Thursday 26 February 2015

Gajalakshmi Paramasivam – 26 February  2015

Emperor Bali & the Tamil Mind

The feedback from grassroots is positive and gives one hope. The new Governor of Northern Sri Lanka – the Hon HMGS Palihakkara is listening to the difficulties of workers as per a group that has been affected by the war. Many in the group are war widows  and the new Governor  has promised to address them as soon as possible. This confirms to me that the current Provincial Council is more united in serving Northern Sri Lanka than was the case previously. Given that this was done with least publicity but to the satisfaction of the victims – I feel that Mother Power is working strongly.  As I often say – Mothers are Feelers and Fathers are Thinkers. In this instance I feel strongly that the feelings of the Governor and the feelings of Chief Minister have combined to deliver a satisfactory outcome to this group of needy widows in Northern Province.

On the other hand I am feeling rather upset over the news of LTTE influenced groups burning the effigy of the Hon M A Sumanthiran -  who along with the Hon R Sampanthan, participated in the Independence Day Celebrations under the new Government. To me they were confirming their independent interpretation of the feelings of Tamils who seek self-governance as Sri Lankans. This according to news reports has upset the LTTE supporters within the Tamil Political leadership. I expect such to happen. But burning of effigy confirms poor culture on the part of such LTTE supporters. One member of the Tamil Diaspora wrote in anguish:

[Shame on those who participated and encouraged this to happen! Are we to destroy ourselves? Get rid of the members in TNA & NPC – who are not politically astute but playing into the gallery!!]

There are others with whose reasoning I do not identify. In his article in relation to this for example, Professor Ratnajeevan Hoole states:
[Today we lack Tamils fluent in English who can read the many strands of thought available widely in English and engage the Sinhalese. The field is left open to extremists. University youth are cut off from the liberal ideals of previous generations because they can read only Tamil language websites. (The Sinhalese situation is not as parlous as judged by who passes SAT and GRE English tests to get university admissions in the US). As a result Tamil youth lack choice in getting leaders who can articulate themselves to outsiders.
This is the challenge before the universities serving the North and the East where those comfortable in English are few and confined to the staff”

Language is a handicap for members of both ethnicities  who have embraced education in their own respective languages. Whilst this limits one’s interactions with other cultures in wider society – majority Sri Lankans at most times did not use English in their everyday living. Christians like Professor Hoole,  had greater advantage to learn English due to Missionaries. I myself was educated at the Holy Family Convent and majority in my class were not fluent in the use of English. As my son said about speaking Tamil – they understand but they do not make the effort to structure their expressions in that language.  In terms of family – one cousin said that she used English when she got cross with her husband and the other said she used Tamil when she was romantic with her husband. To my mind, that sums up our upper middle class Tamil families.

Anything learnt without belief as its base  - is likely to be used for trading purposes. This is the reason why Sinhala only law would have worked against Tamils. Belief is the reason why one needs separation of powers – especially in democracy. I did not learn Hinduism in school. Now I feel that the discoveries I have made about the deep values of Hinduism were due to my genuine faith in my elders with whom I shared common belief in Nallur Murugan. I did not study Hinduism formally or informally through the intellectual path. But by practicing the little I knew and attributing to the Lord  through the Divine Forms known to me – His  share of the benefits, I was able to develop deep insight into the Hindu values known to me. I appreciate the parallels of this in the case of  true believers in all ethnicities in Sri Lanka. The test is that they would not damage the other side under any circumstances. They would respect them as Equals. 

Education in one’s mother language is  important in Democracy. Otherwise we Tamils are likely to feel second class in England and other countries where English is the official language. I admire the clever minds of  Tamils including LTTE Tamils who produced their own weapons and equipment with very little material resources. They are not different to clever academics at the University of  Jaffna.  Professor Hoole writes about this group:

[A petition dated 24 Feb. (today is 22 Feb.) to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights by the Jaffna University Teachers’ Association (JUTA) says, among other things,

“We understand that you recommended the postponement of the report, inter alia, with the hope that the new Government headed by President Maithripala Sirisena will initiate a credible domestic mechanism to investigate into the mass atrocities committed during the civil war in Sri Lanka. Given the current composition of the Government (which includes those who took an active part in the war) and prior history relating to domestic mechanisms having failed to deliver justice, we wish to make it very clear that we have no faith in any domestic mechanism that this Government may establish. Given our long experience with Sinhala Buddhist hegemonic institutions that dominate Sri Lanka’s politics we have no faith that members of the Sri Lankan armed forces will ever be prosecuted locally for any wrong doing. International supervision of any domestic mechanism will only serve to waste time.”

These fears reflect what many Tamil people think. This is why both Sampanthan and Sumanthiran were emphatic that the report should be released now. Although the UN has a point in saying that more evidence could be forthcoming if the government cooperates, that is no good reason to stop the interim report. But given the postponement, the issue has been hijacked by Tamil extremists to work against the two moderate leaders, untruthfully accusing Sumanthiran of secretly agreeing with the UNHRC to the postponement.]

This letter is in English language and it is from a Jaffna Tamil University. English Language obviously is not a problem for this group of academics. But like with LTTE weapons produced to elevate the status of armed warfare above the political path  – these judgments are in breach of Due Processes applicable to all sections of the Tamil Community. These confirm the role played by this University in the ethnic war. The Doctrine of Separation of Powers needs to be maintained between independent bodies – in this instance the University and the Human Rights Commission. Each independent body has to publish its discoveries and judgments to the Public and other independent bodies need to read through that Public to retain the independence of the information being published. The Jaffna University Teachers’ Association has every right to publish its findings to the Public – independent of  any other body. But it does not have the authority to use its status to judge the Government of Sri Lanka or worse – the UN.  This above communication by the Tamil academics confirms that they also are indifferent to the Tamil Provincial Council. This is their parallel of burning of effigy by LTTE supporters. By failing to condemn them,  Professor Hoole also has confirmed his lack of independence. To my mind this is due to academic ego.

There is a beautiful Hindu Legend about the need to surrender ego to enjoy the experience of  Divine Powers.  It is about Emperor Bali – who like Alexander the Great – conquered many countries and ruled Supreme. In celebrating his victory Emperor Bali conducted a Yaaham (Religious ceremony around the Fire).  Towards the end of that Yaaham Lord Vishnu takes the form of a Short Brahmin (Hindu Priest) / Vamanan (person of short status) and seeks alms from Emperor Bali – as part of  ritual. He asks for the land covered by three paces and his request is granted.  Lord Vishnu then takes gigantic  proportions. His first step covers the whole of the world of gods captured by Emperor Bali; the second step covers the underworld and there was no more space for the third step. Overruling the advice of his guru – Emperor Bali bows down so the Lord could complete the third step on the Emperor’s head. That act of surrender completes the Yaaham / Sacrifice. 

The common interpretation of the three worlds is – the mind, body and soul. In the above context  - it is the academic world, the armed world and the ‘I’ world of the individual. Until the last is surrendered one does not have the total experience of  Universal Independence. Even an Emperor needs to be humble and surrender her/his individuality to God to experience wholesome Independence. It’s a lesson not only for Tamils who killed to ‘win’ but also for the President of Bali who is waiting to kill Australians without belief as One human society. Where is Lord’s share in the life of these men who are foreigners to Muslim Indonesia ?

Thou shall not kill without Belief. 

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