It was sometime in 1981. I was talking to a friend in my home in Colombo. My friend was
a Tamil who was working abroad as a Vice President of a large multi-national corporation
and he was in Sri Lanka on a short visit. He said: "You know, in Dr.Arumugam, we have
a future Prime Minister of Eelam - he is one of those few Tamils who can help to bring
many of us together." I had not met with Aru at that time. But I did meet with him in
the years that followed and I believe that I came to know him and also understand him. I
also came to understand something of that which my friend had said in Colombo in
Last week when I heard that Aru had passed away, my immediate feeling was one of having
suffered a personal loss. It was a feeling that comes from the passing away of a human
with whom one has shared not only many thoughts but also many feelings and experiences.
Each one of us is a composite of matter, life and mind and to the extent that we integrate
all these elements into a larger whole, we move towards becoming whole and therefore holy
- and to that extent, we are more evolved. Aru was one of those more evolved humans.
He was more internally integrated than many and it was this which was often reflected
outwardly as his 'integrity'. There were many occasions when I did not agree with his
conclusions - but there was never a moment when I doubted his integrity. To him, as for
Mao Tse Tung, theory was the most practical of things. And a theory divorced from practise
was not for him.
He had the capacity to laugh openly and I enjoyed laughing with him. He had a clear
mind and he was equally at home with Karl Marx and with Aurobindo. And the philosophy of
Saiva Siddhanta was not unknown to him. He cared for people and I know that he has helped
many in unobtrusive ways and without expectation of any return. Aru, in his own life, gave
content to Lord Krishna's injunction to Arujna on the battlefield of Kurushetra: "To
action you have a right - but not to the fruits thereof.".
My wife as well as my son, who is in his twenties, enjoyed his company as much as I
did, but not always for the same reason. Aru was not only a personal friend - he was a
family friend. The largeness of a human is often showed by his capacity to relate to a
wide spectrum of people, of different ages, coming from different backgrounds and with
different aspirations. The friends that Aru has left behind reflects the largeness of the
It is related in the Mahabaratha, that when Tharmar, the eldest of the Pandavas, was
questioned as to what was the most surprising thing in the world, he replied: "The
most surprising in the world is that man knows he must die, but he lives as if he will
never die." Aurobindo, for whom Aru had an enduring affection, commented many
thousands of years later that this feeling that impels a man to live as if he will never
die, was but a shadow of his true immortality - an immortality which we may glimpse from
time to time in our moments of inner quiet and peace, when our chattering mind is silent.
Aru was a good and honourable man in a world where goodness and honour are not always
easy to find. In his death, the Tamil people have lost an untiring and steadfast fighter
for justice, his family a caring husband and father, and many of us, a friend to whom we
could turn to.