The End of Hunger in Sri Lanka – Sarvodaya Movement

Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne

In the spirit of Martin Luther King, he has led peace marches and meditations with millions of poor people. In the mold of Mahatma Gandhi, he has quieted angry masses through his personal example. Like Jimmy Carter, he has successfully mediated intense conflicts and helped build hundreds of homes. Like the Dalai Lama and the worlds greatest preachers, he has an impressive ability to rally ordinary citizens to see the spiritual wisdom of looking beyond their own salvation to help ensure the salvation of others.

But he is definitely his own manand he is almost completely unknown outside of Sri Lanka. He is Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne, founder of the Sarvodaya Shramadana movement of Sri Lanka.

Why has Sarvodaya earned international recognition? Dr. Ariyaratne and the movement he founded have survived years of government harassment and intimidation, assassination threats and malevolent neglect by politicians. Yet Sarvodaya continues to embody and practise the meaning of its name: the sharing of labour, thought and energy for the awakening of all.

It is an underestimation to think of him, as journalists have, as Sri Lankas little Gandhi, even though he won the Gandhi Peace Prize in 1996, the Niwano Peace Prize, the King Beaudoin Award and many other international honors for his work in peace making and village development. True, Ariyaratne is like many other leaders of popular movements. But his unique, nationwide brand of development from the bottom up has an enviable track record of success that endures.

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