(46) Thinking about the 1971 armed uprising by Marxist students at the University of Peradeniya in Kandy.

Buddhist Columns & Dharma Talks

Travels to Buddhist sites in India and Sri Lanka (46)
Thinking about the 1971 armed uprising by Marxist students at the University of Peradeniya in Kandy

There is one place I really wanted to visit when I came to Candi.

I really wanted to go to the University of Peradeniya in this city.

University of PeradeniyaWikipedia.

This national university was established in 1942 and remains one of the best universities in Sri Lanka.

The reason I wanted to come here is because I read "a novel" that was set in this university.

Here it is.

By Ediriveera Saratchandra, one of Sri Lanka's leading writersTomorrow won't be so dark."is a novel set in this very University of Peradeniya.

The author wrote a preface "For Japanese Readers" about this work. I would like to quote it here because it directly conveys the contents of this book and the author's message.

The novel is based on the 1971 People's Liberation Front uprising. Although the University of Pereradeniya is a real place, the story itself is a work of fiction. I tried to tell the story of the social relations between students and teachers and their psychological conflicts through this uprising.

The main character, Professor Amaradasa, is a man who has devoted himself to a single-minded research effort to elucidate the history and Buddhist culture of ancient Sri Lanka. Therefore, he was not familiar with real social issues, and when the students he taught insisted on the "need for revolution," he did not condemn their actions like other teachers, but tried to learn from them. He was also interested in the question, "Why do students join the revolutionary movement? Perhaps his concern for the students was reciprocated, as they opened their hearts to Dr. Amaradasa. Although he did not agree with their actions, he believed that they had a point of view. However, he feared that their participation in the revolutionary movement could lead to their downfall. On the other hand, he was optimistic that if things went according to the students' plan, it might be possible to break the current blockage and build a new society.

He felt that the philosophy of the students' movement was based on Marxist thought. He is not a Marxist. This does not mean that he condones the inequalities and injustices that exist in capitalist society. If anything, he resents capitalism. I cannot tolerate the oppression of the weak by the rulers, the exploitation of the poor by the rich for personal gain, and the disregard for learning and morality. Compared to the ruling class, who are better off, the poor are forced to live in misery. They live in shabby houses and do not have enough food. When they fall ill, they have no one to help them. Sometimes ruthless doctors take advantage of their patients' weakness and make money off of them.

The 1970s, the backdrop of the story, was a period of change for universities in Sri Lanka. In the 1950s, university students were often children of the urban middle class and studied in well-equipped student dormitories. They were promised high positions after graduation. The University of Pereradeniya is a Western-style campus built on the model of Cambridge and Oxford universities in England. All students live in on-campus dormitories and are required to follow British university customs, such as at meal times. Wearing trousers was emphasized, and eating with sarongs tied around the waist was forbidden. Students in the 1950s were not suspicious of such practices and thought it natural to learn and speak English.

However, as the 1970s approached, rural youth who had received Sinhala education through high school began to enroll in universities. Not only were they unfamiliar with conventional practices, but they also began to campaign for the elimination of the elitist system. Disruption began to occur in the student dormitories. For rural students, the university is a mirror of class society. Teachers had nice houses on campus and drove foreign cars. In the evenings, they would gather in the club house on campus to chat over a glass of whiskey.

The University of Peradeniya was the perfect place for the rural youth of Sri Lanka to grow in their hatred of the current state of society and strengthen their resolve for change. Dr. Amaradasa, who is deeply concerned about the realities of this university, looks upon the students with love and sympathy. According to Marxism, in order to achieve social equality, the capitalist class must be overthrown. Believing that revolution was the only way to achieve this, the students joined the outlawed movement of the People's Liberation Front. Dr. Amaradasa, although sympathetic to the actions of the students, was unable to break out of the middle class to which he belonged, and was arrested under suspicion of public authorities.

I trust that Japanese readers will understand where the problem lies through this novel.

Nan'un-do, Edirivila Saratchandra, translated by Padma Ratanayaka and Reiko Nakamura, "Tomorrow is not so dark," p1-3

I originally picked up the book not because I wanted to learn about the 1971 armed uprising, but because Saratchandra's novel is a famousThe Deceased.It was out of curiosity that I could read it in Japanese, in addition to

But when I read this "For Japanese Readers," I was shocked to learn that "Sri Lanka, like Japan, also had an armed uprising by students inspired by Marxist ideology.

1971 Armed Uprising attack on Deniya police stationWikipedia.

Moreover, the year 1971 was close to the time when student conflicts were taking place in Japan.

I have been Toshio ShibuyaSri Lanka Today Magazine.and Yoshio SugimotoThe Legacy of Buddhist Modernism."I have been reading books about the civil war in Sri Lanka, such as, and I had a strong image in my mind that the riots and civil war in Sri Lanka were due to Buddhist nationalism and ethnic conflicts.

However, through this novel, I became painfully aware that the armed uprising of 1971 clearly had aspects of class struggle by students influenced by Marxist ideology.

I knew Marx had shown his face here as well...and I was left scratching my head.

That said, I have also learned about Marx in my previous study on the subject of "Shinran and Dostoevsky". And in the process, I have been updating my articles with the question, "Is Marx a religious phenomenon?

In the process, I also came to learn about the student conflicts in Japan and why students fought so hard and why terrorists caused so many incidents. The world depicted in this novel seemed to me to overlap with these very things.

'The same thing was happening in Sri Lanka...'

I thought the civil war in Sri Lanka was primarily about Sinhala Buddhist nationalism, but apparently I may have oversimplified that..."

Such thoughts came to my mind.

In fact, I picked up this book exactly two days before I left for India and Sri Lanka. The book arrived to me at the very last minute.

I was indeed astonished when I read this "For Japanese Readers" on a trial basis, thinking that I had no more time and could not read it. I had no choice but to read this book! I threw away all my preparations for departure and other things, and read this book in one sitting.

I am so glad I came across this book before my departure. Reading this book has deepened my feelings about Sri Lanka. Marx's influence was still strong in the hearts and minds of the young people here.

As I read this book, I keep coming across words that make me want to hold my head in my hands. Marxism incites hatred. Will the world really be a better place after all the destruction and carnage based on that hatred? After all, will not the revolutionary elites remain in their positions of power and make the world even more difficult? One cannot help but feel this fear when studying the history of the Soviet Union and the former communist bloc.

I can't help but feel a sense of connection with this novel and its timing. I had to read this novel before going to Sri Lanka.

In fact, I decided to learn about the student conflict in Japan because of this novel. I had my Kindle as my travel companion for this trip. I purchased as many e-books as I could and continued to read them during the trip. Here is the list.

Shuhei KosakaThe Zenkyoto Generation as an Ideology."Heibonsha, 2006.
Junichi Banno, Zen Gakuren to Zenkyoto (Zen Gakuren and Zenkyoto), Heibonsha, 2010.
Hito Watanabe, Photo Document Todai Zenkyoto 1968-1969, KADOKAWA, 2018.
Michiko Kaba, Michiko Kaba, Todai Seisho who Died in the Security Struggle, Kawade Shobo Shinsha, 2020.
Tachibana, Takashi, "Naka vs. kakumaru," Kodansha, 1983,
∙ Shigeru Kashima, Shinpan Yoshimoto Takaaki 1968, Heibonsha, 2017.
Sasa, Atsuyuki, "The University of Tokyo Fall of Yasuda Auditorium: Seventy-two Hours of Attack and Defense," Bungeishunju, 1996.
Sasa Atsuyuki, "United Red Army 'Asama-Sanso' Incident," Bungeishunju, 1999.
Sasa, Atsuyuki, My "Seven Year War" with the Japanese Red Army: The Hijack, Bungeishunju, 2013.
Wako Haruo, What Was the Japanese Red Army; On Its Early Years, Sairyusha, 2010.
Yoshiya Fukafue, "United Red Army in 2022," Seidansha Publico, 2022.
Asahi Saga, "Empty Revolutionaries: In the Footsteps of Tsuneo Mori of the United Red Army," Shueisha, 2022.
Takeshi Hida, He Died at Waseda: The Eternity of the University Campus Lynching Murder Case, Bungeishunju, 2021.

I am amazed at how I managed to read so much during the trip, but in India during the first half of the trip, I spent a lot of time traveling by train and airplane, so I had time to read more than I thought I would. Even so, I read the book in one sitting with my eyes bloodshot. This time I was in a different frame of mind. Saratchandra's novel was that shocking. I spent most of my free time during the trip reading. It is a secret between us that I was preoccupied with the student conflict in Japan, even though I called it a travelogue of Buddhist sites in India and Sri Lanka. But it is also true that it helped me a great deal in thinking about the civil war and nationalism.

In any case, there were riots by Marxist students here in Sri Lanka as well. And a novel based on it is set here in Kandy. I had to go there. So I headed for the University of Peradeniya.

We came to the university campus. The grounds are lushly green and spacious! This atmosphere reminds me of Hokkaido University.

The campus is rich in nature. I envied the students who could spend their campus life in such a place, where they would be able to study hard. Visiting universities is interesting. I like to enter university campuses in Japan. I get excited just walking around the campus because I can feel the atmosphere and personality of the university.

Finally, we came to the campus of the Faculty of Arts and Letters. This is exactly where the novel is set. And since I am also a graduate of the Faculty of Arts and Letters, my heart was filled with excitement.

The university campus is huge! It is too big to move around on foot. It is just like Hokkaido University.

It was a wonderful campus with lots of greenery and a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere typical of Candi. I was very satisfied.

I have been learning about Marx. I have studied the Soviet Union, the Cold War, and conflicts. I have been particularly fascinated by Czech history and have felt deeply about the Prague Spring. Students played a major role in the Prague Spring as well.

But reading Saratchandra's novel again, I couldn't help but be appalled.

How ignorant I am!"

Even if he had learned about the Soviet Union and the Czech Republic, he had no idea about his own country, Japan.

In fact, I had consciously avoided looking into the student conflict until now. I felt that it would take an inordinate amount of time to get into it. I had a mountain of books that I wanted to read and needed to read in order to study Buddhism, and that was fatal to me. That is why I had avoided it even though I was interested in it.

But I could no longer say so. I had already been "grabbed.

The more I continued reading and the more I learned about the history of student conflict, the more I found myself scratching my head. What in the world was going on in those days?

I have not breathed the air of that era. I have not felt the heat. I have not smelled it.

I had to feel this fact painfully.

I have been in the process of studying Dostoevsky for the past few years, mostly European history. And now I am learning about India and Sri Lanka. But what do I really know about Europe, India, and Sri Lanka? What do I think I know? I can't help but think about that.

But still, we have to learn. I do not know everything about the world. I don't know everything.

But even so, I would like to continue to speak my mind. As a person who has lived through this time and this era, I will learn about the past and talk about the past and the present. There is a past that can be told only because I am living in the present. I believe so.

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