History was created when young J. P. R. Weerasuriya Silva from this Academy was successful at the Cambridge Junior Examination. The site at Paranavadiya in Maradana, was bought for a sum of Rs.35,000/=, lent by the BTS in India and that is where Ananda stands today. This loan was repaid from the proceeds of Golden Jubilee Celebrations held in 1936 during Principal, P. de. S Kularatne’s time, a period widely accepted as the Golden Era of Ananda.
Today Ananda caters to over 8,000 students in 13 Grades of primary and secondary and boast of having produced a vast number of Island’s greats in Politics (Ananda account for all the Socialist Party Leaders of the pre-independence era), Science & Technologist (Many Scientists and Institutional Heads), Medicine & Engineering (Professors, Consultants, Institutional Heads), Cricket(including World cup winning Cricket Captain), Badminton, Swimming and other Sports, Cadetting & Scouting (including most of the brave security forces’ Heads who saved our mother land from LTTE terrorists in 2009), Business & Commerce, Law & Public Administration (Chief Justices, Supreme Court Judges, Public sector Institutional Heads), to mention a few., a feat hitherto unmatched by any other school.
Ananda College is the pride of the Nation. The journey travelled by Ananda College is majestic as it is monumental. Ananda, having maintained its pristine glory for 133 years, is now moving towards celebrating its 134th anniversary in 2020. From its inception, Ananda College had a continuous struggle to meet the demand for more space and buildings, as many parents sought to secure for their children an education at Ananda.
1890 saw the arrival of its Second Principal, Mr. A. E. Bultjens, a product of St. Thomas’ College, Mt Lavinia. A Christian by birth, Mr. Bultjens converted himself to Buddhism by conviction, facing the wrath of the Christian Clergy who were furious. On 18th of January, 1894, a Buddhist Philanthropist, Mr. Tudor Rajapakse donated a land 3.4 acres in the adjoining area & on 17th August, 1895 the school was moved to this space after spending Rs. 8,000/= on the construction of the school building and dormitories.
D. B. Jayatilleke, later Sir, the first Sinhala Buddhist to become Ananda’s Principal, assumed duties on 15th December, 1898. The first “Old Anandian Society“ which developed into its present day glory as Old Boys’ Association had its beginning during Sir D. B. Jayatilleke’s era where he functioned as its President.
With the departure of Sir D. B. Jayatilleke on 10th March, 1910, an Irishman, namely, Mr. M. U. Moore was appointed in his place on 15th April of the same year. During Mr. Moore’s tenure, a large number of constructions including the now demolished Moore building took place. A small Upstair Building attached to the Old School Hall by the side of Paranvadiya Rd [now Ananda Mawatha] was put up by Principal Moore.
With the departure of Sir D. B. Jayatilleke on 10th March, 1910, an Irishman, namely, Mr. M. U. Moore was appointed in his place on 15th April of the same year. During Mr. Moore’s tenure, a large number of constructions including the present Moore building took place. A small Upstair Building attached to the Old School Hall by the side of Paranvadiya Rd [now Ananda Mawatha] was put up by Principal Moore.
Mr. Fritz Kunz followed Mr. Moore by taking over the reins on 30th January, 1914. During Principal Fritz’s time development projects such as setting up a Hostel in a private house, initiation of the primary classes and the addition of Olcott Hall took place.
In 1918, Mr. P. de S. Kularatne assumed duties as the Principal of Ananda and that was the beginning of a golden era. The school celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1936, under Principal Kularatne. With his perseverance, the university curricula were revised mentioning provision for Sinhala, Pali, Sanskrit and Buddhism and that paved the way for many Anandians to enter universities. It created the beginning of a new era at Ananda and henceforth Anandians started excelling in all fields including Medicine, Engineering, Arts, and Science etc. Other important achievements during Kularatne era are;
In 1955, Mr. S. A. Wijayatilleke joined Ananda as its Principal. The worthy achievements of mention are;
In 1962, with Mr. M. W. Karunananda, assuming duties as Principal of Ananda, more emphasis was placed on increasing the educational standards of the School. It was he who pioneered the teaching of Science in Sinhala. Ananda College made a big stride in improving results at public examinations.
During the era of Principal, E. A. Perusinghe (1964-69) Ananda was able to achieve a long felt need of completing the construction of “Anada Vihara”
The following Developments took place during Principal, Col. G. W. Rajapakse’s period (1969 to 1989);
In 1955, Mr. S. A. Wijayatilleke joined Ananda as its Principal. The achievements noteworthy of mentioning are;
In 1962, with the arrival of Mr. M. W. Karunananda, as Principal of Ananda more emphasis was placed on increasing the educational standards of the School. It was he who pioneered the teaching of Science in Sinhala. Ananda made a big stride in improving results at Public examinations.
During the era of Principal, E. A. Perusinghe (1964-69) Ananda was able to achieve a long felt need of completing the construction of Budu Medura.
The following Developments took place during Principal, Col. G. W. Rajapakse’s period (4th May 1969 to 1989);
The brief spell of uncertainty that followed with the departure of Col. G. W. Rajapakse vanished with the arrival of Col. V. S. Kudaligama as Principal of Ananda on 11th January, 1982. It was during Col. Kudaligama’s period the first ‘Colours Night’ was held in school. The Centenary celebrations were held in grand scale with the support of OBA, parents and well-wishers.
Mr. A. P. Gunaratne succeeded Mr.Kudaligama (1989-1995) and was instrumental in making the following useful changes;
During the tenure of Principal, Mr. T. B. Damunupola (1995-2001) a number of Buildings were re-named after past Principals. The important achievements during his period are;
Mr. B. A. Abeyrathna was appointed as the Head of School in 2001. He set about making simple changes that had a far reaching impact on the School. Mr. Abeyrathna firmly believed that a good school needed a good environment. He took steps to clean up the school premises and maintain it. Greenery was enhanced through the planting of trees and establishment of flower terraces. More open spaces were created with the demolition of unnecessary enclosures and fences. A notable addition during his tenure was the erection of a statue of Col. Henry Steel Olcott in front of the Centenary building. Mr. Abeyrathna was instrumental in establishing new sports activities such as Rowing and weightlifting, and he revived the defunct Mountaineering Society. Many other areas also flourished at Ananada during this period such as discipline, examination results, English drama, athletics, gymnastic, hockey and cricket. The Kularatne Hall, which had started to show its age was renovated and completed to a high standard during Mr. Abeyratna’s tenure.
Mr. Lal Dissanayake was appointed as the acting Principal in 2008. He was holding office for a short period of time until his successor was appointed in 2009. However, he managed to bring in some stability to the College administration during this short term. During his tenure, the OBA & SDS organized the “Anada Viru Harasara” (Ranaviru Upahara) in grand scale to pay tribute to brave soldiers of Ananda, who spearheaded the war to eliminate the LTTE terror from our motherland.
In the second half of 2009, OBA & SDS spared no time in searching for the right person to take over the reins from the acting Principal, Mr. Lal Dissanayake. On 4th November, 2009, Mr. L. M. D. Dharmasena, a Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Education opted to take up the challenge. The School celebrated its125th anniversary during 2011under the guidance of Mr. Dharmasena. As the Head of the School and the President of the OBA, he guided all stakeholders to organize a number of events to celebrate this event such as a parade, releasing of a commemorative silver coin, organizing commemorative dinner etc.
Mr. Kithsiri Liyanagamage was appointed as the principal in May 2013 and during the tenure of Mr, Liyanagamage (2013 – 2016) “Pas Mahala” (Grade 7 & 8 building) was demolished and a foundation stone was laid to construct a new building.
Mr. S. M. Keerthirathna succeeded Mr. Liyanagamage (2016) and was instrumental in making a proper waste management system at Ananda. He contributed immensely in regaining the momentum of Ananda by uplifting the educational standards and restoring discipline in School. “Sath Mahala”, an iconic building of Ananda was constructed and declared open during the tenure of Mr. Keerthirathna.