02 January 2021
ONE AND FREE
Our Australian Prime Minister’s declaration of change in the National Anthem – from ‘Young and Free’ to ‘One and Free’ felt as if my contributions were getting recognized at the top. That is the way with experience which gets added to the Sovereign power. Young meant migrants and the change is a declaration that migrants are also now Elders in Australia. Most migrants face this challenge – often due to our pathway being blocked by desire for immediate outcomes – especially through handouts.
In his Academic paper ‘Can Buddha Cross the Boundaries? - A diasporic ethnoreligiosity of the Sinhala Buddhists’ Dr Suren Rāghavan highlights as follows the parallel Challenges that Sri Lankans of both major ethnicities face :
[It is now an established and well-argued fact the Tamils of Lanka who arrived in Europe and Canada ( where they made the largest Lankan Tamil population outside Lanka) mostly entered under the categories of refugees and/or sponsored relatives. However, they soon used their new positions/freedom to continue support a separatism and the armed conflict in Lanka where the Northeast provinces were demanded as a separate ethnic state named ‘Tamil Eelam’. Supporting the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam – The LTTE or Tamil Tigers become a compulsory part of Tamilness in every Tamil in Canada and very specially in Scarborough near Toronto where the thickets concentration of Tamils were found. (Lee 2014, Khan 2014, Kruglanski et al. 2014).
Yet little or no study has been done to detect how the Sinhala diaspora responded to this and if/how it used Sinhala Buddhism as a rallying point to justify/advance its ethnoreligious nationalism and the impact it created in the immediate hostland as well as back in Lanka in her struggle for greater democracy. Attention will be paid to investigate the characteristics nature of the diasporic Sinhala Buddhism in establishing a Sinhala nationalist ideology and what methodological and phenomenological adaptations did it adhere to, as mobilized by prominent diasporic Sangha Venerable Gangodawila Soma. ]
The above about Tamils has been confirmed through my experience also. The question is whether Tamils of Sri Lanka who emigrated, completed their Sri Lankan experience or whether they ‘abandoned’ Sri Lanka. As I have often stated – a debt becomes a sin and a sin is a Universal power which cannot be controlled by the sinner. Most of our ‘traditions’ insist on us paying our respects to elders – so we would not be indebted to those who developed structures that support our current life. In Jaffna, seeking such blessings was limited largely to special occasions – where there is an audience. When we are disrespectful of those from whom we ‘inherited’ a culture, we confirm abuse of power which happens when we ‘steal’ / plagiarize. Those who feel ‘thank you’ instantaneously settle the debt and become common owners of wealth, including corporate knowledge and institutional structures.
The question as to why Sri Lankan Tamils in Canada and Europe are heirs of ‘separatism’ would be answered by identity with their Balance Sheet at the time of departure from Sri Lanka. Yes, most of us did lose property in the war area and some in wider Sri Lanka. But those who owed Sri Lanka due to Higher Special Facilities such as Higher Education and Common Judicial Services driven by Higher Common laws, would have converted their debts to sins by behaving as if they were ‘chased away’ and not ‘attracted by’ greater benefits for their Sri Lankan skills and cultural structures that go towards their new nations being seen as being more global.
As per Wikipedia report:
[Venerable Gangodawila Soma Thera was born in Gangodawila, a semi-urban locality in the outskirts of the capital city of Colombo.
Soma Thera was ordained as novice in 1974 when he was 26 years of age under the tutelage of two of the most revered monks in Sri Lanka – Most Reverend Venerable Madihe Pannasiha Maha Nayake Thera and Venerable Ampitiye Rahula Maha Thera. He received training at the Bhikkhu Training Centre, Maharagama – an institution established by the monks mentioned above.
Having obtained his higher ordination in 1976, Some Thera continued to study the Buddhist texts in Pali, their original language, according to Theravada tradition. He was particularly interested in doing research into the teachings of the Buddha and has written several books on the subject……
Venerable Soma first visited Australia in 1986, when he came on an invitation from the Buddhist temple at Richmond, where he stayed for a period of three months. Venerable Soma realised that Mahayana practices had a strong foothold in Australia and felt that there was a need for a Vihara where Theravada practices could be followed correctly. When he returned to Australia in 1989, Venerable Soma established the first Sinhala Vihara in Melbourne. This was known as the Melbourne Sri Lankan Buddhist Vihara and was situated at Regent Street in Springvale. In 1993, he moved away from the Melbourne Sri Lankan Buddhist Vihara and established Buddhist Vihara Victoria at 21 Rich Street, Noble Park. Later, this Vihara was moved to Berwick and is called the Sakyamuni Sambuddha Vihara. It was established with the intention of becoming a Buddhist Education, Research and Information Centre for scholars of the Dhamma and to cater to all those who were interested in the study and practice of the Dhamma.
In 1996 he returned to Sri Lanka after seven years in Australia. This was intended to be a short stay to revitalise his spiritual development and to be at the side of his father who had suffered a stroke. The stay was extended as his father became more gravely ill and his presence was required to comfort his mother who was also ailing.]
The first part confirms that the monk was ‘made in Sri Lanka’. The second part confirms that the monk’s belief in Buddhism was not deep enough to accept that Mahayana was also Buddhism. His establishment of ‘Sinhala Vihara in Melbourne’ confirmed separatism.
The law of Truth says that for every manifested ‘fact’ there shall be an equal and opposite ‘fact’ by independent and adverse owners of the same whole. As per Prescription Ordinance for example a Prescriptive title owner needs to establish that
(i) S/he had continuous possession over a long unbroken period
(ii) Such possession / occupation was independent of and adverse to that of any other form of ownership claimed by another.
Hence where there are two claimants at the physical level – the unofficial claimant needs to confirm Equal ownership through a different path.
Sinhala Vihara in Melbourne is the ethnic parallel of Tamil Eelam organisations in Canada and Europe. Both are separatist organizations due to attachment to primary level ownership – towards ‘showing’ and ‘telling’.
At tertiary level one is merged with the soul and therefore accepts all forms of ownership expressions. Had the above monk been a tertiary owner – he would have identified with Common Buddha in Buddhism.
In contrast Victorian Tamils established Shiva-Vishnu temple which is the parallel of Mahayana- Theravada Buddhist Temple.
In terms of ownership – of Tamil investment in Sri Lanka, the Tamil Rights Group (TRG) , which claims to be a newly established international not-for-profit organisation, headquartered in Markham, Canada, :
[The ‘ struggle for Tamil rights began since the early 1970s.’]
The above is the parallel of ‘Sinhala Vihara’ instead of a Buddhist Vihara. Through such manifestations in Australia, the monk actually added to Separatism in Australia. The TRG manifestation steers the claim away from the Political struggles that led to Vaddukoddai Resolution and the subsequent natural manifestation of Equal Tamil Opposition in National Parliament. The armed struggle that ‘eliminated’ the architects of Vaddukoddai Resolution lacks the depth of belief to claim Belief based Tamil ownership that became a natural manifestation of Universal Power in 1977. The Tamil struggle during our generation began soon-after Sinhala Only Act – the parallel of ‘Sinhala Vihara’ .
The above claim leads to the conclusion that Canadian Tamil community is divided on time /age basis. As per TRG:
[Despite assurances of successive governments and make-belief guarantees to carry forward transitional justice and accountability mechanisms, there has been no substantial progress on the vital fronts of United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolutions. Instead, the current Government of Sri Lanka headed by Gotabaya Rajapaksa has unilaterally withdrawn Sri Lanka from the UNHRC resolutions that itself co-sponsored in 2015. The new regime has vowed to protect members of the armed forces from any accountability, thus effectively reneging on judicial process, and the responsibilities the government has towards its own people, and to the international community and in 2019, finally renounced all the official undertakings given to the UN by Sri Lanka by the previous regime six years earlier.]
To have the right to punish/discipline through the UN, Tamils need to ‘show’ Political Equality in Sri Lanka – as happened in 1977 and later in 2015. But the premature manifestations by the young and the restless went towards manifestation of the current government . In other words despite the standards in the host nations, the Tamil and Sinhala communities lived separate lives due to separatism genes in both sides. The infection from the Diaspora naturally generates the ‘other side’ in Sri Lanka – when the Sovereign borders are not closed.
TRG claims the Mullivaikal tragedy as Genocide:
[The systemic structural genocide of the Tamils that culminated in the Mullivaikal massacre in May 2009 was rampant with international war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the multitude of violations in the “No-Fire Zones” by the Sri Lankan armed forces. The years of violations of international human rights law, anti-Tamil and anti-Muslim pogroms, enforced disappearances, summary executions, state-sponsored paramilitary killings, arbitrary arrests, extended incarcerations, torture, and gender-based violence have still not been accounted for. This culture of impunity has become the state policy and institutionalised in the autocratic presidency.]
To claim Genocide, one has to establish that every Tamil killed or wounded was free of pressure from the Tamil combatants to stay with them. One who has shared in the pain of those who were forced by Tamil combatants would not identify with that claim. I was with the victims in Vavuniya and Chettikulam and my brother in law died because he was not facilitated to join his relatives in Vavuniya. Before claiming Genocide – the claimant needs to separate the Separatists from the Tamil side. Then and then alone does a Tamil have the right to question on the basis of principles that underpin Global laws.
The way we ‘settled’ our minds was to attribute the reason to be - our brother in law’s dependence on younger family members. During the pandemic we close our Sovereign borders for this reason. We the Tamil community must seek and find our Truth – Independent of the Opposite side. Towards this we need to ‘close our community borders’. Then and then alone would we have earned the support of Universal Power. The UN would then do the needful in its own way. We have no right to enforce or ‘tell’ the mighty UN – nor expect to be pampered by it.