In Memory of Mr S.Pathiravithana
Posted on November 29th, 2011

Ranjith Soysa

Mr S.Pathiravithana, an erudite journalist who was the former Editor of the Ceylon  Observer, the Daily News  and the Island passed away recently after a brief period of illness. As an intelligent and an investigative journalist he was able to understand and comprehend the story ofSri Lankaand her people. He interpreted it effectively and positively. He was able to rise above the others in his chosen area and never spared his words in re-assessing the “ƒ”¹…”golden’ chains forced onSri Lankaby the colonial masters. Many of his contemporaries simply did not have the guts to see through the colonial tentacles which some even described as God’s gifts to the humanity.

 His articles titled “English education in colonial times”, ” The Tank and the Dagaba”, “Who is being inquisitive “, “Radicalism inCeylon”, “The enemies of English” etc vividly   analysed the absurdities exhibited by the brain washed elites in our country. He was emphatic in his stand about the strength he derived by being firmly rooted in his own, native land.

 The wide array of subjects he discussed as an Editor and a journalist and the mastery of the language he demonstrated places him far ahead of many of the Sri Lankan journalists. He was widely read and had a very good knowledge of the Sinhala language as well. I remember him explaining the meaning of the words of a Sinhala book written in the 16th century about the arrival of the Portuguese. I had to seek his help to clarify the words used in this book to describe the foreigners and their behaviour by the ordinary Sri Lankan civilians when they came face to face with the strangers. This incident was misrepresented and misquoted to a well attended meeting in Melbourne by a famous historian of Sri Lankan origin now domiciled in South Australia.  Mr Pathiravithana explained in detail the words and the meaning to me meticulously confirming that the historian’s version was wrong. In fact, he related to me the historical context in which the concerned passage was written as well the art and style of  Sinhala writings in the 16th century.

 He visited Australiaa few times to be with his daughter, Jeanne and her family. One of his main pursuit inAustraliawas to get more information about the Aboriginal culture and their struggle for survival in the modern world. Back home he wrote an article on the Dark Secret of Australia ( 1996 CDN). He touched on the stir over Mutthiah  Murali “ƒ”¹…”s action and the demand made by two Australian MPs to expelSri Lankafrom the Commonwealth regarding the minority rights. Then he proceeded to articulate the views expressed by some Australian writers about the inhuman treatment of Aborigines by the civilized even in the modern age. Mr Pathiravithana said..” I discovered while browsing through a city library inAustraliathat both “ethnic cleansing ” and “concentration camps” were according to some Australian writers , invented not by Serbs or Nazis but by Australians. (He quotes from the book, I, the Aboriginal )

 In 1999, Mr Pathiravithana translated into Sinhala a few articles by Dr Ananda Cumraswamy and published a booklet titled ” Avaradiga sanskrutika balapama, Vimuktiyda ? Vinasayada? ” (The influence of the Western culture ; is it Liberation or Destruction?) In the book the articles such as “false values”.”the literacy and the cultured” and ” Am I my brother’s keeper” provide the much needed vision and direction to the Sri Lankans who are often being misled by the Colombobased decision makers representing the elite pushingSri Lankatowards costly global solutions and models of development.

 Mr Pathiravithana fittingly dedicated his book “ƒ”¹…” Through my Asian Eyes ” to Ananda Coomarswamy and Rene Guenon and wrote ” ..whose writings have helped me to get my bearings in transiting through the bewildering world of our times” He was indeed a powerful beacon to our generation and hopefully his articles will be read especially by our policy makers so that our dream of becoming the wonder ofAsiawill also include a conscious effort to uphold our own identity and cultural values.

 In keeping with Mr SP’s aspirations, let me conclude this epitaph with a quote from Dr Ananda Cumaraswamy. “There is only one mythology, one iconography and one truth, that of an uncreated wisdom that has been handed down from the time immemorial”¦ the gospel of tradition”   

 May his journey through Samsara be light and brief

 Ranjith Soysa

22 Nov 2012

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