Facing challenges through inner life of faith and worship
By Esther Williams
Sivanandini Duraiswamy's third publication, 'The Gentle Breezes of Early Dawn' is a compilation of Hindu thoughts, dedicated to spirituality and religious living. Its devotional quality draws one towards the divine and helps restore faith, in a world filled with hatred and violence.

Initially aired on SLBC's programme for around 4-5 years, the Hindu thoughts presented by Sivanandini were much appreciated. These she has compiled into short spiritual essays, rich with devotion and insightful quotations from great thinkers like Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore and the Hindu scriptures.

In several of the essays the author drives home the fact that the Divine (Atman) resides within us and it is up to us to find this Atman by chiselling at the layers of ignorance. "Hinduism teaches us that selfless actions are good karmas which break the spell of ignorance. Unless we perform such acts that free us of ignorance we will have to take several births," the author writes of the process, which she considers a slow evolution towards perfection.

She explores the Hindu concept of rebirth where the soul moves through various embodied forms from birth to death and vice-versa learning to do the right thing until the spell of ignorance is removed.

We need to surrender ourselves completely to the Lord, the author writes and discipline ourselves spiritually through faith, prayer, meditation and service to chisel off the layers of ignorance veiling the Atman or the divine spark within us. "Prayer is not an asking, it is a longing of the soul, that will form a sacred relationship between God and man," she adds.

Quoting incidents from the Ramayana and Mahabharata, she explains their significance and relevance today. This she does by associating each character - Rama, Sita and Ravana with qualities within us, explaining that the differences cause conflict. She goes on to provide insights into the ways of facing conflicts.

The seeming injustices, the inequalities and the punishments that man faces are the wages of sin, based on the principle of cause and effect.

Man is responsible for his actions and he reaps the consequences. This makes him an architect of his fortune and his misfortune and no dark unknown destiny governs his life. While explaining this she also provides hope saying no one is doomed to eternal hell, as all will reach their goal eventually. She reiterates what all those saints have taught - "Everything in life, including sorrow and happiness is impermanent and shall pass away."

The book is liberally peppered with quotes from Sri Aurobindo, Swami Chinmayananda, Swami Vivekananda, Bhagavad Gita, Sri Sankara and the Upanishads. Through these and parables the author emphasises the importance of values such as the joy of giving without counting the cost, duty, faith, selfless service, humility and reconciliation that one should cultivate to make life meaningful and blessed with success.

Through a parable the author explains the spirit of sacrifice and giving (Yagna).

"All that we have are God's gifts - he gave rain, fostered the seedlings, ripened the heads of grain. What right have we to call it ours and give it in charity? By giving to others, we are only offering gratitude to God." The writer affirms that service to mankind brings true happiness.

The story of the milkmaid and the Brahmin priest explains that faith should be firm and unshakable, in spite of setbacks. "Setbacks are not failures. We need to hold fast to faith and the ultimate goodness of an all forgiving God."

True devotion is an expression of divine love for God as holy people of all religions have proclaimed. Expression in outward acts of worship and rituals leads one to experience the presence of God within. Today, one can witness all around exploitation, fear, frustration and anxiety. The strength to face these challenges can only be drawn through an inner life of faith and worship. "Faith and prayer will ultimately conquer all disappointments and despair."

The author illustrates through interesting instances different aspects of spirituality. Dharma is the Lord's divine law, its purpose two fold - to help man live righteously in harmony with others in his society and to help him in his spiritual life. "The good and evil are always together and one has to sieve the good from the evil to cultivate it."

Material achievements are not enough, as they do not bring any peace. They are less satisfying than the spiritual journey that we should endeavour to embark. Seeking the divine will give you everlasting happiness and peace. Towards this the book will help renew faith and provide spiritual strength.

The writer quotes instances of faith healing as she seeks to convey the importance of trusting, as God's Grace is eternal and unchangeable.

The daily readings have much relevance for today where most people seem to be engaged in mundane jobs they see no pleasure in. If you do get tasks you like, like the tasks you get and you will be assured of a rewarding experience. The writer goes on to explain that satisfaction depends on attitude and attitude determines results.

Through spiritual thoughts, expressed in the book, the author explains the meaning of ancient traditions like guru-sishya tradition that have been handed down as part of our cultural heritage and the significance of other rituals. She does however make clear that "although rituals are necessary for religion, religion has to be lived through self-discipline, prayer, meditation, sacrifice and service".

The only way to peace is through understanding, tolerance and love for "Love smothers anger and virtue and kindness wipes out hatred."

Born into a traditional Hindu family, Sivanandini Duraiswamy had her schooling at Ladies’ College, Colombo before receiving her Bachelor of Arts Degree from the London University. She also possesses a diploma in Carnatic Music (Veena) and in Western Music from the Trinity College of Music, London. She has also studied Bharatanatyam and Chinese brush work painting.

Sivanadini is currently a consultant on Hindu Affairs at the National Integration Programme, a Unit of the Ministry of Justice and National Integration. She is also the President of the Hindu Women's Society, Manager of Hindu Ladies College, President of the Hindu Council and serves on the Advisory Board for Hindu Programmes (Electronic Media).

Dharmaraja College archives: A Buddhist heritage for posterity
By Rohan L. Jayetilleke
The concept of establishing archives was mooted by Arahant Mahinda, (son of Emperor Ashoka) who introduced Buddhism to Sri Lanka in the third century BC during the reign of Devanampiyatissa (250-210 BC). The first archives was set up at Anuradhapura, beside the newly built Thuparama, the third stupa to be built in Sri Lanka, enshrining the relics of the Buddha.

Schools being the nurseries of national figures, the establishment of an archive in respect of the school, is bequeathing the heritage of the school to present and future students. Thus the establishment of Sir Don Baron Jayatilake Memorial Dharmaraja College Archives, is an attempt to give a fresh view and dimension to the educational largesse the school has provided to the socio-economic development of Sri Lanka.

With the conquest of the littoral of the island by the Portuguese, the 'pirivena and pansal school' system was destablized. In its place under the control of the Franciscan and Society of Jesuits Roman Catholic missionaries, a new system of schools emerged. These schools were called 'Palliya' as they were formed, in addition to the imparting of education, to propagate Christianity and train natives for secular administrative posts. They were also the place for solemnization of marriages, baptizing, registration of birth, deaths and marriages and even lands. The schoolmaster came to be known as 'Palliaguru', which name still continues in the country as a surname.

The Dutch and the British too followed the very same principles laid down by the Portuguese, as far as education was concerned.To meet with the challenge posed by the British missionaries, and arrest the anglicization of Sinhala Buddhist culture, in 1867, Venerable Dodanduwe Piyaratana Thero (1826-1907) of the Amarapura Kalyanivamsa fraternity organized a society called Loka Arthasadhaka Samagama. On the initiative of the society and the funds collected by it, the first non-monastic bilingual Buddhist school was opened at Dodanduwa in 1869.

This school at Dodanduwa was registered as a Buddhist private Anglo-vernacular school under the management of one of this writer's ancestors Jayetilleke Peiris, Mudliyar of the Vellaboda Pattuwa of the Galle District, of Peiris Walawwa of Weliwatte, Galle and qualified for the government grant for private schools in 1872 (Report of the Director of Public Institutions, Administrative Report 1872, p. 375).

In 1880 there were more private vernacular private schools under the management of Buddhists qualifying for the government grant. (Report of the Director of Public Institutions, Administrative Report, 1880 Part IV, pp. 59-60, 62 & 79). All these except the Dodanduwa school were vernacular schools. There were also schools in the Western Province at Koratota, Homagama and Hadapangoda and all these schools were managed by Venerable Koratota Sobhita Thero (1829 - 1903).

Piriven, a system of education was re-established at Kandy (Niyamakande) by Velivita Sri Saranankara Sangharaja, who was directly instrumental in obtaining Upasampada rites from Thailand and the formation of the Siamese Sect of Sri Lanka at Kandy with the two Chapters Malwatte and Asgiriya in 1753. During the period 1826-1836 Ven. Galle Medhankara organized a Pirivena at Pelmadulla Purana Vihara in 1850. Ven. Walane Siddartha organized the Paramadhamma Cetiya Pirivena at Ratmalana; Ven Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala organized the Vidyodaya Pirivena at Maligakande, Colombo Ven. Ratmalane Sri Dhammaloka organized the Vidyalankara Pirivena at Peliyagoda, Kelaniya; Ven Welitota Gnatilakatissa organized in 1883 the Vijjabhasha Vijja Pirivena at Welitota. The arrival of the founders of the Theosophical Society, Colonel Henry Steele Olcott and Madam Helena Petrovna Blavatsky in Sri Lanka on May 17, 1880, accompanied by English Theosophist Edward Wimbridge and five Indian delegates, from the Bombay branch of the Theosophical Society, gave them courage to meet the Christian missionary dominance in education with their own coin.

Buddhist revival activities during the mid 19th century were centred in Matara, Galle, Welitara, (Balapitiya) and Colombo. In Colombo, the chief protagonist in the revival activities was Ven. Migettuwatte Gunananda Thero, who formed in 1862 a society called Sarvjana Sasananhivruddhidayaka Dharma Samagama (Society for the Propagation of Buddhism).To provide a Anglo-vernacular education to the children of Kandy, the BTS organized by Olcott, with the assistance of Wadugodapitiye Korale, Dullewa Adikaram, T. B. Panabokke (Later Sir) D. J. Wijayagunewardena in the premises of Natha Devale, began the Kandy Buddhist High School on June 30, 1887, later to be named as Dharmaraja College with 12 children. Today the school is located on the picturesque hill at Buwelikada overlooking the Kandy Lake, with a student population of around 4500 and a tutorial staff of around 175.

In 1890, the Orientalist, scholar and later statesman D. B. Jayatilaka assumed duties as the principal (he was knighted in 1932).

In order to immortalize the yeoman services rendered by Sir D.B. Jayatilaka, the Dharmaraja College 1979-1980 Old Boys group committee set up the (Srimath D. B. Jayatillaka Memorial, Dharmaraja College Archives on November 28, last year.

Gamboge, ironwood, kino, kitul and kokoon

The concise guide to the Anglo-Sri Lankan
lexicon – Part XXVI by Richard Boyle

Continuing the names of tree species and their products associated with Sri Lanka included in the second editions of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED2) and Hobson-Jobson (H-J2)

gamboge (1712/1837). Sinhala kana goraka, honda goraka. "1. a. A gum-resin obtained from various trees of the genus Garcinia, natives of Cambodia, Thailand, etc. It is largely used as a pigment, giving a bright yellow colour, and also as a drastic purgative in medicine. b. The plant from which gamboge is obtained. 2. attributively, as gamboge-plant, -resin, -tree, -yellow."

The species to which this name refers is Garcinia quaesita.

There are no references from English literature pertaining to Sri Lanka under sense 1. Possibly the earliest is by J. W. Bennett from Ceylon and its Capabilities (1843:131): "Gumboge may be obtained in any quantity from the Cambogia gutta, L. (Ghorkah of the Singhalese) . . . It is sold in the bazaars, but has not hitherto been an export from the colony."

Under sense 2 there is the following reference from the Penny Cyclopaedia (1838:XI.68/1): "The true gamboge-tree of Ceylon has been determined to belong to a new genus named Hebradendron."

iron-tree (1719). Sinhala na. "A name (more or less local) for various trees and shrubs with very hard wood, as Ixora ferrea of the West Indies (also called hardwood), and Mesua ferrea of the East Indies (also called ironwood)."

This, Sri Lanka's national tree, bears the scientific name Mesua nagassarium.

The sole reference with relevance to Sri Lanka given in the OED2 is by James Emerson Tennent from Ceylon (1859:I.I94): "Near every Buddhist temple the priests plant the Iron tree . . . for the sake of its flowers."

The synonym ironwood, iron-wood (1657) is recorded in the OED2 but no references are given from English literature pertaining to Sri Lanka. In fact the majority of 19th century writers on Sri Lanka use this synonym. For example, the anonymous author [Horatio Suckling] of Ceylon: A General Description of the Island, Historical, Physical, Statistical (1876:II.356) remarks: "'Na-gass' or iron-wood . . . Sir W. Jones says truly, 'it is one of the most beautiful trees on earth,' with a deep evergreen foliage and rich fragrant blossoms of ivory-white petals, and orange-coloured stamens . . . it is a great favourite with the Buddhists, who say the next Buddha will obtain nirvana under its shade, and is commonly found planted near temples."

kino (1788/1876) Sinhala gammalu. "Apparently of West African origin. 1. A substance resembling catechu, usually of a brittle consistence and dark reddish brown colour, consisting of the inspissated gum or juice of various trees or shrubs of tropical and sub-tropical regions; used in medicine and tanning as an astringent; and also (in India) for dyeing cotton. Sometimes called gum kino . . . 2. Any of the trees or plants which yield this substance."

The species to which this name refers is Pterocarpus marsupium.

None of the references given in the OED2 to illustrate sense 1 are from English literature pertaining to Sri Lanka. However, several exist, such as the following by Suckling (1876:II.394): "The gam malloo (Pterocarpus marsupium) yields a ruby-coloured gum which exudes from the bark, called kino, the 'gummum rubrum astrigens' of the old druggists, used in diarrhoea."

The earliest reference illustrating sense 2 is from medical literature: "Kino is a lofty tree . . . native of Ceylon, and the adjacent part of India." There is a contemporaneous reference from English literature pertaining to Sri Lanka by Suckling (1876:II.395): "There are several species of kino, but the only true kind is obtained from this tree (Pterocarpus marsupium) . . . and a large size with numerous spreading branches, pale yellow flowers and a single seeded pod. The wood is hard and valuable."

A 20th century reference by H. F. Macmillan from the Illustrated Guide to the Royal Botanic Gardens Peradeniya (1906.40) reads: "The useful Bengal kino tree (Butea frondosa), which yields a medicinal resin and oil; the flowers are used for dyeing, a lac is produced on the twigs, and the inner bark yields a good fibre."

kittul, kitool (1681). "[Cingalese kitul) The jaggery palm, Caryota urens; hence, a strong black fibre obtained from the leaf-stalks of this, used for making ropes, brushes, etc."

The OED2 definition is deficient as no reference is made to the exclusive association that the name of this tree has with Sri Lanka. In addition, the two products for which the tree is best known - jaggery and toddy - are not referred to, even though it is mentioned that the kittul is also known as the jaggery palm. (Both jaggery and toddy are recorded in the OED2.) Furthermore, the earliest reference is by Robert Knox who refers to jaggery and toddy.

Knox writes in An Historical Relation of Ceylon (1681:15): "The next Tree is the Kettule. It groweth straight, but not so tall as the Coker-Nut-Tree; the inside nothing but a white pith, as the former. It yieldeth a sort of Liquor, which they call Tellegie: it is rarely sweet and pleasing to the Pallate, and wholsom to the Body, but no stronger than water. They take it down from the Tree twice, and from some good Trees thrice, in a day. An ordinary Tree will yield some three, some four Gallons in a day, some more and some less. The which Liquor they boyl and make a kind of brown Sugar, called Jaggory; but if they will use their skill, they can make it as white as the second best Sugar: and for use it is but little inferior to ordinary Sugar. The manner how they take this Liquor from the Tree is thus; When the Tree is come to maturity, first out of the very top there cometh out a bud, which if they let it grow, will bear a round fruit, which is the seed it yieldeth, but is only good to set for encrease. This bud they cut and prepare, by putting to it several sorts of things, as Salt, Pepper, Lemons, Garlick, Leaves, etc. which keeps it at a stand, and suffers it not to ripen. So they daily cut off a thin slice off the end, and the Liquor drops down in a Pot, which they hang to catch it."

The first reference after Knox given in the OED2 is dated 1857. However there are many earlier references from English literature pertaining to Sri Lanka. For example, James Cordiner writes in A Description of Ceylon (1807[1983]:210): "A fourth species of this palm is the kettule of the Cingalese, caryota urens, or jaggree tree, so called from its fertility in the production of sugar."

Tennent (1859[1977]: I.93) provides the first example of the alternative form - kitool - given in the OED2 entry: "The Jaggery Palm, the Kitool of the Singhalese, is chiefly cultivated in the Kandyan hills for the sake of its sap, which is drawn, boiled down, and crystallised into a coarse brown sugar, in universal use amongst the inhabitants of the south and west of Ceylon, who also extract from its pith a farina scarcely inferior to sago. The black fibre of the leaf is twisted by the Rodiyas into ropes of considerable smoothness and tenacity. A single Kitool tree has been pointed out at Ambogammoa, which furnished the support of a Kandyan, his wife, and their children. A tree has been known to yield one hundred pints of toddy within twenty-four hours."

Michael Ondaatje, writing in Running in the Family (1983:59), provides a more modern reference: "At the back, the kitul tree still leaned against the kitchen - tall with tiny yellow berries the polecat used to love."

There is an entry in H-J2 for the synonym caryota.

kokoon (1866). "[Sinhalese.] A large tree, Kokoona zeylanica, growing in the central provinces of Ceylon."

This is an instance in which a Sinhala name (albeit somewhat corrupted from kokum) has been adopted in a Latin form as the scientific name.

The earliest reference cited by the OED2 is from a botanical work dated 1866, but there are no illustrative quotations as such because this name is exceedingly rare in English literature pertaining to Sri Lanka.

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