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Don Baron Jayatilaka

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Title: Don Baron Jayatilaka  
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Subject: Buddhism in Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India, S. Mahinda, Kothduwa temple, D. S. Senanayake
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Don Baron Jayatilaka

Don Baron Jayatilaka
දොන් බාරොන් ජයතිලක
Former Cabinet Minister of Home Affairs
Member of Parliament
for Kelaniya
Vice-President of the Legislative Council of Ceylon
Leader of the House of the State Council of Ceylon
Founding chief editor of A Dictionary of the Sinhalese Language
Personal details
Born (1868-02-13)13 February 1868
Waragoda, Kelaniya, Sri Lanka
Died 29 May 1944(1944-05-29) (aged 76)
Bangalore, India
Nationality Ceylonese
Spouse(s) Mallika Batuwantudawe
Children Three daughters and Two sons
Occupation Barrister, politician, Diplomat, Educationalist
Religion Theravada Buddhism

Sir Don Baron Jayatilaka (Sinhala:ශ්‍රිමත් දොන් බාරොන් ජයතිලක) (13 February 1868 – 29 May 1944) (known as D.B. Jayatilaka) was a Sri Lankan educationalist, statesmen and diplomat. He was Vice-President of the Legislative Council of Ceylon; the Minister for Home Affairs and Leader of the House of the State Council of Ceylon; and Representative of Government of Ceylon in New Delhi.[1]

Early life

Born at Waragoda, Kelaniya, he was the eldest male child of Don Daniel Jayatilaka, a government servant, and his wife Liyanage Dona Elisiyana Perera Weerasinha, daughter of oriental scholar, Don Andiris de Silva Batuwantudawe of Werahena. He had two brothers, and two sisters, both of whom died young.


When he was seven years Jayatilaka was sent to the Vidyalankara Pirivena, where he learned Sinhala, Pali and Sanskrit by Ratmalane Sri Dharmaloka Thera. To study English and other subjects in the English medium, he was sent to the local Baptist school from where he was sent to Wesley College in 1881, there he passed the junior and senior Cambridge examinations, travelling daily by cart from Kelaniya to the Pettah.

Jayatilaka graduated from the University of Calcutta with a BA in 1896 and went on to gain a BA in jurisprudence from Jesus College, Oxford in 1913 which was later upgraded to a MA some years later. He was called to the bar as a Barrister from the Lincolns Inn and became an Advocate of the Supreme Court of Ceylon.


He first met Colonel Henry Steel Olcott in 1890 and joined his campaign to establish English medium Buddhist schools in the country. In 1898 he was appointed as the Principal of the Buddhist High School in Kandy (now Dharmaraja College), thereafter he became the vice principal of the English Buddhist School in Colombo (now Ananda College) under principal C. W. Leadbeater. Several years later he succeed Leadbeater as principal. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Young Men's Buddhist Association (YMBA) at Borella becoming its President in 1898 and holding the post until his death.

He left for Europe in 1910, pending three years there. During which he attended the representative of Ceylon, at the Congress of Religions in Berlin; gained a BA from Oxford and became a Barrister.

In during the 1915 riots he was arrested under orders of General Officer Commanding, Ceylon seditious speeches and writings. Imprisoned under Martial Law along with many leading personalities of the day. Soon after his release he left for Britain where he campaigned for the injustices in Ceylon and for the calls a Royal Commission to investigate the 1915 riots. When the National Congress of Ceylon was formed he became its representative in London.

He returned in 1919 and was elected President of the Ceylon National Congress in 1923. Soon thereafter he was elected from the Colombo District to the Japanese air raids. In August 1943, he went to India to negotiate food shipments to Ceylon after they stopped by the Indian Government. Following successful concretion of negotiations he was appointed as Representative of Government of Ceylon in New Delhi.

He was the founding chief editor of the monumental monolingual etymological Sinhala dictionary, Siṃhala śabdakoṣaya (completed in 1992), and the related A Dictionary of the Sinhalese Language (with fascicles from 1985 titled A Dictionary of the Sinhala Language.) His extraordinary leadership of the project and editorial service extended from 1927 through 1941.[2]


In 1944, he fell ill and began his return to Ceylon. He died on 29 May 1944 due to a heart attack in Bangalore. His body was returned to Ceylon in a special plane for the final rites.


He married Mallika Batuwantudawe in 1898, they had five children, three daughters and two sons.

See also


  1. ^ Don Baron Jayatilaka
  2. ^ Sinhala Dictionary Office. “Former Editors”

External links

  • Sir D.B. Jayatilaka – Scholar and National Leader
  • A beacon of light
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