A. T. Ariyaratne bigraphy, stories - Sri Lankan activist

A. T. Ariyaratne : biography

November 5, 1931 -

Sri Lankabhimanya Ahangamage Tudor Ariyaratne (Sinhala:අහන්ගමගේ ටියුඩර් ආරියරත්න) is the founder and president of the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement in Sri Lanka.


A.T. Ariyaratne was born on November 5, 1931 in Unawatuna village in Galle District of Sri Lanka. He had his school education at Mahinda College, Galle. Then he attended a teachers college, after which he was a high school teacher until 1972 at Nalanda College Colombo. Ariyaratne started his work on Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement in 1958. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Vidyodaya University of Sri Lanka and later received an honorary doctorate of D.Litt. from the same university. He also received an honorary doctorate of humanities from Emilio Aguinaldo College in the Philippines. Ariyaratne is a devout Buddhist and continues to be active in Sri Lankan politics and community development.

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 honors for his work in peace making and village development. In 2006, he received the Acharya Sushil Kumar International Peace Award for the year 2005. Other recipients of this award include John Polanyi and then in 2004, his Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama. In 2007 Ariyaratne received the Sri Lankabhimanya, the highest National Honour of Sri Lanka.

Ariyaratne, a strong believer in Gandhian principles of non-violence, rural development and self-sacrifice, has shaped the Sarvodaya Movement in ways that forged a significant link between secular principles of development and Buddhist ideals of selflessness and compassion. As a devout Buddhist, he has led tens of thousands of “family gatherings” and meditations with millions of people throughout Sri Lanka and other parts of the world. When he received the Hubert H. Humphrey International Humanitarian Award from the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs in 1994, Dr. Patrick Mendis described his former mentor as the "Gandhi of Sri Lanka."http://www.oneplaneteducation.com/mendisvoyage/afterward.asp

Selected Quotes

From Ariyaratne:

  • Now the time has come when science and technology on the one hand and spiritual wisdom on the other have to be synthesized on a global scale to build a nobler, more just and more peaceful global community.Bond, George. "Buddhism at Work: Community Development, Social Empowerment and the Sarvodaya Movement". Kumarian P, 2003.
  • When we work towards the welfare of all the means we use have to be based on Truth, Non-violence and Selflessness in conformity with Awakening of All.
  • Buddha’s first admonition to the bhikkus or monks was to go forth into the world and work for the welfare of the people.Ariyaratne, A.T. "The Role of Buddhist Monks in Development." ScienceDirect (1980). 26 Apr. 2009 .
  • One has to understand the past role and, profiting by modern experience, design a new role in which development basically oriented to the needs of the people finds major expression.
  • Our Buddhist culture taught us from our young days how we should keep in mind our welfare not only in this life but also in the afterlife as well in whatever we think, say or do. Belief in Rebirth and the Karmic Law – Law of Cause and Effect, were two fundamental teachings we were taught to keep in mind. Economics and Politics or any other department of life cannot function without adverse consequences if we resort to unrighteous or wrongful ways. Good ends can be realized only by good means.Ariyaratne, A. T. Buddhist Economics in Practice in the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement of Sri Lanka. New York: Sarvodaya Support Group, 1999.
  • Sarvodaya means the Awakening of All – from an individual Human Personality to Humanity as a whole. This awakening has spiritual, moral, cultural, social, economic and political dimensions. Whatever we do in one of these sectors influences all other sectors.
Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine