By Stephen C. Berkwitz
Many researchers have explored the effect of British and French Orientalism within the reinterpretations of Buddhism in South and Southeast Asia throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. much less spotted, although, and occasionally mentioned is the effect of Portuguese colonialists and missionaries upon Buddhist groups within the 16th and 17th centuries throughout Asia. Stephen C. Berkwitz addresses this subject matter through interpreting 5 poetic works by way of Alagiyavanna Mukaveti (b.1552), a popular Sinhala poet who participated without delay within the convergence of neighborhood and trans-local cultures in early glossy Sri Lanka. Berkwitz follows the written works of the poet from his place within the courtroom of a Sinhala king, during the cultural upheavals of conflict and the growth of colonial rule, and at last to his eventual conversion to Catholicism and employment less than the Portuguese Crown. In so doing, Berkwitz explores the modifications in faith and literature rendered through what was once arguably the earliest sustained come upon among Asian Buddhists and ecu colonialists in global history.
Alagiyavanna's poetic works provide expression to either a discourse of nostalgia for the neighborhood spiritual and cultural order within the past due 16th century, and a discourse of cultural assimilation with the recent colonial order in the course of its ascendancy within the early 17th century. applying an interdisciplinary strategy that mixes Buddhist reports, historical past, Literary feedback, and Postcolonial experiences, this publication yields vital insights into how the colonial adventure contributed to the transformation of Buddhist tradition in early modernity.
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Additional resources for Buddhist Poetry and Colonialism: Alagiyavanna and the Portuguese in Sri Lanka
Following the assassination of King Vijayabāhu VI in 1521, his three sons divided the lands of the kingdom among themselves with the eldest prince, Bhuvanekabāhu, proclaimed the new emperor of Koṭṭe, while his younger brothers Pararājasiṃha and Māyādunnē were named as kings of the lands of Rayigama and Sītāvaka, respectively. 37 Māyādunnē regularly sought out assistance from the Muslim ruler in Calicut on the Malabar Coast, and Bhuvanekabāhu tried to counter his younger brother’s moves by appealing for aid from the Portuguese in Colombo and Goa.
Alagiyavanna composed works that expanded the boundaries of what Sinhala poetry could accomplish and to whom it could speak. His works provide us with more insights into how the onset of colonial power eﬀected marked changes in Buddhist culture and religious identity in early modernity. 2 The Aesthetics of Power and The Cock’s Message alagiyavanna mukave ti composed Sävul Sandēśaya (The Cock’s Message) in the early 1580s, a time when King Rājasiṃha I enjoyed unsurpassed dominion and caused great anguish for the Portuguese.
Yet it would be an exaggeration to claim that his work was entirely determined by this historical encounter, eﬀectively obscuring any and all indigenous conceptions he held in regard to the Buddhist religion and Sinhala literary culture. This book contends that Portuguese colonialism had a measurable impact on Sri Lankan Buddhism. Alagiyavanna’s works show us that the disruption of Buddhist kingship and its traditional support of poets and monks led to transformations in, among other things, the ways that religious identity was conceived and poetry was expressed.
Buddhist Poetry and Colonialism: Alagiyavanna and the Portuguese in Sri Lanka by Stephen C. Berkwitz