22 May, 2019

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On Kuragala: Robert Knox To McGilvray

By Bandu de Silva

Bandu De Silva

Robert Knox to McGilvray: Same old Trope: ‘Primitiveness of the native’

Denis B. McGilvrey’s defence of his article on Kuragala.

A paper written by Denis B McGilvray, Colorado University academic entitled ‘ Jailani: A Sufi Mosque in Sri Lanka‘ in “Lived Islam in South Asia: Adaptation, Accommodation and Conflict” 2004, April, has raised much controversy in the internet recently. A Sri Lankan journalist, Darshani Ratnawalli, using a website version ( raised the issue of McGilvray interpreting the 2nd century Brahmi inscriptions at Kuaragala in Sri Lanka, appearing to him as  [a case] “…. to assert territorial claims by local political chieftains” [of the time]. The critic accused McGilvray having been hired by Aboosally, the [former]Trustee of Kuragala Muslim shrine for a PR job for his own version  of the Muslim connection with Kuragala. This critique entitled Kuragala Lesson 2: Use of PR to Obliterate Heritage” was followed by a discussion which dragged it down to a discussion which was far from academic import. The critic’s intention may have been different. McGilvray answered the critic on June 4 at 3.52 A.M, in response to the critic’s first article.

The purpose of this article is to try to restore the equilibrium, a balance, and redirect the subject into an academic discussion. Mc Grilvray’s explanation (original article) of the meaning of the 2nd century BCE Brahmi cave inscriptions at Kuaragala to say they  “appear to assert territorial claims by local political chieftains” is the main issue discussed here.

McGilvray’s statement, as it is quite obvious, is one made without a context reading the inscriptions at Kuragala only literally. Grammatically speaking, the words “Dataha lene” and “Sumanayaha lene” in the inscriptions at Kuragala could give the meaning of possession, as much as the Prakrit words “Dataha –pata” appearing in a fragment of a pre-Christian earthen bowl found in that Jaffna peninsula could give the meaning that it is “Dat[t]a’s bowl.” (Pensylvania Museum Project,1970. K. Indrapala explains the inscription as a Bhikku’s bowl. (Indrapala; 2007, pp. 332-334 &403 and Plate 3). That points to possession. The same analogy cannot explain the use of ‘Possesive’ grammatical construction (Declension) found in over 1200 cave inscriptions indidted in early Brahmi Prakrit inscriptions of the island.

There the use of the suffix ‘ha’ in these large number of inscriptions is generally taken as a ‘Possessive’ but with a different sense, i.e. the caves established by the donor whose name is given. The indication of the recipient as “Sagasa’ ( a Dative construction) in most cases supports this conclusion. There are several inscriptions where the name of the party (recipient) is not indicated but as all these inscriptions by the nature of the Brahmi script, almost uniformity of the Prakrit language used and their diffusion over a wide landscape are seen as belonging to one “genre’.

The meaning that McGrilvray has offered to the Kuragala inscriptions as indicating a possession claims

is one that anyone without any knowledge of the context or  inclination for academic evaluation might offer.  Here one has to empathise with McGrilvray because he does not consider himself an eminent scholar in the field of epigraphy. Yes his shown specialty is in ethnography and even generality. This is clear from his writings and more so, from the admission offered in response to the critic that he “chose not to discuss the epigraphical survey by Collins (JRASCB 1932) because [he] knew] (sic) “other scholars were much more qualified to interpret that kind of material.” (Response dated 4 June,2013, in C/T).This has to be taken as an admission of the author’s limitations, if not incompetence, to handle epigraphical material but he proceeds to dabble in the very epigraphy, a subject  he wanted to leave to other [competent] persons in relation to Collin’s paper. (C/T, 4 June 2013).

One need not be puzzled over this seeming contradictory positions if one notes that the author gives his explanation of the epigraphy of Kuragala Brami-Prakrit inscriptions in relation to what Aboosally has written in his book that  “there is no evidence that the site was ever dedicated to the Buddhist Sangha).” Here one can see a close relationship has developed between Aboosally’s position and McGilvray’s explanation of the inscriptions despite the author’s claim that apart from their kindness, members of the Aboosally family bear no responsibility for the publication of [his] article. The author quotes Aboosally only in preference to the vast literature which has grown over the subject of early Brahmi-Prakrit inscriptions.(See Malin Dias, 2001 for a list of authorities).

Aboosally uses the silence of the inscriptions [i.e. the absence of any recipient] as grist for his mill to advance his version that there is no evidence to show the caves were ever dedicated to the Sangha. McGilvray’s intervention here complements Aboosally’s position by moving the argument away in another direction but basically lending support to the position that the inscriptions have no relationship to the Sangha. Hence his “cave-dweller” formula for chieftains of the country around the 2nd century BCE.

Mc Grilvray has rejected the charge of being under obligation. That is natural. An academic with such credentials as he possesses, would wish to avoid any suggestion of a compromise in presenting his research. We can empathise with the scholar on this point. Unlike in the olden days when scholars in  royal courts and others wrote eulogizing their patrons, today, scholarly undertakings are rarely undertaken under patronage though academicians need such support. There might be a brief acknowledgment.

The Aboosally’s were known for their generosity and as the late Mr. Aboosally became one of my own good friends I can vouch for this. What is worry-some, however, is that our scholar’s writing pointing to an unexplainable complementarity situation with that of his host in the explanation of the Kuragala inscriptions. That could have been accepted on academic grounds had the author’s explanation of the inscriptions been  supported with arguments. But this is wanting.

This is not the only reason which gives an idea about a link between the author and his host. Elsewhere, the author quotes Aboosally at length on the Muslim claim to Kuragala. The author goes to cite ‘evidence’ of visitors from the Middle East in the past to support Aboosally’s point. His main source is Ibn Batuta, the 14th century Moroccan traveller.(Gibb’s English translation). He presents Ibn Battuta’s as stating that Adam’s Peak “attracted streams of pilgrims from Middle East seeking contact with their primeval ancestor, Adam. ”

I am constrained to contradict the author on this point as I find that no translation of Ibn Batuta’s work I am familiar with (I have read most English translations and was also privileged during my ten year stay in France, to look at  early French translations based on Arabic text brought from Algiers by French soldiers) has anything in the texts to support the contention that Ibn Batuta states that Adam’s Peak “attracted streams of pilgrims from Middle East ….etc”. There is general awareness in the Middle East about the Adam’s Peak even today as I myself found during my conversations with Iranian religious leaders in different parts of Iran during my three year stay and travel there. (I was also a member of the UNESCO Silk Road Project, Iran section which traversed the country). The wish of even these present day religious personalities is to visit Adam’s Peak one day. But such general impressions cannot be interpreted as something that the 14th century traveller stated. The author has made a general assumption but to say that the text says so is over-stretching the text, if not an exaggeration. (I was invited by the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka have delivered a lecture on Ibn Batuta’s visit to Ceylon and later I published an article in The Island, Saturday Magazine, 15 January,2003, inquiring if Ibn Batuta’s visit to Adam’s Peak was fact or fiction).

To take the Ibn Batuta’s account a little further, there are many questions about the traveller’s account not only on Sri Lanka but also about other places. Besides, Rehla was not written by Ibn Batuta himself but by Ibn Jusia, Secretary to the Sultan of Fez in 1355, using the traveller’s notes and memory and perhaps, other travellers’ accounts. There are both positive and negative comments about the authenticity of his whole work, a few like Baron McGuiken de Slains accusing the traveller either of natural credulity or of inclination to deal in marvelous stories especially in some of his chapters on the Far East, and Kalptoth, another authority reviling him for  “stupidity which induces him to cram his readers with rigmaroles about Mohammaden Saints and spirituals when details of the places he had seen would have been of extreme value”.

The relevance of this discussion is to show that McGilvray has over-stretched the inference which could be derived from the text, if not exaggerating it. That is in support of Aboosally’s contention of a long Muslim connection at Kuragala.

Moving away from the discussion on Kuragala, some of the author’s other articles on Sri Lanka also at times try to introduce a political element into the discourse including infusion in devious ways, of the idea presenting the government and other [mainline Muslim] groups in some unfavourable light in the treatment of the [Sufi] Muslims, and casting his die in favour  of Sufi groups with whom he worked in the Eastern province in Kalmunai and Akkaraipattu. While the author is in his right to express his views, it points to a particular orientation in his writing even on academic issues. For example, his article entitled “Sri Lankan Muslims: between ethno-nationalism and the global Ummah” published in the “Nations and Nationalism” Vol.17, Issue 1, January 2011, pages 45-64, where he enters into such a political discussion seeming to project the ‘oppression of Muslims’ by the government and other groups and this has attracted Diaspora attention. (Republished in Tamil Diaspora website of Tamil Sangam and Transcurrents).

In the same paper, while pointing out that the Sufi groups were under oppressive pressure from mainline Muslims in the country, he seemed to cast his die on the side of Sufi organisations when he observed that despite all these pressures, Sufi groups could be seen to be capable of holding on for a long time. This was not based on any academic evaluation but acceptance of what the Sufi exponents in Kalmunai and Akkaraipattu say that they are enjoying the patronage (not much discussed aspect in the country) of local politicians who are eyeing the Sufi vote base. That is mere repetition of a ‘version’ and not a deep academic analysis. These point to the author’s objectives going beyond an academic ethnographic study at times.

Such orientation in writing leads me, as a former practicing diplomat, to make a passing observation though of no consequence to the issue under discussion but of significance in an overall context, that the studies on Sufism and of divisions in the Sri Lankan Muslim society and responses of “others”, though very informative, also constitute the type of research that any Foreign Office of big powers having stakes in a country and in Muslim affairs in general would want to assemble themselves through their own resources, in order to detect and identify fault lines in a given society. I am not suggesting that the author’s work was part of such a project but I could see its usefulness for a Foreign Office like that of America’s which has stakes in affairs of local society. No better illustration of such information gathering

was needed than the way the US Ambassador Sison in Colombo recently commenced a dialogue with Muslim representatives in Trincomalee and elsewhere after recent events which affected some Muslims interests.

Epigraphy of Kuragala Vs. Early Brahmi inscriptions

So the task before us is that, considering the credentials of the scholar, McGilvray, to examine if his idea of Kuragala inscriptions representing “territorial claims by chieftains” could be sustained. What has he himself offered to support in that direction? Nothing! So it is just an idea floated without an iota of academic reasoning to support it and ignoring two centuries of scholarly discourse on the subject but the effect of which is creating confusion rather than promoting academic inquiry.

Looking at it deeply, however, what it points to is his concept of a cave dwelling people in the island, their chieftains themselves claiming possession of caves, around in the 2nd century BCE. In one sense, this could be looked at as a fine retort to out –wit the former President of Sri Lanka, Mr. J.R.  Jayewardene, who reminded his SAARC colleagues at the Heads of States Conference in New Delhi, not without reason, that the South Asians nations were at a very advance stage of civilization when people in Europe were still living in caves. The former President of Sri Lanka was not a dedicated scholar, but when a scholar with wide ranging credentials like McGrilvay says such a thing without substantiating it, about a people whose contribution to civilisation can be seen even today in the form of gigantic irrigation works (commenced in the 1st century BCE by King Vasabha on such scale) and great monuments, the author’s interpretation must be considered grim humour.

It could also be even seen as re-emergence of the latent 17th century view expressed by Robert Knox, the English prisoner in Kandy, whose writing presents the idea of  ‘savagery and evilness of the native’ and gives the impression of his writing with a view to  civilizing the native.’ It could also be examined also against Harrington’s (17th century intellectual) analogy and of other 18th century English intellectuals calling the Irishman “a primitive people”; or Le Torsne’s remark that Negros [were] simply .… animals to be used for tilling the soil.” (UNESCO: Sociological Theories, 1982).

Let us not be so dismissive but examine the scholar’s idea less passionately. Can his idea be historically supported even if he did not argue the case? Even if one ignores the evidence of Sri Lankan Pali chronicles and other literature, the archaeological excavations carried out at the Citadel of Anuradhapura, the first Capital of the island point to a city superimposed from outside around as early as the 8th century BCE. (Deraniyagala,1992, Connigham,1996). The people had already commenced an elaborate irrigation system to control the nature(Needham, 1971, Nicholas, 1960).

Over 1200 such Brahmi Prakrit cave inscriptions belonging to the period 3rd Century BCE -2nd century AC which are parallel in script and circumstances of situation to those at Kuragala have been indited throughout the island and these have been the subject of much scholarly discussion for the last two centuries as seen from publications of the Dept.  of Archaeology’s publications.(Early Brahmi Inscriptions, Vol.1,  and Epigraphia Zeylanica vol. VIII and others) as well as by others. As a scholar with wide credentials, McGilvray could not have been oblivious to these other inscriptions or the copious scholarly literature on them. Or, Did he think these, like Collin’s article, were not relevant to his discussion of Kuragala epigraphy. (For a synopsis on literature published on inscriptions, see Malini Dias: The Growth of Monastic Institutions in Sri Lanka from Inscriptions, Epigaphia Zeylanica,(EZ) Vol VIII, 2001, p.5).

Even before that HCP Bell, the much respected and quoted British Civil Servant, who was Archaeological Commissioner, has discussed a number of cave inscriptions where only the donor’s name is inscribed without any mention of the recipient. In all these discussions the position taken by this observant archaeologist and others was to treat all these early Brahmi inscription as conforming to a  “genre.” These were inscribed wherever there were outcrops of rock suitable for conversion into dwellings (Len or Caves ) for the Sangha. The length of the inscriptions depended on factors like space available and difficulty of working on the hanging rock.

Antiquity of use of caves in Buddhist meditation

Len’ or ‘caves’ were one of the five kinds of dwellings (Pancavasa) recommended in the Pali Vinaya and other canonical sources as residences of meditating Bhikkus (Sangha).(Bandaranayake,  Prematilake, Roland Silva, Wijesuriya and Malini Dias). Senaka Bandaranayake, in his monumental work : “Monastic Architecture”, 1974, ” has observed that while some Bhikkus lived in the Capital and other townships, some preferred to live in the isolation of cave dwellings. As such, caves made suitable for dwellings with drip-ledges over them and walling and doors were a regular form of dwellings for ‘Arannavasi or Vanavasi’ (forest –dwelling bhikkus (Wijesuriya,1998,p.43; Malini Dias, 2003).

The Abhidamma texts, Visuddhimagga, in particular, even go to the extent of describing details of what a forest is (giving their distance in ‘bow-lengths’) where these cave dwellings (len) have been established. Buddhist literature highlighted the advantage of forest living, especially for those who wanted to follow a meditative life. Buddha himself preferred a forest life as reported in the Vinaya and other Buddhist literary sources. Early monasteries were built to maintain an atmosphere suitable for meditation. In Sri Lanka, the cave with its naked simplicity and solitude was generally regarded from the earliest times as an ideal abode for hermits who devoted to a life of meditation.(Rahula,1956). Some of the donors in Sri Lanka described in their inscriptions, the caves they donated as ‘manoramam’ or ‘dassaniyam’  (attractive or good looking).(Paranavitana). The archaeological remains show unequivocally that meditation monasteries were built in remote sites such as on mountain tops and slopes. (Wijesuriya, p.35).

Against the backdrop of these discussions, both canonical and latter day scholarship, McGrilvray’s assumption that the inscriptions at the caves at Kuragala (sic) “appear to assert territorial claims by local political chieftains” moves away from scholarly inquiry and appears to constitute even a mischievous distortion of the context. Can one permit a scholar to enter into a dilatory discourse just because such multiple discourses are now accepted as part of academic analysis? To be acceptable, any discourse or discussion, dilatory or not, should fit into a context. One cannot just float an idea and keep quiet as the author has done. That would be just throwing a spanner in the works with a simple demolition objective.

Contradiction

But while so admitting his own inadequacy on the subject, and contradicting himself, the author has gone to give an interpretation on a matter involving epigraphy of Kuragala inscriptions where, on his own admission, he is less qualified to speak. That has served another purpose nevertheless, namely, supporting his generous host, Aboosally’s position that “there is no evidence that the site was “ever dedicated to the Buddhist Sangha)”.

Now Aboosally too who not having any demonstrated qualification or quality as a scholar or a student of epigraphy of the island but was a deeply interested party in the Kuragala Muslim shrine as its [former] Trustee. He was expressing an opinion which would negate any claims to the caves as those assigned in general to the Buddhist Sangha around the 2nd century BCE in respect of practically all caves in the island around this time. Coming from an interested party then, it is understandable that Aboosally was using the silence of the Kuragala Brahmi inscriptions, i.e. any reference to Sangha as recipients of the caves to pronounce that there was no declared connection with the Sangha. That was to advantageously promote the idea of the later antiquity of the Muslim shrine. Aboosaly too does not refer to many other early Brahmi inscriptions elsewhere which were silent about the recipient. Such a comparative study was of not of interest to him as his concentration was exclusively on Kuragala. McGilvray’s position was identical. So one sees an identity of interest between both parties. This can be useful in deciding if McGilvray was under obligation or not to his host.

Conclusion

The author is entitled to his opinion but others can judge his writing from its discernible objectives and the way the presentation has taken. Even the views on great archaeological discoveries of the world have been changing but the points are argued sufficiently as done in the case of Stonehenge, Pyramids et al.(Sabloff: Archaeology :Myth and Reality, in Scientific American, 1982). McGilvray’s view on epigraphy of Kuragala is an ill-informed contribution to undertake which, on his own admission, he was less qualified. It is a facile and unsupported explanation against the mainstream scholarly opinion which exposes more of the pathetic ignorance of local perspective.

Such  “roof –top vision” attitude of self-asserting is not an unfamiliar situation among some foreign scholars doing research in third world countries. I am reminded here of what the leading British archaeologist Bruce Trigger who passed away recently,  observed and the fellow U.S. anthropologist, Jeremy Sabloff endorsed on the need for caution in drawing conclusions from archaeological data. Both of them saw the absence of such caution as the chief difference between scientific archaeology and pseudo-archaeology. (Trigger:1978, p.17; Sabloff: “Archaeology, Myth and Reality”; in Scientific American, 1982, p.7).

I do not try to identify the author’s interpretation of the inscriptions in terms of what Trigger/Sabloff spoke of because, as I said, he himself acknowledged that he “chose not to discuss the epigraphical survey by Collins (JRASCB 1932) because [he] knew] (sic) “other scholars were much more qualified to interpret that kind of [epigraphical] material,” though curiously, he went to discuss epigraphic material by offering a new interpretation of the epigraphic record at Kuragala. His explanation for not choosing observations like that of Collins is not convincing. He has contradicted his expressed position for that.

The author does not need any prompting to think that there has to be an admission even at this stage that an error has been committed and it needs to be corrected.

End.

Aboosally: M.L.M: 1975, Did Shaik Abdul Kader Jailani visit Adam’s Peak?  The Muslim Digest (South

Africa), Sept-Oct, 1975

Aboosally, Sham: 2002, Dafhar Jailaini Rock Cave Mosque, Colombo

Bandaranayake, Senaka: 1974, Monastic Architecture

Bell, HCP: Archaeological Survey of Ceylon, Annual Reports, Sigiriya Excavations, 1905-1907. 85 of 1932)

Connigham, R:  1996, Passage to India? Anuradhapura and the early use of the Brahmi Script, Cambridge

Archaeological Journal, 6-1

Deraniyagala, S.U: 1992,The Prehistory of Sri Lanka, An Ecological Perspective,  Vols, 1 &2. Colombo

Dias, M: 2001, Epigaphia Zeylanica,(EZ) Vol VIII, Colombo, The Growth of Monastic Institutions in Sri

Lanka from Inscriptions, Epigaphia Zeylanica,(EZ) Vol VIII

Ibn Batua: Tr by Gibbs, H.A.R. Routledge & Kegan , London

Mehdi Hussein: Tr. of‘Rehla’, Baroda

Gray, A.: ,1882, Tr of Section on Maldives and Ceylon, JARS, Extra Number.

Indrapala, K.: 2007,The Evolution of an Ethnic Identity, Colombo, pp.322-334 & 409,Plate 3

Jayawickama, S: 2004, Writing that Conquers: re-reading Knox’s Historical Relations of the Island of ,      Ceylon, Colombo

McGilvray, D.B.:2004,  Jialani : A Sufi Mosque in Sri Lanka‘ in ‘Lived Islam in South Asia:

Adaptation, Accomodation and Conflict” published by Social

Science Press (Delhi) and Berghan Press (NY and Oxford, 2004, April

Sri Lankan Muslims: between ethno-nationalism and the global Ummah” published in the “Nations and Nationalism” Vol.17, Issue 1, January 2011, pages 45-64.

Neeham J: 1971, Science and Civilization in China, Cambridge

Nicholas,C.W. 1960, JRAS (CB): A Short Account of History of Irrigation works, up to the 11th Century, pp.

57-60.

Paranavitana, S: Inscriptions of Ceylon, Vol 1

Prematilake, P.L: Religious Architecture and Sculpture of Ceylon, (Anuradhapura Period) Unpublished

Thesis

Prematilleke and Silva, R: 1968. A Buddhist Monastic Type of Ancient Ceylon. Artibus Asiae, Vol.XXDX, Asconia

Rahula, 1956, W: History of Buddhism in Ceylon, the Anuradhapura Period, 3rd century VC 10th century

AC, Colombo

Sabloff: 1982, Archaeology, Myth and Reality; in Scientific American, NY

Silva, R: 1971, Lessons from Town Planning in Sri Lanka, Journal of the Ceylon Institute of Architects,

Colombo

Trigger: 1978, Time and Tradition, NY

UNESCO: 1982, Sociological Theories

Wijesuriya, G: 1998, Buddhist Meditation Monasteries, Colombo

*Bandu de Silva was a member of Sri Lanka Foreign Service for nearly four decades and served as Ambassador to France/ UNESCO, Switzerland, Spain, The Vatican and was the first resident Ambassador in Iran. He was in Sri Lanka’s pioneering diplomatic team in China in 1957, and has served also in Japan and Australia (Pacific circuit). He was on the University of Ceylon teaching staff in the History Department before joining the Foreign Service in 1956. He has been writing to the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society and to newspapers since his retirement from service in 1993.

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Latest comments

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    Aboosally was only a politician not a historian! Taking his assertions seriously is wrong.

    Jilani never visited SL. He lived and died in the middle east. Calling the Hindu God Rama’s bridge Adam’s bridge and calling the Buddhist Sripada Adam’s peak are both wrong. There was no Adam in SL.

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      Jilani was a name of a place in Iraq. Lanka was and is still called by arabs as Ceilan (Ceylon) due to the link between the Sufi of Jilan.

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      When the mighty Bali rescued the Sita, the hip-hop Hanuma escorted the girl away to the surreptitious RAM waiting in Kanyakumari, how then the bridge become Ram’s when it was originally crossed by the good king Bali?

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      “The past is another country”.
      All these pseudo-historians read the present onto a past ethos which was fundamentally different and commit the error of “presentism”.

      Both MacGilvary and this doddering Bandu Silva are making precisely the same mistake – pretending that the past of Kuragla is directly accessible to them rather than admitting that their readings of fragmentary and partial inscriptions are really about present debates and political arguments..

      The fact is that Buddhism is a religion of tolerance and non-violence that is being violated by pseudo saffron monks and intellectuals like Bandu who provide the “intellectual” input for the BALU SENA (BBS)!

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        Bandu de Silva, Nalin Silva, Chandre Dharmawardana, at el is all Sinhala Biased academics and researchers. These people are intoxicated with Sinhala chauvinism. They are continuing the Sinhala chauvinist tradition that the Sinhala biased researcher Senarat Paranavitana started.

        Now, to support the above Sinhala chauvinist academic gang we have a Journalist by the name Darshanie Ratnawalli. These are all academics, researchers and Journalists with a racist political agenda. They speculate or create their own interpretation of Sri Lankan history by twisting, turning, manipulating and misinterpreting the ancient events (in today’s context) with logical arguments (Rational thinking/logic works perfectly for Natural Science but NOT for Social Science) and write glamorized articles to convince a few confused and misguided individuals.

        Most of their arguments are based on assumptions, hypothesis, analogies, etc. They quote authors whose credibility is in question (either a racist like them without any “verifiable data” or some biased researchers with hypothetical assumptions/interpretations or un-authoritative/officially un-published, half-baked historical work of some researchers completely neglecting the controversial nature of their research or their arguments are based on the findings/writings of old (obsolete) historians or half-baked European Orientalist ‘scholars’ of the late 19th century and early 20th century or some comedians during the colonial period (Colonial officers/historians) who misinterpreted the Sri Lankan history.

        The biggest audience for these so called scholars/intellects/academics is the Sinhala racists who think the Sinhalese are the sole owners of the island (gifted by Buddha) and all others are aliens.

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          Mohammed Asghar

          According to my elders Bandu de Silva claimed to be multilingual scholar which he uses effectively to convince his Sinhala/Buddhist readership.

          He wrote 14 pages of review on The Evolution of An Ethnic Identity just to rubbish prof Indrapala.

          Most of his review contains siting of various authors who have had no connection to Sri Lanka nor the subject matter.

          He is working on books of Sri Lanka I suppose rewriting the history.

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          We should look into a fund to help with relocation of Muslim structure near this rock. I will be the first to contribute Rs10!

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            That morsel is not enough even to wipe your ass Buttrock.

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              When it comes to wiping my arse… I bow to your supreme knowledge.

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          Instead of attacking the author why don’t you attack the points he has made in his write up? If you are as accomplished in the field as you claim, rebutting his main points should be a trivial matter no eh? If you are too busy to do that, then I suggest you shut up.

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        The Foremost ideal the Enlightened Prophet ever preached was not to take hermitage in the forests or dens but to reside in a sangham a suburban ashram to preach the commons the way to live in harmony. The lengahukam among the modern vyaja bhikkus upsets the very precepts of the teaching of the Elder devouring, every cave they see to fix a vanavasi temple to their own moneymaking.

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        Don Stanley is also utterly guilty of presentism, because the only place where the past exists IS in the present. He and his types were labeled “candle people” by some writer. These candle people hold vigils. These vigils started off lon ago in Christian Lands as a watch over witches. The alledged innocent women- millions of them in the 18th-19th century- were then dragged out of their homes by the vigilantes and burnt to death for heresy and communion with the devil. The modern devil for these candle people are Bodu Bala Sena, and now even Bandu de Silva, or any one who wants to look at historical facts. For others, the devil is incarnate in Arab-Islamic hoards and their women going about covered in black “goni-billa” dresses with just two slits to look out into the world !

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          Don’t you base your lies on movies punk. We know you are referring to the movie ‘The Crucuble’ for facts.

  • 0
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    Muslims will hang-on to anything if they can anchor a heritage claim to Sri Lanka. I wish Messrs Bandu Silva write an article on ‘Muslim Mosques’ or ‘Ancient Muslim Mosques’ in Sri Lanka for us to learn of their ancestry.

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      I am no Muslim:

      ” I wish Messrs Bandu Silva write an article on ‘Muslim Mosques’ or ‘Ancient Muslim Mosques’ in Sri Lanka for us to learn of their ancestry.”

      I see suicidal tendencies in you.

      If you insist on committing suicide go find other means.

      I am planning to stay alive for many years.

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        Aha! you think Muslims would declare a ‘Fatwa” on you. You are an intolerant member of the Bodu Bala Sena, or the English National League in London, or the FLN in France?

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    The writer did not understand that the one line inscription was a fake installed in the late 70’s by the department of archeology, his inadequacy in reasoning on the forgery does mutilate the essential meaning of archeology. And He poorly assumes his identification on a piece of pottery in Jaffna is worth comparing to a vaguely inscribed inscription not near the disputed cave but 100 yards away from the precinct of the mosque under the ship like rock.

    Excerpted Note FYI: [The oldest Brāhmī inscriptions shows striking parallels with contemporary Aramaic for the sounds that are congruent between the two languages, especially if the letters are flipped to reflect the change in writing direction.

    (Aramaic is written from right to left, as are several early examples of Brāhmī). For example, both Brāhmī and Aramaic g resemble Λ; both Brāhmī and Aramaic t resemble ʎ, etc.

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      The used a time machine in 1970 and wrote the stuff in 1922 so that Collins the British civil servant could read it in 1931. Then they went back to pre-Herod Judea and wrote stuff Aramic, and returned to the 20th century using their time machine.

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        So, the Sinhalese work on time machines, and Kautilla operates it.

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    Lanka was Hindu before it was Buddhist, so surely many of these caves would have been used by Hindu ascetics before Buddhist Bikkhus took over. I understand that Senkadagala got its name from the Brahmin ascetic Senkada. Which points to the silent subject of Lanka’s Hindu heritage. It is also traditional for successive religions to build on the existing religion to cement and over ride the previous. Hence most of the Buddhist temples and monasteries must have been built on a Hindu past.

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      If ever the species of Lions exist in our wild they should be the real inheritors of the Dens and Caves of Lanka eating off the other land devouring spcies.

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      Muslims and Buddhists of Lanka always not admitting their ancestors were HINDUS. After the invention of “Sinhala Buddhism”, Sinhalese totally refute their Hindu past or Hindu practices like Muslims/Christians.

      The political alliance of Muslims and Buddhists are not based on their beliefs but based on their anti-India or anti-hindu politics.

      The word KANDY is not Sinhala but a Pali or Sanskrit origin. KANDY is used by Malayalees and Sri lankans only. “KANTHA = HILL or MOUNTAIN”. Kantha Uda Rata is used by the inhabitants of people in the hills of Sri lanka!

      Lord Muruga also known as KANTHA SWAMY or the God of hills! That is why thousands of Kantha swamys exist among Hindu Tamils!

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        Everyone knows very well that Sri lanka had beliefs before Buddhism. This is a FACT. With all probability the pr-Buddhist beliefs would have been influenced by Hinduism, Jainism, etc…

        For a Muslim Nationality/ sovereignty is important, but not before Islam, the universal Nationality. Any race or caste is not that important. Anyone who supports this principle, they will be friends. Anyone who opposes this they will not be taken as friends….. This is the same principle among other beliefs too, but very few strongly believe in it and promote it.

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          The concepts of Jain died instantly on its inception. These age old ‘isms of crazy India comes from the pessimism of jealousy of various scholars to promote their works and philosophy until The Irani Siddhartha the Saka crushed these scenario with his wits and prowess, and again after his demise the philosophy game distorted most of his works assimilating those to be of his.

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        The word “Kandy” is from malayalam not ‘Parley or Skunkskrit’, Kandi means ‘Pond’.

        The word ‘Kanda’ was a derivation from the word ‘Gendagam/Gendagam polova’ where the surface terrain on mountains are frequently laced with these sulphuric volcanic substances, not from the lilliputan claim that Kandan or Kamatchi climbing on to a mountain.

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          “Kanthakam” for Sulphur in Tamil too. But it has no relevance to Kandy!

          You will say “Budapest” is the birth place of Buddha soon!

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            Idiot, read carefully without messing up the two paragraphs.

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              Idiot! KANTHAKAM means SULPHUR.The same thing SEPTIN tried here. No trace of Sulphur or Sulphric acid in the Hills of Sri lanka!

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          Kandy means POND? In what language?

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            The word “Kandy” is from malayalam not ‘Parley or Skunkskrit’, Kandi means ‘Pond’.

            rephrased…

            The word “Kandy” means ‘Pond’ in Malayalam not ‘Parley or Skunskrit’.

            M.Shivanathan don’t you even know how to understand a simple written sentence, lame.

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      The Hindus who were there (or anywhere) before Buddhism and Jainism eat beef and wore bone necklaces. When you dig around you will find mounds of beef bone used for the கங்காளமாலி (kankaala maali) worn by the ascetics? Early Hinduism in Lanka and South India (Techchinankam, -southern land), if anything, was simple animism of tree spirits, rocks — you name it. A somewhat civilized form of Hinduism came later, as the Mauryan empire collapsed and prakrit and Hinduism (that had become vegetarian due to Jain and Buddhist influence) moved down. There was no Tamil then, but what was called Tamil prakrit by Iravathu Mahadevan. Tamil language came into being around the 1st century BCE, if Mahadevan is correct.

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        Idiot, the whole Idus valley civilization is indebted to them. The zest of Tamil phonology is relished in the languages of Akkad, Ur, Trimil of Greek, Malto, Brahui, Pashto, Kurukh, Maitli, the artificial Sanskrit, Pali, Sinhala and among all the southern trivid languages etc. Tamil language is a mother of wealth which contributed to the civilization of languages throughout the last 5000 years.

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          Tilaka

          “Tamil language is a mother of wealth which contributed to the civilization of languages throughout the last 5000 years.”

          Did the first ape speak Tamil and claim to be Dravidian from Harappa but a migrant from Lemuria?

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            Dravidian was not the real designation for the civics of Moenjadaro or Hadappa but the lame crtitic identification of Tamil by the Northerners. (Like the Iran commonly called land of the Aryan, but called Farisi by the Arabs and the Farsis are comparatively named Ajami living among the Arab stocks),while lemuria is far down the south from the scrotum of India where the progeny Nativum Veddigomuvum of the Lemurapis Apium Mongosoothis Zeylanicus of the Wasgamuwam-Uduwaluvium and Kumanum, the Nittawucide who claim of their ancestral furlongs of lands from the Regius Mahindum Rasabackshius.

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        In the later part of 9th century only the hindu temple workers prohibited from eating flesh. Others were not. Kings went for hunting. How was that?

        Tamil VERSE system was well developed in the 1st century. Further the concepts of KING, QUEEN, KINDOM and other ROYAL issues are the products of GANGES VALLEY CIVILIZATION. The Prakrit , Sanskrit too developed in those areas.

        KSHATRIA CLANS brought the PALI or Prakrit with them when ever they captured other parts. That is why Tamil Prakrit or Sinhala Brahmai existed.

        Bhikku Mahanama, a Tamil Pallava Royal, wrote the mahavansa in Pali and not in Sinhala or Tamil. ROYALS had their own issues and languages. Telungu Kannusamy became Sri Wickrama Rajasinha of Kandy.

        OLD ROYALS never had any issues based on languages!

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    Every inch of Sri Lanka had some Buddhist influence. Even to date civilians habitats, mosques and churches have been built on lands offered to temples. It is the ancient custom of Yogavachara or forest monks to meditate in the forest and in caves.

    It looks even the muslim thinking that kuragala had not been offered to buddhist monks seems to be based on their understanding that buddhists offer everything to monks and only then monks use it.

    It is important for muslims to make that claim because muslims are also in the process of building and preparing in Sri Lanka in order to make the claim that they also have their own “muslim Land” in Sri Lanka.

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      JimSofty

      “Even to date civilians habitats, mosques and churches have been built on lands offered to temples.”

      Where did the benefactors get their land from and by what means?

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        Where did the benefactors get their land from and by what means?
        From previous invaders (or later bastard children born out of wedlock and sent to the Vanni by the bourgoisie) who now pretend to be “native Veddas”

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          Kautilya

          “From previous invaders (or later bastard children born out of wedlock and sent to the Vanni by the bourgoisie) who now pretend to be “native Veddas” “

          Could you elaborate on your discovery.

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          Kakutilya, could one of them be you, a brat half orphan?

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          Born out of wedlock is a household name and the term is vastly used in the colloquium of the majority citizens of this country, it’s a part and parcel of their daily life.

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      Muslims very strongly believe in their religion ( compared to other faith followers). As long as they have the freedom to live their lives and practice their beliefs they will never be interested in any land for them. No soon they feel a threat to them and the right to practice their religion they will be pushed to look into alternatives….

      When a particular group of people who have common culture and beliefs are in a particular land area the tendency is that they would want some sort of freedom with minimal interference. The ability to administer the people in the particular land area becomes limited for the majority. It is a similar sort of situation in the North of SL. What ever historians wrote is not going to be that important. Most of the history is written by persons under the influence of the leadership with an agenda.

      If there is some sort of freedom in the North the chances are that the balance Tamils in SL will start to move to the North.

      If the Muslims are oppressed in areas where they are a minority they would gradually move in to lands that Muslims are a majority neighborhood. No soon a particular group of people become a majority in a considerable land area the scenario becomes the same…

      As long as the people in the country are all given equal opportunity in every aspect, the minorities are convinced the good intentions of Leadership, Nationalism is promoted, History is written by unbiased professionals comprising all Minorities, races , etc… the Country will be united.

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    Jmsofty : when Tamil Nadu invades Lanka once agian as they did before in history: you and your faimily will have only sea to jump in? That is the way I could answer to you. You think that SL belongs to Singhalse only. You are callig one more blood Bath by this racing call. wiait Tamil Nadu free itself from centre in India people like you would not have place to hide: 74 millions Tamils from TN will jump on your heads. Do not be racist and the more you talk racism the more you put SL in danger. Do not think your Buddhist china will come to rescue you: china is only behind big construction in SL and some politics not for your faith

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      Tamils say that Tamils lived even before the Dinosaurs.

      Now, Muslims say they Came to Sri Lanka King Vijaya.

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        Now, Muslims say they Came to Sri Lanka with King Vijaya.

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          King Vijaya came with 700 Romans in Kudrimalai.

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        JimSofty

        “Tamils say that Tamils lived even before the Dinosaurs.”

        You have plagiarised my line.

        “Now, Muslims say they Came to Sri Lanka King Vijaya.”

        The Sinhalese believe the first ape spoke Sinhala and was a practicing Buddhist.

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        Say yourself that Dinosaurs, Triceratops, Raptors, Archaeopteryx and Psychometrics were tamed by the Indus valley civilization of the Tamils.

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      Plain truth

      “74 millions Tamils from TN will jump on your heads”

      Why didn’t the 74 million jump like monkey god Hanuman across the Palk Strait to save your Tamils in the last 10 years?

      Cowards!!!!

      It is not too late they can still jump.

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    If the Arabs in the Middle east wish to visit Sri Lanka and climb Adams peak, they should be encouraged to do so – in fact, it should be marketed. This will greatly improve the image of Sri Lanka in the Muslim world and help our tourist industry and the economy.
    Confused academic arguments as presented in this article are of little use to anyone.

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      Have our archeological specialists done any study on Adams-Peak. Why go around the bush when we can do some scientific research by some independent specialists. As a Sri Lankan it would be great to believe if the first human set foot on Sri lanka.

      We know that the team writing the Mahawamsa even today are bias. Recently at an event to commemorate some special day of the SLFP, CBK’s portrait was missing… I am sure thee will not be much about her rule in the Mahawamsa too.. It will probably be a reasonable guess to say that the present leader may have more pages in the Mahawamsa that in 500 years time people will not talk about Dutugamunu… but talk about…..

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    There is a confusion arising that C.H.Collin’s article was one on Kuragala controversy. No. The former British civil servant with a scholarly bent wrote on Archaeology of Sabaragamuwas and Bintenna. He had no interest in any controversy. His paper deserved to be looked at in any study on Kuragala or archaeology of the whole area. The failure was an omission especially because the Colarrado academic quotes Aboosally profusely. At least his views should have been countered. There are certainly some defects in Collin’s views on epigraphy which could have been taken up.Perspectives shd.not be lost.

    Here is the page containing Inscriptions copied/decipherd by Collin in 1932.
    JRACB:
    167
    No. 85-1932] ARCHAEOLOGY of SABARAGAMUWA-BINTENNA
    Inscription, A.
    The first record (A) is cut in a single line at the South end of one of the caves in this rock, facing South-East.The inscription is cut in Brahmi characters of about the Second Century B.C. The inscription is worn out and very difficult to reach, but from a ” squeeze ” and “eye-copy” it appears to be as follows :-
    (Script)………………
    Transcript.
    …. DA TA HA SA PU DA HA LE. NE
    Translation.
    ” The dedicated Cave of ….Dataha,”
    Inscription, B.
    On the same rock, as A, but inscribed in two lines, about 30 feet or more above a second cave is a second inscription. This faces North-East. It is in an almost inaccessible position, and scaffolding will be necessary to reach it before close copy of it can be made.
    Transcript.
    PA RU MA KA (SU) MA (NA) HA
    PA RU MA KA LA SA MA YA
    Translation.
    ‘Cave of the Chief Sumana (?) and the Chief Lasama ‘
    The two Caves are occupied by one ‘AIi Mustan, an lndian Muslim, who came to the place several years ago, and until now lives there as a guide and friend of pilgrims, though his right to do so is strenuously resisted by the Muslim authorities of Balan-goda.”

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    Calling it Buddhist property is not going to affect the Muslims much. But my question, why suddenly all such questions and claims happening now?

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      The Sinhala sissy in Cave spree!

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    Whether its Buddhists property or anyone’s is not going to affect the Muslims badly.

    question is why these claims only NOW

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      The butt of contempt; Hatton-Badulla, Colombo-Kandy train tunnels were also eyed by the scoundrels for the money making ritual.

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    This article as any person with a clear mind can see is written by an experienced researcher and not about Buddhist or Muslim. It is about a point in academic methodology/evaluation.Looks like it has ruffled many feathers, though.More such articles are needed to raise levels of awareness.

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      The writers nonsensical point of relating to the deed of the cave is poorly based on an illegibly written piece of a pottery, which was in contrast to a viable methodology to assimilate it to the subject giving much emphasis to make a notion that the cave was donated to such and such. Why cannot we argue with a counter point that the cave was lent to a common layman instead of a bhikku or a sangha. Its pathetic seeing his 40 years studies has gone emulous while reading on these incongruous mythical renderings.

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      Academic methodology/evaluation should not be biased. This experienced researcher begins his research with the end (conclusion) in mind. Even though he claims his articles are purely academic in nature, any person with a clear mind can see it is written with a political agenda (racially biased). More such articles will only raise the levels of Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinism in the country.

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        Mohammed Asghar

        “More such articles will only raise the levels of Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinism in the country.”

        What else can one expect from Aryan/Sinhala/Buddhist revisionists?

        Now I see more and more Kamalikas emerging in the business of history writing.

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    The writer has raised an interesting point about an ethnologist’s [false]approach to history and archaeology but has not developed it on those lines. He has gone into a more facile analogies which the average reader understands like by bringing in what President JR Jayewardene spoke of. The Colorado ethnologist seems to be influenced by the pre-colonial approach to ethnological discourses with explicitly discriminatory premises, and conclusions implicitly political.This is often described as ‘linear evolution’ in the van of human evolution, and at the rear the primitive ‘tribes’ of Oceania, Africa and Amazonia and others. In this context, ethnology was deputed as a sort of ‘Ministry of Euoropean Curiosity’ vis-à-vis the natives. Consequently, it is not just that McGilvray sees in the Kuragala inscriptions, a cave -dwelling primitivism at the level of leaders of the people but even in his descriptions of Islamic ritual at Kuragala and in Sufi practices in other places he has written about, there lies an underlying emphasis on ‘development’ and ‘under-development’ – a primitivism in Sufi Islam as seen from the premise of western ‘development’ . This seems to be the result of confused application of varying ethnological premises.This is a point that those who evaluate McGilvray’s approach in positive terms as a pro-Islam [read Sufi] should understand.

    These are the points that needs to be discussed as the writer invited and not rubbish.

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      You are talking about an ISLAMIC ritual. were there caves in the Desert Middle east ?

      How it became a sufi ritual ?

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        JimSofty displays his ignorance and idiocy on almost every thread in this forum. No wonder the members ignore this brainless idiot who talks thro his hat and shows his ignorance on almost every subject discussed here even when a simple google search will give you some basic knowledge.

        This fool has no idea what so ever about Sufism, where it originated, what they do and so on. He does not even know the basic general knowledge about the caves in the Middle-East.

        This guy is an ideal clown for a circus.

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          Braini guy Suresh:

          You just blew up and showed your frustration.

          Other than that, you did not answer what I asked.

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        JimSofty.You are surely soft in the head. As for caves in the Desert Middle East, the Holy Prophet got his first revelation from Angel Jibreel when he was meditating in a cave at Mount Hira. Also during his escape bid from the hostile Quraish tribes he took refuge in a cave at Mount Torr. There are plenty more examples but your racially prejudiced head (soft) might not wish to absorb the truth.

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    I am not the one who speaks of the Islamic ritual at Kuragala.It is McGilvray. His article‘ Jailani: A Sufi Mosque in Sri Lanka‘ in “Lived Islam in South Asia: Adaptation, Accommodation and Conflict” 2004, April is essentially a description of the present day annual ritual. He calls it an ethnological study.Pl.see his remark,posted on 4tth June,3.52 A.M. on Ms.Ratnawalli’s first article on Kuragala.

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      Rattinawalli (sounds tamil) wrote a school essay ‘one upon a time in kuragla’, not an article.

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    Native Vedda,
    Have you read Bandu de Silva’s review of Indrapala’s book? it is a paper of 76 pages with 13 pages of end note/references. It was not he who quoted other authors but Indrapala to deconstruct accepted historical interpretations.Indrapaala’s book is nothing but quoting others.Bandu de Silva has only countered these.
    Here is a good article rarely seen around. Do not be jealous. If you have any grey matter up be fair. Come out shed you loincloth and offer some constructive criticism as a few others have done.Or why don’t you write oneself?
    You have no backbone, perhaps.You are ‘spoiling- the- neighbour’s – plot -at -dawn -and- running- away’ type as you do in the bush.

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      Archivist

      “Have you read Bandu de Silva’s review of Indrapala’s book? it is a paper of 76 pages with 13 pages of end note/references.”

      Let me have a copy of this 76 page review let me know where to access it. The one I had access to was only 14 pages in total.

      Have you ever had the good fortune to read any of Indrapala’s work?
      Please let me know which one that Bandu was unable to deconstruct.

      The last time I checked my back I had a backbone.

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        But, invertebrate in the south, natural.

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    There is Mahayana Buddhist saying which is not popular in Theravada circles. It is a saying based on observation of nature.That is to say the dog attacks the clod of earth thrown at him leaving out the attacker.Looking at some of the postings,like that of Ashgar (the a bloated DOG in this case,who seems to be like an empty balloon with mal-air inside, one sees the truth of this old adage. Navin (June 14th is right on spot on this.

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    Mc Gilvray has been a failure in epigraphy as the writer of this article makes out. Has he also been a failure in his own branch -ethnology? This is a thought one cannot fail to entertain if one looks at the writing of the British ethnologist, E.B.Taylor.
    It was expected that ethnologists would try to “fill out the “outline of Cultural material” by providing a check list of all conceivable patterns of cultural behaviour – the ethnographic synthesis – one that traced how ways of life at a site changed in the course of its occupation and try to account for how these changes came about.Making comparative studies was part of this process.
    Taylor believed that the study should involve the comparison of whole cultural contexts as manifested at individual items of culture,and the immediate aim shd. be to understand how a site related to the broader pattern of life in a surrounding territory. This is something that does not seem to have been in McGilvray’ ‘Bible’ of ethnographic perception. Even if he did not want to delve into the mass of literature which try to explain the extensive cave-dwelling phenomena of phase of the Sangha in the island, a simple look at Collin’s paper would have given him enough information about the broader pattern of life in the surrounding are of Sabaragamuwa and Binteena around the same time. Collin has discussed five such sites.
    These are also principles accepted in archaeology. So if McGllvray was writing based on ethnological principles, or archaeological principles, the latter of which he did not seem claim to possess,he could not have overlooked the island’s contemporary cultural scene where thousands of similar inscriptions had been indited around the same time.
    It is obvious that our scholar has overlooked principles of ethnology for a short while he was at Balangoda. Perhaps, the reasons need no explanation. Even scholars have their weaknesses.

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