Sri Lankan National Anthem
"Sri Lanka Matha" is the national anthem of Sri Lanka. The words and music were written by Ananda Samarakoon in 1940 in the Sinhala language, and was officially adopted as the national anthem on November 22, 1951 by a committee headed by Sir Edwin Wijeyeratne.The first line of the anthem originally read: "Namo namo matha, apa Sri Lanka". There was some controversy over these words in the 1950s, and in early 1962 they were changed to their present form.
Ananda Samarakoon was born George Wilfred Alwis to a Christian family in Padukka, in Ceylon, on January 13, 1911. In 1936, Samarakoon left for Santiniketan in India to study art and music. After six months he abandoned his studies and returned to Sri Lanka, and changed his name to Ananda Samarakoon, embracing Buddhism. He was very much influenced by Rabindranath Tagore while in India and his fascination and the desire to imitate the great Indian musician would go on to take him in the direction of creating a musical tradition for the Sri Lankan people. During Samarakoon's stay in India, one of his early compositions, Namo Namo Mata (composed in 1940, recorded in 1946) was nominated as the national anthem and was officially adopted by the State as the Sri Lankan national anthem in 1952. Critics attacked Namo Namo Mata, particularly the "Gana" significance of the introductory words (Namo Namo Matha) which designate disease and ill luck. Samarakoon was not a believer in "Gana", and the criticism caused him to write numerous articles counter attacking his critics to defend his composition. However, without his consent, the introductory words were changed to "Sri Lanka Mathaa" so that the "Gana" significance now would designate victory and prosperity.
Sri Lanka Matha, apa Sri Lanka, Namo Namo Namo Namo Matha. Sundara siri barini,Surendi athi Sobamana LankaDhanya dhanaya neka mal pala thuru piri, Jaya bhoomiya ramya.Apa hata sapa siri setha sadana, jeewanaye Matha!Piliganu mena apa bhakthi pooja,Namo Namo Matha.Apa Sri Lanka,Namo Namo Namo Namo MathaObawe apa widya, Obamaya apa sathyaObawe apa shakti, Apa hada thula bhakthiOba apa aloke, Aapage anupraneoba apa jeewana we, Apa muktiya obaweNawa jeewana demineNnithina apa Pubudu karan mathaGnana weerya wadawamina ragena yanumena jaya bhoomi karaEka mawekuge daru kala bawinayamu yamu wee nopamaNamo Namo MathaApa Sri Lanka,Namo Namo Namo Namo Matha. Translated;
Mother Lanka we salute Thee!Plenteous in prosperity, Thou,Beauteous in grace and love,Laden with grain and luscious fruit,And fragrant flowers of radiant hue,Giver of life and all good things,Our land of joy and victory,Receive our grateful praise sublime,Lanka! we worship Thee.Thou gavest us Knowledge and Truth,Thou art our strength and inward faith,Our light divine and sentient being,Breath of life and liberation.Grant us, bondage free, inspiration.Inspire us for ever.In wisdom and strength renewed,Ill-will, hatred, strife all ended, In love enfolded, a mighty nationMarching onward, all as one, Lead us, Mother, to fullest freedom.
In 1945 Samarakoon's only son died at the age of five and the grieving Samarakoon left Sri Lanka for India where he pursued a painting career and held eleven art exhibitions there. Though his painting were critically acclaimed, he returned to music in 1951 back in Sri Lanka. On April 5, 1962, at the age of fifty one, Samarakoon committed suicide.