Kataragama and the Framing of History

Hotel Chamila located in Katharagama.Katharagama is one of the most celebrated places of pilgrimage

The fact that the cote myth of Kataragama may be framed in a variety of ways is of particular relevance to historian, for this is precisely the dilemma of historians of every age: how to interpret the histories that have already been told, and how to share with others the understanding acquired. And the issue of exceptional relevance when one considers it in the context of the aforesaid dichotomy visible in Sri Lanka and all over Asia as a European-inspired struggle to overcome tradition and modernize national economies, all in accordance with modes of thought originating in Europe.

Clearly, what is suggested is not a sort of historical relativism elevated into a general theory, for relativism would imply a reciprocity, which is singularly absent in the present context. Rather, it has from the beginning been an unequal struggle in which, broadly speaking, the west has brought to bear against the east the full force of what has been called its “proselytizing fury”, all for its own purely pragmatic purposes. Nowhere has the Western or modern mentality had to undergo the degree of change that it has sought to impose upon traditional cultures everywhere. The time for redress is opportune.

How the accounts of modern and traditional historians may diverge is the subject for which the following historical examples have been drawn. All center on the myth of Kataragama. Each in its own fashion demonstrates the contention of this article. Regarded in their totality, they tell a story on a scale befitting the many-faced myth of Kataragama.

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