Indelible marks on a brilliant academic career

Since obtaining his PhD from the University of Halle in Germany in 1965 on a scholarship, Prof. Anuradha Seneviratne had passed many a milestones in his trailblazing academic career which spread over many fields.

Prof. Anuradha Seneviratne

A singular facet of his academic career was that he had achieved pinnacle which still seem an unreachable targets or milestones for many academics.

He was an internationally renowned author who was awarded the coveted title Kalakeerthi in 1994 by the Government of Sri Lanka. Malwatu Viharaya of Kandy awarded him the honorary title Dharmashastra Visharadha Keerthi Sri in recognition of his contribution to the scholarship. The philosophical background in the system of University in Sri Lankan is Western oriented and therefore, it does not consider an individual's inner spiritual powers.

Although Indian and Tibetan traditions recognise the Extra Sensory Perception, in the Western tradition, entire process of mind is confined to the notion of Psycho- biophysical.

A little know fact about Prof. Anuradha Seneviratne's life was that once, a team of Brahmins from India (Nadivakyam readers) who used to make an annual visit to Colombo and stayed at Borella and revealed that Prof. Seneviratne was an erudite Brahmin in India in his previous existence and he had a profound knowledge of Vedanta.

Upanishad

Although this was not possible to verify this fact independently, it was revealed that Prof. Seneviratne had, in fact, written a book titled Upanishad in Sinhala at the tender age of 17 as a teenager.

The book has already gone into its second impression. The book was printed in 1961 and the content included gradual evolution of Upanishad such as Chandogya Upanishad, Brihadaranyaka, Mundaka Upanishad.

It is indeed interesting and awe-inspirting to note that a 17-year-old youth had written such an in-depth thesis on Upanishad.

Prof. Seneviratne had written over 70 academic publications on Sinhala folklore and Sinhala literature in both Sinhala and English.

In addition, he had written over 300 articles to academic journals. A collection of articles Prof. Seneviratne wrote to newspapers over the years was published in 2006 as Gnana Dharsana by Godage Publishers.

The collection of articles covered the diverse areas of ancient and contemporary Sinhala culture.

His publications on Sinhalese culture shed light on diverse aspects of ancient Sinhalese civilisation.

Some of them are Vatadage, Kandy, ancient city of Anuradhpura, capital city in Polonnaruwa, Rangiri Dambulu Rajamaha Vihara, Sinhalese hydraulic civilisation, Mihintale and the Buddha. Seminal publications among them are 'Monastic City-Anuradhapura' and ' Medieval Sinhalese City-Polonnaruwa'.

Dharshani Gunatilake and I had the privilege of translating ''Monastic City-Anuradhapura' as 'Purana Anuradhapuraya' into Sinhala.

It had been a great academic exercise for us as Assistant lecturers on the academic staff of the university. It was Dr. Damayanthi Gunasekara who translated 'Medieval Sinhalese City-Polonnaruwa' into Sinhala.

Later, Prof. Seneviratne entrusted me with the task of editing the Sinhala translation by Dr. Damayanthi Gunasekara.

By then, I had gained substantial exposure to translation after translating ''Monastic City-Anuradhapura' as 'Purana Anuradhapuraya' into Sinhala.

It is with gratitude that I recalled the profitable exercise of translation which invariably cemented my inherent interests in studying Sinhalese culture. However, in 2007, Prof. Seneviratne embarked on a different type of academic exercise.

It was the translation of Sanskrit book of poetry 'Mayurashtaka' by Mayura into Sinhala as 'Ninida Pahankala Ra'. Prof. Seneviratne has chosen appropriate illustrations by Jorge Keet for the extremely passionate book of poetry.

His extensive knowledge of Kandy Dalada Perahera and the Temple of the Tooth was amply manifested in his book titled ' The Temple of the Tooth Relic". His booklet 'Kandy Esala Perehara' discusses the history of Esala Perahera and its evolution.

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