NEW DELHI: President Pranab Mukherjee has released a commemorative stamp on Anagarika Dharmapala, considered to be an iconic figure behind the revival of Sinhala Buddhist nationalism, to mark his 150th birth anniversary.
During a function at Rashtrapati Bhawan, Mukherjee released the stamp in the presence of Telecommunication Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh and Sri Lankan High Commissioner Sudarshan Seneviratne.
According to a statement, the President said the release of the commemorative stamp “will contribute towards further strengthening the bilateral ties between India and Sri Lanka and bring the two nations closer”.
Dharmapala worked selflessly with a missionary zeal to propagate Buddhist and restore the glory of Buddhism. He met Swami Vivekananda at the 1893 World Parliament of Religions in Chicago, where he was invited as a representative of Theravada Buddhism.
Dharmapala has an elevated status in Sri Lanka because of his pivotal role in the revival of Sinhala Buddhism. Last year, both countries had agreed to jointly commemorate the 150th birth anniversaries of Swami Vivekananda in 2013 and Anagarika Dharmapala in 2014. According to Observer Research Foundation’s N Sathiya Moorthy, the move is part of India’s long-standing outreach to the Sinhala population. “It is a bold step... India has always addressed Buddhist sentiment. Remember that India had earlier sent Lord Buddha relics to Sri Lanka on a tour,” he said and added that Dharmapala had a more controversial image, due to his role in Sinhala Buddhist nationalism revival.