It was sometime in 1981. I was talking to a friend
in my home in Colombo. My friend was a Tamil who was
working abroad as a Vice President of a large
multi-national corporation and he was in Sri Lanka on a
short visit. He said: "You know, in Dr.Arumugam, we
have a future Prime Minister of Eelam - he is one of
those few Tamils who can help to bring many of us
together." I had not met with Aru at that time. But I
did meet with him in the years that followed and I
believe that I came to know him and also understand
him. I also came to understand something of that which
my friend had said in Colombo in 1981.
Last week when I heard that Aru had passed away, my
immediate feeling was one of having suffered a personal
loss. It was a feeling that comes from the passing away
of a human with whom one has shared not only many
thoughts but also many feelings and experiences. Each
one of us is a composite of matter, life and mind and
to the extent that we integrate all these elements into
a larger whole, we move towards becoming whole and
therefore holy - and to that extent, we are more
evolved. Aru was one of those more evolved humans.
He was more internally integrated than many and it
was this which was often reflected outwardly as his
'integrity'. There were many occasions when I did not
agree with his conclusions - but there was never a
moment when I doubted his integrity. To him, as for Mao
Tse Tung, theory was the most practical of things. And
a theory divorced from practise was not for him.
He had the capacity to laugh openly and I enjoyed
laughing with him. He had a clear mind and he was
equally at home with Karl Marx and with Aurobindo. And
the philosophy of Saiva Siddhanta was not unknown to
him. He cared for people and I know that he has helped
many in unobtrusive ways and without expectation of any
return. Aru, in his own life, gave content to Lord
Krishna's injunction to Arujna on the battlefield of
Kurushetra: "To action you have a right - but not to
the fruits thereof.".
My wife as well as my son, who is in his twenties,
enjoyed his company as much as I did, but not always
for the same reason. Aru was not only a personal friend
- he was a family friend. The largeness of a human is
often showed by his capacity to relate to a wide
spectrum of people, of different ages, coming from
different backgrounds and with different aspirations.
The friends that Aru has left behind reflects the
largeness of the man.
It is related in the Mahabaratha, that when Tharmar,
the eldest of the Pandavas, was questioned as to what
was the most surprising thing in the world, he replied:
"The most surprising in the world is that man knows he
must die, but he lives as if he will never die."
Aurobindo, for whom Aru had an enduring affection,
commented many thousands of years later that this
feeling that impels a man to live as if he will never
die, was but a shadow of his true immortality - an
immortality which we may glimpse from time to time in
our moments of inner quiet and peace, when our
chattering mind is silent.
Aru was a good and honourable man in a world where
goodness and honour are not always easy to find. In his
death, the Tamil people have lost an untiring and
steadfast fighter for justice, his family a caring
husband and father, and many of us, a friend to whom we
could turn to.