Feature Article

Ploy of Buddhism in nullifying Tamil nationalism

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 30 June 2009, 01:53 GMT]
The North and East of the island of Sri Lanka should first be subjected to ‘archaeological’ investigation to prove the land’s Sinhala ownership, before its ‘resettlement’, is the demand of the National Front of Buddhist monks of Sri Lanka, reported Virakesari a few days ago. If archaeology has any say, the entire island having microlithic sites of prehistoric period has to be resettled by Veddas, and if enough Veddas are not found in the island they could still be found among their next of kin outside, ranging from the Austro-Asiatic tribes of the South Asian subcontinent to aborigines of Borneo, Papua New Guinea and Australia, commented an academic of ethnic studies in the island.

The feature article received from the academic follows:

The idea of the Sinhala-Buddhist monks is to show the Buddhist vestiges in the North and East and to use them as a card in the cultural genocide of Eezham Tamils by Sinhalicizing the Tamil homeland.

Buddhism is not a prerogative to the Sinhalese or Sinhalese monks.

The monks need to realise that unlike the Sinhala-Buddhist identity, and for that matter any identity in the island, the Tamil identity by its legacy is secular and inclusive to all religions.

It was a historical process that Tamils, for whom Buddhism was one of the religions, renounced it by their choice centuries ago.

It was a historical process that the Tamils, who were sharing the entire island along with the Sinhalese, ever since the very beginning of the assertion of such identities in the island, evolved the Eezham Tamil identity just like the Sinhala identity, and eventually carved out a homeland for them in the North and East.

Any objective archaeological evidence, beginning from the first written records, i.e., the Brahmi inscriptions of the island, would tell how Tamil clans were actively constituent to the ethnic formations in the island.

From Point Palmyrah in the Jaffna Peninsula where Buddhist vestiges are found to Dondra Head in the south where the ruins of a Saivite temple, Thenavarai Naayanaar, can still be found, was not an exclusive property of those who claim themselves as Sinhalese or Tamils today.

But it was also a historical process in the recent centuries that by the way colonialism, orientalism and nationalism processed, by the way modern state formation took place and by the way post-independence polity operated and suffrage exercised, strong foundations were laid necessitating the contemporary reality of divisive nationalisms in the island.

Archaeology and Buddhism are not problems, despite the fact that the former is understood in the island in its 19th century concept as a tool of nationalism and the latter as it is asserted in the island today is a re-discovery of colonial orientalism. The problem is their exploitation by genocidal elements for the subjugation of one people by the other.

How faith and academic disciplines can be distorted to serve ethnic subjugation, even by so-called learned people, can best be seen in a recent piece of writing by Manouri Senanayake, a Professor of Paediatrics of Colombo University who wrote on History and says that Tamils never had a territorial claim in the island, there is no justification for their own nationalism, no power devolution needed and if Tamils want a homeland they should find it in Tamil Nadu.

Meanwhile, a Scandinavian professor in a recent international seminar said that since Buddhism is an inclusive religion and since Tamils were once practising it, they should consider of becoming Buddhists and should be receptive to the efforts of some Buddhist monks in the island preaching the faith in Tamil.

He was not agreeable with the position that the basis of Tamil nationalism in the island, i.e., identity based on the use of Tamil language, is inclusive to religions and said that it is Tamil-Saivite.

How Tamils, whether Saivite of Christians, envisaging secularism in their nationalism as well as Muslims who come out with a separate identity but whose mother tongue is Tamil - all struggling against the genocidal hegemony of Sinhala-Buddhism, are going to look at his proposal is a question.

Two years back a private TV channel was inaugurated in Colombo by Mahinda Rajapaksa to preach Buddhism in Tamil. This venture of telecasting in Sinhala, Tamil and English was funded by a Tamil-Hindu, Muhundan Canagey, with the support of a Buddhist NGO and some Sinhala entrepreneurs, and through technical arrangements with the Malaysian company Dialog, Hindustan Times reported in July 2007.

On the occasion, Sri Lanka president’s secretary Lalith Weeratunga was reported saying: “the coming into existence of this channel is symbolic of the inalienable and irreversible ties between Sri Lanka and India”.

Reflecting such sentiments of culture and imperialism, a Chennai-based retired professor of South Asian Studies, now in the national security advisory team of the Indian Establishment, recently said that Sri Lanka got everything of its culture from India. Similar to the Sinhala academics who refuse to see the evolution of Eezham Tamil identity as something belonging to the island and want them to go to Tamil Nadu, the Indian academics never see that India itself is a part of a larger South Asian cultural phenomenon.

If national boundaries of today mean anything then Buddhism didn’t originate in India but in Nepal, even though it seems the Nepalis have still not learnt to capitalize on it.

The academic cited above also said that the Tamils, retaining their identity, should be able to live in the island as ‘loyal Sri Lankans’. It is possible in India for a person to retain his or her religio-communal identity, if not the state identity, and to live in a state for decades without learning even to converse in the local language, but to still feel as an Indian. It is the impossibility of such a situation in the island that makes Eezham Tamil nationalism a necessary reality.

A few years ago this academic advised the up-country Tamils that they being folk in their practices, don’t need to study the Hinduism textbooks written by Jaffna Tamils.

The up-country Tamils are unable to hold even their temple festivals today.

The probing tentacles of the Indian Establishment, blogs run by ex intelligence officers, while extremely keen in nullifying Eezham Tamil nationalism, have expressed great hopes on the totalitarian regime of Mahinda Rajapaksa for Indo-Sri Lanka cooperation.

Meanwhile, BJP, the leading opposition of India, viewed as the champion of Hindu nationalism, is said to be hatching a new programme based on the promotion of Buddhism for the electoral advantage of luring Daliths on its side. Narendra Modi’s Gujarat is the epicentre where the state government is initiating a World Buddhist Conference in the MS University of Baroda.

Sections of BJP media, especially originating from Kerala, have already started claiming how Hindus of India have saved the Buddhists of Sri Lanka from 'Tamil terrorism'.

The ruling party of Tamil Nadu, the DMK, believed by many as the bastion of secularism of Tamil Nationalism, is seen only hoodwinking superficially in matters such as temple priests, calendar etc., but failing in actually defending Tamil nationalism from those who want to nullify it.

News about Buddhist connections between Colombo and a political party in Tamil Nadu has also surfaced in recent times.

Some political circles supportive of the Eezham Tamil cause are now reportedly advocating for not insisting on Eezham Tamil nationalism.

In the meantime, Mahinda Rajapaksa government, after killing 20,000 Tamils and incarcerating the rest in concentration camps and open prisons, is appealing to Buddhist countries to support its agenda.

A diplomat of a far eastern country is recently reported to have attached credibility to Mahinda Rajapaksa’s ‘vision’ for Tamils to resolve the conflict.

While all with vested interests use terror and con for the annihilation of even the basic right of Eezham Tamils to assert to their secular nationalism, Buddhism seems to be imperceptibly emerging as a popular political lure in the service of the axis of imperialism in Asia.



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