ideology of hill capital
Sinhala consciousness in The Kandyan
Period -1590s to 1815 by Michael Roberts- (Vijitha Yapa Publications).Reviewed
by Professor Bertram Bastiampillai
An intensely researched comprehensive
study, this work leaves the reader inundated on Sinhala Consciousness
during the Kandyan period. Roberts challenges and disproves the
conclusion now in mode about the origins of ethnic identities in
Sri Lanka, and their indebtedness to the effects of Colonial government
and resultant "modernization".
does not wholly rely on written data to construct the thesis he
argues out, drawing his insight from oral records, visual, iconic
and dramatic transmissions to proclaim the survival of a Sinhala
consciousness. This Sinhala realization harks back to a time before
British rule was ingrained not only within the political elite.
is questioning critically past accounts of the concept of nation
and nationalism, hitherto propounded, and looks critically at the
conventional idea of the origins of national identity.
sets out his arguments constructively and leaves the reader with
ideas to ponder upon. Referring to War poems and other evidence
from the Kandyan times, Roberts unfolds the political culture prevalent
then and concludes that Sinhala ideology and not merely a Kandyan
introductory chapter is focused on discussion of the Sinhala identity
in time and place. Intellectual developments in the West and the
debate on communalism in India affected Sri Lanka from the early
1980s.The author is concerned of a Sinhala consciousness riveted
on the culture, country and religion.
asserts that some of the low country population of Sinhala speakers
were associated with the Kandyan Kingdom known as Sinhale. Moreover,
the political economy of the 17th and 18th centuries and a detailed
elaboration of the nature of the Kandyan state formation helps the
reader's understanding of the discussed text.
writer then turns his interest towards the political ideologies
that underlay activities in the Kandyan Kingdom which he rather
prefers to call the Kingdom of Sinhale. Kandy, around 1591-1604
under King Vimaladharmasuriya emerged as the only Sinhala state,
heir to the idea of Sinhale. Sinhale, Sihale or Sinhala in the Kandyan
times earlier connoted the whole island, the author contends. But
Trisinhala nevertheless has apparently been territorially used primarily
to denote the Kandyan Kingdom.
also had been applied in a restricted manner to indicate areas directly
managed by the Kandyan King as distinct from those held by the Dutch
and the British in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Subsequent
concepts and ideas had supplied to the original meaning of a term
different understanding and interpretation. To Roberts the capital
Senkadagala was a convergent centre that could signify a whole Kingdom
and seemingly does so.
on, the author emphasizes Sinhale and Sinhala consciousness vis-a-vis
the British during 1875-1915. Earlier, the King had been god-like
to the ruling elements within Sinhale but subsequently changes of
Roberts says something new, formidably difficult to digest. There
is bound to be sharp differences of opinions and no easy acceptance
of the researcher's contentions and conclusion. But those who value
history surely should read this book. It whets one's curiosity.
Roberts has strained the sources to reach his conclusions and it
is likely many another scholar will have questions to which acceptable
answers will be sought.
to a renowned Catholic priest who is a Buddhist scholar
Reflections on theology, justice, and co-existence
Encounters with the Word, published
by the Ecumenical Institute for Study and Dialogue. Reviewed by
Eymard de Silva Wijeyeratne
This volume has been compiled to honour the life and work of Aloysius
Pieris S.J-. an internationally respected theologian, Buddhist scholar,
a musician and a master of many languages on his 70th birthday.Aloysius
Pieris is the Founder/Director of the Tulana Research Centre for
Research and Dialogue located in the suburban Kelaniya.
39 articles in this nearly 720 page volume, have been classified
into nine sections of Theology, Christology, Buddhist Studies, Dialogue
& Comparative Studies, Church, Philosophy and Indic Studies,
Spirituality, Justice & Peace, and Biblical Theology.
The title of this major work, "Encounters with the
Word" may evoke the response "UbiDei Verbum adest quid
opus est verbis" (When the Word of God is at hand of what use
are words?). What this response implies is that there is an inherent
tendency among humans to read into religious texts, be it the Holy
Bible or the Pali Canon. As an explanatory compromise we may use
the title of St. Anselm's book, "Fides quaerensintellectum"
"Faith Seeking Reason". "Encounters with the Word"
is therefore an advocacy of the use of reason in explicating the
message of revelation. In a monotheistic religion the Word of God,
which is a totality or a Gestalt, has to be expressed in words,
as far as man is concerned. Since the volume includes several articles
on Buddhism, an encounter with the Word is to be interpreted in
a non-theistic context. The Word in this context stands for the
Dhamma, which specifies a way of life that is subject to moral,
intellectual and aesthetic discipline, that should be based on a
firm understanding of the underlying basis of all phenomena. "Encounters
with the Word" thus breaks ground in providing an opportunity
for inter-religious dialogue and understanding.
essays also include reflections, which have a bearing on the moral
turpitude inherent in forced conversions, attacks on places of religious
worship, the exponential growth of poverty in the world and the
callous destruction of the environment, all of which are symptoms
of a deeper malaise.
Jon Sobrino and Gustavo Gutierrez, are theologians who are engaged
in the liberation struggle in Latin America, where poverty and dictatorship
are the twin dehumanising agents. Gutierrez, in his book 'A Theology
of Liberation', makes two observations that are ominous as they
relate to Sri Lanka: that this theology does not stop at reflecting
on the human predicament of which poverty is a major feature but
goes further in functioning as "the process through which the
world is to be transformed".
other important observation is that "Liberation from sin is
at the very root of political liberation". In his essay in
this volume under the title "Speaking of God from the Socially
Insignificant", Gutierrez says that Aloysius Pieris has every
reason to affirm as he does in his book 'An Asian Theology of Liberation"
"that the poor constitute a fundamental theme of all authentic
Sobrino's essay is titled "The Option for the Poor: Giving
and Receiving". In this essay he continues in the strain of
the ideas he expressed in his famous work, "Christology at
the Crossroads", wherein he made it clear that the truth of
Christ can transform a sinful world into the Kingdom of God. In
this essay Sobrino develops the theme that the Church must not only
give to the poor but receive from the poor, because in his view
the mystery of God is to be seen in the ambience of the poor.
Moltmann's theology, which is clearly outlined in his work "Theology
of Hope", is based on the foundation that Christianity stands
or falls with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. His view is that
revelation is not to be treated as something given and static but
as a promise held out for fulfillment.
Asanga Tilakaratne's essay, "Aloysius Pieris on Inter-religious
Dialogue and the Problem of Truth in Religion: A Buddhist Perspective",
is a tract that reveals the dire need for inter-religious dialogue.
It is particularly relevant at a time when what passes off as inter-religious
dialogue is confined to superficial gestures. His approach is fruitful
because he sympathetically, yet critically, pitches his thoughts
as a response to those of Aloysius Pieris as found in the latter's
book, "Love meets Wisdom: a Christian experience of Buddhism".
explains that those views, which reflect what might be called an
Asian theology, constitute a critical appraisal of Western theology,
which apart from replicating European-style church structures also
insisted that salvation could not be found outside the Christian
then refers to the change of attitude to non-Christian religions
introduced by the Second Vatican Council, which states that "the
Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions".
Asanga proceeds to explain that this new attitude of the Church
is equivocal to the extent that the liberation of non-Christians
would depend on the fund of grace accumulated by the Church in its
role as the "universal sacrament of salvation".
Pieris' explanation is that genuine inter-faith understanding must
be based on the absolute commitment to one's own religion as it
applies to each of the participants in the dialogue. In the absence
of such commitment dialogue will be based on the quest for eclecticism
and the exchange of niceties that will do more harm than good to
both religions. The answer, he says is for the parties to the dialogue
to look at each other's religion as different systems.
penetrating analysis takes him to the conclusion that these observations
necessarily imply a convergence of the religious experience of different
religions to the metaphysical cul-de-sac of 'Reality', which Buddhism
Abeynayake's essay, "Vinaya versus Sutta": Two traditions
with distinctive identities" is a scholarly exposition of the
subtle differences between these two traditions.
interpretation is that the manner in which events are reported in
the Sutta tradition is more logical and historical, because it is
devoid of superimposed additions and deductions.
further explains that the use of "observable causes rather
than metaphysical presuppositions" employed in early Buddhism
is left.The essay, "The Buddha in our Lives" by Mahinda
Palihawadana, which in my view is excellent reading for non-Buddhists
and others who are keen to absorb the essence of the Dhamma without
engaging in scholarly discipline that demands familiarity with difficult
explains that the Buddha's impact on humanity is not "simply
intellectual". The core of the Dhamma is that the solution
to the human predicament lies within the mind "via the meditative
process of mindfulness".
Shirley Wijesinghe in his essay "Recent Attacks on Places of
Worship in Sri Lanka" seeks to interpret those events in the
context of Biblical exegesis and theology. He argues that the book
of Exodus leads to the view that a place of worship is a locus of
liberation.The Israelites, he says, ventured out to the wilderness
to make it a place ofworship and liberation: away from the tyranny
of the Pharoah. He goes on to say that places of worship are ambivalent
in their impact on people in that they could through their activities
lead people on to liberation or to subversion and moral degradation.
Peace, Racism and Violence: Virgilio Elizondo in his essay on the
'Violence of Racism' analyses the genesis of racism and the various
bases of its manifestation: intellectual or physical superiority,
the notion of being an 'elect' in the eyes of God.
this volume is declared to be in the nature of a gesture of felicitation,
it includes a complete bibliography of books and articles written
in English by Aloysius Pieris, compiled by Sr. Frances de Silva
RGS and listed in Appendix 2 of the book. It also includes a portrait
of Aloysius Pieris by Georg Evers.
articles also reflect Aloysius Pieris' concerns to address the important
issue of gender in Christian and Buddhist reflection. Contributions
by the famous feminist theologian Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza,
and others like Gabrielle Dietrich, and specialists in Buddhist
studies like Rita Gross, Ursula King and Elizabeth Harris give added
worth to this book.
access to Wakf law
The Wakfs Law Procedure
and Practice by A.H.G Ameen. Reviewed by Fathima Asma Cassim
At a time when there is no literature on Wakfs
Law and the Procedure to be followed in case of an application to
be made before the Wakfs Board or the Wakfs Tribunal,the book on
"The Wakfs Law Procedure and Practice" by Mr. A.H. Ghouzul
Ameen fills a void and a long-felt need in Sri Lanka.
in Sri Lanka are governed by three Statutes, namely:
1. The Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act No: 13 of 1951
2. The Muslim Mosques and Charitable Trusts or Wakfs Act No: 51
3. The Muslim Intestate Succession Ordinance No: 10 of 1931.
matters of Muslims under the first Act are heard before the Quazi
Courts over 54 courts spread over the country. Decisions made by
the Quazi appointed by the Judicial Service Commission may be challenged
before the appellate body - the Board of Quazis, members of which
are appointed by the Judicial Service Commission.
Board has both Appellate and Revisionary jurisdiction and an aggrieved
person can go before the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court.
Mr. Ameen has authored a book on "The Quazi Court Procedure
and Practice" which is translated to Sinhala and Tamil.
matters pertaining to the mosques are heard before the Wakfs Board
under the second Statute and its members are appointed by the Minister.
The decision of the Wakfs Board may be appealed before the Wakfs
Tribunal, members of which are appointed by the Judicial Service
Ameen's book serves as a guide not only to the practising lawyer
but also to laymen. The book opens with a foreword from the retired
senior Supreme Court Judge, Justice M. Jameel, presently a member
of the Constitutional Council of Sri Lanka and former Attorney General
Shibly Aziz, P.C.
The book priced at Rs. 500/- is available at No: 34 1/5, St. Sebastian
Hill, Colombo 12 and at leading bookshops.
Vol: II of the Al-Ameen Law Reports.
Reviewed by A.L.M.Hedayathulla
A.H.G. Ame-en's endeavour to collect and collate the several Orders
and Judgments under the Muslim Mosque and Charitable Trusts or Wakfs
Act is extremely praiseworthy. Volume I of the Al-Ameen Law Report
was launched in 2003 and the Editor has been successful in publishing
Volume II in 2004.
of the paramount features of any Law Report is its authenticity.
Mr. Ameen has ensured very skilfully that every case reported is
authentic to the very letter.
Al-Ameen Law Reports have become authoritative enabling Judges,
lawyers, law students and the general pubic to refer and cite. It
is to Mr. Ameen’s credit that he has made available judicial
and quasi judicial material emanating from the Wakfs Act, which
otherwise would have been inaccessible.
Vol: II, the Editor has reported several substantial questions of
law that has arisen under the Wakfs Act.Indeed the Al-Ameen Law
Reports have enriched Islamic Jurisprudence of Sri Lanka.
and warriors marking boundaries
Assignment Peace in the Name of
the Motherland (Volume 111) Sub-titled 'Eelam war I, IPKF Operations
and Eelam war II' by L.M.H.Mendis
L.M.H.Mendis' new book 'Assignment Peace in
the Name of the Motherland (Volume III)' is dedicated to the late
Lieutenant General Denzil Kobbekaduwa, former Commander of the 2nd
Division troops in the north. Detailed descriptions of Lieutenant
General Kobbekaduwa's operations are presented in this book.
was in the early 1970s that there first appeared some banditry on
the part of the northern subversives who assassinated several Tamil
policemen. Police constable Karunanidhi was the first policeman
to be killed by the northern terrorist groups who by that time began
a fight for a separate state of 'Tamil Eelam'.
the rebels killing several policemen and politicians in the North
it was difficult for President J.R. Jayawardene to be silent any
more and in July 1979 he dispatched Brigadier Tissa Weeratunga,
his nephew and Chief of Staff of Army to Jaffna to eradicate the
menace of terrorism. In six months, Brigadier Tissa Weeratunga brought
near normalcy to the North.
towards the end of 1981 the terrorists re-surfaced and in October
that year killed the first soldier to die in the Eelam War.Thus,
the die was cast for a long conflict.
1990 President Ranasinghe Premadasa was holding peace talks with
the LTTE in Colombo.But on June 11th 1990, the talks broke down
and thus began Eelam War II. At the beginning the LTTE laid siege
to most military camps in the north and east and this resulted in
the Sri Lanka Army sending Major General Denzil Kobbekaduwa , to
clear the East to restore normalcy. He cleared the East in Operation
July 1990 passed, Major General Kobbekaduwa was transferred as Northern
Commander and he launched his offensives with regular attacks against
the meantime, Wing Commander Sunil Cabraal, then Northern Zonal
Commander of the Air Force executed Operation 'Eagle' to rescue
16 soldiers trapped inside the Jaffna Fort camp in July and August
1990 right till 1994 Eelam War II continued.In August 1994, a new
government under Prime Minister Chandrika Kumaratunga began a fresh
round of peace talks with the LTTE. Thus ended Eelam War II. All
the operations from early 1970s right upto the end of 1994 can be
read in this book.