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Moving up the CCS ladder, the 1915 riots and war service



By Sir Henry Monck-Mason Moore,
last British Governor of Colonial Ceylon
Excerpted from HAJ Hulugalle’s British Governors of Ceylon

(Continued from last week)

On arrival in Ceylon in 1910 I was attached as a Cadet first to the Secretariat and then to the Colombo Kachcheri. Sir Henry McCallum was Governor, Sir Hugh Clifford, Colonial Secretary and Mr. E Bowes Principal Assistant Secretary. From such minute papers as came my way, it did not appear that Sir Henry and Sir Hugh were always at one in the views expressed.

Later, when in 1924 1 was posted to the Nigerian Secretariat, Sir Hugh Clifford was Governor and Sir Donald Cameron, Chief Secretary. They were a remarkable and highly gifted combination, both men of outstanding ability in their respective spheres. Sir Hugh was in my opinion quite the most outstanding personality under whom I have served despite his personal eccentricities of genius. It was a tragedy that they should have developed into a form of mental instability by the time he returned to Ceylon as Governor and then to Malaya. I will refer to this again later.

After my first year in Colombo I had been assured that I should remain in Jaffna for a year or more at least, and as stated earlier I had invited my sister to stay there with me. We were a happy party in the Jaffna Fort, which has been well described by Leonard Woolf in the second volume of his autobiography.It was much the same in my day. I also came to have a great respect and liking for the industry and sturdy independence of the Jaffna Tamil, and I was, therefore, very disappointed to have to leave it so soon to become an itinerating police magistrate up and down the Colombo-Kandy road. Before long I was back again in Colombo for a short spell as municipal magistrate, then to the Customs, finally as fourth Assistant in the Secretariat.

Colombo in the days of the Rubber Boom has in retrospect a very materialistic look. All communities were in a rush to get rich quick. Socially, wealth was the golden key to unlock the gate for the would-be social climber; and the Civil Service `caste’, as it had been described, could not compete, despite official prestige, with the Fort merchant princes. Up country. the planting industry was offering high prices for land which was disrupting the old aristocratic Kandyan feudal economy. while in Colombo the old caste distinctions in Sinhalese were becoming blurred by the wealth of a rapidly increasing middle class, which was also campaigning for a less paternal and more democratic form of government.

The Government and Assistant Government Agents in the Provinces and Districts were still left more or less undisturbed in the exercise of a paternal authority, and were genuinely interested in promoting the welfare and development of the local population with whom they were in close touch. Some viewed with reserve, not to say dismay, any attempt to bring political pressure upon them in the exercise of their duties.

Such an attitude is in no way peculiar to Ceylon. It is shared by the Civil Servants the world over, and as an old Civil Servant myself I have noted with regret the dissolution of the Ceylon Civil Service with a record over the years of which it had every right to be proud.

In 1914 with little or no warning Ceylon was overtaken by the War. At that time most believed it would be of short duration and unlikely to constitute any serious threat to British possessions East of Suez, though Ceylon was full of alarms and excursions so long as The Emden (a German cruiser) was at large. The Ceylon contingent of volunteers was quickly despatched to Egypt and the local volunteer regiments mobilized to defend our shores and in particular the Port of Colombo, which was the main port of call for Australian and New Zealand troops in transit to the battle fronts.


At this time of crisis Sir Edward Stubbs, who had very recently arrived as Colonial Secretary, became acting Governor until such time as Chalmers (later Lord Chalmers) took over the administration. They were both men of great mental ability from the Home Civil Service, and had this in common that neither had had any previous Colonial experience. In the event, they were called upon to handle the delicate situation created by the 1915 Ceylon Riots before they had much time or opportunity to be in close personal touch with the different facets of Ceylonese public opinion of which the Morning Leader was the most forceful exponent.

Stubbs with his acid wit and somewhat gauche approach had no strong personal appeal, though his charming wife was soon deservedly popular. Chalmers seemed to be surrounded by a small circle with whom he could swap classical jokes or pursue his Sanskrit studies with scholarly members of the Buddhist priesthood. When the late Dr. Solomon Fernando died suddenly in the course of a political speech, the story, probably apochryphal was that he remarked on receipt of the news: I suppose the good doctor must have heard a still small voice saying to him ‘Fernando Po”‘.

With the benefit of hind sight it is easy to be wise after the event, but I am inclined to think it was a mistake to have declared Martial Law on the outbreak of the riots. It must be remembered that there was an atmosphere of war hysteria abroad which the mutiny of the Guides at Singapore had intensified.

The Attorney-General, Sir Anton Bertram, a fine lawyer and scholar, was a conscientious character, who could become jittery under pressure. He advised that as the Empire was at war, all Ceylonese could be regarded as “statutory camp followers” within the meaning of the Army Act, and as such amenable to trial by Court Martial. In effect this meant that the General Officer Commanding rather than the Governor became responsible for the maintenance of law and order, though the civil courts continued to function for less serious offences.

In the last resort the General confirmed the findings of the Court Martial though they were submitted to him through the Governor. General Malcolm, though a gallant soldier, had not the experience to fit him for the exercise of such a responsible task.

After the riots I was Secretary of the Commission of Enquiry into the action of the police, under the chairmanship of the Chief Justice, Sir Alexander Wood Renton. The Commission could find no positive evidence of conspiracy, though after the Singapore mutiny a few letters were found from Ceylonese in Singapore enquiring as to the local position. But in Ceylon itself the wildest rumours were circulating among the ignorant villagers suggesting that there was no longer any British Government.

The trouble started at Gampola with a Buddhist Wesak procession marching past the Mohammedan mosque, in which the Buddhists, were clearly the aggressors. As this was a trouble spot of long standing, action should have been taken by the local authorities to maintain order at the outset. This was not done and the trouble spread to Kandy, where the Police Magistrate and the Government Agent again failed to deal with the situation firmly and there was more rioting and shooting.

From Kandy it spread like a forest fire to Colombo and the coastal districts. A map of the affected areas showing the dates on which the riots broke out clearly indicated how it spread, and was suggestive that it was fanned, whether deliberately or not, by the rumours spread abroad. That the Buddhists, despite their non-violent creed, were the aggressors there can be no doubt.

After the sack of the Pettah I gained some notoriety in dealing with a vast crowd, that was trying to cross the bridge over the Kelaniya river to reinforce their fellow Sinhalese, who were supposed to have been massacred and raped by the Moors. In fact the exact opposite was the case. After long parleys with their leaders I had no alternative but to give the officer commanding about a dozen volunteers; whom I had hastily summoned to defend the bridge, the order to fire.

The first round was fired over their heads, but the crowd with cries of “his tuakuva” (empty guns) rushed to within about ten yards of us when they were dispersed by a volley which left one or two killed and a few wounded in their wake. Of actual numbers I have no record.

By this time I had been appointed an additional District judge for the Western Province and also a Special Commissioner under the Martial Law regulations with a few Punjabi soldiers to restore law and order in the area around Veyangoda, Heneratgoda and Minuwangoda. Mr. Fraser, the Government Agent of the Western Province, had obtained approval of a plan whereby the damage done to Moorish boutiques and property should be roughly assessed and the victims compensated by the payment of a collective fine imposed upon the Sinhalese villagers concerned.

Such a compulsory levy would, it was hoped, act as a deterrent to further rioting and at the’ same time provide speedy compensation for the losses sustained by its victims. If carried out as originally conceived the results might or might not have justified such emergency measures. But at the very last moment Fraser was told that the levy should be presented as a voluntary one, and that those reluctant to subscribe should be warned that, their properties would be assessed, and that it would therefore be to their financial advantage to make an immediate voluntary payment rather than wait till the necessary legislation was enacted.

I do not know who was responsible for this decision, but I suspect that Sir Anton Bertram was getting cold feet at the consequences of his Martial Law decision. The officers responsible for the collection of the levy were now presented with an almost impossible task which was a source of constant embarrassment.

It fell to my lot to prepare the dossier on which the Attorney General decided to bring a Mr. Bandaranaike for trial by Court Martial. Mr. Bandaranaike, an ardent Buddhist and temperance campaigner, became a convert to Christianity during his detention and there was much backstair missionary pressure to secure his, release. Eventually Mr. Eardley Norton came over from India to defend him, and secured his acquittal by the surprise production of an Indian tea maker, who provided an alibi.

By 1916 1 had had some five and a half years service and was granted my first leave on condition that I got a commission in the Army on arrival in England. I had been refused permission to join the Ceylon contingent in 1914. In London I found that direct, commissions were no longer given, so I enlisted as a gunner and driver in the Royal Horse Artillery.

After three month’s in the ranks I was gazetted a Lieutenant and sent for a month’s gunnery course at Shoeburyness. Eventually I joined a 60-pounder battery of the RGA. and volunteered to go as an officer reinforcement to Salonika, as my own battery was not yet ready to be sent to France. I was eventually invalided from the Struma Front with malaria, and after a short spell at home was posted to a battery in France in time for the final German defeat.

After the armistice we were 24 days in the saddle taking part in the triumphal advance and formed part of the army of occupation outside Cologne. Eventually I was demobilized and returned to Ceylon in August 1919. I was posted again to the Secretariat as Fourth Assistant Secretary to find Sir Graeme Thomson recently appointed as Colonial Secretary and Sir William Manning as Governor. He was an old friend of my future wife’s parents. He had been Inspector-General of the East African Rifles before his appointment, as Governor of Nyasaland, where his first wife had left him, so that both in Jamaica and on his first arrival in Ceylon, Government House was without an official hostess.

The Bensons, had stayed with him in Jamaica and after the war were invited to do so again in Colombo. Mrs. Benson and her daughter stayed on at Queen’s House for some time when Mr. Benson had to return to London where he was the Manager of the Johannesburg Consolidated Investment Coy. He had received a CBE. for his work with the Ministry of Munitions.

As a junior Secretariat officer I did not move in Queen’s House circles, but one morning I was exercising my polo pony before breakfast on the Galle Face green when a runaway horse came charging down with Miss Benson in the saddle. It was a big Hackney mare which Mr. Bawa, KC, had lent her, and I soon discovered that as the saddle had slipped and both bit and stirrups were maladjusted the mare was unmanageable.

So we changed mounts and I escorted her to the Garden Club for repairs. We were destined to see much of each other later, as she stayed on with Sir Graeme and Lady ‘Thomson for some weeks when he was acting Governor and I became his Private Secretary during Sir William Manning’s absence in London to discuss the Manning Constitution.

This was the subject of much deliberation in which the very able Attorney-General, Sir Henry Gollan, played a leading part. As Collins, later Sir Charles Collins, was seconded for special duty over its preparation, there was little or no record of it in the current Secretariat files, and I do not think that Sir Graeme, as a newcomer, played a very active part.

He had made his name during the war as Director of Admiralty Transport, and was referred to by Lloyd George as the greatest Transport expert since Noah. His services were rewarded by the promise of a Colonial Governorship, and when British Guiana became vacant he was offered and accepted the post.

In Ceylon he was much interested in the extension of the Railway from Anuradhapura to Trincomalee, which was carried out despite much initial opposition. His foresight was amply vindicated by the part it played in the Second World War. He was somewhat shy and reserved, sparing both of the spoken and written word, but deliberate in judgment and most kind and considerate. Lady Thomson had abounding energy and never spared herself in social work of all kinds in which she was deeply interested. Sir Graeme was a first class shot especially with a rifle and also a keen fisherman. My main recreation was to combine some form of shooting with his official circuits in the country side.

Sir William Manning, during his visit to London, met Miss Olga Sefton-Jones in Mr. and Mrs. Benson’s house in London. The Sefton-Jones’s were a Quaker family and friends of the Bensons. On the return of Sir William to Ceylon I was posted to Trincomalee as Assistant Government Agent. It was in many ways my most enjoyable post in Ceylon. I was responsible for the acquisition of all the land required for the Trincomalee railway station and the naval oil installations at China Bay. In addition there was the normal work of the Assistant Government Agent. The visits of the Admiral at Admiralty House and of the Navy when their ships came in for gunnery practice provided an agreeable interlude on return from a fortnight or more on circuit through the villages and village tanks of the countryside.

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Science vs religion-I



Like oil and water, science and religion are immiscible and belong to mutually exclusive domains without any interface. Whenever they have been attempted to be brought together, the result invariably has been confusion, conflict, and bloodshed, of which there are too many gory examples in history. Allow religion to explain the origin of the Universe, according to its own ideas, and you end up with corpses of men and women burnt at stakes.


In Tao of Physics, Fritzof Capra wrote that science does not need religion and religion does not need science, while a man needs both. I am not so sure. Again, in The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, Carl Sagan wrote, “Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.

“When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual.” If spirituality implies appreciating our own insignificance in the Universe and the resulting feeling of humbleness, then this has nothing to do with religion.

But, leaving aside spirituality, religion and science have never been compatible. While science teaches us a systematic, rational way of exploring this universe to understand the laws of nature that guide life and non-life, religion has brought untold misery and suffering upon humanity. throughout the course of history. by claiming certainty in “information” and “facts” amenable neither to reason nor to observation.

Like oil and water, science and religion are immiscible and belong to mutually exclusive domains without any interface. Whenever they have been attempted to be brought together, the result invariably has been confusion, conflict, and bloodshed, of which there are too many gory examples in history.

Allow religion to explain the origin of the Universe, according to its own ideas, and you end up with corpses of men and women burnt at stakes. Same with politics. Allow religion to rule a nation, according to its own theories, and you end up with Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Iran where the laws of Sharia are more important than human life or human happiness.

Given the chance, religion would turn this world into a demon-haunted place in no time – in fact it has attained a remarkable degree of success in doing so. But, what exactly is science, and what is religion? According to The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, “One way to distinguish between science and religion is the claim that science concerns the natural world, whereas religion concerns the supernatural world and its relationship to the natural. Scientific explanations do not appeal to supernatural entities such as gods or angels (fallen or not), or to non-natural forces (such as miracles, karma, or qi).

“For example, neuroscientists typically explain our thoughts in terms of brain states, not by reference to an immaterial soul or spirit, and legal scholars do not invoke karmic load when discussing why people commit crimes.” Science concerns itself with what is or can be observed and seeks an immediate answer. Religion claims the answer is either unknowable or explained only with the help of faith, that is acceptance of something whose existence is indeterminate.

Science claims to explain phenomena or mysteries only through the tested method of empirical inquiry which is a series of steps involving observation-hypothesis-experiment-inference-theory-prediction-testing. This process is indispensable, even where it may not succeed in explaining all observed phenomena, whereas religion takes recourse to God and finds it absurd that by studying STEM subjects (Science-Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) alone, the concept of God can be reduced to irrelevance. Given the chance, it will subsume science, too.

In fact, a great deal of effort has already been invested towards this end, to start a dialogue between science and religion that is actually an exercise in futility.In 1998, the Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson in his book, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, argued that knowledge is a unified system that embraces science, morality, and ethics as well. The aim was perhaps not to make science spiritual but to make religion scientific.

In the 1990s, with its multi-million-dollar grants, the John Templeton Foundation launched a magazine called Science & Spirit, “to explain what science cannot, and asking science to validate religious teachings”. The magazine died a natural death in 2009.The Foundation also financed several documentaries like “Faith and Reason”, “Cybergrace: The Search for God in the Digital World” or “God & the Big Bang: Discovering Harmony Between Science & Spirituality”.

Scores of bestselling books, written by eminent scientists, followed, like Belief in God in an Age of Science (1998) by John Polkinghorne, a Cambridge physicist turned Anglican priest, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (2006) by Francis Collins, Director of the Human Genome Project, or Return of the God Hypothesis: Three Scientific Discoveries That Reveal the Mind Behind the Universe (2021) by Stephen Meyer, Director of the Center for Science and Culture of the Discovery Institute which is the main organization behind the so-called Intelligent Design Movement, according to which the universe was created by an intelligent designer, the God almighty.

But physics explains the origin of the universe convincingly from quantum electrodynamics as arising from a vacuum fluctuation and biology explains the evolution of all life, starting with a chance molecule that learned to replicate itself. But both intelligent design and evolution cannot be true at the same time, hence the attempt to find a middle path – an absurd one at that – that God created the universe and left it to the laws of nature, also designed by him, to run it, without any further interference in its future course.

As the New York Times science journalist George Johnson wrote, thus “God becomes a metaphor for the laws that science tries to uncover.” On the question of faith, there are deep divisions among the scientists themselves. While Einstein’s God was one “who reveals himself in the lawful harmony of all that exists”, and not one “who concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind”, many scientists hold radically different views. Some, like the cosmologist Allan Sandage, wonder: “‘How is it that inanimate matter can organize itself to contemplate itself? That’s outside of any science I know”, while others, like the Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins, believe that pursuing God is a “waste” of time that never has “added anything to the storehouse of human wisdom”.

Believers in God hold that a grand unified theory to explain the universe in terms of a single theory that is the holy grain of science would be incomplete without the integration of faith and ancient wisdom in it, while others, like Christians, were outraged when the radiocarbon dating of the shroud of Turin suggested it as a medieval forgery and not the burial cloth of Jesus, feel that as science develops more sophisticated techniques, their religious beliefs will be vindicated.

Fortunately, the endeavour of all these new-age scientists to blur and finally erase the boundary between science and pseudoscience has not yet succeeded. Similar efforts are on even in our own country. Religion is essentially about worship, and worship means surrender.

Faith is necessarily blind and has to disregard evidence in order to reinforce and validate its belief system. Human life is full of misery and suffering ~ indeed it is a “flash of occasional enjoyments lighting up a mass of pain and misery” from which faith alone can provide a temporary deliverance. “Happiness is but only an occasional episode in the general drama of pain” that surrounds us, as Thomas Hardy said, and if surrender could mitigate even a little of that pain, it should be welcome.

Surrender can also be made more convincing when imbued with love and fear that a God is capable of inspiring in human minds. Finally, if the surrender can hold out the promise of something eternal, like an eternal deliverance from pain or from the endless cycles of birth and death, such an eternal vision becomes too tantalising to resist by most.

All that remains is to remind and reinforce these ideas continually through repetitive rituals, meaningless though they are, and the whole package becomes so overwhelming that few could emerge out of its enchanting aura to be able to see the world and reality with objectivity.

After all, we still do not know how the objective reality conveyed to our brain through the senses acquires a subjective meaning in our mind, how the scent of a rose gets transformed into the memory of our first love, or a fading photograph brings back long-forgotten emotions.

Subjectivity rules the roost, everything else, even hard evidence, becomes mere speculation. Blind faith has no rival, and when blind faith masquerades as science, the conquest of the mind by religion becomes total, and all logic has been clinically erased. The evolution of life and that too on a tiny planet called earth that has just about the right conditions with the right values of fundamental constants among billions of such planets is an awesome mystery that the believers cite to establish intelligent design as the only explanation.

They ignore the fact that there are planets with all possibilities and ours happen to be the one with only just one of these permutations that made life – and God – possible. Logic and faith, like science and religion – are incompatible; if bring them together, there will be combustion and conflict.

But bring complexity to replace conflict, and the science-religion debate immediately acquires a political dimension ~ struggle between secular liberalism and traditional conservatism, authority versus individual liberty, herd mentality versus reason, and state versus individual. In each one of these struggles, rationality is the obvious victim that is left bleeding to die.

(The Statesman/ANN)

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Vijayabahu, Gajabahu, and meanings of names



By Uditha Devapriya

The Sri Lanka Navy recently commissioned Vijayabahu, a former US Coastguard Cutter. The ship joins two other US origin vessels in the Navy. For some reason, the name seems to have caused consternation among certain circles. Alan Keenan of the International Crisis Group, for instance, has noted on Twitter that it is “loaded with social and political meaning” and that “it’s hardly an advertisement for the multi-ethnic, multicultural #SriLanka western govts say they want to promote.” He cites two other names, Gajabahu and Samudura.

The Pali and Sinhalese Chronicles depict both Gajabahu and Vijayabahu as national heroes: Gajabahu (113-136 AD) for having led a campaign to rescue 12,000 Sinhala captives in the Chola (or Soli) kingdom, and Vijayabahu (1055-1110 AD) for having driven Chola invaders from Polonnaruwa and laid the foundation for the unification of the polity by one of his successors, Parakramabahu (1123–1186 AD). Alan Keenan’s reference to the “social” and “political” meanings of these names is doubtless based on how Sinhalese Buddhists imagine these kings today, and how military regiments have appropriated them.

There is no denying that nationalist historiography has reduced these personages into mythical heroes today. It’s not just the military. Even popular writers prefer to see history through a particular prism. Their interpretation of the past places these kings as saviours of the race (jatiya) and unifiers of the polity (rata). This presents an interesting problem. In praising these monarchs for having brought the country together, nationalist writers tend to impute contemporary terms, like sovereignty, on what was essentially a non-unitary State. This is historical anachronism at its best (or worst?), and it is from there that these writers extract the contemporary meanings of these kings and their names.

I have implied in many of my essays that by viewing history through these prisms, Sinhala nationalists have done a disservice to their own history. In other words, they have not been fair to their past. We must be careful not to commit the same mistake when criticising these writers. While pointing out the errors of their methodology, it would be prudent not to use the same categories and binaries they deploy. To that end, it would be more constructive, instead of pointing out the “contemporary” meanings of Sinhala kings and their names, to highlight their historical and non-mythical meanings. Once we do that, we will be able to reconstruct a past more in keeping with the multi-ethnic, multi-caste character of Sri Lankan history, particularly in the Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa periods.

Vijayabahu, for instance, was the product of a period that saw deep and close interaction between Sri Lankan (Sinhala) monarchs and their South Indian contemporaries. In his book Rewriting Buddhism: Pali Literature and Monastic Reform in Sri Lanka, 1157-1270, Alastair Gornall notes three “interrelated” changes in the 10th and 11th centuries that profoundly shaped Sri Lankan history: the invasions of two Cola kings (Raja Raja and Rajendra I), the “fragmentation” of the ruling family, and “changing attitudes” to Sanskrit literature, which influenced Sinhala and Pali literary works. The early Chola invasions laid the foundation for Kalinga Magha’s conquests in the 13th century AD and the later shift from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa. In other words, there were linkages between an ostensibly “Sinhala Buddhist” polity and a “Hindu” South Indian dynasty that makes the use of binaries like Sinhala/Tamil, Buddhist/Hindu, and Sri Lanka/Soli redundant, if not anachronistic.

Indeed, the kings of these times actively involved themselves in the politics of South India. During the first millennium AD, Gornall writes, conflicts within the State were “contained.” What this means is that they never threatened the social and political patterns of the country. Once we pass this period, though, the Anuradhapura State becomes embroiled in the politics of its neighbouring states. As Professor Raj Somadeva has argued, between the reigns of Sena I (833-853 AD), Dappula IV (924-935 AD), and Mahinda V (982-1029 AD), Sinhala kings sided with one or the other contending dynasties in South India, thus exposing themselves to “the threat of outside invasion.” These interventions eventually lead to the humiliating deposal of Mahinda V, the last ruler of Anuradhapura.

Vijayabahu is celebrated in nationalist reconstructions of history as a just and able ruler who put an end to these humiliations, recaptured the State from the Chola invaders, and fortified the State. However, his hold was considerably tenuous. In seeking to unify the State, he had to account for and accommodate certain realities: he therefore entrusted the tooth relic of the Buddha to Velaikkara mercenaries. Gornall suggests that the Chola invaders harboured very little cultural ambitions in Sri Lanka: it was the South Indian social and mercantile elites who patronised and built Hindu temples in Polonnaruwa. Yet they did exert an influence on the political, social, and literary landscape of the post-Anuradhapura State.

In his book Foreign relations of Sri Lanka, from earliest times to 1965, Vernon Mendis argues that history has not been fair to this ruler: he is castigated for having capitulated to South Indian overlords and mercenaries. Nevertheless, to borrow an oft-quoted phrase, there was little that he could do. Vijayabahu’s response to these geopolitical realities was pragmatic, if not inevitable: in the interests of the State, he put up with a South Indian presence, to the extent that an inscription eulogising him was carved in literary Tamil, and married a Kalinga princess, Tiloka Sundari, to ensure “the longevity of his own lineage.” Not surprisingly, it is in this ruler’s reign that ties with South India become complex.

What nationalist interpretations of Vijayabahu’s achievements and failures thus omit is that the times he lived in were simply too complex to accommodate the binaries that popular writers impute to their reading of history. Long before Vijayabahu, before even the collapse of Anuradhapura, Sinhala kings had begun a tradition of claiming descent from the Kalinga line. This was, at one level, to add respectability to their office. It was also a creative way of accommodating the rise of South Indian power and the decline of Sinhalese power, both of which can be dated between the fourth and 14th centuries AD.

Following these cycles of decline and revival, we come across literary works, predominantly Sinhalese, that legitimise certain colonisation and nationalist myths. While the authors of the early Chronicles, especially the Mahavamsa, sought to validate specific religious sects, the authors of the later Chronicles, especially the Rajavaliya, sought to romanticise if not mythologise these cycles of decline and revival and to valorise the supposedly “enduring” character of Sinhala society. Hence the Rajavaliya eulogises Gajabahu for having rescued 12,000 captives from the clutches of a Chola king, though as Obeyesekere has pointed out there is little historical evidence for this. It also depicts him as settling Tamil communities in and around Kandy, though the rather anachronistic inclusion of Kandy indicates that this episode would have been the basis for a colonisation myth.

The polity and State presented in these stories are, to be sure, Sinhalese and Buddhist, and they admittedly legitimise the hero/villain distinctions that popular writers deploy in their re-imaginings of the past. Yet embedded with these same stories are important clues and signs of a vibrant, diverse, even multi-ethnic society. Gajabahu is presented as a Sinhalese hero, but there are narratives that depict him as the patron of the Pattini cult in Sri Lanka. Obeyesekere questions these myths and posits that they are “worthless.” Yet the inclusion of this king in a major Tamil literary work, the Silppadikaram, and the invocation of him in a ritual associated with the Pattini cult, the gammaduwa, tells us that the society of his time was more multifaceted that what the Chronicles would have us believe.

The Pattini cult itself shows clear linkages between Sinhalese and Tamil communities that have survived the many fratricidal conflicts we have seen since independence. Gananath Obeyesekere’s advice, in that sense, is probably the most important: when reading these myths, it is essential that we do not literalise them, since a literalist reading can pave the way for conflict and tension. That is why Alan Keenan’s point about the social and political meanings of names is highly relevant. However, it is important to not only highlight those meanings, but also look at possible alternative meanings. This admittedly requires historical and anthropological research of a sort we simply do not have here. It is only through such research and scholarship that we can prevent the country from sliding down into the murky waters of ethno-supremacism. For that, we need to return to our past.

The writer is an international relations analyst, researcher, and columnist who can be reached at

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Relationship between sleep and blood glucose levels



Therapeutic sleep might furthermore reduce lethal blood sugar levels by facilitating healthy systems. Curtailed sleep is a risk aspect for improved blood sugar levels.

SNS: Sleep and blood glucose levels: Contended Sleep and good health is inseparable with immense health benefits. Sleep deprivation leads to many health complications including blood sugar levels which has a major link with sleep cycle. There are proven facts that decrease in sleep impacts the blood sugar level leading to diabetes which, if stretched longer may result in heart diseases.

However, the connection between sleep and blood sugar is complicated. There is not a reasonable formula that demonstrates a relationship between the amount of sleep and an interconnected increase or decrease in blood sugar.

How does sleep impact Glucose Levels in Blood?

It sounds antithetical that sleep can both raise and lower glucose levels. According to a Rutgers University study report our bodies encounter a cycle of changes every day which is called a “circadian rhythm” which naturally boosts blood sugar levels at night and when an individual sleeps. However these natural blood sugar mounds are not a reason for worry.

Therapeutic sleep might furthermore reduce lethal blood sugar levels by facilitating healthy systems. Curtailed sleep is a risk aspect for improved blood sugar levels. Even discriminatory sleep deprivation over one night improves insulin resistance, which can in turn upswing blood sugar levels. As a result, a lack of sleep has been linked with diabetes, a blood sugar disorder.

Additional analysis is needed to better understand the relationship between sleep and blood sugar.

Factors managing the relationship between sleep and blood sugar levels:

-The abundance of time a person sleeps.

-The phases of sleep a person experiences.

-The time of day a person sleeps.

-A person’s age.

-A person’s eating habits (which coincide with nourishment and sleep).

How does inadequate sleep and Blood Sugar levels?

According to Dr Stuti Sharma, PG Resident MAMC Delhi, inadequacy of sleep and blood sugar levels are connected.  Inadequate  sleeping significantly increases blood sugar levels. Researchers have conveyed the following relationships between sugar and lack of sleep or sleep problems:

Sleep-disordered breathing is related to higher glucose levels

Obstructive sleep apnea is attributed to defective glucose tolerance

More intense sleep breathing issues are linked with higher blood sugar

Obstructive sleep apnea stringency is associated with increased fasting glucose

Poor sleep is associated with a decreased capacity to control glucose levels in diabetic patients

Sleep loss is correlated with risen glucose levels in hospitalized patients with and without diabetes

Relationship between blood sugar levels and heart disease

People with diabetes have a higher chances of developing various health problems including heart disease. High blood sugar levels over time can damage the blood vessels of our heart and other organs leading to different health problems.  It means the longer you have diabetes the greater your risk for heart disease. Because of higher blood glucose level the heart may suffer from stroke and even death. But if blood sugar levels are maintained then there will be less chances of heart diseases. And it can be done by sound sleep as discussed earlier.

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