Beauty or Beast?
| by Gajalakshmi Paramasivam
( June 17, 2013, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) I write in response to the Sri Lanka Guardian article ‘The 13th Amendment: What next’ by Tisaranee Gunesekera
The most disturbing part was ‘The Uthuyan newspaper reported about a planned attempt by Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to shift the almost-two-centuries-old Sri Poomari Amman Kovil from its present location near the Temple Trees, to create a new car park for the visitors to the Presidential abode.’
My immediate response as a Hindu Sri Lankan was that this would be negative energy for the group that has custody of power to make such changes. Given that the temple is close to the President’s home - Temple Trees – the real powers that are carried within that area – would ‘leave’ that place unless the real value of the car park which replaces the temple – is based on need as believed by the custodians of power. Believed and not known.
As per Tisaranee’s report ‘Dripping with righteous indignation, the Director General of Media Centre for National Security refuted the story: “…Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has distinguished himself by his dauntless bravery…. The emergence of Colombo as a beautiful garden city is a result of the Metro Colombo Urban Development Project which is a concept of the Defence Secretary…. the Uthayan newspaper is just a spurious publication that is of no value to anyone. Therefore, the concocted news items that it publishes does not carry any merit. It is a newspaper that tries to disrupt peace and harmony in the country”’
The Daily News states in this regard – under the heading ‘Uthayan trying to disrupt country’s peace and harmony - MCNS Director General’
‘Strongly refuting the above allegations, Media Centre for National Security (MCNS)Director General Lakshman Hulugalle said that Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has distinguished himself by his dauntless bravery and excellent command that saved thousands of lives of people in the country.
“Also most of the civilians in North and East who were affected by the terrorist war are now resettled because of the excellent planning of the Defence Secretary’ ,” the Director General.’
Terrorist war? Then what about all victims to whom the LTTE were freedom fighters? Is the above an acknowledgement that they are still not resettled and more importantly facilitated to heal themselves?
The Daily News article goes on to state ‘The Uthayan newspaper has also made up another story that the Government plans to settle only Sinhala people in the North. This story too has failed to attract any public interest and has turned out to be another damp squib.
“There is clear evidence which shows that the Uthayan paper is now trying to create a religious issue within the country. The Army under the directions of the Defence Secretary provided a helping hand to devotees at the Nallur Kovil in Jaffna and ancient Katharagama Kovil in Mulathivu to conduct their religious observances and rituals.
“Additionally, all Hindu temples in Colombo are conducting their religious activities and practices in peace and harmony,” the Director General added.
The Director General reaffirms that they strongly deny the false allegations published by the Uthayan newspaper that does not carry any fact’
In regards to expressions of subjective powers, I now assess the validity of a claim – not so much by what is claimed in direct language but more through what I identify through my own inner Truth. I do not know much about the credibility of Uthayan or the Daily News in their current forms. But I do deeply identify with Nallur Murugan and Kathirgama Murugan. I know also that Kathirgamam is not in Mullaitivu – which means the article has been written without due commitment. A Hindu journalist would have naturally known the direct facts about where Kathirgamam is. Hence to me the ‘rights’ that the authors f this article are claiming to the credit of Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa are imaginary claims. If indeed the Army was claiming to be in charge of Nallur and Kathirgam areas – which are known as Hindu areas of worship - they had the DUTY to facilitate the performance of rituals without external disturbance including from the armed forces – which are known to walk into temple altars with their shoes on. A true soldier would not have needed her/his shoes to do a search operation within the temple. Her/his true commitment would have given her/him the protection – especially within spiritual areas. In contrast – I was asked not to even lean against the wall around a Bo tree with a Buddhist shrine - at Ratmalana airport – when I was waiting to be called for ‘due security processing’ by armed officers – before I could board the plane to Jaffna. The gap between standards is that wide and we claim there is no ethnic problem? Remove that ethnic element and see whether the LTTE have done worse than the JVP who were NOT listed as international terrorists. The more we abuse powers to label others so we could get the ‘rights’ – the more likely they are to become our enemies rather than our opposition – our other side that we do not ‘see’ and refuse to know and control. The more the LTTE are shown as the enemy of the Government / the State the greater the elevation of the problem. The higher the problem the greater the opportunity for others to participate on multicultural basis. Had LTTE been taken as the ‘other’ side of the armed forces – and not the whole Government – any action taken by the Government would have been internal disciplinary action. Through the ‘Terrorism’ label the Government invited the outside world – as if the LTTE was its opposition at Presidential level – as TULF (Tamil United Liberation Front) was elected the official national opposition in 1977. Now it looks as if the Tamil Diaspora is the Government’s opposition – and all because we failed to include the LTTE as our other side but labeled them as ‘outsiders’ / pariahs / terrorists.
Nallur is a place where thousands gather and regulate themselves through each other. If the temple authorities sought the assistance of the Government, then it was the duty of the Government to provide the services that the temple was entitled to by law. Beyond that every person present there needs the authority of her/his own conscience / Truth within – to be there at that time. Without either of these – such a person is an intruder.
My belief in Nallur Murugan is the main source of my own ‘service’ work and my conduct in Northern Sri Lanka. Nallur Administration itself is such a beauty from which the Sri Lankan Government could learn. To claim credit by using the name of Nallur is to steal credit by abusing power. ‘Not in My name’ says Nallur Kanthan. Shame on you Daily News! Nallur devotees have the power to regulate themselves. Anyone who fails to have this key quality which shines in Nallur (through belief and/or knowledge) – is not a genuine Nallur devotee.
In fact, on a few occasions the ‘unofficial internal processes’ by some senior devotees were a little difficult for me to accept. My expectations were as per my own devotion. But I accepted them at that time and place so other devotees would not be disturbed. That to me is true facility. I did not shout that I had equal or greater power as the person trying to discipline me. Where I could – I singled out the person/s who I felt were stepping outside their line of duty. If I could not – I submitted my pain as the cost of providing a safe and secure facility for me to pray at Nallur – some of which would be unfair to me as an individual but needed due to the negative elements in that group.
Likewise, when in Puttaparthi, waiting to see Swami Sri Sathya Sai Baba – at times I felt hurt when I was asked to put my hair up – or cover my shoulders more than I had done or take the seat as allocated by those in charge – rather than the one I had taken through the queue system. Initially I was a bit hurt. But later I realized (I believe with the help of Swami) that it was necessary to treat me as part of the whole and that that process through subjective powers was necessary – given that majority devotees were believers rather than intellectuals. Hence I submitted my own excess of self-discipline into the common pool and became a number – an equal member of the whole. Once inside – I had everything I expected to have – but not necessarily in the form I expected nor in the path that I was familiar with. This happens in Nallur all the time. On the first day of Nallur festival last year – I was part of the devotee group assembled to witness the flag-hoisting ceremony. I was not close enough to the sacred flag-post but I could ‘see’ the ceremony from where I stood. From time to time the priest showered the flowers used in the ceremony, on the devotees. I did not expect to get any because I was at a distance. I closed my eyes and said to Nallur Murugan Who was observing all this – from the shoulders of His devotees ‘The air that touches You also touches me’ Just then one of the flowers from the ceremony area fell on me. To me they are the miracles, confirming the sanctity of that area. The place where a miracle happens is a sacred place. It is that place and its real power that protect all of us – including armed soldiers. One has to have the good karma to become the medium through which that power is manifested as protection. That good karma could be developed as a devotee of that temple and/or as one who believes in the services provided at that place at that time. When credit is claimed for one’s work as per one’s paid position – it is not ‘service’ beyond one’s duty. When one claims credit for doing her/his duty – one is claiming to be an owner without having actually contributed the substance of the shareholdings - beyond buying the shares / getting elected through majority vote. One does not need to possess any shares even in governance to truly own. One only needs to feel part of the core purpose to become the whole.
In terms of the Poomari Amman temple - Poomari means rain of flowers. Flowers symbolize beauty. Anyone who removes that beauty from his surroundings is going down to the level of surface thinker - denoted by the Bull in front of Amman and Shiva. There is a good legend about this which moves me deeply. It is about Nandanar. Nandanar was of Pariah caste who wanted to have the Dharshan of Lord Shiva. Despite not being allowed into the temple due to his low caste – Nandanar went to Shiva temple at Thirupunkoor and worshipped from the outside. He sang that He could not see Lord Shiva in the form of Lingam in the altar because the Nanthi (Stone in the form of Bull) was blocking his view. As Nandanar kept singing the Nanthi shifted and Nandanar and his group were able to see the Sacred Lingam.
I had deep experience of this legend even before knowing the details through external knowledge. Despite not being an ardent fan of traditional karnatic music, I went to a concert here in Sydney by Sriram Gangadharan - a young musician from India. I was seated in between my friend Setha Shanmugasothy - a strong devotee of Nallur and Premela Ganeshanraju – the mother of my lovely student Shivani. When Sriram sang Nandanar songs I felt thoroughly moved and then Premela said that her daughter also had special liking for those songs. I in fact visualised Dancing Shiva in Orange attire. (Orange is associated with Swami Sai Baba and at that time I was not a devotee of Swami Sathya Sai Baba). I could however identify with the feelings at that place and at that time when I was hurting due to alienation by the University of New South Wales – where I am now through Australian legal process an outlaw, a Pariah – the parallel of Nandanar who believed in the Lord . In my case in this instance the Lord took the form of Freedom of thought - the core purpose of a University’s existence. I continued to pray to this Freedom from outside the University system and became a Channel Partner of Insearch-University of Technology Sydney followed by the University of Jaffna through its Department of Hindu Culture. To me it is no coincidence that the Presiding deity at the University of Jaffna is Lord Shiva – something that seems to irk Professor Ratnajeevan Hoole. It is also no surprise to me that and Nanthi demoting Intellectual Thinking (perceived power of discriminative thinking) is the logo of University of Jaffna. To me my true work for intellectual freedom in Australia and my prayers at that temple were answered and hence to me that Temple is the heart of the University. Poomari Amman temple obviously is not the heart of the team sitting like a Nanthi (Bull) between Free and Natural Governance and the true citizen.