challenges through inner life of faith and worship
Sivanandini Duraiswamy's third publication,
'The Gentle Breezes of Early Dawn' is a compilation of Hindu thoughts,
dedicated to spirituality and religious living. Its devotional quality
draws one towards the divine and helps restore faith, in a world
filled with hatred and violence.
on SLBC's programme for around 4-5 years, the Hindu thoughts presented
by Sivanandini were much appreciated. These she has compiled into
short spiritual essays, rich with devotion and insightful quotations
from great thinkers like Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore
and the Hindu scriptures.
of the essays the author drives home the fact that the Divine (Atman)
resides within us and it is up to us to find this Atman by chiselling
at the layers of ignorance. "Hinduism teaches us that selfless
actions are good karmas which break the spell of ignorance. Unless
we perform such acts that free us of ignorance we will have to take
several births," the author writes of the process, which she
considers a slow evolution towards perfection.
the Hindu concept of rebirth where the soul moves through various
embodied forms from birth to death and vice-versa learning to do
the right thing until the spell of ignorance is removed.
We need to
surrender ourselves completely to the Lord, the author writes and
discipline ourselves spiritually through faith, prayer, meditation
and service to chisel off the layers of ignorance veiling the Atman
or the divine spark within us. "Prayer is not an asking, it
is a longing of the soul, that will form a sacred relationship between
God and man," she adds.
from the Ramayana and Mahabharata, she explains their significance
and relevance today. This she does by associating each character
- Rama, Sita and Ravana with qualities within us, explaining that
the differences cause conflict. She goes on to provide insights
into the ways of facing conflicts.
injustices, the inequalities and the punishments that man faces
are the wages of sin, based on the principle of cause and effect.
Man is responsible
for his actions and he reaps the consequences. This makes him an
architect of his fortune and his misfortune and no dark unknown
destiny governs his life. While explaining this she also provides
hope saying no one is doomed to eternal hell, as all will reach
their goal eventually. She reiterates what all those saints have
taught - "Everything in life, including sorrow and happiness
is impermanent and shall pass away."
The book is
liberally peppered with quotes from Sri Aurobindo, Swami Chinmayananda,
Swami Vivekananda, Bhagavad Gita, Sri Sankara and the Upanishads.
Through these and parables the author emphasises the importance
of values such as the joy of giving without counting the cost, duty,
faith, selfless service, humility and reconciliation that one should
cultivate to make life meaningful and blessed with success.
Through a parable
the author explains the spirit of sacrifice and giving (Yagna).
we have are God's gifts - he gave rain, fostered the seedlings,
ripened the heads of grain. What right have we to call it ours and
give it in charity? By giving to others, we are only offering gratitude
to God." The writer affirms that service to mankind brings
The story of
the milkmaid and the Brahmin priest explains that faith should be
firm and unshakable, in spite of setbacks. "Setbacks are not
failures. We need to hold fast to faith and the ultimate goodness
of an all forgiving God."
is an expression of divine love for God as holy people of all religions
have proclaimed. Expression in outward acts of worship and rituals
leads one to experience the presence of God within. Today, one can
witness all around exploitation, fear, frustration and anxiety.
The strength to face these challenges can only be drawn through
an inner life of faith and worship. "Faith and prayer will
ultimately conquer all disappointments and despair."
illustrates through interesting instances different aspects of spirituality.
Dharma is the Lord's divine law, its purpose two fold - to help
man live righteously in harmony with others in his society and to
help him in his spiritual life. "The good and evil are always
together and one has to sieve the good from the evil to cultivate
are not enough, as they do not bring any peace. They are less satisfying
than the spiritual journey that we should endeavour to embark. Seeking
the divine will give you everlasting happiness and peace. Towards
this the book will help renew faith and provide spiritual strength.
quotes instances of faith healing as she seeks to convey the importance
of trusting, as God's Grace is eternal and unchangeable.
The daily readings
have much relevance for today where most people seem to be engaged
in mundane jobs they see no pleasure in. If you do get tasks you
like, like the tasks you get and you will be assured of a rewarding
experience. The writer goes on to explain that satisfaction depends
on attitude and attitude determines results.
thoughts, expressed in the book, the author explains the meaning
of ancient traditions like guru-sishya tradition that have been
handed down as part of our cultural heritage and the significance
of other rituals. She does however make clear that "although
rituals are necessary for religion, religion has to be lived through
self-discipline, prayer, meditation, sacrifice and service".
The only way
to peace is through understanding, tolerance and love for "Love
smothers anger and virtue and kindness wipes out hatred."
Born into a
traditional Hindu family, Sivanandini Duraiswamy had her schooling
at Ladies College, Colombo before receiving her Bachelor of
Arts Degree from the London University. She also possesses a diploma
in Carnatic Music (Veena) and in Western Music from the Trinity
College of Music, London. She has also studied Bharatanatyam and
Chinese brush work painting.
is currently a consultant on Hindu Affairs at the National Integration
Programme, a Unit of the Ministry of Justice and National Integration.
She is also the President of the Hindu Women's Society, Manager
of Hindu Ladies College, President of the Hindu Council and serves
on the Advisory Board for Hindu Programmes (Electronic Media).
College archives: A Buddhist heritage for posterity
Rohan L. Jayetilleke
The concept of establishing archives
was mooted by Arahant Mahinda, (son of Emperor Ashoka) who introduced
Buddhism to Sri Lanka in the third century BC during the reign of
Devanampiyatissa (250-210 BC). The first archives was set up at
Anuradhapura, beside the newly built Thuparama, the third stupa
to be built in Sri Lanka, enshrining the relics of the Buddha.
the nurseries of national figures, the establishment of an archive
in respect of the school, is bequeathing the heritage of the school
to present and future students. Thus the establishment of Sir Don
Baron Jayatilake Memorial Dharmaraja College Archives, is an attempt
to give a fresh view and dimension to the educational largesse the
school has provided to the socio-economic development of Sri Lanka.
With the conquest
of the littoral of the island by the Portuguese, the 'pirivena and
pansal school' system was destablized. In its place under the control
of the Franciscan and Society of Jesuits Roman Catholic missionaries,
a new system of schools emerged. These schools were called 'Palliya'
as they were formed, in addition to the imparting of education,
to propagate Christianity and train natives for secular administrative
posts. They were also the place for solemnization of marriages,
baptizing, registration of birth, deaths and marriages and even
lands. The schoolmaster came to be known as 'Palliaguru', which
name still continues in the country as a surname.
The Dutch and
the British too followed the very same principles laid down by the
Portuguese, as far as education was concerned.To meet with the challenge
posed by the British missionaries, and arrest the anglicization
of Sinhala Buddhist culture, in 1867, Venerable Dodanduwe Piyaratana
Thero (1826-1907) of the Amarapura Kalyanivamsa fraternity organized
a society called Loka Arthasadhaka Samagama. On the initiative of
the society and the funds collected by it, the first non-monastic
bilingual Buddhist school was opened at Dodanduwa in 1869.
at Dodanduwa was registered as a Buddhist private Anglo-vernacular
school under the management of one of this writer's ancestors Jayetilleke
Peiris, Mudliyar of the Vellaboda Pattuwa of the Galle District,
of Peiris Walawwa of Weliwatte, Galle and qualified for the government
grant for private schools in 1872 (Report of the Director of Public
Institutions, Administrative Report 1872, p. 375).
In 1880 there
were more private vernacular private schools under the management
of Buddhists qualifying for the government grant. (Report of the
Director of Public Institutions, Administrative Report, 1880 Part
IV, pp. 59-60, 62 & 79). All these except the Dodanduwa school
were vernacular schools. There were also schools in the Western
Province at Koratota, Homagama and Hadapangoda and all these schools
were managed by Venerable Koratota Sobhita Thero (1829 - 1903).
system of education was re-established at Kandy (Niyamakande) by
Velivita Sri Saranankara Sangharaja, who was directly instrumental
in obtaining Upasampada rites from Thailand and the formation of
the Siamese Sect of Sri Lanka at Kandy with the two Chapters Malwatte
and Asgiriya in 1753. During the period 1826-1836 Ven. Galle Medhankara
organized a Pirivena at Pelmadulla Purana Vihara in 1850. Ven. Walane
Siddartha organized the Paramadhamma Cetiya Pirivena at Ratmalana;
Ven Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala organized the Vidyodaya Pirivena at
Maligakande, Colombo Ven. Ratmalane Sri Dhammaloka organized the
Vidyalankara Pirivena at Peliyagoda, Kelaniya; Ven Welitota Gnatilakatissa
organized in 1883 the Vijjabhasha Vijja Pirivena at Welitota. The
arrival of the founders of the Theosophical Society, Colonel Henry
Steele Olcott and Madam Helena Petrovna Blavatsky in Sri Lanka on
May 17, 1880, accompanied by English Theosophist Edward Wimbridge
and five Indian delegates, from the Bombay branch of the Theosophical
Society, gave them courage to meet the Christian missionary dominance
in education with their own coin.
activities during the mid 19th century were centred in Matara, Galle,
Welitara, (Balapitiya) and Colombo. In Colombo, the chief protagonist
in the revival activities was Ven. Migettuwatte Gunananda Thero,
who formed in 1862 a society called Sarvjana Sasananhivruddhidayaka
Dharma Samagama (Society for the Propagation of Buddhism).To provide
a Anglo-vernacular education to the children of Kandy, the BTS organized
by Olcott, with the assistance of Wadugodapitiye Korale, Dullewa
Adikaram, T. B. Panabokke (Later Sir) D. J. Wijayagunewardena in
the premises of Natha Devale, began the Kandy Buddhist High School
on June 30, 1887, later to be named as Dharmaraja College with 12
children. Today the school is located on the picturesque hill at
Buwelikada overlooking the Kandy Lake, with a student population
of around 4500 and a tutorial staff of around 175.
In 1890, the
Orientalist, scholar and later statesman D. B. Jayatilaka assumed
duties as the principal (he was knighted in 1932).
In order to
immortalize the yeoman services rendered by Sir D.B. Jayatilaka,
the Dharmaraja College 1979-1980 Old Boys group committee set up
the (Srimath D. B. Jayatillaka Memorial, Dharmaraja College Archives
on November 28, last year.
ironwood, kino, kitul and kokoon
concise guide to the Anglo-Sri Lankan
lexicon Part XXVI by Richard Boyle
the names of tree species and their products associated with Sri
in the second editions of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED2) and
Sinhala kana goraka, honda goraka. "1. a. A gum-resin obtained
from various trees of the genus Garcinia, natives of Cambodia, Thailand,
etc. It is largely used as a pigment, giving a bright yellow colour,
and also as a drastic purgative in medicine. b. The plant from which
gamboge is obtained. 2. attributively, as gamboge-plant, -resin,
to which this name refers is Garcinia quaesita.
There are no
references from English literature pertaining to Sri Lanka under
sense 1. Possibly the earliest is by J. W. Bennett from Ceylon and
its Capabilities (1843:131): "Gumboge may be obtained in any
quantity from the Cambogia gutta, L. (Ghorkah of the Singhalese)
. . . It is sold in the bazaars, but has not hitherto been an export
from the colony."
2 there is the following reference from the Penny Cyclopaedia (1838:XI.68/1):
"The true gamboge-tree of Ceylon has been determined to belong
to a new genus named Hebradendron."
Sinhala na. "A name (more or less local) for various trees
and shrubs with very hard wood, as Ixora ferrea of the West Indies
(also called hardwood), and Mesua ferrea of the East Indies (also
This, Sri Lanka's
national tree, bears the scientific name Mesua nagassarium.
The sole reference
with relevance to Sri Lanka given in the OED2 is by James Emerson
Tennent from Ceylon (1859:I.I94): "Near every Buddhist temple
the priests plant the Iron tree . . . for the sake of its flowers."
ironwood, iron-wood (1657) is recorded in the OED2 but no references
are given from English literature pertaining to Sri Lanka. In fact
the majority of 19th century writers on Sri Lanka use this synonym.
For example, the anonymous author [Horatio Suckling] of Ceylon:
A General Description of the Island, Historical, Physical, Statistical
(1876:II.356) remarks: "'Na-gass' or iron-wood . . . Sir W.
Jones says truly, 'it is one of the most beautiful trees on earth,'
with a deep evergreen foliage and rich fragrant blossoms of ivory-white
petals, and orange-coloured stamens . . . it is a great favourite
with the Buddhists, who say the next Buddha will obtain nirvana
under its shade, and is commonly found planted near temples."
Sinhala gammalu. "Apparently of West African origin. 1. A substance
resembling catechu, usually of a brittle consistence and dark reddish
brown colour, consisting of the inspissated gum or juice of various
trees or shrubs of tropical and sub-tropical regions; used in medicine
and tanning as an astringent; and also (in India) for dyeing cotton.
Sometimes called gum kino . . . 2. Any of the trees or plants which
yield this substance."
to which this name refers is Pterocarpus marsupium.
None of the
references given in the OED2 to illustrate sense 1 are from English
literature pertaining to Sri Lanka. However, several exist, such
as the following by Suckling (1876:II.394): "The gam malloo
(Pterocarpus marsupium) yields a ruby-coloured gum which exudes
from the bark, called kino, the 'gummum rubrum astrigens' of the
old druggists, used in diarrhoea."
reference illustrating sense 2 is from medical literature: "Kino
is a lofty tree . . . native of Ceylon, and the adjacent part of
India." There is a contemporaneous reference from English literature
pertaining to Sri Lanka by Suckling (1876:II.395): "There are
several species of kino, but the only true kind is obtained from
this tree (Pterocarpus marsupium) . . . and a large size with numerous
spreading branches, pale yellow flowers and a single seeded pod.
The wood is hard and valuable."
A 20th century
reference by H. F. Macmillan from the Illustrated Guide to the Royal
Botanic Gardens Peradeniya (1906.40) reads: "The useful Bengal
kino tree (Butea frondosa), which yields a medicinal resin and oil;
the flowers are used for dyeing, a lac is produced on the twigs,
and the inner bark yields a good fibre."
(1681). "[Cingalese kitul) The jaggery palm, Caryota urens;
hence, a strong black fibre obtained from the leaf-stalks of this,
used for making ropes, brushes, etc."
The OED2 definition
is deficient as no reference is made to the exclusive association
that the name of this tree has with Sri Lanka. In addition, the
two products for which the tree is best known - jaggery and toddy
- are not referred to, even though it is mentioned that the kittul
is also known as the jaggery palm. (Both jaggery and toddy are recorded
in the OED2.) Furthermore, the earliest reference is by Robert Knox
who refers to jaggery and toddy.
in An Historical Relation of Ceylon (1681:15): "The next Tree
is the Kettule. It groweth straight, but not so tall as the Coker-Nut-Tree;
the inside nothing but a white pith, as the former. It yieldeth
a sort of Liquor, which they call Tellegie: it is rarely sweet and
pleasing to the Pallate, and wholsom to the Body, but no stronger
than water. They take it down from the Tree twice, and from some
good Trees thrice, in a day. An ordinary Tree will yield some three,
some four Gallons in a day, some more and some less. The which Liquor
they boyl and make a kind of brown Sugar, called Jaggory; but if
they will use their skill, they can make it as white as the second
best Sugar: and for use it is but little inferior to ordinary Sugar.
The manner how they take this Liquor from the Tree is thus; When
the Tree is come to maturity, first out of the very top there cometh
out a bud, which if they let it grow, will bear a round fruit, which
is the seed it yieldeth, but is only good to set for encrease. This
bud they cut and prepare, by putting to it several sorts of things,
as Salt, Pepper, Lemons, Garlick, Leaves, etc. which keeps it at
a stand, and suffers it not to ripen. So they daily cut off a thin
slice off the end, and the Liquor drops down in a Pot, which they
hang to catch it."
The first reference
after Knox given in the OED2 is dated 1857. However there are many
earlier references from English literature pertaining to Sri Lanka.
For example, James Cordiner writes in A Description of Ceylon (1807:210):
"A fourth species of this palm is the kettule of the Cingalese,
caryota urens, or jaggree tree, so called from its fertility in
the production of sugar."
I.93) provides the first example of the alternative form - kitool
- given in the OED2 entry: "The Jaggery Palm, the Kitool of
the Singhalese, is chiefly cultivated in the Kandyan hills for the
sake of its sap, which is drawn, boiled down, and crystallised into
a coarse brown sugar, in universal use amongst the inhabitants of
the south and west of Ceylon, who also extract from its pith a farina
scarcely inferior to sago. The black fibre of the leaf is twisted
by the Rodiyas into ropes of considerable smoothness and tenacity.
A single Kitool tree has been pointed out at Ambogammoa, which furnished
the support of a Kandyan, his wife, and their children. A tree has
been known to yield one hundred pints of toddy within twenty-four
writing in Running in the Family (1983:59), provides a more modern
reference: "At the back, the kitul tree still leaned against
the kitchen - tall with tiny yellow berries the polecat used to
There is an
entry in H-J2 for the synonym caryota.
"[Sinhalese.] A large tree, Kokoona zeylanica, growing in the
central provinces of Ceylon."
This is an
instance in which a Sinhala name (albeit somewhat corrupted from
kokum) has been adopted in a Latin form as the scientific name.
reference cited by the OED2 is from a botanical work dated 1866,
but there are no illustrative quotations as such because this name
is exceedingly rare in English literature pertaining to Sri Lanka.