Tamil Diplomat

When will our isle settle down to humane life style! – Wigneswaran’s anguish

Northern Province Chief Minister Justice Wigneswaran has expressed a longing that the motherland Sri Lanka must settle down to a humane life style.

He quipped, ‘ When will this lovely country of ours settle down to a peaceful, fruitful, non-corrupt, humane life style.?’

Justice Wigneswaran made these observations when he delivered the key note address at the 31 st day observance of late Shanmuganayagam at Bambalapitiya on September 10 under the auspices of Sri Muthukrishna Swamy Trust. Mataji Viththamma presided.

During the key note address, Justice wigneswaran said: ‘Shan went through the four stages or Ashrams of human life referred to in the Hindu Scriptures – Brahmacharia, Grahastha, Vaanaprastha and Sanyasa to their fullest extent.

During his Brahmacharia Ashram period when he spent his college days at St. Anthony’s Kandy and his undergraduate days at the University he was a versatile sportsman. He was a boxer who represented his college at the All Ceylon Schools’ Boxing Tournament. He was a member of the Senior Cadet Corps who attended the Annual Cadet Camps at Diyatalawa  promoted to the rank of Company Sergeant Major for all the Platoons in the Kandy District. He had competed in the grueling 5 mile marathon at Diyatalawa running over hills and dales.

At the University he participated at the Varsity Football, Rugger, Hockey and athletics. He was particularly good at gymnastics, roller skating, tap dancing and stunt riding on motorcycles.

He was an orator who won a medal at an oratorical contest held for candidates from all schools in the Kandy District by rendering Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg speech.

At the University he was a popular speaker at the Varsity Union Meetings. He was Secretary of the Union too.

Thereafter when he entered the legal profession Shan applied himself to the practice of the Law with enthusiasm and diligence. He had the fortune of appearing with and learning from the experience of such stalwarts at the Bar like F.A.Hayley, R.L.Pereira, the brilliant H.V.Perera with whom he worked for quite a long time, E.F.N.Gratien, N.E.Weerasooriya, S.J.V.Chelvanayagam, S.Nadesan and several other eminent lawyers.

Blossoming out of his Brahmacharia stage he entered the Grahastha stage in his thirtieth year on the 4th of February, 1949  marrying his second cousin Valli, the daughter of Mr.S.Sivasubramaniam, Proctor, who was a neighbor of mine in Hulftsdorp. In fact I was born in the opposite house, the residence of my Uncle, No. 136, Hulftsdorp Street, while Sivasubramaniam Aiya was at 103, Hulftsdorp Street and my office was at 109, Hulftsdorp Street. At that time I believe my Uncle owned the residence occupied by Sivasubramaniam Ayah – the Jasmine Cottage. Shan’s wedding with Valli Akka took place at Munneswaram Temple near Chilaw, and they proceeded to Kathirgamam Temple immediately thereafter, walking part of the way to Kathirgamam. I remember traveling to Kathirgamam in the early forties with my parents. I must have been four or five years old then. We went by bullock cart. The roads were extremely bad. The fear of wild animals attacking at any time was always a cause for concern. It was not accessible by car then. The concerted and coordinated cry of “Arohara” used to pervade the entire area. At that time Kathirgamam was entirely a Hindu Shrine. The Kiri Vihare was in ruins. It was after 1956 that the idea struck the powers that be “Why not we take over Kataragama as ours?” It is all different now. I am sure there must be others too here who are living witnesses to the transformation that came over Kathirgamam to Kataragama.

The couple Shan and Valli walked part of the distance to Kathirgamam consecrating their householder’s life to the service of the needy and the devotees of all religions. Shan’s was a different type of Grahastha life. Let me quote what Shan had to say in this regard which has been referred to in the Felicitation Souvenir published on the occasion of the 82nd Birth Anniversary of Shan. What was significant about his 82nd birthday was that his friends and well wishers were happy that Shan had seen the full moon a thousand times in his life on this world.

Let me quote from this book. It is an important insight into the developments that were taking place in Shan’s psyche –

“Shan recalled at this stage that there was a double romance in his life in that when he surrendered his heart to Valli, his wife to be, he simultaneously experienced the first vestiges of the surrender of his ego to the Divine. Valli’s  ever caring and compassionate disposition which prompted him to write several love poems about her, effected a palpable spiritual transformation in him, whereby his earlier self -centered outlook on life disappeared completely and he became sensitive to the joys and sorrows of people around him. Some of his love poems were remarkably philosophical in content.” (unquote)

As you all know Shan and Valli had no children of their own. Shan has said his courtship may have been a carryover from a previous birth relationship with Valli. It was also stated by him that the Kapila Ola Leaf Readings had referred to Shan and Valli being parents to our Chairperson Mathaji Viththaham in a previous life. In fact Shan and Valli had adopted or were guardians to as many as 21 minor children from among their relatives as well as from families of friends whom they themselves personally maintained or in some cases acted as their guardians.

The third stage of Vaanaprastha took over Shan around 1976.When I was entering the Grahastha stage he was moving on to the Vaanaprastha life. He gave up legal practice around that year, 1976, and moved on to the field of research in regard to a much higher Law namely the inexorable Law of Karma ordained by the Cosmic Intelligence and other spiritual laws, emerging from the discovery of Love as the source of all energy. He started delving into the scientific expositions of the facts relating to one’s afterlife and the vast occult world contained in the writings of the Theosophists became a passion with him. He became Mahaan intoxicated and started a long journey of seeking the audience of saints and sages both in Sri Lanka and India.

But his passion to meet saints and sages and those spiritually advanced was throughout with him. Only it got accentuated in this stage of his life.

He had met Sri Ramana Maharishi, Jiddu Krishnamurthi, Paramachaarya of Kanchi,Yoga Swamihal of Jaffna and Elijah Grey, an advanced Rosicrucian initiate from the Samoan Royal Family in the 1940s itself.

In the fifties he had met Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh, Swami Ramdas of Kanhangad, Omkara Swami of Gnanodaya Aalayam in Chennai and Guru Bawa, a Sufi  mystic of Sri Lanka.

In the sixties he had met the  Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondichery and Sri Satya Sai Baba in Bombay and at Puttaparthi.

In the seventies  he met Swami Shantanand of Rishikesh, Vimala Thakar, a lady saint from Mt.Abu, and Mahesh Yogi of the Transcendental Meditation Movement.

In the eighties he introduced Professor Mulay of the Agnihothra Spiritual Movement in Pune, India to the Ministry of Hindu Religious Affairs in Sri Lanka. He arranged the initial lecture tours of Swami Chinmayananda before the establishment of the Chinmaya Mission in Sri Lanka.

It was in 1970 that he had the first direct contact with the invisible sage Sri Muthukrishna Swami who had attained Jiva Samadhi at Valliyoor in South India at the age of 179 years. Our Chairperson Mathaji Viththamma who had been a foster daughter to Shan and Valli soon became the medium of communication with the Invisible Sage as well as other Celestial Beings.

Once Shan established conversational contact with the Sage Sri Muthukrishna Swami he felt no need thereafter to go in search of other Saints and Sages to imbibe the Ancient Wisdom.

Shan had arrived at the fourth Ashram – the Sanyaasa Ashram. His knowledge and experience were being shared with his fellow beings. His book “An Experiment in Spiritual Inquiry – For the Youth” was very favourably reviewed and discussed. The Vedantha Kesari, a spiritual and cultural monthly in English published from Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai said “…..…the book is a scientific analysis of the Spiritual World, based on the author’s personal contacts with many enlightened souls. The book is remarkable , insightful and unusually illustrative .It is sure to fan the flame of inquiry in an earnest seeker so that he becomes a light unto himself” (Unquote).

Shan was now in a position to speak as a saint or sage in his own authority. He once said “Reality is to be found in the space or interval between two thoughts and even an ordinary individual can have a glimpse of it in the depths of one’s being in a state of Pure Awareness bereft of thought during certain relaxed and silent moments of the mind. Such glimpses, Shan said, transpire when suddenly one happens to view a magnificient breath taking scene from a mountain top and momentarily one’s thought process comes to a grinding halt or even when in a moment of inspiration one sees a ‘World in a grain of sand and Heaven in a wild flower’ as expressed by William Blake, the mystical Poet.”(Unquote).

Shan had lived through his four stages of life referred to in the Hindu Scriptures and during his last days in his mid nineties he  was relegated to a life occasioned now and then with health problems of the body but was fully involved with the Sri Muthukrishna Swami Mission activities. September last year when he was recuperating from a surgery he wished to attend a Mission Wedding at Valliyoor in South India. His foster daughter, our Chairperson here today, made all arrangements for Shan to travel to India for the wedding and ensured that Shan was comfortable during the wedding functions and thereafter Shan returned to Sri Lanka in excellent spirits. He participated in the Mission activities here in Colombo even after his return especially the Friday Thrisathi Pooja. Even the Friday prior to his passing he attended the Trisathi Pooja at Indra nad Vairavanathan’s residence in Colombo.

I am indeed privileged to have been called upon to address this meeting. I feel the presence of Shan somewhere here. Recently at a meeting of this nature the dead person’s form was seen in a photograph taken as watching over the proceedings. Or maybe it is a projection of my mind that Shan is watching from somewhere here. Not so long ago I had addressed such a meeting in his praise while Shan was still among us in body in this very Hall. May be I see him today as how I saw him the other day. His composed and confident demeanour was always a source of strength to us all.

His body is no more. He lives on in our hearts. May be Madame Chairperson has the capacity to communicate with him. If she does the only question I have for Shan in his advanced Celestial disposition is this – “When will this lovely Country of ours settle down to a peaceful, fruitful, non corrupt, humane life style?”

May Shan shower his blessings on all of us from wherever he is! Thank you Shan!

I thank all of you for your patient hearing.

God bless us all! “