By Ayathuray Rajasingam –
The recent visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Sri Lanka and his advice raises an issue whether Sri Lankan politicians receive such advice with spiritual mind. His advice is based on healing of the past wounds, resulted from the internal war, and beginning of a fresh life for all, in a democratic manner. This advice in no way amounted to an interference into the domestic affairs of Sri Lanka, especially when democracy was at its peril during the previous regime.
Though he was an ardent Hindu nationalist, his speech sent signals of spiritual aspect for the unity of Sri Lanka. As he hails from a country of several religions where there are community of believers with specific dogmas and practices which helped shape and form India’s rich spirituality, his motive is that all religious people should live happily in an atmosphere of friendship and mutual understanding. His speech is concerned with the basic human good qualities such as love, compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, a sense of harmony. The consequence of the absence of spiritual mind among the Sri Lankan political and religious leaders is seen as a threat to cultural and ethical values of the people who have faith in democracy.
Religion should not be confused with spirituality. Religion can help an individual to be spiritual, but spirituality is not dependent upon religion. Spirituality helps to abandon ego. An individual is said to be spiritual if any action or thought that alters his or her state of mind. He shows love and compassion towards others irrespective of any differences whatsoever. Non-violence is central to spirituality. Gandhi had no problem in blending spirituality and politics together. The issue whether Sri Lanka politicians possessed such qualities involving an implicit concern for others’ well-being is questionable, when they were reluctant to implement the 13th Amendment. This was evident when the Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran said that he was unaware of the re-settlement activities in Valikamam North and East and that he was not officially invited, all of which sends the signal of reluctance of complying with the 13th Amendment. Had the Chief Minister been officially invited that would have amounted to a new way of giving voice to the 13th Amendment. Though President Maithipala Sirisena asserts that he has an agreement of humanity with the Tamils, the issue is whether he will face the issue of implementation of the 13th A which has Federal features. The Prime Minister of India had asserted that the 13th Amendment or even further would pave for unity of all communities.
If spirituality and politics do not co-exist, then politicians are bound to be corrupt. The reluctance of the ruling politicians to share powers with the Provincial Councils conveys the message that the ruling politicians do not possess a broader vision of life. The manner of their reluctance to share power demonstrated that they are not spiritual. At this juncture, attention should be drawn that the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Justin Trudeau demonstrated his spiritual mind when he spoke of the significance of Canadian liberty. His vision was a smooth co-ordination between the Federal and the Provincial governments in the best interests of the Canadians. Justin Trudeau talk of solutions and attending the problems. Moreover, his approach has and still been to unite the entire communities which is the aspect of spirituality. His speech sent the signal that Canada is a democratic country of diversity and secularism, in spite of the threats from the Islamic terrorism. As such Canadians are proud to belong to a country where the political leaders taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance by exposing their spiritual mind remarkably when expressing the Canadian liberty, but never allowed room for sectarianism or fanaticism to use violence drenched with human blood and sent the entire nation to despair. Sri Lankan politicians do not have that spiritual mind and failed to realize that no room should be allowed to dictatorial attitude which is diametrically opposed to democratic feelings.
Since spirituality can inspire people to approach politics in a friendly spirit, the Sinhalese political leaders should believe in the concept of Federalism as a first step and not to let the mind roam backward. If they look forward, it will lead them to the path where they can accomplish great deeds. Even in Great Britain, there is devolution of powers by virtue of the Scotland Act 1998, the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and the Government of Wales Act 2006. There is a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which stresses the principles of good communication, consultation and co-operation. Such a MOU is a necessity in Sri Lanka to defeat the birth of a cold war between the Central Government and the Provincial Councils and to promote spiritual line of thinking on Sri Lanka’s politicians for the benefit of all Sri Lankans.
Moreover Ranil Wickremesinghe’s statement to the effect that any Indian fishermen poaching into the Sri Lankan territorial waters would be shot, nullifies the spiritual mind, because he had not abandon egoism. He has even forgotten that Kachchaitivu was handed over to Sri Lanka as a token gift and the role played by India in defeating terrorism. However, the Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj’s reply ‘to look into humanitarian and livelihood of the fishermen’ sends the signal that she was addressing the issue with the spiritual mind. These are matters which should be thrashed out with negotiated settlement. It is not the issue of appeasing the Sinhalese, but the strengthening of the friendly bond between India and Sri Lanka. Shushma Swaraj was very diplomatic and if Ranil Wickremesinghe continues with such arrogant approach, it would not be a surprise that Maithiripala’s government might fall within a short period.
The inability to discuss and attending the problems from the spiritual aspect, saw the number of deaths commencing from the 1958 communal riots to the battle with the LTTE until they were defeated. Had Sri Lanka fought a bloody war for independence like the USA and India, today this tragedy would not have occurred. Recently the same lack of spirituality was seen when the Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran was allegedly forbidden to present a Gift to the Indian Prime Minister N.Modi during his visit to Jaffna. Moreover, the adamant attitude of the Sri Lanka Armed Forces in denying access to the Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran to the Valigamam area also demonstrated the clumsy handling of the Sri Lankan politicians and signals the failure to realize the human values. No one knows whether President Maithiripala Sirisena was helpless in exercising his powers over the Sri Lankan Forces. The behaviour of some members from the Islamic community after their Friday prayers in staging a protest instead of greeting the Indian Prime Minister also conveyed the message of lack of spirituality.
It is time to realize for Sri Lankan politicians to demonstrate that human nature is characterized by humanity and differentiate from animism. Humility is not cowardice, Meakness is not weakness. Humility and meakness are indeed spiritual powers according to Swami Sivananda. Spiritual realization is religion. Mere going on pilgrimage to Thiruppathy or Buddha Gaya alone is insufficient to expose spirituality. The love of God includes the acceptance of the basic rights of others. This is what is lacking among the Sri Lankan politicians. It is spirituality which could refine both religion and politics. If religion is to be spiritual, there should be freedom of worship and the liberty to embrace a faith of an individual’s choice for which there should not be any punishment. Sri Lankan political and religious leaders have yet to absorb this truth.
Non-violence is wisdom and violence is cowardice. Peace is a reflection of spiritual consciousness. People who relies on violence never believe in the progress of humanity. These are the teachings preached by Jesus Christ, Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Dalai Lama and other great religious and some political leaders who were possessed with spiritual mind, and never punished anyone, but showed mercy. They demonstrated that religious leaders are not expected to stumble upon spiritual experience without proper training. After Justin Trudeau delivered his speech on Canadian liberty, one Pakistani terrorist was arrested by the Canada Border Services Agency for plotting to target and launch an attack on financial buildings in Toronto. No sooner he was arrested the Canadian Imams issued a Fatwa or Verdict that those Islamic terrorists can no longer be considered as non-Muslims which appeared to be a right direction after a long delay. But if the Fatwa of the Canadian Imams consider them as non-Muslims, does it mean to include people embracing other faiths who have discouraged the mode of punishments like beheading, stoning to death and lash of raped women. It is time for moderate Islamists to declare that such mode of punishments do not amount to religious duty, because the behaviour of these Islamic terrorists has brought unimaginable amount of suffering upon mankind. If they fail to change their stand from these savage punishments, then it prompts one to think that these Islamic extremists behave like violent misogynists. History has shown that all Nations have attained greatness by paying proper respect to women. It would have been meaningful if the Canadian Imams declared those ‘Islamic terrorists as a curse to Islamic community’. Likewise there was a news item that the Indian Police have alerted its people of the Islamic terrorists belonging Laksha-e-taiba which had planned to target Tamil Nadu and Gujarat from Sri Lanka. To date Sri Lankan Islamic political and religious leaders have failed to condemn these terrorists at least in a similar fashion as that of the Canadian Imams. The behaviour of Islamic political and religious leaders only demonstrates that they too have stumbled with spirituality and so with the Sri Lankan political leaders.
The time is ripe for Sri Lankan political and religious leaders to realize that the aim of spirituality is to boost morality and human values and therefore spirituality is a necessity for good governance. There is a moral obligation on the political and religious leaders to preach tolerance for everyone. When politicians realize that spirituality refines both religion and politics, then both politics and religion will go hand in hand. If the politicians declare that religion is a personal matter and should not be blended with politics, then Sri Lankan politicians can easily demonstrate with the implementation of the 13th Amendment by clipping the powers of the President, that Sri Lanka is a democratic country of diversity and secularism, like the Western political leaders.