17 October 2017
Deva Dasis & Militants
The conduct of militant supporters in Jaffna – through their protest during the visit of the President to Northern Province to participate in the celebrations of ‘National Tamil Day’, held at the Jaffna Hindu College, confirms their reluctance to join the officially regulated pathway. They are however not alone in this. The media also seems to be more excited in following the de-facto pathway when it comes to militants. For example let us take the following statement included in the Ceylon Today editorial headed ‘President’s daredevil approach’:
[Some of the Northern politicians even warned that in future no Government leader should visit Jaffna without solving post-war humanitarian issues in the North.]
If they are Politicians carrying the status of politicians – then a junior cannot ‘warn’ a ‘senior’ in that structure. A junior has every right to take an independent stand so long as it is through the structure of her/his position and become a facility at that level. As part of this process – the humanitarian issues have been submitted to the UN and we need to respect and follow the global structures in expressing our expectations. Using local language that we are comfortable with, is to go backwards and we get left out of the process of evolution. A warning such as the above, is serious in nature – and the author of the report / article has the responsibility to specifically state as to which politician said this and where it was stated. If stated publicly – the Government has the responsibility to take action against such a person – through the appropriate sections of the law. Negligence to do so is far more damaging to Northern Sri Lankans than removing the armed forces during post-war period.
The picture that comes to my mind as a parallel of these protestors and the media that stated as above, is the Deva Dasi community (to my mind, literally the parallel of Brides of Christ), presented as follows by Wikipedia:
[In South and parts of Western India, a devadasi (Sanskrit: servant of deva (god)) or jogini is a girl "dedicated" to worship and service of a deity or a temple for the rest of her life. The age group of a girl to be converted as devadasi is 8–16 years. The dedication takes place in a Pottukattu ceremony which is similar in some ways to marriage. Originally, in addition to taking care of the temple and performing rituals, these women learned and practiced classical Indian artistic traditions like like Bharatanatya and Odissi dances. They enjoyed a high social status as dance and music were essential part of temple worship.
Traditionally devadasis had a high status in society. After marrying wealthy patrons, they spent their time honing their skills instead of becoming a housewife. They had children from their husbands who were also taught their skills of music or dance. Often their patrons had another wife who served them as housewife. Some of the eminent personalities hailed from this community are Bharat Ratna M S Subbulakshmi, Lata Mangeshkar, Kishori Amonkar, this Padma Vibhushan Ms T Balasaraswati and Dr. Muthulaksmi Reddi.
During British rule, in the Indian subcontinent, kings who were the patrons of temples and temple arts lost their power. As a result, devadasis were left without their traditional means of support and patronage. During colonial times, reformists worked towards outlawing the devadasi tradition on grounds that it supported prostitution. Colonial views on devadasis are hotly disputed by several groups and organizations in India and by western academics. The British were unable to distinguish the devdasi from the girls who danced in the streets for the reasons other than spiritual devotion to the deity. This caused socio-economic deprivation and perusal of folk arts]
Sri Lankan Tamil leaders have claimed our right to self-rule ever since independence from the British. The claim needs to be substantiated through (in the language of the law of Thesawalamai – applicable to Tamils of Northern Sri Lanka) :
(i) Muthusum - Inherited right
(ii) Thediya Thettam – Merit based right earned by the claimant
Tamil Politicians who followed the official system of their times were able to use (ii) – the Merit Based official system. Genuine Militants used (i) the inherited rights based system – as per the system known to them and matched it to the perceived needs of the People they thought they were representing. The latter are to my mind, the parallels of Deva Dasi group which to my mind is the parallel of De facto Marriage partner groups. Taken as independent system - they have positive value. But a De facto system does not have the authority to take higher position over an official system. That would then make a mistress of the official wife. The fundamental reason is that De facto systems work well and are needed by those driven largely by outcomes with least influence by structured authority. They would not survive in a firmly structured institution / community that is strongly committed to tradition.
As a lawfully married wife my status within family and community circles is Equal to any other lawfully married person. Second marriage has been provided for in Thesawalamai Law applicable to Tamils of Northern Sri Lanka. But some of Vaddukoddai where the first Political declaration of Independence was claimed by Tamils – did openly claim in Northern Courts that I was NOT family to my lawful husband’s biological brother, due to my marriage being second marriage. In other words – to all those who so claimed – I was of mistress status and was below them in their structure. In turn they became mistresses in the system of Law and in the cultural system of Australia.
The system of Truth prevailed to bring me the opportunities to help others who were disenfranchised on the basis of culture particular to a small group. Becoming part of the Toddy Tapper family in Thunaivi – within Vaddukoddai district was one such remedy against caste-based segregation. In return under that ‘free’ environment, I learnt about the mind-structure of those who joined militant groups. That is the value of dumbing down. I now have the mind-power to influence them through the system of Truth/Belief.
I am also able to recognize those who abuse the De facto system which is healthy for a society where the official system has become weak and irrelevant to the Common citizen. Militants who have taken official positions have become largely irrelevant to the Common Jaffna Tamil. Some parts of the media are fooling themselves for selfish reasons and that carries the high risk of leading to frivolous wars when they collude with politicians. Militants who have embraced official systems – have the responsibility to be independent of De facto systems. That’s when there will be harmony in Northern Sri Lanka which has the capacity to facilitate Multicultural systems within the same period – as Jaffna Hindu college has proven by producing high achievers through English language. If not for this capacity – we have no claim to traditional values.
The LTTE leadership that claimed to consider Former Tamil Nadu Chief M G Ramachandran seem to have inherited his de facto genes in Politics.