With the dawn of 19th century on our shores, Lanka had gone through many vicissitudes of fortune ranging from the peak of prominence to the depths of deprivation. Though the early part of the this century could be considered the culmination in the process of dilapidation, of our island culture nourished throughout the ages by Buddhism and Hinduism, under foreign dominion dividing native communities. The latter half of the century however saw the residues of national consciousness beginning to arise. This in turn stirred a keen awareness of the customs and modes of life characteristic of our people. It was against this backdrop that a humble, unassuming school was founded that would rise by strides to become a true Sri Lankan institution.
Originally established in 1886 as the Buddhist English School at Maliban Street, Pettah it was later moved to its present environs at Paranavadiya, Maradana in 1895. Being named Ananda as a mark of respect to Arahat Ananda Thero, the closest disciple of Lord Buddha and the Treasurer of his sublime Dhamma,the doctrine, Ananda College was the first school to be established by Sri Lankans and Buddhist organizations,albeit under the guidance of Col. Henry Steel Olcott. It is important to remember the social and educational environment that prevailed in Sri Lanka at that time when Ananda College was established 125 years ago. There were no recognized Buddhist educational institutions in the island and more significantly there was no place to inculcate the Sri Lankan values and mores among the native population. It is with the advent of the age of Commerce and industry in Sri Lanka that the College was established with the schooling system based on the British model and a level of high relevancy was accorded to these subjects. Ananda , by her Centenary had become a National educational institution as from the day of her inception, was committed to the protection ,nourishment and indoctrination of Sri Lankan values of Buddhism.
Being established for the sole purpose of giving self-respect and equal opportunities to Buddhist children, was not in the opinion that the gates of Ananda were closed to Sri Lankan communities of different faiths and ethnicities. On the contrary the College has embraced students from all communities of our island for one of the main objectives of Ananda College is to instill patriotic and spiritual values among her students and to think above ethnic and political affiliations for the prosperity of the mother land.
.Ananda College stands today, as a foremost educational academy in Sri Lanka due to the untiring efforts of her past and present principals, teachers and students. The past teachers of Ananda distinguished themselves as men and women of a very high professional efficiency and were admired for their exemplary behavior as members of a noble profession which contributed immensely to the exalted position that Mother Ananda appears today. Under the guidance of renowned educationalists and national teachers.
Becoming the first college to win the Herman Loose Challenge Cup for All Round Efficiency and the first Governor General’s Cup was the commencement of the existing high level relationship between Ananda and the Armed Forces of Sri Lanka. This can be ascertained for the reason that there are more Anandians in the Sri Lankan Army and Navy than from any other college in the country. This special intimate bond between the Sri Lankan Military and Anandians can be further witnessed by their exceptional sacrifices in the ending of the Separatist Terrorist War in 2009. They are today considered national heroes, a distinction which they whole heartedly deserve, who have come forward to defend the sovereignty and terrorism integrity for the island republic. This is further justified that Ananda has indubitably contributed towards national causes since her inception from the independence Movement in the latter part of the 19th century to the exclusion of terrorism from the shores of Sri Lanka.
As mentioned earlier, Ananda College was relocated to Maradana in 1895 from No. 34, Maliban Street, Pettah under the leadership of Mr. A.E. Bultjens. The necessary land was provided by Mudliyar Tudor Rajapakshe. Having established the first building, the physical presence of Ananda expanded through the course of history coming to encompass 15 acres. Ananda College was upgraded from an Elementary school to a Secondary school under the tutelage of Mr. Fritz Kunz. In recognition of his services and disciplinary personality, the Fritz Kunz Challenge Cup is awarded to the Most Outstanding Anandian at the Annual Prize Giving ceremony that stands the most prestigious award ever obtainable by an Anandian.
During the tenure of Mr. P.De S. Kularatne, Ananda COlelge was registered as a Collegiate School with a separate Primary School, thereby allowing students to sit for the London Intermediate, Pre Medical and University Entrance examinations. Teaching in the Mother Tongue of a student in the Primary section was introduced by him long before it was introduced by the Department of Education. The College Hostel was completed during the term of Dr. G.P. Malalasekara while the Buddha Jayanthi Building and the Leadbeater Memorial Building were completed under Mr. L.H. Mettananda. Anandaa Colelge became a State Institution under Mr. S.A. Wijetillake who completed the Olcott Memorial Building which houses the Olcott Library, the Ananda Museum the Main Staff room the Buddhist Society room and the School Development Society office.
Science, Commerce and Arts departments were set up at Ananda under Col. G.W. Rajapakshe, More significantly, the Kularatne Hall was constructed in honour of Mr.P.de S. Kularatne and also Col. Rajapakshe fulfilled the inadequacy of a playground by procuring a playing field of 85 acres with Gymnasium built adjacently. To face the population explosion experienced during the time successfully, Col. Rajapakshe oversaw the construction of the Five Storied Lecture Theatre and the Five Storied Multi-purpose Hall renamed the M.U. Moore Building and the D.B. Jayathillake respectively.
The iconic Ananda Vihara, the inspirational and stirring landmark of Ananda College is undoubtedly the most easily distinguishable building of the college. The foundation stone for the Vihara mandiraya was laid during the tenure of Mr. L. H. mettananda and completed under Col. E.A. Perusinghe. A magnificent edifice constructed to cater to the spiritual needs of the students. The Vihara Mandiraya has become indispensably and irrevocably intertwined with the identity of Ananda College. Venerated by students, teachers and the administration and all who visit the College premises, the Ananda Vihara Mandiraya by such virtue has become the Third Most venerated Buddhist shrine in the world.
Consequently, as Anada College celebrated her 125th anniversary recently, it has risen and effectively faced a multitude of challenges developing into the premier Buddhist educational institution in Sri Lanka with an enrollment exceeding 6,000 students and 250 members of the Tutorial Staff. Accomplishing remarkable achievements in the fields of intellectual and co-curricular activities, Sports and other branches of educational development, Anandians have contributed prominently to the nation generating respected, educators, politicians, administrators, economists, diplomats, artistes, doctors, engineers, accountants, cricketers, IT professionals and military officers and personnel. Furthermore, the Col. G.W. Rajapakshe Ground complex along with the L.H. Mettananda Memorial Hostel received a long awaited facelift bringing about a fresh atmosphere to the College premises. Mother Ananda may be highly contented with the achievements her sons have gained on her behalf and with the structural renaissance witnessed within her precincts, Towering atop in the national scene, achieving in no small measure the aims of its founders, Mother Ananda now eagerly anticipates the achievements, contributions and noble activities that her sons of the present generation shall deliver on her behalf of the betterment of the college and Mother Lanka.