Category Archives: Buddhism

Steven Kemper on Anagarika Dharmapala: A New Study

Steven Kemper: Rescued from the Nation: Anagarika Dharmapala and the Buddhist World, University of Chicago Press,  2015

Anagarika Dharmapala is one of the most galvanizing figures in Sri Lanka’s recent turbulent history. He is widely regarded as the nationalist hero who saved the Sinhala people from cultural collapse and whose “protestant” reformation of Buddhism drove monks toward increased political involvement and ethnic confrontation. Yet as tied to Sri Lankan nationalism as Dharmapala is in popular memory, he spent the vast majority of his life abroad, engaging other concerns. In Rescued from the Nation, Steven Kemper reevaluates this important figure in the light of an unprecedented number of his writings, ones that paint a picture not of a nationalist zealot but of a spiritual seeker earnest in his pursuit of salvation.

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The War is Past. Paradise is Regained

Michael Buerk,  in the The Telegraph, 5 September 2017, where the title is “The war is history: Michael Buerk returns to Sri Lanka” ** Note Editorial Comment at End 

The Tigers’ lair was deep in the jungle. It was difficult to find and tough to get to; two hours jolting, semi-prone, in a trailer dragged by a tractor, watching for mines. This was a war zone for decades. The paddy fields were abandoned long ago to the peacocks and their perpetual courtship, dozens of them everywhere, each male made fabulous by desire. The man-made lake that once fed the fields was covered in lotus flowers. A crocodile basked on a rock in the shallows, jaws gaping as if in wonder at the lonely beauty of it all. Well into the thicker brush, down a maze of paths and tunnels through the thorn trees, we came first to what was left of the Tigers’ guard post. Just rubble now where 30 fighters held part of the perimeter of what was, in effect, a separate state. Their latrine, the only recognisable structure left, was now home to a 15ft Indian rock python.

  Buerk was in Sri Lanka for the BBC at the beginning of the war, in the Eighties

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Anguish!! Reading Mike

 Image from http://sangam.org/sachis-files-chapter-4-2/ by Sachi Sri Kantha, 16 October 2015,

When the essay “Anguish as Empowerment …A Path to Retribution” was presented on the 22nd March 2017, I received several private email comments from good friends. My recent little essay on Ëxtremist Cricket Fans” has led me to look over this set of remarks and a tirade of sorts directed at me by an embittered Tamil nationalist named Kathiravan espousing the cause of Eelam in February 2011 in the Blog Comments within Colombo Telegraph (and rehashed by me in Thuppahi = see ……………………….……………. https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/an-angry-tamil-kathiravan-confronts-roberts/).

The unsolicited readings are too valuable to lie in the cupboards and I am waxing bold by presenting them to the world without the permission of my friends within the present reflections on EXTREMISM. Continue reading

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Probing Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe’s Background and Attainments

Darshanie Ratnawalli,  courtesy of the Sunday Island, 27 August 2017, where the title runs Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe –The man Vs the hero”

“Salagama? Certainly not”, Sumangala Thera of the Sugatha-Dakshinaramaya temple in Skelton Road refutes my speculation about Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe’s caste as authoritatively as only a Buddhist monk hailing from Kanumuldeniya, just two kilometres from Rajapakshe’s original village of Horewala in Walasmulla, and somebody who went to school with him, can. As political issues hotted up and Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe became flavour of the month, the first public reference to Rajapakshe’s caste was made on 13 August by Badulla District MP Dilan Perera, couched as an admonition not to rely on the caste-ridden as well as chauvinistic Joint Opposition which, whichever Rajapaksa it welcomes, will not accept a Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe.

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Orientations to Knowledge in the World of the Sinhala

G. Usvatte-Aratchi, Courtesy of the National Trust, where the title of his talk was “Sinhala Attitudes to Knowledge” …….. http://www.thenationaltrust.lk/resources/images/Sinhala-Attitude-to-Knowledge.pdf

Some of you may have noticed that I have been a frequent though not a regular part of this audience. I have learnt much and found these lectures full of wit and wisdom.  I have often felt guilty that I drank from this seemingly horn of plenty and did not care to refill it.  One evening, about two years ago, as my wife and I waited for the lift to go down, someone tapped me on the shoulder and asked me whether I would talk at one of the monthly meetings. I promised Mr. Wickremaratne that I would try to find a theme on which to talk. And there was the nub. I had no theme on which to speak on. I avoided him in those little clever ways we have learnt to dodge people to whom we have promised to deliver but failed. Continue reading

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Honouring Sarath Amunugama through Essays in Home and The World”

Dhammika Amarasinghe, in The Island,  5 February 2011

The book mirrors the man. The man is Dr. Sarath Amunugama, eminent public servant of yester year, sociologist, scholar, writer, orator, poet, dramatist, connoisseur (of many things – including the fine arts) and at the end of his career, perhaps unfortunately – politician. The volume has been brought out by his ever-loyal daughters Ramanika and Varuni to celebrate their hero’s 70 years of ‘a full life’ (the title of another of their filial tributes in a different genre). The book is a festschrift in honour of Sarath Amunugama. The list of contributors reads almost like a Roll of Honour of contemporary Sri Lankan intellectual life, ranging as it does from Gananath Obeyesekere and Stanley J Tambiah through Siri Gunasinghe, J. B. Dissanayake and Carlo Fonseka to Jayantha Dhanapala, H. L. Seneviratne and Saman Kelegama (and many more of the same vintage). The standing of the contributors, almost all of whom are incidentally long-time friends and associates of Amunugama, and the wealth of high quality material encapsulated in this volume of 400 pages, makes the writing of a ‘review’ almost a daunting task. Therefore, what can be done is only to give some flavour of a selection of the contributions. The range of contributors mirrors not only the standing of the man being honoured but also the wide spectrum of his interests and accomplishments. Continue reading

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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.

     ONE

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