Remembering great Sinhala scholar and linguist Arisen Ahubudu
Posted on May 27th, 2011

By Philip Fernando

Kalasuri Arisen Ahubudu, 91, passed away after an illustrious career. His versatility as a skilled writer, orator, scholar, playwright, teacher, linguist, author and poet in Sri Lanka was accepted by all. He hailed from Malalaga, KoggalaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬‚the birth place of another scholar late Martin Wickramasinghe. He was a teacher from Nittambuwa Training College and joined several others as adherents of the Hela Hawula movement founded by Munidasa Cumaratunga. Among his colleagues and Hela stalwarts were Vellala Jayamaha, Pandit Gorakane Sil Ruwan Thera, Jayantha Weerasekera, Amarasiri Gunawadu, Rafael Tennekoon and others.

He changed his name from Ariyasena Asuboda to Arisen Ahubudu in keeping with the Hellenist traditionƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬‚it caught on like wildfire ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…”the beginning of the post Independence cultural resurgence that culminated with the 2.500 Sambuddhatva Jayanthiya in 1956 and the Ediriweera SarachchandraƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s Magnum Opus-Maname-stylised drama.

Removing Sanskrit influence from Sinhala

What the Hela Hawula gave to the Sinhala language can never be over stated. Arisen and others were the land army that took the country by storm. Cumaratunga Munidasa (Sinhala:ƒÆ’‚ ƒ”š‚¶ƒ…‚¡ƒÆ’‚ ƒ”š‚·ƒ¢¢”š¬‚ƒÆ’‚ ƒ”š‚¶ƒ”š‚¸ƒÆ’‚ ƒ”š‚·ƒ”š‚ƒÆ’‚ ƒ”š‚¶ƒ”š‚»ƒÆ’‚ ƒ”š‚¶ƒ”š‚­ƒÆ’‚ ƒ”š‚·ƒ¢¢”š¬‚ƒÆ’‚ ƒ”š‚¶ƒ¢¢”š¬…¡ƒÆ’‚ ƒ”š‚¶ƒ…- ƒÆ’‚ ƒ”š‚¶ƒ”š‚¸ƒÆ’‚ ƒ”š‚·ƒ¢¢”š¬‚ƒÆ’‚ ƒ”š‚¶ƒ”š‚±ƒÆ’‚ ƒ”š‚·’ƒÆ’‚ ƒ”š‚¶ƒ”š‚¯ƒÆ’‚ ƒ”š‚·ƒ”š‚ƒÆ’‚ ƒ”š‚·ƒ” -â„¢) (1887ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…”1944) was a pioneer linguist that excelled all others. As grammarian, commentator, writer, poet, and journalist, movement sought to remove Sanskrit influences in the Sinhala language promote its correct usage. He was one of the most eminent scholars Sri Lanka has known for several centuries. He achieved fame through his profound knowledge of the Sinhala language and literary work. He used many languages as Sinhala, English, Tamil, Pali, Sanskrit, Greek, Latin and Malayalam.

Arisen Ahubudu carried on his teaching and attracted thousands of student to the Cumaratunga causeƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬‚efficacy of the Hela language. He served 42 years as a teacher. Having first taught at Holy Trinity College in Nuwara Eliya, he moved to Mahinda College, Galle and later to Maha Bodhi College, Maradana. His longest stint came even later at S. Thomas’ College from 1952 until 1979. Ahubudu started his free correspondence course for students whom he had never met or seen. He was accessible in him Mt. Lavinia home. Like his erstwhile Guru late Munidasa CumaratungaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬‚who wrote immaculate prose ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…”books like Heen Saraya, Piya samara etc. Some of works by Arisen Agubudu were Hela Derana Vaga, Koggala Pavata, Mangala Kinkini, Dam Rasa DeharaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢, A-Sammataya Raja Vima, Arisen Ahubudu Harasaraniya, Sakviti Ravana. Lanka Gam Nam Vahara and Atu Aga Dili Vana Mal.

Inventing Sinhala derivations

Ahubudu distinguished himself discovering or inventing Sinhala derivations for existing Sinhala words. He never relied on Sanskrit, Pali, Tamil or any such language for this exercise. He maintained that ‘Colomba’ is a pure Sinhala term. His monumental work, ‘Gam Num’, the Sinhala names to children and the numerous modern terms he has coined are enduring contributions to scholarship.

The movement that began with Cumaratunga came to fruition with the younger generation appreciating Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s heritage in a more meaningful manner. Ahubudu and others like Nuwansiri Jayakuru, Dr. Harischandra Wijetunga, Ven. Gorakane Sil Ruwan and Ven. Agalakada Sirisumana Thera paved the way for Sinhala language to flourish as seen by the popularity of the novelists and poets that emerged since the fifties

One Response to “Remembering great Sinhala scholar and linguist Arisen Ahubudu”

  1. gunarat Says:

    I had no idea that Arisen Ahubudu was still living.

    Philip, you are a Catholic who grew up under the influence of a distinguished Buddhist monk. Your dad was also a prominent member of the Hela Haula. Can you inform us more elaborately on your father’s role in Hela Haula?

    How are you able to reconcile your Catholicism with your almost Buddhist Sinhala nationalism?

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