Michael Roberts meets Anaagaarika Dharmapala
Posted on August 14th, 2016

C. Wijeyawickrema, B.A (Hons.), LL.B., M.A., PhD

In response to an essay that I wrote in Sinhala, on the above heading, which appeared on Lankaweb, Michael Roberts (MR), owner of the Thuppaiya website, sent me a private e-mail, copied below. MR once said that he gave lectures both in Sinhala and English, but because of his complaint that he is in better shape if he could use English,  I thought of providing him this opportunity to disprove the historical truth that I presented against his opinion. However, his second complaint that I was not coherent had to be ignored because, my essay has a larger objective of bringing true background information to the Sinhala people against what I consider the anti-Mahavamsa Movement, of which I consider MR is a life-long supporter. For example, he was behind the plan for a Tamil language national anthem.

Michael Roberts
2:42 PM (2 hours ago)

Dear Chandiya,

You seem to be spoiling for a fight. It is basic principle in the strategy of war that one chooses the terrain and site on which to engage in pitched battles. While I am reasonably competent in Sinhala, my capacities in English are much better, I can be more precise in my English composition. Precision is vital in bombing and artillery strike and in fact in all military operations.

Moreover, your composition is all over the shop – to the point of being incoherent. If it was an essay presented by some undergrad I would give a Fail.” So, why should I waste my time warring against an idiotic enterprise? I am not going to take up your challenge…..”


MR says that Sinhala Buddhists claim Sinhale, which was translated as Ceylon by the colonial master (but Sri Lanka to MR), completely and totally for them, instead of sharing the island real estate with minority communities. This he identifies as Sinhala Buddhist extremism or according to his Eurocentric, black-white thinking, Sinhala Buddhist majoritism. Of late, he has discovered that even educated Sri Lankan Tamils are infected with a germ called Tamilness, which I interpret as there are moderate Tamils only until the right opportunity comes.” This Tamilness, which is the mindset of Tamil majoritism, allowed Tamils at least secretly, to admire battle victories of Prabakaran. We now know how this inner feeling burst out with a vengeance, when Wignesvaran brands Prabakaran as Tamil Keppetipola.

What MR is trying to propagate is the same hackneyed phrase of Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism, first used by the Marxist Vishaka Kumari Jayawardena in the 1970s. Very few people knew that this Vishaka is the daughter of an English woman, grew up in London. It was like that people thought Ananda Tissa de Alwis was an ardent Buddhist. So in demanding that the Island-pie should be shared, MR says that he was able to locate the origin of this deadly sin of not sharing. He located an essay written in English by Anaagaarika Dharmapaala (AD) in 1912, in which he found the words we Sinhalese” (api Sinhala jaathiya?). This was his great discovery!

It is strange that MR finds these two words created an ideology so damaging to the peace and good governance in Ceylon then, and to Sinhale today.  This reminds me how H L Seneviratne in his book the Work of Kings” blamed two solitary monks, Vens. Yakkaduwe Pragnaraama and Walpola Raahula, as the two creators of all (ethnic?) ills in the island after 1948! In 1832 the colonial master introduced communal representation even though the term Tamil was not in official documents until Arunachalam added it in 1911 or so to his first Census Report (communalism became part of the Indian colony under the Government of India Act of 1935). Before that the Tamil-speaking people were all known as the Malabar inhabitants. Communalism was a colonial game, and what did MR expect AD to use to identify people of his race? In fact, the word Tamil came from the word Damila found in the Mahavamsa.

British colonialism had three instruments (weapons?): Bible, sword and the bottle (arrack). But, there was another dirty weapon, unseen. This was the game of humiliation of natives conquered in a subtle and systematic fashion. Western writers recognized and wrote about it only in the 1960s. But AD understood this psychological weapon at least 50 years before, and gave a simple remedy: make a puppet using hay or banana trunk, paint it white, place it in front of the house and kick it in the morning and evening shouting para sudda, para sudda. Once a magistrate questioned him as to why he insults white rulers calling them para sudda, and he explained that para means foreign and not like in para balla (dog). So if MR wants to find fault with AD it should be for AD trying to remove the inferiority complex of the Sinhala people using non-violence sabotaging the very basis of colonial rule. Thomas Friedman of the World Is Flat fame (2005), mentioned about this humiliation weapon used by the west against Russia (after the fall of Berlin Wall) and the Arab world (after the Iraq war). Former colonies all over the world have a class of people called the black-whites, who are mental (and physical) prisoners of the Euro-centric (Europe is superior) thinking. For example, otherwise, who would suggest inviting the PM of Portugal to celebrate 500-year anniversary of cruel and wicked Portuguese arrival in 1505?

Likewise, I think, Galle Dutch Fort is MR’s Sigirya, and he would never understand the psychological impact of AD on the Sinhala mind (Sinhala Buddhists and the poor Sinhala Catholics). I do not think AD experts, former civil servants, the late Ananda Guruge or Sarath Amunugama with his 2015 book on AD, understood this vital psychiatric role played by otherwise their hero AD. AD was never a racist, but a nationalist. His friends and supporters were an international community spreading from Japan to Brazil. He never discriminated against minority communities, but pointed out how Sinhalayas have become victims in their own motherland in the hands of greedy foreigners. He did not provoke people to do what the UNP government did in July 1983 or the JRJ-Dudley Imbulgoda march against Tamils in 1958 or the NM-Colvin Kollupitiya march in 1968 again on the same topic against Tamils. What AD said then is what Sinhala Buddhists (the late Ven. Soma and the Bodu Bala Sena) are asking today.

Since 1505, Sinhala Buddhists faced murder, genocide and planned discrimination under a white and black-white control system, and they expect the restoration of their lost rights, with reasonable accommodation for the minorities. Instead, since 1931 and after 1948, Sinhala Buddhist did not get independence” but more and more of step-motherly treatment. In fact, in 2012 for the first time, it was Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), which publicly disclosed that the green, red and blue black-whites have been treating the Sinhala Buddhists, the same way that some men treat kind-hearted women. It was this kind of militant Buddhist reaction (compared to temple bana preaching of Ven. Soma) that led American Ambassador Michelle Sisson to visit Ven. Maduluwave Sobhitha’s temple in Kotte. Gandhi and Martin Luther King in USA were two leaders who were militants, but peaceful, and BBS awoke a sleeping nation.

Australian-living Devadasan Nesiah, did doctoral research at Harvard and concluded that, discrimination with reason is legal (and just).” He used Malaysia, India and USA as case studies. Similarly, if Devadasan did a case study using Sri Lanka, would he find the removal of systematic discrimination imposed upon the Sinhala Buddhists of Sinhale unreasonable? This was done violating the Agreement of 1815. And, section 29 of the 1947 Dominion Constitution was a fraud perpetrated on a victim majority by a Christian white and black-white Colombo crowd. It was reported that a draft of that constitution was given to the Catholic archbishop for perusal! Was it given to the Mahanayakas at least for their namesake?

This section 29 was removed in 1972, but did black-white rulers remove disabilities and barriers imposed upon the Sinhala Buddhists and the Sanga community? What had happened to the reports of the commissions appointed to study Buddhist grievances? So my challenge to MR was how he could say the majority was trying to eat the whole cake, when they did not get even a half of a hopper they justly deserve? Not only that, the 2015 world religious report of the American State Department questions why Ven. Galabodaatte Gnanasaara is still free for trying to stop American dollar and Arab oil-based unethical religious invasion on Sinhala and Hindu people.

In addition to promoting communalism in Ceylon, the colonial master tried his best to create Tamil-Malabar settlements in the Vanni which was prevented by the malaria mosquito. They divide the island into nine provinces starting with five in 1832 which had no geographical or ecological basis. Would MR agree that this artificial division should be nullified? Would he agree that the capital of the island be moved to the Raja Rata region? What is his position on a suggestion to re-demarcate grama sevaka niladhaari units (GSN) on an ecological basis so that other higher civil, political and administrative units will have natural boundaries, and will be language, religion or ethnicity-blind?

Lastly, I must educate MR against him displaying a superiority complex. At the last count I had 13 universities and university colleges in three countries directly linked with my professional life and he cannot be my tutor in this birth!

  1. Wijeyawickrema, B.A (Hons.), LL.B., M.A., PhD

4 Responses to “Michael Roberts meets Anaagaarika Dharmapala”

  1. Wetta Says:

    “If it was an essay presented by some undergrad I would give a “Fail.”

    Well, it “wasn’t” an essay presented by some undergrad, and if someone cannot understand that basic fact then that person has failed miserably himself, leaving aside whether he is suitable and capable enough to assess an undergrad. Therefore to me the replier has already found and indirectly admitted that he/she has no ground to argue back based on the facts in the article.

    On the other hand, since it is not an undergrad essay, he indirectly admits that he would give it a “pass”.

    In my opinion that I came to after many political observations for many long years, unrelated “mud” comes to effect only when someone lose arguments based on facts, so that person starts a “psychological” warfare by throwing unrelated mud.

    It is a symptom of a loser who is not able to comprehend that “losing” is just one small part of life that you cannot avoid ever, one of the “eight worldly phenomenons” (අෂ්ඨ ලෝක ධර්ම) according to Lord Buddha. However the article wasn’t about winning or losing of someone, but a great attempt to discuss a very important issue in front of the “Sinhale” people today.

    To me “precision” is actually not essential in warfare (bombing and artillery strike and the like), it is essential in life saving surgery instead. In war, precision becomes important only for the accountant and the human rights (of the group he prefers) lawyer.

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    Where is MARCO?

  3. plumblossom Says:

    I would urge this writer to influence these yahapalanaya government idiots if he knows any of them personally, especially Sirisena, Ranil, CBK and Mangala traitors, please convey to them that the over 65,000 Sinhala people ethnically cleansed from the North in the 1980s by the LTTE and Prabhakaran be resettled in the North immediately.

    What is unfortunately happening today is that the TNA racists are threatening the 32,000 Sinhala people living in the North at present to leave. This is called ethnic cleansing and it should be condemned totally. Not only this, even university students who are studying at Jaffna University are being threatened. This is totally unacceptable. Sinhala villagers are threatened by racist TNA councillors not to complain to the media about being harassed by the TNA. Other Sinhala villagers are being coerced and threatened by the TNA to sell their land and leave.

    The only way that there would be lasting peace in Sri Lanka is if thousands of Sinhala people are settled in the North and even in the East. When people live side by side, by this I mean Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim, there is much more harmony and peace and as a result development. This is the only way that peace and harmony will happen in Sri Lanka.

  4. plumblossom Says:

    When looking at Sri Lanka’s history, it is extremely obvious that from 600BC to around 1400AD there were three kingdoms, all Sinhala Buddhist, Ruhuna, Pihiti or Rajarata and Maya or Malayarata. Rajarata encompassed today’s North Central, North Western, Northern and even the Central Province. Ruhunu rata encompassed today’s Uva, Eastern and Southern Provinces. The Kandyan Kingdom from 1400AD encompassed most of the island inclusive of today’s Northern and the Eastern Provinces except for the Jaffna Peninsula. Even the Jaffna Peninsula was invaded and occupied by force by Aryachakravarthi (Pandyan) and actually did belong to Rajarata earlier and later the Kandyan Kingdom.

    Today’s provincial boundaries were drawn up by the British colonialists as per their divide and rule policy and the Sinhala people were not consulted when drawing up these provincial boundaries. In the meantime, most Sri Lankan Tamils of today were actually brought over during Dutch and British times to the Jaffna Peninsula and elsewhere to work on tobacco and indigo plantations which were planted extensively in all the colonies since they were much sought after and made a lot of money for the colonialists. Therefore they are recent arrivals and cannot claim homelands or separate states whatsoever.

    The usual practice when a colonial power hands over their former colonies is to hand it over to its original owners. Therefore the British colonialists should hand over the Kandyan Kingdom to the Kandyan Sinhalese from whom they took it by force. Since the Kandyan Kingdom encompassed the North and the East, these provinces too should be handed over to the Kandyan Sinhalese who are its rightful owners. Even the Jaffna Peninsula should be handed over to the Kandyan Sinhalese since it was part of Rajarata and was forcefully occupied by Aryachakravarthi (Pandyan).

    Since this has now been done already, the TNA and other separatist terrorists or the US, UK EU, Canada, Norway, Sweden and India cannot demand that present day Northern or even the Eastern provinces be provided any more powers or be made into federal states since this is totally going against the history and archaeology of the island and totally going against the rights of the Sinhala people who also have fundamental rights to claim the entire island inclusive of the North and the East as their homeland first and foremost. Therefore, the TNA , the separatist terrorists, the US, UK, Norway, Sweden, Canada and India has to respect the history and archaeology of the island and accept that the present day provincial councils are more than sufficient to run the affairs of the provinces. Sri Lanka must be a unitary state and no more powers should be provided to the provincial councils. In fact, when talking about the 13th amendment, the concurrent list subjects must be included in the national list. The provision where two provinces can merge should be deleted. The bogus claim of the North and the East being the homeland of the Tamil speaking people should be deleted. The entire island should be declared the homeland of all its peoples.

    Sinhala people should be resettled in the North in quite a large number if there is to be peace and harmony within the island since Sinhala people have every historical right to live in the North as well as the East. It is only due to ethnic cleansing of the North of Sinhala people by the LTTE and the other separatists that Sinhala people are not at present living in the North. Many thousands of landless elsewhere in the island especially Sinhala people should be provided land in the North since most of the vacant land in the country is in the North and in the East since both these provinces encompass over 28% of the land area of the island. Then only will there be peace since when people mix, there is more harmony. This is the only way towards peace and development in the island.

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