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Pandit W. D. Amaradeva

Pandit W. D. Amaradeva great Srilankan music artist. Wannakuwatta Mitiwaduge Don Albert Perera (born 5 December 1927) in Moratuwa, Sri Lanka better known by his adopted name Amaradeva,(by Ediriweera Sarachchandra) is a Sri Lankan vocalist, violinist and a musical composer. Primarily using traditional instruments like sitars, tablas and harmoniums, Amaradeva incorporates Sinhala folk music with Indian ragas in his work.

In the mid-1950s, Amaradeva in his Janagayana project consulted experts of the Kandyan dance tradition like Pani Bharata, Kiriganita, Gunamala, Ukkuva and Suramba in his path to understand what constituted Sinhala folk music. Noting that it mostly revolved around a single melody, he decided to add verses that would lead up to the central melody which would now be a chorus thus forming two parts (unseen earlier in traditional Sri Lankan music) removing restrictions that had existed earlier. In doing so, Amaradeva created a uniquely Sinhalese music style that stayed true to folk tradition while incorporating outside influences. His work was vital in the creation of the sarala gee genre practiced subsequently by artists like Victor Ratnayake, Sunil Edirisinghe and Sanath Nandasiri.

Pandit Amaradeva has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Philippine Ramon Magsaysay Award (2001), Indian Padma Sri Award and Sri Lankan "President's Award of Kala Keerthi" (1986) and Deshamanya Award (1998). In 2003 the French government awarded him the prestigious honour; Chevalier. Notably he still remains the most popular artist as confirmed by Nielsen Media Research findings. He has also represented Sri Lanka in many forums including the UNESCO 1967 Manila Symposium, and composed the melody for the Maldives national anthem, Gaumii salaam, at the request of British Queen Elizabeth II in 1972.

Pandit Amaradeva is the music composer of Maldivian National Anthem.

Early life and education

Amaradeva was born the youngest of seven children to carpenter Wannakuwatta Waduge Don Ginoris Perera and Balapuwaduge Maggie Weslina Mendis at Janapriya Mawatha in Koralawella, Moratuwa. Perera was a Buddhist while Mendis was a Methodist bringing both Christian and Buddhist values to the family.

Amardeva was introduced to music at a young age by his father who crafted and repaired violins at moratumulla wadu kaarmika vidyalaya. Amaradeva would often strum the violin while his mother sang hymns. Another family influence was Amaradeva's elder brother who taught Indian classical music to him. Amaradeva was presented with his own instrument on his seventh birthday which was a Japanese made tin violin by his father.

But (D. T. Fernando) said His brother W.J. Fernando also was a music teacher and while working in Koralawella school noticed W. D. Amaradeva‘s talent. He noticed Amaradeva playing violin very well at the school. Later Amaradeva’s father made a violin and he learned under him. D.T. was introduced to Asokamala film and Amaradeva played under Mohamed Ghouse. Later he went for his higher studies at Bhatkhande Music Institute in Lucknow, India in the middle of 1950. After coming back to Sri Lanka one day, D .T. was travelling from Kalutara to Colombo. Amaradewa also got on the same bus from Moratuwa and they met. Amaradeva invited D.T. to write lyrics for him. D.T. says that he wrote "Peenamuko Kalugange" while travelling on the bus but could not write the last verse because Amaradewa needed to get off at Bambalapitiya.

He obtained his early education under Ven. Malalankara Nayaka of the Koralawella temple. With the development of his musical talent, Amaradeva was asked to recite poems and prayers at the temple; he was subsequently picked to lead the village choir.

Amaradeva continued his studies at Sri Saddharmoday, a Buddhist Mixed School. While attending the school, he won a poetry contest held at the Moratuwa Vidyalaya; Amaradeva also led the school choir to a triumpant showing at a contest held by the Colombo Arts Society. His poetry win prompted school teachers to get him a showcase to recite poetry on Radio Ceylon. In 1945 Amaradeva won a gold medal at a music and violin contest held by Jana Kala Mandalaya.

Amaradeva entered Sri Sumangala College, Panadura after completing his primary education with a scholarship for English. At the school, he formed a friendship with the Principal Danister Thomas Fernando (D. T. Fernando). D. T. Fernando helped Amaradeva get into Kalutara Vidyalaya and subsequently Siddharta Vidyalaya Balapitiya.

Young Amaradewa met Sunil Santha, a prominent artist at the time at one of Sunil Santha's concerts. Since he showed interest Sunil Santha invited Amaradewa to audition at Chitrasena studios. There he played in front of Sunil Santha, Chitrasena and A. J. Ranasinghe and impressed them. This meeting and related events are described in detail by A. J. Ranasinghe, Dr. Nandadasa Kodagoda and Sunil Santha. After the audition Sunil Santha brought Amaradewa to stay at Chitrasena Studios, his room mate was A. J. Ranasinghe

By chance filming of the film Ashokamala commenced nearby. Gerard J. Pieris of Moratuwa introduced Amaradeva to Mohamed Ghouse Master who was handling the music for the film and Ghouse recognizing Amaradeva's skill enlisted him as the top violinist in his orchestra.

Amardeva left his studies and accompanied Ghouse to India to work on the film. He would play a triple role of singing, dancing and acting on the film with the song "Ayi Yameku Kale Ale."


He found steady work as an artist on Radio Ceylon, where his unique vision and talent could be exhibited to an audience wider than he had ever before known - earning him a position at the Bhatkhande Music Institute in Lucknow, India. After extensive training, Albert returned to Sri Lanka as Pandit Wannakuwatta mitiwaduge Don Amaradeva.The name Amaradeva which translates as Immortal god was given to him by Prof. Ediriweera Sarachchandra (Sri Lanka's foremost playwright and a close associate).

During this time, Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) had only begun emerging as an independent nation, and the question of what Sri Lankan music was, was slowly being addressed with equal vigour by intellectuals, artists and the general public. In response to the spirit of these times, Amaradeva began interweaving indigenous folk music with the Indian ragas he had studied in Lucknow, thereby giving expression to a more sophisticated cadence.

His other innovations include his experimentation with Western harmonies and counterharmonies, as well as with South Indian and Tamil musical forms. His opus, however, remains the work he did with Sri Lanka's celebrated lyricist Mahagama Sekera, in exploring the contours of fusing classical Sinhala poetry with his unique musical intonation. In time, Amaradeva's music came to reflect an entire philosophy, reflective of the spirit of a nation.

He has composed music for ballet(Karadiya, Nala Damayanthi, etc.), film (Ran Muthu Duwa, Gam Peraliya, Ransalu, Delovak Athara, Gatavarayo, Rena Girav, Thunman Handiya, etc.), theatre (Wessantara, etc.), radio and television, and has sung over one thousand songs.

Amaradeva, and wife Wimala, have one son (Ranjana Amaradeva), and two daughters (Subhani Amaradeva, herself a talented vocalist, and Priyanvada Amaradeva).


  • Officier (officer) in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) from the French government (2003)
  • The Ramon Magsaysay Award of the Philippines (2001)
  • Title of Deshamanya form the government of Sri Lanka (1998)
  • Title of Kala Keerthi form the government of Sri Lanka (1986)
  • Padma Sri Award from India

Small list of his famous songs are listed for referral.

Adawan wu denethin galana - click here

Bambareku awai - click here

Bindu bindu ran - click here

Danno budunge - click here

Hanthane kandu muduna sisara - click here

Ira handa payana loke - click here

Irata muwawen - click here

Kandulu kathawe nimak dutuwa da - click here

Kolomthota natha - click here

Ma wawulan - click here

Mal gumu gumu - click here

Me guru pare - click here

Mindada hee sara - click here

Nim him sewwa ma sasare - click here or here

Obe namin - click here

Pawela nil walawe - click here

Piley pedura henata - click here

Rae duru rata - click here

Ran dahadiya bindu bindu - click here

Rathna deepa - click here

Sanda tharu nihandai / gaha kola nisalai - click here

Sannaliyane - click here

Sasara wasana thuru - click here

Shantha me rae - click here

Sinidu sudu mutu - click here

Welithala athare hemihita basina - click here

You can listen to songs of this great artist online at following sites.
SL Hits dot com - Amaradewa