It is likely that the paravas (also known as Bharathas in Sri Lanka to indicate their Indian origin) were working as fishermen and mercenaries in South India and the north western coast of Sri Lanka well before the sixteenth century. Tradition links them to the evolution of the catamaran (a small craft with two hulls) and with a major role in pearl fishing in the Gulf of Mannar. They were also proficient in chank (turbinella pyrum) fishing: chanks being seashells that were used to make ornaments and drinking vessels. The coming of the Portuguese to the region in the sixteenth century provides us many Portuguese records that illuminate the history and seafaring skills of this community.. Historian Jorge Manuel Flores, for example, quotes a mid-sixteenth century Portuguese document which records thanks to a parava convert named Duarte de Miranda for assistance in navigating the seas off South India.
Published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in 2022, the book titled “Sustaining Support for Intangible Cultural Heritage” addresses the vulnerability and fragility of sustaining intangible heritage during prolonged shocks, such as the Covid – 19 Pandemic. In addition, the book offers insights into how heritage facilitators and practitioners deal with and safeguard intangible heritage locally and showcases the implications of ecological changes concerning livelihoods to the practice of heritage and education on sustainability.
Brian Victoria, in Buddhistdoor.net … where the title reads as “Nationalism: Collective Selves and the Promise of Buddhaland”
In a recent lecture on the war in the Ukraine, John Mearsheimer, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, noted that nationalism is the strongest ideology in the world today. I was somewhat surprised by his comment because, having lived through the Cold War era, anything having to do with Russia was framed in the ideological context of “the struggle of the Free World or democracies against Communist dictatorship,” and so on. Yet, on reflection, I realized that with the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991, Russia had reverted to a capitalist state, even if now authoritarian or autocratic. Thus, Mearsheimer’s identification of nationalism as a key factor behind Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was not as surprising as it initially seemed.
Buddhist monks protest against aid for Rakhine’s Rohingya Muslims. Photo by Soe Zeya Tun. From reuters.com
Mearsheimer’s insight led to a new line of enquiry on my part. As a Buddhist, I had long asked myself, without finding a satisfactory answer, what is the relationship, if any, of the Buddhadharma with nationalism?
Induction of Tiger recruits into fighter ranks with receipt of the kuppi containing cyanide
Tiger soldiers relaxing in camp with cyanide kuppi around their necks — Pix by Shyam Tekwani
Understanding the role of religion in the Tamil insurgency requires an understanding of Sri Lanka’s cultural mosaic and of the development of modern nationalism before and after independence from British colonial power. Sri Lanka is a geographically small yet culturally rich and complex island, with numerous ethnic, linguistic, religious, and caste subgroups. The majority of the population identify as ethnically Sinhala, and they speak Sinhala, an Indo-European language. The great majority of the Sinhalese are Theravada Buddhists who live mostly in the south and central regions of the island. A small minority of Sinhalese are Catholics, and some also belong to evangelical Christian churches. The largest minority group in Sri Lanka is the Tamils, who speak Tamil (a South Indian Dravidian language) and comprise several subgroups. The largest of these are the so-called Sri Lankan Tamils, who traditionally have lived in the north and east. The so-called Indian Tamils are labor immigrants from India who were brought in by the British to work in the plantation sector in the highlands. The majority of Tamils are Hindus of the Śaiva Siddhanta tradition, but there are also a significant number who are Catholics and a few to smaller Evangelical denominations. The Tamil Muslims identify based on religious belonging, not on a common ethnic identity, and they speak Tamil. Historically, the Muslim communities are scattered throughout the island; they form a stronghold in urban trading centers in the south but are also farmers in the Tamil-majority Eastern Province. Social stratification based on caste and regional identities was strong in precolonial Lanka, and then the colonial classifications of the island’s inhabitants produced new identities with intensified religious and racial signifiers. These were reproduced in the emerging Tamil and Sinhala nationalisms of the late 19th century.
From 1992-2006 I worked at Flinders University in various positions, finally leaving in 2006 as the faculty general manager of one of the four faculties. In around 1993-4 when I was still in my early 30s and quite new at the university, I came to know Riaz Hassan as one of the professors. He probably didn’t know my name, but he was always kind and smiled and said hello if we passed on campus.
A Notice re a NEW BOOK on the negotiation of language and identity in a Tamil Saivite Temple in Australia byNILRUKSHI PERERA
Diversity is a buzzword of our times and yet the extent of religious diversity in Western societies is generally misconceived. This ground-breaking research draws attention to the journey of one migrant religious institution in an era of religious superdiversity.
Lynn Ockersz, in The Island, 19 August 2022, where the title reads “An incisive exploration of Sri Lanka’s religiosity” … with highlighting imposed by The Editor, Thuppahi
This timely publication could be described as a revelation of the fascinating nature of Sri Lanka’s religiosity. It is almost customary to refer to Sri Lanka as a ‘religious country,’ but it is not often that one comes across scholarly discussions on the subject locally. ‘Multi-Religiosity in Contemporary Sri Lanka..’, a collection of research papers put together in book form, fills this void most adequately.
Uditha Devapriya, in The Island, 9 April 2022, …With input from and photographs by Manusha Lakshan … & bearing this title “Some reflections on the temples of the South”
The social and cultural history of Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka has been the object of study for well over a century. Far from receding into a world of their own, these temples occupied a prominent place in the world around them. Buddhist monks lived under a code of piety and self-denial, and they operated under their own rules and customs. Yet despite being cut off from mundane concerns, they were very much linked to the society they hailed from. Granted entire villages for their upkeep, the clergy made use of the social institutions of their time, most prominently caste, to maintain their hold.
Uditha Devapriya, reviewing Gananath Obeyesekere’s new book The Many Faces of the Kandyan Kingdom(1591-1765) Colombo, Perera-Hussein, 2020, 200 pp., Rs. 1,200 ... with ‘arbitrary’ highlighting imposed by the Editor, Thuppahi
In 1602, the year of the Dutch East India Company’s founding, Joris van Spilbergen reached the shores of Sri Lanka after setting sail from the seaport of Veere in Holland a year earlier. Tasked with opening up trade negotiations with the King of Kandy, Vimaladharmasuriya, Spilbergen bore with him a letter from the Prince of Orange, acknowledging their willingness to counter the Portuguese. Not for one moment underestimating the Portuguese presence in the island, though, they disembarked at Batticaloa, which fell under the jurisdiction of the Kandyan Court. They anchored off the coast on May 31.
Thiru Arumugam, in The Ceylankan, Vol 25/1, Feb. 2022, where the title reads “A Three Hundred and Forty-Year Book-about-Ceylon”
Captain Robert Knox (1642-1720) of the East India Company *oil on canvas *126 x 102.8 cm *1711 *inscribed b.l.: AEtat: 66 *inscribed b.l.: P: Trampon : Pinx (on the chair) *inscribed c.r.: R: Knox: (on the quadrant) *inscribed c.r.: Memoires of my owne Life: 1708 (on the notebook)
Thuppahi's Blog · This web site presents the interventions of MICHAEL ROBERTS in the public realm with reference to Sri Lankan political affairs. It will embrace the politics of cricket as well. ROBERTS was educated at St. Aloysius College in Galle and the universities of Peradeniya and Oxford. He taught History at Peradeniya University and Anthropology at Adelaide university. He is now retired and lives in Adelaide.