Dr. Rev. Fr. Aloysius Peiris has done this…..
“If you want to study a book on a religion, history or culture, it is essential to read that book in the language it is originally written.” Dr. Rev. Fr. Aloysius Peiris says:
I first met Dr. Rev. Fr. Aloysius Peiris in 1982 when I was in the University of Kelaniya while attending a workshop on Bible and Society organized by Sri Lanka Catholic Students Movement (SLCSM) . He was the chief facilitator of the workshop and we were at his center, Thulana Kendraya, Gonawala, Kelaniya. It was totally a different environment from other centers run by Catholic Church where I felt that I was living in a place surrounded by architecture, statues, wall paintings of Buddhist culture.
He was not wearing a white or black robe instead with a batik shirt and a sarong. Always wearing a wooden cross around his neck and shows his identity as a priest. I had heard about a Bible Scholar and Academic of Buddhism who travels across Europe but now seeing a simple man with his own style of talking and communicating with us with a never-ending smiling in his face.
He did not use bombastic English words but has very simple word for each Bible word. Most of these Sinhala Bible words are directly translated to Sinhala from original Bible languages of Hebrew and Greek. It was awesome to listen and observe how he has incarnated words in the Bible to Sinhala.
“If you want to study a book on a religion, history or culture, it is essential to read that book in the language it is originally written.” Father says:
Fr. Aloy may be one or two persons living in Sri Lanka who studied the Bible in its original languages. When Fr. Aloy decided to study Buddhism, his University Lecturers provided a bunch of books on Buddhism written by Buddhist Scholars and most of them are in English.
“Instead of following my Lecturers’ advise, I decided to go to India and learn Sanskrit and Pali languages because Lord Buddha spoke these languages and his teachings are recorded in same languages”
He gives us the massage; “Reconciliation begins by accepting others with their identities and learning languages is the best gateway for that”
He said that Bible starts with the book of Exodus not with Genesis. It was a bit of confusing statement for us; as, we were educated on how God first created the Earth, Adam, and Eva.
“Our religion is the only religion emerges with a people’s freedom struggle and it’s a religion of oppressed”. The rituals practiced in Church are not really represents, what is written in the Bible. Fr. Aloy discussed with us how God uses human beings in building His Kingdom according to the Bible.
At the end of day session, we all wanted to participate in Holy Eucharist (Holy Mass) and we wanted to do it in a Chapel. But Father wanted us to do it in the classroom itself and within few minutes the classroom converted into a Chapel. That was my first expereince of attending a Holy Mass out of a Church or Chapel. Instead of singing hymns in western tune, he has created entire holy mass and hymns in the rhythm of our national folk music that much closer to our hearts and minds. That is one better way to incarnate any religion wherever it is practiced and followed.
During my University life, I had the privilege of meeting Fr. Aloy on many occasions and listening to him and those occasions made turning points in my faith journey.
“The Biblical word: ‘Truth’ is the way of life.” Father says. Once I wanted to start a Web newsletter, I ask Father to suggest a name. Father suggested “ Sachchan”. That is the Pali word for “Truth”, and Pali is one of the languages spoken by Lord Buddha. However, it is written in English as: Saccam. I am so happy this name got familiar to many readers of our web news as it has incarnated in our hearts and minds for years and years.
Revolution begins with people who see and think differently and search the truth. Finding truth in any religion could be achieved by the incarnation in its roots. Dr. Fr. Aloy Peiris has done this in almost all the religions especially in Biblical religions, Buddhism and Hinduism.
Aruna Shantha Nonis