| by Gajalakshmi Paramasivam
( June 18, 2014, Colombo, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) Sri Lanka is in the spotlight again due to Buddhist-Muslim clashes. This is not new in Sri Lanka. In his article ‘Sectarian Violence in Sri Lanka’ Sri Lanka Guardian Editor Nilantha Ilangamuwa confirms this : ‘In 1915 there was a deadly outbreak of sectarian violence between Sinhalese and Muslims in the central province of the country when it was a British colony. According to reports over twenty people were killed most of them Muslims.’
Multiculturalism in a relatively small land-space per citizen tends to become visible more quickly than in a country with greater land-space per citizen. In terms of population, Sri Lanka is more or less equal to Australia. In land space Sri Lanka is tiny relative to Australia. Hence the manifestation of natural outcomes of human behavior are likely to be more visible in Sri Lanka than in Australia. It’s like in an extended family system under one roof. Common belief is necessary to keep the group together. The more we get exposed to the world outside – the more difficult it is to be driven by common belief.
Yesterday, a Tamil Diaspora leader forwarded the following address in relation to the current riots at Aluthgama http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOxPJzlXDJs. The fiery speech by the Buddhist monk communicated his emotions. In its ferocity it was not too different to the Tamil Tiger expressions. I could not however see any trace of Buddha in the mind of that monk in Buddhist clothes – the same way I could not see any trace of Lord Muruga – the Tamil Deity personifying Democracy - in the LTTE speeches and actions. But then LTTE did not claim to be driven by Muruga or Hinduism. They were transparent that they were using only Language and not religion.
My investment in Sinhalese language is limited to everyday use in my regular activities in Colombo and other parts of Sri Lanka where Sinhalese is spoken by majority inhabitants of that area. It is important to respect them when we are in their home area. Due to my limitation, I did not accurately relate to what was being said in the above mentioned speech. I did however make out that the monk was saying words to the effect that other communities of Sri Lanka had their own motherlands but Sinhalese had only Sri Lanka. That is the confirmation of life through ‘Sinhala Language only’ law which gave form to the ethnic divisions in the fifties which are still continuing in various forms.
As is my way – I included myself in the mind of the speaker and tried to work out what his real needs were. Accordingly: He wants to be first in Sri Lanka to feel equal to any other national outside Sri Lanka. Many educated Sinhalese from the Diaspora have spoken similar words – and have asked me to go back to India where I came from. To the extent Tamils of Sri Lanka are submitting to Indian leaders – their reactions have to be acknowledged. The problem however is that the compounded outcome would group Sri Lanka with the indigenous communities of the world.
The current situation influences me to identify more with Gandhi’s plight when Jinnah wanted separation for Muslims from Hindu India. Prabhakan used Tamil language as the basis for his claim. The Sinhalese leadership close to Sri Lankan Buddhist Establishment is using both – religion as well as language to lead others in that geographic area. Until this week – I did not picture separate Tamil State parallel to Pakistan, as a possibility for Sri Lankans. I projected Sri Lanka’s future on the basis of my own belief as Sri Lankan. But then where is that Sri Lankan leadership as it should have been during this stage of my life? Is it only in my mind?
It reminded me of similar expressions by the Director of Human Resources – University of New South Wales – who said that I ought to be the Advisor to the Vice Chancellor. Ironically, I was sent to prison by the occupant of the Vice Chancellor position. If I assembled peacefully at President’s Office - I am likely to be sent to prison in Sri Lanka – not because Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse is a wicked person but because he has allowed lesser folks to occupy that prestigious position in which I have invested. My Vice Chancellor would have given me that official recognition as happened in my previous places of employment – with lesser ego reserves than the University academics. At the University the Chancellor and the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine (who is now Vice Chancellor of Macquarie University) endorsed my work openly as per their respective positions. But the Vice Chancellor did not have time/space for me because he was showing his ‘American Status’ and not doing the work to connect to the minds of those who were committed to the higher values of Education – as per Australian needs. This leads to lower investors with loud voices occupying the leadership position. In Sri Lanka, Buddhist monks have long occupied the Head of State position through their status as first residents – fully provided for in the Constitution itself. One even killed the Sinhala Only leader. Usually such occupation happens through those physically close to the official occupant. The mental occupants are like mistresses. Death also happens through those who think they are higher in real position than the official occupant – as happened not only with Prime Minister Bandaranaike but also with Gandhi.
We invoke the other side as opposition when our expressions are based on common belief. Otherwise the other side becomes enemy.
If this Buddhist monk had actually believed that Sri Lanka was a Buddhist country – he would have taken care of other religions as his younger siblings under the vertical system of autocracy and as his equals under the lateral system of democracy. Likewise, the Tamil Tigers with Muslims in their area.
Religion and Language are indiscriminately mixed to describe the reason why they disagree, oppose and alienate. In 2006, when I wrote a petition with a view to having some Tamils in the custody of Australian authorities released, I stated that we needed to help Tamils and Muslims. I did so – as per what I believe/d to be a Divine message – when I lost my legal case here in the Supreme Court and thought of returning to Sri Lanka’s North to live in Yoga Swami Ashram – where my brother in law already was. The message was for me to help Tamils & Muslims – which meant I could not return to Northern Sri Lanka where at that time Tamils and Muslims were not of equal status in their need. They are/were in South. Some Tamil leaders requested that I delete the word Muslims from the petition. I declined. I had strong self-confidence from the Divine message which helped me preserve my investment in the Australian values of Equal Opportunity. As per my experience I felt that the Australian Courts did not have enough investment in Equal Opportunity values to judge the accused and in order to give form to my belief in those values – I had to expect and accept loss in Australian legal environments. I was therefore able to work out that the accused would be relatively more seriously punished than I was. Hence my petition. My work was genuine and hence the guidance came from Above. I did not its value back then. I do now and thank the Lord everyday for such guidance. I realize now that even though officially Australian leadership did not acknowledge 9/11 and Bali Bombing as being partly due to racism in America and Australia respectively, they knew intuitively that there was a connection. As an Australian – I have the balancing power to diffuse the return karma from that. Such leadership – is beyond positions and hence the Divine Guidance.
Be it Tamil or Sinhalese – language on its own has only surface value. It’s our belief based work and our contribution to common belief that empower us at the root level to recognize a sovereign territory towards protecting it for the next generation as well as to support other sovereign groups by example. The belief based work could come through various avenues including secular work in that area. Similarly, it’s not the land-space by itself that determines what our territory is. It’s the mind-space – the groups with whom we invest in common in a particular issue – until we become various parts of global community. This was the core purpose of travel through which Western leaders colonized Ceylon/Sri Lanka. The democratic version is immigration by global minded Sri Lankans to confirm their earned positions – especially through the British and the Commonwealth. Recently, I wrote about this return karma in response to fellow Australian sharing the speech of Lord Naseby in the House of Lords on June 11:
Britain like many other Western countries – is working towards globalization instead of invasion as they did in the past. To the extent they damaged the sovereignty of those nations that they colonized, the only way to make amends is to include those nationals as part of the British. Their main interests therefore is the merger of the mind. Lord Naseby’s role is not to ‘show’ outcomes but to connect to the minds of Sri Lankans. But politicians who represent these electorates with strong migrant votes and those who need to satisfy voters that they are leading others would continue to show outcomes that would keep the status of British high in their own minds. Not only some British but also many Sri Lankans – need that kind of showing. You find that to be the case in Australia also. Many in the Sri Lankan Diaspora (Tamil as well as Sinhalese) submit to the British mind in the Australian Government for this reason. It is healthy for harmony that they do so. This is also the case in Sri Lanka – where the Government invaded to show victory to those who need to ‘see’ clear leadership in the battlefield. This is also the reason why the LTTE were able to attract the young and the restless. But the Jaffna man is smart. The Jaffna man will use such leaders to derive his own benefits. When you go deeper – you identify with this basic character that pushes the Jaffna man to seek and find economic progress. Towards this LTTE was attractive to the Jaffna man. Most Tamils are after higher education for economic purposes. There is nothing wrong with that provided we are transparent about it.
If the likes of the above Aluthgama Sinhalese in Buddhist clothing are not disciplined on the basis of fundamental rights action by Muslims – Sinhalese would become Aborigines/Veddhas – some confirming their Yakka Queen Kuveni ancestry.
Whether it be Tamils, Sinhalese, Muslims or Burghers we make those choices of our homes through our everyday conduct. The real space is in the mind and is experienced in the heart.
Tamils who rely on LTTE would naturally continue to invoke reaction from Sinhalese who rely on Buddhism in politics. They certainly would face exponential deterioration if they in their minds hurt a Tamil or Muslim who believes s/he is a Sri Lankan. Belief based effects have exponential value. They are greater in power than the sum of the individuals. Only deeper belief can overpower average belief. In the case of Sri Lanka the Constitution also adds to this empowerment. If therefore a member of minority religion believes s/he is Sri Lankan, despite having to hear otherwise from leaders of majority side- s/he continuously invokes the exponential value of the demotion of Buddhist Political leaders. That’s a lesson Sri Lankan Buddhist leaders could have learnt from Christian leaders. There is still time to learn from Hindu leaders through Buddha’s Hindu ancestors.
On the basis of his job – every Buddhist monk has the responsibility to remember and respect his motherland – India – where Buddha was born. Every time a Tamil is asked to go back home to India – that many Sinhalese Buddhist spaces are vacated in Sri Lanka. Pauline Hanson did that to Australia and earned the Bali bombing karma. Every time a Hindu is asked to return to India – the number of spaces cleared for Buddhists is exponential. To my mind, this is the real reason why Buddhists in Sri Lanka have become a weak group – showing lack of law and order. That is how I see it. Like the Thaali (wedding necklace) of Chandramathi being visible only to her husband Arichandran / Harichandran – this Sri Lankan Tamil Thaali would only be visible to the real partners in Sri Lankan communities who don’t need to ‘show’ others.