According to the history, the idea of Nalanda was established at the end of the year 1922. At this time since of the number of students was increasing in Ananda College. The services and other physical requirements were not enough for the students. So the then principal of Ananda College, Mr. P. de S. Kularathne decided to place the primary section of Ananda College on the land that was given by the governor of Ceylon, Sir. Graham Thompson to Ananda College to use as the sports ground in Campbell Place. The head master of this section was Mr. W. E. Fernando. It stared education from 1st of January, 1923 in an old type clay house built in the place for the primary section. Venerable Balangoda Ananda Maithriya Thera was also included into this section.
In 1922, they started to build a building with all facilities as they needed in a 4 acre land near by the primary which was bought for 55 000 LKR in cost. Twelve classes, an office, teachers' room, science labs and many other facilities were included in that building. That building was the present Kularathne Mandiraya. Money that was taken from Anagharika Dharmapala as a debt had included to build the primary section of Nalanda. That debt was payed by the principal of Nalanda College Prof. Malalasekara after sometimes.
The primary section of Ananda College had started as a new school in 1924. This new school was named as Nalanda remembering Nalanda University in Dambadiwa at the time of Buddha and the Pali sentence "Naalandadathi Nalanda" (The places which gives energy and strength). Pali sentence "Apadana Sobhini Pagna" (Wisdom Illuminates Character) in the Bala Waggaya of Thika Nipathaya of Anguththara Nikaya of Suthra Pitakaya (Buddhist's Book) selected as the motto of Nalanda College. Both the name and the motto of Nalanda College was given by Venerable Ananda Maithriya Thera. The first principal of Nalanda College was Mr. L.H. Meththananda.
Mr. L. H. Meththananda
In the mean time, they were not able to fulfill the needs to register Nalanda as a school in government. But soon they fulfilled it and registered as a government school having the name of Nalanda Maha Vidyalaya on 1st of November, 1925.
Venerable Heenatiyana Dhammaloka Thera, Dharmacharya of Nalanda College has started Buddhist Dharmaduta Sabha on 1924. It was the starting point of Nalanda College Buddhist Society. After sometimes, in the time of principal Mr. D.C. Louris it was reorganized as Nalanda College Buddhist Society.
Professor Gunapala Malalasekara was the principal of Nalanda College from 1st of January, 1926. His untiring efforts helped Nalanda to stand on it's own feet as a well recognized school. He initiated a fund raising project namely Nalanda Kusumadina and thereby strengthened the funds and launched a news letter called Nalanda Prawurthi (Nalanda News). The new building (Jinendradasa Mandiraya) was started to built on 30th March, 1926. He was promoted to a lecturer and posted at the University College, Colombo in 1927. So Professor G.P. Malalasekara left Nalanda College in 1927. Mahathma Ghandhi also visited to Nalanda College in 1927.
Mr. G.K.W. Perera, Attorney at Law was the next principal of Nalanda College. But he left Nalanda College soon because of a strife with the registrar, Mr. Robert de Silva. So the vice principal Mr. J.N. Jinendradasa became the principal in 1928. At this time, he was the president of Ghandharwa Sabhawa of Sri Lanka. He produced buddhist dramas like Wessanthara and Dutugemunu with the participation of Nalanda students.
The well known patriotic poets such as the Tibet National Venerable S. Mahinda Thero and Venerable Kalalelle Ananda Sagara Thero (Who was known as Keyas) and also great dancers like Panibharatha and renowned media person like U. S. S. Perera (Siri Ayya) were among the staff member.
During the 2nd world war in 1939 one part of Nalanda College was taken to Minuwangoda and other part to Maharagama. After the end of war it was replaced at the original place again and Minuwangoda Nalanda Vidyalaya started with the guidance of Venerable Heenatiyana Dhammaloka Thera.
Mr. J.N. Jinendradasa rendered a huge service to start teaching Buddhism in government schools during this period. It was believed that the composer of the school song of Nalanda College was Mr. Jinendradasa. He passed away in 1947 in his 19th year as the principal of Nalanda.
After that the vice principal Mr. D.C. Lauris became the principal of Nalanda College. He reorganized the Buddhist Dharmadutha Sabha as Nalanda College Buddhist Society with the help of Venerable Kothmale Amarawansa Thera, one of the Dharmacharyas of Nalanda College.
Mr. Lauris had started to construct the buildings of primary section and Hon. D.S. Senanayake, the prime minister of Sri Lanka was the chief guest at the laying of foundation stone ceremony. Mr. Lauris also passed away in 1953 and at that time also he was the principal of Nalanda College. Then the vice principal Mr. M. de S. Jayarathne became the principal. He extended a great service to Nalanda by developing the pavilion and the other physical resources of Nalanda.
After making Sinhala as the national language of Sri Lanka, in 1956 principal Mr. M.W. Karunananda wrote science books in Sinhala medium and extended a great service to teach in Sinhala medium. Among the first group that had learnt science in Sinhala language was Nalandians and they helped to translate English words into Sinhala.
At that time, Dr. A.T. Ariyarathne, a teacher of Nalanda College started his Sarwodaya Wyapara from Nalanda. Doctor Wajiranatha Lakshman de Silva, an old boy of Nalanda College started world famous Saukyadana Unit of Nalanda College in 1960. Nalanda College had launched a magazine named as Nalanda Pahana to celebrate the 2500th anniversary of the Enlightenment of the Buddha.
Nalanda Kirthi Sri Old Nalandian Professor Padmajeewa Ganepola (Student of Nalanda at that time) had tried to fly a rocket at a technical exhibition organized by the Sri Lankan government and this matter was discussed in the Parliament.
When the Vidyodaya-Vidyalankara Piriven made universities in 1959, there were not enough space in those Piriven. So afternoon Piriven classes were conducted in Nalanda College.
Mr. Gunapala Wikramarathne came to Nalanda as the principal after Mr. K.M.W. Kuruppu and Mr. D.J. Edirisinghe (1962-1963) in 1964. He was a strict disciplinarian and took steps to reinforce the discipline of Nalanda College and gave a newer life to Nalanda College. He took vevry effort to rearranging parents and teachers committees of Nalanda College. Thakshila Technical College that was near by Nalanda was added to Nalanda's property list in this time.
The minister of education distinguished old Nalandian Mr. I.M.R.A. Iriyagolla sent Mr. Sugunadasa Athukorala as the principal of Nalanda in 1969. Mr. Athukorala's period as the principal of Nalanda marked another golden era of college history. During this period Advanced Level Science Section Building with Nalanda Budumadura, Mathematics Section building, Hostel building, the buildings at Ordinary Level Sections, buildings at Primary Section were added to college infrastructure facilities. Also he made arrangements to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Nalanda in 1975.
His Excellence the president of Sri Lanka, Mr. J.R. Jayawadhane unveiled the Buddha's Statue of Nalanda in 1979. Tha statue which contained Buddha's relics was made by Venerable Mapalagama Vipulasara Thera. Mr. Athukorala rendered this unique service to Nalanda under the fullest patronage and guidance of Venerable Kokmaduwawe Gunasiri Thera, Venerable Ahangama Dammarama Thera, Venerable Madithiyawala Saranapala Thera, Dharmacharya of Nalanda and the teacher in-charge of Buddhist Society Mrs. V.I. Rodrigo. Among the distinguished gathering were Hon. Sirimawo Bandaranaike and many other special guests in Sri Lanka.
We have to mention the guidance extended by Mrs. Gayathri Athukorala, ICT teacher and the teacher in-charge of Computer Society of Nalanda College who is the daughter of Mr. Athukorala. She is still doing her service to Nalanda College. Also it should be mentioned that many people of the country admitted their sons to Nalanda College in the time of Mr. Athukorala.
Mr. Dharma Gunasinghe who was a member of staff and then the head master of primary section for a long time became the principal of Nalanda in 1982. Nalanda had celibrated her 60th anniversary in 1986 and Malalasekara Rangahala opend in 1990.
Mr. D.G. Sumanasekara became the principal of Nalanda College in 1990. He extended a huge service to build the prestigious image of Nalanda. He introduced Wirujana Sammana for the soldiers and Nalanda Puthra Sammana for the best Nalandian of the year. Also he started the archives and the Museum in Nalanda College for the first time in Sri Lankan education field.
Nalanda College Junior Old Boys' Association built the Language Laboratory which was the first multimedia language lab in Sri Lankan schools.
Mr. Edward Ranasinghe was appointed as the principal in 1994 at a time when the importance of English education was being emphasized in various forms. Acting in unison, he launched a project to promote usage of English language among students. An English debating team was also reestablished. Steps were taken to upgrade the playground. Ministry of Sports and the Old Boys' Association funded the project.
Mr. H.U. Premathilaka came to Nalanda College as the principal in 1999. Another golden era of Nalanda College was started with his arrival. Every year Nalanda name highlighted in every sphere of education may it be Advanced Level, Ordinary Level or in Sports or even at international level. Nalanda was equipped with indoor stadiums for badminton and squash, swimming pool, a renovated pavilion for the play ground and many other buildings.
Retired teachers of Nalanda College gifted Thripitaka Grantha and other Dharma books to Nalanda College due to the 2550th anniversary of the Parinibbana of Buddha. Malalasekara Hall was destroyed because of an electric short in 2006. Mr. H.U. Premathilake has been promoted to a Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Education in 2010 and he assumed duties on his new post.
Mr. Ranjith Jayasundara came to Nalanda as the next principal. In 2011, Nalanda College celebrated the 2600th anniversary of the enlightenment of Buddha with the participatatian of His Excellence the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Nalanda Kirthi Sri Mahinda Rajapakse. Also Nalanda Dharmagrama Sansada and Nalanda College had made a Sthupa named Nalanda Saya in Anuradhapura Padaviya Mahasenpura Kalukgala area. It was the first Sthupa that was built by a school.
Redeveloped play ground,primary computer lab and the Nalanda Center for International Studies (NCIS) which contains the newest technology and facilities was opened by His Excellence the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Nalanda Kirthi Sri Mahinda Rajapakse on 27th of February, 2012. Mr. Bandula Gunawardana, the minister of education also participated in this event and Mr. Gunawardana opened the new building in the primary section at that event.
Proof-read by Mrs. Indrani Peiris (English Teacher)
Details: Nalanda College Buddhist Association, Nalanda Website Version 01 and Mr. Punsara Kolambage (Old Nalandian)
Created by Rashintha Maduneth (Old Nalandian)
Images: Nalanda Website Version 01, Nalanda College Buddhist Association and Nalanda College Photographic Art Society
Special Thank: Mr. Ravin Dimantha (Old Nalandian and the webmaster of Nalanda website) and to the Communication Unit of Nalanda College