Category Archives: Buddhism

Narrating Tamil Nationalism: Subjectivities and Issues

 Michael Roberts,  being a reprint of a review article in South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, s., Vol. XXVII, no.1, April 2004 …… with a review of this essay by Bandu de Silva having appeared earlier Thuppahi. The version here has highlighted emphasis to aid the reader –clearly a ‘work ‘in 2017.

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Alfred Jeyaratnam Wilson, now regrettably with his maker, remains Sri Lanka’s leading political scientist, with numerous books associated with his name. He had secured eminence as early as the 1970s, when attached to Peradeniya University, and this reputation enabled him to move to a Professorship at the University of New Brunswick around 1972. It was his considerable scholarly reputation that encouraged the president of Sri Lanka and leader of the right-wing United National Party, J. R. Jayewardene, to utilise his consultative services in the political negotiations and constitutional engineering that occurred in the period 1978–83. His participation was facilitated by K. M. de Silva, a confidante of the president as well as Wilson’s long-time friend.

 Wilson     KM dde Silva Continue reading

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July 19, 2017 · 3:39 pm

Tiger Martyrdom: Architectural ‘Marks’ in 2009 as the SL Army captured LTTE Terrain

Sinharaja Tammita-Delgoda,  courtesy of the Daily Mirror, 26 April 2017, where the title rune thus: “Martyrdom and LTTE. The worship of death” … with highlighting and additional bibliographivcal references at the end inserted imposed by The Editor, Thuppahi

Dr. SinhaRaja Tammita-Delgoda is  one of the few non-combatants allowed into the war zone during the final stages of the Eelam War. On his own initiative, he made an application to visit the operational areas and was granted permission to do so by the Defence Ministry. He toured these areas on three occasions between March and April 2009.   His work has been published in international media and military journals, and presented to audiences in the U.K., India and Canada. Dr. Tammita-Delgoda has never been an employee of the Sri Lankan Government nor the Defence Ministry.  These impressions and supporting photographs are original and based on firsthand experience in 2009 when the war was still raging and had entered its final stages.   


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The Historian’s Craft via Lakshman Perera’s Deciphering of Lanka’s Ancient Inscriptions

Sudharshan Seneviratne, reviewing Lakshman S. Perera: The Institutions of Ancient Ceylon from Inscriptions, (from 3rd Century BC to 830 AD) Volume I ….. with Introduction and supplementary notes by Sirima Kiribamunne and Piyatissa Senanayake, ICES, Kandy 2001, … 322 pages … reviewed in http://www.infolanka.com/org/srilanka/cult/45.htm

 

The Antecedents: My first encounter with the historian was in 1974 when I visited the University library at Peradeniya as a postgraduate student. It was never a formal introduction – not even a personal meeting. Yet, it was close enough for me to admire the man and his work. The silent space afforded by the Ceylon Room at Peradeniya was ideally suited for a dialogue with the past. I reached out to the past through the volumes of a doctoral thesis – so immaculately completed a year before I was born! Page after page three volumes of information unfolded a dimension hitherto less known in the history of Sri Lanka. This study I thought, will always remain as a testimony to the ‘historian’s craft’ (apologies to Marc Bloch) so purposefully executed by a scholar with a sober perception to the study of history. Continue reading

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Anguish as Empowerment … and A Path to Retribution

Michael Roberts, courtesy of Colombo Telegraph where it is presented with a different title ….  https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/histrionic-voice-as-spark-for-ethnic-violence-political-extremism/

Anguish and grief are powerful emotions that can contort and wrack a body. While ‘suggesting’ helplessness, the anguish that engulfs a person can also empower that person … and others connected to that person by commonalities of interest/emotion. In this manner anguish can transcend obstacles, generate waves of bitterness and swell into paths of retributory hate and punishment. The ‘little’ drops of tears can swell metaphorically into ‘waves’ – and even inspire enraged mobs (mostly male) bent on punishing the purported root of the tears, a recalcitrant Other, an enemy family or “community” deemed to be the cause of that expressive anguish or deemed to have transcended local norms. In southern Lanka that community can be a neighbouring caste grouping or ethnic group or religious group (Muslim Moor,[1] Hindu, Buddhist, Christian).

Let me highlight the argument by presenting an unusual juxtaposition.

  1. Expressive Grief displayed by a Sri Lankan Tamil woman at a protest demonstration before David Cameron by persons whose kin have been missing in the course of Eelam War IV

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Thomas Meaney, A Review Article, courtesy of the Author and the London Review of Books,… with emphasis by highlights added by The Editor, Thuppahi … SEE www.lrb.co.uk

prabha-with-pistol-2   prabha-tiger

Rescued from the Nation: Anagarika Dharmapala and the Buddhist World by Steven Kemper, Chicago, 480 pp, £31.50, January 2015, ISBN 978 0 226 19907

Tamil: A Biography by David Shulman, Harvard, 416 pp, £25.00, September 2016, ISBN 978 0 674 05992 4

The Seasons of Trouble: Life amid the Ruins of Sri Lanka’s Civil War by Rohini Mohan, Verso, 368 pp, £16.99, October 2015, ISBN 978 1 78168 883 0

Independence was handed to Ceylon’s elite on a platter. ‘Think of Ceylon as a little bit of England,’ Oliver Ernest Goonetilleke, the first native governor-general, said. This was a point of pride. Don Stephen Senanayake, the country’s first prime minister, remarked: ‘There has been no rebellion in Ceylon, no non-cooperation movement and no fifth column. We were among the peoples who gave full collaboration while Britain was hard-pressed.’ After independence in 1948, Ceylon alone among the former colonies not only retained but promoted the monarchy: the Union Jack flew alongside the Ceylon flag; a new constitution was drafted by a former LSE professor, Ivor Jennings; Colombo debutantes were presented at Buckingham Palace; and, thanks to some genealogical ingenuity, George VI was recognised as the latest monarch in the ancient line of Kandyan kings. While the rest of the empire in Asia smouldered – in India there was Partition, in Malaya the Emergency, in Burma the civil war – Ceylon became Whitehall’s model for the transfer of colonial power. ‘There was no fight for that freedom which involved a fight for principles, policies and programmes,’ Solomon Ridgeway Bandaranaike, the anti-colonial head of state who took power in 1956, said when he reviewed the transition a decade later. ‘It just came overnight. We just woke up one day and were told: “You are a dominion now.”[1] Continue reading

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February 10, 2017 · 1:03 pm

Traditional Drum Making In Sri Lanka: Beats down the Ages

David Blacker, courtesy of SERENDIB, December Issue 2016 … http://serendib.btoptions.lk/article.php?id=1914

drums On display (L-R) a Tabla, Hand Rabana, Bummadiya, Thammetama, and Geta Bera

The hands and fingers seemed to work to an inner beat, to a pulse, only the drum-maker himself could hear. As wood was smoothed, leather cords tightened, and cowhide stretched, they would be periodically tested, plucked, tapped, thrummed by the fingers, searching for a quality defined by sound. Ironically, in the gloom of the small stall that doubled as a workshop, there was no music whatsoever; not even a transistor radio. The only sounds were those of the tools, the muted conversation, underlined by the tapping.Nimal Wickramasiri is an artist. And his art is the beat. Nimal is not a musician, but the drums he makes are sought after by musicians all over Sri Lanka. Now middle-aged, Nimal has been making drums all his life. His father, awarded by three Presidents, had done the same, as had his grandfather, and for generations before, now lost in the rhythm of time. Nimal’s son, Kasun, is a skilled drum-maker in his own right. The beat in this family’s blood shows no sign of drying up.

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The Royal We: Sinhala Identity in the Dynastic State of SĪHALĒ

alanAlan Strathern reviewing Sinhala Consciousness in the Kandyan Period 1590s to 1815. by Michael Roberts. (Vijitha Yapa Publications, Sri Lanka, 2004. pp.xx, 274) f or Colombo Telegraph  20 December 2012, where blog-comments can be located 

Michael Roberts’ writings have sometimes given the impression of a man who will write at the drop of a hat and at great speed: the subjects have been many and various; the approach as openly adversarial as many of the relationships he takes as his subject; the arguments occasionally advanced by death-defying conceptual leaps or obscure symbolic readings; the prose style quirky or impatient with the more conventional norms of academic prose. The latter is evident even in the present work, in fact the culmination of decades of reflection, where he refers openly to his own intellectual progress, to arguments with colleagues, even to his own ethnic category – Tuppahiyek, or ‘mongrel’ – and sees no cause for shame in routinely citing ‘personal communication’ or telephone conversations in is footnotes. Such considerations might induce the superficial reader to underestimate the importance of the arguments presented in this new monograph. In fact it deserves to be widely read by all those interested in the vigorous debates about ethnic sentiment, nationalism and the murky passage from one to the other.

sin-con-cover

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