Remembering a Buddhist leader

(The 145th birth anniversary of W.A. de Silva fell on March 15)


In an age when great and good deeds of man are forgotten there, passed away seventy two years ago, Dr. WILMOT ARTHUR DE SILVA one of Ceylon’s greatest sons, who though being a qualified Veterinary Surgeon, took to agriculture, politics, and championed numerous Buddhist causes.. His munificence knew no bounds after he married into a rich Buddhist family of Moratuwa. Born on 15th March 1869, he had his early education at the Buona Vista School, in his home town, Unawatuna, Galle and later at Royal College, Colombo, His higher education was at a University in Bombay. DR, W,A, de Silva married Catherine Sri Chandrasekera, of Moratuwa.

He loved agriculture and took pains to irrigate the dry zone using scientific farming methods. He planted large extents of coconut and rubber, to become one of the wealthiest in Ceylon. Together with his wife Catherine, a daughter of Mudaliyar Sri Chandrasekera of Moratuwa. A large extent of land owned by them at High Street, Wellawatte, was donated to be a school and an orphanage run today by the Sri Lankadhara Society Inc. The Society also maintains a Senior Citizens Home in the same premises. The Sri Lankadhara Society has a 90 year record of service to humanity.

Dr W. Arthur de Silva lived with his wife at their well known Colombo mansion, " SRAVASTHI". When Ceylon’s economy collapsed between 1931 and 34 this large building was mortgaged, to raise funds to pay the salary’s of teachers in several schools administered by the Buddhist Theosophical Society.

As a State Councillor, Dr. De Silva made his presence known and actively supported the Ceylon National Congress of which he was the Secretary. He was elected to be a Member of the Legislative Council , and later represented Moratuwa in the State Council, until his demise in April 1942. He was an active member of the Temperance Movement and supported the work done by his friend F.R. Sananayake who was President of the movement. As a prolific writer, he was well known and was a lover of Sinhala folk music. His collection of ola leaf manuscripts were donated to the Colombo

Upali K. Salgado

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