By Dr Upul Wijayawardhana
Of many a wonderful saying that embellishes the Sinhala language, none seems more appropriate, at present, than the expression “Yanne koheda? Malle pol“; when asked “where are you going?”, the reply is “I have coconuts in my bag!”. Of course, it is a well-known tactic adopted by politicians of all shades, the world over; when asked a penetrative question for which they have no answer, instead, they answer their own imaginary question! Judging by similar responses to my article “Continuing craziness” (The Island, 11 November) I wonder whether there is, perhaps, ‘Covid-induced confusion’.
Whilst thanking G A D Sirimal (Continuing craziness: The Island, 15 November) for his advice on how I should write about the ‘war victory’, may I point out that his blaming me for not giving the credit to General, sorry, Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka shows that he seems to have completely failed to grasp the context of my piece. In my article, I was not discussing the war but expressing my total disbelief that the two people, at the helm of the country, are unable to tackle the total indiscipline rampant in the country with the resultant chaos, though they were able to defeat a ruthless terrorist group! In this context FM Fonseka is totally irrelevant as he is far from being at the helm!
I agree with Mr Sirimal that “The government, under Mahinda Rajapaksa, won the war” is the most accurate way to describe the war victory. Afterall, it is the ‘ruler’ who gets the credit for a war victory and, in fact, blamed in case of defeat. Though no one can deny the part played by FM Fonseka for the war victory, unfortunately, it was his own behaviour, following the end of the conflict, that soured the victory. Because he was so convinced that the victory was primarily his that crafty Ranil was able to convince Fonseka to stand against Mahinda at the presidential election. During the campaign, Fonseka declared that the day after victory he will hang the Rajapaksas in Bogambara prison. Meanwhile, Ranil was giving assurances to the Tamil diaspora in Europe that he would sort out ‘the minority problems’, as he would become the ‘executive’ PM, once Fonseka was elected President!
It is beyond comprehension how FM Fonseka got in truck with the UNP, which acted with disdain, mocking the army at every turn. The UNP ridicule was mostly directed at Fonseka, one MP stating in parliament that he could not lead even the Salvation Army! As PM, Ranil signed a peace treaty with Prabhakaran at the instigation of Norway, which was breached by the Tigers even before the ink was dry! Army suffered many setbacks due to his actions. The UNP continued to ridicule the attempts of Mahinda’s government at defeating terrorism.
To grab political power, Fonseka was prepared to forget all those insults. Worse still, he was prepared to let down his own army. When unfair accusations of human rights violations were made Fonseka’s explanation was that he was abroad when ‘the white flag incident, etc. occurred. As he was abroad at the time of winning the war, how come he claims the major part of the victory? Further, his attacks on the Navy Chief Karannagoda is despicable, to say the least. In the final phase of the battle, our Army was advancing under the cover of the Air Force and the enemy was cornered because the Navy effected a blockade, preventing the escape of terrorists. Who coordinated all this? It was Gota and that is why the Tiger rump has named him the “Terminator”. Aided by some burning with jealousy, The Tiger rump levelled many accusations against Gota but nothing was ever proved. The fact that the eace-loving Sri Lankan voters could see through these was shown by the massive endorsement Gota received at the presidential election.
FM Fonseka’s thirst for political power seems totally unquenched. After having made mincemeat out of the reputation of Sajith, and his father too, in a “Derana 360” programme prior to the last presidential election, unashamedly he became a Sajith devotee, after the announcement by Sajith that FM Fonseka would get a top post in his administration. Now it is rumoured that he is in competition with Champika in the move to oust Sajith! A significant proportion of his recent outburst in Parliament had to be ‘bleeped-out’ for broadcast news. Had he retired gracefully, instead of taking to politics, he surely would have earned a much better place in history.
Commenting on my article, Buddhi Perera in his opinion piece “From Craze to prosperity” (The Island, 12 November) states: “When thinking about the past performance of these brothers, namely Mahinda, Gotabaya and Basil, the last two names would not give rise to pleasant memories. As Secretary of Defence, during Mahinda’s rule, Gotabaya gave all assistance to our security forces Commanders by providing all men and material they asked for and some named the battle as Gota’s War. One may always wonder why it was not Mahinda’s, Sarath’s, Wasantha’s or Roshan’s War”. Maybe, in a “Yanne Koheda? Malle Pol!” stance, Mr Perera states providing all assistance would not give rise to pleasant memories! Memories would not be pleasant only for Tiger sympathisers!! The reason why some named it ‘Gota’s war’ is simply because Gota performed that vital function of coordination which, according to many defence experts, was the most important reason for the ‘war victory’.
Perera also refers to an opinion piece by Rohana Wijayawardhana (Country in peril? The Island 11 November) which was printed beside mine, expressing an opposing view, which illustrates the high journalistic traditions maintained by The Island over the 40 years of its existence.Wijayawardhana, by the way is no relative of mine, fears the country is in peril due to the following reason: “The present set is being led by a person who had many serious allegations against him even before his election while all past leaders did not have such allegations”. Whilst I greatly doubt whether all our past leaders were squeaky clean and had no allegations against them, am more concerned that the present President is being castigated on the basis of unproved allegations. It looks as if the vilification campaign of the Tiger rump has had the desired result!
In spite of the recent political setbacks, I still feel that provided Gota and Mahinda can repeat their past performance, the prevailing chaos can stop so that Sri Lanka starts a journey towards prosperity. Others may disagree but I still feel they are the only hope as there is no alternative in sight, at the moment. The fact that the opposition is failing badly was well highlighted in the editorial “Enemies of people” (The Island, 17 November).
My fervent hope is that all politicians realize the great danger the country faces and work together for better times.
Ajahn Brahmali’s dhammaduta visit to Sri Lanka in March 2024
The Ajahn Brahm Society of Sri Lanka has announced the visit of Ajahn Brahmali to this country in March 2024. He will be here from March 14 to 24 and will conduct meditation retreats, giving Dhamma talks and meeting and conversing with relevant groups. Just as it was with Ajahn Brahmavamso, who was in Sri Lanka for 10 days in late May this year, the Ajahn Brahm Society is finalising a full programme for Ajahn Brahmali, overseen by Ven Mettavihari Thera, with beneficiaries being us – Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike.
This is Ajahn Brahmali’s fifth visit to our country, his first having been in 2013. Every available minute of his time in Sri Lanka in March next year will be utilized to help us better understand the Dhamma and guide us in proceeding on the Path to end the cycle of samsaric existence. Advice on the practice of meditation will be included in his crowded schedule for bhikkhus, bhikkhunis and lay people
Ajahn Brahmali was born in Norway in 1964. In his early 20s he visited Japan and was introduced to Buddhism and meditation. He was deeply interested and devoted much time to learning more of what the Buddha taught and in quiet reflection and meditation. This was while reading for degrees in engineering and finance. On completion of his academic studies, he moved to Britain and resided in the Amaravati and Chithurst Monasteries as an Anagarika (keeper of eight precepts). Meeting Ajahn Brahmavamso and listening to his teaching, he decided to travel to Australia and train in the Bodhinyana Monastery in Serpentine, near Perth, in Western Australia. This was in 1994. Two years later he was ordained; his preceptor being Ajahn Brahm. In 2015, on completion of 20 rain retreats, he was conferred the title ‘Maha Thera’ – Great Elder.
Ajahn Brahmali’s reputation as an expert in the Pali language and deep knowledge of the Suttas is internationally recognized. He has authored many essays inclusive of two on Dependent Origination and the treatise The Authenticity of Ancient Buddhist Texts, in collaboration with Bhante Sujato. He conducts Pali language classes and explanatory discourses on the Suttas to devotees of Bodhinyana Monastery. He is also a regular teacher at the Dhammaloka Centre in Perth. Added to his intellectual excellence is his practicality. Ajahn Brahmali oversees the building and maintenance projects at both the Bodhinyana Monastery and the Hermit Hill property in Serpentine.
And thus, propitiously and fortunately for us Sri Lankans, Ven Ajahn Brahmali will be here in our land in March 2024; generously willing to guide us to deeper understanding of the Dhamma and enhanced meditation.
Concept of Immunology in Ayurveda
By Dr. Sasika Palathiratne
BAMS (Hons.) – FIM, UoC
Ayurveda is a holistic system of medicine with Vedic roots that originated in India about 5,000 years ago. Ayurveda is not only a complete system of medicine but also a scientific philosophy of life, with the two main objectives of prevention and curing of diseases and disorders. Ayurveda is believed to be of a divine origin and passed down to humans via the great sages. Ayurveda mostly utilises herbal based medicines and it has survived the test of time for many millennia; even today it is one of the most popular systems of alternative or complementary medicine throughout the globe. Ayurveda encompasses traditional wisdom, oriental philosophy as well as Vedic science.
The concept of immunology is well-established and elaborated in Ayurveda but in a different name. In Ayurveda, immunity is known as Vyadhikshamatva and defined as the power or ability that prevents the future occurrence of diseases and acts against existent diseases. Furthermore, Vyadhikshamatva is associated with Trividha Bala namely; Sahaja, Kalaja and Yuktikruta. The Trividha Bala can be interpreted as domains of immunity as congenital or hereditary, seasonal or chronological and acquired or specific respectively. Sahaja Bala is the immunity present from birth and it is due to genetic predisposition and good maternal prenatal health. Kalaja Bala is the particular power of immunity that manifests itself in certain episodes of age as well as seasons. Yuktikruta Bala is the power of immunity that a person can acquire through certain medications, healthy foods and proper lifestyle.
Good immunity or Vyadhikshamatva is invariably present in a healthy person and according to Ayurveda; for this proper functioning of the entities Ojas and Kapha are essential. Kapha is one among the Tridosha of Ayurveda, which represents fluid and earthly nature as well as the physical growth of the body. Ojas on the other hand is considered as the utmost essence of the seven body tissues and its presence is said to be extremely essential for life. Furthermore, the clinical features described in abnormalities of Ojas are also seen in most immune-compromised patients. In addition, Ayurveda has clearly described instances where the Vyadhikshamatva Bala is increased or decreased. Specifically, persons having extremes of heights and body statures such as very obesity and emaciation are said to possess a relatively low power of immunity. On the contrary, a higher power of immunity is said to be manifested in persons who are born out of good paternal and maternal gametes [reproductive cells] at a suitable geography, time and climate and of cheerful dispositions, consume good food, engage in physical exercises.
Ayurveda is a complete medical system, where each and every major disease is well-described with causative factors, symptoms and most importantly therapeutics. The system of Ayurveda medicine has a major focus on curtailing the causative factors and reversing the pathogenesis of the disease, as opposed to symptomatic treatments. Thus, the principle of prevention is better than cure, has been a core policy of Ayurveda since its inception. Sushruta Samhita, which is one among the two main compendiums or textbooks of Ayurveda, explains in a separate chapter named Anagata Abadha Pratishedaniya Adhyaya, the ways and means of prevention of future emergence of diseases. The particular chapter explains the importance of proper food, bathing, exercises and medicated oil anointments for maintenance of proper immunity power and sound health, thereby preventing future occurrence of numerous diseases. Ayurveda has also proclaimed different treatment modalities for improvement of power of immunity, notably the Rasayana and Balya treatments that rejuvenate and energize the body, respectively.
The concept of auto-immunity can be correlated with the Rakta Doshaja Vikara mentioned in Ayurveda. According to Charaka Samhita, which is one among the two main compendiums of Ayurveda, if a disease does not get cured by proper orthodox treatments it should be considered as Rakta Doshaja Vikara and atypical treatments should be administered. Rakta Doshaja Vikara are diseases occurring due to abnormalities of blood and even as per modern medicine the antibodies and other immune components mediating the auto-immune process are predominantly located in the blood or its plasma. Furthermore, the Dushi Vishaja Roga, a particular type of Rakta Doshaja Vikara; clearly explains how such chronic diseases gradually occur with time when immunity weakens due to improper geographical, seasonal or dietary factors. Conditions associated with Dushi Visha such as skin diseases, edematous conditions, sub-fertility and certain heart diseases can also occur due to auto-immune pathology, according to modern medicine. According to Ayurveda the main causative factor for such auto-immune conditions is regarded as Ama, which can be considered as the improperly digested dietary matter that gets absorbed into the blood plasma and thereby acts as a root cause for all diseases. Even according to textbooks of modern immunology, some percentage of undigested dietary protein can remain antigenically intact in the blood plasma. Certain conditions of Ama are regarded similar to the action of toxin and are said to be cured with difficulty.
Ayurveda also explains treatments for such Rakta Doshaja Vikara with comparable auto-immune pathology. The Vamana Karma (emetic therapy) and the Virechana Karma (purgative therapy) are regarded as best treatment modalities for Rakta Doshaja Vikara, where expulsion of all undigested matters and impurities of blood are postulated. In addition, the Rakta Mokshana or the bloodletting therapy allows direct elimination of blood impurities by means of medicinal leeches or other suitable methodology. Upavasa or fasting is also mentioned as a treatment modality in such cases, which facilitates the digestion of any Ama and the importance of curtailing heavy protein intake in auto-antibody mediated diseases is thus, indirectly mentioned in Ayurveda. Besides, there are many specific herbs beneficial in such cases of auto-immunity such as Giloy, Licorice, Turmeric, Neem, etc., which are designated as immune-modulators even according to modern research.
In conclusion, with reference to all these facts it is evident that the concept of immunity was well understood and properly elucidated in the ancient divine medical science of life—Ayurveda.
An Incomparable Friend; Dr Carmel Indranie Ernest
“WHEN SOMEONE YOU CHERISH BECOMES A MEMORY,
THAT MEMORY BECOMES A TREASURE” –ANON
The email from Cyril was short and simple. But the effect was seismic . It hit Kanthi ( my wife) and me with the might of a sledgehammer blow. Indranie, his lifelong partner, had passed away after a brief illness.
Cyril was one of my closest friends, and also my roommate in our final year in Bloemfontein, the boisterous medical student’s hostel adjoining Carey College. We got to know Indrani well in that eventful year in Los Angeles where I did an Echocardiography Fellowship with an outstanding Sri Lanka born cardiologist, Dr Tony Chandraratne.
Indranie was born in 1942 in Moratuwa, a town hallowed in history; 1942 was also the year that the Japanese bombed Colombo and Trincomalee. Moratuwa which escaped the bombs was the birthplace of heroes who bravely stood up to the British conquerors, peerless philanthropists and also skilled artisans who fashioned furniture from local hardwoods; these surpassed the best European fitments.
She would no doubt have imbued this heritage as well as those of her parents; her father was an accountant and the mother a dutiful housewife. Indranie was the second of five siblings and was noted always for her placid temperament, charming smile and friendliness. She was also deeply religious. However she also was adept at separating wheat from the chaff; one of her favourite sayings was ‘all that glitters is not gold’.
At school she shone academically but was also proficient in sports particularly netball and athletics. In 1962 she was among the first recruits to the newly established medical school in the sylvan surroundings of Peradeniya. It was here that the champion cricketer,
Cyril, bowled over the pretty colleen and embarked on his longest partnership. They married 53 years ago and could echo Winston Churchill’s words “we lived happily ever afterwards”.
Both graduated in 1967, she from Peradeniya and Cyril from Colombo where he had relocated on account of his many sporting commitments. In 1973 they emigrated to the USA for further medical training; Cyril qualified as a cardiologist and Indrani as an Internist . They then moved to Lancaster in California in 1977 where both established outstanding practices . ( Indranie was a popular and successful physician as many of her former patients would attest. One very eloquent tribute states “her warm smile, quiet demeanour and even temperament made everyone who encountered her feel comfortable in her presence”. She remained a caring and dedicated physician to the end of her days. But the family was her first concern. Cyril and the two beautiful and accomplished daughters Cheryl and Melanie were her primacy.
I arrived, unannounced , in Los Angeles in 1988. Cyril somehow got wind of my coming, and on a Friday evening fronted up in the Howard Johnson Hotel in Boyle Heights. With few preliminaries, he bundled me into his luxurious Mercedes sedan and drove onto their elegant mansion in Encino the suburb where Michael Jackson too lived. Indranie was at the door with a warm welcoming smile which made me feel at home instantly. A delicious meal followed, the first of many.
It was my first meeting with Indranie. I had heard about her from our mutual friend and fellow hosteller Ganesh. Cyril and he traveled to Peradeniya on their free weekends.
Being a very private person, Cyril , never breathed a word about his mysterious sojourns; neither did he say anything about his many sporting accomplishments.
There were many other visits to Encino at weekends; they would guide me around the myriad shops in LA, and Indranie in particular helped me to get the household goods I needed for an unfurnished apartment which I had rented in South Pasadena, prior to Kanthi’s arrival.
One weekend they drove me to an orange grove outside the city, where a friend resided.Indranie graciously let me sit in the front , so I could enjoy the sweeping vistas and Cyril’s commentary.
Even after Kanthi came we were regular visitors. Cyril would invite eminent cardiologists who he felt maybe useful to me; also some colleagues from our year of 1962 in Medical school. Kanthi being a good cook , we were able to reciprocate their hospitality.
Their sincerity and affection was never more evident, as when Kanthi fell ill.
She had a severe upper abdominal pain; I imagined the worst and visualized removal of the gallbladder which was a major undertaking in the pre-laparoscopic surgery era.Indranie being the skilled internist she was, pacified us and telephoned a pharmacy near us to provide appropriate medications.
Next day we went over to her rooms where she performed a detailed examination and got the needed scans. Then we were seen by a surgical colleague who reassured us that it was an intestinal colic. Our relief was immeasurable. The year ended on a happy note.
We had a farewell dinner in our apartment which was graced by Cyril and Indranie. There were many encounters since. Once both of us were stranded in the Los Angeles airport as the friend who had promised to pick us, failed to turn up. We then called Indranie who promptly invited us home. Cyril was away in Lancaster as he was on call.
Our last meeting was in the Anantara Peace Haven Resort in Tangalle in Sri Lanka in 2020, just before the Covid pandemic broke out. We along with Cyril , Indranie and Melanie and others were attending the wedding of Lareef Idroos and Nabila’s daughter.
All of us had a grand time with friends and colleagues. Sadly it was also our last rendezvous..
We can now only seek solace in Jalaluddin Rumi’s wisdom.
“Do not grieve. Anything you lose comes around in another form”
And the deathless verse of Mary Elizabeth Frye
“Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I’m not there I do not sleep,
I’m a thousand winds that blow,
I’m the diamond glints on snow,
I’m the sunlight on ripened corn,
I’m the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I’m the swiftly uplifting rush,
Of the quiet birds in the circled flight,
I’m the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I’m not there. I did not die.
Farewell our dearest Friend.
May the good Earth lie softly on you.
May God hold you always in the Palm of His hand.”
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