Category Archives: Buddhism

Sinhala Nationalism

Rajesh Venugopal, … presenting here the second chapter in his book Nationalism, Development  and the Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka, Cambridge University Press, 2018,…. 78-1-108-42879 8 hdback

Sinhala nationalism is the dominant form of political consciousness in contemporary Sri Lanka. As what might easily be characterised as an illiberal ‘ethnic’ nationalism of the east rather than the western ‘civic’ ideal[1], it is also widely identified as a serious challenge to the functioning of liberal democratic institutions, and to multi-ethnic coexistence. Sinhala nationalism features as a central element in the literature on contemporary Sri Lankan politics, and in particular, on the ethnic conflict. Understanding Sinhala nationalism is thus of critical significance and this imperative has inspired an extensive and sophisticated literature.

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Romila Thapar & Sri Lanka’s Heritage in Today’s Dismal Context

Uditha Devapriya

On Thursday, the 27th of January, Professor Romila Thapar will deliver the Dr Roland Silva Memorial Lecture to the National Trust of Sri Lanka. Professor Thapar will be speaking about the museum in India, charting its evolution from private collections to public displays and placing it in the context of similar institutions from other colonial societies.

 

 

 

 

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Buddhism among Tamils in the Past … and Present-Day Squabbles

PK Balachandran, in The Citizen, 8 August 2021, where the title is In Sri Lanka, the Tamil Link with Buddhism is Brushed Under the Carpet”

Unsustainable claims put forward by the Sinhalese and the Tamils on language, religion and ethnicity, have muddied Sri Lankan politics in the post-independence era. The Sinhalese loudly proclaim that Buddhism is quintessentially and exclusively, a “Sinhala” religion. The Tamils, on the other hand, claim with equal vehemence, that they have always been unalloyed Hindus, who had never ever had anything to do with Buddhism, which they identify with “Sinhala hegemony.”

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Kingship in the Midst of European Imperialism in South Asia

Ananda Abeysekera’s essay entitled “The Loss of Kingship and Colonial and Other Uses of the “People” in South Asia,” will appear soon in Academia Letters

Synopsis: In this essay, I briefly take up the question of loss by way of the question of the loss of kingship in the aftermath of colonialism in two instances of South Asia. Given the word limit, I do so with a brief reading of Gananath Obeyesekere’s The Doomed King (2017) followed by some comments on Anastasia Piliavsky’s Nobody’s People (2020). Even though these two texts are by anthropologists, given the subject matter, they are very much interested in the question of history and power. In reading these two texts, I attempt to note briefly how the modern category of the “people” begins to raise its head in colonialism, if you will, in the wake of the destruction and loss of kingship. My remarks are hardly exhaustive on the concept of the people, but its specter—in terms of the continuing reproductions of the colonial and postcolonial relation between people’s “agency” and “responsibility”—is pervasive in both the humanities and a multitude of political discourses about law, foreign policy conduct, etc.

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Exploring Sri Lanka’s Experiences with Democracy

Sarah Kabir and ROAR on “A Journey of a Demcracy: The Sri Lankan Story”

ROAR is embarking on the generation of a documentary thatseeks to create awareness and understanding of Sri Lanka’s post-independence history…… SEE INITIAL NOTICE: https://thuppahis.com/2021/11/19/imaginative-explorations-of-sri-lankas-history-on-the-cards/#more-56776

 

 

 

 

 

 

Project Intervention

It has been over a decade since the end of Sri Lanka’s protracted conflict, but what we have today is ‘negative peace’ – which is the absence of overt violence. Limited understanding of Sri Lanka’s history, politics, democracy, ambition, intent, and the refusal to acknowledge acts of intolerance and discrimination that destroyed lives and led to bloodshed makes it increasingly difficult to avoid the recurrence of violence and we risk repeating the same mistakes. Today, we are confronted with choices that could lead to positive peace or a resumption of cycles of violence. Even now, the difficulties of dealing with COVID-19 and the resulting economic fallout could lead to social unrest that may morph into inter-communal violence if manipulated. Continue reading

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Self-Immolation in Protest: Reflections

Michael Roberts, reproducing here an expanded version of article printed in Lanka Monthly Digest, September 1999, Vol 6:2, pp. 56-57…. with citations added.

 

 

 

 

 

A Kurd in Germany immolates self in protest vs Ocalan’s fate

 ONE : In February 1999 a Kurdish nationalist leader, Ocalan, was caught by the Turkish authorities. Kurdish refugees in the Western world erupted in protest. In London a young girl Neila Kanteper set herself alight. In Sydney a young lad was caught on camera with petrol can and cigarette lighter as he threatened similar action. As I walked into the local news-agency in Adelaide that week the proprietor[1] waved the picture of Kanteper in flames in front of me and in considerable alarm inquired how anyone could take such an extreme measure. He could not ever take such a step, he said. His remarks gain in significance from the fact that they were unsolicited and had not been preceded by prior conversation. I was in a hurry and did not explore matters further, but I conjecture that his bewilderment stemmed not only from the method of death by fire, but also from such terminal commitment to a collective cause. The question, therefore, is whether in similar circumstances an act of martyrdom involving death by hand-gun would produce the same level of astonishment. Relatively speaking, death by gun seems to be so much more acceptable to the Western world than death by flame.

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Self-Immolation and Buddhism: Tibetan Protests Vs China in 2012

Jamyang Norbu, in Buddhist Channel TV, 5 January 2012 https://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=70,10661,0,0,1,0

The Yiddish word “chutzpah”, pronounced “huspa”, has the exact same meaning as the Tibetan word “hamba”, and even shares a passing tonal quality to it. Leo Rosten, the humourist, defined chutzpah as “that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.”

 

 

This image from video footage released by Students For A Free Tibet via APTN purports to show Buddhist nun Palden Choetso engulfed in flames in her self-immolation protest against Chinese rule on a street in Tawu, Tibetan Ganzi prefecture, in China’s Sichuan Province Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011. Continue reading

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Buddhist Revitalization in Sri Lanka in the Early Twentieth Century: Some Thoughts

Uditha Devapriya, in The Island 12th & 19th August in two parts, with this title  “Early 20th Century Buddhist Revival”  …. https://ceylontoday.lk/news/a-short-note-part-1-early-20th-century-buddhist-revival AND https://ceylontoday.lk/news/a-short-note-part-2-early-20th-century-buddhist-revival

The colonial bourgeoisie in Sri Lanka did not form a monolithic class. They were divided horizontally as well as vertically: horizontally on the basis of income and inheritance, and vertically on the basis of primordial attachments such as caste ideology. Various factors, mainly economic conspired as much to unify the bourgeoisie as they did to divide them, distinguishing them by their homogeneity as well as by their heterogeneity.

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Kurunegala Then and Now

Uditha Devapriya,  in The Island, 31 July 2021, where the title reads “Round and About in Kurunegala”

Covering 65 kilometres, the road from Colombo to Ambepussa is fairly straight. From there it turns left and right, up and down. To get to Kurunegala via Ambepussa, you have to pass Alawwa and Polgahawela. Between these regions the terrain rises, offering you a glimpse of the hill country. Then the mountains recede from view, the mist settles, and the chaos of urban life returns. The shops teem with life, the clock-tower looms over you, and the heat rises. From afar, the faintest outline of Ethagala catches your eye. This is your first glimpse of Kurunegala.

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Sinhalaness in Pre-British Ceylon: Issues and Pathways

A Review Essay by Alan Strathern** dissecting a Book by Michael Roberts published in 2004

This item was located by Thuppahi in the web-site Colombo Telegraph on 26 December 2012 (see https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-royal-we-sinhala-identity-in-the-dynastic-state/). However, it appeared initially in 2005 in the prestigious journal Modern Asian Studies,  39: 1013–1026.

AN INTRODUCTORY NOTE by Michael Roberts, 7 August 2021

This item is a review essay not a standard review. Alan Strathern is an accomplished historian who happens to be the son of a leading social anthropologist, viz., Marilyn Strathern of ANU and Cambridge University. You will find that his prose is as refined and clear-cut as demanding. After some hesitation, I decided to adhere to my normal policy of highlighting some parts of the text with blue colourfor the benefit of readers facing the difficulties posed by complex issues in historical sociology. On occasions I have also imposed a break in extra-long paragraphs. The illustrations too are my impositions intended to promote reader interest.

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