23 June, 2024


Mahinda, Minotaur, Lenin And Premadasa

By Jagath Asoka

Dr. Jagath Asoka

According to a recent Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index, a Sri Lankan Passport is among the 10 worst in the world in terms of free access to other countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Pakistan, Palestine, Eritrea, Nepal, Sudan, Sri Lanka, and Lebanon. If you wonder how this happened to Sri Lanka, juxtapose the previous fact with the following fact: Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in the United Kingdom was summoned to the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office for a meeting related to the issues of renegade Tiger guerrilla leader Karuna entering Britain with official backing from the Government of Sri Lanka.

Rajapaksa clan and its cronies brag endlessly about the tremendous progress that they have made in infrastructure: new highways, stadiums, a new harbor, a new international airport, and a marvelous theater; Colombo looks cleaner; but our inner-structure has been deteriorating. The name “Rajapaksa” is so ubiquitous in Sri Lanka that only the public toilets are not named after Rajapaksas. I think it is better to name our public toilets after some Sri Lankan politicians: Mervin’s mouth; Dayasiri’s tongue; and Wimal’s brain. In 1975, Dr. N. M. Perera exposed 45 rich industrialized families who were controlling Sri Lankan. Now, there is only one: Rajapaksas.

Superabundance of anything turns to its opposite; this phenomenon is known as enantiodromia; Heraclitus introduced this concept. When I was studying in the former Soviet Union, Lenin was so ubiquitous that my roommate, another Sri Lankan student, worshiped Lenin and offered flowers and bread to Lenin, as Buddhists would offer flowers and food to the Buddha; to my Sri Lankan roommate, Lenin was the Buddha of the Soviet Union. We all know what happened to Lenin’s statues when the Soviet Union collapsed. Every Sri Lankan politician is trying to emulate Rajapaksas by introducing their family members into politics, because politics has become more lucrative than selling illegal drugs; in fact, prostitution has become worthy of veneration in Sri Lanka because hapless prostitutes sell only their own bodies to make a living to feed their hungry children; on the other hand, some Sri Lankan politicians have only one goal: To sell the country to become billionaires. Skullduggery, thuggery, and politics have become synonyms in Sri Lanka.

Words such as “nepotism,” “despotism,” “plutocracy,”  “Machiavellianism,” “authoritarianism,” “feudalism,” etc.—well, I can keep on using all the words that I know, but that would be too ostentatious.  Still, I cannot think of a single word to describe this phenomenon in Sri Lanka. If you can come up with the mot juste to describe this phenomenon please let me know.

Sooner or later, Mahinda Rajapaksa is going to realize what he has done to Sri Lanka: He has created a Minotaur-like monster—this political alliance, the UPFA—that he cannot control. Think of what Mahinda said about abolishing the Executive Presidency in Sri Lanka before he came to power. It is similar to what Minos did with the snow-white bull. Minos prayed to Poseidon to send him a snow-white bull, as a sign of support. Minos was instructed to kill the snow-white bull to show honor to Poseidon, but he decided to keep it instead because of its majesty. Mahinda promised to abolish the Executive Presidency but decided to keep it instead because of its enormous powers. To punish Minos, Pasiphae, Minos’ wife, was made to fall deeply in love with the snow-white bull. The archetypal craftsman Daedalus built a hollow wooden cow, and Pasiphae climbed inside it in order to mate with the white bull, and she pretended to be a cow. The offspring was the monstrous Minotaur. In Sri Lanka, the Executive Presidency is the snow-white bull; Minotaur is the political system that Mahinda has created. There is no labyrinth to hide this monster that he has created; this monster has turned the entire Sri Lanka into an elaborate maze. Seven Athenian youths and seven maidens were sent every year to be devoured by the Minotaur.  Mahinda has to feed his Minotaur by giving ministerial jobs to satiate and control his rebellious politicians. Who is going to kill this Minotaur? Where is our Theseus, the slayer of the Minotaur and the robber Procrustes? The hoi polloi, is that the hollow wooden cow?

If you do not kill the Minotaur soon it will devour you; soon, one of these refractory members that you have created—the biggest threat to Rajapaksa clan—is going to challenge Mahinda when the conditions are ripe; so, kill the Minotaur before it is too late; give up the Executive Presidency in Sri Lanka, before someone much worse than you become our next Executive President. It is just a matter of time. Remember what J. R. Jayewardene did to Sirimavo Bandaranaike?

Recently, I met an erudite gentleman who had taught Rajapaksas when they were students at Ananda College.  A remark that he made still reverberates in my soul: Mahinda and Gotabaya’s father—Don Alwin Rajapaksa—was a real gentleman politician. I sincerely believe him, but what about his children? Have they emulated their father’s decency and his struggle to create a better society in Sri Lanka? Do you think that the Sri Lankans do not deserve their freedom of expression—the mother of all freedoms— that was cherished by your father’s generation? Do you believe that all of us, including the Rajapaksas, regardless of our race, ethnicity, religion, and job or social status must uphold the basic principles of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law? Has the current regime done everything to protect your basic rights and the rule of law? Most unctuous sycophants and toadies would say, ”Well, that is the way in Sri Lanka.” Even highly educated Sri Lankans have said this to me. Well, my friends, that is too obtuse. Do you think Sri Lankans are incapable of creating good governance and a just society? Are we just cultural Buddhists, tartuffes, and our sanctimonious pity is just an elaborate comedy? In twenty five years, do you think that Sri Lankans are going to refer to Rajapaksa family as patriots or as gentleman politicians? Are Rajapaksas on the same par with politicians like N. M. Perera, Colvin R.D. Silva, Peter Keneumen, and Senanayakes? Here is my definition of a current Sri Lankan politician: Take a thug, a rapist, or a murderer, dress him up with a white long-sleeved shirt, a red or blue shawl, and a white sarong and voila, you get a Sri Lankan politician.

I would not say that J. R. Jayewardene and S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike were gentleman politicians.  S.W.R.D. was the first politician who exploited the hoi polloi by dividing them into “Five Great Political Forces (Pancha Maha Balavegaya): Sangha (Sinhala Buddhist monks), Veda (Indigenous medicine men), Guru (Teachers), Govi (Farmers), and Kamkaru (Workers); the first force that he chose “Sangha,” subliminally, conveys the message that the other four forces are also “Sinhala-Buddhists.” He did not choose the Sinhala word “Pujya” which denotes those who deserve veneration, and would have included priests and imams as well. Ironically, S.W.R.D. was assassinated by a Buddhist monk: This Buddhist monk was hanged for committing the murder of his prime minister.

J.R. was the first educated Sri Lankan Executive President who used thugs and policemen to intimidate, harass, and beat honorable judges, law abiding men and women, and decent politicians. Even though the current regime hired henchmen to ridicule Sri Lanka’s first female Supreme Court Judge Shirani Bandaranayake—when she was impeached, some people celebrated the occasion by having milk-rice in front of her house—at least, she was not physically beaten.  We all know that she was chosen because of her loyalty to the Rajapkasas, but later her conscience would not let her remain loyal; how come our spineless politicians, university VCs, and educated elite of the leftist parties who used to brag that they were the true champions of the proletariats do not have the same guts to challenge the decisions and deportment of this government?

For the hoi polloi, both Mahinda Rajapaksa and Ranasinghe Premadasa illumine the nature of “charismatic” leadership in Sri Lanka. Both have the instinct of a fox in a lion’s clothing. I have seen Premadasa’s daring pugnacity during the 1977 campaign; he was savage in attack; he openly criticized, ridiculed, and challenged Indira Ghandhi. When he became President, he fought and won his battles against hubristic and supercilious Lalith Athulathmudali and Gamini Dissanayake, using cunning maneuver.  Both Mahinda and Premadasa understood at a very young age the hoi polloi’s deep desire to ridicule the English-speaking elite and the erudite politicians of Colombo. Mahinda’s cunning qualities of a fox and his Machiavellian politics have won more converts to his cause than the most patriotic Sri Lankan leaders.

On the other hand, I understand why people keep supporting Rajapkasas; what is the alternative? The devil we know is better than the devil we don’t. Because there is one thing common to all the devils that have been in power: each one is worse than his predecessor. If you think Sajith Premadasa is going to abolish Executive Presidency, you are in your own la-la land; when Ranil had a chance, like a cunning fox, he evaded it because he thought he would be the next Executive President. This Sri Lankan mentality of electing the husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, uncles, aunts, nephews, and nieces of politicians is a remnant of Feudalism. Did Rahula claim that he was the Buddha, when the Buddha passed away? I am not Dan Brown, so I do not think Jesus had any children, but Jesus had brothers and sisters; Did James, the brother of Jesus, said, “I am the next messiah,” when Jesus was crucified?

I admire the Sri Lanka artists who keep pushing the envelope. “And Company” is my favorite Sri Lankan TV show. Even though they make allusions to Mahinda as “Chintaka Sabapathi,” I have never heard any allusions made to Gotabaya; perhaps, there will be a character call “Baya Gota”; perhaps, there will be a sign “Jara Passa.”

I am very optimistic because the superabundance of any force inevitably produces its opposite. The best example that I know of is Emperor Asoka, who elevated Buddhism to the official state religion. Bloodthirsty Chandasoka (Asoka the Fierce) became Asoka (painless, without sorrow). According to legend, after the conquest was over when Asoka roamed the city, all he could see was a vision of hell on earth. When he saw the corpses, he realized that because of his insatiable thirst for vengeance and power, someone has lost her husband, someone else a father, someone a child, someone an unborn infant. This deep compunction led to conversion: He embraced Buddhism. If Sri Lankans have any decency, sooner or later, they are going to rebel against corruption, thuggery, and lawlessness.

Here is what I think of Sri Lankan politicians: The leader and his cronies eat everything and leave the excrement for the hoi polloi, who occupy the bottom rungs of the social ladder; the hoi polloi fight with each other for the excrement that the leader and his cronies have left behind.

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  • 0

    There are some people. All of them are for Christianity. Eve Jagath Asoka began ridiculing The buddhism. Now, he has focused on MAHINDA RAJAPAKSE. Now, I understand there is nothing STRANGE ABOUT.

    The only thing is, if the World Christian Council is doing this thing, they chose the right time. Because, right now, Tamils are bullying Rajapakses, mostly TWo Rajapakses and not all the Rajapakses. but, the most important thing is the bulling by the Christians. They want to bully Two Rajapakses and Particularly Mahinda Rajapakse, so that he will set up the system that will make things easy the CHRISTIANITY TO TAKE OVER SRI LANKA. Most Probably, unconsciously Mahinda rajapakse is doing that too.

    christianity has done a similar thing in China. People says that JESUIT CHRISTIANS have a STRONG STRANGLE HOLD ON CHINA. How do they have done that ?. It is by promoting Christians into powerful places. The West was bulling China for decades. Even Before that, Jesuit Christians began on working On china. Now, Because of that, even if China Decides go to Buddhist way as opposed to the christian way in the West, China is not Capable of that. Because, christians are holding the rein.

    That is what All writers in CT are doing. They are making Two Rajapakses, particularly, Mahinda Rajapakse scared and submit to them.

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    Above what I wrote should be read as follows.

    There are some people writing to the CT and all of them are for Christianity. Even Jagath Asoka began ridiculing The Buddhism.

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    “The Society of Jesus had arisen in 1540 during the Catholic Reformation, which began in Italy and Iberia. Jesuits were entrepreneurial in the face of institutional changes at home and abroad. Intercultural and political challenges in China were daunting, but the ultimate demise of their mission was equally the result of changes in Europe, as the Counter-Reformation brought a paradoxical mix of devotional dynamism yet institutional repression. Jesuits were distinctive in receiving years of academic training before missionary work, in the tradition of Christian humanism. This lengthy training gave them a strong sense of group cohesion. Students learned grammar, rhetoric, philosophy, logic, mathematics, astronomy, and theology, developing skills in oration and debate. Most missionaries had also served terms as teachers. They sought to become culturally sensitive communicators, using rhetorical and linguistic skills to win new converts.

    Delivering their message to diverse peoples required adaptive planning. Thus were created the “Chinese Rites,” which incorporated certain Chinese cultural elements within a Catholic frame. Such actions promoted a sense of innovation and independence from the European institution of Catholicism, and it was the latter’s push toward papal primacy and against innovation that ended the mission. Acrimonious debates in Europe about the Chinese Rites overshadowed the issue of saving souls and eventually landed on the doorstep of a Chinese emperor already concerned about indigenous sectarian movements.

    To succeed in China, the Jesuits built close linkages with the emperor’s court and with elite literati in Peking. To ease integration they dressed in silk robes after the mandarin fashion and lived in well-appointed houses that contrasted sharply with their vows of poverty and egalitarian ideals. To facilitate communication they delved into Confucianism and argued that it was not a religion but a secular system of politics and ethics; hence, its practices could be recast within a Christian mold. Critics pounced on their tolerance of ancestor tablets within the Chinese Rites, despite Jesuit protestations that these were no longer for “worship of ancestors” but simply paid “gratitude” to forebears. Some scholars see the China Jesuits and their cultural accommodation as forerunners of “modern” or “tolerant” attitudes, but debate remains (p. 61). A cynic could seize on the fact that when Ricci died in 1610 and was allowed to be buried near Peking, other Jesuits appealed to their Confucian duty to care for an ancestor’s tomb to justify their continued presence. Illustrations from Chinese Jesuit publications show a mix of standard Christian and Chinese motifs not pursued by Brockey. For example, a seventeenth-century Madonna and Child image from Shaanxi province shows the Christ Child with a topknot, a class indicator marking the Ming scholar/official.

    As Brockey recounts, the Jesuits found that rhetoric could win the day only with the literati. For “rustics” in the countryside, missionaries behaved as “wandering holy men,” relying on gravitas, theatrics, and gifts of religious objects to win converts (p. 96). New converts were not burdened with large numbers of spiritual obligations, such as the Catholic feasts and fasts. An enterprising missionary claimed credit for a much-needed rainstorm that occurred during one of his masses. Some converts also attributed magical powers to their new devotional objects, and Jesuits allowed such beliefs to assist in spreading their message.

    A fascinating aspect of the China mission was the Jesuits’ use of science as a Trojan horse for their goal of religious conversion. Science gave them the power of prediction, particularly in astronomy. They identified gaps in Chinese knowledge and corrected the Chinese calendar, which played a central role in selection of auspicious dates for activities. Several Jesuits pursued careers as writers, translators of European scientific texts, cartographers, and scientific advisors; some assumed leadership roles in the Imperial Astronomical Bureau in Peking. Several collaborated with Chinese scholars to produce world atlases and treatises on astronomy and mechanics. Typically, Jesuits are praised for transmitting European science and technology to China, but Brockey concludes that they were not grandly trying to build a bridge between civilizations; rather, they had “ulterior religious motives” (p. 15). With the Manchu invasion and the slow collapse of the Ming state, Jesuits proclaimed loyalty to whoever was in power and quickly expanded their field in the absence of strong authority, then offered their services at the court of the new Manchu (Qing) emperor. Two even became Qing representatives at border negotiations with Russia.

    When possible, Jesuits shrewdly appropriated existing religious loci for their own sanctuaries; old icons were smashed and new symbols emplaced. In the case of a failing Buddhist temple, this created “sadness” among its former devotees (p. 325). But small groups of converts became legion, and in time a religion of converts became a faith of families. Increasing numbers and geographical expansion stretched missionary abilities to the limit, for priests were few. Chinese lay catechists and trained coadjutors were delegated some of the needed roles, as priests traveled around carefully planned circuits. By 1700, there were Jesuit residences in North Zhili, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Henan, South Zhili/Jiangnan, Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Fujian, Shandong, and Huguang provinces, as well as Macau, the entire field tended by only thirty-six priests and six coadjutors. They organized an infrastructure of women’s and men’s confraternities devoted to piety, charity, penitence, and teaching of children. Prayer leaders and regular meetings reinforced discipline, drawing on the Chinese “national pastime” of associations (p. 368).

    Yet the system remained a house of cards, poorly provisioned by a mother church increasingly alarmed by Jesuit accommodation of Chinese ritual and dress. Worse still, when Rome accepted that Chinese Christians could train as priests the Jesuits demurred, possibly because Chinese clergy, not being exotic, might cloud their cultivated public image as scholar-priests and weaken the potency of the message. The Jesuits displayed elitism if not racism in defending their moral superiority as scholars of Christianity. They saw China as a “vast and highly fertile vineyard of the Lord that needed tending by Europeans” (p. 177). Despite the chronic lack of manpower, they sought to exclude other Christian orders from China, lest the emperor realize that Jesuit practice was not synonymous with Christianity as a whole. Even French Jesuits were viewed with suspicion reflecting the competing imperial goals of the two groups’ royal sponsors. Other missionary orders ultimately undermined the Jesuit mission by appealing to European authorities. Nor did this competition escape the attention of the Yongzheng emperor, who saw threats in the orders’ ambitions. Much as Jesuits had exhorted converts to burn pagan religious images, in 1723, the emperor consigned all Christian images to flames, and, in 1724, the Jesuits (save for a few serving the court or hiding in the countryside) were exiled to Macau. “

  • 0

    This guy abusing sl freeeducation for [Edited out]
    Use fancy words to explain something not practical

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      You should be hurt by what I wrote.

  • 0

    JimSofty aka Leela [Edited out],

    Loooooook at the kilometers and kilometers long rubbish gibberish this nincompoop has written laboring laborious hours at his ten cents worth room. I felt like vomiting seeing the muck this lunatic has dumped here. No body should read this shit because it is a waste of time. The essence of this nonsense is this:

    So far only the BBS Buddhist thugs were active using their brawn and thuggery but now since the Commonwealth Clowns meeting is around the corner they find it difficult to use those Buddhist [Edited out] in the open. Therefore bloody MARA and GORA are using this Gimpappa [Edited out] to propagate this extremist and racist putrefaction through these forums! This rogue [Edited out] and the Rajapaksha rogues are howling about protection and promotion of Buddhism but it is these very [Edited out] who are destroying Buddhism. Not only Buddhism they are destroying the whole country. It is in the best interest of the country that the people of this country realize the true rogue nature of these [Edited out] and tear them into pieces and thrown out as crocodile feed.

    • 0

      Wan Dept,

      I will be interested to hear who you have in mind to replace the Thugs MR and his Cronies and BBS. Would it be the Pretender “Sajith” because Ranil is a spent force.

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        Ranil is a spent force? He! The misfortune for this country is this. The vast majority of the country are imbeciles who do not know what politics is. All want a bigger and more virulent “Thug” to face “Thugs MR and his Cronies and BBS.” In their groping in the darkness search they event brought in Paba, a teledrama actress whose morality, honesty and integrity is flawed. They have an MP in parliament in Tiran who broke his world record in parliamentary history of not talking only in mudslinging at Ranil. It is people like them and their supporters who are fiddling with such thoughts as “Ranil is a spent force”. Let alone spending, but rather Ranil has not had a chance even to begin properly. Just as when he was beginning the Chandrika and JVP unholy mix prevented him. If you want to descend from frying pan to the hearth then select someone else, if you want to live as a human being with respect and prospects then choose Ranil. That is my advise to you.

  • 0

    What is the sincere motive behind this writer, is he trying to tell the people what is good for the SL people or main target to attack and the regime change , we all know west want regime change therefore these people education use for this , some people don’t give shit to the people if they pocket fill with west money

    • 0

      Kris you idiot,

      The writer is trying to tell you what is NOT GOOD for you. On the subject of filling the pocket and for your information that is what Gotha ( a failed businessman from USA) has been doing since his return. Can you tell me how a villager like Gotha managed to build a White House worth billions in the heart of the capitol. From the LOOT mate.

  • 0

    Dr Jagath’s article clearly and lucidly elucidates the manner in which politicians destroyed our beloved country rapidly in recent times.

  • 0

    Dr. Asoka,

    Words such as “nepotism,” “despotism,” “plutocracy,” “Machiavellianism,” “authoritarianism,” “feudalism,” etc.—well, I can keep on using all the words that I know, but that would be too ostentatious. Still, I cannot think of a single word to describe this phenomenon in Sri Lanka. If you can come up with the mot juste to describe this phenomenon please let me know.

    The word that you are looking for is – RAJAPAKSE “SYNDROME” – which is an Abnormality you are born with and which is Genetic and it affects all the siblings.

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