By C.V. Wigneswaran –
A friend of mine asked; Are you not being stupid in attacking the very foundation of the Sinhala belief system by saying
- The Sinhala language came into use only in the 6th or 7th century after Christ
- There were no Sinhalese before that
- That the Tamils have been the original inhabitants of this Island from pre Buddhistic times
- That the Sinhalese have never occupied the North and East in large numbers ever
- You have also said that it were the Tamils who received Buddhism into the country.
Apart from being stupid it is a dangerous exercise by you. Why have you done so?
My answer was:I am indeed thankful to you for your concern. You have answered your question already by using the phrase “Sinhala belief system.” It is the erstwhile belief of the Sinhalese which have got piqued by what I am saying. The need to bring these historical facts out arose due to the wrong perception of our Sinhala leaders that this Country is Sinhala Buddhist and that we Tamils are unwanted immigrants of yester years.
Just look at our so called Sinhala leaders. They speak of Sri Lanka being a Sinhala Buddhist Country. It is based on the false beliefs that have been fed into the psyche of the so called Sinhalese Buddhists. Unless they are cleansed of their false beliefs they would not accommodate the indegenous Tamils as their equals. What started as a need to take over administration from the British around 1920 has later got metamorphosed into a need for Sinhala hegemony and such feelings of wanting preponderant influence in Sri Lanka has now got deeply entrenched in the minds of the Sinhalese as their birth right. It is high time the Sinhala Buddhists came face to face with the reality and Truth.
It is like this. A child is adopted and bought up by the foster parents making the child believe that they are the natural parents of the child. He comes of age. Someone says he is not the son of his parents. He does a DNA test and finds that he is indeed not the child of his so called parents. He asks for the truth. Truth reveals his parents are some others but he had been adopted and bought up as the child of his foster parents.
In the matter under discussion regarding the Sinhala Buddhists we may have still not come to the stage of a full-fledged DNA test being done though certain DNA tests so far done do reveal the Sinhalese to be Dravidians. But may be I am the outsider who tells the Truth about the Sinhalese Buddhists. These DNA tests need to be done by our Sinhala intellectuals to find out the Truth themselves.
Often those who try to criticize my statements which you have so well summarized in your question become vituperative and abusive. None so far have met the statements you have mentioned in your question scientifically and with historical data. I am waiting for a recognized Historian to give the lie to my statements. Could anyone deny that the Sinhala language came into vogue in the 6th or 7th century AD? The oldest Sinhala inscriptions date from the 6th or 7th century AD and were on pottery. Sinhala literary works date from the 9th century AD.
That there was no Sinhalese language before the 6th century AD was my first statement. Are there any inscriptions, coins or other evidence of Sinhala language being used before 6th century AD?
If there was no Sinhala language before 6th or 7th centuries there could not have been Sinhalese living prior to the language being born, because the Sinhalese are those who speak the Sinhala language. There is an attempt to show Sinhalese language came from certain prakrit languages in use over 2000 years ago and therefore old Sinhala language prevailed then. That is not correct. My grandfather and grandmother gave birth to my father and my father and mother begot me. Can I say I am my grandfather? There was no contemplation even of a Wigneswaran at the time my grandparents lived. So called old Sinhala is like my grandfather. I am to be considered the present day Sinhala Language. But he was different and I am different. I am not my grandfather. But certainly I came from him. There are Tamil words about 40% which have come into Sinhala language. Does that mean modern Sinhala language is old Tamil language? What about the contribution of Pali in the development of the Sinhala language?
Tamils (Nagas) being the original inhabitants of this Island is well established now. Devanampiya Theesan was Tamil. There were no Sinhalese when Buddhism was introduced to this Island.
That the Sinhalese never occupied the North and East in large numbers is brought out by the continued reference to Tamil village names throughout history of the lands in the North and East. The Sinhala names now coined for Tamil place names was the result of definite conspiracy within the last 50 or 60 years. I knew the energetic activities of Professor Malalasekera in bringing North Indian words from Delhi to enhance the Sinhalese Vocabulary. I was friendly with Chitrasena to know the effect of foreign Cultures and Music on Sinhala Fine Arts. Sinhalese as a language and Sinhala Culture have no doubt developed phenomenally within the last 60 years or so. But all that is recent. The words in Sinhala for North and East place names were coined recently. There is no evidence of Sinhala place names in the North and East before 6th Century AD.
Lastly my statement that it were the Tamils who received Buddhism is accepted historically. If Sinhalese language came in the 6th or 7th century after Christ how could have Sinhalese been there to receive Buddhism?
The fundamental question here is when was Sinhala language born? If it were in the 6th or 7th century AD all what I said and ably referred to in your question, are true. Let some Historian who thinks otherwise clarify this, saying Sinhala language has been in existence for over 2500 years. The existence of Tamil language and Saivite culture 2500 years ago has been established decisively.
Danger lurks everywhere. The idea behind the Sinhala politician using the big stick against us is to silence us. The pogroms and riots staged by the Sinhalese Goordas were indeed to terrify us and silence us so that we will not come out with the Truth. Would you want me to keep my mouth shut knowing the Truth just because my life is in danger? You will die. I will die. We all will die. Why this pompousness on the part of the Sinhalese and their discrimination against us?
*Justice C.V. Wigneswaran, Ex- Chief Minister, Northern Province and Secretary General, Thamizh Makkal Kootanii and Co-Chairman, Thamizh Makkal Peravai