“Today, moreover when the newspapers have become more subtle and trivial in their handling of politics (throwing open their columns to guest writers of the extra-parliamentary Left such as Dr. Vickramabahu Karunaratne) while peddling political gossip rather than issues; and television talk-shows figure all kinds of political opinion straddling the entire spectrum of ideas (if only to pit one against another and convert politics into theatre), the Left seems to have done precious little thinking on how they are to reach a mass audience in this age of the television screen, the microchip and the internet, an audience moreover which has been drugged and made somnolent by the opiate of popular culture manipulated by the forces of western cultural imperialism preaching the religion of a ‘Global Village.’ “
Sri Lankan scholars and the Buddhist public generally believe that Portuguese influence after 1506 was characterized by a long period of Catholic proselytization and religious intolerance in the maritime regions of the island. What is little known is that by contrast, the kingdom of Kandy in the central region under the rule of King Vimaladhramasuriya and his successors (1591 – 1731) was characterized by religious tolerance and the welcoming of Europeans and other immigrants into the kingdom.
This lecture addresses the open cosmopolitanism of that period that provides an alternative vision of the past and for the future for Sri Lanka.
A Golden Jubilee Lecture
A Still-born Cosmopolitanism: Buddhists, Catholics and
other strange beings in the Kandyan Kingdom, 1591-1739