Oldest Mahawansa

By L.B.Senaratne

The Chief Librarian Dr. Raiah Maheswaran of the Universtiy of Peradneniya holds the oldest copy of the ” Mahawanmsa ” . There are three more copies, at Matale, Anuradhapura and Malwatta Maha Viahre, but the oldest is at the main library of the Universtiy of Peadeniya.

A UNESCO  Team  visited the Main Library headed by the   UNESCO Chief  Irina Bokova during the 100 years celebrations of the Library, when a ‘new’ was also opended.  They examined  the Library’s Ola Leaf manuscripts in the  company of the Chief Librarian Dr. Rasiah Maneshwaran. and the then Vice Chancellor Professor Upul Dissanayake.

One hundred years ago, Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam laid the foundation for a library — by donating more than 1600 books in memory of his son Padmabah Arunachalam who died in a London car accident.

It was then known as the library of the Ceylon University College. The Library was shifted to Peradeniya in 1952 and was moved to the present premises in 1960 and ever since came to be known as the University of Peradeniya Library. The theme of the event was “The unpatrolled Repository of Knowledge at the Centre of Excellence – past and present.”

The library now boasts of 2500 ola leaf books not found in any university library in Sri Lanka. It was significant that the oldest copy of the Mahawansa was also found at this library by the committee searching for the oldest Mahawansa. A request has been made then,by the Vice Chancellor  to  UNESCO to declare the oldest ola leaf Mahawamsa copy as a world heritage.

The committee had travelled across the country in search of the oldest Mahawamsa copy and finally found it at the University of Peradeniya Library, at that time, Chief Librarian Rasiah Maheswaran said the ola manuscript was found in two volumes


The UNESCO Team examines the ola Manuscripts at the Library with Dr.Mahaeswaran

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