Culture

Two Indian Saints with Similar Teachings and Different Ways

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Kanchi Paramacharya and Bhagawan Sri Ramana Maharshi are two great saints who lived in Tamil Nadu in India.

Kanchi Paramacharya was born in 1894 and remained as the Head of Kanchi Sankara Mutt in Kancheepuram in Tamil Nadu from 1907 to 1994 (around 87 years ). Bhagawan Sri Ramana Maharshi was born in 1879 and stayed in Thiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu from 1896 to 1950 ( 54 years ) as an ascetic.

There are still people living amongst us who have seen Kanchi Paramacharya and Bhagwan Sri Ramana Maharshi in person and heard them, now keeping memories fresh in their mind about these two great saints. .

Different ways :

Bhagawan left his place and reached Thiruvannamalai when he was a teenager and he had no guru ( teacher ) and Kanchi Paramacharya too was chosen as Head of Kanchi Sankara Mutt when he was a teenager , as his predecessor passed away without nominating his successor. Of course, Paramacharya has the traditional practices of Kanchi Mutt to follow, ,whereas Bhagawan has no such tradition to fall back upon.

While Bhagawan and Paramacharya were contemporaries for several years with Paramacharya staying in Kancheepuram and Bhagawan staying in Thiruvannamalai with distance between both the locations of around 200 kilometre, Paramacharya and Bhagawan never met in person. However, many disciples of Paramacharya have said that Paramacharya directed a number of devotees to visit Bhagawan in Thiruvannamalai and seek his blessings.

Paramacharya was the Head of Kanchi Mutt, with responsibility to administer the Mutt in all respects , conducting pujas and rituals as per the tradition of the Kanchi Sankara Mutt and delivering lectures to the devotees on Advaita philosophy and value systems in life. Kanchi Paramacharya travelled mostly on foot all over India and met a cross section of devotees spreading the Advaita philosophy and noble thoughts in simple language that even laymen can understand .

On the other hand, Bhagawan never left Thiruvannamalai and stayed there for 54 years.

Whereas Paramacharya followed the traditional practice of the Kanchi Mutt, Bhagawan developed a tradition. It is not clear whether Ramanashram in today’s style was intended to be organised by Bhagawan or the ashram developed slowly and steadily and inevitably on it’s own.

Another significant happening in Bhagawan’s life was that his respected mother joined him in Thiruvannmalai after the passing away of her husband. It is reported that some people objected to a widow ( Bhagawan’s mother) staying with him, as Bhagawan was an ascetic . Bhagawan brushed away such criticism with contempt and his mother stayed with him till her end. Bhagawan visited the Samadhi of his mother frequently to offer prayers.

However, as per the traditional practices of Kanchi Mutt , Paramacharya detached himself from his family totally and fully.

Similar teachings :

What is remarkable is that the fundamentals of the teachings of Paramacharya and Bhagawan are the same. Both Bhagawan and Paramacharya advocated prayers and meditation as a way of realization of God, which according to both the sages should be realized in the inner selves of men and women.

Further, the compassion and love for everyone around including animals was a unique attribute of both the sages. By such approach, obviously, the feeling of love and compassion in the mindset of individuals would promote peace of mind and promote a sense of detachment from worldly happenings in an appropriate way.

While the similarities of teachings of both these great saints can be extensively discussed , the fundamental aspects of the teachings is that everyone should direct his / her efforts to identify and realise the “bliss ” in inner self, which is often termed as “Ananda” in Sanskrit language

This basically reflects on the cardinal principle of Advaita philosophy that Jeevatma and Paramatma are the same and individuals should not seek to reach Paramatma elsewhere except in the inner self.

This approach succinctly reject the so called” rational” explanation sought to be given by some people about the origin and end of life and so called hell and heaven, which are sort of physical methods to explain away the concept of life and after life

Both the saints simply asked the devotees to realise the inner self , which means Jeevatma identifying with Paramatma and being one with it.

Obviously, when an individual elevates his mental thought process by sustained meditation to realise the Paramatma in inner self and emerge successful, that should be the end of the thought process. Trying to analyse the life process beyond this would be a futile and wasteful exercise that would lead to nowhere. This is the essence of Advaita philosophy, which both these great saints eloquently explained.

There is no doubt that these great saints will be remembered all the time in future , as their advocacies are universal and applicable to all human beings all over the world , wherever they may be.

Africa is Not a Breeding Ground

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5 mins read

On 17 October, the head of US Africa Command (AFRICOM), US Marine Corps General Michael Langley visited Morocco. Langley met with senior Moroccan military leaders, including Inspector General of the Moroccan Armed Forces Belkhir El Farouk. Since 2004, AFRICOM has held its ‘largest and premier annual exercise’, African Lion, partly on Moroccan soil. This past June, ten countries participated in the African Lion 2022, with observers from Israel (for the first time) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

Langley’s visit is part of a broader US push onto the African continent, which we documented in our dossier no. 42 (July 2021), Defending Our Sovereignty: US Military Bases in Africa and the Future of African Unity, a joint publication with The Socialist Movement of Ghana’s Research Group. In that text, we wrote that the two important principles of Pan-Africanism are political unity and territorial sovereignty and argued that ‘[t]he enduring presence of foreign military bases not only symbolises the lack of unity and sovereignty; it also equally enforces the fragmentation and subordination of the continent’s peoples and governments’. In August, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield travelled to Ghana, Uganda, and Cape Verde. ‘We’re not asking Africans to make any choices between the United States and Russia’, she said ahead of her visit, but, she added, ‘for me, that choice would be simple’. That choice is nonetheless being impelled by the US Congress as it deliberates the Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act, a bill that would sanction African states if they do business with Russia (and could possibly extend to China in the future).

To understand this unfolding situation, our friends at No Cold War have prepared their briefing no. 5, NATO Claims Africa as Its ‘Southern Neighbourhood’, which looks at how NATO has begun to develop a proprietary view of Africa and how the US government considers Africa to be a frontline in its Global Monroe Doctrine.

In August 2022, the United States published a new foreign policy strategy aimed at Africa. The 17-page document featured 10 mentions of China and Russia combined, including a pledge to ‘counter harmful activities by the [People’s Republic of China], Russia, and other foreign actors’ on the continent, but did not once mention the term ‘sovereignty’. Although US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has stated that Washington ‘will not dictate Africa’s choices’, African governments have reported facing ‘patronising bullying’ from NATO member states to take their side in the war in Ukraine. As global tensions rise, the US and its allies have signalled that they view the continent as a battleground to wage their New Cold War against China and Russia.

A New Monroe Doctrine?

At its annual summit in June, NATO named Africa along with the Middle East ‘NATO’s southern neighbourhood’. On top of this, NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ominously referred to ‘Russia and China’s increasing influence in our southern neighbourhood’ as a ‘challenge’. The following month, the outgoing commander of AFRICOM, General Stephen J Townsend, referred to Africa as ‘NATO’s southern flank’. These comments are disturbingly reminiscent of the neocolonial attitude espoused by the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, in which the US claimed Latin America as its ‘backyard’.

This paternalistic view of Africa appears to be widely held in Washington. In April, the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Countering Malign Russian Influence Activities in Africa Act by a vote of 415-9. The bill, which aims to punish African governments for not aligning with US foreign policy on Russia, has been widely condemned across the continent for disrespecting the sovereignty of African nations, with South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor calling it ‘absolutely disgraceful’.

The efforts by the US and Western countries to draw Africa into their geopolitical conflicts raise serious concerns: namely, will the US and NATO weaponise their vast military presence on the continent to achieve their aims?

AFRICOM: Protecting US and NATO’s Hegemony

In 2007, the United States established its Africa Command (AFRICOM) ‘in response to our expanding partnerships and interests in Africa’. In just 15 years, AFRICOM has established at least 29 military bases on the continent as part of an extensive network which includes more than 60 outposts and access points in at least 34 countries – over 60 percent of the nations on the continent.

Despite Washington’s rhetoric of promoting democracy and human rights in Africa, in reality, AFRICOM aims to secure US hegemony over the continent. AFRICOM’s stated objectives include ‘protecting US interests’ and ‘maintaining superiority over competitors’ in Africa. In fact, the creation of AFRICOM was motivated by the concerns of ‘those alarmed by China’s expanding presence and influence in the region’.

Zemba Luzamba (DRC), Parlementaires debout (‘Parliamentarians Standing’), 2019.

From the outset, NATO was involved in the endeavour, with the original proposal put forward by then Supreme Allied Commander of NATO James L Jones, Jr. On an annual basis, AFRICOM conducts training exercises focused on enhancing the ‘interoperability’ between African militaries and ‘US and NATO special operations forces’.

The destructive nature of the US and NATO’s military presence in Africa was exemplified in 2011 when – ignoring the African Union’s opposition – the US and NATO launched their catastrophic military intervention in Libya to remove the government of Muammar Gaddafi. This regime change war destroyed the country, which had previously scored the highest among African nations on the UN Human Development Index. Over a decade later, the principal achievements of the intervention in Libya have been the return of slave markets to the country, the entry of thousands of foreign fighters, and unending violence.

In the future, will the US and NATO invoke the ‘malign influence’ of China and Russia as a justification for military interventions and regime change in Africa?

Africa Rejects a New Cold War

At this year’s UN General Assembly, the African Union firmly rejected the coercive efforts of the US and Western countries to use the continent as a pawn in their geopolitical agenda. ‘Africa has suffered enough of the burden of history’, stated Chairman of the African Union and President of Senegal Macky Sall; ‘it does not want to be the breeding ground of a new Cold War, but rather a pole of stability and opportunity open to all its partners, on a mutually beneficial basis’. Indeed, the drive for war offers nothing to the peoples of Africa in their pursuit of peace, climate change adaptation, and development.

“Europe is a garden. The rest of the world is a jungle. And the jungle could invade the garden. Europeans have to be much more engaged with the rest of the world. Otherwise, the rest of the world will invade us.” – Shocking comments from EU foreign policy head Josep Borrell — No Cold War

At the inauguration of the European Diplomatic Academy on 13 October, the European Union’s chief diplomat, Josep Borrell, said, ‘Europe is a garden… The rest of the world… is a jungle, and the jungle could invade the garden’. As if the metaphor were not clear enough, he added, ‘Europeans have to be much more engaged with the rest of the world. Otherwise, the rest of the world will invade us’. Borrell’s racist comments were pilloried on social media and eviscerated in the European Parliament by Marc Botenga of the Belgian Workers’ Party, and a petition by the Democracy in Europe Movement (DiEM25) calling for Borrell’s resignation has received over 10,000 signatures. Borrell’s lack of historical knowledge is significant: it is Europe and North America that continue to invade the African continent, and it is those military and economic invasions that cause African people migrate. As President Sall said, Africa does not want to be a ‘breeding ground of a new Cold War’, but a sovereign place of dignity.

Newsletter of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. Click here to read the original

Birthday – Is It A Reason for Celebration or A Cause for Concern?

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1 min read

People all over the world celebrate their birthday, some people with pomp and show and others in a quieter manner depending upon their position in society and their affordability.  Of course, some people also celebrate religiously.

While this is normal practice, with celebrations being accompanied by cutting a cake, blowing candles and wishes of greetings coming from friends, dear and near ones, in a subconscious mindset, it is inevitable that thought would creep into the mind of the individual celebrating the birthday that he/she is advancing in age, causing a level of anxiety about the longevity of life. Of course, this may happen particularly in the case of senior citizens and perhaps not so much amongst the youngsters who could be thinking that a lot of time is still ahead of them and they need not be unduly concerned about this.

In such circumstances, one wonders whether a birthday should be a matter of celebration or concern about advancing age.  Perhaps, the birthday celebration could satisfy the ego of the individual when others extend wishes and greetings and make him/her feel that he/she has lived well.

Per se, there is really nothing wrong or objectionable about celebrating the birthday of an individual.  However, long-term thinkers would inevitably wonder what is there to be celebrated. When the birthday happens, it is really a calendar event and is nothing beyond that. Days come and nights fall and life goes on in whatever way and whatever day it is, whether a birthday or any other day.

All in all, one may even wonder that Remembrance Day after the individual passes away (even though that would also be a calendar event) is more significant than a birthday celebration. On Remembrance Day, the descendants and others still living would judiciously and carefully evaluate the life content and life process of the person and would pay their respect accordingly in the manner that they deserve.

In the case of birthday wishes, the extent of wishes could largely be dependent on the wealth of the person celebrating or the position held by him/her in business or job.   If and when this would slip away due to superannuation or any other reason, the number of birthday wishes would reduce sharply, which could cause pain for the person celebrating.

However, such a possibility would not be there in the case of Remembrance Day. Finally, can we say that birthday celebration is carried out in a vacuum with no real significance and remembrance day is more meaningful,  being observed with respect and being shown with a greater sense of truthfulness and sincerity?

From Dravida Nadu to Eelam: Myths Vs Facts

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7 mins read

OPEN FOR DEBATE

A friend of mine sent a copy of the article by Journalist Shenali D Waduge by email. I read same. I think I had met her when I was Chief Minister. It appears to me that she like Hon’ Sarath Weerasekera M.P and others is not aware of a few historical facts recently confirmed by very cogent evidence.

The facts are –

  1. The Sinhalese language came into existence only in the 6th and 7th centuries AD. Before that there were no Sinhalese living anywhere in this world because Sinhalese are those speaking the Sinhala language or those whose forefathers spoke that language. That language is very recent. Only 1400 years old. Its first grammar book is 700 years old. The first Sinhala inscription found is so many years after 7th Century AD.
  2. There is evidence that Tamil speaking people existed in this Island continuously for over 3000 years. The progeny of these original inhabitants of this Island and those who immigrated from the time of the Pandyans downwards added to the original Tamils. Thus the immigrant Tamils only added to the original Tamil inhabitants. It is wrong to begin calculating the period of Tamil occupation from the time of the Cholas (10th Century AD).
  3. The Tamil Speaking people have continued to occupy the entire Island for over 3000 years but they preferred to live in the Dry Zone. Gradually they converged on the North and East from elsewhere in the Island. Even 100 years ago there were only Tamil Title Deeds to the Lands in the Negombo – Puttalam areas. They were Tamils both indigenous and the Paravars from South India who emigrated here.

Many Sinhala-speaking people have many misunderstandings about our past due to the influence of the Mahawansa which was a fiction written by a Buddhist Priest to laud Buddhism. They think the Sinhalese are the original inhabitants of this Island, that this Country belongs to the Sinhala Buddhists. and the Tamils are immigrants during the time of the Cholas in 10th Century AD. All these are false and historically incorrect.

The Sinhalese could not have been the original inhabitants of this Island, since the Sinhalese language was born only in the 6th or 7th Century AD. This Country cannot belong to the Sinhala Buddhists since before 6th Century AD, there were no Sinhalese. Only Buddhists existed, and that too Tamil Buddhists. Tamils did come into the Country inter alia during Pandiya, Pallava, Chola and Nayaka times. But they only added to the original inhabitants of this Island who were themselves Tamils.

The Sinhalese Historians refer to Pali and other sources to say they were the forerunners to the Sinhala language. But both are different. One is the grandfather and the other grandchild. The grandchild cannot be identified as the grandfather. Both lived at different times. We must accept that the Sinhala language is very recent and those who speak Sinhala are also recent.

    Let me deal with the 5 questions posed by Shenali –

  • How can Tamil Eelam homeland lobbyists claim two provinces as their “homeland” making use of two provinces created in 1833 by colonial Britain?

Response: The two Provinces are what is left of the entire Tamil Speaking Sri Lanka. British only confirmed the Tamil speaking areas by identifying Northern and Eastern Provinces which were majority Tamil speaking areas. In these two Provinces the Tamils have been and are the majority still. Tamil Kings or Tamil Petty Kings have ruled these two Provinces apart from other areas outside those Provinces too. Apart from those who ruled, Tamil people have always continuously occupied these areas from 3000 years ago. The two Provinces are the traditional homelands of the Tamils (Vide Indo Sri Lanka Accord of 1987). Identifying Kings as Sinhalese and Tamil is a recent phenomenon. The genealogy of the Kings were more important then, than the language they spoke. In fact many Kings spoke many languages. They were not identified by the language they spoke.  

  • How can Malabars, rechristened as Ceylon Tamils in 1911, claim a separate homeland in Sri Lanka?

Response: Those who came from the Coromandel Coast of India also added in numbers to the existing Tamils in this Island. Ceylon Tamils is a word coined recently due to the bringing in of recent Indian Tamils by the Britishers. The Sri Lankan Tamils were the original inhabitants of this Island. But when the Indian Tamils were brought both being Tamils they were called Indian Tamils and the local Tamils as Sri Lankan Tamils.

  • The Tamil caste system originates from South India, and thus, if Malabars are from South India, Vellalars and the Thesavalamai Law is too, so how can customary laws applicable to foreigners become mandatory customary law in Sri Lanka?

Response: The Caste System did not originate from South India, to be followed by the Tamils here. Like the guilds in the West there were occupational segregations in ancient times. There were areas of residence for those involved in various occupations.  It is possible for example that Shenali belongs to a particular traditional occupational group. The surname “Waduge” connotes that. The Sinhala ‘ge’ names are a pointer to their Caste identification. But nowadays they drop their ‘Vasagamas’ or ‘ge’ names for fear of identification. JR’s ‘ge’ name was Mahamarakalage if I remember right.  When the Westerners introduced free education, members of every segregated unit received the same education and the need to continue to segregate into traditional occupational Castes became unnecessary. The Caste System in India had Brahmins at the top. In the Tamil areas here the landowning Vellalas claimed leadership while close to the sea the Fishermen Caste called Karaiyars (Coast people) claimed leadership. Caste Brahmins played a secondary role. Hence the Caste hierarchy in South India and North Eastern Sri Lanka are different. More on this are answered under question 5 here under.

  • If the Dravida Nadu term was coined by colonial missionaries, isn’t the Tamil Eelam quest (an offshoot of the Dravida Nadu movement) a similar missionary-infused agenda?

Response: The term Thamil Eelam has nothing to do with Dravida Nadu. This Country was part of the Seventh (Ealu) Country unit in the Kumari Kandam now under sea. From Ealu (Seven) came the words Eelam in Tamil and Hela in Sinhala. Both words connote the same land mass during the time of Kumari Kandam and thereafter. Present Sri Lanka was part of Ealu Nadu in Kumari Kandam.  The Tamil Sangam literature refers to the Tamil areas which went under the sea. Parts of Ealu survived. Ealu became Eelam in Tamil and Hela in Sinhala. Westerners refer to a Continent called Lemuria. The relationship between Kumari Kandam and Lemuria are being studied. Eelam was the name then given to this Island. The area occupied by Tamils now is called Tamil Eelam. Actually the  area which is majority Sinhala speaking should be referred to as Sinhala Eelam. Identification with Eelam has no connection to the Dravida Movement in South India. In fact politicians like Seeman distinguish between Dravidar and the Tamils.

  • If the Eelam area was borrowed from the colonial British map, if Global Church planted the Dravida Nadu movement and Greater Tamil Eelam initiative, if Malabars, Vellalars, and Thesavalamail were imported from South India, is it so difficult to realise that Tamil militancy was also exported from India to Sri Lanka to pass on India’s headache to us?

Response: This whole question arises from a totally muddled mind. In fact an ignorant mind. Eelam was the name of the present Sri Lanka in ancient times. This Island had several names including Serendip, Seilan, Ceylon and so on. The Eelam area was not borrowed from the Colonial British Map. Eelam was a fact even before the British came here. The British confirmed the areas of Tamil residency by creating Provinces which included the resident Tamils within them, who were majority in those Provinces. The Dravida Nadu concept is recent. It was the Dravida Kalagam within the past 150 years which referred to Dravida Nadu. The Church’s part in it is also recent. Eelam existed even before these concepts came into parlance.

 The Malabars from the Coromandel Coast came to this Island within the past 1000 years or so. They belonged to the Chera Nadu in South India. Now that area is identified as part of Kerala. They added to the number of existing indigenous Tamils. Since they owned lands and were powerful, the Dutch associated with them and got their advise to codify the laws existing then. The Thesavalamai is what the Chiefs among the Malabar Inhabitants explained to the Dutch. It has a matrilineal approach just like in the Coromandel Coast area. Just like the Roman – Dutch Law that was introduced into this Island by the Dutch, those Malabar inhabitants introduced concepts from the Marumakathiyam Law in the Coromandhal Coast areas and the Dutch codified them and called it the Law of Thesawalamai (the traditions of the Country).

Tamil Militancy in Sri Lanka is indigenous. India had nothing to do with it. Soon after Independence when the vast majority of the North and East of Ceylon was Tamil speaking it was wrong to have made Sinhala as the only official language of the Country overlooking the fact that the Tamil speaking people were the majority in their traditional living areas. Even now the Tamil speaking are the majority in the North and East, despite so much of land grabbing and Sinhala colonization going on in the North and East with Government and Military support. The rights of the Tamils in the North and East were overlooked when “Sinhala Only” was brought as Law. When there was agitation by Tamils objecting to Sinhala being made as the sole State language, Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranayake realized his folly and brought in the Reasonable use of Tamil law.  But a few Buddhist Priests went to his house in Rosmead Place and had it torn apart. Finally it was a Buddhist Priest who killed Mr.Bandaranayake!

So agitation against Land grabbing in the East, passing of Sinhala Only in Parliament, forcing Standardisation in Education, using force on the Youth who agitated against these activities by the Sinhala Central Government, all contributed to Tamil Militancy. In fact the Sinhala Government turned to India to put down the Militancy of the Tamil Youths and thus IPKF was brought in. Our Youth militated against Sinhala Chauvinism, Sinhala brutality and their ethnocratic activities. There was nothing to export from India.

The homeland quest of the Tamils is not an imported concept. It synchronizes with the Lands occupied by the Tamils for over 3000 years from ancient times long before the Sinhala language saw sunlight. We Tamils ask for internal self-determination, which we are entitled to in terms of the principles of International Law, within a United Sri Lanka.              

Debunking Tamil Homeland myth with 5 questions

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6 mins read

OPEN FOR DEBATE

Divide & Rule was key component of colonial rule. Illegally taking over lands and territories, planting fictitious history, and infesting minds with hate and violence is part of a legacy that continues unabated. Sadly, historians have failed to take these false claims and nullify them. They have been silenced by “political correctness”. However, it is time people begin asking questions and demanding answers. How can 2 provinces that were created only by the British in 1833 be claimed ‘original habitats” of Tamil people? How can Indian Malabars claim a separate homeland in Sri Lanka? How can a South Indian customary law applicable only to those inhabitants be the customary law in Sri Lanka? How did the Colonial Missionary create the Dravida Nadu movement to become a Tamil Eelam movement & what is their ultimate plan? Let’s have you start asking yourselves these questions too!

Question 1: How can Tamil Eelam Homeland lobbyists claim 2 provinces as their “homeland” making use of the 2 provinces created in 1833 by colonial Britain?

It is very clear that while the first Kingdom of Anuradhapura, 2nd kingdom of Polonnaruwa also included North Sri Lanka, the last kingdom of Kandy too included part of North & explains why the Kandyan king despatched his army to defend his people from the Portuguese. The last battle for the defence of Jaffna before it fell to European powers was fought not by a Tamil army but by Sinhalese men sent by the King of Kandy.

Portuguese historian Father Queroyz says “as long as Rajapure (Anuradhapura) was the capital of Ceylon, the whole island was subject to one kng” If it was so with Anuradhapura, it was so with the rest of the capitals. When the Portuguese arrived in 1505 there were 15 ‘kinglets’ subject to the King of Kotte of which Jaffnapatao kinglet was one of the 15 “kinglets” were independent or separate from the rest.

To quell the lies let us first turn to the maps.

The 1st kingdom was in Anuradhapura. The 2nd kingdom was in Polonnaruwa. The last kingdom was in Kandy. The kings of these kingdoms were the sole ruler of the entire Island.

These 3 maps clearly show there was no separate or independent Tamil Kingdom and the so-called ‘separate’ area being claimed as a “Tamil homeland” was ruled by the Sinhalese kings.

A separate kingdom must provide evidence of food/water supply (agriculture), a system of government, culture, belief & traditions, a written language, structures/monuments – the Kingdoms of Anuradhapura & Polonnaruwa leave us to cherish the world’s first man-made irrigation & water tanks, even animal hospital – these exist even to this day, where are those of a so-called Eelam Kingdom?

There were no separate independent kingdoms in Jaffna or anywhere else

There were no provinces.

Provinces were created by the Colonial British in 1833

Thus, there was nothing called Northern or Eastern province until 5 provinces was created in 1833 by Colonial Britain.

Therefore, how can the Eelam lobby claim to have ruled 2 provinces that did not exist until the colonial British demarcated them in 1833?

This is a key argument to debunk the demarcation of a bogus Tamil Eelam Homeland.

Question 2: How can Indian Malabars rechristen as Ceylon Tamils in 1911 claim a separate homeland in Sri Lanka?

There is no record in ancient Sinhalese chronicles, Tamil chronicles or even records of Portuguese, Dutch or British to claim an ethnic group called “Ceylon Tamils” were living before they landed. All of the colonial records refer to both Tamils & Muslims as “Malabars”. Malabars was the term given to people who came from the Malabar coast of South India or Coromandel coast also in South India. Malabars were indigenous to South India. Therefore, anyone termed Malabar were descendants from South India. Thus, the Tamils living in Sri Lanka were referred as Malabars by the Portuguese, the Dutch & the British.

The term “Ceylon Tamils” was coined only in 1911 when Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan who was registrar of census, inserted Ceylon Tamils instead of Malabars. The term Ceylon was coined by the British only after the Kandyan Convention in 1815.

Malabars cannot claim any “homeland” in Sri Lanka as they were immigrants from the Southern coast of India. Their homeland is in South India.

The quest for self-determination in India for Tamils started in India.

The same ethnic group cannot claim 2 homelands in 2 sovereign countries (or plan to annex Sri Lanka to create a Greater Dravida Nadu)

Question 3: Tamil caste system originates from South India – If Malabars are from South India, Vellalas & Thesawalamai Law is also – how can customary laws applicable to foreigners become mandatory customary law in Sri Lanka?

We have established Malabars are not indigenous to Sri Lanka but to South India.

The Vellalas are a low caste in South India but became the upper elite caste/class in Sri Lanka, not stopping there, the Vellala’s went on to oppress their own, dictating how other castes should function at kovil, funerals, weddings etc. If Tamils are marginalized or discriminated it is by the Vellala Tamils and not the Sinhalese. The Thesawalamai law encoded by the Dutch in 1706 claiming to be Tamil customary law is actually not applicable to all Tamils but to only Malabar inhabitants from Jaffna. What is the % of Tamils covered by this definition and how many Tamils does this law exclude – if so why should this be referred as a customary law for ALL Tamils when it is not so, more importantly, the Thesawalamai law is applicable to Malabar inhabitatnts in Jaffna only. Malabars are from South India. Vellala’s are a caste originating from South India. How can anyone quote these to claim homeland theories.

It is good for Tamils to realize who is discriminating them instead of falling prey to propaganda. How far has the caste system marginalized Tamils against each other, is a question Tamils themselves need to honestly answer. When Tamils are not welcome into Tamil homes, when even cutlery & crockery are differentiated, when even kovils disallow their own, when people are reluctant to share a toilet with their own – is this not discrimination?

Question 4: If the Dravida Nadu term was coined by colonial Missionaries, isn’t the Tamil Eelam quest (an offshoot of the Dravida Nadu movement) a similar Missionary infused agenda?

There was no term called Dravidian until it was coined by the Church.

The Church missionaries after creating the term Dravida went to great lengths to promote a fictitious history.

The Dravidian theory was an artificial theory implanted by the Church & it is possible the same was done to create a Tamil Eelam notion to separate both Tamil Nadu & Sri Lanka along ethno-linguistic lines.

Bishop Caldwell plugged the South Indian languages of Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada as Dravidian languages.

If the Dravidian movement was led & controlled by the Global Church, is it a surprise that the Tamil Eelam lobby has the blessings of the Church apparatus as well? It is the Tamil Christians/Catholics who are mainly operating this quest.

1939 commenced the “Dravida Nadu for Dravidians” a quest for a separate sovereign & federal state.

1940 Dravida Nadu map was released. 1947 Britain rejected appeals for a separate Tamil state which led to Dravida Nadu Secession Day being passed on 13 July 1947 demanding an independent Dravida Nadu. 2 years later in Sri Lanka, ITAK was created seeking a separate Tamil state in Sri Lanka.

1960 Dravida Nadu Separation Day which led to the Tamil Nadu Liberation Army while the Tamil Eelam movement in Sri Lanka resulted in Tamil militancy with LTTE taking leadership.

Dravida Nadu was replaced with “Tamil Nadu for Tamils” then “We Tamil Movement” which led to demand for an independent Tamil Nadu which Government of India stopped by legislative enactments in 1963.

The demands for Dravida Nadu were identical to demands by LTTE during Thimpu talks in 1985.

If Dravida Nadu movement & map was created by the Global Church; was the map of Tamil Eelam also their creation?

This implies that both movements (South India & Sri Lanka) did not originate from the people but from one external source – the Church.

Question 5: If the “Eelam” area was borrowed from colonial British map, if Global Church planted the Dravida Nadu movement & Greater Tamil Eelam initiative, if Malabars, Vellalars, Thesawalamail all are imported from South India is it so difficult to realize that Tamil Militancy was also exported from India to Sri Lanka to pass on India’s headache to us?

The Jain-Commission interim report following LTTE’s assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, memoirs by the IPKF former commanders and even former Indian High Commission to Sri Lanka J N Dixit prove a RAW hand in Tamil militancy in Sri Lanka from training to supplying of weapons to even logistics support & funding.

These lies are what lays the foundation for a bogus homeland quest which is kept alive because of the benefits to key players promoting it. The geopolitical & conversion motives are clear. Unfortunately, so-called academics and historians have been party to the lies or felt shy to negate these with historical facts & arguments.

So let us bring these to the open & demand facts, not propaganda.

Crisis in Sri Lanka: The Root Cause

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The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in her report on Sri Lanka recognized that for Sri Lanka “the promotion of human rights and the prevention and fight against corruption are mutually reinforcing, that corruption can have serious negative impacts on human rights and the poor and those in marginalized situations, including women and girls.” She demanded the prosecution of the corrupt. The Sri Lankan delegate dismissed this statement as exceeding the mandate of the Human Rights High Commissioner.

The Sri Lankan Ambassador, Mr Chandraprema, suggested presumptuousness of the High Commissioner. The Sri Lankan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Ali Sabry, the lawyer who defended former President Gothabaya Rajapakse against the charges of corruption made against him, stated: “It is observed that the High Commissioner’s report makes extensive reference to “economic crimes”. Apart from the ambiguity of the term, it is a matter of concern that such reference exceeds the mandate of the OHCHR”.The Minister of Justice was pictured sitting by Sabry’s side as Sabry was giving the Council the benefit of his wisdom.

The link between corruption and human rights was not made exclusively in the context of the report on Sri Lanka. Concern over corruption and its impact on human rights had been expressed within the Human Rights Council from 2005. A document of the Human Rights Council in that year stated that the Council was “deeply concerned that the enjoyment of human rights, be they economic, social and cultural or civil and political, is seriously undermined by the phenomenon of corruption”. Since then several documents of the Human Rights Council as well as other UN documents have drawn the link between corruption and human rights. The use of the more embracing term, “economic crimes” includes corruption but also draws in other offences committed by those with public and private power abusing such power in a manner that offends the criminal law.

The concern in the area was with countries like Syria, Somalia and Sudan which had high levels of corruption along with massive violations of human rights. Now, Sri Lanka has joined these ranks. Events in Sri Lanka constitute a microcosm within which the linkage can be easily demonstrated. Successive Presidents from President Kumaranatunge, President Rajapaksa, President Sirisena and President Wickremesinghe (as Prime Minister during the Central Bank scam) have demonstrated the linkage between corruption and the violation of human rights. Their cronies and associates profited from the climate of corruption that these Presidents had created. These persons unfairly enriched themselves by stealing the wealth of the public and creating an unequal society in which many were driven into dire levels of poverty. The resulting inequality in itself is emblematic of the linkage between corruption and human rights violations.

Each of the Presidents demonstrated the need for the linkage to be made. I merely state the cases that constitute the tip of the iceberg of corruption in each Presidential regime and their links with human rights. The corruption became deep-seated after President Kumaranatunge. She was found guilty of corruption in the Water’s Edge Case which involved the eviction of several poor families from an area on which a golf course was to be built.

Corruption became a storm under President Mahinda Rajapaksa. His style of ruling was through patronage and reward, ensuring that his cronies amassed wealth while a part of it reached his family coffers. Mahinda Rajapaksa was alleged to have channelled the tsunami funds collected through charity into private accounts. The defalcation led to several victims of the tsunami being deprived of their right to housing and livelihood. The former Chief Justice, Sarath Silva, apologized for exonerating Rajapaksa from corruption charges, in the Helping Hambantota Case (Mahinda Rajapaksa v Chandra Fernando).

President Kumaranatunge had appointed her one-time crony, Sarath Silva, as Chief Justice by passing Justice Mark Fernando, a legendary judge noted for scholarship and independence- an instance of the subversion of the judiciary in Sri Lanka. An independent judiciary is the cornerstone of the rule of law and the protection of human rights. Kumaranatunge committed a corrupt act that more than establishes the linkage between human rights and corruption by compromising the independence of the judiciary in Sri Lanka. Sarath Silva delivered the judgement in the Sinharasa Case condemning a man to imprisonment without justification and earning international opprobrium. Naked interferences in judicial appointments during later Presidents are well known including the ousting of a Chief Justice who did not comply with the dictates of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. (Interference with the judiciary had commenced earlier with Felix Dias Bandaranaike and JR Jayewardene.)

The two Rajapaksa Presidents have been accused of large-scale nepotism and corruption. Their family was responsible for the expenditure of large chunks of the budget as ministers of the government. The opportunity for corruption was immense. They created opportunities not for themselves alone but for their business cronies of the Viyathmaga. Many of the cronies found their way into Parliament and were rewarded with ministries with attendant perks. They profited from scams like the sugar scam.

As public service employment and transfers became a privilege conferred by members of parliament, each member of parliament had great opportunities for accepting bribes. Corruption became endemic in the culture of Sri Lanka. Public appointments influenced by bribery denied people with merit access to employment. They were denied equal treatment under the law. The link between corruption and violation of human rights in such situations was clear.

In the interim, we had that yahapalana circus of Sirisena and Wickremesinghe. The former used his presidential power to release a convict found guilty of murder. He appointed his relatives to high positions. His son and daughter became prominent in government circles. Wickremasinghe was accused of the Central Bank scam. The man who was the alleged central figure in its sojourns in Singapore. The people were deprived of the public money that was involved in the scam. No one has been held accountable for this crime.

Despite all this chain of corruption, the men sent to Geneva by the Government of Sri Lanka blame the UN Human Rights Commissioner for linking corruption with human rights, when one of the best examples of such a linkage happens to be their country. The UNHRC is not motivated by any malice toward Sri Lanka in seeking to link corruption and human rights. They prescribe what would be welcomed by the people of Sri Lanka – the prosecution of the corrupt and the prevention of the corruption that has continuously afflicted the public life of Sri Lanka. The people of the country face starvation as a result of the economic crimes committed by their politicians.

As an academic who has taught international law all my life, I know that there is a minority of academics who contest the linkage of corruption with human rights on theoretical grounds. The delegation of Sri Lanka was not animated by these theoretical niceties. They were more intent on protecting the corruption of their organ grinders. Every Sri Lankan woman with little money in her bag, searching for cheap food for her starving children, every man who goes to every chemist in the vain search for medicines for his sick mother, every farmer who looks with sadness at his crops wilting without fertiliser knows that the root cause of his or her misery is the corruption initiated and continued by successive presidents. The delegation sent to Geneva was not sent there to defend the corrupt but accept the reasons given by the High Commissioner for Human Rights for the suffering of the people they were to speak for. Instead, they are defending the indefensible, corrupt politicians of Sri Lanka. The public is entitled to ask whether these men are themselves corrupt, obtaining a trip to Geneva and its attendant perks in exchange for defending the corruption of their masters.

Islam Respects Womanhood – Let It Remain So

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Woman as mother commands great respect in Islam. The Holy Quran speaks of the rights of the mother in a number of verses. It enjoins Muslims to show respect to their mothers and serve them well. The Prophet states emphatically that the rights of the mother are paramount.

The ongoing protest in the Islamic Republic of Iran by Iranian women against the country’s strict rules on Muslim women wearing hijab head scarfs has caught the attention of the world community.

. It is reported that more than 75 protesting people including women have died in the Iran government’s crackdown after the death of woman activist Mahsa Amini, on September,16, following her arrest for allegedly breaching the country’s strict rules on hijab head scarfs. . This news has made many ardent admirers of Islamic religion think whether the noble thoughts of Holy Quran on respect for women and their sentiments have not been adequately understood by section of menfolk belonging to Islam religion.

The underlying cause for protest against the insistence on Muslim women wearing hijab headscarf is that this compulsory use of head scarfs by women amounts to restricting the rights of Muslim women to lead a life of their own choice in appearance and public movement.

In Afghanistan, Muslim women are not permitted to go to schools beyond the 6th Standard. A year after the Taliban took power in Afghanistan, teenage girls are barred from school and women are required to cover themselves from head to toe in public, with only their eyes showing. Hard-liners appear to hold sway in the Taliban-led government There have been reports of many Afghan women tearfully protesting against such restrictions on women’s education.

There are so many other practices by which the rights, liberty and sentiments of Muslim women are not recognised by the clergies and religious heads of Islam in some places. There are practices such as Muslim men being permitted to become the husband of several women at the same time, the practice of triple talaq where a husband can disown his wife by repeating this word three times, property rights for women, dress code for women and even driving licence being denied to Muslim women in some places. Even with regard to offering prayers in mosques, there are some restrictions on Muslim women.

What is noteworthy here is that while so many restrictions are imposed on Muslim women which are insisted by menfolk, there is practically no restriction on the behaviour and practices of Muslim men.

Such situation gives the impression that in several Islamic countries, Muslim women are being looked upon as second-rate people compared to the menfolk.

Of course, it is very necessary to point out that there are a few Muslim countries where such restrictions on women are not enforced anymore in letter and spirit but this is not so in all Muslim countries as seen in Afghanistan and Iran.

There is a number of Muslims including women living all over the world, who understand the tenets of principles enunciated in the Holy Quran and remain religious people, even as they involve themselves in professional and social activities in different walks of life and enjoy liberty and freedom. But, they can do so, only in regions where they are permitted to do so.

All said and done, one cannot but admit that liberty and freedom for a considerable population of women in a few Islamic countries remain restricted. This should not be so. Certainly, Holy Quran does not want this.

The Muslims have to join the mainstream of worldly life in tune with the prevailing civilised practices in the world, which are gradually getting fine-tuned over the years in tune with the scientific and technological development and progressive social thoughts, that insist on harmony with everyone and goodwill for all. When Muslim women who face restrictions, see other women getting themselves well educated, taking up jobs, involving themselves in business pursuits and occupying top positions in government and politics, they too naturally aspire for such conditions when they can realise their potential.

Muslim women in Iran and Afghanistan have now raised their voices demanding freedom, which should be seen as a positive trend and encouraged by the top leadership of the countries. The leadership should realise that Holy Quran insists on respect for womanhood in toto and the demand of women are in tune with the sayings in Holy Quran.

World opinion should assert itself and extend all support for the liberty-craving Muslim women in Afghanistan and Iran. and other places The leadership of these countries should recognise and respond to the women’s sentiments positively.

It is now gratifying to hear that the Taliban deputy foreign minister in Afghanistan has called for reopening schools for girls in Afghanistan, saying clearly that there is no valid reason for such insistence One is not sure, whether Taliban government leadership has reacted positively to the suggestions.

The ball is clearly in the court of Islamic leadership and they have to recognise the ground realities and, move with time and restore the glory of womanhood, as proclaimed by the Holy Quran.

Sharodia Durga Puja

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5 mins read

Durga puja is an important festival in the Shaktism tradition of Hinduism. As per Hindu scriptures, the festival marks the victory of goddess Durga in her battle against the shape-shifting asura, Mahishasura.

It is an annual Hindu event in South Asia that celebrates the adoration of the Hindu goddess Durga. In Bangladesh, it is celebrated broadly. It submits to all the six days of experiential as Mahalaya, Maha Ashtami, Maha Saptami, Shashthi, Maha Navami and Vijayadashami.

History says that the Durga puja has been famous since medieval times. It has urbanized and customized to the world as time approved. A substantial text exists around Durga in the Bengali language and its untimely shapes. The goddess Durga was not completely included into the Hindu pantheon mainly in Bengal. Early forms of Durga festivals were mostly private adoration in personal houses with the use of musical mechanisms such as the mandira, mridanga and smakhya.

Mantras are an essential part of Durga puja. These are accompanied by the musical beatings of the dhak and flowers. These make the environment of Durga puja. Singing of mantras in Sanskrit is a necessary part of the Durga Puja celebration. Durga Slokas commends Durga as a sign of all celestial forces. Along with the sloka, Durga is ubiquitous as the picture of power, aptitude, calm, wealth, ethics etc.

The whole procedure of the formation of the sculptures from the set of clay to the decoration is a holy process, overused by services and other rituals. The people of the Hindu religion are very pious to celebrate this day with respect.

Durga Puja is a public holiday in Bangladesh. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.

Bangladesh is a land of holy places and large religious festivals. The festival is a special occasion for Bengali Hindu families to come together from all over the country and celebrate with their relatives and communities.

The five days festival is celebrated with gaiety and grandeur in Bangladesh. Devotees of Goddess Durga offer prayers and seek blessings of the goddess. During the Puja, goddess Lakshmi, Saraswati as well as lord Ganesha and Kartikeya are also worshipped by devotees along with goddess Durga.

Durga calmly understands and counters the evil in order to achieve her solemn goals. Durga, in her various forms, appears as an independent deity in the Epics period of ancient India, that is the centuries around the start of the Common Era. From the medieval period up through present day, the Durga Puja has celebrated the goddess with performing arts and as a social event, while maintaining religious worship.

The festival begins on the first day with Mahalaya, marking Durga’s advent in her battle against evil. Swami Chinmayananda said, “Man, the imperfect, the bound, the sorrowful, has a thousand enemies within. He is riddled with negative thoughts fears, and yearnings. These are selfishness, jealousy, meanness, prejudice and hatred just to mention but a few. The Sadhak must get rid of these lawless villains within. With Mother Durga’s kripa, these destructive masters are to be annihilated. Invoke the Mother Terrible to help us annihilate within ourselves all negative forces; all weaknesses, – all littleness.”

The festival is an old tradition of Hinduism, though it is unclear how and in which century the festival began. Surviving manuscripts from the 14th century provide guidelines for Durga puja, while historical records suggest royalty and wealthy families were sponsoring major Durga Puja public festivities since at least the 16th century. The prominence of Durga Puja increased during the British Raj in its provinces of Bengal and Assam. In the contemporary era, the importance of Durga Puja is as much as a social festival as a religious one wherever it is observed.

This festival is the biggest festival of the Bengali Hindus and is celebrated with great fanfare in Bangladesh.

On each day of this festival, devotees offer flower worship (pushpanjali) and the priest conducts an aroti. At the end of these five days, the idols are immersed in water. As the devotees bid farewell to the Mother Goddess they softly say ‘Aaschebochoraabarhobe’ (We will celebrate your arrival again next year). Like Swami Sivananda, Hindus believe, “Durga (Devi) is synonymous with Shakti or the Divine Power that manifests, sustains and transforms the universe as the one unifying Force of Existence. ‘Shakti is the very possibility of the Absolute’s appearing as many, of God’s causing this universe.

God creates this world through Srishti-Shakti (creative power), preserves through Sthiti-Shakti (preservative power), and destroys through Samhara-Shakti (destructive power). Shakti and Shakta are one; the power and the one who possesses the power cannot be separated; God and Shakti are like fire and heat of fire.”

Even when skies turn to gray, we wishthat the Goddess will bless Hindus way; to give them strength to overcome it all; and achieve all their desires and goals.Let the divine blessings of the Goddess overflow in their life. Durga Puja is an auspicious Hindu festival celebrated across Bangladesh, India and bordering countries. People celebrate this day with great enthusiasm and zeal.

This wonderful spiritual festival, held annually in Bangladesh and elsewhere among the Hindu community in the world. The tenth day, also known as Dashami marks the Visarjan (immersion in water) of the idol with grand celebrations and processions.

Bangladesh Puja Udjapan Parishad and MahanagarSarbajanin Puja Committee have said, “We are respectful to all religions. We are giving the directives to maintain the sanctity of other religions.”

A week prior to the festival, the city gears up and can be seen wearing a look of eagerness and excitement as it prepares itself to welcome the Goddess home.A week before Navratri begins; the idols of Goddess Durga are being painted and made ready except for the eyes. On the occasion of Mahalaya, the Goddess is invited on earth with rituals and so on this day, the eyes are drawn on the idols in an auspicious ritual called ChokkuDaan. It is believed the Goddess descends to earth at the time of drawing the eyes on the idols.

On the sixth day of Navaratri i.e.,the first day of Durga Puja; the beautifully decorated idols are brought home or into magnificently decorated public pandals. The idol is then decorated with flowers, clothes, jewellery, red vermillion and various sweets are kept in front of the Goddess. The idol of the Goddess is accompanied by the idol of Lord Ganesh. Goddess Durga is considered to be Lord Shiva’s wife Parvati’s avatar and thus mother of Lord Ganesh.

The festival of Durga Puja is coloured with devotional zeal, mythological legends, detailed rituals, extravagant pandals and magnificent tableaus of the divine Mother Goddess and her children. The ten-day festivities of Durga Puja provide one and all with a chance to spread festive cheer and wish their loved one’s peace as well as prosperity. The nine different forms of the Goddess of Power, Durga or Shakti, as per the Hindu religion are worshipped during this time.

The last six days of the festival, namely, Mahalaya, Shashthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, MahaNabami and Bijoya Dashami are celebrated with great pomp and show. The Durga Puja revelry is not limited to elaborate rituals, but extends to various cultural, music and dance performances given by armature as well as professional artists during this time.

On the final day of Vijayadashmi, the devotees bid teary-eyed farewell to the Goddess and her children as it is believed that they leave for their heavenly abode. Their idols are submerged in the water amidst the resonating sound of drums to symbolise their departure.

May this Durga Puja light up for Hindus in Bangladesh and elsewhere throughout the world!We wish that Goddess Durga empowers them with unmatched happiness, great success and good luck. To conclude, we wish to enunciate a few words of a famed poem: “Nil akashermegherbhela,Padma phulerpapri mela,Dhakertaalekasherkhela,Anandekatuksharadbela. Shubho Durga Puja.” A very Happy Durga Puja to all our brothers and sisters of Hindu community in Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, and across the world!

-The End –