අලියට ගහමු කතිරය තුටු කඳුළු පිස!

I have often been asked why there is nothing in Sinhala on the site. I apologise. The idea is to make the site bilingual, but some technical difficulties and time constrains holding me back. But let me assure, soon it will have material in both languages. Would have liked to add a Tamil interface too, but sorry, I do not know Tamil beyond the basic colloquial and not comfortable in having anything here which I do not understand.

To balance things, let me produce this gem I have found in ‘Silumina’ newspaper about a previous election of the same electorate I represent. Enjoy!

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Raigampura Heritage: Veedagama Raja Maha Vihara

Bandaragama is blessed with many Buddhist temples with histories going back to several centuries. Veedagama Raja Maha Vihara, just within 1 kilometer from my own ‘Mahagedara’ is one of the finest of such gems.

Six hundred years ago the poet who compiled ‘Mayura Sandesha’ instructed the messenger (Mayura = Peacock) to worship the Veedagama Vihara early morning. (Kala pudaa pin paladaa udaavana – Vandu Veedagama Munidaa Udaasana)

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Though it has been the nucleus of Raigamapura kingdom in the 15th and 16th century CE, the origins of Veedagama Raja Maha Vihara goes back to the preceding Kurunegala era. According to some historical sources, King Parakramabahu the Fourth, who ruled from Athugalpura (present Kurunegala), did this temple in 14th century. A pirivena (and education institute for Bhikkus) was subsequently completed and became famous as ‘Sri Ganananda Pirivena’. The other famous education institute of the times was ‘Thotagamuve Pirivena’, which later came to be known as the temple of Ven. Thotagamuve Sri Rahula thero, of ‘Selalihini Sandesha’ fame.

How the place got its name remains a matter of controversy. Chulavamsa refers to a place ‘Viddumagaama’ (in Pali) that translates to Sinhala as ‘Vidu-gama’, which could be present Veedagama. Vidu means light, a metaphor for education. The place could have been thus named for its well known education institute.

Nampotha, a book of ancient village names, mentions a ‘Visidaagama’, which according to some historians, derived from that fact that 20,000 (visi dahak) people once lived there. On the other hand, some are of the view the original form of the name was ‘Visi-daageba’ – a place with twenty stupas, which could have been a possibility given the large number of temples in the area, seen even today.

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Photos (from left): Ven. Kindelpitiye Sarananda thero who pioneered the rebuild of the temple, some artifacts found from the land and the monument built in memory of Ven Veedagama Maithriya thero

History records about three famous Bhikkus of ancient Veedagama. The first one, Ven Buddhagosha thero, was in addition to being the first incumbent, was also a ‘Raja Guru’ (educator of kings) during the Kurunegala period. (Not to be confused with the other famous thero of the same name at Anuradhapura era) He was said to be of South Indian (Chola) origin. The second one was Ven Maha Veedagama thero, who gained fame for matters related to not just religion, but also ‘manthara gurukam’. Ven Thotagamuve Rahula thero was a student of Maha Veedagama thero. According to one legend, the former took an overdose of the memory enhancer ‘Sarasvathie Thailaya’ and consequently was able to remember everything he heard.

The third and perhaps the most famous was Ven. Veedagama Maithriya thero, one of the two leading poets of Kotte era. He is said to have written five books of poems namely, Loveda Sangarava, Hansa Sandesha, Budugunalakara, Daham Geta Mala and Kav Lakunu Mini Mala’. Not everyone agrees that he did all above. It could be possible some have been inaccurately attributed, but we will never know. Out of these, the first three are still considered to be valuable gems in the ancient Sinhalese literature. Loveda Sangarava is a book written in plain language, aimed for laymen rather than scholars, with a series of advices to make one’s life more productive to the society. Budugunalankara, as the name suggests, is a compilation of verse eulogising the great qualities of Buddha. Hansa Sandesha is treated as one of the masterpieces that extols nature in a deeply poetic language.

The fall of ancient Veedagama Vihara was inevitable, when the buildings were completely demolished by Portuguese in the late 16th century CE. Some artifacts of the ancient times are still seen there, but what stands today is certainly not the ancient Viharaya or Pirivena. The later version of Veedagama Viharaya was built by Ven. Kindelpitiye Sarananda thero, not too long ago.

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Anybody who plans to visit this ancient vihara will find it along the Horana-Panadura road (A8) within one kilometer from Bandaragama town towards Panadura.

(Most of the information above was taken from the book ‘Sinhala Vehere Vihara’, by Prof. J. B. Disanayake. Piyavi Prakashakayo, Nugegoda, 1998)

Life at Bandaragama

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While googling the term ‘Bandaragama’ I found these interesting remarks by Muhibuddin Bin Usamah, a travelling Indonesian, at his blog ‘The RealMuhy’s wandering for wonders’. In addition to commenting, he has taken few wonderful photographs which I have taken the liberty of reproducing. I feel so grateful that he made these pleasant remarks about my birth place and obliged to reproduce it below, verbatim. Thank you, Mr. Muhy for these beautiful thoughts. 

“As written on my previous posts, it is generally known that Sri Lankan people are very friendly and welcoming, and generally see things in positive way. Well, that doesn’t seem the truth in the conflict areas on the north west of the island, where people/ tourists do not go there though the beach is famous as white sandy, clayey sand, clean thus making it very beautiful.

The ‘business’ center of Bandaragama is just a road and two blocks behind the main road. There, banks, shops, offices as well as market can be found there.

Walking on the main road or on the ‘business center’ area, I could shoot some of the life there. I was amazed when I went to post office to post some postcards to some friends as I saw TELEGRAM service right there. Does it still exist? Hmmm.. I forgot though to ask the post officer there, but I did not forget to take the evidence as you may see.

Driving on the main road is actually refreshing as you see green life there: from rice field to green lake with growing hyacinth on it. Trees are growing well there and they are home for some animals, as I could shoot a snake on a plant. With limited nature survival knowledge I learned during my undergraduate Geology life, I knew that the snake was not poisonous thus I approached and documented it.
Forget about scary snakes as funny squirrels are abundant there, easily seen playing on the branches or trunks of trees.

People are so much welcoming. I stopped by at one house-building ceremony when they usually ask monks praying for blessing, very typical practices in religious-countries like Indonesia and one I had seen in Bangladesh. I could shoot too men praying asking for blessing for the house they are starting to build, hoping to have strong house and may the house give them peace and bring more luck. I spent some seconds to pray for the house and for all the friendly men I met.

Ah ya, women usually stay at home or taking care the kiosk they have, so could hardly see women on the street.”

A tribute to Kalutara Bodhiya…

kalutara-bodhya-jpg.jpgI am proud to be born in a district like Kalutara, which has made its mark in Sri Lankan history.

Whenever one mentions the name ‘Kalutara’ the first thing that comes to the mind of anybody is Kalutara Bodhiya that has won an international fame.

Kalutara is historically important as it was a place indicated by Arahat Mahinda thera to the king Devanampiya Tissa in the 2nd century B.C. to plant  one of the thirty two saplings of the sacred Sri Maha Bodhi tree, to which the King extended his patronage. According to Sinhala Maha Bodhi Wansa until such time when the maritime provinces were subjugated by the Portuguese in 1505 A.D., the historic Kalutara Bodhiya existed intact.

The development activities of the historic Kalutara Bodhiya in the recent past began in 1931 by the Kalutara Buddhist society, under the guidance of  Sir Cyril De Zoysa. It was in 1964 the construction of the great chaithya on the ‘uda maluwa’ started. This was supposed to be the first ‘hollow’ chaithya in Sri Lanka and may be in the world as well. Designing and building the same are no easy tasks. Interestingly designing the shell of this chaithya was one of the first tasks performed by the first computer installed in Sri Lanka. (At the State Engineering Corporation) By 1976, construction work was completed and the pinnacle has been placed.

Here is a site dedcated to Kalutara Bodhiya. 

About me…

It is customary for one to start a blog with a self introduction. So here is mine, in brief.

I am Ajith P. Perera of Bandaragama, an Attorney at law practicing at Panadura courts. It would not be boasting to claim myself to be the most successful lawyer there right now. I achieved that by hard work and proud of it. And, it is just one of my achievements in life.

I was born at Bandaragama. My mother was from Batagoda while my father from Gonaduwa. My first school was Wewita Maithree Maha Vidyalaya. Successful completion of the Grade 5 scholarship took me to Ananda College, Colombo where I have studied till A/Ls. My contemporaries would remember me as a prominent member in the college debating team.

In 1986, based on my A/L results, I was selected to Sri Jayewardenepura University to follow a B. Sc. degree course in Applied Sciences. Simultaneously I entered the Colombo Law College. I guess a science background was one of the key reasons behind my successful legal career.

Another passion of mine was sports. Bandaragama Sports Union, in which I became the President later, was what brought out the sportsman in me. In 1991, under my leadership, Bandaragama Sports Union became the best in Kalutara District in a competition conducted by Ministry of Sports. I was also a member of Ananda College Rugby football team.

At University I was a dynamic student activist. Elected as the Faculty Board Representative, twice, uncontested, one of my key achievements was to convince the senate to include ‘Business Management’ as a subject for science graduates. This enabled science students gaining positions in the private sector.

I have hundreds of notable cases to my credits as a successful attorney, where I was instrumental in bringing justice to innocent victims. Arguments I have raised in the well known case Wijepala vs. Attorney General have gone into the annals of law.

I have also played a significant role as a committee member of Sri Lanka Bar Association and was also a member of the committee appointed to recommend legal education reforms. Representing Sri Lanka at an international conference of Global Trade Laws in Hochi Minh City, 2005 was another milestone.

I am also a teacher and I would be proud of that more than anything else. As a Director cum Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Professional Studies (CFPS), Borella, I have taught more than 2,000 lawyers by now. CFPS has won fame as the institute that moulds more than 90% of the annual intake to the Law College each year.

This brings me to politics. I was actively involved in politics for some time but it was last year that I have been appointed as the coordinator of the Bandaragama electorate by the UNP leadership. I guess the long experience I have in dealing with the grassroots of Bandaragama electorate has prompted this decision by the party leadership.

I am sure you see the stark contrast between a typical politician and myself. In fact, many ask me why a professional like myself, with a successful legal career would want to enter into politics. The only answer I can give them is unless we professionals get into politics, it would be like giving a walkover to those who should not be there in first place. I have nothing to earn from politics. I have already earned and can easily earn the rest my living from my legal career. But I like challenges. I want to be different.

This blog is meant to be a genuine interface between you and me. I confess I have little time to do a regular blog, but let me give a try. It is not the typical political web sites that you see immediately before an election. Its aim is not purely promotional. I like this to be an interactive window. So please do not hesitate to provide me your input, whatever it is.

Hope this is would do for an introduction. More later.