Sri Lankan KGB


As with most things about Sri Lanka, you won’t notice local KGB activity unless you are willing to invest time in some very serious surveillance (eavesdropping mostly). I personally don’t know anyone who openly claims KGB membership but from what I have overheard, they are a bunch of old fashioned stuck up snobs. The best way for monitoring their activities in Sri Lanka is to open the marriage proposal classifieds and look for references to Kandian Govi Buddhist.

The term refers to a supposedly important caste in Sri Lanka. The “Kandian” part refers to the last independent Kingdom of Kandy – Maha Nuvara (Senkadagalapura) — before Sri Lanka was completely occupied by a colonial power. The term “Govi” translates as “farming in Sinhala and is a short hand used to refer to the Goyigama caste. They constitute a sort of landed cultivators who came to prominence during the colonial period after the collapse of the traditional feudal system. The caste system among the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka is quite a complicated one. For those who want to sniff further, Wikipedia has a well structured overview of the Caste system in Sri Lanka.

The term “Buddhist” in a caste name is a contradiction as Kosher/Halal bacon. Buddhism rejected the notion of caste at it inception. However such a radical notion wasn’t going to last for long. Even the Monasteries of the Theravada Traditions (the oldest) of Buddhism have been long infected by the caste system — particularly in Sri Lanka.

I find the notion of a caste that has the word “Buddhist” in its name a renunciation of the spirit of Buddhism. Very similar to encountering the tastiest plate of food in the world with  a hot sausage of excrement draped over it.

I should be offended but we third worlders are supposed to be used to this sort of thing anyway. Getting worked up over such futility is tiring and silly. One must be practical and get on with the business of surviving. Still the KGB represents a visible element of Sri Lankan society that I am ashamed of but can do very little about. The grind of history of course has been wearing away at the stupidity of caste. I’m sure there’ll be another evil to replace it if it already hasn’t.

For the record I am not KGB. Then again, to use the jargon of the matrimonial pages, caste is immaterial.

As you would have realised by now, this post is not about the Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti (Committee for State Security) of the Soviet Union.

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7 thoughts on “Sri Lankan KGB

  1. I was meaning to write a post about the absurdity of caste in the monastic system of Sri Lanka (notably the Siam sect, which only ordains members of the Govi and Radala castes as monks) but didn’t fearing some nasty remarks… anyways, thanks for the post C! 🙂

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    1. You are very welcome. I agree the fact that Buddhist monks wrapped up in caste bullshit is truly sad. Hope you do get your post out – I doubt pro-caste types would even know how to use a computer let along read a blog 😉

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  2. The reason behind this caste system for marriages is to produce a “pure breed” offspring with superior gene pool.

    Guess what..! Those who believe in it has horribly misinformed.

    The modern genetics have proved that if you want superior off spring you need to mate with distant links of the gene chain.

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  3. the only upside of inbreeding is the preservation of certain traits. Many south indian brahmin groups tried to do this over the years, through selecting caste-appropriate mates, and ended up with significantly higher average IQs but also obesity, heart disease, diabetes, too-dark-for-screen skin etc.

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    1. I rigourously family cultural environment focused on learning would also beef up IQ. Given the side effects it doesn’t seem to be worth it. The Spartans were done in by the whole purity/inbreeding thing as well

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