25 July, 2021

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Closing The Gaps In Our Cultures – Heritage Histories: A Reassessment Of Arumuga Navalar

By Thurai Vinayagalingam

In 2009, Thiru Arumugam, a Sri Lankan Chartered Engineer presently domiciled in Sydney, Australia, published a well-researched book titled, Nineteenth Century American Medical Missionaries in Jaffna, Ceylon with special reference to Samuel Fisk Green1. The book pays a glowing tribute to the vital role played by the American Missionaries and their selfless dedication in promoting the study of Natural Philosophy and the Sciences as well as Western Medical Practices among the native population of Jaffna, apart from their usual missionary activities of evangelising. The author poses the question “…why didn’t our society give due recognition to Dr Green’s work as they did to the work of others… ?” and goes on to explain that Nineteenth Century Tamil society confined its recognition of contributors to its history, only to the ambit of language and literature. “Dr. Green dealt with an alien discipline, which was totally new to the society. Science in general and Western medical science in particular were new to the Tamils and the society did not really understand the nature of his contribution”.

In reviewing2 Arumugam’s book, Sri Lankan playwright in English, Ernest McIntyre, refers to the famous Two Cultures essay, in which C.P. Snow (1905 ‒1980), novelist, scientist and Labour Government Minister in the U.K., had lamented the great cultural divide that separates two great areas of human intellectual activity, science and the arts. Snow argued that practitioners in both areas should build bridges, to further the progress of human knowledge and to benefit society. McIntyre observes that “this book of Arumugam needs wide proliferation because of the role it must play in closing the gap in our own case of ‘The Two Cultures’.” McIntyre tacitly leaves out what exactly he means by ‘the gap in our own case of The Two Cultures’ to the reader’s imagination. It could very well be the gulf between the English educated and the vernacular educated or that between the Christian – and the Saivite – communities; some may even think of that as between the Sinhalese and the Tamils.

In 2020, S.R.H. Hoole, a distinguished Engineering academician, researcher and prolific publisher residing in his native Jaffna, had published a book titled Heritage Histories: A Reassessment of Arumuga Navalar, a.k.a Candar Arumugavan3. Two reviews of this book that appeared in the online forum, Colombo Telegraph (on 18/10/20 and 7/5/21) had generated much debate among the readership.

The respective main characters in the two books mentioned above, Dr Green and Arumuga Navalar, were contemporaries and their similarities are as much striking as their contrasts: both were born in 1822, the former in a community of Christian true believers in New England, and the other in a community of Saivite true believers in Nallur. Dr Green started his missionary work in Batticotta (Vaddukoddai) in October 1847, whereas Navalar commenced his famous series of prasangams4 (discourses) at Vannarpannai Sivan Temple in defence of Saivaism in December 1847. Both were against any Westernisation of the people.

What was Jaffna like at that time?

Martin in his book5 published in 1923 notes that in the1830s “there were no roads, properly so-called, beyond the Pettah. Even the Main Street from the Jaffna Fort terminated near the 3rd Cross Street, beyond which it was a mere sandy track. In the villages, the ‘Parish Roads’ of the Dutch were the sole means of communication (transportation), while there were no traces of the present trunk lines … The salt lagoon running through the Peninsula, from Ariyalai to Thondamannar, was not bridged either at Puthankuli or Vallai, and the rainy season terminated all intercourse and trade between the parishes of Jaffna and those of Vadamaradchi to the north and Tenmaradchi to the east. Pachchillapalli, now the coconut garden of the North, was comparatively little known, except as the domain of the elephant and the black bear. Elephants roamed about Kaithadi and paid surprise visits to the town; Cheetahs committed sad havoc on cattle, and Jackals in plentiful packs held their midnight concerts in close proximity to the town. The age of gang robberies, of ear-cutting, torch-light robberies and highway robberies had not then passed. Travelling was beset with sure and certain danger.”

What was Navalar’s background and education? 5,6,7

From the inception of the Jaffna Kingdom in the 13th Century to the present, Nallur has remained the Saivite capital of Northern Sri Lanka. Art, learning and culture flourished in the Jaffna Kingdom. Eminent scholars were invited from South India to hold discourses in the King’s court.

Navalar’s father, Kanthapillai (1766 – 1842) as well as his mother, Sivakami Ammaiyar, were both born in Nallur. Navalar’s grandfather, Paramananthar, was the son of Illankai Kavala Mudaliyar, a descendant of Pandi Mallavan, a pioneer settler of Jaffna from Ponpettiyur in Tamil Nadu just prior to the establishment of the Jaffna Kingdom.

Kanthapillai lived during both Dutch and British regimes. He had his early education in Tamil under Sanmugam Chaddampiyar. Later, he received tuition from the reputed veteran Kulankai Thambiran. He also became proficient in English, Dutch and Portuguese under Rev Phillip De Mello. He had acquired some medical knowledge from his father, who was a reputed Physician. Being so versatile, he became a very useful person to the community and to the Government. He was given a special appointment by the government and named Visaranai (or Aradchi). His function was to inquire and report on events.

Navalar had his early education under distinguished scholars, Senathirajah Mudaliyar and Saravanamuttu Pulavar. They imparted to him sound groundwork in Tamil, Tamil Culture, and Sanskrit. He was sent to study English as well in a small Christian school maintained by Rev Percival.

What was Navalar’s contribution to Tamil and Saivaism? 5,6,7

Having achieved high proficiency in both Tamil and Sanskrit under eminent scholars of the time (in the tradition of Thinnai schooling), and later in English and Christianity as a result of his association with Rev Percival, Navalar set up his own press and commenced publication of simple books on ethics for children. Realising the difficulty that the common people had in understanding the many sacred Hindu Puranams, because they were in verse, he commenced publishing them in simple prose. He matured into a Tamil prose writer of high esteem. He mastered the tenets of Saiva Siddantha philosophy and acquired eloquence in speech. He kindled a consciousness among the Tamils about their spiritual heritage and spearheaded the movement for its revival. He also established schools in Jaffna and Tamil Nadu.

This is what a highly reputed scholar of Tamil of the Twentieth Century, T.P. Meenakshi Suntharam said about Navalar: “On the one hand there was prose known as High Senthamil, and on the other hand Kochchaithamil an ascent and a descent (a crest and a trough). Navalar levelled these, applied plaster to it; he made it a shining white wall. Yes! In this leveling process, many beautiful paintings on the peaks have disappeared …. But Arumuga Navalar did yeoman service, by ploughing and levelling a rugged old terrain that never saw the plough, and he had to sow the seeds and clear the weeds …. Therefore, Arumuga Navalar was the father of modern Tamil prose, and laid its foundations firm and secure”.

What can we take from Hoole’s Recent Book on Navalar?

In reviewing the life and contributions of a historical figure such as Arumuga Navalar, it is fitting to quote Stanley Jones (1884–1973) on a book he had read on Mahatma Gandhi: “It is a microscopic examination thoroughly done, but in the end the real man is lost. After you have looked at him through a microscope, you have to look at him through a telescope. For, he stands against a background of ages, and must be interpreted with that background to get the full stature and meaning of the man.”

The book by Hoole on Navalar can be described essentially as a microscopic examination of Navalar on two fronts: Navalar’s role in perpetuating the caste system, and in translating the Bible. Although the book touches on a host of other topics (such as a separate chapter on Rev Percival and his contribution to Tamil), the present review is confined solely to the above two subjects. The author’s frustration at the habitual aggrandization by Tamil Saivites of their religion, language and culture as well as historical figures such as Navalar, and their caste prejudices are clearly borne out in the book. Not only Navalar, but many characters mentioned in the book including the author’s ancestors and academic researchers from leading universities in the US were not spared of criticism. While some of these criticisms are valid and justifiable, discerning readers will notice significant inconsistencies in the book. A few specific examples are given below.

The choice of Arumugavan in the book title, instead of the commonly used names Arumugam or Arumugavar in the literature is debatable (pages x and xi).

Rev E.J. Robinson was quoted to describe Rev Percival as “unsurpassed as a preacher in the Tamil language,” (Pages 151, 215 and 216). But the author in another instant goes on to dismiss Rev Robinson’s statement4 that Navalar “had been for a long period, day after day, the worthy companion and valued assistant of the gifted and plodding Mr Percival in preparing and editing Treatises and hymns in Tamil, and translating the Prayer-Book and the Holy Bible,” by saying Rev Robinson “carelessly wrote in his book which did not make clear if Navalar was an Assistant to Percival like a valet/servant or as actual translator.”

Prof Bernard Bate of Yale University however had a different take on the same passage, saying8 it is “foundational to almost all subsequent writing about what happened,” vis-a-vis the translation of the Bible. The beauty is in the eye of the beholder indeed!

The author insists that “after failing to pass out of school Navalar was helped by Percival by keeping him on as some kind of assistant, perhaps keeping his papers and things in order, but not assisting in translation.” And then contradicts himself by saying “it is possible that Navalar, knowing the Tamil language well, might have engaged in discussions with Percival while Percival was working on the Fabricius Revision. This may explain the Morning Star of May 26, 1953 saying: “Mr Arumugam who was educated in part in the Wesleyan Mission Establishment was a pundit in certain branches of Study, and for a time rendered valuable assistance as a pundit in the revision of the Tamil Scriptures.” (p. 120). This issue which is of little concern to people outside the academic community would remain unresolved, as the two persons who would really know the answer, namely Rev Percival and Navalar, are longer with us.

While accusing Navalar of practising and promoting caste discrimination (which is true as evident from some of Navalar’s publications), the author admits “Navalar’s reforms of Hinduism have Percival’s and the Missions’ stamp – for example, removing the erotic parts of Hindu scriptures, the use of terms like ‘divine providence,’ the movement towards monotheism, the position against caste – even though it is widely practised in private, rejection of polygamy and slavery, etc.” (p. 218). If this is true, and Navalar had indeed changed his earlier held conservative views, which is something to be celebrated. Some would argue that there were Tamil saints, Thirumoolar for example, who had advocated similar reforms in the distant past.

One cannot miss the malice transparent in the terminology, like school drop-out, man-Friday, valet, layabout, servant etc., used to refer to a great scholar. The author’s fixation with portraying Navalar in a bad light compels him to distort facts. His efforts to seem a warrior against casteism are deflated by the casteist prejudices evident in his association of people’s conduct with their caste (p. 130). Besides, the book lacks coherence and drifts from topic to topic rather arbitrarily. Winding through the maze of anecdotes, hearsays, contradictory statements and frequent repetitions was not an easy reading experience.

It is hard to see the book as the work of a neutral and objective researcher. Many readers, specially, among the Tamil Saivite community, will come to the sad conclusion that the author had gone out of his way to pick up trivia to defame Arumuga Navalar.

The positive contribution of the Christian missionaries to the Saivite community in reforming and rejuvenating Saivaism, should be celebrated by both sides. This along with Missionaries’ other important contributions such as: an early and very successful introduction of Western medical practices to Jaffna residents, providing a pathway for the upliftment of the underprivileged in the society, and providing a well-rounded education to all communities in Sri Lanka, should be gratefully acknowledged and appreciated. Early converts to Christianity should be seen as pioneers in being the conduit for the early flow of Western knowledge, practices and technology into the country. It is only by sharing/borrowing from one another that we can fill the gaps in our own cultures.

“… it is proper to value one another and to receive lessons from one another and by doing these things they shall be more learned, and hand over to one another such things as each of them understands …” ~ Emperor Ashoka (c. 268 to 232 BCE) Edict XII

Acknowledgement

My sincere thanks to nine fellow Sri Lankans of varying backgrounds for their invaluable suggestions in improving the initial draft.

References

[1] Arumugam, T., 2009, Nineteenth Century American Missionaries in Jaffna, Ceylon with Special Reference to Samuel Fisk Green, MV Publications, Sydney, Australia.

[2] Macintyre, E., 2014, The human drama underneath the factual medical, historical material – An impressionistic reaction, Sunday Times, Sri Lanka/100314

[3] Hoole, S.R.H., 2020, Heritage Histories – A Reassessment of Arumuga Navalar, a.k.a. Candar Arumugavan, Thesam Publications, London, UK.

[4] Robinson, E.J., 1867, Hindu Pastors: A memorial, Wesleyan Conference Office, London, UK.

[5] Martin, J.H., 1923, Martin’s Notes on Jaffna, Chronological, Historical, Biographical, Jaffna, Sri Lanka.

[6] Kailasapillai, T., 1918, Arumuga Navalar Carittiram (in Tamil), Madras, India.

[7] Arumugam, S., 1997, Dictionary of Biography of the Tamils of Ceylon, London, UK.

[8] Bate, B., 2005, Arumuga Navalar, Saivite sermons, and the delimitation of religion, c. 1850, The Indian Economic and Social History Review.

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Latest comments

  • 6
    30

    Thurai Vinayagalingam’s review is not particularly useful nor fair. Thank you though for reading my book.

    I will not engage in a point-by-point, toe-to-toe slugging match. The thesis of my book is that almost everything about Navalar is fake – name, cleverness, handsome appearance etc. He was possibly even Christian at one point going by Prof. Poologasingham. Ignoring my arguments and references, to quote T.P. Meenakshi Suntharam who falls in the same genre of sky-high praises is not particularly scholarly.

    An academically acceptable negative review must in saying I am wrong, state why. Instead Vinayagalingam repeats uncritically the traditionally handed down narratives that I fault.

    The quotations from Jewel Robinson and Bernard Bate are from me and properly sourced. I explain that they are subject to another interpretation. It is not particularly correct to give these without saying they are from my book and assert the interpretation I discount.

    To take one example, the review attributes malice to me in saying Navalar was a dropout, lay-about etc. But he ignores the multiplicity of citations I give – his family biographer saying he was not clever, entering the mission in 1834 and still being a student when he walked out in 1847 from the 4-year programme, working without a salary as Percival’s assistant, grumbling that all his juniors have got good jobs and gone away but not he, etc. He was academically a dud but had political intelligence.

    This is not the place for a detailed rebuttal. I urge readers to really read my book if they want to comment.

    • 5
      9

      Jeevan Hoole,
      All you want to say is it is your grandpa translated the Bible, but it is nowhere said. The Bible is Christian Religious Book. Navalar even need not have read it. Studying Veda and Sanskrit was prevented from Navalar that time. But did self-study and gained punditry in those. He read the bible in its original form, understood the native Hebrew, Aramaic, Koine Greek, English, and Latin then had enough punditry in Tamil and Sanskrit to bring it in Tamil. Has your grandpa translated a Tamil book in English? Just do not write Vayutherichchal essays (jealous). Navalar was not begging. He bought a press and was printing old Tamil books. In the same way he was the first one to open Hindu school which ended up one day North had 20 college level high schools. Remember can you tell the meaning of a Kural if you show one?. But Navalar was effortlessly swimming though the old Tamil Liturgical works, comparing manuscripts, proofreading, and printing. What certification do you have in Hinduism? You studied engineering. How many FRCPs do you have? Why should Navalar complete a Christian mission’s cholic education, intended to force students to change religion? Navalar was not given certification because Perceval was not happy with his Hindu activism. No harm though.

      • 9
        8

        Dear Mallaiyuran.
        .
        How glibly you profess this!
        .
        “He . . . , understood the native Hebrew, Aramaic, Koine Greek, English, and Latin then had enough punditry in Tamil and Sanskrit to bring it in Tamil.”
        .
        I don’t want to get involved in this, knowing only English and Sinhala myself. I appeal to you to settle your Northern differences without showing incapability of rational discourse. Applies to Hoole as well, but at least he promotes awareness of issues.
        .
        Some people have an aptitude for languages, but it would take decades to learn so many languages well – even with all the electronic help available today.
        .
        I read the drafts of this book; all that had been claimed was that The Authorised King James Version of 1611 had been translated into Tamil. Such a claim was credible. How much credit to Percival, and how much to Navalar? I feel this whole Navala book was an unnecessary exercise, but Professor Jeevan Hoole always feels he must ferret out the truth.
        .
        However, I know him well; a more honest person you won’t find anywhere.

        • 3
          13

          Panini. Correction.
          The cover of the Jaffna Bible (reproduced in my book) explicitly says it was translated from the original tongues. I said Navalar cannot be the translator because he knew neither Greek nor Hebrew.
          To the low caste Sudras of Jaffna and Tricomalee desperate to uphold the reputation of their Sudra god Navalar, he translated from English. If that is so, he is also a true low caste Sudra born with bad qualities as Krishna says in the Gita. That is because, if what they say is true that Navalar translated the King James’ version, then he is pretending, lying to us, to be a great scholar in Hebrew and Greek claiming on the first page to have translated from these.
          Knowing these jokers, they will now say he was a scholar in Hebrew and Greek the original tongues of the Bible and build him up, the great dropout, into an even bigger pretender. We see Malayuran beginning this process.
          In the next generation, that will be fact, just as that high school failure has been made into a great Tamil scholar in the style of Tamil funeral hymns where we cannot often recognise the deceased from the hymns.

          • 7
            3

            Did Rev Percival or any of his able assistants know either?
            If the publishers made a false declaration, name them and blame them.

            • 5
              4

              Here goes SJ/Sivasegaram again. His style usually is to imply something absurd without actually saying it so he has deniability as I have pointed out before.

              Here he implies that even Percival did not know Greek or Hebrew to sustain his, SJ’s, claims for Navalar. I have cited in my book Bishop Kulandran’s paper where he says the mandate Percival had was only to translate from Hebrew and Greek. Then I have cited the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine of 1856 which says that Percival “ translated directly from the Hebrew and the Greek” while comparing with English, Sankrit and Bengali versions.

              SJ really does not understand that there can be polyglots when he is not one. SJ does some work on a Tamil keyboard and thought himself a sufficient expert on Tamil at Peradeniya to be an examiner when Prof. Nuhuman was considered for a Tamil professorship. Sivasegaram was appointed by the Senate! So one can see how Sivasegaram has brought standards down in Sri Lanka.
              I have seen my father reading the Greek Bible. That was certainly a part of his theological training. Percival knew both languages. He does not need SJ’s endorsement.

              • 7
                3

                It is very true that Rev. Percival can do without anybody’s endorsement; and he would do very well without a certain category of endorsements.
                *
                Does Hoole’s latest endorsement mean that Rev. Percival was adequately fluent in the two languages to justify the claim that the text was translated from the SOURCE LANGUAGES.
                I am surprised that the author in his article that appeared in Tamilnet (https://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?artid=29787&catid=79) in July 2009, forgot to let us into this little secret, although the article firmly rejected that AN knew either language.
                *
                If Rev Percival knew both Greek and Hebrew, and the claim of the author that the ‘Percival translation’ was not a translation but a revision of the work of Rhenius is correct, does not the claim on the cover of the book become utterly bogus?
                *
                JM, you are desperate.
                Cool down, and think of a better stunt.

                • 2
                  0

                  SJ/Sivasegaram,
                  There is enough evidence that the 1850 Tamil Bible was translated from Hebrew and Greek. I do not need to list them because you argue to not pick.
                  Percival as a theologian/missionary trained by the Methodist Church knew Greek and Hebrew.
                  His knowledge of these languages is far superior to your expertise in Tamil that you pretended to when you went as an expert to examine a well-respected scholar, when he stood for his professorship in Tamil at Peradeniya. By your pretense, and eagerness to claim non-existent expertise in Tamil you allowed people to ask questions over that Tamil scholar, Prof. Nuhuman’s expertise in Tamil.
                  In psychology there is a term called projection. Those who pretend to be language experts, think that other experts are also pretending. Those who pretend to be Senior Professors think every Senior Professor is pretending like themselves without the required 8 years as Professor. They are robbers taking money from the state without the expertise to earn that high salary. That is Peking Communism and their love for the people.

                  • 1
                    1

                    PROVE IT IF YOU CAN
                    It was you who said that the translation was only slight revision of the Rhenius Tamil Bible, and even ventured to prove it by comparison of text.
                    “Knowing” a language is not the same as sufficient fluency to undertake a job of translation.
                    *
                    You are pitiably pathetic.

            • 0
              0

              PART ONE
              .
              Dear Mallaiyuran,
              .
              Although we can think clearly on certain matters, it is impossible to work out all the consequences of our actions. Sometimes it’s just not worth the effort. So, I don’t know where this comment will land after submission.
              .
              Regarding languages, I have claimed to know English better than most would imagine, from a guy who has never been outside Asia. Despite what you call my extreme racism, you will find places where I have said that I can read Sinhalese effectively, but slowly. “leelagemalli” has asked me to pay more attention there – well I did just that moments ago, after pausing my writing here, and you will find evidence of that – if CT has been in an obliging mood. Go here:
              .
              https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/jayampathy-wickramaratne-15-june-2021/
              .
              Are you telling yourself that CT is a racist set-up because they have a Sinhalese section, but not a Tamil section? Native Vedda has so often been asking not only Tamils, but also Sinhalese to go back to India.
              .
              It may be that I have been somewhat under-estimating Navalar’s achievements, but I think you’ve been over-estimating a great deal. Nobody may ever know the truth.

            • 0
              0

              PART TWO
              .

              My elder daughter (who displayed enough knowledge of Tamil to be locked up as a suicide bomber!) will tell me that God sees every word that has been typed by me. Rubbish!
              .
              By the same token, I could well have been seriously under-estimating the Greek knowledge of Revs. Percival, Foster and Hoole. Am I to be executed by the Government of Eelam, when it has been set up?
              .
              Last night, I “rescued” an article; the link appears below. In rescuing, I added BCCs to some addresses. That included some Tamils who are Hindus whom I have never met. Two people have written back, thanking me: the author, and Manel Fonseka. I haven’t met either of them. I have met Jeevan Hoole, but he hasn’t written back, although he has said something critical of me below, this page.
              .
              https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/rajapaksa-regime-approaches-day-of-reckoning/
              .
              My Belgian neighbour “knows” about fifteen languages; if you include “half-knows” it could be twenty. He can read about five of them at high-speed. Simple and sufficient explanation: he’s cleverer than me. He disagrees – says I’ve been lazy. O.K.!
              .
              I tell you again; Lanka owes a lot to the Hoole Brothers.

          • 2
            1

            PART A
            .
            Dear Jeevan,

            .
            I think that your argument that many people will believe that Navalar was more of a genius than he really was may be correct, but is it of any great importance?
            .
            Below, I have referred to Tolstoy translating the New Testament; now that doesn’t mean that he was the most fastidious of scholars, but he provided useful insights. He argued, I think, that when Jesus said, “condemn not” he used a word that was reserved for legal use; so Tolstoy was against even Law Courts.
            .
            I think that many priests who know little Greek justifiably tell you that the Greeks had three words for “Love”: “agape”, “philos” and “eros”. Yes, a useful distinction. Let’s be charitable and say that Navalar picked up things like that, whilst Percival knew more, but not as much as the translators of the New English Bible did. Their New Testament came out around 1962, and was immediately recommended to us by Rev. Foster, who, like your father, used to dip into the Greek NT. It must be the most accurate translation ever, but I don’t like it. It’s the Authorised Version that inspires.

            • 2
              1

              PART B
              .

              Jeevan,
              for you, strict adherence to what the Bible says is important; but not for a man of little faith like me. I see the aesthetic and emotional aspects of religion as the things that matter somewhat to me. Your brother, Rajan, is more of a musician than me, but even I find more religious solace in J.S. Bach’s “Matthew Passion” than in sermons preached by the sorts of priests we have today. Even saying that is unfair; because there are priests who can be respected.
              .
              I tell you again, it’s your manner of talking about Hinduism and Caste that causes you problems. It should surely have been possible for you to say whatever was relevant above without speaking of “low caste Sudras” – whatever a Sudra is! Now that I have told you that, you may say that you have said, below, that “Nearly all of us in Jaffna are low caste Sudras.” I know what you mean by that. There are no Tamil Brahmins in Sri Lanka. However, I know that you belong to the highest Vellala caste in the Jaffna Peninsula, so you can happily provoke most of the other Tamils in Sr Lanka.

            • 2
              1

              PART C
              .
              Jeevan,
              I have seen places where even SJ has praised some of the things that you have done. To some of us, Sinhalese, you are a hero because you had the courage to stand up to Lanka’s Dictators, but to the average Sinhalese, “Hoole is a Tiger” seems the truth about you.
              .
              You create problems for yourself by saying, “pretending, lying to us”, “the great dropout”, “these jokers”. The Holy Ghost will indeed have to perform miracles within the minds of the Hindus there, if they are not to attack you.
              .
              You taught in Peradeniya, after my four years there. Some Professors have told me that they looked forward to your arrival, but then were disappointed. For your Election Work, you are still a hero for me. Please let it remain so!
              .
              Mallaiyuran,
              you can’t spell “Percival”, but you want to teach me English! Basta!

              • 4
                3

                Sinhala Man, What you say is not fair: “Some Professors have told me that they looked forward to your arrival, but then were disappointed.”

                You leave it open as to why they were disappointed? Was I poor in my scholarship? Did I rape girls? Was I cruel to my students? By leaving this open you are inviting speculation as to why they were disappointed. That is libel by default. Please be explicit. Why were “they” disappointed?
                You also told me about the person — in the singular — who told you this. When you make it plural now, I wonder what you are trying to do. Libeling again?

                • 3
                  0

                  You’re right; it should be singular, Jeevan.
                  .
                  However, to be explicit, what he said didn’t amount to suggesting that you were guilty of anything criminal. It was that you wouldn’t limit yourself to your own field of expertise. Much as I admire the courage that you display in public affairs, there possibly is some truth in that observation.
                  .
                  You have made huge contributions already, and there’s much more that I still feel that you will do for us. Actually, in matters related to the conduct of Elections, it is possibly only you who are honest and courageous enough to act, and that is being done beyond the call of duty, when a lesser man would have said that it is no longer your business.
                  .
                  What I tell you again is, don’t disturb hornet’s nests in the areas of religion and caste.

                  • 1
                    3

                    You cannot have it both ways Panini. Either I limit myself to electrical engineering. Or I also comment on evils in society.
                    Asking me to limit myself to electrical is to say that academics must not engage in society. To engage is part of the IEEE Code of Ethics.
                    Many professorships at Peradeniya are obtained by cheating. A venomous detractor of mine here after being a postdoc at Imperial College for some 15 years (as stated by his supervisor in an artice) claimed he had been a professor, joined hands with the VC and was rewarded with a senior professorship which requires 8 years as professor. A pretending Peking Communist, he defrauded the people of Sri Lanka by drawing that undeserved high salary. He is a crook.
                    Do you Panini want me to stay silent in the face of these embezzling pretenders? This is why this Senior Professor comes out against me with so much venom here. When I applied to Jaffna he joined forces with VC Arasaratnam and declared me unqualified to be Senior Lecturer in Electrical Eng.

                    Asking me to restrict myself to electrical engineering as those professorial cheats at Peradeniya do, is to ask society to be ruled by crooked people like this. Do you really want that?
                    I don’t.

                    • 1
                      0

                      JM
                      People here are intelligent enough to know that you have lost an argument.
                      You need not confirm it many times over.

                    • 0
                      0

                      Commencing message to Jeevan,
                      .
                      I have not asked you to limit yourself to Electrical Engineering. I have only asked you to avoid discussing religion and caste; I’m going to add adult consensual sex of any sort, including onanism. Do you not recall being shocked at something that I said about K. L.? I re-affirmed that he was a very fine man, although from what I’ve been told he had not confined himself to adults. I tell you again, the guy who is hiding the fine Report that he wrote is a knave.
                      .
                      Please focus on the important things that you have to do for us – I think that you know what I mean.
                      .
                      “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord; and that means that it is not the Lord Chief Justice’s.” — George Bernard Shaw, 1922
                      .
                      Now that quote was in my head (with one mistake) and I knew it was by George Bernard Shaw. I didn’t know the year; just copied it after googling; didn’t read the article – where’s the time? And my faith in the Lord is less than my faith in you, Jeevan. Blasphemy!
                      .
                      tbc

        • 1
          17

          Sinhala Racist Man, could you read my comment before you comment on that? If don’t understand English, please quote my sentences so I can teach you some English while explaining it. Your extreme racism is blinding you to murked even in your profession. Sad Man! Shame man!

          • 4
            0

            Dear Mallaiyuran,
            .
            It’s all right your making assertions about Navalar, but I don’t know whether, in the context, you can accuse me of “extreme racism”. I feel that what I’m suggesting, in a quite low key way, is that you should be more moderate in your condemnation of any Sinhalese person who tries to understand what is happening in your part of the country.
            .
            Don’t you realise that the sentence preceding this acknowledges that you have a right to order your way of life “Up North”, but not to the exclusion of some harmless drudge from the South saying something.
            .
            You don’t have to teach me English, that I know well enough, but when does a fellow show curiosity about Greek? I remember being struck by some of the things that Tolstoy said that challenged my notions of Christianity when I was an adolescent. Tolstoy translated the New Testament into Russian, and that was then translated into English. I just dipped into it, without ever mastering anything. And since I’m relying on my memory, who knows, I may have got something wrong?

      • 3
        2

        Sorry Mallaiyuran.
        No one made that claim that my grandfather translated the Bible into Tamil. Not he, not not I, no one. My grandfather lived in a later era in Singapore.
        For tht matter, no one claimed that Elijah Hoole, my great-great grandfather, translated the Bible. As attested in the Church Missionary Society Archives stored at the University of Birmingham Elijah Hoole was an assistant to Percival and went to Madras with him and lived there for 18 months helping defend the translation before the Bible Society.
        Anything for Navalar is by people who call themselves Chaivapperiyaar, Suddhanada etc. which by itself discounts anything they say.
        I suggest that you give evidence (a reliable reference) that Navalar self-learnt Sanskrit and Hebrew or just keep quiet.
        In the alternative, you also give yourself a title — I suggest New York Chaivap Puli Perumaan
        Then the next generation will use your writing with title to prove that Navalar Self-taught Greek and Sanskrit and translated the Bible from its original tongues. Your title to the faithful will be the proof of your authenticity and authority..

    • 18
      0

      Dr. Hoole,

      “almost everything about Navalar is fake – name, cleverness, handsome appearance.”

      This comes off as very petty. Is talking about someone’s appearance ‘scholarly’ ?

      The context that the author of the article is talking about has two pillars that he might not be forcefully stating.

      One is that the Christian missionaries in SL at that time were part of a colonial project, so it wouldn’t be wrong to have a sense of contempt for them and the religion they were trying to force on an unwilling citizenry, even as the people had to show respect outwardly for the power they held, and even as they appreciated some of the good they were doing. One could argue, correctly, that the Hinduism/Saivism of that time had many problems, including casteism, but the proper response would have been to call for reformation or be more rational, similar to what happened in Tamil Nadu under EVR, not to adopt another religion that has its own problems in being tied to the colonial project.

      The other is that casteism was so widespread at that time, not just in SL, but in all of South Asia. Your ancestors and mine were not immune to this. I think it is fine to criticize Navalar as part of a broader critique of the social and religious practices of that time, but you seem to be overdoing it by singling him out to the point of it becoming an overzealous obsession.

      • 5
        5

        Yes, Agnos, talking of someone’s appearance can be scholarly, even necessary, when there is a lot of fakery about it. Jewel Robinson calls Navalar “good looking.” Is that scholarly? The reality is that photographs of Navalar were available. That was denied. Instead, preparing Navalar as a saint to be worshipped, we got a person supposedly looking like Navalar to pose for a portrait. That hangs in the National Gallery. That has to be challenged if we value scholarship. I have produced a real photo of Navalar’s from Victor Ivan. It is not even close to the portrait. Someone commented that we who are caste conscious will find it hard to worship the real photo as god, one of the Nayanmaar.
        Here is how several Hindus including his nephew Kailasapillia describe Navalar: His head was very huge. The other parts of his body were thin and drooping. Therefore people of his household and neighbours called him box-head [Paanaa thalaiyar] and tadpole. He had thick facial hair and weak muscles from doing no work.

        When contrasting images are in the literature, pointing it out is indeed scholarship. Sorry I cannot support caste fanatics imposing a fiction and preparing him for worship.

  • 27
    7

    Thurai Vinayagalingam,

    I agree with you about Arumuga Navalar: He was a great scholar acknowledged in Ceylon and in Tamil Naadu. His booklet – Siva vinavidai we have all studied as children.

    Does Hoole know that dropouts like Steve Jobs, and Einstien who got F in Mathematics and many other such “dropouts” or late developers became exceptional scholars and entrepreneurs, who changed the way live or how we understand the universe?

    I have noticed in his articles that Jeevan Hoole, and Hooles in general pretend to hold high ground looking down on anything indigenous. May be because they are Christians and Western oriented.

    • 9
      10

      Yes many dropouts develop late.
      Also many brilliant scientists who do terrible things against humanity like developing weapons of mass destruction exist. They are ignored and never called great men.

      Navalar is the exception. He was a horrible man. He walked out of school with 50 others because Percival would not dismiss a Nalava caste boy or minimally ask him to sit at the back. He bemoaned in writing that people had coffee at the missionary’s which he called the kitchen parayan’s coffee.
      Thiru boasts of Navalar’s books. Their lesson for children (which I reproduced) asks us to destroy our mud cooking pots if a depressed caste person sets sight on them.

      How is he a great man? He is a god they say and and want his statue in trmples. Is it because he like Vishnu in the Gita says we who are born low caste are so born because of our intrinsic evil quality?

      Nearly all of us in Jaffna are low caste Sudras and you who praise Navalar are wearing the hats he has fitted you well with. If religion enslaves, you are stellar examples born to be slaves.

      • 5
        1

        “Vishnu in the Gita says we who are born low caste are so born because of our intrinsic evil quality? “
        There is a problem here. Where does Vishnu occur in the Gita?
        Can Jaffna Man cite the slogas of Gita that contain the above idea?
        I have:
        “I created mankind in four classes, different in their qualities and actions; though unchanging, I am the agent of this, the actor who never acts!” (Bhagavad Gita 4:13)
        and
        “the actions of a sudra born of his own nature consists in service to brahmana, ksatriyas and vaisyas.“ (Bhagavad Gita 18:44)
        Gita defends the four-tier Varna system as unmutable. I found no mention of ‘evil quality’.
        *
        Ambedkar was perhaps the most ardent critic of Manu and Gita. But he was measured in his language denouncing both.

        • 1
          2

          SJ: Please stop arguing for the sake of arguing. We have been through this before in CT. Here is the reference:
          Bagavad Gita 4.13:  “The four categories of occupations were created by me [says god Krishna] according to people’s qualities and activities.”
          It is widely accepted by scholars and ordinary faithful Hindus that bad people in this life are born low in the next; and good people are born high.
          You, I am afraid, have no chance of a better caste in the next life.

          • 2
            0

            JM
            Wide acceptance is your comment.
            But do not misquote the Gita.
            You are making it a habit to misquote and distort.

            • 3
              1

              What is the better caste on offer?
              So, deep down, you believe in caste hierarchy!
              Thanks for the outing of the caestist Christian in you.

              • 0
                0

                Hindu know what is true in this matter.
                Others can check the reference on the Internet.

    • 2
      0

      A measure of the CT readership’s commitment to SJ (I mean social justice)
      At 9:25 AM, 20/6/2021
      25 thumbs up for racism against Christians, against only 6 thumbs down

      • 0
        0

        C
        The show of thumbs seems concern arrogant dishonesty.

  • 17
    0

    Considered with the not inconsiderable achievements of Navalar’s pioneering and prolific work in publishing orally and in print and the commendations of his opus by scholars in Jaffna as well as Thamil Nadu, any attempt to call him a backward student as the author (Hoole) seeks to do, seems difficult to understand, to say the least.

    Any suggestion that a person of such potential continued to stay in Percival’s school for some better purpose and not because he was dumb, e.g., because he was of some usefulness in teaching and helping, that being the business of the school, is shut out by the author who instead suggests that he was a manual worker or mere personal attendant to Percival.

    Anyone familiar with the laborious and demanding work of all that is involved in translation not only from one language to another but also from one culture to another would credit a dedicated scholar like Percival with sufficient openness and intelligence to make use of every available resource at hand.

    So high is the sneering prejudice of the author and his determination to establish that Navalar was of no use in Percival’s Bible work, that he is unable to opt for the simplest explanation.

    • 10
      3

      Vin
      When people get carried away with the debate whether AN translated the Bible or not, they lose sight of AN’s far greater contributions to Tamil as a modernizer, grammarian, orator, author and publisher.
      The claim that AN did the job of translation all by himself has been rejected by many scholars of Tamil who affirm that his role was important. To make false claims on Rev Percival’s behalf will not bring much credit to him. The two respected each other. That is very important to remember. To drive a wedge between them cannot be with good intentions.
      *
      The reviewer could have gone deeper into the subjective research methodology of the author, something that two earlier reviewers had carefully avoided.

      • 2
        9

        Navalr called missionaries mech has (foreign Devils) inebriated with liquor. Percival as a Methodist was a teetotaller. Navalar also called for those speaking Sivan’s propert (I.e. converting Saivites) to be killed.
        And SJ says they were good friends?
        That claim of friendship is a later build up upon realising that Navalar himself in line with Hindu law had taught that attacking one’s teacher, kuru ninjai, is one of the 5 great sins, panja-maa- paathangal.

        • 10
          2

          JM
          Calm down.
          I said “The two respected each other.”
          Cite an occasion when they traded personally offensive words.

          • 9
            2

            JM, BTW
            AN used milechchar (mlecha in Sanskrit I guess) rarher than “mech has”
            The word means foreigner. It is not used with affection, I agree. But it should not be mistranslated as “foreign devil”.
            *
            The credit for that phrase goes to semi-feudal China whose experience with Europeans was not very happy in the 18th & 19th Centuries. The European powers and Japan did live up to that name until they were forced to leave in the 20th Century.

        • 3
          0

          Problem with autocorrected. I typed mlechcha

          • 5
            2

            The real problem is elsewhere.

  • 4
    2

    Thanks, Thurai Vinayagalingam;
    .
    This article represents a balanced review of two books. I’m glad that we Sinhalese have not destroyed all academic work “Up North”.
    .
    These reviews are “neutral and objective”.

  • 2
    10

    Mr. Thurai V.
    CT usually publishes a photo of the author but not in this case.
    It would be nice if you asked the editor to upload your photo if you are for real
    Thank you.

    • 7
      2

      JM
      That is a question to ask CT.

      • 3
        1

        Why not let Thurai answer?

        • 4
          1

          Or do you know he does not exist and need to jump in?

          • 2
            1

            Pathetic. Does every face has to be paraded before you?
            CT should have an answer as to whether it asked and the request was declined.
            Cannot you understand a simple suggestion?
            *
            BTW
            Have you not seen two comments from him already?

            • 1
              0

              A typical Sivasegaram argument.
              A person can (I am not saying this about the author of this article) set up an email account and submit an article from that account.
              He can then put in two comments from that same account.
              And then Sivasegaram’s simplistic suggestion is that the person truly exists.
              We were not born yesterday.
              After pulling out this plum of an argument, I can imagine Sivasegaram smirking and saying to himself “What a clever boy am I.” Just like how he got a Selection Committee to declare me unqualified to teach electrical engineering at Jaffna.
              The argument was that I had not taught first level EE for a couple of years after leaving Michigan State University and was looking for a job in Jaffna waiting for a year to process my application for Senior Lecturer.
              On the other hand, Sivasegaram after a postdoc for 15 years at Imperial College was passed off as a professor there and made Senior professor. A postdoc presumably does not do any teaching.
              I apologise if I sound angry. After giving up my job in the US to teach at Jaffna, this man and the VC deprived me of the right to serve my homeland. This is Sri Lanka run by people like Sivasegaram or SJ. For me, what he did is unforgivable.

    • 2
      2

      How many guards you want to give Thurai Vinayagalingam to walk on the road to buy vegetable for his lunch, after publishing his photo?Royal Ranil has 100, but his shoes don’t touch the earth.

      • 2
        1

        How many guards are you going to recommend for me, Mallaiyuran?
        .
        My identity is clearly there, and, if you look for it a couple of photographs of myself can be downloaded from the internet. Even where I live is not kept secret.
        .
        According to you, I’m an extreme racist; such guys don’t need much protection, given that we have a very racist government increasingly dictating our every action. If you go here:
        .
        https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/sri-lankas-dismal-ignorance-of-the-u-s-system-the-mindset-of-u-s-policymakers/comment-page-1/#comment-2397279
        .
        you will find that it has been proved beyond all doubt that we, Sinhalese have a flourishing 48,000-year history on this island.
        .
        On the other hand, you don’t find me praising this Double-Paksa government much. Many conundrums posed by a guy who tries not to be secretive.
        .
        Come to think of it, we don’t much about you, Mallai! Oh, well, never mind. I’ve already lived too long, probably ready for croaking.
        .
        Panini Edirisinhe (NIC 48 3111 444V) of Bandarawela

        • 5
          0

          Dear S_M:
          Is this sarcasm aimed at Champa? – “you’ll find that it has been proved beyond all doubt that we, Sinhalese have a flourishing 48,000-year history on this island.”

          Champa would’ve benefited reading NationalGeographic’s explanation to avoid the gross misinterpretation;

          “While the main wave of humans is believed to have migrated out of Africa around 60,000years ago, smaller groups appear to have started leaving between 200,000 and 100,000years ago, and they expanded across significant portions of the planet. By 85,000years ago, modern humans had arrived on the Arabian Peninsula. About 15,000years later, they were in Southeast Asia, and by 65,000years ago, they had made it all the way to Australia.”

          “As modern humans presumably made their way along the coasts of South Asia and into Sri Lanka about 48,000 years ago, they didn’t enter the dense forests right away. “The first people arriving on the island were probably living along the coast,” says archaeologist Oshan Wedage of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura in Sri Lanka, who has led a number of excavations in and around the Fa-Hien Lena cave. “But as the population grew, some of their descendants may have moved into the rainforest.””

          • 1
            1

            “In general terms… How long will we continue to invest in getting history right or revising it to the benefit of own agendas, and carry the baggages of history and constantly shoot our selves on the foot?

            “Shouldn’t we invest in shedding these baggages and doing what is best for all of us TODAY and the way forward?”
            *
            I wonder who said this.

            • 3
              0

              Knowing that we all have a common lineage will help some to shed that baggage instead of investing efforts towards establishing entitlement, ownership, and dominance.

              That’s the way forward.

          • 4
            1

            Well, yes, Sugandh,
            .
            But not, I hope, in too nasty a way.
            .
            I have always regarded her as a person we ought to listen to. I think her honest and sincere, not in anybody’s pay. But some of the things she says are so weird that one feels like having a crack at her. The problem here is, that taking off from what you say, we can hardly extrapolate that these people were “Sinhalese”, flattering as we may find it.
            .
            If ever you find me going too far on any subject, a kindly warning from you will always be welcome, Sugandh.

            • 6
              1

              Dear S_M: I think your approach is really tremendous!

              I took your sarcasm as an opportunity to highlight the scientific conclusion that we humans are from a common lineage. Perhaps it can bring down some walls!

        • 0
          5

          Sinhala Racist Man,
          When, A jobless crackpot jumped into this, while being an anti-Tamil and Jeevan Hoole flatterer, but not even a historian, I know your object was to turn this into a Meethotamulla. Keep doing the Sinhala Intellectual’s smelly politics all over everywhere you are being present. “Kallikkeathu Mullil Vaeli Paudi Thangachchi” – (Hey woman, “while you are being a known prostitute, why are you shutting the windows while changing the cloths? – that is preventing me seeing my mother and sisters who too are inside my house?) Does the cactus need a barbed wire fence? for what in the world the God protects the cactus with thorns, anyway? Did you mean honest Appe Aanduwa’s spies like the crackpot or Ranil, need protection, but not Shani like unwanted officials? I have a question man, is there anyone who gave his/her email address to you but still not feeling sorry for him/her?

  • 6
    15

    My family came as Christians from South India to Jaffna with the Dutch. Conversion fascinates me, even though the Anglicans and Catholics now say they do not convert. Converting all Nations was Jesus’ last command.

    The subject has been opened up by Thiru who has engaged in hate speech saying the Hooles “pretend to hold high ground looking down on anything indigenous. May be because they are Christians and Western oriented.”

    Shocking! I must respond.

    If Christians hold the high moral ground, is it not because Hindu gods fail in morality and we cannot tell our children to have them as role models?
    Lord Murugan raped Valli. Lord Krishna seduces cowgirls and runs away with their clothing while they bathe which we celebrate through song. Lord Brahma seduces his daughter Sarasvathi making her brothers attack him. Lord Siva seduces the wife of a sage while he meditates, the sage wakes up and curses Siva whose genitals rot and fall to the ground, his wife Parvati catches them and plants them on a mountain and asks us to worship this Sivalingam. Krishna is bisexual.

    Find a way to make our children hold the moral high ground, instead of attacking Christians.

    • 7
      1

      CGD
      On Murugan, do you consider pre-marital sex rape?
      Did Adam rape Eve? Are there no sordid stories in the Bible?
      As for rest, you are picking juicy bits to suit your taste.
      Hindu mythology has diverse sources and one finds countless contradictions between texts. The bulk of of is irrelevant to the faith, so much so that, based on mythology, many a Hindu creative writer and artiste has had a laugh at the expense of Hindu gods– but unpunished by the gods for blasphemy or even pulled up by society, until recently with the surge of Hindutva intolerance.
      Hinduism is still more of a fun religion. It is healthier that way than faith built on fear of a grim God.
      *
      What is the moral high ground for waging war in the name of religion? It has gone on for centuries.
      Which moral high ground justifies the robbing the African of his land?
      What is the moral high ground for bribing vulnerable people to change faith?
      *
      Try Buddhism. It may cure bigotry.

      • 5
        1

        Hindu mythology weaves through much of the Indian classics.
        There are scores of Ramayananas that stretch beyond the sub-continent.
        The Mahabharata gave rise to a whole host of sub-texts that are great literary items in their own right.
        The Pruanas while contradicting each other enriched a strong literary tradition.
        Belief is secondary to the Hindu reader of such text.
        *
        I think that polytheism is more democratic than monotheistic tyranny as it allows choice. The scientific options though are anarchic like atheism and agnosticism– but rather boring without a God to entertain us.

      • 4
        5

        Most rapists claim the rape was consensual sex.
        Sivasegaram needs to be taught the story of Murugan chasing Valli, The elephant blocking her path of escape. Then Muruhan ravishing her.
        When Sivasegaram in these columns once claimed relationship to Vanniasingam and Maviddapuram I thought he was looking for caste status. Now he proves himself a sexist, giving the typical excuse that male chauvinists do

        • 3
          2

          If you read the whole text carefully, you will understand the chasing episode.
          Have you not eread not read the bit about Valli pining for Murugan, who decides not to go to her as Murugan and approaches her id different guises, only to be rejected because Valli recognized him as the hunter and old man etc.
          *
          Is there no limit to your weird interpretations and distortions?

          • 5
            1

            JM
            You should know about rape within the institution of marriage.

          • 1
            1

            correction
            “Have you not read the bit about Valli pining for Murugan…?”

            • 0
              0

              A real story from Peradeniya. An engineering student wanted a girl. 4 Tami engineering batchmates were organizied to kidnap the girl. The boy would rape her. Once raped the girl would have no chance of life except with him. She would marry the rapist willingly and be in love with him.
              I cannot tell more since I advised the boy who was suicidal and needed counselling, The boy at one point offered himself to the LTTE as a bomber to make his suicide be useful. The LTTE used him for carrying bags at Omanthai as they considered him unsuitable as a bomber. If not for the Chaplain The Rev. Koilpillai he would be dead today. I am very grateful to him.
              .
              That is Tamil marriage and how raped women pine for the rapist as they would have no life unless married to the rapist. We see this in Tamil cinema. In real life I have seen raped girls being married to the rapist.
              The Muruhan Valli story I am sure was woven into shape by someone like Sivasegaram as a happy ending to a cruel rapist. He, the rapist, rapes and gets the girl to boot. What a story for our children in people like Sivasegaram praising the Valli-Murugan story that led to that tragicomic denouement at the Peradeniya Engineering Faculty with cruel nut professors aplenty.

      • 2
        2

        I wish I had not entered this debate. SJ is a bigot who gives a bad name to Hindus . Arguing with him might hurt Hindus
        SJ knows that this is not about salacious stories. Nowhere in the Bible does God rape anyone. That was my point
        God is good He does not rape. He does not seduce other people’s wives. He respects women, even the harlot Mary Magdalene.
        It is really not worth debating SJ whose style is to debate for the sake of debate He must know Krishna and Vishnu are avatars of each other. Almost every reader knows it. These are petty points and SJ feels thrilled like a teen ager that he is so clever.

        I have better intellectual engagements. If I hurt anyone, sorry.

        • 5
          1

          CGD
          SJ is an atheist and whatever bad name he gives atheists should please you.
          *
          I said, the Bible has plenty of juicy stories to match what you related. I did not say that He did what you suggested. In fact, He does worse:
          He sends Plagues and Pestilence to punish a ruler. (But who suffers is not His concern.).
          It is fear of punishment that is used to blackmail waverers and non-believes into conformity.
          *
          If you really need a user friendly God, try a designer God. Designer Gods can help one’s sanity. Try one.

        • 4
          2

          “If I hurt anyone, sorry.”
          CGD, you would have if anyone took you seriously.

    • 0
      0

      Hinduism starts with education, art, culture, and family life and then matures into Piramacharium. Everybody in their short cycle of life, must experience those all to become their soul matured. I not here to defend a 5,000-year-old chieftain-king’ right over his subject women. But you are very crudely twist the Murugan Valli story to match with rapist Army-Sinhala Buddhist culture. Neither Murugan or Krishnan are seen by devotees as rapist and in those stories nowhere any immature behavior said about Murugan or Valli. While they are well respected kings, dedicatedly protected the subjects, still they are more than Elvis for many women. Yes, they are ladies’ men, but not rapists. Murugan-Valli story, though it was more than 5,000 years old, it is beautifully written well civilized love story of all time. Though Tamil Nadu claim it is their story, my suspicions are if it had happened in somewhere in the central hills of Ceylon -or at least the story creator modeled Kandy as his shooting venue. (Like the other famous love story of Sita, now the Goddess Lakshmi)

    • 0
      0

      If you really think you are misinformed (certainly you are because you are mixing up Indran, a Rapist, criminal Aryan General with Siva, a Pious Dravidian Brahmin) listen to the story below in that Jayalalitha as Valli telling the story of her love marriage with Muruga and K.R Vijaya, as Devayani, a war victory gift from angels to Muruga, telling her life with him. The songs’ lines are kept in line with the original story.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68xWwqBHEtQ

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JcnpB9h89w

    • 0
      0

      Such profanity in one single post! You are parroting anti-Hindu propaganda by your colonial masters. Myths and legends of a religion and culture is meant for its adherents, since its only they who have the social and religious basis to understand them and the context in which these legends and myths are told and operate. In the legend about Lord Murugan and Valli, Lord Murugan has a long line of courtship with Valli. He never rapes her. If you use the same line of thought, then you should also ask whether your Christian God raped Mary? Why is it important to insult one religion to promote another? All the colonial rulers, Portuguese, Dutch and British, demonized cultures and religions of the nations they had conquered, and converted some weak souls to their own religions, sometimes under the sword. You are just a descendant of those weak characters, enslaved and brainwashed. Fortunately you have no way to win. BTW Jesus never had a last command of any sort, he never had any commands at all, humans have free will of choice according to Jesus. One thing is for sure – Jesus never said to spread his teachings by the sword.

  • 8
    6

    When I read the article, there was nothing for me to comment on. I am not a scholar on the subject. It was up to men versed in the scholarly works of that time.
    .
    Most comments are controversial. Shed no light.

    • 4
      3

      Does this comment shed any?

    • 4
      2

      Thanks, Nathan.
      .
      You have said, in very few words, what I have wasted a great deal of space on.

      • 6
        0

        Dear Sinhala_Man,
        Appreciate your kindness.

    • 6
      3

      Nathan

      “Most comments are controversial. Shed no light.”

      Just like Nimal Fernando I too use this forum to get away from my partner.
      Some readers comment while others type.

      Don’t you think CT forum provide us with respite from domestic verbal and mental abuse?

      In addition, Eagle Eye, soma, Lester, Grandma teresa, ….. Dayan, …. 225 at the Parliamentm and Gota, …. give us immense pleasures by making fools of themselves.

      • 3
        3

        Native Vedda,
        Your contributions inform; nimal fernando’s illuminate.
        NF uses this forum to get away from his partner, falls under … ?

  • 6
    0

    All of us accept that Jaffna was caste- ridden in the 19th century and Navalar had lived and died in the 19th century.

    Just because Navalar was castist, it is preposterous to deny the contributions made by Navalar made in many fields especially to Tamil language and Saivaite religion and the battle he had waged against the unethical conversions as was carried out by the 19th century missionaries.

    No amount of mudslinging could diminish the status of Navalar as a giant among the Tamils in the 19th century.

  • 4
    0

    Thanks Agnos for your salient observations.

    A few days ago, I started reading a book by William Dalrymple. The Anarchy – The relentless rise of the East India Company. Agnos comments resonate with some of the early passages from the book: “At the height of the Victorian period in the mid-19th century there was a strong sense of embarrassment about the shady, brutal and mercantile way the British had founded the Raj. The Victorians thought the real stuff of history was the politics of the nation state. This, not the economics of corrupt corporations, they believed was the fundamental unit of study and the real driver of transformation in human affairs. Moreover, they liked to think of the empire as a mission civilisatrice: a benign national transfer of knowledge, railways and the art of civilisation from West to East, and there was a calculated and deliberate amnesia about the corporate looting that opened British rule of India.

    Dalrymple (a Scotsman) empathises with the Moghul official of that time who had said, “What honour is left to us when we have to take orders from a handful of traders who have not yet learned to wash their bottoms?”

  • 4
    6

    CT articles have introduced me to Arumugam Navalar, Rev. Percival, et al and the competing cases for who translated the bible into Tamil.

    With topics on history, we see commenters fervently disputing versions of history citing various competing references; some even claim to have scientific evidence for their claims without ever having published anything that could be reviewed, verified, and formally debated by scientists.

    In comparison to the debates and disinformation exchanged on the topic of SriLanka’s ancient history, the topic of this book review by T.Vinayagalingam has little or no impact on our way forward.

    What has this article accomplished as indicated by the comments!? Bringing-out anti-Christian or anti-Hindu sentiments towards the other? Perhaps once again demonstrating us how religious practice is detrimental to human unity!

    In general terms… How long will we continue to invest in getting history right or revising it to the benefit of own agendas, and carry the baggages of history and constantly shoot our selves on the foot?

    Shouldn’t we invest in shedding these baggages and doing what is best for all of us TODAY and the way forward?

  • 4
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    Major Thomas Skinner (dubbed as the Great Ceylon Road Maker) in his book ‘Fifty Years in Ceylon’ published in 1891 makes the following observation (Page 228):
    “There is one special, bright, and encouraging exception to the rule in the Northern Province where the progressive improvement, general good order, respectability to the higher classes, and deference to authority, mark the happy result of the man (P.A. Dyke, the first and very long serving Government Agent), whose enlightened government of that prosperous province has raised it to its present condition.”
    “One of the principal objects assigned as a reason for desiring to diminish the influence of the higher orders of natives, has been a desire to destroy the distinctions and prejudices of castes; but nothing, in my opinion, has been more exaggerated than the supposed evils resulting from it in its very modified form in Ceylon. “The common acceptance of the term (caste) in Ceylon differs from that which it signifies in India, where, I believe, the distinctions of castes are more of a religious than a secular character.”
    “In Ceylon a high caste family means one of ancient and aristocratic descent, and is as well applied to Christians as to heathens; it no doubt also applies to professions, trades, and occupations, but in this respect fast dying away. Nothing in so much calculated to retard its extinction as attempts to forcibly suppress it.”

  • 4
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    Part I of II.
    Here, taken from my book, is Part I of my response to the far-fetched claims of Navalar’s cleverness. The most imaginative statement on it is from Chaivapperiyar Shivapathasundaram whom I have shown in the book to be totally unreliable:
    “[Navalar] was thus master of Thamil literature and
    grammar, of the Kriya Kandam and the Gnanakandam of
    Shaivaism, possessing good scholarship in Sanskrit and
    a fair knowledge of English. He was an acute thinker,
    an able versifier, a facile writer, eloquent speaker, and
    brilliant controversialist. But all this means no more
    than that he was a painstaking and mighty genius.”
    There is no doubt that Navalar was clever; he mobilized
    people against the better resourced and educated missionaries
    and transplanted the missionaries’ effective methods into
    the missionary methods he deployed on behalf of Saivism.
    That is, he had organizational intelligence. However, as a
    scholar?
    I show that a surprisingly large number of Navalar’s supposed creations are by others, but claimed by Navalar’s followers as his – includes my ancestor C.W. Thamotharampillai’s, widely conceded by scholars as Thamotharampillai’s.
    A critical scholar must have his hackles raised when too many things by others are claimed as Navalar’s.
    See Part II

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    Part II: Examples of plagiarism on behalf of Navalar:
    1. Daniel Carroll accused Navalar of plagiarizing the work of Pandit Chandracekera;
    2. Dennis Hudson, cites Navalar’s anonymous works published under the names of other authors.
    3. An anonymous Morning Star article from 20 Oct. 1842 is initially claimed as Navalar’s. Slowly, without mentioning that the article was anonymous, it is explicitly claimed as Navalar’s.
    4. Navalar is said to have written “The Diamond Axe” and published it in Vinayakamurti Chettiyar’s name.
    5. Nirveli Civa Shankara Pandithar’s “Three attacks on Christians” according to Hudson were “under Navalar’s direction.”
    6. It is claimed that “The Abolition of the Abuse of Shaivism” (Saiva Thoosana Parikaaram) was written by Navalar in the name of some association “rather than his own” because “he wanted to focus attention on the subject instead of himself.” This is yet again a work that is initially claimed as his anonymous work.
    7. Hudson makes the claim without any evidence that C.W. Thamotharampillai “at times published Navalar’s unpublished editions.” Now Navalar is the author.
    8. Kailasapillai states that “Gnaanakummi Yesumatha Parihaaram” by Muththukumaarak Kavi Raayar of Chunnaakam was published by Navalar as Nallur Vinaayakamoorthi Chettiyaar.

    End.

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      JM
      Congratulations.
      You took my advise “Cool down, and think of a better stunt.”
      But only part of it.
      *
      “…includes my ancestor C.W. Thamotharampillai”
      Are you related to the Hooles?

    • 5
      4

      The charge of plagiarism on someone’s behalf will not hold, unless a false claim was prompted by the person to whom credit is assigned.
      *
      There is something called intellectual honesty which takes leave when one is brutally obsessed with spite.

  • 4
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    PART ONE
    .
    I thought I’d better take a look at the Wikipedia for these two people. Quite a lot about Peter Percival who has lived a very long life, for the 19th Century, – 78 years, and in exotic places at that.
    .
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Percival
    .
    Navalar has lived 56 years,
    not bad for the period, and an extremely long entry for him, since it incorporates a great deal about the schools he started.
    .
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arumuka_Navalar
    .
    There are pretty strict, but comprehensible, rules for editing Wikipedia, but it is possible that what some educated people in the Northern Province may be more accurate in some matters than the Wikipedia.

    .
    As for the Tamil translation of the Bible, what has been consistently mentioned is that it was a translation of the 1611 Bible. Of course, Percival may have had a Hebrew Old Testament, and a Greek New Testament which they may have looked at for checking the occasional word. The Bible would be pretty complicated – yesterday I looked up Abraham/ Ibrahim. Fairy stories!

  • 4
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    PART TWO
    .
    Shakespeare was living in 1611, of course, and something that I did in 1985 was to look at many of the facsimiles in the library that had either not been borrowed for fifteen years, or not borrowed at all since coming into Thurstan Road (Colombo University) about fifty years previously.
    .
    https://epub.ub.uni-muenchen.de/17081/1/17081.pdf
    .
    This is one reason why I’m comfortable with Early Modern English. Yes, that’s what it is called.
    .
    I have read about half of Chaucer’s (1340 to 1400) Canterbury Tales. That’s Later Middle English. There’s nobody comfortable with Old English (Anglo-Saxon) in Lanka today. Chaucer himself wrote only about half of what he had planned. Nobody is going to read all that there is, at one go; if somebody claims to have done so, it is likely to be an untruth. It’s not that sort of work.
    .
    Now, if somebody says that he has read half of Tolstoy’s War and Peace, that would be strange. Just cogitate on it, Mallaiyuran!

  • 7
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    Thank you for taking your valuable time reading the article and expressing your views, although some of them could have been milder in tone and substance.

    As Agnos pointed out, it is not proper to judge people in the past by today’s standards. They operated within their own knowledge bubbles, and contradictions arose when they interacted. Even now, the same applies.

    I think the world is a better place now than in the past, there are more learned people, and religious feuds are fewer in advanced societies.

    But it is quite surprising to learn that the rule for multicultural societies was laid down clearly a long time ago in our part of the world by no other than Emporer Ashoka thus:

    “Edict XII

    Decree concerning religious tolerance and mutual respect among adherents of different faiths. Ashoka condemns the practice of elevating one’s own religion at the expense of someone else’s: “Growth in essentials can be done in different ways, but all of them have as their root restraint in speech, that is, not praising one’s own religion, or condemning the religion of others without good cause. And if there is cause for criticism, it should be done mildly. But it is better to honor other religions for this reason. By so doing, one’s own religion benefits and so do other religions, while doing otherwise harms one’s own religion and the religions of others. Whoever praises his own religion, due to excessive devotion, and condemns others with the thought ‘Let me glorify my own religion’, only harms his own religion…One should listen to and respect the doctrines professed by others.” The edict concludes with the admonition that an individual’s religion grows through Dhamma and so all faiths are improved by tolerance and understanding.”

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      It is not surprising that Jawaharlal Nehru chose secularism as the guiding principle for India, Asoka Chakra as the emblem for the Indian Flag, and Dr. Ambedkar to draft the constitution.

  • 8
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    I expected somebody to notice this before I said it:
    The critic by drawing attention to the remarkable book by Thiru Arumugam has neatly exploded the myth that Jaffna Tamil Hindus do not acknowledge Tamil Christian contributions.
    *
    Thiru Arumugam is the son of Sanmugam Arumugam, well known for his River for Jaffna proposal and “Some Ancient Hindu Temples of Sri Lanka (1980)” among several other books.

    • 4
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      There are many Hindus who do acknowledge Christian contributions. But you,? Questioning if Percival knew Greek and Hebrew?

      • 3
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        Professor Jeevan Hoole,
        .
        We all know that you call yourself “Jaffna Man” just I, Panini Edirisinhe, call myself “Sinhala_Man”. I didn’t really get to know SJ at Peradeniya, but I have come to realise, from interaction on CT, that he is extremely sharp and intelligent.
        .
        See how he’s toying with you, and in this context, you are idiot enough to allow him to tie you up in knots.
        .
        “…includes my ancestor C.W. Thamotharampillai”
        Are you related to the Hooles?
        .
        You’re now getting yourself into another “no-win” position. Knowing Greek (like your father and Rev. Foster) is hardly the same as being a scholar of now dead languages. What is in the Bible is 2,000 or much more years old. Again, let’s leave it to serious scholars of Bible texts to decide whether certain sections are less than 2,000 years old.
        .
        Percival was clearly a practical man who wanted to get the Christian Gospel across as a missionary. So, he would’ve translated at high speed, but checked with Greek and Hebrew where necessary.
        .
        If I felt that you were enjoying yourself disputing all this, I wouldn’t bother to say this. In effect, you are asking to be bullied. You were asking for trouble when you brought your ancestors in!
        .
        I think that I will now give up the impossible task of “Bringing-up Jeevan”.

      • 2
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        What has my comment to do with acknowledging contributions. That question arose in the context of your not so funny comments?
        You are pathetic, clutching at straws.

  • 3
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    SJ

    Late Mr Shanmugam Arumugam (1905 – 2000, Irrigation Engineer) was an exemplar of the thesis of my article. He himself was born in Nallur in a Saivite family and educated at St John’s College. There is an interesting Snippet about his education: “when the time came to enter primary school, Arumugam was admitted not to Jaffna Hindu College, where a scholarship awaited him as the son of a former Director of the College, but to St John’s College purely because travel to the school from his home in Nallur was easier. In 1921 he passed the Cambridge Junior examination with distinctions and was ranked first in school. His mother then decided that his further education should be in Colombo school. When the Principal of St Johns, Revd. H. Peto, heard about this, he visited Kanagammah in her home and tried to persuade her to let Arumugam continue at St John’s. The compromise that was reached was that if Arumugam was to study in Colombo, it would not be at the Royal College but at St. Thomas College which was the same mission at St’ Johns.” This illustrates the goodwill and mutual respect that existed between the Christians and Saivites at that time. Why should the relationship be any different now?

    • 3
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      I am grateful for people like Mr. Arumugam. Mr. Hoole has not disputed that there are Hindus like Mr. Arumugam with goodwill towards Christians. But that does not extend to all the people here who spew hatred on Christians denying their abilities.

      Logically your argument is like William Symmons, the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux clan, arguing that Abraham Lincoln Loved Black people and that proves that all Whites love Blacks.

      Would any reader say the same about the people commenting here twisting every argument like the well-known rape of Valli, denying that Percival knew Hebrew and Greek, even Sinhala man suggesting that Percival might have occasionally consulted the Greek Bible as if he had only a cursory knowledge of Greek despite evidence that his mandate was to translate from Greek and Hebrew, suggesting that Christians claim the moral high ground … I can go on.

      Vinayagalingam can learn something from these columns about the arguments against giving TNA nominations to Sumanthiran, Solomon Cyril and Arnold. Things are not as rosy as we would like them to be. We face that directly or it will get worse.

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        Dear Contretemps,
        .
        I will not pretend that I’m qualified to make a statement on this issue. Tell me, do you think it would be better for a guy like me to stay completely out of debates of this sort?
        .
        Your use of the word “even” suggests that I’ve not been too mischievous. I drew attention to the quite lengthy Wikipedia entries for both Percival, and Navalar (an exceptionally long entry) because both entries actually state that the translation was from the English Authorised Version of the Bible, with which I’m quite familiar.
        .
        I think that you will grant that, given the fact that these are people who lived a relatively long time ago, the Wikipedia is a reasonable authority to quote. Have I not been more than sufficiently tentative in granting that “it is possible that what some educated people in the Northern Province may be more accurate in some matters than the Wikipedia.”
        .
        Is it not good for some of us in the South to be respectfully following what is happening in your part of the country? We have to counter absolute racism by Sinhalese people. I have tried to say things that make more sense than what the Ku Klux Klan (I just checked that spelling!) said, and also I have tried not to be unduly offensive to anybody.

        • 3
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          May I add one other detail:
          .
          Even if I express some reservations about accepting all of Professor Jeevan Hoole’s views on the matters discussed here, I hope that I have made it clear that on most other matters, I have immense respect for his integrity.
          .
          I must go further, and say that when, a century from now, historians consider what has been happening on this island in recent years, the name of Ratnajeevan Hoole will shine, while all of us would have been forgotten.
          .
          Here in the South, you just mention the name Hoole, even fairly educated people write off him, and all Tamils, as Tigers. I have consistently been correcting people who think so crudely, and I think that Jeevan knows that.
          .
          Don’t you think that it’s now time I shut up, and retreat to talking about things that I’m more sure of?
          .
          Panini Edirisinhe

          • 2
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            Countertemps
            Are you plagiarising poor Jaffna Man, or is it self plagiarism?
            See responses to him.

        • 4
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          Wikipedia!
          Do you know that in university papers we are discouraged fro citing the Wikipedia?
          A subject is run by a group committed to an idea and they will not tolerate contrary views.
          I will give 2 examples.
          The first is simple. On Rajan Hoole’s page I wrote a correction that he did Electrical Engineering at Peradeniya. The correction was rejected. They asked me to prove it. Where do I go for that after stating that fact as his younger brother? I thought it was not worth the effort. I gave up.
          Second, on Navalar’s matter. I gave all the evidence which had already been reviewed and published in Indian Church History Review. A few missing pieces that I did not have, I included in my book at issue here.
          That was also rejected. They do not publish original research they said, although it had appeared in one of the oldest journals on History.
          You can cite the Wikipedia for non-controversial things like a person’s name. But even on these sometimes the Wikipedia is unreliable — like Navalar’s real name.
          Despite Mr. Thurai V.’s oblique comment, I have carefully gone through the many names used by Arumugavan. He really did not seem to know his own name as I have shown. The name I have used in the title, as explained in the book, is the first of his names by Arumugavan himself that is in print.

    • 4
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      “Why should the relationship be any different now?”
      Because there are a few too many bigots on both sides, as you would have seen on this page.
      That applies for all manner of identity based hatred that we witness.

  • 3
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    Vin

    When I saw your reference to Dr. Ambedkar, the question came to my mind whether he was already a convert to Buddhism when he drafted the Indian Constitution. The answer is ‘no’ as I found out later.

    Ambedkar resigned as Law Minister in 1954 when his attempt to pass a Hindu Reform Bill through the parliament met with opposition within the Government ranks.

    For two decades, Ambedkar studied all major religions to conclude Buddha and his teachings allowed reform. He then converted to Buddhism in 1956.

    Ambedkar stated that “what separates Buddha from the rest of the others is his self-abnegation. “All throughout the Bible, Jesus insist(s) that he is the Son of God and that those who wish to enter the kingdom of God will fail if they do not recognise him as the Son of God. Mohammed went a step further. Like Jesus, he also claimed that he was the messenger of God. But he further insisted that he was the last messenger. Krishna went a step beyond both Jesus and Mohammed. He refused to be satisfied with merely being the Son of God or being the messenger of God; he was not content even with being the last messenger of God. He was not even satisfied with calling himself a God. He claimed that he was ‘Parameswhar‘ or as his followers describe him ”Devadhideva,” God of Gods.”

    “But Buddha, he wrote, “never arrogated to himself any such status. He was born as a son of man and was content to remain a common man and preached his gospel as a common man. He never claimed any supernatural origin or supernatural powers nor did he perform miracles to prove his supernatural powers.”

    “Buddha wanted his religion to remain evergreen and serviceable at all times. That is why he gave liberty to his followers to chip and chop as the necessities of the case required. No other religious teacher has shown such courage. They were afraid of permitting repair, because the liberty to repair may be used to demolish the structure they had reared. Buddha had no such fear. He was sure of his foundation.”

  • 2
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    “…. asks us to destroy our mud cooking pots if a depressed caste person sets sight on them”.
    Is this so terrible in 19th century Jaffna? You make it sound as if Navalar had asked to kill or beat depressed caste persons who looked at higher caste people’s cooking pots. The thing is this kind of practices have much more deeper social and mythological meanings than what you are trying to make out of it by taking things out of context and making huge issues, to use it against people you have a problem with. Practices like this exist without any direct bearing to caste discrimination – it could be considered a bad omen, it could be a lower caste or a widow or a person who is said to be particularly “evil eyed”.
     
    Your problem Mr. Hoole is that you try to project present day social values and expectations on to the 19th century Tamil society in a warped way – Navalar lived 150-200 years ago! and was just another person following social rules of those times. How does that make him worthy of all your terrible descriptions and attacks on his person?

    • 2
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      In Navalar’s time, the Tamil Hindu way of life was threatened by the very people, the Christians you idealize. You don’t seem to bother that Percival a white man, a foreigner and an imperialist invader can meddle with the Jaffna society to the degree you yourself describe, where a lower caste is brought to school, which was not socially or religiously acceptable then. This act shows abuse of power and disrespect. In an hypothetical situation, if an invading power brought low class children to a a high class school in 19th century England, what would have been the situation? For example, if Oliver Twist was sent to a high class school directly from his poor house?
       
      In 19th century England class differences were more severe and discrimination more brutal than caste discrimination in Jaffna. The church of England and its clergy played a crucial role in deciding social norms, and England was infested with class and gender discrimination, and the English were suffering under poverty, a situation the Jaffna society could hardly imagine. Although Jaffna was not super rich, people had what they needed – no thanks to colonial rule, but in spite of it.

    • 1
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      While Arumuka Navalar promoted education for women, in 19th century England it was not acceptable – as late as 1899, i.e just one year before the 20th century, when Beatrix Potter (author of children’s stories and also scholar of natural sciences) wrote a scientific paper on her new discoveries on mycology, she was not allowed to read it in the Linnean Society, because she was a woman! But in Navalar’s Jaffna, even decades earlier it would not have been an issue.
       
      Totally mislead people like Hoole idealize imperial vultures like Percival, while trampling and defaming respected figures like Navalar, who did no harm to anyone. Navalar didn’t invent or rewrite Saivism or the caste system. He didn’t go to far away countries trying to impose Hinduism and the caste system or anything else, unlike colonial parasites. Saivism in comparison to Christianity could be easily said to be as old as the universe itself – its timeless. Saivism and Saiva Siddhanta are very solid good religions with good values, which you can never change with tactics of defamation and horrendous character assassination of respected persons.

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      All religions need reformations as times change, but that has to be done by learned leaders and the affected people, not politically motivated people with sinister motives, making it a public circus. Whatever you do or say, Tamils will never be anything else than Hindus, and Christianity will never be anything else than an alien religion, without a solid supportive basis in the Tamil social and cultural structure. Trying to impose this alien religion on the Tamil society at the level you wish, will definitely create conflict. You need to see why you have the need to always trample on anything that anybody holds sacred and dear – you have written unbelievable rumours about Ponnambalam brothers cheating at exams, which you cannot substantiate with proof. Another of your victims was the recently deceased, much gifted Kandiah Neelakandan. You have to stop your schemes to change foundations of the Tamil society and also lose your need to attack and destroy what people hold dear and sacred. Change to negative elements in any society should be done in a more planned and informed manner, than picking out individuals and going about destroying their characters.

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        Punchi Point, oh Punchi Point!
        Thank God for religious conversion. If not
        1. You will be worshipping mountains and rivers and lightning.
        2. You will have names like Karuppan (Blackie), Madaiyan (Fool) instead of stylish Sanskrit names
        3. You will not have arranged respectable marriages but marriages through sleeping with your lover.

        These changes were brought about by our Brahmin rulers

        You need another conversion brought about by missionaries but have failed to learn any lessons:
        1. To know that giving admission to a low caste boy was a good thing.
        2. It is good to choose our ruler by voting and not asvamedha-yaaham.
        3. To know that the religion of the missionaries liberated women and taught them to read and write.
        4. To know that missionaries translated the books of Hinduism that we were not allowed to read.
        5. To know that hate-speech like what you wrote is wrong
        6. To know that overturning society is sometimes necessary to jettison our bad baggage.
        if we listened to you, our oppressed caste people will be serving you like your personal stooges and reciting rote-like Navalar’s Lessons for Children against them.
        Sorry chum. We are not prepared to be good slaves. Your conversion is only half-way through and needs completion.

    • 4
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      Thanks Punchi point for bringing in very valid points especially placing the debate in a historic perspective.

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    S_M

    I am flattered by your comment: “This article represents a balanced review of two books.
    ….. These reviews are “neutral and objective”.

    Even if I have not succeeded, that had been my aim.

    I have read many of your comments in CT in the past, and thought to myself that ‘you are a peacemaker.’ The world will certainly be a better place if we have more people like you.

    “Blessed are the peacemakers”

    With warm regards
    Thurai

  • 3
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    My first cousin Daya Somasundaram sent me a comment from Vladimir Putin quoting Leo Tolstoy. “History is not something recorded in books or commemorated, it is etched into the soul. History is lived.”
    I will leave it to you to figure out the relevance here to the article and the comments.

    • 2
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      So why so much effort by you-know-who to falsify it?

  • 8
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    I feel very sorry for Ratnajeevan Hoole,

    He is a very fine and upright and lovable gentleman and a fighter for justice and fair play irrespective of any personal consequences.

    He is an asset to Sri Lanka as a whole and to Jaffna in particular with his learning and engaging in public life offering fitting insight to various issues confronting the entire country.

    However when it comes to “Saivaism” or “Saivite” culture he loses his balance, agitated and engaged in hate speech to the disappointment of all his friends.

    Hindus and Christians of all denominations are living in Jaffna in harmony for centuries

    . The Hindus of Jaffna owes a lot to American missionaries and the Christiana in general for the conscientious contributions made to uplift Jaffna society.

    The only reservation is the conversion agenda that was foremost in the mind of all missionaries of all denomination.

    Please respect all religions with their idiosyncrasies.
    .
    Sinhala-Man, many thanks for building up bridges among communities and even within communities –inter and intra.

    You practice empathy to the letter and spirit.

  • 1
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    A thought experiment, a term coined by Einstein.
    The late Prof. K. Sivathamby, a well-respected and renowned social scientist, was not a Vellalan. He has written in one of his last books in recent years that the Christians in Jaffna live sidelined and oppressed. Translating the original in classic Tamil alliteration, odungiyum odukkappattavarhalaayum).
    These are the thought experiment questions for you, the reader:
    1. Why is there no Vellalan of Sivathamby’s stature to oppose Navalar who always put non-Vellalas down?
    2. Why do our non-Saiva Vellala academics feel forced never to rock the boat? One told me after praising my book to me in private, that he will not get any invitations if he praised the book openly. He got a priest to review the book openly.
    3. How many of you opposing my book are non-Vellala? And not a marginal Vellala from outside Jaffna aspiring hard to a high rank?

    • 0
      1

      A correction to the first thought-experiment question:
      1.Why is there no non-Vellalan of Sivathamby’s stature to oppose Navalar who always put non-Vellalas down?

      Sorry.
      Jaffna Man

    • 0
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      The ultimate weapon!
      People only reject your views.

  • 0
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    I am a Vellali Hindu but put down by being a woman. I am proud of aspects of how we live but recognize the need for refinement in our faith system.
Some women like Vasanthi Arasaratnam have survived. That is by doing unlawful favours (I do not mean sexual) to men and getting their support. An example is writing an untruthful letter to the Council to get a person appointed as the Dean wanted. In exchange she got the full and unstinted support as Jaffna Man knows well. Such women are not examples of feminist power but a source of female caricatures.
    I think your question is why there is no non-Vellalan of Prof. Sivathamby’s stature. We have many full professors who are not Vallalan at Jaffna University. You will not know it because they all hide their caste to survive.
    They will never criticize Navalar. They need to survive.
    So I am afraid you will not get anyone saying “I am not Vellalan. Yet I think Navalar was a wicked man, always against us.”
    They may not say “Navalar was a great man. I accept what he taught.” In silent dignity they won’t speak up fr him unless cornered.
    For how can they survive in Jaffna after saying that?

  • 0
    0

    Words of wisdom for us to ponder:
    “During this long live my views have changed from the conventional to one of my own … It is not practical to do away with the concept of God. It is required to satisfy certain human needs. The need that originally created deities arose as an attempt to alleviate the fears that beset early human beings. Most humans seem to need a concept at least when they are facing overwhelming difficulty. This is all to the good. But it is not so good when people with differing concepts confront each other. It is useful to bear in mind that God is only a concept and to ensure that the picture of the concept is adequate to serve the purpose of the individual. Religion and deities may serve humans as individuals, or as isolated societies. For solutions that are general or concern the entire world or universe it is time to look for a better alternative. … Science has taken out the mystery that surrounded many baffling phenomena. Very much more awaits to be unraveled.”
    – from the memoirs of a Sri Lankan elder (centenarian) with a brilliant mind

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