Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Religion and Science I have been reading with interest, the ongoing discussions in ‘The Island’ on science and religion and I write to add yet another perspective.

Some basic realities which we need to recognise include these facts:

1. All human beings have a core belief system. One believes that man was created and another believes that man evolved from lower forms over billions of years. One believes in God and another believes that there is no God. One believes in rebirth after death while another is convinced of "no return to this life" Most religions teach two destinations/end results in the after life naming them nirvana/sansara, heaven/hell and so on. It is due to a belief system that a human being is able to destroy himself (suicide) and others (murder) The ability to discern good and evil is a reality we all experience. Our beliefs have grown through input from education, media, experiences, books of religion like the Bible, Koran, Dhammapada, Veda and more. During the course of life, beliefs can change.

The laws governing this universe have already been there from its very beginning. Science is periodically discovering these laws which govern the physical natural realm we see around us and to which we relate through our 5 bodily sense organs. Our self awareness or personality, is the sum total of our logical and analytical thought processes leading to desires and emotions. This is called soul/mind, intellect and the seat of reason. Subjects like Physics and Mathematics and many others are the result of the discovery of what is already in existence.

Religion is associated with discovering the laws which govern the spirit realm, the workings of which are largely in the unseen but still very real. In spite of the perceived subjectivity associated with various religious expressions of man, as opposed to the objectivity and consistency of science, neither religion nor science works haphazardly. We know that the many laws which govern the universe were not a product of man’s intellect. Man is only discovering what already exists. We know that in the area called gravity, there is only one force named universal gravitation affecting all, holding even the moon in orbit. If this planet earth which has no foundation but is suspended and spinning in space, gets erratic and inconsistent, our bodies would in all probability disintegrate in outer space. Similarly, in spite of our many and varied religious beliefs, we know that only one spiritual law which is already in existence will eventually apply to all of humanity. The determining factors in this law would involve our conscience with its sense of right and wrong and morals, together with a flow of intuitive thoughts not our own, with inspiration and spiritual communion from a source outside of ourselves. Our human experience is that our rational thinking has a limit. When I need electricity or water I will connect with the Electricity Board or the Water Board. So when I need inspiration, I need to connect with that source, being fully aware that it needs to be good and not evil. A tsunami can only leave devastation behind it and not any form of order. The aftermath of evil deeds is destruction. My mind with its rationalism cannot create these qualities, but only discover them. Human reasoning alone cannot eliminate evil.

I quote from the biography of two scientists whose contributions are found in books of Physics and Mathematics and hence widely known to students. They reveal their own religious beliefs which led to scientific discovery. No doubt there are many others, and very specially in our country.

Isaac Newton saw an apple fall directly to the ground without going sideways and formulated the law of gravitation and later linked it to universal gravitation. In aerodynamics, when a force exceeds gravity, this law of thrust helps a plane to get airborne. Later on men went even to the moon. At Cambridge University by the age of 28, after dealing with planets and comets, Newton took to theological studies and concluded that "the world was created by a God that designs along rational and universal principles."

Albert Einstein, whose scientific discovery of the Theory of Relativity which gained him the Nobel prize, speaks of quantum phenomena or the energy transfer from light rays that activate electrons in a substance. We need only to stand in the sun to know that these energy jumps are real. He was lying on his back on a grassy slope, meditating on what it would be like to ride in a ray of sunlight, when the Theory of Relativity came to him intuitively and spontaneously. He later proved it with a mathematical formula. In what is called cosmic religion, he concluded that the natural and spiritual are a meaningful unity. He saw no logical way to discover elemental laws except intuition for the order lying behind the appearance.

In short, despite our many religious beliefs, only one law can apply to all of humanity and it may be called the central truth. Even here some will believe that truth is relative while others will believe that truth is absolute. Religion and the belief system operates at many different levels in the spirit, but it is our mind with its logical and analytical processing that can communicate the benefits of both science and religion. This will help us to live accordingly, since we are both spirit and mind and also body. We can have religious beliefs in the spirit, and still be scientific in our minds and thought processes, and at the same time be healthy in our bodies, but our spirits and minds are closely interwoven and affect our bodies. There will be increasingly more harmony, happiness, peace and inspiration to make value judgments within us in the spirit/mind, specially in times of stress, traumatic experience, death, natural calamities, financial collapse and disaster, if and when our core beliefs come into alignment with the one central truth that will both now and in the future apply to all human beings. When our rational thinking is guided and inspired by such beliefs, hope can be rekindled, the quality of life improved, leading to fulfilment and a sense of destiny both here and the hereafter.

Ranee Perera
Religion and science: Can they be separate? Professor Carlo Fonseka’s article on religion and science published in the Island Midweek Review of 5th November 2008 is a welcome a contribution to a much discussed issue.

Prof. Fonseka’s view is, "If science concerns itself with how nature works and religion concerns itself with why the Universe is the way it is as discovered by science, conflict can be largely avoided". Very true; especially because religion concerns the spiritual aspect of human existence.

Yet, a careful study of the two realms over the years, show when scientific discoveries were made and theories propounded on the available evidence, scientific knowledge increased and touched other areas of knowledge.

The best example is Galileo Galilei. When Galileo was experimenting with his telescope and attempted the study of the universe he had the least intention of repudiating any religious thesis. He upheld the Copernican view that the earth was not the centre of the universe. The view held about the universe at that time was that the earth was the centre and the universe was finite and unchanging. Galileo’s contradiction of this view is a clear instance of how the expansion of scientific knowledge touches religion.

Next is Isaac Newton who laid the foundation for modern physics. His contribution to the understanding of the physical world is praised by Einstein as "perhaps the greatest advance in thought that a single individual was ever privileged to make." Yet, Newton’s understanding of the physical world was influenced by his religious beliefs." In the Newtonian view, God had created in the beginning the material particles, the forces between them, and the fundamental laws of motion". Certain aspects of the physical world as the gravitational influence of the planets on each other observed by Newton were not further investigated because he believed God was always present in the universe to correct irregularities. Thus, Newton’s experiments and thinking were influenced by his religious beliefs. The world had to wait for Einstein to push Newtonian physics still further.

Another instance when science and religion can mix is not due to religious beliefs but through scientists’ efforts to relate science to religion. Fritjof Capra, a physicist was moved to explore the parallels between modern physics and eastern mysticism. This interest sparked off as a result of an experience he had while sitting by the seashore. He says he saw "cascades of energy coming down from outer space in which particles were created and destroyed in rhythmic pulses... I felt its rhythm and I heard its sound... I knew that this was the dance of Shiva, the Lord of Dances worshiped by the Hindus". With that experience he ventured to explore the connection between physics and eastern mysticism, resulting in the book, "The Tao of Physics".

In this manner, it is inevitable that science and religion tend to be interwoven.

Prem Rodrigo


Thursday, November 6, 2008



World Saiva Council stands for progress and welfare
Kalabhooshanam Chelvatamby Maniccavasagar

The World Saiva Council (Sri Lanka branch) held a seminar at Wellawatte Ramakrishna Mission hall, Colombo - 6 recently.

Pon Vallipuram, Trustee of Mayurapathy Bathrakali Amman Devasthanam hoisting the Nanthy flag. President of the World Saiva Council (Sri Lanka branch) K. Thayapasan, Dr. M. Kathirgamanathan, Secretary of the WSC (Sri Lanka Branch) and “Vidaikody Chelvas” Sinnadurai Dhanabalan look on.

It was presided over by K. Thayaparan, President of the World Saiva Council (Sri Lanka Branch) on this occasion Dr. K. Somasundaram, Consultant of the National Institute of Education, Nithyawathy Nithyanandan, Research Officer of the Department of Hindu Religious and Cultural Affairs, Pon Vallipuram, Trustee of the Mayurapathy Bathrakali Amman Thevasthanam, A.R. Surenthiran, President's Counsel and President of the Vivekananda Society, Dr. K. Nageswaran, Senior Lecturer of the University of Sabaragamuwa, M. Shanmuganathan, Assistant Director of the Department of Hindu Religions and Cultural Affairs, "Vidaikody Chelvas" Sinnadurai Dhanabalaa, K. Mahananthan, former Secretary of the Ministry of Hindu Religious and Cultural Affairs addressed the gathering pertaining to several subjects with the view to promote Saivism and Saivasiddhanta philosophy for the progress and welfare of the Saiva community not only in Sri Lanka but throughout the world.

Dr. M. Kathirgamanathan, an indefatigable Secretary or the World Saiva Council (Sri Lanka Branch) made elaborate arrangement for the success of this seminar.

Being born in this world of material pursuits, the Divine purpose of life is often forgotten and needs to be constantly reminded of the original purpose and path. Inforactical terms when we do not lead a life of spiritual pursuit, then we are merely prolonging the sufferings by choosing to remain in a life of ignorance.

Therefore, in addition to fulfilling our responsibilities, one should also be constantly involved in the quest for God's grace by performing our duty righteously, reading spiritual literature, spiritual discussions, doing service and most importantly reflecting upon life's experience and constantly seeking His grace for illumination.

K. Thayaparan, President of the World Saiva Council (Sri Lanka Branch) addressing.

Dhanabalaa, Vice-President of the World Saiva Council (Sri Lanka Branch) who addressed the gathering on "hoisting of Nanthy flag on Maha Sivarathri Day said that Nanthy flag symbolises Lord Shiva or Dharma. He further said that Saivites from time immemorial were told to govern their lives by the Norms of Dharma which comprehends all the excellences which make for an ideal humanity. In fact, the hoisting of Nanthy flags in temples, religious organisations, schools and working places will definitely make everyone to receive the Divine blessings of Lord Shiva. As such, the hoisting of the Nanthy flags particularly on Maha Sivarathri Day will undoubtedly bring all the religions of the universe under on umbrella for peace and prosperity.

Pon Vallipuram, Trustee of Mayurapathy Bathrakali Amman Devasthanam emphasised that Social service is of paramount importance on the part of the temple authorities. It is through social service only we will be able to receive the Divine blessings of Almighty God. That was the only reason the great "Swami Vivekananda" said that before flooding India with political ideas, it is better to deluge the land with social, cultural, artistic and spiritual ideas. Vallipuram further said, that Hindu Araneri Schools are rendering yeoman service to the children by way of teaching religious ideas and Dharma which are very essential for the moral, spiritual and physical development of the child.

Mrs. Nithyawathy Nithiyanandam, Research Officer of the Department of Hindu Religious and Cultural Affairs explained very clearly the development and promotion of Saiva Religion in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and the great scholars who sacrificed their life for the spread of Saivism in Sri Lanka. She explained even great Sinhala kings were very much involved in the promotion and propagating of Saivism in Sri Lanka and they gave due place for all the religions of the country. These kings were highly respected and held in high esteem by the people since they believed in Dharmic way of life.

A.R. Surenthiran, President's Counsel and President of Vivekananda Society explained in detail the laws and regulations pertaining to the Temple administration. Indeed, he enlightened the audience on the laws governing the administration of the Temples which was greatly appreciated by everyone. Dr. K. Nageswaran, spoke "whether Archanai could be done in Tamil?" He said that it could be done in any language as long as it is done with devotion. He quoted various examples to clear the doubts of the devotees.

The seminar was of great success since the World Saiva Council stands for the truch that pati, pasu, pasam are eternal and uncreated. It also emphasised that all over the world that saivites should come together to bring about the renaissance in Saivism, so that it is suitable to the modern world.


U n d e r s t a n d i n g H i n d u i s m - 9

Is Life an Illusion, Dream?
K.S. Sivakumaran

Iam trying my best to the best of my understanding to explain the non-Hindus certain essentials of the great religion Hinduism.

Hinduism, as we know could be broadly divided into two categories.: Vedantam and Siddantham, as they call in Thamil. Most South Indians and Lankans and others in other countries belonging to the Thamil community are Saiva Siddanthis.

The major six sects as pronounced in Hinduism are: Saivam ( those who worship Siva), Vaishnavam (Vishnu), Saaktham ( Shakthi), Ganapathiyam (Ganesh or Pillayaar), Kaumaaram ( Kumaran or Murugan or Kanthasamy or Subramanian), Chauram (Choorian). There other minor deities in Hinduism like Lakshmi, Saraswathi and others.

Most of us belong to either one religion or the other. We try to be religious people, but only a few are truly religious. We cannot expect a person who is worldly in living to be genuinely religious. I for I could not afford to be wholly religious.It would be suicidal. I have no alternative but to ignore the society and lead a life without conflict within me and without it.

But all religions preach morality and ethics. They say renunciation in and out is absolutely necessary. Is it possible for all? But sages have succeeded in this sphere.

First of all internal renunciation is essential. If that happens it would be automatically reflected externally. External renunciation without internal renunciation would breed hypocrisy. It will not serve any purpose. However, the more we renounce, the less bondage we have. All bondage hangs on Ego. If we drop the ego, every conflict ceases.

We then lead a natural and contended life facing and solving problems as they appear. To the person who has renounced there is hardly any problem to solve. Problems crop up only when there is dual feeling depending on a past and future. When that feeling is completely absent incidents become incidents only.

To the truly religious person there is no past or future. It is the present that matters. Such a person will only be a witness unaffected by any kind of event. Enjoying a sunset or even starving for a day will not have lasting impression on his mind.

Let's digress for a moment.

We are responsible for the evils in the society. We suffer on account of them. All imaginable evils are embedded in the very society we create. In another level, from birth to death life is an eternal conflict for all of us. Conflict in mind and conflict in the material world. We deceive ourselves and the world at large.

It is a life of hypocrisy. If we are not prepared to reform ourselves, it is impossible to reform the evil society. This society is making impossible demands on us. The more particular a so-called civilised society is the more evil are the people living in it. Even when people know this, they do not have the moral courage to denounce or condemn it. What does the practical person does? He condones everything that is evil.

The practical person and the religious person remain unaffected by all that we call good or evil. He finds no meaning in heaven, hell, karma, rebirth and all that we are frightened of. Such persons think that what happens around them are really wishful projections of their own minds. A religious person continues existence as an individual without any reality for him.

According to the Hindu, this is Maya (Illusion). But what is Maya? It is primarily ignorance, a mist, a darkness, an illusion - one thing appearing as another.

Once the source of every phenomenon is 'realised' he feels that there is no purpose of studying the phenomenon in all details.

The Hindus claim that they have traced the appearance of everything to one source. They call that Bramam. They have labeled the mind also as a Matter. The only difference it has with other materials is that the mind is finer.

Persons can identify themselves with their bodies, minds, souls and yet transcend all the three stages of life when they could be practically 'quality-less'

It is the identification with qualities that brings bondage. The realisation that a person is none of these see them 'free'

The world and all its fascination hide the reality. But this 'Reality' disappear when the person is 'realised' or awakened.

That is why the sages called this life a ' Dream'. In a dream, do we not perceive without eyes, hear without ears, speak without a mouth enjoy, suffer without a body? Further do we not doubt, question, judge and answer in a dream? Similarly life is a dream. And death is like a slumber. So said the sages.


Hindu Saints and the Bakthi Cult - 8 Vaishnava Saints
There are about 12 Vaishnava Saints who are referred to as Aalvars. They are: (1) Poihaiyar, (2) Poothathar, (3) Peyar, (4) Thirumalisaiyar, (5) Kulasekara Perumal, (6) Vittusithar, (7) Kothai Nachchiyar, (8) Thondaradi Podiyar, (9) Thirupanar, (10) Thirumangai Mannar, (11) Sadagopar, and (12) Madurakavi.

The subcontinent at that era boasted of seven leading cities, namely (1) Ayodya, (2) Madurai, (3) Mayay, (4) Kasi, (5) Kanchi, (6) Avanthigai, and (7) Dwarakay. Of these Kanchi was an exceptionally beautiful and well developed city.

There were Siva temples and Vaishnava temples in Kanchi. Among the Vaishnava temples was a holy shrine called Thiruvaha pond.

The Vaishnava saint Poothathar also manifested himself in a flower called Kurukuththi flower. He grew up to be a highly learned persons, but above all he renounced worldly life and spent all his time on meditating on Lord Vishnu. He sings that his one purpose in life was to serve God.

Peyar was another Vaishnava saint who is said to have manifested himself in a blue lotus that was found in a well near a Vishnu temple. Like the former two Vaishnava saints Peyar too was well versed in studies. His heart was full of devotion for Lord Vishnu. He would think of Lord Vishnu and shed tears of deep devotion. He was crazy over Lord Vishnu. So he called himself Pitha (lunatic) and Peya (fool). He would sing the praise of Lord Vishnu and dance in ecstasy.

It so happened, the three saints went each one on his own to a sacred place called Thirukoviloor. At dusk, tired out after singing and dancing, Poihaiyar went to a pilgrim's rest and slept in a narrow corridor. Poothathar followed next. He also came to the same place and requested for a little space for him to rest. For which Poihaiyar said, "Swami, in this place only one can sleep, but two can sit. Let us sit." So both of them sat down. The third saint Peyar also entered the resting place and begged for a little space.

Poihaiyar said, "Swami, one can sleep, two can sit, if there are three they can stand." So the three of them stood in that little space. They got to know each other and were pleased to note they were all ardent devotees of Lord Vishnu. Just then by the will of Lord Vishnu there was a heavy rain, and Lord Vishnu too unseen by them joined them making the place congested. The three saints didn't understand why it was so uncomfortable.

They felt a fourth person there. The saints with their ghana tried to find out the reason. To their great joy and happiness they saw before them Lord Vishnu in all his glory. They forgot themselves and sang songs in praise of Lord Vishnu. Their joy was boundless. In their ecstatic state they kept singing and posey gushed out like an unceasing cascade. Each one sang 100 songs. These songs are referred to as Pasarams sung on Lord Vishnu.

Thirumangai Mannar
As the name suggests the fourth of the Vaishnava saints was a king. There was in Chola country a young couple called Allinadar and his wife Vallithiru. Allinadar was the commander of the Chola Army.

In due course a son was born to them. The parents named him Neelan. From the time he was five years old, Neelan's father took unto himself to educate him. He excelled in studies and also in the marshal arts. The king having heard of his powers got him down and made him chief of one of the army brigade.

There was at that time a pulavar - poet who had beaten all other poets in his talent for composing poems and was ready to challenge any other poet. Neelan with his deep knowledge of the Tamil language took up the challenge and by his beautiful poems defeated him.

The old poet denounced his title as the leading poet in favour of Neelan. The king too rewarded Neelan, for his poetic victory.

The Chola king was so taken up by Neelan's courage, and other abilities that he gave one of his states Alli Nadu to him and made him king. Neelan was of course a vassal to the Chola king.

Meanwhile a celestial nymph called "Sumankalai" was out with her friends around the Himalayas. At open place Sage Kapilar was teaching his disciples about Lord Vishnu. One of the disciples was of a freakish build that "Sumankalai" laughed at him. Sage Kapilar was annoyed and cursed her to be born a mortal and marry a man on earth. Sumankalai begged him to forgive her. The Sage replied, "Do not take this as a curse. A very good thing will happen by your being born on earth."

This beautiful woman with her celestial companions was bathing in a pond and see ing a beautiful blue lotus stopped to admire it. Her companions left Sumangalai who took the form of an infant and lay on the blue lotus. She was found by a physi cian who took her home to his wife. He thought it was a gift from God to him and his wife who were childless. They called her Kumudavalli as she was found on the Kumudam flower.

When she came of age, the parents wanted to get her settled. They expressed their desire to her. She replied, "Father I'll reveal the secret of my birth to you." She then proceeded to relate how she came to be on a flower. Kapilar had told her one Parakalan (who was no other than Nelson) would seek her hand in marriage. Then Kumudavalli should agree to marry on two conditions. One is that Parakala should become a Vishnu devotee and secondly daily he should feed a thousand Vishnu devotees. "He will himself come to you", said Kumudavalli.

While this was happening in the physicians household, people who heard of this young maiden have told Parakalar about her beauty and sweet nature and suggested he should marry her. And Parakalar set out with his retinue to the physician's house.

As he headed the mansion of the physician, he saw the beautiful damsel in the balcony and concluded she be the woman he had come for. Kumadavalli too saw his and decided no other but Parakalar would have such a personality. Parakalar was received courteously by the physician and his wife. He was introduced to Kumudavalli and the latter laid down the conditions for marriage. The young king agreed to the conditions and the marriage took place.

After a few days Parakalar went with his wife to Alli Nadu. The king kept his word. He became a Vishnu devotee and fed a thousand minstrels who sang the praise of Lord Vishnu.

While he was busy with this duty spending all the money in the coffers to feed the minstrels he forget to send his bondage tax to the Chola king. The king sent messengers wit an order. Parakalar chased them away. The Chola King sent an army. Parakalar defeated them.

Finally the king himself came with the army. At the battle field Parakalar fought them valiantly, and came to face the king. The king asked him, "Is this the way you show your gratitude to me who helped you and made you a king of one of my states." To which Parakalar replied, "I believed as I should in a battle field. Hereafter I'll not fight" and allowed himself to be taken prisoner. In the prison, Parakalar prayed to Lord Vishnu to help him. Lord Vishnu appeared in his dream and told his there was enough wealth at a place called Thirukachchi. Take it and pay your dues."

Parakalar told the Minister who came to collect the payment, about the dream. On hearing about it the king ordered him to be taken under guard to that spot. When they went there and searched there was no treasure. Parakalar was heart broken.

That night the compassionate Lord Vishnu appeared and told him the treasure was at a certain place on the banks of a river called Vegavathy. The next day the Minister and his retinue searched the place and found gold, gems and many articles of value. When the king was given the gold and gems, he was speechless. He knew that Parakalar had the grace of Lord Vishnu. He got him down and apological for keeping him in prison and returned all the wealth to him, and sent him back with his minister and guards to Alli Nadu.

In the meantime, Kumudavalli and her parents and the subjects of Alli Nadu were sad and unhappy and waited for tidings of Parakalar. When he returned in glory, there was general celebration. The young couple was reunited.

Now, he was back to his duty of feeding the devotees and soon the coffers were empty. He consulted his minister and told them the only way to got wealth to feed the devotees was to waylay rich travellers and rob them. The ministers agreed.

Lord Vishnu seeing his great devotion to feed His devotees, took the form of a traveller and with his consort Lakshmi dressed in all fineries and jewels and came along the path where the king and ministers were hiding. The couple and their retinue were stopped by the king and the ministers who demanded the travellers to give all the money and jewels in their possession. Then he noticed that the bridegroom had a ring. He asked for it, and was told he couldn't take it out. Parakalar broke it wit his teeth and took it.

Parakalar ordered the jewels and money to be bundled and taken to the Palace. None of the ministers could lift the burden. Even Parakalar could not lift the bundle. He was annoyed and accused the traveller of having cast a spell and demanded that he be told of the mantra (charm).

Lord Vishnu in the guise of the young bridegroom called him and secretly chanted the mantra in his ear alone. Then the travellers all disappeared. The young king was overwhelmed that Lord Vishnu Himself had intervened in his life and sang ten songs or Pasurams then and there.

This was the turning point in his life. He gave the kingdom over to a responsible person and with his wife left to visit Vishnu shrines in the North. Like the Saiva Saints, he too sang of the glory of God.

In one of his travels to holy shrines, he had the fourteen of meeting the young boy saint, Thirugnanasombandar. They mutually appreciated each other's posey and became good friends.

Thus Thirumangai Mannar or Neelan o Parakalar as he was called later, renounced the material world and sought great bliss in the spiritual realm. He was in constant communion with Lord Vishnu and felt His presence wherever he went.

That was the true nature of saints - both Saiva and Vaishnava saints who led the people into the Bakthi Cult, into leading a noble righteous living.

In Bhagavatgita Lord Wishnu says, "If you are thus over in communion with me in mind, you will overcome every obstacle."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Is thinking man really superior?
From ancient times, man has tried to find out whether there is anything beyond death. Those who built the Egyptian pyramids thought that living was a part of death, that dying was only going over to the other side. So they carried to the grave their gold, their cattle and even their slaves to continue living as before.
Every religion has a different explanation. Some talk of a resurrection on Judgment Day when God Almighty will come with a list of all the good deeds and bad deeds of each and every human being that ever appeared on this planet since Adam. The judgment will be either eternal heaven or eternal hell.

The Indians believed in something called reincarnation which is different from resurrection. All offshoots of Hinduism have similar beliefs. Resurrection is only once, while reincarnation is a continuous process. The word rebirth is more common with those who follow Gautama, the Buddha.

Even some modern scientists claim that people who have ‘died’ and come back to continue living, remember having experienced extraordinary ‘after death’ states such as light, beauty, music and so on. The famous Hollywood actor Peter Sellers claimed that he saw such things after ‘death.’

There are others who doubt such claims. Did they really die? Real death means a stoppage of oxygen to the brain. After several minutes the brain deteriorates. Therefore, can a dead brain have any recollection whatsoever?

As most of us are disinclined to be disturbed, we prefer to follow the easy way of accepting what a man in religious garb tell us. So as Christians, Buddhists, Hindus or Muslims or as rationalists or atheists, we prefer to adopt a ready made answer, and that is the end of all enquiry.

Arguably, man is the only living being who claims to have a religion. However, man is also the only living organism that seems to be waging war with his fellow human beings for psychological reasons.

Man is also in conflict with nature, the trees, the waterways, the atmosphere. Animals do not contribute towards air pollution, garbage, the contamination of the rivers, ponds and the sea. Global warming is not a crime for which the animals are responsible.

Evidently, animals do not have philosophers or priests or books or ideologies. That may be the very reason why animals live in comparative harmony and peace.

There is no credit crunch in the animal world. There are no Sakvithis in the animal world. There are no suicide-bombers and terrorists in the animal world. But there are no schools and universities too in the animal world.

We have educational institutions. We have even free education from the primary level, to the university. Then what has gone wrong? Surely, our educational system is all wrong. Everywhere in the world politicians are taking control of education. In Sri Lanka, too, a political appointee called the Minister of Education controls everything from the admission of pupils to Year One right up to the university. See the mess in government schools and universities. There is bribery and corruption even among leading school principals!

If 200,000 students qualify for higher education, only 20,000 will get places at a university that is more often closed than open, due to riots.

Government teachers go on strike every time their union leaders tell them to. Government teachers will refuse to mark answer scripts if their union bosses tell them to. This happens too often.

Education, in the hands of any politician, is disastrous. A politician appoints, transfers, promotes teachers and school principals according to party affiliation. There are political spies in every government school.

A politician is always confused. Being confused he creates educators who are equally confused. Every change of government is followed by a change of school principals or a transfer of teachers to remote areas.

Because our minds are so confused with the problems of the modern world, because our lives are so empty, we try to see if there is another existence after death. So we engage in rituals, superstitions and dogma hoping that the priests at least will open for us a door which is beyond death.

Man has proved himself far below the animals in the field of psychology. It is high time we learnt how to live without psychological divisions.

Jayatissa Perera