Category Archives: Indian traditions

A Review of the Book BUDDHISM TRANSFORMED

Premkumara De Silva,** in The Midweek Review of The Island, 17 May 2005, where the title runs ” Anthropology of ‘Sinhala Buddhism’ “

The disciplinary identification of “Buddhism” in Sri Lanka as an anthropological object began in the late 1950s as part of a growing field of “peasant” or village studies in South and Southeast Asian societies. In Sri Lanka, the work of Gananath Obeyesekere, Edmond Leach, Michael Ames, and Nur Yalman is central to this inaugural moment. These anthropologists have identified the integration of the diverse beliefs and practices of Sinhala Buddhists within a religious worldview that is in accordance with fundamental Theravada Buddhist teachings. Within this academic exercise Obeyesekere insisted on the term “Sinhalese Buddhism” to convey the idea of full variety of religious practice, popular and esoteric, in Sri Lankan Buddhism. He argues that Sinhala Buddhism should be seen as “a single religious tradition”, and not as composed of separate “layers” to be analysed in isolation from each other.

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Buddhism over Time in Colonial and Independent Sri Lanka

Abstract of Article by Ananda Abeysekara entitledBuddhism and ‘Influence’: The Temporality of a Concept” Qui Parle, 2019, Vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 1-75.

For almost three decades the concept of “Protestant Buddhism” has been the object of critique by numerous scholars such as John Holt, Charles Hallisey, Anne Blackburn, Erik Braun, Alicia Turner, Steven Kemper, and others. They claim to tell a different story about the relation between religion and modernity (“Protestantism”) in South Asia. By extension, these scholars seek to reconstruct the temporal relation between the past and the present, questioning postcolonial conceptions of history, time, and religious practice. But this story of temporality is staked on the question of “influence,” which has a genealogy that includes not just colonial, missionary, liberal politics but also contemporary legal-political questions about foreign influence on democracy and sovereignty. This article contests the ways in which the critiques of Protestant Buddhism conceptualize colonial and postcolonial forms of time, translated into universal forms of self, agency, responsibility, etc. The article argues that the question of influence, which animates parts of the story of secular ways of inhabiting time, obscures not just how the encounter with the temporality of a tradition is an encounter with power. It obscures how even modern sensibilities of inhabiting time, ironically, require coherence even as they are repeatedly said to be constituted by “heterogeneous” forms of everyday life.

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The Clash of Civilisations and Hate at the Heart of 21/4 in Sri Lanka

Michael Roberts

My thoughts are organised in point-form in order to assist succincttness.

A = I recall seeing a news item a day or so back which indicated that Sri Lanka was in the process of acquiring sophisticated cyber-technology from China in order to pursue its intelligence work the better. Quite logical that — though late in the day.

Mecca at Hajj Pilgrims at St Peter’s Basilica

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Shihara Farook assails Extremism. A Biography and Counter-Current of Significance

Shihara Farook

After three days of crying and being angry I am going to start speaking my heart to all of you. You are free to share this as much as you want and with whom you want. I was born a Sri Lankan Muslim in a town called Gampola very near Kandy Sri Lanka. I was born into a multilingual household and have been trilingual from birth. In that town we had a Muslim majority. There were several mosques and my very large extended family lived sprawled all over the town.

Irfadha Muzammil ….. from https://www.yamu.lk/blog/contemporary-powerhouse-women-in-sri-lanka

At pre school age I was sent to a preschool in a local church . I observed the nuns quietly (Leon Chan and I were friends there as tiny tots) the nuns preferred to call me Fathima as it was a name of a Christian saint as well. They were peaceful kind and so calm! I had the most wonderful time of my life there! They ran an orphanage had some rabbits and made us all smile .

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Sheridan’s Concise Overview of Security Failures and the Islamic Extremist Threat in Sri Lanka … and This World

Greg Sheridan, in Weekend Australian, 27/28 April 2019, where the title is “Eternal vigilance is the price of keeping Islamist terror at bay”…. with highlighting emphasis added by The Editor

India’s external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, tried for two years to tell its Sri Lankan colleagues they faced a growing threat of Islamist terrorism. But the Colombo authorities weren’t interested. If there was any threat, they believed it came from the remnants of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. But the Tamil Tiger threat ended 10 years ago.

We don’t have a problem with our Muslims, the Sri Lankans insisted. By and large they were right about their Muslims. But out of maybe two million Sri Lankan Muslims, there was a problem with at least a couple of hundred, of whom a dozen or so became hard-boiled terrorists. Nine became suicide bombers, 10 if you count the bomb that one suspect detonated as police approached her home. That was more than enough. A Muslim man prays while perched on the roof of a mosque to spot possible hostile people during Friday prayers in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on April 26. Picture: AP

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Sunil Santha: New Insights from Tony Donaldson

Yomal Senerath-Yapa, in Sunday Times,  7 April 2019, where the title is  “Beyond Olu Pipila and Handapane”

An Australian scholar’s interest in the life and music of Sunil Santha, one of Sri Lanka’s most loved musicians, has brought forth little known facts about this trail- blazing artiste

Sunil Santha is a legend- but rather a mystic one- or so it seems in an age of tell-all tabloid celebrities. His is a mark that won’t erase, but it is hazy when you try to move beyond the music- those perennial favourites like Olu pipila and Handapane- prototypes for a whole new tradition. It is sad that the full creative and intellectual ambit of this unassuming Renaissance man in white national dress remains unknown. His name and the sepia likeness are epoch-markers- but what pulsated beneath these symbols?

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Gandhara: Civilisation at the Crossroads

Sachitra Mahendra, Daily News, 20 March 2019, March 20, 2019, “A Talk at the Seminar on Buddhist and Gandhara Civilisation: The Cultural Nexus between Pakistan and Sri Lanka”

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