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Murugan-Shaitan Showdown

Swami Siva Kalki in Colombo, 1990

Swami Siva Kalki, Colombo 1990

Colombo: The Sunday Times of August 19, 1990
Patrick Harrigan interviews Swami Siva-Kalki

Shaitan the Devil appears to be growing more and more powerful, yet his absolute ruin is already certain, says Swami Siva-Kalki (a.k.a. Mike Wilson). The pattern of changes across the world shows that something is fomenting on a global scale, he told Patrick Harrigan who interviewed him.

"The attack on the Kataragama procession (July 1989) was the beginning of the end of the JVP. The god's retribution was swift and unmistakable."

The sylvan shrine of Kataragama has long been the preferred abode for yogis, sages and seers from all over Sri Lanka and far abroad as well. With the urban development of Kataragama most of the successors to this tradition have chosen to adopt a low profile and recede into obscurity.

Among them have also been a very few meditators of European ancestry. Swami Siva Kalki is one of them. A former British merchant marine sailor and world-class deep-sea diver then known as Mike Wilson, arrived to Ceylon in 1956. He was attracted by the island's crystal-clear waters and dazzling coral reefs.

An author as well as adventurer, Swami Siva Kalki of Kataragama is still remembered by many as the swashbuckling colorful society figure that he was in those days. An early associate of Arthur C. Clarke, he fathered successful science fiction novels and produced several memorable local films including Ranmuthu Duwa.

Swami Siva Kalki literally plunged into the depths of local mystical tradition one day while filming Ran Muthu Duwa in 1962. While diving alone in the waters of Trincomalee Bay off Swami Rock, he found the legendary swayambhu lingam of ancient Koneswaram temple that is said to have been given to Ravana by Lord Siva Himself.

"It changed me completely," said the former underwater explorer-turned-mystic recently. "It was diksha (initiation) and darshan (divine vision) all in one."

"I understood something, how I had spent many lives here in Sri Lanka already, how this was not my first."

"I was prompted to go to Kataragama. One needs a place to sit and ponder; that place for me was Kataragama. You know, this mystery is a terrifying thing."

Discovery of the lingam in 1962

Mike Wilson and Gamini Fonseka recover the swayambhu lingam in 1962

In 1974, the visionary explorer donned the ochre robes and became known as Swami Siva Kalki. Since then he has continued to inspire offers through informal talks, correspondence and articles. His latest book, The Kataragama Way of Theravada Buddhist Meditation, is due to be published in Australia shortly.

Recently when I met him in his meditation chamber, he was nursing a toothache with characteristically cool detachment. He rose to greet me and offered to prepare tea.

The Swayambhu Lingam at Koneswarar Temple today

Swayambhu Linga

He did not object to being interviewed and spoke candidly on a wide range of contemporary topics. I was especially interested in his views on Kataragama and the ongoing conflict in Sri Lanka. These were his remarks:

Q: From your own experience, can you describe God Kataragama?

A: One can only smile. What can one say but he has certain qualities that one can discern.

Q: For example?

A: For example, he never starts a fight that he can't win. By his nature, he is a very good friend and teacher, the guru whose speech is Dhamma. He is surprising, and frighteningly so. He always hits the mark.

At the same time, Kataragama is a fountain of mercy and boundless life for those who surrender to Him, whose hearts have been softened through long suffering, dukkha.

His devotees know that he will come again, because he has promised to come back. He is the guardian angel of India and Sri Lanka. There are other such archangels as well.

Q: If so, then why has God Kataragama allowed the situation here in Sri Lanka to develop like this?

A: God Kataragama hits his own unseen mysterious ways of dealing with our own folly and ignorance. He is not a tyrant over us; he is a teacher of liberation. He knows ahead of time what is going to happen. He's preparing that future for us even now.

It's a mysterious thing. This god controls time and space. That's his character. That's why in a battle he always wins. It's a great test of faith for everybody. And a test of vision for those with faith already. If they watch they will see.

Q: What will they see?

A: They will see Lord Murugan separate His people from their oppressors. They will see Him arrive with armies visible and invisible. They will see how God saves, and they will see how He deals with evil.

Q: Do you mean within our lifetime?

A: Yes. Shaitan, the Devil, appears to be growing more and more powerful. But his complete and absolute ruin is already certain. And this is so not just here in Sri Lanka but all over the world. Look at the changes in Eastern Europe. Look at today's Middle East situation.

Something is fomenting on a global scale. We have been saying this for years. People did not listen then, but they will now.

All around us we see the signs. If you doubt me, ask Satya Sai Baba what he has to say. Ask the wise Brahmins. Ask the devotees.

Q: Are you suggesting that these are what some call the 'End Times'?

A: We just have to look around us to see it. Haven't I said before that the asura Shaitan is even now threatening all the life on earth? Take for example the greenhouse effect. Or the murderous mentality that is gripping people everywhere. This asura Shaitan would kill Mother Earth herself. That is his nature.

Q: Don't you think that some might misunderstand your perspective?

A: Among the swamis and bawas of Kataragama these are also rishis, seers. It's our work, our business to see and advise others. When we see danger, we warn people. Our job is only to give them the message. We've been giving it for a long, long time.

Q: Can you elaborate further on this struggle that you see taking place?

A: There will be a showdown very soon between Lord Murugan and these demonic powers, wherever they may be. This colossal struggle is taking shape right now.

The Murugan myth is more powerful than Rambo. Both are here. All should look very closely where they are standing. Everyone's soul is at stake.

It's time to wake up. It's time to exercise discrimination and act before it's too late.

If there were a god Murugan or Kataragama, would he be unaware of all this cruelty and violence? Would he watch and do nothing? The swamis say: 'Look out, He's coming soon!'

It's time for certain people -- and they know who I mean -- to wake up and realize that they have been at war all along with a god who hates terror, murder, torture, and everything that they represent. I would hide if I were one of them.

What else but the spirit of the asura Shaitan would inspire youth to go and murder innocent people even as they are kneeling at prayer in temples and mosques? God Murugan is the natural enemy of this demon. He's our only hope.

Q: Do you site any connection between the bomb attack on the Kataragama procession in 1989 and the decimation of the JVP shortly thereafter?

A: Yes, certainly. It was at that point, several ex-JVPers told me later, that many could see that their cause was lost. It was the beginning of the end for the JVP. Of course, many people could see it and not just the swamis alone. The god's retribution was swift and unmistakable.

No one can avoid his or her own kamma vipakka. Every action, good or bad, bears fruit accordingly. Like our own deeds, God Kataragama follows behind us biding his own time. But when he is ready and the moment comes he beats everything.

Q: Have you any final advice for Sri Lankans today?

A: Yes, and the same words go for people elsewhere as well. Tamils, Sinhalese. Muslims should all regard themselves as being together in the same army, fighting the same war together. Or as being like different armies all fighting under the same High Command. Women especially should come forward and intervene through prayer.

There has to be a complete renewal, a new beginning. Metanoia, it's called. Repentance, a complete change of heart. This comes only from heaven, by grace or arul.

And one last thing. I'd like everyone to know that God Kataragama-Murugan has been hard at work on this case and has not been asleep. This message that we swamis are delivering is one of good cheer. Have faith, trust in God, and all will be well. Soon you will also see."

Swami Siva Kalki and Ravana's Swayambhu Linga
Swami Siva-Kalki's advice to pilgrim Theo
Curse of the Swamis of Kataragama: An Open Letter from Siva Kalki Swami
"Swami Siva Kalki: Tenth Avatar of Visnu" by Richard Boyle