58th Death Anniversary :
Sir D.B. Jayatilaka - Scholar and national leader
by Aryadasa Ratnasinghe
Sir Don Baron Jayatilaka was born on February 13, 1868, at Waragoda, Kelaniya, in the northern suburbs of Colombo. He was Knighted in 1943.
Baron Jayatilaka's father was Wickremaratchi Imia Rajakaruna Liyana Atukoralage Don Daniel Jayatilaka Senanayake Liyana Aratchi, who was from Pattalagedera, Veyangoda. The mother was Liyanage Dona Elisiana Perera Weerasinghe, the handsome daughter of the celebrated oriental scholar, Don Andiris de Silva Batuwantudawe of Werahena, Bentota. Both families commanded respect of the people and were wealthy. The marriage of Baron Jayatilaka and Mallika Batuwantudawe was solemnised at Waragoda, with all pomp and ceremony, befitting their social status.
The nuptial celebrations lasted for over a week, entertaining their kith and kin from far and near. The marriage took place on August 12, 1898, when Baron Jayatilaka was 30 years old. They had five children (three daughters and two sons).
The parents were ever mindful of the future of their children from the moment they were born. Being devout Buddhists, they always tried to bring up their children with spiritual awareness and manners conducive to Buddhist way of life. The father's great ambition was to make the eldest son Baron to enlist as an engineer in the Public works Department (PWD). With this aim in view, everything was done to give him a good education.
In 1874, at the age of 6 years, and at the auspicious hour, he read the first letter of the Sinhala alphabet, from the erudite scholar and orientalist, Ven. Ratmalane Sri Dharmaloka Maha Thera, who later became the Head of the Vidyalanka Pirivena (established in 1875) at Peliyagoda. Later, the child was admitted to the local Baptist Missionary School at Waragoda, which conducted classes in English. While attending school, he also learnt Buddhism, Sinhala, Pali and Sanskrit from the erudite Ven. Dhammarama Nayaka Thera to enrich his knowledge.
At the age of 22 years, having left Wesley College, Baron Jayatilaka, looked for a job in a State Department, because of the glamour of the Public Service in those days. He applied to become a clerk in the Land Settlement Department. At the interview, when he produced his testimonials, he was told "Look youngman! You are too good for this kind of job. You have a good future. So strive with endeavour". Thereafter, he never looked for a government job.
At this time, Christian schools in the island were preparing students to sit for the Junior and Senior examinations, conducted by the Cambridge University Examination Syndicate, England. Baron Jayatilaka was successful in both Examinations, but as no examination was conducted by the London University in Sri Lanka, he was compelled to graduate himself from the Calcutta University, as a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in 1898. It is said that his name still adorns the Rolls of Honour at the Wesley College, Colombo.
In 1890, Baron Jayatilaka had the fortune of meeting Col. H.S. Olcott (who came to Sri Lanka in 1880 from the US), and participating in his campaign to establish English schools in the island open to Buddhist children. The first among them was the Ananda College in Colombo (estab. 1886). In the field of education, the first job that Baron Jayatilaka was assigned was his appointment as Principal of the Buddhist High School in Kandy (now Dharmaraja College). In 1898, he became the vice Principal of Ananda College, the first Principal of which was C.W. Leadbeater, a close companion of Col. Olcott.
The Buddhist residents in Colombo felt the need of forming an Association to promote Buddhist activities in the city.
The beginning was made in 1898, by the establishment of the Young Men's Buddhist Association (YMBA) at Borella, and Baron Jayatilaka was elected President, at the young age of 30 years, and held the post for 46 years, until his death in 1944. The YMBA is a glowing tribute and a lasting monument to his fair and unsullied name. The new building we see today was built in 1989, at a cost of Rs. 50 million.
In 1910, after 20 years of service to the country, Baron Jayatilaka, left for England to stay there for some time, and to go to Berlin, Germany, as the Representative of Sri Lanka, to attend the Congress of Religions, where he was expected to read a learned paper on Buddhism.
It was a time when people were beginning to realise more and more about the evils of alcoholic beverages. The clergymen of England felt the need to discourage the drinking habit, if not to stop it all together.
The All-India United Temperance Association condemned the habit of drinking, and Baron Jayatilaka, who took a serious view of the social menace, started the Ceylon Temperance Movement in 1914, despite much opposition from the Christian community.
At the age of 46 years, Baron Jayatilaka returned to Sri Lanka, having spent 3 years abroad. His image had been indelibly impressed in the minds of the people of the island, and its definition had been heightened by long service overseas. Nationalist he always was, and it was the right time to sow the seeds of Buddhist morality which was at an ebb. Both Buddhist clergy and Buddhist leaders worked with him on a new path of national resurgence, Buddhist revival and cultural regeneration.
On June 21, 1915, by order of the General Officer Commanding the British troops, Baron Jayatilaka was arrested for seditious speeches and writings, when communal riots broke out between the Sinhalese and the Muslims on May 28, 1915. An application for a habeas corpus was made for his release, but it was refused by the Chief Justice, Sir Alexander Wood Renton. Martial Law was declared,and order to 'shoot at sight' was proclaimed.
His political career commenced from this time in right earnest. He emerged a politician overnight, not by choice but by the irony of destiny. In 1918, he left for England to fight the cause of the Sinhalese, at least to remove the wrong impression created about him, and the Sinhala community, by the alien rulers.
In 1944, while in New Delhi, India, Baron Jayatilaka fell ill and he was advised to return to Sri Lanka. When he was at Mussorie, he suffered from a light heart attack, and on May 29, 1944, he passed away at 11.45 a.m. at Bangalore.
The body was flown in a special plane in dismal weather,
amidst heavy rain, storm, thunder and lightning. At 5.30 p.m., the plane touched
down at Ratmalana. The body was taken in a motorcade to his country residence at
Nikape, Dehiwala, for the public to pay their last respects to the dead.
Sir Baron Jayatillake, Kt. by Graham Dissanayake
A distinguished product of Wesley S Sir Baron Jayatillake. was born on the 13th February 1863, at Waragoda. Kelaniya. His father Don David Jayatillake hailed from the ancient village of Pattalangedera and his mother was Elaine Weerasinghe of Waragoda. He did not have the advantage of family wealth or connections, but by his sheer intellectual ability and handwork reached the top. He was six years old when he read his first letters at the Vidiyalankara Pirivena his tutor was the reputed Oriental. Scholar the Venerable Ratmalana Sri Dharmaloka. Here his education was in Sinhala, Sanskrit and Pali, with an emphasis on the Buddhist scriptures. Undoubtedly this impact on the young mind, sowed the seeds of nationalistic and religious fervour which destined the course of his educational and political career.
His Venerable teacher had forecast, based on his intellectual abilities, that Baron will have a remarkable future linked to his Motherland. His wise parents, though pleased with their child's progress and knowledge, decided with the concurrence of the venerable Monk, to send Baton to the Baptist English School at Gonawala, Kelaniya run by English Missionaries. He caught on the new language with consummate skill and ease and stood well above his age and class, that the English gentlemen had no difficulty in persuading his father David to send young Baron to the prestigious Wesley College, which! he joined in 1881, then located in Pettah. He travelled from Waragoda daily crossing the Kelaniya by boat and then proceeding by cart. He had a strenuous time as a student but had a dogged determination and will attending Wesley College in the morning and the Pirivena in the afternoon.
This was the daily routine of the country's future leader. It was at Wesley, Sir Baron passed both the Junior and Senior Cambridge University Examinations, and was the very first winner of the Hill Medal in 1887. He also obtained in 1886 an Honours decree from the University b. of Calcutta offering Latin and English. He was a brilliant Student, a fluent debater and an impressive speaker. On one occasion during a class exercise he had argued with the Principal Rev Thomas Moscow who graciously conceded that he had got the better of him! He was on the staff of Wesley College for a short Period and thereafter joined Dharmarajah College straightaway as its Principal.
He raised the educational standards of the school and also introduced Western Classics which he conducted. At the time, events at the leading Buddhist College Ananda, were giving cause for concern, and he was compelled to take up duties as Principal of Ananda. In a short time he was able to put things to right, and Ananda's educational reputation soared, drawing students from all parts of the Island and even from India. lie gave pride of place to Oriental Languages placing them on par with English and the Western Classic& and. gave Buddhism its due place in the life of the school. On the l2th of August 1898 he married Mallika, The daughter of the well-known Oriental ScholÓr Pundit Batuwanthuduwa.She was a cultured and refined young lady, a student of fine Arts and created in their home an environment which was well suited to Sir Baron's life's work and aspirations.
In addition to his onerous duties as Principal of Ananda. he was also the Manager of the Schools run by the Buddhist Theosophical Society. lie was President of the YMBA, to which office he was repeatedly elected, and which he retained until his death. lie was always in touch with people, and had time for monks, teachers, Buddhist workers particularly from rural areas and those who met him were charmed by his graciousness. With the desire to serve his country in an Capacity, though with regret he laid down the reins of office at Ananda in 1910 and proceeded for further studies and entered Christ College Oxford where He obtained a BA degree and in 1913 an MA. He was also called to the Bar at Lincoln's Inn.
During his three years at Oxford he attended the Congress of Religions at Berlin, where he read an erudite paper on Buddhism, which greatly impressed the audience. Baron's intrinsic genius shone with the simplicity with which be expounded a complex subject. The German media gave him banner headlines and hailed him as the "Apostle of the Dharma" Sir Baron returned to Sri Lanka, and joined the Temperance Movement, but in 1915 the British were on a "war footing" ruthlessly trying to quell an agitation which later escalated into riots and the Temperance Movement workers, along with Sir Baron were jailed, but released later.
However, again in June 1915 he was arrested by the order of the General Officer Commanding the Troops allegedly for making seditious speeches and writing treasonable articles. The time was ripe potential leader to begin his political career. Then followed the arrests of F.R.Senanayake and D.S.Senanayake and other activists, all of whom agitated for the emancipation of the country from Colonial rule. It is of great interest to note that Rev. Henry Highfield intervened on behalf of the arrested persons and in a letter to the Governor remarked that British sense of fairplay and justice had not been observed.
Very soon thereafter, they were released, and in 1949 the Rt Hon D.S.Senanayake, our first Prime Minister; presiding at the Wesley College Prize Giving, recalled gratefully the action taken by Rev Highfield at the time. He was in later years in the forefront and dogged fighter for Constitutional reforms. As time went on with Constitution Baron was returned as the un-opposed representative for Kelaniya Wesley is justly proud Baron, who was an eminent leader, firstly as an aid later as an outstanding political leader; with other "greats" of the time.
He had many firsts to his credit Credit, the first Sri Lankan to join and actively participate in the temperance movement in London, the first Sinhala oriental scholar to be called to the Lincoln's Inn bar, the first President of the YMBA, which he founded. He was the first Leader of the House of Representatives, the first Buddhist to be Knighted for his services to the Country, and the first Lankan Ambassador to India, which position be held until his death in May 1944. When Sir Baron retired from active politics he accepted the position of High Commissioner to India Whilst in service he was taken ill at the age of 76 years.
On a special emergency flight back to Ceylon he was eager to know whether he had reached his beloved country, and the plane made a special landing at the site of the present Independence Square. Thus came to an end the life of a genuine son of Ceylon, who by sheer hard work and noble qualities reached the higher echelons of statesmanship. 2lberc were few peers to match him as a scholar and statesman. Many thousands from all walks of life thronged his funeral procession, and the Wesley Flag was held high preceding the Transitive with a large banner which read ' WESLEY HONOURS ITS HONOURED DEAD" carried by a squad of Senior students of Wesley College.
Baron Jayatilaka's legacy From the Ceylon Daily News 17th August 2001
D. B. Jayatilaka was born on February 13, 1868, at Waragoda, Kelaniya, and was the eldest male child of Don Daniel Jayatilaka, a government contractor, and his wife Elisiyana. Sir Baron had two brothers and two sisters both of whom died young. When he was seven years the boy was sent to the Vidyalankara Pirivena, where he learnt Sinhala, Pali and Sanskrit at the feet of the famous 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. It was from there that the future philosopher king passed both the junior and senior examinations of the Cambridge University. You will be interested to know that he did the trip from Kelaniya to the Pettah, where Wesley College was situated by cart. At the age of 22, young Jayatilaka applied for a clerk's job in the Land Settlement Department. The Head of the Department who interviewed him found him too good for the job and advised him to study further. Since there were no examinations of the London University held in Sri Lanka at the time, D. B. Jayatilaka registered for the B.A. Examination of the Calcutta University which he passed in 1896 with honours in English and Latin. Meanwhile, the young Jayatilaka had come under the influence of Col. H. S. Olcott who had come to the island in 1880 to study Buddhism. He started the Buddhist Theosophical Society and began to open Buddhist Schools in various parts of the country. Ananda was started in 1886. D. B. joined Olcott in this movement and wanted to teach. Together they started Dharmaraja College which was at first called the Kandy Buddhist High School. D. B. became its first Principal in 1890. His salary was Rs. 30/- a month. This he spent on the College. His whole idea was to serve the Buddhists who had no English schools of their own. At that time, the only recognised schools in Kandy were Trinity College and St. Anthony's College which were being patronised by the Kandyan Buddhists. D.B. went round the neighbouring villages to raise funds for the new school and soon became a household word even in remote villages of the province. Within seven years, he had succeeded in establishing Dharmaraja as a first rate College. A. Ratnayake, a former Minister, observed in his condolence speech "if you go to Kandy, to places like Ampitiya, Walala, Talatuoya, Attaragala and distant Mailapitiya you will see in those remote villages the good work and the hard work Sir Baron had performed when he was quite a young man. We in the Kandyan provinces, can never forget him."
The B.T.S. was so pleased with his work at Dharmaraja that they brought him down to Colombo as Vice Principal of Ananda in 1898. D. B. became Principal in 1900 when A. E. Buultjens, the then Principal retired. He went all over the country by rail, coach, cart, and for the most part on foot, raising money for the school. The journeys were tiring and difficult, He spent the nights at the homes of friends and relatives. With the funds so collected, D. B. improved the College beyond expectations. The name D. B. Jayatilaka became a household word among the Buddhists of the country. Without his knowing it, D. B. Jayatilaka became a national figure. Meanwhile, in addition to being Principal of Ananda College, D. B. Jayatilaka was appointed to the post of General manager of Buddhist Schools in 1902 and elected to the post of secretary of the B.T.S. in 1908 which gave him considerable scope for advancing the cause of Buddhist education. Another allied project in which the young Jayatilaka got himself interested was the YMBA which he founded in 1898. A grateful membership continued to elect him as President every year till 1944, the year of his death. To further equip himself in his efforts to advance the cause of education in general and Buddhist education in particular, Jayatilaka now decided to go to England for further studies and left the island on 14th July 1910. Before reaching England, he visited Berlin where he read a paper on Buddhism at the Congress of Religions, which a well-known daily newspaper published in its entirety in German. His speech at the Congress made him a scholar of international repute. Thinkers, philosophers and authors who had attended the Congress, it is said, carried back with them the most favourable impressions. Jayatilaka arrived in England on 15th August 1910 and joined Jesus College, Oxford, from where he obtained the L.L.B. degree in 1913 and was called to the Bar. During his stay in England he did not engage himself in any political activity. He wanted to be a scholar and a lawyer. He made a name for himself, however in the social, religious and intellectual spheres. He was active in the Indian Majlis, the Society of Indian students in Oxford, serving as its Secretary, Treasurer, and President on different occasions. He also involved himself actively in the cause of Temperance and was in the forefront of the Temperance Movement there, addressing Temperance meetings all over England. He returned to his mother country on 10th August 1913, having attended the Congress of Religions in Paris, on his way back. He was now 46 and was given a hero's welcome on his return. Receptions were held at Ananda College, Vidyalankara Pirivena, and here at Dharmaraja College where he declared that he shall always remember the Kandyan people, the Kandyan areas, and Dharmaraja College "I began my public life first here in Kandy," he declared. For a time, D. B. practised as a lawyer in Colombo, Kandy, Ratnapura and Kurunegala. But soon he got involved in the nationalist movement against Colonial rule, even though his heart was in education. Because, as he once remarked, "there is no greater danger to a country than an ignorant democracy".
His political career commenced from the day he decided to fight the cause of innocents in prison. The local European community made the British Government believe that Buddhist leaders were conspiring against it and were secretly supporting the Germans. Arrests were made without trial. D.B. Jayatilaka himself was arrested on 21st June 1915, allegedly for making seditious speeches and writing inflammatory articles. Along with him, several others including D. S. Senanayake and his brothers F. R. and D. C. Senanayake were also taken in. Martial Law was declared after what is known as the Sinhala-Muslim riots took place on 28th May 1915 and continued till 5th June. Jayatilaka was released on 4th August. He left for England in December 1915 and arrived there on 6th January 1916, to get riot prisoners released and ask for reforms. He emerged as a politician and freedom fighter overnight. The British Government made him a politician, although he was born to be an educationist and religious and social worker. He now started a reform movement and along with some others like F. R. Senanayake, E. W. Perera and Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan, asked for a Royal Commission. He remained in England to fight for reforms. In Ceylon, the National Congress was formed and Jayatilaka became its representative in England. He propagated the view that Europeans, Burghers, Sinhalese, Tamils, and Moors were all one people and refrained from asking for separate rights.
Jayatilaka returned to the country on November 26, 1919. He travelled by ship, but when he heard that numerous receptions were being organized to welcome him back, he decided to avoid them by getting down in Bombay and travelling to Colombo by train via Talaimannar. When he got down at the Fort Railway Station, huge crowds greeted him and a meeting was held at Ananda College to welcome him back. At that meeting he declared "I have decided not to have receptions and processions. I believe in giving of my best to my Motherland without expectation of any praise or demonstration of any kind. I believe in humility and simplicity. I believe in being one with the common man." This was the exact impression I formed of him when I first met him in 1939. He was unanimously elected President of the Ceylon National Congress on 21st December 1923. In 1924, under a new scheme of reforms which provided for a Legislative Council with a clear unofficial majority, territorial representation and an elected Vice President, D. B. Jayatilaka was returned uncontested to represent the Colombo District. His name was proposed by an European and seconded by a Burgher. But these reforms hardly satisfied the Congress. Led by Jayatilaka, its leaders pressed for further reforms. The outcome was the Donoughmore Commission which recommended a new constitution. Elections were held under adult franchise in 1931 and Jayatilaka was elected unopposed for Kelaniya. He became Leader of the House and Minister for Home Affairs on 22nd September, the same year. The next year, D. B Jayatilaka was made a Knight by the British Government in recognition of his services to the country. In December the same year he was struck by malaria and fell seriously ill. When World War II broke out in 1939 in Europe, D. B. was so magnanimous towards the British, despite their imprisoning him earlier and treating him harshly, that he persuaded the State Council to pass resolution assuring the British government of whole hearted support in the prosecution of the war. It was his nature to forget the past and forgive offenders. When the Japanese bombed Colombo on 5th April 1942, within hours Colombo was deserted because the city-dwellers fled to remote areas. By mid day, there was no one to unload food ships in the harbour. D. B. rushed to Kelaniya, his electorate, and appealed for help in the crisis. 400 volunteers immediately came forward to unload the ships. In August the same year there was a food crisis for another reason. India refused to send food to us. D. S. Senanayake, then Minister of Agriculture and Food, followed by G. C. S. Corea, then Minister of Trade and Commerce both went to Delhi to plead Sri Lanka's case. But India was adamant. Sir Baron look up the challenge and went to Delhi himself. He was already known to the Indian leaders as a scholar and a friend of India. Where D. S. and Corea failed, D. B. succeeded and the food was obtained. S. Natesan, then member for Kankesanthurai in the State Council, speaking on the condolence Motion on the occasion of the passing away of Sir D. B., related to the House how a great public figure of India whom he knew had said that the appointment of Sir Baron as the Representative of the Government of Ceylon in New Delli was an honour done to India by Ceylon. His name was known widely among men of learning and culture in the sub-continent. He took up this post in November 1942 - under pressure, it is said because at that time, the country needed strong leadership and Sir D. B.'s advanced age and hence temperamental unfitness made him unfit for the job of taking the country towards the final goal of complete independence. Sir D. B. was already in failing health. So he made way for D. S. Senanayake who became Leader of the House and Arunachalam Mahadeva succeeded him as Home Minister.
Relations between India and Sri Lanka had already become strained over the problem of Indian immigrants who had come here to work in our tea estates and elsewhere. Nevertheless, philosopher statesman that he was, Sir D. B. maintained cordial relations with our giant neighbour. He emphasized always the debt this country owed to India for the gift of Buddhism and the inheritance of Indian Culture and the existence of the same stock of people in the island as brothers and sisters of India. Sir D.B's failing health gave way in New Delhi. At first it was malaria. Then it was some other kind of fever. After that it was a stomach ailment for which he had thought local ayurvedic treatment would be the best. So he decided to return home immediately and the Viceory in Delhi placed a special plane at his disposal for the journey. On the way back, the country's most "uncommon common man" as a legal luminary once described him, is said to have had a heart attack and passed away when the plane was over Bangalore, quite appropriately, since in the plane he was closer to the mountain top from where looked at human problems. When the State Council met to pass a vote of condolence on Sir D.B's passing away, glowing tributes were paid to his memory by all sections of the House. The then Chief Secretary, a Britisher, said that Sir Baron "had a calmness of outlook on life and its problems, a serenity which was classic....When he spoke as he did on rare occasions with vehemence he spoke from an altitude on which he stood alone". G. G. Ponnambalam, then member for Point Pedro, observed "starting life as schoolmaster, Sir Baron remained to the end of his days a student; and what is more, a scholar - in the remarkable combination of qualities of scholarship, of statesmanship and erudition I think Baron Jayatilaka will be difficult to be surpassed in the near future". Siripala Samarakkody, then President of the Ceylon National Congress, who was a severe critic of Sir Baron, said that the dead leader was "a superb statesman who took criticism in the proper light and never carried a vendetta or animosity against his critics". D. S. Senanayake, who succeeded Sir Baron to the leadership of the country mentioned that his erstwhile leader "had the courage of his convictions, that it was not popularity,that he sought, but that he should act in the way which he thought was in the best interests of the country.... personal considerations never weighed with him. The interests of the country were all that he was concerned with".
DN Sat Feb 12 2005Sir Baron Jayatilaka - exemplary Buddhist leader
by Rajah Kuruppu
Vice President, Colombo YMBA
The 137th birth anniversary of Sir Baron Jayatilaka, former leader of the State Council and Minister of Home Affairs as well as the first President of the Colombo YMBA, is on the 13th of February.
Born in 1868, in the village of Waragoda in Kelaniya, Sir Baron had his very early education at Vidyalankara Privena in Peliyagoda where he studied at the feet of the scholar monk, the Ven. Ratmalane Sri Dharmaloka Thera, reputed for is knowledge of Pali, Sanskrit and Buddhist Philosophy.
Later, his secondary education was at Wesley College, Colombo, where he had a distinguished career.
It is said that on leaving school, Sir Baron sought employment as a clerk in the Department of Lands but the interview board found him too good for the post and observing his potentialities advised him to pursue further studies.
Sir Baron graduated from the University of Calcutta in 1898. He pursued further studies in 1910 when he entered Jesus College, Oxford, in UK, from where he obtained the First Degree in 1913 and the Masters Degree a few years later. Sir Baron was admitted as a Barrister-at-Law of Lincolin's Inn in 1916.
Soon after the establishment of the Colombo YMBA in january, 1898, Sir Baron was invited to be its first president, a position he held without interruption until his death in 1944, a period of 46 years.
Among his many contributions to develop and expand this association to occupy an important position in the Buddhist affairs of the country, was the conduct of Dhamma examinations for students of Dhamma Schools.
Sir Baron began his career as an educationist. He was Principal of Dharmaraja College, Kandy, founded by the Buddhist Theosophical Society (BTS) in 1890.
In 1898, he assumed duties as Vice Principal of Ananda College, Colombo, the premier Buddhist secondary educational institution in the country. He became the Principal of that college in the following year and also held the post of General Manager of Buddhist schools of the BTS.
Sir Baron was an exemplary Buddhist. He had a profound understanding of the Dhamma and took great efforts to practice the Dhamma in his daily life.
The invaluable Buddhist virtues of loving-kindness compassion, joy in the success of others, charity, courage and perseverance were conspicuous features of his character.
By meditation and reflection, he developed a mental serenity and tranquillity that enabled him to remain calm and unruffled in the hustle and bustle of life and face success and failure with equanimity.
Sir Baron was the Secretary of three delegations that made representatives to the Secretary of State for Colonies in London advocating constitutional reforms for the country between 1919 and 1921.
A few years thereafter, he took to active politics when he was elected uncontested to represent the Colombo District in the reformed Legislative Council of 1924.
In the new State Council of 1931, Sir Baron was returned uncontested for the Kelaniya seat and re-elected unopposed once again in the election of 1936. From 1931 to 1942, he was the Leader of the State Council and Minister of Home Affairs.
He resigned from ministerial office in 1942 to accept an appointment as Ambassador for Ceylon in India to expedite the resolution of mutual problems between the two countries.
Two years thereafter, Sir Baron was taken seriously ill and passed away on 31st May 1944 while on the way to Colombo from New Delhi by air. Thus came to an end the fruitful life of a great Buddhist leader, well-known oriental scholar, able educationist and a dedicated statesman.
A man of impeccable integrity, his sincerity of purpose in his endeavours for Buddhism and the country was acknowledged by both supporters and opponents.
May he attain early the bliss of Nibbana.