Published in my column in The Nation on April 28, 2013 By Darshanie Ratnawalli Leslie Gunawardana Leslie (R A L H) Gunawardana, (not to be confused with Vivien’s husband, Leslie Goonewardena) was a historian specializing in the ancient period (500 BC to 1232 AD) of Sri Lankan history. He was a historical revisionist who aspired for admiration from a certain school and got it. His 1979 essay
Published in my column in The Nation on March 24, 2013 By Darshanie Ratnawalli We have a bit of a situation over the South Indian connection with the dawn of civilization in Lanka. The Mahavansa traces the civilization impulse to North India. While the historical revisionist school wants us to stop being fixated with this hackneyed North Indian and get in touch with our inner South Indian (
Published in my column in The Nation on March 03, 2013 By Darshanie Ratnawalli Waiting for Vijaya “Given that possession of a historical homeland helps solidify nationalism, it is hardly surprising that both the Sinhalese and the Tamils claim to be the island’s original settlers. The Sinhalese claim that their Aryan North Indian ancestors were the first settlers to reach Sri Lanka’s shores
Published in my column in The Nation on February 17, 2013 By Darshanie Ratnawalli The Elara Vs Dutugemunu as depicted on a mural from Dambulla Today the vast majority of common people in Sri Lanka can distinguish between a language and its script. They may not be able to articulate what the difference is, but instinctively they know. I surmise that this
Published in my column in The Nation on February 10, 2013 By Darshanie Ratnawalli Taking a tracing “When it comes to ancient history, historical linguistics and such matters, surprisingly little is known in any tangible sense although much is claimed by the practitioners of such studies. ... We ...
A response to ‘What to do with Dharshanie Ratnawalli?’ Published in my column in The Nation on January 27, 2013 By Darshanie Ratnawalli I view with extreme concern Dr. Dharmawardana’s efforts to extricate himself from a past indiscretion. This was committed when he confided to Dr. Michael Roberts in an email note that the inscriptions of Lanka in the second century B.C. are really not
Published in my column in The Nation on January 13, 2013 By Darshanie Ratnawalli Not for personal gain is this exercise of mine but in pursuit of redemption. Redemption is a curious thing. To counter every wrong pattern that gets drawn on the canvas of existence, it draws some other pattern, next to which the wrong pattern looks so godawful and out of place that it soon gets erased by the
Published in my column in The Nation on December 23, 2012 By Darshanie Ratnawalli I am in a moral quandary over what to do about Chandre Dharmawardana. Should I look askance at this professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Montreal, shuddering with horrified wonder as if he is a mutant worm or should I use the situation to cultivate equanimity? The arguments for both courses
Published in my column in The Nation on December 09, 2012 By Darshanie Ratnawalli The Cobra hood cave in Sigiriya donated around 2nd century B.C. by someone called Naguliya I went to Sigiriya recently. At the entrance to one of the several caves, at the base of the ...
Published in my column in The Nation on November 18, 2012 By Darshanie Ratnawalli Ananda Wakkumbura is a man who has recently put behind him a daunting task: translating into Sinhalese ‘Sinhala Consciousness in the Kandyan Period’ by Michael Roberts. Here’s the kind of sentence which makes this a daunting task. ‘Secondly he imposes the gemeinschaft/gesellschaft distinction borrowed from
Published in my column in The Nation on October 14, 2012 By Darshanie Ratnawalli What does the common man want? He wants among other things to be fair; to keep up at least a semblance of fairness and fair play. When the CFA came into being in 2002, and it looked like they were finally going to wrench Sri Lanka free, from the pincer-like grip of the integrating dynamic it had been held in for
Published in my column in The Nation on September 30, 2012 By Darshanie Ratnawalli The DPhil (Oxon.) who lent me his copy of ‘The Evolution of an Ethnic Identity’ by K.Indrapala had written with a scornful pen on the last page of the preface; “So: Indrapala is NOT a charlatan, a political animal. Indrapala seeks intellectual rigour.” This is the impression the author seeks to create by
Published in my column in The Nation on September 16, 2012 By Darshanie Ratnawalli Sigiri. A rock turned into a sitting lion and a secure palace complex by Kasyapa in the 5th century A.D. After his death, Sigiriya stood abandoned to the forest, the palace complex falling to ruins, desolate but not fully. During the 8th, 9th and 10th centuries A.D., the site became a visitor magnet, drawing
Published in my column in The Nation on September 02, 2012 By Darshanie Ratnawalli “I will erase even the memory of Sparta from the histories…” - Antagonist dialogue line from the movie 300- Here is the storyline given in 'The Evolution of an Ethnic Identity'; “The Tamils of Sri Lanka evolved as a second ethnic group. Their evolution was parallel ...
Published in my column in The Nation on August 19, 2012 By Darshanie Ratnawalli Why did Professor K. Indrapala write his 2005 book, ‘The Evolution of an Ethnic Identity’? Some people suggest external duress (Nalin De Silva; ‘he became a prisoner of the LTTE’) while some allege duress exerted by the subconscious. Michael Roberts, an old Peradeniya colleague of Indrapala said; “knowing
Published (as a severely edited version) in my column in The Nation on August 05, 2012 By Darshanie Ratnawalli “The comparative religious tolerance of Lankan kings, their willingness to perform to the sacral expectations of many moral communities, can be dazzling to modern eyes. But it ought not to blind us to the presence of quite other boundaries, often irrelevant or submerged, but
Published in my column in The Nation on July 22, 2012 By Darshanie Ratnawalli Is religious rivalry in Sri Lanka a modern thing begotten and sustained by another modern thing; the Sinhala Buddhist consciousness? Or is it an old thing, which owes its genesis to something deeper and older? The latter of course. The former is a 1980s 90s delusion of a particular Ism; Post-orientalism. This
Published in my column in The Nation on July 08, 2012 By Darshanie Ratnawalli The duo Nissan and Stirrat and the solo Bruce Kapferer were the anthropologists who discovered a unique and distinctive dynamic in the way the Sinhalese disposed of their Enemy Other. This, they said, was directed by the compulsions embedded within the Sinhalese cultural DNA. These cultural compulsions, said they,
Published in my column in The Nation on July 1, 2012 By Darshanie Ratnawalli However it may be defined elsewhere in the world, power sharing in Sri Lanka is about drawing up constitutional title deeds to enshrine communal claims on a common territory. Consequent to this local twist, there are many barriers to power sharing in Sri Lanka. One major barrier is the wide, nonexclusive dissemination
Published in my column in The Nation on June 10, 2012 By Darshanie Ratnawalli This is a horror story. It follows a classic plotline of the genre; the gradual emergence of the hidden revenant from under the guise of apparent goodness. At night, during a thunder storm, the hero would be necking in the car with his beautiful girlfriend (who is really the female revenant, a malignant supernatural