A critique on language and social mores | Sunday Observer

A critique on language and social mores

Boruvakata Thatu Mavanno’

Author: Prof. Risiman Amarasinghe

S. Godage Publishers, Colombo 10

Price Rs 500

Prof. Risiman Amarasinghe has earned a name as a controversial author who exposes lies and myths perpetuated in society. In the first chapter of his latest book Boruvakata Thatu Mavanno, he exposes certain far-fetched ideas expressed by professors and other eminent scholars about Pandit Amaradeva. The author quotes chapter and verse to justify his opinions. He scoffs at the public statements made by them and rejects them as palpable lies.

While commenting on Prof. Sarachchandra he quotes Prof. Wimal Dissanayake’s views with approval. “For him (Prof. Sarachchandra) the best way of understanding Sinhala cultural tradition was through its linkages to the Indian tradition.

He perceived Sri Lanka as a part of the greater culture of India.” Then the author turns his attention to Martin Wickremasinghe and questions his knowledge of Sinhala.

Chapter four is devoted to an incisive commentary on the caste system prevailing in Sri Lanka. The author raises a pertinent question: Was it modeled on the Hindu caste system? He says the caste has crept into religious institutions as well. He claims that you need to belong to a certain high caste in order to be ordained a monk in a certain Buddhist sect.

If it is so, it goes against the teachings of the Buddha. He quotes Most Ven. Balangoda Ananda Maitreya who said, “The Siamese sect ordains only the people who belong to the highest level of society, called Govigama, while the other two sects do not regard caste distinction as a rule.”

Prof. Sarachchandra denounced the works of W.A. Silva as mere love stories and those of Piyadasa Sirisena as proselytizing attempts and discarded them as ‘absurd fictions with little insight into reality that deserve no mention at all.

In contrast, Martin Wickremasinghe has deviated from these traditional paths and has introduced a new arena of realistic approach in Gam Peraliya.

However, the author raises a few questions: Does Martin Wickremasinghe exhibit real knowledge and understanding of the Koggala society? Has the social and economic trends depicted those relevant to the period documented in the novel? He is of the opinion that Martin Wickremasinghe has wittingly or unwittingly failed to recognize the importance of economic realities. The criticism he has made about the novel deserves our attention.

The book also carries some incisive comments made by W. Wimalasurendra, I. Danister Fernando, V.R. de Silva, and Upali S. Jayasekara on the caste system.

In essence, the author has not spared anyone making sweeping statements on literary figures and others who have wittingly or unwittingly ravished the Sinhala language.


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