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Eye


History re-written

Bomb blast in 1998 reveals another facet of Sri Dalada Maligawa

By Mallika Etulgama
There is a Sinhala saying of our forefathers that ‘something good comes from the bad’ and this is exactly what has now come to light at the Sri Dalda Maligawa, the Palladium of the Buddhist world.
Had not for the bomb blast of 1998 on January 25, 13 years ago, a colourful chapter of the illustrious history of the building that houses the Sacred Tooth Relic would have been hidden from the human eye for a long while to come.

Following the attack on the Maligawa, the plaster of the walls came down, bringing to light frescoes of an elephant adorning the Maligawa walls.
Not everybody could use the Royal entrance to this unique building which was built using wattle and daub similar to other building of the Kandyan era. Today, as one enters the building through the silver-studded Royal doorway one comes to a hall, which houses the ‘gabadawa’ or the treasury, in which all the wealth of the Sri Dalada Maligawa stored. This is a restricted area, except for the officials of the Sri Dalda Maligawa, such as the Diyawadana Nilame, the Kariya Korale or the Lekam or Secretary.
From this hall, there is an ascending staircase, leading to the Sandun Kudama or the Sandalwood Room. As one climbs the staircase, on the left hand side, now encased in a glass case is an elephant with ornaments bedecked on him. This was only revealed when the outer plaster covering the fresco was removed following the bomb blast in 1998.

The exact period of the painting has not been established yet. It is not very clear, whether there is another plaster underneath the elephant fresco.
An experienced conservationist Ananda Colomage who had been involved with the Sri Dalada Maligawa conservation after the blast was able to ascertain to a certain extent, that the paining could be dated back to the time of King Narendrasinghe (1707-1739) or also King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe (1747-1786).
According to this conservationist, the painting had been done in the ‘tempara’ method, which depicts a mahout, with trimmings on the elephant, flowers and a dancer partly visible. This seems to depict a procession in which the elephant was taking part. There are some other paintings faintly visible to the naked eye.
But the questions that arises in the minds of any serious person who is interested in the history of the Sri Dalada Maligawa, is whether this is the original building which is supposed have had three storeys. The original building is believed to have been built during the time of King Vimaladharmasuriya (1687-1707) or King Narendrasinghe.

Going further, one has to depend mostly on the Asgiri Talpatha, though some may dispute this document. A plan of Maligawa now in a Museum in Holland, drawn in 1602, depicts the ‘old’ and new shrines. This shrine is further away towards the end of the present administrative building, what is now termed as the ‘new’ wing of the Maligawa. This dates back to the period of King Panditha Parakramabahu of Kurunegala, who had built the city of Senkadaglapura.
Then we have A M Hocart who has edited the Archaeological Memoirs who says that there was a shrine away from the present shrine called ‘Vedihiti Malige.’
It has to be borne in mind that the Sacred Tooth Relic was not placed in the present manner over seven caskets. It was the personal property of the King and it was only him alone who would worship the Sacred Tooth Relic daily. It was placed close to his palace. But, somehow or the other, due to the wars that had been waged to conquer the city, the old shrine would have gone into disuse.
King Vimaladharamasuriya II built the present shrine possibly over 80 years with three floors, that too for himself alone and not for the people. This building fell to decay and it was left for King Narendrasinghe, possibly to build or rebuild this present shrine.

But, the question that remains unanswered to this day is whether the present shrine was built on the foundations of the original shrine, or on a different foundation. The answer lies in the fascinating elephant in the Sandun Kudama.
Conservationist Ananda Colombage was of opinion that the elephant found in the Sandum Kudama may have been part of a perahera. Doea it signify the alms bowl? Late Professor Warakawe Dhammaloka Thera, residing at the Natha Devale Vihare was of the opinion that the alms bowl of the Buddha would be in and around the Sri Dalda Maligawa complex, though sometime ago fragments of what was termed as the alms bowl of the Buddha was shown in an Indian museum.

 

Review of Carl Muller’s City of the Lion

Story of the greatest Asian Buddhist city

By Darren S Ryle David
It even surprises me to think that I have never tried to write about Carl Muller.
I am not pleading a case, but it was the manner of the man that stifled me.
Let me skip a lot of what has been written before.
He seemed to revel in a mess that included himself, his family, his relatives and friends - and what can one make of a man like this? But a couple of years ago I found that the man did have a serious side and had got into all sorts of writing - from science fiction to poetry, had produced story collections and travelogues and books like Spit and Polish and Colombo - a Novel, that each carried a sort of power he reveled in.

It was when his glorious masterpiece, Children of the Lion was released that I saw something I could scarcely believe. What a book that was and so huge, carrying so much research and a quality of prose that was superb. What is more, he hadn’t finished with it. Even his publishers, Penguin-Viking of India seemed to have cried halt. It had to be continued, and this time about, Penguin must have looked at yet another monstrous book and told him that something had to be done about it.
This is what I now hold in my hands - a Part One of Book Two. With good grace, Muller split the monster into four, and in this Part One he has reminded us that while this is titled City of the Lion, his publishers will soon bring out Part Two: Grandeur of the Lion, Part Three: Intrigues of the Lion, and Part Four: Decline of the Lion. And when is it all going to end?

I listened to him read out a short excerpt Part One at the recently held SLAM conference at the University of Peradeniya and, cornering him outside if only to give him my best wishes, he told me that he couldn’t leave things to sink into some sort of unfinished history. “I got into it,” he grinned, “It will be done when I yank the British in, and that centuries away. I don’t know - I may not live long enough to finish it.”
It is this beautiful book, City of the Lion, that I wish to write about. It’s part of a monstrous saga, richly embedded in myth and legend, carrying forward the story of the Sinhalese people, their return to Anuradhapura after that bold, reckless prince Duttha Gamini Abhaya slew the usurping Elara who had ruled there for forty-four years.
Even his publishers admit that Muller is an unusual man. He is no academic; never went to university, was kicked out of three schools and served in the Royal Ceylon Navy and the Ceylon Army and the Port of Colomb as a pilot station signalman. He then got into advertising, entertainment, is pianist, keyboard wizard, artist and journalist. With 38 books under his belt, he is quite unstoppable and the recently, the Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (Sri Lanka Chapter) felicitated him on his 75th birthday and his contribution to literature. He seems to be quite unstoppable.

Let me quote from his Introduction:
“This is the story of the greatest Asian Buddhist city of the times before the Christ ... (it) grew, flourished, and the edifices’ of Buddhist glory rose to be as the wonders of the East, monuments as enduring as the pyramids, monuments that kiss the sky to this day... All I am attempting to do is to bring back a cloudy part of life, pump blood into veins that have ceased to throb these many centuries ... This is my tribute to those “men with giant purpose” and “their works of wonder” for they will be remembered as long as Lanka will endure ... and sure I am that even as the stars fall, the mighty works of the City of the Lion will stand - a testimony of faith. What God will seek to destroy such as this?”
It is the writing that thrills. How much love does Muller have for Buddhism? He lives next to a Buddhist temple and is much in store with the monks there. And he is a Christian - or is he? He has made so many challenges to so many faiths that no one can say what his reaction to organised religion truly is. He ends his first chapter, “The Indian Factor” with a harsh-voiced view of the past as it even swarms in today:
“...Once again it is Sinhala resentment against Damila invasion on a more subtle plain. It began with sporadic invasion by daring persons seeking their fortuned in this island. It grew to organised invasions by south Indian powers, but the Damilas stayed on, even in defeat. They dug in, they mixed, they bided their time. They adhered to Hinduism just as Elara did. They looked on parts of the land as theirs. Scratch them even now and one sees this great great ambition - to make Lanka theirs! But let the story unfold. Duttha Gamini had killed Elara. The path for the Sinhala is now of greater glory ...”

What enthralled me, insisted that I write, was the research Muller has so, shall I say prayerfully, brought into his work. Telling of the thousands who still come to the City of the Lion, to sing the praises of the Buddha, he recounts those days when the people streamed through the jungles and paths, between the mountains of Malayarata, from the coastal glades and the sandy coverlets of the East:
Even as they trundled on the broken roads, they sang of the great renunciation of the events (of the Buddha’s birth), of his attainment to Buddhahood in the Sal Park of Kimbulwatpura. They sang of his power over the lord of the demons, Mara, who had sought to bewitch him with 108 spells and 84,000 sorceries:
Going to the shade of the Bo Foot
Mounting the Vajrasana
Sitting upon the throne
He preached the five precepts in this wise.
They sang of the great flood that overtook the world at the dawn of the Kalpa, when all mankind was destroyed and the sun and the moon had ceased to shine… And then the gods lit once more ...and the days were formed...
Coming to the days of Bhalluka, he tells of how the Ramayana epic had moulded the minds of the Hindus for centuries and, as he claims:

Was not Ravana, who had raised a fearsome image of the deity - a seated statue, four-armed, holding an axe in a right hand, a deer in a left? …and had not Ravana been king of Lanka both in the north and in the south? No, the Damilas could not be easily routed. They would fight desperately for the land they had seized, raised as a Hindu enclave and around which they had woven many false claims and a barrage of pseudo-religious myths and legends ... “
Let Muller say more:
The North said Duttha Gamani... “is ugly! Nothing beautiful nor pleasant rises there ... what is soft and feeling about them? Nothing!”
So much is assembled to make this book one of the most fascinating that Muller has written. From George Keyt he has picked these lines:
It is not speculation on the possibilities of remoulding a changed image
But it is the dream of an occurrence -
The confluence of circumstances once more,
The flowing of a favourable flood ...

Muller will not hesitate to quote Tenent, Coleridge, Arahat Mahinda’s telling of the Sonnamali and the Lohapasada, of the holy monks of the Mahavihara who would make their mission to the Tavatimsa realm. He will tell you of Vihara Maha Devi’s insistence that he should be as a king, also a man - and as a man, a king.
We come to the Prasada - the Sanskrit mansion of many storeys. The ‘Jatakas’ tell of the Vimanas - an ariel palace: ‘dibba-vanama’ or ‘akasattha¬vimana’, the ‘thamba’ support and thousand-pillared palaces. Muller tells of Smither’s record of the stone columns with the motifs of the cakra, camara and chatra - universal monarchy, divinity and kingly authority - and in quoting Professor Nimal de Silva:
“Landscape is a product of philosophy, art, technology, creativity and Nature. This evolved as a ‘Shilpa’ in Lanka and was carried on with all the accumulated wisdom of the past. It enhanced the pattern of life for centuries - aesthetically pleasing.”
This work is so overwhelming a presentation that I had to ask how long it took him.
“You mean this first part? Oh, I think about forty days. All four parts were tougher. About sixteen months, I think. Yes, about that.”

I was sure he was kidding. “That can’t be,” I said. “All this research. Hours and hours in libraries ...”
“Me? Sitting in libraries? My library is at home. Everything I need to look up and turn to lies on my shelves.”
I could not be so sure, but later, I met many others including Professor Ashley Halpe who said: “Carl is a make-himself man. He has surrounded his life with books and doesn’t need to waste his time running around. I know. I’ve been with him. He’s the sort of writer who keeps on happening.”
So, if Muller brings in the Skanda Purana and the Dakshina Kailaya Manmiyan, don’t ask him where he got his information. The books are on his shelves. “The Hindu Puranas call the ages the Kaliyuga Varathan,’ he said, “and Skanda, the god of six faces is Sadakshara - count the syllables if you like: Sa - da - ak - sha - ar - ra. That’s Skanda’s mantra!”
I thought so much about Muller that had made him such an impossible man. “What about all the terrible stuff you have written of - your Burgher Books, those words you so proudly Sinhalised in “Maudie Girl’s Kitchen ...”
“Terrible, eh? So don’t read them!”
“What? Everybody I know reads them!”
“Good Lord! They must be worse than me!”

 

GCE OL English – 12 model papers with answers By Stanley Wickramasinghe

A useful guide to answering the English Language GCE (O/L) paper

Reviewed by Carol Aloysius
The current efforts to restore the English language to its rightful place after years of motherly treatment by the Education Ministry, is surely one of the most far-sighted decisions by the present government.
Those who have been championing the cause for the return of this global language into the school curricula, after being relegated to the back seat in the vast majority of classrooms across the country, will undoubtedly be able to breathe a sigh of relief.

For finally, albeit a great deal of damage has already been done, the gateway has been opened to future generations of this country clamouring to access information and technology they had hitherto been deprived of due to their ignorance of an international language used in almost every country around the world.
Yet, making English learning accessible to everyone, even those living in the most far-flung areas of the country as promised by the Education Ministry is an enormous challenge.
For existing resources to carry out this promise totally inadequate, including well -qualified teachers who are woefully lacking in numbers.

As we all know, teaching a language of which the vast majority of this country has only a very limited knowledge, cannot be accomplished overnight – or even in the course of a few months.
In order to reap the wide- ranging benefits that familiarity with this global language can bring them in the long run, the target groups will have to be literally immersed in the language on a daily basis.
That task can only be done by competent teachers who are well qualified to teach the language.
Unfortunately due to the lack of foresight in the past, and the inferior status to which the English language was relegated since the late 50s, we now have whole generations who have grown up without knowing how to read or speak the language.

Which is not surprising considering the fact that until very recently, only one period out of eight periods of study was allocated for the teaching of English, and that too by incompetent teachers..
To compound matters further, there is also now a glut of so called English language ‘academies’ of dubious reputation.
Many of them flagrantly violating the required standards required for conducting courses in English for GCE O.L and A.L students, as well as certificate and diploma courses , falsely promising students who enroll with them ‘guaranteed excellent results’ in a few months which would enable them to proceed for higher education anywhere in the world.. Not to be outdone are the innumerable tutorial classes mushrooming at every street corner in every village, city and town.
Here you will invariably find hundreds of students packed like sardines, in the confines of tiny rooms, learning a language that had taken the best masters of English many years of study, from phony lecturers with bogus qualifications.

That many of these classes are conducted over a microphone and students don’t even get to see their teachers, doesn’t seem to worry these naïve learners much, since many of them attend these classes for romance and escape from their otherwise dull routine of life.
If tutorials are not the answer, what is the next best alternative?
One answer to that question may lie with Study Aids based on the actual syllabuses written by properly qualified practicing teachers of English, which could help students to prepare themselves for the GCE O.L exam at home, simply by going through the exercises given in these study aids and evaluating their own answers with the answers given at the back of the book.
This is not something new. Many of us are familiar with the Model Questions and Answers to previous papers published by Atlas Hall, a household name. Atlas Hall notes have undeniably served many generations of students both in O.L and A.L classes.

Yet with the revision of the syllabus, and a new syllabus now in place, there is a need to look further.
As far back as 1990, a former senior lecturer in English and English Teacher’s College, Maharagama, Stanley Wickramasinghe attempted to fill this need by bringing out his own publication “GCE OL English – 10 Model Question Papers with Answers’ based on the prevailing syllabuses at that time.
He followed this with a series of Work Books for Year 9, 10 and 11. Last year he added another welcome addition for GCE O.L students.
This was titled “GCE OL English Language – 12 Model Question Papers with Answers,’ aimed primarily at helping GCE OL students to answer questions based on the current revised syllabuses in the comfort of their own homes and at their own pace.
As he states in his introduction, “The overall aim of this Model paper Book is to help students and teachers familiarise with the current communicative test types. This Model paper is designed in keeping with the Prototype Questions suggested by the National Evaluation & Testing Services, Department of Examinations,
Sri Lanka.”

Accordingly, he divides his book into two sections: paper 1 and Paper 11.
The first section (Paper 1) deals with four important aspects of the language that a student sitting the exam should be familiar with: namely, reading, vocabulary and grammar and Language functions and writing,
Under each heading, he gives the student different tasks to perform with testing techniques that will help them to evaluate their own performance..
For example, in Reading, he offers testing techniques, matching of questions with the right answers, multiple choice questions and short answers etc.
To stimulate their imagination, he introduces his own version of notices, ads, charts, graphs, maps, Tables, short conversations etc.

The same thing is done for vocabulary, grammar and writing. Paper 2 follows a similar pattern with additional tasks of editing, composition of letters and essays etc.
As face to face dialogue is not possible, the author illustrates his dialogues with cartoons to make the lessons more interactive, at the same time listing out possible answers to the questions asked by each speaker below the two cartoons.. For eg Arul ( cartoon figure) asks Sunil ( cartoon figure) ‘Did you lead a leisurely life when you were young?” and Sunil replies “ Sure we had time with nature. But today … “.(fill the blank).
He also makes use of advertisements that actually appeared in the newspapers, to task the students with answering such ads, at the same time guiding them on how to write their own curriculum vitae etc.
As the lessons progress, the tasks ( also based on the syllabus) become harder, since his objective appears to give his readers more scope for self expression and imagination without any spoon feeding by the lecturer. Test 8 is a good example of this. Here he gives a map showing the route that the character, Ruwani, took from the house marked A to the house marked B.

The readers are asked to write a description of her route and all the things she encountered on the way to her destination which include roads, bridges, parks, airports and play grounds among other things, in point form to make up a short essay of 15 lines.
What makes then content relevant to the students is that each exercise is based on actual day to day events, dealing with practical events they encounter on a daily basis, in the shopping malls, market place, while filling in forms for an Identity Book, or for a job as a hotel receptionist , a typist.
Wedged in between this list of activities are lessons on road safety, noise and environmental pollution, drug addiction, conservation of nature and marine life.

Students also get to learn how to greet each other, to condole with one another, to congratulate someone, using the correct grammar and pronunciation.
All this is done with the liberal use of visuals- cartoons, maps, graphs. Simply written, this comprehensive model question and answer book will undoubtedly be a useful and valuable study aid for students sitting the GCE OL exam under the revised syllabus.