In his poem “Mind without Fear” the universal poet Rabindranath Tagore drafts a map of the world as he wants to demolish borders of the world when he says “Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls”. The gist of the Nobel Laureate’s extract portrays a world which is not “fragmented” by prejudices based on caste, creed, colour, religion or other baseless superstitions and the eradication of borders would assist in a better understanding of one another; in today’s context is a difficult process in Sri Lanka for the unity government, but not impossible if they can come clean and put heads together and work with collective responsibility, than they have done the past two years.
Sri Lanka is a multi-religious and multi ethnic country that has a long history; going by the latest phenomenal archeological discovery in Keeladi near Madurai, South India, for more details on this visit: https://youtu.be/FqekhDUY9MY. This video is in Tamil, explains more than what was imparted by the history books at school and throws more light on the history of this region. This one like the Kantharodai archeological find had been carbon dated to 600 BC shows there would have been so much trade between the two sites with Tamil as the traders’ language. It confirms what those with liberal mindset, who have not broken up the country into fragments by narrow domestic walls, know at heart that the history of Kantharodai, Chunnakam, was kept quiet by the state archaeologists and as well as the northerners for different reasons. The part that is of great concern to historians was this myth about Indo-Aryans coming to the country before the Christian era; when there was so much evidence of local Dravidians living both in South India in a very well developed civilisation and in Kantharodai as Tamil Buddhist civilisation in 600BC and from where did the Indo-Aryans drop in Vanni? Mahavamsa never ventured into the period beyond that of Vijaya, that painted in one stroke that the pre-Vijaya inhabitants were Yakshas and Nagas. Yet, is the epic of the ankle bracelet ‘Silappadikaram’, revolves around Kannagi and Kovalan is all part of history not just literature. In the same way, the state never projected the Ravana Rajiyam in ILankai, a small part of the continental mass called by the geological name ‘Demuria’ was connected to India. It was called Ilankai in Tamil, this name was later modified, by deleting the first and the last letters and what remained, made it Lanka. As they say, the voice of the vanquished remains lost in silence, while the versions of the victors lives on is the story narrated from an Indian perspective. Not many know that Sita wife of Rama was Ravanan’s daughter, but Ramayana gives the Indian version as written by the Indian Sage Valmiki, that ignores all the evidences like Adam’s Bridge in the Palk Straits, place names as Seetha Eliya, Ramboda all stands testimony to the fact that the inhabitants of ancient pre-Vijaya Lanka being Dravian Hindus of more than one ethnicity. It is said King Pulasthi, grandfather of King Ravananan ruled from Pulasthinagar (later changed to Polanaruwa) and King Devanambiyatissan, who ruled from 247 BC (when Mahinda visited Lanka) till he was 80 years old was Ravana’s nephew.
In the recent past, we saw once again history being repeated in a country broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls by prejudice based on ethnicity and religion again with Prabaharan, where the state had made lot of effort to remove all traces of him, after the defeat of LTTE; the truth of the matter is both were the effects caused directly by the action or better still the in action of the state to resolve issues of the people they ruled. As the result, the future generations will grow not knowing the true history of the conflict that dragged on for three decades and caused the loss of many thousand lives, almost all were rural poor of all ethnicities from all corners of the island; who perished and pushed the country back in development by five decades and the rulers don’t care a cent about it. There is heavy doubts if the rulers will ever accept the truth; but what they fail to realise is that the truth cannot be buried for long; in a literal way so much of history is lying buried under the soil, only have to dig it out, like what is going in Keeladi near Madurai, South India!
Based on personal experience, as an under graduate living in Brighton, England, there were Christians preachers, who would call over at weekends to preach their religion and in return did served them a hot cup of ‘Ceylon’ tea, well appreciated in cold winter, who left a copy of the New Testament, the Christian Bible; that gave an opportunity to read the holy book. Then much later in life, when as a family man, employed as the Engineering Manager of a firm of Consultants in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), the Managing Director, who was a native Islamic Arab, would impress about Islam and presented for study and understand a copy of Qur’an, the holy book for Muslims. Here again, did not miss the opportunity, read through at leisure during the five years in KSA. Now in the final phase of life, as a contended senior citizen, began writing for Northern Breeze and took every opportunity to self-teach the Buddha Dharma; with the limited knowledge of these great religions of the world practiced in the country and with due respect consider blessed to be a Hindu.
While living with a population “fragmented” by prejudices based on ethnicity and religion, people must learn to accommodate and live with others, it is possible only with proper leadership. There is no better way to illustrate than with an event last week when celebrating Vinayakar Chaturthi, was fortunate to listen to an audio recording of chanting Vinayaka Prayers by the former Indian President, a really excellent effort from a follower of Islamic faith chanting Hindu Prayers. The late President has no doubt left behind a lesson for us all; this is not to say one has to chant hymns of other faiths; but at least as a minimum one must learn the teachings of other religions, for it will only enlighten more of one’s own religion; and wish all to the same follow their faith respecting the other religions, then this nation will soon once again become a Paradise Island.