Revolutionary professor in Sinhala and Sociology
Professor Nandasena Ratnapala was undoubtedly the most distinguished
and versatile scholar of the last century, in Sri Lanka. He rendered a
distinct service to enrich the fields of Sinhala literature and
He was born on 19 May, 1935, at a remote village named Kurukude in
Bandarawela. Ratnapala’s father was the head master of Kurukude school
and mother was a teacher in the same school. Including father and
mother, there were eight members in his family.
Ratnapala was the eldest of the family. The student Ratnapala had his
primary education at Kurukude government school. He was fortunate enough
to read all the books which were in the library of the school.
Later, Ratnapala entered St John’s College in Panadura for secondary
education. Finally, he was admitted to Royal College in Colombo, where
In 1955, this talented student got through the university examination
distinctively. Ratnapala entered the Peradeniya University in 1955. He
showed outstanding skills among other students in the university.
Ratnapala won the gold medal for best speaker.
In addition, he obtained an award for best short story named ‘Balal
Powla’. Young Ratnapala held the chairmanship of Buddhist Brotherhood
Association, when he was studying at the university.
Ratnapala followed a Sinhala special degree course. Finally, this
skilled student obtained his degree with a second upper division.
In 1959, Young Ratnapala was recruited as an assistant lecturer at
the Sinhala department of Peradeniya University. A few months later, he
joined the Vidyodaya University as a Sinhala lecturer.
This young lecturer was appointed as the head of modern Sinhala
section. Ratnapala rendered a yeoman service for the betterment of
modern Sinhala section.
This section became very popular among students during 1960-1963 due
to his unabating effort and unfoiled courage. However, some antagonists
both inside and outside of the university emerged against Ratnapala’s
As a result of these bad strategies, modern Sinhala section was
closed unexpectedly. Young Ratnapala was so sad and disappointed.
Finally, he decided to go to Germany to read for his doctorate.
In 1963, he embarked to Germany. By now, he had obtained MA degree
from Peradeniya University.
In 1966, Dr Ratnapala arrived in Sri Lanka and served in Sinhala
section for a short period. However, in 1972, he was attached to the
Sociology and Anthropology department.
Within a short period of time, he rendered a great service for
betterment of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology also.
This article expects to discuss the service done by Ratnapala for the
field of Sinhala literature briefly. This talented professor has evinced
capabilities on writing short stories.
He has done a considerable service for promotion of Sinhala short
stories. He published three collections of short stories named ‘Noliyoo
Pota’, ‘Ridee Pooru’, and ‘Aids saha Tawat Kataa’. The short critical
book ‘Ketikataa Vichaara Mooladarma’ written by Ratnapala has
contributed to uplift Sinhala literary criticism. This book was
published when he was twenty-six years old.
Professor Ratnapala has done much for the improvement of Sinhala
novels. His first novel named ‘Nodanimi Kaage Dosaa’ was publicized in
1972. Later, he wrote several novels such as Udaa Hiru, Ahasa
Kadaawettei, Jaya Sri Ematitumani, Simon Baas Saha Birindewaru and
Evilena Gini Del.
These novels reflects the modern society, with a satiric style.
Professor Ratnapala has written three poetry books for progress of
Sinhala poetic field. His first collection of poetry named ‘Maranin
Ehaa’ was published in 1960.
Later in 1973, Ratnapala wrote the book named ‘Anthraawai’. His last
collection of poetry named ‘Kalawaane Sita Liyoo Kavi’ has not been
This professor has done a great service to uplift Sinhala literary
The magazine ‘Grantha Vichaara’ could be considered as an important
critical book. A few of his literary critical books are ‘Sinhala Padya
Vichaaraya’, and ‘Kunkuma Chandana’.
This erudite writer wrote many books in terms of the syllabus
prescribed for GCE (O/L) and GCE (A/L). This role done by Ratnapala
helped the students of schools to widen their knowledge and to enhance
Although Ratnapala did a valuable and immortal service to develop
Sinhala literature, Sinhala language, Sociology, Anthropology, Folklore
and Criminology, he was unable to get rid of death.
This versatile scholar passed away on August 7, 2007.