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L. H. Mettananda (1936-1945)

He was Principal of Dharmaraja College, Kandy from 1936-1945. At the time, Dharmaraja College was facing many difficulties and it was decided that Mr. Mettananda would be the ideal choice to sort out these problems and give the school a much needed new lease of life.
Two of the main problems that the school faced were financial difficulties to run the school and factionalism and conflicts among staff between upcountry and low country Sinhalese. One may say this was a caste issue. Both these issues were affecting the progress of the school.
Using tact and diplomacy which were hallmarks of the Mettananda personality, before long he was able to bring harmony among the staff and commence an upward march to improve the school. It is recorded that during his tenure of Principal at Dharmaraja College, he was able to convert Dharmaraja into becoming the foremost sought after Buddhist school in Kandy. The school saw many new buildings coming up including the library and two storeyed Science Laboratory. From 1936 to 1945, the student population increased from 440 to 805.
It was during his time, that Dharmaraja College blossomed out to be a well equipped school with an impressive improvement in the standard of education. An institution which faced severe debts at the time of his taking it over, he converted it into a school with a credit balance of Rs.128,213.94 at the time of leaving in 1945, which in those days was an enormous amount of money.
Mr. Mettananda's sense of honesty and integrity were unmatched. Every cent that Ananda College and Dharmaraja College received from well-wishers for improvement of the schools was accounted for and recorded.

Buddhism & Culture

Mr. Mettananda was closely associated with the Ven. Balangoda Ananda Maithri Thero (who was on the staff of Ananda College), Ven. Madihe Pannaseeha Thera and the Ven. Henpitigedera Gnanaseeha Thera who all worked together to bring about an awareness among the Buddhist population of this country and helped to bring about a change in the discriminatory treatment meted out to Sinhalese Buddhists in the post-independent era of the late Mr. D.S.Senanayake and other leaders thereafter. Buddhist revival work commenced by Anagarika Dharmapala continued even after his untimely death, thanks to personalities like Mr. Mettananda, Mr. P. de S. Kularatne, Mr. G.P.Malalasekera and many others.
Being an educationist, Mr. Mettananda was of the strong conviction that the cultural erosion that had taken place in this country during 440 years of foreign domination, needed to be changed and that the Sinhala Buddhist cultural heritage of this country must be revived and given its due place in our society. To achieve this, he worked tirelessly. Although he himself was a Buddhist with strong convictions, he always respected all other religions in this country. It is reported that he never slandered or insulted any of the other religions, but his mission was to get the rightful place for the Sinhala Buddhists. He was instrumental in forming the " Bauddha Jatika Balavegaya" to champion this cause and also initiated the "Temperance Movement" in this country.
He was elected President of All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC) at the AGM held in Galle in 1935. In his inaugural presidential address he reportedly stated that it was of paramount importance to steer education based on Buddhist principles. He was of the opinion that poverty and illiteracy were the main causes of crime and therefore, it was important to remove these two evils from our society. By some, he was labelled as a "religious fanatic" purely because he stood his ground on Sinhala Buddhist issues.
It was he who first demanded that the 5th Clause in the Kandyan Convention of 1815 on protection being given to Buddhism be included in the Constitution. and demanded that the proclamation of 21st November 1818 regarding temple lands be implemented. He also demanded that Article 29(2) of the 1947 Constitution be abolished. He also requested the government of the time, to publish the Tripitaka in Sinhala.
In 1951 a delegation from the ACBC headed by Dr. G.P. Malalasekera met Mr. D.S.Senanayake and requested him to appoint a committee to inquire anti-Buddhist activities in the country on the grounds that even though we were independent and had our own democratically elected government, nothing had been done to give Sinhala Buddhists there rightful place. It was pointed out that anti-Buddhist forces had caused grievous harm to Buddhists and that there was blatant discrimination against them in the government at various administrative levels.
After this meeting, even though Mr. D.S.Senanayake had requested a list of names of persons who could be included in such a committee, he later informed the ACBC that such a committee could not be appointed because he had received advice from the legal administration that an appointment of such a Commission to inquire into religious affairs would constitute a violation of Section 29(2)© and (d) of the Ceylon Constitution (Order in Council, 1946). Needless to state, that these advisors at the time were all under the guidance and supervision of strong anti-Buddhist forces and did not wish to have their activities exposed!
Under these circumstances, the ACBC decided to appoint its own committee to look into matters related to discrimination against Buddhists. The chapter on education, was written by Mr. Mettananda. They had the full support of the masses the Maha Sangha, who worked tirelessly to gather as much information as possible and many months of travel around the country was necessary when transport was not as convenient as it is today.
On the Wesak Full Moon Day of 1955, this report was offered to the Maha Sangha at a ceremony organized at Ananda College. It became evident however, that without the support of the government, nothing could be achieved and he tried other avenues to achieve his objectives.


Mr. Mettananda never had aspirations to enter active politics but whenever there was any national crisis, he would invariably get involved. His sole mission in life one could say, was to ensure that a Sinhala Buddhist awareness was initiated which would eventually bring about the necessary changes.
In 1934 Mr. Mettananda played a very active role in the Anti-Malaria campaign. In the Sessional Paper V-1936 titled "Report on the relief of Distress due to Sickness and Shortage of Food: September 1934 to December 1935" by H.E.Newnham (Commissioner for Relief) it is stated on page 47 thus: " The Ceylon Buddhist Congress under the direction of Mr. Mettananda, the Principal of Ananda College, gave me the fullest assistance in undertaking the distribution of these "comforts" and every week-end, for a period of three months, he visited those areas in the Kegalle District I had noted as being in need of the grant of relief in addition to that supplied by Government. Mr. Mettananda had organized his workers in a most efficient manner and there were no villages in which they would not undertake distribution however remote they might be. Further, the regularity with which these visits were paid enabled me to place the highest confidence in his organization and be able with certainty to inform villagers that relief would arrive."
The above statement made by H.E.Newnham about the commitment and organizational capabilities of Mr. Mettananda is ample testimony to the confidence and trust people had in him.
In 1956 when the late Mr. S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike was planning to come forward to contest the elections, Mr. Mettananda and those who worked on the issue of gaining the rightful place for Sinhala Buddhists decided to meet him and discuss matters.
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