Sunday, 2 June 2002  
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Government - Gazette

Daily News

Budusarana On-line Edition


Vesak Handa

Buddhist Publication

Vesak Handa

By Buddhist Brotherhood Society

246, Horana Road, Wekada, Panadura

(Free distribution)

Published by Sridevi Printers (Pvt) Limited

27, Pepiliyana Road, Nedimala, Dehiwala

Reviewed by Piyasena Wickremaratne

Vesak Handa delivers the message of Mettha, Karuna, Muditha, Upekka as expounded by the Buddha, 'the Enlightened One'. The current issue which is the 53rd of the series provides ample spiritual guidance to the ethically decadent modern society. Despite material affluence, man's inner ego never stops crying for the spiritual aspirations.

Science alone had not and will never satisfy the needs of mankind. It is the religion that enlightened the scientists to harness wisdom and energy for the well-being of the world which otherwise would have ended in immense catastrophe.

Indeed Vesak Handa organising committee had rendered a noble service to the society by distributing this valuable book, free of charge.

Dr. Ven. Mahinda Sangharakkita Thera, the chief prilate of Kelaniya Rajamaha Viharaya, Ven. Rajakiya Panditha Kerinde Somaloka Thera, Ven. Rajakiya Panditha Naramane Buddharakkitha Thera and a host of erudite Bhikkhus have contributed valuable articles, to this issue. Prof. Lily de Silva and Prof. Nalin de Silva in their inimitable style have dealt on 'Buddhist Ethics' and the 'Mind' respectively.

Contributions in English Language by Bhikku Seelananda, Ven. Dr. Naimbala Dhammadassi, Prof. Sunanda Mahendra, Dr. (Mrs.) Princy Peiris, have enhanced the value of this book.

Verses in Sinhala and English by several poets in praise of the Buddha, and Udana Gee relating to Vesak are quite fascinating.

We wish long life to all members of the organising committee.

Impressive collection of Indian stories in Sinhala

"Kisivek Ma Uramatha"

by Senaratne Weerasinghe

Prabha Publishers, Veyangoda

Price Rs. 300

Reviewed by R.S. Karunaratne

During the past two decades Indian writing in English has conjured up visions of its potential and talent. There are many Indian writers who publish novels and short stories while living in India or abroad. Critics agree that their creations have reached the international standard of classical authors in the West. The winning of the Nobel Prize for Literature by V.S. Naipaul and the Booker Prize by Arundhati Roy has proved that Indian writers are not second to anyone.

Senaratne Weerasinghe has culled out some of the best Indian short stories written by Indian authors, such as, Mulk Raj Anand, Lakshman Londy, Anita Desai, Carter Singh Dugal. V.S. Naipaul, Varan Mithra, R.K. Narayan, Kamaldas, Satyajith Ray, K.A. Abbas, Yasvanth Chittal, Arundhati Roy and Salman Rushdie. It is heartening to note that Weerasinghe has included a short story of Mulk Raj Anand, who was creatively active for more than 60 years. He is more appreciated in the West than in the Indian sub continent. His short story 'The Dreamer' translated as 'Sihina Dakinna' depicts his robust humanism, compassion and forthright outlook. He attacks evil of all sorts and seeks to get people to see his point of view through his anti-traditional stance.

In this story he confronts a hostile and unhealthy environment in a conservative society. The author shows how evil manifests itself as a form of social injustice and exploitation. By the way, he also raises a banner of revolt against casteism in 'The Dreamer.' 'Gnana Abyasa Satahan Potha' is an extract taken from Arundhati Roy's path-breaking novel 'The God of Small Things.' The author is known to be a woman who never obeyed the rules. She often scoffed at convention becoming a controversial figure in her own country. With the publication of 'The God of Small Things' she found herself on the edge of literary stardom.

The extract ably translated by Weerasinghe is a bit complicated for the reader. For that matter, Arundhati herself is a complicated writer, who chooses rebellion and independence as her themes. However, the selection of an extract is commendable because the Booker Prize-winning 'The God of Small Things' breathes the spirit of youth. According to a noted Indian critic it is one of her protest novels that is radical and subversive. It attacks several holy cows mercilessly. What is more, the story is about authentic India, but the sensibility is urban, westernised and modern.

The translation of R.K. Narayan's 'Another Community' is relevant to our own ethnic conflict here. As we know, Narayan writes about middle class men in middle class Indian English. William Walsh, an authority on Commonwealth writing, rightly regards Narayan's work as an original blend of Eastern material and Western method. The inclusion of a short story by Narayan is praiseworthy for he is one of the leading Indian writers of English fiction. He is also the most widely read Indian author who has let his work speak for itself.

"Sidurukala Ethirilla' is the translation of an extract taken from Salman Rushdie's best selling novel 'Midnight's Children.' Here Amina Sinai is persuaded to consult a soothsayer. She is about to give birth to the main character and she wants to know what to expect. The soothsayer tells her that the child will be a son and 'such a son!' The boy will 'never be older than his motherland and one day he will be very famous.' The soothsayer gets into a trance: "Crowds will shove him! Sisters will weep, cobra will creep..."And then he achieves his climax: "and he will die...before he is dead." What is important is that Indian literature has become universal. Even literary critics who belong to the post-modernist era have praised Indian literature.

In order to understand the development of Indian literature one has to read their short stories and novels. As most of them are available in English, Sinhala readers do not get an opportunity to read them. Therefore, Senaratne Weerasinghe deserves a bouquet for introducing some of the leading Indian authors by translating their short stories into Sinhala.

Apart from including extracts from Salman Rushdie's 'Midnight's Children' and Arundati Roy's 'The God of Small Things', Weerasinghe has included Lakshman Londi's 'Someone Rides My Shoulders' ("Kisivek Ma Uramatha"), Anita Desai's "The Accompanist," Carter Singh Dugal's "Ik Ch hit Channan Di" and several others.

"Kisivek Ma Uramatha" is a valuable addition to Sinhala literature that has hitherto been mostly influenced by Western authors and their concepts. The short story collection comes with an attractive jacket that enhances its value.

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