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“Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them as to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are,” wrote John Milton, author of Paradise Lost, in his 1644 book Areopagitica. 

Jaffna public library was burnt in 31 May 1981  It  consider as one of the biggest library in South Asia  with  collection of more than 97,000 books and  manuscripts.  Books and manuscripts  are the souse of history and culture of the communities. This is the practices carried out through the ancient history and it continue  today  as a mechanism of  erasing the traces of the communities  and  cultures. Why do we deliberately cleansing the cultures ?  

After 39 years of burning the jaffna public library  remembering the Poem  written in Tamil by Prof. M. A. Nuhman, Who was a lecturer at the Jaffna University at that time . 

(translation is by S. Pathmanathan )


Last night

I dreamt

Lord Buddha was shot dead

by the police,

guardians of the law.

His body drenched in blood

on the steps

of the Jaffna Library.

Under cover of darkness

came the ministers,

‘His name is not on our list,

why did you kill him?”

they ask angrily.

“No sirs, no

there was no mistake.

Without killing him

it was impossible

to harm even a fly—

therefore . . . ,” they stammered.

“Alright, then

hide the corpse”

The ministers go back.

The men in civies

dragged the corpse

into the library.

They heaped the books

ninety thousand in all,

and lit the pyre

with the Cikalokavadda Sutta.

Thus the remains

of the Compassionate One

were burned to ashes

along with the Dhammapada.

Link for the poem: 


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