Friday 20 April 2018

Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

20 April 2018                                         

Tamil Caste system would have prevented Ethnic war in Sri Lanka
[Prof. Bryan Pfaffenberger of the Syracuse University, USA, produced magisterial studies of the Jaffna caste system, in which he detailed the misery of low-castes. In Political Construction of Defensive Nationalism: The 1968 Temple Entry Crisis in Sri Lanka he wrote: “In Jaffna in the 1940s and 1950s, for instance, minority Tamils were forbidden to enter or live near temples: to draw water from the wells of high-caste families; to enter laundries, barber shops, or taxis; to keep women in seclusion and protect them by enacting domestic rituals; to wear shoes; to sit in bus seats; to attend school; to cover the upper part of the body; to wear gold earrings; if male, to cut one’s hair; to use umbrellas; to own a bicycle or car; to cremate the dead; or to convert to Christianity or Buddhism.” Compare this to the hue and cry they raised to high heaven about the Sinhala Only Act of 1956 which would have affected, if at all, only the Vellala high-caste in Government service. The champions of the Tamil masses, the Marxists, the Churchmen, the NGO-allied academics, and fashionable pro-Tamil (Vellala) pundits turned a blind eye to the insufferable indignities imposed by the Vellalas. This gave the Vellalas the opportunity to turn their guns on the Sinhala-Buddhists who had given to all layers of Tamils what the Tamil leadership of Jaffna refused to give their own people. ] Ceylon Today Book Review -  Mirage The great Tamil novel of our time
As a Jaffna Tamil who grew up in Jaffna in the 1950s and 1960s – I did not identify with  trauma experienced by anyone due to them being of junior caste. Our family owned/s a temple at Sangarathai-Thunaivi in the district of Vaddukoddai. My father did have the rule that the Toddy Tappers of that area were not to draw water from the well. As I grew older and thought more about Equality I did question my father as to why he drew the line on the basis of caste. My father whose formal education  stopped at grade 8 said ‘ that is the way I have grown up’. It was recently when I had a family need to study Thesawalamai law that I realised that my father who was a descendant of  Udayar cultural group had to be conscious of separation. The Udayars are recorded to have had the responsibility of advising the rulers on issues of Justice. Such separation is not different to Judges having separate chambers to cleaners in a Court of Law.  In any case, later by living as part of the Toddy Tapper community I realised that most of the youth who used the temple well did not consider it to be sacred. Some even used it as ‘toilet’ – in fun and/or in revenge.
After my Australian experience in Racial inequality, which seriously damaged my career opportunities as a paid professional – I responded to calls from Sri Lanka’s needy. As part of this I lived in Thunaivi as part of the Toddy Tapper community. It was then that I realized that those who separated themselves from the senior caste folks ended up disenfranchising themselves. They just do not relate to higher values but are highly emotional and settle their scores emotionally. I learnt to not interfere with their fights which are regular events. Just last week – there was a request to play our camera recording to find out who had set fire to the fence of the house to the left of our temple. I declined because none of them from that side came to my rescue when my cottage was stoned because I went to the police after our temple barbed wire was cut and stolen by some folks of that area. There was some circumstantial evidence available on camera which I did produce to the police. Our coordinator provided security services for the rest of my stay – but the stoning continued. I stayed at Jetwing Jaffna on my following visit and went to the temple only for the poojah / mass.
Recently, when our coordinator approached us for contribution to their football activities – my rule was that they needed to agree not to come to Australia illegally. Their elected representative in Local Government is reported to have stated  that some folks got into trouble after agreeing to a similar condition which they breached.  So far no one has come forward to agree to our condition.  As an indigenous community, they have their own rules. Unlawful occupation of others’ land is a hobby in that area. The laws and rules of wider community are irrelevant to these folks.
Had these folks been connected to the Vellala/Farmer  caste through work – their belief in law and order at national level would have been strengthened. I know that when I accepted within limits, unjust subjective discrimination by my seniors – due to respect for their position – my thought structure was naturally elevated. Where there is genuine respect – there is common belief with the person and/or with the structure that the positions are part of and v.v.
Where a junior caste chose to separate – including due to abuse by senior caste, it is the right kind of separation if such separation is due to weakened belief in the senior caste. If such separation is for some in the junior caste to takeover power – then it is the wrong kind of separation. In Thunaivi – it was the wrong kind – resulting in ‘addictions’ to possessions and welfare pleasures. Those who continue to remember their old connections with senior castes – do demonstrate order but they do not have control over their children – especially after 1983 when a large number joined armed militants. Those who asked for separation due to lack of belief in the Government sought the right kind of separation. But given that majority Tamils of Sri Lanka did / do believe in ‘common’ system – the separatists became minority power within the Tamil community. It is the educated and/or Believing Tamil who strengthens the national heritage that we carry as a community at a higher level than those who are pampered by easy benefits. The ‘right’ to foremost religious status confirms this pampering allowance to Buddhists. When it is in the constitution – the benefit is equal in number of units to the population that has the entitlement – whether or not it is activated. 
The Sinhala Only Act 1956 did offend Tamil leaders who had enjoyed equal status as Sinhalese leaders, under Colonial rule. It would have offended every true Sri Lankan. If Mr Bandaranaike had genuinely felt the pain of discrimination by British – he would not have hurt Tamils, Muslims and Burghers by such a rule. I recently highlighted the following from a UK Telegraph report about compensation being paid to a young Tamil mother who did not know English:
[On Friday in London, Judge McKenna ruled that Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS Foundation Trust was liable.
He ruled midwives failed to hire an interpreter to tell her to feed her baby and the eight-year-old is now in line for multi-million-pound NHS compensation because midwives were negligent in failing to tackle the language barrier.]

In terms of global governance and administration, the British are certainly far more advanced than Sri Lankans. If the above mentioned Tamil mother had suffered in Sinhala only Sri Lanka, due to not knowing the official language Sinhalese and there was no compensation from the Government – the government naturally loses power due to Negligence of Duty as carer of the Public. The less educated can be cared for through belief and not through rules that have the effect of enforcement. Sinhalese language and Buddhism have become the political chips of Sinhalese leaders who lack Administrative skills needed to govern at the higher common level. What they do not seem to appreciate is that karma happens as per our intent / nature and not as per unpractised human law.

‘Buddhism foremost’ article in the Constitution naturally separates Buddhists from minorities by religion, whose part of the constitution  states that they have freedom to practice their religion on equal footing – something that most Sri Lankans would not understand, until they believe in the common secular system or live in Truth discovered by themselves. When it comes to ‘belief’ , based on religion – there is fundamental difference in rule for Buddhists on the one hand and Non-Buddhists on the other. This naturally separates the two groups. To the extent non-Buddhists followed other laws  more than Buddhists – they become seniors in Administration at group level. Hence TULF and TNA won the position of Opposition leadership after Vaddukoddai Resolution 1976 and by not reacting to 2009 war but escalating the pain to global level and thus invoking global powers of democracy through the Diaspora who then had access to global institutions and also invested in global laws.

Belief works independent of even the believer. One who believes needs no logic. One who uses logic to mark someone right or wrong is not a believer and/or is communicating with non-believers.  In this instance Mr H.L.D. Mahindapala, the reviewer,  is not a believer in Tamils.

Interestingly though Mr H.L.D. Mahindapala reveals the Truth about the author, as follows:

[Daniel however, remained faithful to his Marxist tenets. He identified the Vellalas, the ruling caste/class, as the enemy of the Tamils.]

One who is a Marxist is a foreigner to Tamils who respectfully fulfilled their duties to society as per their caste hierarchy and followed the law of Thesawalamai which no longer uses caste based hierarchy because majority Tamils have moved away from traditionally inherited jobs from father to son. Those who have inherited job skills from their parents and ancestors – do not have to do as much merit based work – to perform as well as the group that starts without such heritage.

The reviewer highlights the 1983 riots as follows:
[In his preface to the Tamil classic Mirage, the author, K Daniel wrote a revealing note in the opening line. He said: “On the day which I finished writing this novel was the 9th May, 1983”.  Mark you, within two months the whole of Sri Lanka was to explode with the worst  communal riots between the Jaffna Tamils and the Sinhala-Buddhists – a momentous event which the Tamil political  class had never ceased to exploit to their advantage as an indicator of Sinhala-Buddhist oppression and discrimination against the Tamils. But there isn’t a single word/reference in the novel to Sinhala oppression or discrimination against the Tamils in the novel.]

I do not exploit and I obeyed the message that came to me intuitively when I prayed at the Sri Sathya Sai Center in 2009 – not knowing who caused the war pain. The vision that came to my mind was the 13 soldiers whose bodies were returned to Colombo in 1983.  Tamil politicians who fought for Equal footing – would never have done that. Majority Tamil militants using arms were from junior castes and they needed weapons to think equal or superior to politicians. One LSSP/Marxist  supporter said to me recently – that ‘something needed to be given to the Tamils’. He was of Karawa (junior) caste in the Sinhalese community. Even though a professional – his thinking was limited to Equal benefits and not Equal Opportunity to earn benefits. Earned Benefits need to be foregone for Opportunities to develop. When it is done top-down, the opportunity to develop belief is limited. The LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran also invested in Marxism.

Possession needs to pass the test of time to satisfy the requirement of natural ownership. In Sri Lanka this is generally by law, 10 years of uninterrupted undisturbed possession. Areas where Non-Buddhists have managed themselves as per their religious laws are owned by Natural rights of belief. Abuse of the caste system did not lead to major war – which was noted by global leaders. Abuse of the power of human law to damage natural laws of belief – did.

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