This year the Armed Forces Remembrance Day and Poppy ceremony is due to be held on Sunday the 13th November 2022 at the Viharamahadevi park in Colombo. Since November is the month of Remembrance universally, it is commemorated world over.
Brian Victoria, in Buddhistdoor.net … where the title reads as “Nationalism: Collective Selves and the Promise of Buddhaland”
In a recent lecture on the war in the Ukraine, John Mearsheimer, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, noted that nationalism is the strongest ideology in the world today. I was somewhat surprised by his comment because, having lived through the Cold War era, anything having to do with Russia was framed in the ideological context of “the struggle of the Free World or democracies against Communist dictatorship,” and so on. Yet, on reflection, I realized that with the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991, Russia had reverted to a capitalist state, even if now authoritarian or autocratic. Thus, Mearsheimer’s identification of nationalism as a key factor behind Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was not as surprising as it initially seemed.
Buddhist monks protest against aid for Rakhine’s Rohingya Muslims. Photo by Soe Zeya Tun. From reuters.com
Mearsheimer’s insight led to a new line of enquiry on my part. As a Buddhist, I had long asked myself, without finding a satisfactory answer, what is the relationship, if any, of the Buddhadharma with nationalism?
Induction of Tiger recruits into fighter ranks with receipt of the kuppi containing cyanide
Tiger soldiers relaxing in camp with cyanide kuppi around their necks — Pix by Shyam Tekwani
Understanding the role of religion in the Tamil insurgency requires an understanding of Sri Lanka’s cultural mosaic and of the development of modern nationalism before and after independence from British colonial power. Sri Lanka is a geographically small yet culturally rich and complex island, with numerous ethnic, linguistic, religious, and caste subgroups. The majority of the population identify as ethnically Sinhala, and they speak Sinhala, an Indo-European language. The great majority of the Sinhalese are Theravada Buddhists who live mostly in the south and central regions of the island. A small minority of Sinhalese are Catholics, and some also belong to evangelical Christian churches. The largest minority group in Sri Lanka is the Tamils, who speak Tamil (a South Indian Dravidian language) and comprise several subgroups. The largest of these are the so-called Sri Lankan Tamils, who traditionally have lived in the north and east. The so-called Indian Tamils are labor immigrants from India who were brought in by the British to work in the plantation sector in the highlands. The majority of Tamils are Hindus of the Śaiva Siddhanta tradition, but there are also a significant number who are Catholics and a few to smaller Evangelical denominations. The Tamil Muslims identify based on religious belonging, not on a common ethnic identity, and they speak Tamil. Historically, the Muslim communities are scattered throughout the island; they form a stronghold in urban trading centers in the south but are also farmers in the Tamil-majority Eastern Province. Social stratification based on caste and regional identities was strong in precolonial Lanka, and then the colonial classifications of the island’s inhabitants produced new identities with intensified religious and racial signifiers. These were reproduced in the emerging Tamil and Sinhala nationalisms of the late 19th century.
At 9.00 pm this day of 18th September 2022 I ventured back from my study to our living room to have dinner. The TV was on and my Scottish wife was watching the serried ranks of the British military and royalty accompanying the hearse bearing the body Queen Elizabeth on its last earthly journey towards Windsor Castle.
I stood and watched. The seepage of “Empire loyalism” in my upbringing  must have kicked in: I was saddened and a tear or two emeged. I remained standing.
I met Riaz Hassan for the first time as one of the keynote speakers at a conference organised by Neelan Tiruchelvam in Sri Lanka circa 1974 (details forgotten) when I was teaching in the History Department at Peradeniya University and Riaz was at an university in Singapore. It was the best of serendipity (a word deriving perhaps from Serendib aka Sri Lanka) that I found him attached to Flinders University when I moved to the Anthropology Department at University in 1977.
From 1992-2006 I worked at Flinders University in various positions, finally leaving in 2006 as the faculty general manager of one of the four faculties. In around 1993-4 when I was still in my early 30s and quite new at the university, I came to know Riaz Hassan as one of the professors. He probably didn’t know my name, but he was always kind and smiled and said hello if we passed on campus.
Compiled by Kumar Kirinde, Retd Officer of the SLAF, whose chosen title was as follows:“The Air Tigers: The Air Wing of A Terrorist Organisation” …… with information and images sourced from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Tigers and Google Images)
Pirapaharan (ext. left) with Anton Balasingham on his left and KP Pathmanathan in front and Shankar on the extreme right in the Vanni jungles circa 2001(?) … Shankar was in effect the Air Tiger chief
A PETITION: Stop Labelling Student Protestors as Terrorists. 22 August 2022
We are a group of feminists writing to call urgent attention to the extra-constitutional attempts of the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) to suppress dissent. Lacking a popular mandate, hunting down student protestors and activists, including a LGBTIQ activist has become a central strategy of the political élite to retain power. The latest move by the GoSL is to brand three student leaders and the student union they represent, the Inter University Student Federation (IUSF), as ‘terrorists’.
Thuppahi's Blog · This web site presents the interventions of MICHAEL ROBERTS in the public realm with reference to Sri Lankan political affairs. It will embrace the politics of cricket as well. ROBERTS was educated at St. Aloysius College in Galle and the universities of Peradeniya and Oxford. He taught History at Peradeniya University and Anthropology at Adelaide university. He is now retired and lives in Adelaide.