“The Monk and the Peasant”, Launched in Manila

“The Monk and the Peasant” – a study of the traditional Sinhalese Village and a well-presented coffee table book co-authored by renowned Sri Lankan scholar Professor J.B. Dissanayaka and Mr. Tilak Hettige  – the internationally recognized Sri Lankan photographer- was launched at the Sri Lanka Residence, Manila, on 8th November 2016. A copy of the book was ceremonially presented by Mr. Thilak Hettige to Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Manila Mrs. Aruni Ranaraja.

Ambassador Ranaraja welcoming the gathering paid tribute to the authors saying “Professor J.B. Dissanayake’s skillful narrative coupled with Mr. Tilak Hettige’s, brilliant photography  has resulted in a quintessential reflection of Sri Lanka’s cultural, religious and social milieu in this first ever publication to be co-authored by the eminent Sri Lankans”. While appreciating the privilege of being associated with the launching of “The Monk and the Peasant”, she said the book is “a journey of discovery of the rich cultural and social milieu in a simple narrative with captivating visuals.” It is an important documentation of the relationship between the Sinhala village and the temple and a poignant capture of our traditions and relationships which existed and that which is still witnessed in society in varying degrees, she said.

Several positive reviews of the publication have been written: “the book in its wisdom presents that national integration does not mean creation of a hybrid culture, which erase the individual identities of ethnic linguistic and religious groups that make up Sri Lankan society, but that it is a move to allow these groups to maintain their uniqueness without any barriers.”

Mr. Hettige, who is also an Engineer, and author of several other books, shared with the audience how the idea of the book was first conceived during a discussion with Professor J.B. Dissanayake at the launch of his book ’Saffron Robes’.  While paying tribute to his co-author Prof. Dissanayake, Mr. Hettige also shared experience of his many journeys to remote villages in the island and challenges and opportunities in capturing the age -old traditions. Displaying images of a Bo tree and a Na tree coexisting side by side, he elaborated what to him this image symbolized – the two preserving their identity, beauty and uniqueness side by side as in the coexistence of the village and the temple in mutual respect and harmony.  Mr. Hettige observed that this image and the book also reminds us that national integration which multi-cultural Sri Lanka hopes for is a move to allow each community to maintain their uniqueness without any barriers. The essence of the book was then conveyed in a short but meaningful and compelling audio-visual presentation that captured the attention of the large audience.

Dr. Vinod Thomas, former Director General of Independent Evaluation of Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank speaking at the event described how Engineer Tilak has embraced both technological knowledge and artistic talent in producing his creations adding that Tilak’s students were truly inspired by his several books, teaching style and willingness to share his experience and learning.

The event at the Sri Lanka Residence captured the essence of Sri Lanka’s vibrant culture and cuisine and  was graced by over hundred and fifty people from varied walks of life including religious groups, Diplomatic Corps, Philippine Government officials, business community, national artists, travel trade & media representatives and friends of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka Embassy


11th November 2016