16 June, 2021

Blog

The Ethnic Or Tamil Question In Sri Lanka

By Jayadhamma Athukorala

My intention in writing this note is to share with others my thoughts on the  above question developed through, reading, varied experiences and quiet reflection over many years. I claim no expert knowledge on the issues involved but I consider that it would not be a waste of time for fellow citizens to give ear to someone who has tried to dispassionately examine the various aspects of the matter over a long period. Some of my ideas I know will not be palatable to many. However these ideas are what I honestly believe in, at the present state of my knowledge and conviction.

I begin writing this, on a Sinhala and Tamil Aluth Avurudu day (2021). I have not yet heard of a Puththandu being celebrated around this time of the year in Tamil Nadu or anywhere in South India. Therefore, it seems to me that Aluth Avurudda/Puththandu is a unique Sinhala and Srilankan Tamil event. There seems to lie a tale in that. Prof. Karthigesu Indrapala, my old and respected senior Peradeniya friend, titled his book ‘The evolution of an ethnic identity’ (my emphasis). There also lies a tale in that. It is necessary to reflect on these matters seriously.

I am of the view that after seeing no light at the end of the tunnel after decades of strife and blood shed, we need to pause a little and engage in a sinhavalokanaya, a penetrating look-back as the lion is supposed to do, to see what went wrong in the first place. That we have to do, using our intellect, without letting irrational animal emotions over-ride our evolutionarily advanced part of the brain. In the history of a nation, a few or even many decades is not a very long period. We need to think in terms of our descendants at least twenty-five generations hence. Let them not CURSE us. There is still time to make a course correction if there is need of one. I have particularly my Sinhala compatriots in mind.

Before proceeding further, I must state my personal background so that what I have to say will be received without prejudice. I come from a Sinhala Buddhist peasant background. Both my grandfathers, paternal and maternal, had retired from active work by the time I came into this world but some of my uncles were still tilling their fields clad in the amude, (and as a child I have helped them around the field in sundry chores). My parents were Sinhala school teachers serving in far flung remote areas of the country and my schooling up to the age of 11 was in those rural schools. I am a son of the soil, perhaps more so than some latter day ‘patriots’. I am a graduate in Economics and a former public officer.

My first sensitivity to ethnicity perhaps occurred when I played the role of the young Prince Gemunu in a school play. Here I must hasten to say, to the credit of my parents, that they never showed any racist tendencies. My father, as I well remember, would refer to a Tamil doctor as a Yaapane Mahaththayek, without any reference to his ethnicity.

However, the ‘Sinhala only’ agitation in the media in the 1956 period, worked deleteriously on us immature young students of the time and by the time the Official Language Act was passed in Parliament. I was a rabid racist. Perhaps, as sometimes said in relation to Marxism, a person who is not a bit of a racist by the age of 30 (in the context of the prevailing dominant culture)has no heart and the one who remains a racist thereafter, has no brain. 

I have just been reading some international news relating to Sri Lanka. Among them was a reference to one Yasmin Sooka of South Africa (not unknown to many Sri Lankans) ‘reporting’ to a British organisation about the conduct of our Army Commander during the past civil conflict (this, at a time when the British government itself is trying to pass legislation to protect its own military personnel against charges of war crimes in foreign theatres of war and has earned thereby the censure of the UN Human Rights Commission). Now, it is natural for any Sri Lankan to get annoyed with the activities of such busybodies. However what I would suggest is that instead of being distracted by such interference, we, patiently, once and for all, settle down to re-examine our problem in all its perspectives. While external people can pursue their own agendas in the comfort of their foreign domiciles, irrespective of whether we live or die, for us, this is a matter of our country’s future and that of our present and future generations.

Our Past

In recent times, there has been some re-thinking among scholars about our, origins. The Vijaya legend no longer enjoys universal acceptance as marking the beginning of civilized life in this country. Felicitously this trend of thinking has now entered even school textbooks – vide Grade 10 History textbook.  Evidence of pre-historic Homo Sapien settlements has been unearthed in many places, ranging from Bundala in the South to the Jaffna peninsula. Such evidence shows that there has been gradual progression to an agricultural civilization, from a hunter-gatherer past, over many thousands of years, within this island itself. At a later stage, as excavations done by Dr. Srian Deraniyagala in the Anuradhapura citadel (incidentally, a place that most people are even not aware of) have shown, an iron-using, somewhat advanced civilization, had existed as early as the 9th century BC, a couple of centuries before the legendary advent of Vijaya.

What all this leads up to is that even before waves of migration occurred from India in historic times (Vijaya’s arrival being one) a civilization has been taking shape in this country and we have inherited that genetic sub stratum going back to the ‘Balangoda Man’ and the Yakshas. Prof. Indrapala’s hypothesis is also this and he speculates that in historic times one section of that indigenous population came to adapt a North Indian dialect of speech- Sinhala Prakrit and another, a Dravidian one, under the impact of the many streams of migration from both North and South India, gradually abandoning their less advanced common native tongue. One should not be dogmatic in matters of historical and archeological knowledge. Both are still ‘work in progress’. As for myself, I cannot get away from the possibility that, subject to genetic changes that would have occurred through subsequent millennia, under the impact of regular incursions of immigrants (invaders or otherwise) from India and elsewhere, the majority of people of the two major ethnicities now inhabiting the country, perhaps share ancestors of a very distant past.

We are on firmer ground, paradoxically enough, when we go back to an even more distant past. Scientists are agreed that all of the humans living at present, without exception trace their ancestry to a band of Homo-Sapiens which set out from East Africa some 70,000 years ago. ( some scientists, on the basis of the analysis  of mitochondrial DNA of populations are even of the view that we are all descendent from one common African great, great ………great grand mother). The present vast differences in appearance among peoples must be understood as being the result of adaptation to varying environments over millennia, through the operation of Darwinian natural selection.  If all that is scientifically proven, can we ever justifiably feel as being by nature repulsively alien from one other. All this provides in my view the scientific basis for the assertion of the essential oneness of mankind by all great religious teachers – and most prominently, Gautama Buddha.

Through the centuries, coming up to even relatively recent times, many groups of people mostly from India, have joined the mainstream of the Sri Lankan nation and got assimilated themselves within a few generations. The truth of this statement would dramatically strike one, when one considers the seamless assimilation of groups that migrated in, after about the 14th or 15th centuries. Some early migrants came as invaders, but others were brought in, even as warriors, by our own royal princes, after sojourns in South Indian courts, as refugees, to fight their local rivals. The practice started with Mugalan, the estranged brother of Sigiri Kashyapa. Another was Manavamma. There were others. Did the mercenaries that they brought, go back to a dreary homeland in India, after tasting the comforts of a lush green island? King Gajaba is supposed to have brought in some twenty-four thousand prisoners of war from Soli Rata and settled them in different parts of his kingdom in groups. ( Matale Kadaim Pota gives the different areas in which they were settled) Today, the descendants of all those Solis must be true blue Sinhalas   (some of them perhaps even breathing fire against Tamils!). This has been a natural phenomenon throughout the world. The present British nation is made up of the descendants of Celts, Angles, Saxons, Danes, Normans and many others, most of them coming as invaders, except perhaps the Celts. There are no ‘pure’ nations or ‘pure’ races in this world. That was only the delusion of a psychopath like Hitler. (No one in his senses should advise a leader of a country to become a psychopath).

It is true that when most present day Sinhalas think of Tamils, it is the image of invaders that first comes to mind. At certain times in the past too, particularly in the immediate aftermath of an invasion, it must have been so. But it was not so always. To begin with, we need to distinguish between invading Tamils from South India and Tamils who had always lived in this country. I have already suggested that, hypothetically, many of those who came to be identified later as Tamils may have been from our own original indigenous ‘yaksha stock’ but who had adapted the Tamil language from South Indian migrants, in replacement of the original common native language, while their ‘cousins’ elsewhere in the country adapted a Sinhala Prakrit from other migrants from North India. Anyway, even in subsequent times, there was much intercourse between the Sinhalas and Tamils, without there being necessarily any unfriendly feelings (although admittedly there were many invasions from time to time). We have even inscriptional evidence of a Tamil presence in early Anuradhapura, as peaceful members of the community. How many of us have heard of an inscription written in early Brahmi script, using the Sinhala Prakrit language, existing in the neighborhood of Abhayagiriya, indicating some structure erected for the use of a group of Tamil persons – with their personal names also indicated (vide page 59, Sinhala Shilaa Lekhana Sangrahaya by Nandasena Mudiyanse, publisher S.Godage)

The first recorded South Indian invasion occurred when two Tamils Sena and Guttika wrested the kingdom from King Suratissa in the 2nd Century B.C. The Mahavamsa (Geiger translation – p 142/143) says “ Two Damilas Sena and Guttika….conquered the king Suratissa …..and reigned…. for twenty two years justly  (my emphasis) There is no denouncing of the Tamil conquerors. The description of the reign of the next Tamil conqueror, Elara, was even more generous. The Mahavamsa (Geiger -p 143-145) devotes no less than 20 Pali stanzas to extol his virtues (some, obviously exaggerated).Then, after Dutugemunu’s victory over him, the first act of the victor, to his eternal credit, was to perform the funeral rites of his fallen enemy with royal honours, erect a monument in his honour and decree that even royals passing that site must pay due honour – MV p. 175 ( a decree that even as late as 1818 Keppetipola Nilame fleeing the British after the failure of his rebellion is reported to have obeyed). Many Sinhala kings sought their consorts or consorts for their siblings in the Dravidian royal courts of South India – At the beginning, even Vijaya himself reportedly sought and obtained his queen from the royal court of Madura in South India. Vijayabahu I whose own queen was from Kalinga gave his sister in marriage to a Pandyan prince who became eventually the paternal grand father of Parakramabahu the Great (who therefore had Pandyan blood in his veins). In the Kotte royal court of later times, we see the presence of many Perumals in responsible positions. Even Sapumal Kumaraya was originally Sembahap Perumal, apparently the orphaned son of an aristocratic Keralite warrior who died in combat in the service of Parakramabahu VI. Sapumal ascended the throne later as Buvanekabahu VI.  In the early Kotte period, it is also intriguing that the Chinese admiral Zhen He, who carried off Vira Alakeshvara to China as a prisoner, erected in Galle a trilingual stone inscription, using Chinese, Persian and Tamil languages. In the  Kandyan kingdom, kings from Rajasinghe II appear to have sought consorts from Madura (therefore the mothers of Vimaladharmasurya II and Narendrasingha, the reputed last Sinhala king, were South Indian Tamil princess). I have already referred to the in-migration of large groups from South India in the 14th or 15th centuries, now indistinguishably part of the mainstream. Few knowledgeable people in the country today are not aware of the comparatively recent, documented and admitted, South Indian antecedents of some very prominent Sinhala leaders of the present day. Such information has even ceased to be of much interest.

What I have been trying to point out is that historically the relations between the Sinhalas and Tamils have far from being hostile all the time. We are not congenital enemies. We have no tradition of enmity to pursue – as it was between the Montagues and the Capulets in Romeo and Juliet.

The emergence of a Tamil kingdom in the North        

It is time to turn to another aspect of history – the establishment of a Tamil kingdom in the North. By about the 10th century, Sinhala kings appear to have lost control over the territory beyond Anuradhapura and by about the 14th century an independent Tamil kingdom appears to have been established in the Jaffna peninsula, with the intervening Vanni being under many semi-independent Vanniyars. Only once for a brief period under Parakramabahu VI the overlordship of Sinhala kings had been re-established thereafter in Jaffna (-Sapumal Kumaraya’s famous conquest of Yapapatuna). Once Sapumal left Jaffna to become King in Kotte, the Sinhala suzerainty over the Jaffna peninsula again lapsed. To make matters worse some Jaffna kings (like Arya Chakravarti) became powerful even to challenge the Gampola period Sinhala kings and exact taxes in some areas of their kingdom, up to about Matale. Arya Chakravarti even overran the western seaboard up to at least Panadura at one time. He was only checked by Alakeshvara,  (who himself may have been an immigrant) who founded the capital at Kotte. This sequence of events is no doubt painful to any Sinhala brought up on the tradition of Tri Sinhala, but these are solid historical facts that we have to accept whether we like them or not.

The Jaffna kingdom so established surrendered finally only to the Portuguese. The Dutch took over from them and finally the British. The important  legal/constitutional point to note here is the ground reality of  Jaffna coming under colonial rule not as part of a subsisting all-island Sinhala kingdom but as a separate sovereign entity. This is what makes it incumbent on us to refrain from summarily dismissing the claim of Northern Tamils to some kind of special consideration. We should be happy that they did not press a claim to separate status at the time we achieved independence from the last colonial ruler (although there were some rumblings it did not go far). The British, to repeat, held the northern areas by right of conquest, a conquest that was separate from their subsequent conquest/annexation of the Sinhala areas . We should not be foolish to think that anybody will take us seriously in the modern world if we try to press the long obsolete all island Tri Sinhala claim. That is the bitter truth. (The situation in the Eastern province is different. Even later Kandyan kings continued to exercise suzerainty there, as is documented in treaties with colonial powers)

Sinhala-Tamil Cooperation during colonial times          

During the British period, up to about the twenties of the 20th century Sinhala and Tamil leaders have co-operated with each other in their interactions with the colonial government as well as in other public work. In order to avoid a long exposition on this point, the following extracts from the unpublished diaries of Anagarika Dharmapala may be cited as a testament to that fact:

1889 Nov 14th

……..Went to see Muhandiram. Talked about the proposed College for the Sinhalese and Buddhists to be founded by the Hon’ble Mr. Rama Nathan and the Muhandiram promised to help it as much as he can. ………….

1911 Dec 20

………Then I went see Ramanathan and he greeted me cordially and spent about 2 hours in discussing over spiritual and economic subjects. A wonderfully clever man he is but he is insufficiently informed about the Dharma. …..

1915 Oct 21st

October 14 Historic meeting of the Ceylon Legislative Council. Ramanathan on behalf of the suffering Sinhalese spoke for 2 hours denouncing the Govt. officials for the atrocities committed on the helpless villagers during the Court Martial trials. ……

The above references are to Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan, Member, Ceylon Legislative Council, the ‘grandfather legislature’ of Sri Lanka. His brother Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam took the lead in forming the Ceylon National Congress and was its first President. I have heard from my father that when Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan returned from England once, after a mission on behalf of Sri Lanka, Sinhala leaders unharnessed the horses of the carriage he was to ride home from the Colombo Jetty and pulled it themselves. (Prof. K.M.de Silva has also quoted in his book the fulsome praise given to Ramanathan by Sarasavi Sanderasa the leading Sinhala Buddhist journal of the day, ending up by saying ‘Buddhists owe Mr. Ramanathan a deep debt of gratitude’, for Ramanathan’s espousal of the cause of Sinhala Buddhists in the legislature- vide p. 461)

These fraternal relations soured later for reasons I need not go into but suffice it to say that one reason was an act of breach of faith by two Sinhala leaders who went back on a promise to help secure a seat in the legislature for Tamils in the Western Province. (see History of Sri Lanka – K.M.de Silva, p.480) We might note that in the present time Mr. Mano Ganesan has been an elected member of Parliament for the Colombo District for a long time, without there being any special reservation either, thus providing ample justification for the old aspiration of Western Province Tamils. May not the keeping of that old promise by Sinhala leaders have changed the whole course of subsequent events, even saving many lives?

Special position of Tamils under colonial rule

However, it must be recognized that Tamils appeared to enjoy a privileged position under the colonial regime. This may have been due to two reasons – 1. compared with the magnitude of the population and the extent of territory occupied, Tamils seemed to enjoy more facilities for an English education than the Sinhalas. As English education was provided mostly by Christian missions and not by government I am unable to say whether this was due to deliberate colonial policy or otherwise. However the fact that the Sinhala elite of the last decades of the 19th century did not wish the ordinary people to have an advanced education is proved by the following reference made by Prof. K.M.de Silva, to a speech made  by J.P. Obeyesekere, Sinhala representative in the Legislative Council, sometime in the 1880s: ..And he argued forcefully for the imposition of the severest restrictions for entry to all schools, so that the children of the rural poor would be forced ‘to follow such avocations as they are fitted for by nature’ A History of Sri Lanka’ p.419. Tamils at that time apparently had no such ‘far sighted’ representatives of theirs to bother about. Anyway, the undisputable fact is that in the matter of placement in the professions and in government employment, Tamils due to greater numbers of them being English literate, in addition to any other reasons, came to enjoy a position in excess of their ratio in population. 2. The colonial government, as all colonial governments do, undoubtedly followed a policy of divide and rule and in this matter discriminating in favour of a minority would have been a very attractive tool. I must say I am only hypothesizing but there may be those who have researched the subject. However, I must qualify the above statements by saying that any such privilege was enjoyed by only English educated middle-class Tamils and not the ordinary Tamil peasant, artisan and the fisherman. Their lot was the same as that of their counterparts among the Sinhalas. Anyway another point that needs emphasis is that hardly any Tamil living today had enjoyed such privilege in colonial times. ‘Sins’ of fathers should not visit innocent progeny. Resentment on that score is completely unwarranted.

Reversal after Independence

Whatever privilege English educated Tamils may have enjoyed in colonial times, they lost it after Independence. We made the plight of Tamils worse since then, by going in the reverse direction and denying them even what they were entitled to. Such was the imposition of the Official Language Act (‘Sinhala Only’ Act) in 1958. One example will illustrate this in practical terms. In colonial times, Sinhala and Tamil villagers, whenever they received an official letter or a telegram, had to go in search of an English educated mahattaya to get it translated. After the full implementation of the Sinhala Only Act, a Tamil villager had still to go in search of a Sinhala knowing dorai. That was a needless harassment and humiliation. Now (after 1978) both Sinhala and Tamil have been made official languages, after many lives have been sacrificed over the issue in the subsequent decades (However still the legal position has not been made practical reality universally, as was forcefully impressed on me when I had to shamefacedly send a Treasury circular in Sinhala, on a certain important subject, to a Tamil University Chancellor friend, who sought my assistance to get a copy of that circular. I had to do so because a Tamil or even an English version had apparently never been issued. I also failed in my attempts to get at least an English translation of the Minutes of the monthly Government Agents conference issued to the 8 participating Tamil speaking GA s, because the senior officer responsible stubbornly avoided doing so despite the repeated instructions of her official superior.

It is worth mentioning here that at the time the Sinhala Only Act was passed, most schools in Jaffna taught Sinhala as a subject. Prof. Karthigesu Indrapala has said that Sagara Palansuriya, poet and one time MP, was his Sinhala teacher. A senior Tamil clerk of mine taunted his Sinhala colleagues saying that he unlike them learnt Kumaratunga Sinhala in school. However, immediately after the humiliation of Sinhala being forced down their throats by the Sinhala Only Act, all that changed. Jaffna schools stopped teaching Sinhala. (At a recent gathering a Tamil engineer told me that when that happened, his father being a practical man took him to the Jaffna Buddhist temple and requested the monk to teach him Sinhala). This whole sorry episode could have been handled differently if statesmanship had prevailed. The majority of ordinary Tamils, just like the majority of ordinary Sinhalas, are practical men, minding their own business and not playing politics. But as a self-respecting people they resented being humiliated. It was this humiliation, coupled with intransigence and stupidity on both sides that finally led to the war and the loss of so many lives on both sides. At the 1952 General Election, at a time when there was yet no language problem, the Federal Party which first raised the devolution of power issue, fared very poorly. The Northern Tamils were not so much bothered about the state power structure, However once humiliated they lost confidence in the majority dominated state structure.

The present generation, which has not lived through the gradual evolution of the so-called ethnic problem, like many of us elders have done, must not let themselves be deluded to think that everything started with a maniac called Prabhakaran. ‘Prabhakaran’ was long in the making and our Sinhala ‘leaders’ (including many Buddhist monks) have also made a ‘generous’ contribution to that outcome. 

In any case, when a war was forced on the country through political stupidity and lack of statesmanship, it had to be fought. In the Bhagavat Gita. Krishna explains to Arjuna that, once war has come about with his kinsmen, the Kurus, it was his duty to fight it, regardless. So it was for our soldiers and they fought bravely. They fought suffering much hardship. We owe them much. Their victory was the basis on which we should have built a peaceful and prosperous New Sri Lanka. That was primarily what we owed the Ranavirus. We should have ensured that their children also would not be fated to get into flooded trenches. So far we have failed them.

The Future

Let us at least now be realistic. The Tamils have lived in this land for long, as the other new target, the Muslims, have also done. Muslims have been here at least since the 13th century. Some Muslims have even acted as emissaries to Sinhala kings. The Tamils and Muslims have a right to live in this country as honourable first-class citizens. It is their motherland as well as ours. They have nowhere else to go except as refugees (Those fanatical racists who sometimes ask them to go to Tamilnadu are talking rubbish and do not know their history. Can any of these fanatics be absolutely certain that during the long centuries of our history, their own first ancestor in this country, at some time or other, did not come from South India? Eelam was only a battle cry in desperation and in the face of many betrayals ( the broken Bandaranaile-Chelvanayakam pact, the broken Dudley-Chelvanayakam pact, the shameful betrayal of the Left parties in the late ‘60s etc.)

Tamils are a practical people. They know that separation simply will not work in this ‘tiny’ bit of land. And they want to share in the benefits of our entire island’s many natural advantages. They are not foolish to get themselves boxed-in to a dreary corner of the country.

Devolution

At this point I must say something about Devolution. At one time I was quite enamoured of the concept (as implemented by the 13th Amendment of the Constitution) – but no longer. What is essential in a rational constitutional arrangement is that people at different territorial levels of the country, meaning the village/town and progressively larger areas, up to the national level, should be able to manage their affairs as is their wish, subject to the over-all general interest of the country. To my knowledge there has not been a proper academic study of the performance of the Provincial Council system. Therefore, what we can have at present are only impressionistic individual observations. My personal impression is that we have created a white elephant, less efficient than the old district administration system that was coupled with the local government system of the day. That system one must remember included co-ordinating mechanisms in which people’s representatives participated – the District Co-ordinating Committee and the District Agricultural Committee, mainly. I think that system performed reasonably well and at much less expense (and probably at a much lower level of corruption). The Provincial Council (PC) system has created a rent-seeking additional level of political potentates throwing their weight about (hence the great interest in having PC elections soon). Under this system policy formulation stands fractured on one hand between the Centre and the PCs and on the other, among the 9 PCs themselves. This of course is an inevitable feature of a devolved polity and I have nothing against devolution per se, in appropriate circumstances (I do not call it as leading to separation as some ignoramuses do). However the question is whether it makes sense, given the comparative smallness of the territory and the population, as well as the absence of the very high degree of multiplicity in all relevant factors – language, social groupings, customs etc etc that characterize a country like India, to devolve policy making, to the degree that it has been done by the 13th Amendment  To make matters worse the Centre has jealously maintained its administrative structure even in respect of devolved subjects, thus duplicating structures and adding to the already irrational burden of establishments cost of governance, pre-empting funds from development work. 

Suggestions

What appears to me preferable is a system of extensive decentralization where governmental decisions are taken at levels determined by the principle of subsidiarity – the “principle of social organization that holds that social and political issues should be dealt with at the most immediate (or local) level that is consistent with their resolution” – Wikipedia. On this basis I would advocate an elected  Jana Sabha (JS), at the Grama Niladhari level as the first level of government. It would be vested with responsibilities of a purely local nature that are of immediate concern to day to day living and which can be handled without resort to sophisticated bureaucracies. The Grama Niladhari would probably be the CEO of this organization, acting under the directions of the JS and assisted by other village level officers. The next higher level would be the Pradeshiya Sabha (PS) that would handle matters appropriate to a territory covering a number of JS areas. However, there will not be any direct elections to this body. The Chairpersons of the several JSs constituting the PS area would be its members. At the next higher level, the District, an appropriately named district organization (Rata Sabha) constituted by the Chairpersons of PSs, would be in charge of responsibilities appropriate to that level. Again, no direct elections.

The District bodies and PSs in addition to their own responsibilities would play a coordinating and supervisory role over the functioning of the local government organization below them. The JSs will also exercise a monitoring role in respect of projects (particularly construction projects) of the central government and the higher level local authorities, executed in their areas.

The implementation of national policies, programmes and projects at district level will be in the hands of the bureaucracy of the District level body referred to above, under the supervision of that body. The Central departments will not have separate district organisations.

There will be no provincial level governmental body akin to the present PCs. The Province is a sub-national administrative division abandoned sometime in the 20th century by the British themselves who originally created it. It was artificially resurrected in 1983 only to create a unit which was thought to be parallel to the Indian State. However a province does not mean much to the ordinary citizens unlike the district, to which level he has been accustomed to for a long time.

Instead of the abandoned PCs there should be an appropriately named Second Chamber at the Center. The District bodies will elect two representatives (possibly its Chairman and another) to the Second Chamber. Representation will also be given in the Second Chamber to recognized professional associations The rationale of the Second Chamber will be: (a) to give more visibility to the regions in the governance process, hopefully partly satisfying the desire of minorities to a system of more significant representation of their interests, and a feeling  of sharing of power, and; (b) to obtain the direct participation of professionals who have expert knowledge in various fields, in the governing process. Many crucial decisions are being taken today disregarding expert advice which the general public never become aware of, except when such an expert sometimes dares to publish his views.

The President of the Republic will be elected by an electoral college consisting of Members of Parliament and members of the Second Chamber. In the entire governmental system there will be direct elections only at the level of Jana Sabhas and Parliament. Thereby things ought to become more peaceful and vastly less expensive, affordable by a still poor country. The President will symbolize national unity, attend to all traditional functions of a Head of State and will handle all ceremonial functions that the political executive now wastes its time on. He will have no ministerial responsibilities. It is hoped that political parties will be sensible enough to agree on a convention of electing non-political eminent persons to this office.

A most important feature of a new Constitutional arrangement should be appropriate provision to ensure a reasonable number of Cabinet Ministers from the minorities. Normally such matters are left to conventions but at the present stage of our political maturity some kind of constitutional provision -difficult though it may be to devise, seems to be necessary. This arrangement would be on recognition of the principle that minorities must share power in real national level decision making at the Centre, instead of just aspiring to exercise devolved power in provinces, in peripheral areas of activity.  As mentioned previously, in a small country, devolving important powers of the state that are best handled at the Centre, to regional bodies, and thus fracturing the process of policy making, appears to be unrealistic and unreasonably expensive. Instead, in such a country the best arrangement is likely to be where minorities share real power at the Centre itself. Instead of the present practice of giving some minor subjects to one or two compliant minority ministers, just as a sop, a number of ministers decided roughly in line with the population ratio should be assigned important subjects.( In Mr D.,S Senanayake’s first Cabinet, 3 Tamil Ministers – quite solid personalities, 2 ex- Ceylon Civil Service (CCS) men and a Cambridge-educated King’s Counsel – handled Trade, Post/Telecommunications and Industries .

There is also a need for strong independent and impartial mechanisms like an independent judiciary, a Human Rights Commission and an Ombudsman to provide insurance to minorities against ethnic discrimination. The essential requirement is that they be manned by men of character and not men of straw, manipulable by the powers that be. Such mechanisms would operationalise anti-discriminatory constitutional provision like a powerful Fundamental Rights chapter. The latter without the former is meaningless.

The foregoing in my view are the arrangements necessary to replace the wasteful mechanism – the PC system, that we have instituted under foreign compulsion, as a sop to the minorities, without any sincerity of intention and without really solving the problem.  One would also hope that all this would happen, in an increasingly enlightened, world-wise and broad-minded society, progressively freed from onslaughts of obscurantist forces.

War crime allegations

It is necessary to say something about the vexed question of war crimes and human rights violation allegations that now stand internationalized. There are several aspects to this matter.

To begin with, some people are inclined to sneer at the whole concept of Human Rights, calling it a western concept and all that rubbish. Actually the notion of human rights is not at all new, as it always stood at the core of the worldly ethic of all great religions, though it did not bear that fancy label (actually Gautama Budhdha went even beyond the humans and spoke in terms of ‘Sabbe Satta’ –all sentient beings – vide the Karaniya Metta Sutta. However, this notion entered secular thought through advances in political philosophy in the writings of Renaissance thinkers like Rousseau and through being forged on the anvil of social and political revolution, such as the French revolution. All that is the common heritage of mankind developed in the onward march of Homo Sapiens in their relentless progress -physical and spiritual, through Darwinian evolution. Only small minds ignorant of that history can repudiate that heritage. 

That is about the concept of Human Rights in general. The same goes for the notion of War Crimes that emerged in the process of human conflict through the ages and accelerated as a result of two devastating world wars. Now comes our specific case. Later, I want to consider separately certain alleged incidents that occurred outside the ambit of the war. During the war and as part of it, both sides may have committed acts which would come under the definition of war crimes. Leave aside for the moment what the Sri Lankan government forces may or may not have done (one such act came to the lime-light recently when a non-commissioned officer convicted of an atrocious act of killing civilians including children, an act roundly condemned in Parliament by his former Commander himself, was set free). On the other side, we are also aware of many acts of war crimes committed against non-combatants by the LTTE– the massacre at Sri Maha Bodhi, the massacre at Arantalawa, the Dalada Maligawa incident, the Central Bank bomb, CTO bomb, the massacre of 500 police personnel at Batticaloa etc etc. In an inquiry into war crimes, domestic or international, who is going to stand trial in respect of these LTTE atrocities? In the event, it is likely to become a one-sided affair i.e. only against the Sri Lankan forces that continue in existence today, as against an LTTE that no longer exists. Our Tamil brethren must realise this. In all wars throughout history many crimes may have been committed in the heat of the battle. Those for which there is clear evidence like the incident of the pardoned ‘butcher’, must of course be pursued. However, is there any purpose in undertaking ‘voyages of discovery’, as would gladden the hearts of the Yasmin Sookas of this world. In any case what would be the result at the end of it all. We will still remain divided but with renewed hatred against each other. Is it not more sensible to recognize that both sides are not without fault and on the basis of that honest admission declare closure, for the sake of the unending future generations? Nahi verani verani sammanthi cha kudachanam. Why not we close a bitter chapter and just move on – not as sentimentalists but as hard-headed realists. However, that requires the essential admission from the Sri Lankan authorities’ side that we may have erred, at least by refraining from making silly declarations of ‘zero casualties’. As that possibility is extremely remote, one can only hope that there would be a peoples’ movement from both sides, led by young intelligent people.

I referred to another category of war time incidents a while ago. These are the alleged incidents of ransom seeking and murder of hostages, alleged disappearance of some of those who surrendered at the end of the war and the like.  These incidents had nothing to do with an on-going war. They are crimes against the law of the land. Those who have committed them are not Ranaviruwas. They are ordinary criminals and murderers moved by the basest of motives. They should be prosecuted and dealt with, if for no other reason than to protect the good name and the international prestige of our armed forces. Let not a few scoundrels who were pursuing their private agendas blacken forever the high renown won by our brave soldiers.

We always talk of our great heritage. We do have our hydraulic engineering achievements to be proud of -such as the gigantic reservoirs, cascade irrigation and biso kotuwa. We do have the architectural greatness of Sigiriya, in addition to the mirror wall graffiti and the murals that bespeak a high literacy rate and high artistic sensitivity. These are only random examples. However unfortunately we have also inherited a welter of backward looking and irrational superstition and pernicious social institutions like the caste system (fortunately not as vicious as in India), holding us back. While being inspired by the former (the achievements) we must determinedly get rid of the latter if we are to progress. Before everything, we must become a harmonious Nation without internal conflict. What have we done for the last 73 years? We have been quarrelling and killing each other, while other nations who were behind us have moved on. The poor are still with us. China has lifted 99 million people out of poverty.

We elders will bid our good byes within the next few years. It is for an intelligent younger generation to reflect on these matters and come to wise decisions, having the interests of the yet unborn in mind. We can still become a great nation if we choose to.

*The writer is a former senior public officer. He is a graduate in Economics of the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya

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  • 5
    7

    “In any case, when a war was forced on the country through political stupidity and lack of statesmanship, it had to be fought. In the Bhagavat Gita. Krishna explains to Arjuna that, once war has come about with his kinsmen”

    The Sinhalese had DRAWN the Tamils to the gamble of WAR. Tamils were made to loose.

    Remaining Tamils are in the process of asking peace with justice, and obviously Sinhalese are not ready even to consider it.

    This will lead to another WAR in which nuking (may not necessarily involve nuclear weapons) will take place.

    Sinhalese may belief history will repeat.

    Bhagavat Gita indications are other way round.

    • 9
      14

      Mr.Athukorala,
      “I have not yet heard of a Puththandu being celebrated around this time of the year in Tamil Nadu or anywhere in South India. “
      You should do your research before making this sort of sweeping statement. The solar new year is celebrated in Kerala, which is very much in South India. It is known as Vishu.

      • 7
        16

        Mr.Athukorala says:
        “What I have been trying to point out is that historically the relations between the Sinhalas and Tamils have far from being hostile all the time. We are not congenital enemies. “
        Quite true. The cause of this, I believe, was the need to fabricate a national identity after centuries of colonization. Till 1948, India and SL were practically one country. Soon after, the Citizenship Act rendered stateless many Indian Tamils. Independence itself resulted from agreements between Sinhalese and Tamils ( subsequently broken). New history books were introduced in schools, insensitively written and depicting Tamils as invaders ( even in 300BC when the status of the Sinhalese themselves was questionable! ). Add to this the vicious rants of Dharmapala, who invented Sinhala-Buddhism. So ,a couple of generations were brainwashed into seeing the Tamils as enemies. We can see the results today.

        • 14
          8

          old codger,
          “depicting Tamils as invaders”
          —-
          Sinhalayo do not depict Tamils as invaders. They say Demala invaders because that is the term coined by Sinhalayo for the Dravidians who invaded their country. Do you want Sinhalayo to tell their children Demalu who destroyed Sinhala Kingdoms Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa came as pilgrims?
          ******
          “ …even in 300BC when the status of the Sinhalese themselves was questionable!”
          —-
          For the descendants of Dravidians brought to Sinhale by Portuguese who do not know the history of Sinhale, the status of the Sinhalayo may be questionable.

        • 3
          10

          OC
          “Till 1948, India and SL were practically one country.”
          I have my doubts.
          They were administered separately by the British and before that there was no common administration ever.
          Neither Asoka nor Akbar controlled this island.
          Even the Chola empire, did not claim the whole of the island as Chola territory. At its peak, there was influence across the island, but control was limited to a northern sector.
          *
          “…even in 300 BC when the status of the Sinhalese themselves was questionable!”
          That is incorrect I think.
          The language existed but no script. That was true of many languages worldwide. Sanskrit was not written until after Tamil. We confuse writing and strong literary tradition with existence.
          *
          If there was no Sinhala language, what did they speak? Certainly not Tamil.
          Hela/Proto-Sinhala? Does it matter?
          Proto Sinhala is to Sinhalese what classical Greek is to Greeks.
          *
          Buddhism ensured that all scholarly work was in Pali and later a little Sanskrit. Tamil could have been powerfully influential if it had not lost Buddhism starting in the 6th Century and completely by the 10th Century.

          • 4
            14

            S.J
            Maybe I should have made it clearer. Until 1948, there was free movement between the two countries. No passports. Particularly during British rule.
            In 300BC, according to the history we were taught in school, the Sinhalese hadn’t been here very long themselves, but the same history books described the Tamils as invaders!
            Of course we know better now, but the ” invader” idea still lives on.

            • 0
              2

              OC
              India as a whole was not one country before 1947 (or a little after).
              The British achieved what Asoka and Akbar failed to achieve.
              Theirs (like other enterprises afterwards) were empires controlling large territory but not a country the way Iran, Russia and China were with considerable shared identity.
              India was a geographic region like Africa or Europe before nation states emerged.
              *
              You can compare the “invader’ idea with Australian attitude to immigration until say 1960.
              Most nations are guilty of it in one way or another.
              *
              The invader concept did not keep people apart as Indrapala would explain. It was geographic isolation that did.
              Much of the East and part of Vanni came under the Kandyan Kingdom during the Portuguese & Dutch periods.

      • 14
        4

        OC

        Most Keralites do not consider themselves Tamil or even Dravidas same with Karnataka or Telegu. Only Tamils like to consider themselves and all south Indian states Dravida. in fact most Malayalis detest Tamils and openly say so. They all speak hindi including their mother tongue . only Tamils refuse to speak hindi or oven learn it .

        • 7
          16

          What most Keralites or you, or the people of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana consider or want to be does not matter. The fact and truth is they are all Dravidians just like the Thamizh. Due to invasions and migration they are more mixed with other people than the Thamizh are and this is the reason their local Thamizh dialects got bastardized and gradually evolved into Kannada, Telugu and lastly modern Malayalam just a few centuries ago. Even now Malayalam is almost Thamizh. Hale or old Kannada is very similar to Thamizh and so is old Telugu. The vast majority of the population in Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra and Telengana are as Dravidian as the Thamizh are and if they have an issue with this fact or the fact that their languages diverged from old or Proto Thamizh in the case of Kannada and Telugu and from Middle Thamizh in the case of Malayalam , that is their own problem. Not the Thamizh people’s problem. They may not be broad minded or advanced in their thinking to accept this fact. This is the reason their language are called Dravidian. Chilapathikaram one of the greatest classics in the Thamizh language was written in then Thamizh Chera Nadu around the 12Th century.

        • 5
          14

          A14455,
          “only Tamils refuse to speak hindi or oven learn it .”
          Not really. Hindi is taught even in TN. But signboards are mostly in Tamil/ English. Bus destination boards in Kerala are almost entirely in Malayalam. Even English is rare. Certainly no Hindi, except where there are immigrants.

          • 3
            4

            It is the same in other non Hindi speaking states . They may learn Hindi but everything , especially the sign boards, other than in the railway stations and airports, that are under the central Indian government is in English and in the local language of the state or just in the local language of the state, Karnataka, Andhra, Maharashtra, West Bengal. You may recall in the international Australian made movie Lion that was based on a real story and became a hit. How the poor lost little boy from the Hindi belt, who got stranded in Calcutta, West Bengal, was trying to converse to the officials and the general public in Hindi and most of them could not understand anything he said and demanded that he speak to them in Bengali.

          • 1
            5

            OC
            Tamils talk a lot about Tamil
            But it is the Kannadigas and Bengalis who are most protective about linguistic identity.
            *
            A sizeable section of Telugu speakers resent Sanskrit domination. Not that they aim for pure Telugu, but they seek to preserve the core character of Telugu.
            Munidasa Kumaratunga achieved that for Sinhala to a good degree.
            It was not about rejection of Tamil or Sanskrit or even English, but assimilation of foreign words in ways that harmonized with basic Sinhala.
            It happened with English with the preference for Anglo-Saxon dialect in the 19th Century.

  • 12
    18

    Actually the Tamil April; New Year is Celebrated in South India and it was the Tamil Chola rulers who at one time ruled large parts of SE Asia are largely responsible for introducing this New Celebrations in these regions. However now in modern Tamil Nadu due to pervading Indo Aryan influence Deepavali or Diwali as called in Northern India has become the major Hindu festival like in the rest of India. Pongal is also celebrated In Tamil Nadu by all Tamils irrespective of religion The April Tamil New Year has taken a back seat, especially after the DMK rule. In Sri Lanka the Tamil still celebrate the April New Year and Pongal and Deepavali is celebrated but it takes a back seat. The Sri Lankan Tamils are largely descended from the indigenous Dravidian Naga, whilst the original Sinhalese are largely descended from the Indigenous Dravidian Yakka, Both people are basically the same. The former more elite and the latter more peasant but more or less the same. Their language or dialect they spoke is Elu which would have been a semi or Proto Tamil Dravidian dialect.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puthandu

    • 18
      9

      Siva Sankaran Sharma,
      Why these elite Tamils who you claim as descendants of indigenous Dravidian Naga were confined to that piece of arid land in Yapanaya peninsula for over 3000 years as claimed by Vigneshwaran, while Sinhalayo had their civilization flourishing in the North and East.
      Sinhalayo have our hydraulic engineering achievements to be proud of -such as the gigantic reservoirs, cascade irrigation and biso kotuwa and massive Dagabos which are engineering marvels. We do have the architectural greatness of Sigiriya, in addition to the mirror wall graffiti and the murals that bespeak a high literacy rate and high artistic sensitivity. Sinhalayo have used iron as early as 9th Century BC.
      What have elite Tamils done for 3000 years?
      —-
      “The former more elite and the latter more peasant…”

      • 10
        19

        Hydraulic engineering and irrigation system of is a carbon copy of what is in in South India and the workers to build these systems and the artisans who built all these Dagobas and other so called marvels that you describe we all imported from South India by the largely South Indian origin kings who ruled the island. Next time Sinhalese extremists start claiming that the Mahaveli irrigation system that was largely built by western know how and engineers and technicians was the great work of the Sinhalese. Go and get a life instead of constantly posting lies and hate messages . Shame on you.

        • 5
          4

          I was going to comment on engineering.. then thought will check if any one had made a comment on that.

          Well said Rohan25.
          The Sinhalese of Ceylon and The Aryan Theory
          https://sangam.org/2011/08/Aryan_Theory.php?uid=4437

          • 5
            2

            Concept of damming rivers to conserve water in tanks to irrigate agricultural field was there from Mesopotamia to Indus valley to Tamil Nadu. It is this method that Sinhalese adopted and not their pioneering effort as what Sinhala racists are trying to make. Though these projects were commissioned by Sinhala kings, they were built by experts from Tamil Nadu, and not by Sinhalese.

            • 1
              4

              “Though these projects were commissioned by Sinhala kings, they were built by experts from Tamil Nadu, and not by Sinhalese.”

              There is ancient literature in Sinhalese that explains how all these structures were built. No need to import kalathonies for construction.

              • 3
                2

                The first Kallthonies imported for construction are Vijaya and his gangsters. Since then all constructions were done by those from Tamil Nadu.
                Rock dam across Cauveri near Tanjavur, is an engineering masterpiece.
                Only thing Sinhalese knew was to put up a hut and dig a well.
                Gal Oya Dam – constructed by Morrison- Knudsen company and not D.S.
                Polgolla Dam – constructed by Ingra of Yugoslavia and not Sirimavo.
                Victoria Dam – constructed by Balfour Beaty and not J.R.
                Kotmale Dam – constructed by Skanska of Sweden and not Gamini Dissa.

      • 6
        13

        Eagle,
        What are the names of the engineers who built these marvels?

        • 4
          4

          old codger,
          Dravida invaders burnt all the documents that contained those names.

  • 8
    15

    My admiration for you as a decent human being is enormous; my admiration as a truly learned man is even greater.
    .
    ‘To begin with, we need to distinguish between invading Tamils from South India and Tamils who had always lived in this country’ describes the quintessential truth.

    • 17
      11

      Nathan,
      Those Tamils who had always lived in this country are illegal immigrants to Sinhale from Hindusthan. No evidences to prove that Tamils are indigenous people in Sinhale.

  • 11
    17

    Mr. Athukorala thank you for a realistic and sober statement. It is obvious 75 years of our Lankan politics lead us to this dysfunctional, bankrupt state, of no return. That too a few family dynasties which took advantage of it and thrived causing further hatred , division and violence. The answer is , for our citizenry to wake up and realize this fact. But the reality is people have fallen pray to these well thought out calculated devious plans of politicians so much so sacrificing their future for the past

  • 2
    11

    Here we go again and again! History, superiority, winners and losers, 1956, 1983, 2009, begging for political solutions for 72 years, etc.The same old sad story without any solution.

    The only solution is to split the island equitably into 3 mono ethnic nations Sinhala Only Nation, Tamil Elam and Muslim Elam and relocate people accordingly.

    No other solution.

  • 19
    14

    The Ethnic or Tamil problem is a problem invented by Tamil leaders and accepted by gullible Tamils. After universal suffrage in 1931 and the coming of independence the Tamil leaders feared that Tamils would lose their positions of privilege. They proposed ‘balanced representation’ in the new Legislature. Fifty general seats for anybody and fifty seats for the minorities of which the Tamils would have 25. When it was pointed out how unfair this was, they amended their proposal so that the general seats would be Sinhalese seats. How generous, the Tamils would still dominate the minority seats and would need just a single Sinhalese to have a majority. The Soulberry Commission rejected these racist proposals saying “We think that any attempt by artificial means to convert a majority into a minority is not only inequitable, but doomed to failure”. (Report of the Commission On Constitutional Reform for Ceylon). This was the start of racist scheming by GG Ponnambalam and SJV Chelvanayagam to maintain the Tamil’s positions of supremacy.

    • 2
      8

      What’s the point man?

      It is now too late to discuss who is right and who is wrong. We need solutions. Just split the island into 3 mono ethnic nations and relocate people. All problems get resolved. Unfortunately greedy people of all 3 races want the entire island. That means bloodbath.

      • 17
        10

        GATAM,
        What’s the point man?

        The point is Sinhale, the Land of Sinhalayo and Vedda Eththo is not a cake that can be cut into pieces and give to ‘Paradeshi’ people who were accommodated by Sinhalayo and allowed them to settle down in their country. From 3rd Century BC, Sinhalayo have sacrificed their lives and shed their blood to protect their country from ‘Paradeshi’ people. If they have to, they will do it again.

    • 7
      15

      Svenson,
      “The Soulberry Commission rejected these racist proposals saying “We think that ….”
      Who the devil was Soulberry?

    • 2
      10

      S
      What invention lead to the Anti-Muslim violence of 1915?

      • 14
        5

        SJ,
        In 1915, Sinhala Muslim clash was started by Muslims pelting stones at a Buddhist procession. When Sinhalayo reacted, British used that as an excuse to massacre Sinhalayo. Those who killed Sinhalayo were Tamils and Muslims who served in the British army.

        • 0
          3

          The pelting of stones was response to provocation by making noise.
          *
          Deep resentment of the Muslim trader led to the violence.
          Elitist rivalry for position under colonial rule, English educated middle class rivalry for government jobs and Muslim revival in business and professions are among driving forces.
          *
          It was said to be language.
          What is the language in which the country is ruled?
          What is the language in which business activities go on?
          The most ‘patriotic’ Sinhalese and Tamils are living abroad and promoting ethnic tension here.

  • 17
    15

    After this strategy failed SJV Chelvanayagam for the very first time announced the idea of a Tamil homeland in the N &E and called them the ‘Traditonal homelands’ of the Tamils, a phrase that all Tamils just assume is true today. This is what lead to the Thimphu Principles and the subsequent civil war. All along the Tamil leaders had not the slightest intention of joining with the Sinhalese and others to form a united nation. They adopted separateness and antagonism right from the start.
    (SJV Chelvanayagam and the Crisis of Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism – AJeyaratnam Wilson) . The only solution to the Tamil problem is for the Tamils to join hands with the Sinhalese and others as a united people.

    • 4
      7

      S
      Do you know who the founders of the Ceylon National Congress was?
      Do you know which organization first called for the independence of Ceylon?
      Do you know who put Sri Lankan Buddhism on the world map?
      *
      Joining requires goodwill.
      Much has been wrecked by communal violence before separatism and war.
      Try to understand the other if you seriously desire unity.

    • 2
      2

      The big mistake that nearly all Tamils make is to think of the North and East as ‘traditional homelands’. As I have explained this was an invention of their racist leaders. In fact even the Tamil kings of Jaffna and the North did not subscribe to this ‘traditional homeland’ crap. Like the Sinhala kings of the south, they considered themselves to be rulers of the entire island who had temporarily lost control of parts of the country.

  • 5
    9

    In our long History of Sinhala- Tamil relationships two important encounters stand out as novel examples; One very ancient and the other very recent given below.

    1] Sena and Guttika both Tamil Generals fought alongside Dutugemunu against Elara,
    Interestingly, the Mahavamsa describes Elara as a Just King.
    In the subsequent versions he is described as a just Tamil King [ note the ethnicity ]
    Still, after a few more centuries he is referred to as a Tamil invader……
    We need to examine the Historian before his version of History!!!

    The other example is of-course very recent.

    2] Lakshman Kadirgamer an Tamil joined hands with the Sinhala leadership to decimate the LTTE. His contribution towards the eventual defeat of the LTTE is now in the realms of recent History.

    The above two examples is about battles and wars.

    However there have been examples of genuine Sinhala-Tamil relationships as pointed out by the essayist.
    But no sooner the Foreigners left our shores ………….sour relationships, kept alive to camouflage other serious issues like the economy……..

  • 15
    14

    No doubt, Sinhalese have some South Indian component. But it is not necessarily Tamil. First of all, virtually no Sinhalese speak Tamil, either now or in the past, which suggests prolonged geographic isolation. Secondly, monks learned Sanskrit, but never Tamil. That means there was no important literature in Tamil pertaining to Buddhism. Even small-scale intermingling with Tamils should have resulted in some percentage of “Sinhalese Hindus”, which is clearly not the case. It is true that some kings took Pandyan royalty as wives. Keeping in mind, these women were Aryans (noble), so they were not pure Dravidians. They were probably fair-skinned and resembled the Brahmins one still finds in Tamil Nadu. Lastly, the evolution of Sinhala language is well-documented. However, the Brahmi script does not resemble Tamil. It resembles Telugu:
    https://salrc.uchicago.edu/resources/fonts/available/telugu/img/code2000teluguset.gif
    The Telugu people in Andra Pradesh are not actually Dravidian. It could be there is some genetic affiliation between Sinhalese and Telugu, which explains the so-called “South Indian” component of Sinhalese genetics. But this component need not be Tamil.

    • 8
      17

      Lester,
      “First of all, virtually no Sinhalese speak Tamil, either now or in the past, which suggests prolonged geographic isolation.”
      Would you explain why Sinhala chieftains signed the Kandyan Convention in Tamil? Or why the Galle trilingual inscription is in Tamil, Persian, and Chinese?
      When you make the idiotic statements that you’re paid for, at least make them plausible. And go ahead, get your pals to give you 40 green thumbs.

      • 4
        13

        OC what the author of this article states is correct. He is one of the few brave Sinhalese who dare to state the truth without prejudice and I salute him for this , as he has proved to be a true academic not fettered by prejudice. What you state is also true in ancient times most of the Sinhalese upper castes , aristocracy and royalty knew Tamil very well, as they were basically of Tamil heritage and the vast majority of them had very close Tamil relatives across the sea. They were like the French speaking Normans in ancient England or later the German origin so called English aristocracy and royalty. Many Tamil poets and bards found a warm welcome to the courts of many so called Sinhalese kings and were appreciated, Why because these so called Sinhalese kings and many members of the court knew Tamil well. The court languages of the Kandyan kingdom was both Sinhalese and Tamil.

        • 5
          14

          Even now around 35-40% of Sinhalese vocabulary is derived from Tamil or its local indigenous variant Elu. Its grammar, lexicon, syntax and alphabet is purely derived from Tamil and not from any Indo Aryan language. Basically Sinhalese has a very strong Dravidian foundation on which an Indo Aryan super structure has been built. Why because the indigenous Naga and Yaka who were base or foundation from whom the original Sinhalese evolved, were Dravidians and spoke a language or dialect that was semi Tamil or proto Tamil. You can find this evidence in the Sri Lankan Tamil dialects too , as other than few Prakrit and Sanskrit loan words and later influence from the Europeans , their language is almost pure Tamil , if the original language was not a semi/proto Tamil Dravidian language , it would have shown in their language as these words would have been incorporated on large scale, like the way Sinhalese or old Sinhalese incorporated Dravidian Elu or Tamil on a large scale. This is my conclusion and opinion and not anyone else.

          • 3
            3

            Siva Sankaran Sharma,
            You can have your opinions and conclusions but that does not necessarily mean that they are correct. Sinhala linguists who have done research on this subject will definitely discard you conclusions.
            —-
            “This is my conclusion and opinion and not anyone else.”

      • 17
        7

        Codger,

        There are thousands of cave inscriptions in Pali and Sanskrit. Not a single one in Tamil. There is not a single piece of literature or work of art written in Tamil.

        The Nayakars who ruled Kandy were Telugus, not Tamils. They spoke Tamil, that is the only Tamil influence.

        Galle trilingual inscription was written by a Chinese general in China.

        Are you out of ammo yet? Search Tamilnet for more distortions.

        • 6
          16

          Jester not only they spoke Thamizh but also considered themselves Thamizh and identified themselves as Thamizh with a distant Telugu ancestry. They never promoted the Telugu language or culture but Thamizh language and culture as to all intents and purposes they were Thamizh. The Naickers were not from Andhra Telangana or even Karnataka but from Madurai and Tanjavur in Thamizh Nadu, where they had lived for centuries. You are clutching at straws and there many inscriptions found in Thamizh Brahmi that more than 2000 years old . There are now thousands of cave inscriptions in Pali and Sanskrit just a few but nothing in Chingkallam .Of course you will find them in Pali and Sanskrit as these two languages were the language of Buddhism. SO what about it?
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamil_inscriptions_in_Sri_Lanka

          • 17
            6

            Last Kandyan King was a Telugu, not a Tamil. Nayakars ruled Madurai, they were not from Madurai.

            “However, in 1529, Vishwanatha Nayaka was appointed as another representative from the Vijayanagara empire. While, he too initially appointed a Pandian descendant to rule Madurai, in 1559, he declared independence from the failing Vijayanagara Empire and established his rule over Madurai. This dynasty ruled Madurai, until almost 1736.”

            The common languages in the Vijayanaga Empire were Kannada, Telugu, and Sanskrit, not Tamil. There is no Tamil link to the Nayakars who ruled Kandy. Just because they ruled Madurai does not make them Tamil. What kind of Eelamist nonsense is that. Can a Chinese man living in Switzerland claim Swiss origin?

            You found some stone inscriptions from Chola invaders. Yes, we know the destruction Cholas caused, burning ancient cities in Lanka. That is not what I am referring to. I am referring to cave inscriptions by monks and Sinhalese kings. All were done in Pali or Sanskrit.

            • 7
              17

              Lester,
              Why did the Sinhalese chieftains sign the Kandyan Convention in Tamil? Did they know something you don’t?

              • 3
                2

                OC here is a copy of the Convention. Enlarge the picture, how much Tamil can you see? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kandyan_Convention

                • 1
                  1

                  Svenson,
                  Sad to disappoint you, but Ratwatte and Walapane Dissawes have signed in Tamil. Use your glasses.
                  I know you’re more reasonable than Lester.

                  • 1
                    0

                    OC of course they have. But your post ‘Why did the Sinhalese chieftains sign the Kandyan Convention in Tamil?’ gives the impression that all of them signed in Tamil. That is why I wrote ‘How much Tamil can you see?’
                    Not a lot.

                    • 0
                      0

                      Sevnson, It looks like all the signatures were written by one and the same person, who obviously wrote like a child learning to write.
                      If you take a look at Ratwatta’s signature: There is no such “ra” in Tamil (probably Grantha or “ri”). The rest of it reads “va-the-tha”, which gives
                      “Ra-va-the-tha”, not Ra-th-wa-th-ta. (There is a court document which shows that Ratwatta signed also in Tamil, but his signature is totally different). There’s alot of doubt about the authenticity of the signatures in the Kandyan Convention. It is also said that Doyle went with the Convention in his pocket for sometime trying to get the chiefs to sign. Maybe the chiefs didn’t sign and Doyle forged the signatures.
                       
                      If you look in the Wikipedia article you see that photograph of the chiefs who are presumably sitting and posing for the photo after signing the Convention. That’s simply not possible, as the world’s first photograph was taken by Niépce in 1826/27, more than a decade after the Kandyan Convention was supposedly signed. Many of the chiefs were executed or exiled in the 1818 rebelling, and therefore long dead and gone by that time.
                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicéphore_Niépce

            • 4
              4

              The court Jester from London read this from the National Geographic. Ancient Tamizhakam or the land of the Thamizh, encompassed what is modern Kerala, Sri Lanka and Thamizh Nadu. Only Chingkalla extremists and racist are still deliberately trying to portray the Madurai Nayakars as Telugus but everyone else including they themselves consider themselves as Thamizh. This is from an Indian new channel.

              https://www.news18.com/news/india/homage-to-last-tamil-king-of-sri-lanka-442176.html

              https://www.nationalgeographic.org/article/three-crowned-kings-tamilakam/
              Most probably you will come back screeching again with another cock and bull story

              • 3
                2

                Eelamists live in a universe of make believe and fantasy. Here are the facts about Nayakars.

                Tamil country has seen two major waves of immigration in the last 650 years. The first one happened at the end of the 14th century, as a result of Vijayanagara general Kumara Kampanna defeating Madurai Sultans. Much of South India was ravaged by two major raids engineered by Malik Kafur and Ulugh Khan in the early part of the 14th century.

                While Malik Kafur was only interested in robbing gold and silver, Ulugh Khan (later to become Muhammad bin Tughluq) captured Madurai and established a Muslim rule there, which ran from 1335 to 1378. Kumara Kampanna, son of Bukka I, established Vijayanagara rule in Madurai by defeating the Madurai Sultanate. Later, Vijayanagara rule extended over most of the Tamil country. The Tamil country was ruled through governors known as Nayaks from Madurai, Thanjavur and Senji.

                Right through the 15th century onwards large number of Telugu speaking people came and settled across Tamil Nadu. Some were there to help the Nayaks rule the kingdom. Others were traders and craftsmen. Some of the chieftains deployed by the Nayaks known as Palayakkarar (Polygar) were also Telugu.

                —–

                Why do you idiot Eelamists try to turn Telugus into Tamils when it clearly says, “Vijayanagara rule extended over most of the Tamil country.”

            • 0
              5

              Lester
              You need to read a little about ancient inscriptions.
              Royal edicts on stone apart much was there much earlier on burial urns.
              *
              Nobody is claiming ownership.
              Foreigners like Orabi Pasha and Henry Steel Olcott loved this country far more than most ‘patriots’ after them.

        • 4
          15

          So the trilingual inscription was imported from China? And how did the Chinese know they would have to kidnap the king ?
          You clearly don’t know what’s written in the inscription.
          Are you still fabricating evidence to prove that Ratwatte Dissawe didn’t sign in Tamil? How pathetic can you get? You clearly wrote:”First of all, virtually no Sinhalese speak Tamil, either now or in the past, “
          You got caught lying yet again.

      • 8
        16

        old codger

        We are living amid a pandemic.
        We need fun, entertainment and humour.
        We need Jester.
        Don’t you like self-mocking comedians?

        • 9
          17

          Native,
          Lester is living in such dread that someone will prove he has Tamil blood. It’s so funny to see the poor bugger going from Pure Aryan to “Telugus aren’t real Dravidians”

          • 7
            18

            old codger

            Please give him long enough rope so that he can hang himself comfortably without any help from others.
            Where do they manufacture such people?

            Poor soul.

            • 3
              4

              Native,
              Have you noticed how Lester suddenly is getting all the green thumbs while we are getting red ones. Are we important enough to be Pohottuwa troll targets?

              • 3
                4

                old codger

                “Have you noticed how Lester suddenly is getting all the green thumbs while we are getting red ones.”

                You know it can be done through proxy server.
                I suspect someone who knows little bit about proxy server and has lot of sympathy for Lester’s pathetic state is helping him feel proud without letting him know exactly what is happening.

                Do you think his great grandchildren are making him proud and happy?

              • 2
                3

                OC
                Is it not boring to see one class of bigots win all the time?

                • 3
                  3

                  SJ,
                  Personally, I feel
                  flattered that these trolls give me that much attention .

              • 2
                1

                He and his group of racist friends are using proxy settings to upvote their comments. Or like you stated this article and many of the comments, that are very close to the real history of the island, has alarmed these Sinhalese Buddhist Fascist Pohottuwa establishment, that their trolls have started to upvote all the Sinhalese racist comments. Lester ‘s . Can you imagine Eagle Blind has so many upvotes and they all came within a certain period and time. Proving that is was deliberately targeted by trolls

    • 4
      6

      L
      You are clutching at straws.

      • 18
        11

        SJ,

        How do you explain the popularity of Narasimha worship in Andhra Pradesh? More than 350 temples: https://www.livehistoryindia.com/story/cover-story/narasimha-origins-of-indias-lion-god/.

        Narasimha is the 4th avatar of Vishnu, who appears partially in the form of a lion. Vijaya arrived in “Sri Lanka” in 486 BC carrying a lion flag in his hand. Of course, Vijaya was not a Telugu, but a Bengali from Sinhapura. The Telugus would have come later.

        “The relationship between Andhradesa and Sri Lanka has been promoted by mutual migrations of people engaged in trade and commerce. There had been constant visits by people in search of knowledge as well. It is significant that cultural links between the two lands prevailed as late as upto 14th century as attested by the Gajuladinne Inscription set up by a Buddhist monk, Rev. Dharrmakirti.” (G. Kamalakar and M. Veerender)

        • 7
          17

          Lester,
          “How do you explain the popularity of Narasimha worship in Andhra Pradesh? More than 350 temples: htt”
          What is your point, if any?
          What are you smoking?

        • 2
          3

          L
          Hindu gods had two routes to Sri Lanka.
          They came with the imported queens for the bigger devales and with the immigrant communities to dominate daily life.

          • 5
            2

            SJ,

            There was no significant Tamil influence in the early Sinhalese civilization, as Buddhism died out very quickly in TN. However, Buddhism flourished in Andhra Pradesh. That is why the Telugu Nayakas ended up ruling Kandy. These Nayaks were Telugu, not Tamil, although they spoke Tamil. The imported queens you speak of (Pandyans) were Brahmins, hardly pure Dravidians. To claim that millions of Sinhalese are descended from a few queens is rather bad logic. Any inscriptions in Tamil are from Chola rulers, who only ruled the island in brief stints. Those “immigrant communities” you speak of came much later.

            • 2
              1

              Lester the Jester

              Please for once respond after learning the relevant subject.
              Buddhism among Tamils. An Introduction
              Peter Schalk
              https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:604434/fulltext01.pdf

              Here is another brilliant summary by our own home grown historian Professor S Pathmanathan:
              Buddhism in Sri Lanka And South India : Interaction Among Monastic Centres
              https://noolaham.net/project/39/3876/3876.pdf

              Please go away now read both, try and grasp what the essence, …. and come back in about 20 years time if you really want to discuss the above subject, provided you actually understood it.
              Otherwise you can type as usual.

              • 2
                2

                Lester the Jester

                Further reading:
                Dominance of Buddhism and Jainism
                Section 4
                Pages 53 – 77
                Ancient Tamil Nadu Glimpses of the past
                K Indrapala

                Founder of Zen Buddhism
                Bodhidharma (From Kanchi to China)
                Daruma (Ta-mo)

                Both Buddhabhadra, Batuo or Fotuo and Bodhidharma Daruma (Ta-mo) were from Tamil Nadu who founded Shaolin temple where martial art was taught.

                There is no evidence to suggest Buddha or Anagarika Dharmapala had anything to do with the establishment of Shaolin temple.

    • 5
      17

      No doubt Sinhalese have some South Indian component , please do not make me laugh. Even as per your Mahavamsa fairy tale is taken as gospel , the original Sinhalese race was formed by the so called legendary outlaw good Prince Vijaya and his band of 500 goons who were banished from some kingdom in India. They married Pandian Tamil women and their children were the so called original Sinhalese. If this is true at the very inception itself the Sinhalese are 50% South Indian Tamil. Then what about all the local semi or Proto Tamil speaking Dravidian Yaka and some Naga who got converted to Buddhism and also got assimilated into this evolving Sinhalese identity? This means from 50% South Indian Dravidian blood it has now would have become more than 70% minimum , as these 100% Dravidian semi Tamil Elu speaking natives would have far outnumbered these half Tamil half some other Indian immigrants. Later all the migration and invasions were from the South Indian Tamil lands and most of them settled occurred in the Sinhalese areas and these people invaders and immigrants who settled here eventually assimilated as Sinhalese. This means more and more injection of Dravidian Tamil genes into the Sinhalese ethnicity.

      • 5
        16

        Then came the Portuguese and Dutch, who imported hundreds of thousands of low caste and untouchable Tamils from South India and settled them along the southern and western littorals to do menial work. Their descendants are the so called present day Sinhalese Karawa, Salagama, Durawa , Hunu and some other communities. They make up around 30-50% of the present day Sinhalese . Goodness now the Sinhalese are almost Tamil in genetic make up. Leave these people now we go to the so called ruling upper Govigama and Kandyan upper castes and Radala , basically all descended from upper caste South Indian Tamil upper castes and minor aristocracy . There is some Telugu but these so called Telugus did not speak Telugu or identify themselves as Telugus but spoke Tamil and identified themselves as Tamil as they arrived from the Tamil country. This is why the Kandyan convention was signed in Tamil mostly and the last king of Kandy and his family were banished to Tamil Nadu and not to Telugu land and his descendant still live there as Tamils. Telugus are Dravidian like the Tamils but certain Telugu castes like certain Tamil castes have some Indo Aryan heritage like me. Old or Proto Tamil is the mother of all Dravidian languages.

        • 12
          6

          Siva Sankaran Sharma,
          “Then came the Portuguese and Dutch, who imported hundreds of thousands of low caste and untouchable Tamils from South India and settled them along the southern and western littorals to do menial work.”
          —-
          As a Tamil you should be ashamed to call your fellow Tamils as low caste untouchables. Tamils who do not treat their fellow Tamils as equals blame Sinhalayo for not treating Tamils as equals.
          Are the Tamils brought to Yapanaya by Portuguese to work in their tobacco plantations belong to high caste?

          • 6
            15

            Eagle ‘stupid ass’ Eye, clearly you do not know the history of Lanka and it is quite evident in your stupidity. Tamils have been in the country as long as the Sinhalese have been (thousands of years). Idiot merely because your ancestors came to Lanka and created a new ethnicity called Sinhalese, that does not make you an owner of this island. Idiot!!

      • 18
        8

        Dravidian Yaka, hahaha. Go and read Ramayana or Mahabharata, there is no mention of any Tamil speaking buggers. The island has been populated by people for at least 30,000 year (Balangoda Man), none of them spoke Tamil. Even the Vedda language is closer linguistically to Sinhala than Tamil. How can Tamil precede Sinhala if Veddas are using old Sinhala words in their language? Only some low-caste Dravidians (Vellalas) have this inferiority complex, as they are ashamed of their dark complexion and being conquered by Aryans for 2K years. No different than Ashkenazi Jews who changed their last names from Polish to Hebrew to pretend they are real Semites. Descendants of slaves have a strong inferiority complex.

        • 9
          17

          Lester,
          “Go and read Ramayana or Mahabharata, there is no mention of any Tamil speaking buggers. “
          So, is there any mention of Sinhala speaking buggers either? Admit that whatever culture developed here was small potatoes which the really great Indian civilization didn’t think was worth mentioning. Just name ONE indigenous philosopher, mathematician or astronomer.

          • 16
            9

            Dodger,

            Multiple references to Sinhalese in Mahabharata. Only Eelamists deny the authentic history of the island. Indians believe the top of Sigiriya was a palace built by the Yaksha Kubera for Ravana. Indians venerate the architecture of ancient Sinhalese to godlike status while thala thel Eelamists deny it exists.

            • 9
              15

              Lester,
              “Multiple references to Sinhalese in Mahabharata.”
              So please go ahead and show one. And don’t try that edited reference to Vishwamitra’s cow. You’re not the only one who can read the Mahabharata.

          • 3
            5

            old codger,
            According to Ranil Wickramasinghe, Indians learnt some of the things about their history from Mahawansa.

            • 4
              3

              Eagle Blind Eye

              “According to Ranil Wickramasinghe, Indians learnt some of the things about their history from Mahawansa.”

              Is it because the author of Mahawansa was a Chola prince?

            • 3
              2

              Eagle,
              Do Indians have tails?

        • 8
          15

          Lesteroooo, Ramaya is a mythical story just like your Deepavansa and Mahawansa. In other words, it is a well written story book.

          • 14
            4

            Of course Ramanaya is a myth for the narrow-minded separatists with a massive inferiority complex. That is why Gota did not waste time with hostages at Nanthikadal. But still these idiots (GTF, TGTE, etc.) are shouting their propaganda from petrol stations in the West. This is a picture of the bridge described in Ramayana: https://www.jagranimages.com/images/newimg/29012021/29_01_2021-ramsethu_21317397.jpg. It is the only man-made structure other than Great Wall of China, visible from outer space.

            • 5
              2

              Lester,
              Since you now take the Mahavamsa and Mahabaratha as gospel truth, would you , as a descendant of a lion, tell us how long your tail is?
              Just asking.

              • 4
                2

                Lester,
                Where is the reference to Sinhalayo in the Mahabaratha?

        • 6
          4

          Lesterooooo, if your knowledge is coming from Ramayanam or Mahabaratham, then I can conclude that you live in a fantasy world. What morons live in this country? I am so confused to note how this country could have produced so many nitwits.

        • 6
          5

          Ramayana is a myth, very similar stories and fables also appear in the Greek classics, of a foreign prince or king across the sea, kidnapping or seducing the local queen and then the local king goes to war and regains his queen/honour and slays the foreign prince or king. The period of Ramyana was thousands of years ago, long before the so called mythical outlawed good Prince Vijaya arrived in the island, with his band of 500 merry men to create the Sinhalese race or the Sinhalese language, that only came into existence around 7-9AD.

          • 4
            4

            If they were calling the island as Sinhala Deepa or Chingkalla Theevu , it proves the Tamil claim that one of the names for the island in Tamil was Chingkalla Theevu or Chingkallam. Meaning the land of red or copper coloured land, proving that this ancient Tamil name for the island , had been existing thousands of years before the so called Sinhalese ethnicity evolved, that even the mythical Ramayana had mentioned or referred the island by this ancient Tamil name. Proving the name Sinhala has nothing to do with a lion or a wayward north Indian prince but the name for the ethnicity evolved from the ancient Tamil word for the island Chingkallam, as it evolved in this Chingkallam Island. Thank you very much for clarifying this and proving the ancient existence of the Tamils/Dravidians in the island. You set out to prove something else but only shot yourself in the foot and proved something else. You indeed are a Jester.

        • 4
          4

          Lester

          ” How can Tamil precede Sinhala if Veddas are using old Sinhala words in their language? “

          What are you talking about? Old Sinhala words?
          Where is the evidence that Veddas are using old Sinhala words in their language?

          You must have completely gone mad, crazy, insane, distracted, frantic, frenzied, irrational, maddened, crazed, lunatic, demented, unbalanced, berserk, delirious, unhinged, loopy, crackpot, out to lunch (informal), barking mad (slang), barking, gonzo, doolally, off your trolley, up the pole, …….

          • 4
            4

            Unreal Vedda,

            If you were a real Vedda, you might know this. Being an Eelamist, it is hard to admit the truth.

            “Vedda maintains many archaic Sinhalese terms from the 10th to 12th centuries, as a relict of its close contact with Sinhalese, while retaining a number of unique words that cannot be derived from Sinhalese. Vedda has exerted a substratum influence in the formation of Sinhalese. This is evident by the presence of both lexical and structural elements in Sinhalese which cannot be traced to either Indo-Aryan or neighboring Dravidian languages.”

            Refer to the last line, in particular. Vedda language has no Dravidian influence. That means Veddas had virtually no contact with Dravidians. It is a complete refutation of those Eelamists who claim the early inhabitants of the were Dravidians.

            • 2
              1

              Lester the Jester

              “Vedda maintains many archaic Sinhalese terms from the 10th to 12th centuries,”

              Sinhala language also contains many Sinhalised English, Dutch, Portuguese, Tamil, Pali, Sanskrit, Hindi words. What do you deduce from it?

              “Vedda language has no Dravidian influence.”

              It shows Sinhala language had been heavily dependent on various foreign languages in its development. Vedda language is one of them. According one of your earlier typing you mentioned Sinhalese belongs to Aryan race (whatever that is). If true why would Sinhala language borrow words from Vedda language?

        • 2
          1

          Rubbish. The Vedda had close connection the the Dravidians and they are still worshipping the Dravidian/Tamil Vel and Tamil Lord Murugan and many Tamil words are found in the Vedda dialect.
          The generic roots of Vel worship can be traced to proto-Dravidian and tribal belief systems. Sri Lanka has been chosen as and ideal ground for this study, because many Proto-Dravidian indigenous Tamil traditions have been preserved in this island. The infiltration of Aryan traditions has been weak and slow in Sri Lanka due to its geological and historical isolation from India. Further, Prof. Ellawala concluding his study of religious practices in early Sri Lanka, made a series of relevant observation, “It becomes clear,” he said, “that the majority of the civilized people in pre-Buddhist Ceylon were followers of Hinduism in one form or another”. Before Buddhism became the established religion of Ceylon several popular proto-Hindu cults prevailed in the Island, features of which are evident today in legends and the surviving folk cults. In Buddhists folk worship the Hindu deities including Skanda continue to lurk in the background, to protect, support and give honor to Lord Buddha. (Ellawala p.161) “The pre-Buddhist gods and god-lings who the average man continued to believe in, were reduced to the position of the humble servants of Buddha — the God of Gods” (Paranavitarana. S p. 100).

          • 2
            1

            According to modern archeological findings, Sri Lanka was connected to the Indian subcontinent for the past one million years up to as recently as only 7,000 years. During this vast period, says Director-General of Archeology Dr. Shiran Deraniyagala, (Indigenous Lanka conference), many hundreds of nomadic groups of adivasis or indigenous people must have walked across what is now the shallow Palk Strait to engage in subsistence hunting and gathering activities. Iron Age peoples, by comparison, seen to have settled here about 800-1000 B. C.
            There were no anthropomorphic icons of Murukan in South India or Sri Lanka before the third and fourth century A.D. Evidences indicate that the aniconic representation of Murukan as Vel preceded that of the anthropomorphic images of Murukan. In prehistoric archeological site, iron Vel, bronze cock, and a gold mouth cover used by pujaris and those who take kavati to cover their mouths were found in Adichanallur in South India. (Deraniyagala P.E.P. 1902) (Thurston E., p. 149) Similar findings in Sri Lanka Puttalam district in 1955 and such related findings found in Ponparippu (Western Coast) Valavganga valley (Southern Coast), Katiraveli (Eastern Coast), Vallipuram, Varani (Northern Coast) and Mathotam, indicate that Vel worship was prevalent and also points to the antiquity of Vel worship (Begely, p. 49).

            • 2
              1

              The representation of it as an amulet is also found on the ancient coins and on the crowns of kings (Parker, pp. 469, 538).
              Ancient Tamil Literary Sources
              The generic history of the Murukan cult is old as the classical language of Tamil itself. Eons ago, in Sangam3 period literary source Murukan was known as Cevvēl or Vēlan meaning ‘red tinged lance’ or ‘wielder of the lance’. In Puranānūru .56 we find reference to ‘The powerful God dwelling in the Vel. In Akanānūru .158. Paripatal .9. and Painkursmuri .249 references are made to Murukan as Vēlan. Cilappatikāram speaks of Velakottam, implying Vel was singled out and installed for worship and shrines were built around it.
              Ancient Tamil Literary Sources
The generic history of the Murukan cult is old as the classical language of Tamil itself. Eons ago, in Sangam3 period literary source Murukan was known as Cevvēl or Vēlan meaning ‘red tinged lance’ or ‘wielder of the lance’. In Puranānūru .56 we find reference to ‘The powerful God dwelling in the Vel. In Akanānūru .158. Paripatal .9. and Painkursmuri .249 references are made to Murukan as Vēlan. Cilappatikāram speaks of Velakottam, implying Vel was singled out and installed for worship and shrines were built around it.


              • 2
                1

                Etymological clues: “The Vedda dialect as probably did the old Sinhala approaches far closer to Tamil than modern Sinhala in its pronunciation”. (Hugh Neville. p.88.) The Vedda dialect, their spoken language is identical with Elu which was the spoken language of ancient Sri Lanka, which is semi-Tamil; as to the grammatical structure it is essentially Dravidian and simple (Emaneau, M.B 1961). Examples:

                Vedda dialect meanings in Elu & Tamil
                1.Muruwn in Elu dialect denotes the ancient Indian god Muru.
                2.Moriga arrow in Elu
                3.Muru is a form of ananku, in Elu and Tamil.
                4.Kanta boda hill side.
                5.Kur spike; same as in Tamil
                6.Iyaka, Iya arrow. kanu, vellu in Tamil
                7.Ira sun ray
                8.Ira pojja sun. iravi in Tamil.
                9.Neya Yakūn kindred spirit, neya is friendly in Tamil
                10.Taraka star, taraki in Tamil
                11.Kanta elephant.(mount of Murukan)
                12.Yakas includes both benevolent and malevolent deities
                13.Appa father, same as in Tamil
                14.Elam young, same as in Tamil

      • 15
        8

        Siva Sankaran Sharma,
        Sinhala historians and archeologists have discarded Vijaya story. Research conducted by archeologists on pre-history have found plenty of evidences to prove that Sinhalayo lived in this country before Vijaya arrived. All the history text books for schools have been revised based on these new findings. Dumbos who do not know the latest changes to the history of Sinhale will keep on hanging on to Vijaya story.
        So far no historical or pre-historical evidences have been uncovered to prove that Demalu are indigenous people in Sinhale. Portuguese ‘Thombu’ and British records show that they brought millions of Dravidians from Hindusthan to Sinhale as slaves to work in their plantations in Yapanaya and central highlands.

        • 6
          4

          Eagle ‘stupid idiot’ Eye, what ‘real’ evidence do you have fool?

        • 5
          3

          Eagle,
          If you are capable of reading the thombus, why don’t you mention that all these slaves were settled in the Western coastal region?

    • 15
      5

      in my opinion of the Indians, Sinhalese have to most commonality to Bengalis Orissans, and Keralites. In general and feature-wise and language-wise we look more similar to the first two but food and practices wise we are more similar to Keralites.

      • 7
        18

        Your opinion does not matter but facts. Chingkallams do not look like Bengali or people from Odissha . May be the Rajapakses as they are very Chinky looking. The vast majority of the Chingkallams look like typical South Indians , as their ancestors are really from there and so is their culture. Kerala or Cheralam was Thamizh a few centuries ago. Old Malayalam is the western Thamizh Chera dialect and modern Malayalam is basically a highly Sanskritized form of Thamizh now written in a Tulu based Tilagri script but if you notice it very carefully it is still similar to the Thamizh script. The Sri Lankan Thamizh food practices and many other customs are also very similar to the people of Kerala. The island was called Cheralam during ancient times . Meaning the land of the Chera. Chera is another word for Naga. Please google and read. The web is there to expand your knowledge. Do not restrict yourself to Chingkalla extremist sites.

      • 7
        15

        a14455

        “in my opinion of the Indians, Sinhalese have to most commonality to Bengalis Orissans, and Keralites. “

        I might agree with you.
        They are mostly descendant of Kallathonie South Indians.
        What are they doing in my ancestral homeland?

        ” In general and feature-wise and language-wise we look more similar to the first two but food and practices wise we are more similar to Keralites.”

        Have you ever carried out an extensive comparative studies on the subjective opinion of yours. If you have, could we have a copy of the complete studies.

      • 6
        4

        Go to rural Kerala and see how typical everything is to rural Sinhalese Sri Lanka. The people, the looks the dress of the women, the homes , cooking, dances and culture and then go the some place in Bengal or Odisha and compare. Kerala(Chera Nadu or Cheralam) was part of the Tamil ethnicity and Tamil country until very recently. Malayalam was traditionally considered the western Tamil Chera dialect until due to large scale Sanskritization, with the arrival of the Namboothiri Brahmins from the north it got bastardized and evolved into another language fairly recently. Even as far a 1700s and early 1800s, the vast majority of Kerala’s population were still speaking and using the old Tamil Malayalam, also called Malayalama or Malabar Tamil, written in the Tamil script, until the British banned the use of this language in the 1820s and forced the highly Sanskritized Malayalam used by their allies , the ruling Namboothiri Brahmins, written in the Tilgari script , then called Grantham, as the official language of Kerala. They then cunningly renamed this Grantham as Malayalam . The ancient Dravidian Naga and Yakka, of the island had very close connection to the population of Kerala. This is why in ancient time the island was called Cheralam. This why you see this close similarity as many of these southern Dravidian Yakka and Naga evolved as Sinhalese and formed the foundation for the original Sinhalese.

  • 15
    14

    The writer has dragged Sinhalayo and blamed them to a problem created by narrow minded Tamil politicians that emerged in 1930s who had separatism in their minds.

    • 9
      10

      I now feel if sl our motherland was led by a Tamil srilankens or muslim srilankens or even by a Burgher, surely we would have achieved a lot. But our people are racist champions to the world. Not Israelis but my sinhala race is the world champion s in racism against the minorities and mostly own community 😌😌😌😌😌😌😌😌😌😌😌😌😌

      • 8
        10

        Leela,

        “I now feel if sl our motherland was led by a Tamil srilankens or muslim srilankens or even by a Burgher, surely we would have achieved a lot.”

        I will not comment on Muslims. Regarding Tamil leadership, LTTE killed off or chased away the top intellectuals. One of the writers here, Hoole, had to seek safety in the USA. LTTE were uneducated fascists who wanted a Marxist, apartheid state. Prabhakaran was influenced by Dravidian Movement of Periyar E. V. Ramasamy in Tamil Nadu. He once said, “If you see a snake and a Brahmin, kill the Brahmin first.” Brahmins are the only accomplished Tamils. All Nobel Prize winners from South India were mixed Aryan/Dravidian Brahmins. Famous mathematician Ramanujan also a Brahmin. Pure Dravidian Tamils were jealous of their fair skin, intelligence, etc. and chased them out of TN. So you can imagine what a Tamil state in SL would look like. As Hoole has written here, Jaffna Hindus cannot even tolerate Christians at the Jaffna U.

        • 6
          3

          Lester,
          Don’t forget that 75% of our export income comes from minority-run or operated industries. Doesn’t that mean anything to your tiny Aryan mind?

          • 0
            2

            Codger,

            You were caught lying about the Kandyan Convention. What is your source for the 75% statistic? Sangam.org? TamilNet?

        • 6
          1

          Lester,
          .
          Go back to Kindergarten. That is all what I would like to repeat you.
          .
          I am no against anyone so long srilankeness is respected. What matters is racism free mentality. Gota and your belvoed MaRa are born thieves. THese men have misled the nation for their political survival. YOu the kind of ilk are still caught by the tricks they ve been playong on you.
          :
          Just give one tiny achievement since the bugger brothers grabed the power ? Shameless enough these men have not documented to whom they provided the vaccine with….. the very same was the case under MaRa JUNTA Regime No 01 regarding collossal amounts of state funds…. all what MaRa added was…. no records were maintained on any kind of funds being abused….. srilanken born judges and lawyer community just let it go…. if that would have been the case in Europe… MaRa should now been sitting a prison cell.. however, UPSIDE down nature is the result in our hell, where criminals run almost everything as of today.

  • 17
    15

    If Tamils are practical people and knew that separation simply will not work why did they pass the Batakotte Resolution to create a separate State for the descendants of Dravidians brought to Yapanaya by Portuguese and declared war against Sinhala Nation and massacred Sinhalayo for three decades to grab their land?
    They did not want to get themselves boxed-in to a dreary corner of the country. They wanted to grab almost one third of the country to 12% of the people.
    Tamils failed to create a separate State using violence but they have not given up the idea. Sampanthan had told at a meeting in Madakalapuwa that their objective is the same but the strategy is different.
    —-
    “Tamils are a practical people. They know that separation simply will not work in this ‘tiny’ bit of land. And they want to share in the benefits of our entire island’s many natural advantages. They are not foolish to get themselves boxed-in to a dreary corner of the country.”

    • 7
      3

      Idiot Eagle Eye, not all Tamils want a separate state, I am one of those people who do not want a separation of this country. All they want is to be treated equally and to be left alone within an unitary state called Sri Lanka. Stupid ass, always moaning about the Tamils. You racist scumbag need to get a life. Assho*e!!!

    • 5
      0

      WOW do you have the audacity to raise that question that our people are practical ? How demented you should be ? Look at Rajapakshes rascals.. look at Sorysena… look at all the pohottuwa kith and kin ? there you will have unestimable number of examples.
      .
      Look at all what Gota has achieved for the last 15 months. That will give you until you become hearless. People s angers will show you guys sooner than later.

      I am not sure, RAJAAKSHES are real sinhalayas… let DNA researchers to do the job for you.
      :

  • 10
    14

    “We elders will bid our good byes within the next few years. It is for an intelligent younger generation to reflect on these matters and come to wise decisions, having the interests of the yet unborn in mind. We can still become a great nation if we choose to.”
    Todays generation is tomorrows elders. What we elders leave now will have an impact on the future generation. Current political leaders and religious leaders have sown poisonous seeds in this land it will grow for another generation.
    A quite large number of Sinhalese and Tamils have moved out of this island to settle in the countries that are invaded Sri Lanka centuries earlier. Unfortunately, only a few Rich who benefitted from our invaders now become economically and politically sound while 90% of the population take the share of poverty, riots, wars and continued suffering for the past seven decades. The political class need racism and religious fundamentalism to keep their power. Unless the population understands the truth, there will be no change for many decades.

  • 13
    8

    “However, immediately after the humiliation of Sinhala being forced down their throats by the Sinhala Only Act, all that changed. Jaffna schools stopped teaching Sinhala.”

    What a dumb decision.

  • 14
    10

    “However, immediately after the humiliation of Sinhala being forced down their throats by the Sinhala Only Act, all that changed.

    When Brits forced English down the throats of Tamils as the official language, they had no problem. When Native Sinhalayo who lived under colonial rule for about 450 years made their language spoken by 75% of the people as the official language after they gained Independence, Tamils had a problem. Hypocrites!

    • 7
      15

      “When Brits forced English down the throats of Tamils as the official language, they had no problem”
      Neither did Sinhalayo. There are very few Tamils with Portuguese names, but most Sinhalayo have them. I wonder why?

      • 7
        13

        old codger

        “There are very few Tamils with Portuguese names, but most Sinhalayo have them. I wonder why?”

        Most of their forefathers served in the Portuguese Lascarins, manned by mercenaries exclusively recruited among Sinhalese, who helped the foreign invaders capture northern part of this island. They were proud to have helped Portuguese capture the land hence as an honour they wanted themselves to be known by their Portuguese names.

        • 5
          2

          Native,
          Have you noticed how Lester suddenly is getting all the green thumbs while we are getting red ones. Are we important enough to be Pohottuwa troll targets?
          Should we be proud?

    • 7
      15

      When did the Sinhalese who are supposed to be descended from immigrants from Bengal/Odisha and Tamil Nadu/Kerala become native to the island? If Sinhalese are native the Tamils from the north and east are even more native, as they have a longer history in the island. So forcing Sinhalese only down their throat is indeed a problem, especially after the so called independence, where we all are supposed to have been equal with equal rights, as promised by the so called Sinhalese leaders then, in order to get independence from the British as a unitary state. As soon as independence was given, as usual they reneged on what they promised.

      • 4
        3

        This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.

        For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

        • 5
          2

          Eagle Eye, wow finally a brilliant comment and very brief. Captures the entire story of your dumb existene on this earth.

  • 8
    15

    I am thankful for the essay.

    However, how can we forget the war crimes as the author suggests? Doing that will send the message to the Sinhalese army that they can kill any Tamil with impunity.
    How do we forget about these crimes when the war criminals hold very high offices in this government? How can we even work with a government full of war criminals?

    No! War criminals must be tried, and punished.

    • 12
      7

      Jaffna Man,
      Dumbo, those who hold high positions in the Government are not war criminals but who eliminated Tamil terrorists who committed war crimes by slaughtering innocent Sinhala men, women, children, and even unborn babies for three decades.

  • 6
    14

    Good article and thanks Mr. Athukorale. It is a well known fact that indigenous Dravidian Naga in the island , adopted proper Tamil as their mother tongue around 3000 years ago. The Sri Lankan Tamils from the north and east are largely descended from these Naga. I say largely as they are also partially descended from Tamil immigrants from South India and the immigrants from North East India. This is why many of these ancient Tamil Naga kings had Tamil names or titles like Mootha Sivan , Thevanai Nambiya Theesan, Kaavan Theesan or Kakkai Vanna Theesan. The Sri Lankan Tamil culture is indeed different from the South Indian Tamil culture. This is because of the long thousands of years intermingling and association with the Sinhalese and the ancient Dravidian immigration to the island, not only arrived from what is now modern Tamil Nadu but from what is now Kerala and other parts of then Dravidian India like Andhra, Karnataka and even Kalinga. Like the people of Kerala the Sri Lankan Tamils are matriarchical. Very rarely will the bride go to the grooms home. The Groom comes and lives with the brides parents home or they live separately. You are very close to your mother’s relatives than your fathers and they generally take precedence. Like the people of Kerala the ancient Naga tradtion of worshipping the cobra is very common amongst Sri Lankan Tamils and even in parts of Southern Tamil Nadu.

  • 8
    14

    Mr. Athukorala,

    Thank you for trying to come to grips with the truth. I would agree with 90% of what you say, and I hope more and more fair-minded Sinhalese like you start speaking out.

    However, I don’t think even you fully appreciate the plight of the Tamil people, their daily experiences of being mistreated by the military and police, the problems they face with language issues, their constant fear of violence, and riots breaking out against them. Tamils still don’t feel safe in traveling, even in the North-East, let alone the South.

    On the issue of war crimes, as you say, even the real criminals in the military who were responsible for Trinco-5, ACF-17, other abductions for ransom, etc., haven’t been brought to book. They have been shielded by politicians elected overwhelmingly by the Sinhalese people. The burden is on the GoSL to first show it will take action against such clear cases where there is proof. But not having done even that–there is still no groundswell of support among the Sinhalese even for that–, you cannot ask the Tamil people to forget the more serious charges of war crimes that happened in the theater of war.

    • 6
      14

      On devolution, the real intention of the Indo-Lanka accord was to give the Tamils and Muslims a reasonable degree of control over their own affairs, in an asymmetric devolution for the North-East only. It would have at least minimized the language problems and fostered hope in a unified country. Creating PCs for all provinces was a waste of resources and a bad idea introduced by that old fox, JRJ, in order to make it more palatable to the Sinhalese.

      The need now is to refocus on asymmetric devolution. Of course some finessing will be required in handling legitimate Muslim and Sinhalese interests in the East. Providing a second chamber in itself won’t do much to help the plight of the Tamil and Muslim people in SL, but when done along with asymmetric devolution, it can help to move the country in the right direction.

      • 14
        7

        Agnos,
        Tamil politicians passed Batakotte Resolution to create a separate State for the descendants of Dravidians brought to Yapanaya by Portuguese and declared war against Sinhala nation and massacred Sinhalayo for three decades. During that time, Demalu bragged that they cannot be defeated militarily and refused to come to a negotiated settlement. After failing to arrive at a negotiated settlement, the Government of Sri Lanka defeated Tamil terrorists who fought to create a separate State. Now the guys who got defeated are begging Sinhalayo to give them asymmetric devolution. What a joke!

      • 2
        2

        Agnos
        The Indo-Lanka accord addressed N-E Tamil concerns to a fair degree, but failed on the concerns of the other twoTamil speaking minorities.
        *
        Indian understanding of the Sri Lankan national question was a bit confused and conditioned very much by what the TULF and the key militant organizations told them on top of its own worries about secession etc.
        In fact, Tamil nationalist understanding of the national question is still weak.
        No Tamil nationalist is unable to come to terms with Muslim rejection of a Tamil ethnic/national identity. After 1957 there was little concern about Hill Country Tamils. The attitude was: let their leaders decide.
        *
        Having said this, I agree that 13A is the best so far that was truly on offer.
        The LTTE screwed it up by allowing the President power to dismiss the Provincial Government.
        An important thing that is overlooked is that many Sinhalese resent that 13A was imposed on them by a neighbour whom they never trusted. Rights and wrongs apart, that is reality.
        India made it worse by adding clauses that concerned its own security interests (at that time with the US in mind).

  • 3
    11

    What a sad state of affairs. Sometimes I think there is more amity between the races within Sri Lanka than those abroad. For one thing, most people in SL are too busy trying to feed themselves to have time for the views of the racist morons who run BTF and Lankaweb.

  • 2
    1

    Seems this writer has touched a raw nerve of people in denial and avoid unpleasant facts , all their life.

    • 4
      2

      Chiv,
      To some of these people, a person who does not toe the official line is guilty of treachery to the tribe.

      • 0
        3

        OC
        Is it not true of all the tribes and unholy alliances at work here?

        • 3
          1

          SJ,
          Yes. The reference is to all tribes.

  • 3
    1

    It seems that many Sinhala Buddhists have to learn real dhamma-vinaya from the Tamils. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVDVWAdDJ4A

  • 0
    0

    A Sri Lankan wants to live in a country that has Judiciary system which dispenses judgements in a just manner and NOT acording to the wishes of the Government.
    Attorney General post should be given on merit and not to take sides with the Rulers.
    This Sri Lankan wants it’s country be secular multireligious and multi ethnic. Election commission should have powers to remove candidates who have criminal cases against them; who have accumulated wealth beyond their means; who will declare their true assets every year; who do not fan religious or racial hatereds. The GoSL talks about reconciliation , peace etc but really does NOT care about it. Can it enumerate their reconciliatory efforts so far.

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