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A Sinhala magazine for women in Canada

The term Liyatambara, according to the Oriental folklore and mythology, is defined as a plant grown in the Himalayan region that entices meditative hermits and sages with the flowers that look like the faces of heavenly nymphs.

Though besides the point is the title of the Sinhala magazine edited by the well-known cine journalist Arthur U Amarasena, who has continuously shown the extra skill in the pioneering of Sinhala film journals that had come out of well-known publishing houses and media units in our country over a period of four decades.

To his credit he had edited Suratura [Times Group of newspapers], Visitura [Davasa group of newspapers], Piyakaru [a media unit formed by himself] and a whole host of other periodicals and newspapers and a book on Sinhala cinema.

With Liyatambara magazine specially meant for the distribution among the Sinhala reading women in Canada, he has opened up a new kind of vision and a mission. Up to this moment he had published two numbers, the very first one and the second [both published for 2005].

Reading through the editorial of the maiden issue [April 2005], we find that the invitation to publish had come from his friends and well-wishers in Toronto, who had the conceptual phenomenon that the Sri Lankan women living in Canada ought to possess some kind of information and knowledge on local matters as well, and get to know the aspects of the local culture though living abroad amidst multi cultural aspects. The present journal is a result of that discourse.

As quite a number of Sri Lankan families live in Canada, the editor Amarasena with his journalistic experience wants to bring out a “good readable” publication that would perhaps be reckoned as a preservable family commodity over and above other items collected to keep their lives in comfort. Amarasena believes that bringing out such a journal of the calibre of Liyatambara is a challenge from various points of view.

At the outset it is the challenge of the compilation process itself deciphering what sort of reading material should go into the making of a readable informative magazine. Then comes the inevitable publishing issues such as the illustrations, photos and the page make-ups that should suit the times and tides.

But I feel that he had with skill overcome most of these impediments as an experienced Sinhala journalist, by the very selection of an array of articles catering to such subject areas as fashions, family matters, medical issues, plans for the future, positive thinking and other social and psychological matters, good and adverse affects of modern day living in stress and strain, environmental factors such as the value of forest restoration and factors pertaining to tourism, informative trends in the film world both local and foreign, trends in art culture and literature, and profiles of miscellaneous characters with special interest towards the newsmakers of the day at home and abroad.

Liyatambara is profusely illustrated with appropriate photos and other types of sketches that go into the making of a modern day popular magazine well printed. When all these aspects are taken into consideration, I was wondering as to why this magazine cannot be sold to the local Sinhala reader.

But I see that the revenue raised to publish this magazine comes from advertisements from Canadian sources and designed for free distribution as a welfare measure and as a cross cultural sponsorship project.

The magazine is printed here and posted to Canada, which inevitably is a stupendous task that incurs lots of financial barriers on the part of a single person. But to his credit so far, the editor Amarasena has brought out two well edited Liyatambara journals transcending the mere pseudo trend settings in the name of pop culture.

email: sunandamahendra@gmail.com

An outstanding biography

Bellana Gnanawimala Mahanahimi, Author: Dr. Iththapana Dhammalankara Thera, Published by: Dayawansa Jayakody & Company, Colombo 10, 204 pp, Price: Rs. 250

‘Dullabho Purisa Janno Na so Sabbattha Jayathi’ ‘The great person is indeed rare, He does not come into being everywhere’. Pandit Bellana Gnanawimala Thera, Maha Nayake of the Kotte Sri Kalyani Samagri Dharma Maha Sangha Sabha is a great personage of such rare calibre.

The work entitled ‘Bellana Gnanawimala Mahanahimi’ written by Dr. Ittapane Dhammalankara Thera, Anunayake of the same chapter was recently launched at the auditorium of the J. R. Jayewardene Cultural Centre, Colombo 7. Dr. Dhammalankara Thera has earned for himself conspicuous eminence as a biographer. It occurred to me accordingly that a brief appreciation of this incomparable work will be of use to all serious readers.

Dr. Dhammalankara Thera has taken the Sinhala biography literature along new vistas and contributed largely to widening its horizons. He does not believe in digging up a character from the past and weaving his story around anecdotes associated with it, but rather takes up living personages of our own times and offer to the reader an eminently readable work rich with the many sided aspects of a life, sometimes missed by a person of less discernment and insight.

This innovative approach of the author to his subject is evident throughout his work. With many passages containing the spoken words of the subject, the reader is pleasantly made to feel that he is in close communion with the character, which makes the ideals portrayed the more easily and practically assimilable to the reader.

In the field of Sinhala biographies, they are no more than eulogies-the character dealt with borders on the perfect example free from all blemishes. But there had to be a stage where this immaturity had to be shed and a more human viewpoint be taken of the subject.

In Dr. Dhammalankara’s works we see this welcome change. Fortunately he has drawn extensively from the examples of the Thera and Theri gathas of the Buddhist canon, where the autobiographical accounts of a wide range of characters who had visited the Buddha and had their lives transformed are given.

The author has struck the right note in portraying his characters not as superhuman impeccable beings, but as is natural to be expected, with both foibles and virtues.

He has, however, succeeded in delineating the story of life of the Maha Nayaka Thera much like a scenic river having its beginnings in the high mountains and coursing through rocky passes and finally emerging to the green valleys and the plains the insight to which no doubt has been the result of the author’s is close association with the Maha Nayaka Thera, they both being in the same chapter of the Sangha.

Jataka stories

Biographies are a popular and wide category in world literature. Buddhist literature is replete with Jataka stories representing the lives of the Bodhisathva in his numerous manifestations before attaining enlightenment. The benefits that society can draw from the reading of such stories where traits of high character are delineated is immense.

The world we live in today has achieved great things owing to the great teachers and philosophers as well as economists and scientists. It is likely that the energies and powers these illustrious figures possessed in their previous lives, have been instrumental in bringing success to their lives.

The life-stories of such great personages are therefore shining examples not only to children and youth but also to grown-ups.

Bellana Maha Nayake Thera, who chaired the Buddha Sasana Commission recently, is of special standing among the eminent monks of the country. It is the joy of reading a biography that a reader of this work can derive from it. A wide understanding of Buddhist philosophy as well as a knowledge of an extensive range of subjects is available to its reader.

An insight into the challenges and sorrows that we all face today, irrespective of whether we are high or small as well as an analysis of the social realities based on a deep delving into the psyche of all beings, in the visible as well as in the invisible world is provided by the author.

Bellana Maha Nayaka Thera did not strive to be a popular preacher. His forte is clearly explained in the work. The reader is assured not only of his eloquence, deep learning and unfailing adherence to the tenets of the Dhamma but also of his exemplary life.

He was an experienced teacher of outstanding quality, is possessed of wide-ranging and deep-learning and is a writer proficient in several languages. Being a monk in the order of the Sangha of the Buddha he is outstanding for his humility and exemplary way of life.

Never speaking ill of any other faith or philosophy, he is a Maha thera of great stature, believing firmly in co-existence. He has gained renown nationally and internationally for his dhamma sermons and dhamma discussions in both the printed and the electronic media.

If is only in a Bodhisatva that one can come across his simplicity and unambitious qualities and his uncommon skill in expounding keep and abstruse philosophical and academic concepts and theories in clear and simple terms. Kaleidoscopic view The reader is offered through this work a kaleidoscopic view of the Maha Thera’s encyclopedic knowledge gathered throughout a life led as a monk spanning over seven decades and coloured by experiences encountered in the course of studies in Buddhist philosophy as well as comparative surveys of diverse other philosophies and sciences.

Offering a logical discussion in simple langauge as to how and in what type of background a righteous man, a righteous society and righteous country come into being in the world, how real social values have collapsed in today’s world the Mahanayake shows with examples the intrusions made into countries and societies in the name of religion and the dire consequences of making use of race, creed and language for selfish ends.

He says that a despot invading and conquering a country may be reborn in his turn, as a subject in the same colony.

Discussing a wide range of subjects, the Maha Thera sheds a brilliant light on such topics as birth, death, re-birth, the interval between death and rebirth, the seen and unseen world, karma, the world of spirits, religious controversies, racialism, the mind, transmigration and the world, the universe, individual happiness, women and social relations, service to others, gods, astrology, dissemination of the dhamma abroad, the Buddha Sasana, status of Buddhism in India, the ethnic problem in Sri Lanka and many other issues.

It is only very seldom that individual knowledge in different subjects is found in a person. But such a body of knowledge as is found in Gnanawimala Maha Thera is evidence of his outstanding characteristic as a philosopher. One is inclined to ponder that this multifaceted knowledge may not have been acquired by him in the course only of this life of his, but that it descends down from his many previous births.

Buddha Dhamma is a practical way of life. It sprang not merely as yet another philosophical tradition to satiate the intellectual curiosity of man, but as a way out of suffering which is the lot of human beings.

Prince Siddhatha who perceived the endless cycle of birth and death in the sansaric existence went in search of the way out of it and finally realizing it offered it to the world. This is the basis of Buddha Dhamma. It is that philosophy the Bellana Maha Nayaka Thera discusses throughout the book.

This work of Rev. Dr. Ittapane Dhammalankara provides guidance to the Sangha Sasana, the rulers and the civil society, to whom it should be compulsory reading. The service rendered by him to society and literature of this country in giving of his untiring labours to the compilation of this biography is unparalleled.

Book of quality produced after extensive research

Biographical Sketches of some Kandyan Chieftains in the Last Phase of Tri Sinhale, Author: Ananda Pilimatalava

Biographical Sketches of some Kandyan Chieftains in the Last Phase of Tri Sinhale is a sequel to the author’s research work on the monograph ‘The Pilimatalava in the Last Days of the Kandyan Kingdom’

He has selected a few leaders/chieftains like Pilimatalava Maha Adikaram, Ehelepola Maha Adikaram, Molligoda Maha Adikaram, Pilimatalava Ralahamy Udagampahe Adigar alias Kapuvatte Diva Nilame, Ellepola Nilame, Siyapattuve Adikaram, Keppetipola Disave, Pilimatalava (Junior) Disava of Sath Korale, Madugalla Uda Gabada Nilame, the Levukes and Variyapola Sumangala Thera as his main characters.

In his introduction he states, “Certain chieftains jointly participated in some events, such incidents, as the case requires are related again” but this does not detract the reader from enjoying this well-written book.

The last days of Kandyan rule were engrossed in tragedy, treachery, deceit, cunning, disloyalty and worse, blood shed. They were turbulent times; aristocracy conspired against each other, aided by the Nayakkar relatives of the King to whom the Chiefs were indebted, as they the Nayakkars were money lenders.

In case of failure to settle these debts, the Nayakkars would complain to the King who would admonish the chieftain. This in turn led to disobedience to the King with the chief falling into disfavour being replaced by another. The result, jealousy and intrigue. This drama sadly continues to this day!

Double game

The last King Sri Vickrama Rajasinha in the later stages of his rule became a tyrant as he had no body he could trust except Molligoda who played a double game. Under these circumstances the Chieftains surrendered the nation to the British hoping they would get a better administration and government than the tyrannical rule of Sri Vickrama.

But they soon realized this was not to be, the result was the Uva rebellion where Kandyan bravery and courage materialized. The ruler’s onslaught, and butchery of innocent Kandyan peasants was perpetrated by the superior British troops with their fire power. It is against this background that Ananda Pilimatalava has selected his chief characters in his book.

Political power was in the hands of the aristocracy who also held key posts in the administration and manned the Kandyan Judicial Courts as well. This group enjoyed very large tracts of land given by the King called nindagam. This gave them economic security, prestige and pomp. Adigars travelled outside Maha Nuwara with whip crackers preceding them.

According to the author, “in the early 18th century descendants of the Royal House of Madura of North Indian origin migrated to the Kandyan kingdom during the reign of King Sri Veera Parakrama Narendrasinha, married into the Pilimatalava family at Denuvara and got fully indegenised and assimilated as Kandyan Sinhala.” Their descendants were powerful, holding high office during the reign of the Nayakkar Kings.

During the reign of Sri Vickrama Rajasinha, Pilimatalava Maha Adikaram was so powerful that he was a ‘King maker’! Pilimatalava Pandita Mudiyanse the third son of Arava Tikiri Bandara was promoted from Udagampahe Maha Adikaram to Pallegampahe Maha Adikaram during the reign of King Rajadhi Rajasinha.

It was this chieftain who was instrumental in enthroning Prince Kannesamy under the title Sri Vickrama Rajasinha. Ananda Pilimatalava records the tragic history of these times, with the Adigar ultimately paying with his life. Pilimatalava Maha Adikaram was a true patriot, due to his love for his country his wish was to have a Sinhala to rule over Sinhale.

The Nayakkars skilfully blended themselves with the Kandyan national interest and religion, and the inherent jealousy amongst the Kandyan Chiefs convinced him that no Kandyan could ascend the throne without outside help. Hence his decision to place his own nominee on the throne and await favourable times to restore the ancient Sinhala line.


His courage is shown when Sri Vickrama was ready to pardon him provided he took an oath never to attack his government again. The proud Chieftain brimming with patriotism refused to take the oath but said he did not want to hurt the King but only to save the country from mismanagement!

The Ehelapola family was one of the most noble families in the Kandyan Kingdom dating back to Rajasimha II. They were originally Gamaralas (Chiefs of villages).

Molligoda, Ellepola, Keppitipola, Madugalla and Levuke families were from the “Radala Peruva” an endogamous group in the govikula caste which formed the aristocracy of the Kingdom. The lineage of these Chiefs is given in detail by the author. Ehelapola was thought to be a tyrant minister.

The King would have profited if he paid attention to the good qualities of this minister; but sadly the count suffered due to the parting of King and minister. The Ehelapola family was ultimately driven into the hands of the British.

Molligoda Adigar played a double game bribing the royal ambassadors to give false information about Ehelapola to the King. Ehelapola was deprived of his position and replaced by Molligoda who ultimately had to seek protection under the British. He signed the Kandyan Convention as First Adigar.

Pilimatalava Ralahamy Udagampahe Adigar alias Kapuvatte signed the Kandyan convention but was involved in the Uva rebellion, taken prisoner by the British for helping his cousin Pilimatalavuva Disava to escape; he was released from prison and appointed Maha Gabada Nilame and Diyawadana Nilame of the Sri Dalada Maligawa on 27th November 1823.

Ellepola Nilame - Siyapattuve Adikaram was accused with Pilimatalavuva of attempting to enthrone Mampitiya Bandara and was condemned to death. Subsequently he was exonerated but he may have been out of office as he was not a signatory to the convention.

Ellepola an elderly Senior Chieftain joined Pilimatalavuva alias Kapuvatte, Ehelapola, and Madugalla in the Uva rebellion as he valued Sinhalese independence more than the office and personal benefits he got from the British.

His properties were confiscated by the British who offered 1,000 Rix Dollars for his capture, Ultimately he was captured and beheaded near the Bogambara Veva and so ended the life of this brave Sinhalese patriot.

British authority

The Keppetipola family were descendants of the seven aristocratic Brahmin families that came out from India to attend the coronation of King Vijayabahu I. Even though he was a signatory to the convention, he openly expressed the view that British authority should be terminated and replaced by a Sinhala King who would look after the Buddha Sasana.

Keppitipola joined the freedom fighters of the Uva rebellion and was one of the leading Chieftains along, with Madugalla and Pilimatalavuva Disava. The author goes into details of the rebellion which ended in the capture of all the Chiefs.

Keppetipola and Madugalla were beheaded on the outskirts of Bogambara Veva while Pilimatalavuva was confined to safe custody in Colombo due to his relationship to Molligoda whom they didn’t want to displease, and was banished to Mauritius later.

Variyapola Sumangala Thera removed the sacred tooth relic from the Maligawa after the tevave ceremony and joined the rebellion with several followers. He was ultimately captured at Dambulla and sent to prison in Jaffna, being ultimately pardoned by Governor Sir Edward Barnes and released from jail on 13 April 1821 due to old age.

Controversy shrouds the legend which states he pulled down the British flag. Would this have been possible with 1,500 British troops present on the Mahamaluva? James Sutherland in his despatch to the Home Government says, “The British flag was hoisted without incident”. Governor Brownrigg does not mention this incident nor do contemporary British writers.

The author has done extensive research into Colonial Office Records, gone through most of the available English and Sinhala secondary sources to produce a well written, very readable book.

Recently there has been a revival of history, without which a nation is lost! Amateur historians like Ananda Pilimatalavuva should be admired for producing a book of quality which fills a rich facet in the Sinhala history of the last phase. This book should find a wide readership.

Case studies of managing distress

Depression and Psychotherapy, Author: Dr. Ruwan M. Jayatunge, Godage International Publishers, Colombo 10, 158pp, Price Rs. 450

Depression is an affective disorder that can cause physical and psychological distress in an individual. It destroys the pleasure of living and it gives negative vision of life.

To day, the technology is so developed and we are living in a highly industrial age. Even though man has achieved a greater success in his mundane life, he seems to be unhappy. Therefore, man must regain the proper balance in his life.

Depression and Psychotherapy, written and compiled by Dr. Ruwan M. Jayatunge gives the basic understanding of depression and different methods of management. The author who has successful clinical experience in Psychological Counselling and Psychotherapy reveals important case studies of managing depression.


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