“What is this Freedom which has for six years failed to make up its mind to conduct its business in the language of the people – although all other newly-freed countries have done so, the moment they became free?”


“Freedom of thought, freedom of speech and freedom of the Press are democratic freedoms, and a democratic government is obliged to foster and protect these freedoms.”


“If our new-found freedom cannot produce initiative, manliness and self-reliance in all spheres of life, it has no meaning for us. To be sure, we have them in plenty, but Government gives them no outlet. Men of first-rate ability sulk in their tents, while armies of foreign experts – all mediocrities – pass by just to mess up things and go back.”


“It is high time that our leaders realised that the fulfilment of our national destiny depends on the inner capacities of our own people and not our going round the world with the begging-bowl.”


“The historical circumstances being such that first thing our leaders should have done was to take all steps to work out and develop the nations destiny; firstly, by rehabilitating those people who were impoverished by centuries of foreign domination and secondly by taking steps to fulfil the legitimate aims and aspirations of the people.”


“It is unfortunate that from the time we got our independence what reigned in the land has been incapacity to think, lack of foresight, extreme selfishness, and barbaric pomp – which are all characteristics of slave minds. One glaring instance of this topsy-turvy-dom is the invasion of our country by an army of foreign experts and the entrusting of the basic activity on which our national welfare depends – namely our education, to be administered at all stages by foreign officials who are absolutely ignorant of the language of the people. The spirits of our fore-fathers turn in their graves and point their warning fingers at the writing on the wall – so plain today for anybody to see.”


“Lack of self-confidence, unwillingness to give due recognition to local talents and over-anxiety to hand over direction of affairs to foreign guests are symptomatic of our slave-mentality.”

“The only remedy is to get closer and closer to your people in your hearts as well as in your minds. Then the problems of the people will be your own problems. When there is identity of interests, the whole atmosphere becomes electrified with a tremendous zeal and with a dynamic energy hitherto unknown in this country.”


“To establish this feeling of concord, this feeling of one-ness with your people your minds must meet their minds, your hearts must meet their hearts. This can happen only in one way – namely, through the medium of the people’s language and never through a foreign medium.”




“The first fundamental human right is freedom of thought. That is why all the newly-freed countries of the world, once they came to their own make a point of giving the national language the rightful place in the affairs of the nation.”


“Deliberate blindness to facts inspires little confidence in anyone’s argument. The plain and simple fact is that all free countries (including all newly-freed countries) have, in addition to the one state language, one or more minority languages each.”


“Dr. I. de S Weerawardena was perfectly right when he said the other day that if a democracy is run in the language known only to 10% of the people it is not democracy. India, Egypt, Denmark, Burma, Thailand, Indonesia and Turkey are among those countries that have given the national language the first place, the moment they obtained independence.”


“All these countries (Gt. Britain, France, USSR, Germany, Japan, China, U.S.A., Sweden, Holland, Turkey, Iran, Thailand, India, Burma, Indonesia, Philippines, Israel and Ireland) adhere to the first principle of democracy as laid down by Thomas Jefferson that “the lex majoris fortis (the will of the majority) is the fundamental law of every society of individuals of equal rights.”


“Were it not for the fact that the U.S.A. adopted one language as its official language and compelled the attendance of all immigrants at English schools, there would not be an English-speaking United States today, but several states with different official languages.”


“Prior to the British occupation of Ceylon, Sinhalese served as the island’s official language for over two thousand years, and despite all attempts by the colonial overlords and their camp-followers to wipe it out, it continues to be spoken today by 82% of the population. The repository of an age long national inheritance, Sinhalese is also a living language which is fast being enriched with the thoughts and feelings of the new age. Its record and achievement cannot easily be matched.”


“The claims of the national minority must be met by the provision, in suitable areas, of schools in the language of that minority, while the claims of the national majority must be met by making their language compulsory in the schools of the minority.”




“For nearly 450 years our country was under foreign domination and our destiny was determined for us by those foreign powers. These foreign powers set out with grim determination to destroy our language, our culture, our religion and our way of life and impose on us their language, their culture, their religion and their way of life. They gave power and privilege to those elements in the country that were amenable to their policies. They discriminated against and actually suppressed and impoverished the larger masses that did not take kindly to foreign domination.”


“It is important to bear in mind that during a period of national enslavement, it is national culture that becomes the first casualty. “No despotism can exist anywhere unless it is able to create about itself a citadel of interest. And the English Government saw in the middle class the possibilities of a bulwark that might be raised round itself for its own protection and English education was imparted with a view to creating this bulwark.”


“Ever since the foreign ruler in Ceylon started creating out of our middle class a bulwark for his own protection, there began in this country a long era of the emasculation of our people. Living in bondage to the foreign ruler, they began to despise their own language, literature, history, religion, their own spiritual heritage and turned to England as the Mecca of all their hopes and aspirations.”


“Our cultural renaissance is seriously handicapped by perhaps the greatest national calamity, brought about by foreign rule in Ceylon, the existence of hot-houses, foreign islands and ever-widening gulfs between one section of society and another. They inhabit the same land, belong to the same nation, but live in water-tight compartments.”


“The total number of persons who were able to read and write English after 150 years of colonial rule was only 6.3 per cent of the population aged five years and over … but our Minister of Education hopes to make 100 per cent of the population talk English as well as anybody else!”


“Those who feel that they are without roots or their roots bind them to a world very different from that which surrounds them are vociferous in their demand for a kind of internationalism which is not true internationalism but merely a mask for a “new colonialism”.”


“What English speech has created is not a common bond between the different communities but a new social group comprising 2.3% of the population who consider themselves superior to all other social groups and remain aloof from the vast majority of their fellow-countrymen comprising 97.7%.”


“The due recognition of our national language is also denounced, in the name of internationalism, “by a class of people dogmatic, self-seeking, unable to see beyond their noses and what is worse, capable of sugar coating their intentions by such catch phrases as ‘spreading ….culture’.”


“Every attempt is being made by all sorts of interested parties to crush us all into one procrustean bed of western materialism. Western materialism, be it noted, is “primarily interested in money-making, physical pleasure, sport of rather brutal kinds, war and domination of other peoples.” On the contrary, our culture “makes money-getting, material gain and physical pleasure secondary, and ……puts kindness, sympathy, things of the mind, and spirit, and religion first”.”


“There are people in this country who are so obsessed with their exaggerated notion of the importance of English that they are not satisfied with making it medium of secondary and university education, but they would have even primary education imparted through English to children whose mother tongue is not English. They would completely ignore the conclusions of psychology and sociology. They would take no notice of the interest of the pupil who is after all the supreme concern of education….This is just what the empire-builder did in Ceylon to carry out his divide-and-rule policy. The empire-builder has now gone; but the gulf he created to separate the English-educated class from the rest still remains, 2 per cent of the population not knowing what 98 per cent. think. This is the result of the so-called liberal education under colonial rule!”


“It is remarkable that the foreign ruler has always endeavoured to keep up his assumed superiority – his prestige – by pouring ridicule and contempt upon the subject people, their habits, customs and institutions. To the White sahib, native manners, native music, native dress, native quarters, native religion, native history, native medicine, native language, native literature, are all, crude, barbarous or primitive: and he uses the word “native” itself as a term of reproach. That native ways must go and hundred per cent of the population must be English-speaking and be able to read the London Times – is the burden of the Imperial song. And the colonial ruler justifies his insolent attitude towards the people of the country on the grounds that he is on a mission to bear the white-man’s burden – to serve the “lesser breed without the law” and “new-caught sullen peoples half-devil and half-child.””


“Just when our people were emerging from their centuries-old sense of inferiority, frustration and despair, those who were intent on the control of their minds have adopted a subtle technique in strategy with foreign agents and foreign funds to uproot our people from their moorings, to fire every move to give due recognition to their language, to wean children from the faith of their fathers – from their homes and hearths – dangling before their eyes the New Paganism of the West- particularly the American Brand. This underhand activity has wrecked our families, made converts of many Buddhists and what is worse, turned many more into bad Buddhists. All this has produced an atmosphere of irreligion which stresses comfortable living by hook or by crook.”


“The so-called English-educated class looked up to the foreigner as the pattern of his life and imitated him in all kinds of ways inclusive even of the bath tub and the toilet paper. And the English educated person was shrewd enough to discover that the most effective method of impressing the Colonial ruler was by speaking English with the Englishman’s accent and by proclaiming that he played cricket.”


“The educated class felt themselves strangers in their own land – cut off from their fellow – countrymen and natural surroundings – cut off from “the language of the seasons, of sky and earth, sunshine and wind, of the trees and the running waters”, always looking up to a model in a far-off country.”


“With the enthronement of the anglicised section of our society it has come to pass that glib talk in English is still the passport to power and influence…. At a public office, if you are English-speaking you can with impunity brush aside Sinhalese-speaking persons who have been long awaiting their turn and get your business attended to with remarkable speed.”


“The antagonists of swabhasa want Free Lanka to achieve what Colonial rule failed to achieve during 150 years – the anglicisation of Ceylon – the conversion of the people in Ceylon into 100% black Englishmen. All because for 1% of the total population, language of ordinary conversation is English and not the national language. Therefore 99% of the population must do what 1% has been doing.”


“The foreign medium has given a handle to the empty-headed and petty-minded officer or professional to think that he belongs to a superior breed and the distinguishing feature of his superior breed is his display of the foreign medium. The officer in the Kachcheri or elsewhere seldom or never thinks that he is paid out of public funds to serve the public. That conception is altogether new and it has not yet entered his mind.”


“On the contrary, he thinks he is the lord of the place and the public must offer him puja. He still has the Government Service mentality which is coming down to us from colonial days, when the Government Service constituted the superior caste which hobnobbed with the colonial ruler and domineered over the people of the land.”


“I wonder how many of our public officers or even ministers can face the world as genuinely honest? The only way to get public servants or professionals to cultivate a sincerity of purpose is by bridging the gulf that separates them from the people so as to enable them to realise the interest they share with the people. I believe that education through the national languages will go a long way to achieve this end.”


“The question at issue therefore is whether the anaemic survivals of a bygone empire be allowed to rule the destinies of a nation, or whether 92% of the population be given equality of opportunity.”


“Under minority control, our educational and administrative systems have become topsy-turvy. The privileged minority fights hard to preserve and sanctify this topsy-turvydom. “It is the nature of privilege and tyranny” says R.H.Tawney, “to be unconscious of themselves”. To strengthen and consolidate their exclusive privileges is the sole object of the happy few.”




“Before this country attained independence, the education provided in our schools was so designed as to enable the child to help the foreign ruler to govern this country in the latter’s interest. Now that we have got political freedom, our education has to undergo a rapid reorientation, so as to fit the child for the work of his life in a free land.”


“Our educational system which permits ‘the benefits of the best schools’ to a few and shows ‘almost complete indifference to the needs of the rest’ undoubtedly reflects the desire of our high society to perpetuate the social divisions for the propose of retaining their power and prestige.”


“The belief that the Sinhalese Buddhists were being discriminated against in the fields of education and employment was one that was prevailing from colonial times. There is ample justification for this belief. Although the British rulers were far more just and fair than the Portuguese and Dutch rulers, almost until the end of their period they discriminated against the Buddhists in the fields of education and employment.”


“According to Rev. Fr S G Perera for a long period under the British it was not possible for a person to secure a government job without an English education and nobody could get an English education without first getting himself baptised as a Christian. The Buddhists generally believed that after Ceylon attained political independence this kind of discrimination would cease once and for all.”


“There is now a proposal to start a Roman Catholic University in Colombo with American professors…..Every university in the country should stand for national unity. If a university is run by a particular denomination, it is bound to stress the denominational differences, and induce the other denominations too to start universities of their own. This will divide the people into water-tight compartments. ….Any move that is likely to destroy our unity and harmony must be resisted with might and main. It is axiomatic that if our existing fissiparous tendencies are accentuated and developed, we shall soon fall a prey to a designing foreign power.”


“We must at the same time take cognisance of the remarkable fact that with the gaining of Independence, there has been a tremendous upsurge of a new feeling of national dignity and national self-respect, a new sense of civic responsibility in a free democracy, accompanied by an unceasing popular demand for more and better education. This is a social fact powerful enough to react on the educational policy of the country.”


“There is no doubt that a great deal of public expenditure on education is being wasted. It is because wrong things are taught to 80% of our pupils by wrong teachers. This is the greatest tragedy of our education.”


“Of the needs of the country, 5% may be regarded as academic, 80% practical and 15% partly academic and partly practical. But we have hitherto ignored in our educational system the needs of the country as well as the needs of the children. Instead we have imparted to our children a uniform type of over-linguistic instruction, creating a vast army of misfits-square pegs in round holes.”


“The provision of practical education is a problem that must be taken up here and now…To make our practical schools a success, it is advisable to secure the services of craft teachers from Japan which is famous for its well-organised cottage industries…If we introduce our children at the right age to practical work and get them to find joy in the beautiful things done by their own hands we shall enable them to lead happy and prosperous lives.”


“I regard the non-provision of university facilities to those who are fit for university education as a measure likely to deny to the service of the state a high percentage of our best brains.”


“Our University students are isolated from the daily life of the people and made strangers to their own age and nation. This isolation is made still graver by the prevalent intellectual authoritarianism. All monopolies are evil. The worst form of monopoly is undoubtedly intellectual monopoly.”




“Throughout the course of their long history, the Sinhalese people have never been tribal or racial in their outlook. This has been mainly due to the influence of Buddhism, which transcended barriers of caste, tribe, race and nationality.”


“Tolerance is certainly the high watermark of our culture. Mankind that have stood aghast at religious persecutions, the burning of scientists as heretics, the tyranny of colonialism and of slave trade, lynch law, apartheid, communal or racial fanaticisms, concentration camps and iron curtains will probably find our tolerance a pattern for all nations.”


“The Sinhalese Buddhist who waged a life and death struggle against foreign invaders to save the motherland, befriended and helped the very enemy once the struggle was over.”


“It is undeniable that from time immemorial Sinhalese Buddhists have practised tolerance…. Tolerance is closely interwoven into the very texture of their being. Unfortunately, since the advent of the foreign conquerors their tolerance has been taken unfair advantage of for purposes of exploitation.”


“Notwithstanding the poverty of our fellow-countrymen, their lives continue to be illumined by their thoughts of the Buddha whose teaching is for ever their life-blood, as it was in the case of our forefathers who by the Convention of 1815 ceded to the British Sovereign this territory of Kande-Udarata, and while doing so caused the British Government to pledge itself to the preservation of “Boodoo” Religion.”


“It is well-known that Buddhism has enabled our people to survive the shambles erected for their massacre by Catholic Portugal, the inhuman persecution imposed on them by wicked Hollanders, and the dictatorship of their minds held by crafty England. To be sure, Buddhism has enabled our people to survive their over- powering sense of inferiority, frustration and despair that stemmed from the ridicule and contempt, direct or indirect, poured by the arrogant foreigner upon them – upon their habits, customs, institutions, manners, music, art, dress, history, religion, language, literature and medicine.”


“Buddhism has enabled our people to survive the mission of the white man’s burden to serve “the lesser breed without the law and new-caught sullen peoples, half-devil and half-child”. In short, Buddhism has enabled our people to escape the extinction from the face of the earth that fell to the lot of the indigenous inhabitants of America, Australia, and Africa. Yes, Buddhists have survived!”


“Whatever doctrinal differences there may be between Buddhism and Christianity, there is a feature that is common to both. That is, the ethical outlook. Both religions teach that in every deed of ours, nay, in every thought and word of ours, we must be mindful of morality; and that we should always be guided by ethical principles rather than by expediency.”


“Our policy is, Live and Let live. We cherish loving kindness and not hatred; harmony and not discord; peace and not war. The Buddhist in his daily exercise recites the formula:—- Sabbe Satta bhavantu sukkhitatta! May all beings be happy!”




“There are Missionaries who obtain land in Buddhist Centres, settle a few Catholics in them, first put up a large Cross on a conspicuous site, then erect a church and then a school to which Buddhist children are gradually enticed by different kinds of inducements, such as places, scholarships, money etc. In the Christian atmosphere of the school, the plastic mind of the Buddhist child is misled into the belief that his father who is a Buddhist is a heathen…. that Buddhism is not the religion for educated people. This is what I was made to feel in the Missionary School which I attended for some time.”


“The child who chooses to remain Buddhist is severely handicapped. Every inducement is offered to the Buddhist lad to become Christian. Prizes, studentships and good situations are open to him only if he gives up the religion of his father.”


“Buddhist lads under Missionary influence nourish contempt for the ways of their fathers, for the religion of their fathers, for the art, music and literature of their country.”




“It is, indeed, a matter for jubilation that in the 2500 year of the Buddha’s attainment of Parinibbana, we should also be witness to the re-establishment of Sinhalese as the official language of the country. Not only would we be thus helping to restore the vitality of the civilization that flourished in this country in almost unbroken continuity for twenty five centuries, but we would also be rectifying the grave injustice done to 95 per cent of our people who could not read, write or speak the English language, by adopting English as the official language of the country.”


“To the children of my primary department the mother-tongue is as natural as their hands and their feet. They have an ever-increasing conception of the reality of what they learn and what they do through the medium of the mother-tongue. The use of the mother-tongue medium has helped them to cultivate their power of initiative and to link up the experience of their home and their surroundings with their school work.”


“It is these elements of the mother-tongue that provide an emotional stimulus and awaken originality of thought.”


“The use of the mother-tongue for the educative process in the stage which adapts the child to his physical environment is an irresistible demand imposed by nature upon the mental development of the child as a human being.”


“It is the nature of the child to think and reason out things related to his life-situations. These things are revealed to him by his own sense-impressions with which swabhasa is so closely interwoven. It is this sense-experience inseparable from swabhasa that is at the birth of thoughts, feeling and reasoning –so much so that swabhasa is “irreplaceable, unchangeable.” It is more than “the language of the home and the temple.” Truly speaking, “it is not a language but the foundation-stone of personality.””


“We fail to observe how seriously the foreign medium affects our originality of thought, because we are amazed at the marvellous memorising powers displayed by the Ceylon child under the spell of word magic, little realising that he is blissfully ignorant of the numerous “associations” and “postulates” of the English word, which though “unexpressed” are perfectly obvious to the English child. It is as clear as noon-day sun that the foreign medium “stunts and retards the intellectual development of a naturally gifted people” and creates an army of mediocres who are ever on the look-out for ‘cushy’ jobs.”


“The child trained through the natural medium, that is the swabhasa medium feels an inner urge to wrestle with the problems of his physical surroundings and social inheritance and the skilful educator is able to lead him “step by step to a wider range of thinkers and writers” in English which is the child’s compulsory second language.”


“(Sinhala) is a language that sets out the march of the human spirit for a period of over 2,000 years in this country. It is the repository of the inter-action in all its phases of the human spirit with such natural surroundings as there are in Ceylon. It gives a vital perception of the dignity of man as man and reveals for all time the flowering of the human personality. Who can say that a language with such a vitality and with such past lacks the power to liberate the human spirit in the taught?”


“It is the interaction of subconscious association produced by our sense-experience with which our mother tongue is blended that stimulates our original thought. Therefore we comprehend the universe around us through our national language: there is no substitute for it. It is for this reason that Tagore who knew English quite well wrote his Gitanjali in Bengali which won for him the Nobel Prize for Literature; Milton wrote his opus magnum, Paradise Lost, in his native tongue rather than in the universally known Latin of which he had a perfect mastery. Likewise Danish and German scientists wrote their original work in their own languages.”




“My contention is against the too early introduction of the compulsory second language; but I am in favour of its compulsory introduction from the age of ten plus. We need English as our international medium of expression, so rich in literature– humanistic, scientific and technical.”


“Premature introduction of the second language produces a looseness in the bond between words and ideas and divides the child’s mind into two water-tight compartments. In his mother tongue he speaks of the objects of his sense-impressions and in the second language he speaks about his school subjects. These two water-tight compartments of the mind bring into being what is called a split-consciousness. When there is a split-consciousness, original thought is out of the question.”


“The first essential for general education or internationalism is swabhasa. And only after the student has gained mastery of the varied language habits connected with swabhasa does he become fit to begin a second language. W.M. Ryburn’s research has conclusively proved that strength in the mother-tongue means strength in English with a positive correlation of 95.”


“In its best sense, internationalism is not a dogmatic way of thinking but “an attitude of life to weave the enormous differences between nation and nation into a grand pattern of ‘brotherly dissimilitude’ – to synthesise them into an orchestral harmony”. Therefore, true internationalism welcomes the place of honour accorded to national language.”


“The language habits that have to be acquired involve so complex a process that educational research has highlighted it by two important conclusions:- (i)  That ability in the mother tongue is the very basis for ability in the second language. (ii) That the optimum age for the introduction of the second language is 10. These two vital principles no educational scheme for a free nation can safely ignore.”


“There is no one who doubts the pre-eminent position of English as the master-key to world’s culture. That is why we want English as a compulsory second language. But it is undoubtedly a fallacy to argue that because English is so important it must therefore be the medium of our education.”


“Education must promote unity between the different communities and also open to our younger generations the door to the rich heritage of the English Language. But I maintain that both these aims are best achieved through the swabhasa medium rather than through the foreign medium.”


“We want English not for conversation, simply because we don’t live with Englishmen. For conversation we have our own language which embodies our natural surroundings and our social inheritance in a manner impossible for any other languages in the world.”


“We want English for a different purpose – that is to read English books in order to keep abreast of advancing knowledge…. We must reason the need and get out of a language what we need. It is midsummer madness to be obsessed with the importance of English and give it undue emphasis in our education. English is not the only important language. What about French, German, Hindi, Chinese and Japanese. They are all important – each in its own way.”




“I believe that the most effective method of achieving social unity between the different communities is by giving during the junior stage a working knowledge of Tamil to Sinhalese children and a working knowledge of Sinhalese to Tamil children.”


“It is untrue to say that the adoption of swabhasa medium will lead to the separation of races. English was never intended to be a bond to unify the Sinhalese and the Tamils. The most effective method of bringing about social unity is by giving every Sinhalese child a working knowledge of Tamil and every Tamil child a working knowledge of Sinhalese. It should be an integral part of our educational policy. By following this method you forge a bond that will create mutual respect and mutual understanding between the Sinhalese and the Tamils. A three-year course is quite ample to give a working knowledge of each other’s language, that is from 6th standard to 8th standard.”


“(The White Paper on Education, 1950) has overlooked the fundamental fact that two races that have lived together for over 2000 years now constitute the main elements of our new democracy, and that unless they are knit together by the bonds of mutual understanding and mutual respect, they will live in water-tight compartments viewing each other with envy, suspicion and hostility, thus rendering the very basis of our democracy insecure. The best way to forge the bonds to knit them together is to get every Sinhalese pupil to learn Tamil and every Tamil pupil to learn Sinhalese. The stage in the mental development of the child appropriate for this end is the one marked by the second rise in the language-ability curve, that is in the 13th and 14th years of age (or Standards 7 & 8): the minimum of two periods a week will suffice for the purpose.”




“Our country, being rich in natural resources, is capable of producing all the capital needed for our National Development Works. It was in recognition of this basic fact that Parakramabahu the Great said,” I shall not allow a single drop of rain that falls from the sky to flow into the sea, without using it for the service of men.”


“Let the prevailing sense of frustration and despair transform into a divine discontent to urge the youth on to take up their responsibilities in right earnest and discharge them nobly, skillfully and magnanimously.”


“The greatest asset of a country is its people. The most powerful factor that is essential for National Development Works is the feeling of the people towards their country and towards one another – the feeling which is implicit in the expression “this is our country; this is our nation; this is our government” – the feeling of patriotism that comes straight from the inmost depths of the human heart. The first thing to be done to awaken this feeling of patriotism is to reorganise the system of administration and abandon the present policy of serving a particular section of the public with a large measure and the bulk of the people with a small measure.”


“The next thing to be done is to ensure an equitable distribution of educational and housing facilities, social service benefits, health benefits, appointments and the like among all citizens of the State. If this happens, there will come into being national harmony and goodwill and mutual cooperation; truth and justice will triumph; false standards will give way to plain living and all distinctions of class, creed and race will disappear and a Dharma Samajaya will be re-established.”