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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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.
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
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
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
With the broken leg, the bull was given over to the butcher for
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
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
Author: L. M. Samarasinghe
Publisher: Vijitha Yapa Bookshop (Pvt) Ltd,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.