Brown finds himself in unholy row
The authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail
are accusing the author of The Da Vinci Code, of stealing their
ideas for the central theme of his best-selling conspiracy thriller.
I've never heard of it," says Sophie, a character in The Da
Vinci Code, as the evil Sir Leigh Teabing pulls a book, Holy Blood,
Holy Grail, from his shelf.
"This caused quite a stir back in the 1980s," Teabing
replies. "To my taste, the authors made some dubious leaps
of faith in their analysis, but their fundamental premise is sound,
and to their credit, they finally brought the idea of Christ's bloodline
into the mainstream."
there they are, two paragraphs that acknowledge the debt of Dan
Brown, American author of The Da Vinci Code, to Holy Blood, Holy
Grail, a pseudo-history that claims Jesus married Mary Magdalene
and has descendants, and that secretive elements in the Catholic
Church will stop at nothing to hush this up. Did the three authors
of Holy Blood, Holy Grail seethe with rage as they read these paragraphs?
of them were at Britain's High Court on February 27, claiming that
Brown had stolen their idea for the central theme of The Da Vinci
Code, the conspiracy thriller that is one of the best-selling books
in history. So began a bizarre and explosive copyright infringement
trial, one with such potential consequences that it forced the reclusive
Brown to leave his New Hampshire hideaway and face his accusers
Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh — whose names, they claim,
form the anagram Leigh Teabing — are suing their own publishers,
Random House, which also published The Da Vinci Code. If successful,
they could delay the release of the film of The Da Vinci Code, starring
Tom Hanks and Ian McKellen. The case will turn on the meaning of
plagiarism in an age of instant, ubiquitous information. Brown,
who sat silently in the front row of the packed court, has said
that while he consulted HBHG, as it was called in court, he only
did so at the end of writing his book, that he acknowledged its
influence in The Da Vinci Code, and that it was "incidental"
to his work.
is an extraordinary claim that would surprise anyone who has read
The Da Vinci Code after reading HBHG," the plaintiffs' QC,
Jonathan Rayner James, said in his opening arguments. Mr. James
listed 15 points at which he claims the "central theme"
of the earlier book is copied in Brown's novel.
also pointed out a number of pieces of text he claims are directly
taken from one book to another. He claims that Brown worked from
notes researched by his wife, Blythe, to give "plausibility"
to his work. "It is not as though Brown has simply lifted a
discrete set of raw facts from HBHG. He has lifted the connections
that join the points up."
loyally near Brown during the hearing, Random House chief executive
Gail Rebuck said in a statement that she was "genuinely saddened"
that Baigent and Leigh "have chosen to bring this litigation
against us. Random House takes no pleasure in defending a legal
action that it believes is without merit”.
publishers' lawyers will argue that Brown consulted many sources
while writing his book and that the plaintiffs are trying to copyright
history, if history is the right word for a work that claims the
lineage of Christ married into the Merovingian line of French kings
and is protected by a secret sect based in France.
in 1982, HBHG was also a bestseller, but its sales of 2 million
were dwarfed by the 40 million copies sold of The Da Vinci Code,
a book that author Salman Rushdie described as so bad "it makes
bad books look good".
Baigent is a New Zealander who moved to Britain 30 years ago. Leigh
is an American who lives in Britain. The third author, Henry Lincoln,
has no part in the action.
- Courtesy The Age)
into history moved by the tsunami
The tsunami moved Damayanthi Jayakody to delve into history and
write two books aimed mainly at children. One is based on the Samuddavanija
Jataka and the other draws a comparison between the recent tsunami
and the one that occurred during the reign of King Kelanitissa in
the kingdom of Kelaniya. Both are Dayawansa Jayakody publications.
Jataka tale is titled 'Deviyo Ehi Vediyaha ' and relates how a deity
appeared and saved a large number of people living on an island
when there was a threat of a tsunami. The preamble to the story
deals with how Devadatta Thera tried to create a rift among the
Maha Sangha leading to the Buddha preaching the Jataka tale. The
27-page book is written in a lucid style and is illustrated with
simple single colour illustrations.
more elaborate 'Budu Dahamai Maha Muhudai Kelanitissa Rajjuruvoi'
(The Dhamma, the Sea and King Kelanitissa) is profusely illustrated
in full colour and runs into 68 pages. It is a commendable effort
to relate how the sea was angered by the doings of an unjust king
and link it up with the 2004 December tsunami. The sea was 28 miles
away from Kelaniya, yet it caused tremendous damage when the whole
area got flooded. Damayanthi Jayakody gives figures and quotes Rajavaliya
to illustrate the grave situation. More than 900 villages where
fisher-folk lived and another 470 villages where pearl fishery divers
lived were devastated. Eleven islands belonging to Sri Lanka just
disappeared. In total, around 1450 villages went under water. The
only areas spared were Mannar and Katupiti Madampe.
offer by the king's daughter Devi to sacrifice herself in a bid
to save the country was accepted by the king who, when touring the
flooded area close to the capital on the back of the royal elephant
is said to have fallen into a deep pit at a place close to present
Wattala. She then discusses how the princess was picked up by King
Kavantissa in the deep-south and their marriage. The unification
of the country by Dutugemunu and his efforts to revive Buddhism
are then described.
on the recent tsunami, Damayanthi poses the question whether it
was intended as an eye-opener to what is going on in society today.
"Animals are being slaughtered in their thousands. The musical
shows held throughout the country are a disgrace. Every day there
is a lottery. Can a country prosper through gambling? Liquor is
being sold in every village, in every town. Those who take liquor
commit the five sins. Some get deceived by money and change their
religion. The fundamentalists are busy with their campaign. People
are disgusted. Nature too may be disgusted,” she writes.
She winds up with a plea to follow the Dhamma and lead just lives.
The book is illustrated mostly with the Soliyas Mendis murals in
the Kelaniya temple. Suitable illustrations have been used to exemplify
the rest of her story.
insight into Hindu art
The Creative Touches of the Chisel by Sivanandini Duraiswamy.
A Vijitha Yapa publication. Reviewed by Vijita Fernando
scholarly monograph is the outcome of several years of travelling,
study, contemplation and a deep and abiding interest in all aspects
of Hinduism by the author.
she explains, “ ….a great piece of Hindu art will reveal
its secret and grandeur only when admired in the solitude of one
self and studied in moments of deep meditation”.
study is an eye opener to the uninitiated and the student on the
close links between Hinduism and Art, Sculpture and Architecture.
The book covers a period of about five thousand years and is the
result of total immersion by the author for nearly five years. The
presentation certainly does credit to the vast amount of material
she has collected and no less to her easy, facile presentation which
is capable of evoking an artistic appreciation even in the most
prosaic of readers. The over hundred and fifty black and white illustrations
scattered throughout the book certainly help to add to the reader’s
capacity to comprehend and understand the contents.
word about the author. A graduate of the University of London, diploma
holder in carnatic music and Veena from the Trinity College of Music,
London, exponent of Bharatha Natyam and student of Chinese brush
work, Sivanandini Duraiswamy’s interest in Hinduism is deep
rooted and stems from her childhood. But, she hastens to add, it
is her years of extensive travelling in Asia, the Middle East and
Europe with her diplomat husband that honed her skills in appreciation
of Hindu art and her researching and comparing Hindu thought and
culture with those of other cultures. A combination of all this
is really the forerunner to her current work. Even a cursory glance
at the vast amount of material in the book is pointer to the fact
that Hindu art, both sculpture and architecture were famous beyond
the frontiers of India and spread to South and South East Asia as
seen in temples in Borobudur in Java, Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom
in Cambodia and Pagan in Burma. The designs in architecture of these
temples were all inspired by Hindu thought and bear witness to the
efforts of men who inspired Hinduism as they understood it, says
ancient sculptures and temples studied in this book and those existing
elsewhere in India, as well as the modern temples, will continue
to serve the people spiritually with less and less stress on myths
and rituals and more stress on spiritual growth and development
– atma viksas – of all human being, which is the goal
of evolution at the human stage, according to Vedanta,” says
Swami Ragnanthananda, head of the Ramakrishna Mission, in a foreword
to the book.
book is a veritable history of the several aspects of Hindu art
which the writer traces through the beginnings of iconography from
the Indus Valley and Vedic cultures, symbols of Hindu art, growth
of temples, Dravidian and early medieval North Indian architecture.
The significance of symbols and motifs, with accompanying profuse
illustrations takes the reader through a series of how these operated
in every aspect of religion.
particular interest to the local readers is the section on the Sri
Lankan contribution to Hindu art with special reference to the Polonnaruwa
period where the South Indian influence is apparent. The author
quotes extensively from several writers to give credence to historical
evidence of this influence.
The author takes pains to explain through illustrations and references
to the Hindu religion the uniqueness of its art, its conventions
and techniques which cannot be understood through cursory study.
All aspects of Hindu art, mantras, poetry, hymns, bronze or stone
sculpture, architecture, music, dance, painting create spiritual
inspiration. It should also be noted, she says, that there are instances
of traditional sculpture inspired by local ideas exclusive to each
the craftsmanship of the sculptor and the architect are interwoven
and this perfect symphony makes Hindu temples some of the finest
structures in the world.
of many shapes and symbols of the Sangam Age
A Catalogue of The Sangam Age Pandaya
and Chola Coins In the National Museum, Colombo, Sri Lanka by Ramasubbu
Krishnamurthy & Senarath Wickramasinghe. Rs 200. Available at
the Colombo Museum Bookshop
The Sangam Age has been associated with the period from 150 to 750
B.E. (i.e. 300 B.C. to 300 A.D.) in South India and northern Lanka.
Of the 73 Sangam Age Tamil Coins in the Colombo Museum Collection,
70 belong to the Hettiarachchi collection and 41 Pandya coins and
3 Chola coins in fairly good condition have been illustrated in
this new catalogue.
Wickramasinghe writes about trade connections during the Sangam
Age, including two maps, and Krishnamurthy about the Sangam Age
coins in the National Museum, Colombo, both with references and
notes. Ramasubbu Krishnamurthy's 1997 book Sangam Age Tamil Coins
is a classic South Asian numismatic book of the era.
calls these coins "Buddhist Cakram", and I found it interesting
that the Sangam Age derives its name from the earliest strata of
Tamil literature to the last (Kandai) Sangam "probably modelled
on the Buddhist Sanga for the promotion of Tamil literature"
at Madurai in Tamilnadu. The region known as "Tamilaham"
was ruled by three major dynasties known as Chera, Chola and Pandya.
almost square copper coins vary in size from 13 mm to 28 mm and
weigh from under 1 gram to over 11 grams, a large range of weights
and sizes as in modern coinage. Krishnamurthy states that these
coins kept in paper pouches were never taken out and examined. The
Pandaya coins have a stylised fish symbol on the obverse, while
the Chola coins have a tiger which looks almost like the lion in
the modern Sri Lankan Flag. Chera coins which would have had a bow
and he comments that it is unexplained why there were none in this
reverse of most of the coins have multiple symbols. An elephant
standing to left or right or a horse or a bull in a few. Other symbols
such as the Bo-tree in railing and the three arched hill are also
seen on Lankan coins of the same era. None of the coins have the
railed-swastika which was the symbol of the Lankan monarchy.
particular interest are coins numbered 4 and 5 which have been over
struck with a circular counter-stamp with the tree-in-railing symbol.
Raja Wickremasingha, president of the Sri Lanka Numismatic society
recently presented a paper on a coin like this, he thought was unique.
The coin numbered 17 is also interesting since it shows the king
with a crown seated on an elephant. A triangular symbol very similar
to the Ankh the Egyptian symbol of life is drawn above.
format of the new catalogue is attractive. The colour image, line
drawing and detailed descriptions of every coin are on the same
page for easy reference. Many numismatic books put the images in
plates at the end or separate the colour images from the line drawing,
or the descriptions sometimes break into two pages.
glad the publishers have carefully ensured that reference is not
cumbersome. However they have omitted the scale. In an attempt to
display in a fixed size frame, some coins are displayed at actual
size, while some are significantly enlarged and some reduced in
size. The scale can be roughly computed from the dimensions given,
but that is not convenient.
the foreword to this book Dr. Nanda Wickramasinghe, Director of
the Department of National Museums in Sri Lanka, states, ‘Dissemination
of material information on museum collections and its publication
is one of the major responsibilities of a museum’. She also
states that since their last numismatic publication in English,
the classic Ceylon Coins and Currency in H. W. Codrington, the collection
has increased three fold to 85,000 coins.
that this book is just the first of a new series of books on coins
in the Colombo Museum. I understand one is now being prepared on
Lakshmi plaques. I recommend that these books are also put on-line
since one can overcome the printing limitation and display the coins
in high resolution needed for detailed study of the fascinating
iconography. This review by Dr Kavan Ratnatunga is hosted by lakdiva.org
: a website for Coins of Lanka.