The New York Times, Sunday, March 23, 1958

Ceylonese Here Does Triple Duty

U.N. Delegate, a Buddhist Scholar, Is a Graduate Student at Columbia

Three-ring circuses have nothing on a 38-year-old Ceylonese Buddhist who is seeing New York for the first time.

The Venerable Havanpola Ratanasara does triple duty as an alternate delegate to the United Nations, a full-time Columbia University graduate student and a devoted practitioner of Buddhism. In his spare time he tours the city on foot.

Though Mr. Ratanasara is new to this country, his diversified abilities are even newer to his classmates at Teachers College, where he is studying for a master’s degree in education.

He is an expert in Singhalese, an honor graduate of a school for Buddhist monks and personal friend of Ceylon’s Prime Minister, Solomon Bandaranaike.

A lively little man with a flair for Oriental languages, Mr. Ratanasara has a habit of speaking rapid-fire English in candid spurts.

Scorns ‘Power Bloc’

“You Americans believe in atomic bombs, hydrogen bombs and all those things,” he said the other day. “Well, we don’t. We are peace-loving people and want no association with any power bloc.”

When the United Nations General Assembly was meeting last fall, Mr. Ratanasara regularly attended the all-day sessions of the Social; Humanitarian and Cultural affairs Committee, to which he is attached as a member of the Ceylonese delegation.

Sitting in the United Nation’s chambers, garbed in his native yellow robes, Mr. Ratanasara can rely on a varied background to serve him in his work on the committee.

In Ceylon he was a school principal. He was educated at a school for Buddhist monks, where he received a bachelor’s degree in Pali, the official language of Buddhism. In addition, Mr. Ratanasara gave frequent radio talks on Ceylon’s educational system, and plans to become an instructor in languages when he returns home.

At the end of a day’s diplomatic sword-clashing, Mr. Ratanasara leaves for Columbia. His classes there usually begin at 5 P.M. The rest of the evening, and well into the early morning, he spends studying for the next day’s classes.

“It’s a bit tiring at times.” He grins, “But I manage all right.”

Mr. Ratanasara is the only Ceylonese at Teachers College. He arrived last September as an exchange student on a fellowship grant from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Shortly after his arrival, he became an alternate United Nations delegate and got the title Venerable to go with his new position.

Between politics, studies and Buddhism, Mr. Ratanasara finds time to visit various points in the United States. He will visit Harvard next month.

Teachers College officials have considered asking him to stay on for a Ph.D. after he gets his master’s this June.

“It’s another two years,” Mr. Ratanasara muses. “ But I’d do it. After all, I’m getting to like it here.”