Colombo, Jaffna, Peace and Conflict, Poetry, Politics and Governance, Post-War, Vavuniya

On Replacing the Sun-God

The Sun God disappeared from the scene in May, 2009
killed by advancing army units, not clear which brave soldier

pulled the trigger, for some reason government has kept quiet
about circumstances, but other magicians in splendid whites

are raising arms to salute on Galle Face Green’s reviewing stand
troubling peace-loving citizens. They stand before armoured carriers

while fighter jets fly over the head of Old Parliament at the annual
parade to celebrate the late rebirth of Dutugemunu into our democracy,

a spirit who appeared to have achieved beatitude centuries ago,
but has required one more round on his favourite hunting ground,

a touch of three kingdoms-in-one panache, obeisance of tens of
thousands marching past, and loyalty before judgment of the ruling

family which will not brook any pesky, possibly traitorous questions,
while poets must in turn choose subjects patriotically, no more kissing

under umbrellas on the Green facing crashing sea, or relaying news of
former residents of Menik Farm turned beggars on streets of Kilinochchi.

  • Paul Allen

    Only India and the Diaspora (the guardians) can save them :(..once being a privileged community under the British to beggars..I think the government of Sri Lanka is a perfect example for other war torn regimes to follow. A week ago India offered to build 50000 houses directly under their supervision but the Sinhalese government refused it in an official statement from the Minister spokesman. All you writers should say is “IN GOD WE TRUST”

  • Vishnu Gupta

    Pardon my lack of knowledge of history but you refer to Dutugemunu, I was always under the impression he was a solider/king who actually fought Elara and then on Elara’s request the two fought in single combat?

    Moreover, didn’t he command everyone to venerate Elara? And didn’t he have a great deal of remorse for the number of deaths that were caused that some monk had to come and help sooth his troubled mind?

    Boy my history sure is hazy… or are your parallels crazy?

  • Unfortunately, they are not my parallels. I found them in a speech delivered the day the soldiers marched past the reviewing stand.

  • Heshan

    Vishnu Gupta is correct. There is no parallel between Dutugemunu and Mahinda Rajapakse. Dutugemunu built a memorial for his enemy – we know what is happening to the LTTE memorials right now. Dutugemunu also fought his own battles – he did not rely on someone else, and then lock up that person after the battle was over. Unfortunately, the great name of Dutugemunu has fallen prey to the ignorance of a few nationalists.

  • wijayapala

    Hi Prof. Heshan

    Dutugemunu built a memorial for his enemy – we know what is happening to the LTTE memorials right now

    Dutugemunu might have had second thoughts if Elara had recruited child soldiers and murdered civilians with suicide bombers.

  • Heshan

    Dutugemunu would not have captured the child soldiers, sent them to Boosa prison camp, and called it “liberation.” Dutugemunu would not have deposited 800K USD tsunami donations in the sister’s bank account. Dutugemunu would not have let 30 members of his family enter the civil service. The list goes on and on… unfortunately one finds very few similarities between Dutugemunu and his self-professed “incarnation.”

  • Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

    Why not write about the Sun God, when he was still reigning? By the way, he was also referred to as Sarvadesha Thalivar, the Universal Ruler, which was the appellation given to Genghis Khan!

    No Muse around at the time, eh?

  • ModVoice

    Thankfully, Dutugemunu did not wage a racist war against the Tamils unlike the present day King of Lanka, His Majesty King Rajapakse I.

  • Veedhur

    @ Dayan,

    A friend who knows tamil tells me Sarvedhes thalaivar translates as international ruler, the correct translation for universal ruler would be Ahilath thalaivar – I am sure some one called the sun god that too….

  • rajivmw

    All these comparisons between Mahinda and Dutugemunu are fun, but has anyone thought to compare Prabhakaran and Elara?

  • sapper

    Paul Allen>>

    “once being a privileged community under the British”
    Yeah they became a privileged community while others fighting against British. n also were given a bigger share of economic pie than actual size of da population. but with the independence when other communities also started fair competition for opportunities- “That Privileged ” community named this competition as “Discrimination” n started fighting for ‘equal’ opportunities with suicide bombers!
    finally this ‘privileged’ community understood their actual size n power

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Heshan,

    Thanks for the comparison between Dutugemunu and Mahinda. Some of the items sound valid, although one might raise a few objections here and there. However, in the interests of forming a more complete picture, I must agree with Wijayapala and rajivmw here. Can you provide an equally detailed comparison between Prabha and Elara, just to see whether the modern day Dutugemunu (or his bastardized reincarnation as you say) was entirely unjustified in his actions? I personally feel that Mahinda is a regular boyscout compared to the foe we had to defeat.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Sapper,

    You said: ““That Privileged ” community named this competition as “Discrimination” n started fighting for ‘equal’ opportunities with suicide bombers!”

    That’s all very good, but the reason your argument never really gets off the ground is ’56, ’58, ’77, and ’83, to name a few. Let’s not confuse the racialism of a few with the problem at large.

  • longus


    In ’56 and ’58 as well as ’77 and ’83 it was the Tamils who started the roits.It’s the “Sinhalese Backlash” which turned against the Tamils as a result as reported by the international media at that time.

    I don’t think even if you gave the whole of Sri Lanka to them these Tamil racists would be satisfied,and still they would be talking about Tamil grievances in Sri Lanka.

    “Saper” was right to the point in his conclusion.

  • Huh


    can you please provide proof that tamils started all those riots? Thanks

  • longus


    It is reported that in 1956 when the Sri Lankan government introduced the latter “Sri” in the number plates of motor vehicles,the Tamil racists (misguided by their leaders) started a campaign of appling tar on them and this has led to several clashes between the Tamils and the Sinhalese which culminated in the communal riots.

    I n 1983 too it was the Tamil racists led by Pabhakaran who detonated a bomb under an Army truck and killed 13 soldiers. Mind you at that time this was the highest number of soldiers killed in a single attack by the LTTE. When their mutilated bodies arrived in Colombo there was public resentment and anger among the people.True that some politicians too joined in the mob attacks after the attacks on the Tamils started.

    Even before this incident all the Sinhalese students in the Jaffna University were ordered out of their “homeland” by the LTTE. These students had to be given Army escort as the LTTE threatened to kill them even as they were leaving the campus.

    How do you like that? When the Tamil students were studying safely along with the Sinhalese in Colombo!

  • SomewhatDisgusted


    I do really like these “Sinhalese Backlashes” you are so eager to defend. LTTE kills 13 soldiers, and 3000 innocent Tamils are roasted in return. Man, are you even listening to yourself?

    The Tamil racists shouting and screaming *do not matter*. They are a minority within a minority. The problem is that you seem to think it’s quite OK to harm the majority of Tamils to get to these so called minority of racists! Yet you complain when the LTTE indiscriminately attacked civilians, saying that the majority of Sinhalese are not racist and have done nothing to harm the Tamils. What in the world man?

  • Huh


    Please read the reports and books by UTHR(J). The 1983 riots were planned well in advanced of the soldiers dying by the UNP government. The mood of the people who grieved(refering to the families of the soldiers) in colombo was not anger, but sadness. They were merely grieving that day over their loved ones and it was later in the day that other, angry people joined the funeral procession that the mood started to change(this is according to eyewitness testimony). And even if what you say is true, since when does killing 13 soliders give people the right to kill 1000-3000 people? Are you saying the Sinhalese people are so prehistoric that they react to murder by killing even more people?

  • Observer

    Dutugemunu would not have let 30 members of his family enter the civil service.

    30?!?!?! you’re going off the script man… you’re meant to say like 300 or something outrageous! Or Heshan, is this a revised figure? Last I heard according to Rohini Hensman was 300 [1] odd and I had sneaking suspicion Rajapksa’s dead relatives must have woken up from their graves and started serving in the administration…

    Oh and btw, Dutugamnu surely would not have found legal limbo states and started POW camps to keep people jailed without any legal rights! Or employed extraordinary rendition or torture!

    You really need to find new tunes buddy!


  • Observer

    There is no parallel between Dutugemunu and Mahinda Rajapakse.

    Dutugamunu was active in the battle. MR was not. So how can you compare the 2? One is a warrior while the other is a leader. Duh…

    Then again there is no parallel between Elara and LTTE. LTTE was a bunch of cowards killing innocent civilians employing the army of vulnerable – women and children, while I don;t know what the men did… Had the LTTE been a decent opponent who followed rules of war then they could have expected a memorial.
    No real warrior hates their opponent. After the scores are settled there is no reason you can’t have a beer with your adversary, if you’re still alive that is.

    You honestly don;t expect memorials for a group that blew up suicide bombers in crowded places? Or took along civilians as their vanguard or cannon fodder??

    Menik Farm turned beggars on streets of Kilinochchi.

    I have a soft spot for the beggars so I won’t rip on this line, but would you be kind enough to acknowledge the beggars on streets of Colombo too? I haven’t been to Kilinochchi since the end of the war to see if there are that many beggars on the street. I really hope not!

  • Vino Gamage

    In ’56 and ’58 as well as ’77 and ’83 it was the Tamils who started the roits

    56 – it was the fault of Tamil politicians to sit in protest opposite a parliament
    58 – it was a crime to ask for federalism
    77- overwhelming voting for separation after only 29 years of subjugation and hence beat them up
    83 – cyril matthew was preparing and trying it on small scale of beating and burning in Trinco, Vavuniya, Ratnapura, etc… for a few years and then it was too much for jayawardene to hold it from british journalist 2 weeks before the carnage.

  • longus

    somewhat disgusted & huh

    This kind of backlash in not peculiar to Sri Lanka but riots edged on the explosion of emotion is common to ANY country-but I’m not saying it is correct-Leave alone countries like India where you can find enough backlashes after events like these-eg.assasination of Gandhi,Indira etc,but I won’t quote those as you may say India is not an exemplary country when you talk about tolerence. What happened after the shooting of Martin Luther King in the USA. The angered Blacks started attacking White owned businesses and set them on fire;killed many;cuased mayhem in a number of cities including N.Y. and Atlanta,and the police had clashed with the mobs causing several deaths….

    What I am trying to highlight is you can’t single out Sinhalese and accuse them.Look at the “developed” world. Look how the English soccer fans behave after they lose football matches;they are banned from Europe.”Civilized countries”? huh…..

    I don’t believe the sources that you quote neither you casualty figure of 3000! huh….

  • Huh

    longus you can choose to be ignorant–that is your problem. And I’m sorry you choose not to believe the University Teachers for Human Rights.

  • wijayapala

    Dear ModVoice and Heshan

    It is so wonderful to hear you singing praises of the Sinhala king Dutugemunu (“wicked” Gamini). When Dutugemunu was a wee lad, he told his dear mummy that he could not stretch out in his bed because on one side was the ocean and on the other side were Tamils/Damilas. I never heard Mahinda use this kind of language although it was a different case with Sarath Fonseka.

    Anyway I am so delighted that you are open-minded and accepting of anti-Tamil rhetoric. Earlier I was not a fan of Dutugemunu but you have changed my mind.

  • Heshan


    As usual, I believe nothing you say unless you post a direct html link to back up your claim.

  • Heshan

    By “you” is implied a single person, not the everyone posting here. Unfortunately, a few people on this forum have such a bad habit of distorting facts and figures, that taking them for their own word is an impossible task.

  • Heshan

    *not everyone posting here