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   The history of Sinhala literature shows us the intimate connection the production of books had with the rise and fall of the Buddhist power in the Island. Literary activity had been from very ancient times the exclusive avocation of the priests and whenever royal patronage was niggardly or the peace of the country shaken by civil wars or foreign invasion and the priests forced to abandon the monasteries and flee to the jungles, both learning and literary activity suffered heavily. The author of the sasadavata had this in mind when he wrote-
              බඳුමද එනියෙන් - සුවෙනෙද දෙස දන සිරින්
            එසිරි ගුණ නුවණැති - මැතියුත් රජක්හු බෙලෙන්

“Poetic composition is through knowledge which is the result of comfort. Comfort is dependent on the prosperity of the land and the people. That prosperity comes only through the power of a ruler with a wise and virtuous minister.” The early Thirteenth century was the period that followed the strong and wise rule of Parakrama Bahu (I), who brought the whole country under his rule and initiated a resurgence in the cultural, literary and religious life of the nation. But his death set moving a train of events that wrecked the political stability, plunged the country into civil strife and opened the nation to Magha’s invasion. The author of the Sasadavata living between these two events had a knowledge of past splendour and a premonition of future calamity.


The Kotte period in the chequered history of our literature was perhaps the most colourful. The poetry of the times-this was the golden age of Sinhala poetry-not only strikes new chords, beats out new tunes, and essays a bold exploration of new paths, but reveals the contentment among poets, the peace and prosperity of the land, and the unstinted generosity of the royal patron, who compiled in verse a Sinhalese lexicon, the Ruwanmala, to help the poets. All this is a happy commentary on the vigour and vitality of Parakrama Bahu (VI’s) rule. The rebellious Kande Uda Pas Rata, the restless Vanni and Jaffna, were all brought under the absolute sway of his victorious arm. The farmer could now go back to his field and forget the smoke and fury of the battle field ; the monk could turn to his books and forget the rigour and austerity of refugee living. The unrestrained gaiety and untrammeled peace of the Sandesa descriptions are not all fantasy. Who would deny that the Hansa Sandesa author really saw in his village the tranquil charm that he writes of :- පැසෙයි රුවට සුවඳැල් කෙත්වත් අව ට ඇසෙයි ළමා වසු පැටියන් හඬ දුර ට දි සෙයි වෙහෙර එහි සුර විමනක් ලෙස ට ර‍ සෙයි අමාරසමය ඒ පියස දු ට

Or that the celebrated author of the Selalihini Sandesa was struck by the wealth, splendor and absence of criminal elements in the capital.

සොදුරු සිය නදන් අනු ‘ තුරැ දෙසැ සිටි න කි නු රු නිසසරන් කදහස වෙතැ නොව න ඉ සු රු දනඳ සිය නිකෙලෙස් තැනැ රඳ න උ තු රු දිගි’ඳුපුර දිනි මෙ පුර වැජඹෙ න


That this was a period that entertained the florid pedantry and classical severity of Totagomuwe, the devout humility and refined delicacy of Vattave and the caustic satire of Vidagama, is itself evidence of an indulgent and educated audience. But how much of the literary revival was pivoted on the victorious arm of the ruler is patent from the confusion that ensued on the death of Parakrama Bahu (VI). Within five years of his death the country was subject to civil war and political unrest that smote the unity and killed the literary awakening. The advent of the Portuguese into this scene in 1505, set afoot a struggle in two spheres. The struggle for political supremacy and a subtle attempt to assail the cultural independence of the people. The kings were to absorbed in the difficult task of maintaining themselves on their thrones and keeping the country alert to ward off the recurrent attacks of the marauding Portuguese. Culture and literature were thrust into the background. During this period of national turmoil and cultural decadence, it fell on the shoulders of Alagiyawanna and his father Dharmadvaja to save the literary revival of the Kotte period from extinction. In an atmosphere inimical to literary pursuits the contribution of Alagiyawanna and his father was invaluable. His works, Kusa jataka and subasitiya made him one of the most popular of Sinhalese poets. Apart from his services in keeping the spirit of the Kotte literary revial warm, he broke


away from the highly stylised and dead tradition of court poetry. The Kusa jataka was a concession to popular taste, drawing its inspiration from the folk songs of the Sinhalese and the simplicity and directness of Vattave’s Guttila Kavya. Alagyawanna has been condemned by many a writer for the pseudo-classical aspiration of some of his works-and the extensive and immodest borrowings that characterise most of his writings. But in the context of the decay that had attacked every aspect of the national life, especially the political unrest and the intellectual darkness, these lapses should not blind us to the unalloyed pleasure his Kusa jataka has given to many generations of readers, and the undiminished enjoyment with which even today it is persued in school and at home. The Kusa Jataka is important as foreshadowing the forces that are to influence the literature of later times. It wouldn’t be far from the truth to trace the phenomenon of the popular poetry o today to Alagiyawanna and Vattave. For the Kusa jataka brought Ballad poetry to the court and the circles of the learned scribes, paving the path for the host of such works that spangle the Matara period of our literature. This period of decadence saw the popularity of the panegyric poem. The first of these, the Parakumba Sirita belongs to the Kotte period. Some panegyrics like the Kustantinu Hatana are poems really had their hey-day in the courts of the Kandyan kings. We might venture to label this period up to the accession of Rajadhi Rajasngha as the age of the Hatana


poems. Rajasinghe (II) and Narendrasingha were the subjects of many of these panegyrics. Maha hatana, parangi Hatana, Rajasngha Sirita, Mahga Asnaya, etc, were addressed to Rajasingha Singaralankaraya & narendrasingharajastuti are eulogies of Narendrasingha. These poems reflect the social decadence of the times in the excessive use of hyperbolic flattery and erotic sentiment. There is a variety of metres employed because these verses were sung to the accompaniment of drums and cymbals, so that for purposes of musical emphasis there is a free use of Sanskrit. The strong Tamil influence in the court life of this period is also seen in these works which contain many Tamil words and meters. Those interested in the search of a Sinhalese music may fruitfully hunt through these panegyric verses for vestiges of it. The reigns of Rajadhi Rajasingha and Kirtisri Rajasingha are singulary devoid of works of this nature. The accent is on religion. The erotic and the cheaply flattering are discarded. But the earlier spate of erotic poetry continued to haunt the poets of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The poets of our own times were irresistibly drawn to the subject and this was the theme of most of the cheap poetry that flooded the book market during and after the second great world war. Kirtisri Rajasingha’s reign saw the rise of Sinhalese culture and literature. This was remarkable because the credit for this renaissance goes to the indefatigable energy and unbounded enthusiasm of one person. Weliwita Saranankara is a land


mark in the history of our literature. For it was he who saved our literature from the debasing influences that threatened to engulf it. The tension that prevailed in the Kandyan Kingdom because of the fear of Dutch attacks, the conspiracies and struggle for power in the court, the unpopularity of the Nayakkar kings were all uncongenial to the promotion of literary activity. The Sangha which had so far acted as the repository of learning had fallen into disreputable modes of living-learning did not enjoy the honour and respect it had traditionally eveked. Weliwita Saranankara, born of a noble Kandyan family, showed the zeal for a religious life very early and was ordained at the age of sixteen in the reign of Narendra Singha. Within a very short time the corruption in the ranks of the clerics disillusioned this pious soul and strengthened the resolution in him not only to reform the Sangha and save its good name, but also to dispel the darkness that the learning of the country lingered in. He was soon to realise that, to know where he stood in the confusion that prevailed, it was necessary to educate himself. But there were no centres of learning where he could resort to. He was compelled to acquire with great difficulty the knowledge of Pali that would have enabled him to learn the Doctrine at its source. The low level to which learning had sunk could be understood from the fact that at this period there were only two people-one a layman Leauke Rala and the other a monk Palkumbure Attadassi, who shared between them the knowledge of the rules of Pali grammar and syntax. And there too by a strange bit of speciazation, while the


layman knew the first part of the book, the monk was acquainted only with the second half.

The magnitude of the task that awaited him in redeeming the monks from the depravity into which they had fallen at that time and installing learning in its rightful place would have broken the spirits of any other person. But he was not prepared to be daunted by failure or the severity of the task Books were collected, transcribed, and made freely available to his enthusiastic followers. The writing of new books was undertaken. The prodigious labour involved in all this work can be appreciated in the context of the hostility and malice that made him the target. The only ray of light in the darkness was that royal patronage was freely extended to him. This was the result of his triumphing over his rivals in being the only learned monk able to hold his own against a visiting erudite Brahmin. Monks were invited from abroad, on his invitation, and the higher ordination established. Temples that had decayed through neglect were renovated and the Sangha electrified with a new vigour and cleansed of its worldly outlook. His own creative works were written both in Pali and Sinhales. The Sarartha Sangraha in the tradition of Amavatura and Pujavaliya was in praise of the Buddha. Munigunalankaraya was on the same theme. Among the Sannas he wrote the Madurartha Prakasini and the Sarartha Dipani on the Pali Maha bodhi vamsa and the Pali pirit literature respectively. The Bhesajja Manjusa is the translation of Atthadassi’s Pali medical treatise. TheAbhi Sambodhi


Alankaraya is a Pali work of a hundred verses recounting the Buddha’s life. Saranankara’s greatness lies not only in his contribution to religion and learning by his own effort. He left behind him pupils who carried on his work not only in the up-country, but carried it into the low-country-especially in the area around Matara. So much, so that the Matara period of our literature can be said to be the efflorescence of the labours of Weliwita Saranankara. Matara period Matara has been the scene of literary activity from very ancient times. There are references in the ancient Pali Literature of Ceylon that substantiate this fact. Furthermore the rock inscription at place like Kirinde are proof of this. Tissamaharama and Talaguru monasteries were centers of learning which were frequented by monks from Rajarata. In the history of the Pali literature of Ceylon, Ruhuna occupies an esteemed place. In later times Galaturumula and Vilgammula in Ruhuna rose into prominence as centers of Buddhist learning, and then there is the person of Totagamuwe Rahula towering above all in his profound erudition and poetic gifts. So that we see that Ruhuna has a tradition of devotion to literature. Cut away from the publicity that rewarded the writers in the royal city, the literary works of the south were no less enthusiastic in their silent but steady contribution to the literature of the country. At times when the Rajarata was invaded by foreign power and when the royal capital was for many long years in the hands of


foreign solders, it was to the security of the south that the monks carried their treasured books to engage undisturbed in their literary tasks in an atmosphere hospitable to writer and monk. But the ebb and flow of Buddhist power had its repercussion even in the Ruhunurata, and particularly after the occupation of Ceylon by Western powers Ruhuna itself had its baptism of fire, and shared alike the anxiety and the suffering of the people of Kotte and Kandy. The present revival of learning and literature, as we have seen earlier, was initiated by Weliwita Saranankara. But it was initiated by Weliwita Saranankara. But it was on the poets and prose writers of Matara that the mantle of Weliwita Saranankara fell. Daramitigala Dhammarakkhita who was one of the chief pupils of Welwita Sarananakara was the teacher of Bowala Dhammananda and Saliyale Maniratana, leading lights of the Matara period. Attaragama Rajaguru Bandara was the leading lay pupil of Weliwita Saranankara. Hinatikumbure Sumangala, Koratota Dhammarama and Hitinamaluwa Dhammajoti were his pupils. These above-mentioned scholars of the South directly inheriting the life task of Weliwita Saranankara devoted all their energies to the spread of learning in the South and by their united effort gave new life to a dying tradition. It is said that once Rajadhi Rajasingha, himself no mean scholar, the author of Asadisadakava, wrote to a friend of his in the south inquiring for the number of learned monks living in the South.


ස ‍ං ව ර සතර සිල් පිරිසිදු මිතුරැ සො ඳ ලෙ න් දැ රු සසුන සිව් සික පද කසුන බ ඳ මෙන්සුරගුරු ලකුණු දැරැ එළු සකු මඟ ඳ දැන් විසි තුරු මා තොට යති කොපමණ ඳ?

In a reply to that the names of all the illustrious learned monks that figured in the renaissance are mentioned. ක ර තොට, බෝවල, ද ගාල’ කුරැසි නමි න කි ර ම, ද කි‍විඳු දෙනගම, දම්කිත් පටු න තෙර සත් දත් ගල් ඇටු‍ඹේ, බහු වටි න ප ර සි දු සමත් යති රට පාත මෙ පම ණ

Koratota Dhammarama lived during the reign of Rajadhi Rajasingha and is of importance to our literary record as the author of Barasa Kavya, the Diagram of Twelve Verses, an essay in poetical acrobatics-embodying within a square diagram twelve verses to be read in criss-cross direction. This poem in praise of the Buddha was presented to Rajadhi Rajasngha and only melted away the displeasure of the king against him over his alleged allegiance to the Dutch, but also was rewarded with the village of Pallebedde. The story throws some light on the standards of literary taste among the educated. Difficult and strange compositions were showered with encomiums. Bowala Dhammananda had won fame as the most eminent Sanskrit scholar and astrologer of the times. He is reputed to have written the Mahabodhi jataka in verse. His fame rested not only on his scholarship ; his name is said to have been synonymous with piety.


Saliyale maniratana – Perhaps the most well known of them, is the author of three books. Kaw Mutuhara has the Dasa Ratha Jataka for its theme ; modeled on the Maha Kavyas with a profusion of figures of speech, it shares the defects of most works of the time. A fondness for pedantry and involved, intricate figures of speech and chetories has guided his style. The Pratiharya Sataka is written in a Sanskrit metre and has the miracles of the Buddha for its subject. Amarasaya is also attributed to him a poem of seventy-five verses based on an episode in the life of Pandita Vira Pandu, a Pandyan king. Among the others left out in the verse mentioned above there is Mihiripenne Dhammaratana who nevertheless was the most popular among the common folk. Though he did not undertake any lengthy work, what he has written on diverse topics ranging from the praise of the Buddha to the condemnation of pig-slaughter, exhibits a scholarly knowledge of poetics, biting satire and a sense of humor. He was one of the chief protagonists in the celebrated debate, the Saw Sath Dam Vadaya, which threw into the conflict every learned writer of repute at that time. Incidentally this controversy which centred on the interpretation of the first stanza of Thomis Dissanayaka’s Gangarohana Varnanava in the light of the rules of prosody, was responsible for stimulating research in and discussion on the literature of the past, and sharpened and moulded the language to meet modern demands. This debate brought before the public eye the learning and the poetical gifts of Mihiripenne

xii Nevertheless the memory of Mihiripenne remains perennially green among the village folk because of his impromptu compositions. We quote two verses from a letter to the carpenters who had failed to respond to his request. මකුථ දැල බැඳීලා බැන්ද මැස්සත් දිරාලා ගුලු කුඩු වැගිරිලා ගොස් තිබෙන්නය් පිරීලා ගෙට යන එන වේලා වේදි මැස්සේ හැපීලා ඔළු ගෙඩිය පැලීලා යන්ට වෙය් ලේ හැලිලා

එම කොහොම නුමුත් මේ මෝසමේවත් ඇවිල්ලා වැඩ ටික කරදිලා යන්ට කොය් අන්දමෙන්වත් අප වෙනුවට ඇත්තේ නම් දයාවක් සැදෑවක් අද හෙට නුමුළාවී එන්ට ඕනෑ පිටත් වී Coming down to the lay writers pride of place must be given to Pattayame Lekam. Hitinamaluwe Dhammajoti, who is styled the father of the literature of Matara, was his teacher. Among his works special mention must be made of kaw Minikondala, Ratavati Kathava and Viyovagaratnamalaya. The first of these is based on the Jayaddisa Jataka while the other two are of an erotic nature. Pattayame Lekam re-introduced the Yugmaprasa or double-rhyming in his works. This soon caught the imagination of others and became extremely popular at the time. We quote the following stanza from Viyovagaratnamalaya, the jewelled garland of separation, to illustrate. එ ත ර සඳ කිරණ වදි රිවි රැසේ ලෙසේ මි හි රි කොවුල් නද යක් හඞ ලෙසේ ඇසේ අ ඟ ර සිසිල් ‍ගොර විස සොඳ රසේ කෙසේ නුඹැර මෙදුක් විදිනෙමි මියු ලැ‍සේ කෙසේ (වියොවග රත්න මාලය)


Another feature of his poesy was a love of assonance. Multiple rhymes and other sound effects. A stanza from the Ratavati Kathava will provide an example.

පලයුත් මී අඹරස මත් ගිරඹද මනා මෙ නා කරඹත් ‍ පොල් අඹ දෙළුමුත් මහ දඹ තැනැ තැ නා වරකත් පළු වීර මොරයුත් රඹපත ඹිනා ඹි නා ඇරගොස් සිටිනට වෙන අත් නැත එම වනා වි නා

(රතවතී කාව්යිය)

The Matara poets wrote Sandesas too in the tradition of the Sandesa literature of the Kotte period. Among them the most well known is the Nlakobo Sandesa. The author of this was a famous astrologer by the name of Barana, who addressed his Sandesa to God Kataragama to invoke his blessings in the cure of a skin disease. The Nilakobo Sandesa is tipical of the other sandesas of the time.Barana is said, to have enjoyed an evil reputation for Vas kavi and Seth kavi and other branches of the occult art. His Vayasa Nimitta, a book of fifty-four rerses on crow signs is evidence of his knowledge of astrology Many of his impromptu compositions reflecting his evil genius and his Rabelaisian humour have won for him a warm place in the hearts of his readers. Among other writers of note there was Katuwane Mohandiram who wrote the Kav mini Mal Dama based on the Sanaka


Jataka and the Makaradvaja, an erotic poem. The earlier work was the result of a friendly agreement with Pattayame Lekam to write, within a specified time limit, and length, a poem in praise of the Buddha. Pattayame Lekam’s answer was the Kav Mini Kondala, It is very natural that these two works should invite a comparative appraisal. Of the two the Muhandiram’s work reveals less artificiality and has a simplicity and grace which the more polished work of Parrayame Lekam lacks. Samarasekara Dissanayaka, the author of Gangarohana Varnanava is remembered in connection with the Sav Sath Dam Vadaya to which reference has been made under Mhiripenne Dhammaratana.The Gangarohana Varnanava describes a religious festival on the Nilvalaganga in one hundred and three Elu-silo verse. Written in a variety of metres it is perhaps the best of its kind written during this period. This short sketch of the important writers, lay and cleric, of this period would be incomplete without at least a passing reference to Gajaman Nona perhaps the only woman poet of standing whose works are extant. Though there is not much that has come down to us of her works, the fragments of poems exhibit a delicacy of texture and a clarity of theme which many a poet of this period forsook for sterile efforts in poetical gymnastics. It is said that she was involved in many a duel in verse, unfortunately most of them bordering on the obscene. A verse from her famous poem on the Nuga tree at Denipitiya gives us an example of the type of verse she excelled in. xv

පිනවන දුටු දන සෑ ම ගඟ ලඟ පිහිටි කදී ම තුරුපෙල අවට සැදි ම යුත් සෙවනැල්

ගන මේ කු‍ලෙව් දිලී ම විහඟුන් මත රැව්දී ම සුළඟින් පත් ලෙල ‘දී’ ම ඇති හැම කල්

යන් එන දන සැපසේ ම එහි ඉද ගිම් සැනසී ම දස දිග අතු විහිදී ම තිබෙන විසල්

දෙනිපිටියටම ඉතා ම වටිනා මහ නුගදු ම බල සකි එහි සිත් සේ ම තිලඹර දුල්


This period was the prelude to the era of debates which opened with the Sav Sat Dam Vadaya. The poets were spurred to their literary labour by a spirit of rivalry. It is a matter for conjecture whether Kirama Damananda called his poem Kav Mutuhara inviting comparison with Saliyale Maniratana’s creation of the same name. There is no doubt that the aouthor of Kav Mini Kondala and Kav Mini Mal Dama were also anmated by a desire to excel each other. There are two incidents that support this contention. Thomis Dissanayaka presented his Gangarohana Varnanava to his patron Mudaliyar Saram, whose religious festival on the Nilwala Ganga was the subject of the poem. Saram sent it to his friend Mudaliyar Abeykoon of the Galle Korale, challenging him to name a poet who could point out any error in the poem. Then it is stated that once Katuvane Muhandiram wrote out a verse and sent it to ChiefMudaliyar Illanga koon inviting him to get it explained by the poetin the Island and that he would acknowledge the successful poet as his teacher. xvi

    The above two incidents would lead us to understand that the poets of the time were fond of parading their learning. The patrons of learning themselves were p l e a s e d by difficult compositions and rhetorical pyrotechnics. The aspirants for poetical honours produced works studded with an abundance of figures of speech, freaks of rhyming, metaphysical conceits and structural fantasies which looked and read more like cross-word puzzles and geometrical designs. The most striking   of them is the Barasa kavya, a veritable cross-word puzzle.

    But in spite of all pretensions to rhetorical displays and pedantry, most of the works of this period abound in orthographical and grammatical errors. The language itself, at ,many points, escapes from the rigid vocabulary of  classical poetry, only to seek refuge in the colourless idiom of common parlance. There is a free mixture of Tamil and Dutch words. A few random examples would prove this point about grammar and language-

කලුන් එනුව හැසිරෙති කවිමුතුහර (සාලියාලේ මණිරතන) සොඳුර, මෑණායෙනි නඳ නා - මෙම, නපුරු වෙණෙහි නිරතුරුව ‍ වස නා කෙසරුට දා අපි දෙදෙ නා පිය, අයුරු නොවන්නට කාරණ කුම නා

සිය බස් මල්දම (කිරම ධම්මානන්ද)

රන් රුවසෙ දිලි කදිම කය ඇති අයෙක් විසුළුව ගිය ක ලා දුන්න ලෙස වකගැසී දත්හි කෙස් පැසී ඇඟ කෙරළ දි ලා මෙන්න මුත්තගෙ හැටි කියාලා විසුළු පානාවුන්ට කිපි ලා උන්න සැ‍ටි දුටුවාද බොක්කේ අළුගොඩේවත් එබී ලා කව් මුතුහර (කිරම ධම්මානන්ද)


The works of this period show the Jataka tales as the most popular of subjects for verification. From very ancient time prose writers and poets alike drew freely from the Jataka Book, their material. The principal works of the Matara period-Maniratana’s Kavmini Maldama, were based on Jataka stories. The following are some of the Jatakas presented in verse by other poets of the time. Sambula Jataka and Maha kanha Jataka by Kirama Dhammananda, Kshudha Bojana Jataka by Kirama Dhammarama, Digha Kosala Jataka by Valihitiye Sirisumana, Sutasoma Jataka by Dikvalle Buddharakkhita, Sumudga, pancayudha and Ummagga Jataka by Madihe Sumitta, Kummasa pindi Jataka Kavyasekera Malavara, Andhabhuta Jataka by Tallarambe Dhammakhanda. It must be remembered that most of these were written in the style of the ballad which became 2 very popular verse form. After Vattave’s Guttila kavya and Alagiyawanna’s Kusa Jataka had set the pattern, we observe the popular literature prevailing over the academic works. The composition of Vas Kavi and Seth Kavi had become a lucrative profession and perhaps some of the choicest verses in the art belong to this epoch. We quote from Barana Ganitaya the most famous of the practitioners in this art, a verse directed at the men who were free with his young coconuts.


මො කා දෝ එකා මට නොදැනෙයි මේ කා ක කා කු‍රුම්බා ගෙඩි බිම දමන එ කා ය කා ඇට නහර මස් බිලිගත් සැණෙ කා වි කා මහ සොහොන්‍‍‍ දෙවි දිවි හරින් ම කා

The sandesas of this period, deviated from the classical model on the two points. Upulvan, the Gold whose help was most often invoked is replaced by God skanda of Kataragama. The Nilakobo, Kahakurulu, Ketakrili and Diya Savul Sandesas are all addressed to God Skanda. The second point of departure is that the Sandesas crave the blessings of the Gods for personal gain. The author of Nilakobo, Diya Savul and Kahakurulu Sandesas seek divine aid to cure their ailments. Here is the message of the author of the Nilakobo Sandesa

රු දා සහ සන්දිවල සැදි සියලු ලෙඩ සි දා කර ලමින් දි ඔහුට කට හඩ යොදා එවු හසුන නම් මේ පඩුර දිඩ න දා සිතින් පිලිගත මැනවි නන සඩ

Elu Silo (a variety of blank verse in Sanksrit metere) poems too are a characteristic feature of these times. Saliya Maniratana’s Pratiharyasataka, Ginigatpitye Sangharakkhita’s T r u v a n Mala, Thomis Dissanayaka’s Gangarohana Varnanava were all written in Elu-silo. But this metre was made popular by the witty and humorous verses of Mihiripenne. Drunkenness seems to have been the most pernicious social evil and drew the fire of many reformer poets. Here is Mhiripenne on the subject.


නිරලඹ අහසේ එල්ලෙන්ට වෑයම් කරත් මැය් ඉරහඳ උදුරා ගන්ටත් අහස් හි පනිත්මැය් පොර වැද උනුනුන් හා තන්හි තන්හි වැටෙත් මැයි ගරගඳ කුණු රා බී රොස් පරොස් බස් කියත්මැයි

Hittatiye Siri Sumanatissa’s Sura Yaka and Gandara Silananda’s Sura Dosaya also poems on the same topic. Erotic poems too had their votaries. Pattayame Lekam’s Viyovaga Ratnamalaya and Ratavali Kathava, Dissanayaka’s Makaravajaya are all of an eroticnature.But the best exponent of this type of verse came from the Kandyan Hills. Sanne writing which had received the sanctity of traditional practice was also seen n evidence. Polwatte Sarananda, Matara Gnanavindasabha, and Weli patanwila Deepankara, among others wrote Sannes for many Pali and Sinhalese classical works. The Matara Period of literature has representative works nearly of every branch of literature, but the main attention was directed to poetry. Kirama Dhammananda Was born at Kirama in the West Giruwa Pattu, during the late eighteenth century. He was ordained under Agalakada Dammarakkhita, the chief high priest of the low-country, at the Godapitiya Raja Maha Vihara, but studies under the eminent poet Saliyala Maniratana of Kav Mutuhara fame. Dhammananda r o s e into prominence during the early decades of the nineteenth century


and even rivaled his teacher in the popularity and success of his works. His creative works :- Syabasmaldama, a poem in the ballad style, the most popular of his Poems. It deals with the history of Vijaya. Sambula, Maha kanha and Devadhama Jatakas all small religious poems in simple verse. Nandiyavelanda and Kancana Devi Kathavas form the Saddharmalankaraya in verse form. Vibat Maldama, based on the Sidat Sangara an elementary work in Sinhalese nouns and verbs. Gangarohana or Stuti Puja Kavya described the religious festival on the Nilwala waters which was also the theme for the more Well known poem of Thomis Dissanayaka, the Gangarohana Varnanava. The Sinhavalli Kathava and the Preta Vastu are also ascribed to him. Kirama Dhammananda was essentivally a people’s outhor. He worte for the masses, though his works show a show a scholarly familiarity with rhetorics. He is content to be brief and direct in his descriptions and does not overload his poems with gaudy rhetorical devices. He was hot anxious to parade his learning or his skill in the art of versification. Except for the Siyabas Maldama all his poem are on xxi

religious themes, written in simple verse for the delectation and moral elevation of the masses. Wherever occasion permits, he introduces sermons into the story. The long sermon in the Kau-Mutuhara and the exhortation of Prince Mahimsasaka in Devadhamma Jataka are all aimed at the prevalent short comings in the society of the times. The language of his poems are close to the spoken word for he was catering to the common folk. His descriptions are drawn from his environment and the society of the day, and though figures of speech are used sparingly yet the descriptions are vigorous and vivid. The short-comings of his poems were shared by all the current writers. The use of feel-fillers, syllabic distention and contraction to meet metrical exigencies, tautology, orthographical and grammatical errors are all fairly common in the works of this period. But these short- comings must be assessed in the context of the political uncertainty, social uneasiness and education chaos that followed the capture of Kandy by the British and the rebellion of 1818. These conditions were not conducive to the continuity of traditions or the growth of a puritanical outlook on scholarship. But to compensate for any weakness in craft’s manship or grammar, Dhammananda’s poems have a freshness of appeal, metrical invention and natural description. Kav mutuhara- The story of this poem is the Kancana Devi story from the Saddarmalankaraya.


In ancient Jambudeepa there is a city, Devpit by name. Here lives an illustrious king Devpit, who proposes to hold a bowl-relic festival. He holds a conference of state ministers and leading citizens to discuss ways and means. The result of the conference is that a magnfcently adorned chariot is built and the Buddha’s bowl-relic set on a decorated bamboo pole places inside. The city wears a festive grab for seven days. During this week the bowl-relic is worshipped with great splendor and every night a sermon is preached to the multitude of assemble devotees. In this crowd there happens to be a Naga king who is smitten with a passion for a beautiful maiden in the assembly. When his appeals fail to melt her he coils himself round her and strives to kill her by blowing on her his venomous vapours. Bereft of all aid, in dire straits, the maiden makes a සස් කිරිය (resolution by truth) that the holy power of her chaste life should be her rescuer. The Naga King fails in his purpose and threatens her in his coils by placing his hood on her head. Even this does not succeed in disturbing the maiden who undistracted gives the night-long sermon her undivided attention. When the morning arrives, the assembled devotees are wonder-struck at her miraculous escape. The Naga king is impressed by the divine excellence of her chastity and worships her in the company of his Naga damsels. The people of the city too join in this honouring and she receives many gifts of gold and gems. At the end of a chaste and righteous life she is born as the daughter of the king of that city. On her birth


there falls on the city a shower of the seven gems. This leads to her being named Kanchana Devi. The fame of her beauty spreads far and wide over Jambudeepa and many are the royal suitors that compete for here hand. But as she has no interest in a worldly life, with her father’s permmission she enters the Order and within a short period her strivings bear fruit in her attaining Arahat hood. The story, it will be observed, is simple and straight forward. But the bulk of poem is taken up with the sermon and the සස් කිරිය. The whole poems runs into one hundred and twenty-seven stanzas of which fifty-three stanzas are devoted to the sermon (33-85) and ten stanzas to the සස් කිරිය. It might even appear as if this story was chosen for the opening it provided for a lengthy sermon. As mentioned earlier the poet had an over fondness for lengthy moralising. To him poetry is an attractive vehicle of moral reform. In this case, there is unmistakenable evidence that he is inspired by the Lovada Sangarava :- Compare පෙර අඟ නක් එක් එළු දෙනක ඉස සි ඳා සි ය ල ඟ වැළඳි ගිනි දැල් නිරය දුක් වි ඳා ඇය ඇඟ ලෝම ගණනේ බෙලි කැපුම් ල ඳා ‍ මෙම රඟ වේය කාටත් අකුසලේ ලෙ ඳා

With stanza 69 of Kaw Mutuhara.

කෙ ළි යට කඩක් සඟවා යහළුවෙකු ගෙ ‍නේ එ ළි කොට නැවත දුන් මිනිසෙකුට මෙතෙකි නේ වි ළි වැස්මක් නො ලදිය දෙවි වෙලත් අ නේ කෙ ළි යට වත් නොකරව් සොර කමක් දැ නේ

xxiv With stanza 70 of Kav Mutuhara ලැ දි ව රජෙක් බොරු බස් කි විගස කයා නැ ති ව රිද්දි බලයක් ඒ මිනිස් කයා පො ළොව පලා ගෙන ගොස් වැටුනි නර කයා මෙ ලොව සතුනි ඉන් බොරු කීම නර කයා

With stanza 72 of Kav Mutuhara Much of the spirit of the Lavada Sangarava, Lives in the tone and contents of the sermon. The poem. Holds its descriptive integrity as a religious poem. His descriptions are remarkably devoid of the sensuality of many poets to whom a religious story is a convenient stalking house. In one short stanza he disposes of the physical charms of the heroine.

එනුවර විසු පුවත රා වෙණකත දිනු රූස රා උනු නොවනා ඇඟපසැඟැති කුමරි කෙනෙක් වියෙව රා

The brevity of the description adds to its force and effectiveness. The Beauty of Kancana Devei is described

    සුරඟන පරයන මනහර විසිතුරු ලකුණෙන් බබල        න

No attempt to linger, spinning out hackneyed similes and metaphors taking each limb and detail with a smack of lewd satisfaction. The poem at the beginning recounts in traditional fashion the life of the Buddha in five verses. In one verse (13) he describes the city and


in two verses (14 and 15) the king. The the pot speaks of the decorated chariot in three verses (17, 18 and 19). The festival of the bowl-relic, worship is concluded in eleven stanzas (20-30). Though the opportunity presents itself here for a display of the poet’s skill in the use of rhetorical devices. Dhammananda records the details of the festival with commendable restraint. There is no attempt to break out into rhetorical fantasies.

නැටු ම් පිනුම් කරනම් ඈ කෝළම් ඉඳුදැල් කරමි න පිඹු ම් කවෙන් තුති කියමින් තාලම් සක් නද කරමි න නෙළු ම් සමන් කුසුම් දමින් පහන් දුමින් සුවඳ දයෙ න වැ ඳු ම් පිදුම් පහන් සිතින් මේ පාමහපුද කෙරෙමි න

This stanza exhibits certain characteristics of the poet in descriptive vein. He repeats words (කරමින) without much qualms. (Compare the frequency of the word සුවඳ in verse 24, සොඳ in verse 17 etc.) A cheap jingle of internal rhymes is a part of his stock in trade. (Compare verses 23, 24 etc.) The language borders on the colloquial. It is a matter for surprise that the poet did not show an attraction for the Elu-Silo metre which suits the rhythm the spoken language. Then the poet writes of the invitation made by the king to a priest to discourse on the Dhamma (31 and 32). The discourse itself occupies verses 33 to 85 and is the piece de resistance of the poem. Verses86-91 narrate the incident of the Naga king’s infatuation for the maiden. This is done in a charming variety of short verse with a break


in the rhyme in the third line extended by the length of a single syllabic instant.

සස ලප නැති සඳ සේ දොස කිසි නැති එ දිගැ සේ දසබල ‍දම් අසන විලස එතැන් පත්ව සිට මෙ සේ

This s another of Dhammananda’s talents. He uses a variety of metres. Some of them, variations on the classical metres. In this poem he employs variations of the Gi, Padaka and Samudraghosa metres. But in the anxiety to have his rhymes and feet consistent he is tempted to employ repetition of words and feet-fillers.

නො සතුටුවූවෙන් එ දි ගැ ස් විසදර වී තද සරො ස් යස ඒ කුමරි මරණ පිණි ස විසදුම් ඇරියාය නො ල ස්

Verses 92, 93 and 94 are on the Naga king’s pleading to the maiden, verses 95 to 100 describe refusal of the maiden and the Naga king’s efforts to kill her by breathing poisonous vapours on her. The සස් කිරිය of the maiden is the theme of verses 101 to 110. Verses 111 to 115 are employed to describe the honouring and worshiping of the maiden by the Naga king and the citizens. Verse 115 speaks of her death ; and at the 122nd verse the story of her birth in the royal family, her entering the Order and attainment of Arahathood is brought to a close. In these verses 122-124 the author gives a final exhortation to the


readers to strive for the attainment of Nibbana. He concludes the poem in verse 125 ; wishes the poem long life, (till the Sasana lasts) in verse 126 and speaks of his authorship in the final verse 127. This poem must be appraised on its merits as a religious poem written for the masses. The motive of the poet was not to write a poem on the rigid lines of classical prosody. The story was only a means to an end. That explains the preference of the poet for the ballad form. His Siyabasmaldama was a ballad pure and simple-not coloured by the need for a descriptive enumeration of the five precepts and the ten moralities or the zeal for religious propaganda. The story value of Kav Mutu Hara is not exploited at all. Even the discourse only enumerates virtue and sin. It lacks the intensity of feeling that marks any religious poem worth its name. I am indebted to Mr.C.E.Godakumbure for the text of the poem. But there are a few errors in printing and reading of proofs that have crept into his text, which I have c orrected. In verse No.3 I have retained his reading of the text though I am convinced that සුරන් should be සුවත් සමවත taken as derived from සමාපත්ති harmonises with සුවත් meaning the virtuous path. සමවත in the sense of cylindrical, destroys the link that would have otherwise perfected the metaphor in the stanza.

"https://si.wikibooks.org/w/index.php?title=කව්මුතුහර-INTRODUCTION&oldid=5121" වෙතින් සම්ප්‍රවේශනය කෙරිණි