Once upon a time, there was a saintly small man called A. T. Ariyaratne, known affectionately to all his friends as Dr. Ari. Dr. Ari was a high school English teacher best known for founding the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement in Sri Lanka. It started when he took forty high school students and twelve teachers from his school to an outcaste village to help the villagers fix it up, and it grew into the biggest non-government organization in Sri Lanka benefiting eleven million people and fifteen thousand villages. Brahmavihara is one of the main guiding principles of the Sarvodaya organization.

In the 1960s when Dr. Ari was still a school teacher, a day before he was to launch a satyagraha (a non-violent resistance campaign) with hundreds of students, he received news that the notorious underworld boss called Choppe was planning to assassinate him the next day with a bomb. Dr. Ari went to the home of Choppe with a fellow teacher. He first spoke with Choppe and inquired what they were planning to do the next day, then he revealed his identity and asked Choppe to kill him then and there. He said, “Ours is a Buddhist school. Do not desecrate that sacred Buddhist seat. If you want to kill me, kill me here and now.” Choppe cried and said, “If I had had teachers like you I would never have become an underworld boss.” He ordered his gang to cancel the bombing next day. Choppe and Dr. Ari became best of friends.

That was the type of person Dr Ari was: wise, compassionate, inspiring, admirable, and ballsy AF.

Rest in peace, Dr Ari.

[The story about Dr Ari is taken from the book Joy on Demand]