Sunday, August 14, 2016

Adv.L Literature -Action and Reaction- Comments by Gamini Fonseka

Action and Reaction, which is based in Sri Lanka, has a Buddhist theme. It demonstrates in a Buddhist perspective how the law of causation, which is known in Buddhism as kamma  (action) and vipaka (repercussion) process, operates in the dittha dhamma vedaniya  mode, having "immediate effects” within the current life itself ."Karma is volition," says the Buddha, meaning both good and bad mental action. It is not an entity, but a process of action, energy and force. It is our own doings reacting on ourselves. A person experiences pain and happiness as results of his or her own deeds, words and thought sreacting on themselves. Our own deeds, words and thoughts produce our propensity and failure, happiness and misery.Since there is no hidden mediator directing or administering rewards and punishments,Buddhists should not rely on prayer to some supernatural forces to influence karmic results. TheBuddha admonished that karma is neither predestination nor determinism imposed on us by some mysterious, unknown powers or forces to which we must in vain offer ourselves.(Peiris, 2003)An understanding of the Buddhist explanation to kamma  (as presented above) is useful in appreciating this story because the protagonist’s internalization of kamma is crucial in development of its plot. The narrator is Mahinda, a medical professional. He is the nephew of the protagonist Loku Naenda(Elder Aunty) who is known in her village as Payagala Hamine. Mahinda’s father is Loku Naenda’s younger brother. Loku Naenda is the eldest in the family and everybody is respectful to her as a very good and generous woman ” . The story that encapsulates some childhood, youthful, and adult memories Mahinda treasures of Loku Naenda, spans over a period of some years from Mahinda’s  life, to show howLoku Naenda suffers deprivation in her old age in reaction to the despotic actions she committed during her middle age. In her old age she surrenders herself to the one whom she victimized in her middle age. The little girl Kusuma, who once becomes Loku Naenda’s  victim, grows into a monster,
“A replica of her employer” (Landow, 1989), to victimize the latter, who has now lost her power over everything in her surroundings. The reaction for her action becomes unbearable but there is no room to complain mainly because it is interpreted in the same terms Loku Naenda used during her heyday. What Loku Neanda did under the cover of virtue boomerangs on her and she is compelled to suffer silently in fear that her image would disintegrate once she opens her mouth.
Loku Naenda the Ever Virtuous and Charitable
 In an extended family in a traditional Buddhist rural environment, through a social convention Loku Naenda fits to be the role model for everybody to follow. “She's an example to us all." The claim made by Mahinda’s father as an intellectual in the family convinces everybody. Loku Neanda’s adherence to the Buddhist concepts of

Sadhdhhaa and ahimsaa  is exemplified in Mahinda’s claim that “even the most insignificant creature benefited from Loku Naenda's attentions” . It is established by his observation of her attempt to save “some ants that had fallen into a basin of water”. Also Chitra Fernando provides a good reason for Loku Naenda’s abstinence from stealing. “She had everything she wanted.” It is implied that, as she is materially fortified, her spirituality is sustained by itself. As nobody dares to probe into the veracity of whatever she says, all accept her often-made claim that she never lied. “Loku  Naenda's conduct was always irreproachable. ” On the basis of the moral standards maintained in the rural aristocracy of Sri Lanka, there is nobody in the microcosm of this village to challenge Loku Nanenda’s virtue. Chitra Fernando achieves humour through all these claims about Loku Naenda’s  goodness that people make within a social hierarchy where she occupies the apex. She even gives a good reason out of Loku Naenda’s physique for her committed celibacy. Her “board” torso, “short” stature, “very dark “complexion, “thick” lips, “coarse” skin, “large” moles on the top of her nose and her chin and “very small” knot of hair “at the back of her head” are not attractive features or a man of her own class to marry her. So the safe distance she keeps from all men has two reasons: a man from her own class would not marry her for her wealth; and she does not want to marry a man below her class out of her arrogance. Her religious and medical interpretations of “drinking” and “smoking” evoke laughter in the narrator as they suggest a morality peculiar to herself. The fuss she makes about Mahinda and Siripala, caught byPunchi Naenda, sharing a cigarette is evidence of her interpretation of all pleasures and pastimes peoplehave, in terms of karma  and the gratification of senses leading to a prolongation of the existence in sansara.  The cacophonous admonitions she makes on such occasions ruin all possibilities for the otherto correct himself rather than help to ameliorate his behaviour. “So I continued to look the other way.”Mahinda’s nonchalant reaction implies that Loku Naenda ’s correctional strategies have no impact on her followers. The toughness of Loku Naenda is realized not only by her younger generation but also by themembers of her own generation. Despite her unreserved admiration of Loku Naenda’s “generosity andcompassion” presented in longwinded panegyrics , the unmarried Punchi Naenda (Younger Aunty)prefers to live in Mahinda’s house , implying that a normal person cannot put up with the eccentricitiesof Loku Naenda. 

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