Solomon Bandaranaike
Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike (Sinhala:සොලමන් වෙස්ට් රිජ්වේ ඩයස් බන්ඩාරනායක)(Tamil
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

:சாலமன் வெஸ்ட் ரிச்சர்ட் டயஸ் பண்டாரநாயக்கா)(frequently referred to as S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike; January 8, 1899 – September 26, 1959) was the fourth Prime Minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

 of Ceylon (later Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

), serving from 1956 until his assassination by a Buddhist monk in 1959.

Early life & education

Bandaranaike was born in Colombo, Ceylon to an elite Sinhalese
Sinhalese people
The Sinhalese are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group,forming the majority of Sri Lanka,constituting 74% of the Sri Lankan population.They number approximately 15 million worldwide.The Sinhalese identity is based on language, heritage and religion. The Sinhalese speak Sinhala, an Indo-Aryan language and the...

 Anglican Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 family and was the son of the powerful Sir Solomon Dias Bandaranike the Maha Mudaliyar
Sri Lankan Mudaliyars
Mudali was a colonial title & office in Sri Lanka. The Portuguese colonials created the Mudaliyar class in the 17th century by enlisting natives of different castes form the coastal areas, who were most likely to serve the Portuguese masters with utmost loyalty. The Dutch continued the practice of...

 (the chief native interpreter and advisor to the Governor
A governor is a governing official, usually the executive of a non-sovereign level of government, ranking under the head of state...

) of Horagolla Walauwa
Walauwa is the name given to a feudal/colonial manor house in Ceylon built by native headmen. It is also reference to the feudal social systems that existed during the colonial era.-Kandyan Walauwas:...

 in Atthanagalla, during British colonial rule. In later life he converted to Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 in order to join politics. He received his secondary education at St Thomas' College and went on to study at Christ Church
Christ Church, Oxford
Christ Church or house of Christ, and thus sometimes known as The House), is one of the largest constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England...

, Oxford University, where he was Secretary of the famous Oxford Union
Oxford Union
The Oxford Union Society, commonly referred to simply as the Oxford Union, is a debating society in the city of Oxford, Britain, whose membership is drawn primarily but not exclusively from the University of Oxford...

. He later qualified as a Barrister
A barrister is a member of one of the two classes of lawyer found in many common law jurisdictions with split legal professions. Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy, drafting legal pleadings and giving expert legal opinions...

 in England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...


Political career

As a young lawyer Bandaranaike became active in the Ceylon National Congress (CNC). He was elected to the Colombo Municipal Council
Colombo Municipal Council
The Colombo Municipal Council is the local council for Colombo, the largest city and financial centre in Sri Lanka. The council was formed in 1865 and first met in 1866. The municipal council is the oldest and the largest local government authority in Sri Lanka and, as of 2001, covers a resident...

 in 1926. From 1931 to 1947 he served in the State Council of Ceylon
State Council of Ceylon
The State Council of Ceylon was the unicameral legislature for Ceylon , established in 1931 by the Donoughmore Constitution. The State Council gave universal adult franchise to the people of the colony for the first time...

. In order to promote Sinhala culture and community interests, Bandaranaike organised the Sinhala Maha Sabha
Sinhala Maha Sabha
The Sinhala Maha Sabha was a political party in Sri Lanka founded by Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike in 1934-35, in order to promote Sinhalese culture and community interests. Backing the United National Party from 1946, it left the UNP with Bandaranaike in 1951 to form the Sri Lanka...

 in 1936. In 1946 he backed the United National Party
United National Party
The United National Party, often referred to as the UNP ), , is a political party in Sri Lanka. It currently is the main opposition party in Sri Lanka and is headed by Ranil Wickremesinghe...

 (UNP) and held ministerial posts from 1947 to 1951. In 1951, Bandaranaike led his Sinhala Maha Sabha faction out of the UNP and established the Sri Lanka Freedom Party
Sri Lanka Freedom Party
The Sri Lanka Freedom Party is one of the major political parties in Sri Lanka. It was founded by S.W.R.D Bandaranaike in 1951 and, since then, has been one of the two largest parties in the Sri Lankan political arena. It first came to power in 1956 and since then has been the predominant party in...

On the sensitive issue of language, the party originally espoused the use of both Sinhala and Tamil
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

 as national languages, but in the mid-1950s it adopted a "Sinhala only
Sinhala Only Act
The Sinhala Only Act was a law passed in the Ceylonese parliament in 1956...

" policy.
The party asserts it is a champion of the Buddhist religion, which had been attacked by local Christians and Tamils alike during the colonial era. The SLFP has customarily relied upon the socially and politically influential Buddhist clergy, the sangha, to carry its message to the Sinhala villages. Since the 1950s, SLFP platforms have reflected the earlier organization's emphasis on appealing to the sentiments of the Sinhala masses in rural areas. To this basis has been added the anti-establishment appeal of non-revolutionary socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...


Bandaranaike became prime minister after winning the 1956 elections in a landslide, at the head of a four-party coalition with a no-contest pact with the Lanka Sama Samaja Party
Lanka Sama Samaja Party
The Lanka Sama Samaja Party is a Trotskyist political party in Sri Lanka....

 and the Communist Party of Sri Lanka
Communist Party of Sri Lanka
The Communist Party of Sri Lanka is a communist political party in Sri Lanka. At the last legislative elections, on 2 April 2004, the party was part of the United People's Freedom Alliance that won 45.6% of the popular vote and 105 out of 225 seats....

. As such, he made Sinhala the official language of the country, downgrading the official status of English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 and promoting socialist, non-Western policies that profoundly changed the course of Ceylonese politics in the following decades.

As prime minister, he took a neutralist stance in foreign affairs
Foreign Affairs
Foreign Affairs is an American magazine and website on international relations and U.S. foreign policy published since 1922 by the Council on Foreign Relations six times annually...

. He removed the British air bases at Katunayake
Bandaranaike International Airport
Bandaranaike International Airport is Sri Lanka's only international airport at the moment. Mattala International Airport, when it gets built will be the second International Airport of Sri Lanka. It is located in Katunayake, north of Colombo...

 and China Bay and the naval base at Trincomalee
Trincomalee is a port city in Eastern Province, Sri Lanka and lies on the east coast of the island, about 113 miles south of Jaffna. It has a population of approximately 100,000 . The city is built on a peninsula, which divides the inner and outer harbours. Overlooking the Kottiyar Bay,...

. Domestically, he was faced by economic problems and disputes over languages. He is also remembered by the minority Sri Lankan Tamils for his failure to use the state's resources to control the 1958 riots
Sri Lankan riots of 1958
1958 riots in Ceylon also known as 58 riots was first island wide ethnic riots that targeted the minority Sri Lankan Tamils in Ceylon after it became an independent country from Britain in 1948. The riots lasted from May 22 until May 27, 1958 although sporadic disturbances happened even after the...

, leading to many deaths of Tamil people at the hands of mobs.


In the 3rd year in office he died on 26 September 1959, at the age of 60, at the Merchant's Ward of the Colombo General Hospital due to wounds received after being shot by Talduwe Somarama
Talduwe Somarama
Talduwe Ratugama Rallage Weris Singho better known as Talduwe Somarama was a Sri Lankan Sinhalese Buddhist monk who shot and killed Solomon Bandaranaike, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka in 1959...


The day before, 25 September, Somarama visited Bandaranaike at his private residence, Tintagel, in Rosmead Place, Colombo
Colombo is the largest city of Sri Lanka. It is located on the west coast of the island and adjacent to Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte, the capital of Sri Lanka. Colombo is often referred to as the capital of the country, since Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte is a satellite city of Colombo...

. Since Somarama was a member of the Buddhist clergy, he was not searched for weapons and given free access to the prime minister as he began his routine meetings with the public. When the monk's presence was intimated to him, Bandaranaike rose to greet him in the traditional Buddhist manner. The assassin then plucked out the revolver
A revolver is a repeating firearm that has a cylinder containing multiple chambers and at least one barrel for firing. The first revolver ever made was built by Elisha Collier in 1818. The percussion cap revolver was invented by Samuel Colt in 1836. This weapon became known as the Colt Paterson...

 hidden in his robes and fired at the prostrate prime minister. The wounded Bandaranaike was rushed to hospital but died the following day in spite of a six hour surgery by Ceylon's most skilled surgeons.

After Bandaranaike's death, Wijeyananda Dahanayake
Wijeyananda Dahanayake
Wijeyananda Dahanayake was a Sri Lankan political figure. He was the Prime Minister of Ceylon from 1959 to 1960.-Early Life:...

, minister of education and the leader of the House
Leader of the House
There are several offices titled Leader of the House:* Leader of the House in the Australian Parliament* Leader of the House in the Parliament of Singapore* Leader of the House in the Parliament of Sri Lanka...

 took over as care taker prime minister after being appointed by the Ceylonese parliament. However he fell out of favor with the members of the government, resulting the removal of all ministers of the Bandaranaike's cabinet in less than a year. Eventually the leadership of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party fell to Bandaranaike's widow Sirimavo Ratwatte Dias Bandaranaike who was soon appointed a Senator. She became the world's first female Prime Minister when another coalition led by the SLFP won elections in July 1960.

Family life

He married Sirimavo Ratwatte
Sirimavo Bandaranaike
Sirimavo Ratwatte Dias Bandaranaike was a Sri Lankan politician and the world's first female head of government...

 in 1940 and the marriage produced three children. Sirimavo Ratwatte Dias Bandaranaike, as she was known after her marriage, became the first female prime minister in the world following his assassination. His second daughter Chandrika Kumaratunga
Chandrika Kumaratunga
Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga born June 29, 1945) was the 4th Executive president of Sri Lanka, serving from November 12, 1994 to November 19, 2005. The daughter of two former Prime Ministers, she was also the leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party until end of 2005...

, subsequently became Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Sri Lanka
The Prime Minister of Sri Lanka is the functional head of the Cabinet of Sri Lanka. However, the President is both head of state and head of government in Sri Lanka...

 (1994) and the first female Executive president
Executive president
An executive president is a president who exercises active executive power in a certain systems of government. Executive presidents are active in day-to-day governance of a nation, and are usually popularly elected....

 in the world, his youngest son Anura Bandaranaike
Anura Bandaranaike
Anura Priyadarshi Solomon Dias Bandaranaike was a Sri Lankan politician, served as Speaker , and in several cabinet ministries as Foreign Minister briefly in 2005, Minister of Higher Education , Minister of Tourism , Minister of National Heritage and Leader of the Opposition...

 went on to become Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka
Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka the Speaker of the Parliament is the individual who chairs the country's legislative body, the Parliament of Sri Lanka. The Speaker fulfills a number of important functions in relation to the operation the House, which is based upon the British Westminster Parliamentary system.The...

 (1999–2001) and a Minister (2004–2008) and his eldest Sunethra Bandaranaike
Sunethra Bandaranaike
Sunethra Bandaranaike is a Sri Lankan philanthropist and a socialite.She is the eldest daughter of former Prime Ministers Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike and Sirimavo Ratwatte Dias Bandaranaike and sister of former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and former Speaker Anura...

 is a prominent philanthropist.

External links

This page incorporates text from the Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

's Country Studies series.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.