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A Tribute to 1969 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee A. T. Ariyaratne

Apr 16, 2024
10 min read

The Board of Trustees, Officers, and Staff of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF) extend our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family and relatives of Ahangamage Tudor Ariyaratne, better known to us all as A. T. Ariyaratne, 1969 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Community Leadership from Sri Lanka.


A. T. Ariyaratne leading a peace meditation

Ariyaratne, founder of Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement, the world's largest spiritually-based people's development movement, passed away last April 16 at a private hospital in Colombo at the age of 92.

Born in Sri Lanka in 1929, Ariyaratne embarked on a lifelong quest for social justice and communal harmony. Recognizing the post-independence need to uplift marginalized communities and foster unity, he founded the Sarvodaya Movement in 1958, rooted in the principle of sarvodaya shramadana, “meaning to share one's time, thought and energy for the welfare of all.”

2008 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee Ananda Galappatti remembers him, “He was an iconic public figure whose work affected so many lives in Sri Lanka. Like many young people, my first experience of social service was as a student volunteering with the Sarvodaya Movement in 1992. I witnessed the culture of dedicated service that he inspired through his ideas and examples.”

“My own most potent memory of him is of his simple, personal kindness - which I was fortunate to benefit from, when I was a young man out of his depth and in need of reassurance,” Galappatti adds.


A. T. Ariyaratne with monks visiting the Sarvodaya office

Ariyaratne's bottom-up approach to development empowered communities to identify and address their own needs, leading to flourishing villages across Sri Lanka. His legacy transcended borders, inspiring global adoption of selflessness and service.

He received the Ramon Magsaysay Award, Asia’s premier prize and highest honor, for “his founding and inspired guidance of the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement, combining voluntary service in meeting village needs with an awakening of man's potential when he cultivates his best instincts.”


A. T. Ariyaratne receiving the medallion during the Ramon Magsaysay Awards Presentation Ceremonies held August 31, 1969. In photo are Honorable Roberto Concepcion, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (center) and Dean Dioscoro L . Umali, Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation Chairman (right).

Though he may have left this world, his spirit lives on in the lives he touched, urging us to pursue a world where justice, equality, and solidarity prevail.