TAMIL NATIONAL FORUM
Selected Writings - Sara Ananthan
Pragmatism and Idle Talk of Vedanta
4 November 2005
The idle talk of Vedanta
Talking about Vedanta appears to be a favourite past time
amongst some of us to lull others into inaction. But inaction leads
to lethargy and bondage as we can see in the plight of Tamils from
two thousand years of our history. Speaking for the voiceless and
the oppressed is Dharma. Asking for equality and fighting against
inequality is the birth right of every human being. To hoodwink that
right by invoking Vedanta is amoral.
Even in history those who stood for the oppressed and fought
against social injustice and liberated their people from bondage and
slavery have been elevated as enlightened human beings and accepted
as gods or messengers of god in recognition of their super human
qualities which defied all odds to achieve that freedom. That in
itself shows it is a divine right to ask for equality as all humans
are born equal in the eyes of the almighty.
We are living in an imperfect world and there is no denying of that
fact. Due to this imperfection there is always conflict between the
oppressed and the oppressor. The privileged do not share willingly
with the under privileged. That is why, poet
Kanadasan has said "Kalakathil Pirapathu than Neethi"- "justice
is born from popular revolt", in that song “Ennathan
All religions have taught us about universal love but
why are we
all in such a sorry state? So many religious teachers have come
and gone but our world is still an imperfect world. It appears that
even national leaders are ducking for cover under the guise of
religion or using religion or belief in some faith as a cover for
their nefarious activities.
Worship in ancient times by Tamils
In ancient times, Tamil people did not have an established or
institutionalised religion. Their cherished life possessions and
virtues were only Kathal (love) and Veeram (heroism). There was
Nadukal Valipadu (Stone erected in the memory of a fallen hero and
its worship) and Chiru Theiva Valipadu or a kind of nature worship.
They had deities named for the five different landscapes found in
the ancient Tamil land namely Murugan - Kurinchi (mountainous
region), Mayone - Mullai (forest or pastoral regions), Indiran -
Marutham (open plains), Varunan - Neithal (coastal region) and
Kottavai-Paalai (desert region). In fact, they seem to have led a
simple but orderly life, as was prevalent in many other ancient
There was no emphasis in idol worship and even a humble stone
would suffice to denote their respective gods. Even today, the Chiru
Theiva Valipadu or the uncorrupted version of ancient Tamil Valipadu
is widely prevalent amongst our Malaiyaka Thamil Makkal or Tamil
people who live in the upcountry regions of Sri Lanka. They plant a
simple stone found near a river and worship it as Maada Swami (may
be a corrupted word of ancient Mayone).
This type of worship is widely prevalent in the North and East of
Sri Lanka too as can be found in the worship of Vel and Choolam.
There is no chanting of Sanskrit manthras or any other elaborate
rituals associated with the Hindu ahamam.
The Tamil book titled “Pancha Vannath Thoothu “by Inuvai Sinna
Thamby Pulavar, in print form from original manuscript by
Ka.Kandaswamy and published by “The South India Saiva Siddhanta
works, Publishing Society Tinnevelly Ltd”, who say in their foreword
that they take pride in publishing this rare book describes the
ancient tradition of heroic worship as prevalent in Eelam even
The arrival of various religions in ancient Tamil land
It appears that the ancient Tamil land was thriving but was also
ravaged by Tsunamis from time to time. It appears that the last
Tsunami that has wreaked havoc would have left those survivors
groping for answers or some meaning for those untold miseries
endured by them. That would have been an opportune time for the
various religions to find a haven in Tamil land that purport to
provide those answers. In addition, after their conquests and the
resulting wealth amassed by the later day Chola Empire also appeared
to have attracted these religious elements like a magnet.
In the BBC on line news under the title “Tsunami
reveals ancient temple sites” has the following excerpt:
“..Myths state the city was destroyed by a flood sent by gods
envious of its beauty” But now we all know that the countries
around the earth’s equator are in a continental collision zone and
are always prone to Tsunami and earth quake due to the continental
drift as per the plate tectonics studies.
Karma theory and its corrupting influence on Tamils
In ancient times, our Tamil forefathers went as emissaries to
various countries as representatives of sovereign Tamil kingdoms [as
evidence from this article by Dr.Eric Mayer, “When
Augustus became head of the Roman world, the Tamil and Kushan rulers
sent him congratulatory embassies ”], later as merchants, during
the last centuries as indentured labourers of European colonial
powers that occupied our lands and now as globe trotting wanderers
to find a suitable asylum place to cling to our very existence.
This pathetic situation befell on us by our own making and due to
our abject neglect or lack of affection for our ancestral land which
was zealously defended and nurtured by our forefathers for
A society which forfeits its land right is condemned to live a
trotting the globe for ever and will forgo its identity due to
gradual assimilation. This pioneering sprit of dedication for their
cherished land (Mann Pattru) was sapped out due to these various
religions that preached about Nilayami (non permanency of life) and
Karma theory which enslaved the minds of the unsuspecting Tamil
society and made them to forfeit their ancestral lands.
In fact, Karma theory appears to favour only those privileged few
who are born into wealth and power. And Varnachirama Dharma
(division of castes according to ones colour or Varna as in
Sanskrit) appears to go hands in gloves to support this Karma
theory. This is an excerpt from the Encyclopaedia of Britannica on
the subject of caste.
“The Sanskrit word Varna has many connotations including
description, selection, classification, and colour. Of these, it is
colour that appears to have been the intended meaning of the word as
used by the Aryan authors of the Rigveda. The Aryans (arya, “noble,”
“distinguished”) were the branch of Indo-European peoples that
migrated about 1,500 BCE to north-western India (the Indus Valley
and the Punjab Plain), where they encountered the local,
dark-skinned people they called the daha (enemies) or the dasa
(servants). It is also likely that the daha included earlier
immigrants from Iran.”
This is an excerpt from the Encyclopaedia of Britannica on the
subject - Hinduism.
“Hinduism - the beliefs, practices, and socio religious
institutions of the Hindus (originally, the inhabitants of the
land of the Indus River)...The term properly denotes the Indian
civilization of approximately the last 2,000 years, which
evolved from Vedism, the religion of the Indo-European peoples
who settled in India in the last centuries of the 2nd millennium
According to the Karma theory we are all born into these present
forms due to our past Karma and our destiny is decided by fate.
Again life is a cycle of rebirths. The poor indigenous souls that
have ended up at the bottom heap of this Varanachirama Dharma are
condemned to live a wretched life for ever and can only hope for a
better life in their next birth according to this Karma theory
proponents. In essence, it appears to have been a clever ploy
hatched in the name of religion to prevent another French revolution
taking place from the native society that was subjugated.
For that matter, even our gods appear to be partial from the deeds
they are supposed to have done. We learnt that our Lord Shiva has
gone on a match making errand for Sundaramoorthy Nayanar to woo the
love of Paraviar - a Deva dasi woman. But we have not seen any sign
of Lord Shiva when all those pour souls perished in the recent
Tsunami. For the record, even the gods from other religions too did
not fare any better even though those people who perished in the
Tsunami belong to all the major religions. In the article, “Waves of
destruction wash away belief in God's benevolence” by Dr Edward
Spence who is a philosopher at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and
Public Ethics, Charles Sturt University
discusses some points regarding on this subject.
The case for thinking anew
It was said that the Paal Kadal (sea of milk) was churned to get the
Amirtha (manna) by both Devas and Asura’s. But again, we find that
those poor Asura’s were cheated out of their fair share of Amirtha.
May be that it was correct to cheat in Purana times as those Puranic
gods themselves were embodiment of moral corruption if one were to
believe their stories.But we are not living in those Purana periods.
We are living in a modern world with its own complexities.
Recently, in the BBC online news with the title “Game
theorists share Nobel prize “, The 2005 Nobel Prize winner says
under the title “Co-operation or Conflict” that it is possible to
explain by Game theory why some communities are more successful than
others in managing common resources.
The ability to think is the fountain of life and our lives are
nurtured by great thinkers and social reformers from time to time.
To keep people into thinking in the old mould and resist change is
amoral as change is an essential part of evolution. As the
enlightened Lord Buddha has said nothing is permanent, even those
doctrines that are said to have been preached by those bygone wise
men need to change with the times we live in to cater for that ever
changing nature of our society. Conflicts arise due to the vested
interests that resist with all their might against popular changes
that are desired by the populace.
The almighty has provided us with the best thinking minds and ample
resources to find answers to our worldly existence. The humanity due
to its greed and its insatiable desire for self glory has brought
upon itself untold misery. So we need to find our own answers to
problems as was demonstrated amply during the recent Tsunami. If we
can not help us even our gods will not help us.
Our minds have to be like those soaring birds that are eternally
flying into undreamed territories and unknown heights to acquire
that extra knowledge that was not mined earlier in order to enrich
our lives. All our human achievements and comforts that we enjoy
now, which we take them for granted are the results of this
pioneering sprit of human nature to soar to new heights. It is due
to this thirst for discovery and exploration that many new and
powerful nations were founded and new societies were established.
We Tamils are in dire need to churn our minds to find answers to go
forward in our society. For that reason the facts need to be laid
bare without any favour or prejudice. We can not sweep under the
carpet our past and
pretend that injustice never existed in our society.
is providing this service and promoting this noble cause.
Therefore the need of the hour is for the social scientists and
humanists to reform the societies they live in and impart new
knowledge into humanity so that we can learn to share all these
worldly resources equally and amicably without conflict with each
The present reality and the plight of Eelam Tamils
There is so much suffering amongst our Tamil brethren in Sri Lanka
who are mainly Hindus in their faith but it seems that they have
been orphans by their own religion. We have not seen even a single
Hindu religious leader who has voiced for their plight locally or
internationally. In that sense, even though the Sinhala Buddhists
monks with their amoral role played in this burning ethnic conflict
are steeped in Sinhala Buddhists chauvinism, they are at least
voicing for their own people. In fact they love their own people so
much they just could not care for other faiths.
But where are all our multitude of Hindu leaders and
organisations in all this mess? Why is this deafening silence when
it comes to the plight of these hapless Eelam Tamils? The poor Eelam
Tamils are incarcerated in refugee camps in India and Sri Lanka for
decades now due to this ethnic conflict. There is a whole generation
of children who are growing up in refugee camps who have not seen
normal life in their entire life time.
last year’s Tsunami added to this human misery and many more are
in temporary shelters for a year now. The delay and disdain to cater
for these hapless people by our Hindu religious leaders and
organisations prove beyond doubt that they are still steeped in this
archaic Karma theory and Varnacirama Dharma. The wider society has a
moral and ethical duty to cater for these unfortunate people
otherwise it is the whole society that will pay the price in the
Can one believe, in this so called modern times a section of
humanity can be fenced off by barbed wire from their own beach
fronts in their own ancestral lands by their own government? Yes, it
is an unfortunate reality in Sri Lanka. Our sea shores in the north
and east of Sri Lanka are fenced off from the very own people, who
live there and who depend on that sea to elk out a living are
prevented from going to the sea. These people live in abject poverty
due to the ethnic conflict and the last year’s Tsunami added to
their misery. They are allowed to fish in only certain hours of the
day, in designated areas and only up to a certain distance into the
sea under the watchful eyes of the Sri Lankan forces who occupy
these lands. But like in the adage, adding insult to injury, the
same Sri Lankan forces are escorting and allowing Indian fishermen
to poach deep into our sea shores and deny the livelihood of our own
Where are our religious leaders of mother India in all this? What
morality are they teaching to their people? Is it plundering as much
as you can when the going is good? Why not preach to those fishermen
that it’s most amoral to plunder someone’s wealth and deny their own
livelihood when they are kept in shackles.