Jaffna University is still searching for a qualified person to fill its recently created Endowment Chair for Saiva Siddhanta. Though 80% of the 1/2 million rupees (U.S.$25,000) needed to finance the chair have been donated since 1982 when the idea was born, and the vacancy has been advertized locally and internationally, only three candidates have applied for the post so far. Not even a single application was received from a foreigner, explained Mr. V.N. Sivaraja, University Registrar. Sri Lanka's simmering ethnic/political strife, fueled by terrorism and army retaliation, is suspected as a major factor, and many thousands of the educated Hindus have left the country.
But the search continues; life goes on. Jaffna is, after all, an orthodox stronghold of Saivism, a natural center for the Chair. Tamils, most of whom are Saivites, form the majority of the population. Saivite religion, philosophy, culture and tradition have been kept pure, despite the many religious onslaughts and suppressions the Saivites suffered for centuries when Jaffna came under foreign rule. Sages such as Kadaitswami, Chellappaswami and Siva Yogaswami lived here and inspired great devotion in the people. Temple festivals and religious celebrations like Maha Sivarathri are held regularly.
The primary duty of the scholar who occupies the chair is research in Saiva Siddhanta. The University seeks a man of high intellectual calibre, scholastic attainment and extensive knowledge in the field. Great treasures lie buried in the 28 Saiva Agamas (written in Sanskrit) and the 14 Meykandar Shastras (written in Tamil), expressed Mr. Sivaraja. "There treasures have to be unravelled, investigated and researched. The outcome of this endeavor should be made available to the world."
The idea of creating the Saiva Siddhanta Chair was first conceived at the Saiva Siddhanta Conference held at the Tellippalai Durgai Amman Temple in 1982. The resolution inspired Mr. Vallipuram Nadarajah to make a very generous contribution of Rs. 30,000. The Tellippalai Temple Devasthanam added another Rs. 50,000 which was matched by the Parameshwara Trust. The Ministry of Hindu Affairs granted Rs. 25,000.
Interested individuals feel certain that under the guidance and leadership of the new Chancellor, Professor Thambiah Nadaraja, the new Chair will enrich the work of the University and the society at large, and one day develop into a full department of Saiva Siddhanta.