The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee released a postage stamp to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Bodhisatva Anagarika Dharmapala, at Rashtrapathi Bhavan, today. Speaking on the occasion, the Indian President expressed hope “that this gesture by India will contribute towards further strengthening the bilateral ties between India and Sri Lanka and bring the two nations closer”. While reminding that “historically, India and Sri Lanka have remained natural allies”, the President added that “the relations between the two countries have withstood the test of time and social cultural exchanges for centuries have fostered further close co-operation in various fields”.
Recalling the contribution made by Anagarika Dharmapala in his pioneering role in the Buddhist revival movement through a “protracted struggle to protect and conserve the foundations of Buddhism in its place of birth, India”, the President went on to pay his “humble homage” to Anagarika Dharmapala who worked “selflessly all his life with a missionary zeal to propagate Buddhist ideals and to restore the glory of Buddhism”.
Addressing the gathering, Minister of Communication and Information Technology & Law and Justice of India, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad also made reference to the tireless contribution of Anagarika Dharmapala towards revival of Buddhism in India. He also recalled Anagarika Dharmapala’s role at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893, representing Buddhism, while his contemporary Swami Vivekananda represented Hinduism. The Minister made mention of the release of the postage stamp last year by President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Sri Lanka to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda where he was present. The Minister said that it is befitting that the legacy of Anagarika Dharmapala is honoured by India with a postage stamp released by the President of India.
The stamp release today is a part of a series of events organized both in India and Sri Lanka to commemorate Anagarika Dharmapala, who founded the Maha Bodhi Society in 1891, and dedicated his life for the resuscitation of Buddhist Heritage sites in India including Bodh Gaya, Sarnath and Kushinara. He also established a slew of charitable institutions, hospitals and schools.
Among those present at the event were General Secretary of Maha Bodhi Society of India Ven. P. Seewalee Thero, President of Mahabodhi Society of Sri Lanka Ven. Banagala Upatissa Thero, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to India, Professor Sudharshan Seneviratne, Foreign Secretary of India, Sujatha Singh, Secretary of the Department of Post of India, Kavery Benerjee, Post Master General of Sri Lanka, D. L. P. R. Abeyratne, Bhikku in Charge of the Maha Bodhi Society in Buddhagaya Centre Rev K. Medhankara Thero, Bhikku in Charge of the Maha Bodhi Centre in New Delhi Ven. R. Sumiththananda Thero, Members of Parliament of India, religious dignitaries, officials, academics and civil society representatives of both countries.
Sri Lanka High Commission
25th October 2014