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Author Name M. B. Ariayapala
Category Sinhala Poetry
Description ....M. B. Ariayapala was born at Dodanduwa but was brought up and lived at Hikkaduwa in the Galle district, south Sri Lanka. After a brilliant career at Mahinda College Galle which is one of the leading School in Sri Lanka. He entered University College and graduated with First Class Honours in Sinhalese from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He specialized in the Sinhalese language and literature and was appointed to the teaching staff of the Faculty of Arts almost at the very inception itself of the University of Ceylon in 1944. Thus commenced a long, fruitful and distinguished tenure in several fields- academic as well as administrative at Universities in Sri Lanka and abroad. In 1947 he was appointed Lecturer and Examiner in Sinhalese Studies, to the above-mentioned School of the University of London. During his stay in London he presented his Thesis for the PhD degree of the University of London, entitled Society in Medieval Ceylon, a monumental work in its field, unrivalled up to now.

With the establishment of the university of Colombo in 1942 Dr. Ariyapala took an active part in its organization and development. Not only was he its first Professor and Head of the Department of Sinhala, he also served as Deans of the Faculties of Humanities and Arts, culminating in his appointment as President (Vice Chancellor). He served the University for almost fifty years.

On his retirement he was awarded an Emirate Professorship in Sinhala, by the University of Colombo. Other awards, which came his way, were - Sri Lanka Sahitya Siromani by the Malvatta Chapter of the Siam Maha Nikaya, The Sammana Pandit, Oriental Studies Society of Sri Lanka and the Sahitya Ratna award at the State Literary Festival in 2002.

He also rendered valuable services to the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society of which he was the President for a number of years. He also served as president of the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress. His services as Lecturer and Examiner in Sinhalese at the School of Oriental and African Studies is worthy of special mention.

Kavsilumina the present work, is universally acknowledged to be one of the greatest if not the greatest poem of ancient Sri Lanka. It was composed towards the end of the Polonnaruwa period (12 century A.D) in what is called the Gi (Blank Verse) style of Sinhala poetic composition. Prof Ariyapala has made an in-depth study of this classical poem.

He has taught and explained its intricacies to entire generations of students at the University in Sri Lanka and abroad. A critical edition of the text together with its original paraphrase (sanne) was published by him as far back as 1965. It was followed by an English translation in verse, co-authored by William Me Alpine. The present work is an English prose translation. The Sinhala text is also for the first time presented in the Roman script, with a view to make it accessible to readers who are not familiar with the Sinhala script. The rich poetic imagery of Sanskrit which has weighed heavily on our own poet of the Kavsilumina may at times appear to be alien and strange to English readers of poetry. Faced with this daunting task. Prof. Ariyapala has attempted and, it is hoped succeeded in presenting a readable translation in keeping with the spirit of the original poem.

He was awarded the Honoury Degree D. Litt. (Doctor of Letters) by the University of Colombo in 1984, for all the services rendered to the Uiversity during his long career. A few years later in 1992, he was also awarded the Honourary Degree D. Litt by both Universities of Colombo and Ruhuna.

Prof. Ariyapala has had the rare distinction of having his biographical record included in the Millenium Edition of the MARQUIS who's who in the world.

Books of M. B. Ariayapala


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Kavsilumina the Crown Jewel of Sinhala Poetry in E

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