Buddhist and Pali Studies - Silver Jubilee
Commemoration Volume of the Buddhist and Pali University of Sri Lanka:
On the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of its existence, the
Buddhist and Pali University of Sri Lanka has published in 2007 a
commemoration volume appropriately titled Buddhist and Pali Studies.
The volume consists of 34 articles by erudite scholars on Buddhism
and related subjects, 13 in English and the balance in Sinhala. This
review is confined to the English articles.
A note from the Editors is published in Sinhala as an introduction
but an English translation is not provided and would have been useful to
the English readers.
This University was established by an Act of Parliament and was
ceremonially inaugurated on 22nd August, 1982.
In an article on the scope and focus of the syllabuses of the
Buddhist and Pali University, its Senior Prof. of Buddhist Philosophy,
Oliver Abeynayake, states that among the objectives of this University,
the generation of Buddhist scholars who are capable of propagating
Buddhism and fostering Buddhist missionary activities both in Sri Lanka
and overseas is emphasised.
The development of the study of Pali, Buddhist culture and Buddhist
philosophy is entrusted to this University to elevate such studies to
suit the contemporary conditions.
There are two faculties in the University, one for Buddhist studies
and the other for language studies. In the Faculty of Buddhist Studies
there are facilities for the study of Buddhist Philosophy, Buddhist
Culture, Buddhist Art and Architecture, Comparative religion and
Philosophy. Facilities to learn Pali, Sanskrit, Sinhala, English and
Korean are provided in the Faculty of Languages.
In an article on “A Critical Analysis of the Pali Dathavamsa”, the
Vice-Chancellor of the University, Ven. Prof. Wegama Piyaratne Thera
refers to the origin and development of the concept of relic worship and
its expansion in India during the Asokan period and subsequently in Sri
Lanka. In fact it is stated that after the arrival of Arahat Mahinda the
practice of Relic worship was firmly established in the island.
In his article on “System of Monastic Management as Depicted in the
Vinnay Pitaka,” Ven. Prof. Gallelle Sumanasiri Thera refers to the
management in earning the four basic requisites by monks, namely, food,
clothing, shelter and medicine.
According to the Vinaya the right time to eat solid food for monks is
from sunrise to sunset and that they should be content with little food,
enough to sustain their body in a healthy condition.
In collecting the food they should follow the bee theory (taking
honey from the flower without causing harm) and should not be a burden
on the community on which they depend.
Much information on the development of Bodhisatva ideal and eight
prominent Bodhisatvas in Mahayana are given by Ven. Dr. Ittademaliya
indrasara Thera in his article by the same title. The word Bodhisatva in
Buddhist texts refers to the being aspiring to be the fully Enlightened
one i.e. Samma Sambuddha.
He quotes from many Suttas where reference is made to Bodhisatvas.
The Acariya Abbhuta Dhamma Sutta discloses the Buddha’s previous life in
the Tusita heaven and how the Boddhisatvas acquired extra ordinary
characteristics when they were born in the human world.
In his article on “The Suttanipada and the Life of pre-monastic
Buddhist Cenobites,” Ven. Dr. Pategama Gnanarama Thera examines the
place of the Suttanipada in the Pali Canon with reference to its subject
matter and refers to the historical evidence to ascertain its antiquity.
The contribution of Ven. Prof. Khammai Dhammasami Thera of the
International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University in Yangon,
Myanmaar, is a reflection on the development of Buddhist Universities
over the last 25 years.
He also refers to the encouragement given to the development of
higher Buddhist education by the Buddha Jayanthi inspired development of
1956/57. There was expansion of Buddhist University education not only
in the Theravada but also in Mahayana countries.
In these countries there was first the establishment of Departments
of Buddhist Studies in prestigious Universities such as Harvard and
London in the USA and UK respectively and then the establishment of
Buddhist Colleges and Buddhist Universities.
He refers to the developments in the USA, Indonesia, Singapore,
France, India and Hungary.Senior Prof. Asanga Tilakaratne in his article
“Huan Zang and Fa Hsien of the History and Religion of Sri Lanka”
examines the contribution of their accounts for the understanding of the
history of Buddhism in the island in particular and the region in
general. Fa Hsien had been in India and Sri Lanka for 15 years from 399
to 414 and the last two years was in Sri Lanka to find the vinaya texts
of early Buddhist scholars.
Among many other things Fa Hsien had mentioned that at the Maha
Vihara 3,000 monks had resided at that time and at the monastery called
Chatiya, identified as the Mihintale of today, housed 2,000 monks.
He says that both these travellers describe the festivities
associated with the worship of the Tooth Relic, the religious life of
the people, both monks and laymen, which was not devoid of popular
aspects such as relic worship. There is also much information on the
nature of the Sangha.
“Motivation from a Buddhist Perspective” is the title of the
contribution of Ven. Bhikkuni Dhammananda, a Ph. D. student. She
mentions some of the common motivations such as cetena- volition;
manasikara- reflection; chanda- wish; saddha- faith; tanha- craving etc.
The subject is discussed under three areas, namely, motivations as a
complex psychological force, Buddhist ethical view on motivation and the
Buddhist way of transforming motivation. She concludes that the Noble
Eight Fold Path is the means to cultivate motivations not only for
virtue but for deliverance from subjective and psychological suffering.
Prof. Daya Edirisinghe deals with the development of Buddhist thought
in the Korean peninsula. Buddhism was introduced into this region in the
4th century and he discusses its progress and development concluding his
presentation with its contribution to the Buddhist world. Among them is
the spread of Buddhism to Japan through Korea.
The late Dr. Padmal de Silva discusses culture and obsessive
compulsive disorders, a major anxiety disorder characterised by
unwanted, intrusive cognitions which are recurrent and persistent, their
diagnosis and treatment.
In her contribution Ms. Dilma Thusari Koggalage deals with mural
paintings as a historical source with special reference to temple
paintings of the Kandyan tradition. She quotes Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy
who has said in his “Medieval Singhalese Art” that the murals at the
Degaldoruwa Rajamaha Viharaya are priceless historical documents.
The theme of the murals was Jataka stories and events in the life of
the Buddha and she deals with a number of murals of the Kandyan era.Mrs.
Sasni Amarasekera’s article is on “The difference between Site based and
Landscape based Approaches to Cultural Heritage management” while the
contribution of R.K.A.N. Rathnasiri is on “Post Colonial Voice in Sri
Lankan poetry in English.”
The 13 English articles in this publication covers a wide range of
Buddhist subjects such as its philosophy, discipline, culture,
historical developments as well as art and architecture. They
encapsulate a wealth of information on the Dhamma and is presented in a
manner that an ordinary reader is able to comprehend. The print is
satisfactory, printers being Tharanji Printers of Nawinna, Maharagama.
A serious deficiency is in the proof reading with many errors mostly
of a typing nature in several pages of the publication. Those
responsible should have paid much more attention to this important
All in all it is an excellent publication to commemorate the 25th
anniversary of the Buddhist and Pali University of Sri Lanka, which has
played a leading role in the revival and internationalisation of higher
‘Can you know the pain in my heart?’
Title: Nim Neti Thunyama
Author: Buddhadasa Galappatty
Buddhi’s new book struck a chord of pain in my heart as I read his
last poem in the collection which I will translate here for reference
and communication with the reader since I mean to select other poems in
the book of a similar nature for appraisal.
The difference between the last poem and the selected others being
poetic moods and a faced tragedy also involved with poetic moods. The
difference is poignant.
The Last Poem
With fragrance of flower you came to me
Like the moon
Why did you think of leaving when in
I am bound to you in mind and body
With no separation?
You taught me the truth according to the laws of nature
No meeting can take place without a farewell
Though you cannot see the tears in my eyes
Running tears are in my heart endlessly running.
Remembrance of twenty years in memory left behind
A farewell causing pain in heart
Leaving an eraseless fragrance with me.
Can you know the pain hurting in my heart?
Mixed in the poetic jargon of, the moon, the fragrance, the flowers,
the pain etc. is the realistic tragedy that emerges surfacing ‘Can you
know the pain hurting in my heart?’
I need not go into harrowing details of the tragedy of his life. The
book called Nim Neti Thunyama or Endless Nights as referred to in the
book or the Endless Thunyamas contained 34 poems and some of which are
similar to the last poem in thought and poetics.
I like to group them as Viraha Gee/Songs of Separation which, in the
Sinhala poetry has a place of its own.
The most famous is the verses of pain poured out by the queen waiting
for Parakrama Bahu the king in the Parakumba Sirita. It contain the
poetic ingredients, the moon, the night, the still waiting, the
lamentation but topping it all is the rhythm and the meter the sorrowful
music of the Viraha Gee.
In Nim Neti Thunyama which the title has a beautiful yet sorrowful
rhythmic quality about it, the Last Poem contains as said earlier the
personnel pathos running realistically and the earlier Viraha poems
seems to be preparatory yet with a type of suffering of years gone by.
The under stated and never brought to the surface, is the pain of the
poet the last being not an imaginative poetic pain but arising out of
reality. The other poems are staccato, short lined rhythmless and in the
spoken direct language.
The poems I would list as Viraha Gee will Raya Pahan Nowe, Siyalla
Newathila, Mamama Wemi, Ege Kaviya, Namal Suwanda, Lumbiniyedi, Mage Wam
Urahisa and more, and they echo sorrowful out-pouring from an incident.
For instance in Namal Suwada plucking Namal for her and in
juxtaposition another journey under the same Namal tree reminding of the
past event but suppressing the joy he got earlier to question Namal
fragrance, “Do you not know that I cannot come again to pluck Namal
because (the poet) is alone?
The sorrow is not dwelt upon long but suppressed hastily.These verses
of short sentences run from line to line hinting at suppressed meaning
and an unexplained event which is more meaningful.
The poems are full of Srungara Rasa and the poetic utterances in the
spoken language brings them closer to the reader and is easy of reach of
Lyrics of Lanka
The English translation of Sinhala lyrical compositions by Swarna
Kanthi Rajapakse titled Lyrics of Lanka was launched at the BMICH on May
15, 2008 in the presence of Minister Bandula Gunawardena, Minister of
Trade Marketing Development, Co-operatives and Commercial Affairs.
Bandula Padmakumara, Chairman, Associated Newspapers of Ceylon
Limited, Professor Sunil Ariyaratne, Dr. Lakshman Fernando, Dr. Lakshmi
de Silva and other distinguished guests.
The chance to win US$1 million
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mandate to provide public access to information to apply for the Access
to Learning Award (ATLA) 2009.
The award recognizes excellence and innovation in public libraries
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use of computers and the Internet, at no cost to the user. The recipient
will receive a prize of US$1 million.
The 2009 brochures (in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and
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