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Anuradhapura is no Theocracy.pdf

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    Anuradhapura is no "Theocracy"Author(s): Susantha GoonatilakeSource: Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka,  New Series, Vol. 55 (2009), pp.183-191Published by: Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka (RASSL)Stable URL: 04-07-2017 06:12 UTC   JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusteddigital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information aboutJSTOR, please contact Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka (RASSL)   is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extendaccess to Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka  This content downloaded from on Tue, 04 Jul 2017 06:12:19 UTCAll use subject to   NOTES AND QUERIES Anuradhapura is no Theocracy The Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka (RASSL) and its  members pioneered in the 19th and 20th centuries the study of Sri  Lankan society, culture, history and archaeology. Through  interaction between its Sri Lankan and Western members, the  RASSL provided a platform for East-West discourse. Most of these  pioneers read like a Who's Who in these matters. These activities  gave rise to Sri Lanka's first University which was campaigned for  by members of the RASSL and to the Departments of Archaeology,  Archives and Museums which were created through the RAS. Two  leading monks associated with the RAS led to the creation of the Vidyodaya and Vidyalankara Pirivenas which later evolved into  the Universities of Sri Jayawardenapurs and Kelaniya.  Over recent decades, these interests pioneered by the  RASSL entered the universities institutionally as anthropology and  Archaeology university departments. In anthropology, this shift,  however, resulted in a set of publications abroad which were  tangential to the truth, making key distortions and deriding the Sri  Lankan society it studied - all major transgressions of accepted  anthropology procedure and ethics. Recent issues of the RAS journal  have discussed this tendency111. More recently, the same tendency  towards misunderstanding of local society has been seen in the field of archaeology done by some foreign academics. One such  apparent case is the attempt to designate Anuradapura, one of the lost cities 121 of the then Western imagination, as a theocracy .  This is in the work of Robin Coningham and his co-workers who  had been doing excavation at Anuradapura131.. This content downloaded from on Tue, 04 Jul 2017 06:12:19 UTCAll use subject to   184NwSeres V LV  Th questono  ws th subect o  Connghmas l  wl as subect spe  list gvenbeow  ue ofth term t enungcrtcsm  as Anuradpur  inernton co  below the basic conclusions of the discussion.  It was noted at the beginning of the discussion, that archaeology was only a tool to reconstruct past societies, fleshing in the social  dynamics pf past societies required inputs from other sources  including a correct grasp of the sociological imagination.  Conningham et al had designated Anuradhapura as a  theocracy 141. This was because (in summary), Conningham et al  had not found, apart from monasteries, permanent structures in the  Anuradhapura hinterland. They posit Sinhalese monasteries as  having played a dual role as both religious and secular  administrators. They find that villages were only temporary and  mobile.  The question was raised, how valid was the use of the word  theocracy to Anuradhapura? And how valid were the comparisons  with Indonesia, Cambodia and Central America that Conningham  resorts to in his archaeology. To simplify matters, standard  definitions of theocracy were resorted to.  Merriam-Webster dictionary defined Theocracy as  government of a state by immediate divine guidance or by officials  who are regarded as divinely guided and a state governed by a  theocracy . Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia states, Theocracy is This content downloaded from on Tue, 04 Jul 2017 06:12:19 UTCAll use subject to   Ntes andQueres 185  a formofgovern  th suprem cvl governmn inwhc  ethrina person  inttuton represe  cvl governmn Th term Thoc  dscusion is link  ChrstantyandIsl  foundatonlya possesses strongee  fromeemns oft  wht actualytookp  Ina Chrstanm  cenredaroundpr  Chrstan Gd and  upmst ofa mn  gventm towr  decoratngbook I  centers of education and intellectual life.  Yet, the predominant ideology in these monasteries was  that of the Dark Ages whose beginnings coincided with the burning  of the excellent Library of Alexandria and other acts against free  thought. And in the nearly 1000 year reign of the Inquisition,  churches became the major centre for torture and murder of persons  who challenged the Pope's version of truth. This ideology of  intolerance was transferred to Sri Lanka in the 16th century where  the Portuguese burnt all the Buddhist centres. Key Western universities such as Oxford, Cambridge (12th  and 13th centuries), and Durham University, the abode of  Conningham, all started as religious centres. This content downloaded from on Tue, 04 Jul 2017 06:12:19 UTCAll use subject to   186  New Series Vol. LV  Durham, a later university had a strong tradition of  theological teaching, and was created in 1832, at the instigation of  Archdeacon Charles Thorp and the Bishop of Durham. This was roughly the time when in Sri Lanka, Buddhist higher learning  institutes were again beginning to assert themselves after the  Christian destruction of the 16th century.  Buddhist monasteries and universities contrasted  themselves with Christian monasteries and the early Christian  monastic universities like Cambridge and Oxford. The world's first  ùniversities were actually the Buddhist monasteries in Taxila,  Nalanda, Vikramashila and Mahabodhi in India. In the 4th century  AC, the Sinhalese King Meghavanna (304-332 A.C.) built the Mahabodhi monastery at Buddhagaya which for 1000 years  remained the world's first university complex funded by a foreign  country - in this case, Sri Lanka. At Anuradhapura, Mahavihara, Abhayagiri and Jetavanarama monasteries were similar in nature to those Indian counterparts, and had according to Sinhalese and  foreign sources, thousands of monks. The Chinese traveler to  Anuradhapura, Fa Hsien mentions 5,000 monks residing in  Abhayagiri in the 5th century A.C.[5]  Both laymen and monks studied in these pirivenas, as  witnessed even up to the 1990's in Cambodia. Monks in Sri Lanka differentiated themselves into two categories: Forest-dwelling (Vanavasin) concentrated on meditation while the village and town  dwellers (Gramavasin) emphasised book learning, As pointed out in well-known texts, these monasteries also specialised in lay subjects including architecture, art, astrology, astronomy, logic,  medicine, poetics, poetry, political science, rhetoric and sculpture.  The Dambadeni Asna written circa 1303-1325 AC mentions that  the sciences and arts taught in the monasteries include languages,  grammar, astrology/astronomy, law, logic, history and painting'61.  The Hansa Sandesa (15th century) describes the curriculum of one  institute as literature, Asian languages, Buddhism and logic. The  Gira Sandesa lists several nonn-religious subjects taught at the This content downloaded from on Tue, 04 Jul 2017 06:12:19 UTCAll use subject to
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