Saturday, August 4, 2007

Tulana Research Centre for Encounter and Dialogue



The name TULANA has its roots in the Sanskrit word for discernment. The Centre is a combination of a mini-university, a house for retreat and reflection, a centre for social animation, a forum for inter-religious dialogue (mainly Buddhist-Christian), a place for various cultural expressions and exchanges (including all the arts, music, film and video), a seat for theological renewal, and a venue for the peripheral people in all walks of life to meet and share experiences in a climate of mutual support.

Fr. Aloysius Pieris s.j.

TULANA was founded by the leading Asian Jesuit Liberation Theologian and Buddhist scholar Fr. Aloysius Pieris s.j. after he witnessed the series of events that led to the Marxist inspired youth insurrection of 1971 in Sri Lanka. He has initiated an apostolate which has responded to two challenges – the challenge of the spirituality and philosophy of Sri Lanka’s major religion, Buddhism, and the challenge of the socio-political aspirations of the highly educated but marginalised rural youth.

The Fr. S.G. Perera Memorial Oriental Library

The Centre houses the valuable library of the late Fr. S.G. Perera s.j., one of Sri Lanka’s leading historians, and has an extensive collection of rare books, journals and manuscripts on the Portugese and Dutch colonial periods. Fr. Pieris has added to it extensive collections on Buddhism and other Asian religions, Sri Lankan and Indian history, and European theology, history, philosophy and art. It also has sections on Cultural Studies (mainly African/Caribbean and Asian), Media Studies, Film Theory, Art & Architecture, Psychology and Psychiatry. This library is available for reference and research and is used by local and international undergraduates, graduates and scholars.

Fr. S. G. Perera, S.J.

Fr. Simon Gregory Perera was born in Kalutara on 5th June 1882 and died in Galle in 1951. He was the first Sinhalese to become a Jesuit on 7th September 1905. He was an eminent scholar and the leading historian of his day, specializing in the Portugese, Christian / Catholic and Jesuit history of Ceylon (Sri Lanka). While studying for the priesthood in Rome he obtained copies of letters sent by Jesuits who worked in Ceylon during the Portuguese colonization. He translated them and published them in learned journals. He also obtained copies of the documents of the Oratorian order who had saved the faith in Ceylon during the Dutch domination. From this work he was able to write various articles, give lectures and two of his most well known publications are; “The Jesuits in Ceylon: Life of Fr. J. Goncalves” and “The Life of Venerable Father Joseph Vaz”. At the request of the Ceylon Government, he translated into English the huge Portuguese work of Fr. Queyros – “Conquista temporal e spiritual de Ceilao” (The Temporal and Spiritual Conquest of Ceylon). Fr. S. G. Perera’s “The History of Ceylon for Schools from 1500 onwards has remained the most comprehensive and accurate text book to date.

Fr. Perera was for many years a teacher at St. Aloysius College, Galle. During his lifetime he put together a personal library of valuable ancient documents, manuscripts and books. A year after his death in 1951, the Jesuits and the old boys of St. Aloysius College, founded the Fr. S.G. Perera Memorial Oriental Library in his memory. Fr. Chiriati SJ and Fr. Perniola SJ, built up the library through constant updating and renewal, and took care to preserve the old books. In 1976, this library came under the care of Fr. Aloysius Pieris SJ at the Tulana Research Centre for Encounter and Dialogue. Today the Tulana Library in Gonawala, Kelaniya, of which the Fr. S. G. Perera Memorial Oriental Library is an integral part, has quadrupled in size and is internationally renowned as a resource centre for research in Indology, Buddhism, Christian Theology and Philosophy, Western Culture, and Sri Lankan and South Asian History and Culture.


Seminars and workshops are carried out regularly at the Centre and its members are involved in grassroots animation work with landless and other dispossessed persons such as those affected by environmental destruction and marginalized in the globalization process. TULANA has also sponsored and worked to establish a Centre for Education for Hearing Impaired Children (CEHIC), founded by one of its members, Sister Greta Nalawatta. Artistic activity is also on the TULANA programme and the Centre houses a collection of art reflecting its ethos created by some of Sri Lanka’s leading painters and sculptors. The use of film, video and radio in its on-going programme of encounter and dialogue was begun a few years ago with the arrival of its newest permanent member, Robert Crusz, in 1995.