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date: 30 November 2020

Images of Martyrdom among Tamils

Abstract and Keywords

This article focuses on two main subjects: the contemporary Christian imagery of martyrdom among Tamil speakers and the nonreligious imagery of martyrdom within the Tiger Movement (TM), which together with the People’s Movement (PM) is also known as Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE), under the leadership of Vēluppiḷḷai Pirapākaraṉ (1954–2009). His task was to dismantle Tamil concepts of martyrdom from their Caiva and Christian content and to create new concepts that altogether were nonreligious. The military section of the Tiger Movement was defeated in May 2009, but the political section continues and its nonreligious concepts of martyrdom are cultivated annually at Great Heroes’ Day on November 27. The Tamil Resistance Movement became a purely political movement and is now active in the diaspora, especially in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. In Īlam all reverence of martyrs of the Tiger Movement is strictly forbidden.

Keywords: martyrdom, Tamils, Caiva, Christian, LTTE, Tiger Movement, Vēluppiḷḷai Pirapākaraṉ, Īlam, Tamilīlam, imagery

This article focuses on two main subjects: the contemporary Christian imagery of martyrdom among Tamil speakers and the nonreligious imagery of martyrdom within the Tiger Movement (TM), being one part of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE), under the leadership of Vēluppiḷḷai Pirapākaraṉ (1954–2009). Together with the People’s Movement (PM) and other organizations in South India and the global diaspora the TM leads the Tamil Resistance Movement (TRM), which is held together by political consent. The military section of the TM was defeated in May 2009, but the political section continues in several branches. The TRM became a purely political movement and is now active in the diaspora, especially in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom.1

The homeland of Tamil speakers is Tamiḻnāṭu in India and the northern and eastern part of Īlam (Lanka). These parts of Īlam are also known as Tamiḻīḻam by the TRM. Tamiḻīḻam is a territory of a projected future separate state. 2

Imagery is a mental creation using metaphors, similes, and personifications, often taken from the “heritage,” dressed in an archaizing language, endowing status, authority, and legitimization. There is an element of fantasy and of proportions passing beyond normalcy. The imagery “martyr” is used by mourners as a purr-word, and “terrorist” is used by perpetrators as a snarl-word.3 These imageries were created in an emergency situation in a conflict between insurgents and a state that developed into total war, as was the case in Īlam from 1972 to 2009.

In a comparative perspective the concept of martyrdom is regularly a self-image of individuals, groups, or peoples who are or at least feel deprived of means of living and of human and civil rights. The concept of justice is very strong among martyrs-to-be. Victimization is also common among martyrs-to-be, but not among the combatants of the TM. Their concept of heroism is not compatible with the concept of victimization of combatants.

The appearance of the martial martyr today may look like an anomaly, but it is no anomaly from a historical point of view in Christianity and from a global comparative perspective. But the special type of a nonreligious, martial martyr promoted by the TM, which understands “nonreligious” not from critical theory (Marx, Freud) but from a perspective of administrative convenience and necessity, is shared only with a few military organizations, like the French Foreign Legion. National standing armies are often connected with religious organizations, but not so the TM, which consequently had no “military priests” as office bearers. When we say that the TM is nonreligious it does not relate to what is in the mind of each combatant or what is done in public within the People’s Movement. Instead, it relates to the public institutions and performances of the Tiger Movement in a situation of war. In a peaceful situation the TM projects itself as an imitation of India’s policy of religion to protect not one religion like the Lankan state, but to protect all religions.

On the Christian Imagery of Martyrdom among Tamils

The Greek word martys means “witness.” A Christian martyr in the Roman Empire and Hellenistic world witnessed about his or her faith that Christ is the son of God and arose from the dead. Such a witness refused to acknowledge other gods. He or she was therefore often tormented and killed in odem fidei, “in hate of the faith [of the Christians]” by the Romans.4

The concept of martyrdom was introduced by Christian missions in the area of Tamil speakers in Tamilakam, “the Tamil land” in South India, and in Īlam (Sri Lanka) in the sixteenth century by the Portuguese. During their campaign for conversion of Caivas (Shaivas) to Catholicism reactions emerged, and many Catholic friars and converts were killed and were then memorialized as martyrs in modern Catholic historical writing. A Tamil Catholic theologian, having first quoted the famous saying from the early Church that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christianity, commented in 1972 on this first period: “Preaching to the infidels and shedding one’s blood ordinarily go together.”5 He inferred that when preaching is not accompanied by bloodshed, there is little fruit.6

Caiva rulers persecuted Christians in the sixteenth century because Christians represented an element of disloyalty: converted Christians came under the jurisdiction of the Church, which included paying taxes, and that resulted in an economic loss for Caiva rulers. Some of the Caiva rulers were also genuine haters of Christianity, for instance Caṅkili I (1519–1561), king of Yālppāṇam (Jaffna) in Īlam, who in 1544 organized a massacre on converts in Maṉṉār whose victims included women and children.

This Catholic mission resulted in the creation of Tamil terms for martyr/martyrdom/martyrize. Today, we find these terms popularized and simplified in dictionaries. They help us understand what the Christian mission tried to convey to Caivas and Vaiṇavas among Tamil speakers. The missionaries were well aware that they in some cases used terms—like cāṭci, pali, and tiyākam (see later in the article)—that already had Caiva/Vaiṇava connotations. They reinterpreted them in a Christian way.

A literal translation of “martyr/witness” into Tamil is cākṣi or cāṭci. These are Tamilized words derived from the Sanskrit śāksin or “witness.” A witness is compelled by his conscience to tell the truth. In Tamil we find the compound mana-c-cāṭci, or “witness of conscience,” which could easily have a religious connotation. A popular saying is that “everyone’s conscience is the best witness” (cāṭci). A martyr as truth witness speaks from his conscience.

Tamil theologians have tried several times to interpret and explain in Tamil what martyrdom is. They were obliged to take over a heavy load of terms from Western theologies on martyrdom. I will reproduce some of these terms and comment on them in the hope of offering a contemporary Tamil Christian profile of martyrdom. I use dictionaries that reflect a popularized and simplified mainstream use of martyr.

Semantic changes in the Christian concept of martyrdom have taken place. Important is the change from the religious term martyr into the political, martial, nonreligious martyr of the TM.

When Christian theologians started to Christianize the Tamil term cāṭci they had to neglect the fact that it was (and still is) already occupied by Caivam. There was the Caiva concept of a lōka-c-cāṭci, or “global witness,” which was an attribute of Civaṉ. He could be called tēva-c-cāṭci (“witness who is god”). A cīva-c-cāṭci (“witness of the civa-nature”) is a person who experiences what Civaṉ is in an act of union that provides an enjoyment of bliss. This witness is named īccura-c-cāṭci, or “witness(-experience) of Ī-c-cura (Īcuvara, Sanskrit Īśvara).7

The missionaries had also to distinguish a court-witness from a religious martyr. Christian Tamil speakers accepted iratta-c-cāṭci 8 (“blood witness”), which referred to cases in early Christianity when martyrs had to spill their blood when “witnessing.” Another marker is using vēta(m) as a prefix in vēta-c-cāṭci (“witness of the Veda”).9 Veda does not refer here to the Veda in archaic Sanskrit, but to the Bible. A vēta-c-cāṭci witnesses about the truth in the Bible and is martyrized for it.

Tamil theologians and lexicographers produced complex explanations of the term martyr:

  1. 1. kiṟittava matattukkāka uyir tuṟantavar:10 “one who forsook life for the sake of the Christian religion.”

  2. 2. koḷkaikkkāka uyir viṭṭavar:11 “one who left life for the sake of principle.”

  3. 3. iṭaiviṭātu tuṇpappaṭuvar:12 “one who ceaselessly suffers.”

  4. 4. matattukkāka uyir viṭṭavar:13 “one who left life for the sake of (his) religion.”

  5. 5. koḷkaikkāka uyir viṭṭavar:14 “one who left life for the sake of principle.”

  6. 6. matavairākkiyaṉ:15 “one who is steadfast in religion.”

  7. 7. tāṉ-piṭitta-mata-t-tiṉimittam-irattañcintuvōṉ:16 “one who sheds blood for the sake of the religion he follows.”

  8. 8. matāpimāṉa-t-tukkāka-c-cāvuṇṭavaṉ:17 “one who died due to suffering for enjoying religion.”

  9. 9. cattiyantavaṟātataṟkāka-p-pirāṇa-vatai-cey:18 “take the life for being truthful.”

The concept of koḷkai, or “principle,” for which a person may give his life, is of interest because it does not specify that this principle is Christianity (2 and 5). It opens the possibility of principles in other religions as in 6, 7, 8, and 9, and in nonreligions like in 5. In 6, we encounter the unyieldingness that is characteristic for popular imageries of martyrs. Number 3 also speaks about popular imagery of a person suffering ceaselessly and therefore is called martyr. It opens up also for the imagery of a martyr beyond specific Christian properties. This is important to note, because the TM encountered not only specific Christian interpretations of martyrdom, but also already de-Christianized interpretations.

We would expect to find an abstract noun based on cāṭci (“martyr”) for martyrdom, but it does not exist. Martyrdom theologians created puṉita uyir-tuṟavu19 (“holy renunciation of life”). They knew that Caivam and Vaiṇavam also promoted tuṟavu (“renunciation”). Therefore, they added the marker “holy” to indicate that a special form of renunciation, a Christian form, is focused on. This imagery can be related to tiyākam (see later in the article).

Another word for martyrdom is pali-c-cāvu20 (“death as tribute/sacrifice”). The term pali can be found in Indian religions—Sanskrit/Pāli/Prākrit bali—and referred to a tribute consisting of, for example, flowers paid as tribute to a divinity. The tribute could also consist of blood in Caivam/Vaiṇavam and was then named iratta-p-pali (“tribute of blood”). In the Christian context this tribute is replaced by the martyr and is then called iratta-c-cāṭci (“blood-witness”). The translation “tribute” of bali/pali is often replaced by the religious interpretation “sacrifice” by theologians. Palipīṭam (“sacrificial table”) is also found in Christianity, where it refers to the altar on which Christ is sacrificed as atonement.21 In Caivam a palipītam is the place where the sacrificial gifts to the god are placed.

We also find cittiravatai ēṟpu22 (“reception of torture”) for martyrdom, which again widens the imagery of martyrdom from death to torture (without death). But we also find the corrective koḷkaikaiyiṉ kāraṇamāka viḷainta maraṇam, cittiravatai23 (“death, torture which has occurred for the sake of holding on to [religious] principles”). Furthermore, we find matāpimāṉamaraṇam24 (“death for liking religion”) and iratta-c-cāṭciyiṉ-maraṇam25 (“death of a blood witness”).

The verb martyrize is explained as koṇṭa koḷkaikkāka tuṉpam mēṟkoḷḷuvi26 (“inflict pain [on somebody] for the sake of [his] principle”) and cittiravatai cey27 (“inflict torture”).

Of special interest are the forms derived from tiyāk-, such as tiyākam (“abandonment”) and tiyāki (“one who abandons”), translated idiomatically as “renunciation” and “renouncer.” They are Tamilized forms of Sanskrit tyāga and tyāgi. Those who wrote in English about persecuted Christians called them “martyrs,” and those who wrote in Tamil called them tiyākikaḷ (plural of tiyāki) or cāṭcikaḷ.

Before the imagery of tiyāki and tiyākam was Christianized, they were (and still are) occupied by Caivam. Civaṉ himself is called tiyāki (“renouncer”) and also tiyākarāyaṉ (“king who is a renouncer”) in a special imagery as viṭaṅkapperumāṉ (“great man with projection”). Projection refers to an un-chiseled iliṅkam (Sanskrit liṅga).

In Tamil we find for martyrdom among Christians uyir-t-tiyākam28 (“abandonment of life”) and koḷkai-k-kkāṉa-uyir-t-tiyākam29 (“abandonment of life for principle”).

The martyr is explained as puṉita-t-tiyāki30 (“holy person who abandons [life]”), vīra-t-tiyāki31 (“heroic person who abandons [life]”), koḷkaittiyāki32 (“person who abandons [life] for principle”), tiyāka-t-tuyaraṅkaḷiṉ s33 (“category of grieving persons who have abandoned [life]”), pirāṇa-t-tiyāki34 (“one who abandons life breath”).

Here is a tricky point. It seems that the tiyāki gives up the most valuable thing in life, life itself. In a way, this is correct, such as in pirāṇatiyākam (“giving up breath”), which is a metaphor for dying,35 but in another way, it is wrong. His giving up of life should be interpreted as a giving of his life as a gift. What looks negative as a withdrawal is also positive as a handing out depending on the beholder’s perspective. This is already the case in nonreligious, everyday speech where tiyākam is used for “gift” and alternates with utāram (“liberality”). Tiyākam koṭukka/vāṅka means “give/receive a gift,” where a tiyāki is evaluated as a liberal donor. Now it becomes understandable that a tiyāki could be used for a Christian martyr who both gives up his life and who gives his life in accordance with.

For martyrize we find:

uyir-t-tiyāki-y-ākkiviṭu:36 “make someone abandon life.” cattiyaṉ tavaṟuttaṟkākap pirāṇavataicey:37 “killing to break the speaker of truth.” mata-paṭca-vāta-t-tiṉimittamvatai: 38 “killing due to religious prejudice.”uyyarnta kuṟikkoḷukkākauyirtiyākam ceyvi:39 “cause to abandon life for the highest principle.”koṇṭa koḷkaikkākat tuṉpam mēṟkoḷḷuvi:40 make one undergo pain for the sake of principle you hold.”

The martyrs are worshipped—puṉitattiyākakaḷiṉ valipāṭu (“worship of holy persons who have abandoned [life]”)—but we do not learn that martyrs are objects of purinturaippu (“intercession”) in Catholicism. The use of valipāṭu is suspect from the viewpoint of a Augustinian tradition: A martyr should be celebrated, but not worshipped. Valipāṭu is normally used for the worship of gods in a Caiva kōyil.

We have now seen that Tamil Christians have taken up a central idea for martyrdom, the clinging to their Truth even if they have to abandon (give) their life. We also find the idea of death being a tribute and even the radical idea of Christian death seekers who enjoy dying (because it makes them Christlike and because death is a passage to eternal life). We also note that there is no reference to dying as prey in battle. All martyrs are civilian victims, not fighters who are killed in battle. This is a frequently occurring, contemporary, unhistorical, and selective way of looking historically at Christian martyrs who could be martial martyrs, known as crusaders. Today, the Christian martyr should show no similarity to the Muslim martyr. Furthermore, there is no reference to the destiny of a martyr after death, but this may be implicit in the formulation of the enjoyment of death (which is a passage to heaven). There is no indication of martyrdom as vicarious dying and atonement, which are central ideas in Christianity. The semantic center in the sources used is martyrdom in hate of a (Christian’s) faith who clings to his Truth in spite of facing death. Let us call this a summary of what a Tamil Christian martyr is in a popularizing imagery devoid of complexity. It is in accordance with a globally widespread Christian standard image of a martyr. This imagery is not specifically Tamil, but we have to deal with a global religion with a stable base of doctrines. A specific Tamilness becomes visible when we look at the theologians’ labor to chisel out a specific Christian meaning of terms that were already occupied by Tamil Caivam. The TM’s difficulty was still more difficult. It had to chisel out a specific dereligionized concept of martyrdom for its killed warriors by using and transforming already occupied imageries by Caivam and Christianity.

If all people who are killed because others hate their faith are martyrs, then we could count millions of martyrs from the past, present, and future from around the globe. The contemporary Catholic Church has created borders around the definition of the word martyrdom. Faith is always the Christian faith (more precisely the Catholic faith), the martyr is nonviolent (ideals: Maximilian Kolbe, Gertrude Stein), and he or she performs miracles during his or her lifetime. Tamil Catholics are bound to this bordering of the imagery of a martyr. There is no corresponding Protestant rule of conduct, nor do historians of religions share this limited language use. They see, for example, in the figure of Daniel in the book Daniel in the Torah a martyr-to-be who was threatened with being killed in hate of his faith. Daniel was a Jew.

Consider also the Augustinian framing doctrine that what makes a martyr is not his pain, but his cause. It is not enough to suffer pain. What counts is the cause for the pain. This cause is defined by the Church as having faith in Christ, that through him came atonement, and that there is resurrection from the dead. The true cause can never be insurgence against the state. The imitation of Christ by Christian martyrs—not to speak about Christ’s death—is not evaluated by the Church as an insurgence against a totalitarian state, but as a victimization by this very state. The TM also has a narrow conceptualization of martyrdom: only its own fallen warriors are martyrs. The TM’s true cause is to fight for Tamilīlam till death.

A theological discussion took place in the early 1980s questioning the borders of the Catholic Church, demanding a wider conceptualization of the content of faith to embrace also the concept of social and political justice, which brings the martyr’s faith close to a clinging to human rights or to a political conviction. Augustine had also iustitia as legitimate cause for martyrdom, but his view on the content of iustitia is again Christian. True justice is dependent on the grace of (the Christian) god, so believed Augustine, which makes justice as man’s work accountable to the judgment of God as interpreted by the Church. Martin Luther’s interpretation of Augustine was to support fully the smashing of the farmer’s insurgence by the landlords. In the case of Īlam the theologian A. J. V. Chandrakanthan has recommended contextualization (adaption, indigenization, inculturation) for the Catholic Church as a healing process from the colonial past.41

The World Council of Churches (to which Catholics do not belong) had acknowledged Christian martyrs of all confessions and even non-Christian martyrs already (or as late as) in 1978.42 Despite this liberal statement, it was still an event in England in 2005 when an Anglican bishop honored a Catholic martyr.43

A problem arises for Tamil Catholic priests, who have empathy for “the Tamil cause,” in classifying TM fighters, who do not show dedication to Catholicism or even Christianity in general. Most are Caivas through their family tradition. A theologian among Catholics and TM sympathizers, Father S. J. Emmanuel, former director of the Theological Seminary in Yālppāṇam,44 now settled in Germany, has tried to show that the TM martyr and the Catholic martyr exhibit some common features. In 2003, he took up Karl Rahner’s idea of a broadened concept of martyrdom.45 Rahner again referred to Thomas Aquinas (Sent. Dist. 49 q. 5a, 3quest. 2 ad 11), who had said that a martyr is a person who is clearly related to Christ who suffers death when defending society against attacks from enemies who are trying to damage the Christian faith.46 Inspired by this belief, Fr Emmanuel referred to the view of Tamil people who regarded fallen combatants of the TM as martyrs for the cause of the liberation of the Tamils.47 He did not himself declare them to be martyrs, but he made himself a mouthpiece for the Tamil people’s view. His issue was that most of the killed fighters were not clearly related to Christ and that the Catholic canonization procedure may last decades. By contrast, Bishop David Jeyaratnam Ambalavanar in Yālppāṇam, who belongs to the Church of South India, had no such confessional and administrative difficulties in declaring a Methodist reverend who had been killed by the Lankan security forces a martyr.48

The Tamil Political-Martial Martyr

The TM martyr is a person who is killed because of hate of his conviction. This conviction could not be accepted, not even partially, by the government of Sri Lanka, which called upon the Constitutions from 1972 and 1978. It declared that the state is unitary (meaning politically centralized and culturally homogenized). The government does not use the term martyrs for combatants. It uses mainly the snarl-word “terrorists,” aligning itself with U.S. language use before and especially after 9/11. Many states, the whole EU, have followed India and the United States.

The TM taught its recruits how to become an ideal martyr. It used Tamil and English and sometimes published bilingual texts, which makes it possible for us to study how they translated martyr into Tamil. They used the Caiva-Christian cāṭci for martyr, which is linguistically (morphologically, “literally”) correct, and they used also tiyāki and māvīrar, which are linguistically incorrect translations of “witness” but happen to have some traits of the imagery of the Christian martyr. Tiyāki does not mean “witness” but “person who abandons (life),” and māvīrar also does not mean “witness” but “Great Hero.” This implies that the reader of a monolingual English text by the TM does not know if “martyr” in this text refers to (1) cāṭci, (2) tiyāki, or (3) māvīrar. There are nuances of semantic differences among the three concepts.

In the case of cāṭci it is clear that the TM took it from Christianity and/or from Caivam, but the origin of a word’s meaning does not prevent semantic changes later. Tiyāki (Sanskrit tyāgi) became a pan-Indian concept in the history of religious and political ideas of India. Māvīrar belongs to a Tamil epic-heroic folk tradition of heroism that was revived by the Dravidian movement from the 1930s onward.

The TM martyr is a martial martyr that brings him inline with medieval martial martyrs in Christianity and Islam and to modern jihadists, but here also an important difference appears. The TM martial martyr is not religiously motivated. His is—or should be—only a political motivation. We can therefore construct a rudimentary typology, taking religion/nonreligion as the main markers. The TM falls then in the column of martial martyrs, which for many of today’s Christians may appear impossible; a martyr can allegedly never be martial. But the martial martyr using violent means was glorified in epics like the chanson about Rolland at the time of confrontation between crusaders and jihadists. Rahner’s and Fr Emmanuel’s quest for a broadening of the concept of martyr is based on a historical dimension retrieving Thomas Aquinas, who feared the advance of the Muslims. The real obstacle in Catholics identifying TM fighters as martyrs was not the martialism of the TM fighters, but their own confessionalism.

Now we approach the three complementary imageries of martyrdom in the TM. They are cāṭci, tiyāki, and māvīrar. They are imageries of the dead ideal combatant in a retrospective dimension of his life. These imageries address mourners whose incapacitating grief is transformed into activating wrath that emerges from contemplating justice, which results in the taking up of arms. These imageries of the dead combatants as martyrs therefore focus on the future. They are prospective, indeed. The dead combatants are exempla for their mourners who are expected to become exempla for future mourners. They are a case of mimetic repetition. But who created the original exemplum, which is imitated by the exempla? The answer is Vēluppiḷḷai Pirapākaraṉ. He is the main creator of the ultimate exemplum “filling” the closely related concepts cāṭci, tiyāki, and māvīrar with a specific content that eliminated old contents. He poured new wine (connotations) into old bottles (labeling signifiers). His enemies know him as a “ruthless” military strategist, but he became an ideologue as well in a long process of self-study after an interrupted A-level-school education. Here we limit our study to his activity as creator of an imagery of martyrdom.

The concept cāṭci /cākṣi (“witness,” “martyr”) highlights a missiological aspect of martyrdom. A combatant witnesses the atrocities of the Lankan government, takes up arms, and becomes a witness-to-be who will die on the battlefield. He communicates through his conduct the message of how to attain the ultimate goal. A martyr was, however, not evaluated as a victim by the TM, but as an agent. In the language of Vēluppiḷḷai Pirapākaraṉ the religious concept of pali (“sacrifice” or “victim”) is missing as a designation for his martial martyrs. The concept of victimization is relevant for civilians killed in numerous massacres by the Lankan army, but not for the combatants whose heroism is emphasized. Victimization is one of the main marks in the present Christian concept of martyrdom.

Vēluppiḷḷai Pirapākaraṉ used cāṭci in tc 40:249 in the New Testament meaning of witness. The truth stands as our witness, he says. In tc 67:2 we find the interesting composition and alternating use of Great Heroes (māvīrar) and martyrs (cāṭcikaḷ) for the same persons. The TM alternates sometimes between the two imageries. This implies that we have to understand the martyr as Great Hero and the Great Hero as martyr. The martyr is a Great Hero who dies with weapon in hand on the battlefield. This connects the TM martyr with a European medieval understanding of martyrs as warhorses, which was again shared by Muslims, with the difference of course that there is in the TM no expectation of a resurrection to heaven and no reward for an individual existence beyond its worldly presence.

The use of cāṭci is an attempt to make clear what martyrdom is according to the TM, namely a holding on and witnessing of what is regarded as truth even if death follows. As observers, we know that a Christian martyr can be much more, but the TM uses the right to define words at its discretion. Sympathizing Christian priests wanted to deepen the understanding of a martyr of the TM, but there is a traditional limit for Catholics not to accept persons as martyrs outside the Church. There was also a limit for the TM not to incorporate evident Christian thoughts and rituals in its martyrology, but the term truth-witness had already been introduced in the TM in 1989,50 but of course it was deprived of its Christian connotations. November 27, 1989, was the day when a “state-ritual” of Tamilīlam was introduced called māvīrarnāḷ (“Great Heroes Day”) for the memorialization of the martyrs of the TM.51 This day was called in English Martyrs Day to make Western observers understand. Niṉaivu (“memorialization”) of the Great Heroes is not a spontaneous event that “occurs” in the mind of a person here and there, now and then, but is an organized, controlled, and in our context ritualized form of recollection of a dead person, who is regarded as an exemplary person with special qualities. When we say “ritualized form,” we refer to the circumstance of a performance, of a repeatable setting aside of a special time and space for this act of memorialization, which transforms it into a solemnity.

The Tamil word cāṭci and the English word martyr are helpful in a time of need to make clear to the Western world that a Tamil freedom fighter is very much like a martyr. Westerners are alienated to terms like māvīrar ‘great hero’ and tiyāki ‘abandoner’. They appear as too odd and pompous. This explains why the Tiger Movement prefers “martyr” in English texts.

The terms cāṭci/martyr are rare, appealing mostly to Western readers. Māvīrar and tiyāki frequently address a Tamil-speaking public. The TM also understands that the Western concept of a martyr is connected with many religious associations relating to transcendence, which are alien to the TM.

Tiyākam (“abandonment,” “renunciation”) in the context of TM is not primarily the renunciation of aggression and violence, as in Mahātma Gāndhi, who projected his personalized view of abandoning violence into the Bhagavadgītā, where the term tyāgi appears in section 18, but is the abstaining from life itself in armed struggle, albeit without self-interest in accordance with the ideal in the text represented by Arjuṇa, the tyāgi, who is a warrior.

In tc 39:3 Vēluppiḷḷai Pirapākaraṉ stresses that a liberation fighter was not an ordinary man who lived an ordinary life. He was an idealist. He lived for a great goal. He lived not for himself but for others. He lived for the welfare and liberation of others. The life of a liberation fighter was elevated and has meaning. He even decides to dedicate his life to the lofty goal of independence.

The TM classified both violent and nonviolent struggle as an extension of its ultimate political aim to reach Tamilīlam. Nonviolent struggle was not an absolute, exclusive, and excluding method as it was for Mahātma Gāndhi, but was a method of relative value in the struggle for Tamiḻīḻam.

A religious language was often actualized when it came to self-delivery or voluntary death,52 especially in the case of the Black Tigers’ practice in the form of the use of uyirāyutam (“life as a weapon”). Members of this elite group have voluntarily applied to use their life as a weapon. Vēluppiḷḷai Pirapākaraṉ refers to Captain Millar, the first Black Tiger who on July 5, 1986, was the first to use his life as a weapon: “A ‘Black Tiger Era’ started with Captain Millar. A tiyākam paṭaiyaṇi ‘regiment (of warriors) abandoning (life)’ never before seen or contemplated in the world rose in Tamiḻīḻam,” he wrote in tc 40:5. Millar was no belt bomber; he rammed a truck full of explosives into a military camp of the enemy. The ways Black Tigers risked their lives are manifold. It is wrong to ascribe to them the use of belt bombing only. Coming to the concept of heroism through the imagery of the Great Hero in the TM, we touch on another complex problem similar to that of martyrdom. There is a set of English terms and a set of Tamil terms pertaining to the semantic field of heroism. The Western reader may think of Western heroes from Achilles to the Hollywood “Terminator,” but the Tamil reader, confronted with terms like vīram (“heroism”), will associate the term with heroes from Tamil folklore describing the maṟavar (“the wrathful”),53 classical Sanskrit heroism as described in the Mahābhārata, the modern Indian liberation struggle as conducted by Subhash Chandra Bose,54 and also heroism in the distant past as described in the Tamil epic puṟanānūṟu. The martyr is, in the understanding of the Tiger Movement, a hero who has externalized his mental heroism into physical bravery. It should be noted also that heroism is always evaluated as a positive virtue in pan-Indian tradition, which has classified heroism as an aesthetic phenomenon. A difficult term to interpret is vīra-c-cāvu. It means “ death of a hero,” which is a designation for all combatants who have died in conflict, even if their death was not specifically heroic. We can just think of it as a honorific acknowledgment of their martial performance. Originally, it may have referred to a specific heroic performance in the battlefield. If so, it is not death and dying, which is heroic, but the preceding martial performance. Therefore, the Tiger Movement has launched a complementary term to “death of a hero”, which is vīraccīlam ‘virtue of a hero’. This refers to her/his martial performance.

It should be noted that the combatants of the TM are not death-seekers like some early Christians and modern Muslims, who desire to die to become Christlike or Husayn-like.

The term Great Hero doesn’t mean a great hero contrasted to a lesser hero, but a dead hero. All other anti-government Tamil movements use other imageries. If the TM referred to a living hero who is great because of great achievements he is called perum vīraṉ (“great hero”). - is replaced by perum.

The Great Heroes (and the Witnesses and Renouncers) have been buried in special war cemeteries called tuylum illam (“house/home of rest”) since 1990–1991. The change from cremation to burial does not imply that the TM has converted from Caivam to Christianity or to Islam. It was a way to bring down expenses.

Vēluppiḷḷai Pirapākaraṉ has only good things to say about the Great Heroes (tc 13:3, 50:3, 51:3, 58:5, 66:4, 67:2, 67:4). He states that the Great Heroes do not die (tc 13:1). He thinks that they live on in the memory (of the mourners) and that they recall the fire of the ultimate goal that cannot be put out. This imagery can be coupled with the often recurring simile only of the dead as seed (tc 9:5, 39:6, 71:3), which does not transform the dead into a growing seed.

He comforts parents of fallen combatants by saying they have become “history” (tc 50:3) and in that way lived on. The mental presence of the Great Hero is also suggested by the metaphor that they are the breath of the national awakening (tc 67: 4). An often-quoted statement by supporters of the TM is tc 36:4: Death of the Great Heroes has been the driving force of history, a life breath of the struggle and guiding force serving as an incentive for the determination of warriors. These heroes have died for the liberation of the people (tc 51:3), the country, and for the life of the national community in independence (tc 58:5). We should note that Vēluppiḷḷai Pirapākaraṉ writes of the dead as incentives. He makes psychology, not religion, of the process of mimetic repetition.

Vēluppiḷḷai Pirapākaraṉs believes that the coming of independence has been seared into the minds of men and that the blood of the Great Heroes makes this seed grow into a tree (tc 9:5). Here the reader may find a distant echo of Tertullian’s “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”

The TM created a special ritual for a warrior’s dead body where they lay him on parade surrounded by fellow warriors of the TM. The dead hero is public property. The ritual is called māvīrar kallaṟai pirakaṭaṉam (“proclamation at the tomb of the Great Heroes”). It is also based on the simile of the dead as seeds. They are not seeds, but they are like seeds. The ritual is led by a speaker, who recites a memorized one-page text in public standing next to the corpse. The text apostrophized the dead, and compares them with the aerial roots of a banyan tree. From it grow sprouts that pierce the ground and then new trees can appear. The text in written form is formatted like a picture poem depicting a tree. The ritual conveys the image of the seed being the generator of new martyrs. A martyr creates new martyrs.

This ritual is not to be understood as teaching an Egyptian individual life after death, a Caiva or Buddhist rebirth, or a Judeo-Christian-Islamic, mental or physical, immediate or eschatological, individual or collective resurrection of the dead as the implied on a war memorial in Munich. There we learn that the dead heroes from the Great War shall rise from the dead. In the ritual of the dead by the TM the individual no longer exist after death. The new recruit inspired by a martyr is not a continuation of the martyr; he is no rebirth or resurrection of him. We do not encounter a Tibetan form of discipleship. We encounter a simile for the fact that a martyr inspires another to martyrdom. Vēluppiḷḷai Pirapākaraṉ is clear in tc 36:4: The dead serve as incentive for the determination of the warriors. My formulation is that they are objects of mimetic repetition.

What relatives of the dead warrior thought as members of the PM is a matter in which the TM did not interfere. I know mothers and sisters of martyrs who have told me that they on special occasions ask a Catholic or Caiva priest to request their gods to care for the soul (ātmā) of their dead. In these cases traditional religious forms are preserved.55 Christians call them “intercession,” which is absent in the TM death ritual of their martyrs.

After 2009 the government of Sri Lanka introduced a countrywide disenfranchisement of public mourning of all martyrs of the TM, fearing the element of mimetic repetition of martial performance. It has met strong resistance by the mourners, whose memorialization of the combatants is not primarily the fighter, but the son, daughter, brother, sister, cousin, and friend.

The language of Vēluppiḷḷai Pirapākaraṉ teems with traditional religious Tamil terms whose meaning and above all changes of meaning a historian can identify. He used many terms that he had retrieved from the past and that he applied to the acting of the Great Heroes. These terms constitute a semantic field of martyrdom. The meaning of these terms and above all his conscious and active changing of meaning of these terms attract interest. He preserved the graphemes of the signifiers, but he changed the signified from a religious to a nonreligious content. He says cāṭci (“martyr”) but describes him or her as a confessor to Tamilīlam. What Christians deemed “faith” as the cause for their martyrs being killed, Vēluppiḷḷai Pirapākaraṉ deemed political conviction as the cause for his martyrs to be killed.


The TM political, martial martyr was an imagery reflecting the needs of a warrior type in a situation of total war. In a time of peace he would be a relict. For a person who has Gertrude Stein and Maximilian Kolbe as sole ideals of a martyr, the TM martyr cannot be a martyr, but applying a historical and a comparative approach the martial martyr appears as a global phenomenon. Let us remember that the martial martyr has two appearances: He can be mainly religiously motivated like the crusader martyr and jihadist or he can mainly, in the case of the TM martyr, be only politically motivated.

There is a nonreligious use of martyr that has shaken off religious implications of martyrdom, for example communist groups and the Tiger movement. There is, however, a difference between these two groups. The TM suspends religion for the sake of convenience. The warriors of the TM did not lose or give up their religious faith when recruited, but they were asked to privatize and to internalize it for the simple reason that religion, in this case Caivam, Islam, and Christianity, with its many divisions, was a potential danger to the unity of the martial front. We find a similar program in the French governmental administration and above all in the Foreign Legion. In both cases we find a suspension of religion for convenience. Marxist groups, like the PKK in Turkey, suspend religion because it is regarded as irrational and an instrument for the exploitation of the people. True, Vēluppiḷḷai Pirapākaraṉ has selectively pinpointed some few irrational elements in Hinduism, but he has no general critical Marxist theory of religion.

Instead of using the word nonreligious, I shall now speak of secular, which is different.

Secular can be applied to three areas. First, the medieval tradition in the West defines secular as the area outside the monastery or the church, but it does not imply that what is outside is nonreligious or antireligious. On the contrary, what is outside can be deeply religious, but it may not be orthodox. It may be a popular form of religion. The TM was secular in this sense. It was outside the control of all churches and religious organizations like Caivam, Vaiṇavam, Christianity, and Islam. These were, however, active in the PM. As long as these religions in the PM did not counteract the TM they could flourish.

Second, secular was applied to the lifestyle of a warrior of the TM who in his capacity as warrior rejects all traditional forms of transcendence known from historical religions—for the sake of convenience. In private he may cultivate his religious tradition. The TM martyr is a secular one, here in the sense of nonreligious being a common base for all. The TM martyr is not expected to receive a call from god, redemption of sins, or an afterlife (in heaven), and he is not made an object of worship and intercession. A common Qur’ānic expression in Islam is that the martyr “is slain in God’s way.” This could not have been stated officially by the TM. The secular martyr is fighting to win, not paradise, but in the case of the Tiger Movement a worldly territory known as Tamilīlam. This is not conceptualized as a Muslim or Christian paradise, but as a place of unfolding the right of self-determination. In contrast, in Islam, the slain in God’s way are living with their god either on the day of resurrection, when body and soul are recreated, or directly after death before the day of general resurrection. All of this becomes irrelevant in the case of a martial martyr of the TM. The memorialization of a martial martyr at Great Martyrs’ Day on November 27th annually transcends kinship bonds and becomes a public concern in a state cult praising collectively the heroism of the martyrs in cemeteries established by the Tiger Movement. There is no public calling upon a spirit of the dead for benefits. True, in connection with Great Martyrs’ Day, the kin of the dead is seen mourning in private at his commemorative stone, but this is regarded as a personal matter in which the Tiger Movement does not intervene. This private cult of the dead may actualize Catholic, Protestant, Islamic, or Caiva features, which, however, remain within the net of the kin. The state cult of the Tiger Movement memorializes the martyr as an exemplum for the future. Memorializing should be distinguished from worshipping, which implies a reciprocal relation between the dead and the living. In early Christianity people were careful to unite the dead bodies with the bones of the martyrs. They were buried ad sanctos. The Christian view, like the Muslim attitude toward martyrs, implies a reciprocal relation between the martyr and the living. The Great Hero is buried in the soil of his Motherland, we learn from the TM.

Third, secular is applied to the state to characterize its polity on religion. Two historical forms have grown up. The French form rejects all religious activities in state institutions, including Christian activities. The Indian version of secular says that the state should support all religions in state institutions. Nehru was first on the French line but had to switch to the Indian line. Religious pluralism is here promoted as against a monopolizing tendency that promotes one religion only as state religion.56 This kind of secularism is called Indian secularism, which the TM projected as an ideal for the state of Tamilīlam in a situation of peace in the future. One thing was clear: Tamilīlam should not mirror the Lankan state’s monopolizing of one religion (Buddhism). Mediators of this Indian secularism were the Federal Party and the TULF. In a situation of war, however, the TM did what few military organizations do. To avoid a split of the organization along religious lines, they factor out religions for the time being of war. This is illustrated by the most solemn act of allegiance to the state of Tamilīlam. We refer to the TM’s oath of allegiance, to which combatants had to swear every morning in the camps in connection with the hoisting of the national flag of Tamilīlam. It is no oath, but an affirmation. There is no “I swear by God” and no “so help me God.”

If secularism is neutrality, it can be demonstrated by promoting none or all religions. The TM chose for the future state of Tamilīlam to promote all religions in the footsteps of India, but this calculation has turned into wishful thinking after May 2009.

The Tiger Movement’s version of martyrdom is here seen in the cultural context of South Asia. The Caiva and Christian terminology was radically changed semantically. Vague phrases like “Christianity or Caivam have ‘influenced’ the TM” should be avoided. The TM did of course not work from the void. More important is studying the transformations, which have been achieved by Vēluppiḷḷai Pirapākaraṉ.

Most important as a source of inspiration for the Tiger Movement was the ideology of the Dravidian Movement from the 1930s onward, its outlook on the past as heroic, and especially its separatist tendencies in the early 1960s. The links from this movement to the Tiger Movement were created through migration of ideas within the Tamil language area and through personal contacts that can be identified.

Regularly mentioned, especially in the media, but also in some academic studies, is the belief that the Tiger Movement’s veneration of Great Heroes can traced back to precolonial, even to pre-Pallava, hero worship, which is highly questionable. We have to distinguish between being traditional, which implies a consciousness of a factual living continuity from the past to the present, and being traditionalist, which implies a consciousness of a broken continuity. Therefore, the gap is bridged by retrieving selective elements of status and authority from the past. The TM did not have roots, but it projected tentacles to the past. The puṟanānūṟu from the second century AD was exploited by the TM. In short, the TM was not traditional but traditionalist, which was compatible with being modern. Tamiḻīḻam was not thought of as an agricultural, precolonial warrior state but as a highly technological area.

Another important source of inspiration for Vēluppiḷḷai Pirapākaraṉ was the ideology and patriotism of the Indian National Army (INA) under the leadership of Subhash Chandra Bose, who inspired the Tiger Movement leader through mediation of surviving INA fighters in Tamiḻnāṭu.

A further source of inspiration for the Tiger Movement was the nomenclature of technical terms in the language of the international human rights lobby and in the documents of the United Nations. One example may be enough: The Tiger Movement’s political key concept is right of self-determination taken from the charter of the UN and translated into Tamil as taṉṉāṭciyurimai (“self-rule-right”). The reference to a universal human right of self-determination for former colonized peoples may have contributed among Īlattamils to the reduction of their intensive experience of contingency, which was created by the project of establishing a separate state without a patron-state.57

The Tiger Movement has also been inspired by martial feminism from many parts of the world; it constitutes the ideology of women fighters who kill and are killed on the battlefield and who are also designated as māvīrar, tiyāki, and “martyr” in memorializing rituals. The female fighters of the Tiger Movement are a special case, because traditional Tamil culture had no exemplary cases in the past. How to integrate this putuppeṇ (“new woman”) into a movement that is loyal to a tradition about a strict division of sexes? The TM solution was a hybrid one; it accepted the traditional separation of sexes to meet acceptance in the PM, but it did not accept traditional different roles when it came to waging war. Men could take the role of nurses and women the role of fighters at the front. In war, the most important gender role was that of the warrior, both for women and men.58 This was also reflected in war cemeteries, which were all disengendered. Only personal names indicate gender.

Finally, we come to a rudimentary typology of martyrdom. There are martyrs of otherworldly goals with compensation requirements for another life beyond this one. They may pursue an ultimate goal and use different methods, verbal and physical, which can be both violent and nonviolent, even martial and non-martial. Not all violent acts are martial. Here we find that all religious movements have aspirations for martyrdom. There are, however, also martyrs of worldly goals without the compensation requirement for another life beyond this one. Here we find the TM, and also the revolutionary left and nonreligious nationalist movements. The TM’s methods are martial, but it also uses non-martial methods provided they promise advancement to the ultimate goal. The martial, political martyr is a result of a situation of state emergency. In the case of the TM the development was gradual. It had followed the nonviolent struggle of its preceding generation, leading to violent countermeasures by the government. Finally, there was only one option left: armed struggle, which however failed in the case of the TM. In November 2008 the TM published the number of young women and men killed on the battlefield since 1982: 21,450. Of these, 4,651 were women.59 To this we have to add several thousand who died from October 2008 until May 2009. The TM’s military force is defeated, but its political force is increasingly defiant.60


Ambalavanar, D. J. “The Death of a Martyr.” In In Obedience to the Heavenly Vision: The Life and Writings of Bishop D. J. Amabalavanar, 260–263. Colombo, 2002.Find this resource:

cantirakāntaṉ, ē. jē. vi. kiṟistava nākarikam—coṟkaḷañciyam. kiṟistava maṉṟa veḷiyīṭu. tirunelvēli: kiṟistava maṉṟam, 1995.Find this resource:

Chandrakanthan, A. J. V. Catholic Revival in Post-Colonial Sri Lanka: A Critique of Ecclesial Contextualisation. Colombo: Social and Economic Development Centre, 1995.Find this resource:

Emmanuel, S. J. “Further Growth.” The Xaverian. St. Francis Xavier’s Seminary 1 (October 1991): 9–10.Find this resource:

Emmanuel, S. J. “Rethinking Self-Immolation.” In Agonies & Aspirations of the Tamil Struggle, 62–70. Datteln: S. J. Emmanuel, 2004.Find this resource:

English-Tamil Dictionary. Madras: University of Madras, 1965.Find this resource:

Fabricius, Johann Philip. J. P. Fabricius’s Tamil and English Dictionary: Based on Johann Philip Fabricius’s Malabar-English Dictionary, 4th ed., rev. and enlarged. Tranquebar: Evangelical Lutheran Mission Publishing House, 1972.Find this resource:

Faith and Order Paper No. 92. Sharing in One Hope. Reports and Documents from the Meeting of the Faith and Order Commission. 15–30 August, 1978. Ecumenical Christian Centre, Bangalore, India. Geneva: World Council of Churches, [1978?].Find this resource:

“470th Commemoration of the Martyrdom of St. John Houghton.” London Charterhouse. Accessed May 7, 2005.Find this resource:

Godage English-Sinhala-Tamil Dictionary. Koḷamba: Äs. Godagē saha sahōdarayō, 1999.Find this resource:

Gunasena English-Tamil Concise Dictionary. Colombo: M. D. Gunasena, 1988.Find this resource:

Hayakawa, S. I. Language in Thought and Action, 4th ed. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978.Find this resource:

kuṇacēṉa. āṅkil-Tamil curukka akarāti. Colombo: M. D. Gunasena, 1989.Find this resource:

Peiris, E., and A. Meersman. Early Christianity in Ceylon: A 17th Century Narrative Taken from the Conquista Spiritual do Oriente of Friar Paulo da Trinidade O. F. M. Colombo: Colombo Catholic Press, 1972.Find this resource:

Rahner, Karl. “Dimensions of Martyrdom: A Plea for the Broadening of a Classical Concept.” In Concilium 3. Religion in the Eighties: Martyrdom Today, 9–12. New York: Seabury, 1983.Find this resource:

Schalk, Peter. “Beyond Hindu Festivals: The Celebration of Great Heroes’ Day by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) in Europe.” In Tempel und Tamilen in zweiter Heimat. Hindus aus Sri Lanka im deutschsprachigen und skandinavischen Raum, ed. Martin Baumann et al., 291–421. Würzburg: Ergon Verlag, 2003.Find this resource:

Schalk, Peter. “Einführung in das Buch Überlegungen des Anführers.” In Die Lehre der Befreiungstiger Tamilīlams von der Selbstvernichtung durch göttliche Askese. Vorlage der Quelle Überlegungen des Anführers (talaivariṉ cintaṉaikaḷ), 11–152. Uppsala: AUU, 2007. this resource:

Schalk, Peter. God as Remover of Obstacles: A Study of Caiva Soteriology among Īlam Tamil Refugees in Stockholm, Sweden. Uppsala: AUU, 2004.Find this resource:

Schalk, Peter. īlam<sīhaḷa: An Assessment of an Argument. Uppsala: AUU, 2004.Find this resource:

Schalk, Peter. “Martyrdom.” In Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopaedia of Beliefs and Practices, 1814–1819. ABC/Clio, 2010.Find this resource:

Schalk, Peter. “Memorialisation of Martyrs in the Tamil Resistance Movement of Īlam/Laṃkā.” In State, Power, and Violence, ed. Axel Michaels, 55–74. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2010.Find this resource:

Schalk, Peter. “On Resilience and Defiance of the ĪlamTamil Resistance Movement in a Transnational Diaspora.” In Dynamics in the History of Religions between Asia and Europe: Encounters, Notions, and Comparative Perspectives, ed. Volkhard Krech and Marion Steinicke, 391–411, vol. 1 of Dynamics in the History of Religions. Leiden: Brill, 2012.Find this resource:

Schalk, Peter. “Present Concepts of Secularism among Ilavar and Lankans.” In Zwischen Säkularismus und Hierokratie: Studien zum Verhältnis von Religion und Staat in Süd- und Ostasien, ed. Peter Schalk, 37–72. Uppsala: AUU, 2001.Find this resource:

Schalk, Peter. “Resistance and Martyrdom in the Process of State Formation of Tamilīlam.” In Martyrdom and Political Resistance: Essays from Asia and Europe, ed. Joyce Pettigrew, 61–84. Amsterdam: VU University Press, 1997.Find this resource:

Schalk, Peter. “The Revival of Martyr Cults among Īlavar.” Temenos 33 (1997): 151–190.Find this resource:

Schalk, Peter. “Semantische Devianz religiöser Metaphern in der Sprache Vēluppiḷḷai Pirapākaraṉs.” In Devianz un Dynamik. Festschrift für Hubert Seiwert zum 65. Geburtstag, 150–171. Göttingen: V&R, 2014.Find this resource:

Schalk, Peter. “Woman Fighters of the Liberation Tigers in Tamilīlam: The Martial Feminism of Aṭēl Pālaciṅkam.” South Asia Research 14, no. 2 (1994): 163–183.Find this resource:

Selection Dictionary English-Tamil. Madurai: Pandyan Book Depot, n.d.Find this resource:

tc (=talaivariṉ cintaṉaikaḷ). In Die Lehre der Befreiungstiger Tamilīlams von der Selbstvernichtung durch göttliche Askese. Vorlage der Quelle Überlegungen des Anführers (talaivariṉ cintaṉaikaḷ), 152–386. Uppsala: AUU, 2007. this resource:

2 7.11.1982 toṭakam 31.07.2008 varai vīrccavait taluvikkoṇṭamāvīrarkaḷiṉ tokuppu [2008]. tamiḻīḻam tamilīla māvīrar paṇimaṉai araciyaltuṟai [LTTE statistics].Find this resource:

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(1) Peter Schalk, “On Resilience and Defiance of the ĪlamTamil Resistance Movement in a Transnational Diaspora,” in Dynamics in the History of Religions between Asia and Europe: Encounters, Notions, and Comparative Perspectives, ed. Volkhard Krech and Marion Steinicke, 391–411, vol. 1 of Dynamics in the History of Religions (Leiden: Brill, 2012).

(2) Īlam is the more than 2,000-year-old Tamil name for the whole of the island. Tamiḻīḻam appeared only in the 1950s and refers roughly to the northern and eastern provinces of Īlam. See Peter Schalk, īḻam<sīhaḷa: An Assessment of an Argument (Uppsala: AUU, 2004).

(3) For purr- and snarl-words see S. I. Hayakawa, Language in Thought and Action, 4th ed. (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978).

(4) For a short comparative overview of martyrdom, see Peter Schalk, “Memorialisation of Martyrs in the Tamil Resistance Movement of Īlam/Laṃkā,” in State, Power, and Violence, ed. Axel Michaels, 55–74 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2010).

(5) E. Peiris and A. Meersman, Early Christianity in Ceylon: A 17th Century Narrative Taken from the Conquista Spiritual do Oriente of Friar Paulo da Trinidade O. F. M. (Colombo: Colombo Catholic Press, 1972), 93.

(7) Winslow, M., A Comprehensive Tamil and English Dictionary (Madras: American Mission House, 1862), 428.

(8) Winslow’s English-Tamil Dictionary (Madras: Asian Educational Services, 1992), 835.

(9) kuṇacēṉa. āṅkil-Tamil curukka akarāti (Colombo: M. D. Gunasena, 1989), 297.

(17) Selection Dictionary English-Tamil (Madurai: Pandyan Book Depot, n.d.), 164.

(21) cantirakāntaṉ, ē. jē. vi. kiṟistava nākarikam—coṟkaḷañciyam. kiṟistava maṉṟa veḷiyīṭu. (tirunelvēli: kiṟistava maṉṟam, 1995), 16.

(27) Godage English-Sinhala-Tamil Dictionary (Koḷamba: Äs. Godagē saha sahōdarayō, 1999), 448.

(34) English-Tamil Dictionary, 621; Johann Philip Fabricius, J. P. Fabricius’s Tamil and English Dictionary: Based on Johann Philip Fabricius’s Malabar-English Dictionary, 4th ed., rev. and enlarged (Tranquebar: Evangelical Lutheran Mission Publishing House, 1972), 521.

(41) A. J. V. Chandrakanthan, Catholic Revival in Post-Colonial Sri Lanka: A Critique of Ecclesial Contextualisation (Colombo: Social and Economic Development Centre, 1995).

(42) Faith and Order Paper No. 92. Sharing in One Hope. Reports and Documents from the Meeting of the Faith and Order Commission. 15–30 August, 1978, Ecumenical Christian Centre, Bangalore, India (Geneva: World Council of Churches, [1978?]), 200.

(43) “470th Commemoration of the Martyrdom of St. John Houghton,” London Charterhouse, (accessed May 7, 2005).

(44) S. J. Emmanuel, “Further Growth,” The Xaverian. St. Francis Xavier’s Seminary 1 (October 1991): 9–10.

(45) S. J. Emmanuel, “Rethinking Self-Immolation,” in Agonies & Aspirations of the Tamil Struggle, 62–70 (Datteln: S. J. Emmanuel, 2004).

(46) Karl Rahner, “Dimensions of Martyrdom: A Plea for the Broadening of a Classical Concept,” in Concilium 3. Religion in the Eighties: Martyrdom Today, 9–12 (New York: Seabury, 1983).

(48) D. J. Ambalavanar, “The Death of a Martyr,” in In Obedience to the Heavenly Vision: The Life and Writings of Bishop D. J. Amabalavanar, 260–263 (Colombo, 2002).

(49) tc refers to talaivariṉ cintaṉaikaḷ “Reflections of the Leader,” whose text is published in Tamil, English, German, and Siṃhala by Peter Schalk in Die Lehre der Befreiungstiger Tamilīlams von der Selbstvernichtung durch göttliche Askese. Vorlage der Quelle Überlegungen des Anführers (talaivariṉ cintaṉaikal) (Uppsala: AUU, 2007),, where all entries are numbered. tc 40:2 = page 40, number 2.

(50) The source, a flyer, is depicted in Peter Schalk, “Beyond Hindu Festivals: The Celebration of Great Heroes’ Day by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) in Europe,” in Tempel und Tamilen in zweiter Heimat. Hindus aus Sri Lanka im deutschsprachigen und skandinavischen Raum, ed. Martin Baumann et al. (Würzburg: Ergon Verlag, 2003), 399.

(52) For voluntary death in the TM, see Peter Schalk, “Die Lehre des heutigen tamilischen Widerstandes”; Schalk, “Resistance and Martyrdom in the Process of State Formation of Tamilīlam,” in Martyrdom and Political Resistance: Essays from Asia and Europe, ed. Joyce Pettigrew, 61–84 (Amsterdam: VU University Press, 1997); Schalk, “Memorialisation of Martyrs”; Schalk, “Einführung in das Buch Überlegungen des Anführers,” 77–92.

(53) For the maṟavar see Peter Schalk, “Historisation,” 45–53.

(54) For Bose’s influence, see Schalk, “Historisation,” 53–57.

(55) Peter Schalk, God as Remover of Obstacles: A Study of Caiva Soteriology among Īlam Tamil Refugees in Stockholm, Sweden (Uppsala: AUU, 2004), 187.

(56) Peter Schalk, “Present Concepts of Secularism among Ilavar and Lankans,” in Zwischen Säkularismus und Hierokratie: Studien zum Verhältnis von Religion und Staat in Süd- und Ostasien, ed. Peter Schalk, 37–72 (Uppsala: AUU, 2001).

(57) Peter Schalk, “Semantische Devianz religiöser Metaphern in der Sprache Vēluppiḷḷai Pirapākaraṉs,” in Devianz un Dynamik. Festschrift für Hubert Seiwert zum 65. Geburtstag, 150–171 (Göttingen: V&R, 2014).

(58) Peter Schalk, “Woman Fighters of the Liberation Tigers in Tamilīlam: The Martial Feminism of Aṭēl Pālaciṅkam,” South Asia Research 14, no. 2 (1994): 163–183; “Historisation,” 66–69.

(59) 27.11.1982 toṭakam 31.07.2008 varai vīrccavait taluvikkoṇṭamāvīrarkaḷiṉ tokuppu [2008], tamiḻīḻam tamiḻīḻa māvīrar paṇimaṉai araciyaltuṟai [LTTE statistics].