Author - Dr. P.G. Punchihewa
Seldom does one come across a brilliant writer like him, especially on Buddhist heritage who dwell into its past, the way Dr. P.G. Punchihewa has done and enlightened the reader on its celestial value so rare and accurate.
What is unique about his writing is that it spans two generations. The young who are struggling to be like him and the not so-young to achieve writing like him. Between the two Dr. P.G. Punchihewa stands tall and steady, inspiring the literary world. Having the talent to write on diverse subjects, he has mixed and blended some appealing essays on a cross section of literary culture. The introduction of essays in general context and the development of critical writing about the Modern School over the last century sadly lacks the exciting critic in its contemporary development. The inspiration for such taste must develop throughout history non-stop.
Dr. Punchihewa is a Buddhist scholar and philosopher with international repute and carefully opts for subjects he is aware and likes best. STRING OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES IN THE EAST COAST AND OTHER ARTICLES comes naturally and manifested in archaeological sites covering most of Buddhist heritage of Sri Lanka. He is both critic and saviour of English and Sinhala Languages with a comprehensive knowledge and never at fault handling both.
For me, it is a challenge to review his book and doing so, I had to grasp the key points designated as Modern School and the difference in Romanticism that kept propped up because of its manifestation around the world and how lustily writers accept its norms. Yet Dr. Punchihewa remains a Modern School writer with contemporary, historical methods and aesthetic theories.
What is unique about his writing is that it spans two generations. The young who are struggling to be like him and the not so-young to achieve writing like him. Between the two Dr. P.G. Punchihewa stands tall and steady, inspiring the literary world
One of the most single influential text books, it takes the reader to assume what he has put between lines rather that in words; a daunting task for a Christian like me, born Buddhist but a strong believing Christian guided by the power of God every minute of the day.
After reading the book, I found myself in confusion. There was no turning back. I went through the pages fast-forward, from centre pages to selected chapter and later, the whole book from last page to first page, that gave me a few restless nights. What struck most was that Buddhist cultural heritage may have been born in the East Coast, contrary to Anuradhpura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Dambulla, Mihintale etc. Dr. Punchihewa has separated the two carefully without confusion - the Buddhist Scholar he is.
An amazing critic and accurate reviewer rolled into one which he occasionally enjoys doing beside his first love of writing children’s books. The focus on modern critical thinking is aimed not only to inform but also to stimulate and to reflect the current excitement that comes easy on English and the Arts but not so easy on hard subjects such as archaeology etc. Therefore, for reading essays, one has to enable the reader to do so which Dr. Punchihewa does. He has brought together illumination that best illustrates in which contemporary criticism has been established. Re-invigorating the important debate, encourages the reader to open up on his own idea afresh.
The Cover Page
Geographically arranged are eight archaeological sites from which I have described a few :-
Velgamvehera is about 10 kilometres to the North West of Trincomalee. Spread over the temple premises are a number of archaeological remains which include among others, three stupas and the shrine room with the reclining Buddha, a pond and other artifacts. Velgamvehera is important as a Buddhist temple which had substantially influenced by Hindus. There are fragments of about 18 Tamil inscriptions dating from Rajaraja 1 and Rajaraja 11. Also the main shrine room indicates the characteristics of Dravidian architecture.
Passana Pabbata Rajamaha Viharaya - Sixty kilometres from Trincomalee is the little known Pasana Pabbata Rajamaha Viharaya located close to Verugal Aru and according to an inscription found there built over 2000 years ago by King Mahadathinkamahanage (A.D. 9-21) of Anuradha Kingdom. There are six inscriptions here carved in ancient Brahamin script referring to a flourishing commercial civilisation in the East. One of the inscriptions refers to a deposit of 500 gold coins by a minister named Rakha who wanted the interest from the deposit to go to the temple for its maintenance. A number of inscriptions with the king’s name have been found in several places in the Eastern Province in the country located close to the sea. The king had exempted the temple lands from the land tenure which had been imposed on the people of the area. Situated on a rocky outcrop with a commanding view of the surrounding area, the terrorists had used this to have their eastern radio transmission station.
Seruvila Rajamaha Viharaya is 38 Kilometres from Trincomalee on the Mutur-Verugal road. Ven Dambagasara Sumangala Thero from the south of Sri Lanka re-discovered the dagoba and assisted by the archaeological Department, restored the stupa, using remains of ancient structure around the stupa for conservation work.
According to Dhatuvamsa written in the 13th century, King Kavantissa during the latter part of his reign travelled from Magama and constructed the stupa with the support of the local rulers. Dhatuvamsa states that Buddha’s collar bone was enshrined here. After completion of the stupa the king made arrangements for its upkeep and returned to Magama.
His works in many ways represent the traditional and substantial knowledge of events and ideas of the age so applicable to the Christian faith. The importance of making a clear distention between cultural formation developed in Modern School of English reflects their own ideology to which he abides.
Part of the perfection of language for him bounces because of his authority on Buddhism and for such a writer, the system applies to Christianity or any other faith and Dr. Punchihewa was at ease. And lo and behold his review on TRENDS AND PATHWAYS by Bishop Valence Mendis hit the headlines for its power of theology and philosophy, there was no turning back for the learned doctor.
Prof. P.G. Punchihewa had his early education at the Central College Thelijjawila and Ananda College Colombo respectively and entered the University of Ceylon Peradeniya. He passed out with Honours in Sinhalese with Archaeology as subsidiary and was selected to the then Ceylon Civil Service. He served in a number of senior positions in the public service as the Government Agent of Moneragala, Puttalam and Kalutara Districts respectively, Chairman Coconut Development Authority and retired from the position of the Secretary Ministry of Coconut Industries.
Subsequently he was elected the Executive Director of the Asian and Pacific Coconut Community, an Inter-governmental organisation of fourteen countries based in Indonesia and served for fifteen years.
In addition to the writings reproduced in this collection, he has authored more than forty books, which include fiction, translations, research, travels and miscellaneous. He received the State Literary Award twice, for the best children’s story book and best translation.
Currently he also serves in several Buddhist and national volunteer organisations.
Dr. Punchihewa has his Ph.D. from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura and Diploma in Rural Social Development from the University of Reading U.K.