Vale Dr Brendon Gooneratne: Wide-ranging Appreciations

A tribute from News 1st to Late Dr. Brendon Gooneratne = 

ANOTHER FELICITATION ……  Dr Brendon Gooneratne: 28 March 1938 – 21 June 2021

They told me, Heraclitus, they told me you were dead.

They brought me bitter news to hear,

And  bitter tears to shed.


I wept  as I remember’d

How often you and I

Had tired the sun with talking,

And sent him down the sky.

William Cory Johnson

1823 – 1892

Viharagala Estate Bungalow

Beragala/Koslanda Road

Haputale, Sri Lanka.



**** ****

Padma Edirisinghe: “From the willow to the pen,” … 

Dr. Brendon Gooneratne

…. presented in the Year 2002 … http://archives.sunday

Sportsman, medical practitioner, researcher, collector, environmentalist, writer, historian, benefactor – Can the average bulk of a human present so many varied avatars in one single life time? Dr. Brendon Gooneratne, one of our own ilk has proved that it can be done. Of course he would not dream of crowing about his achievements from his house top in Colombo 3 or from his architectural brainchild, the Pemberley House built on the 4000 feet above sea level hills of Haputale to house writers.

In fact when in conversation with him I asked him what galvanizes him so much intensive action in such varied fields his reply was far from exuberant. But I could fathom the grit, the determination, the sacrifice of mundane comforts for intense academic work, even the moral rectitude leading to an almost spiritual ethos (based mainly on a Buddhist background, as he explained later).

Of course he gave one explicit explanation. “I get up at 4.30 a.m. everyday and make the optimum use of the day till late into the night.”

BG has been in the limelight since the 50s, as head of the Royal cricket team, then going on to captain the university cricket team. His latest project is the Pemberley Project for writers. To put his massive plan into action he bought the Veheragala estate where was built the famous Pemberley International Centre. Dr. Brendon has put out a voluminous amount of writings, mostly by himself and jointly with his renowned writer – wife, Yasmine, a professor.

Here too he displays a unique aspect. From his original stream of study of arts that comprised English literature. history, Buddhism, Latin and Greek he had gone over to the science stream despite the fact that he had already won Royal’s B. F. de Silva Memorial Prize for History. But his transformation into a student of medicine had equally brilliant results for he received the coveted Best Memorial Medical Research Fellowship in London in 1967. In fact his book, “Lymphography – Clinical and experimental” is today one of the much acclaimed texts of medicine. But it is as a writer of historical incidents and personages that BG has not only shown his brilliance but his patriotic fervour too.

In his “The epic struggle of the kingdom of Kandy and its relevance to modern Indo-SL relations” he writes, “This is the story of how a small kingdom… defied the might of European invaders for more than 300 years. Well organized military civilizations as the Incas of Peru, Aztecs of Mexico, Indian tribes of North America, kings and warrior chieftans of India, the Moguls, the South African Zulus, the Ashanti of West Africa, the Benin civilization succumbed to Western military onslaught and destruction.”

From the vast research unearthed for this book was born the work (done jointly with Yasmine) “This inscrutable Englishman”, i.e. Sir John D’Oyly who played his own unique role at the time of the British capture of Kandy, more allied to the subjugated than to the invader. Few are aware that BG was commissioned by late J. R. Jayewardene to compile the book titled “From Governor’s Residence to President’s House”. Massive in size and profusely illustrated it traces the story of the Janadhipathi Mandiraya from Van Angelbeek’s residence in Dutch times to the glorious edifice it is today.

This brings you to BG’s role as collector. His collecting mania of old maps, engravings and paintings on Ceylon and historical documents and texts on the country began very early that today he can be reckoned as the owner of one of the largest collections of such material that he puts into optimum use in his writings. To add to all this he is an ardent environmentalist too. The area around Pemberley he has allowed to grow into thick jungle where romp deer and rabbits in uninhibited freedom.

In Australia he is the president of Project Jonah Australia, an organization providing a sanctuary for whales and dolphins. Luckily for us Dr. Brendon Gooneratne has now decided to live half the year in his homeland and for easy access to others.

presented in Year 2002 … http://archives.sunday

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