By B R Haran
Re-Hinduise identity of Lankan Tamils
(May 25, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) “Tamils and Sinhalas are one people. They have the same DNA structure. There is no ethnic difference between them. Sinhala and Tamil have a large vocabulary in common with Sanskrit and Pali, which have evolved from Brahmi script and all those languages have originated from the Indian mainland. Both Buddhism and Hinduism believe in the same fundamentals and Buddhism began as a reform movement resulting in Hinduism absorbing many of those reforms. Hence there is no religious difference between them,” said Dr. Subramanian Swamy in a recent column written after the defeat of the LTTE by the Sri Lankan army.
Dr. Swamy said British imperialist invaders played a significant role in dividing the two communities. Those who follow the history and geo-politics of Sri Lanka will not dispute this. Sri Lanka is only the latest example of the worldwide conquest of the White Christian Church over non-Abrahamic nations and peoples.
The relationship between Sri Lanka and India dates back to Ithihasic times, the era of the Ramayana, the great epic of Bharata Varsha. Even if we consider the specific Tamil-Sinhala connection, it dates back many centuries to the later Sangam period (Sangam Maruviya Kaalam), leading to the famous Buddhist monk and poet “Seethalai Saaththanaar” who authored the magnificent ‘Kaavya’ called “Manimekalai” in Classical Tamil. Then we have seen the Chola conquest of Sri Lanka and the friendship between the Pandyas and the kings of Sri Lanka.
Tamil Kings patronised the establishment and growth of Buddhism in Tamil Nadu, though the ascendance of Shaivism and Vaishnavism led to the exit of Buddhism from the South. In the north, however, the bloody conquest by Islam destroyed Buddhism.
Before the Christian invasion, Hindus and Buddhists lived peacefully in the island and Tamil Hindus made immense contributions in various fields for the progress of the land. Divisions were sown by the colonial regime, and the poisonous Tamil-Sinhala divide remained a legacy after the British left. Independence emboldened the Sinhala Buddhist majority to assert supremacy brutally, and in 1958 the first major conflict with the Tamil Hindu minority occurred, which was repeated in 1977.
By then Tamil militancy had taken shape; Prabhakaran formed the LTTE in 1976. If the divide created by British was a major reason, the vicious assertion of Sinhala supremacy was an added reason for the emergence of Tamil militancy. The White Church, waiting for the right time to strike, gleefully utilized the emergence of Tamil militancy and aided and abetted the LTTE. This prolonged the conflict for more than three decades. The long term objective of the west was to establish a Tamil Christian nation comprising Lanka’s north-east and Tamil Nadu, by using the ‘Sinhala-Tamil’ and ‘Aryan-Dravidian’ divide.
But now, as the LTTE has been vanquished, the onus lies squarely on the Sri Lankan establishment to live up to its commitment of rehabilitating the Tamil community, ensuring freedom, equal rights and opportunities. India, for its part, must rise to the occasion and help Sri Lanka in achieving this objective. The visit of National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon immediately after LTTE’s defeat is a step in the right direction.
In this context, Tamil Nadu has a moral responsibility to play a meaningful role in creating peace and harmony in the island nation. But considering the track record of the Dravidian parties and their intimacy with the Church, one can anticipate only facilitation of the Christian agenda. It is therefore imperative for Hindu organizations such as the RSS, VHP, Hindu Munnani and other religious organisations to embark on a cultural and spiritual mission to Sri Lanka, to instill hope and confidence in the minds of the shattered Tamil Hindu community.
The last official island-wide census was in 1981. The total population could now be around 20 million, with Tamils comprising about 3 million, of which 85% are Hindus. The Hindu Council, the Hindu Women’s Society (Saiva Mangaiyar Kazhagam) and the Sai Samithi, along with some other organizations, are reportedly serving at military camps where civilian Tamils are put up.
With the death of Prabhakaran and other senior LTTE commanders, there could be a lull in hostilities. This is the right time for Hindu organizations from Tamil Nadu/India to get in touch with the Sri Lankan government to help in the rehabilitation of the battered civilian population. As the government has also been exhausted, it would welcome any kind of help.
Reliable sources say the Hindu Council in Vavuniya has done good work in the past six weeks by visiting overcrowded refugee camps, providing food, clothes, soap, medicines, sanitary requirements, etc. They have been organizing prayer groups too. As the incipient infrastructure is already in place, Hindu philanthropy in India could rise to the occasion, adding manpower and finance and help in the rehabilitation of civilian refugees.
Sri Lankan experts feel there is no history of “anti-Sanskrit” or “anti-Brahmin” sentiments in the island; hence this is the opportune moment to establish contact between Hindu religious heads from Tamil Nadu and Buddhist heads from Sri Lanka to strengthen Sanatana Dharma. Organisations like Kanchi Matham, Shaivite Adheenams and Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam could play a great significant role by establishing their service branches with the permission of the Sri Lankan government.
The famous Chidambaram Natarajar Temple is supposed to have lands and properties in the island, which could be used to build temples and service branches. The TTD can think of building a Temple for Bhagwan Venkatachalapathi and conduct spiritual courses. Experts feel the time is ripe to reintroduce “Brahmanic” Tamil ethos in Sri Lanka, to mainstream it, and by precedent influence developments in Tamil Nadu.
In a way, this would re-Hinduize the Tamil identity in north and eastern Sri Lanka and exert a wholesome precedent to rollback the so-called Dravidian juggernaut in Tamil Nadu. ‘Dravidian’ Tamil Nadu would be sandwiched between a resurgent Hindu Karnataka and a Hindu Tamil-Sri Lanka, leading to the re-emergence of Tamil Nadu’s clear Hindu identity. A strong Tamil-Hindu presence in Sri Lanka would go a long way in defending India’s southern frontier in all respects.
Bringing together Buddhist and Hindu leaders is not a difficult task considering the Christian onslaught which is inimical to both. Just six years ago, in 2003, the island saw a joint effort to bring in legislation against conversion. It was sabotaged then, but the objective could be achieved now. The Hindu Council of Sri Lanka and National Council of Buddhist Clergy have their task cut out in this regard. Although island-based Hindu organizations would try to raise funds from the moderate section of the Lankan Tamil Diaspora, it could never match the World Council of Churches in terms of resources.
Hence, this is the appropriate moment for Hindu organizations in India to immediately send teams of volunteers with as much aid as possible to help the Sri Lankan government rehabilitate the internally displaced Tamil community. We must remember that the West will try to connect with Tamils in the guise of ‘human rights organisations’ and ‘aid merchants,’ and will castigate the Lankan army for ‘war crimes.’ The ‘conversion’ motive behind these NGOs and ‘aid merchants’ is an open secret; they wreaked havoc in coastal Tamil Nadu after the tsunami in 2004.
The Vellore-based Sri Narayani Peedam, headed by a godman who became an ‘instant spiritualist’ at the age of 16 and established the Peedam immediately thereafter with two branches in Canada and one in the US within ten years, and built a massive ‘Golden Temple’ on a sprawling 100 acre plot in a short span of four years, allegedly acting as a ‘front’ for the Dravidian-Christian-LTTE combination, has made a tie-up with the US-based “Direct Relief International” to provide medicines and medical equipments worth Rs.50 crore for the rehabilitation of Sri Lankan Tamils.
Godman Sakthi Amma has claimed that his “devotee” Mr. Matt Maculla, International Programme Officer attached to DRI, volunteered to provide the relief (Ref: The New Indian Express, 23 May 2009 ( Click here).
Sakthi Amma announced that his Peedam has already contacted the Sri Lankan government and that he would be sending a team of doctors and other personnel from Sri Narayani Hospital and Research Centre.
It is therefore all the more essential for Hindu organizations from Tamil Nadu to send their sevaks with permission from the Sri Lankan government. The declaration of Rama Sethu as a national heritage monument by the Indian government and the Historical Tourism of Ramayana Sites organised by the Sri Lankan government, if implemented and promoted properly, would mark the death-knell of western forces attempting to renew their nefarious agenda.
(To be continued…)
The writer is a senior journalist and lives in Chennai.This article was first published in the Vijayavaani , a opnion forum.
By B R Haran