Category Archives: Saivism

Hardline Ethnic Mind-Sets: Jane Russell’s Findings and Reflections

Michael Roberts

Rajan Hoole is now presenting his studies of Sri Lanka Tamil political ferment in the 20th century via the Colombo Telegraph and local newspapers. This earnest endeavour is to be applauded. However, such surveys are not without their problems. Serious commentary on his arguments – as distinct from off-the-cuff blog comments – will have to dwell on the “depth and reach” of his documentation.

JR in 1976Jane Russell in 1976Rajan-Hoole-3 Rajan Hoole today Chandra-w-borderChandra de Silva today

The historical material, whether secondary literature or primary sources, on the politics of the period extending from the 1920s to the 1980s is considerable. For one hand to delve into the readily available data at depth in brief articles[1] is well-nigh impossible. Even with this caveat it is surprising that Hoole has made no reference to Arasaratnam’s and KM de Silva’s essays on the constitutional agitation of the early 20th century, Ranjith Amarasinghe’s study of the Trotskite movement (2000) or the documentary material on GG Ponnambalam’s approaches to the Colonial Office in Documents of the Ceylon National Congress and Nationalist Politics in Ceylon: 1929-1950 (1977). Continue reading

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Encompassing Empowerment in Ritual, War and Assassination

Michael Roberts, courtesy of Berghahn Press and Social Analysis and Doug Farrer, the Editor of the Special Volume on “War Magic“, Social Analysis, 2014, vol 58/1…….. see http://berghahn.publisher.ingentaconnect.com/content/berghahn/socan/2014/00000058/00000001;jsessionid=brf7pbpqi52o9.Victoria….. Note that the article has a sub-title: Tantric Principles in Tamil Tiger Instrumentalities.

Abstract: This study highlights the Tantric threads within the transcendental religions of Asia that reveal the commanding role of encirclement as a mystical force. The cyanide capsule (kuppi) around the neck of every Tamil Tiger fighter was not only a tool of instrumental rational-ity as a binding force, but also a modality similar to a thāli (marriage bond necklace) and to participation in a velvi (religious animal sacrifice). It was thus embedded within Tamil cultural practice. Alongside the LTTE’s politics of homage to its māvīrar (dead heroes), the kuppi sits beside numerous incidents in LTTE acts of mobilization or military actions where key functionaries approached deities in thanks or in preparation for the kill. These practices highlight the inventive potential of liminal moments/spaces. We see this as modernized ‘war magic’—a hybrid re-enchantment energizing a specific religious worldview.

Keywords: cosmic encirclement, enchanted practices, liminality, LTTE, regeneration, sacrifice, suicide attacks, Tantrism

28c-vipoothi lad Figure 1 Young Tiger Fighter with Holy Ash on His Forehead Heads for the Battlefield in the Late 1980s —Photograph © Shyam Tekwani

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Vigneswaran’s Fundamentalism and Present Political Manoeuvres spell Danger for Us Tamils

Mylvaganam Sooriasegaram, courtesy of Ceylon Today, where it will appear with the title Logic behind the actions and politics of the NPC”

aa-wigneswaran-www.hirunews.lkVigneswaran–Pic from www.hirunews.lk

It is essential to try to go deep into the actions and politics of the NPC, led by TNA’s breakaway group centred around the Chief Minister, C. Vigneswaran and assess the inherent dangers. Separatist ideology and an attempt to return to the barren politics of the LTTE can be seen in every one of their actions. If this is not identified and exposed, once again the Tamil people will be forced to take the road to disaster and Sri Lanka will be plunged into another civil strife for decades. One such painful experience in our history is too many – we have to mobilize ourselves and act together to prevent its repetition.  Otherwise we will sleepwalk into another disaster like the one we had to endure during the last 30 years. I am not a nationalist but if we have to choose between the nationalism of the TNA and that of the Federal Party, the latter is a tolerable one. Neither is my choice… provided we can collectively work for a truly democratic Sri Lanka where all the different communities can enjoy equal rights, opportunities and privileges, irrespective of their religion, language and ethnicity.   Continue reading

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Farrer and Roberts discuss War Magic and the Sacrificial Devotion of Tamil Tigers

Q and A reprinted courtesy of Berghahn Press … at … http://ht.ly/VIYQMThis post is the transcript of an electronic interview between D. S. Farrer and Michael Roberts. Farrer is the special issue editor for Social Analysis Volume 58, Issue 1, and Roberts is the author of the article Encompassing Empowerment in Ritual, War, and Assassination: Tantric Principles in Tamil Tiger Instrumentalities” appearing in that issue. Below, Roberts answers a series of questions related to her article in Social Analysis.

This is the seventh in a series of interviews with contributors to this volume. Find the previous contributions on our blog. 

WAR MAGIC doug in fight Doug Farrer in action Continue reading

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Talaivar Pirapāharan among the Saivite Deities today in Tamilnadu

saved_resource  prabha2-Kovil

A Concerned Reader

The extent of misinformation and blind faith that exists among those who hear, read and think only in Tamil  has been highlighted by the recent news from the Sevugaraya Ayyanar temple in South Poigainallur village near Nagapattinam in South India. Apparently, Prabhakaran is raised to the level of a Guardian Deity, with the   Pro-LTTE Periyar Dravida Kazhagam acting as the prime mover of this deification. Apparently, the Tamil Nadu police had moved rapidly and removed the statues. However, we can well ask what would happen when Jayalalitha recovers her full powers. Continue reading

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Rasalingam and Johnpulle on Caste Discrimination in Tamil Society in the Past and Its Pertinence Today

Two old articles penned in 2011 by Sebastian Rasalingam and Thomas Johnpulle on alleged caste oppression in Jaffna Tamil society turned up in my email letter box a few months back. Because of my long engagement with caste issues in the Sinhala south and more recent explorations of the caste factor within Tamil nationalist politics and in the story of the LTTE, I embarked on a project of arousal. The procedure will be clarified in another post alongside this one. Here I content myself with reproducing the two essays with my thanks extended to Nilantha Ilangamuwa and the Sri Lanka Guardian for their original sponsorship of these writings. Michael Roberts

ONE: SEBASTIAN RASALINGAM –  “Keeping Tamil culture and uprooting the caste system from the North,” July 2011, http://www.srilankaguardian.org/2011/07/keeping-tamil-culture-and-uprooting.html

My article published in the Sri Lanka Guardian, entitled “Sinhalizatioon of the North and the Tamilzation of the South” was provoked by a response to D. B. S. Jeyaraj’s article on Kokachchankulam by Prof. Dharmawardana who maintains a detailed website on place names. My article was followed by a very compassionate and hopeful article by Pearl Thevanayagam and Dr. Narendran. We also see Jeyaraj taking up the same theme within a different script under the title “Tamil destiny is inextricably intertwined with that of the Sinhalese“.

rasalingam JP coast Continue reading

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CONFRONTATIONS in SRI LANKA: SINHALESE, LTTE & OTHERS

Author Michael Roberts …………..2009 ….. ISBN 9789556650358 …. Publisher = Vijitha Yapa Publications, 450 pages…. Size 210x145x22mm Weight 800 g…...Our Price Rs. 1,800.00…….. Analytical essays on issues of collective identity, the cultural roots and ideology of nationalism, as well as a detailed study of the projects of Anagarika Dharmapala ….. Over 35 photographs

LTTE cadre with cyanide capsule Tigers in camp with their kuppi–Pic by Shyam Tekwani

                                     TABLE OF CONTENTS

PART I: Landscapes of Debate, Encounter, Review

  1. Language and national identity: the Sinhalese and others over the centuries
  2. Saivite symbolism, sacrifice and Tamil Tiger rites
  3. Nomadic intellectuals: Asian stars in Atlanticland

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