T. Nadaraja

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T. Nadaraja
Thambiah Nadaraja.jpg
Born (1917-12-27)27 December 1917
Died 20 January 2004(2004-01-20) (aged 86)
Alma mater Royal College, Colombo
Trinity College, Cambridge
Occupation Academic, lawyer
Title Chancellor of the University of Jaffna
Term 1984–2004
Predecessor V. Manicavasagar

Professor Thambiah Nadaraja was a Sri Lankan academic, lawyer and author. He was dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Ceylon and chancellor of the University of Jaffna.

Early life and family[edit]

Nadaraja was born on 27 December 1927.[1][2][3] He was the son of Murugesar Thambiah, a wealthy landowner, and Sivanandam, fourth daughter of Sir P. Arunachalam.[1][2][3][4] He was educated at Royal College, Colombo where he won several prizes including the Shakespeare prize.[1][2][3][5] After school he joined the University College, Colombo where he studied for one year before transferring to Trinity College, Cambridge to study law.[1][2][3][5] In 1940 he gained First Class Honours in the law Tripos.[1][2][3][5] He won several prizes at Trinity as well, including the Bond Prize for Roman Law, the Davies Prize for English Law and the Post Graduate Law Studentship.[2][5] Whilst in the UK Nadaraja joined Lincoln's Inn from where he was awarded the First Class Certificate of Honour by the Council of Legal Education.[2][3][5] He also won the Buchanan Prize at Lincoln's Inn.[2][3][5]

He later obtained M.A and PhD degrees from the University of Cambridge.[2][3][5]

Nadaraja married Sornam Ammai, daughter of Sir A. Mahadeva, in 1944.[3][6] They had no children.[3]


Nadaraja returned to Ceylon and joined the local bar as an advocate, working in the chambers of S. J. V. Chelvanayakam.[3] In 1943, whilst still practising law, Nadaraja started lecturing at the Ceylon Law College.[2][3][5] He joined the newly created Department of Law at the University of Ceylon in 1947, becoming a Professor of Law in 1951 following the death of Sir Francis Soertsz.[2][3][4][5] He served as Dean of the Faculty of Arts from 1957 to 1960, succeeding Professor J. L. C. Rodrigo.[2][3][5] In 1960 the Department of Law was upgraded to Faculty of Law and Nadaraja was appointed its first dean.[2][3][5] He held the position until his retirement in 1982.[3][5]

In the 1950s Nadaraja was a member of a three-man Royal Commission on the death penalty headed by Professor Needham.[3] The commission's recommendations eventually led to the de facto abolition of the death penalty in Sri Lanka.[3]

Later life[edit]

Nadaraja was president of the Sri Lanka branch of the Royal Asiatic Society and Classical Association.[2][3] He was also a member of the Law Commission and the Council of Legal Education.[3]

Nadaraja was awarded honorary LLD and DLitt degrees from the University of Colombo and the University of Jaffna respectively.[2][5] The Bar Council of Sri Lanka honoured Nadaraja's achievements by awarding him Life Membership Honoris Causa.[2] In January 2012 the University of Colombo's launched the Professor T. Nadaraja Memorial Orationin memory of Nadaraja.[7]

Nadaraja was chief trustee of the Sithy Vinayagar Temple in Colombo from 1945 onwards.[2] He was also a trustee of the Sri Ponnambalavanesvara and Arunachaleswara temples in Colombo.[2][3] These temples had been built by his family.[2]

Nadaraja served as chancellor of the University of Jaffna from 1984 till his death on 20 January 2004.[2][4][5][8] His remains were cremated on 21 January 2004.[9]


  • Roman-Dutch Law of Fideicommissa[2][5]
  • Legal System of Ceylon in its Historical Setting[2][5]
  • The Cult of Siva with Special References to the Dances of Siva[5]