Triangle of the dilemma, Ben Silva, Dr. Gunaratne and Awsadahamy (Part 19-II)
Posted on February 15th, 2011

Geethanjana Kudaligamage

Rajapakse, regional politics, “Eurocentric Developmentalism” and the western hegemony

Ben Silva, Dr. Shelton Gunaratne and Awsadahamy symbolize the triangle of the dilemma; the trauma of the question of Awsadahamy. Any way, I’m glade for having a very healthy discussion here on Lanka Web in the search of suitable model of development for the nation. I hope we can continue this debate open mindedly to accept valuable ideas of debaters without being consumed by our personal glories. Since Dr. Gunaratne already has declared that my contention of Ayubowan culture as a culture older than Buddhist culture is a supposition, I think I have ethical obligation to bring my reasons before the Lanka Web readers. I hope Dr. Gunaratne as an experienced researcher would look into those proofs objectively. Although it diverts the main theme away a little bit. Let me contribute my two cent worth in this intermediate article.

 Currently in a way we were debating not only to find suitable model of development, but also to find the reasons of continuous failure in the sphere of culture and economics during last five hundred years. In finding solutions, Ben Silva and Dr. Gunaratne represent two opposite poles. But my symbolic native Awsadahamy is in the middle. Ben wants to abandon something, as the biggest impediment to our progress, but unfortunately which is exactly what Dr. Gunaratne has been treasured the most of his life. From his perspective, the development achieved at a lost of Buddhist ethics is not an achievement, because he treasured them throughout his life.

 Symbolically this is like the clash of two socio-ideological elements that clashed in the end of 19th century Sri Lanka where new social order of capitalism ruthlessly turned social life upside down demanding new social ethics from a society intertwined with their traditional Buddhist ethics. (Like in Gamperaliya) If we assume Mahamaharaja’s opinions also represents another form of Ben’s opinions, Dr. Gunaratne also has articulated his opinion in many occasions including his wonderfully analyzed three part article of Paticcasamuppada in May 2010 as a suggestion to our way forward. Link”¦ http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2010/05/18/paticca-samuppada-as-a-universally-applicable-theory-part-3-three-modest-proposals-for-new-lanka/   

However what Dr. Gunaratne presents as the remedy, is exactly what Ben identifies as the biggest leg pulling backwardness to our progress therefore vehemently denies it. 

 But for the Ayubowan culture of Awsadahamy, the story is different. For him, Ben’s suggestion will permanently nail him in the allegorical cross, because Ben’s proposal is not only suggesting departing Buddhism but also recommending embracing western modern genocidal, protestant ethics, as the only choice. As far as Dr. Gunaratne’s suggestion is concerned, my belief is that Ausadahamy’s philosophy has been prevailing for millennia with or without Buddhism. Therefore, Buddhism will never be a problem for Awsadahamy to go forward since native culture never been completely disciplined by just Buddhist ethics for it to be overly dogmatic. Best example is the history of warfare of the island. People who wanted to see Nalanda type end in Sri Lanka at the national crisis, became so disappointed to see that Sri Lankans were fighting back. So Thambaiah like authors questioned about Sri Lankan Buddhist ethics, not knowing that Sri Lankan has been disciplined not only by Buddhism. They could not realize that there is another strong indigenous culture disciplined natives in parallel to Buddhism. What is this culture, and are there any traces of it, that is the question I am trying to answer in this article.

 However I am living with Buddhism whole my life but I have never been conditioned or limited by Buddhism, instead it helped me to develop my critical faculties; my character has been shaped up by it to handle more complicated issues with steady mentality. I do not think Buddhism has brought any negative effect on Sri Lankan culture. However without being emotional, I think we have to look into the issue what I am raising here. I firmly believe indigenous culture of natives preceded Buddhism in Sri Lanka. For that reason Buddhism has never been an impediment for them in secular world affairs.

 However, I think problems of the native of Sri Lanka is located somewhere else. It is coastal political culture that has been threatening the most. This culture is prescribing the self same remedy of Mr. Ben Silva for last four hundred years. I hope Ben would not get angry with me for saying it.

 Ben is right when he says that Buddhism does not provide tools to face current challenges, it is like he thinks that Paticca Samuppada cannot stop Prabhakara or his genocidal violence unless we address such force with force, which Buddhism never accommodates. And Dr. Gunaratne is right when he oppose Ben based on the notion that as if Ben is trying to seal the nation permanently into the eternal greed of the irrational violence of western politico-economic theory and its bankrupt ethical code. But Ben’s question stands out as a sore thumb as to what mechanism Buddhism can offer to shun away external threats. On the other hand Dr. Gunaratne’s question again stands out as to “How on this earth, ideologically submitting to an enemy force that was trying to subjugate entire nation since 1505 would be a solution to the existing problem and become a way forward?” 

 If Ben is right, then we have a question. If Sri Lanka is purely a Buddhist society with such timidity, how it prevailed all the way though the history of full of its warfare? Who fought those wars? Who destroyed enemies of them, because if they are disciplined only by Buddhism, then they wouldn’t be able to confront with those forces with the ability to kill?  I think comparing Nalanda issue with Sri Lanka is a wrong comparison. Sri Lankan Buddhist community is not backward by nature or by Buddhism, but made to be backward by their Colombo based backward politicians. If Sri Lankan culture only promotes spirituality and nothing else, then what specific characteristic of Sri Lankan culture that possessed most vital elements to fight back many wars to safeguard its civilization, even though partially it has been defeated now? That is why I am saying that there is something else other than Buddhism here in this culture which saved the nation for many occasions.

 The “ƒ”¹…”Ayubowan’ culture that indulges the ideology of live and let live while unconditionally opposing to any force trying to destroy its cherished ideals and their land, had fought back throughout. That is the part what Thambaiah couldn’t understand in Sri Lankan culture and therefore wrongly analyzed current events through Buddhist principles attributing every event into violation of Buddhist principles (Buddhism betrayed).

 For that reason, to my understanding, Buddhism has nothing to do with our failure but advent of coastal culture is the real culprit we must recognize. However the most vital clue for the answer of this question also comes from the very argument of Ben Silva. Because, while witnessing vanquish of all other Buddhist cultures, none of external powers still could completely vanquish Sri Lankan culture, why? If we were disciplined only by Buddhism, then we also must have been disappeared from the earth long time ago, but in contrary we still prevail””‚why? If Buddhism doesn’t have any tools to handle external aggression, then what tools that saved the nation?

 On the other hand, discarding Buddhism can even bring a greater danger to the nation if we indulge it in the face of currently growing threat of Christianity? On the other hand, Ben’s suggestion is tantamount to transformation of ethics of a national conscience. When we throw away all ethics what we got now, what are the new ethics going to be? The coastal cultural ethics are not Buddhist ethics anyway; they are protestant ethics, and they are the ones who holding power. But however, at this moment of western Christian aggression, Buddhism serves as a very important component keeping the nation together. I do not think destroying that bonding agent is a good idea at the moment.

 Ben wants Sri Lankans to discard Buddhist ethics in order to compete in a competitive world. This is what western societies did in their Reformation. The protestant ethics were introduced to overcome limitations of Papal dominated existing Christianity. At the time when protestant ethics were introduced, Europe had already completed its colonial enterprise almost about three hundred years. Within those three hundred years, they had annihilated entire Latin American civilizations and indigenous populations under pre reformist Christianity. Existing pre-reformist Christianity was brutal enough to approve all those inhuman acts of Europe including their slavery. By seeking a Reformation, Europe demonstrated that it was not satisfied with existing brutal ethics, but needed more freedom for more brutality. Now there is no limit for European brutality anymore in post Reformation era, that means, ethiclessness became their ethics. I do not understand how much brutality we have to acquire to stand against western aggression, because western brutality is infinite. I do not see any reason to develop ethics of no-ethics to stand against Europe. If we go in that path there is no victory to achieve, because we will be lost at our very starting point, and it already will be tantamount to a big time defeat. However I think, to defeat a dog we do not need to become another dog. As civilized nation, I would suggest to develop mechanisms to defeat this dog without losing our humane qualities.

 Live and let live philosophy of Ayubowan culture is unique, older and still there

I still believe that Ayubowan culture preceded Buddhism and the mainland culture is older than the Buddhist culture. And that was the technologically advanced culture that built the civilization what we are witnessing today. Not only that, it is the true culture that saved the nation throughout the history of chaotic warfare, but not the Buddhist culture. So the Buddhist culture served as spiritual doctrine and the secular aspect was disciplined by the Ayubowan culture. It can be assumed that the later addition of Buddhist culture had been kept as the philosophical addition for the spiritual happiness of the native. My suggestion of this Ayubowan culture of live and let live philosophy is a research worthy hypothesis based on solid archeological and sociological facts. Let me explain.

 When I say that it is not only Buddhism that played major role in building Sri Lankan civilization, I have based on the philosophy, and the related ethos and mythos of Vapi culture still prevailing in the island. First of all, if we look into the history of the paddy plant, which along goes beyond known history of mankind and the plant was here in Sri Lanka before Buddhism was introduced. Paddy cultivation and Vapi culture are not two different things but the same as it reveals by traditional language use. This language is based on Elu roots and has kept its unique form intact even to the date. If entire Vapi culture was a development of post Buddhist civilization, these words must have some Endo European language connection.

 But in reality, Language use, belief systems and rituals related to Vapi culture and the traditions of paddy cultivation has no connection with Indo-Aryan languages or Sanskrit origin. For example, Wakkada, Niyara, Bittara Vee gediya (they never called it a seed), wati, Kosamba (Kosamba Nuwara means not a city of Kohomba trees, but the region of paddy fields. Kosamba means Paddy or Kumburu/goyama). Kohomba Kankariya (Goyam kankariya or Riddi yagaya), Riddi could be another word for diya (water) because Ridee Bandilla means, arresting water in Vapi language.) Kohomba Kankariya is a folk ritual traditionally played in Kamatha after paddy harvesting, among other words, Kamatha, goyama, piduru, heeya, haama, da-kathi, some of Elu words of related to paddy cultivation of “ƒ”¹…”Vapi’ culture.

 Then when we come to culture and language related to reservoir related activities, they also are not derived from any of Indo-Aryan languages or Sanskrit language. Asta is another word for Wewa. Ihastawa= Iha+asta  is the catchment area of the reservoir. Iha means up and Astha means Wewa, meaning upper part of the reservoir. Horowwa (Sluice) Mada Horow and goda Horow, Biso Kotu, Athul Wana, Pita Wana, Isweti, Potaa Weti, Kalingula or Kalingu Bamma, Kulu Wew or Pota Wew, Wew Thaawulla, Panam Bendi Gass, Weda Inamaluwa, Ala Weli, Pera Wati, Biso Wew, Rala Pana, Ridee Bandilla.

 None of these words have been derived from Indo Aryan language streams or Sanskrit language. This reveals that these activities being part of life of the pre Buddhist Lanka. If the activities of Vapi culture are pre Buddhist, then we will have to accept the fact that this culture was having a supper class technology. There is no reason to deny that truth since Indian mythology already proves that fact via their epic Ramayana.

That means Vapi culture and its highest technological marvels are older than Buddhist Sri Lanka.

 Then we find some evidences that prove reservoir as a part of the landscape even before Vijaya conquest was taken place. This has been revealed when the chronicles describe the meeting of Kuweni and Vijaya. According to which, Vijaya meets Kuweni when she was spinning cotton yarns for fabric weaving by the side of a big tank.

 By avoiding mentioning the existence of a fully developed irrigational civilization prior to Vijaya conquest, the great Sinhalese epic Mahavamsa has done a greatest injustice to Sinhalese, the true owners of Vapi civilization. This omission of pre-Buddhist culture, eventually implies that entire achievements of Lankan civilization as a result of the introduction of great doctrine of Buddhism and the resultant influx of cultural knowledge from India. But it mentions that Pandukabhaya built the city of Anuradhapura and many reservoirs after the eradication of entire clan members of Vijaya regaining lost sovereignty of the native. The evasion of Mahavamsa author of going into details of pre-Buddhist culture, naturally questions about the true intention of the author of Mahavamsa, and these arrays of omissions of this epic make it more political than historical document. The question is who being marginalized by Mahanama Thero. It on the other hand was written in Pali language, when the majority of natives were speaking Sinhalese rooted with Elu. Can we assume an existence of a socio-political discontent among masses at the time due to the acceptance of Great doctrine as the state religion? Is that the reason behind this marginality?

 In regard to liberation struggle of Pandukabhaya, it is also said that when Pandukabhaya was advancing his armies to engage Vijaya’s descendants, he had to cross a vast region of paddy fields; which obviously establishes a fully matured culture of paddy cultivation in prior to Vijaya’s arrival. In addition, according to Mahawamsa, it is said that prince Anuradha built a reservoir south of Anuradhapura in the 4th century B.C. however the Basawakkulama was newer than the Panda Wewa. All constructions were completed way before Buddhism being introduced. But Mahawamsa is silent about larger part pre Buddhist history. History of Sri Lanka is a longer story than what Mahavamsa has recorded.

 N.L.B. Kiriella says”¦Ven. Mahanama Thera compiled the Mahawansa five centuries later and claims that Sinhalayo descend from Vijaya. His intention was to claim a link to his most revered teacher Lord Buddha and to claim that the Sinhala monarchy is linked to Lord Buddha’s clan through marriage of Sakhya Princess Baddhakachchayana to Vijaya’s nephew King Panduwasadeva. The compilers of Mahawansa and other historical chronicles at most times gave significance to religion. They welded the original principles of political and social life into an all-inclusive theory called religion, which changed the essentials of our history. It should be noted that the singular characteristic of the ancient Sinhala culture is that it has been moulded and shaped in the path of its history more by religious than by political or economic influence. Are the Sinhalese descendents of Vijaya? It is challenged today for the following reasons. Vijaya with the help of Queen Kuveni deceitfully killed King Mahakalasena20 the King of Sinhale and became its ruler. Few years later he had two descendents to the throne off Queen Kuveni. They were Dighahaththa a prince, and Disala21 a princess. The unappreciative Vijaya banished Queen Kuveni and her two children from the palace and married an Indian princess but she bore no descendents to succeed him. It proves that the monarchy of Sinhale is not descending from Vijaya and it is frivolous to state that we descend from him. (N.L. B. Kiriella)

 But chronicles of a nation or a community cannot avoid the truth, because chronicles cannot just create by whims and fancies like the knowledge produced by documentation and in print media. Chronicles of Minneriya revels that when king Mahasen built Minneriya reservoir, he built it covering an older reservoir existing in the same location therefore had been submerged by the new construction. (Udula) this old reservoir was a part of pre Buddhist Vapi culture.

 Introduction of Buddhism and its possible resultant socio-political discontents omitted by Mahawamsa

If we are realistic, then our intellectual curiosity naturally poses a question as to, “what would have happened when Buddhism was recognized as the state religion in Lanka just after one generation away from the Great War of liberation waged by Pandukabhaya, the grandfather of King Devanam Piyathissa of third century BC; 307 B.C-267 B. C who recognized Buddhism as the state religion? Pandukabhaya fourth century BC; 437 B.C – 367 B.C had fought this war against the army of Panduwasadeva to liberate the country from an Indian rule. If we believe that all Lankans had welcomed this idea of Buddhism unanimously, at a time when whose memories of the rule of Vijaya clan and the Great War was still not having faded away from their memories, then of course we become emotional and are not going to find the natural justice to our subject matter. In that sense Mahawamsa has done the greatest injustice to the very history it was articulating. Not only that, Mahavamsa becomes a political document establishing the will of the ruling class, rather than a historical document describing natural history of the people of the land. Although Mahavamsa has omitted the true story, still the other sources reveal anther story.

 The Yakshas of pre-Vijaya Lanka were well known for their highly advanced capabilities in large construction and were technologically savvy in construction of giant architectural structures and gigantic reservoirs. In Indian epic Ramayana it refers about a powerful ruler of Lanka and describes Lanka as a wealthy land full of cities and wealth. It also reveals that Kuvera, a word referred even today to describe a wealthy person was the king of Lanka before Ravana took over the throne. One can challenge this Ravana and Yaksa connection based on scientific notion of research. Yet I must say, that a concept will never become nonsense or utterence just because science hasn’t been able to understand it, because it is the limitation of science, not the nonsensical nature of the concept. For instance, until Heinrich Schliemann discovered Minoan palace in Crete, Iliad of Homer was just a mythology like Ramayana. As I said in an early article, the problem is not only missing the research, due to our gutless timidity to go against Bell History, even our hypothesis is missing.    

 Ancient folklore and rituals of Minnariya

Most of Sri Lankan folk rituals that are part of the living culture are dedicated to gods and deities but not related to Buddhist culture are much older than Buddhism. Widely practiced belief of Sunium Deviyo can be a Naga belief due to god Sunium‘s association with cobras. In Minnariya, and even Dambulla Wada inna Maluwa means the location of worship of the gods of a particular mythology collectively considered as their lords of reservoirs called Wawbara Hath Kattuwa (pantheon of seven deities for reservoirs) the images of these deities had been found carved on the surfaces of lintels of out fall of slices of Minnariya and Kawdulla reservoirs. How ever, according to traditional mythology, Nagas were considered to be the guardians of water reservoirs and treasures. Almost all sluices (Biso Kotu) had been positioned with a five hooded, seven hooded or nine hooded Naga (Kobra) motif believed to be the emblem for Naga clan. These uses of symbolism are much older than introducing of Buddhism to Sri Lanka.

 The chronicles and folklore of Minnariya and some Kolmura Kavi, ancient hymns, or poems in vernacular language, dedicated to Mahasen Hath Rajjuru Bandara reveals an interesting story.

 There is a well known story about the origin of the minneriya reservoir across Minneriya ancient villages. It says that King Mahasen abandoning Anuradhapura comes to Ritigala. Do not forget Ritigala is a gigantic archaeological site that has been unable to connect with Buddhist civilization. Then he changes his hideout from Ritigala to Gall-Linda Kannda located in the Minneriya valley. After that, he moves to Nuwaragala Kannda in Dambulu mountain range. When he was living there it is said that he accidently found the location for the Minneriya tank. But the story further revels that there was another reservoir there when he identified the location.  

 Nikma gosin devi wewata                   basinney

Kirioya nun danduwata                      basiminney

Wedi puth thundena wethata               harenney

Ingi-kara dunu thuna gathi                 melesinney

 

Emavita ae raja melesa                       kiyanney

Thopata waradakata nami                  kiyanney

Apagey gavadena soya                       wadinney

Melesata amethindu wadita                kiyanney

_____________________________________________________________________

Thalawathura oya diga                       avidinney

Bala eraja wewa santhosa                  wanney

_____________________________________________________________________

Dan thopage wewa paluwa                aththey

Upamawak mama kiyami                   mewaththey

Thanthuru thopa hata demiya             kamaththey

Gama mata himikara dee eka             saththey (Wewa, Udula Bandara)

 Now what we can see is the word Wadda has a different meaning here. It is justifiable that the word Wedda was used to identify a leader or the person in-charge of wealth. Wadda is also relevant to inception or inclusion. (ex.Wadda+gatta) Let us take another word Da+Wadi = dawadi is symbolic to a wealth transfer in events of marriages. According to Matale Kadaim Potha, when King Wijayapala arrived in Matale he had asked who were the chieftains of the province. One of the leaders name was Hathpath Wadda. (Udula)

 There are families with last name of Wedda in Minnariya. Minnariya Rotawewa villagers believe they are descendants of three Weddas who met king Mahasen to transfer the rights of their existing Wewa to the king’s rule to expand it. (Wewa, Udula Bandara)

 Now the other side of the story is even more interesting. These ancient poems reveal how king Mahasen requested the rights of the reservoir. Having made the king to request the rights of the reservoir, here it reveals that these people were not under the jurisdiction of Anuradhapura kingdom. That means there were people lived outside the dominant culture of Anuradhapura.  According to the first poem, the three weddas had drawn their weapons as they saw the king and his people. I think here in these poems it opens some untold story different to Mahawansa. If Mahasen was the king of their own, why these weddas had to pull their weapons out?  Then in the second poem, the king says that he did not come to harm them. Instead of declaring that he is their king, why king Mahasen had to say that he is there not to harm them? Were there historical animosities between these people and Anuradhapura kingdom?  Can confrontation be the standard reaction between these two factions whenever they met each other?

 If he was the king for these weddas, he could have behaved with his authority, instead of placing a request to transfer the reservoir to him in the fourth poem. He promises powerful positions in the exchange. This information reveals some sort of discontent between these people who owned the reservoir and the Anuradhapura king.

 Considering above said information we can assume that the philosophy of Ayubowan was there before the advent of Buddhism. That is on the other hand is a historical fact even according to Mahavamsa; because Vapi civilization was flourishing here when Buddhism was introduced. Another clue comes from language and folk lore and their ethos and mythos. Folk belief systems and worship of none Buddhist gods related to Vapi culture in north central province is still continuing. This is still a part of the living culture of mainland Sri Lanka.

 The guardian symbol of the Vapi belief system, the seven hooded cobra, the symbol or the emblem believed to be the emblem of Naga tribe, currently has become the logo of Mahaweli Development Authority. If Vapi culture was a part of post-Buddhist culture, then these symbols also would have been Buddhist ones. Then on the other hand the vernacular language also might have been derived from Indo Aryan languages. But the existing reality is completely opposite.

 The other historical issue is why Kashyapa of Sigiriya went against dominant culture of Anuradhapura and brought destruction to Buddhism is a theme must be investigated in-depth. The ruins we find in Sigiriya are not related to dominant Buddhist culture either. And Mahawamsa condemns Kashyapa but never go into details. And again Mahawamsa never do the justice to true events of Kashyapa’s story.

 “ƒ”¹…”Muragala’ as a political statement in visual language

Apart from above said evidences, there is another source that may need deeper research and analysis to support my argument. As an artist constantly dealing with images, I can say that I am more literate in pictorial language than the language of word. Under that condition, the evolution of a small architectural element captured my curiosity and found some hidden political message in it that related to the politico-cultural struggle in post Buddhist society of Sri Lanka. Function of the Muragala in Buddhist shrine rooms is structural and also narrative. As anyone enters to any of ancient building, this feature located on the both sides of the first step of the staircase of buildings reminding something like this, “I am so and so, from this point onward, you are entering to my domain. I am the caretaker of what you see as treasured inside this building.”

This simple architectural component of ancient architecture, I think provides us some clues about social turmoil in the immediate post Buddhist society. In Guard-stones or Muragals, we can see a shift of cultural dominance from Yakshas to Nagas. Can it be the beginning of the cast system in post Buddhist society? Because, as we all know, political and cultural marginality eventually creates all downtrodden layers of a society. Can this division of the society lead for foreign dominance in the coming century ending it to the rule of king Elara?

 How ever the Muragala depicts some sort of clash between Nagas and the Yaksas. It seems as if Yaksas were sponsoring Buddhist culture for a short period, bvut eventually break away from it. Then the evolution of Muragala reveals that Nagas becoming principle sponsors of the faith.  Kelaniya was a Naga kingdom. This even revels in Sri Rahula thero’s famous poem Salalihini Sandeshaya. So, Dutugamunu, as the grandson of Kalanithissa, was a king more related to Naga clan who will be the main sponsors of Buddhism in Sri Lanka in his reign. According to narratives of guard stones, oppressed class was the Yakshas. 

 The political statement that has been depicted in the narration of these works evolves through more than a thousand years. The evolution of pictorial language of Guardstone (Muragala) is an expression that may hide a larger socio-political issue of post Buddhist society of Lanka.

 We can find this symbolism gradually evolving from the earliest symbol of Punkalasa Seven Hooded Cobra as one of the earliest motifs that had been used to decorate guard stones of architectural structures of earliest evidences of Buddhist architecture. Punkalasa or “ƒ”¹…”Full-Pot’ motif is a symbol of prosperity.

 Then it evolved into Yaksha symbols of Sankha and Padma images and then finally to Nagaraja image with seven hooded cobra (the guardian symbol of reservoirs) in the back drop and the Sankha and Padma are depicted as subjugated and in downtrodden position in the low level. After in-depth research into Guardstones, Carles Godakumbura states that the narrations of the carvings of these guard stones suggest a competition between Nagas and Yakshas in securing the charge of affairs in Buddhist shrines.

 This disrespectful depiction of well known Yaksa symbols wouldn’t have gone unchallenged for over a millennia if the clan had an influential voice in the existing power center.

 In this regard Godakumbura says, “at the second stage of development of guardstones we find the figures of dwarfs or Wamana Rupas, known to popular local tradition as Bahirava. These dwarfs who belong to the category of Yaksas are attendants of Kuvera.” (The step brother of Ravana, the mighty Yaksha king of Lanka [writer].)

 Bahirawa or Yaksa symbols like Sanka and Padma has been well known even in Indian mythology and literature. According to Kalidasa’s Meghadutha, Yaksas were powerful and wealthier, Kuwera was the symbol of power and wealth and Sanka and Padma were the guardians of this wealth.”

 In the midway of this transition, the Naga figure and the Bahirawa figure were depicted almost in the same size. The transfer of Bahirawa image into Nagaraja image cannot be considered as just a spontaneous change since the later versions at times have depicted Nagaraja stepping on Sanka and Padma figures. If we can tally the periods of these transitions with socio-political events of the land we may be able to illuminate some hidden facts in these changes.  

 However Godakumbura says, “one may postulate as time went on, and as the Naga king was looked upon as the guardian of wealth and the harbinger of prosperity, the Gana (the Yaksa), whose importance diminished and whose figure was thus made smaller, was further considered as the destroyer of the wealth; and unlucky intruder who had to be kept away from the building at any cost. At the same time the Yaksa knew his business, and it looks on with a mischievous smile at the face of the Naga king, who according to him is the intruder.”

 Charles Godakumbura says, that Naga image was traditionally accepted as the guardian of treasures and water resources. This view can be justified by evidences of ancient Naga images that we can find at almost all irrigational networks and especially at sluice gates or Bisokotuwas. We can assume five, seven or nine hooded cobra as a symbol of protection of water. This on the other hand revels that the ancient native had thought that water is something precious need to be religiously protected.

 This Naga and Yaksha involvement in Buddhist architecture can be further researched by just analyzing the evolution of this single feature of ancient architecture of Sri Lanka. At the beginning Muragal Guardstones had used the Sven hooded cobra, a well known pre Buddhist motif used at Biso Kotuwas as well as a symbol of protection that had been used at Buddhist shrine rooms and architectural structures.

 If the whole Sri Lankan civilization was a result of the introduction of Buddhist culture, then why earliest architectural features connected to indigenous symbolism? Another gigantic clue is what is the large complex of Ritigala ruins related with? Those ruins demonstrate high technology of the time but not related to Buddhist culture. This complex believed to be pre Buddhist, but not identified yet. Existence of a fully developed civilization before the advent of Buddhism is not just an utterance and gossip but a research worthy hypothesis based on archaeological and sociological evidences.   

 When we look into archaeological evidences of Vapi culture some evidences are still remains as world records. Madura Oya ancient dam is such world record that many do not know about. During Mahaweli development program, with all advanced modern technology, including satellite pictures, the engineers identified a location of the new dam for the new reservoir. But for the surprise of all western Engineers, there they found a ruined ancient dam. They even identified that the ancient dam in Madura-Oya had been extended up to the height of apx. 32 meters or about 100 feet in 465 A.D. When there is a dam 100 feet tall, that reveals the depth of the water reservoir it holds.

 As a part of the job I did at that time around 1985, I had to go to Madura-Oya site during this period. While I was there in the circuit bungalow, one of the employees of Mahaweli Authority told me that all Sri Lankan engineers of the Coastal culture saw this ancient dam they unearthed as an obstacle to the development project and wanted to remove it and built the new dam there. But western engineers and one Tamil engineer vehemently opposed the idea and built the new dam little away from the old one and preserved the old one. This story also tells that the original Madura-Oya dam was older than the preserved one because it was an extended version of the one eventually goes beyond 465 A.D., the year that the ancient dam had been extended.

 I am just an artist with a master’s degree, but unlike me, Dr. Gunaratne is a retired Professor of mass communications emeritus at Minnesota State University Moorhead with a PHD. He is a professional researcher in this category of discipline. My question is even after finding this amount of solid facts, can we still say that my contention is just a mere supposition? If that is a supposition, I would say that it is a research worthy very positive supposition and very positive research hypothesis. I hope some of our researchers will undertake this research for the benefit of the nation’s future knowledge production.  

 In conclusion I would say that real threat is coming from the coastal culture that destroys and seeking further destruction of mainland Vapi culture. For that reason what must have done immediately is to put full stop to this Colombo based Coastal political culture of Sri Lanka.

 This Vapi culture and its related paddy cultivation has been the target of our Eurocentric developmentalists for last few decades.

(To be continued)

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16 Responses to “Triangle of the dilemma, Ben Silva, Dr. Gunaratne and Awsadahamy (Part 19-II)”

  1. Geeth Says:

    Please be advised that the published version of the article is not in the original format with highlighted/underlined subtitles and italics. Editor will fix the problem soon. Sorry for the inconvenience.

  2. Sunil Vijaya Says:

    Truly a well researched article – enjoyed reading it although personally naive on the subject of Vapi culture. The only thing I could add is the recent findings of a script on pottery alien to Brahmi script by archeologists in an excavation site at Anuradhapura, disputing the introduction of writing to the island solely by Mahinda. These writings go back to around 800-900 BC to an advanced civilation in Anu. Our archeologists might be reluctant to open a debate on these findings as it would clash with Mahavamsa’s so called facts and open up a can of worms draging in another rival culture. I may or may not be wrong. Sunil Vijayapala

  3. gunarat Says:

    My contribution to this debate so far has been minimal. Moreover, I thought I could mercifully remain incognito behind my username while expressing my umbrage at Ben Silva’s pathetic insult to Buddhism as the principal cause of our decline. He invariably asserts that all countries with Buddhist cultures are moribund and effete.

    Geethanjali Kudaligama is no other than Awsadahamy, the symbol of his artistic imagination. He has pulled me out of the woodwork and thrust me into undeserved headline prominence as an extremist defender of Buddhist ethics.

    As a crafty artist, Kudaligama has created a drama with three principal characters. He possesses the gift of using exemplary English (with minor grammatical glitches) to create yarns to illustrate the main points of the Awsadahamy philosophy, which includes the building of a superior shipping industry both to defend the country against external threats and to earn hard currency as a carrier of exports and imports.

    The Awsadahamy philosophy goes well beyond the advent of Buddhism. The engineering skills to build massive tanks, fortresses and other paraphernalia were part and parcel of the self-same philosophy that existed well before the advent of Europeans. However, the Ayubowan culture of Awsadahmy needs some change now to prevent external threats–political, economic, military–from taking advantage of the Buddhist and Hindu dharma of non-violence that influenced or reinforced the Ayubowan culture of Lankadipa.

    I implore Mr. Kudaligama to clarify whether my summary of his lengthy expositions is roughly accurate. His views need to command a wider readership. To achieve this, providing a summary of the entire gamut of his Awsadahamy philosophy is necessary.

    For his part, Ben Silva could provide a comprehensive account of why Buddhists should discard Buddhist principles to compete with the Western world and adopt the secularized values of the Judeo-Christian world. I do not want to offend you, B.S. I merely ask you to quote the suttas (Buddha’s words) to assert your points, not the interpretive abidhamma.

    The Dao (Kudaligama/Awsadahamy/Middle Path) wants to play the role of balancing the two extremes–the yang (Ben Silva and the likes) and the yin (Gunaratne and the likes). Let him write the script of this drama if it commands an audience.

    In the meantime, I assert that I am no extreme yin (passive force). I see very little negatives in Buddhism. The 10 commandments that Jews, Christians and Muslims observe also include four of the five precepts that Buddhists observe!

  4. Sunil Vijaya Says:

    Buddhism is about developing the mind and does not deal with developing a country, although the Dasa Raja Dhamma was delivered on how to RULE a country. King Asoka with all the riches he acquired was penniless at the time of his death. It would be unwise to state to discard Buddhist principles and engage in developing a country, an attempt to mix apples and oranges. Developing a country needs exploitation of both human and natural resources. Our kings would have had a good balance of this along with the blessing of Buddha Dhamma. They fought the enemy, killed them, burried them sometimes with honour, developed the country and also patronised the three Triple gem. The best example was King Parakrambahu the Great who ruled some 40 odd years. Our modern rulers too need to learn from the past. This is how my petty brain sees this. Anyway this could be our(forum) world cup, so bat on. Sunil Vijayapala

  5. Sunil Vijaya Says:

    Three Triple gem! Sorry guys Triple gem!

  6. Fran Diaz Says:

    Hurrah for Awsadahamy ! He is the Perennial Survivalist that lives through all Adversity, and is present in us all.

  7. Geeth Says:

    Dr. Gunaratne, Your description of Awsadahamy is exactly right; very accurate about his middle path philosophy as well. He wants to open his doors to learn from everyone without losing his own wealth. At the moment his western door is open and the eastern door has been sealed for centuries. He knows on the other hand that his wealth has been discarded by coastal political culture branding it as “Hanamiti ideas” due to their ignorance and the arrogance.

    Dr. Gunaratne, the “little engagement” you have mentioned unsurprisingly creates a demand for larger engagement. we like to read your opinions, so lease write to contribute your ideas. Thank you for understanding my true intention of using your name for the article. I hope Mr. Ben Silva also will understand why I used his name to symbolize a particular socio-political propensity.

  8. Ben_silva Says:

    Let me correct an inaccurate statement made by GK and appreciate the open mind displayed by him. I do not promote western modern genocidal, protestant ethics. I am stating that we need to have mechanisms to protect us from genocidal maniacs and Buddhism offers no defence for us. In fact, my attempt is to find means of escaping external genocidal attempts. The old medicine that as been given to us for 2500 years has not worked and we were on the verge of loosing oui only homeland. I suggest that we that we learn from Westerners and see how they operate, so that we do not fall into their traps..I howerver appreciate the contributions made by the West for science and Technology I hope my brief reply would clarify any misunderstandings. I am glad that GK has recognised the damage done by Europeans to native Americans. Native Americans have not been able to escape the commercial pressures of the modern world and I do not think we can escape either. My main point is we should never be passive that will enable our enemies to do a ’Nalanda’ on us. Many Buddhist preachers try to make us passive, so that we become sitting ducks. I do not promote Christianity at all, but rather promote taking action to protect ourselves from Christian invaders. I support developing the indigenous culture of self defence and self reliance and oppose the self destructive culture of passive Buddhism. I do support the precepts, meditation and the middle path in Buddism. I support using a superior force to deal with force used by our enemies. I do not support te coastal political culture. It is the passive Buddhists that allowed the coastal culture to grow in strength and passive Buddhists perhaps do nothing until the whole country is swallowed by Tamils. Remember we have lost the North, te East , the Hill country and now even the Capita., as the passive Buddhists think of Nirvana, Tamils think of becoming rich and acquiring land. If there is something else other than Buddhism, that helped us to survive then we need to revive it. Remember there are 100’s of religions in the world, all claiming to be the only religion that is true. My view is religions are things of the past, and we need to dump religion and learn to think rationally and in a scientific manner. My back ground is in science and engineering and I look for theories and supporting evidence rather than quotes.There is historical evidence about the destruction caused by Buddhism to its belivers. Eg. Nalanda Buddhists, Anuradhapura pilgrims, young Buddhist monks -they had no defence mechanism.

    My view is keep Bufddhist ethics as it will have a framework of law and order, but learn to be competitive, without seeking extinction or giving up desires, as desires create a good motive force.

    My preferred model for development is self reliance as we have land energy an sorrounded by a sea full of fish. It looks like we have not bothered to look for solutions, rather have been blinded by religion. We need to investigate why the Western nations progressed and we lagged behind. I am happy to see that the Sinhalese are prepared to fight back and not prepared to be sitting ducks as Buddhists in some countries ended up.. My view is meet force with superior force and think ahead to deal with external threats and enemies. If we practiced Buddhism as some have suggested, we would have been wiped out long time back. Remember that some Tamils and Norwegians are promoting Buddhism so that we become passive, Buddhist sitting ducks .We certainly need native wisdom. I have strongly promoted is self reliance. My comments are based on observations of historical facts, analysis as to why China lagged behind by the Oxford academic Needham, and observing the present day world and the destruction of various ethnic groups around the world. “Survival of the fittest is a well known tIt is a well known theory in science” Let me summarise once again, undisputable and easily verifiable facts.
    Nalanda Buddhists were wiped out and ended up in rivers of blood, due to killing by invading Muslims. The victim Buddhists did nothing to fight back. Buddhism has been wiped out in previously Buddhist countries in the silk route as well as Malaysia and Indonesia. Buddhism in China was suppressed by the Communists in 1949. Both India and China are declared secular countries. Tibet and Bhutan remained Buddhists , but these two countries are economically backward, weak in defence and ripe for take over by foreigners. Since becoming secular, both China and India have become stronger, economically and politically and have made tremendous progress in science and technology. In a nutshell. Buddhism has been wiped out from previously Buddhist countries and the Buddhists have not been able to defend themselves. It does appear that Buddhism is a self destructive, passive belief system. Buddhists appear to seek Nirvana, which is extinction (instead of seeking ways to defeat competitors). Everyone else compete for resources and seek to compete and win. This situation itself is dangerous for Buddhists, unless they want to find a cowardly, easy way out. Clearly, Buddhism has not worked for Buddhists and only thing they have achieved is self destruction !.Also observing other ethnic groups that ignored defence and took a passive role, their assets and resources have been taken over by more powerful western Europeans. Native Americans both in North and South America are examples.
    The danger with any religion is it takes over the brain as a mind virus and stop us thinking rationally. Buddhism is no exception…

  9. Fran Diaz Says:

    Dear Ben,

    Thank you that you agree with Buddhist Meditation as you say : “I do support the precepts, meditation and the middle path in Buddism”. For a Buddhist, in Meditation & Contemplation, Wisdom arises for life supportive solutions. Buddhists go to war only in extreme situations, and even then, afterwards treat the opposing parties with compassion. Any human being with a Heart will recognise this life supportive way of life.

    While what you say is true, that the basic Buddhist CULTURE has been removed and replaced mainly by Islam, in the Silk Route. It would be also true to say that Islam (which means “Peace”), had nothing to do with the warring Muslim hoards, as also the lack of Christianity in so called Christians who went to war all over Europe. Most of these wars were for TRADE ROUTES, and had nothing to do with the religions of those regions. World Wars I&II had different reasons for their origins, but ended up with a somewhat war culture of the west, mitigated by Democracy and practicing Christianity.

    In Indonesia it is a different story : when Krakatoa volcanic eruptions struck, the local Buddhist population were told that it was due their lack of belief in Islam, and so they quickly converted to Islam to be safe from volcanic eruptions ! But, did they thereafter become safe from volcanic eruptions ? NO. So, in Indonesia it was a different story of conversion. It was due to Buddhist people’s NAIVETY. We have to be highly educated in Science & Technology to survive in the modern world, not eschew our basic Buddhist belief system.

    Some of the Buddhist SE Asian countries suffered by embracing Communism during the Cold War period, e.g. Vietnam.

    Besides, comparing Nalanda period to present day with the Internet & wireless high tech devices, is not correct. Todays Buddhists are a well informed lot and are savvy to what goes on in the world and therefore able to adapt to changing situations whilst keeping to life supportive Buddhist way of life.

    What is really keeping the Buddhist countries such as Bhutan & Tibet poorer is not because they are Buddhist, but because they see the insanity of the GDP based economies around them ! The Bhutanese leader said : “I am interested in the gross national Happiness of my People” – what more can he say as the leader of a tiny country ! Bhutanese do not commit suicide – it is the Japanese (earlier headed the suicide rate) and now South Koreans that commit suicide. Tibet was invaded by China as Tibet became a gateway to China to potential invaders. Chinese never forgot that the Brit introduced Opium dens to China.

    What needs to be done is a Science education (as much as possible as not every one likes to do Science), so that people see situations logically & clearly even as young children, and be aware of our past near history so that we are forever on guard. But, there is limit to the satisfaction that a Science education can give an individual. It has to be complemented by a scientific philosophy like Buddhism.

    In Science we are taught that when a body is weakened, disease strikes it. Lanka was weakened by some 500 yrs of foreign rule. However, we have adapted to the changing circumstances, thanks to our Buddhist heritage. Presently, Sri Lankan Buddhists have to find their Inner Strength through Meditation & Contemplation. Rituals & Chanting does not generate Inner Strength. Rituals & Chanting should be minimal.

    Question: If Buddhists eschew Buddhism, will other religious groups do the same ? ! Without the Buddhist base, we shall be the most vulnerable amorphous group of miserable humans in the world. Science by itself is totally inadequate to guide us.
    We admit that there has to be a sane balance between Spiritual needs & Materialism. Too much of either is a social disaster.

    Buddhism cannot be removed because it is the absolute Truth. Can Truth be removed ? If removed in Lanka, then it will take root somewhere else.

  10. Sunil Vijaya Says:

    Just my 2 cents worth of contribution – Ben first of all Buddhism is not a religion or a phylosophy, as it lacks the characteristics of being dogmatic, lacks syllogism and rationalism (I have repeated this several times). It stands above all this and can be only defined as Fran says the Absulute Truth or Noble Truth or Universal Truth. It’s truth is based on Unconditioned Nibbana where as all the other western and eastern phylosophies, religions including Science base their arguments and theories on Conditioned phenomena. I sincerely hope you understand what I am driving at. Secondly, you and others including myself all get emotional on the Nalanda story. The marauding Muslims destroying Buddhism. What happened their was the monks fled India to neighbouring contries and never returned to REVIVE Buddhism. Hence the Buddhists who were rejected at Hindu temples became Untouchables and some embrassed Islam. In Sri Lanka when Buddhism hit the lowest ebb our Monks hid in jungles because there was no means of fleeing the country due to geographic barriers but returned to their bases to Revive Buddhism and hence we have Buddhism today. If you engage with Indians as I do, they will explain that as much as Muslims penalised and castigated Buddhists, the Brahmans too were involved in destroying Buddhism as it denied everyting in Brahmanism (modern Hinduism) including the dreaded caste system.
    Now my argument to you is that is there a real or pure Buddhism in Sri Lanka at the present to discard first and foremost? Absolutely not. Our monks are really Poojakavaroos(this too I have emphhasised many a time), practising a Hindu type of Buddhism and probably around 5% remain with the Pure Buddhist practice of Samatha and Vipassana meditation. Buddhism was driven to its present state in most countries which lost the precious Dhamma, I my opinion is the belief of GOD which is denied in Buddhsm(as well as in Jainism, thank God we have another friend).
    Do you mean we need to be Christians or Muslims and embrace all kinds of theories from the west to develop our country? I sincerely doubt it, lets give it a try and see!. You go on to say you believe in 5 precepts, meditation and middle path which is the crux of Buddhism and you may have to discard that too if you stick to your guns as they make you PASSIVE not aggresive. WASP the plunderer had no values in them and thats why they went on exploiting the world, killing animals, humans and plundering the earth and now plan to plunder the moon. Buddhism teach us to RESPECT nature, SAFEGAURD nature for the very existence. The recent floods is a classic example of so called Development at any cost(hill country plunder), which you may be advocating at the expense of a well balanced development. Our ills could be attributed to our own sins like coruption from the top of administration to the bottom. Until a leader comes to power to eradicate this menace from Sri Lanka, development, discarding Buddhism or acquiring any other phylosophy or science will be meaningless and not possible. At least we can be happy as we have this precious Dhamma lets stick to it. Please do not assume this is a personal vilification, as a few did some time ago and had grecious exits from this elite forum.

  11. Ben_silva Says:

    Christians believe that God created the earth. They believe that it is the truth. Muslims have similar beliefs and belive their belief is the truth. Followers of Judaism belive the truth is that their creator created the world. There are larege number of relihions and followers of those religions belive that their version is the truth. Sunil ought to read published literature on religion as a mind virus. Religion is also thought to be the opium of the people. I am not at all surprised that if Sunil Vijaya belives that only his belief is the truth. I have given verifiable evidence that Buddhists have been wiped out. Nalanda Buddhist priests did not run away or have a chance to run away they were killed.Research by well respected Oxford academic also accused belief systems to be the cause of decline of China. I am merely stating the same thing with reference to Lanka. In fact within 60 years after becoming secular, both India and China have made tremondous progress Indians have shown that they have wisdom and never revived Buddism after Nalanda incident. It is fair to say that Buddhism is not believed in India. If the sea did not protect us from Muslim Invaders, we would have been converted to the Muslim faith and people such as Sunil, may have been Muslims Remember Maldive people, originally Buddhist are now Muslims, along with people from Bangladesh. If Sunil cannot handle debate, then he could do a grecious exits from this elite forum.. However he should not attempt to be the editor and kill off debate. I am trying to avoid a repeat of Nalanda on the Sinhalese and people such as Sunil is trying hard to stop me exposing the truth, that passive people who are not prepared to figfht back, Buddhist or not have been wiped out.

  12. Fran Diaz Says:

    Whatever our belief systems, we all like to live. To stay alive is inbuilt in us all by Nature. First live, then believe or whatever. We have come to point in this world where we all have to live according to the diktats of Nature and not according to the diktats of the powers that be in any society ! It’s now a matter of live together or die together, isn’t it ?

    Meditation & Contemplation as taught by the Buddha is very complementary to the Laws of Nature, and does not oppose it. It also brings a sane balance to a materialistic world gone crazy.

    We are all very glad that the AIR we breathe is not owned by anyone !

  13. Ben_silva Says:

    I am glad to see some sanity and hear that people want to live. I would like live too rather than seek Nirvana.I have only one life and I like to make te best use of it. I wonder if it is depressed cowards who want to end life. Will to survive and fight one’s corner is essential and very important in this world to survive. Law of nature is survival of the fittest. We have to be very careful not to follow those that promote extinction.

  14. Sunil Vijaya Says:

    Ben – I always respect the views of others, especially people like you who express their opinion unbiased. We all differ on the basis of perception (in turn based on our consciousnes levels) It is advisable not to get personal but stick to the topic under discussion, a debate which I never attempted to kill but to foster. I appreciate your views and the views of others, unfortunately I made a vane attempt to explain some things to you which ended up in utter failure on my part. Good lord I would never make an attempt to be a harbinger, my good friend does a great job as the editor of this presigious journal. So be it with you Nibbana or Existence whatever your choice. Sunil Vijayapala.

  15. cassandra Says:

    I think I can appreciate what Ben has been saying. And, like him, I also favour a secular state although I don’t think being a secular state, by itself, guarantees success. Consider the USSR, post 1917. Apart mainly from its spectacular success in space exploration; its record is not great.

    Some do not have any religious beliefs, and that’s all right with me. I respect each person’s choice in the matter. But I fail to see why those who have religious beliefs should renounce them because those beliefs are ineffective in meeting attacks by invaders, as was the case with the Nalanda Buddhists. The essence of religious belief is the conviction in the validity of religious truths. And, those truths, by definition, hold good for all time. So, the very concept of renouncing one’s religious beliefs should not arise. Then, is any religion meant to give its followers the military muscle necessary to prevail in an armed conflict? Is that not outside the role of religion?

    I do not believe that people’s religious beliefs are necessarily an impediment to a country’s progress and development. On the contrary, religion can provide a moral dimension to the objectives of development and the manner in which it is pursued. As we can see, a lot of the development by the West has been undertaken with not enough regard for the ‘common good’ or respect for the environment, the driving force mostly being the pursuit of private gain.

    I don’t know how many religious bodies can truly say that they have been entirely faithful to the tenets of their respective faiths. But we are imperfect people in an imperfect world. And, I think, despite shortcomings, religion has served us well and continues to ennoble and enrich the human spirit.

  16. Fran Diaz Says:

    I agree with Cassandra on his views stated here, that religion should not be an impediment to growth in protecting the country or in the economic sphere. Rapid growth anywhere is fueled by Greed or Fear, or both. The Middle Path is sane, and the best way to go re Security & the Economy, as well as in other spheres.

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