Malin had been born and bred in an upper-class family. Was that the cause of his dissillusionment and bitterness with that way of life? The way he could have peace of mind therefore, was by detaching himself from that way of life and battling against it. Would Prince Siddharta have renounced the world if he had been born into poverty?
Primitive veddhas moulded images of women with full-blown breasts and legs. This was not to evoke sensuous pleasure, but as symbolic images related to their faith in religious fertility rites with the aim of increasing their return from harvesting and hunting. The modern artist magnifies the breasts of the woman in a painting in order to derive and to evoke erotic pleasure. That is how vulgarity enters their art.
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A woman anticipates danger by instinct, rather than inductive reasoning. Due to this, when faced with danger due to passionate feelings related to their basic needs, women are impelled by reasoning, conditioned by instincts acquired from family traditions and the conventions of her social stratum, much more than men are.
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A village woman from a poor family may violate the code of propriety, not because of poverty, but because she has been the victim of the menace of male predators. A woman from a family of the gentry, would never be the victim of such intimidation. Moreover the women of the gentry were bonded to follow their code of conduct and not to transgress, by generations of breeding.
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Tissa: Malin's notion is that once poverty is eradicated, these people can live happily in stately mansions like the richer folk. Chamari: That's what I think too. Tissa: They can't be reformed with money. Chamari: These people live like this because of their poverty. The way they live is what they have created out of their poverty. Tissa: No. Their lives are fashioned by the combination of ignorance and poverty. Do they heap up all that refuse in front of their doorways because of their poverty? The loose plank of that window can be fixed with a nail. But the people there don't do it and they keep gaping at it until the plank falls. Is that because of poverty? The moment a child or an adult falls ill, the first man they summon is the exorcist or a quack who practises both magic and traditional medicine. Chamari: They don't have the money to call in a doctor or an ayurvedic physician. Tissa: You don't need a lot of money to call in a good physician. These people spend even more on a quack than on a good physician. There are two competent native physicians within a quarter mile on this place. Instead, these people spend twenty to thirty rupees on exorcists to perform devil dancing. Chamari: A doctor is indifferent towards them when they go to fetch him. Tissa: No. That's not the reason. They have faith only in the exorcist and quacks.
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Tissa reflected that religion is divine poetry whilst morality is made up of customs and traditions that change with the place and the times. How do men who read the same books he reads, live on the same kind of food in the same world and social class, differ so much from him and from each other in mind and body? He concluded that his present state of body and mind that gives rise to his reflections cannot be just the outcome of books he read and the food he ate, nor his own efforts to adapt to his world and his social class. Human beings are born with an individuality that is unique to each, but this cannot be attributed to the presence or absence of a soul. The same individuality is there in each leaf, and one leaf differs from another. Yet all the leaves get the same nourishment from the roots of the tree, and the sun and the air.
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The urban capitalists and the bourgeoisie differ in linguistic habits and dress from the workers. They don't live together in one integrated society, but as two separate societies that speak different languages both literally and metaphorically. The urban capitalists do not know the life led by workers. Workers experience hardships that are unheard of amongst villagers and these evoke malice in the urban workers, easily stirred by union leaders who use them to ride to power. Villagers are different. Teaching the villagers cannot easily change what they have inherited from the environment and the past they have known and in which they have grown up. The village entrepreneur wore only a sarong in the past. Some of them wore a sarong and slung another over a shoulder. The poor villager's dress is also a sarong. The village entrepreneur speaks Sinhalese, which is the language of the poor villager too. On the day of the traditional New Year, the children of both the rich and the poor in the village eat together and play together in the homes of the villager elite. All this subdues feelings of resentment against the wealthy villagers. It's true that villagers suffer a great deal on account of their poverty. But unlike the urban poor, poverty amongst the villagers does not incite malice toward the wealthy, due to the rural way of life.
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The two qualities essential to a good man were honesty and compassion, Malin felt. His father lived his life as if he had rejected these qualities. Saviman Kabalana reasoned that loving kindness and compassion were weaknesses. Therefore he hid behind a mask that concealed his innate human qualities of love and kindness, both in his office and at home.
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The few people who work earnestly are those who want to accumulate wealth. They are born with exceptional ability and a drive to reach the top. Even if they life as a worker, they become very wealthy. Had their needs been met at the beginning, they would never have acquired the capacity for hard work and commitment. Why is it that rich men's children fail within two or three generations?
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An urbanite does not become a civilized person just because he has had an education. What one assimilates in the city is book-learning and knowledge derived through emulating educated men. But that alone will not make him a civilized person. A man of simple tastes becomes complex through education because he desires to become complex. That is why a lot of educated men enjoy vulgar and obscene things. The cinema has become a vulgar philistine art form. The enormous motor car with its bloated body is a vulgar vehicle. It is difficult to create a complex thing without some vulgarity and grossness. Amongst the things valued by the educated, it is difficult to find things untainted by vulgarity. People who cannot distinguish between grossness and refinement are not uncommon among the urban educated because for many, the measure of civilization is its complexity.
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Malin listened to Wickramanayake's gossip dispassionately. He did not accept Wickramanayake's opinion that it was the influence of Western customs and attitudes that prompted Savulugala, in his straitened economic circumstances, to allow his wife to befriend and exploit wealthy men. There were poor people in both town and village who exploited even their daughters to get money. Did these poor parents degrade themselves because they were enslaved by Western culture? It was the prevailing economic and social order that brought them to this.
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An outsider's inquisitiveness to know another's private affairs is natural, but not so in children with respect to their parents. Children know the overt personal life of their parents. It is a crime for children to probe into mistakes made by their parents, like detectives looking for evidence of crimes. Any man can make mistakes, however good he may be. It is wrong for children to inquisitively probe into their parents' lives, and have fun or show anger over what they uncover. It is like digging into the heads of ancient statues in search of archaeological artefacts. Nanda spoke with anger.
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It did not occur to Kabalana that the behaviour of these two young men was not a consequence of their education and experiences in England. Kabalana did not have the objectivity in thinking to acknowledge this. What they acquired in England was an education that encouraged independent thought. The social environment encouraged independent thought, but also the expression of such thoughts without fear. The English people have no unchanging past. Scientific knowledge, the Arts and social conventions change even in a matter of weeks and months.
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There's curd, but is it alright to eat curd after eating meat?" asked Weligama Hamine, placing the dish of vegetables in her hands on the table. "Our parents never allowed us to eat curd after meat." "There's no harm in eating curd, Amma, " Aravinda said. "It may be a little harmful to eat curd after too much meat. Meats contains essential elements that take time to digest. This is also true of milk. That's why this belief would have grown. If we eat a large quantity of meat without rice, and follow with curd, there is a possibility of indigestion." Weligama Hamine accepted the professional knowledge of her son who had qualified in England. She however, did not abandon her own view completely.
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Village folk believed that a patient should be treated until the final moment of his life. The villager does not despair and give up hope even when a doctor gives up. He would summon an Ayurvedic physician. If he too admitted his inability to cure the patient, he would summon a traditional physician from another village or an exorcist. He did so, not just because of blind faith in the power of medicine or charms. He knew from experience that there had been patients given up as hopeless by doctors, who had been cured by traditional physicians. He had faith not only in the medicine but also in the practitioner. Some villagers even believed stories of physicians and exorcists who had given life to dead men.
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Chamari: "Aravinda, have you been to Kataragama?" Aravinda: "No, I've never been there." Chamari: "What? That's unbelievable for someone born in Deniyaya!" Aravinda: "Going to Kataragama is not a custom of the rural folk. It is the middle class and wealthy urban people, not the villagers, who venerate the Kataragama god. He is the god of the urbanities. The villagers have now started to imitate the urban people." Chamari:"I thought even villagers used to go to Kataragama long ago." Aravinda: "No, It came from the rich urban Sinhalese of the towns who followed the rich Hindus.
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It was not to flaunt feelings of superiority that the elders of the Kaisaruwatte family clung to the traditions of their patrician lineage, but for self-preservation of themseleves and their way of life, now declining in the face of social change. It was their inability to adapt to change due to the rigidity of their adherence to tradition, that was also the cause of their decline.
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