18 September, 2020

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Raja Raja Chola 1 And The Quicksand Of Tamil Chauvinism

By Malinda Seneviratne –

Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

The history of this island can be read as an account of invasion, resistance, conquering and routing the enemy.  It is also a history of migratory waves and, in recent times, emigration as well. There are of course all kinds of histories.  There are those written by the winners which some claim make their authenticity questionable. There are histories embedded in folk traditions. 
Histories can be read through careful perusal of archaeological record.  There are claims of place in history, some substantiated and others not.

Some say history is version, but no one will dispute that this assertion makes the version that the Ruwanweliseya is a Catholic Church anything but ridiculous. There are people who are scared of the word history and they tend to be those who make grand claims without substantiation or have little or no history to talk about.

These are the ones who murmur the ‘multi-ethnic, multi-religious’ mantra not so much as a desired or desirable resolution as a manifest aversion to acknowledgment that certain peoples and certain religious traditions have contributed overwhelmingly to the admittedly problematic composites called Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans.

We remain products of who we were, who our ancestors were and what they did, whether we like it or not. In other words, history sits at the head table of the present and in ways that are disconcerting to some.

One easy escape from historical discomfiture is the construction of more comforting narratives of event, personality and associated metaphors. It takes much effort, a lot of money, a lot of purchasing, myth-models and propaganda. In my view that’s an option that Tamil nationalism was forced to embrace.

The success of that particular effort is indicated in the fact that Eelamists have managed to convince some that ‘north’ is Tamil and ‘south’ Sinhala, that devolution (which includes federalist and secessionist options) makes sense because the North and East (they don’t say Northern and Eastern Provinces, because the demarcation-less articulation makes for further inflation of territorial claim) are ‘the traditional homelands of the Tamils’.

They do not unpack these terms because doing so would force them to swallow the hard facts of demographic reality (over half the Tamils live outside these two provinces) and geographical factors (most of the Eastern Province is made of Grama Niladhari Divisions with majority Sinhala populations).

Then there is also history.

They dare not talk of archaeological evidence. They will say the Mahawamsa was written by racist Buddhist monks but do not have anything close to a shred of evidence to counter what’s on the ground in these areas (even if one were to discount the Mahawamsa).  They cannot talk about a permanent Tamil presence in demographically significant terms. At best it is about Tamils who chose to stay behind after the occasional South India invasion was turned back.

There is one exception: the golden age of Chola aggression. The 10th Century AD.

This was the time the Cholas invaded not just this island but vast swathes of the subcontinent as well as territories in what is now known as South-East Asia. The LTTE adopted the Tiger emblem from the flag of the glory days of Chola domination.

Tamil nationalism, desperately seeking a historical prop, picked a derivative of the name that the Cholas used for the island, ‘Ila-Mandalam’. They were careless. Raja Raja 1, during whose time the Chola empire reached its zenith of glory, not only invaded but plundered and bragged about the plundering.

The Archaeological Survey of India, for example, includes reference to inscriptions at various Hindu temples built with the wealth looted from lands conquered by Raja Raja 1.  These inscriptions list the names of lands he conquered and refers to the island we today call Sri Lanka as ‘Ila-Mandalam’. ‘Ila’ is a corruption of ‘Hela’ or its four-part elaboration ‘Sihala’ (from ‘Siv-Hela’, made up of Yaksha, Naga, Deva and Raksha, each associated with a vocational sphere) and it is indeed the ultimate irony that the LTTE and its Tamil nationalist precursors used this to coin ‘Eelam’.

If this too is version, then Tamil nationalists could have all doubts erased by reading the elaboration that Raja Raja 1, no less, offers: ‘the land of the warlike Singalas’.

Whether the Singalas are/were warlike is not relevant to the issue of historical claim. 
What matters is that Raja Raja 1 had no doubt whatsoever that this land belonged to the Singalas. 
If it was the case that Singalas shared ownership with some other community, this fact would have been articulated especially if military intervention sought to buttress claim of or defend a kindred community.

In other words. it was a clear statement that ownership of territory had been wrested from the Singalas.

Now the inscriptions at the temples in Tanjavur and Ukkal were not authored by someone who had any interest in cooking history in favour of the Singalas. 
These were not the observations of some interfering, arrogant and ignorant white man. 
They are not taken from the Mahawamsa. Nor are they the 21st Century scribblings of a chauvinistic Sinhalese intent on deny property rights to Tamil Sri Lankans.

They are straight forward and matter-of-fact articulations of a particular political reality, authored in passing by someone who had absolutely no stake in conceding anything to those he conquered.

The claims about history put forward by Eelamists are eminently debunkable by a lot of archaeological and other evidence, but what shoots these to pieces is ironically the very source that they draw inspiration from: Raja Raja Chola I.

Does this mean that Tamils are not part of this polity or that they are or need to reconcile themselves to being second class citizens? No!

It merely means that they do not have any privileged claim on historical grounds to any part of the territory that is called Sri Lanka. As citizens they have every right to expect the same privileges that citizenships bestow on all other communities and all anomalies relating to these needs to be corrected.

Such correction as is necessary cannot be territory based as history, geography and demography do not support such arrangements. Devolution is out, therefore.

As for those Eelam-fixated sections of Tamil nationalists, they can relax now: Raja Raja Chola I has taken a huge load off their shoulders. Had they realised this several decades ago, this country would have been spared a lot of death, destruction and dispossession. Time to move on, though. Raja Raja Chola I demands this.

*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation’ and his articles can be found at www.malindawords.blogspot.com

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Latest comments

  • 7
    8

    Velupillai Pabakakran was the best Sinhala Nationalist and patriot lived most recently in Sri Lanka. He made Tamils in hundreds of thousands to go back to their motherland Tamilnadu. Who ever did not go he took them as hostages. and everybody knows how they were treated.

    • 8
      5

      Jim Sooty:

      He also made it possible for you lot to claim asylum in the west pretending to be either Tamils or Tamil Sympathisers. The Irony is that when we reclaim our land all the Tamils will come back to develop but you lot cannot return as there will be nothing to return to as Mahinthas Kingdom would have crumbled and all you have is ruins.

      • 7
        4

        kali

        Some of your Tamil speaking brethren have already relocated to this island are in partnership with wheeler dealers of the government.

        “The Irony is that when we reclaim our land”

        Sorry I misread, whose land are you talking about?

    • 5
      4

      JimSofty

      VP also kicked the recent invaders back to where they belonged for no loss of life to the Sinhala/Buddhist armed forces who were hiding behind their women folks and VP’s bottom.

      • 4
        1

        And then VP got kicked himself to who knows whereto while trying to hide behind his womenfolk. Probably couldn’t reach his cyanide capsule.

      • 0
        5

        You mean Tamil women have half sinhala children.

        • 3
          0

          Is that why many Sinhala women are falling in love with Tamil men and marrying them? I don’t know what is it with these Sinhalese women running behind Tamil men. I guess the Sinhala women know that their men are all losers so they are running to the Tamil men.

  • 4
    7

    Chola = Cholera

    • 3
      0

      This woman Fathima suffered abuse from an early age by her Muslim parents, got her genital mutilated. And now that she’s fed up with her life, the poor girl’ gets her excitement by hating others on CT.

  • 7
    0

    Maybe everyone should just leave and give the island back to the veddas…

    • 4
      2

      David George

      Thanks a lot.

    • 0
      3

      According to Dr R L Spittel, Veddahs are an Australoid Race, and are closely connected to the Aborigines of Australia.
      Maybe they could claim Australia too!

      • 3
        1

        Rationalist

        “According to Dr R L Spittel, Veddahs are an Australoid Race, and are closely connected to the Aborigines of Australia. Maybe they could claim Australia too!”

        Let my cousins claim their ancestral land while let me fight for mine.

        Where do you think your brothers both Sinhalese and Tamils who live in Australia would go to when they are chased out by my cousins, Tamilnadu?

  • 3
    2

    just spreading a map of south India and Sri Lanka and using the much ignored commonsense can shed some light on this matter.
    Sri Lanka lies just across Tamil Nadu at very close proximity. the strait that separates Northern Sri Lanka from Tamil Nadu is shallow and big ships can not pass through even now. one should also note both countries were connected by land as evidenced by the chain of rocks and islets that is still there which means it would have been an extension of South India.
    people have even swum across before. for some people of some northern costal towns it was not a big deal to take a boat and catch movie show or go to temple and come back for dinner up till recently.
    add to that the fact that Tamil kingdoms were the ones that had naval traditions and the only sea faring navies in ancient India and it is clear who could have got there first if it by sea.
    south southern Indian sub continent (which includes Sri Lanka) is populated by Dravidians and they could have easily been in Sri Lanka before any Arian could have landed there. unless Sinhalese are not Arians.
    being at the far edges of the Tamil kingdoms it could have been weak at its southern most areas and lost ground there.
    all countries have past which are glorious and many times not so much so.
    past should be behind us not in front of us slowing our pace or even blocking our path.
    an interesting link below though not related to this.
    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2008/07/06/commentary/was-the-japanese-language-influenced-by-tamil-the-war-goes-on/#.UvcfdbmYaM8

    • 5
      2

      The reason is Sinhalese are not Aryans. :)

      • 1
        5

        Who said they are not Aryans? Look at Malinda. He looks so fair like a North Indian film star. He is living proof that Sinhalese are Aryans. Or look at our cricket team. Do you find a single dark skinned Dravidian there. The only one, Muralitharan, is not there any more, leaving the civilized game of our masters to be played by only Aryans, though they do not go to Rajakiya College and speak English anymore. It is not proof that Sinhalese are aryans (except the karawa, salagama and sundry others who came later). The original Sinhalese were Aryans, a bit mixed up through copulation with lions, but nevertheless Aryans.

        • 4
          3

          I am no historian but Karavas and a host of other Sinhalese sub entities are said to be “Sinhala speaking Tamils”. There is nothing wrong with people adopting different languages when they settle elsewhere. Lets celebrate this diversity. Tamil diaspora has adopted a number of other languages such as English, French, Malay etc. Wherever they go, they adopt different languages beautifully. According to the KKK white supremacists, all South Asians, including Hindis, Tamils, Sinhalese etc. are black fellows who deserve to be exterminated. If you doubt this, just go and read their web sites. So lets stop this pointless bickering among ourselves and work in a positive way for our mutual benefit within a united South and East Asia.

        • 5
          2

          Sinhalese are clearly not Aryans, whatever that means – certainly not in the boot-licking Hindian sense. I like the way Tamils have used this bit if nonsense against the white-dress wearing, teetotalling Sanskrit yearning nationalist types. Well done!

        • 0
          0

          `but nevertheless Aryans.

          They don’t have the DNA of Iranians-Islam or Zoroastrian- Ottomans

          Even the staunchest lefty European would not accept Turkey as European.

  • 3
    2

    Malinda,
    Thank you for the lucid explanation as to how the bastardised word ‘Eelaam’ was arrived at from the name Ila-Mandalam bestowed on Sri Lanka by the said invader.

    • 2
      3

      Raja Raja Cholan I lived in the 11th century CE.

      It is a well-established fact that at least over two thousand years Eezham was in continued use without any change in its form in Tamil usage to denote the entire island.

      http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=98&artid=30919

  • 5
    4

    If Mahinda Seneviratne puts so much of trust on Mahawansa he is a moron as he truly believes that a lion and a human can mate and produce children. How stupid Mahinda can be?

    • 3
      5

      IT is like Hindians trying to Make Mahathma Gandhi a God.

  • 4
    1

    THIS BLACK FELLOW OF AN EDITOR IS PROMOTING THE ARYAN SUPREMACY THEORY.

  • 5
    0

    Now let’s wait for the Tamil tale tellers to inform us about how the Sinhalese planted all those ruins and inscriptions disproving Tamil historical myths about Sri Lanka in the Tamil homeland, Tamil Nadu !

    • 5
      0

      Buddhism is not exclusive to us
      Tamils were also early Buddhists
      Many of them are now Sinhalese.

      It is a possibility that hela & illa are only different pronounciation
      Earliest rock edicts in SL mention illa
      When you think of Tamil & Sinhala as divorced it becomes the problem

      Naga are also found in India (south-east India & north-west SL)
      Raksha in Maharastra & Karnataka
      Yaksha in parts of Kerala and Karnataka
      Deva are not even given their due now in SL

      • 1
        0

        “Naga are also found in India (south-east India & north-west SL) Raksha in Maharastra & Karnataka Yaksha in parts of Kerala and Karnataka “

        – These are the remnant indigenous populations of India which have more in common with our Veddas, the natives of Andaman’s, Burma, Southeast Asia, Australia and Oceania. They are not “Indians” in the modern sense of the word. They should agitate for cessation and join forces with countries like Madagascar, PNG, Fiji, Vanuatu and Africa into a political union and they should form an economic union with ASEAN and more successful East Asian countries.

        India, is an economic and social failure, established by the British to serve the British by mostly Hindi servants of the British. India in its current form is a monumental failure (whose elites ironically think they are a wonderful success on par with Japan and China!!). India will become a global security and health threat in the years to come. It will need to be managed from outside.

  • 0
    2

    According to the writer that the claims about history put forward by Eelamists are debunkable by a lot of archaeological and other evidence, but what shoots these to pieces is the source that they draw inspiration from Raja Raja Chola I …. Which means the they do not have any privileged claim on historical grounds to any part of Sri Lanka. Further he says Devolution is out.
    Now look at what Ayathuray Rajasingam writes on the significance of Shiva Lingam and its influence in Sri Lanka where he says that there is no recorded history as to the origin of Shiva Lingam. ……… Though Sri Lanka is blessed with five Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, the origin of Shiva Lingam in Sri Lanka is shrouded with mystery. The five Shiva temples are Thiruketheeswaram, Munneswaram, Naguleswaram, Koneswaram and Thondeeswaram. It is believed that Thondeeswaram temple in the South was engulfed by sea, apparently about more than nine thousands of years ago with the lost Continent of Lemuria known as Kumari Kandam. All these Ishwaram temples survived the ravages of time by foreign invaders’. Moreover Ayathuray Rajasingam has written articles about Federalism.
    When Malinda Seneviratne is of the view that Devolution is out, does he prefer authoritarianism instead of democratic governance. Federalism provides democratic governance as Federalism is an expansion of democracy and not separation. It appears there is some contradiction between this article written by the author and articles written by Ayathuray Rajasingam. I think readers will like to know how the author will answer.

  • 3
    0

    Even Modi Modi 1 wouldn’t be able to wrest Lanka from Sinhgalas now ,although it is the goal of the Chola Chola 1 descendants in the Diaspora and their beloved LTTE proxy Vellala Cholas of the TNA.

  • 3
    1

    No one knows the Tamil meaning or the origins for the word CHOLA. I hope that is from the HELA or ELU.

    In Sri lanka only Tamil people name a wind as CHOLA(KAM) from the South during the monsoon period.

    In Tamil CHOLA(M) is for pop corn!

  • 3
    1

    What an idiot this writer is.Tamils just want a safe place to live so that they won’t be beaten up and killed by unruly Buddhist monks and their Sinhala followers like in 1958,1977 and 1983. The Tamils want to live in a place where churches and temples won’t get burned down and where their women and children will be safe from the armed thugs of Sinhala government. Tamil want at least in a small part of the country where corruption, press subjugation and discrimination in university admissions do not exist.

  • 2
    2

    Why wont anyone answer how the great Sinhalese race began by mating with a donkey? As mentioned in Mahawamsa is it even possible that Sinhala race began through beastality?

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