Sajeeva Samaranayake presents his considered thoughts on the discussions associated with Geedreck Usvatte-Aratchi’s National Trust talk on “Sinhala Attitudes to Knowledge” – which appeared in the Island as well as Thuppahi in August 2017. Emphasis in blue is that of The Editor, Thuppahi; but the black highlights are the author’s.
In the following note I am setting out the findings of Dr. Usvatte Arachchi, my comments thereon and some questions that arise. This is to help move this discussion forward as it appears to be a very critical inquiry into our collective capacity as a Sinhalese speech community.
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Darshanie Ratnawalli, courtesy of The Nation (print edition here) on Sunday, 08 March 2015. Here the title was “Revisiting the sins of – Leslie Gunawardana (Part 2)”
Professor KNO Dharmadasa, the present Editor in Chief of the Sinhala Encyclopedia, goes down in history as mounting, up to this point, the only direct and authoritative academic challenge to Professor Leslie Gunawardana, an ancient period historian of Sri Lanka who became a darling of certain social anthropological circuits through his “The People of the Lion: The Sinhala Identity and Ideology in History and Historiography”– (1979) and “Historiography In a Time of Ethnic Conflict, Construction of the Past in Contemporary Sri Lanka”– (1995). This is the second instalment of Prof. K.N.O’s conversation with Darshanie Ratnawalli continued from 15 February, 2015.
DR– Here’s something serious. In page 14 of “Historiography in a Time of Ethnic Conflict” Professor Gunawardana implies not only that Prof. Paranavitana’s identification of the language of the Vallipuram inscription as Sinhala is wrong but that Paranavitana realized several decades later that it was wrong and instead of admitting to the error openly, tried to cover it up by quietly dropping that identification in his second edition of the Vallipuram inscription.
KNO– (Laughs aloud)
Senarat Paranavitana –Pic from en.wikipedia.org eslie Gunawardana-www.pdn.ac.lk
Carl Zimmer, courtesy of the New York Times, where the title runs “How Did Aboriginal Australians Arrive on the Continent? DNA Helps Solve a Mystery”
Human skeletons and archaeological remains in Australia can be traced back nearly 50,000 years before the trail disappears. Before then, apparently, Australia was free of humans. So how did people get there, and when? Where did humans first arrive on the continent, and how did they spread across the entire landmass?
Answers to some of these questions are stored in the DNA of Aboriginal Australians. A genetic study of 111 Aboriginal Australians, published on Wednesday, offers an interesting — and, in some respects, unexpected — view of their remarkable story.
A study found that all living Aboriginal Australians descend from a single founding population that arrived about 50,000 years ago… Pic fr. PC Poulsen/Hulton Archive/Getty
Darshanie Ratnawalli, courtesy of The Nation (print edition here) on Sunday,15th February 2015 here the title was “Revisiting the sins of – Leslie Gunawardana with KNO Dharmadasa (Part 1)”
Pic by Chandana Wijesinha
Professor KNO Dharmadasa, the present Editor in Chief of the Sinhala Encyclopedia goes down in history as mounting, to date, the only direct, authoritative academic challenge to Professor Leslie Gunawardana, an ancient period historian of Sri Lanka who became a darling of certain social anthropological circuits through his “The People of the Lion: The Sinhala Identity and Ideology in History and Historiography”– (1979) and “Historiography In a Time of Ethnic Conflict, Construction of the Past in Contemporary Sri Lanka”– (1995). Professor KNO opened up to Darshanie Ratnawalli about this debate and its repercussions.
DR– I am sure there are many subjects I could talk to you about. But my main interest is in your debate with Professor Leslie Gunawardana. I think it was one of the high points of interest in Sri Lankan studies in the 1990s. What struck me about the whole exchange was how little you were challenging him on linguistic grounds. I felt that even though Professor Gunawardana was making many linguistic gaffes, you missed them because you were concentrating too much on historical narrative and interpretation.
KNO– For example?
DR– For example, on p11 of his 1995 work “Historiography in a Time of Ethnic Conflict”, which was sort of a response to your 1992 paper, Prof. G is discussing the Vallipuram inscription. He says; “The identification (by Paranavitana in 1939 in Epigraphia Zeylanica, Vol. IV, pp.229-237, my parenthesis) of the language of the inscription as Sinhala runs counter to opinions which have remained dominant in the field of historical linguistics for more than half a century”
KNO– This is bullshit. It’s no such thing. Actually it goes fully with the dominant view. Continue reading
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