Ushering in a state of righteousness through Buddhism
When the author Herath M. Goonetilleke referred to me his publication
The Buddhist Attitude to Terrorism for my comments, I set him a poser as
to what motivated him to write this book. He responded as follows:
Firstly, sorrow, pain and scare he experienced on different occasions
of his life through violence, terror and ferocious effects of war.
Secondly, the most terrifying terrorist attack on New York city and
the Pentagon in Washington, USA on September 11, 2001 which the author
Thirdly, two questions, Prof. Bart Kosko of the University of
Southern California has asked the author about a feature article which
appeared in The New York Times in 2006, on the conflict in Sri Lanka.
* Why the Tamil minority in your country are being harassed by the
Sinhala Buddhists, the major community, betraying Buddhism, a
universally acknowledged religion?
* Can Buddhism offer a solution to rid the humanity of world
The Buddhist Attitude
Author : Herath M. Gunatillake
The author convinced me that this publication is a response to those
two inquiries and to the frightening experiences the author countenanced
personally in his life as mentioned above. Thematically, the author
explores from a Buddhistic perspective the causes that can lead to the
phenomenon of terrorism in some countries. The opinions expressed in
this book are not prejudicial to religious, political and social
ideologies and facts are presented objectively.
The entire book comprises 10 chapters. The first two chapters are
preoccupied with the nightmarish ordeal the author personally
encountered consequent upon the frightening evils of terrorism and with
the bringing forth of the conviction that practices of Buddhism can be
adopted for a peaceful world sans terrorism and war. Chapter 3,
pinpoints the Buddhistic point of view about the relationship of the
causes that form the basis for any such crisis as terrorism and counter
terrorism because of socio-economic, political and military
implications. The fourth one he has allocated for a discussion on human
rights and it is provided with a fine synopsis at the end of the
The author underscores how human rights are violated in the face of
trials and tribulations the world community has to face because of
terrorism and conversely how the people in the respective countries are
deprived of their human rights in counter terrorism strategies resorted
to, by the governments of the countries concerned. He stresses the fact
that it is through Buddhism that a fundamental charter on human rights
or an ethical code on human rights was promulgated for the advancement
of humanity, for the first time on human rights.
As mentioned in Buddhism, two leading factors for the evolution of
society are, (i) economic backdrop of the society and (ii) human
thinking. Accordingly, terrorism which is considered as the meanest evil
in the world today is occasioned by the variety of opinions man himself
has built up. Among these opinions, fundamentalist religious beliefs,
communalism, racism and separatism take pride of place. Chapter five
makes an insight to the good and bad and correctness or otherwise of
Chapter six is a discussion on the basis of Buddhism and modern
Freudian psycho-analysis as to how the people's psychology operates.
This chapter also presents a philosophical overview of the behavioural
pattern of the man's mindset in the operation of suicide terrorism, a
fierce strategy of terror tactics. An analysis in terms of Buddhist
ethics about the truth or otherwise of the fundamentalist religious
beliefs linked with world terrorism is presented in chapter seven.
The author in chapter eight sumps up the theme of the primacy of
good. In chapter nine, the longest in the publication, the author
specially focus on the socio-economic and political factors that
triggered a terrorist moment which plagued Sri Lanka for over three
decades and the emergence of the world's most ferocious suicide
terrorism. The chapter also deals with the author's serious concern for
a methodology to find a long-term political solution through the
principle of equanimity in the political and the social philosophy of
Buddhism. Chapter ten is a brief about the path to follow towards the
end of global terrorism in accordance with Buddhistic attitudes.
As enunciated by the Buddha, humanity can only be saved from such a
disaster only by doing away with racial, communal, religion, caste,
language and colour discriminations prevailing among the people and sans
man alienating another, a country alienating another country and
exploitation of one country by another. The study convincingly puts
across the message that human society can be brought to a state of
righteousness only by understanding, observing and activating the
noblest democratic, republic and socialist teaching and theories of
equality, equanimity and co-existence first introduced to the human
civilisation by the Buddha.
It is not an easy task to translate a book from one language to
another. The translator has to use the appropriate words to convey the
original meanings. The task is made harder when the translation is from
Sinhala to English. The idioms of the two languages are also different.
With all these difficulties and limitations H. A. Siriwardena has done
This book is complete with an index relevant to the subject matter.
Prem Dissanayake, Head of the Fast Publishing (Pvt.) Ltd., Colombo
10, deserves encomium for a fine job of printing done with a very
attractive cover page to suit the contents and index of the book.
A universal theme in a universal language
When I was invited by the author to do this review I felt totally
inadequate. The mighty name of not only the producer of the play but the
very name of the play simply awed me. And frankly, I was aware of Dr.
Lakshmi De Silva's translation of this play but was not aware of
Author: Namel Weeramuni
Sarasavi Publishers, Nugegoda
Does the author's identity pale against these famous names? No. He
too is big.Very BIG. Extremely versatile. Poet, actor, playwright,
author, educationalist, bulldozing entrepreneur. Entrepreneur? Yes. He
and his devoted wife Malini were the adventurous pioneers of the venture
of converting a humdrum "cityscape " thronged with garbage and smelly
shacks into the environs of a unique styled theatre. This brainchild of
his, the Punchi Theatre looming against Borella skies in the intriguing
shape of a massive Humbaha (ant -hill), is not Punchi at all. It is
again massive in the context of its present role in the rejuvenation of
the world of aesthetics in the island. But this is not a review of the
author's feats but of the book.
"Sinhabahu is a tale which like Oedipus Rex or Hamlet is based on a
primal human situation... A drama of the relationship in the complex web
of emotions intertwined... an ambivalence of love and hatred, the mother
tragically divided between emotional loyalties". So wrote Regi
Siriwadena, an eminent critic. That Sinhabahu, the legend, the book and
the play, all in one, carry a universal theme woven around conflicting
emotions of humans when placed in particular situations is evident. It
is also evident that such books call for translation into a universal
language. Lakshmi did it. Why not Namel, with an alacrity to venture
into new arenas?
Ambitious as Namel is, I gathered from the introductory pages that
the author has produced the book as a pre -production stage to the
famous play being staged in the USA, more specifically at the Little
Theatre , University of Northridge, California. It has been staged there
for the first time from February 7 to 9, 1997. The cast seems to be
mainly American with a few Sri Lankans thrown in. The Pothe gura's role
had been played by Richard Edward de Vere! Such is the pickled world we
are getting into.
Of course, the Pothe Gura is called the Narrator, fragrance of the
local term just lost cruelly.
"The cave is shattered, The door is opened-forced open (correction
given) It's Sinhaba, Sinhaba, Sinhaba." Wants to cry? I wanted to. But
not so much at the pathos of the impending drama about to unfold, with
the wife and children of the Lion fleeing after the cave doors are open
but at the complete erasing of the original lines so forceful.
"Gal dora bindala, len dora arala, Sinhaba, Sinhaba, Sinhaba!" On
these lines followed by further lines of hauntingly lyrical quality
seems to rest the whole vibrancy of the original play by Sarachchandra.
I am a naive traveller in the wilderness of the sophisticated theatre
world but I could not entertain this line of thinking, that may sound
odd to many.
"Cannot the original flavour be preserved by letting forceful lines
like this remain in the script? If cast in a foreign country with
foreign actors who cannot use the native medium, a tape that emits the
lines accompanying the gestures of the actor could be a substitute.
The book has another fragrance anyway. It is a token of love. An
emblem of devotion by a student to a Guru. Namel Weeramuni's devotion to
this iconic figure just cries out loud. Lalitha Sarachchandra has this
to say in her preface.
"There can be no restraints on a student's devotion to his teacher".
And certainly this is one instance. The English used is elegant and of a
very high standard.
Pages 66 to 122 carry a very significant and academic-oriented gamut
of information on these categories: 1. Background of the play 2. Type of
the play 3. The style of the play 4. Emphatic elements of the play 5.
Personal emotional reactions 6. The theme 7. Description of the main
characters 8. Dramatic structure 9. Productive approach 10. Production
scheme 11. Pronunciations, definitions and Translations 12. History of
production/ reviews etc.
This section would be of immense value to students of the
contemporary theatre world of Sri Lanka, though it naturally plays
second fiddle to the drama script in its English version. We see the
author, man of many parts and roles turning educationalist in this
section. Guidance of the young, is at the back of his mind emerging
almost parallel to enriching the aesthetic sensitivity of the country's
The story of Sinhala newspapers
Research is an exacting discipline. Exploring a given subject-area,
with all the thoroughness one could muster, becomes an all-important
pursuit, for a researcher. The relevant detail has to be anxiously
sought. Sources have to be meticulously lined up.
And, above all, the piece of research must enlighten the user,
promoting his wisdom.
arambhaya ha vikashanaya
Author: Nihal Ranjit Jayatilaka
In the field of Sri Lanka's Sinhala literature, writer Nihal Ranjit
Jayatilaka has emerged as a researcher of impressive stature.
In his latest work, Researcher Jayatilaka immerses himself in the
origin and the evolution of the Sinhala newspaper. In terms of the
spirit pervading this research product, one could very well say, that
the present publication is the twin of his 2008 work on advertising in
Sinhala newspapers, over a period of 56 years (1860-1916). The book
under review, covers the same period of time as his previous research
The initial chapter of the work, takes a brief look at the recorded
origin of newspapers in human history. "Acta Diurna", which could be
rendered as "Daily News", is generally regarded as the first-ever
newspaper in history. Published on a directive by Julius Caesar in 59
A.D., it was hand-written and was displayed at public places. The
principal content of this newspaper was a chronicle of events of the
far-flung Roman Empire of the day.
The first-ever printed newspaper, originated (according to currently
available information) in China.
The ubiquitous writing material-paper-universally consumed in all
theatres of human culture, is a Chinese invention. The Chinese adorned
human culture by presenting the art and technique of printing to
mankind. Movable type devised by the Chinese, is among the handful of
artefacts, that profoundly transformed the cultural progress of the
totality of human society.
Given such a background it is not surprising that the Chinese are
credited as the publishers of the first-ever printed newspaper of
mankind. This appeared in 748 A.D.
The technique of printing was introduced to Sri Lanka by the Dutch
Governor Van Imhof around 1736. The first printed book in Sinhala,
appeared in 1737 and was a Christian Prayer book.
It is interesting to note that the first Sinhala printing types were
produced by a foreman (baas) of the Dutch Armoury - Gabriel Schade.
The writer of the present work dwells extensively on the printing
activities that occurred in the wake of the introduction of printing by
The early works had a marked religious character. As a detailed
chronicle of the controversies, debates, arguments and polemical
exchanges that raged between Buddhist and Christians of that era, the
present work is an extremely useful source book.
One primary reason for publishing the first Sinhala newspaper, was
the felt need to counter anti-Buddhist propaganda. But, the author makes
it quite clear, that, when a group of Buddhist got together in Galle in
1860, their foremost pre-occupation was not the safeguarding of
They recognised the need of a printing press, that would be available
to the Buddhists. Historically, 'Lanka Lokaya', is the first Sinhala
newspaper. But, twenty-eight years prior to its publication.
The first Sinhala magazine had appeared, once again as part of the
on-going inter-religious dispute.
The Buddhist printing press was established supported by a fund
amounting to 181 pounds, collected through contributions.
The appearance of "Lanka Lokaya" in 1860. led to the publication of a
whole range of magazines and newspapers. Between 1860 and 1916 - the
fifty-year-period focused upon by this book, 109 Sinhala newspapers
appeared. But, most of these folded after very brief existence.
'Lanka Lokaya' was not registered duly by the Government. But, the
first registered Sinhala newspaper was 'Lakminipahana' which appeared on
The oldest extant copy of 'Lankalokaya', gives it publication date as
the 10th of September 1860 and was printed at its own press at No. 2
Church Street, Galle Fort.
This way it is established beyond doubt, that 'Lankalokaya' is
authentically the first ever Sinhala newspaper.
The quotations from the early Sinhala newspapers exude an archaic
flavour. Moderns cannot help but we amused by the language level,
sentence - structure and the style of writing. That one comes upon in
these newspapers. Sustained publication of the early newspapers in
Sinhala, was thwarted by financial difficulties.
'Lakmini pahana' published in 1862, was printed in Colombo. Declaring
the purpose of publication this newspaper had this to say:
Our total intention in publishing this newspaper, to convert
thousands of Sinhala people to well-informed persons, although they are
now in a state of childish helplessness."
The book is eloquent testimony to the assiduous commitment of its
author. The intriguing detail he enshrines in his work is the triumph of
Of the Sinhala newspapers, that came into being within the period
under focus, 'Dinamina' continues to thrive uninterrupted. Inaugurated
on the 17th of December 1909, "Dinamina" became the first national
One will, no doubt be intrigued by the news-item published by
Dinamina, about the sinking of 'Titanic' during its maiden voyage, on
April 18 1912.
The author pays a handsome tribute to 'Dinamina' for the
multi-faceted service it rendered and continuous to render.
Writer Nihal Ranjit Jayatileka's work is a rich source book to
scholars and students alike. Although the work is a profound study what
will surprise a reader is its absorbing readability.
The book reproduces the pages of some newspapers of the era, to
enable the moderns to imbibe the 'feel' of the pioneering Sinhala
While in this mood, I am sure the writer will turn his attention to
many more works of deep research.
Buddhi Sishyathwa Athwela-2011
Buddhi Publishers, Nugegoda.
Buddhi Sishyathwa Athwela - 2011, written by Heras Fernando for
Year-5 scholarship examination was launched recently.
The author, who is a former Deputy Principal of Royal College,
Colombo has used his long experience in the field of primary education
to publish the book.
The book contains a number of probable questions.
Sirilaka Siri Visithuru
Newton Gunasekara's latest book "Sirilaka Siri Visithuru" will be
launched at Dayawansa Jayakody Bookshop, Colombo 10 on March 8 at 10
The book is useful for tour guides.
It is a Dayawansa Jayakody publication.