An Appreciation:: Ranji Salgado personified the simplicity of greatness
Mon, Sep 14, 2009, 05:16 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.
Dr. M. Ranji P. Salgado passed away on September 7, 2009, quietly and with dignity, just as he had lived for the past eighty years. His passing is symbolic of an era that is virtually extinct, where the goodness of human beings mattered, and where wealth and power equaled refinement and simplicity. Indeed, simplicity was the keynote of Ranji’s life, and belied his illustrious family background, affluence and recognition. He walked with kings, but did not lose the common touch, and so, was beloved by all.
Recognition he had in abundance, but he never let it turn his head. Born on June 16, 1929, into the distinguished Salgado family of Panadura, he was blessed with a comfortable and happy childhood he always enjoyed recalling. He was afforded the opportunities bestowed on the fortunate, and excelled in education at Royal College, Colombo, and then studied mathematics for his Bachelors at the University of Ceylon. He brought honor to his country at a young age when he became the first Sri Lankan to be awarded a Doctorate in Economics from Cambridge University, U.K. Following a distinguished career in senior management at Sri Lanka’s Central Bank, Ranji, then married to Surangani from the distinguished Amarasuriya family, joined the International Monetary fund (IMF) in Washington in 1966, where he served until 1988, retiring as Assistant Director, Advisor and Division Chief of the Asian Department. His professional capabilities, his erudite perspective on issues and unruffled disposition, earned him international recognition as a remarkable individual. And what enhanced the value of it all was Ranji’s endearing humility. The more accolades that were heaped on him, the humbler he became, which is the quality of greatness.
These qualities tempered with warmth, geniality, compassion, honesty, and a sense of honor, made Ranji an outstanding human being, and a sought after peacemaker in turbulent, stormy situations. He would listen in silence amidst heated exchanges, then, when tempers cooled, would try to engage all sides to see reason. His ability to be neutral in highly personalized situations, his sanity and logic amidst the illogicality of bruised egos, will be deeply missed.
As one of the most senior members of Washington’s Sri Lankan community, Ranji was a familiar figure in any social or religious gathering. Sun or rain, he was always around to lend support in whatever way he could. His warm, friendly presence will be sadly missed.
Like the deep calling the deep, Ranji’s quest for knowledge was constant and ceaseless. He pursued erudite discussions with learned Buddhist monks, and enjoyed listening to the Dhamma, and practicing meditation. Even as his ancestors contributed in no small measure to the preservation of the Dhamma, Ranji’s own bonds with Buddhism had early roots. His service to the Washington Buddhist Vihara is immeasurable, and he was a former Vice President of the Buddhist Vihara Society.
Even as he never forgot his ties to Buddhism, he also never forgot Sri Lanka. He was never happier than when planning his annual trip to Sri Lanka. It seems fitting that he made his last trip to Sri Lanka a few weeks before his passing away. His visit was filled with joyful family reunions, engaging gatherings of old friends, visits to beloved old haunts and religious places. In retrospect, he was bidding goodbye.
And now, all that are left are memories. Even as the warmth of the sun lingers in the afterglow of sunset, even as the scent of jasmine wafts in the cool night air, so the warm, wonderful memories of Ranji Salgado will perfume the bonds of remembrance of all who knew and loved him.
May he attain Nibbana!