“Danno Budunge” Song, Independence Day and Emotional Intelligence (EI)
Posted on February 9th, 2016

Dr. Nalin Abeysekera Courtesy The Island

The celebrations of the 68th Independence day took place at the Galle Face Green under the theme “Ekama Deyak, Maha Balayak” (One Nation, Great Power). A cultural pageant was held in the evening at the same venue under the theme “Nidahase Hada Gasma” (Pulse of Freedom). In that show, people witnessed a variety of presenters with many combinations.

The song “Danno Budunge” was performed by very talented Kishani Jayasinghe who was a member of the Jette Parker Young Artistes Programme at the Royal Opera House from 2006 to 2008. She is also an Associate of the Classical Opera Company; an Alumni Laureate of the University of Nottingham; Zonta’s Woman of Achievement for the Performing Arts (2010) and the Asian Woman of Achievement for Art and Culture in the UK. But there is a problem with the selected song. And there are some negative and positive remarks on this among society.

“Danno Budunge” first sung in the Siri Sangabo natya in the early Tower Hall days, and made popular among the current generation by Amaradeva, and has assimilated in Sri Lankan society as one of the best meaningful, absorbing songs with the sense of Buddhism. Actually, this has been branded as a song with all virtues of Buddhism and has a sentimental appeal that is quite out of its context. Nevertheless, we can see the talent of Sri Lankans again misused without proper sense. This is one of the problems in Sri Lankan education, as people do not know the real meaning of their religion, civilization with the combination of Philosophy. We have witnessed the same a few weeks back, when which one artiste (people consider them as “Nawa Parapure” (new generation), who question king “Dutu Gamunu” which clearly demonstrates lack of knowledge, empathy and Emotional Intelligence of our New generation.

According to Goleman (who is serving as an author, psychologist, and science journalist; for 12 years, he wrote for The New York Times, specializing in psychology and brain sciences), Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a construct, as an array of positive attributes including political awareness, self-confidence, conscientiousness, and achievement motives rather than focusing only on an intelligence that could help individuals solve problems effectively. If you use only brain (say your IQ) without any sense, then you put you and country in trouble.

Now we can witness people argue with the song and the history of the song. Some were of the view that people in Sri Lanka are not mature enough to understand the real meaning of opera. (Again you put your IQ first, not your EI). Sri Lankans are very talented and people who live across the world have witnessed their talents in many fields. But there should be a proper direction. More importantly, people (especially the younger generation)should read the history of this country (at least some pieces on Sigiri Graffiti, Sasadawatha, Muvadevdavata, Kawu Silumina, Mayura Sandesha, Thisara, Parevi, Kokila, Selalihini, Gira and Hansa Sandeshas, Guttila Kavyaya and Kavyashekhara).Then we can see people with better sense.

A love for tradition has never weakened a nation; indeed it has strengthened nations in their hour of peril- Winston S. Churchill

24 Responses to ““Danno Budunge” Song, Independence Day and Emotional Intelligence (EI)”

  1. dhane Says:

    Dr. Nalin Abeysekera thanks for your comments and love for traditions. I will not be surprise very soon even the Prith will be in Classical Opera style to suit “Nawa Parapure” (new generation).

  2. NAK Says:

    Several foreign singers have in the past sung this particular song and some manged and some didn’t.
    But they were never criticised as they never tried to change the song to suit them but tried to sing the song as it is because the beauty of the song is as it is.
    There is no question about the ability of Kishani but some one mature and with wisdom should have questioned the choice of song.

  3. Fran Diaz Says:

    Opera orginated in Italy according to Italian culture. The Sinhala Buddhist songs orginated in Sri Lanka according to Sinhala Buddhist culture. How can these two cultures meet in a significant song when the history, languages and religions and other social aspects of the two countries differ considerably ?

    Kishani is probably not a Buddhist ?
    Kishani is a talented Opera singer but this song is not for her. I think her well meaning attempts to tie the two cultures together has failed. We hope there are no future attempts at such experiments. This may have been a Catholic church sponsored item ?

    This is why it is very important to bring PATRIOTISM to the schools of Lanka before more damage is done through well meaning blunders. It is important that the English speaking Sinhala Buddhists get this done on behalf of the rural Sinhala Buddhists who have been demonised and maligned for over 500 yrs through Colonisation and Cold Wars plus Tamil Caste wars.

  4. Lorenzo Says:


    The OPERA version is very popular among a section of the people. The singer has EI to satisfy them.
    You CANNOT satisfy everyone.

    e.g. Youtube has MORE LIKES for it than DISLIKES.

    If it goes at this rate more people would have listened to it in Youtube than the original.

    She sure does justice to the song. Given GLOBALIZATION we have to expect MORE of this. Change is inevitable.

  5. Fran Diaz Says:

    more thoughts …..

    Is Modernisation and Global awareness for the youth of Sri Lanka the goal here and the attempt to link cultures in a rather odd way ?

    Re mixing cultures : Food from Italy is tasty – pizza & pasta are great ! So is Indian food and Chinese food ! Getting Globalised through food is a great idea.

    If Modernisation & Global awareness is desired for the young folk, those attributes can be achieved via learning of English as a second language as well as knowledge aoubt the world through the computer.
    Simple world accepted words like ‘please, and thank you’ in English and a few western manners too, which oil the wheels of society, and may go a long way re getting jobs abroad.

    All Schools ought to undertake teaching of such subjects.
    *. In addition, teach PATRIOTISM, and taking an OATH OF ALLEGIANCE TO LANKA.
    *. Teach MEDITATION in schools and Temples to children to bring awareness into their lives.

    “Depend upon Your Selves” said the Buddha.

  6. Fran Diaz Says:


    The YouTube audience is tiny and cannot be depended on as a proper census on the subject.

  7. Lorenzo Says:


    You cannot DISREGARD them. They too are humans.

    That is the FUTURE. More and more people will listen to songs in Youtube and Facebook than ALL other media combined!

    And don’t assume youtube is the ONLY medium. This song was telecast over ALL TV channels and broadcast over radio many times.

  8. Dham Says:

    The line between good and bad is being made thinner by politicians.
    If you are Buddhists please try to understand it.
    Stop clinging to people you love too much because of your knowledge based on perception. Go against the mind. People come and go fast. Their evilor good is only senn after many years, if hidden. Love your country instead because it is more iternal more long lasting.

    All songs get modified with time.
    What is the problem with this song ? This is about beautiful serene Anuradhapura of the past.
    I get the same feeling with the opera version.

    The originla song too did not come from pure Sinhalayas which are Vannam and folk songs only.
    Please read the book from WB Makuloluwa to get familiarise with our original Deessheeya Music.
    This song is not Deesheeya Music.

  9. Fran Diaz Says:

    The message I am getting is : let go of the song from the old way of singing it, and let go of a large group of People dear to Lankans. Am I right here ?


    It is a free country. Anyone can think as they please, but they cannot push us in that direction as we think otherwise on this song. Please do not push this new version down us. It does not deliver the message as far as we are concerned.

    Why shouldn’t Sinhala Buddhists keep some of their time honored items that evokes certain good feelings ? This sounds ridiculous to us.

    It may be another red herring to divert from the main issues, for all we know.



    It is not a case of of ‘love’ – it is a Security issue, and a large trustworthy group people who served the country being harrassed and villified. A Country is composed of earth, plants, animals, weather, and PEOPLE !
    This demand not to honor people who did so much for us all, also sounds ridiculous to us. It is not the way of Sinhala/Buddhist people. The Churchills, Gandhis, Eisenhowers, etc live in the Hearts of those folks in those countries, whatever rights or wrongs they did ! We want our past & present heroes too ! It is part of our life value system. What is wrong with universal values – what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander as well, as they say.

    Any South Indian figures coming into Lanka such as the Sai movement is perfectly acceptable to all, isn’t it ? Same way, accept our way of honoring those who sacrificed so much for us all.

  10. Leela Says:

    තව ටික දවසක් යන කොට ජයමංගල ගාතා විතරක් නෙවෙය් රතන සූත්‍රයත් ඔපරැටික් ස්ටය්ල් එකට කියාවි. එ් අස්සෙ ජිප්සි සුනිල ජංගි ඔලුවෙන් ගලවල පෙන්නාවි. අහෝ රටට ගිය කලක්.

  11. aloy Says:

    I vividly remembers my father used to sing this song in its original version in late 40s when I was a little child. Being Catholics I wondered how it became popular among none Buddhists at that time. It painted a wonderful picture of Anuradhapura in my mind.

  12. Lorenzo Says:


    As I said before it is nothing other than the GENERATION GAP.

    You are from the baby boomer generation while I’m GenY. We cannot agree on certain things.

    What is EI for baby boomers is NOT EI for GenY.
    What is EI for GenY is NOT EI for baby boomers.

    IF anyone wants to WIN the next presidential election they MUST have EI for GenY. Baby boomers are on their way out. Life continues.

    This FABULOUS SONG with EXCEPTIONAL MEANING AND LYRICS must stand the test of time. I’m glad to say it will. The song will NOT die with the generation it was produced and the later generation. Instead it will ADAPT to times and LIVE FOREVER. The TUNE will change but the lyrics, devotion and meaning will last.

  13. Dham Says:

    I am younger than baby boomer generation.

    I am sure Leela knows this is not a Buddhist Sutta like Ratana Sutta.

    I remember clearly this song was sung with completely wrong lyrics by a popular singer. I did not hear any complain.

    Look at the following by Channa’s ballet group. Even the music is completely westernised. Any complain making Channa a “Drohiya” ? No.


  14. Leela Says:

    Professor Sunil Ariyaratne a reputed song writer says; this song is from the play (nurthi) Siri Sangabo 1903and Lyric is by John De Silva of Kotte and Melody is by Wiswanath Lowgi, an Indian.

    In the play, three princes, Sanga Tissa, Sanga Bodhi and Gotabhaya approaching the glorious city Anuradhapura, the cradle of the Sinhala civilization sing praise to its Buddhistic beauty. Verse after verse it is about nothing but Buddhist serenity. So, right or wrong, most Sinhala Buddhists consider Danno Budunge…. is a Buddhist song.

    In spite of that some admires of the new singer or her operatic style singing highlights that the song writer, John de Silva is a Christian. Mohidin Beig who sang so many Buddhist songs and Mercelin Jayakody who composed many Buddhist songs are not Buddhists. Actually, Sinhala Buddhists aren’t concerned of such personal matters as long as tradition is not sullied. What matters to them is; melody match meaning of words in the song.

    Anyway, the original song has nothing to do with the Christianity or Christian Church. Nevertheless a duo named Dever Suryasena and Hubert Rajapakse said to have made the first recording in 1920. For whatever reason, they even varied the very first word of the original song. Melody too was was hummed and resonated in the Church style.

    If Kishani, the introductor of ‘Danno Budunge….’ to operatic style is intelligent as her friends and admirers portray, she should have done her homework before step into controversy.


  15. Fran Diaz Says:


    This song was sung at the Independance Day celebrations. That is what is wrong. This modern way it was done – it does NOT reflect the spirit in which that particular song ought to be sung at such an event. If it was sung by Kishani at any other occasion that was not so important, then so be it – not much attention would have been paid.

    There is another difference here – you are an Anglican and I a Buddhist. This song was sung by us as school children and very dear to us Buddhists, then and now. I still sing this song by myself, even when alone !

    A generation gap ? No. It shows that Lanka’s younger folk are rather lost. They cannot tell the wheat from the chaff …. what a sad time for Lanka.

    Though far from being an expert, I can tell some of the good Italian Opera from poorly sung Italian Opera. The badly sung Opera music fails to rouse any feelings. So there we are – it is the song and the singer combined.

    Please listen to Amaradeva with Sithar accompaniment or Nanda Malini or Sugath Samarasinghe sing the same song. It FEELS right – sung low key, deep, with feeling.

    Kishani may have meant well – so let us close the matter.

  16. Nimal Says:

    Original song had everything to do with colonial Christians.Song writer John Silva had connections with our people in Kotte.
    This song,I say the original tune was from the collage song of the Christian collage Kotte created by Rev Dowbigin(hope my spelling is right).Christian Collage kotte was the first known school in SL,established in 1822,only 7 years after our true indepenance from our tyrants in 1815. Then the same tune was adapted by Rev Walter Stanly Senior in early 19s to create the Hymn for Ceylon and then he wrote the collage anthem in Trinity where he was the vice principal from 1906 to 1916.
    Thanks to the colonials we had a modern and a compassionate culture. They were responsible for the Sacred Dalada Maligawa where the first perahara was created by governor Manning in 1824 or 1828(go to Maligawa and see the paintings). The first perahara was performed under the protection of 1800 Malay troopers as our former leaders never liked the innocent public enjoying life.
    This was true in every nation in the world where the people close to then rulers lived a privileged life until a brave king broke the mould in England,where he went to the extent of murdering the suppressive Christian clergy.
    Having escaped their tyrannical past they propagated their new found freedom in all colonies they ruled but there were wrong doings to like massacres in Australia and in Africa but on the whole quality of life was good for all under their dominion, the very reason why we have names like Mervin Silva,John Silva,Fred E.De Silva and even Charles Perera.One usually identify oneself with people whom you admire or close to you and can you blame them?
    I my self and witnessed the way they ran our country, old enough to remember. I don’t advocate that they should rule us once again but carry on and build on the good they created but sadly our Amuda clad leaders like Gandhi and SWRD reversed all the good that was left, though some two faced psedo patriots seem to enjoy the sudda’s comforts abroad and pretend to be the followers of the noble faith in practice they show no respect or tolerance to others who have a different point of view or faith.

  17. Leela Says:

    Nimal, If “… the original tune was from the collage song of the Christian collage ….” as you say, surely being such an important peace it must be set in the u tube. Would you mind pointing it out for us or if it happens to be not there put it there for the benefit of your kind. Man, what you say is nothing but hoax.

    Why use ‘Danno Budunge’ lyric and upset us (Sinhala Buddhists) when you guys can use ‘Hymn for Ceylon’ and the like the way you like.

    Anyway, let me emphasize again that Sinhala Buddhists aren’t concerned about the singers or song writers’ religion, so long as they do not sully our traditions. What matters to them is; melody bear semblance to the meaning of words in the song and the singer sing with respect. And that is exactly what lacks when sung in operatic like styles.

    Though it is useless to argue with your kind of sepoys and blackwhites of today who have been the bane of our nation throughout, I must take this opportunity to say that you ought to read eminent professor and a historian, Tennakoon Wimalananda’s book; ‘Buddhism in Ceylon under the Christian powers’ and learn the so-called “compassionate culture” of the you well admired British Raj.

  18. Nimal Says:

    People like you amazes me who claim to be Buddhists but goes against it’s own teaching by critical of others, their view points, their faith and in the above s case if both religions shares the same tune. Glad to say that majority of the Sinhalese Buddhists are tolerant of others and it’s a small minority that create divisions.
    I do admire the good that the Raj left behiend and likes of you are in denial but some live like the sepoys in the West and frustrated and disappointed that is leading to hate the Morden West and finds shelter and comfort in religion and even in the unknown history. But I don’t and I live here on equal terms with the people here and the respect is mutual and if any good that had ushered to the third world from the western countries are due to our efforts, though we are being still been sidelined and much to be done.

  19. Fran Diaz Says:

    Please bear with me a few more thoughts ….

    re This traditional Buddhist song getting a ‘western flavor’ via the Italian Operatic style will be also associated with westernisation, Christianity and the ‘dreaded conversions’.

    Were not all Colonial Christians, Sinhala Buddhists before they became Colonial Christians ? So it is not surprising that the composers of the song did a heartfelt job composing it for which we are thankful. They probably got enough courage to write songs of a Buddhist feelings and gain acceptance too of it, as they were Christians (likely Catholic), and not be persecuted for it. Likely too that they felt sorry for their downtrodden Buddhist relatives.

    However, for Caste bound Tamil folk, it has been vast step up socially to become Christians, leaving behind the Hindu origins of their Caste.

    For those converted, being westernised is to be, at least marginally, get accepted by the powerful west, and thus feel safer and more secure ?

    In the present day, for rural folk of Lanka, some Westernisation sufficient for jobs, travel abroad, and mixing with foreigners, can be achieved by learning English as a second language and acquiring some skills with the computer. There is no need for Sinhala Buddhists to convert to other religions.

    What is lacking here from some westernised Colombian people and some minorities is LOYALTY TO LANKA, and some RESPECT toward those who still follow the old ways, or those who set the country free of terrorism, or are broken by recent events in Sri Lanka.

    The Sinhala Old Ways are classy ways based on the Teachings of the Buddha. Even the west is now turning toward Buddhism. Is the song sung for the west (in this case, imitate Italian Opera style, and so will be associated with the Catholic Church), to get accepted into Buddhism groups in Sri Lanka in this case ? I am not sure. But, something has misfired here – I am sorry to say, the homework has not been done for the present circumstances in Lanka.

    It is essential to bring in PATRIOTISM at all levels, fast, if we are all to survive in harmony. An OATH OF ALLEGIANCE should be taken by all school children daily, and at public & private offices.

    Comments welcome.

  20. Marco Says:

    The music was actually composed by R Wagner and adopted by de silva for Hymn for Ceylon and subsequently adopted for Danno Budunge with 5th and 6th keynotes low key for effect on Danno Bununge
    As a traditionalist it brings much joy to hear it be sung at STC, Trinity, St Michaels Polwatte, Christchurch Galle Face.
    I was not that impressed with the latest rendition on Danno Budunge but time changes and we move along

  21. Lorenzo Says:


    As I explained before it is nothing more than the GENERATION GAP.

    What OLDER generations before GENY likes is NOT what GenY and younger like.

    The western versions (there are MANY western versions of this song – one by SOUL SOUNDS, another by SIDATH WETTAMUNI and another by this singer) are popular among YOUNGER generations while the original version is popular among OLDER GENERATIONS. But the song is the SAME.

    NOTHING WRONG singing the opera version (or any other version) at Independence. It is a GREAT SONG and this singer does JUSTICE to the song.

    For the record the party that wins MOST VOTES from GenY and GenX will win the next election.

  22. Fran Diaz Says:


    My gut feeling is that this was a wrong choice.

    Like I said before, the trouble with GenY is that they cannot separate the wheat from the chaff (or better to say, rice from the husks) ….

    Mostly Mongrel cultures all over the world now … and with it comes a society with less good values. I am all for Change, but in the right direction.

  23. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    NIMAL !! OF THE NAMES YOU HAVE MENTIONED, YOU HAVE NAMED FRED. E. DE. SILVA. Do you know who he is, or you just mentioned on spec. Once you answer me, I will tell you who he is.

    Dear all, this whole thing is getting blown out of proportion. Danno Budunge is a Buddhist Song. It refers to Lord Buddha in the first line itself. It was sung on the wrong day, at the wrong place at the wrong time, with an opera melody, which is not acceptable to the majority Sinhala Buddhist. Yes Fran, wrong choice. The man who tried to bring fame to this song is now out of job. He over-stepped his mark. My father too loved and sang this song in the nights. We used to sing with him….certainly not opera rhythm. This is the first time in my life I have heard this Opera Style.

    Many songs have different versions. Say La Paloma, I have heard about eight different versions. It is the freedom of the musicians to adapt new versions. Let us close the subject.

  24. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    LORENZO !! What is GenY and GenX . I fail to understand.

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