Oruwala Bandu – an Archetypalist in Simplicity
Posted on November 18th, 2011

By Dr. Chandana Jayalath

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ A slim fair man has been riding a foot cycle to then theƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”kadamandiyaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ to collect the newspapers to be aware of what is happening around. Everyone sees the same man with white national dress, without shoes or slippers, standing amongst the sadine-packed crowds, daily commutes by rail for a duty which only a handful could do. He was a lecturer in Russian language and literature at the Kelaniya University. He lived down-to-earth life, as this phrase exactly suggests, he did not need all the bling, and did not want to do what all others wanted to do. He was confident and did not worry about appeasing another. He was never backward to criticize whoever went against the social justice. He had his own way of life within his means, spending most of his spare time in his ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”govipolaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢. However, time had come for him to leave us at the age of seventy six. A true intellectual has already left us.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ It was Oruwala Bandu who lived in a paddy and coconut surrounded village called Pallewela in the Mirigama electorate. Other than a poet, critique and a novelist, he was an intellectual giant possessed of versatile talents who never ever flaunted it. Such a simple man with a straight-thinking personality acted as an example to all others how to run a modest life style. It was my privilege to know and associate him at least for two hours into ten fifteen times during the most dangerous period in 1988-89 just because I was a university student at that time. Therefore, this write up is penned as a tribute to that memory and distance makes the heart grow fonder.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ His early to bed and early to rise policy must have had him more time than others in pursuit of novel ideas that had a revolutionary nom de guerre. He was strong in his philosophical mindset, where he promoted in a language understandable to the grass root level. He did want to set aside all unnecessary practices in life including some traditional culturally connected norms that are wasteful and unscientific. He hunted for social justice using his pen and paper and this struggle led to awaken hearts and minds of the masses through his brawny language at the most badly needing times of the era. His style is heterogeneous and literally rich. This is because his socialist motives inculcated during his young ages. Having graduated from the world renowned Lumumba University in Russia, and belonged to the first Sri Lankan batch to study in Russia together with JVP leader, Rohana Wijeweera, and having associated with political thinkers, he started his career as a teacher of Russian language at Nalanda College, Colombo, being the first teacher to teach Russian language in a school. As far as I know, Oruwala BanduƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s first Sinhala novel ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Pas AvuruddaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚, which was based on his experience while in Russia in the 1960ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s received a critical acclaim. Also he won the State Literary Award for the best Sinhala novel in the year 1969. He subsequently wrote several other Sinhala novels, anthologies and childrenƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s stories, for which he deserved several awards.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Oruwala Bandu was amongst the handful of those who could foresee very well in advance the tilting elements of the Soviet Union that collapsed later after two decades. His book titled ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”Soviet Siramediriye SitaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢- From the Soviet Prison is one such classic writing that indicated for the first time the Soviet collapse, sufficiently witnessing his political sensitivity. However, I came to know that it resulted losing his opportunity to a PhD on the political grounds. Perahera Enawa, Natana Ibba, Wimal Malli are a couple of story books that became popular. He wrote poems to Divayina Janahamuwa over a period of 20 years continuously. According to his doctor and lawyer daughters, the number of his books alone amounts to 56 in total. These books, reflecting at least his silent political vision and patronage, do belong to the generations yet to be borne.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ A tree is known by its fruits. It was a funeral with no civilian talks and his family without breaking his request handed over his remains to the Ragama medical faculty, and I believe in the proverb, he left everything he could as he had enough because he was content. May this Mirigama puthra attain Nibbana.

4 Responses to “Oruwala Bandu – an Archetypalist in Simplicity”

  1. Nihal Fernando Says:

    Good to have the opportunity to read about Oruwala Bandu as I only have had the chance to read a couple of his books when I was a kid.

    May he attain Nibbana at the end of his transmigration!

  2. Sunil Mahattaya Says:

    IN our fair and resplendent land there must be many Oruwela Bandu’s in different perspectives as what seems most significant about this incredibly talented and compassionate Son of Lanka is the manner in which he has aspired to share his life’s experiences including his education at Lumumba University with the many who would embellish future generations with the richness of his literary acumen and the grass roots level who otherwise would have no means to absorb his intellect and share the beauty of his conceptual thinking. It seems so typical of the bourgeoisie upper echelons of society that this wonderful scholar has been denied his Doctorate not only much deserving but also a denial of a bounden right of legitimacy waived off through petty means. If there is a pinnacle of literary and humanitarian recognition for such individuals there could be no one more deserving than him and it should extend not only to the literary perimeters of Sri Lanka but perhaps also globally. Perhaps it would be a significant step to have his works translated into other international languages too. May God Grant him Eternal Blessings and Peace.

  3. Fran Diaz Says:

    I have not read Mr Oruwela Banda’s books, but I can appreciate what he meant to the local literary scene. Thank you, Mr Oruwela Banda, for your contribution to the local literature of Lanka. May you attain Nibbana.
    Cannot a posthumous Doctorate be awarded to this Sinhala man’s efforts to uplift his Nation ?

  4. prasadie Says:

    A very accurate and an informative description about late Oruwala Bandu; a great writer, novelist, poet, journalist but above all a very simple and down-to-earth man by all means who formed his own way of life based on very practical rules and concepts he admired.

    However, there was one thing that made me slightly sad. There wasn’t any mentioning about his birth place, a small village called Oruwala; where his vision of patriotism and all the revolutionary thinking were initially born. Furthermore the journey of writing breath taking novels, poems, short stories, translations etc: were all originated in the paddy fields of Oruwala village where he spent most his eves with full of tranquility with a pen and paper in hand. Being his younger brother’s daughter who is now residing in the place where he was born and a villager of Oruwala, I’m proud to say that this man embellished this place where he spent all his childhood and the first part of his youth. His first last will proves the passionate love he had towards the soil of Oruwala.

    මා මළ පසූව මාගෙ මළ මිනිය ගෙන
    ඔරුවල යකඩ කම්හල ළඟ සොහොන කැන
    නොහඬා නොවැළපි ගමටම සෙවන දෙන
    ගෙඩි කන ගසක් එහි සිටුවා තබනු මැන

    The below poem is one of my favorites, which describes the beauty of Oruwala village condensed in to just four lines which is written in his famous poetry book “Yakada”

    කොරතොට මුල්ලෙගම ගම් වැටි තනා වට
    ඔරුවල ඇලේ දිය සළු හැද මනා වට
    කෝමළ තරුණියක ලෙස පෑ සිනා කට
    මා දාසයෙකි මගෙ ඔරුවල මනාලිට

    Heart full of thanks goes to the author of this article.

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