By Ayathuray Rajasingam –
Sri Lanka is a country practicing pluralism. The 13th Amendment was a bi-product of the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord which provided room for a political system where the Provincial Councils also could enjoy power with the view to comply with aspirations of the aggrieved community. But Sri Lanka deliberately refused to allocate the required funds and power for the North-East Province for development and ignored the 13th Amendment which was a bi-product of the Peace Accord. In stead the Mahinda Rajapakse government de-merged the North-East Province and violated the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord, the result of which saw the rise of rise of Islamic terrorism in the Eastern Province.
Now Gotabaya Rajapaksa after assuming office wanted to implement ‘one law, one country’ policy which will have complex issues in implementing it. In a country practicing pluralism, any attempt to implement the policy of ‘one country, one law’ often results at the expense of the rights of the minority. The Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord was signed mainly to avoid marginalization of Tamils so that the Minority Tamils will preserve and protect their identity. This will reduce the intensifying their protests. On the contrary it will promote mutual understanding and cooperation with the majority Sinhalese in all aspects and feel as Sri Lankans. Otherwise, the hardening of the ‘one country, one law’ policy can cause increased intolerance and even armed ethnic conflict. In the current situation where India and China are competing for supremacy, there is a strong possibility that China supported this idea to nullify the impact of the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord with the view to expand its activities from Sri Lanka.
Upon an examination of the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord, it provided for a good governance which plays a vital role in involving minorities in societies and protecting their rights and interests. Both Sinhalese and Tamils can form a greater understanding of one another’s concern. Mention should be that at the time the Peace Accord was signed, Mahinda Rajapakse staged a protest on the streets of Sri Lanka against India. But he entered into agreements with China which is considered as a debt-trap and a threat to India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. One ponders whether he did it deliberately and now it has become a continuing story with his brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
The avoidance of the Peace Accord became evident when C.W. Wigneswaran delivered his maiden speech at the Sri Lanka Parliament which was refuted by the Sinhalese extremists who were virtually reflecting Rajapakas’a voice. The courage of the Sinhala Buddhist extremists to criticize C.V. Wigneswaran’s speech in a threatening manner, appears to revive their view to build Ravana as an embodiment of Sri Lanka in their frustration against India because of the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord which cannot be abrogated by Sri Lanka unilaterally. They were helpless when the Indian Air Force dropped four parcels in Jaffna and failed to issue a threat to India. The threatening criticism to C.V. Wigneswaran’s speech only demonstrated their cowardness on account of their inability to give a sound answer, when he singled that Tamils are also humans who have a right to live in this country without offending anyone. The threatening words were used by Sarath Fonseka, Sajith Premadasa, Udaya Gammanpila and Wimal Weerawansa without analyzing the speech of C.V. Wigneswaran, appeared to be a reflection of their aim to wipe out the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord. Their failure to abide by the teachings of Lord Buddha was a surprise.
When C.W. Vigneswaran told the historical truth about the Tamils in Sri Lanka, the Sinhala Extremists unnecessarily provoked themselves as there were no traces to support the Ravana legend as ancestors of Sinhalese. Prior to Devanampiya Tissa, there were wide range of religious beliefs and practices and each appeared to have the liberty to embrace the faith of his or her own choice. However, worship of Yakshas and Yakinis was a widely prevalent aboriginal custom of pre-Buddhist Sri Lanka. Mahavamsa had not specifically mentioned the presence of any adherents of Buddhism other than the three visits of Lord Buddha to Sri Lanka, in its account of settling of the adherents of various sects by King Pandukaabaya. It was during the reign of Devanampiyatissa, Buddhism was introduced with the establishment of Vihares and monasteries. Moreover, the identity of the Sinhalese can be traced to the people of Odiyas and Bengal. The genetic, cultural and linguistic relation that the Sinhalese population shares with Odiyas and Bengalis has remained largely ignored, because of the thriving trade between Odisha, Bengal and Sri Lanka after the arrival of Vijaya, which contributed to the growth of the Sinhalese.
What astonishes is that some Sinhala Buddhist extremists rely on such Buddhist texts which are ambiguous and base their arguments that they are the descendants of the legend King Ravana and formed Ravana Balaya and Hela Urumaya. I wonder whether these Sinhala Buddha extremists knew the originality of the Sinhala race. Mahavamsa was written in Pali the 6th century prior to the birth of the Sinhala language. But there were inscriptions in Tamil prior to 7th century. The inscription of the names of Devanampiyatissa, Datusena and Kasyappa are cases in point. Ravana has nothing to do with Buddhism because when Ravana was born Buddhism was not known.
Ravana was neither a Tamil nor a Sinhalese. He was not even an Aryan or Dravidian. He was a Brahmin but belonged to the Rakshasa clan. He was born in a village called Bisrakh of Noida District in Uttar Pradesh. He was born to Vishrava (a Brahmin and a son of sage Pulasthiya) and Kaikesi (a daughter of demon king Sumali and a Gandarva Princess Ketumati). During his time of birth, in Sri Lanka there was no Sinhala race, but the clans.
During the period of Ravana’s birth, Sanskrit was the mother of all languages, but the locals in Noida District spoke Hindi. It is said that Ravana spoke to Rama in Sanskrit. However, because of the association with sage Agasthiya, who was a pioneer of Tamil grammar, Ravana learnt Tamil and Sanskrit. Since he was a strong devotee of Lord Shiva, he had composed music for Tandava Stothram. In Aranya Kanda it is said that Ravana spoke to Sita in Tamil when she was in the jungle because he considered Tamil was a sweet language.
The negative forms of love such as ego, attachment, regret, anger, hatred, fear, jealousy, greed, lust and insensitive are symbolic representation of Ravana and are common among the Rakshasas clan. The Ten Heads symbolize six Shastras and the Four Vedas. The presence of Rakshasas clan is seen mainly on Himalayan-Assam Belt. There is a community in North India called Sachora Brahmin who proclaim themselves as descendants of Ravana. Their predominant presence is in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharastra and Madhya Pradesh. Perhaps after the killing of Ravana, the Rakshasas clan would have migrated or scattered to these regions. As such, it is questionable how the chronicles Mahavamsa, Ravanavaliya, and Rajavaliya identified Ravana as the ancestor of the Sinhalese. He only waged a war against his half-brother Kubera of Sri Lanka and continued to rule Sri Lanka thereafter. Kubera belonged to a clan which is a combination of Rakshasa, Asura and Brahmin.
If these Sinhala racial extremists think that they are the descendants of Ravana, then the issue is whether Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism is fostering Ravana as a rallying point against India, when, in fact, Sri Lanka’s sovereignty is mortgaged to China on the pretext of receiving easy loans, which is a debt-trap and also an indirect threat to India’s sovereignty. They have forgotten the saying: ‘When you wish good for others, good things come back to them which is the Law of Nature’. They were not bothered to refrain from harsh speech which is one of the five rules of Buddhism. Instead they demonstrated their intolerance like the Rakshasas clan to prove they are the descendants of Ravana. If these Sinhala racial extremists think that they are the descendants of Ravana, then the issue is whether Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism is fostering Ravana as a rallying point against India, when, in fact, Sri Lanka’s sovereignty is mortgaged to China on the pretext of receiving easy loans, which is a debt-trap and also an indirect threat to India’s sovereignty. They have forgotten the saying: ‘When you wish good for others, good things come back to them which is the Law of Nature’. They were not bothered to refrain from harsh speech which is one of the five rules of Buddhism. Instead they demonstrated their intolerance like the Rakshasas clan to prove they are the descendants of Ravana. Thus, it showed that the Rajapaksa’s Government had a hidden agenda of backing China.
The contents refuted by Sarath Fonseka, Sajith Premadasa, Wimal Weerawansa & Udaya Gammanpila demonstrate that racial democracy in Sri Lanka has been the topic of much discussion. The time is ripe to realize that attitude of racial supremacist people had caused much racial conflict. The practice of ignoring and diminishing a race remains an irritant to many people affected by it. Race blindness is an invitation to turn a blind eye to chronicles rather than face up to its legacies. It has led to a toleration of the horror of genocide and collusion with the most contemporary forms of racial oppression. Let us believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. It is prudent to expose ourselves up to a broader attitude of connectedness, thus empowering to march together in cooperation with our fellow friends in Sri Lanka in compliance with the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord.