14 September 2020

A hamuduruwo, a girl and an invitation to reflection

Someone said that there’s no cave, no temple, no monastery in the island that doesn’t have a Walagamba story attached to it. It’s as though the great king spent all his years hiding in caves or commissioning artists to paint in them or making them habitable for meditative monks.  

Buddhangala, Padaviya, is also one of these ‘Walagamaba places.’ Maybe there’s some truth to the legends, maybe it’s just an easy anecdote to mark the place historically. The truth is that such places were occupied by various people at various times, receiving or not receiving the patronage of various kings, century after century.

The fixation with fixing a historical date on place sometimes misses the point. And the point? Well, if there was or there is monastic-significance then the wise thing to do would be to let place, ambience and moment envelope one in the need for reflection.

Years ago, a photograph was taken at this place. The legendary Nihal Fernando. It is of Buddhangala, Padaviya, with a haamuduruwo in the foreground of a rock formation atop which was a spectacular belfry tolling unknown truths to the skies. The dark orange of the haamuduruwo’s sivura offers some contrast but is not at odds with the overall colors of the rocks.

Decades later, when Tharindu Amunugama photographed the belfry, there was no haamuduruwo. No sivura. No deep orange lending embellishment to the overall composition. A different time of day, perhaps. The sky was not clear. White, instead of the blue that was the background to Nihal Ferndnado’s photograph. The berry was the same and stood out as it had all those decades previously. And there was a girl. White was the color that gave sense of the relevant dimensions.

Time for reflection.

How many bikkhus had stood on that same spot, how many had passed as they went about whatever it was that concerned them? How many others, young and old, male or female, devout of just simply curious, had stood there? And how many had reflected on the passing of time, the transient nature of all things? How many heard the call to reflection and how many had, in fact, reflected?

Did any of them wonder about centuries yet to unfold? When was the belfry constructed and well will it succumb to the ravages of time and the elements? What cloud formations, splendid and bland, what sunsets in what colors bright and dull will background the structure? You could also ask when in fact the formation came into being and due to which tectonic movements or processes of natural erosion.

The haamuduruwo wasn’t there a few weeks ago. Where is he now, no one knows. The girl was there a few weeks ago, but she’s no longer in Buddhangala. Photographer and the photographed shared space on top of a hill and among massive boulders. For a while. They are gone. The photographs remain. For now. We know not when belfry, rock, monastic ambience and the will to visit, worship and explore will end.


Right now, in Buddhangala, Padaviya, there could be someone at this very same spot. There may even be a photographer. They will no doubt let place and moment ingrain on self something that they may perhaps label ‘Buddhangala.’ They may reflect on the eternal verities, they may not.

Tonight, it is unlike that there would be anyone there except perhaps some creature to which it is home or place of rest.

Buddhangala could be ‘captured.’ It can be forgotten or never known of even. It could be caressed, one way or another, as Walagamba may have. That might be best, all things considered.

Other articles in the series 'In Passing...':  [published in the 'Daily News']  
Eyes that watch the world and cannot be forgotten   Let's start with the credits, shall we? 
The 'We' that 'I' forgot 
'Duwapang Askey,' screamed a legend, almost 40 years ago
Dances with daughters
Reflections on shameless writing

Is the old house still standing?
 Magic doesn't make its way into the classifieds

Small is beautiful and is a consolation  
Distance is a product of the will
Akalanka Athukorala, at 13+ alre
ady a hurricane hunter
Did the mountain move, and if so why?
Ever been out of Colombo?
Anya Raux educated me about Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)
Wicky's Story You can always go to GOAT Mountain
Let's learn the art of embracing damage
Kandy Lake is lined with poetry
There's never a 'right moment' for love
A love note to an unknown address in Los Ange
A dusk song for Rasika
How about creating some history?
How far away are the faraway places?
There ARE good people!
Re-placing people in the story of schooldays  
When we stop, we can begin to learn
Routine and pattern can checkmate poetry

Janani Amanda Umandi threw a b'day party for her father 
Sriyani and her serendipity shop
Forget constellations and the names of oceans
Where's your 'One, Galle Face'?

Maps as wrapping paper, roads as ribbons
Yasaratne, the gentle giant of Divulgane  
Katharagama and Athara Maga
Victories are made by assists
Lost and found between weaver and weave
The Dhammapada and word-intricacies
S.A. Dissanayake taught children to walk in the clouds
White is a color we forget too often  
The most beautiful road is yet to meet a cartographer