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The Taj Mahal - A true symbol of immortal love
We celebrate Valentine’s Day, everything centreing round ‘Love’. Love is defined
in so many ways and the great poet Shakespeare in his own way said, “It is
better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all.”
An experience of falling in love, being romantic and an imagination of the two
coming together to face this world is something which every youngster goes
through in his teenage years. More wisdom sets in only after the teenage of
Love is described in so many different ways and some are: Love is patient, Love
is kind, Love does not envy, Love does not boast, Love is not proud, Love is not
rude, Love is not self-seeking, Love is not easily angered, Love does not keep
record of wrongs, Love does not delight in evil, Love rejoices with truth, Love
always protects, Love always trusts, Love always hopes, Love always perseveres,
Love never fails, and of all Love in the real meaning is immortal.
The greatest love story which depicts the immortality is the fine example of the
great monument. Emperor Shah Jahan of the erstwhile Moghul Empire in India built
this great “Taj Mahal” for his beloved wife Mumtaz in whom he embodied the true
meaning of love and which bond was not separated by any means.
Incidentally Mumtaz had 14 children. The Taj Mahal is a Museum for love, which
was in white marble. Shah Jahan’s wish was to build an identical one on opposite
the Taj Mahal with black marble. This was not to be as his son Arungazel took
over the reigns and imprisoned the father granting him the wish of seeing the
Taj Mahal from the prison chamber. Grief stricken Shah Jahan died and was buried
next to Mumtaz in the Taj Mahal.
This is a true story of the Immortal Love and a true story at that, let us not
abuse love for selfish wishes. True love never runs smooth, they say but I say
that true love centres on immortality like the greatest historical Monument the
So, not only we show love in the romantic way but love your neighbour as
yourself and also show your true love and affection not only to fellow human
beings but also to all living things be it humans, animals or plants.
“Long live true love”
To save environment and solve sand shortage
River sand, one of the most important ingredients for masonry in the
construction industry has, because of its acute shortage, become a precious
commodity today. The excessive mining of river sand has led to serious
environmental problems and it has become necessary to restrict such mining.
However, with the ever increasing demand for sand, illicit sand mining has been
on the increase. Sand resources of whatever nature, river banks, beaches, sand
dunes that protect the land from the vagaries of the ocean and even sandy soils
in reservations have been begun to be exploited illicitly. Extensive damage is
being caused to the environment as a result. River banks are collapsing, sea
erosion has increased and so have the prospects of flooding.
Sand resources are extremely limited. The supply cannot meet the demand. If
illicit mining is effectively checked the construction industry will be starved
of sand. The environment has to be protected and at the same time sand has to be
found to meet the demand. Radical new thinking is required if this problem is to
At present, the prospect of a readily available alternative to sand is indeed
remote. From a geological point of view the only sources from which virtually
inexhaustible quantities of sand could be obtained with minimal environmental
impact appear to be the vast expanses of uninhabited desert regions in the world
and the ocean bed. What needs to be considered are: (a) the cost factor and (b)
the loss of livelihood of the thousands of traditional river sand miners who use
Mechanised pumping of sand from the ocean bed is widely resorted to by many
countries mainly for purposes of reclaiming land or for the elevation of the
land for new roads and railways. Singapore and Hong Kong have increased their
land area by pumping sand from the sea bed. Many countries are using this method
to expand the land area of sea-ports for construction of warehouses and for
container yards. I believe in Sri Lanka too this method was resorted to fill
marshy terrain for the Colombo-Katunayake Express way. Sand pumped in this
manner to suitable selected locations left exposed to the rain for a reasonable
period of time gets desalinated and will be suitable for masonry.
Another possibility is to pump sand to rivers. If sea sand is pumped to a point
about 10-15 km upstream and allowed to be washed downstream this sand could be
mined using traditional methods. This will ensure traditional miners continued
employment. Environmental damage will be minimal as in all rivers the fauna and
flora up to about 15 km from the sea have got acclimatised to salinity as tidal
effects regularly send sea water upstream except at times when rivers are in
In the pumping of sand from the sea, the cost is bound to be high. But the
benefits will outweigh the destruction caused to the environment.
I trust the minister of environment will give this suggestion the consideration
it deserves. If a feasibility study shows that there is merit in this
suggestion, I am confident there will be many private sector concerns to launch
on a pilot project.
An instrument of love laughter and learning
Rev. Brother Baptist Croos, FSC
A heart of gold stopped beating and a gentle voice was stilled when Brother
Baptist Croos of the De La Salle Brothers passed away on the evening of March
21, 2009. Writing about Bro. Baptist is an awe-inspiring task. I therefore
humbly endeavour to confine myself to writing about Bro. Baptist the human
I first met Bro. Baptist in 1961 and for 48 years that friendship blossomed and
strengthened. He was a sincere and true friend who could be trusted implicitly.
Here was a man who radiated love and inspired all those around him. It was his
inimitable ability to forge everlasting friendships based on the bedrock of
mutual respect that endeared him to people of all ages and walks of life.
He would not hesitate to go that extra mile to help even a complete stranger. He
lived the philosophy, “Never ask. Never refuse.” He not only reached out, but
reached in helping heal hearts and minds. He really felt for and helped people
and in the true Christian tradition his left hand was unaware of what his right
hand gave. He never spoke about his good deeds and expected nothing in return.
But for the many people he helped, his magnanimous benevolence will never be
forgotten and his revered memory will always be etched in their hearts. Even
today the majority of the De La Salle Brothers are unaware of the fact that for
the past 25 years, Bro.Baptist had funded a pre-school in Mannar, paid the
salaries of its teachers and provided the poorest of the poor not only with an
education but books, clothes and shoes free of charge. This, Bro. Baptist was
able to achieve because donors believed in his integrity and vision.
In October 1993, Bro. Baptist invited me to set up an institute to train
teachers of English and provide them with effective English courses. Bro.
Baptist and I were the founder Directors of the La Sallian English Academy which
commenced operations in January 1994, in Mutwal. The institute was established
in line with the 42nd General Chapter of the De La Salle Brothers which states:
“The shared mission is to be one of our priorities in the coming years. This new
life we see in our shared mission means that a way of looking at ourselves as
the only authorised agents of the Institute’s mission is obsolete.”
However, in August 2004, after much pressure and acrimony this vital educational
institute which had operated successfully and self-sufficiently was forced into
closure. One of Bro. Baptist’s many admirable qualities was to stand up
fearlessly against injustice. When I established the St. La Salle English
Academy in September 2002, he continued in partnership as co-Director until his
Bro. Baptist believed in partnerships, which he was convinced contributed to
growth and progress. He would cite as an example the 35 or so La Sallian
Brothers in the Philippines, who although small in numbers, run varied
institutes of learning including universities. The La Salle fraternity in the
Philippines has been extremely successful in their mission. They are so highly
respected that a De La Salle Brother had even been appointed the Minister of
Education in the Philippines. Their success he attributed to the forged lay
partnerships in their shared mission.
When Bro. Baptist commenced his third term as the Provincial of the La Salle
Brothers in 1997, he set about the task of completely overhauling an appallingly
disorganised and creaky administrative system. He began an internal spring
cleaning exercise sweeping away the existing cobwebs and mustiness while
ensuring effective financial controls.
One did not require a mask to speak to Bro. Baptist. He could discuss topics as
diverse as religion, cricket, culture, poetry or any experience of human
endeavour for that matter. For him the word ‘Brother’ was always held sacred.
More importantly he believed that a white heart was profoundly more eminent than
a white robe. Here was a humble man of the cloth, a seemingly ordinary man who
led an extraordinarily exemplary life. His solid spiritual grounding constrained
him to adhere conscientiously to his commitments of religious consecration which
included the vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience.
In spite of being a former head of the religious fraternity he was an
exceedingly humble cleric. Indeed, soon after his term as Provincial ended in
1999, despite suffering from diabetes, he served an ‘obedience’ in the
Philippines from 2001 to 2004 without a murmur of dissent. Soon after his return
to Sri Lanka he was constrained to serve in what was considered the worst of
scenarios - in war-torn Mannar. Again without a modicum of discord he faithfully
carried out his humanitarian mission in these horrendous surroundings for four
Conditions in the conflict zone in Mannar were chaotic. But he remained without
complaint while his sickness worsened. Medical facilities were non-existent and
one had to travel to Colombo even for a simple tooth extraction. He was forced
to return to Colombo for medical treatment. But by then it was a case of too
little, too late. Bro. Baptist’s kidney had suffered irreparable damage. He died
while undergoing painful dialysis treatment.
Bro. Baptist’s literary greatness was but one of his incredible endowments. His
creative talents included a mellow singing voice, the intellect of an articulate
public speaker and the deft hand of a calligraphist, artist and painter. But
above all, those who knew him will never forget his radiant, unobtrusive yet
inspiring presence. He cheered the jaded spirits of all those around him with
his charm, compassion and light banter. Bro. Baptist was also imbued with those
great gifts of humour and humanitarianism.
Bro. Baptist, for the many people who really loved and admired you, the cross is
difficult to bear. You were part of the family to all those who had the good
fortune to know you. We cherish the time we were in your company. The people
whose lives you touched will be forever grateful. To us all you were
simultaneously the instrument of love, laughter and learning. We are proud to
call you our teacher, mentor and friend.
Denis de Rosayro
(The writer is the Director of the St. La Salle English Academy. He is an
international English teacher trainer, author and editor.)
Major Surendra Lal Wijewardane
It is very sad to learn the sudden demise of Major S.L. Wijewardane who is a
gentleman and officer in the Sri Lanka Army National Service Regiment and Sri
Lanka Army Rifle Corp. He is the son of late Mr and Mrs DE Wijewardane (Public
Trustee) then. He was educated in Royal College, Colombo 7 and St Joseph
College, Colombo 10.
He excelled in his studies, sports and cadetting. Since leaving college, with
his London GCE AL he entered London School of Printing, London (UK) and
obtained Diploma in printing. As soon as he retuned to Ceylon then, he joined
the department of printing in the Associated News Papers of Ceylon Ltd. Later,
he was appointed as compiler of Fergusion Directory which is printed by Lake
House. He was a land owner/agriculturist and coconut planter in Kurunagala
With the nationalisation of Lake House Group of Newspapers during the term of
office of Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Prime Minister of Ceylon then, he resigned and
attended to his agricultural/farming activities, being a land owner. He was a
founder member of the Sinhala National Heritage with the late Upali Senanayaka
who is the son of late FR Senanayaka .
In April 1971, during the very peak of JVP/ DJV insurgency in entire Ceylon
then, he was commissioned as an Officer in Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force where
I met him at Sri Lanka Army Artillery Regiment, Panagoda for National Service.
In 1978, he was transferred to Sri Lanka Army Rifle Corp commanded by the late
General Ranjan Wijerathne and was a appointed as Adjutant of the unit. Since
retirement, he took a keen interest for the welfare services of the poverty
stricken community in Rajarata through an NGO known as Rural Youths Leadership
Training Institute Foundation. He obtained aid from the Japanese Government and
Australian Government directly, sponsored by his uncle late EJR Wijewardana
being close relations. He was married to very lovely lady Miss Wimala Perera
Wijewardana of Panadura and he had a son Demintha who is doing very well in life
in Australia and his daughter Olu is married with three children now. They
possess dual citizenship in Sri Lanka / Australia. Our deepest sympathies to his
wife and children
May he born among us till he achieves Nibbhana in his journey in Sansara.
(Wilbawe ) Jayaratne
Mrs Iranganie Devi Seneviratne B. Jayaratne
A birthday tribute to Ganjali Jayasekera
It would have been your birthday today and I, together with your family and
friends, would have shared some laughter and cheer and this despite of your
discomfort and pain. Dear sister-in-taw I miss you, as I know your family and
friends do as everyone whose lives you touched will.
You left us six months ago, after a long and painful illness, bravely borne.
Never during this time did you lose your sense of caring, compassion and humour
and above all, the love you so unstintingly radiated among all of us. I was your
brother’s wife, but I know you cared for me as you would have cared for a
sister. You were always there for me, encouraging me through good times and bad.
These memories of you are, and will always be, etched in my mind and to me you
will always be ‘Mother Courage’.
“This day for us is sacred, so it will always be - a day of dear remembrance and
fondest memory. But not on this day only upon our loss we dwell. She is
remembered always by those who loved her well.” (From Patience Strong).
Dear Ganji, may your journey in Sansara be short and may you attain the Supreme
Bliss of Nibbana soon.
Verna L. de Silva