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Sunday, January 15, 2017

වෛද්‍ය කලා සාන්ත මහත්මිය අද උදෑසන අභාව ප්‍රාප්ත වී ඇත...!!!

සගයු වෙසරද ගුරු දෙවි සුනිල් සාන්තයන්ගේ දයාබර දියණිය වූ වෛද්‍ය කලා සාන්ත මහත්මිය අද උදෑසන අභාව ප්‍රාප්ත වී ඇත. සුනිල් සාන්තයන්ගේ ගී ඇතුලත් කැසට් පට කිහිපයක් ගුවන් විදුලියෙන් නිපදවූ අවස්ථා වලදී ඇය ගායනයෙන් දායක විය. සුනිල් ගී නව පටිගතකිරීම් බොහොමයක අයිවෝ ඩෙනිස් මහතාගේ හඬ සමග කලා සාන්ත මහත්මියගේ හඬත් මුසුව ඇත. කලා සාන්ත මහත්මියගේ දේහය අද සවස 6.00 - රාත්‍රි 10.00 කාලයේත් හෙට උදෑසන පැය කිහිපයකුත් කොළඹ ජයරත්න මල් ශාලාවේ තබා ඇති අතර අවසන් කටයුතු හෙට (16) ජාඇල දෙහියාගතදී සිදුකෙරෙන බව ඇගේ සොයුරු ලංකා සාන්ත  සඳහන් කර ඇත. කිතුසමයානුකූලව වෛද්‍ය කලා සාන්ත මහත්මියගේ ආත්මයට දෙව් මව් තුරුලේ සාමදාන ස්වර්ග මෝක්ෂය පතන අතර අපි එතුමියට සසර කෙළවර අජරාමර නිර්වාණයද ප්‍රාර්ථනා කරමු.
  Remembering Sunil Shantha....

It will be a Herculean task for us to mould the younger generation to appreciate indigenous music (Hela Sangeethaya). For this, a cultural revolution is necessary. The electronic media, should educate our younger generation even to appreciate the golden oldies of Sunil Shantha and other reputed artists of yesteryear. When we hear their melodious songs they will be registered in our minds, and we will appreciate them. But unfortunately very rarely, do our electronic media promote the high quality music of Sunil Shantha.
I have listened to Sunil Shantha more in foreign countries like Botswana, Boputaswana, South Africa, England and Emirates than in Sri Lanka in recent years. Some of the educated Sri Lankans, living abroad very much appreciate Sunil Shantha’s music. The prophets are not honoured in their own country.
My memories of Sunil Shantha go back to 1948. I was ten years old then and at the University of Ceylon — King George's Hall, Colombo. I had the good fortune to listen to Sunil Shantha’s renowned song "Olu Pipeela’.
Great Sunil Shantha, after returning from Shanthineketan and Bhathkanda after obtaining the highest Visharadha Degree in music attempted to create a Sri Lankan musical culture based on our own "Hela Tradition" between the period 1946-1952. During this period, he composed and sang nearly 250-350 songs, all stamped with his inimitable melodious tune and his own rhythmic style. His charming pleasant personality added deeper colour to it.
From 1946-1952, his lilting voice and the melodies captivated the whole nation. Unfortunately, there were many "Satans" conspiring to oust him and topple him from his throne of popularity. That was at Radio Ceylon in 1952. Radio Ceylon invited Prof. Ratnajankar, to advice how to create a musical tradition in Sri Lanka. RC insisted all artistes should appear for a test conducted by Ratanjankar. This, Sunil Shantha boycotted.
"I have earned the highest qualification from Ratanjankar. Now it is absurd and ironical for me to appear before him to be tested. He is not aware of our culture and even our folk songs. It is stupid to expect a jack tree to bear coconuts," stated Sunil Shantha.
This "Ratanajankar Affair" was a height of absurdity. It is like the Australian Cricket Board requesting, Sir Don Bradman to don pads to prove that he can bat.
After 1952, Sunil Shantha’s downfall began. From there, it was very much like a story of Greek Dramatist — Aeschylus (525-456 BC) — Greek Tragedy.
Since 1950s, this great musician was living in abject poverty at Dehiyagatha. For his livelihood, he started repairing radio-sets, gramophones, various electrical items and even descended to the extent of selling dry-fish (Karawala). He underwent all these difficulties.
In 1976, when I was the head of the Public Relations Department at Bank of Ceylon, I was presenting the prestigious "Aradhana Programme", over the air waves of Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation.
Aradhana was the brain child of the then General Manager, the former Governor of the Central Bank, Mr. A. S. Jayawardane, who had a marked aesthetic facet to him. On his instructions along with Mr. I. A. Gurusinha, I met Sunil Shantha at Dehiyagatha. I could not believe my eyes.
His home can aptly be called a "Kukul Kotuwa". There were no chairs to sit. A "Booruanda’ and a table were the only luxury items. All over the place there were many radio sets, gas stoves and various electrical items brought in for repairs.
He welcomed the two of us. "For a moment, I thought that two police officers from Seeduwa and Ja-ela have come to record my statements regarding my possessing unlicensed radio sets. Every now and then they come and question me and they are trying to take me to courts. I am doing these radio repairs and other electrical repairs to keep our home fires burning. Leela, my beloved wife, who is like my shadow, and I have to feed three sons and a daughter’, stated Sunil Shantha.
After a very friendly chat, I kindly invited Sunil Shantha to feature in our Aradhana programme, for a few months as our Guest Artiste. Mr. A. S. Jayawardene, Chairman and the Board of Directors were very keen to help Sunil financially and they more or less gave me a blank cheque, as it were, I was free to make him any offer.
I told Sunil Shantha, BoC is prepared to pay him Rs. 10,000 per programme. Sunil thanked me profusely for the request and turned down my plea. Then graised the amount to Rs. 15,000 and another special payment for the chestra and to provide official transport. This was in way back in 1976.
"Mr. Epasinghe, now I cannot articulate musical notes (Swara) properly and sing. I am not fair by you and the Bank of Ceylon to take this assignment. One day, I must die as Sunil Shantha. I do not want to tarnish my good name. It is true that I am financially in dire straits. I am so sorry that I cannot sell my name for rupees and cents and to be a mockery of myself. I am not haughty. I value principles. Please thank Mr. Jayawardane on my behalf. It was very nice of him to help a poverty-stricken artiste." "These words still echo in my mind.
This great artiest Sunil Shantha firmly believed that a feature of national music should be the capacity to appeal to all sections of the land educated and non-educated, young and old.
He embarked on a course of action whose goal was to develop a national music tradition of high quality, and to propagate his new national musical culture. For this he adopted three principal strategies.
(a) Publication of song books with notations.
(b) Conducting of musical classes.
(c) Presenting radio programmes.
His broadcasting career was terminated in 1952, as a result of his campaign against the auditioning of Sinhala musicians by an Indian Prof. S. N. Ratanjankar. He was banned from the Radio Ceylon for the "crime" of trying to create a musical identity of our own.
It was during the mid-fifties that internationally reputed our own Lester James Peiris, requested Sunil Shantha to compose songs for his films ‘Rekhava’ and ‘Sandeshya’. These songs became instant hits, although we hear them very rarely now over the air-waves.
We must all pay a tribute to this great film ‘maker Lester James Peiris for extending a helping hand to this "Geeisiwara," recognizing the sterling qualities of his talents.
Another gentleman who helped Sunil Shantha in 1967 was the administrator par excellence — Mr. Neville Jayaweera, the then Director General of Broadcasting Corporation. He invited Sunil Shantha for an auditioning panel together with W. D. Amaradeva and H. W. Rupasinghe. Thereafter, Sunil presented a number of broadcasts of creative and experimental music, including the well-known "MADURA MADHU" series. But, it would be true to say that all his melodies which have captured the hearts of millions and millions were composed between 1946-1952 period.
Another factor for Sunil Shantha’s success as a musician was his close association with the Hela Haula Group, group and specially the great Sinhala Scholar Munidasa Kumaratunga. Along with Munidasa Kumaranatunga, he upheld the Sacred Trinity Desa - Basa - Resa, country language and race. Brilliant Sinhala scholars like Jayantha Weerasekera, Rapiyal Tennekoon, Amarasiri Gunawadu, Hubert Dissanayake, Arisen Ahubudu, Gunapala Senadhira, Wellala Jayamaha, Kithsiri Kumarasinghe, Father Marcelline Jayakody were some of his lyric writers.
Sunil Shantha was the greatest Sinhala musician of the 20th century. Not only as a musician, but also as a person who nourished the literature of music, his name will go down in our cherished history. Some of the musical books that he wrote are Hela Ridiwalawa, I ‘Sunil Handa’, ‘Guwan Totilla’, ‘Hela Mihira’, ‘Sunil Gee’, ’Mihiriyawa‘, ’Malmihira‘, etc.
Born on 14th April 1915 at Kapungoda, Pamunugama to a Catholic family, Sunil Shantha (Don Joseph John) lost his parents when he was still very young. The maternal grandmother looked after him. He studied at Dehiyagatha School, St. Benedict’s College, Kotahena, St. Aloysius College, Galle and Tudella School.
In 1931, he came first in the Island in the School Leaving Examination and was awarded the Weeraratne Prize. In 1934, he entered the Roman Catholic Training School, Maggona and took upto teaching. Later, he proceeded to Shanthiniketan and followed a course in music and passed with distinction. To further his studies in music he proceeded to Maris College of Hindustan Music, Lucknow University of Music. Bhathkandha and earned the Visharadha title. He obtained a First Class and topped the batch in 1944. In December 1944 he came back to Ceylon.
He had an inauspicious start to his career in Sri Lanka. His intention was to join the Department of Education as an Inspector of Schools in music, the post he was fully qualified. But he was appointed as a school teacher for a paltry salary paid for a Sinhalese Trained Teacher. He quite correctly refused this appointment.
Later, he commenced conducting private music classes. His first public appearance was on 2nd March 1946, where he sang the commemorative song on Munidasa Kumaratunga at a meeting held to commemorate the Great Sinhala Scholar.
In 1946, Sunil Shantha’s OLU PIPEELA was recorded by Radio Ceylon. Incidentally, this was the first song to be recorded by this institution. I doubt very much whether there was any artiste other than Sunil Shantha, who became so popular in a such a short period of time.
He was very sensitive on the language used in his lyrics. He was vastly influenced by the village environment. Some of his early songs and compositions like ‘OLU PIPEELA’, ‘HANDAPANE’, RELLA NAGENNA, HO HO GA RALLA NEGE, BOWITIYA DAN PALUKAN WARE’, ‘SUWADA ROSA MAL NELA’, ‘MIHIKATHA NALAWALA,’ ‘KOKILAYANGE’ captured all music lovers for the purity of the language, poetic diction, simplicity and lucidity. Tennekoon’s celebrated poem ‘KUKULU HEVILLA’ was regarded as a masterpiece.
I am very happy to deliver my address in the presence of Vijitha Herath, who is an Honours Graduate in Mathematics from the University of Kelaniya. He is currently Minister of Cultural Affairs and National Heritage.
Firstly, I request him to explore the possibilities of reviving the Golden Voice of Sunil Shantha in the electronic media as the present day generation should be aware of this great musician Sunil Shantha. I kindly appeal to the Minister of Media — Mangala Samaraweera to take necessary action to instruct the electronic media to broadcast and telecast Sunil Shantha's songs for the listening pleasure of millions.
I hope that in the future, the Cultural Ministry and Cultural Department will annually organize the Sunil Shantha Commemorative Meeting with Sunil Shantha Samajaya.
Further, I appeal to the Minister of Cultural Affairs to compile a complete book on Sunil Shantha.
When everything is said and done, Sunil Shantha, without any doubt was unique in the history of Sri Lanka music. This is for three outstanding reasons.
Firstly, he was a deep scholar of the centuries old musical system of India. Secondly, he had an unprecedented knack to adopt his music theory to make it practical from the point of view of Sri Lankan lovers of music. Thirdly, he synthesized in his composition and vocalization the classical and popular aspects. This made it possible for even school children to appreciate his music.
My address will be incomplete if I do not pay a tribute to Mrs. Leela Sunil Shantha. This great lady is truly a "Diriya Mathawa". This noble lady and Sunil Shantha faced all the challenges in life, but educated their three sons and daughter. Sons are Sunil Shantha (Junior), Lanka Shantha, Jagath Shantha (deceased) all Engineers and daughter Kala Shantha, a Veterinary Surgeon.
Sunil Shantha passed away on 11th April 1981, heart broken six weeks after his younger son Jagath's untimely death.
In winding up my address, I wish to quote a verse from Pandita Vagga — Dhammapada, which epitomize Sunil Shantha The Great musician.
Selo Yatha Eka Gano.
Na vatena Na Sameerathi
Evan Ninda Pasansasu
Na Samijanti Panditha
As a solid rock that cannot be shaken by the wind, the Wise is not moved by blame or praise.
 by Premasara Epasinghe

ඔබගේ අදහස් අපි මහත් සේ අගයමු. නිර්නාමිකව හෝ අදහස් පළ කිරීමට අවස්ථාව ලබා දී තිබෙන්නේ එම නිසා ය. එහෙත්, එය අපහරණය නො කිරීම ඔබ‍ගේ වගකීමකි.