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A.T. Ariyaratne, revered as ‘Gandhi of Sri Lanka’ passes away at 93

A T Ariyaratne

A.T. Ariyaratne, an esteemed social worker often hailed as the ‘Gandhi of Sri Lanka’ passed away at the age of 93 on April 16, 2024.

In 1958, Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne served as a teacher at Nalanda College in Colombo, concurrently holding the position of Vice President of the Nalanda College Social Services Association.

The Sarvodaya movement, inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s principles, took root during a charitable camp In Katholowa village of Kurunegala district in 1960. A.T. Ariyaratne, along with forty students from Nalanda College, engaged in various social services during this event, leading to the formal establishment of Sarvodaya.

Sarvodaya’s overarching goal was to foster a just, sustainable, and compassionate social system, catering to the fundamental human needs of the community through individual and collective enlightment.

Ariyaratne was nominated to the Constitutional Council as a civil representative in 2015.

He received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 1969, the Gandhi Peace Prize from the Government of India in 1996, the Niwano Peace Prize in 1992, the King Beaudoin Award and other international honours for his work in peace making and village development.

In 2006, he received the Acharya Sushil Kumar International Peace Award for the year 2005.

In 2007 Ariyaratne received the Sri Lankabhimanya, the highest National Honour of Sri Lanka.

The passing of A.T. Ariyaratne leaves behind a legacy of profound impact and service to the nation.

Courtesy: The article has been adopted from Lankasara and Colombo Gazette, April 16, 2024.