A hamuduruwo, a girl and an invitation to reflection | Daily News


A hamuduruwo, a girl and an invitation to reflection

Someone said that there’s no cave, no temple, no monastery in the island that doesn’t have a Walagamba story attached to it. It’s as though the great king spent all his years hiding in caves or commissioning artists to paint in them or making them habitable for meditative monks.

Buddhangala, Padaviya, is also one of these ‘Walagamaba places.’ Maybe there’s some truth to the legends, maybe it’s just an easy anecdote to mark the place historically. The truth is that such places were occupied by various people at various times, receiving or not receiving the patronage of various kings, century after century.

The fixation with fixing a historical date on place sometimes misses the point. And the point? Well, if there was or there is monastic-significance then the wise thing to do would be to let place, ambience and moment envelope one in the need for reflection.

Years ago, a photograph was taken at this place. The legendary Nihal Fernando. It is of Buddhangala, Padaviya, with a haamuduruwo in the foreground of a rock formation atop which was a spectacular belfry tolling unknown truths to the skies. The dark orange of the haamuduruwo’s sivura offers some contrast but is not at odds with the overall colors of the rocks.

Decades later, when Tharindu Amunugama photographed the belfry, there was no haamuduruwo. No sivura. No deep orange lending embellishment to the overall composition. A different time of day, perhaps. The sky was not clear. White, instead of the blue that was the background to Nihal Ferndnado’s photograph. The berry was the same and stood out as it had all those decades previously. And there was a girl. White is the color that gives sense of the relevant dimensions.

Time for reflection.

How many bikkhus had stood on that same spot, how many had passed as they went about whatever it was that concerned them? How many others, young and old, male or female, devout of just simply curious, had stood there? And how many had reflected on the passing of time, the transient nature of all things? How many heard the call to reflection and how many had, in fact, reflected?

Did any of them wonder about centuries yet to unfold? When was the belfry constructed and well will it succumb to the ravages of time and the elements? What cloud formations, splendid and bland, what sunsets in what colors bright and dull will background the structure? You could also ask when in fact the formation came into being and due to which tectonic movements or processes of natural erosion.

The haamuduruwo wasn’t there a few weeks ago. Where is he now, no one knows. The girl was there a few weeks ago, but she’s no longer in Buddhangala. Photographer and the photographed shared space on top of a hill and among massive boulders. For a while. They are gone. The photographs remain. For now. We know not when belfry, rock, monastic ambience and the will to visit, worship and explore will end.

Right now, in Buddhangala, Padaviya, there could be someone at this very same spot. There may even be a photographer. They will no doubt let place and moment ingrain on self something that they may perhaps label ‘Buddhangala.’ They may reflect on the eternal verities, they may not.

Tonight, it is unlike that there would be anyone there except perhaps some creature to which it is home or place of rest.

Buddhangala could be ‘captured.’ It can be forgotten or never known of even. It could be caressed, one way or another, as Walagamba may have. That might be best, all things considered.

([email protected]. www.malindawords.blogspot.com.)

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