Category Archives: ancient civilisations

PUL ELIYA Comments reviewed critically by Ceylon Civil Servants for ROHP

“PUL ELIYA” QUOTATIONS AS PRESENTED to the CCS and other personnel

I quote some passages from a book by Dr. E. Leach entitled “Pul Eliya A Village in Ceylon” (Cambridge, 1961). He is a socia1anthropologist who lived for several months in Pul Eliya, a Dry Zone Anuradhapura area village, in the mid 1950’s. There are some interesting passages pertaining to Government regulations and their practical implementation. While these views pertain largely to the 1940’s and 1950’s they are, both implicitly and explicitly, held to apply to most of the 20th century for he has also delved into past records. I present some for your comments.

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Under Scrutiny: Edmund Leach’s PUL ELIYA

Michael Roberts

In late 1965 I set out on an oral history exercise interviewing retired British public servants[1] about their experiences in Ceylon. This work has been clarified earlier in two Thuppahi Items.[2] Because of my strong interest in colonial agrarian policies, I was familiar with the books produced by two outstanding Cambridge University scholars: BH Farmer and Edmund Leach. Farmer’s book on Pioneer Peasant Colonization in Ceylon (1957) reviewed British efforts to develop the dry zone of Sri Lanka via irrigation projects emulating the captivating efforts in ancient times. As such, it focused on DS Senanayake’s inspirational role in this set of enterprises. Leach’s detailed ethnographic experiences in a village arena in Anuradhapura District provided detailed ground-level data and interpretations in this field.

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From Facing Elara to Vanquishing the Tamil Tigers at Nandikadal

Lynn Ockersz, in The Island. reviewing Siriweera’s Sinhala book Vijithapura Sita Nandikadal Thek Sri Lankeya Sangrama Ithihasaya’  ….

This book by one of Sri Lanka’s most eminent historians, Senior Professor Indrakeerthi Siriweera, gets into the hands of the public at a time when there is an urgent need for a clear, concise, and above all, enlightened understanding of Sri Lanka’s wars and their underlying causes. From Sri Lanka’s wars of antiquity, including the legendary Vijithapura armed conflict, to the contemporary landmark and decisive battle on the banks of the Nandikadal lagoon in northern Sri Lanka in May 2009, ‘Vijithapura Sita Nandikadal Thek Sri Lankeya Sangrama Ithihasaya’  provides us a detailed chronicling of Sri Lanka’s major armed conflicts and confrontations over the centuries and thereby proves a treasury of knowledge.

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Diego Garcia: USA displayed Its Imperial Intentions in 1975

MERIP Report in 1975: where the title runs thus: “Diego Garcia: New Imperial Roost in the Indian Ocean”

At the end of July [1975], the US Congress decided to allocate funds to expand the present US communications base on Diego Garcia, a small island 1,000 miles south of India in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The decision to fund the expansion of the present installation, coming after a Presidential determination that it is “essential to the national interest,” resolves a long-standing controversy within the US government and military. It also promises to introduce the possibility of a military build-up by the US and the Soviet Union in the Indian Ocean, a development viewed with some concern by the states bordering that Ocean.

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The Ideology of Sacrificial Death and Australian Nationalism during World War One

ALSThis short essay appeared  in the year K????K within the Website run the Library of Social Science headed by Richard Koenigsberg and he has sent it to me this month (November 2020) — presumably inspired by the recent jihadist attacks in Europe and by Thuppahi’s determined pursuit of the comparative literature on martyrdom pursued in a variety of contexts by diverse forces (not merely Islamic).

Michael Roberts

Addressing the practices of remembrance in Australia, Richard Koenigsberg has noted the irony that a battlefield defeat at Gallipoli in World War One, 1915, served a people as an emblem of nationhood: the “Australian nation, came into being on the foundations provided by the slaughter of its young men.”

Burying the dead at Gallipoli in 1915 ,,,and The Last Post

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Tamil Tiger ‘Martyrs’: Regenerating Divine Potency?

This article from my pen was probably drafted in 2004. It appeared in Studies in Conflict  & Terrorism vol. 28 in 2005 after the usual refereeing process. Some of the details and arguments have, in fact, been obliterated within my fading memory. For this reason, it was a refreshing READ for me and brought up specific details that are pertinent to any debate surrounding the motivations that induce self-immolation, jihadist killings of a suicidal nature, et cetera… The Bibilography will also aid present investigations though, of course, other writings have appeared since then on Islamic jihadists and other martyrdom operations…. Michael Roberts, 8 November 2020 … The photographs are fresh additions … and so too the highlighting within the text.

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The Muslim Commitment to Allah: Desultory Thoughts

An Invitation. Your Thoughts from Michael Roberts  …. sent to SELECT PALS on 31 October 2020

I just caught parts of  THE HARD TALK grilling of a French lady politician [by Stephen Sackur]. One problem with journalism is its wholly presentist focus//limits. In my view the recent jihadist attacks in France cannot be comprehended without looking at the motivations and goals of, say

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“Punchi”: A Font of Cultural Knowledge so Generous in His Aid to One-and-All

Michael Roberts

Punchibanda Meegaskumbura would not demand a Professor’s title before his name if he could see us today. He was of the Sinhala people and a man for all peoples – rooted in simplicity, but blessed with many skills. These knowledges he readily made available to all and sundry as his colleague in arms within the Sinhala literary field, KNO Dharmadasa has made clear in The Island. My own plaudits will appear below…. BUT Chandra R. de Silva has provided the world with as succinct and incisive summary of Punchi’s contribution to research and scholarship as anyone could ask for.

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Vale: Remembering & Appreciating Professor PB Meegaskumbura

     KNO Dharmadasa, in The Island,  2 October 2020, …. https://island.lk/prof-meegaskumbura/            

   

Professor P.B.Meegaskumbura, who passed away on the 20th of October after ailing for sometime, is well known among Sri Lankan scholars as an academic who has contributed immensely to expand the vistas of Sinhala Studies. His research and publications include studies of the many branches of Linguistics, the study of Sinhala Classics, Buddhist History, Semantics, Stylistics, and the Society and Culture of the Veddas. Whatever he wrote, whether in Sinhala or English, bore the hall mark of high quality.   

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Felicitations: Fr. SG Perera and His Work

Chryshane Mendis, in Sri Lanka archaeolgy.lk, 26 July 2017 …. and due ultimately to an article in The ALOYSIAN

The student of the colonial history of Sri Lanka has undoubtedly come upon the name of S. G. Perera in their studies. Fr. S. G. Perera, a Catholic Priest of the Society of Jesus, was an exemplary scholar of the last century and whose parallels are unheard of. Publishing over a dozen books and over 300 articles in journals, his contributions to the history of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka and the history of the Portuguese, Dutch and British periods of the island have aided the development of historical knowledge to a great extent in Sri Lanka; what could be called his magnum opus, the translation of the ‘Conquista’ of the 17th century Portuguese historian Fr. Queyroz, is the single most important Portuguese literary work which is the basis for any historical study on the Portuguese period. His proficiency of the Portuguese language gave him access to numerous original sources which he has translated and made available to the public is part of the wonderful legacy of this great historian of Lanka.

Fr. S. G. Perera (image from The Aloysian 1946-1950, Volume 06, No. 03 )

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