20 September, 2020

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Once A Nuclear Power……!

By Ravi Perera

Ravi Perera

Ravi Perera

Recently I read two newspaper articles, one in Sinhala and the other English, both on what one may loosely call historical subjects. Both articles have adopted the same form, that of a narration of an interview. In the Sinhala article the writer reports on discussions with several persons on a political event that happened about twenty five years back (Mawbima-20 July).This is recent history, most of the characters spoken about are still among us.

On 23 of July a main-stream English daily , the Mirror carried a full page exposition of the views of Dr.Mirando Obeysekera, apparently  an authority on the mythical King Ravana.Like other  such  stories, the difference between fact and fiction in the Ravana saga is a matter for the reader.

Different people view things differently. What one may consider plausible another may dismiss as childish drivel.  In the treatment of the subject of history we observe vast differences from culture to culture. From one perspective, scholarship demands critical analysis, with every effort taken to approach the subject objectively, investigation preceding hypothesis. From another view, an emotional tone, where the telling is more important than cold facts, pleases ; with any conjecture used as support for   a pre-conceived notion. And it is just as easy for a culture to delude itself on the scholastic   merits of the latter approach.

Is it history or mythology? Who is a hero and who is just a common bully? What is governance and what is abuse of power? Who is a leader and who is a mere adventurer?  These are some of the questions that every society would have grappled with at some point or the other. But the answers will not be uniform. Different people look at things differently. And when it comes to taste and sensibilities, the range is wide in deed.

Sinhala Article

The article in the Sinhala newspaper narrates an event, with a political tone, that occurred about twenty five years ago. It stars the young Mahinda Rajapaksa in the days when the UNP was in power. The narrative is in the form of a recital by several political figures such as the former Chief Minister Amarasiri Dodangoda, present Minister Dallas Allahaperuma, Member of Parliament Mahinda Amaraweera and others, who for greater effect divide the narration between themselves.

It is a story told much after the event, with the subsequent career of the protagonist very much in the minds of the narrators, now reduced to a client/ patron relationship.  We do not have the resources nor the inclination to independently verify any of the matters referred to in the article. There is no need to labour the point that a complex event occurring in a highly charged situation is being narrated by one side. Nevertheless the story is not without certain insights, particularly as to the attitudes of power and their apparent indifference to the due process. Even in the highest places, the quality of our public life is not something to be proud of. If accepted as true, the story is that of a Governor and his political configuration attempting to deny the rightfully elected, a juvenile display of power to say the least. In societies where such happenings are common place, Historians who provide solace is perhaps more welcome than those looking for the truth.

Apparently the then President Ranasinghe Premadasa under pressure from the opposition called for an election for the Southern Provincial Council. The election resulted in the ruling UNP winning 26 seats, the People’s Alliance 24 while the Lalith Front obtained 3. As the Lalith Front was opposed to President Premadasa, the opposition could muster a total of 27 in the Council.

The UNP claimed that the opposition had no mandate and took the matter before court which however held that the opposition was indeed entitled to form the government.

According to the narrators after the judgment was known Bakeer Markar the Governor of the Southern Province went missing, his whereabouts unknown. The absence of the Governor meant that the winning side could not take their oath of office which had to be done before him.  Extensive inquiries revealed that Governor Markar was staying at an estate in Matale.So a number of them went all the way to Matale and confronted a surprised Governor. The Governor told them that it was inappropriate to administer the oath there in Matale and that he would be in his Bungalow in Galle the next Monday and the swearing-in could be done on that day.

When the Monday dawned it appeared to the expectant provincial counselors that the Police had cordoned off the Galle Fort area so tightly that they would not be able to meet the Governor to be sworn in. The resulting delay would give the other-side the time to negotiate a cross over with persons from this side. In desperation they called Mahinda Rajapakse .Among others present were Mangala Samaraweera, Richard Pathirana and Mahinda Wijesekera. With Mahinda Rajapakse in the lead they arrived at the Galle Fort. There they were confronted by police and army officers led by an Assistant Superintendent of Police.  The young MP informed the ASP that as a lawyer he was entitled to attend the court house inside the Fort, which request was brusquely rejected by the intransigent Police Officer. Mahinda Rajapakse was not to be denied. Pushing aside the ASP and then the barrier he charged towards the Governor’s office followed by the rest. The governor’s door was closed. A good kick on the door and the door flung open. In side were the Governor and his secretary cowering in fear.Mahinda Rajapakse declared in a loud voice that they came to be sworn in. The Governor Bakeer Markar protested that the swearing-in should take place in the hall down stairs and not in his office. Mahinda insisted that it should take place then and there. Realizing he had no choice but comply the Governor swore-in Amarasiri Dodangoda.

English Article

The English article (Daily Mirror- 27 July) was an exposition on the mythical King Ravana by one Dr Mirando Obeysekera. According to the writer of the article, Dr. Obeysekera had obtained an MA from the Columbia Pacific University and is credited with having authored 54 books.

Here are some of the findings of the learned researcher into Sri Lankan history.

“Ravana had been unconscious (after the arrow shot by Rama hit him) and regained his consciousness about five years ago”

“According to Dr Mirando Obeysekera Rama shot a poisoned arrow to kill King Ravana. However he did not die. He only fell unconscious and he was the individual who lay unconscious for the longest time…”

“Dr Obeysekera argues that Ravana was in possession of nuclear weapons. He says that it is at the wishes of Ravana that gold and gem deposits emerged in the country and land-slides and gale winds occurred”

“The rishi called Pulasthi Muni was Maha Brahama’s son and he was King Ravana’s grandfather”

“He (king Sumalin) had a beautiful daughter called Keshini.King Sumalin saw (through clairvoyance) that her son would become King of Lanka. He planned to send his daughter to Vishrawas Muni who was now living as a hermit so that they would fall in love and his daughter would give birth to a child who is destined to become king. However Keshini was not able to bring round Visharwas Muni to her wishes. On the seventh day she removed her clothes and stood naked before Vishrawas Muni …..)”

“Dr Obeysekera is of the opinion that the South Indian Tamils are descendants of mercenary soldiers in King Ravana’s army”

“Several races including Yakas, Naga, Deva and Gandhabba lived in Sri Lanka at the time. They were human races similar to the present social divisions of Govi, Karawe and Rajaka caste”

“Sri Lanka is said to have manufactured aircraft and submarines during Ravana’s reign and he possessed more than 90 planes…”

“King Ravana regained consciousness when the LTTE terrorism was about to end”

“King Ravana is now a god roaming the world in disguise as an average individual. However, the only difference is that he moves several inches above the ground. His eyes are bright and his physical features are similar those of an Argentine. The on-going clashes among Muslim countries are due to Ravana’s curse”

Dr Obeysekera would not have meant a black man, quite a few of who make Argentina their home today, as his Argentine model. The picture that we conjure up is a likeness closer to a Spanish of the Latin American mode (Don’t cry for me Argentina…!) Although the disguise that could hide the identity of a man floating several inches above the ground is a hard one, we attribute that to our limited imagination.

All our modern consciousness notwithstanding, these stories do give us a distinct pang. History may be all about becoming and receding, Sri Lanka’s anguish today only a transient phase. In the narratives, one cannot but discern the heroic tone of our leadership, good overcoming evil, an assurance of hope. Our leaders are larger than life; whether they ride on their golden chariots or   whiz past us in their sleek convoys, the aura prevails. In them we behold boundless power, appropriately balanced with wisdom and compassion. Given the preoccupations and the orientations of the prevalent culture no amount of praise from a grateful flock will suffice. It is exhilarating to be a part of a continuous process where magic and reality are inter-changeable.  In such a dispensation, the scope for divine drama is limitless.

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Latest comments

  • 2
    0

    Nice one Ravi!

    Reality morphing into Magic and Magic transcending our wildest imagination.

    If our beloved Sri Lanka ever lost this, the people would be driven mad and throw themselves into the foaming waters of the heavenly blue Indian Ocean.

  • 3
    1

    ” Ravana regained consciousness when the LTTE terrorism was about to end”

    Now Rawana and his Madamulana clan looting and scraping The sri lankans and sri lanka.

    “Sri Lanka is said to have manufactured aircraft and submarines during Ravana’s reign and he possessed more than 90 planes…”

    Now Rawana and his Madamulana clan Leasing Air crafts and Buying Scrap ships to get Fatty commissions and to do human and drug Smuggling.

  • 1
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    The oldest mention of Rama and Ravana appears in Ramayana the epic attributed to the Indian poet Valmeeki. In it Ravana is presented as the villain – symbol of all evil – a shameless womanizer and arrogant thug and Rama as the paragon of virtue.Ravana blinded by his bestial lust ruthlessly raped Rambha, his nephew`s consort and on another occasion seduced Vedawathi a maiden who was observing a Vrtha. At last the scoundrel was punished when he abducted and tried to seduce Seetha the pious wife of Rama. That is mythology. No historian in his right mind, not even an ordinary layman with some common sense will take it as history.

    The fact that Lanka mentioned in Ramayana is not this country has been conclusively proved by historian D P Mishra in his book `Quest for Lanka`.
    History is also a science. It rejects stories that cannot be supported by plausible facts – documentary /physical evidence. Dr.Obeysekera what ever he did to obtain his Ph.D displays utter ignorance in the field of history. Ramayana clearly says that the dead body of Ravana was cremated. If he has not read the complete text of Ramayana I recommend him Ramesh Menon( 2003 Harper Collins), Arsia Sattar ( 2004-Penguin) or The Sinh. translation by Senanayake.

    Re-emergence of Ravana as Hero (and Rama as villain) was a `jilmart` pioneered by Tamil Nadu politician Ramaswamy (Periyar) who raised a voice against high caste Brahmins and burned their sacred books Ramayana and Dharmashsthra in public in 1920s. Our linguist Munidasa Cumaratunga in his patriotism followed the footsteps of Tamil Nadu politician and promoted the idea that Ravana was an ancient Sinhalese king.

    And.. Ravana`s aerodynamics! They say his air port was Wariyapola. (wa+riya+pola = parking place of vehicles powered by air/wind) Does this mean that when Ravana sat in his vehicle and let out a tremendous fart it rose in the air?What an idea! There are at least three villages by that name in the country. Were they all air ports? Dr. Obeysekare seems to be a direct descendent of Baron Munchausen!

  • 1
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    No historian in his right mind or even an ordinary layman with a bit of common sense will take Ravana as a historical figure. The oldest mention of Rama and Ravana appears in Ramayana the epic attributed to Valmeeki in which Ravana is presented as the symbol of all evil – a notorious womanizer and arrogant bully who ruthlessly raped his nephew`s consort Rambha and also Vedawathi a maiden who was performing a Vrtha. The fact that Lanka mentioned in Ramayanaya has nothing to with this country has been conclusively proved by historian D P Misra in his book `Quest for Lanka`.
    Dr Obeysekera may be an M A qualified scholar but his fantastic views on Ravana and tall tales he is telling in his endeavor to elevate Ravana to the level of king of kings clearly displays his ignorance in the field of history which is also a science that rejects tales that cannot be supported by facts , documentary or physical evidence.

    Aerodynamics of Ravana! Some people say that Ravana`s Air port was situated at Wariyapola. (wa+riya+pola = Parking place of vehicles powered by air/wind). Does this mean that when Ravana climbed his vehicle and let out a thundering fart the vehicle rose in the air? What an ideaa! There are at least three locations named Watiyapola in this country? This scholar Dr.Obeysekara seems to be a direct descendant of Baron Munchaussen!

  • 2
    0

    No historian with his right mind or even an ordinary layman with a bit of common sense will take Ravana as a historical character. Oldest mention of Rama and Ravana appear in Ramayana the epic attributed to Valmeeki, in which Ravana is presented as the symbol of all evil – a notorious womanizer and arrogant bully who ruthlessly raped his nephew`s consort Rambha and also Vedawathi a maiden who was observing a Vrtha. The fact that the Lanka mentioned in Ramayana has nothing to do with this country has been conclusively proved by historian D P Mishra in his book ` Quest for Lanka`.

    Doctor Obeysekera may be a M.A qualified scholar but his views on Ravana and the tall tales he is fabricating to elevate Ravana to the position of King of Kings display his utter ignorance in the field of history which is also a science that rejects tales that are not supported with plausible facts – documentary / physical evidence. This scholar sounds like a direct descendent of Baron Munchaussen!

    Aerodynamics of Ravana! Some people say that Ravana`s airport was situated at Wariyapola.(wa+riya+pola = Parking place of vehicles powered by air/wind) Does this mean that when Ravana climbed into his vehicle and let out a thundering fart the vehicle rose up in the air? What an idea? There are at least three locations named Wariyapola in this country.

  • 2
    0

    a good analysis of the reality of sri lankan culture which prevails everywhere. We look at life through a certain cultural focus which blinds us to other realties. I suppose every culture has a certain outlook. According to our out look it is good to imagine all this heroic stuff about our leaders ( and maybe even ourselves) while begging for a Visa to go to South Korea or the middle east to earn a few dollars.We may have built planes during Ravana’s time but today we cannot make even a bicycle. The most advance technology we have now is making garments and tea bags.But we ape developed countries and have a parliament, a supreme court and a ceremonial change of guard at the presidents house.Just because we do things that advanced democracies do as long as we view life in a certain way we will never go far.There is no point in discussing various wrong doings of leaders , as long as we have this outlook nothing will change.

    • 0
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      There is one more thing I would like to add in addition to building planes we have had “2500 year old Buddhist civilization” Yet we are still practicing worse than jungle law eg. rape, abductions, robberies, thuggery, arson, disappearing fellow citizens, stealing lands from poor people!!!!Hilarious!!

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