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Taste for good cars

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BOOK REVIEW

VINTAGE DENNIS AND ROBEY VEHICLES IN SRI LANKA by Ali Azeez; 60 pages, A5 size, numerous black-and-white and colour illustrations; published privately in 2014.

Copies in PDF format may be obtained free of charge by emailing the author at aliazeez07@gmail.com .

Reviewed by Roger Thiedeman

The pioneers of Sri Lanka’s vintage car movement in 1953 were Capt. E.B. ‘Tabby’ Murrell, Mr. Edward ‘Bugs’ Mason, Mr. H.C. (Chitru) Peiris, and Mr. W.R. Daniel. In following decades the old car ‘baton’ was passed on to other stalwarts, of which Mr. Vere de Mel was one. Another was the author of this book, Mr. Ali Azeez.

Ali’s enthusiasm for motor cars, especially what are today considered vintage and classic automobiles, began at an early age. Born into a family noted for its good taste in cars, it was inevitable that Ali would develop an interest in all things automotive: driving, maintaining, owning, and collecting a variety of vintage vehicles, while reading extensively on the subject. Today he is the proud owner of a 1936 Riley Lynx ‘Special Series’ tourer that once belonged to a close relative, and a 1937 Citroën Traction Avant 11CV Familiale (11B) long-wheelbase saloon. Land Rover is another marque beloved of Ali Azeez.

In time Ali became an active committee member of a succession of veteran/vintage car clubs in Sri Lanka, culminating in him holding senior positions in the Vintage Car Owners’ Club of Sri Lanka (VCOC). That was a period when, in addition to his knack for organising and promoting numerous vintage car rallies, road races and exhibitions, as the VCOC’s Newsletter Editor Mr. Azeez began to research and write ‘dossiers’ tracing the histories of interesting old cars for publication in the Newsletter. The subjects he chose were mostly vehicles owned by club members, but others from Sri Lanka’s motoring past were featured too.

One of Azeez’s in-depth profiles is the only detailed history of one of the rarest and finest cars to grace the roads of old Ceylon: a 1924 Napier 40/50 hp Cunard limousine which was imported by a distinguished member of his family.

In view of the passion, time and energy Ali Azeez selflessly invested in serving the VCOC, his involuntary exit from the club more than a decade ago in circumstances of which he was an innocent victim, can only be described as unjust and senseless.

Despite that blow, Ali Azeez never lost either his love of vintage cars or avid interest in motoring history. If anything, it gave him more time, opportunity and motivation to begin learning about types of vehicles that most other vintage enthusiasts might regard as ‘unglamorous’ and unworthy of their attention. This book is partially the result of that work.

Inspired by photos this reviewer took in 2011 of the Kandy Municipal Council’s preserved 1929 Dennis G-type fire engine, and two Robey steam wagons at the Sri Lanka-German Railway Technical Training Centre (SLGTTC), Ratmalana, Ali began his quest to discover as much as possible about the individual histories and mechanical characteristics of those vehicles. With encouragement from Mr. Brian Elias, a personal friend of Ali’s and Editor of a local newspaper’s motoring supplement, Mr. Azeez contacted several organisations in the UK dedicated to the preservation and history of old fire engines and steam-powered wagons (lorries) and traction engines.

Key members of those societies, with whom Ali forged close relationships, generously provided him with vast amounts of information, including rare photos and excerpts from specialist journals pertaining to that trio of vehicles before and after they arrived in Ceylon. Much of that material has been used in this book, which is all the better and more attractive for their inclusion.

Supporting the author’s text and pictures in both black-and-white and colour of Kandy’s Dennis fire engine, registered G-1010, official Dennis factory records provide more fascinating details. Extracts from Customer Order Books, Works Production Orders, and Chassis Lists and Despatch Records – each occupying a full page of the book for easy reading – comprise a potted ‘biography’ of this historic fire appliance, beginning in 1929 at its birthplace in Surrey, England.

As a bonus, the book contains information and photographs of other Dennis fire engines that served in Ceylon. Most notably a 1955 F8 model used by Britain’s Royal Navy at the dockyard in China Bay, Trincomalee. It later returned to the UK where it is now the prized, pristine possession of a fire engine enthusiast who also proved helpful to Ali in his research project.

Another comprehensive chapter is titled ‘Robey Steam Wagons in Sri Lanka’. Commencing with a brief explanation of the technical aspects of steam propulsion in roadgoing vehicles, the narrative shifts to a short history of Robey & Company, the Lincoln, UK-based makers of the two steam wagons of 1925 and 1928 vintage that are this chapter’s principal subjects.

Official records, correspondence relating to the two Robeys, plus a table of their ‘vital statistics’ aside, photographic coverage of both wagons is particularly impressive. Sure to please any lover of transport nostalgia and memorabilia, not just motor or steam vehicle aficionados, are photos of both vehicles working hard for their then employers, the British Ceylon Corporation (BCC), at various locations around Colombo. Two such ‘period’ pictures in colour are stand-outs, although others in black-and-white from the pages of UK-published Steaming magazine, are equally appealing. More colour pictures depict one of the vehicles (registered C-6037) at VCOC rallies and exhibitions before and after restoration by the SLGTTC.

But Ali Azeez’s interest in vintage motoring goes beyond classic motor cars and the utilitarian commercial types that are this book’s main subjects. As a fervent advocate for the preservation and fostering of Sri Lanka’s motoring heritage, for many years he has been campaigning and lobbying relevant authorities – and anyone else willing to listen – for the establishment of a national motoring museum, with State backing and continuing upkeep.

In a chapter titled ‘Transport Museum: An Immediate Need’ Azeez describes some of the museums in Sri Lanka, extant and defunct, small and large, dedicated to other types of transport. For example, the Old Town Hall Museum in the Pettah (which houses another steam wagon, built by Sentinel), the Sri Lanka Navy’s Museum at the Dockyard, China Bay, and the excellent Sri Lanka Air Force Museum at Ratmalana Airport. In fairness to the author, given that this book was published in 2014, no mention is made of the National Railway Museum at Kadugannawa, which was opened in late December that year.

Not entering into the author’s ‘calculations’ either are the motoring museums established in Sri Lanka over the past few years by a small handful of private and discerning car-collecting connoisseurs. Their extensive, varied and dazzling collections of motor vehicles are displayed in purpose-built ‘showrooms’, one in particular rivalling the facilities of better-known motoring museums overseas. But they are not open to the public, with visitors admitted in small numbers and only by special arrangement with the owners.

Rather, what Ali Azeez would like to see is a unified transport museum, accessible to the general public, that would accommodate, all on the same premises if not under one roof, the many road transport relics currently scattered around various government institutions. To demonstrate his point, he has depicted several of those vehicles within this chapter’s pages. Such a facility might induce private owners of historic vehicles to place some of their precious automotive possessions on public display in a secure environment, perhaps on a rotation basis as determined by the museum’s curators.

Almost as if responding to his own pleas, Ali Azeez cites numerous instances of how and when similar proposals were mooted, attracting tentative interest from the authorities, only for those grand plans to be shelved or disappear altogether. From this reviewer’s pragmatic point of view, the current economic climate in Sri Lanka – COVID-19 notwithstanding – will never be conducive to any such ambitious albeit laudable project getting off the ground, let alone reaching fruition.

Yet that should not detract from Ali Azeez’s well-meant intentions and dreams. Nor from his passion and foresightedness as a lover of all things motoring, not only when he wrote this book but over the years before and since. This slim but pleasing volume, packed with information, historical records, and attractive illustrations, is recommended to anyone interested in all aspects of road transport history, especially in the context of Sri Lanka.

 

 



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The Place of the Physician in Sri Lanka’s Society

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“The Best Physician is also a Philosopher”

Galen of Pergamon (c.129 –  216 AD )

An institution, a learned society and a body of practitioners, the Ceylon College of Physicians stands at the apex of medical learning and practice in Sri Lanka. For over half a century, the College has fulfilled an integral role in medical education and the maintenance of professional standards. As an institution, it has played a valuable part in the building of our nation. As a scholar, a historian and a Sri Lankan, it is a privilege and an honour to address its 52nd assembly.

In a thought provoking conclusion to the 50th Anniversary Commemorative Volume, Dr Panduka Karunanayake, President Elect for 2017, explores new horizons. In an increasingly technological age, he underlines the great need to master the human and social aspects of healing. A profession that truly cares for its patients in every sense of the word, must seek to understand and shape the future. This demands that the physician not only advise patients but that he guide society. If as Dr. Karunanayake suggests, the physician is to shape the future, he must endeavor to understand the human being, his society and his environment.

This was a philosophy which was articulated by one of the fathers of western medicine Aelius Galenus better known as Galen of Pergamon. The most celebrated medical authority of the Roman empire, Galen was one of the greatest physicians and surgeons of the ancient world. He has authored more books still in existence than any other ancient Greek. With the exception of Aristotle and Plato, he ranks as one most influential intellectuals in the classical west.

Born into the intellectual and social elite, Galen was son of a wealthy architect with scholarly interests and he received an excellent education. He travelled and studied widely, spending several years at Alexandria in Egypt, the greatest medical centre of the age. Returning home he spent four years tending a troupe of gladiators, eventually become the personal physician to a succession of Roman emperors.

Described by the Emperor Marcus Aurelius as “First among doctors and unique among philosophers,” Galen strongly believed that science and medicine must be practised in the context of human desires and needs. For him, medicine was an interdisciplinary field where science, ethics and the arts were all interwoven He saw himself as both a physician and a philosopher and believed that the study of philosophy would make for a better scientist, hence his short treatise The Best Physician is also a Philosopher.

In an eerie evocation of a contemporary dilemma Galen attacks the medical culture of his day which

“…encourages people to value wealth over virtue. For, “it is impossible to pursue financial gain at the same time as training oneself in so great an art as medicine; someone who is really enthusiastic about one of these aims, money or medicine, will inevitably despise the other.”

Galen advocated the study of arts and letters as an essential component of scientific study. In another work An Exhortation to Study the Arts, he warns against specialized isolation and lists several arts which he categorizes as divine gifts because they are useful to life. Alongside natural science and medicine, he also lists poetry, music, and philosophy. This underlines his belief that physicians must be specialists who were not only technically competent but also humane and morally responsible. According to Galen, proper, precise scientific inquiry was indeed ‘useful for life’. However, it could not be accomplished by scientists who were not properly trained in the other arts, because they would not then possess the humanity, the sensitivity, to do that science properly.

There does not appear to be a great distance between Galen’s creed and the requirements of contemporary medicine. A modern day physician like a philosopher is trained to think, to inquire and to ask questions. It is perhaps one of the foundations of his long and rigorous education. A good physician, like a good philosopher is always asking questions. It is by asking the best possible questions that he can make conclusions and diagnose.

A real philosopher is always open to question. This is even more the case with medicine. The danger is that answers shut down questions. Therefore the physician must always be open to question. As it is a question of wellbeing, of life and death, these questions are always shifting, changing with the time and the moment. If as a physician one must come to a conclusion, one can only do that by becoming a philosopher. To do that the physician must be able to listen, to observe, to think and to question. He must have time and make time. Time to listen, time to ponder, time to think, to analyze and evaluate.

It is a dilemma which still lies at the core of modern medicine. In an age where the internet and artificial intelligence have made vast inroads into the credibility of the physician, what makes him special is that although modern technology can make diagnoses, it cannot take a judgement call. That judgement call still rests on the human element, the physician’s understanding of the social context- on factors such as belief, culture, environment, sustainability and cost. This will determine the success of the cure. As Dr. Karunanayake foresees, if the physician is to play a role in the future, he must endeavor to understand the human being, his society and his setting.

The history of medicine reveals that physicians have occupied a special role in many parts of the world. Classical scholars have always regarded the ancient Greeks as the fathers of western medicine. However recent research suggests that the ancient Egyptians practised medicine long before the Greeks. The Edwin Smith Papyrus, an Egyptian surgical treatise dating from 1600 BC suggests that medical practice was well established in Egypt 1,000 years before Hippocrates. This documents 48 injuries which were described, diagnosed and treated rationally through observation and examination. It is thought to be a copy of a much earlier work dating from the 3rd millenium BC by the Egyptian polymath Imhotep. Chief Minister to the pharaoh, a priest, a sage and an architect, over the ages Imhotep was gradually glorified and became a god of healing.

His counterpart in the Greek world was Asklepios, the son of Apollo. The legend goes that Asclepius become so skilled that Zeus, the king of the gods, feared that he might render men immortal. To prevent this Zeus slew him with a thunderbolt and over time like Imhotep, he too became a God. His shrine at the sanctuary of Epidaurus became known as the Asklepieion and it grew into the most important centre of healing in the Greek world. The legacy of Asklepios looms large in the Greek tradition of healing. Hippocrates formal name was Hippocrates Asclepiades, “the “descendant of Asclepios.” Galen too, we are told was not destined to become a physician and only took up medicine after the God Asklepios appeared to his father in a dream.

In Ayurveda, the system of medicine and lifestyle developed in Ancient India, the pre- eminent figures are Sushruta and Charuka. Sushruta is thought to have lived near Varanisi during the 6th-7th century BC. Regarded as the father of Indian medicine, he was the main author of the Sushruta Samhita, one of the most important surviving ancient treatises on medicine. The other medical text to have survived from ancient India, the Charaka Samhita, was authored by Charaka, who is thought to have practised throughout the Punjab between the 2nd -3rd century BC.

One of the oldest medical systems in the world is traditional Chinese medicine. This tradition has produced many leading figures. In the 5th century BC Bian Que (Pien Ch’iao) was the first to rely primarily on pulse and physical examination for the diagnosis of disease. He was followed by Hua Tuo (Yuanhua) the greatest surgeon in Chinese history. In 2nd century AD he became the first person in China to use anesthesia during surgery.

Throughout the ancient world the practice of medicine was associated with learning and skill, over time it become a divine gift. The physician was the incarnation of Imhotep, Asklepios, Hippocrates, Galen; he was a god, a seer, a sage, a skilled and deeply learned practitioner, a guide and a philosopher. Only in Sri Lanka however, was the physician a king.

The place of the physician in Sri Lanka’s society is documented in the island’s great historical chronicle, the Mahavamsa. Compiled in Pali by Buddhist monks, the Mahāvaṃsa and its successor, the Cūlavaṃsa, charts the history of Lanka from the 5th century BC to the 18th century AD. It is a remarkably accurate record, of seminal value for the history of India and Sri Lanka.

King Buddhadasa reigned between 341 – 370 AD. The Culavamsa recounts how he diagnosed, treated and cured patients from all walks of life. The chronicle devotes several whole sections to the practice and establishment of medicine and documents at least seven detailed case studies. This suggests that the physician had a very special place in this society and that his story was as important as the great warriors, builders, saints and the monks who shaped the history of Lanka. Each of these case studies tells us different things. Each concerns a different situation and elicits a deeply and carefully thought out remedy, based on reasoned analysis and evaluation.

In one case, it tells of how a man drinking water swallowed the eggs of a watersnake. The egg gradually grew into a snake. As it grew sucked at the man’s intestines, torturing the victim with pain. The man sought out the king, who questioned him. When he described the pain and related what had happened the king realized that a reptile must have formed inside the man. However as the reptile was lodged deep inside the intestines, the king refrained from cutting it out.

Instead he made the man fast for a week, starving the reptile within him. He then had the patient, bathed and rubbed with oil. This calmed and soothed him and he eventually fell asleep. The king knew that when he was asleep that his mouth would open. He tied a piece of meat to a string and dangled it over his mouth. Lured by the smell and driven by hunger, the watersnake reached for the meat. The king however, held the string fast and drew on it, gradually pulling the reptile out.

Another case concerned a Bhikku or Buddhist priest, the most venerated member of society. The bhikku had gone begging for alms and was given milk which had worms in it. The worms grew and fed on his bowels, causing agonizing pain. The king then asked leading questions. At what meal did the pain arise? What kind of meal was it and what was the nature of the pain? When the bhikku told him that it was a meal that he took with milk, the king recognized the symptoms.

Taking the blood from a horse, he gave it to the monk to drink. He then waited until he had drunk it all. Then he told him that was horse’s blood. The reaction was what he had anticipated. On hearing that he had drunk the blood of a horse, the monk vomited, spitting out the blood. The worms which had caused him such pain, came up with the blood.

Compassion and feeling made up an essential part of the King’s healing skills. There is a deep feeling for life in all its forms. This applied even to the most dangerous animals. Galen had concluded that even dumb animals are not entirely devoid of reason. In Buddhadasa’s most wellknown case, the king cobra, one of Sri Lanka’s most venomous reptiles, becomes a willing patient. As the king passed by, the cobra turned over onto his back to expose his underbelly so that the king could see the tumour growing on it. After observing the growth, the king reasoned with the reptile. Although he understood its pain, he dared not touch it. Understanding the king’s dilemma, the snake stuck his whole neck into anthill so that he could not hurt the king. Whilst the cobra was immobilized, the king slit open his belly, removed the diseased growth and applied a healing remedy.

This episode suggest a high level of surgical skill. It is underlined by another. A young man had drunk water which was full of frog’s eggs. Through his nostrils an egg had penetrated into his skull and evolved into a frog. As the monsoon approached the frog became more and more agitated, causing unbearable headaches. In this case the king appears to have resorted to immediate surgery. Performing a complicated and dangerous operation, he split the skull and removed the frog and then put the parts of the skull back together.

Ancient Indic society was dominated by caste and social taboos. Despite this and ignoring own his royal status, Buddhadasa cut across every social barrier and boundary to serve the suffering. In Indian society the lowest and most menial of tasks were performed by the Caṇḍālas, outcastes who worked as sweepers and scavengers. A Candala woman who had already had seven children, became pregnant for the eighth time. This time however, her unborn child was facing the wrong way in the womb. When Buddhadasa learned that this, he intervened to save the woman’s life. In the ancient world, birth and reproduction were the preserve of women and midwives. Socially this is a unique case. It is also a complex gynecological procedure.

The understanding of the human mind is an integral part of the physician’s craft. More often than not it holds the key to the patient’s condition and his recovery. In ancient times leprosy was a common condition. Lepers were shunned and regarded with horror and leprosy deemed a curse of the Gods.

The king noticed a leper, who upon seeing him, became enraged, striking the ground with his staff. In a previous birth the king had been the leper’s slave, it maddened him to see him riding his elephant and all he wanted to do was to kill him. Learning of this, Buddhadasa set his mind to winning him over. He sent one of his men to befriend the leper and share his anger. Pretending that he too was against the king, he invited the leper to stay at his house and help him destroy his enemy. The leper was bathed, fed and given beautiful clothes and a comfortable bed to sleep. One day, when he had become happy, contented and calm, Buddhadasa’s man served him food and drink, saying, “This is the gift from the king.” At first the leper refused and then refused again. Finally he accepted. Reaching out to the most diseased and most deeply troubled member of his community, the king was able to heal his mind. It is a clear demonstration of the power of empathy, feeling for and feeling with. It is from empathy that re assurance comes. So much of healing is in the mind. If the physician can take the time and make the effort, he has the power to do great good.

All these cases make one point. The physician truly cares and feels for all his patients, no matter who they are or where they are from. In his posthumous work Galen and Galenism (2002) the Spanish historian and Physician, Luis García Ballester (1936-2000) quotes Galen as saying: “In order to diagnose, one must observe and reason.” This is the dictum which King Buddhadasa embodies. He observes closely, listens carefully and questions keenly, making every attempt to form a picture of the condition. It is then he makes his diagnosis and decides on course of action. A demonstration of the power of the mind, sustained thought and inquiry, it is characterized by understanding and feeling.

The Cūlavaṃsa praises King Buddhadasa as a “Mine of Virtue and a Sea of jewels.” This perception is based on the king’s understanding of the human and social aspects of healing, his ability to care and feel. It is probably this tradition which lies at the roots of the well known Sri Lankan saying “If you cannot be a king, become a healer.”

This is the challenge which western science and learning faces in one of the world’s oldest living cultures. This context demands that the physician be conscious of the rhythms of a society, whose needs, values and way of life are often quite distinct from western norms and practices, often very much older. If as an invited guest, I can make one suggestion, it is that Sri Lanka’s physicians begin to study their past. For it is through comparative traditions that we learn deeply about ourselves.

If he is to truly guide as well as “Cure, Relieve And Comfort,” the Physician must also strive be a Philosopher.

He must not only ask the best possible questions, most of all like King Buddhadasa, he must care, be concerned and compassionate. For that he must have time.

TITLE; SINHARAJA/ APRIL 4

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Amunugama’s book on Anagarika captures international review interest

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SARATH AMUNUGAMA: The Lion’s Roar: Anagarika Dharmapala and the Making of Modern Buddhism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019; pp. ix + 556.

Sarath Amunugama’s The Lion’s Roar: Anagarika Dharmapala and the Making of Modern Buddhism offers a comprehensive yet very readable account of the life and influence of Anagarika Dharmapala (1864–1933). In Sri Lanka, Dharmapala is revered for reviving Sinhalese Buddhism and for restoring Sri Lankan pride during a period of colonial domination. He is also admired for his lifelong struggle to establish Buddhist management of Buddhist sacred sites in India. Scholars of religion have tended to identify Dharmapala as the founder of “Protestant Buddhism,” that is to say, of a form of Buddhism heavily influenced by “Protestant” thinking in its doctrines and forms and thus rendered acceptable to the modern mentality.

Dharmapala has also been branded as an early proponent of the kind of chauvinistic and nationalistic Buddhism evident in Sri Lanka in the recent conflict between Sinhalese Buddhists and Tamil Hindus. A great merit of Amunugama’s book is that it provides a sound basis to arrive at a more complete picture of Dharmapala than has been heretofore possible. The author first locates Dharmapala (born Don David Hewavitarne) in the context of social and economic changes in Sri Lanka during the colonial period, particularly as these relate to the revival of Buddhism in the late nineteenth century. Dharmapala’s family belonged to the new merchant class who had prospered through the opening of commercial plantations by the British. Elements of this new nativist elite, with Dharmapala’s father at the forefront, formed strong bonds with the Buddhist sangha and laid the foundations for the early Sinhala-Buddhist revival and resistance to missionary influence and colonial paternalism.

Although educated in missionary schools (which gave him deep knowledge of Christian scripture and Western thought), Dharmapala was given special instruction in Buddhism and Sinhala language at home. When the Theosophical delegation headed by Madame Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott arrived in Colombo in 1880, the young Dharmapala was present along with his father and uncle to welcome them. (Olcott and Blavatsky publicly adopted the Buddhist faith soon after their arrival in Sri Lanka.) Dharmapala’s relationship with the Theosophists and the influence they had on him is an important and very interesting aspect of Amunugama’s book. It was Madame Blavatsky who encouraged Dharmapala to master Pali. (He was later instrumental in establishing a department of Pali at Calcutta University.) Blavatsky also encouraged him to make a pilgrimage to Bodhgaya, the site of the Buddha’s Great Awakening (mahabodhi) in northern India.

The 19-year-old Dharmapala travelled through southern Sri Lanka as Olcott’s translator and learnt the art of public speaking and the importance of education and role of the printing press in spreading the message. The importance these aspects assumed in Dharmapala’s “mission” is covered in detail in the book. It was also under the influence of the Theosophists that Dharmapala envisioned a new role for himself as a celibate “homeless one” (anagarika): neither a layperson pursuing worldly goals nor a monk enmeshed in rituals and cultural prescriptions, limited by the caste and other restrictions on the Sri Lankan clergy of his day. Fortunately, his wealthy parents supported his new vocation.

The book provides insight into Dharmapala’s thinking and motivation through detailed attention to his diaries and hitherto unpublished letters. Surprisingly, Dharmapala spent the greater part of his life in India. His first visit came about because of his involvement in the Theosophical Society, which had established its headquarters in Madras (Chennai). A substantial portion of the book considers Dharmapala’s establishment of the Mahabodhi Society and his efforts to return the sacred site in Bodhgaya and the site of the Buddha’s first teaching in Sarnath to Buddhist hands. It also details his relationship with the Bengali intelligentsia (the bhadralok) and discusses the impact of nascent Hindu nationalism on his thinking and his links with Hindu revivalists. (Swami Vivekananda and Dharmapala were both prominent figures at the world Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893.)

Dharmapala’s international connections with Japan, Britain, and the United States are explored in some detail. Readers interested in the broader influence of Dharmapala and his ideas on political and social movements beyond his lifetime will also find much of value in this book. Amunugama suggests that Dharmapala was more of an internationalist than a nationalist. He argues that Dharmapala’s Sri Lankan nationalism needs to be seen in the context of colonial oppression and British condescension to Sri Lankan cultural and spiritual values. One of Dharmapala’s goals was the restoration of Sinhalese selfrespect. More broadly, he believed that Buddhism had a message for all humanity.

After his first visit to Bodhgaya in 1891, Dharmapala committed himself to work towards the re-establishment of Buddhism in aryavarta (northern India) and the propagation of the word of the Buddha in Asia and the West. It is evident that Dharmapala’s mastery of Pali and his study of original Buddhist texts were as much responsible for the direction of his moral and religious thinking, as was Protestant influence. Amunugama makes clear that Dharmapala’s position did not involve a repudiation of traditional Buddhism. It was also the reading of original Buddhist texts that led Dharmapala to reject Theosophy. Certainly, he was critical of the laxity of monks and encouraged lay religiosity, but he aspired to be a bodhisattva working for the good of humanity in all his future lives.

Dharmapala died in Sarnath a fully ordained monk. There is value in the detailed analysis provided by Amunugama, but the book is longer than it needs to be. Considerable repetition could have been avoided by some reorganisation. Some sections of the book would perhaps have been better left to journal articles, for example, the chapter on John de Silva and the Sinhala Nationalist Theatre and the chapter on the role of the printing press in the Buddhist revival.

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DR DANNY JAYAKODY: FROM APPRENTICE TO A COMMISSION IN THE ROYAL AIR FORCE

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Extract of article published under the title ‘The Lambent Lad from Ganemulla’ in the FB blog of Menaka Ashi Fernando https://aviadoradeceilan.medium.com/the-lambent-lad-from-ganemulla-407e06a1e3b6

The year was 2008, and the majority of the 94th entry at RAF College Cranwell were contemplating retirement, except for one dynamic individual — Dhanapala Jayakody Arachchige. At 61, Dhanapala or Danny as he is popularly known had plans that were 180 degrees opposite to that of his cohort. He had won an international PhD scholarship to study Air Cargo Safety at the Air Transport Department at Cranfield University, and that shelved his retirement plans forever and a day. Danny was sponsored by the engineering and physical sciences research council, UK CAA and The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) to research airworthiness risk assessment for large old cargo and passenger aircraft. His PhD thesis was titled “Bayesian Model for strategic level risk assessment in continuing airworthiness of air transport’.

RAF HALTON 102 ENTRY | RAF CRANWELL 94 ENTRY

In 1962, Danny joined the 102 entry at RAF Halton as a trainee engine fitter, on a commonwealth scholarship from Ceylon. At Halton, it quickly became apparent that Danny was academically gifted. Many of his cohort buddies benefitted from his help in maths, science and English homework. This scenario, coupled with his infectious smile gradually broke down the social barriers in the entry. During this time, Danny won the national prize for the lecturette competition organized by the Royal Aeronautical Society. He topped the batch and went on to win the English prize too, despite it not being his first language!

 

“My arrival at Halton, a small UK rural community was a great cultural shock for me. The military environment of the sixties was far from ‘politically correct’. I was the only non-white face in the entry, and had far greater cultural differences to assimilate” — Danny

 

Rolls Royce was so impressed with Danny’s paper on rocket propulsion that they invited him to visit Spadeadam and witness a static firing of a Blue Streak missile. “Workshop sessions, particularly the basic Fitting exercises, showed a different characteristic; a dogged determination. Blood was repeatedly drawn as the hammer hit hand more than the chisel! That perseverance, and the patient coaching of George Edwards, our civilian instructor and father figure, hel

ped me through the final lap” — Danny Danny’s academic and engineering ability were soon recognised by the RAF, and he was commissioned to be an Engineering Officer at RAF College Cranwell (1968), where he gained his BSc, after which the RAF also funded his MSc in aircraft design at Cranfield. All this was put to good use in a succession of RAF engineering and Ministry of Defence and Industrial management posts.

 

THE BRILLIANT LAD FROM GANEMULLA

Danny was born in a village near Ganemulla, Ceylon, in December 1945. The youngest boy in a family of 4 boys and 3 girls, Danny studied at the Galahitiyawa Primary School (1949–54), and then at Galahitiyawa Central (1955–62). Danny’s entire life can be characterised by his continued learning and the application of knowledge. He gained his teaching talents and experience from the Sunday schools that he attended. Being a bright student, he was initially entrusted to teach at the Sunday school. He later progressed to teaching higher level classes. He had no formal teacher training; but simply observed adult teachers and followed suit. Danny was just 16, and studying for his GCE Advanced Level, when he embarked on his first serious job — a most creative and satisfying task. He started a tuition school, initially with only 2 students and went on to develop it to accommodate up to 80 students! The school taught English, Maths and Science to GCE Ordinary Level students and had teaching facilities for pre-school kids. The school had 7 teachers (all Danny’s friends), the oldest being just 20. Danny was the principal, accountant, publicist, purchaser, teacher and paymaster all rolled into one!

 

OBSERVATIONS

There are not many who can combine the practical with high academic ability in engineering proud of his exceptional achievements — Peter Allen In mid-2012 Dr Jayakody worked as a Senior Systems Engineer initially for Cyber Security related work. He then moved on to Airworthiness and Certification, mainly in the Chinook MK 6 delivery programme, and subsequently in strategic and policy work, setting up long term A&C infrastructure and internal processes — Boeing Defence UK “The application of Dr Jayakody’s work to the air cargo industry is most relevant. The hull loss rate of cargo aircraft is several times higher than for passenger aircraft. The most obvious reason is that the cargo fleet is considerably older than its passenger counterpart. The aircraft are very maintenance intensive and are thus more exposed to maintenance error. This makes all the more reason to concentrate on aligning cargo fleets with the new European Aviation Safety Agency-type processes.” – John Snow, senior lecturer, Cranfield “Our largest annual scholarship award attracted a number of excellent submissions. However, air safety is the most compelling issue for our industry and the outcome of Dhanapala’s study will help identify further ways to enhance the global reputation of our industry.” – Dora Kay, chair of TIACA’s education committee.

Despite his 56-years of work Dr Danny still feels restless and yearn for work. Yes, he is no longer driven by the clock and recurring deadlines. Yet he aspires to plough back his knowledge for the benefit of the younger generation.

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