Nature as Vishvakarma
As I was seated on the beach at Unawatuna on the South Coast, my mind went back to an evening many years ago, on the beach near the border of the Yala sanctuary. I recalled seeing before me a true work of art. Today it reminded me that nature is the greatest creator of artistic works, which no man could ever beat. A sadness came over me, with the realization that in the name of progress and development we are destroying most of nature's works of art all over the world.
Around me at Yala was not just a painting, but there was music and dance. The painting was the multicoloured clouds spread across the blue sky over a darker hued ocean. The music was of the birds, soaring over the ocean before me, and behind me on the trees, singing to the background music of the slowly beating waves. The dance was also by the sea birds with the slowly floating clouds as the backdrop.
I could enjoy this serenity, undisturbed, surrounded only by nature. It was so unlike sitting inside a theatre, however luxurious it could be, but with artificially controlled temperature and humidity, surrounded by other human beings, disturbed by their movements, their whispering, breathing air contaminated by the breath and body ordours of several hundred people.
On the beach at Unawatuna, crowded today with foreign and local tourists, I tried to recall other great natural wonders, which I had the good fortune to enjoy.
Kudiramalai point in Wilpattu used to be another of nature's wonderful locations, disturbed occasionally by wildlife enthusiasts in the bygone days. There were no buildings, and anyone who wanted to camp had to take their own tents. In the night, I felt I was alone in the universe, if I tried to ignore the lights from the few fishing boats far away on the horizon, but I preferred to think of them as a few more stars. Down below me, the waves crashed against the shore and the salt laden cold wind blew towards me.
Forty years ago the Casuarina beach in Jaffna was another wonderful, peaceful place to be on a moon-lit night. On a weekend now, it is like a beach in Goa. Only Dambakolapatuna remains almost untouched and unspoiled because it is under the control of the navy.
Professor Bawa succeeded to some extent when he created the Kandalama hotel, but still the concrete jumps out of it jarring our admiration. The little natural pond and the small tank beyond it near the Neeraviya temple off Galkulama was a setting that a commercial venture could never achieve. Probably this rock was where the Buddhist monks in ancient days sat down to contemplate. Buddhist monks, and the lay followers realized the need of calm and serene places, as we find in the names of the caves which were gifted to the Samgha "from the four directions, present and absent". Some of the names were, 'Manapadasane' (Pleasing View) a name given to over twenty eight caves, 'Supaditite' (Well-Sited), 'Manorame' (Delighting the Mind).
Other than the beaches I tried to recall any other sites where nature's creativity still remained. One such place was the 'Fishing Hut' tucked away inside a tea estate. It was a log cabin, by a stream, at the edge of the tea estate. On the other side was the virgin forest. This was before the place became popular and began to attract all the urban elite.
We had the stream all to ourselves. We did not feel the cold, as we sat in the small pools, with the soothing water flowing over us, surrounded by the bird song, green vegetation, blue sky and the silence amidst all this because of the absence of man-made noise of vehicles, and machinery and most of all the idle chatter of man himself. Even the most luxurious bath or a jacuzzi could never match these pools. The night was so silent, we could hear the water flowing across the rocks in the stream.
Today we can only shut our eyes and try to imagine what it would have been like, before our virgin forests had been destroyed to make way for coffee and tea. Almost all tourist attractions in Sri Lanka or abroad, may have been really beautiful in ages past, but have been desecrated by man.
A few ancient poets scribbled on the mirror-like wall of Sihigiri, not about the paintings or the man-made wonders, but about the natural beauty of the place. Vira Vidur Bati, towards the late 9th century, wrote on the Katbitha,
"Sihil pini-bindin ad savand pavan gena mand hamule
Kond kumund vasat-avhi mal susadi vi hebi mulule" (249)
The gentle breeze blew - (the breeze) which is wet with cool dew drops - taking (with it) fragrant perfume; in the spring sunshine, the jasmine and the water-lily, being adorned with flowers, shone all over. (Sigiri Graffiti)
Masaru Emoto, is the man who discovered and shared the beauty of water, the different forms of water crystals as it freezes, which he managed to photograph. He believes, "the original idea of creation by the creator of this universe was 'the pursuit of beauty'....when some vibration and the other resonate each other, it always creates beautiful designs. Thus most of the Earth is covered with beautiful nature." Emoto found that water from rivers and lakes where water is kept pristine from development, he could observe beautiful crystals with each one having its own uniqueness.
It simply establishes that natural beauty, is created, persists, and is created anew, only when everything is in harmony with our universe. Such beauty is distorted, and often destroyed, when man interferes with nature, disturbs the rhythm and breaks up the harmony.