Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Mike Wilson


The Enigmatic Mr.Wilson:
Submarine safaris and adventures

Mike Wilson in later years as a SwamiIn this three-part article, Richard Boyle documents the life of Mike Wilson (Swami Siva Kalki) 1934-1995,who among other things made a significantcontribution to the Sinhala film industry, and pioneered underwater exploration around the island.

1997 February 26th being the second anniversary of the death of Mike Wilson (Swami Siva Kalki), as well as the golden jubilee of the Sinhala film industry, the time seems right to look back on the life of this remarkable man.

While the name Mike Wilson is familiar mainly to a certain generation of cinema-goers in Sri Lanka as the director of films such as Ran Muthu Duwa, others know of him as the diver who recovered the lingam associated with the Konesar temple, and silver treasure from a wreck on the Great Basses.

Some know of him as the Swami who championed Kataragama; some as the man who was claimed to be responsible for wrecking Satyajit Ray's science fiction film project, The Alien.
Mike Wilson arrived in the island with Arthur C. Clarke in 1956. The circumstances surrounding their friendship, and the manner in which fate brought them to Ceylon, is told in Arthur C. Clarke's The Treasure of the Great Reef (1964 and 1974).

In describing the main characters that frequent this factual account of underwater exploration off the south coast of the island, Clarke writes:

'The lead is undoubtedly my energetic partner Mike Wilson. I first met Mike around 1951, as a teenage intruder in the pub frequented by the London science-fiction fraternity. Every Thursday about 50 of us used to meet to discuss the books and stories we had read, and those we would write whenever we happened to have the time.'

Mike Wilson was in fact a 16 year-old crew member of a transatlantic liner and had attended his first White Horse meeting during short leave. This was his initiation into the wonderful world of science- fiction 'fandom' of the early 1950s, in which enthusiasts formed groups, published odd magazines, held even odder conventions, and devised elaborate hoaxes to play on one another.
As Clarke recalls, Wilson introduced him to the pleasures of skin diving: 'Mike who had done this during a spell in the British Merchant Navy, infected me with his enthusiasm, and I was soon learning to use flippers and face masks in a London swimming pool. After a few chilly dips in the English Channel we decided that this was a hobby for the tropics.'

However, in the spring of 1952, having turned 18 and left the sea, Wilson received his call-up papers, conscription being an ordeal all young men would have to endure until National Service was abolished in the early 1960s. At this time, Clarke was hatching a plot against Irish Fandom code-named Operation Shamrookie.

When Wilson informed him that he was going to do his training at Ballymeena in Northern Ireland, Clarke immediately understood the possibilities and began coaching Wilson.
Posing as 'neofan James Wainwright', Wilson fooled the 'Belfast mob' into thinking he was an ordinary soldier with no connections to London. Clarke had suggested that Wilson write some stories for Irish Fandom, but as Wilson had little time due to his intense training schedule, he resorted to submitting a story he and Clarke had developed earlier. It was a shade too good; suspicions were aroused and eventually the hoax was uncovered.

In early 1954 Wilson left the British Army and proceeded to Australia, where he met up with Clarke on the Great Barrier Reef so that they could pursue their interest in diving and collaborate in producing an account of their underwater experiences. Wilson was to undertake the photography.

"I have described our first expedition, writes Clarke, which took place in 1955, in The Coast of Coral; it is significant here because both Mike and I passed through Ceylon on our way to Australia, and both decided independently that we would like to come back and spend more time in the island. We were able to do this in 1956, and the first result was The Reefs of Taprobane."

When they landed at Colombo in January 1956 they had not 'the faintest idea' as Clarke puts it, that the island would become their permanent home. Clarke and Wilson were extremely active during their initial years in Ceylon. Together with the diver naturalist Rodney Jonklaas, they thoroughly explored the waters surrounding the island, and researched and investigated some 40 wrecks, many of historical importance

Parallel to this Wilson and Jonklaas endeavoured, without much success, to establish a diving business known as Clarke-Wilson Associates.

Their tasks consisted mainly of mundane ones, such as the cleaning of water inlet and sewage outlet grills of ships in Colombo harbour, and morbid ones, such as the retrieval of corpses. The most demanding and perilous job they performed was at Castlereagh Dam, where they had to work in the claustrophobic confines of an l8 inch wide shutter chase, with oxygen piped from the surface.

Jonklaas decided that his future lay in exporting tropical fish. So Wilson tried to promote what he called 'submarine safaris' underwater tours encompassing marine archaeology, exotic fishes and marine mammals, rare seashells and corals, and unrivalled spearfishing.

Despite the stirring words of a handbill I have in my possession - 'Your Guides, the top underwater men in the East; your equipment the finest in the World; your diving grounds the most exciting anywhere' - the idea proved to be ahead of its time.

As Clarke shrewdly observes, 'Perhaps it was just as well; Mike is not the person who suffers fools gladly, and if he had had to cope with underwater tourists, it would have been only a matter of time before he failed to bring one back.'

Nevertheless, Wilson's underwater expertise was well-respected, and in early 1958 he became embroiled in a controversial attempt to revive the pearl fishery in the Gulf of Mannar. This involved the use of a mechanical dredger, rather than traditional diving techniques.

But as a journalist from the Observer newspaper claimed, 'Experts who have explored the precious pearl banks are positive that dredging has caused immense damage to the oyster beds. Mr. Rodney Jonklaas, who explored the beds in 1945, swears to this. And so does Mr. Mike Wilson. He told me yesterday that "the dredger leaves a grim trail of desolation". He asked: "Why is it that other governments which have better dredgers and better scientists have given up dredging?"'

In the meantime of course Clarke's career as a science-fiction novelist of distinction advanced apace. The mid 1950s, for instance, had seen the publication of the impressive Earthlight and Expedition to Earth. And in 1957 Deep Range was published, which is dedicated to 'Mike, who led me to the sea and pulled me out of it'.

Their sojourn in Ceylon was occasionally interrupted by trips to the United States to undertake lecture tours and attend conventions. During his youth Wilson was a prodigious philanderer and these trips gave him ample opportunity. In The Authorised biography of Arthur C. Clarke (1992), Neil McAleer relates how, at the 1956 World Science Fiction Convention in New York, Clarke received a knock on his hotel room door late at night.

It was the science-fiction author Harlan Ellison who requested Clarke to 'please ask Mike Wilson to leave my girl alone'. Nevertheless, it was while returning from a lecture tour a year later that Wilson met onboard ship his future wife, the acclaimed beauty Elizabeth Perera.

It was in the late 1950s that Wilson began to develop a reputation as a talented photo-journalist, contributing to magazines as diverse as TIME and Playboy, articles from surfing in Australia to missionaries in Borneo and Sarawak. He also covered Dave Brubeck's 1960 Australian tour, and Brubeck requested him to shoot the cover of his forthcoming album.

The late 1950s also saw the start of Wilson's mercurial career in both the local and international film industries - a career destined to last little more than a decade and which effectively was to end with the failure of The Alien project. Wilson wrote, photographed and directed the 25 minute documentary Beneath the Seas of Ceylon in 1958.

This 16 mm film was the first underwater one to be shot in the seas around the island. Like its more famous predecessor, Basil Wright's Song of Ceylon (1935), this film was sponsored by the Ceylon Tea Propaganda Board (and remarkably, both expend a minimal amount of time extolling the virtues of tea). Beneath the Seas of Ceylon features some breathtaking scenes of Rodney Jonklaas taming some very large groupers, and then being chased by sharks.

Wilson's next venture was the fantasy short film Boy Beneath the Sea, (1961), starring the American teenager Mark Smith. It was during the production of this film that Wilson, Mark Smith, and another American teenager called Bobby Kriegel, discovered a wreck on the Great Basses containing freshly- minted silver coins, all bearing the date 1702, some of which were donated to the Smithsonian Museum and to the British Museum.

In 1962 Wilson made his debut as a feature director with Ranmuthu Duwa, which has the distinction of being the first colour full length film to be produced in Ceylon. Made in Sinhalese and with a screenplay by Wilson, the film predictably involves the discovery of underwater treasure, with a mixture of ancient legends, human treachery and romance thrown in. It may not have been great art, but it proved to be a massive hit with audiences.

A great discovery at Trincomalee

Ranmuthu Duwa, the film in which Mike Wilson made his debut as a feature director also launched the career of Gamini Fonseka. And its compelling songs by Mahagama Sekera and W.D. Amaradeva are still played on the radio. 'I have never grown tired', enthuses Arthur C. Clarke, 'of watching the scenes of dawn over the great temples, the sea-washed cliffs of Trincomalee, the lines of pilgrims descending Adam's Peak, and the mysterious underwater sequences. For a first attempt at professional movie-making, it was an outstanding effort.'
The feature film industry in Ceylon was in its infancy at the time, and Wilson's contribution to the development of the industry - especially in the context of his being a Westerner - was considerable. It was not until 1956 that the country produced a film worthy of attention.

This was when Lester James Peries from the Government Film Unit to make Rekawa, a film deemed good enough to be shown at the Cannes Festival. "During the past few years", wrote Quinn Curtiss in the New York Herald Tribune of 27 July 1973, 'other directors have produced fine films, among them Titus Totawatte, Gamini Fonseka, Siri Gunasinghe, Herbert
Seneviratne, and Mike Wilson.'

A scene from SaravitaWilson's contribution to the Sinhala feature film industry extended beyond his own directorial efforts, for he actively encouraged other aspiring directors to make movies under the banner of his company, Serendib Productions. One such film - a favourite of Wilson's - was Saravita scripted by K.A.W. Perera and starring Joe Abeywickrema.

This delightful film was directed by Tissa Liyanasuriya, who had started as an assistant under Wilson and went on to become a prominent figure in the industry.

It was while filming Ran Muthu Duwa in 1962 that Wilson made an important maritime archaeological discovery that was to have a profound personal effect on his life. 'Discovery is very much a mental event, rather than a mere physical awareness of any given thing that one comes across', he used to assert.

This peak experience occurred in the sea around Swami Rock at Trincomalee.
When Jonklaas and Wilson had dived at this spot in 1956, the Brahmin had requested them to keep a special eye open for the lingam associated with the Konesar Temple.

'I was not aware then', Wilson admitted at a seminar on the maritime heritage of Sri Lanka held in Colombo in 1987, 'of the oral and written tradition concerning the emblem of God Siva, which was of peculiar significance and sanctity here, at Konesar Temple.'

During this initial dive, and subsequent ones in the diving seasons that followed, Wilson & Co. searched diligently for the lingam, but without success. 'All the columns and pillars we encountered' observes Clarke, 'had obviously been purely architectural, with alternating square and hexagonal sections. '

Mike Wilson and Gamini Fonseka with lingam, in 1962Then one day in 1962, while using the site as a film location for Ran Muthu Duwa, Wilson went for a dive to cool off during a camera break. He suddenly perceived for the very first time a perfectly circular pillar. He had found the lingam! Alongside it was discovered a naturally rounded stone, the significance of which was not realised until a little later.

Having delivered the lingam to the Konesar Temple where it was enshrined and has been worshipped ever since, Wilson returned to Colombo and made straight for the Museum Library. The librarian there produced two prime reference sources from which Wilson learnt of a special classification of linga, the Swayambhuwa, which are mounted on pedestals of natural stone. Of the 69 Swayambhuwa said to have been located in the Indian sub-continent, only a few still exist, such as the one at Swayambhuath in Nepal.

Wilson was convinced that the lingam and its pedestal recovered at Trincomalee was one of the original 69. He suspected that being seated alone in the presence of thet Swayambhuva formed part of a ritual. He had done so, and he said of the experience, 'One is aware of its enormous antiquity. And one's mind is able to soar back to the distant past and "see" all those who have sat there before'.

Wilson was enthusiastic about not only diving but all water sports, especially surfing, water-skiing and racing boats of every variety. Indeed one of his favourite occupations was racing his hydroplane Pegasus at breakneck speed across the Bolgoda Lake.

A scene from GetawarayoIt was apt then that Wilson forsook underwater for the surface with his second feature Getawarayo, which Clarke describes as 'a sort of "Wild-Ones-on-Water", with a climax out of Ben Hur, but involving hydroplanes instead of chariots."

In 1966 Wilson started his third and possibly wackiest feature, Jamis Banda, which, as Clarke describes, 'pitted Hitler's illegitimate son against Sinhalese secret agent Jamis Banda. It had its good moments but the best was off-screen.

One day some innocent German tourists wandering around Galle came face to face with a group of SS officers. They must have wondered what had been happening while they were away from home.'

Before Wilson had completed the post-production of Jamis Banda, Clarke told him of an idea Satyajit Ray had for a vedic science fiction film. Wilson was intrigued by the idea and interested in raising international finance for the project, so he wrote inviting Ray to come to Colombo to discuss matters. Ray was too busy to leave Calcutta, and instead invited Wilson to come there, which he did.

Over a period of a fortnight, Wilson waited while Ray wrote a first draft screenplay. Wilson then sprung into action, setting up a meeting for Ray with Peter Sellers in Paris, and a few months later with Columbia Pictures in Hollywood, who were keen to back the film. Stupidly, however, Wilson copyrighted the script in his name as well as Ray's, an action that sowed the seeds of mistrust in the mind of the director.

The project was transferred to Columbia Pictures in London, to where Ray and Wilson subsequently travelled to try to clinch the deal. This trip ended disastrously, though, with Ray his mistrust fanned by Columbia executives eager to ease Wilson out of the project. For Ray the final blow came when Sellers announced his withdrawal, because he felt his role was not developed enough.

Later Wilson was persuaded to relinquish the copyright, and Columbia and others encouraged Ray to take up the project once again. This he never did, instead preferring to blame Wilson for the fact that the film remained unmade. The history of cinema is punctuated by a number of great 'might-have-beens', such as Sergei Eisenstein's Que Viva Mexico!

There is little doubt that The Alien falls into this category. The story behind it is a fascinating one - one I have attempted to piece together in my forthcoming book,The Wrecking : The story of Satyajit Ray's ill-fated science-fiction fllm project, The Alien.

The Tenth Avatar of Vishnu

The very late sixties and early seventies were extremely turbulent years for Mike Wilson both professionally and personally. During this period he tried to develop several film projects - the most promising being an adaptation of Hasan, Piers Jacob's spiritual novel with a Sri Lankan setting - but nothing materialised. His friendship with Arthur C. Clarke had reached a crisis point. However, his decision to quit the household life at the age of 40 was no hasty act of renunciation but a premeditated metamorphosis that began twenty years previously with his highly significant and symbolic discovery of the legendary Swayambhuva Lingam of the Konesar Temple.

'It changed me completely', he declared in an interview in The Sunday Times of 18 November, 1990. 'It was diksha (initiation) and darshan (divine vision) all in one. I understood something, how I had spent many lives here in Sri Lanka already, how this was not my first. I was prompted to go to Kataragama. One needs a place to sit and ponder; that place for me was Kataragama.'

For his new life Wilson had taken the name Swami Siva Kalki. Apart from Siva's connection with Kataragama, it is of significance that his most important emblem is the lingam. Of course, various contradictory and complementary aspects are welded together in the concept of Siva: He is both creative and destructive, austere and exuberant self-controlled and orgiastic, benevolent and fierce. Perhaps it is not mere coincidence that the man who took his spiritual name from Siva embodied all these characteristics and contradictions.

Believed to be the tenth avatar of Vishnu, Kalki will come in glory to establish a golden age by judging humankind, destroying the world and creating a new and superior race. Kalki will appear mounted on a white horse. Then he is supposed to draw his sword, which will 'blaze like a comet', and the wicked will be annihilated, the age of the Kaliyuga ended. This apocalyptic theme was pursued by Gore Vidal in his novel Kalki (1978). It relates the story of James Kelly, a Vietnam veteran who settles in Asia after the war and then returns to the United States to implement his plan for the destruction of the entire human race - that is apart from himself and his female followers. Although Vidal is a friend of Clarke and has even visited Sri Lanka, there is nothing to suggest that this fictional Kalki was modeled on Wilson. Swami Siva Kalki spent a portion of the years 1975 to 1985 at Kataragama, living in a Kuti, in the garden of the local postmaster's residence. Eventually, however, the rigours of this ascetic life, combined with recurrent and increasingly debilitating bouts of malaria, forced him to return to Colombo on a more-or-less permanent basis, apart from the occasional foray into the spiritual hinterland. So it was that he lived out the last ten years of his life mostly in the city or its suburbs, staying with a succession of friends and family members.

He spent two decades leading the life of a Swami - not always successfully, but with an intensity and conviction that made up for any deficiencies on his part. As a Westerner he occupied an unique position and commanded an unusual perspective. William Mc Gowan in his book on Sri Lanka's ethnic crisis, Only Man is Vile : The Tragedy of Sri Lanka states that Swami Siva Kalki 'lived at the odd intersection of the expatriate academic community, the local intelligentsia, and the community of Lankan spiritual seekers'.

It was an odd intersection indeed, and his location there induced him to champion some remarkable causes. For instance in the early 1980s, when the Swamis of Kataragama were being harassed, he composed a lengthy 'curse' to place on the relevant authorities for interfering with the Swamis' traditional practices. This came to be published in the international magazine, High Times.

Despite humble origins and only a basic education, Wilson became something of a polymath in his adult life. His learning extended in many directions, embracing on the one hand an exhaustive knowledge of human spirituality, comparative religion and universal tradition, while on the other, an impressive understanding of the sciences. Indeed during the last twenty years of his life the formulation of a Unified Field Theory became his magnificent obsession.

In the abstract to his unpublished paper A New Approach to Field Unification he explains: 'This model seeks to demonstrate that the four fundamental forces of nature and their fields can be successfully unified by the correct application of Maxwell's four electromagnetic equations. It seeks to demonstrate how Maxwell's equations can be validly extended to describe the functions in other fields. seeks to demonstrate how these four equations are in fact laws which may be seen working in all physical situations; and how every physical situation can be completely described by means of these equations alone. It seeks to demonstrate that Maxwell wrote the four fundamental laws of Nature - the Unified Field Equations without realizing it.'

After he donned robes, Swami Siva Kalki did not let his spiritual preoccupations constrain either his intellectual pursuits or his abiding interest in the arts, especially film. Indeed throughout his years as a Swami, writing for the screen remained a bridge that linked him to his former life. In the mid-1970s, during the initial stage of our friendship, I collaborated with him in writing several, ultimately unproduceable, screenplays with spiritual themes, such as The Gospel Accordinq to St. Thomas (concerning the apostle's reputed sojourn in India) and A Story for the Older Child.

The latter script, which was also co-written by Manik Sandrasagra, took Swami Siva Kalki to London exactly ten years after he last went there in connection with Satyajit Ray's The Alien. Temporarily swopping his robes for a pair of jeans and a polo neck sweater, he slipped back easily into his past existence. He was accompanied to London by Sandrasagra and myself, and together with the producer Dimitri Grunwald we endeavoured without success to put together a package, despite encouragement from John Boorman among others.

A Story for the Older Child is of interest because, like The Alien, it turned upside down the Westernised plot conventions of most science-fiction films. The story is set at the end of the 21st Century, when Earth has settled down to an uneasy peace under a Technocratic Instrumentality. Athena, a giant computer, makes possible the fair distribution of food, shelter and entertainment to the billions of subscribers to the system. Other groups, such as the remnants of the once-great religions reject this scientific materialism, preferring to live traditional lives.

One day an alien entity known as Anfal falls into Earth orbit. Anfal's mission is to scour the Universe for wisdom, and after hooking up with a television satellite, it requests a discussion with Sumedha, a Buddhist monk who is also a presenter at the Voice of Dharma, a Buddhist television station in Sri Lanka. There follow a number of televised philosophical discussions between Sumedha and Anfal that are viewed by most of the population of the planet. Politicians are thrown into disarray by this turn of events. As the old order crumbles, a new consciousness arises and Anfal becomes an Arahant.

In addition, Swami Siva Kalki provided the religious dialogue for my script, Rampage. This story of a psychic elephant hell-bent on avenging the death of its mother was directed in 1977 by Manik Sandrasagra and starred Gamini Fonseka and Chris Greet.

Satyajit Ray: at odds with WilsonSatyajit Ray has asserted that Wilson was unable to provide coffee for him while he was writing The Alien, let alone make any creative contribution. Wilson's reluctance to make coffee I can well imagine, but his supposed inability to conjure up any usable ideas is harder to understand. By 1967 he had written a number of film and television screenplays, and there is no question that his concepts and plot elements had inspired authors and film producers alike.

Needless to say, Swami Siva Kalki was no stranger to controversy. In particular, a series of documentary scripts written by him on the spiritual festivals of Asia was to cause considerable alarm among religious groups, academics and television executives in Australia, of all places. During the annual Kataragama Festival of 1984, Swami Siva Kalki met the Australian film producer Albert Falzon, who was there to cover this spectacular event. Falzon's main claim to fame at that time was the cult surfing movie Crystal Voyager.

For Falzon especially it was a fortuitous meeting, because he had not as yet found a scriptwriter with sufficient grasp of the complex and sometimes esoteric subject matter. Over the next eighteen months Swami Siva Kalki wrote six scripts for the series, Festivals of the Far East. The first film in the series, on the Kataragama Festival, received its world premiere when it was broadcast on ITN in Sri Lanka in July 1986.

Ironically, although this film was broadcast without any adverse comment in Sri Lanka, when it was screened by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation the following year there was considerable consternation. Jonathan Holmes, Head of Television Documentaries at ABC wrote to Falzon: 'You may be interested to know that the Buddhist Council of New South Wales was outraged by it. So are most Hindus who have seen it.

For an independent assessment Holmes had sent the Kataragama film to Dr. Eric Sharpe, Professor of Comparative Religion at the University of Sydney. Professor Sharpe's report on the film was particularly scathing. It described the narration as 'shuttling uneasily back and forth between Hindu and Buddhist ideas, and slipping over and over again into a worldly transcendentalism'.

He concluded with authority that 'in confusing Hindu and Buddhist elements in the festival it offended Sri Lankans who consider the national religion of the country to be Buddhist'.
Apart from his erroneous conviction that the film had offended Sri Lankan Buddhists, Professor Sharpe demonstrated his incomprehension regarding Kataragama (which he had never visited), as well as the blurred interface between Hinduism and Buddhism in a multi-religious country such as Sri Lanka.

In addition, the protests and assessments confirmed the chasm that exists between Western converts to Buddhism, who have almost without exception made the intellectual transition for the sake of its teachings, and Eastern Buddhists, whose culture demands ritual.

At the time Professor Sharpe compiled his report it is obvious that he had no idea as to the identity of the scriptwriter whose work he was criticising. Neither did he know the nature of this man; a man who had lived the Kataragama experience for many years and who was the master of the lengthy rejoinder.

In September 1987, when Sharpe received a 57-page reply to his averments, complete with glossary, he may well have wished that he had never been requested to write the report.
'I trust you will understand', wrote Swami Siva Kalki, 'that when you call into question the validity of the expressed interpretations which accompanied the images of these films, you are calling into question a body of tradition with which you are obviously totally unfamiliar. You also call into question the validity of the traditional systems of academic training - as well as certain aspects of the western academic tradition - which exist both in Sri Lanka and India'.

Swami Siva Kalki continued by quoting expansively from a number of religious texts, and by using persuasive argument, to pour scorn on Sharpe's analysis. 'The object of the film, he declared,' was not to show various prejudices (whether Buddhist, intellectual, or any other). Rather it was to show the lack of prejudice and wondrous synthesis that is the unique religion of Kataragama.'

For good measure, Swami Siva Kalki also wrote to Sharpe's colleague, the Chairman of the Buddhist Council of New South Wales, who supposedly had been 'outraged' by the film.

According to Sharpe, the film 'contained no meditation and no philosophy', so therefore it could not be "Buddhist" as the Council understood it. 'Did anyone say it was a Buddhist film?' inquired the aggrieved Swami. Surely it is clear that Buddhism is only one component of Kataragama - although an important one. With regard to the question of philosophy, I can only remark that the Buddha has in many places spoken of the futility of all philosophies.'

The scripts for the series Festivals of the Far East, together with the one for the documentary Nimrod's Tower (directed in 1989 by Sharmini Boyle) were the last to be written by Swami Siva Kalki. During the final years of his life he became preoccupied with writing his guide to meditation practice, The Dawn of the Arahants, an intriguing book that remains unpublished.

The following extract will give an indication of its tenor:'
First we must thoroughly understand the cause of pollution, which we call defilement. There is no ecological pollution without mental defilement and no mental defilement free of mental pollution. Pollution is the effect of the cause - and the cause is mental defilement as first principle. To eradicate pollution we must eradicate defilement. This work must start within us. First, by identifying the defilements and seeing how they effect both ourselves and others as mental, physical and ecological pollution. Once the defilements are identified, steps have to be taken to get rid of them. That is the whole purpose of these exercises'.

Swami Siva Kalki died on 26 February, 1995 at the age of 61. This has been but a cursory glance at the life of a multi-faceted, delightfully, enigmatic man, who remained a paradox, to some. He was certainly no saint yet he was capable of displaying great compassion and wisdom. Soon after his death I wrote an appreciation of Swami Siva Kalki the opening sentence of which I believe still serves to encapsulate this remarkable man: In an age characterised by dross, conformity and inconsistency, Swami Siva Kalki (formerly known as Mike Wilson) was an honourable exception.

Compiled from the online Edition of the Sri Lanka Sunday Times of 1997
March 2nd , 9th , and 16th.


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