|Sunday, 23 March 2003|
An epoch-making work in Sanskrit literature
"Vaijayantatantra - A Handbook for Artisans and Craftsmen, Translated from the original Sanskrit" by Emeritus Professor M. H. F. Jayasuriya can be introduced as an epoch-making work in the field of Sanskrit literature. This Romanized edition and English translation in 319 pages includes twelve chapters selected from the original text and comprises twenty-one chapters.
The introduction to the text consists of 44 pages and the sub-topics such as style of language, authorship and date and a chapterwise summary are explained in it. A glossary of about thousand technical terms used in the text is attached to the end of the work.
Vaijayantatantra, among the various subjects of Sanskrit literature belongs to the field of arts, and crafts. Only a few works in this field have been edited and translated up to date.
The Manjusrivastuvidyasastra published in 1995 with the co-authorship of Professor Jayasuriya is a gigantic effort to be mentioned in this regard. The Manasara, Silpaprakasa, Mayamata and Ratnapariksa are some of the other works published in this field. The science of arts and crafts is a vast field that covers a number of specific subjects. It is a great and the best of all sciences. It is of five kinds: wood-work, stone-work, iron-work, gold-work and painting.
The science of arts and crafts includes not only these major subjects but also many other cultural aspects related to the subjects such as religion and astrology. These major and minor subjects are fully treated in the works of arts and crafts.
Vaijayantatantra pays attention mainly to the luxurious royal ornaments made of gold, silver etc. A considerable amount of space in the text is spent for describing the related religious and cultural aspects. Prof. Jayasuriya's edition and translation is mainly based on the first Sinhalese edition of the work by Prof. Nandasena Mudiyanse published in 1983. As Prof. Jayasuriya mentions in his preface to the text "It does not appear to have been Prof. Mudiyanse's intention to correct what were obviously scribble and grammatical errors nor to subject the metres to critical scrutiny." Further he says "As a result, the text which has been reproduced by him abounds in linguistic irregularities which could easily have been rectified with the help of the commentary (Sinhalese paraphrase) where the text has been repeated word for word."
Prof. Jayasuriya has been able to produce a critical edition and reliable authentic English translation in consultation with Prof. Mudiyanse's edition as well as some other manuscripts not utilized for the Sinhalese edition.
This work no doubt, exemplifies a number of qualities such as the vast knowledge of many fields, talent and erudition of Prof. Jayasuriya who belongs to the clan of Gate Mudaliyar W. F. Gunawardhana, an eminent oriental scholar to whom this work is dedicated with respect. It is indeed a very difficult task to supply this text with an English translation due to its highly technical vocabulary. Therefore, this edition can be considered as one of the best productions of Prof. Jayasuriya who represents a handful of eminent scholars in Sanskrit in this era. Only a scholar can understand the labour of a scholarly work.
- Prof. Sumanapala Galmangoda
Opening windows into social and cultural world
Thousand Tamil proverbs in Sinhalese
Out of all the stories in the world the most fascinating story could be the story of the progress of the human race. Equally fascinating is how transgressing all geographical barriers the human mind of the more vocal and literate races had worked in a very similar way. A typical example of this similarity is the encasing of worthwhile and instructional experiences in pithy rhythmic phrases that are easy to remember. Eventually it is these little capsules of wisdom that posterity began to use that have come to be known as proverbs (in the Anglo language).
Due to some queer mental warping that took place in our island its two major races, the Sinhalas and the Tamils have over centuries disassociated themselves from each other socially and culturally. An intellectual who had made some exertion to bridge this gap is versatile Prof. Sunil Ariyaratne has used the Cinema and his flair for writing and composition of songs to materialize his worthy aim. His latest ruse could be the publication of "Thousand Tamil proverbs in Sinhala" that opens an amazing window through these proverbs into the social and cultural world of the Tamils closed to the Sinhala reader.
To give some general facts the numerical preponderance of Tamil proverbs over Sinhala proverbs can be explained by the fact that the geographical terrain that provided the fertilizing ground for these proverbs was much vaster as it encompassed not only our North but South India too. Hence historical incidents and other episodes (Some fabricated) in this vast area have led to a profuse number of proverbs while the number of clever humans who invented them too are much more, proportionate to the teeming Tamil population.
Sunil Ariyaratne is not the first collector of Tamil proverbs. According to the preface Christian Missionaries who came over to South India had led the field in this collection. This group includes Fr. P. Percival, Fr. G. Friar, Fr. Herman Lesson who had made liberal use of indigenous collection of Tamil proverbs as those of Auvaiyar who lived in the 9th Century and Sello Vokeswaraya Mudaliyer of 20th century. The common nature of human sentiments and attitudes is also further reflected in this collection going by the more popular themes of the proverbs. The peculiar mother-in-law, daughter-in-law relationship, faithlessness of women (faithless men are always ignored), hypocrisy of rulers and even some holy men, false values these surface uppermost.
Just to give one example of false values proverb 478 "Akkiraraththu nai piradistaikk aludadupola" which means "Like the dog yearning for respect". just four words. But the long story behind has been elaborated by the author as in many other instances.
These proverbs creep into every nook and corner of not only the human society of the Dravidians but strangely even more into the adjunct animal world. Not only the human procession of kings, queens, ministers, couriers of gods, robbers, prostitutes, pundits, slaves, Craftsmen, farmers, shepherds, errant men and women, lads and lasses walk in and out of these proverbs but cows, dogs, cats, goats, horses, elephants, ants, rats, birds and a host of lowly creatures follow them opening a fantastic world and engendering little cases of wisdom that come handy in moments of crisis or want of advice.
As for me I personally have to thank the author for acquainting me with this Tamil proverb, "Irunda Kaal Moo Devi, Nandanda Kaal See Devi". I had begun to develop guilt at my habit of perpetually gallivanting on my writing assignments and a 100 other things and now the guilt is mitigated for the proverb means "The one with still foot is Moo Devi (the unfortunate one). And the one with busy feet is See Devi (the fortunate one).
Just compare it with this proverb of the West (that flaunts female liberty) given elsewhere for some reason. "A woman should get out of the house only for her baptism marriage and her funeral." The world is indeed strange, as the parallel way the human mind has worked to put out these mini pockets of wisdom and foolishness. Actually there are illogical proverbs too but in the case of "The 1000 Tamil proverbs" the author certainly has picked out the more wise ones as this which portray the helplessness of humans in their own callous society.
Translation of one such "If you walk ahead you will be kicked from behind. If you walk behind the one ahead will turn back and stab you."
Though not focused on, some Tamil proverbs out of the 1000 are very similar to Sinhala proverbs that could be attributed to deliberate adoption by the other party. Examples are "the dog's tail will always retain its curve." "Fame all over. But home people are hungry."
(Ratata parakasa - Gedarata Maragatha)".
The axiom "Viparitha Buddhi Vinase" occurs in both Tamil and Sinhala, in the some linguistic form. It means "Deformed intelligence leads to destruction." Wonder whether this drama is being enacted at present!
- Padma Edirisinghe
The late 'Guly' commemorated
New Editions of five books by the late Kalasuri Gunadasa Liyanage author and journalist will be launched on March 26 to mark his 5th death anniversary which fell on March 12.
The books titled 'D.B. Dhanapala's Revolution', 'Milterikarayo', 'Sri Lanakave Puvathpath Mellakireema,' 'Amme Mama Gihin Ennam' and 'Puvath Path Kalawa Pilibanda Hendinveemak' will be released at a commemorative ceremony at the Jayawardena Cultural Centre, Colombo. The female student who gained the highest marks in the Art Stream (National level) at the recent GCE Advanced Level Examination will be awarded a Gunadasa Liyanage memorial scholarship worth Rs. 10,000.
Stimulating the reader on civil procedure of Sri Lanka
Kalinga Indratissa, a busy practitioner of the law and a lecturer of the Sri Lanka Law College has done an excellent job in presenting to students and lawyers a slim and easy to read but very authoritative book on civil procedure which is very comprehensive and extensive in coverage.
Delving deep into his legal knowledge, Kalinga has presented all the valuable points of civil procedure replete with the most current case laws supplemented by provisions of the civil procedure Code. A hallmark of this easy to read book is the arrangement of chapters and the ready assimibility of information. The book begins with a general introduction to the history of civil procedure in Sri Lanka and dwells on the background that necessitated the need for civil procedure.
The chapters that follow very systematically in a well laid out manner cover all the major aspects and salient points of civil procedure beginning with the initial position where an action could be instituted and includes the limitations of the Civil Procedure Code and continues up to judgment, decree and amendment of decree. All legal provisions relating to the law are covered.
Every point is comprehensively explained in a lucid manner with word economy. It is simple and easy to understand.
It must be noted that the last publication on civil procedure was written way back in 1971. Since then much development has taken place in civil procedure and many don't have access to the current trends and practices of civil procedure. In fact, many are lost in the chaos created and stumped in their progress of the law. Kalinga's timely book on the subject fills the void very neatly indeed. It is current, contemporary and stimulates the reader into greater vistas of learning.
Kalinga has dedicated this book to Sarath N. Silva, PC, the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka.
He has also thanked K.M.M.B. Kulatunga PC former Solicitor General and Judge of the Supreme Court K.C. Kamalasabayson PC and many others. A special word of thanks is reserved for Ms. Lasanthi Daskoni and a team of lawyers who were helpful in the production of the book. Finally he appreciates the tolerance on the part of his wife Samanthee and his two daughters Dinendri and Rashmini who were instrumental in creating the proper ambience and atmosphere to pen his thoughts on paper.
Kalinga started his career as a State Counsel of the Attorney General's Department and was a visiting lecturer at the Sri Lanka Law College. Later he left the Attorney General's Department and concentrated on private practice and became a full time lecturer of the Sri Lanka Law College where he is the lecturer and examiner for Evidence and civil procedure. He has made a worthy contribution towards justice in Sri Lanka.
Kalinga has made a genuine endeavour to advance the skills and finesse of people who want to learn the law. The book is beautifully produced in hardback with a gold embossed cover and the paper and materials are of high quality.
- Mahes Salgado
Produced by Lake House