A tribute to Dr. Alec Robertson

By Cecil Jayasinghe

The fourth anniversary of the demise of a well known Dhamma preacher was on the 31st December 2006. Born of Christian parents, his father was the Station Master at the Dodanduwa Railway Station, where he had the opportunity of visiting the Dodanduwa Hermitage built by Ven Maha Thera Nynatilloka of German Nationality. Here he associated with Ven Maha Thera Nynaponika and participated in Dhamma discussions and weekly talks as a teenage student. His entry into Government service and work place being Colombo, his evenings were spent at the Vajiraramaya Temple where Ven Vajirarama Maha Thera, Bhikkhu Narada, Bhikkhu Piyadassi and Ven Kassapa (Dr Cassius Perera) had regular Dhamma talks and research on comparative religions. It was the Vajiramaya Temple that offered the Buddhist youth from outstations working in Colombo a venue to study Buddhism and research. Ven Bhikku Narada in his endeavour to teach and preach Buddhist Doctrine in English established the Servants or the Buddha Society at Laurie’s Road, the Maitriya Hall in 1921. Alec Robertson made full use of this Society and in course of time became its President, for 30 years.

Being fluent in English, Sinhala and Latin he was much sought by Buddhist societies, universities and schools for Dhamma Talks and all his week ends were set apart for these organisations. He had a full day programme for Poya Day Talks at the Y.M.B.As in Colombo and outstations.

A prolific writer in English, he contributed numerous articles in English to newspapers, periodicals and magazines. Author of several books, ‘Is Nirvana Extinct?’, ‘Buddhist attitude to Christianity’ and ‘Triple Gem Uposatha’ and ‘Buddha The Healer Incomparable’. In his book, ‘Buddha the healer incomparable’, he states in regard to anger, hatred and violence as follows:

‘In the Dhamma not only violence but anger too is denounced. He who becomes angry is inclined to violence and may at times do all sorts of things, There was never an occasion when the Buddha claimed forth in anger, never an incident when unkind words escaped his lips, says Professor Radhakrishnam. Anger hatred and violence is a shameful state for a Buddhist to be in. The Buddhist knows that anger, harsh words, slander, malicious talks are all starting points to violence and therefore it is not surprising to read in Paul Carus that the Sinhalese are famed as the gentlest race on earth and their religion is Buddhism and it is this Buddhism that has been the noblest if all, unifying influence in Asia, according to the late Rev. C.F. Andrews.”

His melodious voice and simple and lucid elucidation of topics was a source of inspiration to his listeners and gatherings that profited by his ideas and views on the Dhamma. He visited the Kandy Buddhist Association twice a year and on his two – day stay in Kandy, the Mahanuwara Y.M.B.A Kandy, Hospital Welfare Society, Prison Department Welfare Society were centres for preaching.

As a Tourist Guide Lecturer in Buddhism to foreign tourists from the west, he encouraged them to do research on and study Buddhism The Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation invited him for regular broadcasts. The Tuesday Buddhist Forum with eminent persons, Dr W.G. Weeraratne, Tudor Senanayeke, Kusuma Bhikkuni, Mr Kuruppu and other eminent – persons was very popular.

His entire adult lifespan was devoted to explain the quintessence of the Dhamma to all persons irrespective of religious fervour and inspire them to attain and lead good lives. May his Sansaric journey be brief and may he attain the Eternal Bliss of Nirvana.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Print this page