Arya Sangha or Assembly of the Wise

The Lion's Roar: Siddhas of Lanka (8)

German Swami Gauribala with other swamis at Kataragama in the late 1950's
Above: The Kutti Kuttam at Kataragama in 1956
Arya Sangha

The Kuttis or Cubs

By Manik Sandrasagra

Gauribala Swami, as his very German name Schonfeldt means, was himself a 'shining field'. Even when he was a Buddhist monk for a while at Polgasduwa he was called Nyanakhetto ('Field of Wisdom'). He like the bitch or petta nai in season attracted those interested in the chase from the four quarters of the world.

Drink, puppy, drink!
And let every puppy drink
Who is old enough to lap and to swallow!

Here's to the fox and here's to the hound,
And here's to the chase that we follow!

This was his refrain as he walked to the Menik Ganga for his daily ablutions followed by the rest of the puppies Haro Hara Amma had named. The son of the last British Governor General of Ceylon was Yannai Kutti, an Australian architect was Nari Kutti, Adrian Snodgrass, currently one of the world's most respected Buddhist scholars, was Punnai Kutti, and of course Sam Wickramasinghe, the well known raconteur who was Puli Kutti.

The Way and the Sangha

Gauribala was an iconoclast. His was a lineage of iconoclasts. Summa Iru or Nikang Inda was at the core of this dispensation. Thoughtlessly being, empty, nobody, breathing in and breathing out, now here yet nowhere was the experience.

It was not in books, not in scriptures, could not be articulated except as the chin mudra in art. Mudra was the teaching method that the siddhas used where all contradictions were resolved in the present. Time and space converged hence everything was perfected. This language transcended speech and belonged to every traditional race on the planet. Symbols and hand gestures told the whole story that could not be stated otherwise.

Thanks to this lineage a few of us were privileged to glimpse beyond the veil. All suffering being dependent on ignorance was understood for what it was. One automatically began accepting whatever happens as happening right, like a true Muslim accepting always the will of the Divine.

The Arya Sangha

The great error is assuming that Sri Lanka only had a Theravada Buddhist dispensation. Every dispensation that either arose or came to India found its way to Sri Lanka. Mahayana Buddhists, Tantric Buddhists, Hindus, Jains, Sufis, Nestorian Christians were all present in traditional Sri Lanka and this is evident in cultural practices that still exist, as well as in inscriptions, monuments and the oral tradition.

Gauribala Swami who would have been 100 on September 15 had he lived was a living exponent of what the Arya Sangha stood for. He passed this knowledge in a traditional manner to a few of his acolytes who still revere his name. As for others who did not really know him, like all Siddhas he will be dismissed as a great fraud and trickster, a label he would have enjoyed.

Go to "The Lion's Roar: Siddhas of Lanka" Part 9

Courtesy: The Sunday Times of 16 September 2007

"The Lion's Roar: Siddhas of Lanka" Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 |

Life and Times of German Swami | The Bohemian Swami