22 September, 2020

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A Language Called Sinhala Through R.A.L.H Gunawardana: A Very Dark Glass Darkly

By Darshanie Ratnawalli

 Darshanie Ratnawalli

Darshanie Ratnawalli

My series on the history and development of the language called Sinhala (of which this is the third episode preceded by Episode 1 and Episode 2) would have been dry as dust if not for the fallible scholars of Sri Lanka.  If those worthies hadn’t gazed upon it through the glass darkly of their flawed comprehension, Sinhala wouldn’t have been half as interesting. Today, we have Leslie (R.A.L.H) Gunawardana with his glass darkly act.

In 1995[i], discussing the Vallipuram inscription he said “The identification (by Paranavitana in 1939 in Epigraphia Zeylanica Vol. IV, pp.229-237, parenthesis mine) of the language of the inscription as Sinhala runs counter to opinions which have remained dominant in the field of historical linguistics for more than half a century”. Then after giving a brief description of these opinions, Leslie Gunawardana concluded;

“It will have been evident from the preceding discussion that, according to the periodization of the evolution of the Sinhala language which came to gain general acceptance among scholars, the appearance of the Sinhala language as a clearly distinguishable linguistic form was dated in the eighth or the ninth century. It has also come to be accepted that the language of the early Brahmi inscriptions in the island should be classified as Prakrit. Since Paranavitana was not a scholar who limited his scholarly activities merely to epigraphy but had also studied the development of the language, it would be justified to expect that these views would come to bear a modifying influence on his original opinions on the identity of the language of the Vallipuram inscription several decades later. In the introduction to his second edition of the record, Paranavitana (1983:79-81[ii]) does not refer to the language of the Vallipuram record as Sinhala or even as Old Sinhala.”- (pp14, “Historiography in a time of Ethnic Conflict”-)

Read the last two sentences carefully. Underline it, highlight it in the most glaring neon colour you have, burn it into your minds, get it autographed by a Professor of Sri Lankan history and keep it as a memento of fallibility. For here, Leslie Gunawardana, Professor of History at University of Peradeniya was lying. Not dissembling via a sophisticated, combination of suppression and decontextualization as is par for the course, but lying in a simple, frank and forthright manner.

Far from NOT referring “to the language of the Vallipuram record as Sinhala or even as Old Sinhala”, in “the introduction to his second edition of the record”, as Leslie claims, Paranavitana (1983:79-81) starts the introduction with the sentence; “THIS is the only example, so far known, of an early Sinhalese inscription engraved on a sheet of gold. It was brought to me by…” Since this sentence fairly leaps to the eye occurring right under the relevant heading, ‘NO. 53. VALLIPURAM GOLD SHEET INSCRIPTION’, we can discount the possibility that Leslie Gunawardana missed it. Indeed such a possibility shouldn’t even be considered because we are not talking about some decrepit and isolated old man who has to struggle his way into a public library using public transport to get hold of the relevant book and write an article to a local newspaper because he needs the Rs. 2000/- or so. We are talking about a Professor Emeritus, whose research that produced the above paragraph was facilitated (as he informs us in the preface) by an invitation from the University of Chicago to be Numata Visiting Professor in 1993 and the award of a Rockefeller Fellowship at the same university, which provided him “the opportunity for utilizing the magnificent resources of the University of Chicago Library”.

Clearly Leslie Gunawardana needed the guidance of a supervisor to help him maximize the magnificent resources of the University of Chicago library. None would have thought that he needed one nearly 30 years after his Ph.D.  days. If I had been his supervisor, I would have chided him sharply for blatantly misrepresenting a dead man (Paranavitana) in order to use his authority to buttress his own (Leslie’s) uninformed and untenable stand on linguistics.

For even after the passage quoted above Leslie’s dependence on the fantasy of “Paranavitana’s revised views” continues; “It is interesting to note that, in the Sri Lankan case, groups on both sides of the barricades have found Paranavitana’s views of 1939 more useful for their purposes in comparison to his revised views of 1983. In more recent times, with the gathering momentum of the ethnic conflict, most writers have tended to ignore the change in Paranavitana’s views and his earlier statements are continually cited by rival groups embroiled in contemporary controversies…In his recent comments on the Vallipuram inscription, Professor Veluppillai (1990) objects to Paranavitana’s use of the term “Old Sinhala”, but he makes no mention of the change in the latter’s views.”- (ibid, pp.15, 16)

If I had been R.A.L.H Gunawardana’s supervisor, I would have been overcome with distaste by this repetition of falsehood and started to cut him socially. But perhaps a real supervisor would have been content merely to instruct and clarify. He would have started with “Leslie, before trying to comprehend the concept of Periodization, (which it is important to understand, is only an academic device) let’s use the magnificent resources of the University to find out whether as you claim, classifying the language of the earliest stone inscriptions of Lanka (and of the gold sheet inscription, which you have understood to be of the same language) as ‘Sinhala’ “runs counter to opinions which have remained dominant in the field of historical linguistics for more than half a century”.

I see that you have quoted D. E Hettiaratchi: 1974, saying that he agrees with the scheme of periodization devised by Geiger andJayatilaka. You say that “he reserves the term “the Period of Sinhala Proper” (niyama simhala yugaya) for the third stage in what had by then become the generally accepted scheme of periodization.” You say that Hettiaratchi carefully emphasizes the distinction between the period of Sinhalese Proper and the periods preceding it. Your understanding Leslie seems to be that the term Sinhala can’t be used for the periods preceding this “period of Sinhalese Proper”. But is that the right understanding? Let’s dig into these magnificent resources Leslie. Here is D. E. Hettiaratchi in “Current Trends in Linguistics, 1973[iii], page736 (go to page ):

“Sinhala possesses besides literary works dating from about the 10th century A.D, a wealth of lithic records from about the 3rd or the 2nd century B.C., enabling us to trace the development of Sinhalese from century to century.”

And I see that you have brought out Don Martino De Zilva Wickremasinghe: 1912[iv], in support of your understanding of “current trends in linguistics”. Leslie, look at that calendar. It’s 1995. If your attempt was to show that Wickremasinghe: 1912 was current while Paranavitana: 1939 was un-current, I wash my hands of you. But I am glad Wickremasinghe: 1912 came up, because he can be used to show that the current remained unchanged since 1904/1912 to the present times with regards to the identification of the language in the earliest stone Brahmi inscriptions of Lanka. This is what Wickremasighe: 1912 says:

 “The question to which of the Pali dialects[v], the ancient Sinhalese of the cave and rock inscriptions is most related should, in my opinion be left open until more reliable material than we at present possess can be had by the publication of more inscriptions and texts.”- (pp.13, fn.1)

Also Leslie I am curious. In setting down the current trends in historical linguistics you quote from publications of 1912, 1935 and 1974. Yet, I see from the calendar, that this is 1995. You seem to be wholly unaware of Jim Gair[vi], who can be said to represent the most current trend as he has a publication coming out next year. Shall we take a peek at him too as we have this magnificent resource at our disposal and it would be a crime to waste it?”

“Sinhala tradition has it that the group that brought the languages with them arrived on the date of the parinibbana (final passing away) of the Buddha, traditionally 544-543 B.C. As a matter of fact somewhere around that time does appear to be a reasonable date, since we have inscriptions in old Sinhala dating from the early second or late third centuries B.C., and by that time the language had already undergone important changes that made it distinct from any of the Indo-Aryan languages of North India”- (Gair:1996, full text here[vii])

@ http://ratnawalli.blogspot.com/  and rathnawalli@gmail.com


[i] Historiography In a Time of Ethnic Conflict, Construction of the Past in Contemporary Sri Lanka, R.A.L.H. Gunawardana, Social Scientists’ Association, Colombo, 1995.

[ii] Inscriptions of Ceylon, Volume 2, Part 1, Containing Rock and Other Inscriptions From The Reign of Kutakanna Abhaya (41 B.C.- 19 B.C.) to Bhatiya II (140-164 A.D.), Paranavitana, Published 11 years after his death.

[iv] Don M. de Z. Wickremasinghe, Epigraphia Zeylanica: Being Lithic and Other Inscriptions of Ceylon, Volume 1, 1904-1912. (Full Text)

[v] In the dark ages of (1904-1912), the word Pali was used not only for the language of the Theravada Cannon, but for all the Prakrit dialects of the Asokan Edicts too.

[vi] Gair is a contemporary of the late Leslie Gunawardana with an age gap maybe as small as two years between them. The distance between Cornell (Gair’s University) and Uni of Chicago (Where Leslie was during his research stint) was also not much in terms of American distances. Not popping into Cornell for instructive chats on linguistics with Gair could be interpreted as another magnificent resource underutilized by Gunawardana.

As light relief to dilute the tragedy of Gunawardana, I give you Ken Roberts, a character who comments quite often on my articles. He suffers from delusions. On one comment thread he claims to be a medical doctor with a busy medical practice just starting to read a book on linguistics suggested by another commenter. Just months after he pops up in another comment thread with insinuations of being a linguist (“but I do have a pecuniary interest in linguistics”).

On the same comment thread he says; “Roshan De Mel Please read the reference provided by Dharshanie Prof Gair clearly says in his introduction that he was not an expert in Tamil”

Now Gair does not say this at all. My guess is that Ken Roberts can read. But, due to his condition what he reads and what he assumes get hopelessly mixed up in his head.

What Gair does say is that the paper on Jaffna Tamil was co-authored with S. Suseendirajah. And that the paper was originally published on the sole responsibility of one author (Gair) because the co-author was inaccessible. Also that at a later date an addendum was added also on the sole responsibility of one author (Gair) because the co-author continued to be unavailable. If shown a paper by Robin Coningham and Allchin, Ken Roberts will say, “In that paper Robin Coningham says that he is not an expert in archaeology and he wrote the paper after discussing with Allchin.” The fact that he can’t grasp the concept of co-authorship makes even his medical doctor claims doubtful.

Ken Roberts says “He (Gair) also notes Jaffna tamil is difficult to master because of unusual coining of pronouns to verbs”. Nowhere has Gair said this. I am unable even to find a catalyst phrase in the paper which may have given rise to this delusion.

Also my guess is some of these senior citizens such as Ken Roberts find Google search quite challenging and as result can’t find even most basic information freely available on the net. For example here, Ken Roberts lumps Gair and Caldwell together and categorizes them as language scholars of the past. Caldwell is a 19th century scholar and is old enough to be Gair’s great-great-great-great (4 greats) grandfather. And the people Ken thinks are current scholars, Suseendirajah and Karunatilake are Gair’s colleagues and contemporaries. (Even without Googling Ken Roberts could have found this out by the reference to “Gair, Suseendirajah and Karunatilake 1978”. We need not dwell too much on the Ken Robertses of the world. Any of us could end up like that at a particular age.

[vii] “Sinhala, an Indo-Aryan Isolate”: James W. Gair in “Studies in South Asian Linguistics. Sinhala and Other South Asian Languages”The PDF I have uploaded has two more good articles; “How Dravidianized was Sinhala Phonology? Some Conclusions and Cautions” and “Some Aspects of the Jaffna Tamil Verbal System”  

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Latest comments

  • 13
    10

    After Raja Raja Cholan rubbish from Linda now it”s Darshani”s turn to write some bullshit
    They must be working in unison
    I am sure Robert Michael will be doing his bit

    Don’t these guys understand that no one take them seriously

    • 2
      10

      Nobody takes your toilet wall scrawls seriously.

      • 5
        1

        Bright ideas are born when one is in the toilet.

        • 3
          0

          SIHALA WERE LIVING UNDER TREES BEFORE THE EUROPEANS ARRIVED OR HANGING LIKE MONKEYS IN THEIR BORROWED AMUDE

          UN Test site at Andaman: Great Andamanese of Andaman (hanuman in Sanskrit) and Veddha (Ravana In Sanskrit) of Ceylon are similar and are the Indigenous peoples.

          Thuppai,Valli you are Bestiality Breed Slave- Dalit Slave transported by the Portuguese and VOC to work on the Spice plantations of Cinnamon and Nutmeg (aristocrat’s spice) same as the British bought the Tea worker. VOC has invoiced proof that you were picked up from Karanataka and Kerala the slave state for pepper- the malayalee were slaves and don’t deny.

          Throughout its history, the VOC made massive profits by exploiting and killing local people in the colonies.

          The East India Company enslaved hundreds of thousands of people on the spice islands and states, massacred and perpetrated a genocide against the inhabitants of the Bandas Islands to protect its nutmeg monopoly. Cinnamon was for common but nutmeg was for aristocrats.
          _______

          SINHALESE ARE UNABLE TO FACE THE TRUTH OF BEING ILLICIT IMMIGRANTS.

          4th Feb – wasn’t that Independence day???
          Kingdom of Bisnagar by the Portuguese was the cause of kallathonies from the west. The kandayan kingdom protected by the Dutch put a stop to that. The Dutch Coromandal Necklace of ports (21) stretching from The kingdom Pallava influenced ruled southern tip to Patna Bihar was the cause of kallathonies influx from the east. The British was the cause of the hills being populated by Tamils of TN. (Both Pallavas and Vijayanagara Empire were by imposters carried out cultural mixing on a large scale) Karnataka, Kerala Goa Tamil Nadu Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and mixing thereof forms the exodus as storways and slaves during the period. The first Portuguese encounter with India was on 20 May 1498 when Vasco da Gama reached Calicut on Malabar Coast. Vasco da Gama sailed to India for a second time with 15 ships and 800 men, arriving at Calicut on 30 October 1502, where the ruler was willing to sign a treaty. The Portuguese built the Pulicat fort in 1502, with the help of the Vijayanagar ruler.

          (Raja Shivaji II (Marathi: तंजावरचे शिवाजी II)(died 30 Oct 1855) of the Bhonsle dynasty, was the son of Raja Serfoji II and ruled the fortress of Thanjavur and its surroundings from 1832 to 1855. He was the last Raja of Thanjavur known to wield any authority.
          On the death of Shivaji II, due to the absence of a legitimate heir to the throne, the kingdom was annexed by the British East India Company as per the Doctrine of Lapse.) Civilizing the island started in 1505. The Portugese/Spaniards went to Malabar in search of `pepper corn` where the Jewish refugees (driven by Romans) and Syrian Christians had set up business and still do.

          Mesopotamia , Ziggurat was made of clay- the Arabs did not come from the Nile to Lanka to stay.
          ______________________

          Sihalas common language Sinhala commenced with the arrival of Vasco da Gama. The Sihala Buddhist Supremes’ (schedule class) have hijacked Sanskrit of the Hindu Brahmin.

          `Amma` is common to south India.
          1 English; Shirt Spanish: Camisa; Sinhala: Amude/Camisa
          2 English: Shoe; Spanish: Zapato; Sinhala: Amude/Sapatu
          3 English: Towel Spanish: Toalla; Sinhala : Amude/Toalla
          4 English: Table Spanish: Mesa; Sinhala : Amude/Mesa
          5 English: Closet Spanish: Armario; Sinhala : Amude/ Armario
          6 English: Space; Spanish: Sala; Sinhala: Amude/Sala Spanish Tiles:

          Mission Clay Roof Tile S type; Sihala ulu same as `Mission Clay Roof tile.`
          Spanish Roofing S type Rustic Antique Red, Dark /Light, `Mission Clay Roof Tile`

          SINHALESE WERE LIVING UNDER TREES BEFORE THE EUROPEANS ARRIVED OR HANGING LIKE MONKEYS <

          • 2
            0

            Anyone who met the so called Portuguese burgers back in the fifties would have noticed these folk were black and not white looking like Europeans.

            For Security reasons the Portuguese strictly followed a system of sending orphan girls to marry the Portuguese men running the colony.

            The Dutch VOC preferred sending married couples and the bachelors were given a maximum of 10 years away in 4 or more places for security reasons.

            The British also followed the above process.

            Even today the whites rarely marry the colored because they are seen as slaves.

        • 0
          1

          Sure Rajah

          Your beloved goat king Podian Preba had his Peelum dream while he was doing No 1 in a thick jungle of Vanni.

          he paid the ultimate price with a big hole in his empty hollow head in Nandikadhal mud bath.

          • 3
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            Vanga Rajagurunathan

            What has Irrathinavalli’s article got to do with your beloved goat king Podian Preba, his Peelum dream, him doing No 1 in a thick jungle of Vanni?

    • 3
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      If you see the articles what Dharshanie Ratnawalli has written on CT, you will realize that she favors and quotes a very few so called half-baked “Scholars” whom she has some close affection/connection while criticizing those who wrote something not similar to these half-baked psedo-scholars.

      Among the historians and archeologists at the Peradeniya University, Prof. R.A.L.H (Leslie) Gunawardena was known as the leading light, a leading Sri Lankan academic, well respected by the others in the same field of HISTORY. He was one of the very few Scholars who have done an extensive research on both Sri Lankan and Indian history and archaeology. He also says that, after the ethnic conflict, Sri Lanka has thrown up a breed of pseudo-historians, fringe archaeologists, and bogus scholars (charlatans) who are seriously undermining the traditions that the Peradeniya School has been seeking to establish. Unlike Dharshanie Ratnawalli (a biased history journalist) and her favorite “scholars” to whom she acts as a side-kick, Prof. R.A.L.H Gunawardena was a professor in HISTORY, he was a HISTORIAN (not a his-storian or her-storian), a Scholar (not a charlatan). When the academics and scholars in the same field of study (History) are calling him a leading light, an unbiased researcher (unlike Prof. Paranvithana whose views were always one sided/biased), why should we believe what these Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinists (with a hidden political agenda) are saying about a well reputed historian such as Prof. R.A.L.H Gunawardena who has earned his reputation for his good work?

  • 2
    1

    “………..of which this is the third episode preceded by episode 1 and episode 2 ……….”

    Such a firm grasp of ordinal numbers at a tender age. And the prodigious intelligence is fully in evidence throughout the rest of the article!

    • 1
      0

      Mr Joseph Pillai

      “Such a firm grasp of ordinal numbers at a tender age. And the prodigious intelligence is fully in evidence throughout the rest of the article”

      We live in an era where the current education minister is destroying free education and Malaka silva wants to be the next education minister.

      Is prodigious intelligence is pitting against free education in Srilanka?
      I suspect the writer of this article has not touched the foot steps of a sri lankan university to learn to respect their teachers. May be I am having delusions.

  • 5
    5

    Why dont you just F’off with your pseudo-intellectual bullshit! Mind my French please!

  • 11
    3

    It was the obsessive attraction of the alluring smile and the frothy head of frizzy mane that led me to scour two thousand words on a balmy Sunday morning hoping to find some enlightening nugget on the hybrid lingo that passes for the language of our mongrel majority. I didn’t find that elusive nugget; instead, my inquisitiveness was rewarded with an insight into the dark soul of the fragrant Darshanie. I choked on my morning tea as I grappled with the vision of our heroine ‘sharply chiding’ the learned, gentle but ‘lying’ Leslie. Leslie a liar? Darshanie, that is a most unbecoming and bitchy slight, and totally unwarranted. Leslie Gunawardana, like all historians, would have given his view of historical matters, but lying? Never! Darshanie, bend over and take your chastisement like a man.

    • 0
      0

      “insight into the dark soul of the fragrant Darshanie”

      Dalit Slaves, Linda ans Valli make tea in their pajamas is that the fragrance you repeat so often or is it your age??

    • 4
      0

      Spring Koha

      Social Scientists’ Association wrote the following brief introduction to Professor R A L H Gunawardana:

      R.A.L.H. Gunawardana graduated from the University of Ceylon with First Class Honours in History. After winning the Government University Research Scholarship, he proceeded to the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London where he obtained his PhD in History. Subsequently, Gunawardana was Commonwealth Fellow affiliated to Gonville and Caius College of the University of Cambridge, and was elected a member of that college. He was also Visiting Fellow at Corpus Christi College of Oxford University, Visiting Scholar at Kyoto University, Directeur Associé de Recherche at Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, Paris, and Rockefeller Fellow at the Institute on Culture and Consciousness in South Asia, Chicago. He was appointed to a Personal Chair of History at the University of Peradeniya, and was dean of the Faculty of Arts and later the Vice-Chancellor of that university when he was elected Chairman of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, London. Gunawardana has held appointments as Visiting Numata Professor at the University of Chicago, Visiting Professor at the University of Virginia, and as Visiting Professor successively at BowdoIN College, Maine, and Carleton College, Minnesota. During a spell in national politics he was Cabinet Minister of Science and Technology. He is at present Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Peradeniya where he has worked for four decades. Information on his writings may be obtained from his Website: http://www.lesliegunawardana.org

      http://ssalanka.org/books/periodization-in-sri-lankan-history/

      • 3
        0

        Prof. Lesley Gunawardene, passed away a few years back. Though I knew him personally, I would not call him a friend. He was someone I admired, looked up to and respected. Such a person is more than a friend- a mentor. He was a scholar par-excellence and a man beyond petty bigotry, He worked very closely with Prof. Gananath Obeysekera ( who is referred to in this article). It is a shame that Prof. Gunawardene is not around to answer the issues raised in this article. I hope Prof. Obeysekera or someone familiar with Prof. Gunawardene’s work, will come forward to provide the required answers.

        It is a moral obligation for persons who know better or even different, to answer the likes of Dharshani Ratbawalli and Malinda Seneviratne. They cannot continue to be in the ethereal atmosphere of academia and ignore the polemics unfolding in the web media.

        Dr. Rajasingham Narendran

        • 4
          0

          Dr. Rajasingham Narendran

          Dignified Prof G Obeysekere should not comment on this third grade abusive article. The author and her mentors will drag him down to their level and beat him up with their stupidity.

          • 5
            0

            Native,

            I am 100% in agreement with you. This Ratnavale turned Ratnawalli can become a darling in the eyes of the Sinhala Buddhist Chauvinists but cannot pull wool over the sane people!

          • 2
            0

            Dr. RN,

            Do you think the learned academics/scholars will ever even bother to waste their time reading such polemic nonsense from a half baked history journalist who does not know anything about the ethics of academia. Even if they come across such articles by accident, they will only laugh and simply ignore them.

            By writing all these rubbish this woman may be under the impression that she has beaten most of the erudite men and women in history.

            Even if Professor R A L H Gunawardana was alive today, he would have simply laughed at this bull crap and would have completely ignored it.

            This is a stuck up woman with some kind of obsession/fetish. She acts as a side kick to a few old and insane ‘professors'(retired) writing damn lies to earn their daily bread.

    • 4
      0

      Spring Koha

      Forget the little islanders’ unwarranted attack on an intellectual giants. You would have noticed these attacks are not limited to Leslie alone. Please read an appreciation by Prof G Obeysekere:

      Professor R.A.L.H. Gunawardana:an appreciation of his life and scholarly contributions
      December 4, 2010, 5:33 pm

      by Gananath Obeysekera

      I was saddened to hear the news of the death on 16 November of Leslie Gunawardana, someone whom I knew from our Peradeniya days and with whom I have maintained a long friendship even when I, unlike Leslie, lived and worked in the US for much of the time. He was ill for a long period and was undergoing daily dialysis and all of us knew, as indeed he did, that he would not last very long. Even though his death was expected, it is always sad to lose a friend who till the very end of his days continued his scholarly work unabated. Also unabated was his passionate commitment for social justice and the ills of ethnic discrimination that he critiqued in his writing. Although he was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Peradeniya and for sometime a minister for science and technology, he was not a public speaker offering platitudes but someone who expressed his social and political concerns through his scholarly writing. That writing, an enduring monument to his memory, is extensive in length and wide in scope and contains over a hundred scholarly articles and books both in English and in Sinhala. They deal with Sri Lanka’s ancient and medieval past and the relevance of that past towards understanding the present. Let me present a few of the themes that animate his writing.

      His first major book entitled Robe and Plough: Monasticism and Economic Interest in Early Medieval Sri Lanka was published in 1979 and contained the seeds of much of his later work. Given Gunawardana’s Marxist orientation it was natural that he would relate Buddhist monasticism to the social and economic order although he eschewed any kind of naïve economic determinism. The book concerned, among other things, an important paradox: Buddhist monasticism, as much of Buddhist theory and practice, had to adapt itself to the socio-political world in which it found itself. Thus Robe and Plough is not only a brilliant descriptive account of medieval monasticism but also one which dealt with phenomena antipathetic to the spirit of ancient Buddhism. Thus in medieval times Sri Lankan monastic landlordism was well established largely owing to the largesse of monarchs who, like their Indian counterparts in respect of Brahmins, had given extensive properties for the maintenance of the Sangha. But this entailed many seeming contradictions, such that slaves became an essential component of monasticism, however benign that “slavery” was in comparison to European forms that developed later. Slaves were however not uniquely monastic; they existed among the wealthy of that time and later. Thus Leslie’s work deals with the intersection of the monastic and the political order alongside with everyday lay life. The one cannot be separated from the other; each takes its meaning and significance in their interrelationships. From the point of view of Sri Lankan historical scholarship this work was a landmark event in critical historiography that until then was mostly concerned with descriptive accounts of the devolution of regimes (kings and governors, one might say) such that economic, political and social relations were for the most part relegated into separate “sections” of historical writing. It is as if lived existence can be confined to the barracks.

      Leslie’s concern with medieval and ancient Sri Lanka led him almost inevitably to discourse on the nation’s great achievement, the complex hydraulic networks (the “tank” system as it is foolishly known), that brought about vast areas of arable land into the cultivation of rice and other crops. He is an astute critic of those who have suggested that this feature of civilization led to a form of “oriental despotism.” His early research also prompted him to write on some key technical features of the hydraulic engineering, focusing on the complex technology associated with sluice gates. These interests and his later work on early science and technology in South Asia have a technical quality about them that might not interest the present reading public. I hope that Leslie’s papers will be posthumously republished in book form so that both the Sri Lankan and international scholarly public will have ready access to them and reflect on them with the attention they deserve.

      The multiple themes in Leslie’s writing inevitably led to the recognition that no island is an island unto itself but is involved in a wider world. Hence he is concerned with another theme, namely, the implications of ocean routes and international relations of the time on the local situation. Many historians have of course recognized this interplay of the “global” with the local, and the other way around, but Leslie’s work has recognized its importance for understanding our ancient and medieval history. There is a kind of “trans-nationhood” to the historiography of the nation and Gunawardana illustrates it in many ways, as for example his work on the linkage between Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, especially Thailand and further his explorations into Tibet in a 1990 essay on Sri Lankan nuns’ biographies found in Tibet. Let me now mention another example that might interest Sri Lankans. We know that Magha of Kalinga (1215-1236), with Tamil and Kerala mercenaries, led one of the most devastating invasions in Sri Lanka resulting in the conquest of the Rajarata and the destruction of Buddhist places of worship, graphically described in the Culavan sa and the near-contemporary Puja valiya. There is no doubt that these texts speak of “Tamil” invaders in the most horrifying terms. Yet, as Leslie and his friend and collaborator Amaradasa Liyanagamage point out, it is also the case that when this invasion occurred, monks fled to South India and there in the Chola country they sought refuge. This is no isolated pattern either. We know that the resistance to Magha was led by Vijayabahu III and he, the chronicles tell us, brought back these monks and in his reign and in the reign of his son, the great Parakramabahu II, the lapsed higher ordination was resumed with the aid of Tamil monks. And one of the founding monks of a notable monastery of that time was a Tamil. It should also be remembered that several kings right down to the later Kotte and Kandyan times were knowledgeable in Tamil. And some of the kings of the Gampola and Kotte kingdoms had Tamil or Kerala ancestries, the most obvious examples being Bhuvanekabahu VI (Sapumal Kumaraya) and his brother Vira Parakramabahu VIII (Ambulugala). In other words scholars like Gunawardana and Liyanagamage point out that Sinhala and Tamil are not simple oppositional categories but instead their interplay must be grasped to properly appreciate our past and its continuing presence.

      In his complex presentation of the past Leslie demonstrates how present day nationalists simplify the past to create a view of a sanitized Buddhist culture and reify the oppositional dualism of Sinhala versus Tamil, Buddhists versus others. Two of his papers are especially illuminating in this regard, these being, “The people of the Lion” and “Historiography in a time of ethnic conflict: construction of the past in contemporary Sri Lanka.” There have been two responses to this dimension of his work. One is a scholarly reaction that is quite understandable because no one can be certain about what actually occurred in history and one must be satisfied with “reconstructing” history from the bits and pieces of evidence that we possess. History is always a matter of interpretation and interpretation permits considerable leeway for disagreement. There is and should be scope for scholarly debate. The other reaction is hostile vituperation, mostly in intemperate language that nowadays appears in every part of the world and, even as I write this, in the United States. In Sri Lanka it is by people who claim to be Sinhala Buddhist nationalists ignoring the norm of “right speech” that the Buddha himself promulgated. Leslie is right to ignore the latter persons who seem to have forgotten that “nationalism” was a term invented in Europe, even though there are “family resemblances” to nationalism in other polities. I do not know whether Leslie believed as I do, that fanatics should be left to choke in their own venom.

      After his stint as Vice-Chancellor, Leslie moved into the political arena and was briefly minister of Science and Technology in Chandrika Kumaratunga’s government during the period 2000-2001, not as an elected representative but as an appointed one. I doubt his appointment was based on his knowledge of ancient irrigation technology! Rather it was his long time association with the Communist Party of Sri Lanka, a partner in the Kumaratunga coalition government. I do not agree with Leslie’s politics. Yet one of the interesting features of our political life is that it was possible for someone like me to have friends with political opinions I do not share, and some of which I openly condemn, as long as these political views do not entail intolerance or condone ethnic violence and discrimination or shackle our freedoms. We live in a small but complex culture and many have friends and relations on every side of the political spectrum. Friendship that cannot straddle differences is no friendship at all. For many in Sri Lanka continuing friendship and kin ties can involve considerable juggling, not always with happy results. With Leslie I have had no problem because his Marxist political beliefs were in fine tune with what I would call his “Buddhist humanism.” I have known other Marxist leaders who, at least in their later careers, combined their Marxism with reasonable, sometimes even disconcertingly respectable, bourgeois or capitalist virtues! I believe that Leslie never lost his compassion for the poor of our nation. I remember vividly his visiting our hilltop home in Kandy with his wife Viru a few months before his death. It was evening and the two of us were in our balcony overlooking the Eastern hills, the beautiful Dumbara valley below and the distant Knuckles range. And then as night fell there emerged another kind of beauty, the flickering lights from thousands and thousands of village homes, most of which one could not see during the day, hidden as they are by thick foliage. Leslie said, “a few years ago all would be in darkness but now, see, how many of our poor folk have electricity.” This is of course true. His was not a political statement defending any particular regime but recognition that some progress has indeed occurred for many of the poor and that is something one can be proud about. One can also be proud of the fact that Leslie was a “village boy” who entered the University from Tholangomuva Central School, itself a product of our Free Education system, a system that successive governments undermined and is now beginning to be dismantled. From Tholangomuva to the University of Ceylon where he obtained a First Class Honours degree in History and reaped many prizes and awards; and then on to London where he obtained his PhD in 1965, studying under the distinguished Dutch scholar and teacher, J.G. de Casparis. Perhaps it was de Casparis who stimulated his interest in Southeast Asia and prompted his desire to learn Dutch and Chinese.

      Unfortunately, his official position as Vice-Chancellor at Peradeniya and his political views alienated him from many of his colleagues, perhaps for wrong reasons, perhaps for right ones. But surely his colleagues ought to have appreciated his enduring contributions to Sri Lankan studies? Leslie’s sense of alienation combined with his impending illness pushed him into a life of a recluse, such that very few except close friends visited him. A scholar can easily become a recluse and in Leslie’s case his hermitage was his study, lined everywhere with books and from where he continued to write whenever his illness gave him some respite.

      My reminiscence of Leslie in his twilight years gazing at the evening lights has triggered another memory, one of many, of our long gone greener years. During the course of my fieldwork near Maha Oya I had visited one of the most fabulous, and little-known archeological sites in Sri Lanka, Rajagala, a huge, forested mountain, extremely difficult to reach, then a refuge for elephants, another of the many species fast disappearing from our Island. I suggested to Leslie, sometime in the late 70s that we should visit this site. My wife and I and Leslie ascended the mountain and there before us were acres and acres of scattered archeological remains. Leslie was in top form discoursing at length on them that we did not notice time go by and then realized that dusk had fallen and the three of us had to go back. We missed the footpath on the first round and the darkness was closing in on us. We were getting anxious, climbing trees to try to glimpse a footpath, and fortunately hit upon the right path almost by accident and got back to safe ground. Years later that place became a refuge for the LTTE and I have wondered: what became of those priceless remains of our past? Did terrorism spare the site? Or more somberly, has another brand of cultural terrorists searching for treasure despoiled it? It is with a different form of sadness I note, as I am sure Leslie did, that treasure-hunting has become a way of life for many and politicians, even an occasional monk, have become complicit in it. Something beside the long war has trampled on our values; or perhaps the effects of that long war. It is no longer Magha of Kalinga who despoils our religious sites but our own people. Everywhere in the area I am engaged in current fieldwork, there is evidence of despoliation, as when stone pillars are taken to build houses for politicians. In a cave that held old “primitive” paintings dynamiters have been at work, searching for non-existing treasure. And so is it with other sites. If one cannot take pride in the remains of the past, what can possibly remain of our future?

      For me Leslie was one of the truly creative historians of Sri Lanka and I feel different kind of sadness to think there are very few of his caliber remaining. As with the remains of the past being despoiled, so is it with the remains of learning in our universities. Leslie hoped, as many of us do, that scholarship will in the future bourgeon once again although some of us won’t be there to witness it as we join Leslie in the silent land. His was a long illness and during that time his wife was with him, his companion and friend and succor. She is the one who administered the injections he constantly needed and who supervised the daily dialysis performed at home. In her quiet and self-effacing way Viru possessed an understated and quiet heroism. Our love and sympathy go out to her and to their son Asela who lives in Seattle and was with his father during his last days. What else could one say? Impermanent are all conditioned things and separation from loved ones are the inevitable part of our species existence.

      http://www.island.lk/

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        NV, I do like Ratnawalli’s persistent digging in to past research, much like a dig in an archaeological site,or a canine burrowing in search of a lost bone, though I wonder whether she is missing the artifacts for the dirt. Critiquing previous works may not help if one is searching for historical truths.

        Thank you for your contribution in drawing our attention to two apreciations of Leslie Gunawardene. These show that that Sri Lanka’s history and language are not in black and white as many would have it.

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          Wickramasiri

          “These show that that Sri Lanka’s history and language are not in black and white as many would have it.”

          This island’d past is one of shared heritage and should and will remain so forever.

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            Native Vedda

            “This island’s past is one of shared heritage and should and will remain so forever.”

            Cannot agree with you more, though as you know I hate your guts, LOL. I like to believe this is the ‘real’ you, and not the eternal pain in the ass contrarian with the stale ‘Native Vedda’ jokes. You seem to be alright intellectually, but it is your sense of humour that you need to work on – to give some relief to CT readers. Also thank you for the 3 wonderful appreciations of Leslie, the one by Gananath is a great piece of writing. In regard to Darshanie, I’m afraid she is after sensationalism than knowledge. She has a lot to learn.

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              Rambler

              I am sorry to disappoint you I am actually bit thick.

              I am not a stand up comic. If I have offended you I really meant it.

              I don’t believe in killing therefore I love to be a constant pain in the a*** of those bigots.

              I love my ancestral island therefore I want the pain in a*** bigots to leave my land.

              I love to restore democracy in my ancestral land therefore I need to express my contrarian views. Statism always destroys democracy and people’s sovereignty. Reinventing the state on a regular basis is a must, therefore one must ask the the rulers “how can I get rid of you” all the time.

              I told you I am bit thick.

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        Native
        many thanks for your contributing comments submitted with much detailed appreciations.
        with regards,
        J A.
        JULAMPITIYE AMARAYA

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        Vadda

        No wonder why somebody called you Uru warige Booru putha. He may be David Blacker and he was absolutely spot on.

        Do not write garbage that long. Nobody has time to go through rubbish like above. Make the story short and sweet. It appears that you may be the one who wrote son goat Preba’s Mahaooran speeches.

        You could replace the other moran LLTE *ss licker Brain Seneviratne, so-called mad doctor.

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          Vanga Rajagurunathan

          “Do not write garbage that long. Nobody has time to go through rubbish like above.”

          Please ignore me. You don’t have to read my garbage. The pleasure would be mine if you stopped reading it.

          “It appears that you may be the one who wrote son goat Preba’s Mahaooran speeches.”

          It appears that you were the one who carried MR’s money to VP.

          “You could replace the other moran LLTE *ss licker Brain Seneviratne, so-called mad doctor.”

          Why don’t you?

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      Spring Koha

      Another Appreciation Prof Leslie Gunawardana of By Prof Amaradasa Liyanagamage:

      Amaradasa Liyanagamage:Ranaweera Leslie Gunawardana He was every inch a great scholar

      He was every inch a great scholar

      Ranaweera Leslie Gunawardana (Leslie to his friends), one of the bright lights of the University of Peradeniya is no more. It would take quite some time for us, – indeed he was my friend and colleague for over fifty years – to reconcile ourselves to the fact that this great scholar, probably one of the brightest of contemporary Sri Lanka, has departed for good. Being the most outstanding student at the University Entrance Examination (1956), he was awarded a scholarship apart from one more, a Government scholarship, to finance his undergraduate studies.

      At the B.A. Final Examination, Leslie gained First Class Honours in History and carried away as many as four awards in a row, consisting of the much coveted scholarships and prizes. What is indeed the more remarkable and noteworthy, is the fact that he never allowed the brilliant start to loosen its momentum and fizzle out into a lack-lustre pale trudge. The contributions made by the emeritus professor to unravel Sri Lanka’s past, including, on occasion, that of the adjacent Asian lands, too, stand out in bold relief. He was at once a highly respected historian both in Sri Lanka and abroad.

      Leslie began his academic career in 1960 as an Assistant Lecturer in the Department of History, University of Ceylon, (Peradeniya), and in due course in 1982, on the basis of a merit promotion, he was appointed to a Personal Chair in History. Subsequently he was elevated to the position of Dean of the Faculty of Arts (1991), before he reached the pinnacle as Vice Chancellor (1997-2000) of the University from which he had graduated. Right through he had an interest in left-leaning politics. He was appointed the Minister of Science and Technology in the administration of President Chandrika Kumaratunga. I should, however, note that at no time did he allow political discourse to dilute the rigour of academic discipline.

      The life and work of Leslie present a range of achievements, which cannot possibly be compressed into a brief statement such as this. His publications, in the form of books and research papers, add up to a total of well over one hundred. Similarly, the seminars and conferences which he had addressed over the years are amazingly extensive. Very many of them are indeed prestigious international centres of learning such as London, Cambridge and Oxford, Chicago, New Delhi and Tokyo. His research deals with a variety of complex issues like the structure of the state, ancient and medieval science and technology of Sri Lanka, ethnic issues, historiography, Buddhist monastic organization of Sri Lanka with special reference to economic interest, and so on. His work is of lasting value, in the sense that, despite the intricate problems arising from pre-colonial sources of information, he found his way into the deepest nooks and corners of the past, with the aid of his powerful searchlight. His work was meticulously thorough and reliable.

      Heading the list of publications as a major item is his book, Robe and Plough: Monasticism and Economic Interest in Early Medieval Sri Lanka which is his doctoral thesis accepted by the University of London (1965). In this book, the author examined with amazing skill, the intricacies of the management of extensive monastic estates which belonged to the Sangha, the proceeds of which were utilized for the maintenance of vast communities of the Buddhist order and its monastic properties. Anyone who would like to know more about it may read the detailed review in my book, Society State and Religion in Premodern Sri Lanka, which I consider a fitting tribute to this great scholar.
      As remarkable as his scientific approach to the study of history, is the significance of the choice of research themes. Most impressive indeed is the work he had begun on a promising scale, on the development of science and technology in ancient and early medieval Sri Lanka. He has to his credit five excellent research papers in this field: 1. Hydraulic Engineering in Ancient Sri Lanka: the Cistern Sluice 2. Inter-Societal Transfer of Hydraulic Technology in Pre-colonial South Asia: Some Reflections based on a Preliminary Investigation 3. Craftsman as Artist and Innovator in Early Medieval Sri Lanka: Two Lamps with Hydrostatically controlled Oil Reservoirs from Dedigama 3. Immersion as Therapy: Archaeological and Literacy Evidence on an Aspect of Medical Practice in Pre-colonial Sri Lanka 5. Obstetrics and Theories of Reproduction in Ancient and Early Medieval Sri Lanka. These studies, notably those on hydraulic technology, medicine and medical practice are distinct original contributions to the study of science and technology in pre-colonial Sri Lanka.

      Equally important are Leslie’s contributions to the study of Sri Lanka’s pre-colonial social organization and Buddhist institutions. Robe and Plough, cited above, is an outstanding work, a model for research in the history of Buddhist Monasticism, with special reference to economic interest. Again, he draws our attention to the oldest extant Sinhala manuscript, (12th century, Karma-Vibhagaya, discovered by Rahula Sankrtya- yana) in a Tibetan monastery. It rises to great importance, when one admits how little is known of the chronology of the hundreds of ola-leaf manuscripts, written in Sinhala and Pali, found deposited in our monastic and non-monastic libraries.

      Quite early in my own career, as a student at the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya (1954-1958), I had planned a book on the Anuradhapura Period of Sri Lankan History (Anuradhapura Yugaya), to meet the need for reading material in Sinhala, with the transition of the media of instruction from English into Sinhala and Tamil in the mid- fifties of the past century. I am pleased to record in retrospect, how Leslie who arrived in Peradeniya two years later in 1956, happily joined me as a collaborator in this project. It was published by the Vidyalankara University of Kelaniya in 1961, where I was a member of it academic staff from 1959. He contributed two chapters on political developments and South Indian Invasions respectively, in its enlarged and revised edition of 1965 (reprinted 1987), filling a gap in the original text. This was the beginning of a lifelong link as friend and colleague.
      It needs to be stated that Leslie has to his credit publications, both in English and Sinhala, while, understandably, most research papers are in English. Apart from the joint venture referred to above, and Sivura saha Nangula, among Sinhalese works, perhaps less-noted but immensely valuable is his work on the evolution of the historical discipline, (Itihasaye Atitaya), placed in its widest spectrum. It is a substantial volume dealing with a theme, on which no noteworthy publication had appeared previously. One other item which calls for inclusion is Reflections on a Heritage: Historical Scholarship on Premodern Sri Lanka, Vol. I, Part 1 (2000), a symposium of select writings of past and present scholars, brought out by a dedicated committee of senior scholars, of which he was a member. A Sinhalese translation of this work is available, too. Before proceeding further, let me hasten to add that, I have picked up only a few of the more noteworthy and representative items of writing out of a long list, with a view to highlighting the calibre of his scholarship, taking into account the limited space available to me.

      When I conclude this note of appreciation, it occurs to me that, while little or nothing is said of the men and women who had served their community with such distinction and devotion when they are alive, the loss is highlighted and songs of praise are sung when they are dead and gone! Personally, I am relieved that my tributes to this great scholar were paid when he was alive and well, and they are available in print, both in English and Sinhala. Still on a personal note, even more assuaging is the fact that I had visited Leslie and spoken to him at his bedside, weeks before his condition deteriorated irretrievably. One more comment: Personal idiosyncrasies, if he had any, are his own. Of this there can be no dispute; he was every inch a great scholar.

      Our condolences go out to his beloved wife, Viru Gunawardana, herself a Senior Professor in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science in the same university, who obviously shared his joys and sorrows all the way, caring for him during his illness in the final weeks, as well as to his beloved son, Asela and his wife. I stated at the beginning of this note of appreciation, that it would be very difficult for us to reconcile ourselves to the reality of the death of this great scholar. Perhaps the only way out is to reflect upon the eternal fact that ‘Life is uncertain, death is certain’, jivitam aniyatam, maranam niyatam!
      Amaradasa Liyanagamage

      http://www.sundaytimes.lk/110206/Plus/plus_04.html

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        Lies blunders mistakes of distinguished personalities should be treated with respect. Even the exposures should be handled with discretion and tact. I am not saying that they should be covered up. But they should be exposed delicately. Even Leslie’s dishonesty revealed in this article should have been presented in a more circumspect manner. Perhaps like this; “However when Gunawardana claims that PARANAVITANA CHANGED HIS VIEWS on the identification of the language of the Vallipuram inscription (and the early and late Brahmi stone inscriptions of Lanka), he (Gunawardana) is in error. When Gunawardana makes the statement; “In the introduction to his second edition of the record, Paranavitana (1983:79-81[ii]) does not refer to the language of the Vallipuram record as Sinhala or even as Old Sinhala.” he is making a surprising (for such a reputed research scholar) blunder as Far from NOT referring “to the language of the Vallipuram record as Sinhala or even as Old Sinhala”, in “the introduction to his second edition of the record”, AS LESLIE CLAIMS, Paranavitana (1983:79-81) starts the introduction with the sentence; “THIS is the only example, so far known, of an early Sinhalese inscription engraved on a sheet of gold. It was brought to me by…” Since this sentence fairly leaps to the eye occurring right under the relevant heading, ‘NO. 53. VALLIPURAM GOLD SHEET INSCRIPTION’, Gunawardana’s error is indeed inexplicable. What compounds the blunder is that based on that incredible research failure, Gunawardana then goes on to build a fallacious thesis on ‘Paranavitana’s changed views’.”

        If Ratnawalli had put it like that it would have been less emotionally charged and more objective and tactful. A lot less people (the hoi polloi) would have understood it and the sensationalism could have been cut down.

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          PQTE

          “A lot less people (the hoi polloi) would have understood it and the sensationalism could have been cut down.”

          One should not concern too much about her judgment or presentation however one has every right to question her intentions.

          Here it is the latter one which gives too much grieve to many of our fellow forum sharers.

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            Native
            I second you on your assessment on her intentions. Serial attacks on learned professor’s integrity, recalcitrant views on origin of languages possibly confirm that suspicion.
            ken

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              ken robert

              Thanks for your support.

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          You are right PQTE. The “the hoi polloi” do not indeed get
          it when you put it your way. Ref the two responses to you from Native Vedda and ken roberts.

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            Linsay

            “Ref the two responses to you from Native Vedda and ken roberts.”

            Pardon me for being pedantic, I don’t get it as I have stated in my previous comments, I am bit thick hoi polloi.

            It is for the pundit like you to inform, explain, educate and entertain us, not necessarily in that order.

            Which part of PQTE comment that you suspect that “I didn’t get it”?

            I am also not sure what you meant by hoi polloi out of the following:

            the masses,
            the common people,
            the populace,
            the public,
            the people,
            the multitude,
            the rank and file,
            the lower orders,
            the crowd,
            the commonality,
            the commonalty,
            the commons,
            the third estate,
            the plebeians;
            derogatory the mob,
            the proletariat,
            the common herd,
            the herd,
            the rabble,
            the riff-raff,
            the canaille,
            the great unwashed,
            the many,
            the ragtag (and bobtail),
            the plebs,
            the proles,
            the peasants

            Could you be more precise.

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      Spring Koha

      You would appreciate the reason as to why I have posted three appreciation of Prof R A L H Gunawardana from Veddah Elders Collection.

      Another Appreciation of Leslie Gunawardana by Prof Romila Thapar:

      Leslie Gunawardana
      March 26, 2011, 4:01 pm

      I was fortunate to have had many long conversations with Leslie Gunawardana on my visits to Sri Lanka, as well as in distant places such as Kyoto and Seattle where we happened to be at the same time. He was one of those rare historians for whom history was what EH Carr described as a dialogue between the past and the present. His mind scanned the world around him and sought connections and contexts, as is characteristic of the best of historians.

      But his curiosity did not stop at explaining the past. He was sensitive to the present and more so to its inequities and concerned about where our kinds of societies were heading. And as part of this he was interested in his friends and their lives and thoughts. I remember an evening of talking about the cantonment culture of the British Raj (which is what I grew up in) and his questions and comments which led to my thinking about nuances that had earlier passed me by. For him it was getting to know a friend.

      Conversations with Leslie, and a few others, during the term I spent at Peradeniya in 1978, made me realize that historians writing on early Buddhism in the sub-continent, would find the work done on the same in Sri Lanka, quite illuminating. The structure of the Sangha, the monasteries and the political relationship with royal power, provided insights into the same relationship elsewhere in South and South-East Asia.

      Leslie’s magisterial work was on what Max Weber has called ‘monastic landlordism’. In Robe and Plough, Leslie extended the meaning of the term by relating it to the socio-economic context that was its crucible. This he did by creatively using Marxist methods of analysis, without in any way reducing the argument to a mechanical causation. It became an intensive study of the political relationship of the Sangha and royal authority as well as the economic base of the authority of monastic establishments. These were aspects that had received less attention from historians but the work of scholars such as Leslie has now resulted in more studies along these lines.

      The dichotomy between the householder and the renouncer, so central to early Buddhism and Jainism, became blurred in situations where monasteries began to function as social institutions – holding property and employing labour.

      Many Marxists historians discarded the Asiatic Mode of Production and Oriental Despotism on theoretical grounds. But Leslie delved deeper and carried out a technical survey of the hydraulic network crucial to agriculture. The evidence he unearthed did not support the theory. He was able to disprove it on both theoretical and technical grounds. This was no mean achievement.

      He wrote extensively on the Sinhala-Tamil inter-face. By analyzing the texts from early to later times he was able to show that cultural articulation was plural ; and that there was no consistent hostility of the one towards the other. Situations of accommodation or of conflict varied and were determined by multiple factors. It was important for historical writing to reflect this multiplicity. This became a particularly significant study not only in itself but also as a contribution to the dialogue between the past and the present.

      Romila Thapar

      http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=21651

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        Native
        Thank you for the effusive commentaries in Prof Gunawardana by distinguished international scholars. I expect an attack on Romila Thapar by dharshanie in her next writings!
        Ken

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          ken robert

          I do agree with you.

          She is going to insult all great scholars whose body of work is astounding.

          Next target I suspect is going to be either Professor Sudharsan Seneviratne or Prf Gananath Obeysekere, in which order I would not know.

          There are others in line for attack, Ira Madhavan, profs K Rajan, K Champahalaxmi,Rajan Gurukkal,………….

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          I expect an attack on Romila Thapar by dharshanie in her next writings!
          __________________

          Rajapassa is going to bribe and have her selected for the “Kluge Prize”

          The same way he has planted professors in the netherlands saying they have international recognition because Robert MacNamera (a household name when folk were looking for grub in the bins) of IMF like the French sex addict employed her forgetting that a Colombo 7 Tamil with double doctorate in different fields was the very first Ceylonese Consultant.

          Why not if Obama can get the peace prize??

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        Spring Koha and a Native Vedda,

        Thank you very much for your inputs. Your comments enrich an otherwise third rate and drab article.

        Dr.RN

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          Native Vedda, Dr Narendran; Many Thanks, and my appreciation, for your informative contributions on Professor Gunawardana. I now know the man I instinctively defended, considerably better than from the academic writings of his that I was familiar with. I can only hope that in time Darshanie Ratnawalli will learn that it is perfectly possible to criticise and contest the work of a scholar (particularly those who for a very obvious reason are unable to defend their work) without resorting to callous and disrespectful language.

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            Spring Koha

            Two decades earlier Prof Dharmadasa took issue with R A L H Gunawardana’s well received paper “The People of the Lion The Sinhala Identity and Ideology in History and Historiography”.

            However Professor KNO Dharmadasa wrote a tribute to Prof Gunawardana and was published in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka (New Series Volume LVI) in 2011 in which he wrote about Prof Gunawardana’s contributions to historiography and achievements. His appreciation runs into five and half pages of the journal.

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        Native;
        again I have to thank you as I am not an academic, and got enrich my little knowledge a bit from your referrals of appreciations.

        What I understood is from “Hon Mr Paranavithana does not refer to the language of the Vallipuram record as Sinhala or even as Old Sinhala”,
        That does not mean He did deny either of that “the language of the Vallipuram record as Sinhala or even as Old Sinhala”.

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      She proves that he lied though, doesn’t she? All the eulogies aren’t going to change that? When this scholar said;”In the introduction to his second edition of the record, Paranavitana (1983:79-81[ii]) does not refer to the language of the Vallipuram record as Sinhala or even as Old Sinhala”, he was simply lying, wasn’t he? When he goes on and on about Paranavitan’s “revised viewes”, he was repating the lie wasn’t he? What Paranavitana actually said about the language of the Vallipuram record is given in the above article isn’t it? Is there a diplomatic way of saying “Leslie lied”? And it’s not a matter of historical interpretation is it? But making an untrue statement and repeating the statement.

      • 2
        0

        Yevin

        You seem to have mastered epigraphy, old and new Sinhala, Prakrit, Sanskrit, Brahmi, ………..

        Could you tell us

        was Paranavitana lying?

        was Prof Gunawardana lying?

        is Irrathinavalli lying?

        is Prof Obeysekere lying?

        is Prof Romila Tapar lying?

        • 0
          0

          Good questions,
          Food for thoughts;

          I assume that Miss Darshanee R is doing some researchs for her post graduations [Msc Or Phd] and Bashing the post academics at the same time.

          • 0
            0

            Amare@
            Long time no see, where had you been ?
            Hope everything is fine with you.
            Yes, this writer brought few articles that supported every bit of MR regime AND she should be PG student I also feel like that.

            • 1
              0

              Siri,
              many thanks for concerning,
              as I am a technical person and not an academic, I had to engaged in my profession, [some marine works] for my ends meet too.so I could not get to internet facility.
              and I had to visit to my KKS Abandoned Land to have look and proud to be a Buddhist Sinhalese owning land near to V P’s birth place,
              As Followers of Lord Buddha’s Teachings,
              ” We should Live, and Let live”.

              JULAMPITIYE AMARAYA

              • 0
                0

                JULAMPITIYE AMARAYA

                You say you do marine work.

                Are you into

                people smuggling

                or supporting the political masters smuggle drugs into the country?

                • 0
                  0

                  N V;
                  My Bosa Do not give that Peoples smuggling and Arms contracts to me.
                  He got some guys with fishing trawlers and LTTE ships and former LTTEr with him at Hambanthota, Mirissa, Tangalle, Devondare, and now in Trincmalee also
                  who are doing Heroin smuggling with KING Bosa, his brother Hothambaya and other Politikkas.
                  I have experiences only for people elimination [Traitors to mother land, Silencing Onshore opposition drug barons], Elections concerns and supporting Sex/ flesh trade to BOsa and clan.
                  They give liberty on the sly from the Jail do my contract jobs, buddy.
                  If you want my services, Contact my bosa.
                  and I want a cut too. [Evan piece of Flesh never mind, My bosa like them too].

                • 0
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                  I really dont think with his kind of good mind, he could ever be a Raja like smuggling king.

                  I love the way he has added his two cts worth supporting who struggle for a fair state where we can enjoy peace and harmony equally – regardless of being race, religion or anything else.

            • 0
              0

              As Southern Election is around the corner, I had to go Underground as My bOsa Dhaja Jarapassa Gave me some Eliminating contracts to preform.
              That is good business buddy.

              • 2
                0

                JULAMPITIYE AMARAYA

                “My bOsa Dhaja Jarapassa Gave me some Eliminating contracts to preform”

                Eliminating what?

                The ballot box
                The polling booth
                The candidate
                The candidate’s mother

                Take care.

                By the way you haven’t contributed to this forum for a long time. Please visit us once in a while.

  • 5
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    Amazing language Sinhalese. Born in just two hundred years! 700 prakrit speakers come and boom two hundred years later a spanking new language is born. Wow!

    S

  • 3
    2

    Language is dynamic. So, how can you give exact date to what and when ?

    At present, English is considered a language nourished mostly by other languages because most English words are from other languages

    • 0
      0

      Buddha my little Toy!!

      The Spanish took slaves and horses to America and they both ran into the jungles at different times.

      The British followed it the same way to America.

      The Indians brought the slaves and elephants to Ceylon.

      The Portuguese brought the cinnamon peeler slave, the Dutch VOC brought the

      Nutmeg slave and the British brought the tea slaves and most ran into the jungle are NOW CALLING THEMSELVES SINHALA MAHANAMA BUDDHIST. SIC!!

  • 2
    0

    I see lots of words, I tried to read here and there hoping to pickup something which will make me read the whole article. But no, I could not find anything or rather I should say I could not makeup anything. What is this ? Then I went to “Episode 2” (of Dharshanie’s Language War)it’s around 10 paragraphs with loads of words. I did not bother to look at “Episode 1”, but I am sure I have seen it when it got published.

    Ms. Dharshaie, could you please write an article about Sri Lankan history or Singhala Language or about your perception on the SRI LANKAN FLAG or whatever it is you are specializing in your own right in your own words, what you think without too much reference to what others have said.

    I am sure when you do that it will make interesting reading and the CT expert readers will give their selective opinion.

    PS
    I spoke to someone who went recently to Jailani or as you call it “Kuragala” I was told some of the old structures has been taken down. New ones are being built, a road is also being built. After this automatically there will be a ownership change and a informal take over.

  • 4
    0

    Seems to me this lady writes at length but does not make sense. As Shakespeare says in the play “Merchant of Venice”
    Quote
    His reasons are as two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff—you shall seek all day ere you find them, and when you have them they are not worth the search.
    Unquote

    Actually there was no “wheat” just chaff

    Comes across as having a racial axe to grind

  • 0
    0

    It seems this [Edited out] woman is taking history lessons from Nalin De Silva and that yellow robed guy named Ellavela. :)

    • 0
      1

      Sinhala has a history by this way or that. What about Tamil, anything like that ?

      • 4
        0

        JimSofty

        “What about Tamil, anything like that ?”

        Having no history is better than being proud of Mahawamsa myth including lion women copulation, parricide, incest, etc.

        • 0
          4

          NATIVE VEDDHA:

          Lions should have been intelligent in order to copulate with humans.

          How about Tamils. Tamil women don’t like Tamils and they would love to copulate with Sinhala Soldiers.

          • 5
            1

            JimSofty

            “Tamil women don’t like Tamils and they would love to copulate with Sinhala Soldiers.”

            Is it other way around, Sinhala women refuse to sleep with ugly Sinhala/Buddhists, hence the men join the armed forces- which grants license to rape, and then rape Tamil women. It is similar to the Vijaya’s grandfather story.

            If Tamil women love their Sinhala cousins that is a matter for them to decide.

            Are you planning to pass a law which may compel the Tamil women to seek alliance only among the frustrated members of Sinhala/Buddhists armed forces, something similar to Sinhala Only language act?

            What is worrying is your BBS attitude to sex and sensibility- Public Scrutiny of Private Parts.

            Are you pro rape campaigner?

        • 0
          1

          Vadda

          What about lion humping tiger strating from Sampur all the way to Nandikhal lagoon. Oh my what a feeling my dear.

          • 1
            0

            Vanga Rajagurunathan

            Sorry please bear with me.

            I am looking for point in your comment and am disappointed as I couldn’t find one. Is there one?

      • 0
        0

        Yes. Tamil has a very long and glorious history by this way or that.

        • 1
          2

          Even monkies have a history by this way or that.

          Because, they gave way to the human evolution.

          Aren’t monkies better than Tamils or they were Tamils ?

          • 0
            0

            Sihala are monkeys as seen by Sir David Attenborough episode on the incest breed Southern Sihala Monkey.

          • 0
            0

            Jim,

            Be grateful! The Tamil language along with Pali and other indic languages played significant roles in developing the Sinhala language! The Sinhala language is beautiful and authentically Sri Lankan; there is no doubt about that but to belittle the Tamil language that gave the Sinhala language substance and character is not warranted!

        • 1
          0

          Yes, Thuggies were Tamils. Pabakaran was Tamil. Karunanidhi, even though he is Malayali, Jayalalitha, even though she is Brahmin, are Tamils.

          Bharatha Natyam is Indian even though Tamils are dancing it.

          • 3
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            JimSofty

            Probably early on in their history Tamils understood the concept of unity in diversity. They also so understood how corruption oils the wheels of politics. The Sinhala/Buddhist must have learnt it from their Tamilnadu brethren.

            Now Jimmy as you did with corruption what is it stopping you from learning the idea of unity in diversity? It is very simple to learn hard to practice.

        • 0
          1

          Thambi Josph

          What long????

          We have seen it in preba’s dad body. How long tamil history was? shorter than 2-inches.

          • 2
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            Vanga Rajagurunathan

            “We have seen it in preba’s dad body. How long tamil history was? shorter than 2-inches.”

            You mean in your mouth.

    • 3
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      thivya

      “It seems this [Edited out] woman is taking history lessons from Nalin De Silva and that yellow robed guy named Ellavela. :)”

      Worse from Bandu de Silva and Michael.

    • 1
      4

      THIVYA:

      Dharshanie Rathanwalli is a very beautiful and meaningful Sinhala name, with some Sanskrit influence.

      On the other hand, Youi real name as well as your USER-ID is ONLY partially Tamil. Otherwise, it is Sanskrit.

      • 1
        0

        Jim

        “meaningful sinhala name with sanskrit influence. Thivya a sanskritised tamil name”

        You can see the influence of sanskrit on both these languages. But some of us do not want to believe these similarities!

      • 0
        0

        “with some Sanskrit influence.”

        ha ha not a trace of hindu- hindus are born.

        lindas slave call girl service of pussy’s who never knew a nappy.

      • 0
        0

        Jim,

        What does Rathanawalli mean in Sinhala?

    • 1
      1

      Yes, Thuggies were Tamils. Pabakaran was Tamil. Karunanidhi, even though he is Malayali, Jayalalitha, even though she is Brahmin, are Tamils.

      Bharatha Natyam is Indian even though Tamils are dancing it.

    • 0
      0

      To thiva: Mind your language when you talk about the scholars whether they are not in line with your ideology.

      • 0
        0

        She must be a scholar and a “famous” archeologist like Ellavela. :) No one ever challenged the Sinhala ‘archaeologists’ or any of their findings. For example, like the old piece of ivory large enough to be a pig’s tooth, that they called Buddha’s tooth or the other Sinhala hoax like the oldest tree in the world, or even the famous flight of Mahinda Thero and the Buddha to Sri Lanka. Many other Sinhala Buddhist ‘historical’ Mahavansa findings were never peer reviewed, because no one gave a hoot about the Sinhala fantasies. But we, Tamils are forced to pay attention because some Sinhala mixed breeds are twisting the history of Sri Lanka to deny our rightful place in our ancestral homeland in the island of Eelam, where our forefathers fought to defend it, from the dawn of history.

        • 2
          0

          thivya

          “But we, Tamils are forced to pay attention because some Sinhala mixed breeds are twisting the history of Sri Lanka to deny our rightful place in our ancestral homeland in the island of Eelam, where our forefathers fought to defend it, from the dawn of history.”

          This is another equally insane claim over my ancestral land. Could we see some evidence as to the veracity of Sinhala/Tamil claim over rightful place in ancestral homeland.

          Both descendants of kallathoni Tamils and kallathoni Sinhalese historically have no right whatsoever over my island.

          Both of you can continue your conflict elsewhere ideally in Tamilnadu if you so wish. Remember both of you are genetically closely related to each other.

          • 2
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            Native
            The following article is the full text of a detailed genetic study on Sri Lankans, I mentioned in previous columns.
            http://www.nature.com/jhg/journal/v59/n1/pdf/jhg2013112a.pdf
            Main conclusions
            1. confirms earliest inhabitants are veddas. Sri Lanka veddas has low presence of M haplotype which is present in high percentage in indigenous/old tribes of india which is a contrasting find.
            2. no genetic similarities between sinhalese and any of the Indian mainland ethnic groups
            3.there is genetic mixing of veddas with sinhalese and sri lankan tamils in comparison to indian tamils.
            4. Sri lankan tamils and sinhalese have similarities. But I could not come to my own conclusions.

            I think more studies are needed to shed light into our ancestry.

            • 1
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              Ken Robert

              Thanks brilliant.

              This paper is too technical for me.

            • 0
              0

              Can you recheck on (2), I think more similarities with South Indian than north Indian.

              • 1
                0

                Mani

                Genetic analysis of our ancestry is quite complex. I could not fully comprehend the significance of this current research to extrapolate it to previous studies done india. One of the commentaters Sbarkum should know more on this
                Kind regards
                Ken

      • 0
        0

        OpenEye

        You call her a ‘Scholar’???

        MY FOOT!!!

    • 0
      0

      Maybe she should take history lessons from Tamilnet and LTTE blogs instead like you do LOL

      • 0
        0

        Steve Grafton

        “Maybe she should take history lessons from Tamilnet and LTTE blogs instead like you do LOL “

        Don’t you think its a good idea?

  • 2
    0

    Dharshanie
    “Roshan De Mel Please read the reference provided by Dharshanie Prof Gair clearly says in his introduction that he was not an expert in Tamil”

    I agree I have misquoted. but what is the proof that Prof Gair is an expert in Tamil? Can he speak fluently in tamil, read the literatures in tamil at least the classics dwelling on buddhism for eg Manimekalai. I stand by my statement Prof Gair is not an expert in Tamil or in other dravidian languages.

    “He (Gair) also notes Jaffna tamil is difficult to master because of unusual coining of pronouns to verbs”

    Please refer to change, grammaticalization, and linguistic area page 178. Second paragraph ” our experience they clearly constitute, a feature of that dialect that appears unusual, if not startling to other dialect speaker (please note the sentence refers to different tamil dialect not different language speakers) “
    He goes on to say ” this meaning contrast has not been analysed in great details.

    I have also observed that non tamil speakers found it extremely hard to master colloquial Jaffna tamil during my university days in colombo as well as practicing in National hospital.

    “lumps Gair and Caldwell together and categorizes them as language scholars of the past”

    Thank you for the correction. I did download the book by Fr Caldwell I know they are not contemporaries.

    Let us go back to the main theme of your writings. You maintain that origin of sinhala can be reliably dated back to 3rd century BC based on brammi, Mahavamsa etc.

    unfortunately for you all the evidence you submit for this hypothesis seems rather shoddy.

    1. Firstly the classification of Geiger( not Gair)dividing sinhala into four categories is arbitrary. (Geiger himself acknowledges this in his book)
    2. Classification of indian languages in to indo aryan, dravidian is also flawed because current evidence is against an external origin of indian languages. ( please read on Mr SubHash Kak’s writings on indo european languages). Therefore the theory “sinhala is an indoaryan isolate among dravidian languages” should be revisited.
    3. There is no point finding mistakes in other learned men if you can’t put forward a central theme arguing continuity of sinhala language.
    4. Even Prof KNO Dharamadasa categorically says in his criticisms against Prof L Gunawardana that he did not argue that sinhala origins could be traced as an unbroken chain to 3rd century BC.

    Last but not least I am not senile, but most of my patients are senile in their eighties, We live in the world where mentioning aging is considered politically incorrect at least in medicine. therefore I use the terminology “patients with reduced physiological reserve”. Should I allowed to use the term “cerebrally challenged” to people who are adamant?
    kind regards and best of Luck
    ken

    • 0
      3

      @ ken Roberts, Man you really do have a reading problem don’t you? Kak (a fringe theorist) believes that the Harappan civilization was a civilization of Vedic Aryans. That Aryans are indigenous to India and did not migrate from Central Asia as is conventionally believed. He believes that Indo Aryan languages originated in India and therefore supports the theory that India was the origin of the Indo European family of languages. Kak and his co authors do not posit that Indo Aryan family of languages are indigenous, therefore Indo-Aryan languages are Dravidian and therefore Indo-Aryan and Dravidian categorization is flawed. I don’t know if it is senility or something else, but when you loose the ability to read and understand and reproduce what you read, you should give up reading the heavy stuff and turn to gardening.

      • 3
        0

        Yevin

        “Kak and his co authors do not posit that Indo Aryan family of languages are indigenous, therefore Indo-Aryan languages are Dravidian and therefore Indo-Aryan and Dravidian categorization is flawed.”

        Thanks what do you believe?

        • 1
          0

          Native
          yevin seems confused about the concept or aryan invasion theory/aryan migration theory as well as classification of Indian languages. Could I request him/her to seek teaching from Irathinavalli polemic academy.

          Citrus Jam is given as a bonus for beginners.

          • 1
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            ken robert

            “Could I request him/her to seek teaching from Irathinavalli polemic academy.”

            Sorry I am leaving CT altogether. Bye.

  • 2
    0

    A question for Rathinavalli

    Can you please answer my simple question in a simple language . Is Sinhala an indo – European language or a Dravidian language or an Austranesian language ? I await to hear from you. Thank you

    • 0
      0

      is Sinhla a language of a race?

  • 1
    1

    Paranvithana is not infalible, even he knew that.

    Early Sinhala Brahmi is closest to South Indian Brahmi.

    Arayn Supremacy & Fair n Lovely concept for some ‘White Hating’, Dark denying Thalelus.

  • 0
    0

    DALIT SLAVE SIHALA BUDDHIST SUPREMES’ (SCHEDULE CLASS) HAVE HIJACKED

    SANSKRIT OF THE HINDU BRAHMIN.

    Around 5 million Dalit Slaves in 300 years of Portuguese and VOC rule.

    Dalit Slaves from South India (karanataka, kerala the pepper slave city, and tamil nadu ) were tied and bought to Spice Colony Ceylon.

    Some ran into the forest and others revolted and ran when the master changed- this scenario was Common to Maryland with the Christopher Columbus, VOC, French, and English slaves of USA.

  • 0
    0

    Darshanee:
    You waste lot of time reading some papers written by some people.

    Can you explain who are these “HERATH MUIYANSELAGES” among Sinhalese if you have a brain to do any research on Sinhala?

  • 0
    0

    why have all these Tamils got soo worked up on a article on Sinhala language ? its really funny reading all this racial abuse against Sinhalese. Making racist remarks is a crime – hiding behind a pseudonym does not make it right! Javi and the crowd please get a life.

    • 2
      0

      Dawn Dale

      Can you point out who is making the racial abuse against Sinhalese?

      The abuses that you may read in this forum are mutual.

      Elsewhere Irrathinavalli has made an abusive racist comment on Black People.

      Why special mention of Javi, is he related to you?

  • 0
    0

    It’s patently obvious to me reading through this article that Professor Leslie Gunawardena has misrepresented facts – He actually lied as Ratnavalli clearly shows regarding the language of Vallipuram inscription

    No amount of eulogies no amount of racist rants against Sinhalese by obviously let down persons of Tamil ethnic origin , no amount of beating around the bush by people like Native Veddha – would take away the fact that Ratnavalli has conclusively proved Professor Leslie was wrong hence his theories woven around that misrepresentation are wrong
    Hence I challenge Native Veddha et al to prove Ratnavalli as wrong – Taking refuge in naive excuses is a sign of cowardice – it simply proves Ratnavalli is right all along –

    • 0
      0

      Pierre
      Please read the commentary on vallipuram debate by Prof Shalke

      Please search on roots Web ancestry vallipuram You will find interesting non partisan discussion.
      This is not about the right and wrongs of Prof RG or DR. Readers of CT are intelligent to read in between the lines.

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