| by Gaja Lakshmi Paramasivam
( March 07, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) I write in response to the article ‘Tamil Language Rights in Sri Lanka’ by Devanesan Nesiah published in Sri Lanka Guardian.
Most of us in these forums, including Mr. Devanesan Nesiah as per my observation, are more comfortable with English than with Tamil or Sinhalese as the case may be. These are our current official forums and the language used is our official language. To those writing in their local papers, the local language is their official language. The way we interpret what happens depends also on the language used, for practical purposes. Ultimately, as Yoga Swami says the Truth of the matter is realized through the language of Silence. Hence the deeper we go, the less relevant language becomes. The more attention we pay to a particular language the stronger the indicator that we are yet to reach the depths of Truth.
Mr. Nesiah states ‘The manner in which Sinhalese was made the official Language and the accompanying and consequent violence has impeded the spread of Sinhalese literacy among Tamils.’
Tamils to whom English is a language of employment would tend to learn Sinhalese also for employment purposes. One of the groups in Northern Sri Lanka being funded by Australian Tamils to teach English resorted to teaching Sinhalese. I raised objections to this stating that the funds came from a group that was committed to Self Governance by Tamils towards which English would be seen as being more important than Sinhalese. I stated that if Sinhalese was being learnt for ‘grades’ that was fine but not out of the funds of those who specifically seek wider global participation by local Tamils. Even now, in Jaffna courts, it is not uncommon to hear senior lawyers and judges exchanging views in English even though the litigants and junior lawyers may not understand. Court documents are expected to be filed in Tamil. Self Governance is not facilitated when there is conflict between the language of presentation and the language of the applicable law.
We ourselves recently faced the dilemma of whether to present our Affidavit in English or Tamil in a Northern Court. Our lawyer insisted that it ought to be in Tamil. But given that it was OUR evidence, we had to do one in English which is currently our official language and another in Tamil which is the language of majority in Northern Sri Lanka.
We had other instances where local residents were claiming common local practices as the law. Many Administrative units in Jaffna may be using majority practice to regulate the conduct of residents – even though there may be no connection to any particular law. If the Common Law is being used, then its cultural origin is likely to be Western. Where the law of Thesawalamai is used, its cultural origin is in Northern Tamil culture. In terms of the law, we use more Western culture than Tamil culture. Once someone asked me what language I thought in? I think I said ‘English’. When we ‘experience’ more and think less – there is no language. Like God, the experience is One. Hence now that we have had the ‘experience’ of war, we should not need language to resolve. Those who connect to the experience would not.
Those who connect at experience level would therefore not need any language. The more we realize / experience, the deeper our investment in an issue. We would then naturally and often silently connect with others who also have had the experience. Thus as Swami Sai Baba says ‘you and I are One’. Mere knowledge does not give us this natural connection. Hearsay is worse. It’s forgotten the moment we leave the environment. When something happens – for example the passing of the Official Language Act in 1956, it happens/ed due to manifestation of forces through those present at that place at that time. If therefore Tamil and English speaking Ceylonese had contributed significantly to Governance at that time, the 1956 Official Language Act would have been false representation due to calculated knowledge and hearsay. A law that leads us to Truth would have been born out of True Forces. It has been confirmed that the Official Language Act was based on falsity and hence the ethnic problems continue.
For the Tamil side, most Political leaders who influenced the Vaddukoddai Resolution regarding Tamil Nation, copied their Sinhalese counterparts. Unless we have our own independent memory through discriminative thinking based on common laws and principles, and / or have had the experience, we tend to do the same as the opposition often more strongly. The defeat of the Sinhalese party led by Mrs. Bandaranaike was the judgment delivered by Natural Forces in the 1977 elections which elevated Tamils to become for the first time the official Opposition – earning Equal status as per the Law.
But there was lack of extra effort / investment in discriminative thinking and therefore Public Administration, law and order in Tamil areas to sustain this official status through actual substance. Lateral forces – such as in majority vote – are based on numbers. Likewise physical force is based on physical strength. When this becomes stronger than the vertical force of discriminative thinking, we lose depth and therefore consolidated thinking through common principles. It is this consolidated thinking that helps us achieve results that have greater value than the sum of the individuals as used in majority force. This vertical force through discriminative thinking is the true weapon of minorities. Tamil Politicians and Administrators confirmed that they did not have enough of this to override weapon power by rebels who by nature lack the height of intellectual thinkers. The deeper reason to my mind is due to abandoning of the Western system of Administration and with it the English language to gain votes on the basis of Tamil only. Plagiarism is condemned because we do not bring the root value/person of a particular power by merely copying the other. Thus Sinhala Only was copied blindly through an act of plagiarism, resulting in weakening of discriminative thinking and the Public Administration system in Northern Sri Lanka. Had the laws of Thesawalamai been the basis of the rebellion, our Administrative and Judicial systems would have been strengthened.
Despite this, Tamils continue to be the Government’s natural Opposition in Sri Lanka due to their greater investment than the Sinhalese in discriminative thinking in Public Administration and the use of Thesawalamai and other customary laws in Tamil areas. The older the laws that we actually practice, the greater the vertical power and therefore discriminative thinking that goes with it. This genuine practice of Thesawalamai, to my mind, is far more powerful than merely speaking Tamil. Tamils of Jaffna need to actually practice the law of Thesawalamai and pay tribute to their ancestors? Once we realize the deeper values of the law of Thesawalamai – we would easily apply any good and healthy law in any part of the world. We may learn the law of Thesawalamai in English, but when we genuinely apply it – we would connect to Tamil ancestors. When a non-Tamil connects, s/he is confirming Universal values. Once God is realized, we are truly Universal – which to me is the goal of life.