Tuesday 30 June 2020

Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

30 June  2020

LTTE Surrendered to Goddess Kannaki

I did not  see it on Sunday, 28 June. It was before me today – Tuesday. The article is the ‘Lost in sea and believing in God’. To many that would seem insignificant – without special connection. But to me it happened through divine blessing – a message from St Anthony whose day to my mind is Tuesday. It then means that I was meant to read it. As per my experience based belief when I read something that touches my heart – as if I had had the experience – we are of common faith.
As I read the article as a common individual – not knowing details about the individual other than that he was a Navy officer, I appreciated the special quality in this person – Loyalty. I discussed this aspect with my husband and started writing this article. Then I looked up the name and learnt that he is indeed a decorated officer. I concluded that it was my genuine concerns for the Navy that took me to this person who expresses appreciation for his gurus.
His article begins with ‘It was in 1984, 36 years ago, that I returned to Sri Lanka, from India, after completing my Sub Lieutenant Technical course.
Later ‘my training at Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC), Dartmouth, UK, where Royal Navy take ‘survival at sea’ training very seriously. They put you in a liferaft and keep you out at river Dart for a whole night during winter. Midshipmen from Asian and African countries who did the International Midshipman Course at BRNC with me cursed the Royal Navy instructors the whole night for keeping us exposed to very cold weather in river Dart. I realised the importance of that training in BRNC. However, the situation there was different. We were on a liferaft in River Dart, and not floating in water. Due to the cold weather in the UK during winter, if you fall into water, you will survive only a few minutes. You will die of hypothermia. The situation here in warm Sri Lankan/Indian waters is different. We would survive a longer period, maybe 24 hours.

The fact that this individual attributed credit to India and the UK for his training confirmed humility – which is healthy in a subjective system. Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne confirms his high class as follows:
[I saw Kachchtivu Island on horizon, where a small church was built by a fisherman, who was a survivor of a storm, and dedicated it to St. Anthonys. We were too weak to swim towards the island. I told my sailors that help would come soon. I am a Buddhist, I am a firm believer in God Skanda (God Kataragama) and St. Anthony. When we get a sea appointment, we go to St. Anthony Church, Kochikade and light a candle because St. Anthony is the Saint who looks after seafarers like us. Our ships in the Colombo harbour, before proceeding to the sea on patrol first, turn towards St. Antony’s Church to invoke its blessings. Before taking over my sea appointment in the North, I lit a candle there. I prayed to St. Antony.]

As a devotee of St Anthony at Kochikade, I fully identify with the above revelations.

As per my experience, St Anthony is also the Presiding deity/Saint  of Jaffna’s coastal area, which was home to many of my classmates at Holy Family Convent – Jaffna. Last year, I went to one such church on the day of St Anthony’s feast .  The connection between Kachchatheevu which is common to India and Lanka through fisher-folks is confirmed as follows in the article by Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne:
[A book written by the late W. T. Jayasinghe, the former External Affairs and Defence Secretary, titled, Kachchtivu : And the Maritime Boundary of Sri Lanka, says: "The sea surrounding Kachchtivu are fertile fishing grounds and fishermen from Sri Lanka have from time immemorial been venturing into these waters. It is recorded that fishermen of Point Pedro went as far as Kachchtivu to catch turtles during particular seasons. The Portuguese administered Kachchtivu as part of Jaffna and Sri Lanka has been exercising sovereignty and jurisdiction over Kachchtivu and its adjacent waters without interruption." (Page 18)]

The nature of the fisher folks of Northern Sri Lanka could be discerned by the following:

[We were very weak by morning. Around 9.00 hrs / July 2, 1984, we saw a fishing trawler at a distance. They saw us floating and came towards us. I silently prayed again that it should not be an Indian trawler. We the SLN are not the best friends of Indian trawlers poaching in our waters.

It was a Sri Lankan trawler which came from Gurunagar. They took us on board. I looked at my water proof watch. Time was 10.20 hrs. We had been floating for 20 hours and 20 minutes. All of us survived. The Tamil fishermen were very kind to us. They gave us water to drink, which tasted very sweet. We had not taken any water or food for almost 24 hrs. Most of us were shivering from the cold and had signs of dehydration. The fishermen gave us sugar and bread. This was the breakfast of these humble people. I ate a piece of bread with sugar with tears in my eyes.

I thanked St Antony for being kind to us. I was determined to come back to the small St Antony’s Church in Kachchtivu soon to light a candle. Soon we were spotted by a SLN ship. The happy news communicated to the Naval Base, Karainagar "Ravi and his boys are safe. We are bringing them home". A reception at the Naval base was unbelievable, led by my senior batch Lieutenant Parakrama Samaraweera (Pol Samare or Nalaka who died in Mullaitivu in 1996) and six of my batch mates. All these happened when I was a 21-year old, way back in 1984. Thank god for allowing me to live. Thanks St. Anthony.]

LTTE leader hails from coastal area. The above folks are confirmed to have been experienced as follows:
[This was the breakfast of these humble people. I ate a piece of bread with sugar with tears in my eyes.]

The above is a far cry from the description ‘leader of the world’s deadliest terrorist group’.
Wikipedia confirms their royal genes as follows:

[The Karaiyars emerged in the 1980s as strong representatives of Sri Lankan Tamil nationalism. The nuclear leadership of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam have background in the wealthier enterprising section of the Karaiyars.
Historically, they have also been referred to as Kurukulam, Varunakulam and Karaiyalar. Sharing similar origins and status are the Sinhalese Karava.]

And also:
[The Karaiyars were assigned the western section (present day Gurunagar) and the harbors of the Jaffna Kingdom. The Karaiyars formed the generals of the Jaffna kings and officered the navy of the Aryacakravarti dynasty. They used the Makara as emblem, the mount of their clan deity, the sea god Varuna, which was also seen on their flags. Kannaki Amman is one of the chief deity of the Hindu Karaiyars whereas Francis Xavier and Virgin Mary are one of the chief saints of the Christian Karaiyars]

To my mind, it is no coincidence that the LTTE died in Nanthi lagoon – in the same area of the Kannaki Amman temple. It confirms that they were true to their own laws. Our dynasties protect us even at the hour of our death. Hence the LTTE are honoured by fighters in the Tamil community to whom Mother Kannagi is the presiding deity.

The author completes as follows:

[My mother was 82-years old and she broke her hip in 2017, when I was Navy Commander. She gave me most of the valuable documents she was keeping with her. One of those documents was my horoscope, written by a world-famous astrologer who was a very close friend of my late father. My horoscope was written only up to 1st July 1984, and the astrologer had said the remaining part of it would be completed some other day. My late father or mother did not know why the astrologer had postponed writing the second part. Now, I know why he did so. However, I survived on July 1, 1984.

When I was the Navy Commander, I was given the opportunity by His Lordship, Rt Rev Dr Justin Ganapragasam, Roman Catholic Bishop of Jaffna to build a new St Anthonys Church at Kachchtivu. I was more than happy to do so. The present Navy Commander, Vice Admiral Piyal De Silva was the Northern Naval Commander at the time. I grabbed this golden opportunity with both my hands. Piyal did a wonderful job and built a beautiful church for St. Anthony in six months. I do not miss attending yearly feast, which attracts thousands Indian and Sri Lankan devotees. On 1st of July, I remember how lucky we were to survive in the sea.]

If these Navy commanders were able to come together to build a Catholic church, they naturally have set aside Article 9 of the Sri Lankan constitution which requires Buddhism to be upheld by the Government. They have thus become true Buddhists – disciple of Buddha who transcended the physical and became Common Energy.

Each time the government celebrates victory over LTTE – their Naval forces would be weakened due to furthering themselves away from Mother Kannaki who has included the LTTE as part of  Herself.  

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