25 October, 2020

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Arumuga Navalar And ‘Heritage History’ Critiqued

By Jayadeva Uyangoda

Prof. Jayadeve Uyangoda

S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole, 2020, Heritage Histories: a Reassessment of Arumuga Navalar a.k.a Candar Arumugavan, London: Thesam Publications, i-xxvii, 327 pages.

Professor S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole’s book on Jaffna Heritage Histories is a fascinating critique of several strands of invented recent histories of Sri Lanka’s Jaffna Tamil society. The central narrative of invented history which he subjects to extensive critical scrutiny is the claim that Arumuga Navalar translated the Bible into Tamil.

Arumuga Navalar is for Sri Lanka’s Tamil Hindus is what Anagarika Dharmapala is for Sri Lanka’s Buddhists. Both were pioneers in the cultural nationalist resurgence in their societies during the British colonial time. Navalar was the senior of the two. While Navalar lived between 1822 and 1879, Dharmapala was born in 1864 and passed away in 1933. When the latter grew up to be the foremost cultural nationalist activist of Sinhalese Buddhists in British colonial Ceylon, he may have obviously heard and read about the former, although Dharmapala never mentions Navalar in his diaries or numerous other writings. It is perhaps the case that Sri Lanka’s Tamil Hindu cultural nationalism and Sinhalese Buddhist cultural nationalism have not crossed their paths, despite the fact that there are many historical and other parallels that have not yet been explored in Sri Lanka’s historical scholarship.  

Navalar-Dharmapala Similarities

One key similarity between these two figures of cultural resistance to colonialism in Sri Lanka is that, after death, they have been elevated to the status of ethno-nationalist heroes through vast bodies of biographical, adulatory and even ‘historical’ writings. Their biographies are often hagiographies. Even biographies of these ‘national heroes’ written by professional historians and social scientists happen to have been worked within the broad tradition/s of what Dr. Hoole describes as ‘heritage histories.’    

What are heritage histories? They are “created histories” seeking to cast members of a group “in superior terms.” They also “define a people and their culture” in such a way that that definition eventually becomes a part of their identity. A heritage history would thus “define a group and its attributes – caste, nobility, exclusivity” – in order to strengthen and bind the community together. Therefore, a heritage history would be “prone to outsider and insider bias.” And whenever doubts are expressed about the authenticity of any such “heritage”, they become “soul wrenching” and are “resisted” (p. 1).

Invented Narratives

As Dr. Hoole shows in this book, ‘heritage histories’ galore in Jaffna society. They are ‘historical’ narratives about individuals or institutions invented to glorify the biographies as well as legacies of such individuals and institutions. Dr. Hoole’s extensive documentation of several Jaffna heritage histories show that they constitute a specific genre of history writing. They have spawned a mode of writing that of course have a kernel of historical facts, but around the facts are exaggerations, falsehoods and unsubstantiated claims meant to establish glory, authenticity and fame. Few such invented heritage histories that are documented and commented on in this book suggest that it is a widespread and popular practice among a range of identity communities associated with caste, religion, religious sect, school and so on in the contemporary Jaffna society.  

An independent observer can also say that there is nothing unique in this specific strand of intellectual culture among Jaffna Tamils. All histories of communities anywhere would have the heritage dimension which the author of this book so meticulously deconstructs through a range of examples from the colonial and post-colonial Jaffna society. The Sinhalese history from Mahawamsa to contemporary school texts books, which the author also highlights, show a long lineage as well as continuity to a legacy of heritage history in Sri Lanka.

What should one do to narratives of heritage history with false and invented claims? Dr. Hoole has chosen the path of confronting such histories among contemporary Sri Lankan Tamils by juxtaposing fiction with empirical facts mined through painstaking archival research. He does it with sharp forensic and polemical skill as well. Some of his paragraphs are interspersed with pithy and sarcastic comments as well as memorable one liners, which we don’t find in usually boring social scientific writings. 

Dr. Hoole is not, nor does he claim to be, a professional historian trained in historical analysis. Nor is he a social scientist. His training is in the natural sciences. As a practitioner of natural science, his intellectual fidelity is to facts and facts-based interpretation. He is aghast at the ways in which some Western social scientists, trained in elite Western universities, too accept some major heritage historical claims without bothering to check the facts from original archival sources. The point he makes in this regard is quite alarming. Some invented claims in heritage historical narratives have now become ‘authentic’ social scientific knowledge as well.

Navalar Narrative

The main narrative of heritage histories which the author deconstructs is that of Arumuga Navalar. Through evidence gathered from archival research conducted in the United States as well as the UK and of course in Jaffna, the author makes a series of counter claims on the life and ‘achievements’ of Arumuga Navalar. His main focus is on the claim that Navalar translated the Bible into Tamil. This claim is a major thesis in Tamil nationalist historiography, although some trained social scientists such as Professors K. Sivathamby and K. Kailasapthy have been careful not to share that claim in its entirety. 

The counter fact which the author establishes through numerous contemporary documentary records is that Arumuga Navalar was a only member of team of Tamil scholars from Jaffna that Rev. Peter Percival of the Wesleyan Mission consulted in revising an already existing Tamil translation of the Bible. “The Jaffna Bible is not the first Tamil Bible as often claimed. The Jaffna or Percival Bible is certainly not a translation by Arumuga Navalar as commonly held” (p. 228).

Dr. Hoole questions several other ‘facts’ about Arumuga Navalar’s ‘heritaged’ life and portrays the Tamil nationalist leader to be an acutely caste-conscious, social conservative. He also ‘corrects’ several historical accounts of the Christianity in Jaffna.

Navalar’s casteism and social conservatism is well-known. Progressive Tamil scholars have shown how Navalar made the Saivaite Hinduism the cultural property of upper caste Jaffna Tamils. According to Sivathamby, “in the ideal Saivaite society” which Navalar imagined, “those of the lower castes definitely had no equal place with those of the high castes. The scheme he had for educating the Hindus would naturally have not benefitted many of the non-Vellala castes” (Sivathamby, 1979: 68). Thus, Navalar’s ‘reformism’ was a socially conservative one. 

Parallels

This indeed has parallels with Anagarika Dharmapala’s ‘reformism’ in the Colonial Sinhalese society. He did not raise the issue of caste inequalities in Sinhalese society, although he was moved by the poverty in the rural Sinhalese society. He attributed it to British colonialism, rather than to the traditional caste system and landlessness. Dharmapala also expressed deep anguish about caste oppression in India and also actively argued for social equality in the Indian society through economic modernity and industrialization. 

There is another somewhat similar point implicitly present in his book that warrants deeper inquiry elsewhere. How could a Hindu Tamil of South Asia translate to his language, so easily as claimed by many in the Jaffna society, a whole range of philosophical-ontological categories from a classical text belonging to the European Judeo-Christian tradition?  This profound challenge may have been confronted by those Sinhalese scholars who assisted the translation of the Bible into the Sinhalese language too. The translation of classical religious texts across different cultures with different ontologies, or world views, is no easy task, contrary to what the heritage historians might want us to believe. 

This is where comparative studies on the intellectual history of the cultural nationalist movements during the European colonial period of Sri Lanka’s Tamil and Sinhalese societies is certain to yield a great deal of new knowledge. Sadly, such a task will have to await the arrival of a new generation of creative social science scholars from our intellectually dilapidated universities.

Meanwhile, there is something irresistibly new in Dr. Hoole’s book. It is the polemical force and the argumentative spirit with which the author’s main point — Arumuga Navalar was not the translator of the first Tamil Bible in Jaffna and his role, if at all, in the Percival translation may have been a minor one– is made and remade throughout the book. Therefore, this is a book that has the potential to generate not only a great deal of interest, but also much passion, debate and controversy among Tamil Hindu as well as Tamil Christian intelligentsia in Sri Lanka. 

However, one also has to be skeptical about the intellectual openness with which such debates can be conducted in the present circumstances of Sri Lanka, or South Asia, for that matter. It is because, among many reasons, of the very epistemological character of the genre of heritage histories. Heritage histories, as strands of intellectual imagination and writing, are also part of ethno-nationalist, or religio-cultural, or social group, identity politics. As we have seen in so many other instances, identity politics thrives within frameworks of epistemological closure, and not openness. Intellectual closure prevents mutual learning through solidarity even among victims of the same past.

Reference

Sivathamby, Karthigesu, 1979, “Hindu Reaction to Christian Proselytization & Westernization in 19th Century Sri Lanka,” Social Science Review, No. 1 (Sep., 1979), 41-75.

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Latest comments

  • 5
    19

    How is Tamil revival defined by some low caste fleeing the oppressive caste and translating the bible ? Few sinhalese seem to be aware that dharmapala was a major figure in the cultural encounter between the east and Americans. The representative historical photograph of the 1883 Chicago council of religious shows him, seated next v. Ghandi representing jainism, vivekanada representing Hinduism and Nikola Tesla, the Serbian scientist. Three elderly white men stand behind them with marble statue of women. Tesla invented wireless technology, without him no electricity in the modern former the internet or mobile phones. Much of his inventions were stolen by Thomas Edison. The Tesla electric car and Nikola cars are named after him. Dharmapala remained a major figure in theoshopy. Which led to vegetarian, yoga, meditation, and buddhism becoming popular in the us. American religious studies students encounter the dharmapala in their text. Please don’t compare him to some dude who translated the bible into tamil.

    • 12
      1

      “Which led to vegetarian, yoga, meditation, and buddhism becoming popular in the us. “

      Not true. Those became popular much later, when immigration from outside Europe was allowed more freely starting in the 1960s, and a succession Indian spiritual gurus and Tibetan monks brought these practices to the U.S.

      Currently, a guy by the name ‘Sadhguru’ is very popular in the West for his ‘Inner Engineering’ schtick. But back in India, there is a serious allegation that he might have killed his wife.

      I am not a historian, but many claim that Dharmapala didn’t stop with Buddhist revival; he worked actively to promote racism in the guise of such revival.

      • 12
        0

        Agnos
        I agree fully that Anagarika Dharmapala was racist in outlook. He specifically targetted Christians and Muslims as there was no serious Hindu challenge to Sinhala Buddhist hegemonic ambitions in the business sector.
        People do not talk about AD’s business interests involving Burmese timber imports for Don Carolis. (For a clue see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andiris_Perera_Dharmagunawardhana)
        AN, on the other hand, despite his social conservatism was a true scholar: an authentic grammarian and moderniser of Tamil. He showed active interest in advancing Tamil society through modern education.
        His harshness towards Christian clergy was in response to their treating Saivaism with contempt. There was also abuse of privilege by the Church to convert people.
        But AN was not the kind of hate monger that AD was.
        Also, he was less of a political animal than AD.
        Drawing parallels can be misleading, intentionally or otherwise.
        *
        He is hailed by many for stopping animal sacrifice in temples. That was part of his project to Sanskritize worship in Jaffna, where he succeeded. But the East would not have any of it, until the new wave of Brahminization began to sweep the region.

        • 12
          0

          Don David Hewavitarana who was later known as Anagarika Dharmapala was a Sinhala-Buddhist supremacist. He desperately needed the Aryan myth to distinguish the Sinhala-Buddhists from the rest of the population in Ceylon. Since Sinhala was an Indo-Aryan language and as per the Mahavamsa, Prince Vijaya and his men were also ‘Aryans’, it became very convenient for him to label the Sinhala-Buddhists as ‘Aryans’. Armed with the Mahavamsa-inspired ideology, he began by first attacking the Christians whom he regarded as the cause of a multitude of evils. He was vociferous in his attacks through newspapers and lectures. He wrote, “This bright and beautiful Island was made into a paradise by Aryan Sinhalese before its destruction was brought about by the barbaric vandals”.
          And about Ceylon Moor Muslims he said, “The Alien South Indian Muhammedans come to Ceylon, sees the neglected villager, without any experience in trade … and the result is that the Muhammedan thrives and the sons of the soil go to the wall.”
          While comparing with them he called the call the Sinhalese as “Sinhalaya, Wal Aliya, Gon Thadiya”. He also called the Westernized Sinhalese elites who were collaborating with the colonial administrators as ‘Kalu Suddho’.

          • 9
            0

            Continued from above
            In 1915 he directed his attack against the Muslims by calling them “an alien people (who) by Shylockian methods have become prosperous like the Jews”.
            During the Buddhist revivalist period instigated by Anagarika Dharmapala, who was born into a Catholic Salagama family, many of the coastal Catholics (both Tamils, Sinhalese and Sinhalised Tamils) converted enmass to Buddhism, and even created their own Buddhist organizations because the traditional upper Govi caste-oriented prelates (Asgiri, Malwathu) refused entry of these newly converted Buddhists of dubious caste origins into their organizations.
            In the 1930s Aryan racial superiority propagated by the Nazis in Germany, was echoed in Ceylon through Anagarika Dharmapala. He said “The Sinhalese are a unique race in as much as they can boast that they have no slave blood in them and never were conquered either by pagan Tamils or European vandals…the Sinhalese stand as the representatives of Aryan civilization,”
            Others like Munidasa Kumarathunga (writer), Piyadasa Sirisena (editor: Sinhala Jathiya), A. E. Goonesinghc (trade union leader and publisher of Viraya), followed his footsteps and the working classes too had become involved in propagating the racist notions advocated by Dharmapala and sections of the Buddhist clergy. The racist policies of Hitler and Mussolini were well received and emulated by local (Sinhala) leaders during this time.

            • 7
              0

              Continued from above…
              After 1910, Sinhalese-Buddhist nationalism took hold, led by reformers in the name of religion and one of them was Anagarika Dharmapala (1864-1933), a dynamic orator who attracted a large following among the middle class and in villages. He preached that Sinhalese – the Lion Race – are a superior people descended from pure Aryan stock. . His exhortations brought about a fanatical Sinhala-Buddhist national consciousness. The new wave of Sinhala-Buddhist awakening began to turn against non-Buddhists in general, and against non-Singhalese in particular.
              This Buddhist revival in fact illustrated the birth of a new breed of chauvinistic Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism (Political Buddhism) rather than a religion. It was argued that it was the way to make people feel about their language, customs and of their history.
              Anagarika Dharmapala, hailed as the “Guardian of Sinhala-Buddhism”, was one who preached and practiced anti-minority discrimination to glorify his race and religion (political Buddhism) at the cost of Tamils, Muslims and Christians.
              However, Anagarika Dharmapala did not have any issues with the Hindus. He even praised Sir Ponnampalam Ramanathan as a hero for his services rendered to the country during the British period. He wrote to Ramanathan, “The day you are taken away from Ceylon, from that day, there will be none to defend the poor, neglected Sinhalese”.

              • 6
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                Continued from above…

                After the American missionary schools, churches and hospital were established in Jaffna with the help of the Vellalar, the Americans deviated from the system by taking in “low caste” Tamils, and started baptizing them giving them Christian/Western names so as to erase their “low caste” identities. The Hindu Tamil Nationalist Arumuga Navalar launched a campaign to deny “low caste” Tamils access to missionary schools but failed. His was a different type of revivalist sentiment from the point of view of discrimination in respect of a section within the same community (Non-Vellalars). Nalavar was different in the choice of platform, which was the Vellalar supremacy (Vellala supremacist movement).

                There lies a big difference in the influence of Anagarika and Nalavar in their influence over the respective societies. Comparing/contrasting or rather drawing parallels between Kandar Arumugavan aka Arumuga Navalar and Don David Hewavitarana aka Anagarika Dharmapala is totally deceptive. With the influence of the Mahavamsa, Dharmapala was at liberty to engage in promoting Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinism and hatred towards non-Sinhala Buddhists (he brainwashed the Sinhala-Buddhists by engraving the Mahavamsa mindset and Sinhala-Buddhist racism into their sub-conscious minds) through the newspaper “Sinhala Bauddhaya”, where as Navalar’s Tamil Hindu influence (Vellalar hegemony) did not pose any serious challenge or threat to the non-Tamil Hindus.

  • 21
    3

    Prof J Uyangoda

    Hoole’s view on Arumuka Navalar and denial of his bible translation is well known to the readers who follow him for the last several years. He makes the readers sick by his repetition. Whatever the subject he writes, he will bring Arumuka Navalar into it and despise him and the Hindus. He , a descendant of a Hindu convert to Christianity, lives with this disease that doesn’t pain but relishes him. Let him continue his ill will and bitterness towards Hindus. That is his right and freedom, he enjoys it.

    • 1
      4

      “That is his right and freedom, he enjoys it.”.
      .
      I’m glad that you are granting him those rights, even if it seems unnecessary for him to write all this.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe (48 3111 444V) aka Sinhala_Man

  • 13
    5

    When discussions about great men in Tamil society turn on narrower loyalties, we miss out on true greatness. One unquestionably great man and great scholar whom Tamil society makes very little of is Ponnambalam Arunachalam. He showed the way to national unity by founding and leading the Ceylon National Congress. He was thrown out by those whom he once inspired and we have remained, if a country, a very disunited and decaying one. Arunachalam was one man who solidly stood for equality and dignity of labour. His masterpiece, the Ceylon Census of 1901, brought the Indian Tamils and Ceylon Tamils into one group. That foresight had been lost in Tamil politics, even among supposedly progressive groups as the Youth Congress. The forgetfulness about Arunachalam is a comment on the political anarchy that is extant among Tamils. Symbolic of this is the exaltation of Ramanathan, whose symbols adorn the University of Jaffna. The only remembrance of Arunachalam, the extraordinary scholar and humanist we nurtured, are a few decaying books on library shelves.

    • 13
      1

      Rajan H
      Arunachalam thought in terms of the whole country. He talked about justice to plantation workers and on many pertinent issues of democracy.
      The Jaffna Youth Congress was a great thing to happen, but unsustainable in the context of the rigidly caste-based society that Jaffna was. Had Arunachalam lived longer, its impact may have endured that much longer, but a Saiva Vellala (later Saiva-Protestant Vellala) elite dominated society would not have accepted what the JYC stood for or for that matter Arunachalam.
      *
      The statue of Ramanathan in the UoJ premises, has one strong justification. That land on which Parameshwara College stood was Ramanathan’s and donated by him. The UoJ (then Jaffna Campus of the U. of Sri Lanka) simply took over that property in 1974.
      Despite his conservatism and other faults, Ramanathan was very generous with his wealth for many good causes.
      *
      Personally, I wish that the UoJ had relocated and freed itself of its feudal hangover.

      • 8
        2

        ” Personally, I wish that the UoJ had relocated and freed itself of its feudal hangover “ Sadly, UOJ is set up to fulfill personal whimsies, not to revere and promote the tutelage. It is perfectly doing only that. That time, those who were washing to Sri Ma O did not do clean job, so Tamils lost the Parameswara College to Sri Ma O’ whimsies.

        • 0
          0

          Dear M

          When our PM opened the university/cut the ribbon then you will see me standing next to my Father and the PM and hope there is some photos available too. We lost all our collection of photos during the war and was only 11 years old then…and still remember my Father opening the car door for our PM upon arrival.

          what does personal whimsies means pls??

      • 3
        0

        Thanks, Professor Sivasekaram (SJ), for teaching guys like me these facts of the History of the country, and not going beyond that. We, in the South must try to understand what happened in the rest of the country.
        .
        The Wikipedia entry for Ramanathan says this: ‘D. S. Senanayake described Ramanathan as “the greatest Ceylonese of all times”.’
        .
        It seems to me that statements of this sort must have tripped easily off the lips of “The Father of the Nation”.
        .
        I saw this article two days ago, but all I did was to make an observation to “Rajash” below this rather strange article:
        .
        https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-pathology-of-ragging/
        .
        which you also commented on, about the six comments that I had then seen here. I’ve said more wierd things there!
        .
        I’m glad that peace prevails amongst us!

  • 6
    2

    Comedy Thamai!
    This is what you call deterioration, decaying -rotting of intellectuality.
    So they arrive with the proves Hoole submitted and accepted and decided as Srila Sri is not the translator of Bible into Tamils, so his contribution to Saiva Heritage history is only exaggerated fibs. If a clan of narcissists wants to shave their head with their on hand, this is what the real path. Comedy is Hoole denies Srila Sri translating the Bible while writes down his own Grandpa Heritage History as he, the one who translated the Bible into Tamil. There is a line on another thread is saying that a Christian Nobel prize Winner said that his cosmology history trend to fall in line with Hindu philosophy; As gravity is there the universe creates itself from zero, the man & life, not with any gods hand”. His Amude would have been hanging on his loin in front of the Morotuwa laywomen while taking bath in pool, if Hoole had stopped it there. But he goes ahead to write his own fifth Veda to Hindus.

  • 6
    1

    Portuguese forcefully converted Buddhists and Hindus. By selling a servant girl to a Sinhala Modaya King, converted him to Christianity and had his kingdom written to them. These clowns are missing that heritage history. Then they went to North and started to convert Hindu Fishermen. As fishing and Hinduism were not getting along, fishermen have a heritage history of getting converted into Islam and Christianity. Manar Fishermen fell into this trap and spied on the Jaffna Kingdom too make fall in to Portuguese hand. Chankiliyan cut their heads. So Heritage History writers wrote down the Tamil Hindu Nationalist Chankiliyan, in an uncivilized, obsolete – outdated manner, refused to marry a Christian servant girl and fought against Portuguese. Then Portuguese converted all the Hindus freely the way they wanted. Winners wrote their heritage history freely. Dutch hanged anybody who ate on leaves on fasting days. (Dirty Communist NMP, during Queen Sri Ma O reign, made a rule that on Fridays, a Tamils fasting day, no rice should be cooked in Colombo restaurants.) After Dosa pan was heated well, Whites brought American Missionaries and converted Jaffna to Christianity through education.

  • 8
    2

    Srila Sri Arumugam set an example for the entire country. He did not send his Podimenikes, like Appuhamis, did to work for rulers. While only Christian Schools were opened in the country, he opened a Saiva school. About 150 years latter of Navalar’s birth, Jaffna set its example to Whole Island in education. The Hindu schools shot up many times above the well-funded Christian schools, until Sri Ma O and Badiuddin used Rapist Army to burn them & tear them down. Navalar Single handedly revived the Hinduism in his own way. Jaffna (North East) and TN Hinduism are now naturally secular religion, no parallel in the world. This seed of self-teaching was sow by Navalar, instead of relenting to Christian conversion. Navalar was the Leader Pirapaharan of his time. If no Navalar that time, now everybody in North East Tamil community would have been another Hoole.

  • 6
    15

    A small correction. There was no ethnic group called Ceylon Tamil at the time of Nalavar (died in 1879). Ceylon Tamil ethnicity was introduced in 1911. Please refer to official documents and the official censuses of 1881, 1891 and 1901.

    • 9
      12

      Yes no Thamizh existed but Hindu Eezham Thamizh Jaffna kingdom and eastern Thamizh Vannimai kingdoms existed but no Thamizh just with fake Arab low caste coverted immigrant Indian Thamizh Thullkans like you. Go and tell these fairy tales to your umma and vappa. Gatam Kakka

      • 2
        0

        Dear Lanka Canuck,
        .
        Some of GATAM’s statements
        surprise me, but he always talks sense. It’s only a “small correction” that he has made here.
        .
        I don’t think that you should imagine that he’s saying anything of greater importance than that the Colonials gave us various labels, and the “Ceylon Tamil” label was imposed on certain of our then citizens in 1911. Apart from referring to the South of India (from whence most of our ancestors came) as the Malabar Coast, didn’t they also refer to the area as “The Coast of Coromandel”? Recited here:
        .

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nacvnrOsz0
        .
        And sung here:
        .
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXa9EOP-6sU
        .
        Edward Lear has died in 1888; I had thought he was later.
        .
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Lear
        .
        I don’t know much about all this, but I’m making this comment just to indicate to you that many of us in the South want to live peacefully with all of you. How I wish you Canadians would return to us, and help combat the creeping dictatorship.

        • 9
          0

          S.M,
          The Malabar coast is in what is now Kerala. The Coromandel
          coast is where Tamil Nadu is now. Possibly colonial administrators could not tell Malayalam from Tamil (not all that different anyway), and ended up calling the Jaffna Tamils Malabaris.

          • 5
            0

            OC
            The Brits had trouble telling between the Deutsch and the Nederlanders and ended up calling the latter Dutch, a term which all of us use now.

        • 7
          0

          SM,
          What Gatam mentioned above (his correction) is correct. I didn’t mind him correcting but since some others may take it in a different context (misunderstand), I elaborated with reason (and references) to make him understand (see below). He wouldn’t have been aware that the term Malabars was used in place of Ceylon Tamils by the colonials. After I commented, no response from him, most probably he understood.
          Not only Ceylon Tamils, the colonials even mistakenly identified the people of Coromandel Coast (Indian Tamils) as Malabars.

    • 13
      0

      Gatam,
      Right from the beginning, the Europeans (Portuguese, Dutch and British) who came to Sri Lanka called the Ceylon Tamil Inhabitants of the NorthEast as Malabars.

      In the year 1498, VASCO DE GAMA’s landing in Malabar (Kerela) marked the beginning of the era of foreign Intervention in our region. The Dutch preceded the Portuguese, and then the British East INDIA Company had been on the Malabar Coast since 1684.

      The Europeans (Portuguese) FIRST landed in Malabar Coast (Kerela) before coming to Sri Lanka. Later, it was from Malabar that the Portuguese came to Sri Lanka.

      When they arrived in Sri Lanka, they found two different ethnic groups living in Sri Lanka in two different areas, the one living closer to the Malabar coast (just a few miles across the sea) were speaking a similar language like Malabar, following a similar religion (worshipping the same Hindu Gods), a similar culture and eating similar food (Puttu, Iddiaappam, aappam, etc.). Without any hesitation, they called them Malabars even though there was a Tamil King (Kingdom) in Jaffna when they arrived.

      The Dutch who preceded the Portuguese continued to call them Malabars and the British also called them Malabars but later when the British realized the mistake, that they were Tamils and not Malabars, they corrected themselves somewhere around 1910.

      Let me give you some examples,

      Continued…

      • 12
        0

        the book ‘THE LAND OF THE TAMULIANS’ written in 1875 by a German missionary Rev. E. R. Baierlein says in his book (page 105):

        “I have not been able to omit the primitive Church of Southern India, although its present place of residence is beyond the present boundraies of the land of the Tamulians. For the seperation of Malabar from the Tamil country, is of recent date; even our first missionaries call Tamil land Malabar and the language – even not very much diffrerent – Malabarish.”

        Even the Dutch Predikant Philippus Baldaeus, priest/historian who knew the entire region (Malabar and Coromandal coasts) and also the differences between Malayalam and Tamil people and their languages very well, called the native Tamils of Jaffna as Malabars.

        It clearly shows that, that is how the Europeans started calling the native Tamil population of Sri Lanka right from the beginning. It’s not a big issue. Just because the Europeans called the native Tamils as Malabars that does not mean that the Tamil home land established from the 12th CAD along with its Kingdoms will be called Malayali homeland and Malabar kingdom.
        The renowned Sri Lankan social anthropologist, Prof. Gananath Obeysekere who has done an extensive research on the Sri Lanka-Kerala link says, the Europeans calling the Northern Sri Lankan Tamils ‘Malabars’ was due to a case of MISTAKEN IDENTITY.

        • 13
          0

          So Gatam, it was obvious that the official British censuses of 1881, 1891 and 1901 called the Ceylon Tamils as Malabars but in the official British censuses of 1931, the term Malabar was replaced with Ceylon Tamils.

          • 6
            11

            Please do not waste time with the Thullukan Gatam , he as well as the other Thullkans and Chingkallams know the truth but keep on posting this lies , thinking a lie often told becomes the truth. When the Portuguese and Dutch arrived, the people of modern day Kerala, were speaking a language or dialect called Malayalam or Malayalama . It was also called Lingua Malabar Tamul by the Portuguese. This was not the modern Malayalam language but the local Thamizh dialect. This was the spoken language of the vast majority of the people of Kerala until the early 1820s. It was written in the Thamizh script. This is why they called the Eezham Thamizh as Malabars , as they were a similar people , following the same religion and speaking the same language. The so called modern Malayalam language a highly Sanskritzed version of the local Thamizh written in the Tulu script was largely confined to the Namboothiris and some of the upper Nairs. These people were highly influential and the allies of the British who arrived later At their insistence the British around the 1820s banned the use of the Tamil Malayalam dialect and destroyed all publication and traces of this ancient language and made the highly Sanskritized language of the Namboothiris written in the Tulu based script as the official language of Kerala.

            • 6
              8

              It was previously called Grantham and the local Thamizh dialect only Malayalam but they cunningly renamed this language Malayalam and as a sop to the local Dravidian population incorporated a lot of Tamil words from the original Malayalam or Malayalama language. The Malabar English dictionary published in 1779 is a Thamizh /English dictionary
              https://archive.org/details/MalabarEnglishDictionary
              The First book that was printed in Asia is in Tamil by the Portuguese in Kerala called Thampiran Vannakam , a Christian doctrine and this is in Thamizh language as the so called Malayalam was still evolving and was only confined to a very small section of present day Kerala’s population . The language of the Travancore court and over 90% of the population still was Thamizh or its local dialect Malayalama. I was not aware of this until Siva Sankaran posted these details and first did not believe this and started to google read and research. This real history and treachery of the British in destroying the Thamizh language in Kerala is now well hidden by all parties.

              https://archive.org/details/MalabarEnglishDictionary

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            LC
            You have clarified the matter adequately, but that will not stop the likes of EE et al. from repeating the lie endlessly.
            There is however an interesting linguistic feature of Jaffna Tamil. Some words like மோன், மோள். பறை (for speak) are unique to Jaffna Tamil ans found only in Malayalam. Such word stock is not large enough to claim Kerala origins, but suggest strong socio-cultural links. Even puttu, idiyappam and appam, are common to Malayalis and Sri Lankans but until recently not consumed in Tamilnadu except in regions adjoining Kerala.
            This is worth researching.

      • 2
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        LC

        And people themselves identified as Malabaris.

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          Kanthilatha

          There is no evidence that the people (Ceylon Tamils) identified themselves as Malabars, but even if they did, it is not a surprise. Until the 7th century A.D. there was no difference between Tamils and Malabars because they were the same people (Tamils) from Malabar in the Tamil Chera/Sera kingdom. The name Malayalar itself is a Tamil word for the people (Tamils) from the hills (Malai in Tamil means Hills).

          As I have explained above with evidence (references), the European colonists did not see (identify) the difference between Malayalam and Tamil and due to their early familiarity with the Malabar Coast, termed even Tamils as Malabars and the Tamil language as Malabarish Language.

          • 5
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            Sorry Prof. Uyangoda and Prof. Hoole for deviating from the original subject.

            • 7
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              LC
              There were serious falsehoods in the claims by the author of the book.
              For some reason my response was not published, but for the last part re comparison of AN and AD.
              So do not worry about digression: it is the norm here.

    • 7
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      You correct any thing the way you want. But there is nothing official when your original history says Sinhalese are children of a lion. Ceylon Tamils was used by Sinhala Government to deport Up Country Tamils. So it did not originate when Portuguese & Dutch brought Cinnamon peelers and converted them as Coastal Sinhalese (Logically it should have been time the the “Ceylon Tamil” should originated. The Coastal Sinhalese should have been called Malabaries, instead Coastal Sinhalese.) So Ceylon Tamils usage is not official. It is just used here and there to lime light some points in debates. (Even Sinhala Buddhist racist government gave up Ceylon Tamil differentiation.)

    • 3
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      GATAM: “There was no ethnic group called Ceylon Tamil at the time of Nalavar (died in 1879). “

      The term ethnic group is a modern term. Its really a racist term.

      You may be right that Ceylon Tamils were known as Eelam Tamils.
      Eelam is a very ancient name for Ceylon

  • 5
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    Isn’t it time that we all got together to ensure that the freedoms enjoyed by citizens are safeguarded? Muththaiah Muralitharan was a cricketer whom we always admired. To me, it looks as though he also wants to pull out of the politics that he got entangled in. Note that he doesn’t want the actor’s career affected.
    .
    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/10/20/indian-actor-exits-sri-lanka-cricket-legends-biopic-after-uproar
    .
    It would be nice if we improved the lot of the Up-country Tamils. In certain matters, it is difficult for us guys to help much. I must face upto the fact that I never learnt Tamil – the “other language” of our country. I don’t want to turn all my fellow Hill Country residents into “Honorary Sinhalese”. Northern Tamils must help with their education, etc.

    • 7
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      Sinhala_Man – Muththaiah Muralitharan is a great spinner, but some still say he is a chucker. He is not a politician. Unfortunately the Rajapaksa’s are making use of him there are other famous cricketers who got in to politics and burnt their fingers.

      Muththaiah Muralitharan has made lots of stupid statements on the war and the ending of war and during David Cameron’s visit. . Now he claims he comes from a tea pluckers family and struggled in his life etc etc . We all know he is and his family are loaded.

      The more he opens his mouth on Sri Lankan politics/Tamil issue the more he digs a hole for himself
      .

      • 5
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        2. There is a suspicion that Rajapakses are behind his The 800 film. Namal Rajapakse made a statement about it even before the production house announced who will be acting. Once the filming gets going Rajapakses will put their stamp on it.

        My question is why cant the Sri Lankan film industry make the film about their proud son?

        why go to Tamil Nadu to make this film to promote “Sinhala Rajapakses” as seen by the Tamilians in TN

      • 7
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        Rajash,

        Dont you know that Rajapakshes made use of even dead body parts of that Rugby player, who was first reported to have died by a fake ACCIDENT. Though later became clear it was a murder to the style or beyond that of Jamal KHASHOGI – Thadjudeen s body parts were found in the labs of SAITEM and the young man was thrown to the passenger side of the vehicle ?

        And all was exposed it to be a MISTERIOUS murder number one next to that of Lasantha the former editor of SUNDAY leaders. .
        .
        My grannies were all known the Rajpakashes as MERCILESS criminals. They called them ” Beliatta Rascals” .. this was in late 70ties and early to mid 80ties.
        :
        Victimized mother of Wassim Thadjudeen should be going through all unexplainable torments in her life. Why SHIRANTHI Rajapkshe was unable to feel it yet today ? Mlechcha Rajakshes would never be saints.

    • 7
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      Dear Sinhala_Man
      “Isn’t it time that we all got together to ensure that the freedoms enjoyed by citizens are safeguarded? Muththaiah Muralitharan was a cricketer whom we always admired. “
      Tamils in the N&E are not enjoying freedom. They are under military control.
      We all did not admire MM. But we all admire Sangakkara https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/awards-presented-to-spb-sangakkara/article30748243.ece

  • 12
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    Moulding AN in the same cast as Anagarika Dharmapala (AD) will have an instant appeal to liberals who know very little about AN.
    I will draw attention to a few key features which distinguish AN from AD.
    .
    AN was a true scholar of the language and religion, and spent much effort on commenting, publishing and editing ancient literature.
    .
    AN was not a political animal the way AD was.
    .
    AN struggled to salvage Tamil and Saivaism from what he saw as predatory attack by Christian missionaries, who used unfair means to convert people to Christianity.
    .
    AN was not backed by business interests but rather by the conservative Saiva Vellala elite and sought to retain the caste status quo.
    .
    Most importantly AN did not whip up Tamil communal sentiment.

    • 5
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      If we try to compare both,
      Anagarika Dharmapala was clever, in the name of “pure Aryan blooded supreme race (master race)” he integrated the Sinhala-Buddhists against all other minorities, the ethos that guided and continues to guide the Maha Sangha and the Sinhala-Buddhist politicians.
      Arumuga Nalavar was a fool, in the name of “Vellalar the supreme caste” he differentiated the Tamils (master caste) against other Tamils and that was the ethos that guided the Tamil political leadership (political/cultural elite) who were not only in the forefront of Tamil politics, but also in the Vellalar supremacist movement.
      The Tamils were the biggest losers due to Arumuga Nalavar’s caste supremacy. Tens of thousands of Tamils who migrated from Southern India to Sri Lanka between the 14th and 17th centuries AD (Karavar, Duravar and Salagama castes) converted to Sinhala-Buddhists due to Tamil caste issues. The newly converted, overwhelmingly supported, and still support, the suppression of Tamil civil rights. The Moor Muslims (mostly Tamil Muhammedans of South India) even though their mother tongue is Tamil, did not join the Tamils. The Tamil Paravars/Barathars and the Tamil Colombo Chetties did not join the Tamils due to caste issues and finally the upcountry estate Tamils did not join them either. The Tamils would have been a very strong minority (real king makers) if not for Arumuga Nalavar’s idocy.

      • 1
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        LC
        ‘If we try to compare both’ we will be comparing oranges and bananas.
        Kindly note that AN was not a political animal.
        AN was not responsible for the failure of three generations of Tamil leaders.
        Jaffna Tamils are a caste ridden society and AN was only its product.

        • 1
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          Yes Sir!

          Some people have the mentality of not digesting alternate views. Thinking out of the box or lateral thinking is also an acceptable concept in today’s world.

      • 2
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        This is Church polemics at its worst. When the American Missionaries were active in Jaffna, they were funded by both the slave trade and subsidies from monies exploited from the colonies.

        If there was no Arumuga Navalar, where would our Identity be:

        1. Revival of our ancient Temples and Literature. Most of the literature was safeguarded by the Saiva Aadheenams and therefore without Navalar bringing up our National Identity/Pride, it would have been ignored or used as a tool of humiliation against natives.
        2. Independent educational Policy; the monopoly and control of foreigners over Tamils education and therefore to subjugate and erase our identity/legacy.
        3.His interpretation of the Agamas, if anything gave prominence to Brahmins and not Vellalar.
        4. We will all be having fancy American surnames and reveling in being Uncle Toms.
        5. If the missionaries could not see any humanity in the Countries they controlled; did not open their mouth on slave trade, segregation or colonial exploitation, to suggest that their reason for exploiting the caste fault lines in Jaffna is for humanitarian sake is comical at best.
        6. National Identity is above everything; there is no point in enslaving yourself to foreign masters to gain benefits. Navalar will shine here.

        • 0
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          Ben,
          It was the Indian Buddhist missionary that made a great impact on the Sri Lankan population. Similarly, it was the American Christian missionary that made an impact on the North and East population. None of the European colonials helped the Ceylon Tamils or developed the North and East. It was the American missionary that established Schools, hospitals, etc. and made a great impact through English education, the reason why British colonial rulers employed the English educated Ceylon Tamils not only in the Ceylon Civil Service but also in British held Malaya.
          However, after the Americans established their mission schools, hospitals and churches with the help of the Tamil Vellalar, they deviated from the system by taking in “low caste” Tamils, and started baptizing them giving them Christian/Western names so as to erase their “low caste” identities. The Hindu Vellalar Tamil Nationalist Arumuga Navalar launched a campaign to deny “low caste” Tamils access to missionary schools but failed. This gave rise to the Tamil saying in the peninsula, “Kallar, Maravar, Ahampadiyar, elaam mella mella vellalar anarkal” (Kallar, Maravar, Ahampadiyar and others also slowly, slowly became Vellalar). Eventually the Vellalar Protestant Christian Tamil population of Jaffna peninsula rose exponentially. The same community that not only the Hoole family but many other elites belong to. Fortunately or unfortunately, my family also belongs to the same.

    • 4
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      Thanks SJ for articulating this. Hope Dr.Uyangoda and others take note.

      • 2
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        Agnos
        Thanks.
        I am not a great admirer of AN, but overall his negatives are far exceeded by his positives.
        He is willingly misinterpreted by the author of the book, and Uyangoda has fallen for some of the bogus claims made by the author.

      • 2
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        Agnos
        It is true that SJ has distinguished AN from AD very precisely but if you look at it in a different angle, AN’s ethos was not favorable for the Tamils of Sri Lanka. Tamil political leaders like the Sittampalams, Sundaralingams and Ponnambalms were his keen followers.
        Instead, if AN had influenced in uniting all the Tamils and Tamil speaking people very similar to what AD did to the Sinhala-Buddhists, Tamils would have become a very strong and powerful minority.

  • 6
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    Colonel Olcott was derailed by Anagarika Dharmapala. In fact he left the country disappointed that his student and protege AD had converted Buddhism into a vehicle of Political Buddhism.Theoretical Mahavamsa was converted to Practical Mahavamsa .

    Several generations of Sinhala Buddhists were brainwashed by the teachings of Anagarika Dharmapala. Arumuga Navalar, in fact saved the Hindus in Jaffna from being Anglicised and there is no record of him in anti Sinhala or Anti Buddhist activity.

    I have read somewhere that Prof: Ratnajeevan had referred to Arumuga Navalar as someone who resembled a Tad-Pole.So much for religious hatred!

    • 0
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      Dear Plato

      In late 1800’s even my Grandfather had Christian middle name (Silenced as an Initial between the normal Hindu names and I was also told when Colonial officers visited the homes folks used to hide their Hindu symbols/banana leaves into the thatched roofs etc. (please whatever I say here in not about Christianity and will appreciate no one misuse what I am writing here pls) …these were real stories from my own family tree/history I know of how all our folks survived/some had to convert to feed their families/others am sure happy did so too………..the jest of the story is why we should leave all the language and religious bigotry and live as one people is the message I see a great diverse future.

      Most of my grandparents generation did whatever they had to do (moving from agricultural base to civil service sector) with the colonial masters as they had great education in Jaffna College and followed the Brits around the world too supporting them in the civil administration in Malaysia/Singapore etc. The downside of all these happenings then are now coming to bite us all hard??

  • 1
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    Dear SJ

    A perfect tribute to Hon AN and TQ. I was brought in my household to respect this man and in our school curriculum too he was beautifully presented a tribute to the National curriculum makers we owe the respect I will add tq.

    “Most importantly AN did not whip up Tamil communal sentiment”

    We have lost all that belongs to us the Language/Religions/Culture/Inheritance/Life/Celebrations because all that belongs to the Nation was scooped up for (now scraping the barrels as nothing left of it) for personal political agendas by the “Tamil” parties.

    All that should be enriching not just us but all the fellow men and women of our great Nation has been robbed out of us by the Tamil parties.

    This is why the these parties should go…and go fast…so we can recover whatever is left of us…an identity belongs to the masses not to the few thugs who killed fellow man to tell them they are Tamils or else according to their devil advocacy under the disguise of the democracy.

    • 1
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      TV
      Thanks. But the more important part of my comment negating the utterances of the author of the book about have been blocked by CT.

  • 4
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    Lanka Canuck.

    You have made v.interesting comments on this essay.

    There is one issue on which I need to disagree.
    Prof:K.M.de.Silva in the History of Srilanka says……..
    The present day Karawe, Salagama, and Durawe castes migrated from South India to Srilanka between the 14th and 17th centuries AD. ie: over approximately 300 years. They settled on the western coast in places like Ambalangoda, Balapitiya and even further down south Matara.They ASSIMILATED WITH THE SINHALESE and thus today they are very much Sinhala.

    Arumuga Navalar and his vellar ethos had nothing to do with these immigrants not being assimilated with the Tamils. Besides Arumuga Navalar 1822- 1879 came much later than this wave of immigration from south-India.

    But I agree with you on this issue. Most if not all members of these caste groups have consistently shown their opposition to the resolution of the National Question.
    To suggest that Arumuga Navalar was responsible with his caste [vellalar ] oriented attitude was the cause of these immigrants being absorbed into the sinhala community is by no means valid for more reasons than one.

    • 4
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      Plato,
      I stand corrected, thanks! You are absolutely right about Tamil migrants in the South (Karavar, Duravar, & Salagama). They had nothing to do with Arumuga Nalavar’s ethos.
      Sometimes we may have to reveal certain facts even if it is bitter or even if you are branded as an Anti-Tamil Nationalist.
      Look at the Sinhalese, they are very well united as ‘Sinhala-Buddhists’, the vision/dream that Anagarika Dharmapala always had. Today, they hardly talk about upcountry or low country.
      On the other hand, take a look at the Tamils, they discriminate each other not only by caste but also by region like the primitive tribes. For example, the Jaffna Tamils, Batticaloa Tamils, Vanni Tamils, Up-country Tamils, Colombo Tamils (different tribes with no unity among each other). Due to the discriminative policy among the Tamils, they lost the Tamil speaking Moor Muslims (mostly Tamil Muhammedans from South India), Tamil speaking Negombo Catholics (now Sinhalese), Tamil Paravars/Barathars, Tamil Colombo Chetties, Upcountry estate Tamils and so on. They all separated themselves or rather the Ceylon Tamils did not accept/absorb them. The Tamils need an Anagarika Dharmapala (not born yet) to unify them and not an Arumuga Nalavar to divide them.

      • 0
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        “The Tamils need an Anagarika Dharmapala (not born yet) to unify them and not an Arumuga Nalavar to divide them.”

        I see Seeman in this light confined to Tamil Nadu.

        • 1
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          KA, please do not excessively romanticize AD.

          • 0
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            I do not and never will.

            However, Seeman’s ideas are not racist in nature.

            There was one aspect of people of other ethnic origin who were born in Tamil Nadu where Seeman’s idea looked racist and I think Naam Thamilar is going through reformations for correcting the course of its policies.

            • 0
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              KA
              Seeman not racist?
              Check on his utterances.
              His ideas did not merely look racist they were utterly racist.
              *
              Naam Thamizar is among organizations most responsible for bad blood between Tamilnadu and its ‘Dravidian’ neighbours.

        • 1
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          Indian Proverb “if you see TAMIL and COBRA kill TAMIL first”

          • 0
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            NP
            Your literacy is now in doubt if not your sanity.

      • 1
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        LC
        You have no idea of how deep caste rivalries run in Sinhalese society. They do not talk openly about caste like the Tamils who need to because they are still not out of the untouchability mind set.
        ‘Untouchability’ of a different kind persisted among Sinhalese where certain castes were not allowed a seat etc. Even those things changed rapidly after SWRDB’s success in 1956. But there are backward castes among them.
        The impact of 1956 on the North was weaker. It took a massive mass campaign from 1967 to 1972 to end untouchability in public places. But it s still practiced in parts of the North.

  • 3
    0

    The missionaries were funded by the Slave Trade (Black Lives Matter is still active in USA) and colonial exploitation that was transferred as subsidies.

    In India, Tamil Nadu billions of dollars (worth in today’s value) of Crown Land was given to missionaries,.Some people estimate up to 40 trillion dollars of wealth was drained out of India. In Ceylon, such a dominance was stopped thanks to Navalar.

    So every time they bring out Caste on Navalar, remember it is to divert attention. Surnames are given to humiliate communities and not as a mark of self respect. Can any African American say they are grateful for the surnames? The idea is to erase your identity and history.

    • 0
      0

      Ben
      There are flaws in AN’s outlook, but those are flaws of a society which AN personified in a big way.
      Several Sinhalese, post 1956 of course, reverted to their Sinhala Ge-names.
      Some coupled it with the one inherited from the Portuguese. I know one Tamil who had such a name.

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