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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Reclaiming Social Sciences and Humanities: Notes from South Asia

(Keynote address delivered at the 4th Annual Research Symposium of National Centre for Advanced Studies (NCAS) in Social Sciences and Humanities, Colombo, Sri Lanka on December 20th 2017)

Image courtesy of The Isalnd, Colombo 21 December 2017
i Let me begin by thanking Prof P.S.M. Gunaratne for inviting me to deliver this keynote address. Interestingly however, despite being a Sri Lankan university insider for nearly twenty years as a teacher, I was never part of the layers of operations at UGC with which National Centre for Advanced Studies (NCAS) is affiliated. As a result, I was never privy to the intrigues of UGC. I am still an outsider to this system, and now to the country’s university system as well. 

I find this outsider status useful when it comes to delivering this kind of lecture. This is because it necessarily involves a significant degree of self-reflection and detachment, which can best be achieved when there is adequate distance from the ground situation to maintain a sense of objectivity. 

From what I could see, the research and training agenda of the National Center for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences and Humanities is as abroad as the very long institutional nomenclature itself seems to symbolically suggest. In this context, since the symposium is not a thematic one, and is open to a broad range of disciplines falling within Social Sciences and Humanities, Prof Gunaratne suggested that I choose a topic which might suit a general audience. And I have taken his advice seriously.

There is a general sense in most academic circles in the world today that social sciences and humanities are in crisis. Personally, I share this anxiety. But I have not seen a similar sense of urgency among my Sri Lankan colleagues. I say this on the basis of the relative lack of concerted and engaged debate and discussion on this, and related issues, compared to other academic domains in South Asia. 

In this context, I thought of taking this sense of global disquiet juxtaposed with relative local inertia as my point of departure today. 

First, after reflecting on what humanities and social sciences have meant historically, I will very briefly explore how scholars located in different fields of social sciences and humanities in our part of the world assess the situation. Does this disquiet reasonably reflect the status and futures of our disciplines? Or, is it mere doomsday conclusions by perennial systemic outsiders such as myself?

Second, within this background, I would like to outline my own views on the situation in Sri Lanka. In this specific context, I will offer my thoughts on how the research and institutional agenda of an entity like NCAS could ideally look like, and by extension, think about the agenda for research in social sciences and humanities in Sri Lanka.

About humanities

But first, what do we actually mean when we very casually refer to social sciences and humanities? Simon During, following the ideas of Edward Said as expressed in texts such as Humanism and Democratic Criticism (2004) suggests, “that there is no adequate or clear and distinct “idea of the humanities” at all” (During, no date). Instead, he says, what exists is a “humanities world,” which at one level consists of “a loosely-linked conglomeration of practices, interests, comportments, personae, offices, moods, purposes and values” (During, no date). At another level, this humanities world is made out of “various settings, which these practices, interests and so on inhabit” (During, no date). What During finds so difficult to fathom, is what we so often readily define! 

Terry Eagleton has suggested, what we now call humanities subjects initially manifested in their present form in the 18th century. And they were known as the “humane disciplines” (Eagleton 2010). Their key role according to Eagleton, “was to foster and protect the kind of values for which a philistine social order had precious little time” (Eagleton 2010). 

In other words, humanities were not just domains of knowledge, but were avenues to craft a sense of political consciousness, a sense of collective public ethics. According to Eagleton, what was expected from humanities at the time they came into contact with industrial capitalism was “to preserve a set of values and ideas under siege” (Eagleton 2010). 

About social sciences

Similarly, what we think of as social sciences came into being from diverse sources within the generality of western philosophical traditions. But as a cluster of cognate disciplines, the more obvious emergence of social sciences was in the early 19th century as a direct influence of positivist philosophy of science. It is from the mid-20th century onwards that the terminology, “social sciences” has been more broadly used to refer to a range of disciplines, which we are now familiar with. Social sciences, with their core point of departure – the systemic study of humanity – can be better understood when located in the intellectual break that occurred between the rupture of the Age of Enlightenment and the beginning of modernity. 

The direct intellectual foundations of social sciences are the moral philosophies associated with iconic temporal moments in the history of knowledge and politics such as the Industrial Revolution and the French Revolution. If we are to look into the history of social sciences in general and the twin histories of sociology and social anthropology in particular, in addition to the presence of progressive Enlightenment ideas, one could also see the influence of Edmund Burke’s conservatism as well as the romanticism of the German idealist tradition, among many other sources of influence. That is, from the very beginning of social science knowledge production, it flirted with numerous contradictory intellectual influences that both competed with and complemented each other in the long term. These interactions gave shape to the disciplines we now call social sciences. In this context, the idea of a monolithic social science, often modeled upon a sense of Newtonian reductionism that most simplistic pro-Enlightenment proponents celebrate, is a too simple and too linear a proposition. 

Arguably, it was only when each modern discipline of social science began to distinguish itself from others, one could see the emergence of sanitized and mutually exclusive social science disciplines with seemingly concrete borders. The advent of sociology, after Emile Durkheim, separating itself from a broader and less differentiated body of social sciences and humanities, is one example of this new landscape of knowledge.

It was in reaction to such tendencies in social sciences, that in the first quarter of the twentieth century, Max Horkheimer and Thedore Adorno declared that Enlightenment itself was totalitarian, along with all more tolerable bounties of modernity. Hence, their appeal for a return to philosophy and social thought, rather than abstract positivist theorizing.

But today, when we think of the relevance of social sciences and humanities to our societies, our universities, and when we gather in these kinds of forums for the ostensible purpose of expanding on these systems of knowledge, I cannot but help thinking that we are approaching knowledge completely devoid of a nuanced understanding of disciplinary histories and their constituent politics. It seems to me that contemporary knowledge production in these disciplines in countries like ours is completely a-historical and often devoid of a sense of public ethics. 

General decline of humanities and social sciences

In 2010, looking at the British University system upon which ours was initially based, Eagleton asked the following very disturbing question: “are the humanities about to disappear from our universities?” (Eagleton 2010). He went on to argue that in an ideal sense, “there cannot be a university without the humanities,” and “if history, philosophy and so on vanish from academic life, what they leave in their wake may be a technical training facility or corporate research institute. But it will not be a university in the classical sense of the term, and it would be deceptive to call it one” (Eagleton 2010). 

Of course, he was only talking of humanities. But my suggestion is, the same question can be posed with reference to social sciences as well. That is, social sciences deprived of their imagination, and re-arranged as mere data-generating processes as they often function nowadays, would reflect the same outcome. But the issue for me is not that social sciences and humanities disciplines are disappearing from universities. The issue is that their centrality in thinking and the collective conscience of national socio-political environments in general, are underemphasized and neglected. In my view, much of this has happened due to two interrelated reasons: 
1) First, most disciplines that fall within social sciences and humanities – with the exception of economics – have been exiled into the lower strata of academic hierarchies, as irrelevant soft subjects by educational decision-makers as well as the general public. This is a global situation. In many places, economics have escaped this situation due to its alleged direct implication in what is known as ‘development.’ And to a certain extent, sociology in countries like ours, have re-invented itself as a mere data-gathering device in a poor simulation of economics. So instead of serious scholars of sociology, we now have a world mostly inhabited by consultants in sociology. With regard to sociology and social anthropology in particular, this reductionist and utilitarian cloning of economics has seriously damaged these disciplines’ quest for theories, concepts, and methodological perspectives for which they were known for a long time. In other words, trying to become ‘relevant’ in a simple utilitarian fashion has led social sciences and humanities to become collectively malnourished in philosophical, humanistic and intellectual terms. This is exhibited at all levels of the academic hierarchies, from young academics’ dissertations to established scholars’ magnum opuses – where the tendency is to merely sprinkle theory as the icing on empirical cakes, rather than engaging theoretically with data and information, and adding to the overall process of theorizing. 
2) Second, many people in social sciences and humanities have also not shown any clear intent or ability to disprove this popularly held belief by enhancing their research, intellectual engagement, publishing and public interventions. In this sense, the perception of crisis and decay, which have befallen these disciplines, have become a self-fulfilling prophecy, dictated by official decision-making bodies, and internalized by the practitioners themselves by mediocritizing their own practice. As a result, these tendencies have adversely impacted our thematic preferences for research as well as in designing our course curricula. We no longer take intellectual risks or undertake adventures, without which advances in any form of science or art is nearly impossible. As a result, mediocrity in knowledge is a necessary outcome.
What I have described here though somewhat simplistically, is a contemporary global situation. This is however, very clearly visible in South Asia in general, and Sri Lanka in particular. Referring to same phenomenon in the UK, Eagleton says – and I think quite rightly – that “the quickest way of devaluing these subjects – short of disposing of them altogether – is to reduce them to an agreeable bonus. Real men study law and engineering, while ideas and values are for sissies” (Eagleton 2010).

For me, the issue of ideas and values and their resultant implication in politics is of crucial significance for social sciences and humanities -- beyond the generation of disciplinary knowledge more generally. With the struggles of the French students’ movement for social justice in the 1960s still fresh in mind, Pierre Bourdieu observed in the 1970s that sociology is the “discipline that makes trouble” (Bourdieu 1994). This is not a simplistic assumption that sociology and social anthropology[ii] are inherently troublesome and unstable. Instead, it means that they are disciplines that need to be systematic in their approaches in as much as they are reflexive and conscious of societal issues. But being all this, can often mean, trouble for rulers and regimes at any time and anywhere. As far as I am concerned, any social science or humanities discipline, if it is incapable of being reflexive in the way it practices its craft, has already failed its mission. 

From this historical perspective, and notwithstanding the complex dynamics in the evolution of our disciplines over the years, it is up to you to ponder over how far the core ideals of these disciplines have shifted, and what this shift means in intellectual terms today. 

Social sciences and humanities in South Asia

Let us see for a moment, how scholars in the region have seen this situation with regard to their own disciplines in the recent past. Veena Das, looking into the situation of Indian sociology in the 1980s observed, “the crisis in sociological research in India has to be located in three institutional structures -- the universities, the UGC and the professional bodies such as the Indian Sociological Society” (Das 1993: 1159). She notes, “at the level of the universities, the proliferation of the subject (in this particular case, sociology is taught everywhere) has simply not been matched by the will to ensure competence in teaching and research” (Das 1993: 1159). 

This situation becomes worse when knowledge entry into the system is curtailed in places where higher education is provided in local languages without adequate intellectual infrastructure in place to bring in global knowledge in local contexts either through English or any other global language. Sri Lanka is very clearly in this situation as well. She also refers to the politicization of academic environments, and its promotion and appointment schemes as a problem, which adds to this negative state of affairs (Das 1993: 1159). 

How the Indian UGC is implicated in this situation is quite interesting given what it has to say for Sri Lanka. The Indian UGC is perhaps the most financially endowed in the region. As Das notes, “the decision-making bodies in the UGC seem to have completely misguided notions about the state of social science research in the country” (Das 1993: 1159). For her, the basic concern is the UGC’s mechanistic decision-making process when it comes to funding, which assumes all institutional entities to be the equal. This equality is obviously not a reality. And these variations need to be seriously considered if the idea is to systematically develop social sciences, humanities or any academic or professional discipline in a country. But to make such decisions, it is crucial that such entities are well aware of the actual status of these disciplines, and what is needed. Though Das made her observations in the 1980s, what she said then, remains equally relevant today as well.

Akbar Zaidi writing of economics in particular, but with general reference to social sciences in Pakistan notes that social sciences in the country are in a ‘dismal state’ (Zaidi 2002). One reason for him to make this claim is due to the Pakistani social scientists’ continued application of imported “theoretical arguments and constructs to Pakistani conditions without questioning, debating or commenting on the theory itself” (Zaidi 2002: 3644). In other words, he is lamenting about the lack of local theoretical engagement. This emanates primarily when ideas are not considered seriously enough in disciplinary practices as opposed to linear empirical research, and when one is satisfied being a mere follower of theory, rather than an innovator of theoretical constructs. 

Zaidi also says that state patronage in research and appointments within universities and in government also has a stunting affect on the development of social science research in Pakistan. He further argues that in the case of Pakistan, “there seems to be no research in the social science which expands the spectrum of knowledge and ideas, and Pakistani social scientists are primarily in the ‘business of giving advice’” (Zaidi 2002: 3645). This situation is further exacerbated due to the lack of a “culture promoting free floating discussion and debate” (Zaidi 2002: 3645). The overall decline of social science institutions -- from universities to think tanks and research organizations -- have also impacted this situation. And as a result, rather than institutions conducting research, often research is conducted by individuals who happen to be based in institutions or on their own, independently (Zaidi 2002: 3645). In this situation, one cannot expect significant institutional growth.

The general situation described above is broadly applicable to Sri Lanka as well. In my own reflections on Sri Lankan sociology in particular and our social sciences and humanities more generally, I have also referred to a similar situation as exists in India, Pakistan and the rest of the region. In our context, and depending on the specific discipline, this situation of decline is related to out-migration of trained scholars; the relative lack of success in training others to take up their intellectual roles; substandard training in universities; relative lack of funding for research; the non-emergence of a serious local academic publishing industry, and so on. As a result, when it comes to social sciences and humanities, Sri Lankan “universities are no longer in the forefront of initiating or publishing cutting-edge, path-breaking or creative research; neither is this the preserve of the civil society sector” (Perera 2005: 232). 

In this situation, as in the case of both Pakistan and India, “serious research on contemporary Sri Lanka is the activity of individuals, be they based in the country or beyond” (Perera 2005: 232). In this context, looking specifically at Sri Lankan sociology and social anthropology, and despite the existence of a large institutional structure within the university system, and an extensive network of students and teachers, research and teaching in these disciplines are “at best unimaginative, uncreative, predictable, theoretically regressive, and mostly dated” (Perera 2005: 333). 

In these general circumstances, sociology and economics very clearly, and other disciplines in social sciences and humanities which have some ‘developmental utility,’ have been colonized by the broader development practice of both the state and the non-government sector. Commenting on this situation with reference to India, Mukherji notes that “much of the academic time of many social scientists in universities and research institutes is being diverted to evaluation/consultancy researches very much demanded by NGOs” (Mukherji: 2004: 29). In Sri Lanka’s case and in continuation of a broader South Asian practice, consultants have affectively replaced scholars. 

In this context, development and applied oriented work have become mainstream as opposed to dealing with ideas or theoretical issues. But unlike, India and to a lesser extent even Pakistan and Bangladesh, in Sri Lanka, there have been no major discussion on this reversal of intellectual roles, which have fundamentally changed the public perception and actual practice of social sciences and humanities in the country. 

Thoughts for the future of social sciences and humanities in Sri Lanka

In the backdrop I have sketched so far, let me ponder over the role the National Center for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences and Humanities could play in Sri Lanka in reimagining the country’s intellectual landscape. What we can say about NCASS can easily be expanded to the social science and humanities knowledge scenario in general across the country. Hence, my decision to enter this broader discussion via a reflection on NCASS’ research agenda. I was intrigued by the word ADVANCED in the nomenclature of the institute (National Center for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences and Humanities). I further noticed that it also publishes a journal called the Sri Lanka Journal of Advanced Social Studies. Again, the word ADVANCED caught my attention. In this context, what does ‘advanced’ mean in a conceptual sense? 

To me, the immediate question is this: how, and on what basis can the research and training agenda of NCASS be rendered advanced? And how would the essays published in its journal (which does not seem to be published regularly) contribute to advanced social studies or the advancement of knowledge in general? How are such advances in intellectual terms to be achieved and gauged when the general background of research in social sciences and humanities in our country and that of the region is in decline? Let me address this apparent dilemma with reference to a number of recent personal experiences.

In Sri Lanka and elsewhere in the region, words and concepts are often not used with the seriousness they deserve in academic contexts. It was Bourdieu who once suggested that concepts and terminologies used in social sciences should be revisited regularly to see whether they continue to make sense over time, and if not, they should be suitably modified (Bourdieu 1994). So my former Department at Colombo University had a compulsory course called Advanced Sociological Theory, as do most other sociology departments in the country and elsewhere in South Asia. But most such courses are merely summaries of theory without any tangible efforts to engage with these theories in the broader contexts in which they are discussed and taught. My present Department, which I have personally helped establish, also has a course for the PhD program called Advanced Social Theory, as do many other similar Departments in India and in other parts of the world. I could never see what was so advanced in any of these courses. In our PhD course however, a number of more themes were covered, accompanied by a larger dose of reading compared the two compulsory MA courses on theory. 

In both cases, it was not possible to see a serious advancement of knowledge in any real sense. And neither was such an outcome anticipated. ‘Advanced’ was just a word! When my colleague, Ravi Kumar[iii] and I took over the teaching of the Advanced Social Theory course this year, we wanted to try and make it come closer to its claim of being ‘advanced.’ 

Towards this, we consciously reduced the course from ten integrated sections to four. The first dealt with the idea of what theory is, and what it is expected to do in social sciences. The second dealt with what we called ‘the work and puzzles of culture’. The third dealt with ‘understanding the self and being.’ In each section, we asked the students to read a handful of core readings, and discuss them in class, as they understood them. In the fourth section, which we had called, ‘Advanced Social Theory: South Asian Possibilities’, we asked students to explore selected “thinking from South Asia” on the basis of what they have read and discussed in class. 

We wondered why the academic training we receive in universities seemed to suggest the non-existence of social theorization in South Asia despite the existence of philosophical works, which looked at categories such consciousness and self as in Buddhism and Charvaka philosophy or the ancient Indian thought on materialism; politics and diplomacy as in Kautilya’s Artashastra, and taste and aesthetics as in Bharata Muni’s Natya Shastra, among many others. All of these had their own complex analytical apparatus. We asked the students to engage with these South Asian ideas, and see if and how they might provide a basis for contemporary theorization devoid of notions of faith and belief. This was our attempt at making this course ‘advanced’ by actively asking our PhD students to think out of the box, and attempt to fine-tune ideas and reflect on possibilities of new theorization. For us, this came closer to a certain advancement of knowledge. And it offered possibilities of creating new knowledge. In other words, this was close to the philosophical expectations initially associated with humanities and social sciences.

But this kind of self-conscious effort is generally not the norm. In this context, let me try and explain my own understanding of NCAS’ sense of ‘advanced,’ and offer some suggestions on how this might be re-imagined. 

By the time the call for papers for this conference was closed, I have been told that NCAS received 96 papers across disciplines, and about 60 of them would be presented today. I was impressed by this degree of interest in the production of knowledge. But a closer reading of the titles of these papers, indicated that they had a very specific idea of knowledge. Almost without exception, they were applied and developmental in orientation. They were empiricist in approach, and were looking for solutions to specific problems. But this is only one specific kind of social science and humanities knowledge. 

What about the rest? Why not deal with ideas? Why not an active engagement with theory and theorization? Why not research for the sake of knowledge, and not for the sake of finding a solution to a problem? It is from this latter cluster of research, the kind that is by and large absent in this conference, that knowledge in our disciplines can be truly advanced, rendered nuanced and made theoretically sophisticated. 

But this is not a uniquely Sri Lankan problem. One can see this everywhere in South Asia, and to different degrees in the rest of the world as well. In our region and in Sri Lanka for sure, this has come about as the result of the political interpretation of a very regressive and dangerous word. And that word is, “relevance.” Often nowadays, and particularly if research is funded by state agencies, we are asked “how is your work relevant”? This means that all research understood in this sense – be they in the social sciences, humanities, natural sciences or engineering – must be subsumed by the utilitarian logic of national or regional development. It is in such a context that the former Minster of Higher Education, Vishwa Varnapala (2007-2010) asked in an UGC-sponsored conference in Colombo years ago, what the ‘relevance’ of Gananath Obeyesekere’s seminal work, The Cult of the Goddess Paitini was. 

Of course, Obeyesekere’s elegantly written book does not inform us about the number of tube wells in the North Central Province, how many kilometers of roads have been asphalted in the Eastern province, the extent of electrification in the South, how many liters if Palmyra toddy is annually produced in the north or any such matters of applied utility. In that sense, his book is absolutely irrelevant.

But it informs us through a detailed study of Pattini worship, important aspects of the country’s cultural history, dynamics of migration by looking at how specific ideas of faith and worship have traveled from South India to Sri Lanka, and places in context important parameters of identity formation of Sinhala and Tamil people through matters of belief. Seen in this sense, Obeyesekere’s book and others like it, are crucially relevant to our sense of being.

However, that kind of knowledge, which dwells in the realm of ideas, history, philosophy and politics cannot be generated if the focus of Sri Lanka’s social sciences and humanities is overwhelmingly dictated by developmental and applied criteria. 

Seen in this sense, I think there are two possibilities for NCAS’ future as well as our country’s future in knowledge production in social sciences and humanities:
1) The first possibility, and the easiest, is to do absolutely nothing. Let the kind of research that predominates today continue. They will certainly add to the quantum of our information, developmental planning, promotions within universities, and so on. But this approach will certainly not add to any kind of serious advancement of knowledge.

2) The second possibility is to seriously recognize a multiplicity of knowledges as essential and necessary for social sciences and humanities in the country, and actively promote this diversification. In this scheme of things, applied research will be one kind of research. And, it is an important kind of research. The other is the kind of knowledge that will deal with ideas, would promote theorization and abstract thinking. Besides, the self-conscious coming together of applied and so-called non-applied at different plains would have significnat benefits. For instance, if we want the applied to be more nuanced and sensitive to the complexities on the ground, then, the so-called non-applied can offer the orientation and the necessary intellectual curiosity to ask the right kind of questions. But at the same time, the non-applied should not mean the constant replication of ancient, outdated or obscure practices in the name of research. Social sciences and humanities also need to actively reinvent themselves in the present by visiting the intersections of science, technology, contemporary ethics, and politics. For me, this is way to make the word, ‘relevant’ more sensible.
Theses decisions are yours to make. It is also your choice not to make the kind of decision I am advocating. But the future will tell us if you have opted to be simple technicians in the world of applied research, or opted to do that as well as contribute to serious and theoretically nuanced production of knowledge in social sciences and humanities.

If NCAS or any other entity in the country needs my university’s help in making this knowledge diversification possible and vibrant, I am certainly willing to help. It is also well within the mandate of our university, which after all is partially funded by Sri Lankan taxpayers.

But ‘futures’, like most things in our society, tend to be unclear, distant and seemingly unreachable. Precisely due to this, ‘futures’ worth becoming a part of our lives, have to be passionately imagined and fought for. Until that clarity emerges, until shadows of that future becomes visible, and until you share my anxieties, let me wish all of you and this conference all the success.


Das, Veena. 1993. ‘Sociological Research in India: The State of Crisis.’ ’ In, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 37, No. 35 (Aug. 31 - Sep. 6, 2002), pp. 3644-3661.

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1994. Sociology in Question. London: Sage.

During, Simon. No date. ‘The Idea of Humanities.’ Unpublished paper. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/34926361/The_idea_of_the_humanities_2017_ (accessed on 22 October 2017).

Eagleton, Terry. 2010. ‘The Death of Universities.’ In, The Guardian (17th December 2010). Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/dec/17/death-universities-malaise-tuition-fees (accessed on 22 October 2017).

Mukherji, Partha N. 2004. ‘Introduction: Indigeneity and Universality in Social Science.’ In, Partha N. Mukherji and Chandan Sengupta eds., Indigeneity and Universality in Social Sciences: A South Asian Response. New Delhi: Sage Publications.

Perera, Sasanka. 2005. ‘Dealing with Dinosaurs and Reclaiming Sociology: A Personal Narrative on the (non) Existence of Critical Sociological Knowledge Production in Sri Lanka.’ In, Sociological Bulletin: Journal of the Indian Sociological Society, Vol. 54, Number 3, (Sept-Dec 2005).

Zaidi, S. Akbar. 2002. ‘Dismal State of Social Sciences in Pakistan.’ In, Economic and Political Weekly (June 5, 1993), pp. 1159-1161.

End Notes

[1]. I acknowledge the substantial contributions of my colleague, Dev Nath Pathak at South Asian University in formulating this text.

2. Bourdieu did not make a distinction between sociology and social anthropology, and thought the border between the two is spurious (Bourdieu 1994).

3. Much of the re-thinking and restructuring of this course was done by my colleague, Dr Ravi Kumar.

This essay is also availble at:

Friday, November 10, 2017

‘South Asia’ as an Idea and a Problem of Modernity

(Plenary lecture delivered at the conference, ‘Modern Matters: Negotiating the Future in Everyday Life in South Asia,’ Lund University, Thursday 22 September, 2016)
Good morning.

When I was asked in early August to speak at this conference on the broad theme, ‘Modern Matters: Negotiating the Future in Everyday Life in South Asia,’ I was reading an interview with Terry Eagleton by Alejandra Ríos which had as its point of departure the following question: 'What’s Next After Postmodernism?' In a sense, Eagleton was already thinking of postmodernism within an idiom of the past. I wondered why we were about to begin a conversation on modernity in South Asia this late. I wondered if we have not debated modernity quite extensively, particularly visible in social sciences in India.

Having looked through the topics of papers initially submitted and after listening to the discussions over the last two days, I can see that much could still be said about modernity in our part of the world, without concerning ourselves too much with issues such as post modernity. Self-consciously however, I will not get into this today. 

You have already debated in some detail how modernity manifests in the place you have collectively called ‘South Asia.’ My engagement with the question of modernity would in the form of an anxious-ridden and curious wanderer meandering through the intellectual and cultural terrains in that region. So let me begin with some questions for revisiting modernity along with the idea of South Asia. I choose to specifically dwell upon the idea of South Asia for various intellectual imperatives. 

For one, the question of modernity has been seemingly discussed in the confines of sovereign territories of nation states as if it recognizes national borders. In the context of the after-life of the deliberations at this conference, it is perhaps heuristically important to locate modernity in a kind of regional framework by stressing upon it’s relation with the idea of South Asia. 

Secondly, continuing with the first one, is the realization that deliberations on modernity, it’s characteristics in historical and sociological purview, seem to be a dominant muse on theoretical turfs alone. This is the time that we look much beyond this, toward instances of more organic connections among local contexts within the region of South Asia, in order to propose ways forward in theoretical deliberations on modernity. All this is for the future.

Today, I am not too keen to speak about modernity as such, or it’s various appearances in the region. My interest at the close of your discussions is to outline a few issues of one specific construct of modernity in our region. And that is South Asia itself. 

South Asia is often seen as a concrete reality, imagined primarily in geo-physical or cartographic terms. This is more clearly visible in contemporary political science and international relations scholarship, even though other disciplines such as sociology don’t do much better. I think this is mostly due to our inability to transgress what might be called ‘nationalized’ domains of knowledge production, which hinders the possibility of comprehending the region across both disciplinary and national borders. 

In this general context, I will briefly look at the region as an incomplete idea and a problem of modernity, which still needs to be explored and worked out. For me, South Asia is not a given. At best, it is a work in progress, and thus a challenge to those notions of modernity that allude to the rigidity and finitude of the constructs. In saying so, I am reminded of the Zygmunt Bauman’s detailed discussion on the ambivalence of modernity, ambivalence between familiar, indubitable, and classified, and everything that seems queer in the framework of modernity. One need not subscribe to the scheme of post-modernity to reckon with the ambivalent character of modernity, particularly in the context of South Asia.

I will revisit recent debates on what South Asia means both as a product of modernity and as a specific kind of lived reality, a process in perpetuity. Later, as another incomplete effort, I will also briefly place in context how academic rituals of knowledge production look at South Asia and pose the question if it might be possible to re-imagine the region through more nuanced forms of cultural and intellectual knowledge production.
My immediate interest comes from two specific locations:

1) First is my institutional location at South Asian University established by South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation where I often hear official platitudes of regional cooperation, South Asian consciousness and so on, without much to see on the ground. So I am often caught between South Asia of official imagination and rhetoric, South Asia as it exists on the ground, and South Asia as it could exist according to the fantasies entertained by some of us -- not only as a place, but also as a framework for research. 
2) Second location is my presence here today along with all of you in this place discussing how modern matters in South Asia.

In both cases, though we seem to take South Asia for granted and as a given, I am not sure if things are that simple. Let me share with you some of my anxieties. My concern is, when all of us take South Asia for granted, as does SAARC, do we get a fuller and a nuanced perception of the region? Or in other words, does South Asia as a modern finished entity communicate the its latent as well as manifest unfinished nature? Is our knowledge of the Maldives for instance, comparable to that of India? Or, to take a less extreme example, do we know at least as much of Maldives as we do of Sri Lanka?
Or, does our perception, understanding and knowledge of the region remain merely at the level of rhetoric, in the safe and comfortable framework of modernity where things are classified and differences are erased beyond redemption? Does this even matter in the real world? Let me outline some of the key issues of South Asia as a product of modernity, and explore if academic and cultural practices have a better chance of imagining South Asia differently or more fully?

Imtiaz Ahmed’s simple suggestion that “the idea of South Asia is both new and old” (Ahmed 2012: 1) makes perfect epistemological sense as it places in context historical and contemporary enigmas associated with the region and the concept. 

What he means by this is that the terminology of ‘South Asia’ is new. Compared to this however, if the term also includes to “the people and the things that make up the region,” then it is a fairly old idea, based on “civilizational and historical” imperatives (Ahmed 2012: 1). In the same context, as suggested by Nandy, “the idea of South Asia is partly artificial” as are “its nation states” while it is also “partly an imposed one” (Nandy 2005: 241). Both Ahmed and Nandi seem to be in unison in suggesting that South Asia has more layers within its structure of meaning than the dominant value-system and cognitive apparatus of modernity could allow to perceive. 

The coinage, ‘South Asia’, is often attributed to the US State Department and was the result of post-World War Two and Cold War era political compulsions primarily as understood by the US. Like many other contemporary ideas and categories in the region which came to us via the discursive practices of modernity, it is an importation that has been politically adopted by the eight nation states which currently constitute the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation without significantly exploring its nuances. 

At the level of SAARC and in the official perception of the nation states that constitutes SAARC, South Asia merely remains a political and cartographic category. At the level of quotidian practice, it is a flippantly used concept. And that too, in the midst of significant land and maritime border issues involving India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka as well as an uneven play of politics. The terminology itself was used more often exterior to the region until 1985, when SAARC was established. The division of the world into convenient areas of study which includes South Asia occurred soon after the end of the Second World War and the clear emergence of the United States as a superpower. 

In this context, it became imperative that the world was more clearly dissected, studied and situated which went beyond the older areas of study made necessary as a result of colonial expansion. More specifically, this required the production of knowledge about areas of the world about which American policy makers knew very little (Guneratne and Weiss 2014: 4). 

This was not a simple intellectual curiosity. More importantly, it was a political imperative that also fed into schemes of global security, intelligence and politics of carving out spheres of influence in the emerging Cold War. It is in this context that the interest in the idea and category of ‘South Asia’ for the United States Department of State makes political sense. In this larger intersections of meanings, politics and sensibilities, the study of specific world areas including South Asia expanded rapidly in the US university systems with the establishment of centres of expertise with funding from the National Defense Education Act of 1958 (Guneratne and Weiss 2014: 4). 

This also shows the security prerogative in understanding these kinds of global areas as specific political ‘curiosities’ rather than cultural areas or interconnected social systems through which ideas, objects and people flowed over a considerably long historical period, much before the advent of European colonialism and the nation states which currently inhabit the region. 

In this sense, South Asia as a specific category and label was invented in North America; fine tuned in Western Europe and was finally imported to the region. And by and large, those of us in the region are mere inheritors and followers in this scheme of things rather than creative re-inventors.

One of the basic problems with ‘South Asia’ invented in this manner and as it exists at the rhetorical-epistemological plain today is its seeming leveling of culture, politics and social variations across the region, making invisible its complexities and inherent anxieties. Is this an inevitable consequence, qua necessary evil, in the scheme of modernity? At this conjuncture, let me make two basic propositions, underlining the possibility of rethinking South Asia beyond the strict pale of modernity: 

1) These issues in the recent construction and meaning in the category of South Asia does not mean that an imagination of the region did not exist in different ways in the pre-colonial past or does not exist today at the level of different kinds of practices undertaken by people. But much of this exists beyond the flippant deployment of the idea of South Asia.

2) In this general context, it is also clear that the realization of SAARC as a truly responsive and relatively internally egalitarian regional organization has not borne fruit in any significant fashion mostly due to the hegemony of statecraft of nation states within SAARC generally practiced with an obsessive focus on the nation.

Let me now focus on South Asia as an area, an idea and a problem.

In their new book, Pathways to Power: The Domestic Politics of South Asia, Arjun Guneratne and Anita M. Weiss, note that as an area for study, compared to many world regions such as Southeast Asia carved out for study, which lack a sense of ‘organic unity, the logic of selecting South Asia as a group of states that should be collectively explored is easier to fathom (Guneratne and Weiss 2014: 4). As they point out, most of these countries share “cultural affinities deriving from a common past as well as the legacy of the British Indian empire” which established within the nation states that emerged after official decolonization “similar frameworks of constitutional governance, public administration, military organization, systems of law not least, a common elite language of English” (Guneratne and Weiss 2014: 4-5). However, cultural affinities from a somewhat connected past is mostly underrepresented in the rhetoric of regional and national politics today. 

Imtiaz Ahmed, one of the most consistent dreamers of South Asia, in a trying moment of frustration defined the region as ‘chaotic’ and ‘stagnated,’ which all of us who live or work there also experience quite often (Ahmed 2002). From that moment of frustration, Ahmed goes on to pose the following question, partly inspired by some of T.S. Elliot’s ideas which further self-reflexively crystallize the collective frustrations of proponents of South Asia, including myself:
“have we not succeeded in our own fashion and fancy a ‘hollow South Asia’, a ‘hollow SAARC’ and indeed even a ‘hollow South Asian’ having only shape without form, shade without colour, [a] paralysed force, gesture without motion?” (Ahmed 2002).
Despite incessant meetings, cultural events and conferences, where South Asia seems to be clear, why is it so difficult for some of us to imagine and even more difficult to achieve? Providing a partial answer to this question, Asish Nandy has described South Asia as the only region in the world where most states prefer to define themselves, “not by what they are, but by what they are not” (Nandy 2005: 541). According to him, “Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal try desperately not to be India” while Bangladesh “has taken up the more onerous responsibility of avoiding begin both India and Pakistan” (Nandy 2005: 541). 

Despite Nandy’s exaggeration of regional politics, it seems to me that at some level, he is referring to these countries’ established practice of being the antagonistic ‘other’ of each, based on the manner in which contemporary political compulsions of nation states unfold locally, rather than with reference to some of the shared cultural practices that no longer take the centre stage in regional or national-local politics. More insidiously, these practices and histories are no longer within recallable collective memory for most people as well. 

Ahmed has noted that “regionalism in South Asia is as much an effort as it is an idea” (Ahmed 2012: 1). Very clearly, that effort is still by and large an abstract notion that needs to evolve beyond mere abstraction, and travel to the streets and the consciousness of the region’s people. On the other hand, as argued by Nandy, the concept of South Asia at certain levels can be seen as an “acultural, emotionally empty, territorial concept” (Nandy 2005: 542). 

In a sense, both Ahmed’s and Nandy’s ideas are very similar. Both are talking about an idea that needs realization in contemporary times. However, while Ahmed offers some hope, Nandy offers none or very little. His antipathy towards the concept comes from his disagreement with the terminology of South Asia which he considers to be a-historical. Even though he accepts that it is a ‘compromise’ and a ‘neutral term,’ he is unhappy with this ‘improvisation,’which he only deploys “in deference to my friends and colleagues from the rest of the region” (Nandy 2005: 542). 

This disagreement needs some reflection as it has much to do with comprehending the kind of regionalism that could emerge or might not in South Asia by focusing on how history is read in the present. Nandy suggests that the term South Asia acquired public status in the region in the 1980s “because the medieval name of the region, Hindustan or Al Hind, and its ancient name, Bharatvarsha or its lesser known variation, Jambudvip--- had become ideologically tainted” due to the association of these terms with the nation state of India (Nandy 2005: 542). 

It is correct that terms such as Hindustan, Al Hind, Bharatvarsha and Jambudvip often referred to an extended area in the medieval and ancient past much beyond the borders of present day India, the nation state. This area included much of contemporary sub-continental South Asia in geographic and civilizational terms. But unlike what is expected today as a pronounced regionalism by proponents of the idea of South Asia, these earlier notions were vague, liminal and too flexible at best though they consisted of lived-realities encountered in travels, circulation of ideas, myths and so on. In other words, these ancient experiences were proximate at some levels, and distant at others.

On the other hand, one has to wonder whether present day nation states such as Sri Lanka and the Maldives, separated by the ocean from the mainland, were part of the extended reality and imagination represented by Hindustan, Al Hind, Bharatvarsha and Jambudvip compared to sub-continental mainland. More broadly, I have in mind the areas which include southern states of India in addition to Maldives and Sri Lanka. It is this culture area which a Maldivian diplomat once referred to as Southern South Asia.

Sri Lanka for instance, shared many cultural and religious practices, kinship systems, languages, language scripts, monarchic practices and very proximate and sometimes extremely hostile relations with kingdoms in the mainland as local inscriptions as well as historical chronicles such as Deepwamsa (compiled in the 04th Century) and Mahawamasa (compiled in the 05th Century) written in Pali attest. The lesser known of the older terms for the region, Jambudvip was well-known in Sri Lanka by its Sinhala term Dambadiva, which remains in use even today in much the same way it was understood in the ancient Pali chronicles of the country. 

This relationship is also evident from details embedded in the Sinhala dance routine known as ‘Wadiga Patuna.’ This is part of the healing ritual, ‘sooniyam’, depicting through comic sequences, the entry of Brahmans to Lanka from ‘India’ (or to use the older forms, from Hindustan, Al Hind or Jambudvip). According to myths associated with the dance and the ritual, the Brahmans came to Sri Lanka from ‘India’ to heal the sickness the local king was suffering from. There was no local expertise to address this condition. As the Brahmans enter Lanka, the language initially used by them is mixture of Sanskrit, Tamil and Sinhala which clearly marks out their difference, unfamiliarity with local conditions and above all, their ‘foreignness.’ 

Their foreignness and distance from the local cultural terrain is further emphasized by their costumes and long beards, which portray aspects of Sinhalas’ imagination of Brahmans. Significantly, the Brahmans were not recognized or understood by the local ritual experts, and by extension the people as well. But towards the end of the ritual, mutual understanding becomes possible as the language transforms into ‘Sinhala’ while Sanskrit and Tamil elements disappear. On one hand, it is possible to argue this is a representation of the assimilation or Sinhalization of migratory Brahman communities. On the other hand, it is also indicative of the distance and relative unfamiliarity of specificities of the culture world beyond the island’s oceanic boundaries beyond certain layers of familiarity. And it took considerable effort and time to acquire familiarity of this culture world beyond the ocean, if and when necessary. 

In terms of this understating, Jambudvip was both familiar at some levels and very unfamiliar at other levels. It was emotionally proximate in some respects but physically and politically distant in other ways. It was familiar as a place associated with the life of the Buddha and other cultural practices as well as a source for specific materials and expertise such as ritual specialization as evident in many ritual texts and Sinhala myths. But it was also a place in the distance, which one had to cross the ‘seven seas’ (sat samuduru) to reach. Besides, it was a source of invasion and catastrophe, a source from where political instability and historical ruptures reached across the ocean. 

In this specific context, there are no historical references in Sri Lanka that allows for an argument for a consciousness of the region in its pre-colonial and ancient manifestations as a specific cultural and emotional zone. It also does not appear that the ancient terminology at least in the Lankan context provided a sensibility for an overarching regional identity despite very obvious instances of cultural and mythical familiarity one can cull out from literary and ritual sources. 

Given this historical reality, it is not possible to make a claim for Hindustan, Al Hind, Bharatvarsha as a possible gloss for South Asia in contemporary Sri Lankan political contexts though Jambudvip might touch a more sympathetic chord due to its Buddhisisation in the Sri Lankan context within practices of pilgrimage. But then, that would only refer to a Buddhist world closely and emotionally linked to the life of the Buddha. 

In the discussions of the historical context, an issue that is generally not addressed in these discourses is the fact that such terminology was given by the literate and often brahmanical segments of society in literary sources. Was the textual significance these terms created similarly evident in non-textual references and practices? For instance, when Hindu pilgrims travelled to their sacred places as did Buddhists, they navigated across a ‘sacred geography’ within which everything happened to be ‘part of a living, storied, and intricately connected landscape’ (Eck 2012: 2). In their travels, they dealt with what Diana Eck has called a ‘polycentric’ landscape where each site had its own significance (Eck 2012). The wanderings of these pilgrims painted on the ground a very different and nuanced cartography as well as an experience of an extended place. But was it understood in these routine practices as Hindustan, Bharatvarsha and so on? Or were they perceived merely in experiential terms? 

More importantly however, the older broader civilisational aspects of terminologies such as Hindustan – irrespective of their limitations in contemporary use -- have been appropriated by the Indian nation state for its own limited purposes which has brought these terms into “constant tension with the Indian nation-state” (Nandy 2005: 543). And today, these terms have also been appropriated by non-state entities within India for their own parochial political use. 

This also means a further distancing of such terminology across the region’s emotional makeup. In this specific historical and political conjuncture, South Asia remains the only neutral political terminology throughout the region despite Nandy’s characterization of it as an “acultural, emotionally empty, territorial concept” (Nandy 2005: 542). 

It seems to me this seeming emotional emptiness and lack of a sense of history in the concept needs to be addressed by precisely infusing into it what is missing. But such a consciousness cannot come from SAARC. It also can hardly be expected from agents of South Asia’s disparate state bureaucracies. 

Besides, in terms of global politics as well as the way in which regional politics routinely play out within the region in SAARC as well as beyond it, the centrality of India overshadows much of the remainder of the region. This is not a simple matter of recognizing India’s economic or political power. That would be obvious. But that centrality needs to be tempered with a nuanced sensibility towards the region in terms of culture, politics as well as knowledge if the region is to be imagined differently than it is today. The question is whether this is possible?

In this sense, it is clear that despite thirty years of SAARC and the numerous efforts of sensible proponents of the idea of South Asia, the consciousness of South Asia, which necessarily has to come from the wider recognition of its regionalism by the region’s people, is yet to be collectively defined and embraced by the wider regional polity (Nandy 2005: 542).

I think what I have said so far should make it very clear why I prefer to see ‘South Asia’ as an incomplete idea or as a problem we have inherited from the way modernity has manifested in our region and from the ways in which the nation states in the region have interacted with each other, rather than as a concrete and coherent reality. But I am not sure if this incomplete picture of the region with its inherent contradictions and uneven play of politics and the difficulties these situations throw out are taken into account, whenever South Asia is invoked in both political and academic rituals of our time.

From this obvious position, let me pose one rhetorical question: Since South Asia’s nation states as well as its main regional forum, SAARC cannot work out a sensible regional sensibility that would allow us to comprehend the region more fully, who could? Before my sense of romance and idealism on these matters began to falter, I used to believe that this is something academia might be able to do by devising regional frameworks for research and knowledge, which might allow us to trespass across both disciplinary and national borders. 

But now, it appears more clearly that nationalized systems of knowledge production as well global real politics have not allowed us to do so. I want to briefly explore this by looking at the structure of two academic platforms as a simple illustration: that is, this conference itself, and the excellent series of publications known as ‘South Asia Across Disciplines.’ For me, the question is this: are these forums able to perceive South Asia in a more nuanced and comprehensive fashion than do SAARC or state entities?

Let’s look at the conference first. South Asia Swedish Network has been hosting important academic events for a considerable period of time. The present conference is one such event. How does South Asia manifest in the conference in a concrete sense? I counted 57 entries in a cursory exploration of the initial submissions. Of these, 46 focussed on India, two on Nepal, one on Bangladesh; one on Afghanistan; one focused on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border zone, one on Sweden and India, four suggested their interest was on South Asia though I was not sure of the actual focus, and I simply could not fathom the focus of one more paper on the basis of the title. The actual numbers are not important here. What is important is the pattern of research and the cartography of South Asia these presentations formulate in terms of knowledge they produce. Clearly, there is an overwhelming emphasis on exploring the present as well as the past of India. 

One could see a similar uneven focus in ‘South Asia across Disciplines’ as well. Without a doubt, it is a significant initiative. And it is even more significant now because, thanks to collaboration between the three original US-based publishers and Primus Books in Delhi, those of us in the region can also aspire to buy these texts and read them at leisure. 

The stated aim of the series is to publish “work that aims to raise innovative questions in the field,” which “include the relationship between South Asian studies and the disciplines; the conversation between past and present in South Asia; the history and nature of modernity, especially in relation to cultural change, political transformation, secularism and religion, and globalization.” From what I have read, the hopes of innovative approaches and the opening up of new archives seem to have been achieved. And intellectually, this makes perfect sense. But ideologically for someone like me, still harbouring hopes for a fuller understanding of South Asia, the knowledge the series has so far generated on South Asia in so far as sources and focus are concerned, is uneven. 

For instance, from about 32 published and forthcoming books, 20 focus on India, one on Nepal and India, one on West Asia and India, one on Bangladesh, one on Pakistan, one on Nepal, one on Sri Lanka, one on South east Asia, one on the Tibetan and the Himalayan region, while four have South Asia as their focus on the titles. Again, I guess the pattern is self evident. 

I am not arguing for an area-studies approach in regional scholarship of the kind we have seen not so long ago. But is it simply impossible to decentre India as the predominant focus of contemporary and historical research, and find thematics that may allow for research across both disciplinary and national borders? Is it impossible to encourage younger scholars to focus on thematics and research areas in lesser known locations in the region, which might also make sense elsewhere? Is it impossible for scholars to attempt what policy makers and politicians have so manifestly failed?

But this is more an ideological necessity rather than an intellectual one. After all, intellectually, we can produce knowledge in the manner we have been so far, and they might continue to be sound scholarship. And it would be sound scholarship in a familiar comfort zone. It is only ideologically one might have an anxiety with the kind of restrictions on comprehending the region existing systems of knowledge production imposes. 

These are not rhetorical sentiments as far as I am concerned. In different ways, some of us at South Asian University have faced the same issues when we launched our journal with Sage, Society and Culture in South Asia as well as our monograph series, Conversations for/on South Asia and the ongoing lectures in the twin series, ‘Contributions to Contemporary Knowledge’ and ‘Exploring South Asia.’ Despite our institutional location at South Asian University where we frequently hear mantra-like utterances such as ‘South Asian consciousness’ and ‘South Asian sentiment’ often devoid of any tangible meaning, it was difficult to generate through our own efforts the kind of fuller and more nuanced cartography of the region, which our ideological interests demanded. 

There was considerable scholarship emanating from India and on India. But the same was not true of the other countries’ pasts and presents. It was also difficult to see works which self-consciously criss-crossed borders of different kinds. So in a way, the kinds of limitations in our understanding of the region which I flagged with regard to the composition of this conference and the structure of South Asia across Disciplines also haunt us.

This comes from multiple sources: the sheer volume of people trained within India perhaps cannot be surpassed by any other country. But such people, given the limitations of perspective they have inherited from higher education, prefer to explore India. This is what I have referred to as ‘nationalized’ domains of knowledge production. It is simply too bad not too many of them would like to focus their intellectual curiosity on some other location beyond the nation’s borers? In different ways, the same end result applies to other countries too. On the other hand, globally speaking, it makes far more sense to focus on India in terms of career prospects, funding possibilities and so on. So the possibilities of knowing India is immense and it will continue to grow.

Let me come back to my institutional and personal locations. We recognize the existing status quo for what it is. But for the moment at least, we have refused to accept this state of affairs and succumb to the more common and hegemonic assumption of South Asia. Amidst our mounting frustrations, how far we can go along this path of discovery remains uncertain. But our assumption so far is this: if we call something South Asian, our work and efforts must reflect that reality as broadly as possible.

In making these assumptions, I think it is reasonable to assume that scholars, their forums of discourse, their analytical frameworks and collaborative projects -- if carefully thought out -- have certain subversive possibilities of transcending the routine limitations put in place by nation states in South Asia as well as the agendas of South Asia studies programs in the region and beyond. But one must have the will to do so. It is in such a context that Nandy has noted, “the more the scholars, artists and writers talk of the common heritage of the region, the more the functionaries in the region nervously eye their neighbours as enemies planning to wipe out their distinctive identities” (Nandy 2005: 542). 

Perhaps, this is the limitation of an understanding of South Asia conditioned by modern cartographic strategies, which my discussion in the early part has highlighted. Some effort to broaden the discursive framework by factoring in the components not-much-conducive for rigid schemata of modernity could bring about the possibility of starting a discussion on a different sense of modern South Asia. That is when modern South Asia would cease to be a finished product, a conglomeration of nation states. It would be a process in perpetuity, something messy and non-clinical, challenging and hopefully summoning our intellectual interests from across the region. 

For me, what is important is this sense of embedded subversiveness in the acts of people like all of us. But I am not sure if many of us have invested as much time in these possibilities as we could and should. That is because we are satisfied merely with intellectual output as opposed to intellectual output tempered by a passion, an imagination and a sincere ideological commitment to South Asia.

Thank you for your time.

(Much of the lecture is base don my previous writings, both published and unpublished)

Please click here for the video of the address

Saturday, November 4, 2017

සාහිත්‍යය සම්මාණ, ඇගැයීමේ වතාවත් හා ශ්‍රී ලාංකේය ඉංගිරිසි නිර්මාණාත්මක රචනාකරණය

සටහන: මේ ලේඛණය 2016 ග්‍රේශන් සම්මාණ පිළිගැන්වීමේ උත්සවයේදී 2017 මැයි  27 දා කොළඹ බණ්ඩාරනායක සම්මන්ත්‍රණ ශාලාවේදී කළ කථාවේ වඩාත් දීර්ග සංස්කරණයේ සිංහල පරිවර්තයයි. 

විනිශ්චයකරුවන් මුහුනපෑ ගැටලු 

වසර 2016 සදහා පිරිනමණ ග්‍රේශන් සම්මාණයේ විනිශ්චයකරුවන් වශයෙන්, සම්මාණ සඳහා ඉදිරිපත් කර තිබූ රචනා පිළිබඳ තීරණ ගැනීමේදී  මුහුණ පෑ ගැටලු පිලිබදව කථා කිරීමේදී මා මේ අදහස් ඉදිරිපත් කරන්නේ මා සමග කටයුතු කළ අන් විනිසුරුවන් දෙදෙනා වන චන්දන දිසානායක හා රුහානි පෙරේරා යන දෙදෙනොද වෙනුවෙනුයි. මේවා අපගේ සාමූහික අදහස් වශයෙන් සැලකිය හැකියි. 

දශක දෙකකට වැඩි කාලයක් මුලුල්ලේ ග්‍රේශන් සම්මානය ශ්‍රී  ලංකාවේ සිටින ඉංගිරිසියෙන් රචනාකරණයේ යෙදෙන ලේඛකයින් ඇගැයීමේ දී වැදගත් කාර්යභාරයක් ඉටුකර ඇත. සැබැවින්ම, මේ ක්‍රියාවලිය තවදුරටත් පවත්වාගෙන යා යුතුයි. අපි අප්‍රේල් මාසයේ පැවති අවසන් වටයට තේරුණ රචනා දැනුම්දීමේ උත්සවයේදී ද පැවසූ පරිදි, එකිනෙකින් වෙනස් වූ නිර්මාණාත්මක රචනා ප්‍රවර්ග සදහා ඒ වෙනුවෙන්ම සැකසූ ඇගැයීමේ ක්‍රියාවලීන් ස්ථාපනය කිරීම වඩාත් සුදුසුය. සිංහලයෙන් හෝ දමිල බසින් ඉංගිරිසියට නගන රචනා සදහා ග්‍රේශන් පදනම මගින්ම පිරිනමණ එච්. ඒ. අයි. ගුණතිලක සම්මාණය මේ සදහා සුදුසු ආකෘතියක් බව අපේ විශ්වාසයයි. මූල්‍යයමය වශයෙන් මෙසේ එකිනෙකින් වෙන් වූ ඇගැයීමේ ක්‍රියාවලීන් ස්ථාපනය කිරීම යම් දුරකට අපහසු කටයුත්තක් වුවද මෙය කළ නොහැක්කක් නම් නොවේ. නමුත් ඒ සදහා සමාන අදහස් හා අරමුණු දරණ අන් පුද්ගලයින් හා කණ්ඩායම් සමග එක්ව කටයුතු කිරීමට අපට කැමැත්තක් තිබිය යුතුයි. මේ සහජීවණයේ මූලික අරමුන මූල්‍ය වියදම් යම් ලෙසකින් සමව බෙදා ගැනීමයි.

මෙලෙසින් ඇගැයීමේ ක්‍රියාවලිය සවිඥානිකව වඩාත් බහුවිධ කළ හැකිනම්, දැනට එතුලට අනිවාර්යයෙන් ඇතුලුවන අභිනතීන් පාලනය කළ හැකියි. දැනට ඇති ප්‍රධානතම ගැටලුව නම් ක්‍රියාවලියේ ඇති අතිශය විවෘත භාවයයි. මේ නිසා විනිසුරුවන්ට එකිනෙකට බෙහෙවින් වෙනස් වූ රචනා ප්‍රවර්ග අතර නිරතුරුවම හා ප්‍රවේශමෙන් තරණය කිරීමට සිදුවේ. එසේ කර, අපගෙන් සාධාරණ විනිශ්චයක් ද බලාපොරොත්තු වේ. එනමුත් මේ ක්‍රියාවලිය සැමවිටම සාධාරණව හෝ නිසියාකාරව ක්‍රියාත්මක වන්නේ නැත. මක්නිසාද යත් කාව්‍ය, කෙටිකතා, නවකතා හා අන් රචනා ප්‍රවර්ග ඇගැයීම එකම මිනුම් පද්ධතියකින් කළ නොහැකි වීමත්, කෙතරම් උත්සාහ කළද එවන් සම්මිශ්‍රිත ඇගැයීමේ ක්‍රියාවලියක ඇතුළත් අත්‍යන්ත ගැටලු නිරවුල් කිරීමේ අපසහසුවත්ය. දැනට පවතින ඇගැයීමේ ක්‍රමය තරඟකරුවන්ගේ මෙන්ම විනිසුරුවන්ගේද ජීවිත බෙහෙවින් සංකීර්ණ කරයි. 

පරමාදර්ශීයව නම්, එක් එක් රචනා ප්‍රවර්ගය ඇගැයීමේ පුලුල් නිර්ණායක විධිමත්ව  හා පැහැදිලිව නිර්වචනය කර තිබීම මෙන්ම, එම කොන්දේසි ප්‍රසිද්ධ අවකාශයේ තිබීමත් අත්‍යාවශ්‍යයයි. එසේ තිබේ නම්, තම රචනා අගයන්නේ කෙසේදැයි තරඟකරුවන්ට යම් ආකායෙක පූර්ව දැනුමක් ලැබෙනු ඇත. එසේ නමුත්, යම් පැහැදිලි සීමා තුළ අවශ්‍ය විට යම් දුරකට නිර්මාණාත්මක තීරණ ගැනීම සදහා අවශ්‍ය නම්‍යතාවද මෙවන් පද්ධතියක් තුළ තිබිය යුතුය. වෙනත් ලෙසකින් පවසන්නේ නම්, දැනට පවතිනවාට වඩා ඇගැයීමේ ක්‍රියාවලිය විනිවිද පෙනෙන මෙන්ම දැඩි විය යුතු අතරම, ඒහා බැඳුනු නම්‍යතා විභවයන්ද තිබිය යුතුය.

එමෙන්ම, අපගේ විශ්වාසයට අනුව, ග්‍රේශන් සම්මාන ක්‍රියාවලිය  මෙන්ම අප රටේ ක්‍රියාත්මක වන එවන් අන් ඇගැයීමේ පද්ධතීන් තමන්ගෙන්ම ඇසිය යුතු වැදගත් මූලික ප්‍රශ්න දෙකක් තිබේ. 
1) එනම්, ඔවුන් සම්මාන ප්‍රධානය කළ යුත්තේ ගෝලීය රචනා ප්‍රමිතීන් හා කොන්දේසි අනුව යමින් අප රටේ ලියැවෙන අග්‍රතම රචනයන්ටද?  
2) නොඑසේ නම්, මේ තීරණ ගත යුත්තේ හුදෙක් දේශීය හෝ පරිස්ථානීය තත්ත්ව පමණක් සැලකිල්ලට ගණිමින්ද? 
අප දෙවන ප්‍රශ්නය සරණ යන්නේ නම්, එවන් තත්ත්ව තුළ විනිසුරුවන්ට ගෝලීය ප්‍රමිතීන්  බෙහෙවින් රැඩිකල් අකාරයකින්, නැතිනම් පටිසෝතගාමී ලෙස පහත හෙලන්නට බොහෝ විට සිදුවනු ඇත. ඒ තමන්ගේ හෘද සාකෂ්‍යයට හා පුද්ගලික විනිශ්චයට විරුද්ධව යමින්, තම සමාජ-සංස්කෘතික සන්ධර්භය අවට පවත්නා ඊනියා පරිස්ථානීය තත්ත්ව හා ගතික ආමන්ත්‍රනය කිරීම සදහාය. තත්ත්වය මෙය නම්, එය කිසි විටෙකත් අප රටේ නිර්මාණනීය රචනාකරණයේ අනාගතය සදහා නම් සුභදායක නිමිත්තක් වන්නේ නැත.

ග්‍රේශන් පදනම තම 25 වන සංවත්සරය මේ වසරේ සමරණ්නට යෙදී ඇත. මේ සංවත්සර කාලයේ ග්‍රේශන් පදනමේ බලධාරීන් තම සංවිධානයේ  බෙහෙවින් වැදගත් ආයතනික ඉතිහාසය සංවිඥානිකව ආවර්ජනය කරණ අතරම, මෙතෙක් අප සදහන් කළ කරුණු ද සැලකිල්ලටෙ ගෙන, ඒවා පිළිබඳව ගැඹුරින් සිතා බලනු ඇතැයි අපගේ බලාපොරොත්තුවයි. එසේ කරන්නේ නම්, අප රටේ නිර්මාණාත්මක රචනාකරණය ඇගැයීම සඳහා වඩාත් සාධාරණ ක්‍රියාවලියක් ගොඩනගා ගත හැකිය යන්න අපගේ බලාපොරොත්වයි.

අප රටේ නිර්මාණාත්මක රචනාකරණය

ගද්‍ය සාහිත්‍යය වෙත අවධාණය යොමු කරමින් ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ නිර්මාණාත්මක රචනාකරණයේ තත්ත්වය පිලිබද කෙටි ආවර්ජනයක නිරතවීමට මා කැමතියි. එනමුත් මා සිතනාකාරයට ගද්‍ය සාහිත්‍යය පිලිබදව මට පැවසීමට ඇති දේ අන් රචනා ප්‍රර්ග සම්බන්ධයෙන්ද යම් දුරකට සාමාන්‍යකරණය කළ හැකියි. මාගේ අදහස් පදනම්ව ඇත්තේ පසුගිය දශක දෙකක පමණ කාලය තුළ සාමාන්‍ය පාඨකයෙකු වශයෙන්  ශ්‍රී ලාංකේය ඉංගිරිසි හා සිංහල නිර්මාණ සාහිත්‍ය මා කියවා තේරුම් ගත් ආකාරය මත මිස, 2016 ග්‍රේශන්  සම්මාණය සදහා ඉදිරිපත් වූ නිර්මාණ පිළිබද කියවීමක් මත නොවේ. මාගේ අදහස් මූලික වශයෙන් ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ ඉංගිරිසි රචනාකරණය කේන්ද්‍රකරගනිමින් ඉදිරිපත් වුවද, ඒවා සිංහල නිර්මාණ සාහිත්‍ය වෙතද බොහෝදුරට ව්‍යාප්ත කළ හැකියැයි මා විශ්වාස කරමි. එමෙන්ම, මේවා හුදෙක් මාගේ අදහස් පමණක් ලෙස සැලකිය යුතුයි. මේ අදහස් හා අද දින මා පැවසීමට ඉඩ තිබෙන ජනප්‍රිය නොවන අදහස් සම්බන්ධයෙන් විනිසුරු මඩුල්ලේ මා හා කටයුතු කළ සහෘදයන් දෙපොළ ගාවා ගැනීම මගේ අරමුණ නොවේ.

බොහෝ කලක සිට නිරතුරුවම මගේ සිතට නැගී ඇති පැනයක් වන්නේ ගාබ්‍රියෙල් ගාසියා මාකේස්, උම්බර්තෝ ඊකෝ, පැබ්ලෝ නෙරූදා, ෆයිස් අහ්මඞ් ෆයිස්, රොහින්තන් මිස්ට්‍රි, සල්මාන් රුශ්ඩි, එලිෆ් ශෆාක්,  ඕරන් පමුක් වැනි ලේඛක-ලේඛිකාවන්   තත්කාලීනව ශ්‍රී ලංකාව විසින් උත්පාදනය කර නැත්තේ ඇයිද කියාය. ඇත්තෙන්ම, මේ ලේඛක ලේඛිකාවන් හුදෙක් මගේ විෂයානුබද්ධ කියවීම් හා රුචිකත්වය මත පමණක් පදනම් වූ වරණයන්ය. එනමුත් මේ සියලු දෙනාම ලොව නන් ප්‍රදේශවලින් බිහිවූ ගෝලීය මට්ටමින් පිළිගැනීමට පාත්‍ර වූ ලේඛකයින්ය. මේ ලැයිස්තුවට මෙවන් අන් බොහෝ දෙනාද ඇතුලත් කළ හැක. 

මා මෙවන් විවාදාපන්න ප්‍රශ්නයක් නගන විට, එතුලම ඇතුලත් වූ තවත් අත්‍යන්ත අනු-ප්‍රශ්නයක් ද තිබේ. එනම්, කෙටිකථා, නවකථා ආදී කුමන රචනා ප්‍රවර්ගයකට හෝ අයත් අපගේ නිර්මාණ සාහිත්‍යය සාමාන්‍ය වශයෙන් ගත් කළ, ඒවා බොහෝ විට ගෝලීය ප්‍රමිතීන් හා විශේසයෙන් ගෝලීය පිළිගැනීම සම්බන්ධයෙන් මෙතරම් පසුගාමී තත්ත්වයක පසුවන්නේ මන්ද කියාය. එකිනෙක හා සමීපව බැඳී ඇති ගැටලුකාරී ක්ෂේත්‍ර හතරක් වෙත අවධානය යොමු කරමින් මේ පැනයට පිළිතුරු සැපයිය හැකිය යන්න මගේ විශ්වාසයයි:

1) පළමු ගැටලුව නිර්මාණ කෘතියක් බිහිකිරීම සදහා ලේඛකයෙකු යොදන කාලය හා අතිශයින් පුලුල් වූ නිර්මාණ සාහිත්‍ය ලෝකය වෙත එම ලේකඛයා විවරවී ඇති ස්වභාවය හා බැඳී පවතී 
2) දෙවන ගැටලුව නිර්මාණ කෘතියක් සදහා භාවිත කරන භාෂාව, නැතිනම් බස හසුරුවන අකාරය හා බැඳී පවතී. 
3) තෙවන ගැටලුව නිර්මාණ කෘතියක කථා වස්තුව සහ ඒ හා සම්බන්ධ අදහස් ගලපා ගැනීමේදී මතුවන පරිකල්පනයේ සීමාසහිත බව හා බැඳී පවතී. 
4) සිව්වන ගැටලුව මතුවන්නේ නිර්මාණ කෘතියක් ලිවීමේදී පර්යේශණ සඳහා දක්වන අවම උනන්දුව හා වඩාත් පුලුල් වූ දැනුම් පර්ශද වෙත යොමු වීමට දක්වන දැඩි අකමැත්ත, අලසකම හෝ නොහැකියාව සම්බන්ධයෙනි.
මේ ගැටලුකාරී ක්ෂේත්‍ර  හතරම අත්‍යන්ත ලෙස එකිනෙක හා බැඳී තිබේ. එනිසාම, එක් ක්ෂේත්‍රයකට යම් අඩු අවධානයක් ලැබෙන්නේ නම්, එය අන් ක්ෂේත්‍රවලට මෙන්ම, සමස්ථයක් වශයෙන් මුලු මහත් කෘතියටම නිශේධනීය ලෙස බලපෑම් කරයි.

නිර්මාණ කෘතියක් බිහිකිරීම සදහා ලේකඛයෙකු යොදන කාලය පිළිබඳ ගැටලු

සාමාන්‍ය වශයෙන්,  ශ්‍රී ලාංකේය නිර්මාණ සාහිත්‍යය (ගද්‍ය) කියවීමේ දී බොහෝ කතුවරුන් තම රචනාවල ව්‍යුහය හා තොරතුරු සම්පාදනය කිරීමේ දී ඊට අනිවාර්යයෙන් යෙදවිය යුතු කාලය යොදන්නේයැයි මට හැගෙන්නේ නැත (එනමුත් සිංහලයෙන් හා ඉංගිරිසියෙන් ලිවීමේ යෙදෙන ඇතැම් කවීන් සමස්තයක් වශයෙන් ගද්‍ය රචකයින්ට වඩා  සාර්ථක බව මගේ පිළිගැනීමයි).  බොහෝ දෙනාට තම රචනා කඩිමුඩියේ ලියා නිම කර, කොහෙන් හෝ ඒවා පළකර, ලහිලහියේ ඒ සඳහා සම්මාණයක් හෝ දෙකක් ද ලබා ගැනීමට ඉස්පාසුවක් නොමැති බවයි බොහෝ විට පෙනෙනුයේ. මේ සන්ධර්භය තුළ නිසියාකාර විමර්ශණ පිළිවෙත් පිළිපදින, නුසුදුසු කෙටුම්පත් පැහැදිලි ලෙස ප්‍රතික්‍ෂ්ප කරණ වෘත්තීයමය ප්‍රකාශන ව්‍යාපාරයක් අප රටේ නොමැතිවීමද බලවත් ගැටලුවකි. අප මැනැවින් දන්නා පරිදි, කෙටුම්පතක් ප්‍රකාශයට පත්වේද යන්න බොහෝ විට පදනම් වන්නේ ලේඛකයෙකු ප්‍රකාශකයින් සමග ඇති පුද්ගලික සම්බන්ධතා සහ එම ප්‍රකාශකයින්ගේ වෙළඳ අවශ්‍යතා මතය. මේ තත්ත්ව තුළ රචනයක ගුණාත්මක වටිනාකම එතරම් වැදගත් වන්නේ නැත. එනම්, රචනයකට ගතකළ යුතු කාලය හා උත්සාහය මෙන්ම අන් පූර්ව-කොන්දේසි ද සම්පූර්ණ නොකළ නිසා අත්‍යාවශ්‍ය ගුණාත්මක කඩඉම් නොඉක්මවූ අවරගණයේ පොත්පත් ඉතා පහසුවෙන් පළකර ගැනීමේ පහසු හැකියාවක් අද දින අප රටේ පවතී. 

අනෙක් අතට, බොහෝ දෙනෙකුට පුලුල් ලෙස කියවා තමන්ගේ දැනුම හා ඥානය පිලිබද නිම්වලලු පුලුල්කරගැනීමේ උනන්දුවක් ඇති බවක් ප්‍රකාශයට පත්වූ නොයෙකුත් පොතපත කියවා බැලූ විට පෙනෙන්නට නැත. මාගේ තේරුම්ගැනීම නම්, මෙය ලේඛකයින් මෙන්ම අන් බොහෝ දෙනාද සාමාන්‍ය වශයෙන් පෙළෙණ ව්‍යාදියක්ය යන්නයි. ෆර්නැන්ඩෝ පෙසෝවාගේ  The Book of Disquiet යන කෘතිය කියවන්නෙකුට, එහි පිටු 260 පමණ පරාසය මුලුල්ලේ විසිර ඇති, ෆිලිප් පුල්මන් විසින් ‘‘අභිරහස්, සැක-සාංකා, කඳුලු හා සිහින සහ විස්මිත දෑ’’ (“… Mysteries, misgivings, tears and dreams and wonderment …”) ලෙස විස්තර කර ඇති කතාවේ සාරය නොදැනේවිද? වික්රම් චන්ද්‍රගේ  Red Earth and Pouring Rain යන ඔහුගේ පළමු නවකතාව කියවූවොත් ඔහුගේ උත්කෘශ්ඨ ආඛ්‍යාන විලාසය පැහැදිලිවම විෂද වනු ඇත. ඇඩම් තෝර්ප් චන්ද්‍රගේ නවකතාවට සාපේක්‍ෂව බ්‍රිතාන්‍ය නවකතාකරුවන්ගේ රචනා උගුරේ හිරවූ කෑරිල්ලකට සමාන කළේ මේ තත්ත්වය තුළය (“Makes its British counterparts look like apologetic throat-clearings”).  මෙලෙසින්ම, උම්බර්තෝ ඊකෝගේ Prague Cemetery  නවකතාව 19 වන සියවසේ සමාජ-දේශලපාලනික තත්ත්ව මැනැවින් ආමන්ත‍්‍රණය කරයි. ඒ අතර කතෝලික ජෙසුයිට් මතදාරීන් ෆ්රීමේසන්වරුන්ට එරෙහිව දියත්කළ කුමන්ත්‍රණ වල සිට, ඉතාලියානු ජනපද මතදාරීන් කතෝලික පූජකයින්ගේ ගෙල ඔවුන්ගේම බඩවැල්වලින් සිරකර ඝාතනය කර දැමීම දක්වා විහිද යන  ඉතිහාසමය විස්තරකථනවලින් අනූනය. 

මේ සියලුම කෘති අපගේ මතකයේ පැලපදියම්වන අගනා නිර්මාණ සාහිත්‍යමය උදාහරණ බවට පත්වන්නේ ඒවායේ කතුවරුන් තම කලාව ඔපකිරීම සඳහාත්, තම ආඛ්‍යාන ශෛල්‍යය ප්‍රගුණ කිරීම සඳහාත්, කතාවලට අවශ්‍ය පසුබිම ගොඩනැගීමට දියත්කළ පර්යේශණ සඳහාත් ගතකළ අත්‍යවශ්‍යය කාලය නිසාය. 

ගෝලීයව මේ වන විටත් පුලුල්ව පිළිගෙන ඇති මෙවැනි නිර්ණායක දේශීය වශයෙන් අප ලියන රචනා දියුණු කිරීම සඳහා යොදා නොගන්නට කිසිදු හේතුවක් නැත. අද පවතින දේශීය තත්ත්ව තුළ, අපගේ දූපත් මානසිකත්වයෙන් මොහොතකට බැහැරට ගොස්, බැලූ බැල්මට කිසිදු පාඨාන්තරීය මූලාශ්‍රයක උත්තේජනයක් නොලැබ, මහා හදිසියේ ඔහේ ලියා පලකළ අපගේ ඇතැම් රචනා ගෝලීය සන්දර්භයක ස්ථානගතකළහොත්, එම කෘතිවලට කුමක් සිදුවේද? ලංකාවේ මෙන්ම ඒවාට එකී නොකී සම්මාණ ලහිලහියේ ලැබේද? ඒවායේ කතුවරුන්ට අනන්ත නම්බු නාම ලැබේද? එනම්, වඩාත් තරඟකාරී හා පැහැදිලි නිර්ණායක මගින් සළකුණු කළ වාතාවරණයක් තුළ, එම කෘතීන්ට ගෝලීය සම්මාණ හා පිළිගැණීම් ලැබේද? අනෙක් අතට, ලංකාව තුළම ඉතා පහසුවෙන් මෙවන් දේ ලබාගැනීමේ පහසුව තිබියදී ජාත්‍යන්තරව මෙවන් පිළිගැණීම් උදෙසා නිකරුනේ ලතවන්නේ මන්දැයි යමෙකුට සිතෙනු ඇත.

මේ ප්‍ර ශ්නවලට මා පිළිතුරු ලබාදෙන්නේ නැත. මේවා අනිවාර්යයෙන් ඇසිය යුතු ප්‍රශ්න යැයි ඔබ සිතන්නේ නම්, ඒවාට පිළිතුරු දීමේ හැකියාවද ඔබටම විවර වනු ඇත.

නිර්මාණ කෘතියක් සම්පාදනයේදී බස හසුරුවන අකාරය හා බැදී පවතින ගැටලු 

මූලික වශයෙන්, දැනට මා කියවා ඇති ශ්‍රී ලාංකේය නිර්මාණ සාහිත්‍ය කෘති බොහෝමයක බස හැසිරවීම සම්බන්ධයෙන් තීව්‍ර උනන්දුවක් හෝ ඒ පිළිබඳ ලාලසාවක් මා දැක නැත. එමෙන්ම, එක් එක් රචනා ප්‍රවර්ග  සම්බන්ධ රැඩිකල් පර්යේෂණාත්මක ප්‍රවේශයන්ද මා දැක නැත. 

මා මේ පවසන්නේ හුදෙක් නිසි ලෙස ව්‍යාකරණ හැසිරවීම හෝ අක්‍ෂරවිණ්‍යාස භාවිතය පිළිබඳව හෝ නොවේ. බොහෝ අවස්ථාවල යොදා ඇති බස අතිශයින් සීමිත වූ ශබ්දකෝශයක ආනිශංස නිසා බෙහෙවින් සරල හෝ සමාන්‍යය තත්ත්වයක් පෙන්නුම් කරයි. නොඑසේ නම්, එය කට්ට කම්මැලි වියලී ගිය බස්වහරකි. තවත් විටෙක, අත්‍යාවශ්‍ය පසුබිම් හෝ චරිත සම්පාදනය කරන්නට, සමස්ථයක් වශයෙන් කතාව වරනැගීමට හෝ සංවාද ගොඩනැංවීම සඳහා අවැසි විස්තර ඉදිරිපත් කරන්නට අවශ්‍යය කාලය හා උත්සාහය ගෙන නැත. නැතහොත්, යොදාගෙන ඇති බස බෙහෙවින් හති දමා තටමන ලද බවක් පෙන්නුම් කරන,  අනවශ්‍ය වචන හා වැල්වටාරමින් ගහණ භාශාවකි. සමස්ථයක් ලෙස බලන විට, බොහෝ කෘති තුළ නිර්මාණාත්මක ලෙස නොයෙකුත් රචනා ආකෘති සමග කරණ ගණුදෙනු සම්බන්ධයෙන් ආවර්ජනාත්මකව සිතාබලා ඇති බවක් ද නොපෙනේ. 

තවද, එකම කෘතියකදී නොයෙකුත් රචනා ප්‍රවර්ග හරහා නිර්මාණාත්මක ලෙස කටයුතු කරන්නටද උනන්දුවක් ඇති බැව් නොපෙනේ. මා සිතනාකාරයට නම්, මේ සියලු ඌනතා මතුවන්නේ භාෂාව හුදෙක් ප්‍රාථමික කටයුත්තක් වන සන්නිවේදනය සඳහා වූ සරල මෙවලමක් පමණක් සේ සැලිකීම නිසා, එහි අඩංගු වියයුතු ලාලසාව, වර්ණය, චිත්තවේගීය හැඟීම්, පරිකල්පනය හා දැනීමේ හැකියාවන් ඉන් ගිලිහී යාමය. සල්මාන් රුශ්ඩිගේ The Enchantress of Florence නවකතාවේ ඉංගිරිසි මුල්කෘතියේ දැකගත හැකි පහත සඳහන් පෙළ වැනි යෙදුම් අපගේ රචනාවල නිරතුරුවම දැකගත හැකිද?
"A week after his final refusal, Marco Vespucci hanged himself. His body dangled from the Bridge of Graces, but Alessandra Fiorentina never saw it. She braided her long golden tresses at her window and it was as if Marco, the Fool of Love were an invisible man, because Alessandra Fiorentina had long ago perfected the art of seeing only what she wanted to see, which was an essential accomplishment if you wanted to be one of the world’s masters and not its victim. Her seeing constructed the city. If she did not see you, then you did not exist. Marco Vespucci dying invisibly outside her window died a second death under her erasing gaze (මේ චේදයේ ඇති භාෂාමය, රූපක හා සන්නිවේදනීය ලක්ෂණ ආරක්ෂා වන පරිදි සිංහලයට නැගීමට අවශ්‍ය පුහුණුව හා හැකියාව මට නැත. එනිසා, ඉංගිරිසි මුල් කෘතියේ එන පෙළ මෙහිදීද එලෙසම යොදා ඇත.)
මේ කරුණ පිළිබඳව තවදුරටත් කථාකිරීම අවශ්‍යයැයි මා සිතන්නේ නැත. එනමුත්, නිර්මාණ සාහිත්‍යය පාඨණයේ යෙදෙන සහෝදර පාඨකයින් වශයෙන් මාගේ සාංකාවට හේතු ඔබට වැටහෙන්නේය යන්න මගේ විශ්වාසයයි.

පරිකල්පනයේ සීමිතබව  හා බැඳී පවතින ගැටලු 

සුපැහැදිලිව නිර්මිත ඉතිහාසමය හෝ මිත්‍යාමය යුග හා බැඳීපවතින ගද්‍ය සාහිත්‍ය පිළිබඳව මෙනෙහි කිරීමේදී මසිතට නිරතුරුවම උදාහරණ වශයෙන් ගලා එන්නේ මාකේස්ගේ One Hundred Years of Solitude, ඊකෝගේ Prague Cemetery, එලිෆ් ශෆාක්ගේ The Architect’s Apprentice, ඔරාන් පමුක්ගේ The Museum of Innocence යන නවකතාය.  මේවා හුදෙක් මාගේ මතකය තුළ පැලපදියම් වී තිබෙන අසම්බන්ධිත මූලාශ්‍රයන්ය. නමුත් ඒ සියල්ලම ඉතිහාසය, අතීතය හෝ මතකය පිළිබඳ අදහස් තම කතා වස්තු හා ආඛ්‍යාන ගොඩනැගීමේදී සූක්‍ෂම පරිකල්පණයක් ද පෙරදැරිකරගෙන ඉදිරිපත් කරන්නට සමත් වූ කෘති සඳහා සාර්ථක උදාහරණ සපයති. ඒවා මගේ මතකයේ රැඳී තිබෙන්නේද ඒ නිසාමය. එමෙන්ම, මේ හා සමාන උදාහරණ ගෝලීය නිර්මාණ සාහිත්‍යයෙන්  ඕනෑතරම් සොයා ගත හැකිය.

අපගේ ලිඛිත ඉතිහාසමය මූලාශ්‍ර නිර්මාණ සාහිත්‍යයට සමාරම්භයක් සැපයිය හැකි බෙහෙවින් උනන්දුසහගත හා ඇතැම්විට ගුප්ත කරුණු කාරණාවලින් පිරී පවතී. මේවා පරිකල්පණීය ලෙස තෝරා බේරාගෙන සාහිත්‍යමය වශයෙන් දියුණු කළහැකිනම්, ඒවාට ඉතිහාසමය වාතාවරණයක් මත පදනම් වූ අනර්ඝ නිර්මාණ සාහිත්‍යයකට ජීවය දිය හැකි බව මගේ විශ්වාසයයි. එනමුත් ගැටලුව වන්නේ මෙවන් තත්ත්ව තුල අප අනිවාර්යයෙන් ඇසිය යුතු ප්‍රශ්න නොඇසීමත්, යම් සාධාරණ සීමා තුළ අපගේ පරිකල්පණය විකසිත වීමට අවකාශ නොදීමත්ය. උදාහරණයක් වශයෙන්, අපගේ නවකතාකරුවෙකු පහත සඳහන් ප්‍රශ්නය නොඅසන්නේ මන්ද?: 
ඉතිහාසය පිළිබඳ පවතින ප්‍රධානතම මූලාශ්‍ර දීපවංශය, මහාවංශය හා චූලවංශය වැනි වංශ කථා පමණක්මද?
මේ පැනයේ ව්‍යුහය තුළ අපට පහත සඳහන් ආකාරයේ නිර්මාණ සාහිත්‍යයමය පැනයක් මතුකරගත නොහැකිද? කිසිවෙකුවත් නොදන්නා, අපගේ ඉතිහාසය සවිස්තරාත්මකව ලියැවුණු ලේඛනයක් ඉතා ඈත අතිතයේ දේශීය කලබගෑනි සමයක සංඝයාවහන්සේලා විසින් භාරතයේ නාලන්දා සරසවියට ආරක්‍ෂාව සඳහා ගෙනගියා යැයි පරිකල්පණය කරමු.  එය චීනයේ සිට නාලන්දාවට බුදුදහම හැදෑරීමට පැමිණ, භාරතයේ හා අන් දකුණු ආසියානු ප්‍රදේශවල දහඅට වසරක් සංචාරය කර නැවත චීනයට යන විට, චීන හිමිනමක් වන සුඅන්-සන් ස්වාමීන් වහන්සේ ගෙන ගොස්, උන්වහන්සේගේ පන්සලේ අන් ලේඛන ද අතර තැන්පත් කළා යැයි සිතමු. මේ අතර නාලන්දා පුස්ථකාලය, සරසවිය හා විහාරාරාම සංකීර්ණය විනාශවී ගිය බව ඉතිහාසමය වශයෙන් අප හොදින් දන්නා කරුණකි. ඈත අතීතයේ දකුණු ආසියාව පුරා විසිරී තිබූ බෞද්ධ ගොඩනැගිලි සංකීර්ණ පිලිබඳ වඩාත් පරිපූර්ණ විස්තර අපට අද දින ද ලැබෙනුයේ ඉතිහාසමය චරිතයක් වූ සුඅන්-සන් හිමිනමගේ චාරිකා සටහන්වලිනි. උන්වහන්සේගේ සටහන්වලට අනුව, ලක්දිවට පැමිණීමට පෙරුම්පුරමින් සිටියද එය කළ නොහැකි වීය.

මේ ඉතිහාසමය හා පරිකල්පිත තත්ත්ව තුළ අපට පහත සඳහන් ආකාරයේ නිර්මාණයක් රචනා කළ නොහැකිද? එනම්, චීනයේ සිශුවාන් ප්‍රදේශයේ ඇති පැරණි, කාටත් අමතක වී ගිය පන්සලක පුස්ථකාලයේ සියවස් ගණනක දූවිල්ලෙන් වැසී ගිය මේ ඉතිහාසමය වාර්ථාව සොයා ගතහොත්, අපගේ ඉතිහාසය සහමුලින්ම වෙනස්වී යනු ඇතැයි යන්න මේ නිර්මාණයේ ප්‍රධාන ආඛ්‍යානය විය හැකියි. එවන් කෘතියක් අතීතයට, තත්කාලීන දේශපාලනයේ අනේක පැතිකඩ වෙත හා මිත්‍යාමය ලෝකය හා භක්තිය පිළිබඳ අදහස් වෙත ද අප කැඳවාගෙන යන උනන්දුසහගත කෘතියක්  වීමට ඉඩ ඇත. නමුත් මේ නිර්මාණ ව්‍යායාමය සිදුවිය හැක්කේ නිසියාකාරව නිර්මණාත්මක පරිකල්පණය ව්‍යාප්තවීමට අපට ඉඩදිය හැකිනම් හා එසේ කිරීමට අවශ්‍ය තීව්‍ර ඉතිහාසමය දැනුම අපට ඇත්නම් පමණි. මෙවන් නිර්මාණාත්මක හැකියාවන් පිළිබඳව සිතන සැමවිටම මගේ සිහියට නැගෙන්නේ එවැනිම ආස්ථාන මත ගොඩනැගුනු උම්බර්තෝ ඊකෝගේ The Name of the Rose හා හෝස්ටයින් ගාටර්ගේ Vita Brevis: Letters to St. Augustine යන කෘතීන්ය. මේ කෘති දෙකම තම ආඛ්‍යාන ගොඩනැගීමේදී ඉතිහාසය හා ඉතිහාස රචණයේ දේශපාලනය සමග සූක්‍ශම බුද්ධිමය ගණුදෙනුවක නියැලෙයි.  ශ්‍රී ලංකාව සම්බන්ධයෙන් සිතන විට මගේ සිහියට නැගෙන්නේ, මහාචාර්ය ගණනාත් ඔබේසේකර මෑතකදී (2017) පලකළ The Doomed King: A Requiem for Sri Vikrama Rajasinha යන  ශ්‍රී වික්‍රම රාජසිංහ රජතුමා පිළිබඳව අවධාරණය කරමින් ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ 19වන සියවසේ සමාජ-දේශපාලන තත්ත්ව පිළිබඳව ලියුවුණු බෙහෙවින් රසවත් හා උනන්දුසහගත සංශෝධනවාදී ඉතිහාස කෘතියයි. මේ කෘතිය ඉතිහාසය හා අතීතය මත පදනම් වූ  ගද්‍ය සාහිත්‍යයේ නිරතවන්නට උනන්දුව ඇති අප රටේ ලේඛකයින්ට බෙහෙවින් වටිනා මූලාශ්‍රයක් වනු ඇතැයි යන්න මාගේ විශ්වාසයයි.

නමුත් මෙවන් ප්‍රශ්න ඇසීමට හෝ අපගේ පරිකල්පණය පෝශණය කිරීමට නම් ඊට ප්‍රථමයෙන් අප ගෝලීය සාහිත්‍යය පිළිබඳ වඩාත් පුලුල් වූ ලෝකයට හා මහාචාර්ය ඔබේසේකරගේ කෘතිය සඳහා ආශ්‍රය කළ ඉතිහාසමය මූලාශ්‍ර හා සුඅන්-සන් හිමිනමගේ වාර්තා වැනි විශේෂඥ මූලාශ්‍රවලට ද විවර ව්ය යුතුයි. මෙවන් මූලාශ්‍ර බොහෝමයක් අද වන විට අවම වශයෙන් ඉංගිරිසියෙන් පළවී තිබෙන බවද අප අමතක නොකළ යුතුයි. නමුත් මේ සියල්ල කිරීමට යමෙකුට ඉවසීම හා කාලය යන සම්පත් දෙකම වැඩිවශයෙන් තිබිය යුතුයි.

පර්යේශණ පිළිබඳ ගැටලුව

මා සිතනාකාරයට තීව්‍ර මට්ටමින් සිදුකළ පසුබ්ම් පර්යේෂණ නොමැතිව කිසිම නිර්මාණ සාහිත්‍ය කෘතියක් ලිවීම කළනොහැක. මීට ඉහත සාකච්චා කළ කරුණුවලින් ද මෙය පැහැදැලි වනු ඇත. නවකතාවක් වශයෙන් ඉන්දියාවේ මුම්බයි නගරයේ ජීවත් වූ පාර්සි ප්‍රජාව හා 1970 ගණන්වල ක්‍රියාත්මන වූ ඉන්දීය ජාතිකවාදී දේශපාලනය පසුබ්ම්කරගෙන ලියූ රොහින්තන් මිස්ට්‍රි  ගේ Such a Long Journey කෘතියේ සාර්ථකත්වයට ප්‍රධානතම හේතුවක් වූයේ ඉන්දීය දේශපාලනය හා මෑතකාලීන ජනසංයුතික වෙනස්කම් පිළිබඳව මිස්ට්‍රි විසින් දියත් කරන ලද පසුබිම් පර්යේෂණය. එමෙන්ම, Baudalino කෘතිය පාඨකයින් අතර ජනප්‍රියවීමට එහි ඉතිහාසමය පසුබිම ගොඩනගා තිබූ ආකාරය කේන්ද්‍රීය වූ අතර, එයට හේතු වූයේ කතෘ උම්බර්තෝ ඊකෝ සතුවූ තිබූ 12වන සියවසේ ක්‍රිස්තියානි හා යුරෝපීය ඉතිහාසය පිළිබඳ ගැඹුරු දැනුමයි. තවද ඊකෝ විසින්ම රචනා කරන ලද  Name of the Rose    කෘතියට එහි සාර්ථක පඨිතමය පෞරුෂත්වය ලැබුනේ කතුවරයා සතුව තිබූ මධ්‍යතන යුරෝපීය ඉතිහාසය, සංඥාර්ථවේදය  (semiotics), බයිබල් විශ්ලේෂණය හා සාහිත්‍යවේදී න්‍යාය  (literary theory)  පිළිබඳව තිබූ ගැඹුරු හා මාහැගි දැනුමයි.

නැවත වරක් පවසන්නේ නම්, ඉහත සඳහන් නවකතා හා එවැනි අන් කෘති බොහෝමයක් සාර්ථකත්වයට හා ජාත්‍යන්තර පිළිගැනීමට හේතුවූයේ ඒවායේ කතා ගලා යන සන්ධර්භය හා ඊට අදාල මනෝභාවය ගොඩනැගීම සඳහා තී‍්‍ව්‍ර පර්යේෂණ ක්‍රියාවලියක ආලෝකය මැනැවින් ලබාගත් නිසාය. නමුත් මෙවැනි දැනුමක් සවිඥානිකවම ලබාගත යුතුය. එය ලබා ගැනීමේ එකම ක්‍රමය වන්නේ පුලුල් පර්යේෂණ ක්‍රියාවලියක්ය. ඒ සඳහා කෙටි මාර්ග නොමැත. මෙවැනි දැනුමක් දෛනික ජීවිත  අත්දැකීම්වලින්, උදෑසන පුවත්පත් කියවීමෙන් හෝ නිමක් නොමැති අන්තර්ජාලයේ ඔහේ රස්තියාදු ගැසීමෙන් ලබාගත නොහැක. එවන් දැනුමක් දිව්‍යඥානයෙන් හෝ යක්‍ෂාවේශයෙන් ලබා ගන්නටද නොහැක.

අප රට මේ වන විට සිරවී සිටින, විවේචනයෙන් තොර ජනප්‍රිය ජාතිකවාදී තත්ත්වය තුළ සිටිමින්, මා මේ පවසන දෑ හුදෙක් ජාතිද්‍රෝහී හා අසාධාරණ මනස්ගාත ලෙස පහසුවෙන් බැහැර කරන්නට ඔබට පුලුවන. අපගේ ලේඛකයින් අන් රටවල චිරප්‍රසිද්ධියට පත් රචකයින් තරම්ම සාර්ථකත්වය අත්කරගෙන සිටින බැව්ද ඔබට පැවසිය හැක. එවන් ස්ථාවරයක සිටින මිතුරු-මිතුරියන්ගෙන් හා වෘත්තීයමය සහෘදයින්ගෙන් මා අසන එකම ප්‍රශ්නය මෙයයි: උදාහරණ අතලොස්සක් හැර, අපගේ ඉංගිරිසි භාෂා නිර්මාණ සාහිත්‍යය ගෝලීය වශයෙන් ප්‍රසිද්ධියට පත්වී නැත්තේ මන්ද? ලෝක මට්ටමේ පාඨකයින් අපගේ ලේඛකයින් පිළිබඳව නොදන්නේ මන්ද? ලාංකේය ප්‍රභවයක් සහිත ලේඛකයින්ට ගෝලීය පිළිගැනීමක් ලබාගැනීම සඳහා ප්‍රථමයෙන් අප රට හැරදා යන්නට සිදු වූයේ මන්ද? මෙහිදී සිහියට නැගෙන ලේඛකයින් අතර මයිකල් ඔන්ඩච්චි, ශ්යාම් සෙල්වදුරේ, රොමේශ් ගුණසේකර යනාදීන් සිටී. මීට හේතු පුලුල් ගෝලීය ඉංගිරිසි භාෂණ ප්‍රජාව විසින් අපට එරෙහිව දියත්තරන ලද මහා කුමන්තූණයක්ද?

එනමුත් වඩා යතාර්ථවාදීව සලකා බැලිමේදී අප මුහුණපා සිටින මේ තත්ත්වයට හේතුව මා කලින් විස්කර කළ ගැටලුකාරි ක්‍ෂෙත්‍ර හතරට අවධානය ලබා නොදීම බවයි මාගේ විශ්වාසය. මීට අමතරව, මේ තත්ත්වයට අන් බොහෝ කරුණුද බලපාන බව මතක තබා ගත යුතුය. මේවා පිළිබඳව මා මෙහිදී විස්තර නොකළද මේ කරුණු අතරට ජාත්‍යන්තර සම්බන්ධතා ජාලයනට හිමිකම් තිබෙන ප්‍රකාශකයින් ලංකාවේ නොමැතිවීම; අපගේ ලේඛකයින්ව ගෝලීයව නගාසිටුවිය හැකි ඉහත කී ආකාරයේ සම්බන්ධතා සහිත සාහිත්‍යය ඒජන්ත ප්‍රජාවකගේ නොමැතියාව; රටේ ආර්ථික හා දේශපාලනික තත්ත්වය හා මේවා ගෝලීයව බලපෑම් කරණ ආකාරය යනාදී වශයෙන් කෙටියෙන් හඳුනාගත හැක.

මෙහිදී පැහැදිලිවිය යුතු කරුණක් වන්නේ, ස්වයං-ආවර්ජනීයව හා ස්වයං-විවේචනාත්මකව අපගේ ගැටලු දෙස බලා ඒවා තේරුම් ගැනීමට නොහැකි නම්, අපට කෙදිනකවත් දැනට අප රටේ බලපවත්වන පසුගාමී සාහිත්‍ය ඇගැයිමේ ක්‍රමවේදයන්ගෙන් මිදිය නොහැකිය යන්නය. කිසිම නිර්මාණ සාහිත්‍ය ඇගැයීමේ ක්‍රමවේදයක් යාතුකර්මයක් සේ වාර්ශිකව ඔහේ සම්මාන ලබාදීමේ රීතියක් අනුගමනය නොකළ යුතුය. සිදුවිය යුත්තේ ගෝලීය කඩඉම් හෝ පූර්ව කොන්දේසි පරිස්ථානීය තත්ත්ව තුළ සම්පූර්ණ නොකරන කෘති හා කෙටුම්පත් සැලකිල්ලට නොගැනීමයි. මේ ස්ථාවරයේ ප්‍රතිඵලයක් ලෙස ඇතැම් වසරවල සම්මාන ලැබීමට සුදුසු රචනා නොමැති නම්, එය මෙවන් ක්‍රියාදාමයක සාමාන්‍ය තත්ත්වයක් සේ සැලකිය යුතුය. මා කලින්ද පැවසූ පරිදි නිර්මාණ සිහිත්‍යය ඇගැයීමේ ක්‍රමවේදයන් අනවශ්‍ය හා ගැටළුකාරි ලෙසින් දේශීය තත්ත්ව සමග සමීපව සම්බන්ධකරලීම නුසුදුසුය. සැබැවින්ම, අපි දෘශ්‍ය කලාව, ක්‍රිකට්,  චිත්‍රපට  හා දේශපාලන හා ආගමික ප්‍රචන්ඩත්වය සම්බද්ධයෙන් ගෝලීයව සමානයින් ලෙස තරඟකරමින් සිටිමු. එසේ නම්, රචනාකරණය සම්බන්ධයෙන් පමණක් එසේ නොකරන්නට අප පෙළඹෙන්නේ මන්ද? දේශීය හා අනේක පරිස්ථානීය තත්ත්ව අපට නිරතුරුවම දිරිය හා අදහස් ලබාදිය යුතුය. නමුත් අප මූලික වශයෙන් ලිවිය යුත්තේ මුලු මහත් ලොවම සඳහාය. මෙය වඩාත් බලපාන්නේ අප ලියන්නේ ඉංගිරිසියෙන්නම්ය. අප සිංහලයෙන් හෝ දෙමලෙන් ලියූවද එවන් රචනා පරිවර්තනය කිරීමට හා ගෝලීයව මුදාහැරීම සඳහා සුදුසුකම් ලබන්නේ ජාත්‍යන්තරව පිළිගත් යම් මුලික රචනා කොන්දේසි සපුරන්නේනම් පමණි. මාගේ අදහස නම්, අපගේ ලේඛකයෙකුට දේශීයව යම් සම්මානයක් ලැබෙන්නේ නම්, ඔහුට හෝ ඇයට එම සම්මානලාභී කෘතිය මගින්ම ගෝලීය සම්මාන සඳහාද තරග කළ හැකිවිය යුතු බවයි. එනමුත් මෙසේ කළ නොහැකිනම්, එයින් කියවෙන්නේ අප දේශීයව අනුගමනය කරන  ක්‍රමවේදයේ මහා-පරිමාණ ගැටලු තිබෙන බවයි.

අද දින මා මේ කරුණු සියල්ල පැවසුවේ යම් අදහසක් පෙරදැරි කරගෙනය. ඒ අපගේ ජාතික-සංස්කෘතික අනන්‍යතාව පිළිබඳ ඔබ තුළ ඇති ආත්මතෟප්තිය මොටකිරීමට නොවේ. මාගේ ආයාසය හුදෙක් නිර්මාණ සාහිත්‍යය පිළිබඳ අපගේ සාමූහික ආනාගය සඳහා යම් ආයාචනයක් කිරීමටයි. ග්‍රේෂන් සම්මාන ක්‍රියාවලිය ද ඇතුලුව අප රටේ ඇති සියලුම සාහිත්‍යය ඇගැයීමේ ක්‍රියාවලීන් අවධාරණය කරන්නේ නිර්මාණ ක්‍රියාවලියේ අවසන් ඵලයයි. එනම්, ලියා හමාර කළ කෘතියකට හෝ අත්පිටපතකට ‘සම්මාන’ දීමටයි. නමුත් ඒ ඵලය ලබාගැනීම සඳහා ලේඛකයින් කළයුත්තේ කුමක්ද, ඔවුන්ට අවශ්‍ය ආධාර උපකාර මොනවාදැයි අප කිසිවිටෙකත් අසන්නේ නැත. මෙනිසාම, මේ සම්මාන ක්‍රියාවලීන්ට අනුබද්ධව හෝ ස්වාධීනව තරුණ ලේඛක-ලේඛිකාවන් නගා සිටුවීම සඳහා හෝ, ඔවුනගේ කලාව සූක්‍ෂම කිරීම සඳහා හෝ,  මා මෙතෙක් සාකච්චා කළ ආකාරයේ ගැටලු පිළිබඳව කතාබස් කිරීමට හෝ ඒවා විසඳීමට මං පෙත් සෙවීම උදෙසා හෝ ගොඩනංවන ලද, නිරන්තරව පැවැත්වෙන හා ආයතනගත ක්‍රියාවලීන් අප රටේ දැකගැනීමට නැති තරම්ය. අප සම්මාන දීමට පෙර ඒවා ලබාගැනීමට සුදුසු ලේඛක පිරිසක් බිහිකිරීමට අවැසි පදනම හා වාතාවරණය සැකසිය යුතු නොවේද? 

මෙවන් කර්තව්‍යයක් උනන්දුසහගත පුද්ගලයින් අතලොස්සකගේ පෞද්ගලික උනන්දුව මත පමණක් වරින්වර පවත්වන වැඩමුලුවකින් දෙකකින් කළහැකි දෙයක් නොවේ. මා සිතානාකාරයට තරුණ හා උනන්දුව ඇති නිර්මාණකරුවන් සඳහා එවන් ‘පුහුණු’ කටයුතු මෙන්ම නොයෙකුත් දැනුම් පර්ෂද සඳහා අවකාශ විවරකරදීම නිරන්තරවම ආයතනගත මට්ටමකින් කළයුතු කාර්යයකි. ඊට ග්‍රේෂන් පදනමට හෝ අන් ආයතයකට උරදිය හැකිය. කෙසේ වෙතත්, මෙය අනිවාර්යයෙන්ම කළ යුතු දෙයකි. මාගේ තර්කය හුදෙක් වැඩමුලු පැවැත්වීමෙන් ප්‍රතිභාපූර්ණ සාහිත්‍යකරුවන් බිහිකළ හැකිය යන්න නොවේ. මා පවසන්නේ එවන් උත්සාහයන් මගින් තරුණ ලේඛකයින්ට තම රචනා හැකියාව දියුණුකර ගත් ප්‍රසිද්ධ නිරිමාණකරුවන් මුනගැසීමට අවස්ථාවන් ලැබීම නිසා එමගින්ම යම් ආකාරයේ උත්තේජනයක් හා වඩාත් පුලුල් වූ නිර්මාණ සාහිත්‍යය ලොවට ඇතුලු වීමට මාර්ග විවරවන බවත්ය. මා සිතන්නේ වසර ගණනාවක් මුලුල්ලේ ඉංදියාවේ රාජස්ථානයේ වාර්ශිකව පවත්වන ජායිපූර් සාහිත්‍යය උත්සවයෙන් බොහෝ දුරට සිදුවන්නේ මෙයයි.  මේ මූලික වශයෙන් සාහිත්‍ය පිළිබඳ සාරවත් කතාබහට සහභාගීවීමට හා ඇහුම්කම්දීමට මූල්‍ය පදනමකින් තොරව කැමති  ඕනෑම අයෙකුට අවකාශ විවරකරදීමකි. මාගේ වැටහීම නම්, මීට සහමුලින්ම ප්‍රතිවිරුද්ධ ස්ථාවරයක් සරණයෑම නිසා ලංකාවේ ගාල්ල සාහිත්‍යය උත්සවය මේ සම්බන්ධයෙන් සම්පූර්ණයෙන්ම අසාර්ථක වූ බවයි. අවංක හා ප්‍රමාණික උනන්දුවක් තිබේ නම්, දැනට ඉන්දියාවේ මාගේ ස්ථානගතවීම කරණකොටගෙන මේ සම්බන්ධයෙන් යම් අකාරයක සහයක් මට ද දියහැකියැයි මම විශ්වාස කරමි.

මා සිතන්නේ එක් සන්ධ්‍යාවකට මෙවන් සභාවක සාමාන්‍යයෙන් කිවයුතු ප්‍රමාණයටත් වඩා වැඩි යමක් මේ වන විටත් මා පවසා ඇති බවයි. මාගේ ස්ථාවරය ඔබ සැමට පැහැදිලි බව මගේ විශ්වාසයයි. ඒ අදහස් සමග ඇතැමුන් එකගවන්නේද නැද්ද යන්න අවශේෂ කාරණයකි.
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