18 August, 2022


The Sound Of A Jaffna Clap With One Hand

By H. L. D. Mahindapala

H. L. D. Mahindapala

H. L. D. Mahindapala

There are two narratives, with two interpretations, to the North-South events that convulsed Sri Lanka in the post-independent period. The conventional narrative that has gained popularity is the mono-causal interpretation which blames only the Sinhala-Buddhists of the south for the worsening of the inter-ethnic relations. According to this theory events eventually spiraled down to a bloody confrontation because of the intransigence of the Sinhala-Buddhist nationalists who failed to accommodate the demands of the Tamils.

This argument was based on the assumption that the Tamils had not only a right to demand whatever there was on their political agenda, irrespective of the consequences to other communities, or the nation, but also because they were politically correct in making their demands – even if the demands came from the extreme end of the political spectrum — and the only right that the Sinhalese had was to give in, whether they were reasonable or not. Leaving aside the plethora of complex theories and ideological constructions that were thrown in to bolster this mono-causal interpretation of events, there is no historical evidence to justify the accusation that the North-South conflict originated primarily from Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism that was hostile to the minorities.

This argument ignores and denies that there were autochthonous forces driving the north into mono-ethnic extreme. A closer look at the grass root forces in the North will confirm that it is the internal forces of the Jaffna peninsula that locked them into an ethnic corner from which they could not get out except through violence. Eventually the North decided to step out of the multi-cultural, democratic mainstream to carve out a mono-ethnic enclave through violent means. S. J. V. Chelvanayakam was the father of this separatist ideology which he first launched on December 18, 1949 and later, in a more violent form on May 14, 1976 when the Tamil leadership passed the Vadukoddai Resolution declaring war on the rest.

The violent conflict between the two communities ran for 33 years. It began officially from May 14, 1976 when the legitimized violence of the Vadukoddai Resolution gathered a momentum of its own and fell into the hands of the deified Velupillai Prabhakaran. It ended on May 19, 2009 when the Tamil Tigers were vanquished on the banks of Nandikadal. The international media classified it as the “Longest running War in Asia”.

At each stage of the events exacerbating North-South relations the Tamil leadership withdrew into a cocoon of their own refusing to either examine their failures critically or to engage in mid-course corrections. They took comfort in consistently diverting attention to the Sinhala-Buddhist South to cover-up their failures and blame everything on the Sinhala-Buddhists. For instance, they never asked : Was the Vadukoddai violence that ran all the way to Nandikadal necessary for the survival or the progress of the Jaffna Tamils? What purpose did it serve? If the Vadukoddai War was endorsed, launched, financed, propagated, directed and internationalized by the Tamil leadership, embracing it as the work of their “boys” and turning a blind eye to the forcible recruitment of children to wage a futile war, who is responsible for the prolonged conflict that engulfed the nation for 33 years? Who is responsible for the rejection of the peace agreements (plural!) that came with international guarantees? To believe that only the Sinhala-Buddhist south is responsible for the holocaust will be something akin to the belief in the sound of a clap with one hand.

There is, no doubt, that the Sinhala majority misjudged, mishandled and reacted with counter-violence to contain the growing menace of Tamil extremism aiming to divide the nation. But down each step of the way, from Ponnambalam’s Nawalapitiya incident in the late thirties, to Chelvanayakam’s 1949 Maradana speech and later in the Vadukoddai declaration of war in 1976 the Tamil leadership, overestimated their strength, and resorted to confrontational politics unlike the other two communities which distanced themselves from Vadukoddian violence. Their provocative politics roused the historical fears, antagonisms and defensive counter-violence of the South. The extremism of the Northern politics pushed Southern politics also into extremism.

The historical sequence of events, where one event determined the next, with one exacerbating the other, the geographical location where historical events exploded and impacted on both sides of the divide, and the over-determining mono-ethnic ideologies and the interactions of the political actors that manufactured and manipulated the separatist movement — a movement that threw the nation into a holocaust of unprecedented proportions — must be arranged in the natural order of the evolving events to grasp the meaning of our time.

But the mono-causal theorists skip the evolving stages of the escalating demands of the North from colonial times and jump straight into 1956 to blame S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, as if history and inter-ethnic relations began with Bandaranaike. Consequently, in popular political folklore, the common perception begins by blaming the Sinhala-Buddhist wave that swept the nation in the post-1956 era. Invariably, the mono-causal theorists begin their narrative of contemporary times on page one of their opening chapter by accusing Bandaranaike. The mono-causal theory bred one-eyed academics who blithely popularized their mono-causal myth without taking into consideration the preceding factors that were generated by the mono-ethnic political culture of the North. Long before Bandaranaike became a force of his own in 1956 Northern Vellahla elite had escalated, step by step, over the colonial and post-colonial decades mono-ethnic politics to the nearest point of the ultimate extreme.

Even at this late stage it is not too late to question this mono-causal theory that blames the majority Sinhala-Buddhists. How valid is this accusation? There are three major minorities in Sri Lanka – i.e., the indigenous Tamils of the North, the Muslims mainly of the east, and Indians of central hills all whom speak Tamil. Despite differences which are common factors in any majority-minority relationship, the Sri Lankan state resolved differences with the Muslims and the Indians non-violently, within the democratic framework. So why did the Sri Lanka state fail only with the Northern Tamils? What went wrong only with the Tamils of the North? Was it because only the Tamils of the North stepped out of the democratic mainstream and resorted to violence? Was it because of any failure of the majority community which had successfully resolved differences with the other two communities? Or was it because the extremist nature of the Tamil demands, together with intransigence, blocked all possibilities of resolving differences for peaceful co-existence between the North and the South?

If Sinhala-Buddhism is that evil, as described in the mono-causal theory, how come they compromised with the other two minority communities and paved the path for non-violent co-existence? Besides, it is on record that the Tamils achieved a great deal whenever they cooperated with the Sinhalese. Prof. Wilson hailed the Chelvanayakam-Dudley ‘Senanayake Coalition government from 1965 – 1970 as “the golden years of Sinhala-Tamil reconciliation” (p.111 — S. J. V. Chelvanayakam and the Crisis of Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism, 1947 b- 1977, A Political Biography, A. J. Wilson.). S. M. Rasamanickam, in his presidential address to the annual Federal Party convention of 1969, spoke glowingly of the rewarding relationship that prevailed among the two communities when the Federal Party formed the National Government with Dudley Senanayake. He said: “During the last four years were able to gain some rights, if not all of what we expected, through the method of cooperation” (Ibid). Clearly, the possibilities were there for peaceful resolution of differences within the democratic framework whenever the minorities worked together with the centre.

What stood in the way of North-South relations is not the demands – and there were plenty of it from all three minorities — but the specific nature of the separatist demand that threatened the unity and territorial integrity of the nation. As seen in the evolution of the inter-ethnic relations between the majority Sinhalese and Muslim and the Indian minorities it was possible to resolve the reasonable demands non-violently with the majority within the democratic framework. Peaceful co-existence failed only with the Northern Tamils. Why?

The Northern Tamils not only stepped out of the non-violent democratic mainstream, but were also determined to step out of the overall framework of the state demanding a separate state. Separatism and violence are inseparable. It was Tamil extremism that pushed the Tamils into the violent Vadukoddai corner from which they could not get out. No compromise was possible with intransigent separatists. Take, for instance, three constructive, progressive and meaningful settlements worked with cast-iron guarantees : – 1. the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement with Indian guarantees; 2. the Ceasefire Agreement signed by Velupillai Prabhakaran and Norway with the backing of India and international community and 3. the P-TOMs which handed over on a platter the control of the North and the East to Prabhakaran without an election for ten years. All three were rejected and scuppered by Prabhakaran. And whom do the mono-causal theorists blame : the Sinhala-Buddhists, accusing them of not compromising and giving into the demands of the Tamils?

In 1949 when S. J. V. Chelvanayakam launched his first speech for separatism Northern politics had reached its penultimate state of mono-ethnic extremism. It began in the 20s when the English-educated Vellahala Tamil elite – all politics in Jaffna originated from the English-educated Saivite Vellahla elite — asked for one extra seat in the Western Province, consisting mainly of the Sinhalese, in addition to the seats allotted to them in the North. In the thirties the Tamil leadership, led by G. G. Ponnambalam, jumped from one extra seat to 50 -50 – i.e.. 50% for the 12 % Tamils and 50% for the 75% Sinhalese. Though this 50 – 50 claim was disguised as coming from all the minorities – Jaffna Tamils, Muslims and Indians – neither the Muslims nor the Indian Tamils wanted it, nor backed it.

In the forties the Tamil leadership dropped the disproportionate politics of percentages and asked for disproportionate share of territory based on ethnic demography. It was disguised as federalism, though in reality they were aiming at separatism, based on “the little now and more later” policy of Chelvanayakam. (p.128 – Ibid). In 1949 they had neared the end of the mono-ethnic spectrum, advancing from one seat in the Western Province to dividing the nation into two. There was nowhere to go beyond the extremity of a separate state. It is at this point that Chelvanayakam took the center stage and declared his separatist ideology at the GSCU Hall on Dec. 18, 1949. By this time the momentum of mono-ethnic extremism had become an irreversible force within the peninsula. In other words, Bandaranaike had nothing to do with the rise of Tamil extremism, including separatism. After Chelvanayakam’s Maradana speech on December 18, 1949 it was speeding downhill, all the way to Nandikadal.

The divisive politics of Jaffna spilled over from the cadjan-curtained borders of the peninsula and entered the mainstream politics specifically in 1949. Consequently, it is necessary to revisit 1949 when Chelvanayakam launched his first separatist speech at the GCSU Hall in Maradana to get a historical perspective of the mono-ethnic extremism that escalated, inch by inch, into violent politics. In hindsight the political path taken by Chelvanayakam to deviate from the democratic mainstream and resort to separatist violence confirms the foolishness of the Tamil leadership that misled the Tamil people. Nandikadal confirms that there was nothing to gain from separatism. . Nandikadal exposes the folly of both Tamil extremism and the short-sighted Tamil leadership that believed, on the one hand, on the self-inflicted wounds of victimhood and, on the other, their misperceived belief that they constitute a race with a history far superior to that of the Sinhalese, the Muslims and the Indians.

The conventional wisdom that blames only the Sinhala-Buddhists cannot carry the Tamils into the future. It is a slogan that has passed its use-by-date. Contemporary history did not begin with Bandaranaike or his Sinhala Only Act. He and his policies did add fuel to the fires that were already raging in the North. But the fires were certainly not lit by Bandaranaike. Jaffna was already burning with the hate politics that targeted the south. Chelvanayakam brought the communal fires of the North to the south in 1949 when he delivered his separatist ideology at the GCSU Hall in Maradana.

The manner in which the hate politics of the north exploded in the hands of Prabhakaran, the first born child of the Vadukoddai Resolution, is the acid test that exonerates the Sinhala-Buddhists of being the primary cause of Tamil violence. As stated earlier, Tamil politics is obsessed with victimhood. The logic that followed this perception was devastating to the Tamils. They were made to believe that could enter their political heaven only by eliminating the Sinhala-Buddhists and grabbing all possible territory exclusively for themselves. This exclusivity, rejecting multi-cultural co-existence – an ingrained historical trend recorded even in Yalpana Vaipa Malai – led them to the violent Vadukoddai Resolution. It contained not only the hate politics of the North but also their misperceived superiority of Jaffna culture which, in fact, doesn’t exist.

On the contrary, the Pol Potist rule of Prabhakaran confirms that it is an inescapable manifestation of the intolerant, intransigent and fascist culture of Jaffna. He did not come out of nothing, or the Sinhala South. He is an indigenous product of the Vellahla fascism that oppressed, suppressed and persecuted the people of Jaffna during feudal and colonial times. He is merely an extension of that culture. Unable to justify his subhuman politics the Tamils blamed the Sinhala for his actions. It is the Sinhalese who created Prabhakaran, they said. Well, if the Sinhalese created Prabhakaran why did he kill the Muslims? What did they do to him or to the Tamils? If the Sinhalese created Prabhakaran why did he kill Tiruchelvam, Laxman Kadirgamar and the entire Tamil leadership, including those who legitimized his violence in the Vadukoddai Resolution? What did the Tamils do to him to kill Tamils?

It is the intolerant, arrogant, fascist political culture that ruled Jaffna throughout its history that resurfaced in Prabhakaran. The religio-casteist fascism of the Vellahlas was replaced by political fascism which manifested itself in the ruthless personality cult of Prabhakaran. Chelvanayakam’s Maradana speech paved the path to take Jaffna back to its fascist feudal roots. His separatist ideology was the only available strategy for the ruling Vellahla elite to retain the feudalistic casteist power and privileges without yielding to the intrusive external influences undermining their political grip in the peninsula. Separatism was a movement of the Vellahlas, by the Vellahlas for the Vellahlas. It inflamed and fostered the most vicious form of fascist racism which surfaced in the deified cult of Prabhakaran.

However, it is possible for the new generation to write off Chelvanayakam’s Maradana speech that ran down to Nandikadal as bad memories of an unwanted historical nightmare. The choice before Jaffna now is very clear: do they want to go down the same path that took their children to Nandikadal? Or do they prefer to drop their arrogant counter-productive and misperceived politics and return to peaceful co-existence?

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Latest comments

  • 14

    Hey man ,you are a waste of time, [Edited out]….Rajapakse’s dentist.

    • 8

      See, this is where we are making a mistake. We ALL should let Journalist Extraordinaire clap with one hand. By this I mean that we should not respond to him. Let him write clap with one hand and there will be nobody to hear anything. His verbal cholera has no bounds – the man needs to be ignored, no matter how provocative he gets.

    • 3

      I thought he should be a Rajapakshe’s proctocologist.. what is the truth ?

    • 10

      H. L. D. Mahindapala – An Insult To Intelligence

      “The conventional narrative that has gained popularity is the mono-causal interpretation which blames only the Sinhala-Buddhists of the south for the worsening of the inter-ethnic relations. According to this theory events eventually spiraled down to a bloody confrontation because of the intransigence of the Sinhala-Buddhist nationalists who failed to accommodate the demands of the Tamils.”

      That is the truth, based in historical facts, and based on what is written in the Mahawansa by the Para-Mink Mahanama, and believed by the Sinhala Buddhists, in addition to other illusions and lies.

      Does, the catholic Church still believe, the Sinf Does around the Earth, as claimed by Joshua?

      Remember, the Para-sinhala and RAra-Tamils are Dravidian Paras from South India. Just test their DNA. They should get back to Dravidian-Land, South India.

      This Land, os the land of native Veddah Aethho, they walked and claimed it, notwithstanding the lies of Mahawanda and Dipaeansas and other Pacha-Wanses.

      H. L. D. Mahindapala – An Insult To Intelligence

      Mahavamsa- An Insult To The Buddha! By Sharmini Serasinghe


      Caution- The following is more suitable for the broad-minded and the wise. Others are kindly advised to pass!

      Wonder if ours might have been a wiser, and a more ‘humane’ society, had our ‘ancient’ history, been based on Aesop’s Fables, instead of the Mahavamsa. For if not for the Mahavamsa, the Sinhalese may not have been endowed, with the reputation, of “Sinhalaya Modaya (The Sinhalese are Fools)”!

      In this “wonderland” called Sri Lanka, and in this day and age, one still comes across ‘academically’ educated, and supposedly intelligent ‘Buddhists’, but sadly lacking in wisdom, who reverently believe, that the Buddha walked out of his mother’s womb, and walked seven steps, while lotuses blossomed, under his feet!

      These very same supposedly educated, and intelligent ‘Buddhists’ also believe, that the enormous indentation, resembling a footprint on a boulder, at Adam’s Peak (Sri Pada to ‘Buddhists’), to be that of the Buddha. This would be in keeping with the conviction that the Buddha, was as tall, or perhaps even taller, than the Avukana Buddha statue, which stands above 40 feet (12 meters) in height!

      Then, there is the ‘Dalada Maligawe’ in Kandy; most Buddhists believe, the tooth relic housed within, belonged to the Buddha. Some adorn the ‘tooth casket’ with mounds of gold jewelry, fervently believing, that they would earn merit, to the value of the gold they offer. The thought of donating the value of this gold, to feed and help, the poor, sick and the needy, that would be far more meritorious, never cross their minds!

      There hangs a controversial question, over the authenticity of this ‘sacred tooth’. But then again, to those ‘educated and intelligent Buddhists’, devoid of wisdom, if the Buddha, was taller than the Avukana statue, and had a giant footprint, as on Adam’s Peak, then this ‘huge tooth’ could be his!

      However it does not matter, if the tooth is over-sized, belonged to the Buddha or not, because he the ‘wise one’ asserted, that his followers must not revere, nor worship, any part of his physical self, nor idolize him. Had the Buddha wanted otherwise, he would have left not just a tooth, but his entire skeleton, for his followers to worship.

      The annual Esala Perahera, in Kandy, is yet another case in point. This colourful and spectacular ‘parade’ of the ‘tooth relic’, atop a magnificent elephant, is nothing but an ego-boosting exercise, of small minded men of yore, and now, a tradition of small minded men of the present. The ‘Esala Perahera’ therefore, is no relation of Buddhism!

      Then there are also those ‘Buddhists’, who on Full Moon (Poya) days, make a bee-line draped in white, to the temple, to ‘pray’ to ‘God Buddha’. They piously recite the ‘Five Precepts’ and other Buddhist verses, as in ‘praying’, facing a perceived image, of the miracle performing ‘God Buddha’. The Five Precepts- the basic code of ethics that the Buddhist laity, is required to abide by, cease to hold any value, beyond the temple gates!

      They offer flowers, to clay and stone images of the Buddha, and light oil lamps, as it is an idée recue; believing by doing so, one earns enormous merit. Little do they understand the significance, of such customs; they fail to connect the similarity of flowers and the oil lamp, with their impermanent life – ‘anicca’.

  • 16

    If we agree that prabakaran is an extension of Jaffna culuture.MR Is an extension of Sinhalese culture and so are you part of the same racist culture ?

  • 15

    hey HLD Mahindapala hows it going man? you seem to be jobless and write such racist stories to stir up trouble! why dont you write about something recent like

    i)BBS and Gotas link
    ii)Basils corruption
    iii) who set fire to Muslim owned NOLIMIT outlet?
    iv) Who attacked Fashion Bug
    v)an Autobiography of Gnanasara thero

    or if you can just head to one of the WC matches down under with an few beers and watch the match but in case your not interested in Cricket at least look at the lovely ladies there and admire them it will do your sick mind good

    • 7

      Peace lover

      Fully agree, these guys journalism only caters to racial hatred and wants the communities divided and suspicious against each other.

  • 15

    Chelvanayakam wasn’t even a Sri Lankan (Ceylonese)and was born in Malaysia, his father was a Malayalee. Racist Chelvanayakam led the Tamils off the cliff.

    Chelvanayakam wanted something that Tamil people woulnd not want. Besides, There is already a state for Tamils, that is Tamil Nadu.

    • 9

      there is a vacancy in BBS. Astrologer of the past

    • 3

      Unfortunately, the clap he spread remained resistant to treatment for 33 long years. It has yet to be eradicated.

  • 10

    NPC CM has played his cards…..now I challenge you to march all the Tamils to Nanthkadal,and exterminate them and be true to your words instead of writing threatening articles like a coward

  • 5

    Thanthai Chelva had already figured out the sinister move by Senanayakas before our lands in Trincomalee was encroached into. This week Ranil the snake moves under the grass said if any one intrudes in to
    his home he will shoot. That’s what our national leader did but he was branded as terrorist.

    You all, if are true followers of Buddha’s teaching
    You should know that the truth will eventually prevail no matter how you play your gimmicks.

  • 4

    More words of wisdom from my hero! What I don’t understand is why readers don’t appreciate his hindsight and take him for the unapologetic racist that he is not. It must be the Velallas, elites and other enemies of our super-great ex-president who are so critical of this true geniass. There is not enough dosh in this world that can corrupt this great man – much like his hero and the family that did our country proud.

    Smart punters will back HLDM for President. He is my hero and a true patriot, who did not desert his country, but just visited Melbourne and was forced to live there due to popular demand of the Aussies.

    • 6

      Have you seen his hind-side. Just have a good look then you will know why?.

  • 5

    Bloody hell this [Edited out] is still writing and CT is still publishing his stupid rubbish.

    This poor fellow [Edited out]

    If CT wants let it publish, but CT readers please DO NOT waste your time reading
    this stupid [Edited out] articles.

  • 4

    Well if they are clapping with one hand sooner or later they will find the other. But you are trying to clap with your tail and wagging between your own legs. This will not take you anywhere. Soon it will begin to smell

  • 4

    Clapping with one hand is the best way for reconciliation
    One Tamil hand clap with One Sinhala hand
    One Sinhala hand clap with one Muslim hand
    And so on and so on
    The sound will be deafening the likes of Mahindapala and Dayan

    • 2

      Id rather see some one using this hands to take the hat off to clap on a bald head that can benifit from s rthymic shake up to awaken from its well trodden racist state.

      • 10

        I would rather shove the latthi up the crocodiles khyber pass to let it be known that I like my Jammon from the hooks.

    • 6

      “he sound will be deafening the likes of Mahindapala and Dayan”

      try dusara platform they cant score.

      I’d rather than play into the crocodile sinha-mussi_minisu be a boa_constricitor under the water’s edge where he is peeping from – he belch and fart no more for that kartiyan’s donkey ride- any-case I got the latthi solely for pipsqueaks like him who try to reach worlds first Iron Pillar (and rust proof at that from iron age Gupta kandragupta 2 not Maurya) saying they are Iranian/aryan from north india of buddha in porkistan ( because fascist churchill gave it to porkistan thinking of russia and stalin onslaught)but black because of skin peeling eruptions.

  • 2

    In this modern technological era, these guys like M….ta…..pala are trying to stir up the communities
    Into racial conflict and incidentally quote only the history whivh suits their needs. Thry try best to bring division between Sinhala Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, HIndus etc, etc.

    We should irrespective of our racial, religious differences, must first learn to live as good human beings, without cheating or hurting each other, physically or words. All other things would fall in place if we are able follow above. Byt unfortunately, in our society you get a lot of evil human beings, like M…pala, who do not like the good path and create onky confusion. We as readers must dump all these guys who try to create these racial, religious confilcts once and for all to improve ouf society.

  • 2

    The truth hurts – as usual a lot of monkeys screeching in agony and throwing handfuls of their own feces out of the enclosure :D

    • 3

      i sure hope they didnt throw their feces towards the Blacker home ;-)

    • 5

      Siva Sankaran Sarma Paranji David Blacker of the F*rt,

      tatto to tooth Tadpole always the sloth that wicked siren!


    • 2

      Wee Thamihz senior journalistD: Siva Sankaran Sarma Menon

      Oh no is HLDM at it again? Poor monkeys.

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