The Authorship of Sala Lihini Asna and Other Articles
A compendium of high order Research ArticlesJune 17, 2016, 9:22 pm
Reviewed by K. A. I. Kalyanaratne
Postgraduate Institute of Management
Vice President, Hela Havula
‘The Authorship of Sala Lihini Asna and Other Articles’ the title given by the author for this compendium contains four research papers and eight articles which could be considered to be of contemporary value. The first four papers deal with topics on literary history and cultural anthropology, while the rest of the articles express the author’s observations and comments on contemporary matters relating to the society.
The researcher/author, Professor Risiman Amarasinghe, is endowed with a unique combination of varied competencies, ranging from sociology, cultural anthropology to linguistics, and more particularly classical Sinhala literature. However, when one considers his recent publication ‘An Analytical Research of Mulsikha’, the first ever research and English translation of the text which provides disciplinary rules and customs of ordained bhikkhus, ones begins to wonder the enigmatic character of the author. Herein his competence in the eastern languages including Pali and Sanskrit is also noteworthy.
The compendium contains four research papers: ‘The Author of the Sela Lihini Asna’, ‘Interpretation of Kurugama’, ‘Introduction to "Vaesi Aruth", and ‘Christianity in Sigiriya is a Downright lie’. If remembered correct the author’s research on the authorship of the Sela Lihini Asna appeared a long time back in a literary supplement of the Silumina (Sunday newspaper).
The Authorship of the Sela Lihini Asna (Selalihini Sandeshaya)
Prof. Risiman, critic cum reviewer, in this research article challenges / refutes the commonly accepted belief that the author of the famous Sela Lihini Asna / Sandeshaya is Sri Rahula Maha Thero, chief incumbent of the TotagamuveVijayaba Pirivena (higher seat of learning). To quote Dr. C.E.Godakumbura, from his ‘Sinhalese Literature’ (1955), "Sri Rahula was the author of two of the Sandesa poems belonging to the reign of King Sri Parakramabahu. The first of these is the Parevi Sandesaya or the Dove’s Message……..The other Sandesa poem of Sri Rahula is the Selalihini Sandesaya".
Herein Prof. Risiman brings in a gamut of references to endorse his findings on the authorship of the poem under reference. Going beyond the logical and critical approach adopted by the reviewer what marvels me is the gamut of evidences brought forward to vindicate his stand. This feature may be considered as very special in the writings of Prof. Risiman. An indirect service he renders to the society by this special approach is the revealing of research-sources for the future researcher. Even a scholar of repute like D.V.Richard de Silva was a firm believer that the author of Sela Lihini Asna was Rev. Totagamuwe Sri Rahula (Hela Poth Vimasuma, 1958).
But Prof. Risiman clearing all doubts and sorting all the available information / facts arrives at the conclusion that all "arguments and facts projected to the authorship of ‘Sela Lihini Asna’, not as Totagamuwe Sri Rahal Thera, but his pupil, author of ‘Bhakti Shataka Sanna’, Sumethra Devi Pirivena’s and Raigam, Horana Patiraja Pirivena’schief incumbent Sumangala alias Mangala Thera." This is, indeed, a ‘revolutionary finding’. Commenting on the scholarship and competence of Sumangala Thera, the author refers to the ‘Bhakthishataka Sanna’. Going further, he says that the Vilgammula Stone Slab Inscription refers to the erudition of Sumangala Thera, as "this Thera elucidated about fourhundred stanzas of the Mirror Wall (ketapath pavura) of Sigiriya, in the language of the Kotte period. The author’s findings would, for certain, brand him as a heretic, a person who dissents from the hitherto accepted belief.
Interpretation of ‘Kurugama’
The researcher’s next attempt is to shed search light on ‘Kurugama’, an extremely interesting piece of research based on historical, sociological as well as lexicographical and semantic evidence. The issue herein is that ‘Kurugama’ is in use as a ‘cast name, a family name, a name of a caste village. It has also been used to refer to a function, i.e., as a functional designation. The author/critic very profoundly brings into light the dualistic nature of the arguments that have been brought forward to establish that ‘Kurugama’ is more akin to the Durave caste or the Karave caste. A host of evidences brought forth, including references made in the lexican ‘Ruvanmal Nighanduwa’ of king Parakramabahu VI, of the Kotte period, Kavsilumina, as well as De Queyroz’s, Dr. Paul Peiris’, Dr. M.D.Raghavan, and T.S.Dharmabandu are almost amazing by any standard. These clearly show the indefatigable efforts by the author to unearth the truth through all plausible / available means. This attempt is, in fact, quite exemplary. His final conclusion of this exhaustive research on ‘Kurugama’ is that the term means ‘Eth Kulaya’ or Durave caste and that it is a royal community.
Introduction to Vaesi Aruth(Elusive Meaning) in Cumaratunga’s Munidasa’s‘ Virith Vaekiya’
If the ‘Vyakarana Vivaranaya’ and the more influential ‘Kriya Vivaranaya’ marked the epitome of Cumaratunga’s extreme desire to bring order and standardize written Sinhala, his ‘Virith Vaekiya’ signifies his acute desire to establish a poetic tradition of our own. Our poets are disillusioned as to the tradition they should follow in their literary works and particularly in unleashing their poetic creations. Although we have Sanskrit and Western poetic traditions it is unfortunate that, even with a host of noteworthy literary works, we do not possess an exposition that explains the concepts, provides the much needed background information, and the literary devices to be guided by, in the composition of poetic works. As expressed by Prof. Risiman ‘Munidasa "Cumaratunga’s Critical writing reached its zenith with the publication of the Virith Vaekiya (Measured Melodious Morpheme)".
The answer to this lacuna is the ‘Virith Vaekiya’. In its introduction Cumaratunga writes,
"There is not a single sentence that is not metrically expressed in the entirety of the Virith Vaekiya"
"Virithakata naethi eka da vaekiyek
Virith Vaekiye kisi thaenaka naethi"
Prof. Risman’s other research article is on ‘VaesiAruth’ appearing in Cumaratunga’s Virith Vaekiya. Vaesi Aruth means Elusive Meaning. Sooner or later everyone loves a work of art that is in some way elusive. The best art contains something elusive. The American poet W.D. Snodgrass writing on poetry says: "A poet’s business is to say something interesting."
"Readying Nestlings for Their Maiden Flight" (Dorata Weduma) appearing in the last chapter of the VirithVaekiya, referred to as "Pabanda Vita" is a short poem which lucidly manifests the elusive meaning. This is a poem that describes how the parents prepare their nestlings for their maiden flight, and how the nature, including the sun, the wind and the flowers behave appropriately to bring about a calm, serene, but nevertheless a surrounding. The poem commences thus:
සුදෝ සුදු වැ වලා කුළෙනි
ඇයි මේ සිල් ගත්තා වැනි
මඟුලට කළු නොනිසි බැරිනි
එය හැරැ අපි යමු මෙ වෙසිනි
Why the cloud in purest white?
As if (you have) observed sil.
As black will mar the function fine
We’ll shed it and proceed in white.
Commenting on ‘Virith Vaekiya’ in which "’Vaesi Arutha’ (hidden semiosy) is a component of chapter 9 on ‘Aruth Vita’ (chapter on meaning or semantics), the learned researcher says that compared with Cumaratunga’s other works on ‘versification’ "The logic as developed in the ‘Virith Vaekiya’ is independent, original and strictly bound by the uniqueness of the Sinhala language.
Christianity in Sigiriya is a downright lie
Being a Christian, the author / critic if intoxicated by ‘religious lunacy, would be one who would propagate the idea that there were Christians in Sri Lanka during the time of Sigiriya, that is during the time of king Kassapa I, in the 5th century A.D. (477–495 A.D.). In fact, this idea was initially propagated by Prof. Senarath Paranavithana. However, the eminent professor did not establish the historical basis and authenticity of the source(s) for basing his pronouncement. Herein the eminent professor wouldn’t have realized that he would be challenged/ contested on this matter. His pronouncement is, in fact, highly repercussive.
To buttress his pronouncement Prof. Paranavithana relies on two bases for his theory. One is his reference to ‘Sihigiri Vitara’, which, according to him, refers to a monastery north of Sigiriya donated to the ‘Christian Order’ by Migara, King Kashyapa’s General. In order to establish his finding’ Prof. Paranavithana made reference to the Chulavamsa. According to him ‘Dalha’ appearing in the Chulavamsa should be corrected as ‘dolaha’, because ‘Sihigiri Vitara’ refers to twelve disciples of Christ living in this ‘shrine’. The author/critic has mercilessly annihilated these two evidences. The Sihigiri Vihara source is a myth. Further, the Chulkavamsa does not refer to ‘dalha’ or ‘vihara’ in the particular place Prof. Paranavithana mentions about.
A further evidence that has been brought forward is the existence of the ‘Anuradhapura Cross’. Prof. Risiman being an acute follower of Cumaratunga’s dictum that we should not ‘accept even a God’s statement without sufficient evidence’ is forthright in saying that ‘the Christian monastery based on this myth is a pure fantasy.’
Nine more articles contained in the Compendium
The compendium also contains the following nine (9) articles:
1. "Kukavi VaadaTathva Satya Prakashini" and Munidasa Kumaratunga
2. Scholar par excellence
3. The legal luminary of Sri Lanka – Matharage Richard Lionel Perera
4. Munidasa Kuaratunga "Guru Devi" par excellence
5. Martin Wickramasinghe sheds his slough!
6. Seeduwa church celebrates centenary
7. Centenary of Amandoluwa Church
8. Centenary of Amandoluwa Church (English rendering of the above article)
9. Science – Based Archaeological studies
In the recent years academics/academia have laid much emphasis on research studies, and they are gaining an unprecedented focus and attention. Any academic discipline that would be the subject for a research would invariably be considered as an area that has sufficient leverage to be explored. Herein, in addition to the conclusion a research would ultimately lead to, there are several peripheral advantages that could be accrued:
1. logicality / logical basis and / or arguments adopted by the researcher to solve the selected issue
2. References and bibliography or sources cited by the researcher either to arrive at the status quo and buttress his point of view.
3. This research question posed by the researcher and the methodology that he adopts to get solutions. This is considered as the most valuable part of the research work.
The researcher’s two recent works, i.e., ‘An Analytical Research of Mulsikha’ and ‘Sinhalayage Sula Mula’ (The Origins of the Sinhala Race)provide ample evidence for the skillful manner he either supports or refutes the findings. Also the references, or sources of evidence cited in each of the research studies undertaken by him amply show the researcher’s erudition and his uprightness in stating his findings.
This specialty may be considered as a gracious disposition, to assist the reader to probe further, and either accept or refute his conclusions. The other remarkable feature of the researcher is the boldness with which he refutes the commonly accepted beliefs. In searching for truth he is merciless; doesn’t bother about the stature/status of the person whose findings he is challenging. His sole mission in life seems to be unearthing the truth. It is a disposition totally bent on enquiry, strictly keeping in line with the approach displayed by Cumaratunga Munidasa.
In the ‘VirithVaekiya’ Cumaratunga writes,
"The status of the scholar - writer
Should be of no concern for you.
Even if it’s an utterance by a god
Do not believe unless supported by facts"
K. A. I. Kalyanaratne
June 15, 2016.
Last Updated Feb 23 2017 | 09:15 pm