Saturday, 7 December 2013


And to that other receptacle 
of karmic mendicancy
life tosses alms
wholesome and detracting 
and we receive
or place the downturned hand
in courteous refusal
for some of us are children
and some ancient too
the karmic callousses in sole
and other marks of mind
will testify
of give and take 
and balance sheet
the how-far-we've-come
the how-much-more-to-go
we cannot read 
but must try:
kumatada kusalata kammeli vanne?*

* Is there reason then for procrastination

[Inspired by the photography of Chandana Wijesinghe]

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

A children’s story

He came from nowhere
and she did too,
same name town
in different district
both as children
innocent in confusion
arrogant in conviction
and I took him by his hand
and I took her by her hand
placed one hand on the other
and watched them walk away;
they were two children
when they came to me
they  were one in togetherness
when they left.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Prabuddha XVIII

When the white basin

with water was filled

within it residenced

the pure moonlight lay.

Perceived I the truth

for but a moment

and the mind stilled in silence

for but a moment.

Is it not possible

to retain

to sustain

that stillness

for eternity?

Slipped hands into basin

drew some water

drank my fill

my heart’s fill.


was another day.

And stepping out

one early morning

readying to squirt

the night’s accumulated liquids

the eyes fell upon the kiri habarala

noticed a tender leaf


in unblemished adolescence

and upon it a large drop of dew

like the immaculate love

of a mother

who had suffered

from long before time

to long after time.

‘Dear Lord!

Who but you

could craft

an exquisiteness

such as this?’

The heart was re-lit

overflowed with faith.

And at the moment of discharge,


‘Dear Lord!

This is my offering

in your holy name

to the kiri habarala.

He was alone

there before the Ruwanweli

before the great chaithya

dusk was the hour

and in the sky

a single star,


It shone and shone

this star.

‘If only I could

turn it into adornment!’

he thought.

He walked

to and fro

several times

until that singular point he found

where pinnacle, star and eye

were one.

Atop the Ranweliseya

that star

at that moment


and in all directions released

the incomparable light

the transcendental colors

as emanated

and emanates from the Buddha.

His mind was at peace

the resplendent stillness   

of comprehension:

Deepena thama Dhansinaa!

The gloom was thereby dispelled.

O Great King Dutugemunu!

Did you such splendor

ever witness?

[This is the eighteenth part of the translation of Mahagama Sekera's epic poem 'Prabuddha', an exercise that has the permission and blessings of the immediate family of Mahagama Sekera. Parts I, II, III, IV, V, VI , VII, VIII,  IX, X , XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI and XVII can be found in]

Prabuddha XVII*

When at the end of the month
a small sum I receive
something small I bring
and so each evening when I return
by way of habit he asks, he seeks,
runs to me
dances in fact
coy smile dancing on lip.

What did you bring today Thaththa?

‘Today, nothing!’

‘No, that cannot be!
There must be something,
show me, show me!’

He clings to me
checks my pockets
one by one,
convinced of imminent discovery.

‘I wanted to bring something Niranjala
but I don’t have that much money to spare.

I am not lying, son
there’s nothing to give today
all shops are closed for Poya
perhaps tomorrow?’

He washes at the stream
downs plain tea with jaggery
opens the camp cot in the verandah
leans against the wall
looks at the vast sky
in silence
in wonderment
with veneration.
The countless stars
fade and awake
die out and are reborn
like the mute-unmute tone
of faint, faint music;
and feeding the rhythm
of that celestial composition
countless crickets began to sing.
He listened
eyes half closed
uniting the good and bad
the beneficial and detracting
elements of the mind.

From the faraway fields
rises a voice
the four-lined traditional
a seepada that displaces to background
the cricket chorus.
It rises, this song
and duly fades
lapses into nirvanic silence
so sought by us all.

‘This is bliss!’

He opens his eyes;
the half-moon arrives
through cloud and over mountain
as though in pursuit
of that very same four-lined song
now faded and gone.

‘In an instant I elevate with moon
residenced in a trance.’

Of a higher order
is this moment
devoid of yesterday
devoid of tomorrow,
outside of time
bereft of body
without mind

‘If that transcendental state
is free of thought and silent,
then this side of that bliss
you would be but a blind man
in a world of joy
in the midst of light and myriad color.’[1]

'In the beginning
God created the heavens and the earth.
The earth was without form and void
and darkness was upon the face of the deep
and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.
"Let there be light," He said
and there was light.’[2]

There was once
a dawn mist-laden  
when from the holy peak
Sri Pada
at that singular moment
when the sun moved
in its diurnal veneration
I witnessed this splendor:
the limitless universe
the ring of mountains
and at sky’s edge
there flew
bright golden banners
the valleys were white with mist
and embedded therein was music
and devout hearts were lit
with the light that rose from horizon;
immediately a chorus
Sadhu! Sadhu!
Sweet thereafter was
the unbounded space,
hearts illuminated
were silent.

It was morning, then.

That was a day, a singular one.


[This is the seventeenth part of the translation of Mahagama Sekera's epic poem 'Prabuddha', an exercise that has the permission and blessings of the immediate family of Mahagama Sekera. Parts I, II, III, IV, V, VI , VII, VIII,  IX, X , XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV and XVI can be found in]

[1] Krishnamurthi
[2] Holy Bible