Category Archives: meditations

US vs THEM…. Animosities…. and the Horrors Arising Therefrom

Rajmohan Gandhi, from Daily News, 7 October 2017, where the title is “The other as foe History is replete with the horrors of us-vs-them narratives” …. with highlighting emphasis in blue being the work of the Editor,Thuppahi

Currently being watched by riveted and shaken viewers across the US, Ken Burns’ 10-part documentary, The Vietnam War, is relevant for places and issues far removed from the America and Vietnam of the 1960s and 1970s.[

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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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Experiencing Terror in the Heart of New York: 9/11

Palitha Kohona, courtesy of Ceylon Today

It was another sunny September morning. The sky was a brilliant blue. As I gazed out of my kitchen window while having breakfast, in Midtown Manhattan, the Twin Towers were glistening in the morning sun. I noted, as I often had, that they were still there, a familiar reassuring sight. The cute young blonde in the apartment across the street was drying her wet hair, as usual, by her plate glass window. The walk to the United Nations (UN) and my office on the 32nd floor of the Secretariat was uneventful.

Kent Kobersteen, former Director of Photography of National Geographic

“The pictures are by Robert Clark, and were shot from the window of his studio in Brooklyn. Others shot the second plane hitting the tower, but I think there are elements in Clark’s photographs that make them special. To me the wider shots not only give context to the tragedy, but also portray the normalcy of the day in every respect except at the Towers. I generally prefer tighter shots, but in this case I think the overall context of Manhattan makes a stronger image. And, the fact that Clark shot the pictures from his studio indicates how the events of 9/11 literally hit home. I find these images very compellingÑin fact, whenever I see them they force me to study them in great detail.”

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Captain Cook’s Endeavours: Seen as “White Ghosts” by the Guugu Yimithirr People

Trent Dalton, in The Australian, 6 Septmber 2017, where the title is “Cook Rediscovered . Miracle on The Reef,”

She can hear the cannon blasting. She can see the worn, callused hands of Captain Cook’s men touching it. She can see where it sat on the Endeavour before it was desperately heaved overboard into the night-time waters of ­Endeavour Reef to be found 200 years later by researchers from the American Academy of Natural Sciences. Cook historian Michelle Hetherington draws a long breath. There’s no story she can tell more thrilling than the story of the black iron cannon she stares at now in a soft-lit room inside the National Museum of Australia. “This is our actual history sitting in front of us,” she says. “Who touched it? They may have all touched it! This is our link to that voyage in the 18th century.”

A painting of the Little Old Man, a Waymbuurr Warra elder, commissioned by the Cooktown Re-enactment Association.


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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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Kumar Sangakkara’s House in Galle Fort: The Game-Changer

Juliet Coombe, on “Kumar Sangakkara, Professional Cricketer, Part-Time Philosopher” and The Game-Changer. at 76 Leyn Baan Street, Galle Fort …. in her illustrated book, Around the Galle Fort in 80 lives, (2017) …ISBN 978-955-0000-005

“I am Tamil, Sinhalese, Muslim and Burgher. I am a Buddhist, a Hindu, a follower of Islam and Christianity. I am today, and always, proudly Sri Lankan.” …  Kumar Sangakkara deeply moved everyone at the MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture at Lord’s Cricket Ground, London in July of 2011, in his speech in which he explored the nature of Sri Lanka. It is this rich mix of religions and nationalities that attracted Kumar to Galle Fort, which has been a part of his life for almost as long as cricket has, a place that captured his father just as powerfully as it has entranced him. It was his father who, he says, “told me one day, if you’re ever thinking of buying property, the Fort is one place you should look at. He had a great appreciation for the Fort and the life of the Fort and the old families living in the Fort and ever since that day it’s stayed with me.”

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Extremist Cricket Fans: Where Anguish spawns Violence

Michael Roberts

The recent outbursts of abuse and riotous act on the cricket grounds at Pallekele and Rangiri when our cricketers were defeated after some poor cricket are significant in the wider scheme of local culture and ethics. Such reactions reveal the reverberations that can be generated by a small body of extremists. It is ironic that some of these very same extremists, some among these abusive fans, would have been among those who indulged in effusive cheering an adulation of the cricket team when they triumphed.

 The India vs Sri Lanka ODI in Pallekele was marred by crowd trouble as Sri Lankan fans threw bottles on the outfield, which stopped play for 30 minutes.(AP)… NOTE: in 1996 a Eden Gardens Calcutta Indian fans reacted in similar fashion when they were losing –to Sri Lanka as it hapens

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