23 February, 2024


Passing – Is The Caste System Real Or Fiction Among Tamils?

By Aahithyan Ratnam – 

A very timely article by Thanges Paramsothy appeared in these columns very recently. There is now one more rare public admission that we have a serious problem.

We all know that people in Jaffna are judged based on their caste but we refuse to admit it. Even the Christian Church, corrupted by its social surroundings and the religious antecedents of its members has now unofficially separate churches and graveyards for the different castes. So much so that a person’s caste may be fairly accurately hazarded from the Jaffna church where he worships.

Younger members of society are more willing to admit this reality, as have idealistic students of Colombo’s Law Faculty who have produced a documentary in Tamil on Jaffna temples and caste. Although with age, even they get fossilized in the caste system as marriage is invariably and inevitably within their own caste. That unfortunate surrender of youthful ideals is because, out of a sense of realism, they do not want the stigma of caste to be placed on their children and family when they marry down the caste ladder.

Our caste is very real in terms of power, but it is bogus in terms of provenance. The sooner we recognize it, the faster will the system fall. That is the focus of this article.

Bryan Pfaffenberger in his book Caste in Tamil Culture: The Foundations of Sudra Domination in Tamil Sri Lanka (Syracuse, NY, 1982) has pointed out that:

i) Vellalas are Sudras (Choothirar in Tamil), the last of the four broad Vedic categories of caste. [In the Vedic Caste system, there are four broad categories, the priest (Brahmin) – warrior (Kshatrya) – merchant (Vaisya) – worker (Sudra). All who do physical labour are Choothiras, whether the Vellala who tills his fields or the Ambattan who cuts your hair.]

ii) The census conducted by the Dutch in the eighteenth century had 30% Vellalas but by the time of his doctoral thesis in the 1970s it had risen to 50%.

M.D. Raghavan in his book Tamil Culture in Ceylon (Colombo 1971) explains the sudden increase of Choothira Vellalas in the words of a wise Tamil proverb that says that a Kallan (of thief caste) may come to be a Maravan (warrior), and then by respectability he may slowly become a Vellalan. Raghavan adds that the Vellalar are like brinjals in that they mix palatably with any ingredient.

Johnston Family Portrait-87eda72003885d41debd27d5b31e40b2d3c7bc1d-s40-c85

Passing: Dr. Albert Johnston was admitted to Chicago and then to Harvard under a 2-student quota for blacks. In 1940, the Navy recruited Dr. Johnston and then withdrew his commission after the Naval intelligence authorities had questioned him about reports that he had “colored blood.” Denied jobs for being black, he passed in order to practice medicine. After living as leading citizens in Keene, N.H., the Johnstons revealed their true racial identity, and became national news. Thyra Johnston, classified as Black on her birth certificate because she was an eighth Negro, died aged 91 (New York Times, November 29, 1995)

We see this in our own time but we cannot speak about it openly, even in academic terms, for fear of being labelled casteists. Many move towns as cultivators and join the Vellala bandwagon. Fathers anxious for their unmarried daughters approaching their “Expiry Date Stamp” (age of 30), agree to marriage with hurried inquiries and then, if and when a mistake is discovered, ensure that their son-in-law and grandchildren are continued to be known as Vellalas by cutting out his relations from family functions. This is called “passing”.

The origin of the American term “passing” says Allyson Hobbs (A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in America, 2014) is from a phenomenon concerning Black people of mixed parentage born to slave women being used by their White masters (just as the Thesavalamai testifies to Vellala men using their slave women). Such Americans as of mixed parentage, when sufficiently light skinned, go as White. This is “passing.” This is why many Whites in the US are not as pink as Europeans and more sallow like Mediterranean Whites who have an admixture of African blood. (Out of America’s 224 million Whites, a formal genetic survey by “23andMe” found that six million have some African ancestry. The 39 million or so African Americans had European genes accounting for 24% of their DNA.)

There are records of passing Blacks refusing to go when a Black-looking parent asks for them from their deathbed. Likewise passing low-castes refuse to attend marriages of relatives who have not passed yet, out of fear of association. How many Vellalas do we know who are “passing”? I am sure we all do know some.

The Saiva rite of Theetchai, reserved for the twice-born to cleanse themselves, was claimed by low caste Choothira Vellalar following Arumuka Navalar’s lead in “passing”. Tamils argue that the four-fold priest-warrior-merchant-worker division from the Vedas is not Tamil and that we have a different system. This argument is made by the most caste-conscious Vellalas among us who are disturbed by the idea that they are in fact Choothirar. Indeed if Vellalas are not Sudras, are they then Brahmins or Kastriyas or Vaisyas? Or worse, are they mlecchas, that is untouchable barbarians from outside our society?

Caste surely comes from the 90th hymn of the 10th book (Purusha Sukta) in the Rig Veda which justifies caste. Vellalas need that fiction because many of us deny caste among us as the only way of saying that we are not Sudras (workers). Vellalas wants caste to maintain superiority but deny the Hindu-Veda nexus with caste to show they are not Choothirar.

To see that the caste problem is still very real, look at the comments after a recent article on Tamil Muslim relations where the most vocal, nationalist comment-writers (including some Christians) have insulted Muslims as Dravidian low caste converts and then congratulated each other. They are obviously unaware of the rich literature on the origin myths of every caste – for example:

i) Romila Thapar, Clan, Caste and Origin Myths in Early India, Indian Institute of Advanced Study,1992, and

ii) Lawrence A Babb, Alchemies of Violence: Myths of Identity and the Life of Trade in Western India, Sage Publication, India, 2004

These books show that every caste has some origin myth like really being Brahmins who were sent out because their ancestors ate beef by mistake, or a crow excreted on a progenitor’s head. If we can have origin myths, why not others too? If we can convert, why not Muslims too?

Often it is when people do not fit into our origin myths that it is easier for us when they move out of our society. For example, many Vellalas object to their progeny marrying Singhalese, but have little to object over the numerous marriages taking place between lower caste Tamil women and the many migrant Singhalese workers now in Jaffna who leave with their brides. On Delft Island, where the Portuguese were active, there is a caste called Uluparayar whose daughters are very light skinned. But Vellalas who look for “fair brides” will not marry them. At least ten of them have worked as nurses at the Jaffna hospital, married Singhalese doctors, and moved on. Assassinated Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle from that community married a Singhalese doctor and passed. Few, however, came forward to claim him as a kinsman to get his help. They are all conveniently excised from Vellala memory.

Let us accept that all of us in Sri Lanka are low castes, if not passing mixed castes. Out of these the Vellalas are the best at creating myths about themselves such as the right to Theetchai. They are so obnoxious in putting everyone else down that in practice the Chetties of Jaffna (really the third ranked as trader-Vasiyas by the Vedas) have to hide their ancestry and claim to be the fourth ranked Sudra Vellalas because of the Vellala monopoly in myth-making. Even the Brahmins of Sri Lanka, by strict Hindi-Vedic law have lost caste because crossing oceans is prohibited to good Hindus (H. G. .Rawlinson, “Early Contacts between India and Europe,” in Chapter XXX, p. 435 of A.L. Basham, A Cultural History of India, Oxford: Clarendon Press,1975).

Despite all this emigration out of Sri Lanka I suspect the process of upward mobility through passing continues and Vellalas will rise beyond their current 50%. It might be the only feasible way of removing caste from our midst. Let everyone be Vellala as a means of reaching equality. Hurray for Passing!

Passing is happily happening in real time. We have had non-Vellala high officials in Jaffna (MPs, VCs, Speaker, GA, etc.) from the Kaikula (weaver-soldiers), Koviya (domestic workers), and Chiviya (palanquin bearer) castes, the castes below the Vellala who have physical contact with Vellalas in their homes.

The fishing caste Karaiyar are an anomaly because they are financially independent of the Vellalas and are therefore carefully excluded by the Vellalas. For example, while very ordinary academics from the Chiviya and Kaikular communities have been accepted in Jaffna as Vice Chancellors, an accomplished Karaiyar academic like Karthigesu Sivathamby was actively opposed. Like him was another, even though he was married to an accomplished Vellala woman academic. The Tigers with their Karaiyar leadership (although supported by Vellala hangers-on) had planned a Tamil University in Kilinochchi for which they designated the latter as VC. Unfortunately this historic moment was not to be when their regime fortunately collapsed. That no one is these columns knows that there have been and are non-Vellalas from the middling castes holding high-office in Jaffna, underscores that the Vellala numbers will rise through passing despite emigration.

I seriously doubt whether that positive trend of upward caste mobility of the middling castes like Koviyar, Chiviyar, and Kaikular will reach those at the lower end. We will, I think, migrate towards two castes, the passing Choothira Vellalas claiming high status and the others who will be from castes “such as Nalavar, Pallar, Paraiyar, Ambattar, and Vannar” whom the Choothira Vellalas will call the low-castes. The Karaiyar may be the only force capable of giving opposition to the ennoblement of power by the passing Choothira Vellalas.

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  • 12

    Thanks Mr. Ratnam. Your article is also timely.

    The Americans have a saying “some think their sh*t don’t stink”; I think of these caste-conscious folks that way.

    All of us are humans, whether fair or dark-skinned, Vellala or Sakkili, Tamil or Sinhalese.

    There’s no such thing as a “pure” race, and the same goes for caste. Why do you think Buddhism was very popular in Tamil Nadu for a millennia? Who benefitted from the Buddha’s teaching of equality among humans? The same goes for the spread of Islam. People who are downtrodden due to no fault of their own but the family of their birth, will be attracted to religions that refute hierarchy.

    While the Sinhalese and Tamils are different primarily due to their language, our day-to-day culture is quite similar, and I’d hazard to say we are the closest to each other culturally (even more than the affinity between TN and SL Tamils).

    It’s unfortunate that people still hang on to casteism, especially given that most SL Tamils have relatives living among non-Tamils, in SL and abroad, and inevitably are going to inter-marry. So if they cannot accept as equal another SL Tamil of a lower caste, how can they ever accept a white spouse? Wouldn’t that be hypocritical?

    • 6

      Aahithyan Ratnam

      “We all know that people in Jaffna are judged based on their caste but we refuse to admit it. Even the Christian Church, corrupted by its social surroundings and the religious antecedents of its members has now unofficially separate churches and graveyards for the different castes. So much so that a person’s caste may be fairly accurately hazarded from the Jaffna church where he worships.”

      “Why do you think Buddhism was very popular in Tamil Nadu for a millennia? Who benefitted from the Buddha’s teaching of equality among humans? The same goes for the spread of Islam. People who are downtrodden due to no fault of their own but the family of their birth, will be attracted to religions that refute hierarchy.”

      If Tamils truly want to kick the Caste Habit, they should embrace Tamil Buddhism or Islam (Not the Devil, Iblis,Following Wahhabi Versions). After all, Buddhaghosa was from Tamil Nadu.

      So, even with Tamil Eelam, the Tamil Caste System would have prevailed.

      Why did the Low Caste Tails join the LTTE? To perpetuate the Brahmin and Vella Hegemony?

    • 59

      This is a poorly researched and half-baked write up. For one it is Jaffna centric and Vellalar centric. The Karaiyar will look at the hierarchy of caste very differently. The Eastern Province was never Vellalar dominated. Neither was the Vanni. The social dynamic in Mannar, Vavuniya, Mullaitivu and Batticaloa are very different.

      The author fails to provide empirical data of the alleged crisis of caste in Tamil society. Lets look at the number of students in the Jaffna and Eastern Universities, the number of medical practitioners, the number of lawyers, the number of business men disaggregated by caste. What about land ownership and its caste disaggregation? Anyone with a cursory knowledge of the Tamil diaspora will know that the Vellalars domiciled abroad have been selling their land to non-Vellalars who have bought the land due to financial support from relatives living overseas. There is a change in land ownership in post war Jaffna and any cursory perusal of the land registry will prove the changing social composition of land owners.

      The LTTE was a non Vellalar led military force of formidable presence. It reshaped Tamil politics. There are non Vellalar MPs in the Tamil National Alliance.

      What I find offensive about this highly selective portrayal with zero data is that provides ammunition for Christian fundamentalists like Ratnajeevan Hoole, pro Rajapakse apologists who suddenly turned Tamil humanists such as Narendran Rajasingham and Muslim fundamentalists pretending to be Sinhala Buddhists like Amarasiri to repeatedly pour scorn on Hinduism.

      Is Sinhala Buddhist society devoid of caste? Is the Buddhist Sangha devoid of caste? What proportion of the Siam Nikaya is non-Govigama? The JVP insurrection of 1970 and 1987 was largely non-Govigama while the military that crushed it was high caste Govigama. Sri Lanka’s only non-Govigama Head of State was assassinated. All other Presidents and Prime Ministers were Govigama.

      How does Islam treat men versus women? How does it treat the non-Muslim? What about the concept of Dhimmi and Kafir in Islam? Look at the Bible for its chilling episodes of the wholesale murder of the Gentiles. Read the Book of Joshua. Any study of the church would prove that it was complicit in the annihilation of the native American, the slavery of the African and the subordination of the aborigine. It was down right racist. Racism is on the increase in the US partly in response to the Obama presidency and the continuing influx of Latin immigrants. Christianity is premised on hatred of the Jew.

      The write claims that Brahmins were not allowed to cross the sea. Then how did Hinduism spread to Indonesia and Cambodia? He is no expert on Hinduism to pass judgement on the social history of caste. Bruce Pfaffenburger’s book had been effectively demolished by Professor Robert Perinpanayagam in his publication ‘The Karmic Theater: Self, Society and Astrology in Jaffna’

      What writers such as Ahityan Ratnam and Thanges Paramsothy, a PhD wannabe are really trying to do is to break up Tamil society as part of a Sinhala Buddhist effort to further marginalize our population. They are mediocre in their analysis. Time to complete your studies folks and get a brain for a change!

      • 6

        Baticaloa Tamil!

        AR’s article hit you where it hurts most. Very amusing. It is no secret that Hinduism is the genesis and leading guardians of caste system.

        You have a pea brain.

        You cite Christianity behind the annihilation of the Native American. Rubbish! But it is the Europeans who are responsible. Not Christianity. If you do not know that difference you are not even a pea brain, but a spineless one. In the case Hinduism caste system it is explicitly embedded in Hindu Vedic scriptures. Further, AR did not say Brahmins did cross oceans – but simply stated that crossing oceans is prohibited to good Hindus. Yes Brahmins did cross oceans and hence they are in Sri Lanka too albeit tainted!

        Well like the tainted Brahmins and their ilk Vellalas are getting diluted – day by day. I would say good for them!!!!

        • 29

          Well said, Batticaloa Tamil! Asaipillai and Hoole are Christian fanatics. Christianity inspired European anti-Semitism, racism, slavery, genocide and colonialism. The Bible, the church, their Popes and the lives of their Saints are the evidence. The New Testament called Jews as snakes and sons of the devil. Europe became a monster because of Christianity. The inquisition, wars of religion, the holocaust and racism were the result of Christianity.

        • 32

          In light of Agnos’ comment below and Asaipillai’s defense of the author – his fellow religionist, here is my response to the real author of this piece. Shame on him!

          Christianity legitimized slavery in North America as the Dutch Reformed Church legitimized Apartheid in South Africa. The New Testament is premised on the existence of slavery. The French Revolution, the Russian Revolution and the Mexican revolution were all intended to roll back the church’s central role in serfdom.

          Let the reader judge what is in the Bible.

          Death to Followers of Other Religions Whoever sacrifices to any god, except the Lord alone, shall be doomed. (Exodus 22:19 NAB)

          Kill Nonbelievers They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. (2 Chronicles 15:12-13 NAB)

          Kill Followers of Other Religions. 1) If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him. Your hand shall be the first raised to slay him; the rest of the people shall join in with you. You shall stone him to death, because he sought to lead you astray from the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. And all Israel, hearing of this, shall fear and never do such evil as this in your midst. (Deuteronomy 13:7-12 NAB)

          Kill the Entire Town if One Person Worships Another God Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods. In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully. If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock. Then you must pile all the plunder in the middle of the street and burn it. Put the entire town to the torch as a burnt offering to the LORD your God. That town must remain a ruin forever; it may never be rebuilt. Keep none of the plunder that has been set apart for destruction. Then the LORD will turn from his fierce anger and be merciful to you. He will have compassion on you and make you a great nation, just as he solemnly promised your ancestors. “The LORD your God will be merciful only if you obey him and keep all the commands I am giving you today, doing what is pleasing to him.” (Deuteronomy 13:13-19 NLT)

          Suppose a man or woman among you, in one of your towns that the LORD your God is giving you, has done evil in the sight of the LORD your God and has violated the covenant by serving other gods or by worshiping the sun, the moon, or any of the forces of heaven, which I have strictly forbidden. When you hear about it, investigate the matter thoroughly. If it is true that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, then that man or woman must be taken to the gates of the town and stoned to death. (Deuteronomy 17:2-5 NLT)

          Kill False Prophets: If a man still prophesies, his parents, father and mother, shall say to him, “You shall not live, because you have spoken a lie in the name of the Lord.” When he prophesies, his parents, father and mother, shall thrust him through. (Zechariah 13:3 NAB)

          Kill People Who Don’t Listen to Priests Anyone arrogant enough to reject the verdict of the judge or of the priest who represents the LORD your God must be put to death. Such evil must be purged from Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:12 NLT)

          Kill Women Who Are Not Virgins On Their Wedding Night But if this charge is true (that she wasn’t a virgin on her wedding night), and evidence of the girls virginity is not found, they shall bring the girl to the entrance of her fathers house and there her townsman shall stone her to death, because she committed a crime against Israel by her unchasteness in her father’s house. Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 22:20-21 NAB)

          Infidels and Gays Should Die So God let them go ahead and do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. Instead of believing what they knew was the truth about God, they deliberately chose to believe lies. So they worshiped the things God made but not the Creator himself, who is to be praised forever. Amen. That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relationships with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men and, as a result, suffered within themselves the penalty they so richly deserved. When they refused to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their evil minds and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, fighting, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They are forever inventing new ways of sinning and are disobedient to their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, and are heartless and unforgiving. They are fully aware of God’s death penalty for those who do these things, yet they go right ahead and do them anyway. And, worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too. (Romans 1:24-32 NLT)

          Death for Blasphemy One day a man who had an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father got into a fight with one of the Israelite men. During the fight, this son of an Israelite woman blasphemed the LORD’s name. So the man was brought to Moses for judgment. His mother’s name was Shelomith. She was the daughter of Dibri of the tribe of Dan. They put the man in custody until the LORD’s will in the matter should become clear. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Take the blasphemer outside the camp, and tell all those who heard him to lay their hands on his head. Then let the entire community stone him to death. Say to the people of Israel: Those who blaspheme God will suffer the consequences of their guilt and be punished. Anyone who blasphemes the LORD’s name must be stoned to death by the whole community of Israel. Any Israelite or foreigner among you who blasphemes the LORD’s name will surely die. (Leviticus 24:10-16 NLT)

          Kill False Prophets 1) Suppose there are prophets among you, or those who have dreams about the future, and they promise you signs or miracles, and the predicted signs or miracles take place. If the prophets then say, ‘Come, let us worship the gods of foreign nations,’ do not listen to them. The LORD your God is testing you to see if you love him with all your heart and soul. Serve only the LORD your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him. The false prophets or dreamers who try to lead you astray must be put to death, for they encourage rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of slavery in the land of Egypt. Since they try to keep you from following the LORD your God, you must execute them to remove the evil from among you. (Deuteronomy 13:1-5 NLT)

          But any prophet who claims to give a message from another god or who falsely claims to speak for me must die.’ You may wonder, ‘How will we know whether the prophecy is from the LORD or not?’ If the prophet predicts something in the LORD’s name and it does not happen, the LORD did not give the message. That prophet has spoken on his own and need not be feared. (Deuteronomy 18:20-22 NLT)

          Kill Witches You should not let a sorceress live. (Exodus 22:17 NAB)

          Kill Homosexuals “If a man lies with a male as with a women, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives.” (Leviticus 20:13 NAB)

          Kill Fortunetellers A man or a woman who acts as a medium or fortuneteller shall be put to death by stoning; they have no one but themselves to blame for their death. (Leviticus 20:27 NAB)

          Death for Hitting Dad Whoever strikes his father or mother shall be put to death. (Exodus 21:15 NAB)

          Death for Adultery: If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife, both the man and the woman must be put to death. (Leviticus 20:10 NLT) Death for Fornication A priest’s daughter who loses her honor by committing fornication and thereby dishonors her father also, shall be burned to death. (Leviticus 21:9 NAB)

          Death for Cursing Parents 1) If one curses his father or mother, his lamp will go out at the coming of darkness. (Proverbs 20:20 NAB) 2)

          All who curse their father or mother must be put to death. They are guilty of a capital offense. (Leviticus 20:9 NLT)

          • 5

            Hi Batticaloa Tamil,

            Do you know the Bible at all? You are mixing Koran and Bible. People like you should not contribute to these columns.Read the Bible in context. Just because you worship stones trees and snakes does not mean God will exonerate idol worshipers. Read the Bible in context and not try to be a half baked scholar. You should know there is only one God not millions like you worship.

            • 26

              It looks like “Truth” has to read the Bible. There is more bloodshed in Christianity than Islam. Read the history of the Americas, Europe, Africa and the Portuguese in Asia.

          • 1

            Baticaloa Tamil – The pea brain!!!

            All what you have quoted are the old Testament verses. There is not a single New Testament verse in your reply. Old testament is not relevant except to people who do not accept Jesus Christ. Only the believers who accept Jesus Christ are Christians. Hence the Jews. You are simply a dick head who has no understanding of what is Christianity. By your reply you revealed to all your stupidity.

            Lesser the said about you the better!

            • 18

              Come come asaipillai. “Batticaloa Tamil” has quoted the Book of Romans which is from the New Testament. It appears that you are the pea brain as you do not know your own religion and which books belong to the New Testament. If you are saying that the Old Testament is not relevant to Christians, you are obviously deluding yourself. Jesus said in Matthew 5:17 that he came to fulfill the law of Moses and the Prophets, not to abolish it. That is why the Old Testament remains scripture in the eyes of Christianity. Now I do not know “Batticaloa Tamil” but he sounds perfectly sensible to me in arguing that Christianity provided the context for genocide, the slave trade and anti Semitism in light of the Biblical verses he quotes. You on the other hand come across as awfully defensive. It appears that “Batticaloa Tamil” has hit you where it hurts most. Christianity is a blood stained religion.

              • 12

                Thank you, D for pointing that out.

                Ratnajeevan Hoole should realize that we will respond to provocations tit for tat.

                Here are a few New Testament verses that sanction slavery. These verses legitimized the African slave trade. I can provide many more references but will hold for subsequent use.

                “Slaves, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ.” [Ephesians 6:5-9]

                “Let as many slaves as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor.” [1 Timothy 6:1-3]

                Jesus recommends that disobedient slaves be beaten. [Parable of Luke 12:47]

                Jesus recommends that disobedient slaves may be killed [Parable of Mathew 24:51]

                When Onesimus the slave ran away, Paul the Apostle returned him to the owner [Epistle of Paul to Philemon].

                Modern American translations dishonestly replace the word slavery with word servant. One needs to go back to earlier translations and to the original text in Greek.

                • 0

                  Hello Pea brain!

                  Quote from the Bible. Not from NAB & NLT! (that is if you know the difference)

              • 0

                Hello D

                All these verses are quoted NOT from the Bible. You have no clue what NLT & NAB means don’t you? These are not THE BIBLE period.

                Just do not join the bandwagon of BT and be embarrassed. Limit yourself to what you really know.

                You quoting the Bible is like a monkey trying to shave his face!

                • 11

                  NAB means the New American Bible, the authorized translation of the Roman Catholic Church. NLT means the New Living Translation, the authorized translation of the Evangelical Churches. What Batticaloa Tamil quotes is from the Bible.

          • 0

            baticaloa tamil,
            you are really ignorant. you have copied the above selected verses, from somewhere.
            whatever things that were written in the bible have got spiritual meanings, not practical things which are being carried out in some part of the world, like mass killing beheading in the name of thier god.

      • 1

        Batticaloa Tamil,

        “What writers such as Ahityan Ratnam and Thanges Paramsothy, a PhD wannabe are really trying to do is to break up Tamil society as part of a Sinhala Buddhist effort to further marginalize our population.”

        Thanges should have academic freedom to study what he wants. It is not for others to choose what he can study nor what his results should be.

        I don’t agree with what Thanges wrote about continuing Vellalah dominance and he should provide his sources and facts for the claims but that does not mean that he should abandon his PhD.

        All PhD candidates are wannabees.

        Thanges even has the democratic right to try to become a political leader of the Jaffna oppressed when he returns from the UK with his doctorate if he wants.

        • 21

          The Rogue Ayer put it correctly. Thanges does not provide sources and facts. What Thanges calls for is a caste based mobilization in Jaffna, exactly what the hardliners down south want. He is hardly in a position to be a leader of the Jaffna oppressed given his own poor analysis.

          I agree with Batticaloa Tamil that the two articles were shoddy. This piece by “Aathitan Ratnam” is a just a rehash of the book by Professor Ratnajeevan Hoole – The Exile Returned: A Self-Portrait of the Tamil Vellahlahs of Jaffna, Sri Lanka.

          See this excellent rejoinder to that book. http://sangam.org/2010/12/Hoole_Kipling.php?uid=4173

          • 0


            “Thanges does not provide sources and facts.”
            Maybe he will do this later.

            “What Thanges calls for is a caste based mobilization in Jaffna, exactly what the hardliners down south want.”

            Somebody in Jaffna will try to do this.

            “He is hardly in a position to be a leader of the Jaffna oppressed given his own poor analysis.”

            The oppressed voters don’t care about analysis.

      • 9

        ‘ Rajapakse apologist turned Tamil humanist’ !

        It is obvious that a person who misses the Tiger ride and is quite unaware of what has taken place and is taking place in Jaffna is commenting. It is better to be called a ‘Rajapakse apologist’ than be a pro-tiger predator, considering how the Tamil community has been destroyed from within by a bunch of armed fools and their sycophants.


      • 2

        Dear Batticaloa Tamil,

        “What I find offensive about this highly selective portrayal with zero data is that provides ammunition for Christian fundamentalists like Ratnajeevan Hoole, pro Rajapakse apologists who suddenly turned Tamil humanists such as Narendran Rajasingham and Muslim fundamentalists pretending to be Sinhala Buddhists like Amarasiri to repeatedly pour scorn on Hinduism. “

        1. Have you heard about Dr., a Professor of Chemistry at Colombo University, a Baticolo Tamil, caste unknown, marrying a Lady from Jaffna, Probably Vellala, who was scorned by the Jaffna Vellas?

        2. The basis for the above is Hindu Caste System.


        The caste system has been challenged over time by Buddhists, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and many reformist movements in Hinduism.

        3. When Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler challenged the Geocentric View of the Universe, the Church attacked on Scriptural and other personal grounds, Not with data and facts.

        Amarasiri has been categorize as Atheists, Sinhala Buddhist, Muslim fundamentalist, Sinhala Nationalist etc. in the Land of Native Veddah Aethho by the Para-Sinhala and Para-Tamils and Other Paras, all who came by Hora Oru, Kalla Thoni and Illegal boats.

        4. However, the fact remains that the Batticola Tamils, Jaffna Tamils, Sinhala and Muslims are all Paras in the Land of Native Veddah Aethho.

        Please check your DNA for confirmation of your Para status, in the Land of Native Veddah Aethho.

  • 14

    Aahithyan Ratnam,

    Thanks for beautifully explaining the upward mobility of so-called low castes into the ranks of so-called high caste Vellalahs, which phenomenon you have called ‘Paasing’. Even the so-called Brahmins in the north are sudras.

    This phenomenon has been unfolding over centuries, but has been accelerated by the turmoil and wars have disturbed the spacial distribution of people and blurred caste identities.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • 22

      I thought the term ‘Sanskritization’ referred to so-called ‘lower’ caste Hindus gradually improving their standard of living and self-proclaiming themselves as ‘higher’ caste. In that way, ‘Passing’ = ‘Sanskritization.’

      By the way, I can easily spot the real identity of Aahithyan Ratnam. I think it is better for him to stop his muckraking regarding religion and caste, and instead advocate a more secular culture in Jaffna based on rationality. That way, caste will have a natural death and he can focus on the things he really wanted in going back to SL from the US.

      • 0

        During the Apartheid regime, the Prime Ministers of South Africa(Hendrik Verwoerd, Balthazar Vorster and even Pik Botha) asked for time, saying that Apartheid would die a natural death.

        But the Blacks were in a hurry.

        In Sri Lanka, those at the receiving end of caste are in a hurry, while those who benefit from it, want time for caste to die a natural death.

        • 12

          It is foolish to equate caste issues with apartheid. The secular culture I talk about will also include strong safeguards against discrimination; there would be both legal remedies as well as civil society support to fight any real discrimination on the basis of caste.

          There should also be government/NPC initiatives to invest in education and employment opportunities among historically oppressed castes. But muckraking doesn’t speed up anything.

      • 18

        Well you wanted him to be VC of Jaffna University!! Can’t you now see why he is most inappropriate given his bogus theories and bigotry!

        • 19

          Good question. On this issue of Jaffna VC, Angoose is rather confused. But he doesn’t live here, he didn’t study here, he hasn’t been here for several decades — what business has he to recommend who should be our VC?

        • 1

          I was looking only at his academic qualifications for the positions. Anyway, I have said he might not be suitable for the VC post given his incendiary comments, but he deserves to be given at least a professorship or deanship.

          He has alleged that some people like Kumar Ponnambalam’s wife had asked MR not to appoint him as VC on account of his not being a Hindu. I am not sure how much of that allegation is true, but his belief that it happened seems to have made him somewhat fanatical on religion, etc.

          • 16

            Angooooose: When/where did Hoole make this allegation about KumarP’s wife (and given KumarP’s connection to the Tigers, what sort of influence do we think the wife will have with MR)? Was it somewhere in public or at a private party you attended? If the former, give us please a reference, if the latter, and he said this to you in confidence, it is not very nice of you to share it with us in this forum, is it?

          • 15

            Hoole’s religious views and hatred predate Rajapakse and the Vice Chancellor episode. The Kumar Ponnambalam excuse does not hold water. How can a man without basic ethics as illustrated in this latest example allow him to be a Dean of a University Faculty When we are trying to clean things up.

            • 0

              I think people in Jaffna are being too hard on Hoole. His views may be ‘bigoted’ to many but they are not ‘unethical.’ In person he is not hard to deal with at all, even though in his writings he sounds harshly critical.

              Sure he has made incendiary comments, but are you all happy with the current administrators and sexual predators whom Douglas Devananda has left over? Are you happy with the teaching quality of the current engineering and computer science faculties?

              Jaffna needs the engineering and scientific talent of those who are willing to return. Dr. Hoole has returned and his opinions on non-academic issues shouldn’t be used to deprive the students of his skills.

              Most professors and administrators in the West will probably not come back to Jaffna. Can you for instance make Dr. Indira Arulpragasam Samarasekara, who retired as a very highly paid President of the University of Alberta, come back to Jaffna?

              • 7

                You are simply shameful Agnos. In an already polarized society, we do not need the muck that Hoole brings. He is unethical. Pretending to be someone else in order to attack Hinduism fails the high academic calling. We need healing, not intolerant fundamentalists.

                • 5


                  True, it is hypocritical of Dr.Hoole to use an alias to do his muckraking because he has criticized others for using aliases when they commented under articles in his real name.

                  I instantly recognized his use of this alias several months ago, based on style and content that can only come from him, complete with the old fashioned use of the word ‘enormity.’ Regular CT readers may recall that it was Jeevan Hoole who had accused Prof. Savithri Gunasekara of incorrectly using ‘enormity’ to mean ‘enormousness,’ which in modern usage is not wrong.

                  I also suspect he wrote under another alias (Rajah Rajasingham ?) earlier, and made references to Rajan Hoole. That way, he didn’t have to make clear that he was speaking up for his brother. Most of all, it is foolish for him to think that someone like him who writes so frequently giving out a lot of personal details, wouldn’t be caught based on the content and style of his writing. All of this does raise troubling questions about his judgment.

                  What is more, writing under an alias, he often links to articles under his own name. In the context of those articles under real name not getting any traction, it shows the Hooles are not above playing games; he also went behind Devananda when it suited him.

                  The only thing I can say is that in the universe of all the grave ‘unethical’ things happening in Sri Lanka, Hoole’s funny games are forgivable.

      • 9


        What I perceive happening in Jaffna is caste issues evolving into economic class issues, quite rapidly. The poor, among all castes, including the Vellahlas are the lower castes, if not in name, but in fact in Jaffna. If the the economic disparities in Jaffna society can be addressed sensibly, along with better schooling and employment opportunities, the lingering traces of the worst aspects of caste identity will be undermined. The most important aspect is to educate the children to educate their parents. Bad parenting is a major problem among all sections of Jaffna society, as one major consequence of the prolonged wars and turmoil.


        • 1

          I agree. Thanks.

          • 2

            I too agree.
            Caste system should END.
            How many parents, brothers, sisters, … are prepared to marry their children, brothers, sisters to members from other castes.
            We must practice what we preach.

  • 13

    Not only caste, all our identities – even ethnicity – are social constructs.

  • 4

    Thanks Aahithyan. Excellent presentation.

    Prevention of social disabilities Act 21of 1957 and 18 of 1971 are there to help caste based victims but I do not think many exercised their rights under these Acts. May be they are not aware of it and i expect Tamil media to play a role in educating them.

    esamskriti website carries a few interesting articles on this issue.

  • 7

    The way to beat the caste system is to invent new castes. Lets have a lots of them.

    If you go by the observation that children of many professions have gone onto take up those professions — i.e. doctors encourage their children to become doctors, children of lawyers are more likely to be lawyers than any other single profession, politicians clearly want to be a caste themselves, and even Velupillai Prabhakaran recruited his offspring into fighting — one might think my idea has merit. Eureka!

    Let marriage advertisements in the Ceylon Daily Noise say “Bride from lawyer caste sought for qualified lawyer whose parents are both accomplished lawyers themselves” to get the process started.

    Let’s achieve by mockery what we failed by logic and humanity.

  • 7

    Oh What a mess this caste thing is about?
    Why is it is peculiar to India and SL only?
    How can we all save ourselves from it?
    It is all in the mind and how will be we be rid of it?
    It is really a sad destiny to contemplate.

  • 38

    Dear Aahithyan Ratnam,
    What ‘caste’ are you?
    What ‘caste’ is your spouse?
    How do you claim to be in that ‘caste’?
    Do you have special genes due to your caste?

    • 5

      The answer is in the article. We are all Brinjals.

  • 5



    it looks so wonderful-A way out!

    let”passing”runs it’s full course and leads to an egalitarian society

  • 33

    This is one of well timed articles written recently to split Tamils and distract the issue of accountability and rehabilitation demanded by the UN and International authorities. Writers like Jayadevan, Paramsothy and this author are used for the above purpose.
    Another issue that suddenly cropped up is the Muslim resettlement. These are raised now to dilute the current problems of Tamils and to project an impression that Tamils are not the sole victims in our society.
    I am not denying that other victims exist. But the timing of these articles suggest that it is to distract us from the war crime atrocities and genocide attempts.

  • 4

    During my College days, a friend of mine, stumped me with a question for which I don’t know the answer to this date!

    Machchan! You are born with talents, I am not. When you score a century at cricket, all the girls cheer for you. They call out your name loud. And, you enjoy their chorus; you pride in your talent. Why shouldn’t I, who doesn’t have your talents to pride, take pride in my caste? After all, your talent is a gift at birth; so is my caste!

  • 11

    Demons of Tamil caste system is real and deplorable. I was born in the North, dad was working Colombo. Unfortunately we were the lowest of the castes. I was educated in Colombo and regrettably I could not go to a better School, hence I had to come back to Jaffna in order to enrol to a better School. I was only 13 years and was seated in the front seat of the School bus. A child who was barely 11 came and told me move you “Palla” (that was supposed to be caste. I was humiliated and demeaned because there were many students in the bus including girls.By grace of God I was enrolled into one of the prestigious Schools in Colombo.
    I became a professional got involved with a Tamil girl (in Colombo)who did not know anything about caste but just imagine the mother wanted to know my caste etc. That fell off. What I am trying to write here is Caste is a deep rooted curse on Tamils that has gone beyond its borders.
    Even in the country I live the Tamils are more concerned about the caste when it comes to marriage notably among committed Christians.

    One message I would like to tell those caste conscious goons and idiots that nothing can stop anyone from achieving one’s dreams because God is the one who would lifts up the individual the same way He has done to me. I do not want to boast about me but by His grace I am married well employed and respected well among my colleagues and peers.

    I wonder where those detractors are or can they stand shoulder to shoulder with me now. I would like to remain anonymous but reiterate the demons of caste system has to be eradicated. It is a curse to the humanity. GOD BLESS.

    • 24

      Hello Real

      It would be more helpful for the emancipation of humanity, if you would have disclosed your name and identity. If true, you can be proud of yourself. But I now wonder whether your story is fake. You are probably Sinhalese Buddhist. A lot of them/you treated the Indian estate labor the same shameful way down south.

      • 1

        Real, I am happy for you.

        Mariampillai, you with your Vellala Catholic name should know better. If Real identifies himself, it would bring unwanted hardship and insults to him and his family. None of us who suffers caste,can complain or publicize it because it would make it worse for us when we publicly identify our caste.

        Only those with caste names like the Pillais (who claim to be higher than ordinary Vellalas)can afford to boast and advertise their caste, and then claim that real experiences like Real’s are fake.

      • 5


        You are a typical inquisitive backward Vellala Catholic. Here I am. My name is Joseph from Myliddy and I attended St.Henry’s Illavalai and now I live in the States.

        What else do you want you stupid. Don’t bring in Sinhala Buddhist and so on. They won’t know the “Pallar”caste. Do you want to know more. Next thing you will ask is which State I live in and my address etc. etc. Grow up man don’t be a backward stone age tamil

  • 3

    I wish to point out that Mavittapuram Temple entry issue was based on Caste. Religious conversions took place mainly in coastal area because of caste difference. During Portuguese rule Karavars from Mannar were converted to Catholics. Sangili Rasan killed about 600 of the converts.
    My 21 short story collection titled “Strange Relationship ” (to be released on the 20th Nov) contains 2 stories on Caste and Temple entry.
    We should appreciate that with the growth of Tamil Tiger movement Jaffna man could not continue with the caste system.

  • 6

    You are writing fibs Pon Kulendiran. Caste system is well and truly entrenched in Tamils blood stream. Where ever they go what ever they do even in Heaven or Hell they will continue this cursed system. Go to Canada or UK you can find the system operating well and truly. Please amend your records

  • 19

    It seems Jaffna is back to normal now. Don’t you have any other critical issues to discuss Mr Cool head? I thought smart people don’t waste their time to dig in for stinky muds in abandoned wells.

  • 1

    “According to me, the caste system is scientific. You cannot condemn it by argument. It controls the society socially and ethnically—I see no reason to end it. To end casteism is to finish the Hindu Religion. There is nothing against Varnastram. I have reason to believe that the caste system is an arithmetic principle. It has its own limitation and disadvantages. Even then there is nothing to be hated in this system. See my article in “Harijan, l932 (Translation from a Lower Caste tract circulated among Scheduled Castes and OBCs)

    “I believe in caste division on the basis of birth because the roots of the caste system start from birth.”

    • 1


      you are shame to the humanity. Never ever write this nonsense. Use your common sense.

      • 0

        I the, Mahtma have already left my body on the fatal day of January 30th, 1948. My body was burnt on a sandal wood pyre. see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassination_of_Mahatma_Gandhi

        “To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest.” Gandhi Mohandas

  • 16

    Will this be a topic of discussion in 50yrs time? I am afraid Sri Lanka occupied by India, China and Pakistan would have a new cocktail of castes and hues.

    • 13

      As Mano speculates India and China may be forced to occupy Sri Lanka in 50 years. But not Pakistan. The already dis-integrating
      Islamic theocratic State may have died by then. The avarice of the army in swallowing her resources. The unabated hatred of Pakistanis of the growing and agriculturally-industrially developing India will be their downfall. Pakistan might not be there to see her dream of dropping the Islamic nuclear bomb in India. In the plans of Pakistan’s founder Jinnah and its own Constitution the country should have remained secular offering protection to her Hindu, Sikh and Christian fellow citizens. But that ambitious Zia-ul-Haq – to remain in power against growing opposition to him by higher class men in the army – forced Pakistan into Islamic Fundamentalism. Not only Pakistan did not protect her non-Muslim citizens. She gradually destroyed many Islamic sects like the Ahmadis as well – and now the Shias. Ironically, the crafty and selfish Jinnah was a Shiite.



  • 0

    Did the Vellalas pass the co ordinates of Thamil Selvam’s hide out to our Airforce Boys?..

    Because Batalanada Ranil nearly made an Ambattan , the boss of the great Vellala outfit Illankai Thamil Arasa Kittu.

    With Batalanda’s Ceasefire of the Srilankan Army, TNA activists were forced to work under Pullidevan ,and escorted in to Dalit villages by Child Soldiers.

    If Piraparan accepted Ranil’s IGA, our current Opposition , its leader Vellala Sambandan in particular wouldn’t have even seen Jaffna let alone going there..

    Unless he also did a Wiggy by garlanding Pirahaparan in real life and made a Katshiya out of a Kariyar……

  • 1

    Caste should not have a place in modern society.
    The way to eliminate caste is to change the names which denotes caste.

    • 1

      Aiya saami
      Our Hindu religion that we have come to follow under unbearable social pressure, in its sacred writings prevents us from having auspicious upper caste names at the peril of death and eternal curse.The Brahmins referred to us by soul-demeaning names, such as ‘Das’ or ‘slave’ or other despicable or lowly creatures, and even today we are afraid that if we were to give up our caste ordained names, your gods we worship might be infuriated with us as you teach us.

  • 0

    Najjaja Wasalohothi, Najjaja Hothi Brahmano; Kammana Wasalahothi, Kammana Hothi Brahmano.

    Ancient words of the Buddha who was the first to day stand up against inherent Caste system in India. It means “no one is born superior to another; no one is born inferior to another. It is ONLY our actions and our actions alone that make us inferior or superior”. Brahmins are the highest caste in Hinduism and Wasala is the cleaner or Ksudhra Caste. Sadly to this date, it is the bane of Indian society and Sri LAnkan society. Buddha spoke out against caste. There was a time in Sri Lanka too caste was a curse for even Sinhalese.

    The designated castes performed designated tasks. It is the 21st century and some are still hung up on this. I lived in India for nearly 5 years and me and my closest friend an Iranian student named Saeed used to have fun asking everyone “are you Hindu” and no matter who the person was if he was a “Brahmin” he will say “of course I am Hindu BRAHMIN”. The WTF phrase comes to mind for that.

    Some Sinhalese in SL still talk about “Dhobi caste or other caste or this” and such morons reside even in COlombo 7 and amongst the elitist so called Aristocrats and Feudals. They talk about “oh so and so is may be good to have fun with/sex with but they are not our people to get married to”.

    Yes I heard that disgusting shocking story from an elite family on my last visit to SL. Sad because in that particular case the so and so who was supposedly from a lower caste and lower family stature was far more accomplished on his own merits than the girl whose parents said this. WTF?

    We are all judged by what we do and say and how we treat each other. Tamils need to be HONEST; there are households in Colombo that will not allow the non-Brahmins to enter through the front door or to sit and eat with them. Some Sinhalese will still not let their domestic staff eat off the same plates or drink off the same glasses as they do. It is like in the South where even after slavery ended but segregation was still a curse, people did not allow their Black domestic staff/servants to sit with them. Reality is that. Sad. I was told “haamu jaathiya pawaa dunna” about my choice in marriage by a nice cleanly dressed Driver who was from Anuradhapura when I went home for my Dad’s funeral. A Sinhalese Buddhist.

    Racist bigotry, caste bigotry and religious bigotry is well and alive with Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu etc.

    Sinhalese and Tamils are both Dravidian mix. Some maybe from Eastern Indian origins like Orissa, Bengal, Bihar. Others are definitely lighter skinned Malayali mix. DNA testing will prove we Sinhalese and Tamils and Tamil Speaking Muslims who are most likely Dravidian converts to Islam are the SAME. Phenotypically and Genotypically we the bloody same. For Nirvana’s sake or God’s sake(I am agnostic so that is a bit hollow) wake up and lighten up. Look in the mirror. We are not Aryan Sinhalese. We are too short to be Aryan. We share the same DNA.

    If we have a need for a blood transfusion, the hospital will not give a shit if you’re Radalaya, Brahmin, Govigama, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Kandyan or Southern or any of that shit. This is the 21st century. My fervent hope as a teacher is that at the end of my time, I will have done more good and less bad and that my students will alway appreciate what I did for them.

    People do not want to be honest here but some of the prejudices are still there with even Sinhalese Buddhists or Christians. Look at the marital columns in Newspapers. Here are ridiculous examples of it.
    About our daughter: Our daughter is a fair and pleasant, specialist medical Doctor/Consultant in Australia, born in 1977 and 5’2’’. She is divorced with short marriage, no encumbrances or children. We K/G Christian parents seek an academically and professionally qualified son in Australia/NZ with Christian background. We value a generous person who is willing to build a strong and prosperous family life in Australia. Please reply with full details.
    Academically and Professionally Qualified well mannered son from the same caste and religion is sought by highly respectable Sinhalese B/G parents from suburbs of Colombo for their eldest daughter 29, 5’6’’ slim fair attractive she was educated at a leading girl’s school in Colombo. Completed B Eng honors degree and a masters degree from reputed Universities in the UK. Currently in as an Engineer in a foreign company in Sri Lanka. She inherits substantial house agricultural property a car cash along with other assets.

    Academically and Professionally qualified well employed N/S, T/T well mannered, handsome and smart son 26-33, 5’7”- 6’ from a respectable B/G family (Colombo/ Overseas) is sought by respectable B/G Parents from Colombo (Kandyan) for their very fair, extremely pretty, slim, very well brought up daughter qualified with MBA (Accounting & Finance) Currently employed in a reputed Company- Colombo. Drawing a six figure salary and inherits substantial assets. She also holds Australian Dual Citizenship. Engineers Preffered. Please reply by email or by post with full family details and horoscopes.

    Actually very rich Govi Buddhist Colombo city parents invite educated beautiful bride below 37 years. Bank employees, non-working girls, engineers, accountants, doctors, here, abroad for son M.Sc. Computer Engineer, Director American Company. Very high salary with fringe benefits while working there, my son has started separate Information Technology Company by his own. My son prefers brides willing jointly help develop his new company. He never married, looks very much younger, very handsome, teetotaller, non-smoker, religious. Marriage late due to education and promoting business. 5 – 8 height, 46 years, owner three-storied new house Colombo city as his permanent residence. Horoscope essential.

  • 2

    One thing not mentioned is that Hoole always pointed out the Vellalas were Sudras and he was happy to be called a Sudra.
    If I am not mistaken he has legally got himself defined as Black in the US.
    (My book is missing, lent out and so cant give exact quotation).

    His biggest gripe with Hinduism is that it perpetuated the caste system.

    • 3

      ‘Hinduism perpetuated caste system’
      I disagree. I think Castes were social constructs as some one quoted above. It is prevalent in Hinduism as well Buddhism.

      However, religious luminaries such as Navalar were being quoted as promoters of castes. (Saathi veriyar).
      It will be interesting to do a cross sectional genetic study on Castes of Jaffna. I expect we might not see a significant difference.
      It would have been more productive if the discussion was focussed on reducing the barriers of caste on marriage.

      • 0

        Giving you keywords, do a search

        Hinduism (Text)
        Caste/Color differentiation (racism), Sexism

        Christianity (Text)
        Racism and Sexism


        Hindu: Varna Dharma, Twice Born Castes, Laws of Manu
        Ashwameda / Purushmeda
        Gandhi said without caste Hinduism is nothing.
        Recent post gave link.

        Sons of Ham to justify slavery.
        Women should be seen not heard. Submit to Husbands.

        Dhammapada: No indication of Bikkunis/Women of attaining Arahat/Nirvana

        • 2


          I searched on origins of castes in India in wikipedia. It says there are two schools of thought.
          1. religious origin ( from the time of Manu)
          2. Social origin

          In fact social origin of castes has more credence over the religious roots as per wikipedia.

          Digressing from castes, please see the following abstract. West Eurasian mtDNA lineages in India: an insight into the spread of the Dravidian language and the origins of the caste system

          • 1

            Wiki is not always accurate, edited by those who have an agenda
            example: Kavantissa (golden) or Kakkavantissa (crow color)

            Kavantissa, Kaha Wan Thissa,(that means who has the color of golden body).

            Gothabhaya’s son, known by the name Kakavannatissa,[7] the prince,
            reigned there after his death. Viharadevi was the consort of this
            believing king, firm in the faith (was she),

            The point I was trying to make was there is all this sexist racist stuff in the religion. Its brought to the forefront or applied based on social construct and economic conditions.

            So lets take Christianity in Western Countries.
            You have to first keep in mind the Bible is a middle eastern religious book. And in the Middle East patriarchy and women being subservient to men is the norm.

            So Slavery:
            The black people were considered inferior and slavery justified based on the bible quote of the Sons of Ham will be hewers of wood. Plenty more about slaves and concubines in the old testament.

            Women: Bible: Women should be seen not heard
            Women were the last to get the vote, become priestess etc.
            Still an issue with certain Evangelical sects in the US.
            In England, once the husband died the wife did not get it.
            It went to either the son or the next in the male line.

            All this started changing with greater economic freedom in the mid 1800’s
            i.e all the money from the now Third world making the west richer and less labor intensive jobs.
            WW2 with all the men at war and factory works and other jobs being done by women made them more independent.
            In Sri Lanka war and the ease of finding jobs in middle east, garment factories has made women more independent.l

            One should recall the beacon of the “first Democracy of the West” Greece was only for land holding men and economic work done by slaves.
            Land holders time to think philosophy, geometry while the day to day work is done by slaves.

            • 1


              Thank you for the excellent examples of discrimination prevalent among the world’s religions as well civilisations.

              I agree our focus should be more on elimination of differences than the origins.

          • 0


            Wonder what % of U7 they estimate to be in all of India.

            My maternal mtDNA is U7.
            The only U7 of 7 Sri Lankans in Harappa database (HRP0232).

            The rumor was that my great-grandmother was European, probably Irish.

            • 0

              I am unable to understand the intricacies of mitochondrial genetics. I did ask for help from a professor of genetics.I hope help will be available
              Eurogenes web site has a discussion on the above article including a comment on the sub groups of U7 and their prevalence in India.

  • 2

    Ken robert


    “It will be interesting to do a cross sectional genetic study on Castes of Jaffna. I expect we might not see a significant difference.”

    Do you think Tamil/Saivaite, Sinhala/Buddhist and Arab/Islamists are prepared to undergo such a scientific study?

    Without these irrational/unscientific differences these three people will die. They need to have these identities to be on top of the pecking order.

    • 0

      Native Vedda

      “Do you think Tamil/Saivaite, Sinhala/Buddhist and Arab/Islamists are prepared to undergo such a scientific study? “

      1. “Through a comparison with the mtDNA HVS-1 and part of HVS-2 of Indian database, both Tamils and Sinhalese clusters were affiliated with Indian subcontinent populations than Vedda people who are believed to be the native population of the island of Sri Lanka.”


      2. They used to have 48 Chromosomes. Now they have 46.

      Ken Miller on Human Evolution


      Uploaded on Feb 14, 2007
      Dr. Ken Miller talks about the relationship between Homo sapiens and the other primates. He discusses a recent finding of the Human Genome Project which identifies the exact point of fusion of two primate chromosomes that resulted in human chromosome #2.

      • 1


        Note: the Lanka Ranweera et al (2014) Study is only on mtDNA.
        Thats just 1/46 (2%) of the chromosomes.

        Basically says direct maternal ancestry of Sinhalese and Tamils are different from Veddas.

        For all we know the rest of 98% could be the same, till further studies are done.

        In case of castes, sure that plenty of shared paternal ancestry between low and high castes.

    • 2

      I was searching the noolaham site for authorative sources on castes in Jaffna.
      I found M D Raghavan book on ancient srilanka, Prof Sivathamby’s book and Rasanayagam’s book on ancient Jaffna.

      I do not think most of us disagree on ending castes. I find it disheartening that castes discrimination is played to the gallery by vested interests.

      • 1

        “”I find it disheartening that castes discrimination is played to the gallery by vested interests. “”

        pirates, politicians, priests,….that’s because the English are very good at providing the wrong word;
        `equal opportunity` Or `human operation`

      • 0

        I think I should have blogpost with all the free books and essential reading stuff.

        Yalman, Nur. Under the Bo tree; Studies in Caste, Kinship, and Marriage in the interior of Ceylon. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1967.
        I cant emphasize enough the breadth and depth of this work. Do you want to figure out anthropology etc and want to figure it out in a SL context, read this book its an all time classic and text book in the US. Maybe some day this and Pfaffenberger work will be translated into Sinhala and Tamil. Even better would be if the populace can read the originals.

        Unhappily very expensive. I bought it cheap, less than USD 10
        Pfaffenberger, Bryan, Caste in Tamil culture : The religious foundations of Sudra domination in Tamil Sri Lanka Syracuse, N.Y. : Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, 1982.

        • 4

          Pfaffenberger’s book had been torn to shreds by R.S Perinpanayagam in the latter’s publication Karmic Theatre.

      • 1

        Ken robert

        Caste Discrimination and Social Justice in Sri Lanka: An Overview pdf:

        Please copy & paste the above in google search.

        1. Introduction
        Although caste is in many respects less significant and less visible in Sri Lanka, compared to India, some 90 per cent of the population in Sri Lanka recognises it for some purposes at least (Thorat and Shah, 2007). There are three parallel caste systems in Sri Lanka: Sinhala, Sri Lankan Tamil and Indian Tamil. While there is no uniform notion of untouchability in these three caste systems, caste discrimination of some kind is found in each one. Academic anthropological
        research on caste was popular in Sri Lanka in the 1950s and 1960s (Leach
        1960, 1961, Ryan 1993, Jayaraman 1975). Most of these studies focused on
        positive functions of caste towards establishing a unified social system to the neglect of any consideration of caste discrimination, social injustices and human right violations involved, including the plight of the bottom layers in society. Conducted under auspices of the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) and the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies (IIDS), this paper examines the patterns of caste-based discrimination (CBD) in Sri Lanka in a range of domains that include denial of human dignity, denial of access to drinking water, education,
        employment, land markets and economic opportunities, and restrictions on
        political participation and social welfare. It seeks to identify the nature, extent and mechanisms of CBD and exclusion in Sri Lanka to assess and document any activities and programmes for addressing CBD; identify ways and means for eliminating or at least reducing CBD; identify underprivileged ‘low caste’ groups in Sri Lanka with a focus on their human rights, poverty situation and trends, political participation, gender relations; and foster advocacy, networking and research and analytical capacities in Sri Lanka on the subject of CBD.


        Caste Discrimination and Social Justice in Sri Lanka: An Overview

        Kalinga Tudor Silva, P.P. Sivapragasam, Paramsothy Thanges

        • 2

          Native, sbarrkum and arunthavanathan
          Many thanks for the references and insight.

          It would have been a more productive discussion if the author of the above article did a referenced essay.

  • 0

    Thank you and the video. I will be glad to show the operation of the caste system. I have observed our despicable shameful practiced in everyday life in Jaffna since childhood and more saw since 1994. Caste discrimination is a legacy that is keeping us from liberation. It prevails even in the education system openly and covertly. Thanks for the British for reducing it at the surface.

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