Profiles

Charles Rasaratnam Tissainayagam
Name - Charles Rasaratnam Tissainayagam
Date Of Birth - 15th August 1918
Date Of Death - 6th January 1997

Titles

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AMICE - Chartered Civil Engineer 

Posts held

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Additional Secretary Ministry of Irrigation, Power and Highways 

Director General Territorial Civil Engineering Services 

 

Director Central Engineering Consulting Board

Chairman Colombo Low Lying Areas Reclamation and Drainage Board

 

    

 


 


 


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Total Articles :    4

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  •  Appreciations
    • Charles Rasaratnam Tissainayagam by Kalasuri Livy R Wijemanne

    • Yet another gentleman of the public service has gone to his eternal rest after an illustrious career in the public sector of Sri Lanka.
      Charles Rasaratnam Tissainayagam was born on August 15, 1918, and would have completed his 79th year this year. He was a scion of a very distinguished family whose history could be traced back to the Portuguese era – to Wickremasinghe Tissanayaka Mudali, the Chieftain, to whom, according to tradition the only daughter of the last King of Jaffna was given in marriage.
      His father was the late G.S.Tissainayagam, District Engineer, Public Works Department,of Bothipulam Walauwa,  Mathagal. This Walauwa, situated  near Sambalthurai  (Jambu Kola Patuna of the Mahawamsa) is believed to be the site where Sangamitta Theri had landed with her precious cargo-the branch of the sacred Sri Maha Bodhi under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment.The area around Mathagal was reputed to have been the seat of an ancient Royal clan called Tissaayan,the chief of which was called Tissa Nayake.
      Tissa, as he was affectionately known, was educated at Trinity College, Kandy, St.John’s Collage, Jaffna, and finally at St. Thomas’College, Mount Lavinia,  where he excelled not only in his studies but also in the sporting field-Athletics, Soccer, Tennis, Boxing and swimming. After leaving College, he joined the Public Works Department where he served with distinction in many parts of the island. He held several  important assignments as  Additional  Secretary of the Ministry of Irrigation, Power and Highways; Director general of the Territorial Civil Engineering  Services; Director, Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau; Chairman, Low Lying Areas Reclamation and Drainage Board and Project Director, Kotmale Development Scheme under the Accelerated Mahaveli  Programme.
      I came to know Tissa when he and I- with M.D.Harry Jayawardene  (later Finance Minister) and Percy Thambyah (later an Attorney – at- Law in Ratnapura)-were fellow hostellers at the Athelier Hostel at Reid Avenue.
      I have always known him to be a gentleman to his fingertips, never uttering a harsh word even against those who had done him wrong. His sober influence over me in those early years helped me mould my own life to face the future with equanimity, and overcome many a difficult situation created for me by designing persons, without recourse to retaliation in the same coin.
      His wife who is a sister of the late Justice T.W.Rajaratnam, three children- Mohan, Devika and Menaka and his brother, M.J. Tissainayagam, a former Director Information, can take consolation in the fact that Tissa lived a full and productive life, and left the earthly scene with a fragrance that will linger with all those who have had the privilege of knowing him over the years.

      replik-uhren

    • C.R.Tissainayagam - An Appreciation - by Neelan Tiruchelvam

    • Charles Rasaratnam Tissainayagam passed away almost a year ago when he was nearing 80. He was born on August 15th, 1918, and was later educated at Trinity college Kandy, St. John’s College, and  St Thomas’ College. He was an all- round student who not only excelled in his studies, but was also an outstanding sportsman- and distinguished himself in athletics, football, swimming, tennis and boxing. While he was a student, he was boarded at the Atelier Hostel at Reid Avenue where his contemporaries  included  the late M.D.H. Jayawardene and the veteran broadcaster Livy Wijemanne.
      Tissainayagam joined the Public Works Department in 1937 as an apprentice and qualified as a junior assistant engineer in 1941. He was posted to different parts of the country – Vavuniya, Anuradhapura, Batticaloa, Pelmadulla, and Jaffna.
      A Director of Irrigation in 1936, he provided us with a flavour of the hardships and challenges that engineers had to encounter on the field. He wrote,   “ I have come up for three days through the jungle...I stand now on the rock of Inginiyagala and visualize in my mind’s eye the site where a future dam should be built.” He added that “  if it were built, I would urge the government of the future to examine the problem from the human angle, for here in the lower reaches, hard working peasants live in a state of  semi –serfdom, earning  the barest pittance as recompense for the severity of their servitude.”
      The Public Works Department at that time was responsible for the design and construction of public buildings, roads,  bridges , waterworks and factories. Despite the harsh field conditions it provided an excellent training ground for young and  energetic  civil engineers. Tissainayagam  rose rapidly within the Department. He worked on the new  Kelaniya  bridge and by the mid-fifties became the Superintendant Engineer of the Northern and later the Eastern Division.
      My mother’s brother Jeyam Canagaratnam was two years younger than Tissainayagam and joined the Irrigation Department in 1946 as a junior engineer. He was a close friend of Tssainayagam and held him in high esteem and affection. Tissainayagam had married the sister of the late T.W.Rajaratnam who had he rare distinction of being a member of both the Supreme Court and later the supreme legislature. He in turn was linked by marriage to my mother’s family in Chavacachcheri.
      Tissainayagam  later became the Director – General  of the Territorial Engineering Service, Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Irrigation, Power and Highways, and Chairman of the Low Lying Areas Reclamation and Drainage Board. The Mahaweli  scheme  provided Tissainayagam  with a unique opportunity  of utilising his technical skills and vast experience in one of the most ambitious developmental  projects

      of modern Sri Lanka.
      The Mahaweli  Development Project had been conceived in 1960 as a joint UNDP –FAO project to be implemented over a period of thirty years. The United National Party government in 1977 decided, in consultation with the World Bank to accelerate the implementation phase to last only six years. Tissainayagam was one of the engineers who responded to this challenge. He was Project –Director Kotmale Development scheme and played a pivotal role in co-ordinating the technical and management functions and ensuring the timely completion of the project.
      In this egalitarian and democratic age, it is somewhat inappropriate to  place  strong emphasis on family antecedents. But in the case of Tissainayagam we may make an exception merely to emphasise the continuing commitment to public service over several generations. Tissainayagam  belonged  to one of the oldest families of Jaffna which traces its origins to the early Portuguese period. Accordong to tradition and family history, Wickremasingha  Tissanayake Mudaliyar  was the Chieftain to whom the daughter of the last  Aryachakravarti  who ruled over the kingdom of Jaffna was given in marriage.
      C.R. Tissainayagam’s father G.S.Tissainayagam was the Civil Engineer in the Public Works Department.
      It was my privilege and good fortune to have known C.R. Tissainaygam in the later years of  his life. He had a gentle and kindly disposition. He was courteous to a fault. He engaged himself with enthusiasm in public interest activities and was supportive of public causes. He was deeply devoted to his family, his friends and his country.

       

    • C.R.Tissanayagam an appreciation by Skandakumar

    • A year has gone by since Uncle Raju moved on to his  eternal  rest and a warmly affectionate relationship has turned into a beautiful  memory.
      My first meeting with him was more than two decades ago; the occasion being his 50th birthday. Amidst a surfeit of glittering sterling silver, turbaned footmen served out the Don Pergnons and Chateau  wines  in exquisite crystal. I discovered on that awe inspiring evening a quiet and delightfully simple personality. A friendship had begun!
      An ancestry with Royal connections, an affectionate family, education that compared with the best, a career which took him to the highest echelons of public service in which he maintained throughout, impeccable standards of discipline and professionalism,  and a robust constitution through which he pursued sports enthusiastically, were only some of his blessings.
      A devoted husband,  loving  father, sensitive and caring friend, he stood firmly for everything that God and Religion specified.  Thank you dear Uncle Raju...in a changing world where material pursuits seem to outstrip any other consideration, the  memories  will always remain beautiful.

      CHARLES  RASARATNAM  TISSAINAYAGAM - A tribute paid by  Sam  Wijesinhe  at the memorial service held at St.Andrew’s  Scots  Kirk, Kollupitiya on Monday, 10th January 1997.
      We are gathered here  this evening at St. Andrew’s Church, Colombo in remembrance of Charles Rasaratnam Tissainayagam who was close and dear to us. He was born to an illustrious family at Mathagal  in North Ceylon, raised in a large and happy home, well educated at St. John’s college and at St. Thomas’College,  Mount Lavinia. He qualified professionally and began his career as a Civil Engineer on a special  assignment  at  Tangalle  in South Ceylon, a few miles from my own ancestral home.
      Although  Raju,  as he was affectionately called, was a few years senior to me, his younger brother M.J.was my contemporary in school and became a respected friend at the University College. We were colleagues at Brodie Hostel. Brodie was then housed in that impressive building which was the only edifice between Horton Place and Barnes Place, where functioned later what was called the Central Hospital. It was a building opposite “Ponklar”, the home of Sir Ponnambalam  Arunachalam who, incidentally was the great grandfather of Rukmini, the wife of Mohan the only son of Raju.
      The late Mr.C.L. Wickremesinghe  of the Ceylon Civil Service was the Magistrate of Jaffna from 1918 and one of the homes he had visited in the peninsula was that of the Tissainayagams  at Mathagal. It was called “Bodhipulam Waluwa” on the KKS-Karainagar road. Mathagal has some special significance to him because he had heard in early discussions with  Dr.Senerath Paranavithana  that Prince Vijaya’s historic landing may have been at the prominent headland of Jumbu Kovalam which became the Jumbukola of the Mahavamsa.
      Copper coloured sand is found in abundance in the area surrounding Keerimalai  in close proximity to the sea. They, along with Dr. Andreas  Nell also had reflected on the possibility of “Tambapani” which meant “good water” pointing to Keerimalai which was the first point of fresh water for those crossing over the seas to the northern most coast of Ceylon.  The Cave  there , which still exists, may have been a good safe place for Kuveni, the local princess, to hide Vijaya’s men!
      Although all this may be surmise, it is however an accepted fact, historically, that Sangamitta brought the sacred Bo Sapling and reached land at a point near Mathagal. The concept of the Bo- tree has had root there, particularly in place names, and even in the existence of an ancient Bo- tree in the precincts of the Pillayar Temple at Chulipuram- one of the oldest temples in the Peninsula.
      C.L.Wickremasinghe had met Raju Tissainayagam’s father  Selladurai Tissainayagam, who was one of the earliest Engineers from the North to join the Ceylon Public Works Department.  He was a pioneer like  Samuel  Rajasooria. It was from Selladurai Tissainayagam  that C.L. had heard of a Mudaliyar Vickramasinghe of Mathagal, a relation of Tissainayagam  Mudali of the 18th century, and also of their other relations as Samarasinghe Mudali  and Veersooriya  Mudali. Through C.L., Dr. Andreas Nell got interested in these findings and also of Buddhist connections which convinced Dr.Nell that everything Buddhist in Sri Lanka was not solely confined entirely to the Sinhalese.
      Two of the earliest Government Agents of the Northern Province, namely P.A. Dyke and Sir William Twynham were in office spanning almost two  thirds of the last century. The latter, Sir William Twynham who resigned in 1896, settled down in Jaffna and died in  the  Peninsula. The former, P.A. Dyke who was the Head of the Province for over 38 years, purchased in his personal capacity, the land adjoining that of Tisanaiyagam  Murugar  Vaithianthan, the father of Selladurai  Tissainayagam. Dyke left that property, where the Jaffna Kachcheri  now stands, to his successors in office in perpetuity.
      I was a young Crown Counsel prosecuting at the Northern Azzizes  in  nineteen fifty. On my first evening in Jaffna, I went for a lonely walk. Having lost my way, I was not quite sure what to do, and was hesitant to ask directions. But seeing a stately figure  walking  with  great dignity, I tiptoed  to him and  asked  “Mr. Jilla’s house?” He  answered  “Oh, you are the young Crown Counsel  that appeared in court today?  First  time  in Jaffna?  Come along with me and I will show you where Mr. Jilla the A.G.A. lives”.
      I walked beside him, and he introduced himself as A.V. Kulasingham.  I recognised him as the distinguished lawyer who appeared in his own appeal when he lost the Kayts  seat  in the General Election of 1947 to Mr. A.L. Thambyayah. He showed me many land marks and went on to say that he worked as an Editor of the Lake House newspapers and then took to Law.  He pointed  out  the  Magistrate’s  Bungalow  on  Beach Road and said  “ your wife’s father lived there when he came here as Magistrate  in 1918. The next  house is Mr. Jilla’s.” Then  I  asked  him  about  Keerimalai. He promptly  said  “ You must go to Keerimalai, to bathe, to see the Temples, and if possible to visit Mathagal, the home of the Tissainayagams.”  All of which I did during my stay in Jaffna.
      Raju was born the eldest on a family of five boys and three girls in that ancient Bodhipulam  Walauwa  which I visited  in 1950. He grew up in a happy heritage and was educated in reputed seats of disciplined learning. He joined the Public  Works  Department  as an apprentice in 1937 and was confirmed as a Junior  Engineer  in 1942 – thirty years after his father himself began his career in the same Department.
      Raju Tissainayagam  led a full life. He had a peaceful home, was not in want,  saw  his children well educated and happily settled. He died in full realisation of a life well spent. Not only his family, his relations and his friends, but also many others who came into contact with him in his almost four score years of life on earth will grieve his death.
      He married his “cousin” as appears common in our traditional eastern society. They were a devoted couple, and were affectionate parents to their three children. Theirs was a happy home blessed with  “arogya” and “santhusta” – Sanskrit  words not easily translated into English. Above all, Raju’s was a contented life. Raju Tissainayagam was a dutiful  man who appeared to recognise his obligations  and lived as a significant part of a greater whole. He was more concerned about his duties than his rights. He appeared to feel that each man obtained his rights when all around him discharged their several duties. The Hindu Religion and the Dravidian Culture of his ancient heritage did not appear to have been erased from him.
      Whilst thanking Mohan and all others responsible for giving me this opportunity, let me close my tribute to this great gentleman by making a whole of some few fragments of “ Gandhian  utterences”.
      Death is but a Sleep and a Forgetting. It is such a Sleep that the body has not to wake again. It is such a Forgetting  that the dead load of memory is thrown overboard.  There is no meeting  in the beyond as we have it today. When the isolated drops melt, in isolation they die – but to meet the ocean again – to share the majesty of that ocean to which they belong.

    • CHARLES RASARATNAM TISSAINAYAGAM - A tribute paid by Sam Wijesinhe at the memorial service held at St.Andrew‘«÷s Scots Kirk, Kollupitiya on Monday, 10th January 1997

    • We are gathered here  this evening at St. Andrew’s Church, Colombo in remembrance of Charles Rasaratnam Tissainayagam who was close and dear to us. He was born to an illustrious family at Mathagal  in North Ceylon, raised in a large and happy home, well educated at St. John’s college and at St. Thomas’College,  Mount Lavinia. He qualified professionally and began his career as a Civil Engineer on a special  assignment  at  Tangalle  in South Ceylon, a few miles from my own ancestral home.

      Although  Raju,  as he was affectionately called, was a few years senior to me, his younger brother M.J.was my contemporary in school and became a respected friend at the University College. We were colleagues at Brodie Hostel. Brodie was then housed in that impressive building which was the only edifice between Horton Place and Barnes Place, where functioned later what was called the Central Hospital. It was a building opposite “Ponklar”, the home of Sir Ponnambalam  Arunachalam who, incidentally was the great grandfather of Rukmini, the wife of Mohan the only son of Raju.

      The late Mr.C.L. Wickremesinghe  of the Ceylon Civil Service was the Magistrate of Jaffna from 1918 and one of the homes he had visited in the peninsula was that of the Tissainayagams  at Mathagal. It was called “Bodhipulam Waluwa” on the KKS-Karainagar road. Mathagal has some special significance to him because he had heard in early discussions with  Dr.Senerath Paranavithana  that Prince Vijaya’s historic landing may have been at the prominent headland of Jumbu Kovalam which became the Jumbukola of the Mahavamsa.

      Copper coloured sand is found in abundance in the area surrounding Keerimalai  in close proximity to the sea. They, along with Dr. Andreas  Nell also had reflected on the possibility of “Tambapani” which meant “good water” pointing to Keerimalai which was the first point of fresh water for those crossing over the seas to the northern most coast of Ceylon.  The Cave  there , which still exists, may have been a good safe place for Kuveni, the local princess, to hide Vijaya’s men!

      Although all this may be surmise, it is however an accepted fact, historically, that Sangamitta brought the sacred Bo Sapling and reached land at a point near Mathagal. The concept of the Bo- tree has had root there, particularly in place names, and even in the existence of an ancient Bo- tree in the precincts of the Pillayar Temple at Chulipuram- one of the oldest temples in the Peninsula.

      C.L.Wickremasinghe had met Raju Tissainayagam’s father  Selladurai Tissainayagam, who was one of the earliest Engineers from the North to join the Ceylon Public Works Department.  He was a pioneer like  Samuel  Rajasooria. It was from Selladurai Tissainayagam  that C.L. had heard of a Mudaliyar Vickramasinghe of Mathagal, a relation of Tissainayagam  Mudali of the 18th century, and also of their other relations as Samarasinghe Mudali  and Veersooriya  Mudali. Through C.L., Dr. Andreas Nell got interested in these findings and also of Buddhist connections which convinced Dr.Nell that everything Buddhist in Sri Lanka was not solely confined entirely to the Sinhalese.

      Two of the earliest Government Agents of the Northern Province, namely P.A. Dyke and Sir William Twynham were in office spanning almost two  thirds of the last century. The latter, Sir William Twynham who resigned in 1896, settled down in Jaffna and died in  the  Peninsula. The former, P.A. Dyke who was the Head of the Province for over 38 years, purchased in his personal capacity, the land adjoining that of Tisanaiyagam  Murugar  Vaithianthan, the father of Selladurai  Tissainayagam. Dyke left that property, where the Jaffna Kachcheri  now stands, to his successors in office in perpetuity.

      I was a young Crown Counsel prosecuting at the Northern Azzizes  in  nineteen fifty. On my first evening in Jaffna, I went for a lonely walk. Having lost my way, I was not quite sure what to do, and was hesitant to ask directions. But seeing a stately figure  walking  with  great dignity, I tiptoed  to him and  asked  “Mr. Jilla’s house?” He  answered  “Oh, you are the young Crown Counsel  that appeared in court today?  First  time  in Jaffna?  Come along with me and I will show you where Mr. Jilla the A.G.A. lives”.

      I walked beside him, and he introduced himself as A.V. Kulasingham.  I recognised him as the distinguished lawyer who appeared in his own appeal when he lost the Kayts  seat  in the General Election of 1947 to Mr. A.L. Thambyayah. He showed me many land marks and went on to say that he worked as an Editor of the Lake House newspapers and then took to Law.  He pointed  out  the  Magistrate’s  Bungalow  on  Beach Road and said  “ your wife’s father lived there when he came here as Magistrate  in 1918. The next  house is Mr. Jilla’s.” Then  I  asked  him  about  Keerimalai. He promptly  said  “ You must go to Keerimalai, to bathe, to see the Temples, and if possible to visit Mathagal, the home of the Tissainayagams.”  All of which I did during my stay in Jaffna.

      Raju was born the eldest on a family of five boys and three girls in that ancient Bodhipulam  Walauwa  which I visited  in 1950. He grew up in a happy heritage and was educated in reputed seats of disciplined learning. He joined the Public  Works  Department  as an apprentice in 1937 and was confirmed as a Junior  Engineer  in 1942 – thirty years after his father himself began his career in the same Department. 

      Raju Tissainayagam  led a full life. He had a peaceful home, was not in want,  saw  his children well educated and happily settled. He died in full realisation of a life well spent. Not only his family, his relations and his friends, but also many others who came into contact with him in his almost four score years of life on earth will grieve his death.

      He married his “cousin” as appears common in our traditional eastern society. They were a devoted couple, and were affectionate parents to their three children. Theirs was a happy home blessed with  “arogya” and “santhusta” – Sanskrit  words not easily translated into English. Above all, Raju’s was a contented life. Raju Tissainayagam was a dutiful  man who appeared to recognise his obligations  and lived as a significant part of a greater whole. He was more concerned about his duties than his rights. He appeared to feel that each man obtained his rights when all around him discharged their several duties. The Hindu Religion and the Dravidian Culture of his ancient heritage did not appear to have been erased from him.

      Whilst thanking Mohan and all others responsible for giving me this opportunity, let me close my tribute to this great gentleman by making a whole of some few fragments of “ Gandhian  utterences”.

      Death is but a Sleep and a Forgetting. It is such a Sleep that the body has not to wake again. It is such a Forgetting  that the dead load of memory is thrown overboard.  There is no meeting  in the beyond as we have it today. When the isolated drops melt, in isolation they die – but to meet the ocean again – to share the majesty of that ocean to which they belong.

     
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