“Murali is not a Tamil,” says a Tamil doctor during a World Cup encounter

Michael Roberts

“Murali is not a Tamil. We do not consider him a Tamil,” proclaimed Dr. Bālachandran as an unsolicited intervention during a conversation at the England versusSri Lankacricket match at the Premadasa Stadium on 29 March 2011. Let me clarify this episode and its context before elaborating on the historical background that has spawned such an outrageous perspective; and then moving on to critical commentary.

 Tamil fans mob Murali during cricket match between Janashakthi team and Jaffna CA, 1 Sept. 2002 —Pic by Reuters

 

 Large crowd press forward to see cricketing heroes Murali and Kalu — Pic courtesy of Janashakthi

The Moment of Confrontation

I was fortunate enough to receive a complimentary ticket to the Sri Lanka Cricket Chairman’s ‘Box’ at midwicket in the Premadasa Stadium. This is a large space that held maybe twelve rows and seated 210 persons. I had been escorted to a position in about the eighth row and found myself seated next to a Michael Stables from the Midlands inEnglandon my left with a Dr. Bālachandran and his wife to my right. Dr. Bālachandran said he was from the Southampton area in England.Scene from Chairman’s enclosure during match against Kenya —Pic by Roberts

I indulged in chit-chat with both my neighbours in the course of the match. I discovered that Stables had been born inSri Lankaand had made several visits in recent years in the course of benefactions of unused cricket equipment to clubs and other users in the island. Then, as Ajantha Mendis was brought on to bowl, Mike Stables inquired: “From where is he?

I answered: “He is from Moratuwa. His brother is a Catholic priest.” In line with previous writings I then expanded on this point. “Sri Lankahas been among the most multi-religious and multi-ethnic cricket teams in the world in the recent past.”

At which point we were brought up sharp by an unsolicited intervention from my right: “What nonsense!” said Dr. Bālachandran.

Taken aback, I turned to him and used my fingers to elaborate: “Murali, Arnold, Mathews, are Tamil; Maharoof …”. But this flow was interrupted by Dr. Bālachandran: “Murali is not a Tamil. WE do not consider him a Tamil,” he said, as he leaned forward and away from me.

I was furious. I went for him verbally. “That,” I said, “is an upper class, Vellālar attitude.” Dr. Bālachandran was not pleased and said something to the effect that such comments were not in order (I’m afraid that I was so angry that I do not retain a memory of his precise response). After this contretemps, both of us ceased communication and studiously ignored each other.

This verbal confrontation is of immense sociological and political significance. It brings to mind an encounter of a different type between a Burgher Sri Lankan cricket fan of teasing disposition and a Sinhala man at an international cricket match in 1981 at the SSC grounds (Roberts 1985). This was third party encounter that opened the way for me to explore the political ideologies and sentiments sustaining interaction and riposte.[1] I move on the same analytical path here, even though I am directly implicated in the exchange on this occasion.

I cannot expect all readers to have a comprehensive knowledge of the Sri Lankan societal context and must therefore set the scene in order to clarify my identification of Dr. Bālachandran’s comments as emanating from a fusion of jaundiced upper class and Vellālar upper caste sentiments.

Caste and Class among the Jaffna Tamils

Dr. Bālachandran is balding and, to my mind, seemed to be in the age range late-50s’ to 60’s. For this reason one must look to the circumstances of his upbringing in the 1950s to 1970s. This was a formative period when the early signs of the rift between Sinhalese and Sri Lankan Tamils were beginning to take shape. In broad overview for our purposes here, therefore, one can conveniently divide the past sixty years into two periods: (A) 1948-1976 and (B) 1976-2009, with the adoption of the goal of Thāmilīlam by the leading SL Tamil party, namely, the TULF, in May 1976 serving as the dividing line.

Period A, from 1948-1970s: When Sri Lanka received independence in 1948 the census gathered in 1946 indicated that the “Ceylon Tamils” made up 11.0% of the population, while the “Indian Tamils” were 11.7 per cent, as distinct from a “Sinhalese” population percentage of 69.4. Those deemed “Indian Tamils” are often thought of as plantation labourers. While the majority may have been so at any one point of time in the British period, it cannot be overstressed that from the 19th century onwards a significant number of Indian Tamils came across to work on the railways, road works and irrigation department; while yet more became port workers in Colombo or gravitated to low status menial jobs in urban centres.

While a fair proportion of the labour force which migrated from southern India to work seasonally (in the coffee period) or as residents on the plantations are believed to have been of depressed caste status and thus “pariah” in the Tamil cultural perspective, there were also workers and foreman (kangānies) of high caste status. Muralitharan’s paternal grandfather, Periyasamy Sinasamy, is said to be from the Kongu Vellālar caste and migrated in 1920 to work on the tea plantations. While he eventually returned to Tiruchirapalli in Tamilnadu, his son Sinasamy Muttiah rose to be a successful businessman in the confectionary field after initiating a biscuit factory in the Kandy locality in the 1950s.[2]

Partly because of this dual character of affiliation straddling the subcontinent and the island and largely because of Sinhala chauvinist sentiment, the Indian Tamils as a category were mostly disenfranchised by two acts of parliament that were passed soon after independence was secured. The leading Ceylon Tamil politicians acquiesced in this measure though a dissident segment protested. Behind this lukewarm interest in their Tamil-speaking ‘brethren’, was caste and class sentiment in combination.

Ceylon Tamil sentiments in the 1940s to 1970s were dominated by the perspectives of the leading caste in the JaffnaPeninsula, namely the Vellālar. To the majority of men and women in this caste formation all plantation labourers were “low” and beyond the pale. It is arguable that this disdain towards the Indian Tamil people as a whole existed even among those lower in the caste hierarchy of theJaffnaPeninsula.

Since most of the middle class Tamils residing in Colombo in the 1940s-50s were from the Jaffna  Peninsula, this prejudice was widespread and hardline in metropolitan circles. As a young Indian Tamil man growing up in the city, Chandra Schaffter experienced this prejudice as a generalized Ceylon Tamil attitude extending to all of them[3] – even though he had been fortunate enough to receive his education at the elite S. Thomas’ College and athletic enough to become a double international in hockey and cricket. I do not have biographical details on Dr. Bālachandran as yet and am not sure if he was educated inJaffna orColombo. However, it is clear that he still abides by the prejudices of the type that Schaffter – and many Indian Tamil descendants – experienced when encountering Ceylon Tamils in the metropolis or in their roles as teamakers, clerks, apothecaries and other functionaries in the plantation towns or plantations.

For those unfamiliar withSri Lankain that period let me note that the vast majority of Ceylon Tamils in this period resided in the Jaffna Peninsula and the coastal strand in the east. The northern Vanni, with the exception of the Mannar locality, was very sparsely populated.

For my purposes here let me present a picture of Jaffnacaste society. Unlike India there were only a few Brahmins and these men were “the salaried servants of those Vellālar who managed the temples” (Banks 1960: 69). The Vellālar were not only ritually superior, but numerically preponderant, their proportions being variously estimated in the mid-20th century as 40% and 50% by Neville Jayaweera[4] and Marcus Banks respectively.[5] With the exception of the Karaiyar caste people, most people of other castes, whether Koviyar, Civiyar, Vannar, Ambattar, Nalavar, Pallar, Paraiyar or Tirumpar, were part of a structured caste order[6] marked by spatial segregation in wards of villages and widespread endogamy within caste fraction (sondakāra) or caste (Pfaffenberger 1982; Banks 1960: 63-64, 69-73). In talking of his youthful days in the 1970s Chinniah Rajeshkumar notes that his Vellālar caste village of Punallaikatuvan, “was divided into … the North side and South side … and marriage customs were different;” and stresses that “the village identity and caste identity were much stronger than Tamil nationalist identity” (Rāgavan in Kadirgamar 2009; Rāgavan 2009a).

Originally associated with fishing, the Karaiyar had taken advantage of their relative independence of the Vellālar-dominated agrarian order during the British colonial period and some families had moved into educational paths of social mobility, while others had taken advantage of entrepreneurial avenues. The Karaiyar of Valvettithurai and Point Pedro were involved in shipbuilding from the mid-19th century onwards. In the mid-20th century VVT was also the centre of a lucrative smuggling trade with India.[7]

Such paths of advancement appear to have been mostly denied to the Nalavar and Pallar caste people. In many localities in the 1950s and 1960s they were subject to secondary status in temples. In the early 1970s “some Vellalars expressly denied that the Nalavars and Pallars were Tamils,” a stance that was reinforced by the manner in which personnel from these two depressed castes referred to the superior castes as “Tamils” (Pfaffenberger 1994: 149).

However, one must immediately circumscribe the ramifications of such differentiation. These were highly contextualized and restricted positions. Ethnic/ communal identity is relational and subjective. The Nalavar and Pallar were treated as Tamil by the colonial and post-colonial states as well as the Muslims and Sinhalese. In the wider context of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) there is no doubt that they were Ceylon Tamil” (subsequently “Sri Lankan Tamil”). As Chandra Schaffter experienced their perspectives inColomboand elsewhere, all Ceylon Tamils looked down on those Tamils of [recent] Indian descent. So, what we as analysts find are wheels within wheels!

Period B, 1970s-2009: even in the 1950s and 1960s the power of the Vellālar castes in thePeninsula was weakening because of increasing opportunities for mobility. Vellālar hegemony was sustained in part by their control over land and wells so that most tea boutiques were Vellālar because one could not run such an enterprise without access to water. On K. Sivathamby’s authority I note that these means of power were loosening even before 1983. But the crucial point is that the radical and nationalist political currents of the 1970s combined to threaten the hold of caste inJaffna society. Once the liberation struggle boiled over into the open from mid-1983 the force of caste weakened considerably.

Thus, young Rajeshkumar of Vellālar stock joined the nascent LTTE in the mid-1970s under the code name of Rāgavan as a nationalist committed to the cause of independence and without any regard to caste hierarchy (Ragavan 2009a and 2009b; Kadirgamar 2009). Nationalist ferment during the 1960s and 1970s was energized by tales drawn from the Indian nationalist struggle as well as literary and cinematic extravaganza about heroic Tamil kingdoms in the medieval era (Roberts 2011b). As vital were radical socialist currents of thought drawn from Marxism, the Naxalites, the Palestinians and Guevarists. In the 1980s this progressive outlook was sharply outlined within the LTTE when their recruitment of fighters embraced young females as well, a process which was encouraged by the influence of Anton and Adele Balasingham.[8]

In the result, the LTTE’s commander ranks in the 1980s included such Vellālar as Radhā, Ponnamman, Kerdles, Ilanko, Rahim and Shankar (the latter being a non-Vellālar who had become one). That stressed, let me note that caste was not wholly out of the picture because of the pragmatic requirements of clandestine activity and the demands of war. Underground cells can only sustain themselves through trust. On prima facie grounds I conjecture that the youth who took to clandestine work in the early LTTE under Pirapāharan therefore formed networks among schoolmates. Given the spatial clustering of castes, schoolmates were often kin. It is therefore no accident that the early LTTE leadership of the 1980s was composed of many Karaiyar: Pirapāharan, Baby Subramanium, Mahattayā, Seelan, Victor, Kittu, Kumārappa, Thilagar, David and Kumaran Pathmanathan serve as illustration of this weightage (Roberts 2011b; and also Hellmann-Rajanayagam 1993).

As the liberation war escalated and the LTTE took on the IPKF from 1987-89 and then combined conventional warfare with guerrilla activity during Eelam Wars II, II and IV, the recruitment of personnel from the farming and fishing peoples of all parts of the north and east invariably embraced youth from the depressed castes. As significantly, people of Indian Tamil plantation stock who had moved in substantial numbers to the Vanni after the nationalization of some plantations in the 1970s were also incorporated as fighters. Note that in 1981 there were 43,779 Indian Tamils in the three districts of Mullaitivu, Mannar and Vavuniya, making up roughly 20% of the Tamil population. However low their status as agricultural labourers, their practical capacities were valued in the fields of war. All those who died for the cause became māvīrar or “great heroes” like the other Tamils (and a few Muslims in the 1980s) who had dedicated themselves to the LTTE endeavour. As vitally, one of Pirapāharan’s early bodyguards, one Thamil Chelvan, a man from the lowly Ambattar caste (typically associated with the role of barbers) rose to be the LTTE’s political commissar in the 2000s and was vested with the rank of Brigadier.

Pirapāharan versus Bālachandran

This brief review enables me to ask a hypothetical question and to direct it at Dr. Bālachandran. How would the Tiger leader Pirapāharan have reacted if he heard Dr. Bālachandran discard Muralitharan from the revered category “Tamil” during conversations in Mullaitivu? My answer-in-surmise is curt: Pirapāharan would have had him executed.

    This suggestion introduces us to the tendentious and murky terrain around the question: what was the attitude of the LTTE directorate as well as the Tamil people under their rule to the success of the Sri Lankan cricket team in the field of cricket, say, in March 1996? and how did the LTTE leaders, and the Tamil people, regard the star bowler, Muralitharan?

Rumours have circulated in Colombosociety that the LTTE also celebrated the Sri Lanka’s victory at the World Cup in 1996. I remain sceptical on this point. The degree to which Sri Lankan Tamils supported Sri Lanka during their international contests remains an open question. The Indian journalist Nirupama Subramanium’s assessment and my casual inquiries in 2003 indicated that whenever Sri Lanka faced India“a goodly majority of all Tamils in all parts of the island favour[ed] an Indian victory” (Roberts, Forces, 2006: 7). However, this is a topic on which it is notoriously difficult to secure firm empirical data, so I leave the issue as one of debated ground with room for ambiguities and different answers according to locality and class.

But I also know that Muralitharan was held in high regard as a super-achieving Tamil man and that he was enthusiastically and widely mobbed by Tamil youth when Chandra Schaffter took a Janashakthi team to Jaffnatown to play a friendship match against the Jaffna District Association on 1 September 2002 during the ceasefire period.[9] The image displayed at the outset of this article is just one illustration of the degree to which he was revered by some Tamil men and women.

Dr. Bālachandran, therefore, seems to be out of step with several Tamil minds inSri Lanka. Yet, he utilised the Royal WE. His hegemonic perspective was a catholic claim on behalf of all Sri Lankan Tamils (Ceylon Tamils). This can be deemed a conceit, an arrogant self-belief. On these grounds it may be feasible to pigeon-hole Bālachandran as a lone maverick.

That would be too facile. As a migrant Tamil sympathetic to the LTTE cause, one can safely conjecture that Bālachandran was among the many Tamils who were in extreme anguish as the LTTE slid to defeat in late 2008 and early 2009. Virulent demonstrations were organised in major cities in the West, such as Berlin, Toronto and London. Moreover, when Sri Lanka’s cricket team toured abroad their cricket matches at Canberra and Toronto were picketed in February and October 2008 respectively.[10]

 Demo in Canada — courtesy of www.transcurrents.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Given such a political stance, what did Tamil Tiger nationalists in the diaspora think of Muralitharan? What do Tamil Tiger nationalists think of Muralitharan NOW? Is he deemed a turncoat and traitor? In other words, does Bālachandran’s sweeping disparagement of Muralitharan indicate a fusion of Vellālar caste/class prejudices with hardline Tamil Tiger sentiments? It is with such pertinent questions that I leave you to ponder the issues at stake.

A Prologue that is Epilogue

Muralitharan is not the only Indian Tamil who has played for Sri Lankain cricket. Ravi Ratnayake of the 1980s and Ravi Pushpakumara of the 1990s are both of Indian Tamil descent, the former from the mother’s side and the latter from the father’s.[11]  However, in contrast with Muralitharan, both Ratnayake and Pushpakumara are not obviously Tamils in surname, while Muralitharan is the only one still on the cricket field today.

 

 

Riotous mob at Borella junction in Colombo, 24/25 July 1983 –Pic by Chandragiupta Amarasinghe

More critically, precisely because of name and appearance, Muralitharan and family had to face the trauma of mob attacks inspired by chauvinist Sinhalese fury during the pogrom of July-August 1977. This was in the locality of Kandywhen the widespread assaults on Tamils living in Sinhala-majority areas embraced the hill country as well (in contrast to 1958 when the attacks up country were relatively limited). Muralitharan was only five years old then, but the memory attached to this crucible of fire must surely remain vivid.

Let me bring out this episode as brought out so poignantly by Peter Roebuck’s judicious questioning:

PR: Growing up as a Tamil in Sri Lanka wasn’t easy in your early days?

MM: There were riots but after 1983, it became normal. Remember I was staying at hostel in school for seven years and living with many Sinhalese and Tamils in the same dormitories so it was not that difficult.

PR: But in the early days a lot of harm was done to the Tamils. Do you have any memories of that?

MM: Our factory and our house were burnt down in 1977 and that was painful for a time. We were saved by Sinhalese. They came and stopped the crazy people before they killed us. We never forgot that. We rebuilt them and moved on. That was our family way. We are businessmen, not politicians. My father kept things as simple as possible.

We see, thereby, that Muralitharan and his family have moved on. Dr. Balachandran is a total contrast: he is bound to old prejudices and has imprisoned himself in his very own hardline cell.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Afterthoughts, Saturday 23 April

After this essay was posted on Thuppahi, I received a critical and informative memo from a friend, who was brought up in the Jaffna Peninsula and has experience in the social sciences. I shall refer to him as MF (not his initials, but short for “my friend”).

He stressed that Bank’s’s anthropological research was confined to one small area in Vadamaratchchi and that both Pfaffenberger and Banks have not comprehended “the nuances of the hierarchical system in Jaffna.” He also emphasised that the Koviyar, who were traditionally identifies as cooks for the Vellālar, were “entitled to all the rights and privileges of the Vellalar except intermarriage.

He also contended that there was greater degree of modernisation than my article allowed for because the British era and missionary schools opened avenues for people of the middling castes as well as Karaiyar outside agrarian controls to advance their socio-economic status. Thus, several “became successful professionals and even rose to high positions in govt. service.” Again, Koviar and Karaiyar too owned wells and ran teashops in the mid-twentieth century.

MF agreed that the Vellālar did “dominate Jaffna society” and that the  Nalavar and Pallar were in a downtrodden position. On the key issue of Jaffna Tamil attitudes towards those identified as “Indian Tamils” in the British era and early post-colonial period, he contended [1] that the prejudices were in the sphere of personal and commensal exchanges [as, indeed, I understood Schaffter’s experience to lie within]; [2] and that it did not extend to the political sphere – indeed that GG Ponnambalam’s political clout declined after he went along with the disenfranchisement of the Indian Tamils by his colleagues in government, the UNP.

Set against this contextualization, MF’s explicit conjecture was that Bālachandran’s “remark was political;” that is, because Muralitharan “does not publicly support the Tamil cause he is not really a Tamil.” MF added that Lakshman Kadirgamar was branded in the same manner.[a] For this reason MF stresses that we cannot assume that Bālachandran is Vellalar without biographical detail on his upbringing.

This is an important intervention, the more so because it works within the same conjectural caveats that thread my article. It sides with, and extends/modifies, the political dimensions of my argument-in-surmise that is elaborated briefly in the last but one paragraph before the Epilogue. The allusion to the manner in which Kadirgamar was seen in Tamil nationalist and LTTE circles is particularly insightful. In an aside here, I warn readers that the categories “Tamil nationalist” and “Tamil Tiger” have not been synonymous in the era 1976-2011. So, Bālachandran’s leanings could be hardline Tamil nationalist without being wholly LTTE.

While granting this dimension of MF’s contentions, I see no reason why there cannot be a mixture of Vellālar or Vellālar-like caste prejudice merging with the political imperatives coursing through the thinking of Tamils locked in a bitter struggle against the Sri Lankan government and Sri Lankan society. Given the numerical proportions of the Vellālar community, the chances of Bālachandran being Vellālar are pretty good.

But, yes, thanks MF for underlining the force of the political context of struggle and the manner in which it promotes rejections of one’s kin-fellows as well as accusations of “traitordom.”

*****************************************

BIBLIOGRAPHY

[Balasingham], Adele Ann 1993 Women Fighters of Liberation Tigers,Jaffna.

Balasingham, Adele 2001 The will to freedom. An inside view of Tamil resistance, Mitcham:Fairmax Publishing Ltd.

Balasingham, Anton 2005 War and Peace,

Banks, Michael 1960 “Caste in Jaffna,” in E. R. Leach (ed.) Aspects of caste in South India  Ceylon and North-West Pakistan,CambridgeUniversity Press, pp. 61-77.

Hellmann-Rajanayagam, Dagmar 1993 “The Jaffna social system: continuity and change  under conditions of war,” Internationales Asien Forum 25: 251-81.

Kadirgamar, Ahilan 2009 Interview with Ragavan on Tamil militancy (early years), http:// kafila.org/2009/02/16/interview-with-ragavan-on-tamil-militancy-part-i.

Narayan Swamy, M. R. 1994 Tigers of Sri Lanka,Delhi: Konark Publishers Pvt Ltd.

Narayan Swamy, M. R. 2003 Inside an elusive mind. Prabhakaran,Colombo: Vijitha Yapa  Publications.

Pfaffenberger, Bryan 1982 Caste in Tamil culture. The religious foundations of Sudra domination in Sri Lanka, Maxwell School of Foundations and Comparative Studies.

Pfaffenberger, Bryan 1982 “The political construction of defensive nationalism: the temple entry crisis in Sri Lanka,” in C. Manogaran & B. Pfaffenberger (eds.) The Sri Lankan Tamils. Ethnicity and identity, Boulder:  Westview Press, pp. 143-68.

Ragavan 2009a “Interview with Ragavan on Tamil militancy (early years),” http://kafila.org/ 2009/02/16/interview-with-ragavan-on-tamil-militancy-part-i/

Ragavan  2009b “Prabhakaran’s timekeeping. Memories of a much-mythologised rebel  leader by a former LTTE fighter,” Sunday Leader, 24 May 2009.

Roberts, Michael 1985 “Ethnicity in riposte at a cricket match: the past for the present,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 27: 401-429.

Roberts, Michael 2006a Forces and strands in Sri Lankan cricket history,Colombo: Social Scientists’ Association.

Roberts, Michael 2006b Essaying cricket. Sri Lanka and beyond,Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications.

Roberts, Michael 2011a Incursions and excursions in and around the cricket field, Colombo: author.

Roberts, Michael 2011b “Ideological and caste threads in the early LTTE, unpubd Mss.

Roebuck, Peter 2010 “Roebuck chats with Murali [inSydney],” http://cricketique.wordpress. com/2010/11/05/peter-roebuck-chats-with-murali/

 


[a] Kadirgamar was eventually assassinated by the LTTE before election which were expected to bring the SLFP into power and place him in the position of Prime Minister after having figured prominently as Foreign Minister in the international campaign to outlaw the LTTE as “terrorist.”

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

[Balasingham], Adele Ann 1993 Women Fighters of Liberation Tigers,Jaffna.

Balasingham, Adele 2001 The will to freedom. An inside view of Tamil resistance, Mitcham: Fairmax Publishing Ltd.

Balasingham, Anton 2005 War and Peace,

Banks, Michael 1960 “Caste in Jaffna,” in E. R. Leach (ed.) Aspects of caste in South India Ceylon and North-West Pakistan,CambridgeUniversity Press, pp. 61-77.

Hellmann-Rajanayagam, Dagmar 1993 “The Jaffna social system: continuity and change under conditions of war,” Internationales Asien Forum 25: 251-81.

Kadirgamar, Ahilan 2009 Interview with Ragavan on Tamil militancy (early years), http:// kafila.org/2009/02/16/interview-with-ragavan-on-tamil-militancy-part-i.

Narayan Swamy, M. R. 1994 Tigers of Sri Lanka,Delhi: Konark Publishers Pvt Ltd.

Narayan Swamy, M. R. 2003 Inside an elusive mind. Prabhakaran,Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications.

Pfaffenberger, Bryan 1982 Caste in Tamil culture. The religious foundations of Sudra domination in Sri Lanka, Maxwell School of Foundations and Comparative Studies.

Pfaffenberger, Bryan 1982 “The political construction of defensive nationalism: the temple entry crisis in Sri Lanka,” in C. Manogaran & B. Pfaffenberger (eds.) The Sri Lankan Tamils. Ethnicity and identity, Boulder:  Westview Press, pp. 143-68.

Ragavan 2009a “Interview with Ragavan on Tamil militancy (early years),” http://kafila.org/ 2009/02/16/interview-with-ragavan-on-tamil-militancy-part-i/

Ragavan  2009b “Prabhakaran’s timekeeping. Memories of a much-mythologised rebel leader by a former LTTE fighter,” Sunday Leader, 24 May 2009.

Roberts, Michael 1985 “Ethnicity in riposte at a cricket match: the past for the present,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 27: 401-429.

Roberts, Michael 2006a Forces and strands in Sri Lankan cricket history,Colombo: Social Scientists’ Association.

Roberts, Michael 2006b Essaying cricket. Sri Lanka and beyond,Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications.

Roberts, Michael 2011a Incursions and excursions in and around the cricket field, Colombo: author.

Roberts, Michael 2011b “Ideological and caste threads in the early LTTE, unpubd Mss.

Roebuck, Peter 2010 “Roebuck chats with Murali [inSydney],” http://cricketique.wordpress. com/2010/11/05/peter-roebuck-chats-with-murali/


[1] A summary version can also be located in Roberts, Crosscurrents. Sri Lanka and Australia at Cricket,Sydney:Walla Walla Press, pp.

[2] See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muttiah_Muralitharan#Spelling_and_meaning_of_name[3] Telephone interview, 17 April 2011. Both Nazreen Sansoni and Ambika (a young Tamil) indicated that such prejudices were “quite common” among the Sri Lankan Tamils inColombo when I mentioned this incident to them in April 2011. However, their generalization may only extend to middle class Tamils of older generations; that I, I hesitate to extend it to new Tamil migrants toColombo and the working class Tamils in the city.

[4] Email communication from Jayaweera (25 July 2009) providing an estimate compiled by Tamil headmen under his authority asG. A.,Jaffna in the mid-1960s. These high caste headmen had excluded those persons who had changed names by deed poll in order to cross caste-lies (suggesting a creeping process of increase in the Vellālar category).

 [5] Pfaffenberger 1982: 47, citing Banks’s thesis [which I have not seen].

 [6] “Traditionally, each ward of Vellālas had its own dependent wards of Brahmans, Kōviyars, artisan castes, Barbers, Washermen, Untouchable labourers, and Paraiyars” (Banks 1960; 71).

 [7] This is based on information from my friend S. Kasynathan, interview with K. Sivathamby (August 2005) and Roberts 2011b.

 [8] See Adele Ann 1993; Adele Balasingham 2003; and Anton Balasingham 2005. For general background, see Narayan Swamy 1993 and 2003.

 [9] See Roberts, Essaying cricket, 2006b, Figures 118 & 119. Kaluwitharana and Ruchira Perera were among those in the Janashakthi team. In supplying these images, Schaffter informed me that the people ofJaffna were as keen to see Jayasuriya play. Schaffter’s plan of taking a Sri Lankan eleven as a goodwill measure was shafted by the SLC board (one presumes personal animosity towards Schaffter influenced this short-sighted action). Note that Schaffter’s firm has been in the top rung of entrepreneurial establishments inSri Lanka for some time, sharing that space with a significant number of businessmen from Indian Tamil, Indian or Sri Lankan Tamil background.

 [10] See http://cricketique.wordpress.com/photo-shots/ and Roberts, “Cricket as protest arena …,” in Roberts, Incursions and excursions, 2011, pp. 77-110.

 [11] My thanks to Nirgunan Tiruchelvam for reminding me about Ratnayake and Pushpakumara. The latter’s name is listed in the cricket archives as Karuppiahyage Ravindra Pushpakumara. His father is from the working class and bore the name Karuppiahya; but since he lived in a Sinhala-speaking area it was not surprising that the Sinhala-genitive ge, meaning “of,” was added tot his name. In Sinhala cultural practice the genitive ge is commonly added to place-of-birth, honorific, occupation etc in order to identify your lineage.

11 Comments

Filed under cultural transmission, life stories, LTTE, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, Tamil migration, world events & processes

11 responses to ““Murali is not a Tamil,” says a Tamil doctor during a World Cup encounter

  1. That picture (Tamil fans mob Murali) said it all.

  2. Pingback: Shehan Karunatilaka blunders into ethnicity in Sri Lankan cricket

  3. Pingback: Channel 4 distortions arouse Murali | Thuppahi's Blog

  4. Pingback: Muttiah Muralitharan’s Message to Sri Lankans: “forget and forgive and move on” | Thuppahi's Blog

  5. Pingback: Sangakkaras visit St. Patrick’s College, Jaffna | Thuppahi's Blog

  6. Pingback: Roadblocks in the Path of Reconciliation in Lanka: Ideological Cancers within the Sinhala Universe: | Thuppahi's Blog

  7. Pingback: On the spot reporting Buried Alive : Athirady English News

  8. Pingback: Marginalisation in Britain as Path to Islamic Fervour and/or Cricketing Fervour | Thuppahi's Blog

  9. Pingback: Muralitharan as Teacher: Overcoming Strife in Life, Cricket and Politics | Thuppahi's Blog

  10. Pingback: Murali Dissected …. and Admired: Shehan Karunatilaka’s Conversion | Thuppahi's Blog

  11. Pingback: Overcoming Hate: A Lesson for Tamils and Sinhalese from a Holocaust Survivor | Thuppahi's Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.