Even at the ripe old age of 81, death can come without warning, with all around you suffering a feeling of sudden loss. If a human being cultivates his human qualities in a way that makes others emulate him, then irrespective of what he has achieved in the academic world or social stature, his departure from this world creates a vacuum which takes a long time to fill. The feeling of this vacuum was evident when Prof. Charles Dahanayaka departed from this world a few weeks ago. We lost both a human being worth emulating as well as an academic giant of mighty proportions.
Prof. Dahanayaka was born in 1928 in Hiyare off Galle. His brilliant academic career started in Galle where he passed his Senior School Certificate in the first division in the Arts stream and entered Ananda College, Colombo. Within one year he passed his S.S.C in the Science stream in the first division and also passed Higher School Certificate in the first division with four distinctions. After entering the University of Ceylon in 1946 as a scholar he won the Khan Prize awarded to the best student at the first examination. On completing a first class honours degree in Physics he joined the academic staff in 1950 and started a successful career spanning almost four decades.
He was one of the first to be selected for the University of Bristol where he received his Ph.D under the tutelage of Nobel Prize winner Prof. Powell.
While at the Colombo campus as a senior lecturer in Physics his remarkable ability to build a strong relationship with the student population was evident when he was instrumental in coordinating the first all-night pirith ceremony and alms -giving at King George hall in 1957. He earned the respect of his students due partly to his continuous organization of activities such as the Buddhist Brotherhood. The Physics Department of Peradeniya University too had the benefit of his services in the 1960's. After the establishment of the University of Kelaniya, Prof. Dahanayaka became its first Professor of Physics and the Head of Department.
Prof. Dahanayaka not only served the university in its academic development but also promoted the activities of Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science of which he became the General President. In the field of education in the country. His efforts in the successful implementation of the teaching of science subjects in Swabhasha in secondary schools is noteworthy.
He served the University Grants Commission as a member for nearly ten years. His services in promoting the establishment of the University of Ruhuna was recognized when the university showed its highest appreciation by conferring an honorary Doctorate of Science (D. Sc).
His devotion and respect for his alma mater, Ananda College was demonstrated by his serving as an active member of the Senior Old Anandians until his untimely death. He was a keen participant at every general meeting including the last Annual General Meeting held at the college only three months ago. As a devoted practising Buddhist he took a keen interest in regular programmes such as Dhamma discussions.
We offer our deepest condolences to Mrs Thilaka Dahanayaka and the daughters Rachitha.and Punitha. May he attain his full liberation through Nibbana.