21 May, 2024


Demise Of Eelaventhan – My Beloved Older Brother

By K. Balendra

K. Balendra

Despite my brother Eelaventhan’s age and my age of 89 years, I was hoping against hope to meet him in person someday somewhere, somehow, hug him, and exchange our love and affection. I have not seen him for over 15 years. Unfortunately, it was not to be. He was in Canada. He has left me without any prior indication of his demise. I used to boast of two older brothers and two younger sisters. But now I’m left without any brothers. My 2nd older brother Yogendran passed away in England in 2019 and the eldest of my two younger sisters Indrani passed away in Canada in 2003. I have only one sister to fall back on.

It isn’t easy to speak or write about your own brother’s unexpected demise. My mind is eclipsed by emotions thus delaying my ability to convey what I want to convey. Nevertheless, I have written a few lines on what I know about my brother from our school days.

M.K.  Eelaventhan- Mission unaccomplished

M.K. Eelaventhan, was born in September 1932 to Mr. Manicavasagar Kanagasabapathy of Nallur and Mrs. Sivayogam Kangasabapathy of Columbuthurai, Jaffna. Mr. Kanagasabapathy was a station Master and at the time of retirement, he was an Investigating Officer.

Eelaventhan Manickavasakar

Eelaventhan married Arulampikai Kailaspillai daughter of Mr. Kailasapillai –VC. Chiarman of Mandatheevu/Allapiddi/ Mankumban. The irony of it is that MR. Kailaspillai was a Member of the Tamil Congress, totally opposed to Illanankai Thamil Arasuh Kadchi at that time to which party Eelaventhan belonged.

Mr. Eelaventhan was the eldest of five children, three older boys and two younger girls. I am the third my second older brother Yogendran and younger sister Mrs.Indrani Shivananthan passed away in their eighties. Two of us are left behind namely Balendra and Vijendrani Shanmugasamy. They too are in their 80’s.

Mr. Eelaventhan passed away on 28th April 1924 at the age of 92 after a 3-week-long hospitalization for a suspected stroke. Perhaps this was the only time he would have rested so long peacefully. Even at this age, he was always on the move attending mostly political meetings and other family functions in Canada where he was invited to say a few words. His numerous friends in Sri Lanka often asked me about his health.  I promptly replied that he was keeping fine as he had no time to fall sick. I could see their face blooming with happiness.

He was educated at St. John’s College, Jaffna, and ended his college education at Wesley College, Colombo, and joined the Central Bank of Ceylon.

He retired in 1980 as the head of the Tamil Translation section. He contributed much to ensure that the Tamil language had its due place in the Central Bank where it mattered. In that process, he experienced many difficulties in his day-to-day working life as he was considered “a rebel with a cause” and could not be ignored.

Today, the term “Illankai Mathiya Vanki” in Tamil, displayed in addition to the other two languages at the entrance to the Central Bank is due to the unwavering effort of Eelaventhan who insisted that proper Tamil terms should be used and got it done. He was a follower of Marai Malai Aadigalar who advocated that the Tamil Language should not unnecessarily borrow words from other languages, especially Sanskrit which has eroded the purity of the Tamil Language. Maraimalai Adigalar’s original name was Swamy Vethachalam. He changed his name to Maraimalai Adigalar a pure Tamil Name. Following his footsteps Kanagendran too changed his name to Eelaventan- a pure Tamil name and not because he wanted to be referred to as “King of Eelam” as some writers have said.

His marriage was devoid of Sanskrit chantings. Instead, A.Amirthalinam MP. Recited the appropriate verses from Thirukkural and consummated the marriage, much to the surprise of those who were present at the ceremony.


I do not wish to write about his political activities much.  I see quite a lot of articles/news items appearing in various newspapers, magazines, and the internet. As his brother, I shall confine myself to matters known to me but unpublished or not publicized.

In the 1950’s S.WR.D.Bandaranayake planted the seeds of ‘Sinhala Only’, which was nurtured by almost all the other Sinhala political parties competitively, Eelaventhan, a supporter of wider united Ceylon, saw the dangers ahead and became a keen supporter of SJV.Chelvanayakam and his policies to achieve a Federal Solution for the Tamils to live with self-respect and dignity.  However, there were differences of opinion in the Federal Party (Tamil Aarasu Kadchi) as to how to achieve it. Some supported soft-pedaling of the issue to obtain the same in installments. Eelaventhan predicted that soft pedaling would not bring the desired results. He was proved right. He joined V.Navaratnam’s self-rule party, expecting to accelerate the achievement, but failed.  Meanwhile, the IlankaiTamil Arasu Kadchi in the name of unity of Tamil political parties, became a member of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) which accommodated most of the Tamil political parties and became a formidable force.

My brother freely discussed these matters at home when I was a Reader of his articles before publication.

Mr.Eelaventhan was appointed as the president of the Colombo branch of the Tamil United Liberation Front.

When members of TULF were vacillating, Eelaventhan insisted that the Goal of TULF should be nothing less than a full-fledged federal state or more. As there was no hope of achieving a federal state without the consent of the Sinhala parties, TULF decided to demand a separate state for the Tamils. This demand was supported by all parties in the TULF and the general election that followed gave a massive victory to the TULF. The rest is history.

Eelaventhan, I, and one of my younger sisters were victims of the 1977 communal riots that followed immediately after the UNP victory. We lost heavily.

Subsequently, Eelaventhan was taken into custody by the police/army and kept in confinement at the Jaffna Kacheri, allegedly for inciting violence, on a few occasions. This move by the government was apparently to keep him silent. However, various Tamil MPs took up this matter in Parliament after a couple of months in custody, he was released. He never advocated violence.

Thereafter, he traveled to India and met the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Indira Gandhi was apprised of the problems faced by the Tamils with particular reference to state-aided colonization of the Tamil areas to change the texture of the population. He was invited by Indira Gandhi on a few occasions to get the facts and figures that were at Eelaventhan’s fingertips. These matters were not publicized in the press.

Karunanidhi, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu was associated with Eelaventhan for quite some time. He also officiated at the wedding of Eelaventhan’s elder daughter. However, with time, they failed to see eye to eye and Karunanidhi deported Eelaventhan to Srilanka. Everything happens for the good it is said. Thus he became an MP.

I learned that Mr. Eelaventhan was appointed an MP at the recommendation of Prabaharn, much to the annoyance of Mr.Rajavarothyam Sambandan who was not happy to be questioned by members of the party, more so by MPs under him. Mr. Eelaventhan was considered a fire-brand. He did not hesitate to question anyone whose credentials and sincerity were in doubt.

Mr. Sambanthan waited for an opportunity to get rid of Eelaventhan from the parliament. He did it surreptitiously.  Eelaventhan, in his capacity as an MP travelled overseas to canvas support for Eelam. Mr. Sambanthan was seldom or never inclined that way. He was satisfied in limiting his talks to those who visit Sri Lanka. Eelaventhan was away from Sri Lanka for a few months, hoping to return within three months of the leave he had obtained. However, he had, as a precaution given a letter to Mr. Kanagasabai  Batticaloa District  MP to hand over the additional leave letter to the Speaker. I reminded Mr. Kanagasabai to do the needful, the previous day as instructed by my brother Eelaventhan. However, he failed to do so and Eeelaventhan lost his seat in the parliament.  On inquiries made by my brother Eelaventan, it was revealed that at the instance of Sambanthar, the letter was not handed over to the speaker. Thus Eelventhan lost his seat in the parliament not that he voluntarily relinquished his seat as stated in some articles.

Eelaventhan is no more.  As a brother, I will be failing in my duty if I do not reveal the truth and expose the activities of those who are held in high esteem.

Now, I understand that Mr. Sambanthan has obtained 3 months of sick leave, though his physical movement was considerably restrained a long time ago.  Perhaps his allowances and perks will continue unabated and continue to live in the house meant for the leader of the opposition.

I recollect the utterances made by Mrs. Chandrika Kumaratunga that she doesn’t like to attend Parliament on wheelchairs or crutches. Perhaps taking a dig at Sampanthar.

My dear Anna, you have left the world of the living fighting for the Tamil cause until your last breath, with honesty and integrity. You will continue to live in the hearts of those who matter. Perhaps, some young talent may take your place and bring to light the dishonest and disabled who are self-centered selfish, and self-seeking.

I look back at the days when we discussed politics and argued the right approach to achieve our rights. You were a misunderstood politician because of your sincere and honest attitude though your mission was unaccomplished.

While concluding this article, one of Eelaventhan’s friends’ son visited me to convey his condolences. He glanced through this article and the moment he saw the words “mission unaccomplished” he said, “Uncle don’t worry, Eelaventhan uncle, even if he gets accommodation in heaven he will not stay there for long, he will be “Reborn” in Sri Lanka and continue his fight for Tamil Eelam”. He further said there was none to take his place. All the Tamil MPs, whether they are retired Judges, Practicing President’s Counsels, or Retired Teachers, are only keen on Making Hay while the Sun Shines.

I would like to quote from Barthi Thasan whose poems Eelaventan often used to quote, that may be appropriate  in today’s context:-

“Odaile en Sambal Karaium pothum On Thamilae Sala Salathu Odavendum

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Latest comments

  • 1

    did he not realise that there is a 500lb gorilla india sleeping across and blocking the road to eelam.What a fool.First get india’s permission to obtain eelam without misleading the tamils.

    • 2

      Saddened to hear about the death of Eelaventhan. Many Tamils do have a view on Eelaventhan’s politics. But, one has to give the devil it’s due. In my observation, none of the Tamil politicians (his seniors as well as juniors in Sri Lanka) carried the passion to memorize poetry and prose of the Tamil literature like him. Maybe, an exception could be Pundit K.P. Ratnam (ex-MP for Kilinochchi and Kayts, from 1965 to 1983). Eelaventhan was fluent equally in English and Tamil expositions of literature. R.I.P.

      • 0

        Mr. Balendra, please note that the demise date should be 2024 instead of 1924. Pl. Check.

        • 0

          does it matter.we hindus believe in rebirth don’t we?what’s in a date.I must have been reborn about more than a hundred time by now.horoscope says in my next birth i will have plenty of food and loads of sex and no one will harm me.what more do we want.However he also told me that i will be a bear in a park like yellowstone.

  • 0

    Good that brother’s eulogy found its space in CT, with salient point being Mr. Sambanthar was not very keen in keeping EV in the team. Clearly EV is a committed person, or rather a single-minded person; yet, it must be remembered that a tree is not the same as a forest, to rephrase. Hope the current crop of politicians will note that one has to be a team member for good output.

    Incidentally, with the talk of a single Tamil candidate for presidency, it is imperative to note that it will produce a leader with votes only from the majoritarian community, and hence his/her duty as the president will be to address the concern of that community alone, whether it is valid or not, and not the Tamil community. The status quo will then continue.

    • 1


      when yu mention tree i remember the wispy willw that our cricket bats are made out of.I want a tamil leader who is like that flexible tree that will swing from side to side in a heavy storm without crashing down like a stout oak that will stand firm and fall.

  • 1

    I know Eelaventhan since the early 1960s, but we not politically close to him.
    All along, he meant what he said and that was something that admired in him.
    I remember the deportation of Eelaventhan, Chandrahasan and another person or two. That is not something that a Chief Minister can do. So accusing M Karunanidhi is not accurate. MK could have been pleased with the expulsion and done nothing to prevent it. But that is not the same thing.
    To accuse Sampamthan of manipulating the loss of his parliamentary seat is based on guesswork.
    How does one explain a loyal friend seeking Sampanthan’s advice on delivering a personal communication to the Speaker’s Office.
    Why did Eelaventhan, a man with significant administrative experience, not communicate his plea for extension of leave from parliament directly to the Speaker, rather than depend on an emissary to deliver a post-dated letter.
    A letter sent by courier would not have taken more than three working days to reach its destination.
    The comment “I understand that Mr. Sambanthan has obtained 3 months of sick leave, though his physical movement was considerably restrained a long time ago. Perhaps his allowances and perks will continue unabated and continue to live in the house meant for the leader of the opposition” is uncalled for.

    • 0

      ITAK’s election symbol was HOUSE in the past. And Sambanthan got it. Ha!Ha!Ha.

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