CVCD Excellence Award – 2014 to Prof. Asanga Tilakaratne
Professor Asanga Tilakaratne, Professor of Pali and Buddhist Studies, Buddhist Studies Unit, Faculty of Arts was awarded the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Directors (CVCD) Excellence Award – 2014, for the Most Outstanding Senior Researcher in the Field of Humanities, Aesthetics and Social Sciences. Professor Asanga Tilakaratne graduated from Peradeniya University, Sri Lanka, with a First Class Honours, specializing in Buddhist Philosophy and offering Pali and Sanskrit as his subsidiary subjects. He received an East-West Center Fellowship and studied Western Philosophy at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa and received a Master. He completed his Doctorate at the same university in Comparative Philosophy writing his thesis on the problem of ineffability of religious experience.
From 1992 to 2007 Prof. Tilakaratne taught at Postgraduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies, University of Kelaniya. In 1997 he was promoted to Professor and in 2006 to Senior Professor In the academic year 1999-2000, he was a Senior Commonwealth Fellow and was affiliated to Oriental Institute, Oxford University and a Fellow of Wolfson College. During 2003 -2006 he served as the Director of the Postgraduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies. In the academic year 2007-8, he taught as a Visiting Professor at the Department of Sociology, Yonsei University, Korea. He joined the University of Colombo as the Professor of Pali and Buddhist Studies in 2009 January and continues to be the coordinator of the Buddhist Studies Program and professor of Pali and Buddhist Studies.
He has published, both in Sinhala and English, more than one hundred papers on Buddhist philosophy, philosophy of language, philosophy of religion, practical ethics, contemporary social and political issues and Buddhist epistemology and logic. He has won a state literary award twice, in 1979 and 2002 for his scholarly publications on Buddhist philosophy. Of the more recent academic works published, Theravada Buddhism: the View of the Elders was published by the University of Hawaii Press in the series Dimensions of Asian Spirituality. He co-edited with Prof. Oliver Abenayaka 2600 Years of Sambuddhatva: Global Journey of Awakening, a work covering the history and the current status of Buddhism of all three schools all over the world.
Among his national and international professional activities: in 2002, Prof. Tilakaratne founded the Sri Lanka Association of Buddhist Studies (SLABS), an academic and professional organization of Buddhist scholars in Sri Lanka, and continues to serve as its joint secretary. He is a member of the advisory committee of The Mahachulalonkorn Journal of Buddhist Studies (MJBS), Maha Chulalonkorn University, Thailand; a member of the international advisory panel of Mahidol University Journal of Buddhist Studies, Thailand, contributing editor of the International Journal of Buddhist Thought and Culture, Dongguk University, Korea; a member of the editorial board of the Buddhist Studies Series of Somaiya Centre for Buddhist Studies, Mumbai; and a member of the advisory panel for the Journal of Humanities, University of Peradeniya. Prof. Tilakaratne is a vice president of the South and South East Asian Association of the Study of Culture and Religion (SSEASR).
Prof. Tilakaratne spends time on social service activities. In 2002 he founded, with a group of academics and professionals, Damrivi Foundation, a government-registered organization for economic, social, educational and spiritual development and continues to function as its founder chairman. He has served as the president of the board of governors of Dharmavahini Foundation, Colombo, Sri Lanka since its inception in 2008, an organization dedicated to transmitting knowledge to the rural youth of the country through satellite means. Prof. Tilakaratne is also the president of the East-West Center Alumni Association: Sri Lanka Chapter this year (2014).