TULANA is a Sri Lanka Jesuit Province Apostolate mandated by the Superiors and founded in 1974 by its current Director, the Asian Jesuit Theologian, Indologist and Buddhist Scholar, Fr. Aloysius Pieris, s.j.
“The name TULANA has its roots in Sanskrit and means four things taken together: elevation, weighing, comparing and deciding for the weightier things – in short DISCERNMENT.”
Revd Aloysius Peiris, s.j.
Its primary founding motivation was as a response to two challenges – the challenge of the spirituality and philosophy of Sri Lanka’s major religion, Buddhism, and the challenge of the socio-political aspirations of the highly educated but marginalised rural youth.
Over the years Tulana has developed into many things in one:- a mini-university where scholars from here and abroad come for research, research guidance, consultation and thesis supervision, and where students and others attend seminars, workshops and training and study courses.
It is also a mini-retreat centre, where people come for meditation and spiritual accompaniment; a social animation centre for those engaged in social issues; and a forum for artists, who want to express their philosophy in non-logical, non-verbal media of communication.
The Intellectual Apostolate of the Sri Lanka Province of the Society of Jesus has been under the continuous stewardship of the Tulana Research Centre and its Founder/Director, Fr. Aloysius Pieris, s.j. ever since he inherited, more than forty years ago, the intellectual legacy (with its valuable library, documents and ancient coin collection etc.) of Fr. S. G. Perera, s.j.
The centre piece of Tulana is its library which consists of the Fr. S. G. Perera Memorial Oriental Library, and the main Tulana Library. Fr. Simon Gregory Perera (1883–1950) was an eminent scholar and the leading historian of his day, specialising in the Portuguese, Catholic and Jesuit history of Ceylon (Sri Lanka).
The Conquista by Queyros
Today the Tulana Library has quadrupled in size and is internationally renowned as a resource centre for research in Indology, Buddhism, Christian Theology and Philosophy, Western Culture, and Sri Lankan and South Asian History and Culture.
The Tulana Research Unit actively pursues studies in Indology, Anthropology and Theology. Fr Aloy is sought by scholars here and abroad for research guidance in post-graduate and post-doctoral work. He has also been serving as a thesis director and examiner in the University of Kelaniya, both in the Post Graduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies and in the Dept of Western Culture and Christian Studies.
Tulana produces Dialogue (New Series) – an international journal for Buddhist- Christian studies edited by Fr Aloy and published by EISD since 1974, and Vagdevi: Journal of Religious Reflection, edited by Fr Aloy and published by the Sri Lanka Jesuit Province. Over the years, Tulana has produced well over 270 research papers and nineteen books (some of them in both European and Asian languages) by Fr Aloy. Other members of Tulana have also contributed articles to various journals over the years.
The Encounter programme at Tulana, both informal and formal, is mainly targeted at (Buddhist, Christian, and non-religious) school teachers, workers, trade unionists, peasant leaders, youth in general and university students in particular, and seminarians and pastors of all denominations. In depth encounters also take place for spiritual animation – e.g. retreats, specially for those who have made an option for the poor; practical lessons in mindfulness and insight-meditation and counselling.
The Tulana Social Animation Unit is coordinated by Fr B.T. Sarath Iddamalgoda a Diocesan Priest, and its activites are mainly centred in the Negombo area and in Katunayake Free Trade Zone and the area belonging to the Seeduwa-Katunayake Urban Council. The work includes conscientizing landless fisherfolk, animating workers in the Free Trade Zone and other marginalized communities, developing leadership potential specially among local women, and education and organization of communities affected by environmental degradation.
The SAU is also actively involved in Networking with other socially committed groups such as; the ‘Forum for Life’, which consists of Buddhists, Christians and Muslims who are committed to racial harmony and are engaged in activities of Social Justice around the country, specially in the post-war North, and the ‘Christian Solidarity Movement’ an ecumenical group of Catholics, Anglicans and Methodists, to which Religious men and women from various congregations and diocesan priests and lay people are deeply committed.
The Tulana Media Unit (TMU) is coordinated by Robert Crusz, a Jesuit Lay Associate. The TMU uses media analysis and production through a non-profit, socio-political and inter-religious liberational activism model, working with rural youth and grassroots, marginalized peoples.
It was established to create critical consumers and producers of the mass media from amongst the members of the Society of Jesus in Sri Lanka and from among the ordinary people, specially the youth of Sri Lanka; to create an avenue for their voices to be heard in the mainstream media channels and on the Internet; and to be an alternative to the mainstream media of Sri Lanka by producing programmes and publications of high quality which do not compromise on technical and professional production standards. Strategies used are producing radio and television programmes and printed publications, conducting education and training programmes and carrying out exhibition and distribution of programmes, educational materials and other resources.
Tulana has also sponsored and worked to establish the Centre for Education for Hearing Impaired Children (CEHIC), founded in 1982 by Sister Greta Nalawatta of the Sisters of Perpetual Help and co-founded by Fr. Aloysius Pieris s.j.
Chryshane Mendis: “Felicitations: Fr SG Perera and His work,” 29 September 2020,
2 responses to “Discernment: The Tulana Resource Centre at Kelaniya Fostering Discernment”
An EMAIL NOTE from Lakshman Gunasekera, dated 13 April 2023;
“I have been on the same board of management as Fr Aloy since about 1984 – when I was invited by Rev Kenneth Fernando (later Anglican Bishop), then head of the Ecumenical Institute for Study & Dialogue, to become the youngest member (by far) of the EISD’s board.
Fr Aloy was at that time Editor of the EISD’s scholarly journal ‘Dialogue’. He remains Editor to this day, although he is enfeebled and does not participate in Board activity. After Aloy, I remain the next most senior member of the board today. I learned my progressive Christian theology at the feet of Aloy, Kenneth (even more so) and several others like Rev Dr Rienzie Perera, Fr Mike Rodrigo, Sevaka Yohan, Dalston Forbes et al.
Tulana is world famous as is the EISD’s (annual) Dialogue journal. Right now I am heading the subcommittee to convert Dialogue to a fully web-based scholarly journal. Took me a few years of persuading the largely old fashioned (even those members half my age) board to agree to go digital.
Lakshman Gunasekara, Journalist/Communications Consultant
An important Addendum fro Lakshman that indicates “the cross-fertilisation” …. so to speak …. across progressive Chritian bodies. …Editor, Thuppahi