Category Archives: Indian traditions

Origins of Sri Lankan Nationalism

Upali C Wickremeratne, presenting a critical review of  Sinhala Consciousness in the Kandyan Period: 1590s to 1815, by Michael Roberts, (Colombo, Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2003)…. originally presented in Ethnic Studies Review, vol. XXI,  No. 2, July 2003, pp. 207-20…. with pictorials imposed by Roberts against the grain of this article. NOTE: the title is that chosen by Wickremeratne … and is in fact a misnomer.

It is hard to think of a book, amongst those written by those affecting to be scholarly, which is based more on conjecture than this. The criteria for evidence should be considered. It is not a question of whether the sources are oral or documentary.  After all the evidence in a law court is mainly oral.  It is a question of considering the arguments for and against any particular point of view.  It is a question of weighing the evidence. A civil case is decided on a balance of probabilities and a criminal case on whether there is a reasonable doubt.  It is not a question of facts or the truth. Law draws a distinction between hearsay, opinion and evidence based on cross-examination.  Collingwood wanted an army of questions led into the sources. They would enable one’s own biases and predilections to be questioned.  It would supply the place of cross-examination.

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Confronting Ethnic Violence and Its Roots in Vengeance

Michael Roberts

In presenting Basil Fernando’s book to the public, I have been led back in time to critical data he presented to me in the early 1990s re the “riots of July 1983.” As an act of condemnation THEN, my essay on those events depicted the MOMENT as a “pogrom.”[1] This label was guided by my awareness that in Russian usage this label meant “destruction” and thus went beyond the English dictionary translations of that word. Though I have been rapped on the knuckles by Kingsley M. de Silva for this nomenclature,[2] I remain adamant. What occurred in late July 1983 was a horrific set of events that cannot be buried inside that relatively mundane label “riots.”

 

Jubilant {Sinhala) rioters celebrate their mayhem at Borella Junction in Colombo on the 24/25th July night 1983

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The “Colombo Bharathas”: A Merchant Community

Joe “Malli” Vaz ***

The ghosts of forgotten family histories haunt the children of immigrants, pressing us to take on the role of scribes to recover and record those enduring tales implanted deep within our childhood memories.

Iruthamma De Votta kin

This experience loosely corresponds to what social scientists studying diasporic identity describe as an interesting rule of three: The first generation to immigrate tries to “blend in,” often leaving their traditions and culture behind. Their children—the second generation, who are born in the new country—become superficially curious about their identity and ancestry. But surprisingly, it’s the third generation that struggles to figure out who they are and where they came from, showing a strong desire to connect with the old country, language, culture and cuisine.

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Basil Fernando’s Searing Protest against Violence in All Its Forms

Basil Fernando: A Short Abstract re the book Body, Mind, Soul, Society: An Autobiographical Account

 This book (176 pages) is an attempt to contribute towards an understanding of the impact of violence on human persons and the society. It is based on the direct experience of living and working in Sri Lanka and Cambodia. However, references are also made to several more developing countries in Asia with which I have been engaged in working after the experiences in Sri Lanka and Cambodia. The book is written from the perspective of a victim who is also an observer.

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Vesak: The Emergence of Buddhism in the Indian Subcontinent

 Uditha Devapriya … an original essay with the title ppreferred by Uditha being “Some Reflections on Vesak”

 By the 6th century BC, the centre of Indian civilisation had shifted to the Ganges Valley. Social and economic conditions made possible the rise of several religions that posed as alternatives to the rigid orthodoxy of Brahmanism. By the end of the 5th century BC, the number of these sects had come down, and among those that survived were Jainism and Buddhism.

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Deaths. Turmoil. Flights from India’s Covid …. and Lisa’s Mental Anguish

Lisa Sthalekhar, in The Australian, 18 April 2021, where the ttile runs thus: ‘I weep for India, and those left behind’

The past three weeks have changed me. Never again will I be the same person. I will never see India in the same light, once a place of excitement, vibrancy and opportunity. Its people are hurting at depths we will never understand. In my heart I may never forgive myself for what I’ve done.

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  Subhas Chandra Bose: Indian Nationalist with Fascist Links

Wikipedia Account distilled & re-shaped by Capt. Kumar Kirinde, with this title: “Subhas Chandra Bose: Leader of the Indian Independence League (IIL) and Indian National Army (INA)” …..         https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subhas_Chandra_Bos

      Subhas Chandra Bose (January 1897–18 August 1945) was an Indian nationalist whose defiant patriotism made him a hero in India, but whose attempts during World War II to rid India of British rule with the help of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan left a troubled legacy.

Bose meets Adolf Hitler

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Tamils in Ancient and Medieval Sri Lanka: The Historical Roots of Ethnic Identity

Sirima Kiribamune, in Ethnic Studies Report, vol IV/1, January 1986, pp. 1-23 … article retrieved via meticulous work by Iranga Silva of the ICES, Kandy — in a committed labour of love

“The past is intelligible to us only in light of the present; and we can fully understand the present only in the light of the past.” E.H. Carr.[*]

Professor Kiribamune

The current ethnic problems of Sri Lanka form the backdrop to this paper. The present tension lies between the majority Sinhalese who speak an Indo-Aryan tongue and the Tamils who use a Dravidian language. The two groups claim distinct racial antecedents, the Sinhalese styling themselves Aryans from north India and the Tamils tracing their origins to the Dravidians of the south. (The use of the terms ‘Aryan’ and ‘Dravidian’ to denote racial groups is considered totally unscientific. This terminology can only be used in a linguistic context. Sinhalese is included in the Indo-European or Aryan group of languages and Tamil belongs to the Dravidian group. The division of people speaking these two groups of languages into distinct racial types is not valid even for India and less so for Sri Lanka.) This division is further marked by religious differences, the Sinhalese being largely Buddhist and the Tamils, Hindus. Interested parties on both sides of the conflict have tried to use the past to legitimise different standpoints. It is the responsibility of the historian to set the record straight and that is the aim of this paper, but one is all too aware of the fact that complete detachment in the writing of history is hardly ever achieved. It is an ideal towards which one strives and needs to strive.

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Shirley De Alwis: The Hand behind Peradeniya University’s Designs

KNO Dharmadasa**

Shirley D’Alwis, the first University Architect, died in harness. He was working day and night to complete the job entrusted to him – the preparation of the buildings he had designed and started constructing – for the university to be shifted to its intended site in Peradeniya. After a long and protracted “battle of the sites” fought in the legislature and in the media, the State Council had finally decided in September 1938 that the proposed University of Ceylon was to be a unitary and residential university and that it should be sited in the land to be acquired from the New Peradeniya Estate, a tea and rubber plantation on the lower Hantana range on the banks of Mahaveli Ganga. It was a picturesque site with the tree clad hilly terrain sloping down from the Hantana range to the river bank.

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Charlie Chaplin in Bali

Tony Donaldson’s Treasure Trove

Here are two photos of Charlie Chaplin in Bali from my collection.

In one photograph, we see Chaplin in a comical moment as if he is conducting a gamelan orchestra in a Balinese village, possibly Ubud.  He could also be dancing in front of the gamelan — for the way his arms and hands are positioned suggest this  We can’t say for sure. The gamelan players are clearly enjoying this moment with Chaplin, with lots of fun and laughter. A gamelan orchestra is led by the kendang (drum) player – the nearest thing to a kind of conductor in a gamelan.

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