24 November, 2020

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Navalar Myths Aborting Reconciliation

By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Terrible Days for Reconciliation

These are terrible times for ethnic and religious reconciliation. The Siva Senai was launched 09.10.2016 with TNA footprints. Its leader Maravanpulavu Sachithananthan is on the Federal Party Central Committee. His Co-Coordinator, Seeniththamby Yoheswaran, is a TNA parliamentarian. Siva Senai’s pogroms have focused on Muslims and Tamils too in Bombay.

According to Sachithananthan, the Siva Senai was started because Hindus here face problems from Sinhala-Buddhist colonisation, Muslims being funded by countries like Iran and Iraq, and Christians receiving Western missionaries’ support, while “Hindus alone have no support.” Sachithananthan seemed blind to the hundreds of Hindu temples coming up on encroached state and private lands using Diaspora money.

The TNA in Caste Oppression

Religious reconciliation seems distant in Jaffna. The TNA’s Mavai Senathirajah hides behind “conservative Hindus,” telling southern officials that they do not want Christians holding high university office. Is he for or against minorities being put down?

Navalar: Suited, Bare-bodied?

Navalar: Suited, Bare-bodied?

Madam Chandrika Kumaratunga’s Office of National Unity and Reconciliation lists as Governor Mr. Nilakandan who told the Virakesari that the Jaffna VC has to be a Hindu.

What is Madam Chandrika’s position? Why and how is Nilakandan a Governor of ONUR? What is the TNA’s and Mr. R. Sampanthn’s position on TNA leaders supporting the oppression of caste and religious minorities? On Navalar as a national hero?

Madam Kumaratunga, Hon. Lakshman Kiriella and the UGC

Government policy on reconciliation is being obstructed by the UGC Chairman Mohan de Silva’s new communalist requirements to teach engineering. When I was rejected for the post of Senior Lecturer at the University of Jaffna, one of the reasons de Silva gave Madam Kumaratunga who kindly queried why, was my writings on Arumuga Navalar, “an iconic figure” to Hindus. Professor Carlo Fonseka swears to this in an amicus curiae brief. Refraining from critiques of popular figures is now a majoritarian requirement for university recruitment! It is sad that the UGC has become a tool in the hands of Jaffna’s Caste Establishment in putting down religious minorities and keeping us out of the university.

Do Madam Kumaratunga who stands for National Unity and Reconciliation, and Minister of Higher Education, Hon. Lakshman Kiriella, who stands for Good Governance, support these new UGC requirements to teach engineering?

Navalar Day

“The Assisted Schools and Training Colleges (Supplementary Provisions) Act No. 8 of 1961” explicitly provides that religious celebrations should not take place in nationalised schools unless those celebrations were, at the time of takeover, associated with the institution that owned the school Yet, in this past month, Jaffna has seen Navalar Day celebrations which have also been attended by the Chief Minister and the Siva Senai.There were attempts to plant the statue of Navalar at nationalised Christian schools during these ceremonies. In doing so, they break this protective law.

At the two formerly Methodist Jaffna schools, Jaffna Central College (JCC) and Vembadi Girls’ College, JCC vigourously said “No thanks” to Navalar statues. Vembadi’s Principal Venuka Shanmugaratnam pushed ahead, planting a Navalar statue ready for the ceremony, and demanding the Church cede more lands. However, strong letters citing the law from Methodist Conference President Asiri Perera and the St. Peter’s Methodist Church Pastor, The Rev. C.N. Ravishankar, aborted the move.bible-1850

Jaffna Bible, 1850: Translated from the Original tongues

Ambivalence Towards Navalar

JCC’s position evinces Jaffna’s ambivalence towards Navalar. In 1969, when the Federal Party was elevating Navalar, Mr. Shanmugathasan (CP-Peking) orchestrated protests with the objection that Navalar was a caste revivalist. In 2011 when high caste Hindus took a statue into Karaiyar Valvettithurai, villagers came out and blocked entry.

The division is this: the high caste and those aspiring to high caste want Navalar elevated. The vast majority of Jaffna who are oppressed caste Hindus want nothing to do with him, calling him chaathi-veriyan or caste-crazed. The exaltation of Navalar is considered an intimidation of the oppressed castes.

Imagine the psychological and social impact on oppressed caste children to see a man who openly despised them being glorified in their schools!

Navalar on Caste

In “Jaffna’s State of Religious Affairs,” Navalar excoriates those who drink the kitchen Paraya’s coffee (kusinip Parayandai copiyai kudichukkondu) while visiting missionaries. He objects to missionaries sitting down to eat with the oppressed caste and ruining the two rules (aasaaram) he always saw as one – rules on religious and caste practices.

Navalar’s most egregious act was at the Rev. Peter Percival’s JCC which was opened in Oct. 1934. Navalar joined at the age of 12. The episode which I discovered in the Church Archives is found in the Morning Star of 25.11.1847. Percival had admitted Gabriel Jeroni of the toddy-tapping caste. Navalar is described as the leader of the high caste schoolboys, or “lads,” “The boys”, including Navalar,wanted Jeroni dismissed and when refused wanted him to be seated at the back. Percival refused. Navalar then walked off with 50 boys to found a school for upper castes. Navalar, unfortunately had not yet graduated since joining JCC after primary school 13 years earlier in 1834. When the teaching at the Navalar school was found deficient, therefore, most students returned.

Historical Revision

Sri Lankan histories are notoriously unreliable. Tamil histories, especially on Navalar, are likewise. The written down history is that Navalar was brilliant and handsome. He applied for admission to Central College at age 12, telling Percival that he would come only if he could wear holy ash (prohibited at mission schools) and criticize the Bible. Percival agreed, recognizing Navalar’s value to the school. Navalar taught Tamil to Percival. Knowing Percival wanted a Tamil Bible, Navalar undertook the translation, and when Percival asked for his help, he pulled it out of his coat pocket and presented it to Percival to claim as his own. After leaving JCC, he helped Percival in going to Madras to defend the translation before the Bible Society’s Madras Auxiliary which held rights. Percival was shivering because he did not know how to defend it. But Navalar reassured Percival that he would defend it and not to worry. After Navalar’s defence, the Madras Auxiliary accepted the translation which was praised as the best (an admission there were other translations). Percival therefore developed ten times the awe he had of Navalar. This awe led Percival to lose his Christian faith.elijah-hoole

The Rev. Pandit Elijah Hoole File, CMS Archives, University of Birmingham, UK: File CMS CE-071/Elijah Hoole/P.lxxviii

From historical records:

The Wesleyan Methodist Magazine of 1835 carries Percival’s letter to his parent mission dated 7.1.1835:

“In October [1834], my intention to open [note open] an English school in Jaffna, for native pupils principally, was very extensively circulated in Jaffna and its vicinity; … During the month of October upwards of one hundred and fifty boys were entered upon my book … The first class, consisting of forty two boys, contains several boys who have … picked up considerable knowledge of the English language. With this class I spend upwards of an hour every morning, in reading the New Testament in English, with a Tamil translation [Nota Bene].”

Central College was founded in 1834 as proven by Percival’s letter and the Centenary Celebrations book of 1934. (President Sirisena was tricked into attending the Second Centenary Celebrations this October and the post office into issuing a stamp). The Tamil Bible was available in 1834 as seen from Percival’s letter. Methodist records show that missionaries going abroad had to study the relevant language. Percival learnt Tamil from the Rev. Elijah Hoole who had retired in England after years in Madras. Percival’s first posting was in Trinco where he studied Tamil further. After a posting in Bengal he came to Jaffna in 1834 and founded JCC and Vembadi. He undertook Bible translation with a committee of missionaries. From Harvard archives I obtained a rare copy of A Brief Narrative of the Operations of the Jaffna Auxiliary Bible Society in the Preparation of a Version of the Tamil Scriptures, Strong& Asbury Printers, 1868. Percival’s endeavours as Secretary were mainly in printing and their translation efforts were stymied by the Madras Auxiliary. John Murdoch (1865) says that a proposal from Jaffna to prepare a new version was agreed to only in 1848. In a letter to the parent society dated 06.07.1849, Percival himself records that he was gifted a mahogany desk with a brass inscription:

“Presented to the Rev. P. Percival, on the occasion of his completing, after three years of unwearied labour, his Translation into Tamil of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, by his affectionate friend and brother, John E. S. Williams. Jaffna, July 5th, 1849.”

I.e., the translation was approximately from July 1846 to July 1849. Navalar had certainly left Percival by 1847 and was calling missionaries Mleccha and Christianity the Foreign Devil Religion. Navalar knew neither Greek nor Hebrew from which the Jaffna Bible was revised. With relationships so broken, Navalar could not have gone to Madras to defend Percival’s translation. It was The Rev. Pandit Elijah Hoole of Jaffna (who took on the name of Percival’s Tamil language tutor). The CMS archives in Birmingham have Hoole’s testimony prior to ordination:

In 1847 Mr. Percival removed me to Jaffna, where he expected to make me useful in several ways. In 1849 I accompanied him to Madras, where I assisted him in the Revision [note the word revision] of the Tamil Version of the Holy Scriptures and [returned] to Jaffna in 1850.

I.e., Percival merely revised an existing translation – hence the short three years. The missions in India refused to use it. Its use was mainly confined to Jaffna for 50 years after which we began using the Indian Bower version. Percival did not lose his Christian faith. He and his disciple Hoole were caught up by the Anglo-Catholic wave of the time and became Anglicans. Percival left Jaffna in 1850 and thence to Madras as an Anglican Priest where he baptized his own grandchildren.

Minority Histories and Reconciliation

Comparing the official record with our stories, we see that our history is not history as it was, but history as we wish it to be. Despite contrary records, the Navalar myths will continue. Reconciliation includes honouring the contributions of minorities (including Christians and oppressed castes), being willing to engage truthfully with our history, and keeping dialogue open. When we persist in discriminating against minority groups and holding on to our nationalistic apprehensions, however, our communities lose their chance to move forward.

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Latest comments

  • 3
    2

    Dear Dr. Hoole (I guess you can not use Prof. Title) start writing to media about inside rotten situation in Sri Lankan Universities. Fake professorships to degree selling and now it is really mafia and family business. Your subject area Professors are IESL fake journal and conference based professors (As you are saying). Fight to cancel their fake professorships through media campaigns with you and your wife’s writings. That is the only option available now no way to come back to public university system again just applying and blaming to UGC. Of course, UGC may be very weak in terms of management skills.

  • 0
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    a word about our ugc. internationally there are professors of HIGHER EDUCATION and in SL there are a few such personalities who have done their studies on HE. but all those who led the ugc were prof.s of various disciplines such as agri, dental and engineering. their only qualification is that they are university employees and having some connection with the ruling party. they do not kow any thing about the history of higher education or development of higher education internetionally. but they are quick to learn something as ugc employees. this is the fate of srilankan HE. they have never heard about martin trow. philip altbach, joseph ben david or ashlay who were renowned experts in HE.there specialized institutes of higher education manned by professors of higher education-ex:university of hiroshima. all this is said for the benefit of SL HE.
    -DAYAL

  • 7
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    Please think for a moment how one happens to follow a particular religion. Is it by conviction or is it by accident of birth?

    Ideally one should explore all the religions with an open mind. May be the school curriculum should not emphasize any one religion but briefly introduce philosophical aspects of all major religions.

    Even the greatest scientist, Albert Einstein, found time to explore other religions.

    This was what he said: “I do not know if there is rebirth or not, or life after death. But if it is true, then I would like to be born in India as a Jain”

    Also see below a discussion on Emperor Asoka who emphasized the need to respect all religions.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0511tm1#play

  • 1
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    Prof./Dr. Hoole,

    I apologize for these insults from fellow Tamils. I was visitng recently. Chief Minister Wigneswaran was speaking at Veerasingam Hall celebrating our Mahaanaadu.

    He was saying that Arumuha Navalar knew the Bible better than Rev. Percival through translating it and Percival learned the Bible from Navalar. I looked around. I saw great appreciation from the audience.

    How can we believe these things?

    It is unacceptable for a Chief Minister elected by all of us to insult Christians like this. He is a former Supreme Court Judge. He knew he was insulting a learned Christian Minister and all Christians. He knew he was talking rubbish. He was trying to get votes and suport by bashing Christians.

    I am ashamed of him. No Tamil, whether Hindu or Christian, should ever vote for him again. He should promote reconciliation. But he is standing for division and strife.

  • 9
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    Let alone whether the CM was talking sense or not, if at all his comment could only insult Rev. Percival. That was uncalled for, but that is not insulting Christianity or all Christians.

    If someone insults Arumuga Navalar, will you consider it to be insulting all “Hindus” or Hinduism?– I wouldn’t.

    • 0
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      So now you are on Prof. Hoole’s side? or are you edging us on? It is always hard to say that with you.

      The insult is in saying that our great Christian Tamil scholars don’t know their Bible which translates to Chennai and Sri Lankan Tamils are spiritual idiots.

    • 0
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      I an not taking sides. I am being plain logical.
      I argued that Param’s reasoning is inadequate– no more no less.

  • 1
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    sekera.

    Are thy-another googly eh?
    Unfortunately,Fathima Fuckushima oops Fukushima who is not into Linguistics,will refer to this as Urutu!

    • 2
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      Dear Pygs
      As post-modernists would have it, “The Author is Dead”.
      Read whatever meaning you like. But kindly correct the statement if it is wrong.

      If, for any reason, you think that it is a googly aimed at you, my advise is: stand still.

      ps. I think that you are witty enough to do without sexist abusive phrases.

  • 11
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    In the old days Jaffna was referred to as the intelligent and cultural centre of the Tamils of Srilanka.
    With such articles by Dr.Ratnajeevan Hoole,he is not only burning his boat but only making things difficult for a place that is emerging from a terrible war!

    • 3
      4

      Plato,
      Looking back at our history, it is hard to buy the proposition of an intelligent and cultured old Jaffna. Arunachalam was certainly an outstanding Tamil, but then look at how most of our leaders helped to throw the Hill Country Tamils on to the rubbish heap without any foresight. When the Tigers were capturing world headlines, those who looked more closely at the murder and real plight of the Tamils were referred to as traitors standing in the way of a Tiger paradise. Where did that lead us? These same people are now attempting a come back through religious extremism. You can see it in the responses.

      Is Hoole so powerful or influential that he could be an obstacle to the Tamils emerging from a terrible war? What are the rest of our thinkers and scholars doing? If he is foolish and untruthful it would take only sound argument to silence him. What we need to emerge from the war is a culture of truthfulness that would put an end to our intellectual barrenness. We are, alas, too far from it.

    • 0
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      Plato

      Is Plato a pseudonym? The real Plato would have known that Jaffna needs a better role model than Arumuga Navalar.

      We are not emerging intellectually from our closed “dark ages” that created or was created by yhe war.

      What about CW Thamotharampillai as our hero? He passed his Matriculation and was the first Tamil graduate of Madras? The man too became Hindu but to use the books at the Mutts, not to talk chaathi.

      To this day no one here has matched CWT’s Tamil credentials. His caste chetais were within the family as shown by the writings on him.

  • 17
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    This guy said, in an earlier essay, that when he wanted Chandrika to investigate, Jaffna VC had written to Chandrika that as he had published an essay on Navalar, he was being refused the Sr. Lecturer job. We asked for the letter. The replay sounded that Chandrika had destroyed it. Now that story is twisted further. In that essay, he said VC is a relative of Mavai and getting preferential treatments because of it.

    If that is the material of Navalar referred in that essay, then, that essay was purposely written to get attention to this essay. We were 1005 right in suspecting that was rubbish essay with any meaning or substance.

    This essay clarify two matters of why he wrote an essay on Navalar.

    1. One purpose of this essay:This is simply a competition of his family superiority with Navalar. I don’t know about Rev. Elijah Hoole But there is no question about the relationship of Percival and Navalar. This quote is from Wikipedia with references cited. While he was becoming a popular preacher, he still assisted Percival to complete the translation of the Bible. When there was a conflict as to Percival’s version and another competing translation, Arumugam travelled to Madras to defend Percival’s version. In 1848 he founded his own school and finally parted company with Percival.[4][10]

    There is no question Navalar translated the King James Bible into Tamil, and it became well known in the Christian world. Further he did know neither Arabic nor Hebrew doesn’t matters as Bible’s original language is different from them and citing Navalar did not know even that is simply immaterial. What originality this Bible translation talks here is only question for different subject. It has no relationship with Navalar’s translation. His Navalar’s translation was complete work. Navalar taught for Percival too. Percival like him than his other teachers, probably including Rev Elijah Hoole. With this in mind he relinquished the job that he had with the Weslyan Mission, although Peter Percival offered him a higher salary to stay on. Students boycotting Missionary classes were there already. It was not done by Navalar as a lonely boy. This move angered local Shaivas as they interpreted it as a move by the missionaries to understand and then ridicule a religious material. Although the missionaries were able to translate and study the material, they were unable to teach it, as locals boycotted the classes.[2] So the attempt of comparing Rev Elijah Hoole with Navalar is not simply jealous, but pettey too.

    I don’t what happened those days. Elijah Hoole might have been the one of the leaders to demanded Navalar had to shut off his press. Because Navalar had upper hand on those debates with the Missionaries. There are evidences that he did know beyond bible, in Christianity.(So translating Bible would not have been a big job for him) Protestant missionaries had attacked the idol worship and temple rituals of the local Saivas as devilish and of no value but Navalar found evidence that Christianity and Jesus himself were rooted in the temple rituals of the ancient Israelites.[12][13] His letter admonished the missionaries for misrepresenting their own religion and concluded that in effect there was no difference between Christianity and Saivism as far as idol worship and temple rituals were concerned.

    2. Another Purpose of this Latter: This is coolie job of dividing Christians and Hindus. Izeth, Manidhapala has been trying to divide using caste. It failed. Now this side attempt is tried by Appe Anduwa and to that this guy is being used. This guy is struggling to a VC job. So,he can be forced to dance to their drum.

    Navalar’s teaching of Hinduism almost gone. None of his study materials are any longer used. But he is eminent figure historically. His deeds can be wiped out of Jaffna. He refused to be coolie to Percival and resigned his job. Stayed as bachelor and lived on donations. He also decided not to marry as he felt that it would curtail his freedom. He relinquished his patrimony and did not get any money from his four employed brothers. From then on till the end of his life, he and his projects were supported by those who believed in his cause.[9] It is in that condition he did his great deeds. I like to cite three things.

    1. He was the first person to deploy the prose style in the Tamil language and according to Tamil scholar Kamil Zvelebil in style it bridged the medieval to the modern.[23].

    2.Started schools in Tamil Nadu and Jaffna. His Jaffna School is long gone. Reason is not of dislike. Jaffna Philanthropists who helped Navalar went beyond him. They started to install 100s of European style school. These kept multiplying until Kanangra destroyed them. The reason Jaffna stood on education far ahead of the country is Navalar showed the path of building “part Saiva/part secular” schools opposing missionaries who restricted education very much to coerce learners to convert to Christianity. Jaffna schools freely admitted anybody, even Southern Sinhalese.

    3.Starting Press in Jaffna and Tamil Nadu. I don’t thinks his Bible was printed in his version and distributed. But he printed 100s of books. Many of them revitalizing the old manuscripts books. This was followed later another Jaffna rich man Thamotharam Pillai. Unlike Navalar who depended on donations, Thamotharam Pillai lavishly spent his own money on this. Latter Swamynathaiyar in TN followed too.
    These put Jaffna ahead in Tamil and Hinduism even beyond to TN for some time, those days. It is unlikely Rev. Elijah Hoole matched Navalar in Hinduism and Christianity. So comparing Rev. Elijah Hoole with Navalar is in absurdity.

    • 15
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      Well Said. Even the wealthiest Tamil families and Royal Houses and Aadheenams wanted to be associated with Navalar during that time. Navalar is believed to be a descendant of Gnanaprakasar Swamikal (who sought refuge in Chidambaram in 17th Century) and therefore the ancient chieftain Paandi Malavan but not once did he mention or show off his lineage. His life was that of a renunciate and scholar. A simple man who only responded to the missionary humiliation. Very few remember his works but generations of philanthropists, leaders and men were inspired by him. He set the ball rolling for the revival of Sangam Literature, education with respect and self-respect/rule.

      Remember people taking slave names just to enrol in missionary schools ???

      • 0
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        I remember people taking slave names just to enrol in missionary schools. There was for example one Arumugavar. His father according to Prof. Sivathamby was probably a Christian under the Dutch. According to Dr. Poolohasingam from U. of Pera then in his book on Navalar he had the name Pairaat and went to India to study under missionaries how to convert Hindus to Christianity.

        Why VK, if you expand on your name you will probably find it has Sanksrit roots from the time when we all converted to Saivism to suck up to the Cholas for privileges.

  • 4
    1

    VK

    “Remember people taking slave names just to enrol in missionary schools ???”

    Under what slave name did Navalar receive his education at Christian mission run school?

    • 2
      4

      Piraat was Navala’r Tamilized baptismal name found in his biographer’s book. Brecht is a common name with the Dutch and Netherlanders.

      Not a slave name. People took saints’ names during the Portuguese. Dutch and Protestant did not venerate them as such. So they took the name of Hole men doing missionary work or they took the Foster father’s or motner’s family name when they took child converts chased out of their Hindu homes for conversion, under their care.

      Are all the de Silva’s, Fernando’s , Peris’ who fill our telephone directory, slave names? No. They were the names of administrators under colonial govts.

      Why do they say you folks were uncivilised dear veddah.

      • 3
        4

        Piraat

        VK typed:

        “Remember people taking slave names just to enrol in missionary schools ???”

        I asked him the following question:

        “Under what slave name did Navalar receive his education at Christian mission run school?”

        What is your problem?

        • 5
          2

          I can respond but it is clear the discussion is veering towards Vasanthi Arasaratnam, Vice Chancellorship and UGC. So the agenda is quite clear to anyone.

          Your question and my last contribution on this topic is:

          According to methodist archives and contemporary journals/literature (of his School/College days) Navalar was referred to as Pundit or/and Arumugavar. So clearly he was no ordinary student, rather accepted as a scholar even then. This makes ME believe he was already teaching the Missionaries then (my deduction is based on the fact that students are not referred to as Pundits or arumugAVAR (var added to Arumugam is normally a formal/respectful term) normally. This is my deduction only.

          The Piraat connection; I have not seen a Primary Source but may be true given the times he was in.

          • 0
            6

            VK give us the correct reference from Navalar’s time and Methodist records here to say Navalar was a Pundit from 1834 to 1946.

            This is like the Navalar Centenary issue nothing but 100 years of build up.

            Be a scholar. Go back to 1834 to 1946.We will believe. Nothing later, because even while he was alive, there were false records from People outside of JAffna about him.

            The whole thing has to be once and for all debated in a neutral center with scholars dedicated to such studies.

            VK says so, I say so , they say so won’t hold water. Only divide.

            Only the truth can set us free

            Go back to 1834 to 1946.Show us the reference in this digital age.

  • 12
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    It is astonishing to read the things Prof Hoole decides to write about and begin to wonder as to what a Prof of Electrical Engineering intends to achieve by this type of vitriol

    • 1
      11

      Sabapathy,

      What Prof. Ratnajeevan Hoole writes is a record of the oppression of the Christians in Jaffna, and character assassination in the name Arumuga Navalar. They are a threatened minority, thanks to the impetus from C. Vickneswaran who goes round saying Percival did not know proper Tamil just to find some excuse to fill Navalar’s CV for they need to show he had the credentials to receive a statue.

      This is a common cry among the Christians of Jaffna who are helpless. Anyone mentioning it is faced with the vitriol you are spewing.

      Stay away from the cruel vitriol of the Saivite oppressors who think that by repeating a lie it becomes a truth.

      • 0
        9

        “C. Vickneswaran who goes round saying Percival did not know proper Tamil” ??

        The man does not read? Even the Wikki?

        Prof. Rev. Percival authored so many classic Tamil works besides the translation Saivites are disputing without submitting any solid evidence so far.

        Not surprised by CVicks. Otherwise why would he wear such a glaring red Pottu for a Royalist and parade around, when he has a Christian girl friend in secret?

        Alivu kaalam for us Tamils.

  • 0
    7

    Saivism is also a very violent religion as they say Theravada Budhdhism is in Sri Lanka and Mianmar, judging from their homicidal behavior.

  • 1
    11

    Is UNIVERSITY OF CEYLON HONS. DEGREE LOWER THAN THE INDIAN 3 YEAR DEGREE OF the 1970’s??

    How did Vasanthi Arasaratnm, Women’s Home Sciece Istitute of Coimbatore, Chennai (no Hons.) TRUMP Prof. Sittampalam, B.A (Hons. History) University of Ceylon? and Electrical Engineering Moratuwa? and ….

    That is an INSULT TO ALL THE SRI LANKAN GRADUATES. WHAT FOR UGC?

    JAFFNA’s small KUDAANAATTUP PUTHTHI started with Navalar.

    Pirabaharan, Douglas Devananda destroyed University standards. Like them

    KATHIYITH THEETINAN THAMILAN THAN PUTHTHIYAITH THEETAVILLAI.

    THANKS TO NAVALAR, CEYLON TAMILS ARE DIVIDED AND DESTROYED today.

    Get over it folks. Switch to Paarathiyar and move forward.

    YAATHUM URE YAAVARUM KELIR.

  • 1
    7

    Prof. Hoole,

    I am a Methodist though from the South. So I am not trying to insult you please.

    “In doing so, they break this protective law”…” provided by “The Assisted Schools and Training Colleges (Supplementary Provisions) Act No. 8 of 1961” …

    Are the principals of the schools doing these things, the parents or outside political forces with no authority to dabble in schools doing them? Who decides on these things?

    Are there still Christian teachers in these schools now?

    The time of the selfless missionaries was the most prosperous time in Jaffna’s history. Profs. Thambaiyah, Valentine Daniel, Arasaratnam, Eliezer, Hoole all missionary products with great foreign respect. That is how Jaffna beat all of us in studies in our time.

    Looks like the Navalar Party is undermining all this.

    Sorry to read the comments. Unusual. Are you and the other Christians safe in Jaffna?

    “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:10.

  • 5
    0

    Native.

    You have posed a very interesting question.
    ….Under what slave name did Navalar receive his education at Christian Mission run school?
    There are several names like Hoover,Handy,Winslow,Watson,Mather,Mann,Mills,Breckenridge,Hoole[Ha! Ha!],Hunt etc etc!
    I Know of only one soul who could precisely answer this.That soul is none other than Sekera!

    • 4
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      There was also a Shakespear family in Jaffna. However, most with English surnames also retained Tamil names such as
      Sinaiyah, Sinnamma, Thangamma, velupillai , kathigamar, etc.
      Dr.RN

    • 2
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      Pygmalion

      I put my question to VK in order to wind him up and his fellow blind followers of Saivaites.

      I have known a few poor Sinhalese whose children were ordained as Samanera and given foreign names just to give them basic food and a good education. Some of them who later renounced monkhood and reverted back to civilian life are doing very well.

      VK should not have used “slave names” just to insult others who chose different pathways to enhance their education.

  • 12
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    Prof. Ratnajeevan Hoole,

    Is Arumuga Navalar relevant to our present day problems? He was a product of his times and was responding to the events of the times. Who are we to judge?

    My father married an Anglican Christian, because she was quite beautiful. However, he was adamant that his children should be Hindu and did not permit me-the eldest of his brood- to be baptized.

    However, a great grand aunt on my mother’s side was horrified that I had been named Narendran and had no babtismal name, surreptiusly got me babtized and got be an additional English name. My father was furious when he learnt of this and apparently made it hell for everyone around. He had studied in Catholic schools and because of his melodious voice,’made to sing in the school choirs. He had also resented this. Whenever when he had to go to church for some occasion, his singing of hymns was distinctive. He knew the Bible in and out.

    However, he learnt Hindu philosophy on his own and was quite a scholar. He went to temples only when there was a outstanding Carnatic music concert. We were brought up that way too. He permitted us to go to church with my mother’s family for x’mas and New Year services. My mother lived like a Hindu and helped bring us up as Hindus. She had however expressed the wish that she be given a Christian burial. This was rendered impossible by the circumstances in which she died. However, I was able to give a Christian burial for her ashes!

    Please let me know your views on what transpired in 1946. Would it not have been worse in the earlier colonial era? Arumuga Navalar was the antidote then.

    Please do not nit-pick to create new problems. It is not becoming of you and your education.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • 1
      7

      //Is Arumuga Navalar relevant to our present day problems? He was a product of his times and was responding to the events of the times.//

      There is truth in what you say about “times”, Dr RN. So, why don’t we let Navalar rest in the past and not stick statues of him all over the place, praise him for what he wasn’t and follow his suggestions on using a magnetic compass during morning ablutions? Hoole’s objections have no place if we stop insisting on carrying the value systems of Navalar’s times with us in the name of culture, don’t you think?

    • 2
      10

      RN,

      I am sorry. Your father it seems was a tyrant. A beautuful Christian wife, fine; but she was not allowed to be who she was.

      This seems to be what Navalar followers are doing. Christin institutions are fine; but not those who remain Christians. Put Saraswati and Navalar statues in them. Just take a look at the Vembadi office. Insult Christians — saying Percival needed Navalar to learn about the Bible as our charlatan CM said. Percival was a Madras professor. What was Navalar who wrote kaleesu for college when there were so many good Tamil words? Claim there would be no Bible without Navalar. How ridiculous can you get?

      If you want Dr. Hoole to answer you, first put 1946 in context. What happened then?

      • 7
        1

        Ratnam,

        My father was not a tyrant. He was reacting to activities he was compelled to engage in the Catholic schools be studied in. He was a thInking man and very much ahead of his times.

        Dr.RN

  • 1
    6

    Jaymass ,

    Whole heartedly yes.

    The Hindu card is played to the hilt by CVW and cohorts. He is failure otherwise and thinks he needs this clutch. This ploy has MP far not influenced the people. Prof. Hoole dhoud mot harp on Mavalar as it create counter reactions,

    Incidentally, no one follows dictums on ablutions, as all toilets today, do not permit this, in fact I do not think ithey were ever followed,

    Dr.RN

    • 1
      1

      Jaymass,

      Corrections to my previous comment.: crutch ( not clutch).
      So (instead of MP)
      Should not harp on Navalar
      As it would create counter reactions.

      Dr.RN

  • 12
    0

    Jaymaas /Dr R N

    To my knowledge Hoole has been condemning Navalar for more than two decades, well before C W entered politics.

    Do you know Hoole referred to a kural in a Tamil text book ” uluthundu valvare
    Valvar matellorum tholuthundu pin selvar” and said it advo
    cates casteism . In other words Thiruvalluvar supports high
    caste vellalar. What sort of interpretation is this?

    • 9
      0

      MR,

      I remember responding to this deliberate and mischievous interpretation of the Thirukural, by Prof. Hoole. He is no doubt quite intelligent, but his messianic zeal often overwhelms his intelligence, interpretations and judgements.

      Dr.RN

      • 2
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        Dr RN
        Valluvar was not a Hindu of any description.
        The predominant view among modern scholars is that he was Jain or most influenced by Jainism. There are those who seek Buddhist identity in him too, but the arguments seem rather subjective but less so than for the ‘Hindu’ claim.
        As a work on ethics, Thirukkural was of exceptional quality at its time.

        The Jain argument is strong as many works of ethics and grammar that appeared in the post-Sangam period comprising the Kalappirasr kaalam had Jain identity. The period has been called a ‘dark age’ by rulers and scholars (after Saivaite faith gained dominance).

        No god is referred to specifically in the Kural although a few of the ten verses of the first chapter are claimed to refer to a god. The rest is absolutely secular.

        • 8
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          Sivasekaram,

          You are not an authority on Valluvar or on the Tamil classics!

          There are people who claim Valluvar is Saivite, Vaishnavite, Buddhist, Jain and even Muslim. I even see one or two parallels with the Hadith. His writings can be interpreted in different ways. One thing is certain, he can not be reduced to being being solely a Jain.

          Like Hoole,you are viciously anti Hindu. It’s a pity you guys hate each other when you have a lot in common, including your biases.

          Let’s continue this conversation in Kilinochchi early in the new year.

        • 5
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          Secular is a modern term. Read the last four or five chapters of the Arattupaal. It’s all about religion. Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism lay equal claim on rhese verses depending in the interpretion.

          Once again, keep your bias against Hinduism out of this, Sivasekaram. You are no scholar of Tamil even though you selectively quote leftist scholarship.

          Once again, I am struck how similar and opinionated you are to Hoole. Don’t fight each other! Join hands.

          At least, RN is a decent human being.

        • 5
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          Sekera,

          The first kural refers to ‘Aathi Bahavan’ and goes onto refer to an ‘Irraivan’. Healso refers to the word ‘Aram’ and goes onto define it in several verses.

          Whether he was a Hindu,Jain or Budhist do not matter. Some Christians in India claim that Valluvar was influence by the Bile, That does not matter

          What matters is that we understand the depth of what he said.

          Dr.RN

          • 2
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            member
            I am not an authority on anything. Nor do I claim to be even in my fields of research.
            But I have read several authoritative historians and scholars from young days. Vaiyapuripillai was among the earliest of the great scholars of Tamil history; and he is followed by string of objective historians. Most of them are good Tamil ‘Hindus’.
            Their judgment is based on the kind of values stressed, historical circumstances etc.

            Serious Saivaite literature really starts with the Saivakurava saints in the 7th Century, although there is reference to Siva in post-Sangam literature.
            There is little on social ethics in Saivaite literature until the Avvaiyaar of later day (not the great poetess of Sangam era) and others come into the picture. Some even advocated caste unlike Avvaiyaar. There is of course the offensive line “kulaththalave aakumaam kunam” (one’s character is as one’s caste) attributed to her despite her rejection of caste.
            But, you may remember “thaazvaana kulaththudane sera vendaam” (Do not mingle with those of low caste) coming in the stanza starting “othaamal oru nalum irukka vendaam” (Do not fail to recite daily).

            If I am wrong correct me.
            It is good to be found wrong, as one learns more that way.

            Reference to secularism is important to Thirukkural because it is exceptional among nearly all leading literature on ethics of its time (not just Tamil) on not explicitly drawing on religious beliefs. Perhaps the Chinese experience is different (with Confusius stressing filiay loyalty and such things).
            Ethical works have for long mostly been openly biased towards one religious belief or another.
            Thirukkural was shunned for long and regained its due place much late in history.

            I have nothing for or against any religion (really Hinduism is not one religion) or anyone’s believing one or another. But born into that group of faiths, I have been worried by many things in it.
            What offend me most (and will probably offend you too) are aspects of any religion upholding discriminatory and oppressive practices. Superstition makes me laugh, but not angry.

            I see the forms of faith of the Siththars, drawing on some ‘Hindu’ characteristics but very radical in rejecting caste, ritual and blind faith are in my view very progressive. The same applied once to the Veera Saiva of Kannada (who still deny that they are Hindus but worship Siva and other gods).

            There is much that Saivaisam and Vaishnavaism have that followers can be proud of. But not all of it. That goes for most religions.

            Buddhist theory is most rational, but practices have been corrupted by various superstitions.

            Discussion will be healthy if we evaluate ideas independently of our subjective judgment of their sources, real or imagined.

          • 2
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            I am not claiming that Valluvar was an atheist. Nor do I prescribe following him. But he is pretty much relevant in many ways.

            The point is that in Thirukkural no god is specifically referred to as in Saiva, Vaishnava or any other ‘Hindu’ religious literature.

            One has to take an objective view of things.
            It gives one a kick to imagine that his/her folks were there even before the first ape. But evidence militates against such belief.

            My plea is that we should look at all of our literature historically and comparatively with other literature of their time.
            Why are we unable to convince serious scholars outside our narrow circle about out grand claims?
            That is food for thought.

            You should read Nuhman’s “thaaththaavin yaanai”. (That was on myths of Arab greatness.)

        • 4
          5

          //No god is referred to specifically in the Kural although […] The rest is absolutely secular.//

          This is precisely my reading too. It is its secular stance that makes Thirukkural so powerful and a joy to study.

  • 1
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    MR

    Vellala Caste was considered lower than other three castes in ancient and medieval Thamilaham.

    Prof R Champahalakhsmi in an interview said the caste hierarchy was not so rigidly practiced in Thamilaham until the advent of Cholas.

    Local Brahmadeyas (under Brahmanas) administered the villages. The surplus producing Vellalas and Artisans (due increase in trade and Temple constructions)were given prominence and elevated in the caste hierchical order.

    I am not sure if caste consciousness ever existed during the time of Valluvar.

    Dr R N may be able to enlighten us.

    • 3
      1

      Native Vedda,

      The Vellalar are also Sudras. Thiruvalluvar and Auvaiyar are said to be siblings, who were abandoned by their parents, who had no fixed abide. Auvaiyar poem, “Uluthundu vaalvaaray vaal vaar, matrayor, tholuthundu pinselpavar”, stresses on the importance of agriculture in society. If there is no food production, the rest of society , King downwards suffer.
      Auvaiyar, also says,” Saathi Irrandoliya verru illai , saatrungkaal, Ittar Peryor, idaathaar Illikulathor, pattaangil ullapadi” , meaning there are only two castes of people, those who give others are of high birth and those who don’t are of low birth. She also says ‘Kulathuketra Kunam’, meaning your nature is determined by the environment you grow up in. She differentiates between Saathi and Kulam.

      Apparently, the Sudras engaged in agriculture, were better off financially through land holding and the sale of their produce. This gave them a higher status in society. Most Hindu temple priests in Lanka are not Brahmins. They are Sudras too. I have noted in Batticaloa, these priests, are selected from ordinary families and trained.

      I cannot remember any verse on caste from Thirukural. I shall check. It appears there was caste consciousness during Thiruvalluvar’s and Auvaiyar’s times, going by what the latter has said. Her words imply that she was battling against casteism.

      There are many categories of Vellaalar’s in Tamil Nadu. Whereas, iin the north we have only one. There is also a Tamil poem that says, the so-called lower castes in slow steps become Vellaalars. This process is quite visible to the discerning, in Jaffna. The mass exodus of the Vellaalars from Jaffna has accurated this process.

      Dr.RN

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        Native Vedda,

        In a moment of forgetfulness I have said in my previous comment I have attributed ‘ Uluthundu vaavaray-‘ verse to Auvaiyar. It is by Valluvar.Thiruvalluvar had written ten verses under the heading ‘ Ullavu’ ( Agriculture/farming).

        Regret the error.

        In school the boys used to say, ” Tie katti vaaalvaray,vaalvar, matrayore Kai Katti pin selbavar”.

        ( Only those who wear tie live well, while the others have to go after them with folded arms). How true it is today.

        Dr.RN

      • 0
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        Dr RN,

        “There are many categories of Vellaalar’s in Tamil Nadu. Whereas, iin the north we have only one.”

        I seem to remember that there are 16 Vellalah sub-castes in TN but I might be wrong. Even in Jaffna there are different kinds of Vellalah as you surely know. The ones that can be married and then the others depending on the village, diet, profession, land ownership etc.

        Unfortunately even 30-40 year old Hindu men continue to restrict what Christian wives are allowed to do. In almost all the cases I know of the children of such couples are all Hindu. Your father was quite liberal.

    • 5
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      Native veddah is not Veddah but a Christian Tamil who has never condemned Hoole. He is part of the same gang, engaged in slander and ridicule of Hinduism.

    • 1
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      The meaning Auwai in Tamil is an old lady. Around 150 years ago when thhy were revitalising the manuscripts, they named poets as Auwais. So it is not sure how many Auwai lived, as those days women had equal education opportunity. Most agreed notion is, over a thousand year three prominent poets can be clearly identified. The earliest one lived at the time of Thiruvalluvar. The latest lived in Kulothungan court. She is identified as the Children’s book writer. So the one described as Valluvar’s sister and the one who wrote the chiren books are 1000 years apart.

      There is a legend saying that Valluvar mother was a Pariah and Father was a Brahmin. One time the father had hurt a poor girl begging for food on her head. But they lost contact and fell in love another time latter. On the marriage day father found the wound and found out that she was Pariah girl he punished. He honored his love still with a condition their children can not brought by them as the caste difference existed. So that Thiruvalluvar, Auwai and five other Children became orphans and brought up by unknown people. All seven were historical figures. The truth behind this legend seems to be seven Children were bought in Jains Palli or Buddhist Viharas. Their education is not Hindu Guru related, where children have connections to parents. Those days it was known those two organizations kidnap Hindu children and they lose their ID in the latter days without knowing their parents. So the legend was created to connect these seven unknow historical figures, with caste,which became prominent eventually, as the reason for their orphanage. The latest Auwai had denounced Sathi can be “two only” because at her time it had become established, prominent and destructive. She lived about 300 years after Rajarajan. So there is ample time to Sathi cruelty become dangerous.

      Thiruvalluvar and his sister has talked little about the current form of caste, though some words about Brahmin.

      In one of the couplet Valluvar is saying Brahmin is a graceful man he does the just things for all form lives on the earth.

      அந்தணர் என்போர் அறவோர்மற் றெவ்வுயிர் க்கும்
      செந்தண்மை பூண்டொழுக லான்.

      In another, he is saying Brahmin is the leader on books. Then he is advising the king to pick up Brahmin’s leadership example for royal court justices.

      அந்தணர் நூற்கு மறத்திற்கு மாதியாய்
      நின்றது மன்னவன் கோல்.

      In another one he is calling the God as Brahmin of grace ocean

      அறவாழி அந்தணன் தாள்சேர்ந்தார்க் கல்லால்
      பிறவாழி நீந்தல் அரிது.

      In all three, he is saying a Brahmin is an educated graceful person, expected to good always for everybody. No indication of property ownership or ability own slaves or rule any part.

  • 11
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    MR you mentioned that “Do you know Hoole referred to a kural in a Tamil text book ” uluthundu valvare Valvar matellorum tholuthundu pin selvar” and said it advocates casteism .”

    What an idiot this Ratnajeevan is to give such a stupid interpretation?

    Thirkural has been acclaimed as a great work and translated into many languages.

    By that kural “Ulluthundu valvarae valvar mattellam tholuthundu pin selpavar” Valluvar is saying that “They alone live who live by agriculture; all others lead a cringing, dependent life.”

    Agriculturalists lead an independent life because they have no masters in earning their living while all other professions are subservient professions depending on their masters to earn their living.

    Valluvar has written 10 such kurals in praise of the importance of agriculture. Here valluvar is not writing about casteim but extolling the virtues of agriculture.

    Not knowing this Ratnajeevan is accusing Valluvar as a casteist.

    This man seems to hate anything that smacks of Hinduism. He forgets the fact that his own forefathers were Hindus who converted into Christianity for the petty personal benefits like jobs and education.

    Ratnajeevan may be acting as agent of those who want to divide the Tamils. Tamil Hindus have no problem with their fellow Christians. If that is the case Sumanthiran will not be a leading TNA leader today. SJV Chelvanayagam, a Christian, was the acknowledged father of the Sri Lankan Tamils.

    Take the case of Batticaloa, the Hindus there elected William Devanayagam, a Catholic, as the MP for Kalkudah a couple of times. They elected Rajan Selvanayagam, a Catholic, as MP for Batticaloa. They elected Joseph Pararjasingham, a devout Catholic not once but two times as MP for Batticaloa. At the last Parliamentary election, Batticaloa Tamils elected an unknown guy Viyalendran, a Christian, as their MP.

    The problem with Ratnajeevan is not his religion. He is not wanted by the Jaffna University and also by the Peradeniya University because I understand he is a trouble maker in the eyes of these University administrations. Administrators of any establishment will not like to employ trouble makers. Ratnajeevan, rightly or wrongly has earned the name “Trouble Maker”.

    I pity the learned professor.

    • 5
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      That kural is not talking about castes. Its sphere is difficult to denine with my limited language skills, but not even respect to labor. The other party mentioned as who are subjected to “Follow the farmer Praying” is wealthy seafaring traders, priests, patriotic warriors and royal ministers and palace employees. I leave aside king, not for any apparent deep meaning, but will not to deny if somebody says it includes king too. It is not looking back at the village environment the farmer lives. It only comparing with polished urban, cosmopolitan towns like Madurai, Poom Pukar of those days.

      Further the Tamil ignorant Anduwa Coolie is not seeing the poem of Auwai in which she clearly citing the the tree on the bank of the river(Aarangkaraiyil maramum). All trees droop one time and greens one time, but the tree at the bank of the river always with lushy green. She apparently means the river as King and tree as place ministers and employees. This is including the most respected Royal poets, Royal artists, Royal Purohithar… She is saying the plowing is the only job that retains no defect.

      Something is telling Rajeevan lacks the needed analytical skills to be a lecturer and he apparently leaving that in interviews to be assessed. US is different where the competition allow a chance for the better one and the bad one. A Tamil in Lankawe can not survive like that.

  • 5
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    NV/ RN/ Naga

    In an article about caste appeared in Ceylon Modern
    Times journal ? published by Peradeniya Uni (see
    Noolaham web) author says Mukkuvar comes top, then
    Vellalar, third is priests in Eastetn province.

    I am writing this from my memory. Unable to refer my notes
    as I am out of the country on holiday.

    RN
    Hoole definitely referred to a Kural and not from Auvaiyar.

    • 5
      4

      Uzuthundu vaazvaare vaazvar by Valluvar has no explicit caste implication. The land owner is a Vellala and (like now) the agricultural labourer is the one who makes ends meet by ploughing and carrying out other chores.
      His comments on various social relations are not caste based. There is, however, reference to Anthanar (implying Brahmin) but he defines Anthanar rather than accept Anthanar as Anthanar by birth. (This rather resembles the Buddha’s harsh words to arrogant Brahmins).

      One can be a voice of his/her times as well as a foresighted thinker. Valluvar for a great part had vision but did accept social norms of right and wrong and good and bad.

      Naga is right on Mukkuva claim to primacy in Batticaloa-Amparai.

      The Karawe challenged the Govigamas since during Dutch time. I have relished the old Karave phrase “bath uda ne maalu bedanne” (It is atop rice that fish is served) for its humor; but even more a Durave friend’s improvisation “okkotama uda ne raa bedanne” (Toddy is served atop all of them).
      Superiority is determined by several factors including numerical and economic superiority.
      Good that the Sinhalese are growing out of caste-based hostility but rivalries exist though.

      • 3
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        sekara

        “Good that the Sinhalese are growing out of caste-based hostility but rivalries exist though.”

        True they are, however the caste rivalry still exists though not visible. Some believe they would be much better off building/having good relation with the minorities than with their own caste rivals, depending on which area they come from, and their class as well.

        It would take another fifty or so years to eradicate overt/covert caste consciousness.

        Our sociologists need to study the gang violence among Sinhalese, and whether the gang members share common ethos based on caste consensus, how they are connected to local or national political elites,……

        Govi still suffer from Karava paranoia, noticeable among urbanized middle and upper classes.

        Please note national news papers still carry matrimonial adverts requesting bride/groom from particular castes.

        • 2
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          Agree

        • 0
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          LOL this racist cannot talk about ills of his own community without dragging Sinhalese into it.

          While it is true caste consciousness is somewhat prevalent among Sinhalese which is becoming non existent now. Even during colonial period there was nothing called caste violence. The maximum was an insult targeting one’s caste. It never ever came to the status of violence or very rare.

          Compare it with the Tamils. In Colonial times before the Tamil Vellalas pick fights with Sinhalese, Jaffna saw major caste riots even upto 1960s.

          • 0
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            JVP insurgency which claimed thousands of lives is seen as poor low caste revolt against Govigama dominance. The Kandyans proposed federalism partly because they didn’t want low-country Sinhalese flooding among them.
            There is also caste hierarchy among Buddhist Sangha.

            • 0
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              The Kandyan -Low country has no connection to caste. JVP insurgency has no connection to caste. Learn history.
              Caste does have affected to a section of Buddhist sanga, a Hindu influence during Kandyan period. But it just stops there.

          • 2
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            sachooooooooooooooooooo stupid II

            ” Even during colonial period there was nothing called caste violence. “

            Are you in your very late 80s now?

            Nuisance is looking for you. Can you find her padikkama?

      • 2
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        You are right. The term “anthanar” does not mean brahmin. It mess a person with “aram” which is defined by Valluvar: “allukare, avaa, vehuli, illuka iyantrathu arum”. Any person with aram is an anthanan. It has nothing to do with birth.

  • 0
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    Recently I asked Professor Hoole whether he wrote a book describing Hindu women in sexual nature. I was just testing his reaction. I honestly thought he would say it is not true. But he took the bite and surprised me with some evidence. I guess he is an honest man but he would rub his peers up in the wrong way.

    Outcast: “It was reported that you wrote that women devotees would go on high feeling that they were making out with Murugan!”

    Lone Wolf: “ Well don’t some of the women? Is there something wrong to make a claim like this? Do not people mostly worship to feel better?”

    JMason: Here is what Prof. Hoole actually wrote: “Professor Gananath Obeyasekera of Princeton University has studied the bhakti devotees, well–married Hindu women, who went to the temple at Kathirkahmam on annual pilgrimage. As these women went into a trance and danced, their rapid back and forth hip movements signified that they saw themselves as in copulation with Lord Muruha”.

    “The Firewalkers of Kataragama —The Rise of Bhakti Religiosity in Buddhist Sri Lanka,” J. of Asian Studies, Vol. 37, No. 3, 1978.
    If you want a quarrel, please take it up with Prof. Obeyasekera and ask Princeton to take back his Emeritus Professorship. Good luck with that!

    • 4
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      What you refer to are of little value.Did Obeysekere (or Hoole) ask the women what their movements signified or is it a fantasy of a dirty old man? Did Hoole or Obeysekere find out whether they were well married or even whether they were Hindus as there are a large number of Buddhist ladies at the temple.

      Is one to dig up salacious stories about Mary Magdalene to counter what you have to say. Please give this a rest.You are not helping anyone but joining in the acrimony that Hoole’s article has unnnecessarily brought about. Hoole may have an excuse in that everyone shuns him because he is a cantankerous fart. What excuse do you have except to score points against Hindus. They may have repostes. Such exercises are never ending ones. So, it is better not to start out on them.

      All religions have literature that shows deep ecstasy. Must one attribute sexual connotations to those who are in such states of ecstasy each time some beautiful poetry flows? The story of Mary Magdalene is a beautiful one. Purposefully misconstrued, it can lead to perversions.

  • 4
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    Are not people entitled to fantasizing? What is so exceptional about sex?
    Are the apparent puritans who denounce or ridicule others on this count really “clean”? Are members of their immediate families free of such ‘sinful’ thought?

    If one can fantasize about one deity another can about another and yet another about a god-man (or god-woman) or a messiah and so on. (I can add movie stars to the list.)

    Our attitude toward sex needs cleaning up.
    Sex is natural and, perhaps, the institution of marriage is responsible for many attitude-based problems.
    Should we not consider this matter with an open mind, while respecting the sexuality of individuals as a personal right and not use it to insult individuals and communities?

    • 2
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      // If one can fantasize […] I can add movie stars to the list.) //

      As you will know, Jeyakanthan captures this beautifully in the story “Cinimaavukkup pOna siththaaLu” which I remember as one of his very best.

    • 3
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      sivasegaram

      “Our attitude toward sex needs cleaning up.”

      My Elders tell me the peaceniks in the 1960s and 70s made a point by encouraging people to have “More Sex For Peace”.

      The Sinhalese and Tamils should be encouraged to have frequent quality “Love Making” not just the physical exercise.

      We could have avoided 30 years of destruction had they understood the importance of Sex.

      As they said F*** for peace.

      Sadly, however, men enjoy rape, incestuous relation, sexual liaison, … wife battering, ….. in this island.

      • 0
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        NV, Thanks.
        Cleaning up is to be rid of negative features.
        Opposition to America’s war in the 1960’s triggered a wave of protest which went far beyond the peace project.
        In fairness, the anti-establishment wave broke many taboos which had to be broken. Views on living together, children born out of wedlock, and even abortion underwent healthy changes. Women’s liberation received a boost, partly due to easy access to contraceptives.

        But the mostly anarchic approach lacked a vision of what is good for society as a whole. The establishment did not mind that.

        Matters need to be addressed in the context of each society.

        We live in societies with a feudal mindset but wanting all what seems good in globalized capitalism. That for a good part is where the crisis is. Much of the evils that you pointed to relate to that crisis.

        Every point you raised should be considered with an open mind in the context of a changing society.

        I protested mainly about puritanical contempt for certain social practices, based on a blinkered vision of ‘morality’ mostly concerning sexuality.

  • 0
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    Dr Jeevan Hoole, Dr RN, Native Vedda and others,

    I hope that you all find the following article relevant to our discussion. It is from the Financial Times.

    http://www.ft.lk/article/586267/Politics-between-gods-and-worshippers-in-Jaffna-s-Hindu-pantheon

    “The brahminisation and sanskritisation of temple rituals is not confined to only the oppressed castes however. It is common among the Vellalah caste too. They too had open-air worship practices of stones and tridents under trees – worship practices in which community members including women were able to do the pujas themselves instead of depending on the intercession of a Brahmin priest. Both Somesasundari and Selvamanoharan concur that Sanskritisation as a mainstream process came to Sri Lanka due to the offices of Arumuga Navalar, the 19th century Hindu Revivalist.”

    I agree but most of the Hindu priests in Jaffna do not belong to the Brahmin caste. They are Kurukkals but many don’t know the difference. As Thulasi mentions often for the so called low caste members of their own caste work in the temples.

    “In Jaffna, access to and control of religious and spiritual power have long remained in the hands of the dominant vellalah caste, who have denied meaningful engagement in temple worship and management to many of the oppressed castes.”

    This mostly continues as far as I know.

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    “As Thulasi mentions often for the so called low caste members of their own caste work in the temples.”

    Not just depressed castes.
    In Batticaloa nearly every community had its own temple and a Poosari chosen from among its members. (Now Brahminisation is creeping in.)

    This could have been true of some of the ‘elevated castes’ too in the North.
    AN campaigned against worship of “small deities” and customs like animal sacrifice, which at a community level were not bad– in some cases they are part of community life.

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