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Letters


Readers please note it is essential that all Letters to the Editor carry the full name and address of the writer, even if it has to appear under a pseudonym. This applies to all email letters as well.

 

Man, a born vegetarian – Anatomy tells it all

Opposing views have been expressed in your columns lately, on whether man is a born vegetarian. This is an interesting subject worthy of probing a bit deeper. I would say a definitive conclusion can be arrived at by comparing man’s anatomy and physiology, sense of perceptions, eating and drinking habits, etc. with those of carnivores and herbivores.

To begin with, classify herbivores such as elephant, ox, horse, camel, deer, etc. into one group and carnivores such as cat, dog, leopard, etc. into another and see where man belongs to. Now, note that carnivores can move their lower jaw in an up and down motion only while herbivores in addition can move it sideways as well. How does man compare?

And then, cats, lions, etc. do not chew their food but gulp it instead straightaway non-masticated. In contrast, horse, camel, man and other herbivores thoroughly masticate their food and only then swallow it.

Also note all meat eating mammals protrude their tongue outside and wet it in order to drink water. On the contrary, herbivores are designed by nature to drink water using their lips. Man for example, does not drink water in the manner his pet doggy does.
Carnivores invariably have sharp pointed teeth and claws with spiky nails to facilitate tearing off meat. Herbivores’ teeth and nails are, in comparison, flat and blunt. Then, where night vision is concerned, meat eaters score an A grade whereas man and other herbivores are almost blind at night, needing artificial lighting.

Then again, you cannot imagine of a pleasanter attraction to the meat eater than the stinking stench of a decomposing carcass whereas man and company knows of nothing so repulsive. You can also see a similar contrast between the extremely sensitive sense of smell of meat eaters as compared to its poor quality of the other group.

Meat eaters can live on flesh alone. But even the most voracious meat eating man cannot. The offspring of the former has no eye sight for about a week after birth and it is otherwise in the case of vegetarian animals including man.
I collected this interesting material from a booklet written by a follower of a Jain faith and bought in India. Sorry, I am unable to go into his in-depth analysis and convincing arguments for want of space.
Dharmapala Senaratne
Attorney-at-Law
Gothatuwa New Town

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Graffiti on school walls

I have noticed on my way to office that school walls have been defaced by vandals who go and scribble all sorts of comments on walls. Very often, you can see this on the walls of girls’ schools and I presume the boys attending the neighbouring schools do it. The schools must be spending quite a sum of their maintenance funds to keep the walls spick and span. It is high time the government introduce some legislation to bring to books the culprits who commit vandalism. Even in buses and bus stops, one can see unwanted things written on the back of seats. The school authorities, in the meantime, can put up a notice of warning, on the wall for example – “Stringent punishment will be meted out to, whoever it may be, if caught red handed whilst defacing the wall.”
I also would like to suggest that the students, teachers, OBA / OGA of the schools should think of having motivational and inspiring quotes similar to that on the walls of the Girl Guides Association, which is right opposite the Colombo Public Library. The students of schools, including past pupils could do this as an outdoor activity and I have no doubt they will enjoy doing it, as it is for their alma mater.
Mohamed Zahran
Colombo 3

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Non-uniformity in school uniforms

The dress for school children should not be determined on a religious basis and the tradition that had prevailed before 1980 should be continued in respect of all government schools. Before 1980 in all schools the boys wore a trouser and a shirt, and in most schools it was a blue or white short or white trousers and girls, irrespective of the nationality, wore a frock knee high with or without a tie. Certain school children whose parents could not afford were allowed to wear cloured dresses even without shoes. Private schools could decide their dress.

Before Independence and even after that in the Districts of Kandy, Matale, Anurdhapura, Kegalle, Kurunegalla, Ratnapura and many other places the girls wore the Lama Sari to school but at some stage all girls wore the uniform white dress knee high. Mahamaya Girls’ College Kandy commenced in 1932 had Mrs. Hilda Westbrooke Kularatne as the first principal and “She encouraged her students to dress simply in the Kandyan half-sari worn in Kandy, by young girls and established it as the uniform for the school. Her children attended the school.” ‘With A Fistful of Rice’ by Indrani Meegama. But later in keeping with the set standard the white knee high uniform had been introduced.

Thus up to about 1980 or 1990, the presently termed traditional Muslim dress was not worn in any school by the boys or girls and suddenly the shalwar kameez is termed the traditional dress for school girls. If it is the traditional dress the school, girls should have worn it before independence. In Galle Fort about 70% were Muslims and all girls who attended the only girls school in the Galle Fort wore the knee high white uniform dress with the school tie. Teachers, doctors, nurses, and other working Muslim ladies who lived in Galle Fort did not wear a head­dress to a working place. It was the same situation in all other places where predominantly Muslims lived. In such a situation a new introduction cannot be considered a traditional dress as believed by Ranil Wickramasinghe, the Minister who sent the circular of 12.12.1980 is responsible for the current situation.

Adults could wear any type of new dress or a traditional dress of any country. In schools a uniform dress habit should prevail, the present dress is not a Buddhist or Hindu or Christian dress and from such a dress a nationality or religion cannot be linked to a child. Such a situation brings about national harmony with the children freely congregating, moving and participating in school activities and all type of games conducted by the school.

Perhaps, before 1950 girls in villages would not have been allowed by the parents to participate in any running, jumping, cycling or swimming events. But with the passage of time a girl born and educated in a village won the second Olympic medal and several girls from villages won .medals in the Asian and other games. And perhaps, before 1980 some Muslim girls may have participated in many sports activities but that is a decision of the parents but if religious tenets are a rule, parents have no discretion. With this new dress they are getting grouped and segregated from others and creating an unhealthy environment. In sports events where girls participate the Muslim girls attired in the Shalwar Kameez are seen watching without participating and many of them may be regretting why they are deprived while other girls are participating.

Roshini Fathima Hafeel’s description of a Christian and Udarata Sinhala wedding illustrates [The Nation - Sunday 07.12.08.] the need to develop ethnic harmony without national or religious identifications. “The charming bride was a born Christian while the groom was a Buddhist. The flower girls were Muslims attired in lama saree in the traditional Kandyan style. It was a marvelous gathering. No one could identify them in their different ethnicity.” That is basically the reason why school children should wear a uniform school dress. When there is a mixture of ethnic groups in schools, prejudices among different communities may tend to fade away and children from their infancy will grow up as Sri Lankans irrespective of their ethnic differences. But now Ranil Wickramasinghe [RW] has made it a political issue without studying the historical perspectives and the issue could crop to mid 1950 situation. In Australia and in a Muslim country, not very sure of the place, maybe Turkey, within the school premises the headdress is not allowed to be used. If Buddhist school children attempt to wear the national dress and the lama-sari, the Hindu children introduce an Indian dress in keeping with their religion and the Catholics and the Christians introduce Italian dresses, schools will have a carnival atmosphere and the teachers will follow suit.

Though schools were taken over by the Government, yet the past students, teachers and specially the teachers who are past students and present students claim a deep-rooted bond and attachment to their alma mater and will protest on the forceful introduction of changes to their long standing standardized practices. RW’s contribution in Parliament has to be respected but yet his outbursts outside the Parliament has caused untold damage to the UNP. The government other than the success of terrorist suppression has failed to implement any worthy projects. But they need not worry at an election as RW, Kiriela and Attanayke are canvassing the votes for the government.
Quo Vadis - UNP

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Santa’s message

Riding through misty clouds so elegant
Historic Santa Claus, a treasure mount significant
Steering a team of magnificent reindeer power
Led by flying red nosed Rudolf ever cheerful
The gracious rounds a bulging heavy back
Carrying all the way a magic power pack
Appreciated for centuries, for legendary humanity
Loving attitudes widely known generous personality
Father Christmas a stupendous personification
Of joy merriment unfailing age old radiation
Significant more specially to children of any race
Of fantasy fairyland superb ways
Enthrall hearts of both young’n old, far’n near
Christmas cheer anticipated ceremoniously each year
The ambience of festive season warm greetings
Creeping in is clear’n fascinating
Surrounded by seasonal music appealing
Stirring the spirit of giving, sharing’n caring
Wholeheartedness of Santa commanding togetherness
In curbing prevailing extravagances, selfishness
His humble simple message
“Give more to the less privileged
Than to those who have” or full fledged.
To mend rifts, meet again
A promise of Christmas tide ever remain
Santa may live holding the memory, image alive for ever
Without race, religion or other barriers forever
By Kumari Kumarasinghe Tennakoon

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 Appreciation

Austin and Rose de Silva Wijeyeratne

Founders of Wijeratne Town in Borella

Austin and his family were originally from Grandpass and moved to Horton Place, Colombo 7 in 1905 with his mother and other family members. He was educated at St. Joseph’s College, Colombo. He married Rose, the daughter of the late Mr& Mrs M R Fernando of Hatton and Moratuwa in1916. After a few years they purchased Shamrock in Horton Place, Colombo 7 and took up residence in the year 1927. They had a family of 10 children. The eldest, Shereen expired as a baby. The others were Sherard, Cleta, Rienzi, Dalton, Manel and Therese (twins) Hermione, Linden and Shanti. The sons were educated at St. Joseph’s College Colombo and the daughters at St. Bridget’s Convent.They owned hundreds of acres of land and Austin was known to be an authority on copra. During the time of the Second World War, Austin surveyed the entire island’s stock of copra. Long after retirement, he was recalled to serve in the Oils and Fats Corporation as Copra Surveyor as his honesty and integrity were unquestionable.

Austin also built several middle class houses in the Borella area which were later named after him as ‘Wijeyeratne Town’. This area is still known by that name, and he also owned several houses opposite All Saints’ Church. They kept company with the highest and lowest in society and contributed generously to various charities. They contributed towards the construction of All Saints’ Church in its initial stages during the time of Rev Fr Jayamanne and Rev Fr. Guegen and gifted most of the statues which we see in this beautiful Church. Austin and Rose helped many members of their extended family and theirs was an open house to all their and kith and kin, rich and poor who were entertained lavishly. This tradition of helping others and entertaining friends and relations has been continued by their children. Their children, their grandchildren and their great grandchildren are well placed in society and some of them are now resident abroad. Their children and grandchildren are today reaping the fruits of their labours. It must be mentioned that the new electronic pipe organ at All Saints’ Church which was played at this Service of Thanksgiving and Remembrance has been donated by a grandson. The family still continues to help and support the Church and live good Christian lives. May the Lord grant Austin, Rose and the departed members of the family eternal rest!
Anton and Shanti Fernando

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 A tribute

C. Raja Kuruppu

Multi-faceted yeoman service of a servant of the Buddha

Appreciations published in the newspapers provide an opportunity for loved ones and society to gratefully remember the departed. This tribute or salutation is for one who has educated others to lead meaningfully happy lives. His voluntary work covers a long span of time and he continues to do so with zest. The late Hon. Jayaweera Kuruppu MP, and Mrs. Clara Kuruppu had three children, one of whom is Chitral Ranjith (Raja) Kuruppu, born in 1934. He was educated at Royal College, Colombo, and later at the University of Peradeniya. When I first chanced to meet him at the Ministry of Industries, some thirty years ago, he was a junior CAS officer. Blessed with a good memory and ability to work amiably with all sorts of people who came his way, he ended up his public service career at the General Treasury, cloistered in an atmosphere where confidentiality was a key factor to reckon with. At that time, the scholar monk Aggha Maha Panditha Dr. Walpola Rahula Maha Thera’s classic publication What the Buddha Taught greatly influenced Raja Kuruppu’s general outlook on life. His ‘Guru’, H. P. Jayawardena, the highly respected Headmaster of Royal College Junior, and Buddhist worker had founded the annual publication Vesak Sirisara, as a bilingual. When Jayawardena was in the evening of his life, he wisely handed over all publication rights of Vesak time publication to the Government Servants Buddhist Association. It then fell by choice, and certainly not by chance that young Raja Kuruppu should take responsibility for the publication as the Editor- in-Chief) which office he held for more than twenty five years. Just two months ago, this human dynamo gracefully relinquished his association with Vesak Sirisara.

The Servants of the Buddha Society, founded on 16th April 1921, invites scholars to deliver lectures in English on Theravada Buddhism, every Saturday evening at the Maitreya Hall, Lauries Road, Bambalapitiya. Founded by Dr. Cassius Pereirs LMS (Eng). LRCP (Eng) (its first President), and with the help of Venerable Aradha Maha Thera and Ven. Soma Thera (who was Mr. Victor Pulle, a Roman Catholic who hailed from Kotahena,) Mr. R. J. Perera, W. J. Oliver Soysa of Bambalapitiya, Hema Basnayake (later Chief Justice), Ven Ananda Maitreya (An Englishman, named Allen Bennet Mac Gregor), H. A. de Abrew and A. E. Goonesinghe. After the demise of Ven. Kassappa Thera, his son, Ananda Pereira (Solicitor General) continued his father’s work until the heavy mantle of the Office of President of the Servants of the Buddha fell on a born Christian Burgher who accepted the Buddha word, on his own. He was Deshabandu Alec Robertson (born 1929 - died December 2002) later a MP. Being a Buddhist scholar he delivered lively lectures at the society meetings. Robertson spotted in Raja Kuruppu, the human qualities necessary to steer the affairs of the age old Society for the next 10 years. Having dutifully served as President of the Servants of the Buddha. Deshabandu Alec Robetson retired, handing over to Raja Kuruppu the trust reposed on him, about a year before the 75th Anniversary celebrations of the Society in 1997. Robertson and Kuruppu got on well, like when a house is on fire. Whilst Robertson was a Buddhist scholar and a highly disciplined man educated at Prince of Wales College, Moratuwa during the great war years, his successor, Kuruppu was more liberal in outlook. He often invited a galaxy of University professors and lecturers, who lectured and discuss the Great Master’s words, - the central theme - the way to end all suffering on earth. I remember Prof. Carlo Fonseka, (a non-conformist) lecture to a packed audience with rapt attention on ‘The Validity of the Buddhist Approach to Reality.’ His lecture referred to the uniqueness of Buddhism compared to six characteristics of six other classical religions, the centre point of his lecture was, where truth lies. Several other University Dons did lecture at this hallowed institution. As a result the attendance increased. A few notable names I recall are: Prof. Chandima Wijebandara PhD; Dr. (Mrs) Lorna Devaraja P.hD; Dr. W. G. Weeraratne PhD; Prof. Y. Karunadasa P.hD; Dr. C. Wickremage, PhD; Mrs Sita Arunthavanathan, MA, and educated people T. B. Ratnayake, Asoka Devendra Bsc, Bhikkuni Kusuma MA, Asoka Jayasinghe and the Ven Olande Ananda Maha Thera, Prof. Raja D. Alwis. Raja Kuruppu religiously served as President of the Society for about 12 years, during which span of time, he built up a valuable society library. His unfailing dedication to duty is remembered when we saw him unexpectedly sit on the President’s chair to conduct a meeting at the Maitrie Hall, only about 14 days after he underwent a major cardiac surgical operation. Raja had no attachment to sit on the President’s seat. He knew it would perhaps give his frail and weak body some comfort. The writer believes Kuruppu simply had felt it was his bounden duty to do so, as long as his mind was alert and heart was willing. Such men of remarkable character and dedication to duty are seldom seen. They say, Raja is always simple in mannerisms as was one simple Simon and methodical to be perfect.
As an author and publisher, many monograms and books are to his credit. Four of the better known and valued publications are:

Reflections on Life and Death (May 1989)
The Buddha’s First Sermo (1996) s
The Noble Art of Living (May 2000)
Buddidsm: Its Essence and some Relevant Approaches (May 2003)

Besides these, we have enjoyed reading several Poya Day articles he wrote to the newspapers over the years. His Radio Programmes on Buddhist topics were well conducted and interesting. Another achievement of this leader has been his reckonable contribution to numerous activities of the YMBA (Colombo). As a Senior Vice President he has been of great strength to the Board of Management. Besides, he has been moderating at regular monthly Sunday morning popular Buddhist Forum meetings. The YMBA Library has a “New look” and is a powerhouse for academics doing research. He has also served as the Editor-in- Chief of The Buddhist, one of Sri Lanka’s oldest Buddhist publications, founded in 1888.

When the unforgettable Buddhist leader of Ceylon, Sir Baron Jayatilleke, was appointed our High Commissioner to India, in about 1943, there were two Honorary Offices he valued very much, and refused to relinquish. They were the post of President of the Vidyalankara Pirivena Dayaka Sabha, and as President of the YMBA,

Borella. Raja Kuruppu has served the YMBA Board of Management for long years. He is now the Senior Vice President, and has always had his heart and mind working for the welfare of that Association. He richly deserves to be elected uncontested as the President at the next AGM. His contribution to spread the noble Dhamma is like a song to remember.
Upali S.
Colombo 3

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