Thursday 28 October 2021


Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

28 October 2021



Thesawalamai Law is for the Poorly educated in Jaffna

Sri Lanka’s News Radio has published an article headed ‘One Country, One Law Task Force appointed Chaired by Gnanasara Thera’, with the following introduction:

[A Presidential Task Force for One Country, One Law, has been appointed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The Task Force will be Chaired by Ven. Galagodaththe Gnanasara thera. The Gazette Notification in this regard was issued yesterday.]

Tamil politicians, Mr Sumanthiran and Mr Shanakiyan have publicly opposed this. If a Buddhist monk heads it  - one is entitled to conclude that it would be based on Buddhism foremost law which has its own powers to divide.

With this in mind, as per my own priorities I went on to read  article published by  the mighty Daily Mirror under the heading ‘We Resolve to Fight against All Forms of Caste Oppression’. The following indicates the subject matter:

[The Jaffna People’s Forum for Coexistence strongly condemns the casteist violence unleashed on the oppressed community in Arasady, Vaddukoddai in Jaffna on September 19, 2021 by a group of dominant-caste youth and men.]

I am of Jaffna town origin but since my marriage to Param, I have become part of Vaddukoddai also. ‘My book, Jaffna is my heritage and not dowry is based on this common experience. While it is based on Thesawalamai law, its interpretations were different between our Vaddukoddai relatives and me. Param delegated his powers also to me and it became Jaffna v Vaddukoddai battle and the human judges awarded victory to Vaddukoddai. The victory for me was the higher intelligence which naturally works the current generation driven by the effects of war. The parallel of Buddhists in South are the Vellala caste in North.. It is therefore not surprising that both issues have preceded Provincial Council elections.

As per the Daily Mirror article:

[Caste-based violence has a long history in Vaddukoddai and its neighbouring villages such as Ponnalai, Thunaivi, Koddaikaadu and Muthali Koviladi. The incident that happened in Arasady cannot be viewed merely as an incidental use of physical force by one group on another or a conflict between two groups, as sections of the media try to portray it; it is a violent manifestation of deep-seated caste prejudices existing within caste-based hierarchies and socio-economic dimensions of caste oppression that characterize Jaffna society. ]

Ponnalai is the place where Mr Alfred Duriappah – an SLFP politician was assassinated at the entrance to the temple. The LTTE claimed credit for this. Thunaivi is the self-isolated Toddy Tapper village where our family temple is and where I was threatened by youth when I complained to Vaddukoddai Police about damage to our fence. Muthali Koviladi is Thunaivi’s parallel on the other side of Vaddukoddai town. In both these villagers – members of senior castes would seriously hesitate to come.

Before I learnt about the above incident on 19 September, I intuitively felt the need to write to the Divisional Secretary, asking to lease the building built on our temple land, donated for the purpose of war related rehabilitation. The reason could have been the information that the locks to the building were being broken open. The Divisional Secretary facilitated this through Due Processes. Interestingly, when asked by this officer ‘whether the Grama Sevakar would locate the office to this building – on the basis of which condition we donated the land  the Grama Sevakar who is also responsible for the senior caste village of Sangarathai – the Grama Sevakar declined, giving ‘security’ reasons. For years whenever I went to Northern Sri Lanka, I lived there on my own in the cottage built by our family. But the Jaffna People’s Forum for Coexistence lacked the intuition to pick that up. Hence, as per my standards they lack the moral authority to downgrade others for caste based discrimination.

If they do undertake a Research Project on this  - they would learn that by isolating themselves from senior castes – junior castes ‘possess’ , separate and rule. In the above incident, a councillor from Thunaivi is reported to have mobilised others of his caste and got ready as he did previously before the war – to take on the senior caste in an open confrontation. He came to power on EPDP ticket. Due to self-isolation, he continues to be driven by brawn power. His sister on the other hand, educated her three children at the same school that my husband and his family members were educated at. Eventually, she built a home on the same street as my husband’s family and lives there now. Two of her children live in Europe.

Through these experiences I have worked out that the caste based injustice happened due to both sides wanting it easy. The result is that junior castes that self-isolated are not connected to the senior caste and therefore the heritage from that part of our community. Those employed by us in Vaddukoddai are all from Junior caste. Within Thunaivi – they have their own sub-caste system as the seniors amongst them need positions of higher authority.

Likewise at National level – Buddhists have self-isolated themselves including through ‘Buddhism Foremost’ article in the Constitution. A constitution has to be based on Absolute/Sovereign power. The more it is based on the seen and the heard – the more it lends itself to be ‘possessed’. The more it is ‘possessed’ the more it would stagnate. The more it stagnates the more it decays.

Buddhism as inherited from Lord Buddha is pathway to losing the physical towards lasting bliss / Nirvana. When it is demoted to relative place – it demotes its natural opposition also to that level. Recently  - there was mention of the Rajapaksa family being of farmer group as denoted by their Kurakan / Ragi shawl. The current President – Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa wore the common / secular dress acceptable to Common Sri Lankan. One hopes that this would prevail in the case of the Constitution also. Buddhists in Sri Lanka need this – just as much as isolated castes in Jaffna need the secular system.

 If Buddhism foremost continues in South, its parallel in North would resurface. As per my discovery, LTTE leadership was driven more by caste based discrimination pain and hence they eliminated the senior caste politicians. Unless one acts as per one’s own conscience, one would not know the reason why s/he acted as s/he did. Now the heirs of LTTE do not have common law even for the North and East. Likewise, Buddhists leaders for South and West.

Thesawalamai law discriminated on the basis of work. This facilitated heritage of special skills. Hence where the folks do not understand the common law of an area – they would switch to that which they know. This is caste based in North and religion based in South.

In North manual workers no longer consider themselves as juniors. Likewise in South Non-Buddhists. When we oppose unjust laws we eventually win in real terms  - provided we do not unjustly discriminate when we are in power. Even mental Opposition by one liberates that person. 

The solution is affirmative action through mandatory quotas for junior castes in North and Non-Buddhists in Multicultural areas in South. 


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