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Wickramasinghe's thoughts made explicit

Thun kal vinivida dutu Koggala Pragnanya

Author: Dr. Ranjith L. Abeywickrama

Malpiyali Publishers, Dankotuwa

310 PP Price: Rs. 200

Review: Professor A. D. P. Kalansuriya

LITERATURE: Dr. Ranjith L. Abeywickrama's book entitled Thun kal vinivida dutu Koggala Pragnanya is a timely volume which runs into 312 pages. The author has assembled an impressive set of scholarly papers written over a period of 25 years on the foresight - oriented concepts, the techniques and the methodology of the celebrated Martin Wickramasinghe, the Koggala genius.

It is timely because Sri Lankan society today has arrived at a sign-boardless junction in education, economy, politics, culture, etc. In all these spheres, there are 'talks' but very little action is around on every side. So the appropriateness of Martin Wickramasinghe's views and direction.

The whole book is full of easy-to-understand vivid concepts of Martin Wickramasinghe on Sri Lankan identity, culture, language and Buddhism. To a great extent, Wickramasinghe's widely applicable views directly challenge the unfitting conceptual structure brought forward to us during last four decades by hypocritical Marxism-oriented intellectuals within the narrow precincts of the Sri Lankan University system.

Martin Wickramasinghe not only was a novelist and short-story writer but also a critic who paved the way for genuine critique of Sinhala literary works (pp.271-8). According to the author Sinhala Vichara Maga was published 35 years ago. More or less it is a source book of methodology for genuine critique of Sinhala literature.

Hitherto no other book of this nature has sprung up. Hence its techniques and methodology are valid for today also. Dr. Abeywickrama notes: "A genuine critic is neither a logician nor a traditionalist but a critic who accepts critique as its basis" (p.67).

Further he goes on to note: "That there is not a universal path to perfect literary criticism. However, a moderate procedural guide can be worked out for Sri Lankans by following T. S. Elliot, George Lucass and Martin Wickramasinghe" (p.71).

In chapter 08, the author is of the opinion that a genuine path of literary criticism, though made explicit by Wickramasinghe, an honest effort is not yet made for additional work by others in this area of thought. Nevertheless, 35 years have elapsed since. I presume, Dr. Abeywickrama's lament here as justifiable.

Deep understanding

In chapters 4 and 5, Dr. Abeywickrama, the author, makes clear Martin Wickramasinghe's deep understanding of common man's language, experiences, attitudes and thinking modes. He refused to be aligned with any 'isms' or schools of thought and expressed his own original views boldly as an independent thinker.

This has made him an exemplary and an illustrative innovator, unparalleled. Though not an expert in contemporary sense, in any discipline, his contributions to language, literature, Linguistics, Sociology, Buddhism, Archaeology, Culture, Novel, Critical thinking, evolutionary theory, criticism, poetry, politics, are unique in both form and matter.

The idea mooted throughout the early chapters upto the 12th chapter is the negativistic thought of Martin Wickramasinghe. It is highlighted in chapter 12 by the concept of "malady of Aravinda." This is timely and appropriate also.

Martin Wickramasinghe, being an expositor of Sinhala Buddhistic key ideas in the deep South of Sri Lanka, the melancholic attitudes to life of Aravinda, the main character of his trilogy, are unacceptable to the author.

I presume Dr. Abeywickrama is very genuine here because these melancholic attitudes of Aravinda have had unfortunate influence on such writers as E. Sarathchandra, Gunadasa Amarasekera, K. Jayatilleke, Sunanda Mahendra and Madawala S. Ratnayake (pp. 89-90).

These writers, though were mainly novelists and brilliant literary men, did not create progressive Sinhala Buddhist characters in their works. To Dr. Abeywickrama, the character of Aravinda does not display the mental constitution and habits of Sinhala Buddhists of the deep South.

Instead of revaluation of them, the result is simply devaluation (p. 95). The author also takes the opportunity to rebuke criticisms set against his characterization of Aravinda as a store of melancholia marked by ill-grounded fears (pp. 97-115). The point is made explicit as follows: In his book entitled Nava Kathanga Ha Viragaya, 1965, p. 144

Martin Wickramasinghe makes a remark that Aravinda's character is disciplined by the village-oriented Sinhala Buddhistic culture and its environment in the deep South.

Our author, Dr. Abeywickrama, however, disagrees with this view and makes explicit the genuine nature of Buddhist cultural pattern in the deep South. Accordingly, Aravinda is not the genuine embodiment of Buddhist culture (pp.99-100). I tend to agree with Dr. Abeywickrama's reasoning.

Interesting issue

Together with this critique our author takes up an interesting issue pertaining to the celebrated novel, Gamperaliya. When moulded into a film, its producer intelligently handled to preserve the intrinsic glory. When moulded into a teledrama, Dr. Abeywickrama, however, rejects it as not fitting to the accepted conceptual qualities in the book. His proof as noted at pp. 50-55 is reasonable.

At p. 111 the author positively notes the criteria of genuine literary criticism and takes us to a higher paradigm. In this context, Dr. Abeywickrama rightly rejects norms of Marxian oriented Dialectical Materialism in this area of thought. I appreciate this point.

The author begins to develop some of Wickramasinghe's positive concepts as from chapter 15 onwards. One significant issue is Martin Wickramasinghe boldly shattering Sir Ivor Jennings' (first vice chancellor of University of Ceylon, Peradeniya) idea which depicted Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) as a Sinhalese cultural desert (p. 117).

Dr. Abeywickrama esteems highly this timely revolutionary break-through. Such well-known sociologists and anthropologists as Malinovosky, Margret Mead, Morris Ginnsburg, Robert Lovis, E. Adams Gobbel etc. have directly influenced Martin Wickramasinghe in his academic views on culture and civilization. Hence he was on sound footing according to the author.

Martin Wickramasinghe wrote during a time-period in which Western-oriented culture being worshipped by a section of Sri Lanka's population on the one hand and condemned the age-old cultural pattern of Sinhala people, on the other. Wickramasinghe rebuked these borrowed decadent conceptions (Sinhala Lakuna, 1947 and Manava Vidyava Ha Sinhala Sanskrutiya, 1950).

The Sinhala man was portrayed as one who not only avoids mad-speed and extremes but also follows the middle path (p. 120). The base of any culture is the environment. The people who are disciplined by the environment build up a culture of their own in accordance with it. Should the environment be different, so also be the culture.

Not only the cultured people but also the Veddas have a culture of their own. The difference is characterized by the relevant environment. On this basis, Martin Wickramasinghe did not condemn the cultural pattern of urban people in the country. However, he often appreciated the Sinhala man's culture which is on a par with any other culture in the world.

The Sinhala man's hidden ability not only is noted by him but supplied also with a clear procedural guide to raise in rank among other people in the world. In this sense, Martin Wickramasinghe was an initiator of enterprise. This significant point is well established by Dr. Abeywickrama in his book (pp. 117-190).


The author highlights the arguments of Martin Wickramasinghe against the new hybrid class of English-oriented people in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon). This is blind adoption. Its direct outcome of disaster was brought into prominence during that time by Piyadasa Sirisena, Ananda Kumaraswamy and Martin Wickramasinghe.

The first two writers satisfied themselves with writing a few articles only. However, Martin Wickramasinghe continued his onslaught, according to the author, by way of articles, papers, talks and books. It was a heroic struggle which culminated in the cultural and political revolution of Sinhala people in 1956.

To our author, Martin Wickramasinghe was born in Sri Lanka due to Sinhala people's previous good deeds as entitling them to future reward (jatiye pina) p. 224.

Not only he according to his own methodology searched and found the very nucleus of Sinhala man and his culture but also inspired Sinhala nation to get the best out of the historical achievements of ancient Sinhalese men associated with Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa periods. The author's approximation is timely and very well appreciated also.

At p. 225 Dr. Abeywickrama renames Martin Wickramasinghe as "The Koggala Genius." And, therefore, the key-data in his thought-process are valid for the past, the present and the future alike.

"The political vision Martin Wickramasinghe has had 33 years ago is equally valid and appropriate now also" according to Dr. Ranjith L. Abeywickrama (p. 262). What he means is as follows: "Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa is destined to continue from the point late Mr. S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike had to cease because of the latter's untimely death." Let this prophecy of Dr. Abeywickrama be proved correct.

The Writer is former Professor of Philosophy, University of Peradeniya and SAARC Professor of Philosophy, Jawaharlal Nehru University (1999-2000), India.

Mature writer with a deep insight


Kadulla Prakashana

240/3 Pahala Biyanwila, Kadawatha

Author: Rohana Wansathilaka

Review: Professor Nandasena Rathnapala

FICTION: This is Rohana Wansathilaka's third collection of short stories. In this, the author shows a maturity, which we did not see, in his earlier stories. As a craftman, he has increased his ability to use the language and carve out the experience to a well-rounded story.

I have watched his progress from the last two collections. In this book we observe a mature author with a deep insight and commitment into our problems. I am convinced that this young man would develop into a master short story writer in the near future.

The collection contains nine stories. Almost every one of them is set in the rural arena. Suddenly a peep into urban life is also observed. I believe Wansathilaka, born and bred in the rural village, knows and feels the rural life pulse.

I read all the stories in this collection with great interest. His biting satire into modern life impressed me most. The very first story relates the life of a modern Marxist.

This man talks of Marxism. But in his real life such principles are not to be seen. Even his doctorate he proudly exhibits is a bogus one. His life is full of hypocrisy and it ends suddenly.

Deep bond

The author observes intimately the bond between man and animal. In one story a puppy is brought home and lovingly reared. A deep bond develops between the home people and the snow-white puppy whom they call "Tiny" Martin. The father loved the puppy "Tiny" like one of his own children.

The love between "Tiny" and Martin is meticulously portrayed. One day, it rains heavily. The heavy rain developed into a flood. Martin and the home people were caught unawares by a great flood. They leave the house to save their lives. They had however forgotten "Tiny" tied to the donkey-bed with a chain.

They could not do anything for their dog for three days as the flood was heavy. On the third day at the earliest opportunity, Martin went to see the puppy. By the time it was dead unable to free himself due to the chain that bound him.

It is indeed a sad story. But it portrays the deep bond between man and animal. There is another story depicting the affection between man and animal. That is found in "Phala Nodarana Gasa" Step by step the growth of affection between man and animal is portrayed with rare artistic ability.

Finally when the bull's leg is broken it is given to a Muslim man a butcher. The rare theme in the story is this ingratitude of man. When the bull was young and healthy it earned for the family and it was well treated.

With the broken leg, the bull was given over to the butcher for eventual killing.

The language in the stories is mature and the style shows the author's gradual development into a committed writer. He selects his words carefully and adorns it with colourful idiom and similes. His attitude is sarcastic. Sometimes he had seen enough life in the village, town and perhaps in the university to enable him to construct these beautiful stories.


In the story "Ihala Atu Pahalata" he deals with a common theme. It is at the beginning a teenage love story. A village lad falls in love with a lass of his class. The author treats this love not as today's most young writers, but with maturity. Teenage love treated in this fashion by a young author is indeed rare. The boy grows into a young man.

The girl eventually is given in marriage to a divorced middle-aged assistant government agent. Perhaps his official status attracted her. But unfortunately this government agent with a big belly is caught accepting bribes. Now what will happen to the girl?

The author stops there and we see how the young man's family is happy over what has happened. As to what happened to her we do not know. Perhaps, the author purposely keeps us in the dark. He, however, feels sorry for her. This shows that he really loved her.

This is a collection of short stories worth reading. It is very rarely one comes across tales of this type. I wish young Rohana Wansathilaka all the best for the future. Let him give us more sweet and beautiful stories to enrich our literature.

Reminiscences of an Administrative Officer

Looking Back

Author: L. M. Samarasinghe

Publisher: Vijitha Yapa Bookshop (Pvt) Ltd, Colombo.

Review: Wimaladharma Ekanayake

Memoirs: This is a most interesting book written by L. M. Samarasinghe (or "Sam" as he was referred to by his friends). He was a Member of the Administrative Service for over three decades and held several important positions. In each such post he held his Superiors and Ministers had much appreciated and commended his services.

This book describes some of his experiences in facing problems and the manner of finding solutions to them. He had been Divisional Revenue Officer of Demala Hatpattu which was a very large Division in the Puttalam District and was also the Police Authority for that entire Division which had no Police Station. There was no telephone for this large Division and Sam had used pigeons to carry messages for official purposes.

This is a unique record of harnessing the efficiency of pigeons for public service needs. There is no known record of any one else harnessing pigeons for Public Service requirements.

While functioning as DRO at Dehiowita in the Kegalle District he had organised several thousands of blood donors to give blood at the Colombo General Hospital Blood Bank which turned out to be a multipurpose program and satisfied the Blood Bank, the donors and the Village Rural Development Societies.


At Anuradhapura where he had served comparatively for a longer period there had been several interesting experiences which were quite unique.

After the shift to the New Town the shop buildings and the residences in the sacred area were sold and the buyers removed the usable material leaving the lower parts of the various buildings and the debris which gave a disturbing view of the sacred area to the pilgrims and visitors.

Sam had organised a one day Shramadana in which a few thousands of people participated and removed the left-over parts of the demolished buildings and the debris and gave a clean appearance to the sacred area of Anuradhapura.

This debris had been taken to fill up a new road way across a paddy field linking the new town and the Kurunegala road near Isurumuniya Temple. This book refers to several other interesting and rare experiences he has had while serving at Anuradhapura.

After a few years he had moved to Kandy and functioned as DRO and later as ACLG. The Minister of Local Government had assigned several important tasks in connection with the Delimitation of Kandy and three other Urban Council areas in the Kandy District. Sam had carried out these tasks with much acceptance and admiration.


As Secretary to the Leader of the House of Representatives he had carried out certain novel tasks to facilitate the work of the Members of Parliament and earned the commendation of Members of both sides of the House.

When he was holding the position of Land Commissioner, the Cabinet of Ministers had decided that a count of all encroachments of State Land in the entire Island be carried out within a short time and he set about doing this task in a most commendable manner and the results indicated that almost a million acres of State land were under encroachments.

This was a shocking discovery and the Government decided to take various measures to remedy the sad situation. The granting of Swarnabhumi Deeds was one such remedial measures.

While holding key positions in the Administrative Service he had also associated himself with Civil Society Organisations both local and international and had played a key role in these organisations.

He had also included in this book some of the interesting articles he had published in the new papers some time back. It would be most useful for administrative service officers particularly the new comers to read this book and get to know how solutions were found or challenging problems by an active officer of an earlier period when necessary facilities were extremely limited.


Coalescing with Omega

COLOMBO: Coalescing with Omega, a novel by Rita Perera, will be launched on Thursday September 28 at 4.45 pm at the National Library Services and Documentation Board (NLSDB), 14, Independence Avenue, Colombo 7. The book is published by Vijitha Yapa Publications.

Rita Perera graduated from the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya, in 1956. She subsequently obtained the Diploma in Education from the same University in 1963 and the R.S.A. Diploma in Teaching English from Westminster College, London in 1979.

She taught in secondary schools and tertiary institutes, in Sri Lanka and U.K. from 1956 to 1991. After her return to Sri Lanka she has been actively engaged in voluntary social welfare work, especially with under-privileged children and is currently the Hony. Secretary of a NGO in Sri Lanka (FONCA...Friends of Needy Children Association).

She has recently published a biography of a multi-faceted individual, who was in the vanguard of the struggle for his country's Independence titled E.W. Perera: Portrait of a True Patriot of Sri Lanka However, the reason for writing this book was the thought that whatever beliefs or hopes people may have, they all have to face the same commonality when they die.

In exploring this theme, the author has tried to depict a sort of microcosm of the world which revolves round five people from different countries, nationalities, religions, cultures, social backgrounds and ages. They all die simultaneously, from various causes and face the same after-death experience.

The novel covers the backgrounds to their deaths, funerals and the overview and evaluation they each make of their individual lives.


Minissu launch on Oct. 3

COLOMBO: The latest edition of Jayakody Seneviratne's popular Sinhala novel Minissu will be launched at Dayawansa Jayakody Bookshop, Colombo 10 on October 3 at 10.00 a.m.

Jayakody Seneviratne is the author of many novels including Kumarihamy, Lokuputha, Vajirapani, Kolaniya, Athavesiyo, Sudu Rukada, Rantharuwa, Bakini Mala and Katu Atta.


Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service

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