Sinhala-Buddhism : Educating Ms. Rumpay Sera-singhe II
Posted on February 2nd, 2016

H. L. D. Mahindapala

The loud bravado with which Ms. Sharmini Serasinghe challenged the Sinhala Buddhists to give a valid answer” to her question – a question which was aimed deliberately at denigrating  the Sinhala-Buddhists – stands in stark contrast to the silence that prevails after the answer was given. (See Colombo Teleraph….) She asked pompously, assuming that she had delivered the final deadly blow that would nail the Sinhala-Buddhists once and for all : Might I also ask, what in heaven’s name is so supreme” about the Sinhalese people? What have we, the Sinhalese achieved, others have not, to entertain such pride”? I challenge all those out there, who keep chanting, I’m proud to call myself a Sinhala-Buddhist” to give me a valid answer to my questions, as so far, I have not.” She was, of course, hoping to be the heroine with this anti-Sinhala-Buddhist question. Instead she turned into a dumb gemba” (a word picked from Prime Minister’s vocabulary) when the answer revealed that educating Ms. Serasinghe is a prime necessity to prevent her from making an ass of herself by asking stupid questions.

Her operative phrase is : I challenge all those out there,….” The broad sweep of the question accompanied by her gassy bravado (challenge all”! Pah!) exposed the inflated ego of a Mahadana Muththi rather than the informed  insights of an original thinker with a profound knowledge of the subject. By the way, a good question reveals the quantum of knowledge possessed by the questioner. But blinded by her anti-Sinhala-Buddhist mania she has rushed into places where knowledgeable angels fear to tread. A knowledgeable and intelligent questioner will take all precautions not to be trapped by her own questions bouncing back to knock her down.

So when Ms. Serasinghe challenged the entire Sinhala-Buddhist community to provide her with an answer to satisfy her I just couldn’t resist accepting it, purely to educate her. Besides, it was a full toss and it was not difficult to send it over the boundary line. In reply I outlined, interspersed with some barbs,  the monumental achievements of the Sinhalese which the other migrant settlers could not match, making the Sinhalese-Buddhist settlers the unique achievers. I felt that it was necessary to educate Ms. Serasinghe and through that process her anti-Sinhala-Buddhist claque waiting  to clap any hack denigrating the Sinhala-Buddhists and downgrading their unique contributions/achievements that shine in the pages of history. After all, it is also the only known history that is compiled for the serene joy and emotion of the pious”. Herodotus, the father of history, wrote his Histories to preserve the memory of the past by putting on record the astonishing achievements both of our own and of the Asiatic peoples”.

Mahanama, the author of Mahavamsa, also had the same objective but he makes it quite clear that there is a greater purpose in his mission. The recurring message at the end of each chapter ( i.e, compiled for the serene joy and emotion of the pious”) signifies that history has a meaning more than being a record of  past.  The teleological mission of history is defined as ending in 1. serene joy and 2. emotional piety. Both are Buddhistic goals. Just as much as the goal of individual Buddhists is to achieve serene joy and emotional piety – the closest one can get to nirvana — so the collective and teleological purpose of history too is to arrive at the ultimate goal in which the evolved individual is settled in serene joy and emotional piety, without conflicts, blood-letting, tensions etc. In secular terms, it means, that the contradictions that tear the individual and society apart are resolved in finding serene joy and emotional piety – two of the fundamental goals in Buddhism. Isn’t the ultimate aim  of all utopian/idealistic politics to find serene joy, either by changing the environment, or the individual, or both? Isn’t, for instance, the Platonic man a disciplined individual filled with emotional piety, rising to the level of philosopher-kings without dissipating his energies in wild  distractions and illusions like the worldly theatre, poetry etc? Isn’t the Marxist man in his communist utopia one who has found serene joy and emotional piety, though it is in  the material world where his  bourgeois heaven has been brought down to earth for him to go fishing in the evening or  partying in the night etc., a la Engels model?

So history has a well-defined meaning, significance and purpose to the Sinhala-Buddhists. No doubt there is a seedy side to Sri Lankan history like that of any history in any civilisation. It  is easy to pick on sex addicts like Queen Anula or parricides like Kasyapa. But in which history is there a Siri Sangabo who sacrificed his head to a citizen? Michael Roberts argued that the Sinhala rulers attempted to follow the Asokan model. The unique redeeming features outweigh the infirmities common to all societies. In this instance history should be judged with that of the other minorities because the questioner, Ms. Serasinghe, is challenging the Sinhala community prove that they have reason to take pride in their history unlike the others. The  obvious comparison then is evaluate the achievements of the Sinhala-Buddhist  history with that of the Tamils who, incidentally, claim to have arrived before the Sinhalese. Oddly enough, the Tamils who claim chunks of history and territory on their primordial antecedents have not even produced a record of their past to prove that they even had a sense of history. Quite late in the day, somewhere during the Dutch and British periods, the Tamils of the north had to be pushed by the colonial administrators to write accounts of their past and, subsequently, feeble attempts were made to draw dreary sketches of what they thought was their history. But those attempts were to please the Dutch and British governors. For instance, Mayilvakanam, the author of The Yalpana-Vaipava-Malai, admits that it was written at the request of the illustrious Dutch Governor Maccara…” Jan Maccara was the governor of the Dutch possessions in 1736. Tamil histories were written to win the favour of the rulers. The Sinhala-Buddhists wrote their history for serene joy and emotional piety”. They had a natural instinct for history in which their destiny was tied to the land. The pioneering  Buddhist  missionary, Mahinda ,too defined the sacred relationship between the people and the land. Their  role was to be trustees giving  protection and shelter to all those who want to share the land in common with each other to achieve serene joy and emotional piety” – the most desirable goals for individuals as well as communities.

This  fundamental difference in the approaches to their respective histories – one sacred the other mercenary — alone indicates the value each community placed in evaluating  their pasts, their heritage and relationship to the land. The sacred value of history to the Sinhalese is reflected in the Mahavamsa – a unique unbroken record of the past that served as a beacon to scholars of Asia. The Sinhalese were imbued with an innate historical sense that bonded them as makers of a great civilisation. Invariably great writings come out of great movements. The Mahavamsa came spontaneously from the heart and soul of the Sinhala-Buddhists. The Tamils, on the contrary, had to be told by the colonial governors to write their history.

This left a vacuum in the historiography of the Tamils. Scholars have been complaining consistently, moaning about the absence of a comprehensive and authoritative history of  the Tamils. The Tamils themselves felt the need for a reliable Tamil history when history took centre stage when S. J. V. Chelvanayakam launched his separatist movement. The vacuum in Tamil history was filled by fabricated myths to elevate the Tamils as the makers and breakers of Sri Lankan history. Vadukoddai Resolution contains the kind of fictitious history and concocted geography manufactured by the Tamils to justify their claim for a separate state. It is partly the distortion of  history for political  purposes that increased the tensions between the two communities. The demonising of the Sinhala-Buddhists became a political necessity for the Jaffna leadership to survive and thrive in peninsular politics.

History was the first victim of the mono-ethnic extremism of the north. It was launched in the thirties by G. G. Ponnambalam, the Tamil leader who shot into the limelight by whipping up anti-Sinhala-Buddhist hysteria. This was his tactic to displace the traditional Jaffna aristocracy” of the turbanned Mahadevas, Ramanathans and Arunachalams who were the ruling deities of Jaffna politics. Ponnambalam was the new comer in the thirties who rose to prominence by raising  the communal cry of 50 – 50  which later escalated into federalism and finally to separatism. Besides, Jaffna was a closed society that never aligned itself with liberal, socialist or any other broad ideology other than narrow racism and casteism – two deadly combinations which morphed into ruthless fascism in the hands of Velupillai Prabhakaran. Jaffna Tamil politics was based essentially on beating their political rivals with the anti-Sinhala-Buddhist racist card. Ant-Sinhala-Buddhist card was the sure fire path to win elections. Blaming the Sinhala-Buddhists for everything was a winning slogan in any election. Ponnambalam began with it to beat his turbanned rivals and it has never ceased since then. His role will be elaborated in the next article.

The natural tendency of the Sinhala-Buddhists to take pride in their heritage is partly because they are blessed with historic treasures to call their own, partly as the prime trustees of the nation and partly as the inheritors of the greatest tradition in the island. Just as much as the sons and daughters have a duty and the right to take pride and protect the family heirloom handed down from generation to successive generation so has a nation a right / duty to take pride and protect its legacy handed down by their ancestors. This justifiable pride can be felt only by those belong to the glorious tradition and not to those who parade in public fora plastered with plastic cosmetics to give them a look of intelligence which they do not posses.

In my answer I pointed out that the pioneering Sinhalese were intrepid and creative settlers who transformed the pristine wilderness into a sustainable and glorious civilisation by any comparative standards. They contributed to the world heritage with a new language, new culture and a new civilisation which other migrants failed to create. Because the Sinhala-Buddhists were the founding fathers of the new civilisation they developed a binding historical and emotional affinity with the land on which they established their new culture. History and the Sinhala-Buddhists were inextricably intertwined because one does not exist without the other. One of the greatest contributions of the Sinhalese people to the cultural development of South and South East Asia and to the world literature,” wrote Heinz Bechert, Professor of Indian and Buddhist Studies, University  of Gottingen in Germany, is the creation of a historic literature. It is well-known that on the Indian sub-continent before the invasion of the Islamic conquerors virtually no historic literature had developed …..Sri Lanka tells a quite different story. In the Dipavamsa and Mahavansa and in other Sinhalese texts, we are given an account of the political and cultural  history of the island from earliest times until the present time.” – (p.69,  Wilhelm Geiger, His Life and Works, by  Goethe Institute, Colombo, 1995).

Naturally, the culture of the Sinhalese reflected their inalienable bonds with land. Their sense of history, arising from their creation of a new civilisation, inculcated into them a sense of spiritual relationship / ownership. History whether it is that of the English, French or American or any other belongs to those who create it and not to those who had done their worst to destroy it. If anything, Mahavamsa demonstrates amply the intimate relationship between the people and history and how they contributed to the evolution of each other, nurtured by their reinvigorating heritage.. They believed that their history defined their destiny. To them history was something that brought serene joy and emotion of the pious” – a recurring theme summed up precisely in the Mahavamsa.  The Sinhalese alone, or almost alone,” wrote Bishop R. S. Copleston, among the Indian people (including the Tamils) as having had an interest in history. Their Chronicles are the oldest, I believe, and for centuries the only instance of histories in the Indian world….The Sinhalese chronicles are distinctly historical in form, not epical.” (pp.161 –172., Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society XII, No.43, 1892.) That exceptional and abiding interest in history” is what distinguishes the Sinhalese from the rest. Obviously, their interest in history” was in their DNA because they made it. History they made in creating a new culture and new civilisation in their new found land belonged to them and to no one else though others were always welcome to share it. So when the Sinhalese take pride in their history they do so because it was their creation. And like all creations in any civilisation it belongs to the makers.

I am glad I got this opportunity to write this with serene joy for the education of Ms. Serasinghe and her ilk. I hope to write with more emotional piety to enlighten her with the glorious history which she missed by leaving Vishaka Vidyalaya.

In this essay I’ve tried to answer her question more comprehensively. I hope she will  come back at me with renewed vigour to rebut my arguments. Her reply will indicate to the readers her level of intelligence and her capacity to debate in public defending her position.. If she can rebut my argument then I will certainly doff my cap off to her. But does she have the facts, guts, cuts and thrusts  to prove that she is a Satya-wathie and  not a Bunkum-wathie?

I await her reply eagerly.

To be continued.

15 Responses to “Sinhala-Buddhism : Educating Ms. Rumpay Sera-singhe II”

  1. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    GEMBI DE GNARASS

  2. Sooriarachi Says:

    Ms Serasinghe, (provided she is not a part of the ongoing orchestrated campaign to vilify the Sinhala Buddhist), should, before bashing the Sinhalese, though it is the fashionable past time for some elitists, she should first self educate herself about Sri Lankan history, by visiting Sri Lanka’s ancient cities and settlements scattered from North to South and East to West. She could also visit our immediate neighbour South India to compare the superior achievements of our ancestors prior to rule by foreign colonial powers. In the over 200 years of rule by foreign powers, quite openly and shamelessly hostile to the Sinhalese, the continuous progress of this ancient civilisation was not only brought to a halt, but destroyed and retarded. However, after independence these Sinhalese natives, though still the most neglected community in Sri Lanka, are gradually picking up the broken threads connecting them to their proud pre-colonial past and are trying hard to move on, battling with distractors like Serasinghe.

    We know that the English are proud to be English, French are proud to be French, Chinese are proud to be Chinese and so are the people of all other nations and Sri Lanka need NOT be the exception, to join hands with people like Serasinghe, and be ashamed of their own race. Yes I am proud of the ancient irrigation networks still in operation, the architecture and complexity of brick and granite buildings and structures, which could be considered as irrigation and civil engineering marvels of the time. I am proud of the ancient Ayurveda medical practices, martial arts, agriculture, architecture, ancient chronicles like Mahawansa, which is the oldest continuous written history of any nation etc

  3. Geeth Says:

    Dear HLDM,
    Thanks for demolishing the ‘Karapincha’ logic and ‘Goraka’ attitude of ‘Rumpay’ Sera-Singhe. She dreams to cook the nation in the kitchen of the queen in …cking-ham, Solely driven by a cooked-up story of the Elamists denigrating the existing history of Sri Lanka.
    Well done. Thanks

  4. Christie Says:

    The prblem is no one else but the Indian Empire and Indian colonial parasites.

  5. Naram Says:

    Thank toy, HLDM, for the ambitious attempt you have made to get some facts to this woman, no doubt stuffed to the brim with the sort of education missionary schools used in the pre independence days. Sadly that continues still in a small but wealthy fossilized corners. Even a popular well researched teledrama like DASKON can educate her to learn the complexities of the medieval Sri Lanka. The respect for law, shared decision making processes and contentment of a society despite the power struggles threats from outside, and how positive aspects and influences derived from outside to expand culture, technical skills, trade and also to revive Buddhism with interchanges, a far different world from say Europe of religious persecutions, inquisitions and public burnings of the heretics. Sadly these continued till the end of second world war.

  6. Vis8 Says:

    Serasinghe :) What a loser, likely an ass-licker of the RW clan…. Too many have been brainwashed by the yahapalanaya fabricators, who now have only the accusation of “racism” to nullify the rising dissent of the Sinhalese. Thank you HLD, for standing up to the Sinhalese, who have only Sri Lanka as their homeland. (BTW: Tamil Nadu is the real home of the Tamils :))

  7. dingiri bandara Says:

    It appears that Ms Serasinghe (formerly Mrs Rathnathunga/Migara) has a disturbed mind, possibly due to her alleged unpleasant past experiences in life.
    She must remember what ever her religious faith , she is a Sinhalese first. Why is she silent about what the Tamil and Muslin politicians and their organizations do to our country and the Sinhalese nation.

  8. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    THIS IS WHAT ONE OF MY COUSINS WHEN SHE WAS SMALL USED TO SAY: SHE IS NOW A RETIRED DOCTOR IN UK.

    GEMBA DE GNARASS. RANIL SHOULD BE ABLE TO COMPLETE THE PHRASE NOW, BY ADDING…… DE GNARASS.

    HAAWA KARAPU AKARA VIKARA

  9. Charles Says:

    Mahindapala, I read your articles because I like your style of writing. But is it worth replying these women ? They do not know elements of Buddhism and they can neither give is anty thing that uplifts our knowledge or Wisdom, nor can they learn any thing from us. It is best that they are left untouched like pest. I think the same of Thisaranee Gunasekara-another worthless woman.

  10. Nanda Says:

    Sri Lankan shares end 4-day winning streak
    Wed, Feb 3, 2016, 09:24 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Feb 03 (Reuters) Sri Lankan shares ended a tad weaker on Wednesday, snapping four straight sessions of gains, led by losses in large caps amid poor sentiment due to global economic concerns.

    The main stock index ended down 0.36 percent at 6,402.80, slipping from its highest close since Jan. 14 hit on Tuesday.

    “We expected things to be positive. But it came down earlier than we expected with the negative sentiments on global markets after the recent gains,” said Dimantha Mathew, research manager at First Capital Equities (Pvt) Ltd.

    Turnover was 363.9 million rupees ($2.53 million), well below this year’s daily average of 852.2 million rupees.

    The index had fallen 7.1 percent this year through Wednesday as foreign investors, unnerved by global concerns over China’s economy, cut their exposure.

    Foreign investors sold a net 6.97 million rupees worth of shares on Wednesday, extending the year-to-date net foreign outflow to 198.7 million rupees.

    Analysts said a rising trend in local interest rates has been a concern and local stocks could come under further pressure.

    Yields on treasury bills rose between 7 and 23 basis points at a weekly auction on Tuesday with yields on 182-day and 364-day t-bills rising to more-than-two-year highs, signalling a further rise in market interest rates, which move in tandem with the yields.

    Shares of market heavyweight John Keells Holdings Plc eased 0.75 percent, Distillers Company of Sri Lanka Plc fell 1.78 percent and Hemas Holdings Plc lost 2.30 percent.

  11. Lorenzo Says:

    Nice one Mahadana Huththi.

    She thinks she known everything. Just because she has a Singhala name doesn;t give her the right to bash Singhala Buddhists.

  12. Lorenzo Says:

    Correction.

    Mahadana Huththi must be CORECTED as Mahadana Muththi.

    It was a typo.

    Apologies.

  13. Lorenzo Says:

    IF a Tamil makes a TAMIL ONLY ULTRA RACIST demand that is a GRIEVANCE. If a Singhalese makes a genuine complain about discrimination that is RACISM. What nonsense! Singhalese should NOT fear the RACISM label because it is total BS. A Singhalse can NEVER become a racist in the island of SL and a Tamil can NEVER become a racist in Tamil Nadu. Nor can an Englishman in England.

  14. Nanda Says:

    ass licking….. Mahajana Huththi ……very well organised typos Lorenzo.
    Both Mahajana Huthhas and Huththis are destroying our country by ASS LICKING. This is the main crisis now.

  15. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    I can equate one of my standard jokes to Lorenzos:-

    When I was on the Casino Boat, when I see a Female wearing glasses, I used to blurt out, ** Hey, when did you start wearing testicles ? Sorry, I mean Spectacles **

    Lorenzo knows how to circumvent.

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