Buddha in Sri Lanka: Remembered Yesterdays by Swarna Wickremeratne

By Swarna Wickremeratne

Combining memoir, background, and present-day narrative, this publication describes how Buddhism is lived in Sri Lanka.

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Extra info for Buddha in Sri Lanka: Remembered Yesterdays

Example text

The instruction enriched my education and became a useful tool when I was interacting with a plurality of cultures. I remember the verse that we memorized, that education was a pearl of great price. It was expressed in these terms: Degurun visin thama daruvanta dena nomada dana nam viyatun saba meda inta idiriva silpa danumi. The greatest and most bountiful gift that parents could give a child to equip him to hold his own even among the fraternities of the learned. My father was a strict disciplinarian.

It was not an enjoyable experience. Although we liked Mr. Gunesekara, our pedagogic mentor, we did not welcome him on weekends. There was about Mr. Gunesekara a certain courtly, old-fashioned manner. He was not a traditional Sinhala pedagogue; he was educated in the Western tradition and was quite sophisticated. He taught us Sinhala literature and shared with us a wealth of his obiter dicta and his life philosophies. He took us on day excursions to places of educational interest. We visited the museum, the town hall, and the parliament.

The Baja was swerving dangerously around other larger vehicles to get to our destination, and I was getting nervous and told the driver that I was in no hurry. I was surprised at how good he was at his job and how he could avoid being run over. He remarked on how fluently I spoke the native language and idiom but also thought I might be living in some other country. He asked me where I was from. I said that I was from Kandy and gave him the local street name. He repeated his question with a ring of irritation, and I repeated my answer.

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