Farewell to a Visionary

Farewell to a Visionary

In the wake of Dr. Ahangamage Tudor Ariyaratne’s passing, the nation bids  farewell to a visionary whose legacy transcends generations and borders. As the founder of the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement, Dr. Ariyaratne leaves behind a profound imprint on the fabric of society, forever moved hed with the spirit of compassion, unity, and service.

Born on November 5, 1931, Dr. Ariyaratne’s journey began humbly, yet his aspirations knew no bounds. A dedicated educator at Nalanda College, he recognized the power of collective action in fostering meaningful change. In 1958, he took the pivotal step of organizing the inaugural shramadana work camp, igniting a flame of transformation that would illuminate countless lives.

Under his guidance, the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement blossomed into the largest non-governmental organization in Sri Lanka, becoming a beacon of hope for communities far and wide. Dr. Ariyaratne’s vision extended beyond mere philanthropy; it embodied a profound ethos of selflessness and empowerment, urging individuals to embrace their inherent capacity to effect positive change.

Through his tireless endeavors, Dr. Ariyaratne exemplified the true essence of leadership, galvanizing individuals and communities to engage in acts of service for the collective good. His unwavering commitment to social justice, peace, and sustainable development resonated across borders, inspiring countless souls to join hands in building a more equitable and harmonious world.

A Tribute  by  Senior Administrator Austin  Fernando on Dr. A T Ariyaratne”s 90th Birth Day :  

The Vaishnav of a New World-

“Who is a Vaishnav? A Vaishnav is one who realises the pain of others, helps those who are in misery without letting pride enter his mind”.
By citing the 15th-century poet Narasingh Bhagwan Bhajans’ great lyrics, let me extend my respect to Dr. A T Ariyaratne on his 90th birthday, a great humanist with whom I have been friends for more than 40 years.

Ari turned 90 on November 5, and I will reach 80 next year, if fortunate. We both, together, have been walking the earth for many years; we have encountered cruel tragedies; we have tasted brutal poverty; we have witnessed youth dying on streets; we have seen social changes; we have seen how history was written and constructed; we have tasted power; we have renounced power; we have seen the demolition of democracy. Yet, we have also seen how justice overturns corruption; we have seen the rebellion of youth; we have seen parents dying; we have seen friends departing; we have seen fathers carrying their sons’ coffins; we have seen mothers melting at the sons’ gravestones – mothers who wished to speak to sons from their deathbeds; we have seen the huge trees we built-up with peace being uprooted with saws of racism. Yet, like the liver of Prometheus in Greek myth, our efforts and passion for humanity never died despite the recurring invasion of vultures.

Ari, you have the strength and courage to face the ups and downs of life. For 60 years through Sarvodaya, you have not only developed social enterprise constructively; you have also, through service, enhanced humanity; you left no stone unturned to cure people’s pain; you have embraced, with love and kindness, those who were marginalised, stigmatised; you have fed the needy; you have satisfied their hunger. Transcending social, class, caste, religion, wealth, gender, and language discrepancies, you have been a new definition to humankind, through your actions.

Ari, though 90, you won’t be old and obsolete. Amidst the people who try to survive with their outdated knowledge and myths, you have uplifted Sarvodaya, representing innovative scientific expertise. A compassionate idealist, you still turn to the innocent and powerless in society which is ailed and paralysed with social dichotomies. You have ostracised no outsider. You love and empathise with each and every one. You are the contemporary human being in the outdated world. You are a hero of our history of humanity. You are a Vaishnav of the modern world.
Ari, May you live a long, healthy and happy life being a father to the world!

Austin Fernando


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