09 September 2017
Common War Memorial Buries Ethnic Diversity
Following excerpts from the article headed ‘Parliamentarian proposes setting up common memorial for Tamils’ published by Press Trust of India indicate the ‘diversity’ of policies in relation to the burial of the Sri Lankan ethnic war:
1. ‘Leader of the pro-government Eelam Democratic People’s Party (EPDP) Douglas Devananda called for setting up of a war memorial to remember the Tamils who were killed in the conflict.
2. “It is absolutely vital that we commemorate each and every person who died in the war. This should not be limited to one race or community. Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslim and Burghers were all affected by the war,” Ruwan Wijewardene, Sri Lanka’s State Minister for Defence said, responding to a private members’ motion by Mr. Devananda.
3. Reacting to the government’s willingness to set up a war memorial, Joint Opposition spokesman Ranjith Soysa said that the move would be harmful to reconciliation and peace among communities.
The statement that I identify most with is that of Mr. Ranjith Soysa. Once we make something common there is no need for Reconciliation. By burying in Common, we are stating also that the problem was not ethnicity related.
My recent response to a Tamil Diaspora Leader on the issue of caste, is in Appendix. Whether we seek to eliminate caste or race in Sri Lanka – we need a strong alternate system to be used on current merit basis. Otherwise we get disconnected with the roots/land that supported our development and who we are currently.
The individual is a natural institution through her/his Truth. Part of this is inherited and the rest is structured by foregoing/sacrificing benefits earned through current merit. In areas where race and caste based differentiation have been reasons for conflict, their use needs to be Duly completed and not prematurely eliminated, if we are to preserve the order during their active use. When we prematurely eliminate, the Energy becomes dormant. When we complete through due processes as we do to bury the dead ceremoniously, we have a zero base at the physical level – the rest / past being raised as Energy through our prayers. This Energy is shared.
The process of Reconciliation facilitates identifying the areas where our mind structures are so different that we stay away from each other rather than live together as relatives except where we have to for particular purposes such as work. When we rely heavily on tradition, we tend to use subjective powers. Such use would be just to the extent the two sides – the user and the one on whom it is being used are both accessing their ancestors who became ancestors in that part of the world. That is shared Energy by the folks of that area. But towards this the contribution needs to be raised to Energy level. We join our own towards raising the contribution by the dead, towards this higher level. At this level the contribution is of exponential value. But when we ‘show’ others for lesser purposes such as money, status and popularity, our contribution to Energy raising process is lessened and is limited by relativity.
The war in Sri Lanka is recognized by the victims as being due to ethnic differences. If we therefore bury the dead as if they all belonged to the same place – both sides to the war – that would be an to artificially make common - the militants as well as the official Armed Forces. It would be unjust to the official forces who had the duty to stay within the boundaries of Sri Lankan war. It would be unjust to the militants whose politicians abandoned them to the militants to generate jobs.
Majority militants claim that they fought to defend their homeland and are now isolated from society. The question is – which is their true homeland? If militants did win and had political leadership in that area – then the generation that accepts it – foregoes the higher mind order of the more educated member from that area. When that happens we become users of majority force and hence limit the value of our educational leadership to that level. Then we do become general and that would be the final outcome of this war which punishes nor rewards any one. Is that what we want? If yes, then I am already a victim of this war that killed my contribution to develop the higher intellectual mind order. I say NO to the Common Memorial.
Tamil Diaspora Leader (TDL) : You stated "If your conclusion is based on actual experience – then please explain why my cottage in Thunaivi – a toddy tapper village, was stoned – just for disciplining the young guy through Police action. Most of the folks in Thunaivi recognize physical power above intellectual power."
My brief and quick response follows:
You are implying that the young guy who threw stones at your cottage is a low caste boy and therefore the low caste community deserves to remain as an oppressed caste for ever. You, an enlightened person (if I may say so) are expressing this viewpoint in the 21st century. I am truly amazed!
Gajalakshmi Paramasivam (Gaja) : Well, me that enlightened person (as per your assessment) am saying that it is unfair and unjust to make concessions in the name of eliminating caste unless there is a common pathway. The question is in this 21st century they are still using open space to go to the toilet. If as a group they isolated themselves of their own seeking and this promotes handouts on the basis that they are disenfranchised and the stone throwing happened due to that isolation – to my mind – I am the outsider to them. I cannot live in Sydney where even dog poo is picked up by the owner when the dog relieves itself in public! There are two dogs that come to our cottage when I go there. They are our neighbour’s. Neither dog dirties our front open veranda. Even in terms of food training, I had to do very little for one dog not to take from the other’s plate. They would ‘wait’ for me to serve both before starting to eat. That is the minimum I expect from human beings in terms of temple habits. If I cannot train them into my system then they have to keep their distance from me.
One could start off thinking the other is lower / junior – as many men of my caste also do on the basis of gender. There is everything right about it when we intend forming a relationship with institutional values. Yesterday’s Gaja is junior to today’s Gaja on that basis. I treated the youth as a junior. When he was disrespectful – and his group stoned the cottage – I concluded that HE / THEY were still suffering from caste related disorder, relative to a youth of my caste in that area. In this 21st Century are you saying that you do not position yourself higher than a female of your age? Or even more importantly – lower than a white male? These are realities that I have accommodated until I know I can go no further. Where were you when I first started living in Thunaivi as one of them - to learn about their needs? If you did not praise me then you do not have the moral authority to demote me now.
TDL :This type of thuggery is not done only by the low caste community. Thuggery and violence are more common among the ruling upper caste community against the lower caste community. There is abundant examples for this. I have witnessed from my primary school days till now.
Gaja: If YOU attributed caste as the basis back then – you have the responsibility to accept that as the basis when there is reverse discrimination.
If a lower caste person had walked through the temple hall with his slippers on – despite the rule not to do so – would you have back then excused it as common disorder? If yes, and you were by birth of higher caste – then to my mind, you failed in your duty as the higher caste person to discipline the junior caste person. In areas where caste is a reality – unless you as well as the other person know and accept the secular measure – there is the risk that the other person would practice reverse discrimination if you are not protected. Abuse by seniors does not give us the authority to reverse that abuse.
I have facilitated an older person of Toddy Tapper caste – to wash the inside altar of our temple. I did it gradually – first paying the Vellala person who learnt the mantras to the washing as well. But that guy started using Vibhoothi to treat people and that is the holy ash was all over the temple floor. I terminated his services and hired his son who is an electrician to do it. The son is non-vegetarian but due to the father’s effort to learn the mantras and also to become vegetarian – I felt that he had the right to be asked before anyone else. He accepted but did not turn up regularly. In addition he started talking as if he was of priest lineage. That was when I arranged the gardener despite him being of Toddy Tapper caste. In the meantime, we were able to engage the services of Radha Aiyar of Sangarathai to do the poojah. This happened during at the beginning of Navarathri festival and I took it as Mother Kali promoting our temple to become more a Saraswathi temple – especially during that period. A young toddy tapper reported to the Electricity Board that one of our cameras was sparking and this resulted in us not having electricity during last year’s Navarathri festival. This year I have arranged for extra rechargeable lights in addition to the solar light installed after that incident. Did you every support me in those efforts at least by condemning the wrong doers? Or were they not wrong to you? Due to our seniors’ abuses? Our temple does not have a record of any such abuse. My father had the rule that the temple well was not to be used by those folks who are 100% Toddy Tapper caste. But they used it anyway. During my time I first regulated it in many ways and finally they have all dug their own wells. Some were funded by us. This includes the family of the guy I disciplined. The old gardener cum cleaner in turn – started removing the clothes on the deities and washing the deities. I had to strictly rule that out – saying that it was the job of the Priest. He stopped that but from time to time does something as if he were the owner of the temple. That is the encroachment genes that they carry as a group. Most of the folks there – if not all – are residing in lands owned by senior castes at one time. Most of them did not pay. Our temple property is the exception and it would not have been if I had not returned and returned without any caste genes as a causal force. I opposed my father’s ban quietly when we discussed the matter and after I started funding some of the maintenance. My father said ‘what to do – I got used to it due to my ’Udayar heritage’.
All I know is that it is dangerous for the higher thinker to let go of the caste separation in that area. A one young youth leader living here in Sydney said to me when I asked him about caste – that he does not differentiate on that basis here in Australia and even now he would in Vaddukoddai.
I grew up in Jaffna and that is one of the reasons why I was not caste conscious as those of Vaddukoddai and Arali – my father’s village. We inherit the genes of the place of birth also. Hence here in Australia, we pay homage to Aborigines when using Public Land.
TDL : Last week Amirthalingam's son (upper caste + educated) beat up an honest and sincere chap (not even a low caste) for pointing out at a meeting at the Jaffna Public Library that Amirthalingam never raised any objections in the parliament against the prevention of terrorism act brought in by JR and that he therefore effectively gave support for it. So thuggery is practiced by the upper caste and the lower caste also learnt that if the educated upper caste can use violence against the lower caste then there cannot be anything wrong if the lower caste also use it as a self defence mechanism. Upper caste used to hire middle caste mercenaries to attack and kill the lower caste community members. The lawyers, the police, the courts and the media always take the side of the upper caste. The lower caste community never get legal protection. They are cornered.
Gaja: The lower caste did not invest in Police Order and therefore protection. In Thunaivi they tend to ‘settle’ amongst themselves. The lady who asked me for land on behalf of the village, kept condemning the camera system even after we obtained the evidence that the Police needed to act on our complaint. Yesterday when providing support services to Dr. Darshan who in my assessment has been seriously wronged by the Management of the University of Jaffna – I pointed out that when the younger mind seeks to change for the better the older mind that is driven by outcomes, resists such change. The mature mind accepts change as part of nature’s evolutionary process. The mind that is driven by reverse discrimination – clings to the past and becomes the medium through which revenge attacks happen at group level – as happened to Mr. Amirthalingam when he was killed by the LTTE. The mind of the true warrior has to be stronger than the collective mind of those who react at the lower emotional level. If the above guy said as he did due to ignorance of the work by the Hon Appapillai Amirthalingam, then he deserved to be punished. In terms of Dharma – was it wrong of the son who lost a high contributing father to beat the ignorant guy who assumed an authority he did not have to question a senior who became a true hero due to his death?
The difference between the above and my case is that we both have knowledge of each other’s caste. It is active knowledge in that part of Sri Lanka. Separation based on that kind of intuitive knowledge / wisdom is one’s entitlement. If Mr. Amirthalingam had been more caste conscious he would have prevented dying in the hands of armed militants. G.G. Ponnambalam for example is known to have asked for young coconut when he visited the junior caste voter in whose home he did not want to use common cups/glasses. That could have been taken to be for hygienic purposes as well as caste based discrimination. Where the habits are still unhygienic separation is more important than arguing whether it was secular or caste based. To my mind, it is significant that Mr. G.G.Ponnambalam who asked for 50:50 Equality – in his generation’s language – had greater cleverness and hence was able to get Mr. Amirthalingam released after the latter was imprisoned for political reasons. The guy who questioned Mr. Amirthalingam’s loyalty was not only ignorant but obviously assumed authority that he did not have. That is when those expressions confirm abuse. The name on its own means nothing. Last week in the program about breathalyser test, it was annoying to note that the Police were referring to a guy who said he had lived here for 38 years as ‘Vietnamese’. I protested when they listed me as Sri Lankan after arresting me for peaceful assembly. But this guy refused to blow into the machine and the police, due to cultural differences, were confused whether he understood them. Later when he was taken to their office and the guy was informed that if he did not blow – he would face the highest fine – he blew and confirmed he was above the limit!
If we are free with the minds of lower structure – we lose our protection. My family and my ‘class’ who supported me to become a professional and a high performer in family and community life – need me to live. Attributing caste as the reason in an area where the folks naturally refer to our group as ‘your people’ –with neither respect nor disrespect – is natural and is accepted by them. It is one of the language easily understood by them. If you are upset by me using the word caste – you have the option of going and living in that area and be where your mouth/word is. I still do more for them than anyone else known to me. They failed to pay their respects because they were not groomed to say thank you to the service provider. If you promote that – then the karma is yours and not mine.
TDL : Jaffna upper caste intellectuals always believed and used and hired physical power against the lower caste to protect their historical privileges. Do you think that the intellectuals in Britain and USA only use their intellectual power and don't use physical power (military might ) to safeguard their interest? Do you think they are practicing Gandhi's non-violence policy all over the world? I hope you are not a Trump lover!
Gaja: They use race. Trump to my mind is just another president and highlights the beauty of Obama’s presidency.
TDL : According to your line of argument you will or should happily defend apartheid practices in South Africa. Don't tell me that the whites never used physical power against the blacks. The next logical step would be to justify slavery too if you take your arguments to its logical conclusion.
Gaja: I did not use caste to defend or to attack. I used it to separate myself so I did not continue to waste my Energies. As I said to them – I am still available to anyone who seeks my services / help. They will come. Some already have.
TDL : You cannot cherry pick evidence to prove your point. You have to look at this issue in totality - the bigger picture as well as the smaller picture to arrive at the right conclusion. A dialectical approach is needed to correctly evaluate such issues which have social, economic and political implications.
Gaja: Why? I am a small person to majority Tamils. They are my whole world. If you are big guy to most of them – enjoy the status from whole – however false that may be. I don’t need to prove my point to anyone because I am happy with what I have. Truth is Universal and there is no law against caste discrimination in Sri Lanka. In fact it was part of Thesawalamai Law due to the right reasons. YOU seem to have indiscriminately copied classless Marxism . The only person known to me through my husband, who genuinely practiced communism and hence classlessness within our family was Mr Karthigesan. I practiced at home level where I serve in the cups used by me and I sit and listen to those who come to me with their problems as if we were friends. I discipline them only where I believe they were exceeding their authority. If you think that is wrong – then that is ok. Most of those who care about my leadership want me to live for them. Some are in Thunaivi and they are juniors in our group not because of their caste but because they seek to benefit from my work and sacrifices. It’s a zero base start and that confirms proper use to place each one as per their investment in the COMMON system.