1 December, 2020

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The Profound Impact Of Caste In Contemporary Sri Lanka

By Basil Fernando

Basil Fernando

It is a basic tenet of social sciences that a person’s environment has a profound impact on every aspect of their social behaviour, as well as the overall social psyche. When discussing the maladies that affect Sri Lanka, the main topic is usually the failure of politicians and other responsible parties to competently run a functioning system under the legislative, executive and judicial branches. There is no doubt that there have been catastrophic failures in all these aspects. However, these alone do not explain the people’s continuous inability to oppose what is wrong in the institutional setup and to make their influence felt in changing the situation.

To understand why, it is necessary to go into the environment within which democratic institutions were introduced to Sri Lanka and the impact of that environment on those newly introduced institutions. This should be a significant part of the reflections on Sri Lanka’s independence, which had its 69th anniversary recently. There was an uncontended agreement that what was being celebrated was a failed ‘independence’. However, there has been hardly any discussion beyond blaming politicians for this outcome.

The inability of the people to influence the political environment in their country needs far deeper probing. Have these people ever played a significant role in developing their own social, cultural and political environment? The answer to that question takes us far back into history, to see what kind of role was allowed to people living in pre-colonial Sri Lanka.

It is an uncontroversial fact that the social organization in pre-colonial Sri Lanka was based on the caste system. There are a variety of views on exactly when the caste system was introduced to Sri Lanka, but it is beyond controversy that society was already organized on the basis of caste during the Polonnaruwa period. However, almost everyone is reluctant or shy about discussing the impact of a society being organisied on the basis of a grading of its people into two categories: kuliina (upper caste) and kulahiina (all people falling outside the upper caste). 

The grading of people

Scholars have found that the caste system is grounded on two major principles: the complete denial of social mobility, and the use of disproportionate punishment. Every person was made to stay within their prescribed status, on the threat of severe punishments being imposed on that person, his family and his clan for any transgression of caste boundaries. The result is a completely stagnant society where the initiatives of individuals to improve themselves are treated as punishable offences.

At the time, it was not an obligation of the Sri Lanka state to create opportunities for people to improve their prospects. When we look at states where the government has accepted the obligation to create equal opportunities, we see societies that have progressed and become prosperous and dynamic.

Educational opportunities only become meaningful when people have the right to choose what they want to achieve in their life. When the caste system prevailed in Sri Lanka, there were neither opportunities for education nor opportunities for people to better their conditions. Instead, it was even subversive for a person to even aspire to improve their lives.

When such rules are strictly enforced in a society for over a thousand years, it is not difficult to see that the social habits and the very psyche of the people living under those circumstances would be moulded accordingly. When the vast majority of people have to live in a state of complete docility, and accept their condition with complete submissiveness over so many centuries, the ultimate result is the inevitable reshaping of the nature of people in that society.

Democratic freedoms, how ever partial, were offered to Sri Lankans as a result of foreign intervention, which slowly introduced the idea of social mobility and equality of opportunity. How could people who are so conditioned to be servile and live in fear suddenly become capable of exercising such democratic freedoms? Over a thousand years of paralysis were written into their social behaviour and their psyche. They have proved incapable of grasping those new opportunities to take their destiny into their own hands. Indeed, this situation is not surprising at all: the impact of a social environment that has lasted over a thousand years will not go away easily.

The manner in which the caste-based master-servant relationship paralyses individuals and makes people in that society, even many centuries later, remain servile and incapable of asserting their will has been captured well by Indian authors. One such example is the Booker Prize winning novel by Aravind Adikar, “The White Tiger”. Written in the form of letters to the Chinese Premier, the protagonist unravels the system that controls the life of people in India.  The following quote from the novel explains the grip under which Indian masses are held docile:

“The greatest thing to come out of this country in the ten thousand years of its history is the Rooster Coop.

Go to Old Delhi, behind the Jama Masjid, and look at the way they keep chickens there in the market. Hundreds of pale hens and brightly coloured roosters, stuffed tightly into wire-mesh cages, packed as tightly as worms in a belly, pecking each other and shitting on each other, jostling just for breathing space; the whole cage giving off a horrible stench — the stench of terrified, feathered flesh. On the wooden desk above this coop sits a grinning young butcher, showing off the flesh and organs of a recently chopped-up chicken, still oleaginous with a coating of dark blood. The roosters in the coop smell the blood from above. They see the organs of their brothers lying around them. They know they’re next. Yet they do not rebel. They do not try to get out of the coop.

The very same thing is done with human beings in this country.

Watch the roads in the evenings in Delhi; sooner or later you will see a man on a cycle-rickshaw, pedalling down the road, with a giant bed, or a table, tied to the cart that is attached to his cycle. Every day furniture is delivered to people’s homes by this man — the delivery- man. A bed costs five thousand rupees, maybe six thousand. Add the chairs, and a coffee table, and it’s ten or fifteen thousand. A man comes on a cycle-cart, bringing you this bed, table, and chairs, a poor man who may make five hundred rupees a month. He unloads all this furniture for you, and you give him the money in cash — a fat wad of cash the size of a brick. He puts it into his pocket, or into his shirt, or into his underwear, and cycles back to his boss and hands it over without touching a single rupee of it! A year’s salary, two years’ salary, in his hands, and he never takes a rupee of it.

Every day, on the roads of Delhi, some chauffeur is driving an empty car with a black suitcase sitting on the backseat. Inside that suitcase is a million, two million rupees; more money than that chauffeur will see in his lifetime. If he took the money he could go to America, Australia, anywhere, and start a new life. He could go inside the five-star hotels he has dreamed about all his life and only seen from the outside. He could take his family to Goa, to England. Yet he takes that black suitcase where his master wants. He puts it down where he is meant to, and never touches a rupee. Why?

Because Indians are the world’s most honest people, like the prime minister’s booklet will inform you?

No. It’s because 99.9 per cent of us are-caught in the Rooster Coop just like those poor guys in the poultry market.

The Rooster Coop doesn’t always work with minuscule sums of money. Don’t test your chauffeur with a rupee coin or two – he may well steal that much. But leave a million dollars in front of a servant and he won’t touch a penny. Try it: leave a black bag with a million dollars in a Mumbai taxi. The taxi driver will call the police and return the money by the day’s end. I guarantee it. (Whether the police will give it to you or not is another story, sir!) Masters trust their servants with diamonds in this country! It’s true. Every evening on the train out of Surat, where they run the world’s biggest diamond-cutting and polishing business, the servants of diamond merchants are carrying suitcases full of cut diamonds that they have to give to someone in Mumbai. Why doesn’t that servant take the suitcase full of diamonds? He’s no Gandhi, he’s human, he’s you and me. But he’s in the Rooster Coop. The trustworthiness of servants is the basis of the entire Indian economy.

The Great Indian Rooster Coop. Do you have something like it in China too? I doubt it, Mr Jiabao. Or you wouldn’t need the Communist Party to shoot people and a secret police to raid their houses at night and put them in jail like I’ve heard you have over there. Here in India we have no dictatorship. No secret police.

That’s because we have the coop.

Never before in human history have so few owed so much to so many, Mr Jiabao. A handful of men in this country have trained the remaining 99.9 per cent, as strong, as talented, as intelligent in every way, to exist in perpetual servitude; a servitude so strong that you can put the key of his emancipation in a man’s hands and he will throw it back at you with a curse.

You’ll have to come here and see it for yourself to believe it. Every day millions wake up at dawn, stand in dirty, crowded buses, get off at their masters’ posh houses and then clean the floors, wash the dishes, weed the garden, feed their children, press their feet all for a pittance. I will never envy the rich of America or England, Mr Jiabao: they have no servants there. They cannot even begin to understand what a good life is.

Now, a thinking man like you, Mr Premier, must ask two questions.

Why does the Rooster Coop work? How does it trap so many millions of men and women so effectively?

Secondly, can a man break out of the coop? What if one day, for instance, a driver took his employer’s money and ran? What would his life be like?

I will answer both for you, sir.

The answer to the first question is that the pride and glory of our nation, the repository of all our love and sacrifice, the subject of no doubt considerable space in the pamphlet that the prime minister will hand over to you, the Indian family, is the reason we are trapped and fled to the coop.

The answer to the second question is that only a man who is prepared to see his family destroyed hunted, beaten, and burned alive by the masters can break out of the coop. That would take no normal human being, but a freak, a pervert of nature.

Punishment within the caste context has two components. Firstly, the punishment meted out to people from lower castes is disproportionate to the extreme. As it is taught through the Hindu myths, for example, an untouchable who is not supposed to learn meditation and the practices of yogis may be punished with death for doing so, as demonstrated in the story of Sambuka, or an untouchable boy who is not supposed to learn archery may have his thumb cut off for it. Coming down even to the modern day, there are examples of children being blinded for looking at a TV screen at a shop belonging to an upper caste person, burned alive over a minor dispute, or punished for drinking water in a glass instead of using the utensils that are allowed for the lower castes. The concept of punishing the poor in the severest possible way has also become inbuilt into the criminal justice systems of the countries in the region. Even today, prisons are full of the poor who belong to the so-called lower castes. Torture meted out at police stations and prisons is also directed towards this same class of persons.

The second aspect of punishment within the caste system is that it is collective. As Aravind Adiga has graphically explained, an entire family could be massacred for the transgressions of any single person. This message is written deep in the psyche of all persons and acts as a motivating factor on matters regarding safety in the deepest levels of their minds.

Another talented India thinker, Dr. D.R. Nagaraj, in his famous study called The Flaming Feet: The Dalit Movement in India, wrote:

“The important thing here is that the entire community of Dalits is punished for the offence committed by a single individual. That traditional society in India has never accepted the concept of [the] individual should not make us blind towards the working of the caste ethos here. When similar offences are committed by an individual of [an] upper caste he is always treated as an individual, and his act is not linked to his community. In other words, the notion of the individual is preserved in the context of deviant behaviour [among] the upper castes. We are yet to hear the news of a village boycotting an upper caste for a crime, that too a petty one, committed by one of its members. In Indian literature there are enough descriptions of the unpardonable violation of ethical codes of society, but only the individual concerned is held responsible. To put it differently, one of the chief characteristics of the caste system is to attribute certain inerasable traits to each caste, and they are even judged in moral terms: the superiority of the caste is indeed decided by its rank and station in the hierarchy. A careful analysis of proverbs and popular sayings of Indian languages will reveal the hidden and not so hidden biases and prejudices of the caste system. When it comes to understanding the nature of virtues and vices of a social stratification, the caste system accepts the collective category as the criterion. While confronting deviant behaviour of upper castes the individual is used to explain away the aberration, but in the context of lower castes the category of the individual is never accepted as legitimate. Such at least is the value system that informs the eruption of violence against the untouchables. To give a charitable reading of this phenomenon one could say that the changes in the historical situation have intensified the hypocritical behaviour of the caste society which was under check in the pre-conflict situation.”

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Latest comments

  • 27
    2

    I am sure a lot of patriotic readers will write and say that there is no caste discrimination in this Sinhala Buddhist society, or perhaps they will point to the Tamils.
    One has only to read the newspaper marriage proposals to see the reality.
    A caste-ridden, astrology-obsessed society getting worse by the day. A society that actually believes that the rule of Sinhala kings was some kind of paradise. Even the non-goiyas believe this.
    It is time we stopped brainwashing our kids about the supposed great pre-colonial society and tell the truth about how the Portuguese started destroying the rigid caste system (if you converted, of course) . It was not for nothing that the Portuguese managed to overrun the lower-caste populated coastal areas.

    • 11
      16

      Thank you Mr. Basil Fernando. Thank you Old Codger. We need more people to acknowledge the evil that the caste system is.

      • 22
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        Mr. Hoole,

        What about the evil of Christianity?The church helped exterminate the indigenous peoples of America and Australia. It enslaved the African. It burnt the Jews. It undermined each and every Muslim country.

        Look at how Christian America destroyed the Middle East.

        The church made one prophet (PBUH) into God. Read Ayats 75 to 80 of Surah 5 and then Surah 112 to know the true religion.

        Iqra!

        • 9
          0

          Dear Mr. Ghafar,
          “It enslaved the African. It burnt the Jews. It undermined each and every Muslim country. “
          Yes, all quite true about Christianity. But did you not know that slavery was legal in Saudi Arabia till 1954?
          You see, no religion ,yours included, is perfect. Let us learn to admit our own mistakes.

          • 9
            1

            Dear Old Codger,

            Islam recommends the freeing of slaves as a meritorious act. Read Surah 24, Ayat 33.

            Contrast that with the New Testament that upheld slavery.

            There was racial segregation in the American Christian south until 1965. Blacks could not use toilets, restaurants and hotels reservation for the whites. They could not freely vote. The southern white churches supported segregation.

            The third canto of the Star Spangled Banner demeans the slave!

            South Africa had racial segregation until 1991. The Dutch Reformed Church legitimized it.

            Rhodesia had racial segregation until 1979 sanctioned by the white church.

            Did you know that women were burnt as witches in Christian history? Mary Daly, a historian, estimated that millions of women were burnt at the stake.

            Christian love and charity is a humbug. It’s a racist white colonial legacy. Islam is the perfected monotheism that acknowledges that Jesus (PBUH) was a prophet. The Christians made him a god. What evil!

            Good night. It’s late here.

            • 1
              0

              Dear Mr.Ghafar,

              “Islam recommends the freeing of slaves as a meritorious act. Read Surah 24, Ayat 33.”
              All religions recommend many things, but don’t implement them to the letter.
              As I said, there were slaves in Saudi Arabia in the 50’s. The slaves in the West were sold to Europeans by Muslim Arab slave traders.
              Sure the Old Testament (Leviticus) does support slavery and stoning of women, but there are other parts of the Bible that condemn it. It is possible to come up with quotations that support one’s viewpoint on any subject. It is the same with the Quran:
              Quran (4:24) – “And all married women (are forbidden unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hands possess.”

              Surat An-Nisa [verse 24] – And [also prohibited to you are all] married women except those your right hands possess. [This is] the decree of Allah upon you.

              It’s all in the interpretation, Mr.Ghafar.

              • 4
                1

                old codger

                Is ISIS an Islamic sect?

                The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 was passed with the view to abolish slavery through out British Empire.

                Britain was believe to be a Christian country yet it made slavery illegal in 1833. As a consequence of this act Many slaves belonging to all races on this island were set free.

                I am unsure as to how best to set free Abdul Ghafar.

                • 1
                  1

                  ISIS is truly following the example led by Muhammed.

                  Read the article by the American mainstream liberal publication The Atlantic titled ” What ISIS really wants ”

                  Everything ISIS does has justification in the Quran.

            • 3
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              The White countries have come a long way in creating a fairer and just society while Islamic countries are still very intolerant and racist. The Gulf countries rarely grant citizenship, even to Muslims and they never grant citizenship to non Muslims.

              While Muslims flooding the West is droves, they rarely allow non-Muslims into Muslims countries to settle down and they harass and cleanse the non-Muslims who are already there since before the time of Islam.

              Arabs are still enslaving Black Africans in Africa and all those Gulf oil rich countries are built on slavery . Blue collar workers in Saudi,Kuwait,UAE,Qatar,Bahrain are treated like slaves. White countries do not treat people like that.

              There is racial segregation in Arab countries ; Arabs pay Indians,Pakistanis,Sri Lankans, Indonesians, Filipinos much lower wages than they pay Whites and Arab ; for doing the same job. In the West, for the same job everyone regardless of race gets the same pay.

              Every Muslim country makes its non-Muslims into 2nd class citizens.

            • 1
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              Slavery was not encouraged but accepted in Islam as a given fact. Agree that Prophet discouraged slavery but he did not prohibit. We cannot expect him to do that as he is a product of the environment.

              All religions have such laws that are not acceptable in the present context. Be it Christianity, Buddhism or Hinduism. Stoning for adultery is in the Bible and I think it is accepted in the Jewish traditions too. But Christian countries have gone beyond it and do not practice such inhuman laws, but Saudi is still following such barbaric traditions.

              Islam had different laws for men, for women and for slaves.As pointed out by the old codger, a man can have sex with his slaves. It is permitted in the Quran. Quran is also progressive in that it was considered liberal and women friendly during the period that Quran was revealed. Women were given property rights which was unheard of in that period. There was encouragement to free slaves.

              What people failed to realise that the edicts in the quran are contextual and it has to be interpreted in the modern context in the light of the developments that are taking place.

              • 3
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                Zaneera Farook,
                If you really are a muslim, it is refreshing to find one who can discuss Islam without getting offended.
                As I pointed out, all religions have skeletons in their cupboards, not only Islam.All the Abrahamic religions have baggage from the past. Jews are instructed to carry spades in their kit in order to cover their excreta.( Deuteronomy 23: 10-13) Like Muslims, Orthodox Jews discourage pets. All this might have resulted from some disease epidemic in the hoary Babylonian past. We must exercise discretion when continuing with similar practices now.
                It is true that the Quran was quite revolutionary in its attitude to women at the time.
                By the way, parts of the Buddhist Vinaya Pitaka make interesting reading, especially the parts which prohibit monks from having sex with disembodied heads! Now why was that??

              • 2
                0

                I agree with “old codger” that it is wonderful to have a Muslim who is willing to say that the religion has to be seen in the context in which it was born.

                If others too would acknowledge that there has to be fresh, rational thinking on most social problems many of our conflicts will get closer to getting resolved.

                • 1
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                  There are lots of Muslims who think that religion has to be interpreted in that context. But there voices are not loud enough

                  1. Most of the verses in the Quran and Prophets( sal) traditions or what we call hadees was a response to a particular problem and also as mentioned earlier.

                  2. But there are eternal verses in the Quran re justice, compassion, forgiving, mercy, contributing part of the wealth to the poor, which are eternal and for all times.

                  What the Ulemas does is to confuse 1 and 2. They lay more emphasis on 1 when it suits them. Islam doesn’t have a clergy but somehow these Ulemas have become powerful.

                  For your information I am a Muslim and I believe in the point 2

                  • 0
                    0

                    Zaneera,
                    Considering that Islam is 600 years younger than Christianity, you can congratulate yourself that modern Islam is certainly not as bad as the Christianity of 600 years ago.

                • 1
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                  Thank you Sinhala man. Most problems are created when we believe in our own infallibility.

                  • 0
                    0

                    Thanks, “old codger”.

                    However, the person who deserves raise is not “liberal” me, but Zaneera Farook. Let us hope that she continues making these welcome and constructive comments..

        • 5
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          Let us accept that no religion is absolute bunkum; but every religion that ever existed in the world seems to force us to stretch our credulity with some sort of talk of magic and supernatural. Let adherents who want to believe all that, do so IN PRIVATE.

          Many comments so far are trying to claim that in its pristine form, their particular religion did not have some of the social evils that later began to adhere to them. Granted. I feel that even in its original form these religions were basically beneficial to the world.

          However, all religions, in their PUBLIC MANIFESTATIONS, have by now acquired serious faults, not the least being that their adherents MUST come out and claim that theirs is the best. Please believe that yourselves, but don’t cause problems in the world by insisting on pointing out faults in others.

          Let each religion work assiduously at correcting its own faults, and NOT criticise others. I’m not quoting writing, or any religious teacher to make my point because if I did so, then I’d be seen as advocating some particular view.

          Generally speaking it is organised religions that are bad. Please keep religion private. Hold on to your faith, by all means. However (and this is crucial) do NOT bring up children in such a way that they AUTOMATICALLY start accepting YOUR world view, to the extent of not even entertaining the possibility that on each issue it is possible that somebody else’s belief has something worthy of serious consideration and respect.

          • 4
            0

            Not all religions are the same. Some are very violent and genocidal and some are peacefull . Jainism is peaceful while Islam,Brahminical Hinduism and Old Testament Judaism are racist and intolerant. Islam is especially violent and expansionist. Muhammed was a warlord . He was not a pacifist like Jesus.

            • 1
              0

              What you have said is not incompatible with what I have stated. I, personally, would not say that (from my limited knowledge) my own emotional reaction to all the “religions” that I have heard about is the same.

              This is a common reaction to one religion:

              “Islam is especially violent and expansionist. Muhammed was a warlord .”

              That religion has to be taken in the context of its origin. Then you begin to understand why it is characterised by “toughness” towards outsiders. However, the moment we begin to say that sort of thing the adherents of that religion stop trying to connect with us.

              It was easy for me to put out a theoretical position. In day to day activities it is much more difficult to know what to do.

              I’m not a particularly wise or intelligent guy!

            • 2
              0

              There are lots of Muslims who think that religion has to be interpreted in that context. But there voices are not loud enough

              1. Most of the verses in the Quran and Prophets( sal) traditions or what we call hadees was a response to a particular problem and also as mentioned earlier.

              2. But there are eternal verses in the Quran re justice, compassion, forgiving, mercy, contributing part of the wealth to the poor, which are eternal and for all times.

              What the Ulemas does is to confuse 1 and 2. They lay more emphasis on 1 when it suits them. Islam doesn’t have a clergy but somehow these Ulemas have become powerful.

              For your information I am a Muslim and I believe in the point 2

          • 3
            0

            Sinhala Man,

            I half disagree with you when you say “Let each religion work assiduously at correcting its own faults, and NOT criticise others.”

            I say yes to “Let each religion work assiduously at correcting its own faults.”

            But I must say no to “NOT criticise others.”

            Society owes justice to all citizens, not just to adherents of ones own religion.

            If a Christian preacher (Jimmy Swaggart as he did during the Iraq war) says bomb the Arabs or that inter-racial marriage is against God, we need to say they are wrong, even if we are not Christians.

            If Muslims say girl children can be married off, we say wrong even if we are not Muslim. if Hindus say Krishna said the lower castes were born with evil qualities, we disagree even if were are not Hindu.

            All these people — Muslims in the Middle East, those falling in love across race, Muslim girl children forced to marry older men, low caste Indians and Sri Lankans who are seen as polluting — are owed justice.

            We cannot escape that obligation saying we cannot say negative things about other people’s versions of their own religion

          • 3
            0

            Dear “Religious”,

            I agree with you that IN THE NAME OF religion lots of horrible things are done, which I have tried to deal with in an abstract sort of way, and I have indeed been decrying them as “public manifestations” of those religions.

            Yes, I think that we must stop “religious abuse”. We may even have to pass laws to ensure that religions should NOT stray in to the public sphere. In fact, I have gone further and appealed to parents not to bring up their children as bigots.

            I think that one of our biggest problems is this statement that discussion of politics and and religion are outlawed in polite society. Of course, we freely criticise politics, but in my life, what I have found is that any criticism of “religious dignitaries” gets you nowhere. Very few are willing to even entertain a suggestion that clergy plot and manipulate. Now that is within the religious tradition that I myself was brought up in. If I give you examples, I fear that you may say that such criticism is out of bounds.

            The most “religious” Christians in America got together and elected Trump. It’s not just proving to be a disaster; I consider the guy to be an amoral hypocrite so full of himself that he does not even realise yet that you cannot fool people all the time. Your opening shot has been directed at a “Christian preacher”. I feel that the secular and scientific traditions that have been nurtured in what we still refer to as “Christian Countries” are strong enough to contain the worst excesses there. I’ll be very surprised if Trump actually manages to be POTUS for four years.

            But worldwide, the greatest threat is felt to be “Islamic Fundamentalism”. On this site Izeth Hussain has been trying to counter some of that by showing another side to that religion (while, perhaps, writing too many articles himself!) I myself am perturbed to find in the Koran some things that disturb me, but I try not to write anything outrageous myself.

            However, please take my comments as being in the context of this article, where I agree with the author, Basil Fernando, that we Sinhalese try to deny that “caste considerations” still linger in our society. We keep saying that it belongs to Tamil society alone.

            There can be no doubt that Gautama Buddha fought against caste; yet it is to be found among “Sinhala Buddhists”. We are not doing enough to fight it, and OTHER EVILS, to be found among us.

        • 2
          0

          Why are you bringing the West and Christianity into a discussion of Caste?
          Just as evil as what the West did and as bad as caste is Arab and Muslim genocide and conquests of many cultures.

          Look at how Arab Muslims slaughtered and forcibly converted Christians in the MiddleEast and North Africa and Pakistan to Islam.

          In Egypt the Muslims are still oppressing the Copts, who speak the language of the ancient Egyptians.

          In Iraq and Syria, Sunnis are genociding Christians and Yezidis.

          In India and Pakistan, untold millions of Hindus and Christians were raped, ethnically cleansed and killed by Muslim invaders.

          In Indonesia, the Muslims invaded and genocided the indigenous people of West Papua.

          In Sudan the Arabs have been enslaving , raping and genociding the native Black people for hundreds of years.

          It was the Moor (Muslims Arabs and Berbers ) who enslaved most of the Black Africans that were sent to the Americas. Europeans did not go into the African interior to enslave Blacks, they bought them from Arab/Moor Muslim slave raiders.

          Pakistan has all but genocided and ethnically cleansed the indigenous Christian and Hindu community.

          • 0
            0

            Now in eastern Sri Lanka low caste Dravidian South Indian converts to Islam who arrived in the east around 400 years ago as refugees are now trying to ethnically cleanse and steal the lands of the indigenous eastern Tamil Hindus/Christians and the Tamilised Vedda, who gave them refuge, with the help of outside Sinhalese Buddhist racist settlers who only arrived in the east 60 years ago and claim the east as theirs.

      • 4
        15

        Prof.Hoole

        It is up to intellectuals like you to spearhead a campaign against caste discrimination which still exists in the North in its’ most abhorrent form.

        • 5
          13

          Oracle,

          Thank you. It is very hazardous as you can see from the above comments.

          When an egregious offence is done to one community, one does not excuse it by pointing to other egregious acts against other communities.

          The proper thing is to tackle both rather than excusing both as a way of continuing caste.

        • 3
          9

          The Oracle,

          “It is up to intellectuals like you to spearhead a campaign against caste discrimination which still exists in the North in its’ most abhorrent form.”

          In addition to women members of the so called low castes should be empowered. I believe that there are about 20% of them in Jaffna divided between two main castes and many of them are now Christians. I assume that there is a very clear majority of women lead households due to war and migration.

          These people mostly continue to be excluded and suffer from malnutrition, different diseases, drop out from schools etc.

          Of course there are no statistics but I can see the situation in my area.

          • 8
            0

            Lone Wolf typically exaggerates the number of Christians.

            • 0
              0

              Lone Wolf mentioned no numbers. CX seems to be trigger happy.

        • 11
          3

          That is how Missionries and the Tamilnadu church began it saying every one is equal infront of the god. How ever, those Catholics/christians don’t feed poor – starving Hindus because they are Hindus.

          • 5
            0

            You asked me below for contradictions in what you say. Almost all the Hindus that we come across in our country are “Tamils”.

            Why do you feel sorry for these “starving Hindus”?

          • 2
            0

            A lot of Christians were poor starving Hindus who converted to Christianity to the evil of Hinduism. These Missionaries did feed the poor Hindus and some of those Hindus converted.

            Christian Missionaries are not like Muslim missionaries, they help everyone.

            • 0
              0

              Muslim missionaries? Which Muslim missionaries? Where?

              Both Christianity and Islam believe in charity (perhaps as a passport to a better place).
              There has been no institutionalized charity in religions of South Asia. But charity is encouraged at a personal level, but not as a must. Feeding the poor and the clergy happens on special occasions.

          • 1
            0

            Hindus are richer in TN than Christian’s. What a bs imagination

          • 1
            0

            What about Budhist concept of earthly possessions and Nirvana. But even the prison minister admitted most monks serving the jail term are for theft , digging for treasure and child abuse. What a joke

        • 15
          0

          Caste is a pretty strong force among the Sinhalese, too.

          As Old Codger has suggested, just look at the marriage proposals in the newspapers.

          Each community ought to correct itself.

          • 6
            0

            I mean that you hate them so much, as evidenced here:

            https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-story-of-advising-a-tadpole/

          • 0
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            Will people correct themselves if some social structure gives them the advantage over others .We humans have always done that when countries are conquered we believe we are spreading the good civilization of ours and disturb what is there ..so be it and very often Religions follow the norm not to upset the society in fear of ‘anarchy’ or precedence .this is why we maintain a low wage structure for the workers with justification that something is better than none .I just read with what glee the Journo set out to the war front, sometimes begs for assignments that are daring why ? Is it to highlight the pathos and the suffering of victims caught in the crossfire or to get a good story for the publisher to get more sales for the tabloid ? . In the end its the individual that surfaces the brave Journo gets the award and the victim God knows in some refugee camp may be . .It make me smile when we highlight the generosity of a person to the lowly which to me is a boost to his / her Ego rather than of the healing the mind of the one who is forced to stretch his hand out for the rice packet ..Another trend today is th is that lots of Humans wants to publish their proud ancestry and research in the hope of finding some Royal line or a closer to Royal line .More so in their old Senior years they have achieved a niche in life to make proud boast to their Kids .will this action take away attitude of Caste or status ?Ancestry .com is making a good income !

    • 1
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      OLd codger:

      What do you say about Poor, Middle, rich, super rich and celebrity classes. that is acceptable you. Because, your brain is washed to accept that.

      How about people looking for things see them superior to others. So, people feel more self-worth ?

    • 3
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      Dear Old Codger,

      Let’s begin at the beginning. We claim ours to be a Buddhist country where Buddhism, imported from India as it were, is given a higher and special status. The half a dozen Mahanayakas and the nearly half a million monks control and influence the entire political system now. Sinhala Buddhists must surely know Gautama the Buddha was a rare liberal and iconoclast in his time – a truly honest free thinker. Why do these priests not give a start, even now, to dismantle the caste structure. After all, it creates so much of division and dissension in Sinhala society. This is not impossible in today’s modern world.

      In our time, we have seen many instances where class has replaced caste. This is where very rich businessmen from lower castes have married into upper castes. One needs to make a start sometime if social change is what the larger majority of people want. This applies to both Sinhalese and Tamils.

      Backlash

      • 2
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        Backlash,
        ” This is where very rich businessmen from lower castes have married into upper castes.”
        It’s a curious thing. The lower-caste proposals say “caste immaterial”. The goiyas insist on SB, KGB, etc.

        ” The half a dozen Mahanayakas and the nearly half a million monks control and influence the entire political system now.
        The Mahanayakes are not chosen for their intellectual ability. The Big Two at least are always of a particular caste, from a particular area, and want to preserve the status quo.

  • 2
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    sri lanken history is very much fabricated. why the kings lost in sri lanka and india against the portugeese and dutch/english is due to the people were oppressed by the kings with taxes and burdans of caste. very good write-up. caste system is more than physical its mental servitude. its still prevelant among the buddhist/tamils in sri lanka.

    • 0
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      Hello, Don’t you see they advertise caste in Christian marriage proposals too?

      I hope this evil will slowly be destroyed by the winds capitalism and the liberalism!

      I once found one who replied he is from Photography caste, since his father is a photographer!

  • 11
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    Basil Fernando:

    It helps talking about Casteism in Sri lanka because it helps your business – the “selling of Human rights”. Other than that, it exists even in the countries who helped you to establish your Human right business.

    See how Obedient subjects are kneeling in front of the royalty and various title holders – Knight, sirs – obedient servents of the Queen. tht is Casteism in another way.

    Castes are separated by their king. NOw, it is the culture. But when your royalty or the “system” creates Caste, you define it differently.

    See, how the poor classe, middle class, rich class, celebrities and the super rich in the developed world. If some one tqalk about it, you say Socualists, communist and you don’t talk about Casteism and discmination. Because, it is approved by financiers.

    • 8
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      Indeed Jim Softly. Human rights is a global industry.

    • 8
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      Jim, I do occasionally give you a “thumbs up”, and I have now.

      Now that you have made your justifiable ad hominem, could you please start examining what is wrong with the public and social manifestations of whatever system you’ve been holding on to, and correcting what your own social group has been doing to bring our country, specifically, to be the mess we see it to be in.

      You keep attacking everybody else, but never tell us where you belong, or what you have been doing in life. Also, if anybody bothers to collate all that you have said, huge contradictions emerge.

      I’ve often been criticised in this forum for revealing too much of myself, and my background. I have not prospered because of my candour, and I don’t boast of myself as being perfect.

      “Human Rights” ought to be respected. If people are turning it in to a business that is wrong. It is even more wrong for you to merely apply labels to others and claim that they are saying things to prosper materially. I’m quite an elderly man, and I have not benefitted by saying the sort of thing that I DO say.

      You stand for nothing positive – by the look of things.

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        Sinhala_Man

        specifically, to be the mess we see it to be in.

        Go back to Tamilnadu.

        • 3
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          Dear Mr.Jimmy,
          You seem to be a person of such intellectual ability that you can tell this fake sinhala man to go back to Tamilnadu! I congratulate you, Mr.Jim! Tell me, how did you fare in the Grade 5 exam?
          You write so well in English for a Sinhala Buddhist! Even though you make some minor mistakes. Probably you are having power cuts in your area due to this unpatriotic government and can’t see the keyboard? Or your grandmother who is taking dictation is more used to typing in Tamil?
          More strengh to your arm (or leg)! Jayaweva!

      • 1
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        Sinhala_Man

        You keep attacking everybody else, but never tell us where you belong, or what you have been doing in life. Also, if anybody bothers to collate all that you have said, huge contradictions emerge.

        For example ? Tell me

        • 6
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          I can’t be bothered searching much! But let’s take the comment you’ve made here:

          https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-story-of-advising-a-tadpole/

          Why did you make a comment there at all? What you say there IS that even if there is no evidence, the VC stakes in Jaffna University MUST be “caste-related”. You appear to look forward to there being no more Tamils in Sri Lanka.

          Why don’t you steer clear of people you dislike so much, instead of saying things that could start another war?

          I know little about the god/ goddess “Kali”. You say, “She is bad only for the wicked.” These deities may symbolise certain things, just as Athena symbolised (among other things) “Wisdom” for the Greeks.

          Simple logic tells me that she will be very bad for the wicked.

          If she puts you in serious trouble, do let me know. I’ll see how I can help, although I don’t believe in the literal existence of “Kali”.

        • 0
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          And you are talking about contradictions ? Haha good one

    • 0
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      Mr. Basil Fernando,

      Preach, sell or do whatever it takes to spread human rights. That is the way to a fair society.

      Thank you for the excellent work you do.

      Jeevan

  • 5
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    Can you tell me why you want me to go back (significantly) to Tamil Nadu? I belong here; the only two languages I can communicate in are Sinhala and English. If faced with something in French, I can sometimes figure out what it means. The same applies to a number of European languages, but I can’t really use any of them.

    Tamil Nadu? No Sinhalese is probably spoken there. The languages used there must be Thamil and English. I don’t know any Thamil . That is to say I don’t know the alphabet at all. I know that “vanga” means “come”, “poda” means “go”. Things like that. I wish I knew a little more. My elder daughter can communicate in Thamil, and I feel that all who live in Sri Lanka ought to master the three “national languages”.

    Why should a person who is identified by all acquaintances as a “Sinhalese” go to Tamil Nadu?

    Go back three generations, I have had eight ancestors (names known – all Sinhalese). Go back eight generations, I would have had 1024 ancestors (some may be duplicates! Intermarriage of relatives in all communities is pretty common). I’d expect to find some ancestors who were identified as Tamils.

    Go back two thousand years: I’m pretty sure that some ancestors would have identified as Tamils; some may even have been inhabitants of Tamil Nadu. I have spoken of three generations back: all 8 ancestors I know to have lived a bit in-land from Galle in the South of Sri Lanka.

    I’m sure that more or less the same must apply to you. Your comment on that, please?

    I remember I once gave you my e-mail address (based totally on a Sinhalese name) in replying to one of your comments. You responded: saying that you didn’t want to know me. I could even give you a telephone number. Please give me a missed call; I will respond and we can talk to each other – in either Sinhala or English.

    Your choice!

  • 0
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    [Edited out]

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      thondamannay

      “[Edited out]”

      Excellent

      Thanks for keeping it brief.

  • 6
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    Thank you for the insight. I agree with you. Instead of blaming bad-politicians from all sides for our all our shortcoming and failiures, let us courageously go to the roots and do a radical cleaning up of our inner-slaveries!

    “The inability of the people to influence the political environment in their country needs far deeper probing. Have these people ever played a significant role in developing their own social, cultural and political environment? The answer to that question takes us far back into history, to see what kind of role was allowed to people living in pre-colonial Sri Lanka”

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    No compromise Islam is the best when it comes to this subject ,no doubt about it I have seen it with my own eyes ,a king or a beggar ,black or white ,rich or poor they sit and eat together in one plate.

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    The problem with Sri Lanka and indeed the rest of South Asia is the penchant for people to follow religion and religious leaders without critical examination.

    What Sri Lanka needs sorely is for the education system to teach critical thinking and rationalism to children at a young age . Religion is the bane of South Asia and the MiddleEast.

    • 0
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      palmsquirrell

      “What Sri Lanka needs sorely is for the education system to teach critical thinking and rationalism to children at a young age . Religion is the bane of South Asia and the MiddleEast.”

      “Religion is the opium of the masses”- Karl Marx.

      “teach critical thinking and rationalism” ….that is lacking in the education system. Teach, go to tuition classes, take notes, study notes. take exams and graduate.

      About 50% of the Sri Lankans still think that the Sun goes around the Earth..and the Middle East is not much different.

      Why Sri Lanka lags behind other Asian countries… Para -Sinhala “Buddhism” and Para-Tamil “Hinduism”… Read on..

      http://dailynews.lk/2017/02/21/features/108243/why-sri-lanka-lags-behind-other-asian-countries

  • 1
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    The claim Islam is the true is preposterous. Islam in true sense of the word is not a religion. Islam is a cultural, religious and political system. Political Islam has subjugated other civilizations for 1400 years. Islam is based upon the Trilogy— Koran, Sira and Hadith (his Traditions). Most of the Islamic doctrine is political, not religious. Islam is a political ideology.
    Islam divides the world into Muslims and unbelievers, kafirs. Political Islam always has two different ways to treat kafirs—dualistic ethics. Kafirs can be abused in the worst ways or they can be treated like a good neighbor. Kafirs must submit to Islam in all politics and public life. Every aspect of kafir civilization must submit to political Islam.
    Political Islam is the doctrine that relates to the unbeliever, the kafir. Islam’s relationship to the kafir cannot be religious since a Muslim is strictly forbidden to have any religious interaction with them The religion of Islam is what is required for a Muslim to avoid Hell and enter Paradise.
    The Trilogy not only advocates a religious superiority over the kafir—the kafirs go to Hell whereas Muslims go to Paradise—but also its doctrine demands that Muslims dominate the kafir in all politics and culture. This domination is political, not religious. It is somewhat like th Hindu caste system.
    Islam’s success comes primarily from its politics. In thirteen years as a spiritual leader, Mohammed converted 150 people to his religion. When he became a political leader and warrior, Islam exploded in growth, and Mohammed became king of Arabia in ten years.
    The Koran is devoted to the division between those who believe Mohammed, Muslims, and those who do not, kafirs. This grand division of the Koran means that there are two points of view of the Koran—the view of the Muslim and the view of the kafir.
    Islam polygamy and men are permitted to marry 4 wives. Muhammad himself married a dozen women one as young as 9 years old. 2. Men can divorce their wife whenever they wish, by pronouncing talaq thrice. 3. Men inherit twice as much as women. 4. Husbands are allowed to beat their wives. 5. It has supported the practice of Female Genital Mutilation. 8. It encourages to take women as slaves as war booty. 9. It encourages people to have sex outside marriage, as for example by having sex with the slave girls. The wife has to accept that according to Quran it is ‘halal’ (rightful) for her husband to have sex with his female slave. 10. Only a Muslim and a male can be a judge. A non Muslim and a Muslim woman cannot be a judge. This is a big discrimination. 11. The testimony of a Muslim woman in court is only half of that of a Muslim man. 12. The lives of Muslim men and Muslim women are not same. The blood money for a male is twice that of a female. That is plain discrimination. 13. Stoning to death for adultery is a very harsh punishment. Mostly the women are victim of this. On many occasions women are tortured to make confessions of adultery so that they could be stoned to death. 14. Only way a woman can prove that she has been raped is by providing 4 male witnesses. No other proof is valid in court. So in most cases the rapists cannot be convicted and they are never punished. On the other hand if a woman fails to prove that she has been raped then she could be convicted of adultery and stoned to death. 15. The women do not have equal custody rights over children.

  • 0
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    Contd.
    10. Only a Muslim and a male can be a judge. A non Muslim and a Muslim woman cannot be a judge. This is a big discrimination. 11. The testimony of a Muslim woman in court is only half of that of a Muslim man. 12. The lives of Muslim men and Muslim women are not same. The blood money for a male is twice that of a female. That is plain discrimination. 13. Stoning to death for adultery is a very harsh punishment. Mostly the women are victim of this. On many occasions women are tortured to make confessions of adultery so that they could be stoned to death. 14. Only way a woman can prove that she has been raped is by providing 4 male witnesses. No other proof is valid in court. So in most cases the rapists cannot be convicted and they are never punished. On the other hand if a woman fails to prove that she has been raped then she could be convicted of adultery and stoned to death. 15. Women have not equal custody rights over children.
    Today, despite the claim Brotherhood of Islam, Muslims are slaughtering fellow Muslims in their thousands in the name of Allah in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Turkey etc. Today droves of Muslims are migrating to Western Christian countries in their thousands leaving their country blessed by Allah.
    The great divide between majority Sunnis and minority Shias have lasted centuries and there is no sign of abating. After Muhammad died in AD 632, there was a tussle over succession. Majority of Muhammad followers preferred Abu bucker to succeed while the minority wanted Muhammad’s son-in-law Prince Ali to succeed. Eventually, Ali was chosen as the fourth caliph, and he too was killed in the year AD 661.

    • 1
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      Thanga

      What you say is correct, but you must also see the context. Women were not given property rights, Islam was at that time considered revolutionary in giving property rights. It was only in the 20th century that UK gave property rights to women, and Thesavalamai still controls property rights of married women.

      Female infanticide was practiced and this was abolished. 4 wives were a restriction rather than permit, though the Islamic law in Sri Lanka allows a man to marry 4 wives, without restrictions, Islam imposes restrictions.

      You need to look at the context in which Islam came into being and women’s rights in Islam has to be looked through the 7th century lenses.

      But what I don’t agree is that the Muslim religious authorities do not see it in that context and they are also like Thanga repeat the Quran out of context and wants to have the same restrictions on women imposed in the 7th century

  • 0
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    very poor article of a person who does not know history of social systems of old sinhalese society.

  • 0
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    no surprise as all our historians and academics are slaves of Indians by hearts and soul. they do not have ability to recognize world beyond India.

  • 2
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    I generally agree with Mr. Basil Fernando ‘s views, but in this context that I don’t think we can attribute the behaviour of the Sri Lankan voters to the archaic caste system. Caste system is not rigid in Sri Lanka and with education people change.

    Also he quotes the loyalty of the masses to his bosses by not stealing gems and millions of rupees, but this is not a class issue but an issue of reprisal by the master. Master will have the law and also extra judicial punishment if he steals.

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