Minorities are different. They must accept majority hegemony. They are less entitled than the majority. Once you buy this proposition, unacceptable behaviour becomes patriotic. Defeating the enemy is the highest moral imperative. Dehumanising of the enemy dehumanises the patriots. Prejudiced perceptions lead to discrimination. From then on it is a short walk to abuse. Much shorter than walking from Maradana station to Ananda College.
Has Ananda of Olcott turned in to an Orwellian animal farm? How did the Ananda purpose ‘Appamado Amathapadan’ – ‘Diligence leads to Perfection’ – construct perfectly maniacal minds, bent on an apocalyptic pursuit of plastered patriotism?
Who shocks you more? The Buddhist soldier running berserk or his applauding audience that includes a heavy cadre of ‘Proud to be Anandians’?
This is not about Major General Kamal Gunaratne. This is about the phenomenon ‘Viyath Maga’. The label is a stroke of evil genius that appeals to a Sinhala centric elite. It is a ‘call to arms’ directed at literate bigotry. Viyath Maga means Erudite Path.
His pitiless pronouncement of exterminating those whom he disagrees with should not shock us.
Kamal Gunaratne has not said anything new. The man has painstakingly exposed the Sinhala savage and beastly bigot that lurks in him, in his self-aggrandising war memoir ‘Rana Maga Ossey Nandikadal’ – ‘A Warrior’s Way to Nandikadal’.
In disarming detail, he has shared his prejudices, antipathies and his capacity for abominations in the book written in Sinhala and later translated to English where they are far more muted.
He is no solitary beast on the prowl. He took great pride in announcing that he, Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Nalaka Godahewa were products of Ananda College – greeted with applause.
It is for other Ananda alumni to embrace or reject the ‘Viyath Maga’ ideology of murder in democratic debate.
At some point in the 68 years after independence, we have learnt to equate villainy and virtue. Gota beautified Colombo. So what if he petrified shanty dwellers? Gota created Diyatha Uyana near Parliament. So what if he ordered a firework display from a Navy barge in ‘Diyathauyana’ on the night Parliament was coerced into an unjust impeachment of a chief justice? Gota shut off access to critical websites? So what? He imaginatively converted disused colonial period warehouses to house enterprising software producers.
He trimmed the grass lawns around Colombo regularly and may have trimmed a few prisoners and one or two journalists infrequently. Democracies evolving from autocracies face one principal peril – reminiscing the orderly order of management!
Viyath Maga has invaded the public discourse on constitutional reforms, peddling deceitful propaganda. Viyath Maga threatens death unless we accept their dictates in sheep like servility.
Its mastery of erudite nonsense, its access to financial resources and its grip on puritan fanatics both lay and ordained makes Viyath Maga a movement that we ignore at our peril. They preach to a blinkered generation that needs to be reminded that the objective of a successful war was to defeat an armed call for separatism. Its ideology can be defeated only by redefining the boundaries of governance by redrawing the boundaries of competing cultures. It is not about geography or numbers. It is about the natural law of human dignity.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Nalaka Godahewa and Kamal Gunaratne represent the core evil that enveloped post-war Sri Lanka. It was a coalition that reshaped our environment – natural, financial and managerial. Now they wish to comeback.
The possibility is frightening. If he makes it, will Gota allow dissenters to seek redress from the Supreme Court for possible infringement of fundamental rights. Unlikely.
Viyath Maga claims to be a “network of academics, professionals and entrepreneurs who love the country and wish to contribute actively towards the development of a prosperous Sri Lanka where all citizens can live in peace and harmony”. (viyathmaga.com Professionals for a better future)
The Viyath Maga is puppetry in grand scale. The former Defence Secretary is the grand puppeteer. He commands a substantial Sinhala Buddhist Constituency. He is clearly the choice of the Buddhist clergy. Viyath Maga is expected to give him the competitive edge by enlisting the professionals, academics and entrepreneurs.
Principal marketer of Viyath Maga is Dr. Nalaka Godahewa, former Head of the Securities and Exchange Commission. He now heads a corporate consultancy firm. He is a multi-qualified business professional. His LinkedIn profile attests that he “has a proven track record in transformational leadership”.
As stated earlier, this is not about the retired soldier Major General Kamal Gunaratne. It is an attempt to understand the phenomenon that brutalises Sinhala Buddhist soldiers, academics, professionals and entrepreneurs who can sanguinely applaud killing those whom they disagree with politically.
This is about unravelling the warped minds of otherwise accomplished people who are ready to follow a once upon a time soldier who on reaching the rank of Lieutenant Colonel obtained his release from the army and migrated permanently to the United States at the height of the war.
Ananda is, no doubt, a great school. It has produced outstanding scholars, professionals, academics and soldiers. But it has in parallel spawned a Sinhala cultural DNA that is parochial and intolerant in its world view.
Determining life values is a process. In reacting to a situation, we unconsciously apply our life experiences gained at home, in school and in the community. Looking back, we realise that the sharpest life experiences etched in us are those from school.
Ananda has moulded opinions and imparted values. In defining Sinhala Buddhist ethno-religious identity, Anandians hold an exclusivist point of view. By itself it is odd, but we can live with it. Then they go a step further. They not only defend their opinion but simply fail to comprehend how anyone else could think differently.
Sri Lanka is not the only country where the post-colonial nation state is grappling with the task of constructing a single sovereignty where before colonial conquest there existed multiple sovereignties or multiple autonomies. Identity politics is common to emerging democracies such as ours and the so-called discoverers of the process. Those lands struggle to reconcile with diversities of their own making. We are struggling to come to terms with diversities bequeathed by colonials who classified an otherwise harmonious polity for administrative, exploitative convenience.
According to retired Major General Kamal Gunarathne, the bodhi poojas conducted by his dear wife at the Bellanwila Temple made him march to victory. He does not explicitly state that the soldiers under his command did less. His primitive tribal mind tells him that it was his wife’s supplications at the Bo tree at Bellanwila temple that mattered more.
Now, the poor soldier patriot is further fortified in his folly. Most Venerable Professor Dr. Bellanwila Wimalarathene has warned that power devolution will prompt a Northern Province Chief Minister to scrap the Poya holiday. Science dismisses lunar lunacy. Viyath Maga wouldn’t.