At this moment in our history, we are engaged once again in discussions and debates on the antiquity of the different communities in Sri Lanka and the languages that identify them, namely Sinhala and Tamil; and the nationhood in terms of exclusivity of each. While searching for information of the evolution of the Sinhala script and spoken language, a language which is claimed to be uniquely Lankan, I came across the following extensively referenced document, which makes interesting reading. I am sure those who have an open mind will benefit from this publication.
In the introduction to this document it is stated:
“Sri Lanka being an island in such close proximity to the sub continent of India, it is to India that we must look for origins of Sri Lanka’s culture, religion, language and scripts. The ethnic origins of the peoples of Sri Lanka must be traced to the peoples of India. An exception must be made for those minorities who can trace their ancestry to Sri Lanka’s colonial rulers, the Portuguese, Dutch and British, and also for a small number of Muslims who trace their ancestry to either Arab traders or to Indonesia.
A perusal of the maps of Sri Lanka and South India reveals that at some point in time in the very remote past the island must have been connected to India by a land bridge. Anyone who travels by air to India from Sri Lanka, cannot have failed to perceive the remnants of this umbilical cord of islets and shoals forming what is known as the Adam’s Bridge just north of Mannar peninsula. The Rameshwaram island, the Mannar peninsula, Adam’s Bridge and the large square rocks forming the ruins of an ancient causeway on the side of the railway bridge just north of the Mannar Peninsula. The Rameshwaram island, the Mannar peninsula and the large square rocks forming the ruins of an ancient causeway on the side of the railway bridge across the narrow straits of Mandapam connecting Rameshwaram with the mainland India, all go to prove that in prehistoric times there was easy access to Sri Lanka for the peoples of South India. Sri Lanka’s birth as an island must have taken place when it was severed from Mother India either during the great flood which wiped out many cities of the Indus Valley civilization or through a very gradual separation throuhout the ages in accordance with the continental drift theory. Final severence of the umbilical cord in many places would have been caused by the constant erosion of its coasts by the seas during the South West and North East monsoons.
Any prehistoric inhabitants of South India would therefore be ethnically and culturally very little different from those in Sri Lanka. As stated in the Ceylon University History of Ceylon, “ The close geological link with the island’s early history has meant that the island’s early human history has been closely bound up with that of the sub-continent. The early settlers came from there bringing with them arts, crafts and culture to their new home.”
The origins and evolution of various groups of scripts used around the world are shown in table 1 and the differences between Sinhala script and those of other languages used in India are depicted in Tables 5,6 & 9. Table 10, depicts the signatures of the Dissawes and Adigars who were a party to the March’ 1815 Kandyan convention. The mixture of Tamil and yet evolving Sinhala alphabets used by many may depict a period in our history (especially in the Kandyan Kingdom) when a combination of Sinhala and Tamil alphbets were used. The fact that the Sinhala and Tamil languages share in common 4000+ words also may point to a time where both languages were less divergent. (Please note that the table numbers are as denoted in the original document.)
Table 10, depicts the signatures of the Dissawes and Adigars who were a party to the March’ 1815 Kandyan convention. The mixture of Tamil and yet evolving Sinhala alphabets used by many may depict a period in our history (especially in the Kandyan Kingdom) when a combination of Sinhala and Tamil alphbets were used. The fact that the Sinhala and Tamil languages share in common 4000+ words also may point to a time where both languages were less divergent. (Please note that the table numbers are as denoted in the original document.)
It is time we rewrite our history based on the most likely and logical information available to depict our essential unity than to construct a non-existent uniquenes and unbrigeable communal divides for any one of the communities that inhabit this island nation. Foreseeably never ending arguments based on contrived facts and patent myths have been brought into play to derail possible solutions to the so-called national question, time and again at crucial moments in our post-independence history. Those who have time and again resorted to such perverse tactics are the real traiters to this country.