Channa Wickremesekera is the son of the late Percy Wickremesekera, an acquaintance of mine from Peradeniya Campus days and a ‘Trot’ activist who migrated to Australia. Channa lives in Melbourne. I got to know him when I was working on my book on Sinhala Consciousness in the Kandyan Period¸1590’s-1815 (which came out in 2003 …………………… https://www.amazon.com/Sinhala-Consciousness-Kandyan-Period-1590s/dp/9558095311).
Category Archives: hatan kavi
Abstract of the article below: Two arrival stories in the long span of the island’s history will provide the foundations for reflections on history-making in the modern era. Episode One will pursue my own intellectual trail in the 1980s in fashioning an interpretation of the story of the arrival of the Portuguese and my subsequent confrontations in print with KM de Silva on this issue in the 1990s. Episode Two essays an interpretation of the advent of Vijaya retailed in the Pali & Sinhala chronicles as a genesis story of the same order as the tale of Adam and Eve: contending that it is not a tale with any factual basis, but one that conveys a mythic truth for its authors and ‘faithful’ listeners. It is, thus, a morality-tale about the magical implantation of civilised culture and state-forms within the island. This interpretation, however, has shortcomings and will benefit from the correctives imposed by Godfrey Gunatilleke’s exposition of the multi-faceted symbolism associated with this myth.
Michael Roberts, here repeating a set of perspectives voiced initially on 19 June 2009 after the LTTE had been vanquished,in the News Magazine FRONTLINE that was printed every fortnight from Chennai.++
“One can win the War, but lose the Peace.” Cliché this may be, but it also a hoary truism that looms over the post-war scenario in Sri Lanka. The triumphant Sri Lankan government now has to address the human terrain rather than the fields of battle.
Michael Roberts, reproduing here an article that appeared initially in 1989 with the same title in Ethnos, 55: 1-2:69-82. … and also in Swedish in Lanka. Tidskrift om Lankesisk Kultur (Uppsala), No. 2, March 1989. I regret that the presentation here has not been able to incoroporate diacritica for indigenous words.
ABSTRACT: This essay decodes a sixteenth century folktale which records the Sinhalese reaction to the arrival of the first Portuguese. Where the historiography has interpreted this tale as benign wonderment in the face of exotica, a piecemeal deconstruction of the allegorical clues in the ‘story is utilised to reveal how the Sinhalese linked the Portuguese with demons and with Vasavarti Maraya; the arch enemy of the Buddha. In this fashion the Portuguese and the Christian sacrament of communion were represented as dangerous, disordering forces. The piecemeal reinterpretation of this short text, however, must be overlaid by a holistic perspective and the realisation that its rendering in oral form enabled its purveyors to lace the story with a satirical flavour: so that the Portuguese and Catholicism are, like demons, rendered both disordering and comic, dangerous and inferior – thus ultimately controllable. In contending in this manner that the folktale is an act of nationalist opposition, the article is designed as an attack on the positivist empiricism which pervades the island’s historiography and shuts out imaginative reconstructions which are worked out by penetrating the subjective world of the ancient texts.
Alan Strathern’s first major work was Kingship and Conversion in Sixteenth-Century Sri Lanka: Portuguese Imperialism in a Buddhist Land. …. published in 2008 and since then he has extended his reach. Though in far too belated manner, Thuppahi here introduces his work to a Sri Lankan audience …. Begiining with a citation leading to CR De Silva’s review of his book on Sri Lanka….. and ending with his own introduction of self to the world in the Oxford University web site.
An ABSTRACT of an article that appeared in print in Ethnos, 1989, vol 54: 1 & 2, pp. 69-82…. available online for payment to Taylor & Francis.
This essay decodes a sixteenth century folktale which records the Sinhalese reaction to the arrival of the first Portuguese. Where the historiography has interpreted this tale as benign wonderment in the face of exotica, a piecemeal deconstruction of the allegorical clues in the ‘story is utilised to reveal how the Sinhalese linked the Portuguese with demons and with Vasavarti Mārayā, the arch enemy of the Buddha. In this fashion the Portuguese and the Christian sacrament of communion were represented as dangerous, disordering forces.