Author Topic: "Mage Naththala Dugiyaa Bath Kana Daaya".....and The Father in the temple  (Read 9697 times)

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Re: "Mage Naththala Dugiyaa Bath Kana Daaya".....
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2007, 08:33:49 AM »


he 1983 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts

BIOGRAPHY of Marcelline Jayakody

Remembering his childhood in Sri Lanka at the turn of the century, Father MARCELLINE JAYEKODY wrote many years later:

"In our home, in moments of plenty or penury, my mother always spoke of 'When Nattal [Christmas] comes...' MY father� just a village farmer with a house to live in and a small farm to work in�smiled twirling his silver chain around his fingers.

He went to the farm. She went for firewood and water, I hanging on her. I may have been around four.

And now Nattal came at last. It was, I conjecture, December 24th 1906. MY mother was cooking kevum [sweet pastry]. My father brought bright clothes. The two looked wonderful in them, smelled fresh, rich and young which they were.

It was ten o'clock in the night. We all dressed. My father lit a torch as we set out.

Other torches joined us until it looked like a torch-light procession. Friends talked and women whispered. The farmers talked of beans and brinjals [eggplants].

Each family thought that they looked the best. 'Our silks rustled more, didn't they?' may have been one of the many questions. I looked around and felt proud of my mother. She was the prettiest of them all. She had no jewels. She needed none, for she was one.

We heard the church bells. It was eleven in the night. The church bell had some magic always, those days. It was considered to be the voice of God. The chatter stopped till the peal was over

There were eight U-shaped glass lamps four in a row in the church. They hung on ropes from the crossbeams and were lit by oil. When they swung to and fro the shadows danced.

People moved about in this Arabian night dream. Cloth-and-jacketed women, ringed and chained and betel stained, floated into the church. Some sat close to the wall so as to lean on it. Others sat under the lights to be seen, tucking their legs under like ducks . . . . Babies cried, and children ran around, some blowing tin whistles . . . .

The third bell rang. Eleven thirty. The choir seated under the main door broke into song. The violinist was there. The drummer was there. The singer was there. All three sang ignorant of sharps and flats. It sounded wonderful . . . .It was my first lesson in singing and rhythm.

I too found a place on the singing mat. Not for me the mass, the sermon, the candle lighting, for there was my paradise.

At midnight the bell rang and the mass began. The priest officiated. The annavi [lay reader] read. The choir sang. Introit. Kyrie. Gloria. Credo. Sanctus. Agnus Dei. Communion.

The last blessing was given and then the rush to the crib to kiss or touch the bambino, to light a candle or to drop a penny. So vivid and still it was.

We were the last to leave. My mother took me to the crib, made me kneel and whispered, 'You will be a priest one day and say a Christmas mass for me. I want to live to see it. Alas she didn't. She died when I was sixteen."

MARCELLINE JAYEKODY, the author of this evocative article and of thousands of essays, poems and songs plumbing the wellsprings of Sinhala culture and traditions, was born on June 3, 1902 at Dankotuwa village, located near Negombo, Sri Lanka (then Ceylon). Like many along the western coast his father's family had been converted to Roman Catholicism during the period of Portuguese colonial rule (1505-1664), and the boy received the foreign baptismal name of MARCELLINE.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2007, 08:57:00 AM by Admin X »

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Re: "Mage Naththala Dugiyaa Bath Kana Daaya".....
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2007, 08:34:57 AM »
Joseph Jayekody, his father, was a vegetable farmer and herbal doctor and his mother, Sarah Serasinhe, a hardworking housewife. "From my tall, dark-skinned father I got my height and from my small, fair-complexioned mother my skin," JAYEKODY remarks. The family moved to his father's home village of Pannala when the boy was about one year old, and when he was four to nearby Sandalankawa, his mother's village. Both moves were prompted by a search for employment and better land. The farm they finally settled on was about an acre in extentfully sufficient for an industrious couple to make a living on.

Since his only sibling, a brother, was five years older than he, JAYEKODY was often left alone with his mother who gave him his own way. Therefore he was eight before he began attending the village school at Madampe�a three-mile walk from his home. Even then, he remembers, "I used to do whatever I liked and the teachers couldn't bend me down." His church superiors would probably agree that this was to be a lifelong trait.

JAYEKODY was only 10 when a village celebration led him to choose his priestly vocation. When the newly ordained Fr. Arthur Jayamanne came back "to show his people the beauty of a son of the place who had become a priest," JAYEKODY reminisces, "I was the first 'victim.' " In the welcoming procession that met the young priest two miles from the church�as he came riding in a big horse cart�JAYEKODY was flag carrier because he was a tall, handsome boy. Seeing the whole community turn out to greet the priest, he remembers asking himself, "if I get the chance why not become one like that?" He knew his family's finances would not allow him to study at a seminary, but the idea grew, and he was delighted to be one of the youths chosen by Fr. Jayamanne to serve as an altar boy during mass. "In those days," JAYEKODY recounts, "the mass was in Latin, so I was given a book to learn the Latin responses. I never knew what they meant, I simply mumbled, but I learned them by heart and served mass every day for a month." By then satisfied that his faithful altar boy wanted to become a priest, Fr. Jayamanne offered to take the 10 year old with him when he was assigned to the parish of Bolawalana, near Negombo.

At the Madampe village school instruction had been entirely in Sinhala, the language of the Sinhalese, the major ethnic group on the Island. Now, during the year he spent with Jayamanne, JAYEKODY learned a smattering of English and the elements of Latin. He was not yet 12 when, with his parents' ready permission, Jayamanne took him to Colombo and enrolled him at St. Joseph's College, one of the leading Catholic schools, and arranged for him to live at St. Aloysius' Seminary.

The student body at St. Joseph's was about 1,500. Founded in 1896 by a French bishop, the school was run by French missionary priests of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) order. Instruction through high school was provided in English.

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Re: "Mage Naththala Dugiyaa Bath Kana Daaya".....
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2007, 08:35:33 AM »
At St. Joseph's the priests were very strict, JAYEKODY recalls. "We were taught to spurn what was Sinhala and intrinsically national and to despise Buddhism. Boys caught entering or even looking at Buddhist temples�where the majority of Sinhalese worshipped�were punished." Growing to early adulthood under the tutelage of French and other foreign priests�from whom he learned English, French, Latin, Greek and some German, but no Sinhala, and who openly looked down on the people and culture of Sri Lanka�JAYEKODY felt increasingly that his people were being separated by a religious wall. To these same priests he gives thanks, however, for nurturing his innate sense of music. "In the villages of my childhood," he explains, "there were troubadors, the groups with the violin and the drum. It was lovely flowing music . . . I heard it and did it, first by watching others and then by guidance. " At St. Joseph's he was introduced to Western classical and church music, and learned to play the piano, organ and violin.

It was a strain for his father to pay the fees and at the end of his sixth year at St. Joseph's (1913-1918) he was told that his accounts was in arrears and he must leave the school. He would be kept on the rolls, the rector said, and, if he could manage to complete his senior year study on his own, he could return to take the examination. He had no tutor but was able to borrow books and in 1919 came back to St. Joseph's to pass his senior examination with high marks and thus be exempted from the London matriculation. That same year he entered St. Bernard's Seminary where he was one of 21 students training for the priesthood. Called before the archbishop, whose approval was required for entry into the seminary, he was asked one question: "What is your caste?" Fortunately he belonged to the Goygama (highest) caste, for the church had found that villagers refused to kneel before or receive communion from a lower caste priest. For JAYEKODY himself, education and priesthood meant discarding caste considerations, and during his lifetime that prejudice in the church has disappeared.

At St. Bernard's, also an Oblate school, JAYEKODY became more acutely aware of the wall between the foreign-sponsored Christians and the native Buddhists. He knew by then that Buddhist monks were the best Sinhala scholars, but seminarians who dared suggest studying under them were reprimanded. Neither were seminarians allowed to visit Buddhist relatives on their festive occasions. JAYEKODY felt this prohibition intimately because the family of his mother�who had been converted to Catholicism when she married his father�was Buddhist. He knew that Buddhism was not as bad as the priests tried to make it appear, and observed that Anglican and other Protestant denominations were less restrictive; nevertheless a separation existed between them and the Buddhists as well.

However the "sense of superiority" of the French priests rankled him most, particularly when he heard them speak of coming as missionaries "to the savages." He was incensed when a group of French brothers sent to St. Bernard's brought with them needles, thread and nails, thinking the Sinhalese were too primitive to have these elementary items. Moreover, the priests were insensitive to the feelings of the seminarians: "If there were ten native and only two French priests, all of the conversation was conducted in French and we had to follow as best we could. That kind of separation was always there; they treated us as second-rate."

Inner rebellion, fueled by the loftiness of the French Oblates, led him to choose for his future apostolate breaking down the wall between the Sinhalese Christians (particularly Roman Catholics) and Sinhalese Buddhists. (Of Sri Lanka's population of 15.2 million, 7.5 percent are Christian; 7.6 percent Muslim; 15.5 percent Hindu and 69.3 percent Buddhist.) As a priest he vowed he would not simply say mass, hear confessions and perform other priestly duties, but would try to link his religion to Sinhalese culture and bring his people together in mutual understanding and respect. It was an apostolate that would win admiration and affection for him among his countrymen, but generate misunderstanding and bitterness toward him among some of his church colleagues.

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Re: "Mage Naththala Dugiyaa Bath Kana Daaya".....
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2007, 08:35:59 AM »
His mother had died in 1918 while he was a student at St. Joseph's and with her death, he wrote, "the joy went out of my life. I brooded. Then like wild weeds grew in me a bit of song, a bit of music, a bit of poetry and a world of dreams." The sense of loss persisted but gradually, he said, "someone else was taking her place�the Madonna [the mother of Christ]. Almost in no time she had captured my soul. . . .my only Her was my mother and the Madonna. Some of my best songs are about Her."

Ordained in the Order of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate on December 21, 1927, the new priest chose to work in the missions�as the Oblates referred to the parishes they were responsible for�rather than to teach in the schools. Each mission consisted of 6,000-7,000 parishioners. For the five years or so that a newly ordained priest must serve as an apprentice to learn the technique of pastoral work, JAYEKODY worked under French priests at Kotahena (1928-1930) and Kandana (1931-1933). At both missions, suffering from the condescension shown by his superiors to him and to his countrymen, he continued to develop interests and talents in order to maintain his self esteem. At Kotahena he taught himself photography and began to take, develop and print his own pictures. Music, which was one of the acceptable interests of a priest, remained a source of consolation. "There are moments when a question mark can be visibly seen by the inward eye," he has said, "and I could always find the answer in music�just humming, strumming and vamping tunes from nadagams [traditional plays] or American Negro spirituals . . . . I got over my moods with music." But it was "a fight." "These three fingers," he says, holding up the thumb and first two fingers of his right hand, "and a pen saved me." His real release came in writing�songs, poetry and essays�for the church and the popular media.

Fr. JAYEKODY was given his own parish at Paiyagala in 1933 and served at one-priest missions for the next 16 years�Duwa, Katana, Maggona. Soon after taking up his duties at Paiyagala he composed his first hymn, "Sapiri Sama" (Full of Grace), and quietly began to bring the Sinhala language into church singing. "I enjoyed writing verses in Sinhala, that was my family heritage," he explains, "and when the day came to write a hymn to be sung in church the words and music came fluently enough." From the beginning his themes were not restricted to the theological; he also found inspiration in all of nature. Speaking with his parishioners in Sinhala, he renewed his contact with his mother tongue and became actively aware of the motivations and cultural roots of his village people.

At Paiyagala he also began to write regularly in English for the Ceylon Catholic Messenger and for two major newspapers, the Times of Ceylon and the Observer. For these articles, with which he often supplied photographs he had taken and developed, he was paid from Rs.100 to Rs.150 each, "which meant a lot in those days." In the parish he had a place to live and received a "maintenance," which included income from coconut trees and other plants on the church property, members' contributions, and a subsidy from the archbishop, if necessary, to make up a total allowance of around Rs.600 per month. The earnings from his writings he kept separately in a bank account in Colombo. He recognized that priests are not supposed to have personal incomes, but he banked the money for future needs.

One such need was the long-term support of two nieces. When his brother died in 1946, leaving three children by his second marriage, JAYEKODY accepted responsibility for the two youngest. He arranged for them to study in convent schools, for one to attend the university, and "got them married." Both are now teachers.

In 1949 Fr. JAYEKODY was relieved of parish duties and assigned to Colombo as editor of the Catholic Messenger and its Sinhala sister paper, Gnanartha Pradipaya (Light of Wisdom). He had no problems with the Messenger for which he had been writing for 16 years, but he found the Sinhala paper "horribly bad." Gnanartha carried one and two month old news, and items such as, "a parish priest celebrated his feast day." Although these articles meant little to a reader, "Catholics had to buy it because it was a Catholic paper." To improve the standard of Gnanartha JAYEKODY began writing articles of general interest, but was informed by Buddhist friends that his Sinhala was "colloquial and ungrammatical." He was fluent in the vernacular as a result of his association with villagers, but he had no grasp of the complicated literary language of the educated elite.

It was his luck ("I have always been lucky," he asserts), to be able to call upon three great Sinhala scholars�Jayantha Weerasekara, Amarasiri Gunawardane and Arisen Ahubudu�who were learned as well in Sanskrit and Pali, the two languages upon which Sinhala is based. Though the three men were working as editors and teachers, they graciously came to his home during their spare hours to instruct him in the Sinhala classics�which had their roots, of course, in Buddhist culture. "How good those three fine Buddhist scholars were to a Catholic priest," JAYEKODY recalls warmly, and adds, "we liked one another very much."

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Re: "Mage Naththala Dugiyaa Bath Kana Daaya".....
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2007, 08:44:06 AM »
The lessons he had taken for the immediate purpose of writing better Sinhala in the Catholic weekly served him in his apostolate exceedingly well. With command of literary Sinhala he found the door opened to friendship and understanding among Buddhists; he was accepted as one who understood them.

In upgrading Gnanartha Pradipaya JAYEKODY had increased the size of the weekly from 8 to 12 pages. A few months later Archbishop Thomas Cooray�"who was our own man [Sinhala] and my classmate" �summoned him. He told him to reduce the number of pages because paper was expensive and the press manager wanted to keep the price low. JAYEKODY argued that he was trying to produce a paper that could compete with the lay Sinhala press and added, "our message should be not only to Christians, but to Buddhists to show them what our religion means." Cooray disagreed and instead ordered him to translate articles from the Messenger for Gnanartha. JAYEKODY reminded the archbishop that the English paper was written for educated urbanites; for uneducated villagers, even in Sinhala, it would have no message. Cooray was unmoved. JAYEKODY, who had been working day and night as editor-in-chief, editor, subeditor and editor of the sports and women's pages of both papers, then suggested that Cooray give him a parish and hire a young man with a high school certificate to handle the translations. The archbishop replied that he had no mission to give, where upon JAYEKODY announced, "I am going away." "Where?" Cooray asked. At the door JAYEKODY answered defiantly, "Anywhere! "

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Re: "Mage Naththala Dugiyaa Bath Kana Daaya".....
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2007, 08:44:41 AM »
The lessons he had taken for the immediate purpose of writing better Sinhala in the Catholic weekly served him in his apostolate exceedingly well. With command of literary Sinhala he found the door opened to friendship and understanding among Buddhists; he was accepted as one who understood them.

In upgrading Gnanartha Pradipaya JAYEKODY had increased the size of the weekly from 8 to 12 pages. A few months later Archbishop Thomas Cooray�"who was our own man [Sinhala] and my classmate" �summoned him. He told him to reduce the number of pages because paper was expensive and the press manager wanted to keep the price low. JAYEKODY argued that he was trying to produce a paper that could compete with the lay Sinhala press and added, "our message should be not only to Christians, but to Buddhists to show them what our religion means." Cooray disagreed and instead ordered him to translate articles from the Messenger for Gnanartha. JAYEKODY reminded the archbishop that the English paper was written for educated urbanites; for uneducated villagers, even in Sinhala, it would have no message. Cooray was unmoved. JAYEKODY, who had been working day and night as editor-in-chief, editor, subeditor and editor of the sports and women's pages of both papers, then suggested that Cooray give him a parish and hire a young man with a high school certificate to handle the translations. The archbishop replied that he had no mission to give, where upon JAYEKODY announced, "I am going away." "Where?" Cooray asked. At the door JAYEKODY answered defiantly, "Anywhere! "

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Re: "Mage Naththala Dugiyaa Bath Kana Daaya".....
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2007, 08:45:10 AM »
AYEKODY welcomed the opportunity to see more of India and how a Hindu family lived, but was unprepared for the eventful start of the 1,092 mile journey. At the crowded railway station, when the full train stopped with all doors and windows locked to prevent further boarding, Kiran resourcefully arranged for a burly man to break a window and lift JAYEKODY into a compartment. He landed amidst shattered glass on the lap of a Muslim woman and both she and he were slightly cut, but she and her husband understood such train entries and readily excused him. The ensuing two days and three nights of the journey passed without incident. At Rupur, the old capital of the Punjab, Kiran's father took him to the mosque that Muslims abandoned after the 1947 partition of India and the Mahajans occupied, having likewise been forced to vacate their ancestral home in what was now Pakistan. JAYEKODY was given their best room and best food�which for this vegetarian Hindu family was chapati (unleavened bread) and vegetables�and was shown the countryside. On the eve of his departure he said humbly to Mahajan: "We Christians practice charity when others are in need, but you have been charitable to me even though I had food and lodging at Santiniketan." The courtly old gentleman replied: "Father, when you go back to your country, you will think of me sometimes and say, 'May God bless that good man because he was kind to me.' That's all I want." JAYEKODY cherishes his memories of that holiday and every day prays, "God bless that good man."

At Santiniketan, an observer has written, JAYEKODY "matured like wine in an oaken vat." He himself described his Indian sojourn "as a time of brooding, which in the creative life comes by fits and starts; it is like a tree wanting to put on leaves and flowers." The title song of his second book of hymns�his first, Kekulu Kiniti (Sprig of Flowers), was published in 1947�Mal Kumari (Queen of Flowers, late 1950) had come to him in Santiniketan as he was sitting under a frangipani tree whose heavy clusters of scented blossoms were bobbing in the wind. "I asked my mind's dream to come true, something broke loose in me and I sang," he remembers. Similarly, as he sat brooding on the bank of the Sutlej River in the Punjab, "the lovely Queen of my heart [the Madonna] smiled upon me," and a song emerged�"Ape Kumariya" (Our Queen). Of this composition a commentator has said: "The romanticism which is a quality of his music is subdued, simple and direct, like his unsophisticated mystical relationship with his Queen. It has its roots in the landscape of his childhood where he spent his time from school listening to bird song. It also has a touch of Tagore in whose sensibility music was not a theatrical gesture but a fervent devotion."

Two years passed swiftly. In 1952 a telegram arrived from Emilianus Pillai, the Tamil Bishop of Jaffna in northern Ceylon, saying that if he was not willing to return to Colombo, to come to Jaffna. Pillai, like Cooray, had been a fellow seminarian but both had gone on to earn their bachelors' degrees JAYEKODY, who had not pursued higher studies, had been ordained two years ahead of them. Pillai "wanted to get me back even if I was a rebel, to show that I had not run away," JAYEKODY asserts, and he promptly wired back, "I am coming." Taking leave of his Indian friends, and with his Sangeet [Music] Diploma in hand he enplaned for Jaffna.

Pillai's acceptance of him warmed JAYEKODY�s heart: "He knew that I was a little disturbed and was terribly kind. He gave me a room and told me to stay in his diocese as long as I liked." Learning of JAYEKODY's return Cooray wrote Pillai that he could not take a priest from his diocese without permission, and permission would not be forthcoming unless JAYEKODY was punished for breaking canon law. For this he suggested six years at the Tholagatty Monastery where the monks spend their days in silent prayer, penance indeed for the gregarious priest. Without mentioning the letter, Pillai persuaded JAYEKODY to spend a week "of relaxation" at the monastery and then brought him back to Jaffna.

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Re: "Mage Naththala Dugiyaa Bath Kana Daaya".....
« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2007, 08:45:33 AM »
On their return Pillai informed JAYEKODY of Cooray's demand, adding that as far as he was concerned the punishment was over, and announcing that he had registered him to teach at St. Patrick's College in his diocese. For the next four years the Tamil bishop and priests kept secret the fact that JAYEKODY was teaching and was not in the monastery. During this time JAYEKODY "learned more about the area than many Tamils" because "my heart was eating me up and I had to do something." He also composed many of his best songs and sent articles to the Times of Ceylon under his own name. Since he was not a monk he would have been able to write at the monastery, but the scope of his subjects must have aroused doubts as to his whereabouts to anyone with a questioning mind. Many of these articles were reprinted in his travel book, In Search of Ceylon (1964). Throughout this period he went to Colombo for about one month a year during the school holidays and stayed with discreet friends.

In December 1955 Cooray wrote to Pillai that JAYEKODY had now been punished long enough and he was prepared to take him back. He arranged for him to teach at St. Peter's College, which by then had been given by the Oblates to the secular fathers. JAYEKODY taught geography, history, mathematics, English, Sinhala (introduced under the secular diocesan regime) and botany. He volunteered to teach music, both Western and Eastern, and managed to equip the school's Cultural Center with piano, organ and South Asian instruments. He later created a Faculty of Eastern Art.

In 1956 JAYEKODY had an opportunity to expand his apostolate in an unexpected manner. He was asked to write lyrics to six tunes for the first full-length Sinhala film, Rekawa (Palm Line of Destiny). Through this new medium his message of a common heritage gathered momentum. As a critic said, he put Sinhala culture into his lyrics in simple words that "went straight to the heart, burning deep." Twenty-six years later these songs are still sung at least once a week on television or radio.

In 1957 the John de Silva Memorial offered a cup for the best film performance of the year. The Observer conducted the six month contest, publishing coupons which readers could cut out and send in. To everyone's surprise JAYEKODY�s songs from Rekawa were rated above the performances in any of the films. The newspaper editor, according to JAYEKODY, was displeased with this result since the country was now entering a period of religious (Buddhist) nationalism, and extended the contest for another month. But the Catholic priest still got the most votes. The minister of education who presented him with the award�in front of school inspectors, subinspectors and headmasters from throughout the country�commented that he would gladly give up his post if he could write one lyric like the Rekawa songs.

JAYEKODY continued to write articles for the Times and occasionally for the Catholic Messenger. The same year saw publication of his third book of hymns, Mangalee (Beautiful Lady). Twenty years earlier he had been the first Ceylonese priest to step into a broadcasting studio, where he had sung three of his hymns. Now he became a regular contributor to the Catholic Hour where he introduced a new kind of music entirely his own�blending the harmony of Western music with the melody of South Asian, and adding the sitar and table to the familiar organ and piano. (The drums were a particular innovation because they were normally associated with Buddhist and Hindu worship.) He also trained and directed the singers and orchestras that performed his compositions.

For beloved tunes such as "Silent Night," he wrote new lyrics; "I never translate; then it sounds artificial," he explains. Besides the technical problem of matching Sinhala words to Western notation, "you have to think in a fresh idiom." Instead of using carols saturated in Western imagery of white Christmases, holly and ivy�all unreal to Sri Lankan villagers�he wrote new lyrics stressing the incarnate aspects of the festival: the birth of Christ in the historical sense of an oriental born in Bethlehem, and in an existential, mystical sense of the universal messiah, the deliverer from sin, born in every individual in every instant of time in all places. He departed from the Christian usage of "Our Savior," to say "Christ" or "My Master." Christians may say "Our Savior" he points out, but Buddhist listeners will wonder why, because they have been taught that no one can help them reach enlightenment except themselves. He emphasizes the commonality of religious teachings. The Buddha taught "the way to salvation was by doing good deeds, and Christ, in fact, said much the same thing."

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Re: "Mage Naththala Dugiyaa Bath Kana Daaya".....
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2007, 08:46:00 AM »
JAYEKODY�s radio programs had wide appeal. An admirer wrote: "There is a sincerity that is not merely textbook or platform philosophy. JAYEKODY soothes with his lyrics and music and from his priestly pen come priceless gems spreading the message of brotherhood and epitomizing our national anthem "Eke Mawakage' [Children of One Mother]." His songs, that speak with admiration of the temples and ruins of the ancient capitals of Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura as an heritage belonging to all Sinhalese, won Buddhist monks to him, not in worship but in respect, and gave Christians insight into Buddhist culture. His folk songs were sung in many households and his lullabies have put two generations of children to sleep. "A song can break through the wall for both Christians and Buddhists," he is convinced, "not to proselytize but to bring understanding. The Ceylonese Buddhists have had their religion since its introduction into the island in the third century before Christ, and we both thought we had the truth, so let us remove prejudice and find what truth we have in common. "

In 1961, with the permission of Oblate Superior General, the Very Rev. Fr. Richard Hanley�an American whom JAYEKODY calls "the most lovable man I have met in my life" he took leave from St. Peter's. Using his own funds, he flew to the Holy Land where he set out to check the accuracy of Biblical descriptions. He envisioned writing a book about the Holy Land in Sinhala which Sinhalese of all religions would read. Christmas night he said mass in the Grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem and Easter found him in Jerusalem. After nearly two years of viewing religious sites, he was satisfied that New Testament references were true, and he was ready to go home. However, the day before his departure a Sinhalese friend, Martin Hettiarachi, asked him to join as his guest a group of Ceylonese pilgrims he was taking to religious shrines in Europe. JAYEKODY had no permission for this side trip, but it was to be for only two weeks. "How could I refuse? " he asks. Hettiarachi only later mentioned that he wanted JAYEKODY to write a song for each of two films he was producing.

The tour, all expenses paid, took JAYEKODY to Rome, Austria, Germany, France, Portugal and England. He remained in England for another two weeks on his own, primarily to persuade a colleague who had left the priesthood to return; he did and later became rector of major seminary.

Back at St. Peter's the headmaster informed him that there was no longer a place for him at the school. Hearing of his rejection the rector of St. Joseph's offered him a position and he began teaching at his alma mater in 1963. He was unable to develop a cultural center as he had at St. Peter's, but he continued to use his spare time creatively. The radio programs entitled "Composers of the West," which he began to write while abroad, were completed in that year and are considered classics. At the same time he more than fulfilled Hettiarachi's request, writing two songs each for the films Manamalayo (Bridegrooms, 1963) and Adarawanthayo (Lovers, 1964). His song for Manamalayo, sung by a young girl to a little calf, won both JAYEKODY and the singer awards from the Film Society.

Before he writes for a film, he emphasizes, he must know the story and begs off if the script is inappropriate. In 1966 he wrote for Hitaka Pipuna Mala (Flower that Bloomed in the Heart) the first song to be sung in English in a Sinhala film�"No East, No West." For the Sinhala version of Romeo and Juliet he also wrote an English song, "My Dreams are Roses," and composed six songs in 1967 and 1968 for the comic film Coming Sweet. In this period two more of his books of hymns� Tun Kekula (Three Buds, 1965) and Carolina (Carols, 1968) were published.

In 1969 JAYEKODY authored Pearls and Roses, a history of All Saints Church in Borella where a perpetual novena (prayers) to Our Lady of Perpetual Help had begun in the 1950s and had produced numerous cures. In the same year he made his third trip abroad�as a delegate, nominated by the education ministry, to the Mass Media for Asia seminar in Tokyo. At the invitation of a Filipino Oblate participant he spent a week with the Oblate fathers in Manila on his way home.

The following year the new rector at St. Peter's asked him to return and restore the cultural center which had been ill used after he left. It was a wrench to leave St. Joseph's, which was close to his heart, but going back to St. Peter's, he felt, would give him an opportunity to show again that a Christian school could encourage local culture. Even though the language of instruction was now Sinhala, the Catholic schools were still neglecting the broader aspects of Sri Lankan arts. In this context, he says, even today he has to remind seminary audiences, if they are going out as missionaries, "absorb the culture of the people first and become one of them, then you will be accepted and the people can become one of us. Our Lord came to raise people to His nature by taking their nature."

Returning to St. Peter's he found students playing ping pong amidst the musical instruments of his center, and when he tried to reopen a class in Eastern music, the Western-oriented vice rector asserted that he was in charge of the room and needed it for piano practice. The rector, apparently intimidated by his forceful assistant, suggested sharing the room, but JAYEKODY, realizing that the vice rector intended to use the piano whenever he liked, replied that he would be useless as a music teacher without a room. He would have to find another institution.

Luckily the Very Rev. Fr. Hanley was again visiting Sri Lanka and JAYEKODY asked him for permission to go abroad to earn money so that he could return to the Holy Land to complete research for his book. The Superior General understood the situation and gave him a four year leave of absence.

A number of Sri Lankan priests were then in the United States, filling-in for American priests during their holidays, or fleshing out under-manned parishes. JAYEKODY promptly telephoned a former colleague who was serving in New York and asked if he could find him a place. His friend cabled back that a round trip ticket was being sent by the next mail and a position was awaiting him.

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Re: "Mage Naththala Dugiyaa Bath Kana Daaya".....
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2007, 08:46:32 AM »
Under the government of Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike unofficial travelers could take no money out of the country, so JAYEKODY left for New York two weeks later with only his ticket and a change of clothing. In London, he was met by a former student who took him home for dinner and delivered him back to the airport the next day with a �5 note in his pocket. Landing in New York in the cold of a November evening, he was greeted by countryman Leslie Gunnaratne, who had read of his arrival in a Catholic newspaper and anticipated that he would be alone. Within 10 minutes he was at Gunnaratne's home hearing his tapes being played; "it was like a fairy tale," he remembers. Gunnaratne's family welcomed him warmly, served him a hearty Sinhalese meal of hot curries, after which he was driven to his new parish on Staten Island. The three Irish-American fathers with whom he would serve were waiting to show him to the room�furnished "American style" with television and other amenities�where he was to stay for nearly three years.

From Staten Island JAYEKODY continued to write for the Catholic Messenger and other Sri Lankan papers, and to oversee publication of his books of hymns, Rosatita (Rose Dot, 1971) and Yagika (Prayer Songs, 1973), and of religious essays, Ladylace and Carnations (1972). He saved most of his New York pay�US$300 a month and free food and lodging�so that he could spend part of the last year of his leave in Germany and England, revisit the Holy Land to see the changes since his previous stay, and still have some money left to save for his dream� a performing arts center in Sri Lanka.

In January 1974 JAYEKODY flew to Germany to visit Bertha Melchior with whom he had been in correspondence for some time. She had been amused by the whimsical column he had been writing for the Messenger entitled "Unusual Prayers from My Prayer Book," which included prayers of the cat, dog, bull and cock. In response to her request for a copy of this volume he had replied that the prayers were not in a book but in his head�which he "could not send for the time being."

Now, betaking himself and his head to the small town of Allner, near Bonn, he spent a couple of delightful months with the Melchiors. They gave him of their simple best and the priest was enchanted with the German countryside. In articles he sent back to Sri Lanka he described the Rhine Valley in spring as a bank of grass flooded with the gold and silver of buttercups and daisies, "spread like an immense carpet for a meeting of kings."

In England for the next four or five months, he resided part of the time in a convent in Lynton where he had stayed previously. Run chiefly as a home for the aged, there was always a room there for a volunteer chaplain. The attraction of this location was the nearby ruins of Glastonbury Abbey, the first Roman Catholic church built above ground in England (religious services previously were held in catacombs). Legends link the site to Joseph of Aramathea and the Holy Grail, and even to visits of the Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus. JAYEKODY prayed in the little wattle church dedicated to Mary, which had been encompassed by the abbey, and "could almost sense the Virgin" to whom he feels a deep devotion. "Her presence influences me and in many things she has helped me," he avows. He involved an English widow, Margaret Crawford, who was living at the convent, in his enthusiasm for Glastonbury. Her interest aroused, she found new meaning in life and began to develop latent artistic talents. He also persuaded her to have a necessary cancer operation. In return for his gifts of love and concern, she has since contributed Rs.50,000 to the arts center he eventually established.

After a brief visit to the Holy Land to double check his earlier impressions and to see the changes of the past decade, JAYEKODY returned to Sri Lanka in late 1974. The book that was to be the product of his two visits has been only half written. He knew that he must add something new to the story of the Gospels and that every statement must be well documented to withstand challenge. "I have tried my very best," he says, "to write about Christ in a way that will be acceptable to all my people, but I have not found a way to do so." He now thinks that he will never be able to complete it.

On his departure for the United States JAYEKODY had written Archbishop Cooray, who was in Australia, that he was leaving�with the permission of his Superior General and the approval of the bishop ad temporem. Irritated at being circumvented, Cooray informed JAYEKODY upon his return that he had no place for him in the schools and that, at age 72, he was too old to work in a parish. JAYEKODY did not argue, but was determined to remain active so he asked permission to go to All Saints Church about which he had written. The rector there, Fr. John Herat, was a long-time friend, who gave JAYEKODY a room, which he was to occupy until the end of 1977. In return JAYEKODY helped serve mass, heard confessions and generally tried to assume some of the priestly burden. Although he had been put aside by the church, this proved a period of recognition by society. In 1975, with the approval of the Ministry of Culture, he was given the Golden Lotus Award by the Arts Circle of Colombo "for 50 years of cultural contribution to the music and literature of Sri Lanka," and his portrait was included in the Gallery of Poets, the only non-Buddhist in the exhibition. His eighth book of hymns, Yagini (Prayer Songs), came out in 1976. During his absence (1972) he had been named honorary editor of Rasavahini (Box of Sweets), a monthly Sinhala magazine on art, education and culture, and he continued to serve in this capacity until 1977. He was also a member of the Advisory Board of the State Film Corporation from 1975 until the board's dissolution in 1977.

December 12, 1977 marked the 50th anniversary of JAYEKODY�s ordination, normally the time of parish celebration. Herat, pointing out that JAYEKODY was not assigned to the parish but was simply staying at the church, told him that the parishioners were not bound to hold the customary festivities. Sensing Herat's discomfort with his suggestion that he therefore celebrate his anniversary quietly, and realizing that he may have outworn his welcome, JAYEKODY decided to solve the problem by taking his leave of All Saints.

Just then Cooray retired and the new archbishop, Nicolas Marcus Fernando�who had taught with him at St. Peter's and understood the situation�asked JAYEKODY to fill in at Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Hanwella, for a French priest who was going on six-month home leave. When the priest returned JAYEKODY requested and was granted permission to occupy the vacant quarters at the back of St. Anne's Church in Pilapitiya.

The archbishop himself inspected the rooms and ordered the parishioners to repair them. This they did, giving JAYEKODY a workroom (in which he also keeps the car he has recently bought), a bedroom and a kitchen. The latter he uses as a storeroom because he still does not cook, but even his bedroom is stacked with books and tapes. He repays the parish by saying the 6:15 a.m. mass for the pious who attend services daily before going to work.

Soon after moving into St. Anne's, he was asked by the Minister of State to serve as a Visiting Lecturer in Music at St. Thomas' College in Kotte. The minister had found the school substandard in Sinhala music. Each Wednesday for a year the minister's airconditioned car transported him back and forth. JAYEKODY frankly admits he enjoyed "sitting at ease in that big car," and asserts that the people liked seeing him "in touch with the minister." By the end of the year he had developed a singing group worthy of being televised and the minister was satisfied that the Sinhala music classes had achieved a reasonable standard.

During that year and the next JAYEKODY prepared two more books of hymns for publication, Yagi (Prayers or Songs for Mass, 1979) and Wanamala (Wild Flowers, 1980). In 1980 Muthu (Pearls) was published at his expense by the All Ceylon Sinhala Poets Congress Press and was chosen from among 300 books of poetry as the best of the year. At the Sahitya (National Literature) Festival, before a gathering of the nation's best writers and poets, he received the Poet of the Year Literature Award and Rs.5,000 from the Ministry of Education. He was the only non-Buddhist present. Prime Minister Ranasinha Premadasa, who made the presentation, had earlier asked JAYEKODY for a copy of the book. Himself a Buddhist and a Sinhala scholar, the prime minister called the education minister to suggest that Muthu be approved for use in the schools.

In Muthu JAYEKODY dwelt on the beauty of the mountains and lakes and the grandeur of the ruins and temples of the past. When he spoke of Christianity he linked it with Buddhist culture. For example, in a poem which commemorated Pope Paul's 1971 visit to Sri Lanka, he noted that, as Lanka was blessed when the Lord Buddha set his foot on the island, so was it blessed by the Pope. This acknowledgement by a Catholic priest of the veracity of the Lord Buddha's visit (which has been questioned by Western historians) and his recognition that the island was thus blessed�was seen by Buddhists as an act of great courage and sincerity. JAYEKODY says of this perception, "I felt . . . I was succeeding in my apostolate of bringing the church and the temple together and had come to the heart of my people through poetry."

In December 1980 JAYEKODY realized his dream, founding Kala Lanka (Arts of Lanka) Center where talented young people from poor families are trained in the music and dance of the country. With the money he had saved from his three years in New York, the Rs.50,000 gift from Mrs. Crawford, his Muthu prize, and money from his literary endeavors, he bought a piece of land in the village of Tewatte in Ragama township, about 10 miles from Colombo, and put up a small building for the center; he also bought a small, inexpensive car for transportation. He employs two teachers�one to instruct in dancing and the other in music and sight instrumentation�who receive Rs.300 each per month. There are now 33 students who together pay about Rs.100 monthly. JAYEKODY provides all other funds for salaries and upkeep. He receives from the archbishop a personal maintenance allowance of Rs.800 a month, and more often than not has to use some of this for school expenses.

Shirley Perera, who has sung for him since her kindergarten days and is now married to a wealthy lawyer, gave the school an electric organ. At her own expense during 1981-83 she made six cassette tapes, recording 61 of the some 1,000 folk and popular songs, lullabies, carols and hymns for which JAYEKODY had written the lyrics�and sometimes the tunes and orchestration. After she recovers her very major investment, all profits from sales of the tapes will go to Kala Lanka. In the meantime the tapes, JAYEKODY feels, have given him a wider audience for his apostolate.

Besides the tapes, 36 of his songs have been pressed on commercial records. Three hundred and fifty of his hymns have been published in his 11 books�the eleventh being Sarana Sirita (Marriage Mass, 1981). From these he receives small royalties. Therefore, he observes with a broad smile, he is getting his art center "for a song! "

His most popular songs are his lullabies and folk songs because, he says, "the heart of the people is in them, the best tunes and the best words." They were written to appeal to all�to show Buddhists and Christians that they spring from the same emotional and cultural roots.

Since he mastered literary Sinhala in 1949 JAYEKODY has also contributed thousands of articles and poems to the four largest Sinhala dailies and to 12 Sinhala weeklies which appeal variously to young children, adolescents and adults. He has written most extensively for Tharunee (Young Lady) because the readers contribute poetry themselves and ask him to criticize and judge it. He also writes for the two largest Sinhala monthlies, Kaviya (Poetry) edited by the Poets Congress and with a circulation of about 11,000, and Dana (Sharing), the organ of the Lanka Sarvodaya Shramadana Sangamaya founded by Ahangamage Ariyaratne (1969 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Community Leadership). None of these publications are officially Buddhist, but all are directed to what is essentially a Buddhist reading public.

In addition to the Catholic Weekly and the two principal English-language daily papers, his English-language articles have been carried in Weekend, Island, Novena News and Daily News.

In 1982 JAYEKODY was one of 10 distinguished artists to receive the Kalasoori Award and Rs.10,000, given by the Tower Hall Foundation in the tradition of the ancient kings to safeguard creative talent; and for the first time the church officially acknowledged his work when Archbishop Fernando made him a Patron of the Cultural Committee of the Archdiocese of Colombo. A second national distinction was being named a member of the Convening Committee of the Samastha Sinhala Maha Sabha (All Sinhala Council) created to standardize Sinhala terminology. This scholarly group, comprised otherwise of Buddhist monks and laymen, met for six months but could reach no consensus and disbanded. In December JAYEKODY was unanimously chosen President of the All Ceylon Sinhala Poets Congress, the first Christian to head this organization of some 700 poets and musicians, about 350 of whom are Buddhist monks. Though many of the members are leftist and some avowedly communist, JAYEKODY successfully limits discussions at meetings to poetry and music. His second book of Sinhala poetry, Thatu (Wings), was published in 1983 by the Poets Congress Press.

JAYEKODY�s differences and disappointments with the Catholic hierarchy on occasion have never swayed his commitment to his religion nor to his vocation. He is satisfied that by expressing his devotion and his unique apostolate in song and poetry he has been faithful to his priesthood. His recipe for happiness is ignoring "the hundred things that are wrong in man but stressing the thousand things that are right in nature" and in working hard.

An ardent patriot who favors the teaching of Sinhala culture in all schools, he is at the same time a citizen of the world and disagrees with an edict of the previous Bandaranaike governments that Sinhala must be the medium of instruction because "Sinhala will not take us far." He favors English, "which is the lingua franca and opens doors to the world," and Sinhala�or in Tamil areas Tamil�as a required course. He lauds the present Jayawardene government for gradually reinstating English in spite of popular pressure to the contrary.

Tall, slim and straight, with a crown of thick silver hair, the "singing priest" as he is known, maintains an "evergreen and versatile" outlook at 82. His smiling, lean face and deepset, sparkling eyes behind dark framed lenses, indicate an alert and optimistic disposition toward the world around him. His sensitive hands still expertly play the instruments used in his melodies, and his firm, mellow voice is only slightly tinged with age. Notably friendly and warm, he has a knack for quickly bridging cultural differences. He finds no contradiction in being both Roman Catholic priest and religious eclectic; he denies no faith and no teacher�neither Buddha, Mohammed nor Krishna�who has offered enlightenment and inspiration. "We should not despise anything that is beautiful, wherever it is," he believes; "in the ground we find roses growing and in the mud water lilies."

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Re: "Mage Naththala Dugiyaa Bath Kana Daaya".....
« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2007, 08:47:05 AM »
JAYEKODY has donated Rs.100,000 (US$4,125) of his US$20,000 Magsaysay prize money to the Poets Congress as a gesture of appreciation for its recognition and encouragement of him. His gift is intended to buy a small property and build a central office in Colombo for the association. The balance will be used to finish his art center and, he hopes, to add to it a little apartment for himself.

When asked to discuss his life JAYEKODY says: "My story is quite simple, like myself. I could not think of organizing big projects, of international understanding. I have always thought of the man next door, not at the end of the lane but the man next to me, and if I understood him I would understand the difficulties and differences of other people." He believes in the adage, "you get what you give," and says "if you want to do something your material is there, just under your nose. My material was inside me�the way to sing, to write a tune, a story or a poetic line."

And one of his songs sums up his apostolate: "The church and the temple are for worship, but keep the worship in your heart; when you go out into the country, live together as friends in mutual respect." After all, JAYEKODY reminds us: "God is love and religion is love and if we learn to love one another that is religion."

September 1983
Manila

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Re: "Mage Naththala Dugiyaa Bath Kana Daaya".....
« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2007, 08:47:52 AM »
REFERENCES:

Alahakoon, Lalith. "The Oriental Music-Maker," Weekend. Colombo. April 19, 1981.

Alahakoon, Lalith and Manohari Pillai. singing Priest With a Dual Mission," Weekend. Colombo. December 26, 1982.

"Books by Oblates to be Collected," Ceylon Catholic Messenger. December 1, 1981.

Candappa, E.C.T. "Christmas Carols and Changing Times," Observer. Colombo.

Christmas Number 1975.

Dharmadasa, Chandrakanthi. "People: Religion Through Music," Island. Colombo.

May 29,1982.

Jayekody, Marcelline. "Away With Her?" Novena News. Colombo. March 1976.

______."Blowing Our Own Trumpet," Novena News. July 1975.

______."Bridging Societal Differences Through Music, Song and Poetry." Presentation to Group Discussion, Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, Manila. September 2, 1983. (Typewritten transcript.)

______. Ceylon Catholic Messenger. April 4, 11, 18, July 4, 25, August 1, September 5, 12, 1971; January 2, May 7, June 11, 16, July 2, September 16, 1972; June 22, August 10, 1974; September 30, 1975; February 29, August 15, 22, 29, 1976.

______. "Christmas, Those were the Days," Island. Colombo. December 25, 1982.

______. "Fancy as It Flies," (Column) Ceylon Catholic Messenger. October 3, 10, 17, 1971.

______. "Happy New Year to You," (Poem) Dana. Colombo: Lanka Jatika Sarvodaya Shramadana Sangamaya. April 1975.

______. In Search of Ceylon. Colombo: Lake House. 1964.

_____. Observer. Colombo. February 20, 1983.

______. "Things," (Column) Ceylon Catholic Messenger. February 8, 15, 22, 29, March 14, 21, 28, April 4, 11, 18, 25, May 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, June 6, 13, 20, 27, July 4, 11, 18, 25, August 1, 8, 1976.

______. Yagika. Maggona, Sri Lanka: St. Vincent's Press. 1973. (38 titles translated into English by Vinya Ariyaratne.)

"Kalasoori Awards," Daily News. Colombo. September 16, 1982.

"Lions Give Young Talent a Chance," Daily News. Colombo. May 24, 1982.

Moraes, Premnath. "Father Music Tops the 350th Mark, More Strength to His Musical Elbow," Island. Colombo. November 12, 1981.

"Our Folk Songs in the West," Observer. Colombo. October 4, 1981.

"Pearls from a Priestly Pen," Daily Mirror. Colombo. August 11, 1982.

"Priest with a Midas Touch, Fr. M. Jayekody Turns Eighty," Ceylon Catholic Messenger. June 7, 1981.

"Proving the Creative Mind: A Portrait of the Man Fr. Marcelline Jayekody," Observer. Colombo. July 28, 1965.

"Singing Priest," Observer. Colombo. December 20, 1981.

Statistical Pocketbook of Ceylon. Colombo: Department of Census and Statistics. 1983.

Interview with Fr. Marcelline Jayekody; tapes of his devotional, folk and popular songs, Christmas carols and lullabies; interviews with and letters from persons acquainted with him and his work.



Source : rmaf.org.ph