Category Archives: Uncategorized

Dharmapāla’s Seminal Moment at Buddha Gāya in 1891: An Anagārika for the Universe

 Michael Roberts, courtesy of  The Island and Sunday Times and with thanks to Sasanka Perera & Steve Kemper

Sasanka Perera has recently introduced readers to a new book by Steven Kemper entitled Rescuing Dharmapala from the Nation (University of Chicago Press, 2015) – a book which surveys the socio-political activities of the Anagarika Dharmapala in a refreshing manner. I have yet to get hold of the book, but Sasanka provides enough commentary to provoke a discussion.

 Dharmapala in USA –probably at the World Congress of Religions 1893

Within a context where Dharmapala aka Don David Hewavitarne is regarded as an influential Sinhala Buddhist chauvinist by many social scientists analysing Sri Lankan history and politics, Perera indicates that Kemper provides broader dimensions by re-situating Dharmapala “within the Buddhist world of his time by … focusing on his international activities in aid of Buddhist causes and cross-faith discussions.” Kemper’s new work, therefore, is a modification of the Protestant Buddhist thesis popularized in social science circles by Gananath Obeyesekere’s writings in particular. Continue reading

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How Mahinda Rajapaksa rebuffed David Miliband

Michael Roberts

In 2008/09 Professor GL PEIRIS was Minister of International Trade in the Mahinda Rajapaksa government and I interviewed him on 2 July 2018 with the intention of securing more details re USA’s pressures on the government then in 2009.[1] GL Peiris did not have any details about one of my particular pursuits, namely, the PACOM’s recce visit to the island, but in response to my initial query he focused upon the pressures mounted by the EU team of David Miliband and Bernard Kouchner[2] [which was in late April 2009 after the SL Army had penetrated the LTTE’s Last Redoubt and released over 110,000 Tamil civilians and Tiger deserters].

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Ernest Renan as Pathway to National Reconciliation in Australia

Stan Grant, ABC News, 31 May 2018, with title  Äboriginal reconciliation and what we can learn from a French philosopher”

What can a French historian and philosopher tell us about reconciliation between black and white in Australia? More than a century ago, when in Australia it was still widely presumed that Aboriginal people were a dying race, Ernest Renan was grappling with the question, what is a nation? It remains one of the most profound and powerful statements of identity, written in 1882 in the shadows of the French Revolution.


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Understanding Military Organisation via the Sinhala War Poems – the Hatana Kaavya

Cenan Pirani: Widening the study of military organization in the early modern South Asian context: an examination of the Sinhala Hatana Kavya”, in South Asian History & Culture, Vol9/2, April 2018, pp. 207-24.

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The Golden Age of Motor Cars in Ceylon

Hugh Karunanayake, courtesy of The CEYLANKAN

My previous piece on the “Early Years of Motoring in Ceylon” ( The Ceylankan  # 60 Nov 2012)  evoked a level of  interest  which has since prodded me on  to reflect  on motoring in more recent times. The decade of the 1950s – mid twentieth century Ceylon, could verily be described as the “golden age” of motoring.  The early 1950s especially were years  when the country  enjoyed the “Korean boom”;  export commodities mainly  rubber were fetching record  prices, income tax relatively low, all  leading to  consumption going on at a gallop. There were no national investment projects of note to capture  the surplus that was generated, and most  of the money that flowed in, went towards conspicuous  consumption largely in the purchase of luxury goods such as automobiles.

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Methodist Schools in Batticaloa and Galle are the earliest schools to sustain their continuity to the present

Shirley Somanader

1.  Methodist Central College, Batticaloa is specifically mentioned  as an English School from August 1814 as a separate institution apart from any Vernacular school.

Rev William Ault arrived in Batticaloa on the 12th of August  1814. * He died on April 01st 1815. He laboured in Batticaloa for just seven months. * But in the first of his two letters to his mother after arriving, he writes that he has established an English school,  I quote from his letter, “On my arrival here I found in this place a Tamil school containing about thirty boys. That school is now under my superintendence. We have established another, which now contains thirty, besides the English school, which I teach myself.                         

  .as it is today

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Lester James Peries: Grand Master of the Cinematic Form

Sachitra Mahendra in Daily News, 5 April 2018

Immediately following Independence, Ceylon roamed in darkness. The country was at a loss. The country was looking for an identity at least for the sake of its majority ethnic group, Sinhalese. The urge had been brewing for a decade, and the architects were in the making.

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