The Investor Sentiment - Equity and investments forum for Sri Lankans
Search
 
 

Display results as :
 


Rechercher Advanced Search

Latest topics
» අනං මනං! #/+?.<>
Yesterday at 11:24 pm by Backstage

» Sri Lanka gets US$1bn eight-year loan from China Development Bank
Yesterday at 7:42 pm by Brave Heart

» Plantation sector updates
Yesterday at 7:36 pm by Brave Heart

» රුපියලේ ඉරණම
Yesterday at 7:21 pm by Brave Heart

» Sri Lanka could consider capital controls for rupee slide: economist
Yesterday at 6:42 pm by Brave Heart

» Sri Lanka bond yields edge down, rupee marginally weaker
Yesterday at 10:46 am by Brave Heart

» Merchandise export made little contribution to Sri Lanka’s growth: World Bank
Yesterday at 10:17 am by Brave Heart

» Sri Lanka's Chemanex Plc, to exit closed export unit
Yesterday at 10:12 am by Brave Heart

» Sri Lanka cuts taxes on fuel to keep retail prices below formula
Yesterday at 9:49 am by Brave Heart

» Building an automated trading system from scratch
Sat Oct 20, 2018 3:36 pm by xmart

» ඩොක්යාර්ඩ් සමාගමට ඩොලර් මිලියන 3.12ක කොන්ත්‍රාත්තුවක්
Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:30 pm by The Invisible

» Sri Lanka President drops assassination bombshell, accuses India
Fri Oct 19, 2018 9:48 am by Brave Heart

» Sri Lanka stocks end flat, rupee marginally weaker
Fri Oct 19, 2018 9:38 am by Brave Heart

» Sri Lanka's Cargills Bank gets BB(lka) credit rating: Fitch
Fri Oct 19, 2018 7:48 am by The Invisible

» NDB.N0000 (NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT BANK PLC)
Thu Oct 18, 2018 10:26 pm by PANTOMATH

» PB. N0000 (People's Bank)
Thu Oct 18, 2018 6:01 pm by Ethical Trader

» BOC.N0000 ( Bank of Ceylon)
Thu Oct 18, 2018 5:52 pm by Ethical Trader

» Sri Lanka 3-month Treasuries yield up 20bp at auction
Thu Oct 18, 2018 7:48 am by The Invisible

» Sri Lanka seeks joint venture with Indian Oil unit for Trinco oil tanks
Thu Oct 18, 2018 7:46 am by The Invisible

» Sri Lanka stocks down 0.33-pct, rupee steady
Thu Oct 18, 2018 7:45 am by The Invisible

» Global stocks mostly fall as Fed signals more US rate hikes ahead
Thu Oct 18, 2018 7:44 am by The Invisible

» SAMP.N0000 (SAMPATH BANK PLC)
Thu Oct 18, 2018 7:39 am by The Invisible

» Fed Rate hike , Rs Devaluation PART 2 : Should CSE be like this? Whose FAULT is it?
Wed Oct 17, 2018 3:14 pm by Yin-Yang

» Banking Sector
Wed Oct 17, 2018 11:17 am by lanka

» Sri Lanka needs prudent fiscal policy to retain confidence, refinance debt: Economist
Wed Oct 17, 2018 9:51 am by The Invisible

» EPF needs governance overhaul, proxy advisor, to invest in Sri Lanka stock market
Wed Oct 17, 2018 9:49 am by The Invisible

» 17-pct of Sri Lankans stunted: World Bank Human Capital Index
Wed Oct 17, 2018 9:45 am by The Invisible

» Coalition politics hurt Sri Lanka liberalization drive: Harsha
Wed Oct 17, 2018 9:44 am by The Invisible

» Sri Lanka President calls to expand Nixon shock as rupee falls
Wed Oct 17, 2018 9:43 am by The Invisible

» Sri Lanka new car registrations down 40-pct in September
Wed Oct 17, 2018 9:39 am by The Invisible

» Sri Lanka stocks up 0.37-pct, rupee ends marginally lower
Wed Oct 17, 2018 9:38 am by The Invisible

» Sri Lanka’s Nations Trust Bank gets US$50mn from Dutch lender
Wed Oct 17, 2018 7:58 am by serene

» JKH shares trade Rs1.1bn worth at 126-127/share in today’s trades
Tue Oct 16, 2018 8:45 pm by PANTOMATH

» Only 8-pct of Sri Lanka’s 2018 budget promises progressing on track: Verité
Tue Oct 16, 2018 7:14 pm by serene

» වෙළෙඳපොළ වැටුණු මොහොතේ නිමල් රු. බිලියන 2 ක කොටස් අරන්
Tue Oct 16, 2018 11:35 am by Ethical Trader

» බැඳුම්කර මගඩියෙන් අර්ථසාධක අරමුදලට වූ පාඩු පියවා ගන්න මහ බැංකුව සිවිල් නඩුකර පවරයි
Tue Oct 16, 2018 11:32 am by Ethical Trader

» සිංගර් කොටස් ගනුදෙනුවෙන් පසු ශුද්ධ විදේශීය ගලායාම රු. බිලියන 8 ඉක්මවයි
Tue Oct 16, 2018 11:23 am by Ethical Trader

» Hayleys buys balance 9.47-stake in Singer Sri Lanka
Tue Oct 16, 2018 8:24 am by yellow knife

» Sri Lanka's All Share index falls below 5,800 points
Tue Oct 16, 2018 7:50 am by serene

» Sri Lanka stocks end 0.70-pct lower, rupee lose some gains
Tue Oct 16, 2018 7:33 am by The Invisible

» Sri Lanka gilt yield curve flattens amid currency pressure
Tue Oct 16, 2018 7:30 am by The Invisible

» Global stocks mixed as oil gains amid scrutiny of Saudi Arabia
Tue Oct 16, 2018 7:24 am by The Invisible

» චීන සංවර්ධන බැංකුවේ සරණින් රුපියල අළු ගසා නැගිටියි
Mon Oct 15, 2018 6:11 pm by serene

» Will take care of debt issues of Belt and Road projects: China
Mon Oct 15, 2018 6:07 pm by serene

» සිංගර් ඉතුරු කොටස ධම්මික අද මිල දී ගනී
Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:57 pm by The Invisible

» ලංකා හා මහජන බැංකු කොටස් අලෙවියක්
Mon Oct 15, 2018 12:23 pm by nihal123

» රුපියල ශක්තිමත් කිරීමට අතේ ඇති ඩොලර් විසි කිරීමේ අවාසිය
Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:32 am by The Invisible

» Global stocks stumble as Trump attacks Fed
Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:29 am by The Invisible

» අහිමි වෙන ඉරාන තේ වෙළෙඳපොළ වෙනුවට රජය විකල්ප සොයාගෙන නෑ
Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:28 am by The Invisible

» Sri Lanka apparel exports up 7.8-pct in Aug despite Brexit hit
Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:25 am by The Invisible

October 2018
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031   

Calendar Calendar

Disclaimer


Information posted in this forum are entirely of the respective members' personal views. The views posted on this open online forum of contributors do not constitute a recommendation buy or sell. The site nor the connected parties will be responsible for the posts posted on the forum and will take best possible action to remove any unlawful or inappropriate posts.
All rights to articles of value authored by members posted on the forum belong to the respective authors. Re-using without the consent of the authors is prohibited. Due credit with links to original source should be given when quoting content from the forum.
This is an educational portal and not one that gives recommendations. Please obtain investment advises from a Registered Investment Advisor through a stock broker

The doomed King

Go down

The doomed King

Post by Backstage on Fri Mar 10, 2017 12:04 pm

The doomed King
Book Review:
March 7, 2017,


Gananath Obeyesekere’s The Doomed King: A Requiem for Sri Vikrama Rajasinha, Sailfish, Colombo, 2017.409 pages. SL Rs. 1500, US$20, £16, €20.

by S. Ratnajeevan

H. Hoole

This fascinating book opens with the anonymous quotation: "In order to survive as a nation people have to truthfully invent falsehoods."

This reminded me of my own article from April 2013 on "Heritage Histories." We create false histories to define who we are in superior light – our caste, race, religion, language, schools etc. – and when these are questioned, it is soul wrenching. This is such a book. It is gratifying to have a Sinhalese Emeritus Princeton University Professor laying bare the Sinhalese myths built around the last king of Kandy.

Lankan school texts unflinchingly claim that the Sinhalese came to Sri Lanka as settlers and the Tamils as invaders. Tamils cry foul, but cannot see that we do the same to our minorities – claiming that Muslims are low caste Tamils, that the Tamil Bible was translated by the Hindu Leader Navalar, who taught Tamil at the age of 12 to the actual translator Peter Percival; and that C.W. Thamotharampillai, who discovered some of the oldest Tamil books and whose infant baptism is a matter of record, was a born-Hindu pretending to be a Christian for privileges. Worse, ancient roots are ascribed to the relatively new Sinhalese language by calling Brahmi inscriptions proto-Sinhalese – as absurd as giving English ancient vintage by calling British Roman inscriptions proto-English.

My wife had already read our daughter’s copy with all footnotes. When I got my copy she wanted to re-read it and we literally fought for our turns and finished it in a day. Such is the gripping nature of Gananath’s narrative.

Sri Vikrama Rajasingha (SVR)

Gananath terms the deposing of SVR as the most momentous event in Lankan history because it marked the end of independence. Nayaka rule begins with the death of the childless Narendrasingha (1707-1739) who had appointed his Nayaka brother-in-law Sri Vijaya Rajasinha as Yuva Raja (sub-king). The Nayakas were warriors from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, who had established their empire in Tamil country, especially Thanjavur and Madurai from where the Kandyan kings obtained their royal brides.

The Sinhalese saw the Nayakas as Tamil. SVR’s end is owed to the British demonizing him with a view to invading Kandy on the pretext of freeing the people from tyranny, and the Englishman John D’Oyly using numerous Buddhist monks as his spies to prepare for the invasion. To these Buddhists, the English King was preferred to this so-called Tamil king. The popular account from D’Oyly, "deliberate misinformation from [the traitor] Ahelepola’s Sabaragamuva loyalists," is the stuff of school texts from my time.

SVR is made villainous in the execution narrative of the wife and children of Ahelepola, who was working with the British against SVR. He, his wife Kumarihami, children and his brother and wife were all sentenced to death. Ahelepola escaped. He could have saved his family by surrendering but failed them. The eldest, 11 years old, clung to his mother, terrified and crying. The second nine-year-old son, stepped forward showing his brother how to die. His head, severed by a sword was put in a rice mortar and the pestle given to the mother to pound it. The infant at the mother’s breast was decapitated. The milk he had drawn flowed mingled with blood. SVR is said to have watched all this with a crowd.

Gananath does not believe any of this, asking how it leaked out. He adds, "Surely not through the king’s executioner, very likely the only witness to the event." The so-called assembled crowd, Gananath puts down to John Davy the British surgeon’s inventiveness, "from British practices where crowds gathered at executions in a carnival-like atmosphere."Having passed by an LTTE execution of a "traitor" husband and wife couple at Urumpirai, where ice-cream and gram vendors were gathered and schoolchildren gleefully watched over these treats, I am not so certain the habit was not already introduced by the Dutch as seen from the gallows on the Jaffna Fort ramparts.

Accounts by Sinhalese like the Ahelepola Varnanava, in contrast, says Gananath, lambaste the king as a heretic Tamil while barely mentioning the execution of Ahelepola’s family. The "outrageously anti-Tamil text," puts Ahelapola in the dynasty of the sun and the moon and says he is like the mystic eagle (Garuda) that destroyed the Tamil serpent. Rather strangely, the Ahelepola Varnanava makes out Ahelapola as the peacock, the vehicle of Muruhan, which made Tamils flee in fear. We see cultural appropriation, as when White people take over the weaker Black people’s symbols especially from Black music, and make Blacks feel they have no culture. Taking over Kadirgamam and calling it Kataragama and the Tamil Buddhist ruins of Kandarodai, renamed Kathurugoda seem similar.

The final capture of the king was guided by D’Oyly and Ahelepola. Molligoda, appointed Disava by the king, betrayed his lord. Several chiefs fled as the British approached. Ekneligoda ("who believed that his chief Ahelepola would soon be king") and 500 of his supporters from Sabaragamuwa caught the king, reviled him and tied him up with wild creepers. The queens came out "reeling like fowls whose necks had been twisted and blood streaming from the lobes of their ears which had been lacerated in tearing away their earrings. However false, when such stories are internalised by a people, the repeat of similar incidents in successive race riots against Tamils becomes normative.

Interpreter Don William Dias took charge and entreated D’Oyly to come quickly, writing "the Sinhalese king" has fallen into our hands and is being "subject to ill-treatment and ignominy." He asked for three palanquins (for the king and his two queens) and wearing apparel as the queens were almost naked.

(Is this what happened to Prabhakaran, his family and Isaipriya in Nandikadal?)

Gananath brings out the many positive views of the king, a man of composure and majesty who ruled according to the shastras with a deportment that "indicated considerable dignity and firmness of mind"that could discuss the causes of lightning. Says Gananath, "In my view all these cases of the executions or punishment of prominent chiefs and confiscation of lands [by SVR] were for treason and fully justified under the law." For almost every matter on which British writers blamed the king, Gananath points to the same thing being the norm for British behaviour – drinking spirituous liquor, having many women, issuing savage punishments to traitors, etc.

Following up on the reference to SVR as "the Sinhalese king," Gananath notes that the Nayaka kings (except Kirti Sri Rajasinha (1747-1782) "the great Nayaka-Buddhist king") were born and raised in Kandy. Theywere practising Buddhists who "also believed, as most Sinhala Buddhists did [and do], in the great Hindu gods" such as Vishnu, Skanda and Pattini. Gananath says that some Nayaka queens, born and raised in Madurai, were more passionately Buddhist than most Buddhists, "which of course is true of recent converts." "It is therefore no accident" that it was SVR who constructed the magnificent site in honour of the Dalada after much of it was burnt down by the British in 1803-4. I might add that if SVR was not the Sinhalese, nor was Vijaya, if at all, he existed. His queens from Madurai, too, were Sinhalese just as many Tamils who have chosen to change identity in recent years are Sinhalese. (It was Gananath who told me, just after 1983 that when a Sinhalese-English dictionary by the Government Press defined the Salagama caste of the Sinhalese as recent Tamil immigrants brought in as cinnamon peelers, a high ranking Buddhist prelate of that caste persuaded J. R. Jayewardene to burn the books and reprint them without the offending reference).

Gananath is an iconoclast who enjoys being that. He is critical of many established writers. He apologises for making the necessary references to caste and treason, and "to the descendants of the aristocrats who live and work in Sri Lanka today." His defence of his explicit references to caste, I find redeeming because I, too, have found it necessary to identify people by their caste to make the argument that there is discrimination even today, and that oppressed people who rise in the system, once empowered, put down those lower than themselves. He salves the egos of those criticised saying that the good and the bad exist within us all although their behaviour towards their noble and enlightened king who lived by Kandyan Law and forgave many traitors, seems utterly selfish, brutal and venal.

Iconoclastic Gananath cannot resist pointing out that it is a mistake to say "the lion flag was the ‘national flag’ of the Tri Sinhala," the term Tri Sinhala being "of thirteenth century origin." He adds, "there was no flag, lion or otherwise, that expressed the collective unity of the three parts of the Tri Sinhala. Such national flags were invented, designed or reshaped only with the advent of the modern European nation state."

This extremely valuable bookwill enlighten the many who were brought up on nonsensical history books and school texts. It will also bother many authors whose work is questioned, but in very polite and non-confrontational but inexorable arguments cutting to the core of texts from colonial times to now. Worse, it will expose the many families who go as noble Sinhalese but in reality were traitors for having betrayed a just and noble "Sinhalese king," a Buddhist who like all Sinhalese today, if they trace their ancestry back however they choose, would find they end up in a Hindu somewhere – whether Vijaya the mythical ancestor of the Sinhalese; or Mootha Siva the father of the first Buddhist king of Lanka, Devanambiyatheesan; or the Tamil Buddhists of Kantharodai; or the thousands of Tamils on the western and southern coasts who became Sinhalese in the twentieth century; or the Nagas and Yakkas; or even Ravana.

It is academically and intellectually salutary that Gananath Obeyesekere is, going by the spelling of his name, from the same aristocratic families whose loyalty to the Sinhalese king and uprightness he questions. That adds to the book’s credibility.

This book will promote national unity and reconciliation through greater understanding among all Lankans and help form a truthful and realistic identity. It isa tribute to Gananath Obeyesekere’s wit, sharp mind, noble thoughtsand empathy for the weak. It is most enlightening of our prejudicesand abeautiful thing for any collector to own.

A final compliment to the new publisher, Sailfish:An excellently produced book at an affordable price with the commitment to delve into the controversial. I look forward to more.
avatar
Backstage
Top contributor
Top contributor

Posts : 3294
Join date : 2014-02-24

Back to top Go down

Back to top


 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum