Colombo Telegraph

Status Of Tamils, Women, And Homosexuals In Sri Lanka

By Jagath Asoka

Dr. Jagath Asoka

Every “emotion-based reaction” is a complex; all fundamentalists and racists react to comments on religion, race, or ethnicity as if their religion, race, or ethnicity is their own mother. When you combine ethnicity and religion—e.g., Sinhala Buddhist—even the psychiatrists cannot figure out how to name such combined complexes.

When I was ten-years old, I saw what this “mother complex” can do to a person. While my elder brother and I were playing, a teenager from our neighborhood insulted our mother; he just used two Sinhala words; my brother punched the guy in the nose, and the guy left with a bloody nose, weeping like a willow tree. My brother did not even have time to think; he just reacted; literally, he was faster than his own shadow; I stood there, totally transfixed; then I laughed, thinking, “How is he going to do that to my mother?” If you have a complex, it will give rise to abnormal or pathological behavior.

I was somewhat struck by the number of malevolent responses given to my previous article: A Tamil President in Sri Lanka. Contrary to what we see and hear, there are Sinhala Buddhists who would support the idea of a Tamil President in Sri Lanka, provided that he or she is a decent, honorable, erudite person who is fluent in Sinhalese. What do you want to do? Make an amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution to keep cloning Mahinda Rakapaksa and his brothers so that they can rule Sri Lanka for forever?

The schizophrenic clamor of anti-Tamil voices that we often hear—the venom of the bigoted Sinhala-Buddhists—comes from the mentally demented. I do not know a single Sinhala Christian who hates Tamils so much. Hating Tamils, is it a Sinhala Buddhist phenomenon in Sri Lanka? There is no pill for this disease of hatred which is one of the roots of evil—greed, hatred, and delusion; we have so many pharmaceuticals for people who are delusional; as far as I am aware, the major pharmaceutical companies are not working on this potential, multibillion dollar, blockbuster drug for hatred, because the psychiatrists have not labeled this as a mental disease, yet. We learn from the history of mental diseases that our psychiatrists have been always too slow to diagnose mental diseases. Hatred is a symptom of a demented soul that has not been diagnosed as a mental disease; there are other forms of undiagnosed mental diseases: schizophrenic, virulent clamor of fundamentalists of all religions, racism; anti-Semitism, homophobia, misogyny, etc. So, if you are boiling with hatred towards Tamils, or if you deny that there is no such problem in Sri Lanka, I cannot help you: there is no pill, yet.

Before we find a cure for cancer, we need to find a cure for hatred, based on race and religion, because this kind of hatred have killed more human beings than all the physical ailments known to us. If you are a bigoted, Sinhala Buddhist fundamentalist, be careful, because I know very well that you firmly believe in karma and rebirth—two central tenets of Buddhism. So, in your next life, you will be born as hapless Tamils or other minorities that you hate so much. If you choose not to believe in rebirth, in this particular case, learn from our recent history—all you need is just a modicum of imagination. I lived in the former Soviet Union for six years, while studying for my MS degree. I never thought in a million years that in 1990s, the mighty superpower would collapse and form 15 third-world countries. What guaranty do we have that this will not happen in India?  What if in 50 years Tamil Nadu becomes a sovereign country? The India that we see today is a remnant of the British Empire; In the Middle-East, the boundaries that were drawn by the British are literally disappearing as you read this article.  If Tamil Nadu becomes a powerful country, where more than 70 million Tamils reside, what will happen to Sri Lanka? If this happens, unless Sri Lankan Tamils firmly believe that Sri Lanka is their own county, your grandchildren will pay for the sins that you are committing today. Have you seen a Sri Lankan Tamil rooting for India when we play cricket, Sri Lanka versus India?  Myopia is worse than any phobia that I know.  So, do unto others as you would want them to do unto you. Think of what the Buddha had preached about the consequences of hatred—most of you repeat and regurgitate the following verse in Dhammapada, “Hatred does not appease hatred…” as a daily mantra; if it does not work for you, read what Jesus had preached about loving your neighbor. According to the non-canonical Revelation of Peter, those who insult others will be held by their tongues over the eternal fires of Hell. According to the Buddha, “He who seeking his own happiness punishes or kills beings who also long for happiness, will not find happiness after death.” Had he been alive, the Buddha would have said, “Be kind to your Tamil brothers and sisters; Muslim brothers and sisters; and share your land, wealth, and the political power with them.” I am pretty sure that the BBS Buddhist monks would drop a boulder on the Buddha for his views on minorities.

Well, what is the status of women and homosexuals in Sri Lanka? When it comes to choosing a woman as their leader, Sri Lankans have a better track record than the enlightened Americans: Sri Lankans have elected two women as their leader so far. Probably, Sri Lanka already had a gay Prime Minster; perhaps, one day Sri Lankans will elect a gay President, because when it comes to gays and lesbians, Sri Lankans are much more tolerant. A gay Sinhala Buddhist man has a better chance of becoming the Executive President in Sri Lanka than a heterosexual Tamil man. What are the chances of a gay Christian man becoming the President here in the USA?

In general, Sri Lankan women are much more dependable than Sri Lankan men. Both Muhammad Yunus of Grameen Bank and the Coca-Cola Company are aware of the power of women in Asian and African countries: Grameen Bank lends to women; at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting, the Coca-Cola Company announced that they are going to build 150 kiosks in 20 countries to offer water, electricity, and Internet connections; these kiosks will be managed by women, not men.

Most American and European women think that Sri Lankan women are timid and subservient. Sri Lankan women appear to be timid and subservient only in public; in Sri Lanka, women have the real power. They let Sri Lankan men act macho and talk big in public, but at home women make men kneel down like obedient dogs. Have you seen the basilisk looks that some Sri Lankan women give to their husbands when they misbehave in public? Sri Lankan women can gorgonize you with their looks. Do not mess with Sri Lankan women.

To some extent, this tolerance of gays and lesbians and the attitude towards women comes from Buddhism. Although the Buddha was reluctant at first, he allowed women to join his community. We are told that the Buddha hesitated whether to teach or not; perhaps, he had the similar reluctance of allowing women to be part of his community. Later, in certain countries, Buddhism became misogynistic. I do not know whether in Theravada Buddhist scripture it is mentioned that one day a woman will be a Buddha. I do not know any anti-homosexual statements in the Buddhist scripture. I am pretty sure that there were gays and lesbians when the Buddha was alive. The Buddha was totally against the caste system in India. I am surprised that the hatemongers did not kill the Buddha for his liberal views on women and caste system in India.

On the other hand, we find the following statement in the Bible (First Timothy): A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love, and holiness with propriety. This biblical attitude towards women probably determined the fate of women in many Christian nations.

After seeing the comments in my previous article, my friends sincerely lamented over our failure to admit this demonic, malevolent fever that is endemic within us, while some of my acquaintances used this occasion to promote their hidden hatred and bigotry, and used social media and their demented friends to spread this abominable demonic, malevolent fever. When people say that all 22 million Sri Lankans are living a happy life in Sri Lanka, it sounds like that they are living in their own la-la land. What seems like utopia to you will turn into dystopia when this suffering, lawlessness, killings, disappearances, and intimidation experienced by many hapless Sri Lankans visit your own doorsteps; so, enjoy while ignoring the sufferings of others, and soon it will be yours as well. It is just a matter of time. Even though this abominable, noxious stench of anti-Tamil hatred is so pervasive in Sri Lanka, I still have great hope because the fragrance of sincere love and compassion for minorities constantly emanates from the compassionate hearts of many Sri Lankan Sinhala Buddhists. Here is what I believe: Be a Sinhalese, a Tamil, a Muslim, or a Burgher, we cannot be separate Sri Lankans. We are brothers and sisters after all. Do not waste your precious life—you are never going to have this precious life again—by focusing only on greed, hatred, and delusion. 

Back to Home page