Category Archives: Indian traditions

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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Filed under British colonialism, Buddhism, cultural transmission, education, fundamentalism, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian religions, Indian traditions, landscape wondrous, language policies, life stories, literary achievements, meditations, nationalism, pilgrimages, politIcal discourse, power politics, religiosity, religious nationalism, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, unusual people, world events & processes

One Pillar vs Ethnic Chauvinism: Global Cross-Cultural Families

Swaminathan S. Ankleswaria Aiyar, courtesy of The Times of India, 2 April 2005, “My family and other globalisers”

In 1992, I wrote a book titled Towards Globalisation. I did not realise at the time that this was going to be the history of my family.  Last week, we celebrated the wedding of my daughter, Pallavi. A brilliant student, she had won scholarships to Oxford  University and the London School of Economics. In London, she met Julio, a young man from Spain. The two decided to take up jobs in Beijing, China. Last week, they came over from Beijing to Delhi to get married. The wedding guests included 70 friends from North America, Europe and China.

 see https://alchetron.com/Swaminathan-Aiyar-123884-W Continue reading

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Filed under citizen journalism, communal relations, cultural transmission, ethnicity, female empowerment, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian traditions, life stories, modernity & modernization, politIcal discourse, reconciliation, tolerance, travelogue, unusual people, world events & processes

Speaking of the Self: Gender Issues in South Asia

Niroshini Somasundaram, in IIAS Newsletter, reviewing A. Malhotra & S. Lambert-Hurley. 2015. Speaking of the self: gender, performance, and autobiography in South Asia. Durham: Duke University Press. ISBN 9780822359838

In the last few decades, scholars of South Asian history have disputed the notion that South Asian cultures do not possess the autonomous representation of the individual, particularly in documenting histories, compared to their European counterparts. To that end, the numerous ways in which self-representation has been practiced in this region in different forms and time periods have been increasingly explored in scholarship. The rich collection of essays in this volume, edited by Anshu Malhotra and Siobhan Lambert-Hurley, challenge the existing boundaries and discourses surrounding autobiography, performance and gender in South Asian history by presenting a varied and fresh selection of women’s autobiographical writing and practices from the seventeenth to mid-twentieth centuries. The compelling choice of authors explored in the essays include Urdu novelists, a Muslim prostitute in nineteenth century Punjab, a Mughal princess, a courtesan in the Hyderabad court and male actors who perform as female characters. It moreover challenges conventional narratives in the field of autobiographical studies by relaying in careful detail the different forms which ought to be encompassed within the genre of autobiography such as poetry, patronage of architecture and fiction. Continue reading

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Filed under commoditification, cultural transmission, democratic measures, economic processes, education, female empowerment, gender norms, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian religions, Indian traditions, life stories, literary achievements, meditations, social justice, the imaginary and the real, tolerance, unusual people, welfare & philanthophy, women in ethnic conflcits, world events & processes

Reconciliation in Tune, Beat, Song and Movement

See and absorb https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=QgCu7JDnqwg

Kanda Surinduni Sinhala Tamil Mix || Rajiv & The Clan @ BMICH Live Concert

 Published on Sep 11, 2015

Kanda Surinduni Sinhala Tamil Mix
Rajiv & The Clan @ BMICH Live Concert

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Filed under communal relations, cultural transmission, democratic measures, education, female empowerment, governance, Indian traditions, landscape wondrous, patriotism, performance, power politics, reconciliation, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, tolerance, unusual people

Reviewing “Ports of the Ancient Indian Ocean”

Richard Fynes,  reviewing Marie-Françoise Boussac, Jean- Françoise Salles & Jean-Baptiste (eds.) Ports of the Ancient Indian Ocean,  Delhi: Primus Books. 2016. ISBN 97893840820792  …………… in IIAS Newsletter,  Summer 2017

This edited volume delivers much more than is suggested by its title, since it includes discussions of emporia as far inland as Delhi, the time-scale covered by its articles extends from the 20th century BC to the 18th century AD, and since not only the Indian Ocean, but also the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Bay of Bengal and the South China Sea are discussed by the various authors. Given the wide range and disparate nature of the twenty-four papers in the volume, how should one orient oneself among them? Best to begin with Elizabeth Lambourn’s ‘Describing a Lost Camel’ – Clues for a West Asian Mercantile Networks in South Asian Maritime Trade (Tenth-Twelfth Centuries AD). The volume taken as a whole forms a contribution to the genre of world history and Lambourn provides a clear-eyed assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of that genre. Although Lambourn’s paper is primarily concerned with the two hundred years from the tenth- to the twelfth centuries AD, her masterly analysis of the sources and criticism of the various methodologies in which they are employed provide the reader with a prism with which to view the remaining papers in the volume. Lambourn begins her account with a review of the relevant archaeological and documentary evidence. It is salutary to learn just how insecure is the dating of many South Asian ceramic types and consequently of the archaeological sites whose dating has been largely derived from ceramic evidence. Lambourn notes the problems posed by pluridisciplinary character of the sources and their simultaneous use. Her paper focuses on the port of Sanjan, in the domain of the western Indian dynasty of the Rastrakuta, where, for the tenth century there is rare conjunction of evidence from archaeology, Arabic geographical writings and Indian epigraphy. Her discussion is rich both in evidence and insight, and she gives due acknowledgment to the work of Ranabir Chakravarti, whose work has led scholars to reformulate the questions they ask of the sources. Lambourn’s findings lead her to speculate on the nature of world history and the relationship between micro- and macro history, as she expresses dissatisfaction that she is “left with an eclectic collection of small insights and few satisfactory larger narratives.” Such honest appraisals of the conclusions of one’s research invite further questions and are thus a stimulant to further research. Continue reading

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Filed under centre-periphery relations, cultural transmission, ethnicity, growth pole, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, Indian religions, Indian traditions, landscape wondrous, Middle Eastern Politics, population, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, transport and communications, unusual people, world events & processes

Dharmasena Pathiraja takes to the Pen on Sinhala Theatre

Item in Sunday Times, 27 August 2017, entitled “Dr. Pathiraja presents three books on theatre”

The veteran film maker Dr. Dharmasena Pathiraja is hardly known to the present day generations as a dramatist but today it is revealed that the early stage of his career as an artiste was committed to the stage theatre of Sri Lanka. Why we say this is that he has produced several theatrical texts in the 1970s and today the stage has been set to launch some of those early works by him on the Sinhalese theatre very soon. Continue reading

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Filed under art & allure bewitching, cultural transmission, education, female empowerment, heritage, Indian traditions, meditations, performance, religiosity, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, unusual people

The Karāva People in Fable and Tale

S. N. Arseculeratne

The Karāva people of Ceylon claim to be descended from the Kuru refugees, who scattered after their defeat in the Great War between the Pandavas  and the Kauravas1 or Kurus, related in the Mahabharata. The Kauravas settled in many parts of India, Bengal and in Ceylon. In Ceylon, the recorded descriptions of the Kauravas have been few, but mention has been made from around the 11th century to the 15th century due mainly to the military involvements of the Kauravas (now called the Karavas).

 A flag which belonged to Don Pedro Arsecularatna of Maggona, depicting the arrival of a group of Karāva chiefs and retainers …. The square towards the bottom has the peacock with 3 people on it. (a) King Rajasinghe II; (b) The Dutch ship’s captain [off Negombo]; (c)  Mudaliyar  Arseculeratne of Negombo

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Filed under art & allure bewitching, caste issues, cultural transmission, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian religions, Indian traditions, island economy, life stories, patriotism, politIcal discourse, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, religiosity, sri lankan society, world events & processes

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