Search billions of records on


Donald Walter Abayakoon; Dear departed friend and mentor

by Hemantha Warnakulasuriya
Life is full of surprises as it happens, but quite astonishingly predictable in retrospect. The theory of Karma with its myriad variations and permutations, peculiar to the religions in the East, underlies, in principle, a common denominator. That is if one realizes the truth that one step of fate leads to another, then the whole theory becomes so meaningful and clear even to the non believer.

The true followers of the Buddha Dhamma could find solace and inspiration if one carefully studies the life and times of the late Donald Walter (Bacon) Abayakoon our beloved friend and senior. With all the humility and compassion that the Buddha taught. Bacon and his wife Shiranee would meditate and discuss the Dhamma at every given opportunity. They together consoled anyone who came to them with intricate and complex problems and inspired them to follow the Dhamma and find solace in the teachings of the Buddha.

Bacon never strode Hulftsdorp like a colossus. The steps he took may have been puny but it was not oppressive, dictatorial or mighty, yet he could with simplicity and humility challenge the might of the giants. His friends and colleagues understood the true nature of this disciplined man. He did not outrageously display his feelings. The members did not heed the promise of car permits, duty free cars, but was prepared to accept the man whom they knew had the strength and the courage to face any challenge that came from the executive or the political leadership of that time. The members stood for the man whom they felt was sincere to his finger-tips. He did not admonish, preach from the pulpit about his integrity and honesty. As it is known and an accepted fact that most members of the profession professed those qualities which was sine-qua-non for the profession. He believed everyone was moral, honest and decent, and having believed so he acted with high professional rectitude.

His period in office as the leader of the Bar may have not been illustrious but those who worked for him and the friends who supported him were with him throughout until he departed.

His sincerity and nobility was manifest in his deeds not by his words. He appeared for a number of lawyers who had been assaulted by the police in rights applications before the Supreme Court. He may not have achieved ambitious goals and use his office as a stepping stone to other positions, national and international. He has not earned the wrath of members as he would never sacrifice his principles, friends, supporters for self advancement. For him, a small favour that an important or an unimportant person has done to him, was more important than all the prestige and honour he would obtain by forgetting or sidelining the person who made even an insignificant contribution. When he was well he would drive down to distant places with regularity and meditate and contemplate on the teaching of the Buddha. The ecstatic joy he would imbibe by such contemplative meditation could never be equated to any material gain.

Donald Walter Abayakoon is no more. It was his wish that he be interred the very same day of his death. There was no publicity nor a call by the Bar to beckon its members to assemble at a certain point to be a part of the funeral procession. This was his wish. Again the teachings of the Buddha and the nobility of the man and his detestation of pretensions made him make that request. I believe more than any one of us his wife Shiranee who with great courage attended on him and his children Arusha and Manisha would realize the irreparable loss to them. Shiranee would have inculcated in them the theory of impermanence and Karmic fate and consoled them. But for us those who knew him even for a very short period, it is an unbearable bereavement.