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මුල් පිටුව | බොදු පුවත් | කතුවැකිය | බෞද්ධ දර්ශනය | විශේෂාංග | වෙහෙර විහාර | ඉංග්‍රිසි ලිපි | පෙර කලාප | දායකත්ව මුදල් |

Paul Dhalke with
Ven. Suriyagoda Sri
Sumangala Thera

The Rhys Davids of indomitable courage

By Rohan L. Jayetilleke

We grow by all such, is one sentence Thomas William Rhys Davids (1843-1922) elaborated how he looked at his pioneering work of making the Pali literary heritage available to the western world both in original and in translation. This statement was further clarified by his equally illustrious wife, a Pali scholar Caroline A. F. Rhys Davids (1857-1942).

Prof. T. W.
Rhys Davids

Mrs. C. A. F.
Rhys Davids

And when it is a quest of opening up buried treasures of past ideas, or opening up new vistas of unverified powers and resources, it is impossible for explorer and experimenter to judge before hand, that this is a waste of time and energy. Much digging and many experiments will prove to have been so. Yet who will assert that pioneer work should therefore be shirked, may it not be that, as Rhys Davids once said, We grow by all such (Mrs. Rhys Davids, Wayfarers Words; Vol. 11, London, 1941. p. 107).

Rhys Davids, like R. C. Childers, was a son of an English clergyman. Joining the Ceylon Civil Service at the age of 21 in 1864, he served his first three years as the Private Secretary to the Governor, succeeding Childers. He served under Acting Governor Major General Terrence OBrien and Governor Sir Hercules Robinson (later Lord Rosemead). He learnt Sinhala under Ven. Yatramulle Sri Dhammarama for his examinations in Sinhala and Sri Lankan culture, the mandatory examinations for civil service cadets and the monk teacher inspired him to have a complete insight into language too, which served his literary activities later in life. He was confronted with the Buddhist Vinaya in the course of a trial he conducted as the District Judge of Galle. When none in the court could translate the Vinaya for him to adjudicate in the case before him, he decided to learn Pali. It was to Ven. Yatramulle Sri Dhammarama he went to accomplish his wish. With the progress of studies he came into close association with the best scholar-monks at the time Venerables Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala and Waskaduwe Sri Subhuti Nayaka Theras.

His penultimate years were spent in the archaeological service, the excavation of a number of sites in Anuradhapura and the discovery of Sigiriya being among his achievements. He engaged himself in the publication both in Sri Lanka and Britain archaeological and epigraphical works. His epigraphical works were, Dondra Inscription, Inscription at Weligama Vihara, three inscriptions of Parakramabahu the Great from Pulastipura (Polonnaruwa), Sigiri, two old Sinhala Inscriptions, the Sahasamalla Inscription of 1200 AD and the Ruwanveli Dagaba Inscription of 1191 AD being the benchmarks.

Rhys Davids left the Ceylon Civil Service in 1872 and returned to England, but his fervour for studies in Sri Lankan sources continued. He was in close collaboration with R. C. Childers and sought the services of Venerable Naranwita Sumanasara of Naranwita Gampola, who was pioneering the restoration of Ruwanvelimahaseya at Anuradhapura. Living in the brokenhood of a cart, he gave Davids a copy of the inscription dealing with reference to Ruwanveli Dagaba Inscription. In England he commenced studies in law, which he completed in 1877 being called to the bar of Inns Court, London. He still continued his studies in Pali, epigraphy, numismatics and in 1877 published a book on Ancient Coins and Measures in Ceylon and in 1878 he wrote for the London Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, a treatise on the life and teachings of Buddha, and published under the title Buddhism. This work assured Rhys Davids a secure place among the pioneering Orientalists of the day.

He then translated into English the first volume of the Jatakas of Prof. Vigo Fausboll (German) in 1880 under the title Buddhist Birth Stories and went on translating selected Suttas of the Sutta Pitaka, which became the Volume II of the Sacred Books of the East Series publishers in London in 1881. His erudition was now renowned the world over and he was invited in 1881 to deliver the prestigious Hibbert Lectures, the subject being The Origin and Growth of Religion as illustrated by some points in the History of Indian Buddhism.

It was in the course of these lectures the vision of translating and publication of Buddhist literature germinated in his heart and mind and he announced the intention to establish the Pali Text Society in that direction. He said, The sacred books of the early Buddhists have preserved to us the sole record of the only religious movement in the worlds history, which bears any close resemblance to Christianity; and it is not too much to say that the publication of this unique literature will be no less important for the study of history and especially religious history than the publication of the Vedas has already been done.

In the next four decades Rhys Davids was totally involved in this self-created task along with scholars Max Muller and Oldenberg, in the publication of the Sacred Books of the East and the Sacred Books of the Buddhist Series and subsequently through the Pali Text Society he founded. This was the fulcrum for the spread of Pali and Buddhism in Europe, Sri Lanka and in Burma (Myanmar). A new generation of scholars thus blossomed. Rhys Davids Pali and Buddhist studies and Max Mullers studies in Sanskrit and Vedas saw a new dawn of East based researches and studies and publications in the West for the first time. Rhys Davids wife Caroline too was a Pali scholar and she dubbed her husband as, Max Muller of Buddhism. This trio continued to work in unison and tandem.

On the strength of his pioneering works. Rhys Davids was appointed the Professor of Pali and Buddhist Literature of the University College, London, followed by being appointed Professor of Comparative Religion of the University of Manchester. He was also a member of the Royal Asiatic Society, and was in great demand for lectures both in Europe and America on Pali and Buddhism. Thus the Suttas of the pitakas and other scriptural works were translated and published in English running into hundreds of such publications, through the Pali Text Society, under his command. The only equal to Rhys Davids in this literary field was his wife Caroline A. F. Rhys Davids.

Mrs. Davids commenced her translation with her first book on Abhidhammapitaka in 1900 under the title, A Buddhist Manual of Psychological Ethics, being a translation of the first book in the Abhidhamma Pitaka entitled Dhammasangani; with an introductory essay and notes. Between the years 1900-1942 she wrote and published 34 books all based on the Tripitaka and their translations as well as topics of Buddhism. Her works were of highly critical nature giving the westerners food for thought. On the death of her husband too she continued her total involvement with the Pali Text Society founded by her husband. The most distinguished student in the School of Oriental Studies, University of London from 1923 to 1926 was Gunapala Piyasena Malalasekera (later Professor) and he had the greatest impact on the study of Pali in Sri Lanka. This great scholar Prof. Gunapala Malalasekera, even in 1950, while at the University of Peradeniya, financed the passage of American nun Dhammadinna to visit Australia, the first to introduce Buddhism in a stabilised form, though there were Sinhala Buddhist migrant sugarcane plantation labourers 480 in number from Galle, settling down in Queensland Australia in 1882, produced editors, translators and scholars of the calibre of Ven. H. Saddhatissa, N. A. Jayawickrema, Ratna Handurukande, Lily de Silva,and many others. Presently there is no emergence of Pali scholars from the universities or pirivenas.

In Sri Lanka there were 96 subscribers to the Pali Text Society as at 1882.. Of them 74 were Buddhist monks. The monks and laity dominated in the Southern province as subscribers as the First Mudliyar of the Governors Gate Edmond Roland Gooneratne Jayetilleke being from Galle and a scion of the aristocracy of the Atapattu Walawwa, Walawwatte, Galle. He assisted in the Sinhala translation of the Bible too. Incidentally Rhys Davids came into contact in London with the Sinhala Buddhist monk Ven. Suriyagoda Sumangala, who as a member of the Oriental Society of Ceylon was given a scholarship of 300 Sterling Pounds per annum for two years at Oxford University, London, contributed half by the Government of Ceylon and the other half by C. A. Hewavitharana, brother of Anagarika Dharmapala. He was the first bhikkhu to be admitted to the Oxford University. Although he completed his thesis for the Doctorate, being a Buddhist monk, the Doctorate was denied to him by Oxford. Ven. Suriyagoda, was a close associate of Prof. Paul Dhalke of Germany a great Buddhist scholar.

The Sri Lankan laity that subscribed to the Pali Text Society were Louis de Zoysa Maha Mudliyar, who erected the clock tower on Galle Fort to commemorate the award of the Mudliyarship, for the first time to a member of his Salagama caste of Balapitiya, Iddamalgoda Basnayake Nilame of Pelmadulla and Louis Corneille Wijesinha. The other living fountains of scholarship advantaged by the Pali Text Society were Venerable Hemmalawa Sadhatissa, former Chief Incumbent of London Buddhist Vihara, and Venerable Dr. Walpola Rahula, the first to be a professor of a American University as a Buddhist monk.

වප් පුර පසළොස්වක


වප් පුර පසළොස්වක පෝය ඔක්තෝබර් 25 වනදා බ්‍රහස්පතින්දා අපරභාග 02.10 ට ලබයි.
26 වන දා සිකුරාදා පූර්ව භාග 10.22 දක්වා පෝය පවතී.
සිල් සමාදන්වීම ඔක්තෝබර් 25 වනදා බ්‍රහස්පතින්දාය


මී ළඟ පෝය නොවැම්බර් 01 වනදා බ්‍රහස්පතින්දාය.


පොහෝ දින දර්ශනය

Full Moonපසෙලාස්වක

ඔක්තෝබර් 25

Second Quarterඅව අටවක

නොවැම්බර් 01

New Moonඅමාවක

නොවැම්බර් 09

First Quarterපුර අටවක

නොවැම්බර් 17

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