The Tamil Diaspora in Norway

Life on the Outside: The Tamil Diaspora and Long Distance Nationalism by Øivind Fuglerud (1999).

Not a review of the book, just excerpts.  I found the book unbiased in my opinion.  The first chapters are a background of how the separatist movement evolved. The latter chapters are on the dynamics of the Tamil Diaspora in Norway.  The excerpts are from that part of of the book.

  • Link to the pdf of the book at end of post.
  • YouTube video of life in the Tundra at end of post.

Vasanthan, Thank you very much for sending the book link

Excerpts

A more radical change in climate and nature than that between Sri Lanka and Norway is difficult to imagine and if one is going directly the journey may be made in less than twelve hours. One Tamil lady explained to me how, arriving in the middle of winter with the snowdrifts high against the houses, she believed that people in this part of the world lived in underground caves

A refugee counsellor in the northern part of the country told me how a young Tamil boy due to be settled in the township where she worked had desperately clung on to the aeroplane steps, refusing to come with her into town. Seeing the barren, snow-covered environment he was convinced he was being banished to somewhere outside human habitation.

When he was moving to another town I asked Sri, a moderate LTTE supporter, how he would go about getting acquainted if he met a fellow countryman at his new working place. He answered: I will begin by asking him if he has any news from home, that is our standard opening. Then I will ask him what he thinks about this or that of the recent development in Sri Lanka. If I understand he supports the movement I may invite him home. If he criticises the Tigers but is basically neutral, we may keep on talking at work. I am not a fanatic, I don’t mind that. If I understand he is a member of one of the other groups, however, I will break off. I don’t want to socialise with traitors.

In dealing with fellow countrymen there is always the possibility that actions in Norway will have consequences in Sri Lanka. Tamil refugees are not fleeing a common enemy, the violence is within as much as on the outside. ‘They are here, don’t speak’, newcomers will be informed upon arrival. ‘LTTE is here, I cannot speak’

Even Wilson, a founding member of the LTTE who was permitted to leave the organisation after a dramatic escape from Batticaloa prison in the early 1980s, found that after finally obtaining a visitor’s visa for his mother she was being held back byhis former friends in Jaffna. ‘ Theyjust want to remind me that they know where I am’, he said to me. ‘They are afraid that after ten years in Norway I may be tempted to write a book or something.’ In fact, from 1990 this effort to execute control beyond their own borders has been institutionalised through a very strict exit control in the Tamil areas of Sri Lanka, which includes the obligatory signing of a ‘contract’ by a guarantor staying behind.

As already indicated, in Norway many Tamil refugees have in fact violated the ‘first-country’ regulation on their way. To remain in Norwaytheymust make up a storyand stick to it.

The idea that Tamils in exile tend to give each other away is part of the current self-understanding, a situation which prevents a communicative sharing of life histories. Most of my informants asked me not to tell their stories to other Tami

Another man asked me to take care of his passport when he was kicked out by his wife and had to staywith friends for some time. ‘You cannot trust Tamils when it comes to passports’, was his laconic comment

When the possibility of sending home Tamil asylum seekers came up for renewed
discussion in 1994, a frenzybroke out in one of the small northern settlements. It incited people to go to the police on their own initiative and provide what little information they had about their neighbours. Within a few days local immigration authorities were able to establish that, of the 120 Tamils resident in the village, more than 40 had been living in Switzerland before coming to Norway.

For example, it is a well-known fact among Tamils that in Norway the local LTTE people were for a number of years allowed to monopolise positions as interpreters for the immigration police.
That interaction between a police officer and a refugee in a situation of interrogation is on unequal terms, defined by the context and scale of Western immigration, is readily understandable. But when the refugee is afraid of telling his story to the police officer because of the interpreter’s connections to the militant opposition in Sri Lanka and this interpreter is employed by the Norwegian police, where do we draw the boundary of the system?


In terms of inter-personal relationships social fragmentation is not readily apparent to outsiders. To a Norwegian the first impression of Tamil life is one of dense sociality.

the divide among Tamils in Norway has been on an LTTE /anti-LTTE basis. LTTE is today the only militant group with a properly working organisation in Norway, keeping offices in the main cities and having more or less official representatives in most Tamil settlements.

Prabhakaran, lacking resources of his own, had temporarily joined the organisation TELO which was then under leadership of two militant leaders called Kuttimani and Thangathurai. Together with them he was supposed to have taken part in a famous armed robbery of the Neervely Bank in Jaffna. The second was that subsequently Prabhakaran had personally tipped off the Sri Lankan police on the whereabouts of Kuttimani and Thangathurai, this information leading to their arrest and, as a result of this arrest, their death in the Wellikade prison massacre.

On 1 May 1994 the writer and publisher, Sabaratnam, was killed by unidentified gunmen at his home in Paris

Critics of the LTTE in Norway pointed out to me that shortly before his death Sabaratnam had written an article in the Canadian magazine Thayagam. In this article Sabaratnam had observed that all who participated in the Neervely Bank robbery, except Prabhakaran himself, were now dead, killed either by the Sri Lankan authorities or by the LTTE. He implied that Prabhakaran saw it in his interest to remove the other participants in the action in order to conceal his own co-operation with TELO.
Sabaratnam had promised to return with another article disclosing the real story behind the robbery and the capture of Kuttimani and Thangathurai, but was killed before this could take place – allegedly by the LTTE itself. By the adherents of the Thayagam version, the killing of Sabaratnam and Prabhakaran’s betrayal in the late 1970s were seen as closely connected events which should make people turn their backs on LTTE activities in exile. Not only did Prabhakaran’s tip-off constitute a collaboration with the enemy, but the killing of Sabaratnam reached the lowest possible level of human baseness. It was claimedby people familiar with the early history of the militant movement that in the mid-1970s, years before the Neervely robbery, when Sabaratnam himself was a political activist in Jaffna, he had taken Prabhakaran into his house while he was wanted by the police and had kept him in hiding for several weeks, putting his own life in danger. Repaying this old debt with murder constituted a breach with the militants’ most fundamental ‘code of arms’ and, by implication, left his organisation, LTTE, without any legitimate claim for support.

Tamils are the group of immigrants with the highest rate of employment and with the lowest level of welfare support in Norway. One reason for this situation is the acceptance of the kind of work which is not in demand. In Oslo, according to a recent statistical survey (Djuve and Hagen 1995), only 1.3 per cent of Tamils’ income comes from welfare, as compared to, for instance, 41.7 per cen among Somalis and 37.5 per cent among Vietnamese. In fact, the Tamil level of welfare support is lower than among Norwegians (2 per cent).

In this rather inhospitable area Sri Lankan Tamils have won a reputation as workers in the factories where fish is cut and packed. Even if the numbers are small, seldom more than 50 to 100 in one village, statistics will show that in several villages Tamils represent 5 to 10 per cent of the total population

In the anthropological literature the dowry has generally been regarded as a pre-mortem inheritance to the daughters of a family (Comaroff 1980). In the prevailing war situation it is normally a chosen son who pre mortem inherits the realisable capital of the family and invests it in migration against taking further responsibility for his native family upon himself. This implies, inter alia, that he must procure his sisters’ dowries before establishing a family on his own.  (my comment: This is one of the biggest differences between Tamil and Sinhalese culture, among the Tamils (and northern muslims) the house goes to the daughters, among the Sinhalese the house goes to the son)


most Tamil asylum seekers arriving in the early 1980s had been granted recognition as refugees while those arriving after 1986 had not. In their understanding this was related to the fact that most of these early applicants had been active LTTE-members, in other words that Norwegian authorities intervene and take sides in internal conflicts, caring less about the killed than about the killers.

from people who have fled to get away from their dictatorship in Sri Lanka and have relatives still suffering under their rule there. It is here, at this precise point, that the spirit of selfsacrifice of the LTTE soldiers becomes important. The actual materiality of death makes it difficult not to believe the LTTE when they say that their fighters die on behalf of the Tamil nation. Even people who in public take upon themselves the burden of speaking against the LTTE may sometimes admit in private conversations that, emotionally, they are not able to free themselves from sympathy for the organisation and its cause.

In 1903, for example, there were 2021 Jaffna-Tamils employed as functionaries in the federated Malay States Railways compared to 84 Sinhalese, 278 Malays and 1084 Chinese (Ramasamy 1988).In 1903, for example, there were 2021 Jaffna-Tamils employed as functionaries in the federated Malay States Railways compared to 84 Sinhalese, 278 Malays and 1084 Chinese (Ramasamy 1988).

The main reasons why Ceylon Tamils were favoured by the British administrators were their recognised industriousness and their fluency in English. As noted in Chapter 2, at the turn of the century the Tamil community already had a long-standing relationship with English speaking missionaries. The acquiring of language proficiency was, however, not a passive process. Education was an asset seized upon by the ambitious, something that aspiring Jaffna families put their minds to without regard for the costs.

Migration to areas like British Malaya was clearly one way of ‘converting . English education into cash’. The Money Order remittances returned to Ceylon in a good year like 1918 totalled 736,652 Ceylon rupees from the Federated Malay States and 289,651 rupees from the Straits Settlements, quite substantial amounts at that time. The importance of these remittances was such that on two occasions, with a twentyseven years’ interval, the government agent in the Northern Province found it necessary to point out that it was the money coming from Malaya which accounted for the relative prosperity of Jaffna (Ceylon Administrative Report 1903 and 1930).

https://zodml.org/sites/default/files/%5BIvind_Fuglerud%2C_Oivind_Fuglerud%5D_Life_on_the_Outs.pdf

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Kerala, Floods and Aid

Excepts from a FirstPost article.

Described as one of the worst since 1924 by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, the rains in Kerala have left over 350 dead and rendered thousands of people homeless. According to the latest tally, 80,000 have been rescued so far. Over 1,500 relief camps have been set up across the state that currently house at least 2,23,139 people.

Now as India struggles with the catastrophic floods in Kerala, foreign disaster aid has again become an issue with India unwilling to accept the help it then gave. In 2005, as countries across the region struggled to cope with the Indian Ocean tsunami, India declined aid.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi initially welcomed the United Arab Emirates offer of $100 million in emergency aid for Kerala — a state whose workers have helped author that country’s economic success story. Foreign ministry officials, however, pushed back and India instructed its diplomats to politely decline foreign governmental aid.

Kerala has a relatively small public sector. The state’s economic review records that the government employs some 2,75,000 people and another 1,25,000 are with quasi-public institutions, to serve a population of 34.8 million. The state police, notably, has just 39,159 members of personnel — 113 for every lakh persons — or less than half the United Nations-recommended 250 per lakh.

Following the destruction of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, a staggering 90 countries held out offers worth a combined $854 million. The United Arab Emirates alone pledged $100 million in cash and another $400 million in oil. Bangladesh promised $1 million. Thailand, which lost 8,150 people in the previous year’s tsunami, offered a team of 60 doctors and nurses. Even Cuba — subjected to sanctions by the superpower for decades — said it was willing to send 1,100 doctors.

There’s little doubt the foreign aid refused by the US could have improved the lives of tens of thousands of people, many of whom remained homeless years after the hurricane. The money could, for example, have paid for the construction of an estimated 8,500 homes, or substantially helped rebuild the $1 billion worth of transport infrastructure claimed by the hurricane.

“In all humanitarian crisis,” says former diplomat Vivek Katju, “the criteria for accepting aid should be whether it’s needed to alleviate suffering, not some false pride or national ego”. Every rich country — from Japan to the United States — has accepted aid where its own resources were wanting.

But truly great nations, it is time India’s leaders realise, don’t just know how to give but also to receive.

https://www.firstpost.com/india/kerala-after-the-flood-pragmatism-not-false-pride-should-govern-indias-stand-on-foreign-aid-5087411.html

The last comment about give and receive, I really believe/practice as a person.  One should have the humility to accept and give back.  I  do not (necessarily) have to give back to the same person who gave me.   Neither should I want to some one who I gave, to give back.  If whom I give, gives back thats just so much pleasure.

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India: the north-south disparity

Excerpts
Four of the top five states are from the south, with Kerala leading the list.  Tamil Nadu is at number two on the survey which ranks states across a three-year period.

A notable inclusion in the top three is the state of Telangana, which was created in 2014, carved off from Andhra Pradesh/

The bottom spots of the survey were taken up by states from the north: Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar.

States in India have a wide remit with control over water, agriculture, land rights, public health and order, theatres and entertainment, even duties on opium and other narcotics, and in some cases are as powerful as an individual country in a continent such as Europe might be. Uttar Pradesh, home to 200 million people, would be the world’s fifth biggest country if it were an autonomous nation,

States are linguistically diverse, culturally and socially varied – for example, in the cluster of eight northeastern states which border China and Myanmar, people look eastwards for their cultural cues, eschewing Bollywood in favour of K-pop, and prefer soccer to cricket. Home to matrilineal societies, women are far more visible in everyday life than in the “cow belt” states of central India.

Kerala too, is markedly different from the north. It has the highest literacy rate in the country, at more than 93%, as well as a high life expectancy and the best gender ratio in the country. It also tops the UNDP-sponsored Human Development Index thanks to high standards in sanitation, health, education and poverty reduction.

But for all of its highs, Kerala – indeed, all of south India – is about as appealing to the central government as coconut oil in butter chicken. In north India, southerners are universally mocked with the pejorative “Madrasis” (a reference to the former name of the city of Chennai). South Indians are looked down on for their dark complexions, their mannerisms, even their diets. Keralites eat beef.

It might be worth noting that four out of the top five best-government states are not ruled by the Hindu-right BJP, but the party does preside over the three states that come last in the survey.

At the same time, a handful of social media posts claimed the floods were divine justice for the beef-eaters.

From
https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/india-north-south-disparity

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Caste in Buddhist Monastic Orders of Sri Lanka

Excerpts from an an article
https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/sketches-from-the-south-the-rise-fall-of-amarapura/

The history of the Buddhist clergy, in this country, has largely been a history of schisms, splits, and amalgamations. Over the centuries, certain points have been inferred with respect to this process. First and foremost among them, that the breakdown of Buddhist monastic orders in response to growing caste militancy was only a partial, and not complete, consequence of the political games played by the British. Insignificant though this may be, it is nevertheless important in that certain writers paint a rosy picture of caste-ism while forgetting that the rifts between different castes were exacerbated once the British realised it could harness them to its advantage. Caste-ism was, in other words, waiting to be harnessed by external forces.

When the annexation of Kandy was complete, assurances were made by the Colonial Office that steps would be taken to preserve the privileges of the traditional elite, which obviously included the monastic orders (the Siyam Nikaya). Until then, the politics of the Kandyan Kingdom had followed a largely cyclical process, with shifting loyalties and shifts in the regime (particularly after the Nayakkars began their reign). But with the advent of the outsider, this was destined to be succeeded by a largely linear process, in which that outsider, the imperialist, managed to concentrate hitherto traditional privileges within his bureaucracy. The traditional elite, naturally anxious to preserve those privileges, sought to preserve them through their faith. It was in this context that the Siyam Nikaya was guaranteed the continuation of its practices, in part through the much vilified, controversial Kandyan Convention.

The two (Governor of Ceylon, Robert Brownrigg and John D’Oyly, Chief Translator and later Baronet of Kandy) promised to undertake three practices which had been the duty of the King: providing food to the temples from the Maha Gabadawa, holding the pageant of the Tooth Relic in Kandy, and maintaining the Dalada Maligawa.

Of the three, the first is the most interesting, since the adherence to and the abrogation of its practice is for me a good indicator of how the Colonial Office affirmed, and later derogated from, the practices of the traditional Kandyan elite. It took several decades for the British to abscond from taking part in the ceremonies of traditional society in India, and that was a consequence of the Mutiny, which took place in 1857. In other words, it took an entire Mutiny to turn the British away from Indian life and culture. In Sri Lanka, by contrast, only 17 years were needed for them to renege on their promises regarding that life and culture; by 1832, contrary to the provisions in the Convention, the Colonial Office had elected to do away with the provision of food to the monks, and instead replaced it with a scheme whereby an annual stipend of 310 pounds (or about 30,000 pounds, when adjusted for inflation) would be paid to the temples. This was an uneasy proposition from the start, and was doomed to stall.

those rebel sects were quickly coming up. Their emergence was conditioned by the regions they originated from. In the hill country, the dominant caste was Govigama; in the low country, the dominant castes were Salagama, Karawa, and Durawa. The Siyam Nikaya yielded to the pressures this soon necessitated, and years after its founding by Welivita Saranankara, it yielded to the dominant caste. Upasampada was restricted to this caste (which was not dominant in the low country, or along the coastal belt). This was true especially when considering how power was distributed in the bureaucracy, prior to the British annexation, between the different castes: while in Kandy the non-Govigama castes had their own headmen, the departments to which they were attached were overseen by Govigama chieftains.

 

In 1799, therefore, Ambagahapitiya Nanavimala, a Salagama monk who resided in Welitara (a Salagama stronghold), went to Burma with a contingent of five samaneras and three lay devotees. They stopped at Amarapura, where they were duly ordained in 1800, and from where they returned in 1803 to inaugurate the new sect at Balapitiya (another Salagama stronghold, in many ways more so than Welitara). This was the Amarapura Nikaya, and their trek to Burma was financed by a leading (Salagama) entrepreneur from the region, Dines de Zoysa Jayatilaka Sirivardana, most likely an ancestor of Cyril de Zoysa, who would lead the Buddhist revival in the 20th century.

It is a mistake to suggest that the British did away with feudal structures in the societies they colonised. Far from it. In societies advancing towards capitalism, as Marx correctly surmised, such archaic structures would give way to an industrial class, which is why and how the Tories yielded to the Whigs. Such a transformation did not come about in the colonies. The reason is obvious. The British did not want to be the catalyst for the sort of change that would empower a nationalist bourgeoisie in the countries they had conquered. The one link with the past that those countries had which would hold back such a transformation was those feudal structures. In India, Africa, and of course Sri Lanka, the conqueror resorted to them, and in resorting to them, he found the perfect way of keeping us locked in the past. Those who believe that feudalism is retrogressive would be surprised to learn that the British didn’t really combat it. Instead, they encouraged it. That was their game, after all. Divide and rule.

This is where we must credit the Amarapura Nikaya, because for the first time in the history of the Buddhist order, it brought forth (as Professor Malalgoda observes) “closer cooperation between the monks and their devotees.” This had less to do with an overt objective by those monks to erase caste distinctions than with the fact of their own meagre historical condition: given that it had no royal patronage, the Amarapura Nikaya was compelled to rely on the lay devotee. As an anthropologist once wrote, moreover, this had an impact on the way even the Govigamas saw it: “I know many villagers of the Govigama caste who prefer to give alms to monks of the Amarapura or Ramanya Nikaya rather than those of the Siyam Nikaya because they believe that the former are less worldly.” Here, then, was a Buddhism that promised people salvation in this present birth, as opposed to the more conservative Buddhism which gained prominence among urban followers in the latter part of the 19th century.

Bana shalawa or Prayer Hall of the main Temple of Amarapura Nikaya, at Balapitiya.  Most likely a church originally.   Quite a few Buddhist Temples down south that have Church buildings (eg. Dodanduwa/Kumarakanda Temple  and Shailabimbaramaya Temple, Dodanduwa; note Unicorns)

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Visit ancient temples at Kataluwa, Totagamuwa and Balapitiya

 

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The Story Of A Tamil Boy’s Revenge

https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-story-of-a-tamil-boys-revenge/

Excerpt

Crinkle-Bottom gives him a few coins which Kanthan receives with both hands outstretched and a bow at about 45 degrees to the direction of gravity.

“Did you see what happened there putha (son)?” the father said to young Thevaram. “Uncle is a rice trader. Rice is the staple food around here. Uncle sets the price of rice. He is also higher in the hierarchy of clusters in our society. So he sets the price of fish also!

“What would happen if there is a hotel here? Kanthan will sell his fish to the hotel at a higher price, wouldn’t he? And uncle Crinkle will lose the economic power he wields over Kanthan. So, he needs the social hierarchy, he needs the God, he need the rituals of the God having a bath once a year, this place has to be declared sacred and the hotel project blocked.”

Such social clustering and hierarchy carries to this day, we ought to note with a sense of shame. It was reported a couple of months ago, in a village neighbouring Couragenagar, when there weren’t enough young people of one cluster to take God to his bath, instead of letting those from other clusters to participate, temple management hired a JCB earthmover!

[ God being taken for a ride: photograph via newjaffna.com ]

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Ananda Coomaraswamy: The Arts and Crafts of India and Ceylon (1913)

 

Coomaraswamy.jpg

“The artist is not a special kind of person; rather each person is a special kind of artist” Ananda  Coomaraswamy, A pioneer historian of Indian Art and foremost interpreter of Indian culture to the West’.

Ananda  Coomaraswamy: The Arts and Crafts of India and Ceylon (1913) not really a review but excerpts from the book. Very readable and not just the art but the religious and philosophical background to art.  This and other books by AC are available free, link at end of the post.

Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy (1877-1947)
Son of
Sir Muttu Coomaraswamy  the first Ceylon (and  South Asian?)  Knight and Elizabeth Beeby, who was a Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Victoria. First class honours in Geology and Botany (1900) from University of London. The first Director of Mineralogical Surveys, Ceylon (1903). Doctor of Science degree from the University of London in 1906 for identifying and research on the mineral Thorianite.

In 1905 he founded the Ceylon Social Reform Society.  The Society was “formed in order to encourage and initiate reform in social customs amongst the Ceylonese, and to discourage the thoughtless imitation of unsuitable European habits and customs”. He claimed fluency in 36 languages, where his definition of fluency in a language is the ability to read a scholarly article without referring to a dictionary.

AC refused to join the British armed services in World War I and As a result he was exiled from the British Empire and a bounty of 3000
Pounds placed on his head by the British Government and his house was seized. Moved to USA in 1917 together with his extensive art collection, described as ‘among the finest in the Western world’. His entire private art collection was transferred to Boston Museum of Fine Arts,  and worked there as Curator and as Visiting Lecturer at nearby Harvard University for the next thirty years until he retired in 1947.

AC’s first book major book Medieval Sinhalese Art was self published. Using his considerable inherited wealth bought the ailing Essex House Press and a small church called Norman Chapel in Broad Campden in Gloucestershire.  He used part of the premises as his residence and moved the machinery of Essex House Press to the rest of the building.
Hand printing of the book started in September 1907 and was completed in December 1908.  The layout of the book, which is a work of art in its
own right, and the printing of the 425 copies were supervised by him.
(more and much of above from In Appreciation of Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy)

Excerpts from Ananda  Coomaraswamy: The Arts and Crafts of India and Ceylon (1913)

In the first place, almost all Hindu art (Brahmanical and Mahayana Buddhist) is religious. ” Even a misshapen image of a god,” says Sukracharya {ca. 5th century a.d.) “is to be preferred to an image of a man, howsoever charming.” Not only are images of men condemned, but originality, divergence from type, the expression of personal sentiment, are equally forbidden. “(Animagemade) according to rule (shastra) is beautiful,no other forsooth is beautiful.

” the likeness of the seated yogi is a lamp in a windless place that flickers not”{Bhagavad Glta, vi. 19). It is just this likeness that we must look for in the Buddha image, and this only. For the Buddha statue was not intended to represent a man ; it was to be like the unwavering flame, an image ofwhat all men could become, not the similitude of any apparition (nirmanakaya).

A like impersonality appears in the facial expression of all the finest Indian sculptures. These have sometimes been described as expressionless because they do not reflect the individual peculiarities which make up expression as we commonly conceive it.

This ideal is described in many places, typically, for example, in the Bhagavad Gita xi. 12-19 : ” Hateless toward all born beings, void of the thought of I and My, bearing indifferently pain and pleasure, before whom the world is not dismayed and who is not dismayed before the world; who rejoices not, grieves not,desires not; indifferent in honour and dishonour, heat and cold, joy and pain; free from attachment”—such an one is god-like,from attachment”—such an one is god-like,

BhagavadGita is also the chief gospel of action without attachment: change, says Krishna, is the law of life, therefore act according to duty, not clinging to any object of desire, but like the actor in a play, who knows that his mask {persona) is not himself. For this impassivity is not less characteristic of the faces of the gods in moments of ecstatic passion or destroying fury, than of the face of the stillest Buddha. In each, emotion is interior, and the features show no trace of it: only the movements or the stillness of the limbs express the immediate purpose of the actor.

This amazing serenity (shdnti) in moments of deepest passion is not quite confined to Indian sculpture: something very like it, and more familiar to Western students, is found in the gracious and untroubled Maenad furies of the Greek vases, the irresponsible and sinless madness of the angry Bacchae.

Maenad Satyr-Vase 480bc

There is no more remarkable illustration of the Hindu perception of the relative insignificance of the individual personality, than the fact that we scarcely know the name of a single painter or sculptor of the great periods: while it was a regular custom of authors to ascribe their work to better-known authors, in order to give a greater authority to the ideas they set forth.

This process of intuition, setting aside one’s personal thought in order to see or hear, is the exact reverse of the modern theory which considers a conscious self-expression as the proper aim of art. It is hardly to be wondered at that the hieratic art of the Indians, as of the Egyptians, thus static and impersonal,should remain somewhat unapproachable to a purely secular consciousness.

Much later in origin are the definite Assyrianisms and Persian elements in the Asokan and early Buddhist sculpture, such as the bell-capital and winged lions.

Early Buddhism, as we have seen, is strictly rationalistic, and could no more have inspired a metaphysical art than the debates of a modern ethical society could become poetry. The early Sutras, indeed, expressly condemn the arts, inasmuch as ‘ ‘form, sound, taste, smell, touch, intoxicate beings.” It is thus fairly evident that before Buddhism developed into a popular State religion (under Asoka) there can hardly have existed any “Buddhist art,”

A confusion of two different things is often made in speaking of the subject-matter of art. It is often rightly said, both that the subject-matter is of small importance, and that the subject-matter of great art is always the same. In the first case, it is the immediate or apparent subject-matter—the representative element—that is spoken of; it is here that we feel personal likes and dislikes. To be guided by such likes and dislikes is always right for a practising artist and for all those who do not desire a cosmopolitan experience ; and indeed, to be a connoisseur and perfectly dispassionate critic ofmany arts or religions is rarely compatible with impassioned devotion to a single one.

The paintings of Ajanta, though much damaged, still form the greatest extant monument of ancient painting and the only school except Egyptian in which a dark-skinned race is taken as the normal type.

Ajanta Painting
Ajanta Painting

 

Painting/fresco,  approx 500 AD Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

When a little later we meet with the excavated chatiya-houses, and, later still, the earliest Hindu temples of the Aryavarta and the Dravidian school, we are again faced with the same problem, of the origin of styles which seem to spring into being fully developed. . It is clear that architecture had not made much progress amongst the Aryans when they first entered  India; on the contrary, all the later styles have been { clearly shown to be developments of aboriginal and non-Aryan structures built of wood(posts and beams, bamboo, thatch), the intermediate stages being worked out in brick. The primitive wooden and brick building survives to thepresent day side by side with the work in stone, a silent witness of historic origins. Some of the details of the early stone architecture point to Assyrian origins, but this connection is, for India, prehistoric. How the use of stone was first suggested is a matter of doubt; none ofthe early forms have a Greek character, but are translations of Indian wooden forms into stone; while stone did not come into use for the structural temples of the Brahmans until so late as the 6th century A. D.

The Ceylon Shilpashastras preserve canons of form and proportion for six different types, called by such names as Bell-shape, Heap of rice, Lotus, and Bubble.

Chaitiya Hall (approx 50 AD), Karli, India

Another most important class of early buildings, and one purely Buddhist, is that of the chaitiya-hall (Buddhist temples).

The prototype perhaps survives in the dairy temple of the Todas. We are well acquainted with the structural peculiarities of the chatiya-halls, from the many examples excavated in solid rock. These have barrel roofs, like the inverted hull of a ship, with every detail of the woodwork accurately copied in stone. The earliest date from the time of Asoka(3rd century B.c.) and are characterised by their single-arched entrance and plain facade.

Toda Hut

Reservoirs:  but it was only notably in Ceylon that there existed conditions favourable to the construction of very large works at a much earlier date. The largest of the embankments of these Ceylon reservoirs measures nine miles in length, and the area of the greatest exceeds 6000 acres (24 sq km). The earliest large tank dates from the 4th century B.C. What is even more remarkable than the amount of labour devoted to these works, is the evidence they afford of early skill in engineering, particularly in the building of sluices: those of the 2nd or 3rd century B.C. forming the type of all later examples in Ceylon, and anticipating some of the most important developments of modern construction. The most striking features of these sluices are the valve pits (rectangular wells placed transversely across the culverts and lined with close-fitting masonry), and the fact that the sectional area of the culverts enlarges towards the outlet, proving that the engineers were aware that retardation of the water by friction increased the pressure, and might have destroyed the whole dam if more space were not provided.but

There is scarcely any Hindu building standing which can be dated earlier than the 6th century a.d. without any trace of historic origins. The explanation of this circumstance is again to be found in the loss of earlier buildings constructed of perishable materials; all the greatarchitectural types must have been worked out in timber and brick before the erection of the stone temples which alone remain. One point of particular interest is the fact that the early temples of the gods, and prototypes of later forms, seem to have been cars, conceived as self-moving and rational beings.

and in another place, the whole city of Ayodahya is compared to a celestial car. The carrying of images in processional cars is still an important featurej of Hindu ritual. The resemblance of the Aryavarta shikhara to the bamboo scaffolding ofa processional car is too striking to be accidental. More than that,’ we actually find stone temples of great size provided with enormous stone wheels (Konarak, Vijayanagar) and the monolithic temples at Mamallapuram (7th century) (fig. 83) are actually called rathas, that is cars, while the term vimana, applied to later Dravidian temples, has originally the same sense, of vehicle or moving palace.

The greatest period of Indian shipbuilding, however, must have been the Imperial age of the Guptas and Harshavardhana, when the Indians possessed great colonies in Pegu, Cambodia, Java, Sumatra, and Borneo, and trading settlements in China, Japan, Arabia, and Persia.

Many notices in the works of European traders and adventurers in the 15th and i6th centuries show that the Indian ships of that day were larger than their own ; Purchas, for example, mentions one met by a Captain Saris in the Red Sea, of 1 200 tons burden, about three times the size of the largest English ships then made (161 1).Many notices in the works of European traders and adventurers in the 151!^ and i6th centuries show that the Indian ships of that day were larger than their own ; Purchas, for example, mentions one met by a Captain Saris in the Red Sea, of 1 200 tons burden, about three times the size of the largest English ships then made (1611).

It is worth while to remark that a good deal of the material used for dagger-handles and similar purposes is not Indian or African ivory, but is known as “fish-tooth,” most of it being really fossil ivory from Siberia. Old examples prove that there used to exist an overland trade in this material. Hippopotamus and walrus ivory may also have found its way to India by land routes.

The great majority of Indians wear cotton garments, and it is from India that all such names as chintz, calico, shawl, and bandana have come into English since the i8th century. Weaving is frequently mentioned in the Vedas. cotton, silk, and woollen stuffs in the epics. Silk was certainly imported from China as early as the 4th century B.C.,

Neither cotton-printing nor dye-painting are Sinhalese crafts. All the finer cloths found in Ceylon appear to be of Indian origin. There is evidence of several settlements of Indian weavers in Ceylon on various occasions.

The Mughal portrait style is scarcely clearly developed before the time of Jahangir (1605 to 1627). At its best it is an art of nobly serious realism and deep insight into~character7 at its worst, it is an art of mere flattery. Two works reproduced here, the Bodleian Dying Man (fig. 169) and the Ajmer portrait of Jadrup Yogi (fig. 170), stand out before all others in their passionate concentration.
(my sbarrkum note; if some one can send link to modern colored images, Jadrup Yogi or Dying Man very welcome)

 

List of free books by Ananda Coomaraswamy
https://archive.org/search.php?query=Ananda%20Coomaraswamy

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Loki (or Odin) in Asgard

Just a thought re dignity of labor/music.

No question about IQ differences in gender and people. Then there is meritocracy and the sense of entitlement. i.e. We are smart and therefore we should/entitled to multiples of income to the less smart.

Many talk about gender equality in pay. What about less differentiation in pay between the skilled and labor intensive work and so called “high IQ” work.

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Everyone needs to take Chill Pill

None of us here on this blog can claim to be from some discriminated class/religion whatever.  Just the ability to write (and have the time) to write in fluent English means you are one of the top 5% in opportunity in the world.

I like to identify with Shudra/Dalits, and can justify bcos my genetic inheritance has a large component of ASI.   Then equally well I id with African Americans in when in the US.  That said will I invite a US gang banger into my house. Or a Sri Lankan gangster. I knew a few when I was young.   Now I cant deal with that type of young people as in guests to my backwater.  On the streets a many chats/words and thats it.

Anyway, all this caste/religion is academic to the commenters in this blog. But still good.

As they say a picture is a worth a thousand words, the Bauls of Bengal.
Whats with the guy (whose voice I love) with an Afro. Where the heck did he get an Afro. The whole crowd looks like our generic Sri Lankan.

Hopefully some recall my comment everyone is Sri Lankan Dalit/Shudra. Kabir obviously has to deny Pakistani Christians look like Sri Lankans, and said they looked like Punjabis.  Maybe Punjabis look like Sri  Lankans, for sure the eat and drink like Sri Lankans.

 

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Sri Lanka, Tamils, Genocide, Ethnic Cleansing?

There have been a few comments with accusations of Genocide, Ethnic Cleansing of Tamils by the Sri Lankan Govt.

First the numbers which are thrown around.

Lankan Tamils Living among Sinhalese
65% of the Sri Lankan Tamils live in Sinhalese majority areas.  After adding up, I was shocked as I was expecting somewhere around 30%.
The numbers are from the 2012 census.  The third column (in Sinhala) are the Indian/Upcountry Tamils.  In comparison less than 1% Sinhalese live in Tamil majority regions.

Diaspora Sri Lankan Tamils
A number that has been thrown is 30% of Sri Lankan Tamils live outside the country.   The numbers say that it is 22%.
Not all of the Diaspora are refugees
a) Some migrate for economic and education reasons
b) The LTTE one child policy.  The LTTE required one child per family to become cannon fodder.   If the family had money, the LTTE would arrange to smuggle the child out to a Western country as a refugee. Thereafter the refugee would have to make monthly donations too.

             

Religious War
The SL Army or the Budhists would never intentionally destroy a Hindu Temple.  The Buddhist, specially those in the Army make vows and pray to Hindu gods for their protection.  Buddha cannot provide protection (like a God), he is a teacher in the Theravada Tradition.  No question Hindu temples were shelled in the North and East when the LTTE used them as shields.  During the last couple of years the Army has been engaged in rebuilding and repairing Hindu Temples

ex LTTE leaders as Govt Ministers
Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, popularly known as Pillayan and Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, also known as ‘Colonel’ Karuna was a deputy minister in the Rajapakse govt.  Karuna was responsible for killing of 600 Sinhalese and Muslim police officers who surrendered to the LTTE.   Ahh the vagaries of power politics.

Some Links, all by Tamil authors.

Mass expulsion of Muslims from Batticoloa, Mannar and Jaffna
http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/26412

Rajini Rajasingham Thiranagama: Unforgettable Symbol of Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tragedy
http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/33112

The Broken Palmyra, the Tamil Crisis in Sri Lanka, An Inside Account 1992by Rajan Hoole (Author), Daya Soma sundaram (Author), K. A. Sritharan (Author), Rajani Thiranagama (Author)
https://www.amazon.com/Broken-Palmyra-Crisis-Inside-Account/dp/B000OGS3MW/

Sinhalization of the North and the Tamilzation of the South
http://www.srilankaguardian.org/2011/06/sinhalization-of-north-and-tamilzation.html

Other articles by Sebastian Rasalingam
https://www.slguardian.org/category/clms/columnists/sebastian-rasalingam/page/2/

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Lanka and Kalinga

Sauvrav said “ I did my schooling in Orissa and there is no mention of any thing remotely Sri Lankan in their school textbooks. The other day i was talking to a friend who is a oriya and he laughed it off as myth

Many references to Kalinga in Sri Lanka primarily the Mahavamsa and Culavamsa and the Rock edicts of Nissanka Malla (1187–1196)

The Coming of Vijaya (Mahavamsa Chapter 6)
In the country of the Vangas[1] in the Vanga capital there lived once a king of the Vangas. The daughter of the king of the Kalingas was that king’s consort.
http://mahavamsa.org/mahavamsa/original-version/06-coming-vijaya/

Nissanka Malla (1187–1196)
Son of Queen Parvati and King Jayagopa. This is mentioned in a rock inscription made by Nissanka Malla at Galpota. This inscription describes Jayagopa as being the reigning king of Sinhapura.  Nissanka Malla had two wives named Kalinga Subadradevi and Gangavamsa Kalyanamahadevi.[2] He was also a son-in-law or nephew of Parākramabāhu

Magha of Kalinga (Culavamsa CHAPTER LXXX: THE SIXTEEN KINGS 58-62)
of the day lotuses ? that is of peace ? (a man) by name Magha, an unjust king sprung from the Kalinga line, in whom reflection was fooled by his great delusion, landed as leader of four and twenty thousand warriors from the Kalinga country and conquered the island of Lanka. The great scorching fire ? King Magha ? commanded his countless flames of fire ? his warriors ? to harass the great forest ? the kingdom of Lanka3. While thus his great warriors oppressed the people, boasting cruelly everywhere: “We are Kerala warriors”, they tore from the people their garments, their ornaments and the like, corrupted the good morals of the
The reference is raw OCR
http://books.lakdiva.org/culavamsa/vol_1.html

Mahavamsa and Culavamsa are one of the longest continuous histories. Oral tradition since 3rd century BC and written down in 6th century AD.  It has a consistent dating system, i.e from the death of the Buddha. To quote “It is very important in dating the consecration of the Maurya emperor Asoka,”

Asoka had been lost in India. He was found and identified and dated using the Mahavamsa.

To quote from the Mahavamsa Chapter 5; This Chapter references the Moriyas, Bindusara and Chandragupta among others.
Be it known, that two hundred and eighteen years had passed from the nibbana of the Master unto Asoka’s consecration.

James Prinsep (1799-1840) in his excursions in North India, he and his colleagues like Alexander Cunningham, had come across many an inscription where the letters were clearly inscribed but the Indian scholars whom he and others before him had consulted had been unable to help as they had completely lost knowledge of the alphabet in which these inscriptions were written.

It is said that during medieval times Firoz Shah Tugluk who shifted the Asokan pillars from Topra and Meerut to Delhi invited scholars to read them and none was able to do so.

By this time, scholars studying Indian antiquities had progressed a great deal in the study of Sanskrit, the great classical language of India, and understanding what the inscriptions had recorded did not pose much of a problem. It was clear to Prinsep that the authority who had got these inscriptions installed was a King (raja) calling himself Devanampiya, literally meaning ” the beloved of the gods.” But what was baffling Prinsep and his associates of the Bengal RAS was, who was this Devanampiya Raja?

From his readings of the Mahavamsa and its commentary, the Mahavamsa Tika, Turnour knew of a king named Devanampiya Tissa. This fact was intimated to Prinsep who, not knowing the details contained initially believed that the edicts in North India had been installed by the Sri Lankan king in his overwhelming devotion to the new faith. Not long afterwards Prinsep came across an inscription of a grandson of that Devanampiya Raja and realized that the personage in question was an Indian ruler. Turnor in the meantime having read the Buddhist mission to Lanka, communicated to Prinsep that the Devanampiya Raja of the Indian inscriptions was none other than Dharmasoka, the “patron” of Devanampiya Tissa who had bestowed many gifts, including a second consecration on Mayuryan models and the title Devanampiya on his colleague, the ruler of the small island kingdom called Tambapanni off the southern tip of Jambudvipa.

http://www.island.lk/2004/01/04/featur04.html

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