Dayananda Dissanayake is a bilingual writer from Sri Lanka writing in English and Sinhala. He has won the SAARC Literary Award 2013, at Agra, India, is a three-time winner of the State Literary Award for Best English Novel in 1998, 2007 & 2013, and has shared the award for the first ever Swarna Pusthaka for the Best Sinhala Novel. He has served on the Swarna Pusthaka panel for three years to select the short list, and the Godage Award for the best Sinhala Translation. He currently writes a column “Life into Arts” in the Daily News Artscope (Wednesdays), and contributes frequently to the Sunday Observer (Spectrum), and the Sinhala newspapers Silumina, Lakbima and Lankadeepa. He is the Coordinator for FOSWAL in Sri Lanka.

bringing down the barriers

daya dissanayake


History of mankind had always been distorted. It was always recorded by those who were in power at the time of the happenings, or those who took over power later. In the past historians always wrote to please their masters, today some of them write to please their masters, some to advance their academic career, and others to make quick money by writing history for the entertainment business, like in films and tele-dramas.

 Oral and later written legends, epics and history had always contributed to the erection of barriers of national, racial, religious and language. Every conflict, every incident of aggression or violence was recorded and perpetuated to keep the fires of enmity and vengeance burning, while literature added more oil to the fire.

We have to occupy Babel and work towards a universal language, or at least bring down the six thousand odd languages to at least six. We have to think of doing away with ‘national flags’ and ‘national anthems’. Once we occupy Babel, we should be able to share all the knowledge on earth, and all the literature on earth, with everyone, everywhere, without any barriers of language between us. We have people using the same mother tongue, but separated by borders, like our Bangla speaking delegates here from Bangladesh and West Bengal, and Urdu speaking delegates from India and Pakistan.

 We do not need national flags or national anthems. If we need a universal anthem, we have Gurudev’s own creation, Janaganamana, about which he had said, “In a sense it is more a religious hymn for all mankind than a national anthem for any country”

 According the Lovelock and Margulis, who believe Mother Earth is a living entity, evolution is the result of cooperative and not competitive process. Edward O. Wilson’s concept of Biophilia, the love of all life, is what we need to promote through all art forms, and for that to use ‘Sahitya’ in ite original meaning, and not just for literature.

 We create our borders and barriers and we create rules and regulations and synthetic labels.

We will have to rewrite the entire history of mankind, and use it as a healing process and ensure that all human beings would become Peaceful and Useful. Let us learn from Gurudev, ‘Jodi tor daak shune’, instead of only ‘ekla chalo re’, and sing together and walk together to a better, more humane world.

Daya dissanayake – Sri Lankan writer. Winner of the SAARC Literary Award 2013, State Literary Award three times for the Best English Novel, 1998, 2007 and 2008. Published 9 English novels, 5 Sinhala novels, and one collection of poetry in English. Regular columnist for several English and Sinhala newspapers in Sri Lanka.