Category Archives: atrocities

Sinhala-Tamil Tussles in the Mythical Netherworld of Rāvanā

Ranga Kalugampitiya, courtesy of Colombo Telegraph, dated 20 July 2015, where the title runs ‘Rāvanā & Sinhala Buddhism: A Strained Relationship Ridden With Contradictions”. The version here being embellished with Editorial highlighting.

Rāvanā, one of the principal characters in the Rāmāyana, emerges as a villain in the mainstream (Hindu) understandings of the text. Given the important position that Rāmā (Rāvanā’s opponent), who is believed to be a manifestation of Viśnu, occupies in the Hindu religious tradition, Rāvanā becomes a symbol of evil in those readings of the text.

Nevertheless, the conceptualizations of Rāvanā within the context of Sinhala Buddhist nationalism point to alternative perspectives on the character. One such perspective that has emerged in the post-2009 Sri Lankan context shows a tendency to idealize Rāvanā as a national hero. The present paper argues that the relationship between Rāvanā and Sinhala Buddhism that this conceptualization suggests is ridden with certain contradictions that Sinhala Buddhist nationalism fails to address successfully. Continue reading

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Threads of Moral Puritanism in Sinhala Nationalist Practice

 Michael Roberts ** … a reprint of an article published in South Asia, Vol. XIX, Special Issue, (1996), pp. 205-220. with the title “Teaching Lessons, Re mo ving Evil: Strands of Moral Puritanism in Sinhala Nationalist Practice

   ONE

Expressions of Sinhala nationalism since the mid-nineteenth century, as one might expect, have been varied and multi-faceted. In this essay, I highlight a thread of moral puritanism which has not only been powerfully inscribed into the pogroms espoused in the period 1880s to 1910s, but also within the altered context of the 1950s-1980s.

 Borella Junction, Colombo, 24.25 July 1983

   A Hindu mob waiting to defend their own from Muslims in Bhagalpur –before becoming a marauding band seeking retribution — in a pattern also seen in 1915 in Sri Lanka during the anti-Moor pogrom

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Revisiting Jaffna and the LTTE in mid-1999 guided by Mark Corcoran and the ABC

Michael Roberts

 

In mid-year 1999 during the ongoing Eelam War III, Mark Corcoran of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) visited Sri Lanka and composed three film documentaries of fascinating breadth. They were

Sri Lanka. A Close Encounter with Arthur C. Clarke …. 6 June 1999
Sri Lanka Tigers at the Gate …… 29 June 1999

Sri Lanka. Extreme Surfing ……… 13 July 1999

I have yet to see the first and third of these film documentaries, but find the topics chosen very much in my line of interest. It so happened that I watched TIGERS AT THE GATE in Adelaide then.[1]  I then had the temerity to send a Letter to the ABC and Corcoran with some criticisms of the coveragedeploying an University of Adelaide letterhead so as to secure attention. This exercise had completely slipped my mind till I came across my typescript and Mark Corcoran’s reply (dated 5th July) among my manuscripts when indulging in some archival sorting. In reproducing my Memo and placing this exchange within the inter-net ‘bar,’ I stress that my memories of the documentary NOW are zilch and that i have not been able to study it again. However, I suspect that it would be very useful for analysts to revisit this documentary. Continue reading

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The Collective Consciousness of the Sinhalese During the Kandyan Era: Manichean Images, Associational Logic

Michael Roberts, being a reprint of an article with the same title in Asian Ethnicity, Volume 3, Number 1, March 2002

ABSTRACT:  An analysis of the form of the dynastic state known today as the Kingdom of Kandy provides a backdrop for an exploration of the sentiments that directed its resistance to the imperial expansion of the Portuguese, Dutch and British in the period from the 1590s to 1818. Known in its day as Sinhalē, a concept that could embrace the whole island of Lanka, the state and its cakravārti king served as the focus for a Sinhala collective consciousness that was embodied in epic tales, war poems and onomastic folklore, while also being promoted by the sacred topography associated with pilgrimages. These sentiments embraced both the ruling elements and the ordinary people. Within this body of thought, two threads stand out: first, the demonisation of Threatening Others; and, secondly, an associational logic that merges present with past, old enemies with new. This logic is akin to the atidēsa function identified by Ranajit Guha. In its ethnographic specifics among the Sinhalese, it merged the ‘vile-cum-fierce Tamils’ with the disordering Portuguese, English, et al. All were para rupu, ‘alien enemies’. The imagery is Manichean.

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Teleology in Cricketing Rules

 Michael Roberts

Aristotle asserted that the intrinsic telos of an acorn is to become a fully-grown oak tree.[1] Kant dwelt on the concept of telos as a regulative principle, while it is said that teleology was foundational in the speculative philosophy of Hegel. Without much knowledge of these theorists’ exegesis, I nevertheless invoke them in criticizing the MCC for its failure to adhere to the principle of telos – or basic common sense – in insisting on Law 29 relating to the issue of whether a batsman has made his ground before being stumped or run out.

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“Api Yannadha Malli ” — A Poetic Reflection from July 1983

Niranjan Selvadurai, a poem composed within a context derived from a personal experience in the streets Colombo, on Monday 25 July 1983

 Pic at Borella Junction 24 July 1983 –taken by Chnadragupta Amarasinghe **

May we pass brother?

But are you one of us!

Or someone other?

Roving eyes survey thus Continue reading

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Effrontery …. or Bust !!!

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