20 September, 2020

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Who Is A Tamil?

By S. I. Keethaponcalan

Dr. S. I. Keethaponcalan

Dr. S. I. Keethaponcalan

A few days ago, my review of Laksiri Fernando’s new book entitled Issues of New Constitution Making in Sri Lanka: Towards Ethnic Reconciliation appeared in the Colombo Telegraph. Soma, presumably a pseudonymed CT reader asked, what do you mean by Tamil (people). He/she argued that it is important to clearly define the “Tamil” people in order to proceed with the discussion on the devolution of power. Perhaps, Soma is correct in saying that a precise definition is important, because, often, Tamil analysts use the term loosely and take the definition for granted. I thought that it is an important question and decided to reflect. The opinions expressed are mine and I do not claim that all or most Tamils share my views on this topic.

Who is a Tamil? Soma’s question is restricted to Sri Lanka. However, let us start the discussion with a global perspective. Tamil is an ethnic category, which has been defined mainly by language, although Tamils share many cultural traits. Hence, any person who considers Tamil as his or her mother tongue may be defined as a Tamil. Tamils live all around the world. Since, a distinction needs to be made among these Tamils who live in different parts of the world, sub-ethnic categories have been created. Indian Tamils, Sri Lankan Tamils, and Malaysian Tamils are some of these sub-ethnic categories. Tamils are native to India and Sri Lanka. Hence, in many of these countries often distinctions are made between Indian and Sri Lankan Tamils despite the reality that they may operate as a unified entity. For example, in many host nations Thamil Sangams are formed to bring Tamils from different countries together.

Sri Lankan Muslims

In Sri Lanka the definition remains largely blurred due to socio-political realities and political reasons. The discussion could quickly move to the question whether Muslims in Sri Lanka are Tamils. This issue remains controversial and a cause of contention because opinion greatly differs between (most) Tamils and Muslims on the definition. Many Tamils consider Muslims as Tamils because traditionally a vast majority of Muslims spoke Tamil. Since, they are religiously different from the Hindu Tamils, they are called Islamiyath Thamilar (Muslim Tamils) by some Tamils even today.

Ponnampalam Ramanathan famously argued that Muslims are Islamiyath Thamilar. This notion created serious rift between the two communities. Muslims believed that Tamils have political motives to label them as Tamils. Many Muslims who write about Muslim-Tamil issues often start their analysis from Ramanathan. The label, Islamiyath Thamilar makes the Muslims a subcategory of Tamil. Hence, the resistance.

The Muslims consider themselves as a distinct and independent community different from the Tamils notwithstanding the fact that many of them still speak Tamil. However, they do not treat Tamil as their mother tongue, but a convenient tool used at home. Of course, there may be exceptions to this general rule. The notion that Tamil speaking Muslims are not Tamils may create some conceptual issues because Tamil ethnicity is defined by language. When it comes to the rights of a group of people, concepts are less significant.

Therefore, I subscribe to the idea that Muslims are not Tamils. They are an independent social group defined by religion. Every social group has the right to define it’s identify as it deems fit. The Muslims have the right to define who they are. Tamils trying to define the Muslims identity may make them hegemonic. Therefore, Tamil people, do not include the Muslims. The recognition that Muslims are an independent group has the potential to promote Muslim-Tamil reconciliation.

Another category often used in Sri Lanka is “Tamil speaking people.” This label could also be problematic for two reasons. One, it creates a division within the Muslim community because Muslims now speak Sinhala, Tamil, and English. Two, there is hardly any solidarity between Tamil speaking Muslims and Tamils. It could become a useful category if the Muslims are enthusiastic about it. At this point in time, there is hardly any evidence to suggest that Muslims are enthusiastic about working with the Tamils. The trend could change if the attacks on the Muslims community continue or escalate.

Up-country Tamils

In Sri Lanka, a distinction is also made between Indian (or plantation or up-country) Tamils and Sri Lankan Tamils. This distinction is important for two reasons.

One, there are historical differences between the two groups. Sri Lankan Tamils have a very long history in the country. They are native to Sri Lanka. Hence, they are often called indigenous Tamils. If I remember correctly, K.M. de Silva called Sri Lankan Tamils the “Indigenous Tamils.” Some nationalist Sinhalese believe that Sri Lankan Tamils were of recent origin, hence not native to the country. Nevertheless, Indian Tamils were mostly, but not exclusively, brought to work in the plantations during the colonial era.

Two, the issues and concerns of the Indian Tamils or Up-country Tamils are different from the Sri Lankan Tamils. Their problems are mostly social welfare related and could be resolved through administrative means, including administrative decentralization. They do not ask for a separate state and have worked closely with Sri Lankan governments. The Sri Lankan Tamils on the other hand, believe that the North-East Provinces are their “homeland” and they fought for a separate state.

Hence, lumping Indian Tamils and Sri Lankan Tamils together under the label “Tamil” would certainly undermine the Indian Tamil’s socio-political welfare. Their issues would become less significant. Therefore, in terms of political discourse, it is important to make a distinction between the Indian Tamils and Sri Lankan Tamils. It seems that the Indian Tamils have been increasingly adopting the label Up-country Tamils.

Hence, in view of the devolution debate in general and devolution to the North-East Provinces in particular, the term “Tamil” means “Sri Lankan Tamils,” who live or have roots in the North-East Provinces. However, many analysts often do not include the term “Sri Lankan” when they denote Sri Lankan Tamils, partly, in order to avoid repetition of the term “Sri Lankan.” They (or we) also assume that it is given.

*Dr. S. I. Keethaponcalan is Chair of the Conflict Resolution Department, Salisbury University, Maryland.

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Latest comments

  • 3
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    Examine Facts about the Author who will never go back to Sri Lanka.

    Dr. S. I. Keethaponcalan obtained his Ph.D. in conflict resolution from Nova Southeastern University, Florida, in 2001. He also has a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka, a Master of Arts in international relations from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka and a Master of Science in conflict resolution from George Mason University (VA).

    This is a relatively unheard of SMALL university in Maryland and salaries are in the 50K to 100K range. Good cushy job. NOVA SOUTHSEAST is NOT even a high standard Research oriented university and you get PhDs over weekend classes and online classes and those PhDs are NOT held to the same standard as in-house residential universities. Real PhDs laugh at Nova PhDs

    • 4
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      You are an another meeharakek. Please join that Racist monk from Mangalarama.
      Even if you are stupid, you must necessarily display it this way.
      What matters is what average people think of tamils.
      Shame on you guys, you ve been born to destroy us all sinhalayas.

    • 2
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      Mr. Kalaveddah, Thanks for that info on the author. Unusual name too. What does it mean?

      Any thing on Dr,Rajasingham Narendran?

      The only genuine PhD’s that I know of among the commentators is Prof Kumar David and Dr. S. Sivasegaram of Engineering Faculty Peradeniya. Their Doctorates are from prestigious Universities such as Cambridge UK.

      Sterling people too.

      • 2
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        Edward,

        “Dr.Rajasingham Narendran” is nobody.

        Dr.RN

        • 0
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          Edwin,

          Raja Singham means King of Lions. Narendran means King of Men. Dr of course means Dead Rope

          So we have a nobody who is King of men and lions and gives dead ropes

        • 0
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          He is one EDWIN – [Edited out]

      • 2
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        You are biased Edwin. Simply becasue Dr. KD and few others were teachers or are known to you at Pera/SL, ME or in Japan, you are inspired by them, right ? Why not you expand your general knowledge on Doctors and Doctorates? Dissertations on Doctorates are in general unique to them. Doctor titles would not be offered if they are not internationally recognized. Each and every doctoral student completing a dissertation should have gone thorugh a set of publications. These publications can only be circulated after thorough review of the specialists in the field. However, An honorary degree or a degree honoris causa like what MERVIN SILVA et al were offered are not meaningful as is learnt doctorates. Besides, Cambridge and oxford doctorates are not considered as that recognized today as had been in the past.
        As my info is concerned, DrRN is a vet. Were you aware that medical or vet graduates should also have completed a doctorate to be able to legally use the prefix- Dr with their identifications ? This is the reason why the Germans, French,Swiss, Austrians, Dutch separate PG degrees in their academic information.

    • 2
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      Kala Veddha,

      Remember Sri Lankan Universities gave PhDs willy nilly to anyone and anybody. Does Dr Mervyn Silva – Aacharya Mervyn Silva mean much to you?

      The message my boy. Digest the message. Don’t shoot the messenger.

      • 0
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        Mervyn s Doctorate and those journalists continously used and being used are not acceptable.
        Anyways, within srilanka and lankens you may use it. But that can be an another information for developed world to assess the level of education and the place given in the society.

  • 2
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    What is the point of “I am better than you” ; “My god is bigger than you”; Tamils are smarter than you etc etc? Aren’t we all eventually individuals and our net value or contribution to society measured by what we do; did to help others or create wealth for society, create jobs, create knowledge, or help create students etc and not by the twist of fate that I was born Kandyan GB or Tamil vellala or Brahmin? What good is an asshole, a thief, a scoundrel, a rapist, a murderer, a backstabbing lying twit etc if he or she is born Tamil Brahmin or Kandyan Govi or Salagama or white christian or muslim Arab or muslim Tamil or Tamil hindu or Tamil christian or whatever else when the telegram comes for us to quit this earth?

    And what use are those labels when we go to the ER and need blood? Does the blood say Brahmin Superior Tamil upper caste or Govi or Karawa or Shia or Sunni or Catholic or Protestant or Jew? NOPE. Blood goes A, B, AB and O positive or negative and other factors and who gives a shit in the final analysis whose blood is given to me or you?

    • 0
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      Mano Ratwatte, Many organs of pigs can be transplanted in humans. Does that mean that there are no differences between humans and pigs?

      As far as I am concerned, the exchanges taking place here helps us to understand each other better, if taken light heartedly and not too seriously. They are only words – not bullets.

      • 2
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        Edward,

        Words hurt, bullets kill! Hurt lingers and death leaves us stiff. Truth heals.

        Dr.RN

  • 5
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    When Arahat Mahinda preached his famous sermon to King Deva Nampiya Theesan, he did so in the Tamil language. Else, the King would not have understood what was said.

    The Mahavamsa is conspicuously silent about the language spoken by Arahat Mahinda and King Devanampiya Theesan. It is certainly not Sinhalese because the Sinhala language was formed by mixing Hela (the language spoken by Nagas, Yakshas and Ratchathas) Tamil, Sanskrit and Pali in the 8th century. The language was formed by monks from Andhra to give a distinct identity to Tamil/Nagar Buddhists. The Sinhala alphabet is closely related to South Indian Grantha alphabet and Khmer alphabet taken the elements from the related Kadamba alphabet. In fact it is very similar to Telugu script. Twenty-five percentage of Sinhala words are derivatives straight from Tamil. Even family names are very similar in both languages. For example mother is amma in both languages. Father is thaththa in Sinhala, in Tamil the word refers to grandfather. Grandmother is aachchi in Sinhala, but in Tamil it refers to mother. But the usage of this word is in decline in Tamil

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      As a person delving in history, I shall be much obliged if you could let me know the references indicating that Arahat Mahinda’s preaching to King Devanampiyatissa is in Tamil and in no other language.

      Thanks in advance

      • 6
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        can you give us any references that Arahat Mahinda preached in a non existent Sinhalese language or any other language other than Tamil? It is obvious he is a Tamil Naga Saivite king and his mother tongue would have been Tamil and Arahat Mahinda did not fly to the island but would have travelled from north to south through the Tamil country that at that time was also an important Buddhist centre and then reached the island by boat. He would have been very well versed in Tamil.
        Lastly the father of King Thevanai Nambiya Thessan was King Mootha Sivan meaning the venerated Siva in pure Tamil. This means he was a Saivite Tamil Naga king and obviously his son also would have been Tamil and not Chinese. Just like Kakai Vanna Theesan’s son ( meaning the king the colour of the crow or black king) called Duttagamini in Mahavamsa also would have been a Tamil Naga. A Tamil father cannot be producing Sinhalese or any other sons. Especially when a people called the Sinhalese or a language called Sinhalese never existed at that time. They would have been Tamil Naga who converted to Buudhism.

    • 2
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      Thanga, you are very likely to be right. Mahinda was the son of Emperor Asoka whose emissaries spread Buddhism all the way to China and Japan on the East and Egypt, Syria and Greece on the West and of course to Sri Lanka. These emissaries could not have been conversant with Japanese, Chinese, Greek etc.

      They must have used a universal language, from which Tamil could have been derived.

    • 1
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      Thanga

      What is mentioned in all the inscriptions, chronicles, etc. is about a Devanampiya Tisa. How come King Devanampiya Tisa became ‘ALSO KNOWN AS’ Theva Nambiya Theesan? Very soon you may even say US president ‘Lincoln’ is ‘ALSO KNOWN AS’ Lingam. You can distort any name to make it sound like ‘Tamil’, and then exclaim!

      If you got astonished seeing the Tamil meaning of North Indian Prakrit names, discuss it privately but not in a Public Forum. ‘Devanampiya’ was a title used by the North Indian King Ashoka. King Ashoka was also known as Devanampiya Asoka, are you saying he is also a Tamil? The name title ‘Devanampiya’ is neither Tamil nor Sinhalese but North Indian Prakrit.

      • 2
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        Thevan or Deva is a Sanskrit or Prakrit origin word but still used in Tamil too. However Nambikkai and Theesan are pure Tamil words. Many North Indian languages and dialects and this includes Sanskrit/Prakrit have a lot of Dravidian/Tamil origin words, as many of the Indo Aryan speakers in the northern central western and eastern parts of India were originally Dravidian speakers.

    • 0
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      Thanga, Why is it that Tamils use names such Rasalingam, Sivalingam, Dharmalingam, Gnanalingam and so on? What is this apparent obsession with the Lingam?

      I have decided to behave well, but this question bothers me and I may loose sleep thinking about it.

      Can you please put me out of misery by answering me. Others too are welcome to answer.

      Thanks.

      • 1
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        Edward,

        Please listen to the attached viideo for an explanation bases on science and spiritual experiences . It is presented by Satguru Jaggi Visvanath, a modern savant:

        https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HO6GtKkgC6k

        For me, the Lingam means the reproduction process that ensures continuity of life without the need for intervention of a God or a supernatural phenomenon. All life is born, reproduce and die, but yet all manifestations of life continue into the future, in repeating cycles of birth and death. I do not believe in a soul bridging birth and death. Our Chromosomes are the only bridge and they are indeed a miracle in the way they work.

        The Lingam is a representation of the male organ ( The Penis)and the vessel it sits on is the famale organ ( The Vagina). When they come together life is created. According to Hindu belief,Siva, the first of the Munivar’s ( highly elevated saints/savants) worshipped the Lingam and the Yoni representation. However, let us remember the reproductive organs and the processes take many forms in different species.

        Modern man who is quite sexual by nature, is however also ashamed of the sexual act that begets life. Even the Hindus are ashamed of acknowledging the Lingam and the Yoni, as the very basis of life, although their ancients recognized it as such and worshipped it for what it stood for in terms of life.

        You have also referred to Hindus worshipping 30 million plus Gods, elsewhere in this thread. Now they worship
        09 billion- the world population of humans! Is’nt it a fact that despite how we are labeled religion-wise, each of us have figured out God in a very personal way. The Hindu savants of old understood this fact.

        For us, ” Em mathamum Sammatham” ,meaning all religions are accepted.

        Dr.RN

        • 1
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          Yes very right. Those who have tollerable mindsets will have to agree with you.

          “Em mathamum Sammatham”

          All religions are accepted for hindus.

          For the buddhists it remains no different.

          • 0
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            Menike, what is a nice girl like you doing with dirty old man like me? Go back to the well and have a bath.

            • 0
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              What has that to do with Manike being nice and you ve been dirty sexagenarian ?
              Are u allright ?

              • 0
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                Vanakkam Menike, Why are you standing there near the door? Please come in. I am an old and busy man and as far as I am concerned, Kathalikka Neram Illai. So no need to be afraid.

                Oh I know why you are standing there near the Dora. You are Dora Langa Menike. In Japan you would have been known as දොර ලඟ ම​ැණිකෙ. (The Japanese always confuse ල with ර when speaking as well as writing).

                One Seelawathi, a friend of mine, had a nasty time in Japan because of that. To make matters worse for her, Seela was pronounced Selaaa as in Beelaaa.

                Why are Tamil movies so long and the reign of your kings so short? By the time you watch a Tamil movie and come out of the cinema, two or three Tamil Kings would be gone to join the 330 +1 million.

        • 0
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          Thanks. I will listen.

          You say. “You have also referred to Hindus worshipping 30 million plus Gods, elsewhere in this thread. Now they worship
          09 billion-“

          I said 330 million. 33 crores.

          If every human is a God, then why have two words?

          Anyway I will come back to you.

          • 0
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            Edward,

            I said every human has a personalized perception of God. I did not say that every human is a God.

            Dr.RN

            • 0
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              You are Doctor of some sort. I am a God of some sort.

              • 2
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                EDWIN RODRIGO

                “You are Doctor of some sort. I am a God of some sort.”

                He is the right one to treat/cure you. He is Vet.

                • 0
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                  Smile~ very correct NV.
                  From what he has been adding to this and that -proves he should be an animal.
                  Greetings from fearing Berlin, Grusse Dich NV schoene Feiertagen.

    • 0
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      Thangam always does his half baked researches.

      “matha Marikkin Mahan Naavil suvai pOom, Thatha venel kalvi thaan Pokum”

      “மாதா மரிக்கில் மகன்நாவில் நல்சுவைபோம்: தாதா வெனில்கல்வி தான்அகலும் ஒதின்உடன் வந்தோன் மரித்துவிடில் வாகுவலிபோம்; மனையேல் அந்தோ இவையாவும் போம்”

      Mr.Thagam can you put down the meaning of the lines in Neethi Venpa

      Thatha if father in Tamil.

      “Grandmother is aachchi in Sinhala, but in Tamil it refers to mother. But the usage of this word is in decline in Tamil”

      Acchiyum- Appuram is Thevara kala usage in Tamil.

      Aye is amma in Tamil.

      Aye + “Feminine suffice” Icchi = Achchci

      “யாயும் ஞாயும் யாராகியரோ
      எந்தையும் நுந்தையும் எம்முறைக் கேளிர்
      நீயும் யானும் எவ்வழி அறிதும்
      செம்புலப் பெயல் நீர்போல
      அன்புடை நெஞ்சந்தாங் கலந்தனவே”

      In Kunthokai The hero looking at his beloved love bird and saying:

      Dear
      Who is my mother – Who is your mother?
      What kind relatives are my father and your father?
      You and me happened to meet, but
      Like the rain waters falls on the red soil deep penetrates into it and make clay,
      on that occasion our hearts merged and became one. (He is wondering how the two of them who were completely unrelated to each other fell in love just meeting each other)

      Here the Aye is at least 2000 years old.

  • 4
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    Thanga, King DevaNambiyatissa or in Tamil Thevanai Nambiya Theesan’s father was King Mutta Sivan this is a pure Tamil word meaning the old or venerated Siva. Muthiyan meaning old or venerated in Tamil from which the Sinhalese and Vedda title Mudiyansalage is derived.

    This means they were Saivite Tamil speaking Naga. The language would have been Tamil. Mahida in Pali or Mahendran in Sanskrit would have travelled through the Tamil country preaching Buddhism , before reaching the island and would have been very fluent in Tamil.
    The indigenous language or dialect of the island was Elu not Hela this came much later.

    The Vedda dialect as probably did the old Sinhala approaches far closer to Tamil than modern Sinhala in its pronunciation. 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.

    Semi Tamil Elu mixed with Prakrit became Hela. Hela mixed with proper Tamil and the Pali and Sanskrit of Buddhism gradually evolved as Sinhalese only around the 8-9Th century. Like you stated this language was formed and deliberately encouraged by the Buddhist monks to give a separate identity for the Tamil Naga who converted to Buddhism. Just like the Tamil Muslims in Sri Lanka are deliberately Arabising themselves and claiming an imagined Arab origin to claim a separate identity from the rest of the Tamils. We are now witnessing what happened in the case of the Tamil Naga who converted to Buddhism 2300 years ago now with the Tamil Muslims in the island. Deliberately creating new culture and identity.

    Even now around 35% (not 25%)of the Sinhalese words are purely derived from Tamil. Its grammar lexicon and syntax and alphabet is purely derived from Tamil and not from Sanskrit or Pali. It was not Pali or Sanskrit, but the Tamil language that helped in the formation of the Sinhala alphabets. The alphabets of the Sinhala language are round in shape like the alphabets of the other Dravidian languages. Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and proto-Tamil. In the 10th century. Tamils changed the shape of their alphabets to the square shape. According to Dr. C.E. Godakmubara, the Sinhala Grammar Sidathsangarawa was based on the Tamil Grammar Virasolium in the 11th A.D

    In the case of Tamil Hindu women given as brides to Tamil Muslim men in the east few centuries ago. I do have a very interesting recollection that went out of my mind. That was very interesting.

    I used to visit the Munneswaram temple in Chilaw quite often,and often observed something very curious. Many middle aged or old women who often come by themselves to the temple with no one else. At first I did not take much notice but gradually started to take notice as this was not one or two isolated incidents but happened very often and many times it was the same women. One day I started to speak to them and remarked that I often see them coming by themselves and not accompanied by anyone else. Then these women stated “yes we come by ourselves as we are or were Hindus but our husbands and children are Muslims. so they do not attend.”
    Most of them stated that they are actually from Tamil Nadu from the southern districts and were married off to their Muslim male cousin or close relatives in Sri Lanka who largely lived around the North west coastal areas like Puttalam, Mannar and migrated to the island. When asked how they were able to migrate? They stated we don’t apply for migration but just take the boat and come to Mannar Puttalam and no one has stopped us, who is going to find out, especially after we have a few children and become part of the village, these areas are very close to South India. This was before the war. Now presume things are different. Now all these Tamil Dravidian Muslims from South India have become Arabs.

    Tamils have always been secular, from ancient times. To them being a Tamil and the Tamil identity is far more important than religion. This is the reason even now many Tamil Hindus and Christian families still arrange marriages amongst themselves and intermarry and in South India it is common amongst the Hindu and Christian Nadars and in many cases even amongst Tamil Muslims if they are from the same community/caste and are close relatives.
    Unlike in North India where religion and caste is more important language spoken or ethnicity in the south of India, just like in Europe,there is a very strong sense of ethnicity and nationhood that overrides caste and religion. Due to powerful Tamil Telugu Kannada and other kingdoms. You are a Tamil Telugu Kannada or Malayali first before everything else. Just like amongst the Sinhalese.
    In northern parts of India these powerful ethno based nations or kingdoms never existed, therefore unlike the south this strong sense of linguistic based ethnic based nation did not exist. Moreover other than Bengali or Marathi to some extent the other north Indian languages did not develop a rich literary tradition.

    This is the reason the when the Muslim men arrived as refugees in the east a few centuries ago they were easily accepted as they were Dravidian Tamils and not some Tamil speaking Arab or Moor. The few who were there ran back to the Arabian Gulf to their actual wives and their legal children for whom their really cared and left their Tamil concubines and half caste bastards to the mercy of the Portuguese and never returned. This is also the reason they were given Tamil brides as these man were ethnically Tamil and not Arabs or Moors. These women were Tamil Hindu women and would have never married a non Tamil Muslim, as nothing would have been in common for them. Religion or ethnicity. This is why the eastern Muslims follow the Hindu Mukkuva law of the eastern Tamils and their matriarchal kuddi systems.

    • 0
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      Rock Inscriptions during Deva Nam Piya tissa Times

      “දෙවනපිය මහ රක්ඛභ බරියය බකි(නිය) උපසික වරුණ(දත)ය(ලෙ)(ෙ)ණ”-The cave of Waruna Datta Upasika the sister of the queen of King Devanampiyatissa
      “බඩගරික පරුමක කිස පුත පරුමක අශඩ ශුතඟ ලෙණෙ”-The cave of Ashanda gutta

      These caves say the names of the people who made and donated the caves to the bhikkhus for their use. Because of these people could know the donar and his/her title, genealogy, profession, and status. When studying these inscriptions, it is clear that donation was not limited to kings and royals, but also people of different classes. These form of inscriptions written in pre and post brahmi letters have been found in places such as Rajagirikanda and Aanaikkuttikanda. (Courtesy Wikepedia)

      I leave it to the readers to form their own unbiased opinion regarding the language in use at that time.

  • 2
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    300 comments and counting in the search on for the elusive question ‘WHO is a Tamil?’

    But there are more suggestions to come.

    When I asked one educated foreigner who had been to Sri Lanka several times as to whether he could tell the difference between the races by sight, he reddened and exclaimed “bugger me with a pitchfork mate, you all look the same to me”.

    The only one to whom the answer really matters is someone who IS a Tamil.

    To me the only question is, ‘is the person good or bad’. Colour, creed, origin, accent are all superfluous. Try it and see; life becomes a whole lot easier.

  • 0
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    Keetha,

    “At this point in time, there is hardly any evidence to suggest that Muslims are enthusiastic about working with the Tamils.”

    A bit mischievous I think.

    All indications are it is the other way about. There is hardly any evidence to suggest that Tamils are enthusiastic about working with Muslims. Remember the infamous 48 hour ethnic cleansing of Muslims from Jaffna. The present day TNA demagogues are not even acknowledging this infamous event not to mention the active resistance to the ousted Muslims being returned to their rightful homes and businesses. In recent times I have seen many Tamils siding with the infamous Ghanasaraya with regards to killing Muslims.

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      Only people not allowing Muslim to return in the north are the Sinhalee Sri Lankan armed forces not the Tamils who do not have any power and thousands of them cannot return to their own lands. More than 68000 confiscated by the armed forces. When Tamils themselves cannot return to their own lands, how can they prevent Muslims from returning. Further a Muslim minister a Shatian from Mannar was in charge of resettlement. Why did he not return the displaced Muslims and Tamils back to their lands? Instead was busy settling out of area Muslims, with funds obtained from certain Gulf Arab states in virgin jungle land. Lastly only 75000 Muslim were evicted from the north, with their natural increase around 125000 the most should return but more than three of four times this number are now claiming that they are displaced Muslims and want to return. This is a deliberate attempt settle large amounts of out area Muslims in the north on the pretext of settling displaced Muslims to ultimately claim large tracts of the north for the Muslims like in the east.
      Muslim home guards evicted thousands of Tamils in the east, a far greater number the Muslims evicted in the north. This is why the LTTE evicted the Muslims from the north. However none of them are allowed to return to their lands as the Muslims do not allow it and they have the support of armed forces and the government. Tamils are the indigenous people of the north and east. Muslims are recent settlers who came here as refugees and now want to steal the land from the Tamils. You are very quiet about all this. Why?
      Muslims do not want to be identified as Tamils but want Tamil land. If they do want to be Tamil and claim an Arab origin and heritage then they have no right to claim and disposes the Tamils of their lands. Arabs do not belong to the island and have no history here of ruling or owning land. Come to the north and east as refugees begging for asylum and within a few generations claim our land from us.

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      “Remember the infamous 48 hour ethnic cleansing of Muslims from Jaffna.”
      It is not so much the crime that hurts me now, but the bogus excuses that pop up to justify them.
      They destroy the community from within.

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        Do you also remember the thousands of Tamils who were killed raped looted and ethnically cleansed by Muslims home guards in the east and still not allowed to return. Their number exceeded far more than the Muslims evicted from the north.?
        Do you also remember Muslims mobs speaking and swearing in Tamil running around looting and burning Tamil homes and businesses down south and raping and killing innocent Tamils?
        Or do you suffer from selective amnesia and only cry for Muslim victims but not for the 300000 innocent Tamils who were killed and more than a million Tamils who were ethnically cleansed and chased out of the country to seek refuge in the west, where they are now thriving. May be Muslim lives are precious to you and Tamil lives expendable

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          Sinhalas and Ravana Blood

          You say, “May be Muslim lives are precious to you and Tamil lives expendable”

          I agree. Not Nice. I particularly don’t like the way Tamil God (Make It Bright) Pirapaharan was killed by Army Pvt Nimal. Pirapaharan was begging for mercy doing some sort of synchronized swimming act of his own choreography in the Nandikadal, with his two hands clasped in a Namaskaram pose towards Nimal.

          His last appeal was: My Budu Deviyo. Please do not kill me. I love lion cubs. I hate tiger cubs. They force me. I beg you Deviyo please do not kill me.)(English)

          I am giving it in several languages so that Sinhala brutality will be well documented for the future use of forums like the CT.

          मेरे बुद्ध देवता। कृपया मुझे नहीं मार। मैं शेर शावक प्यार करता हूँ। मैं बाघ शावक से नफरत है। वे मुझे मजबूर। मैं भीख माँगती हूँ तुम सर कृपया मुझे नहीं मार।
          (Hindi)

          私の仏神。私を殺すしないでください。ライオンの子供が大好きです。私はタイガーの子供を嫌います。彼らは私を強制します。私は先生を殺すしないでください私を頼みます。(Japanese)

          بلادي الإله بوذا. الرجاء عدم قتل لي. أنا أحب الأشبال. أنا أكره اشبال النمر. أنها قوة لي. وأرجو لكم سيدي الرئيس الرجاء عدم قتل لي Arabic:

          Sinhala have no empathy. It is the Ravana blood!

          Nimal’s comment: It is just one of 33 crore. මොකක්ද අයියා. ඔච්චර තද වෙන්න තරම් කේස් එකක් මෙතන නෑනෙ. (There is no case here to get so much excited about) {Though his name was Nimal his act was Animal)

          I will not give the Tamil version. There is no need to go on rubbing salt in to Tamil wounds.

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        I have not justified anything by referring to a prevailing attitude that defends every form of evil committed (against Tamils as well).

        The mobs in Colombo in 1983 were mixed and there was no organized “Muslim targetting of Tamils”; and I am aware that Tamil criminal elements too were involved. (There are the rich v. poor attitudes that our self pity blinds us to.)

        As Tamils, firstly, we need to take a critical view of our past. The conduct of Tamil organizations in the East and then in the North was least commendable.
        If we do not seriously review the past we will go on committing the same mistakes time and again.

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          Look man. Don’t try to share the credit. The whole operation was mooted, planned and executed by Ravana blood Sinhalayas. And don’t try to involve 3rd parties. This is between you and us.

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    Mahavamsa in Tamil

    Next you guys are going to say Mahavamsa was written in Tamil and later translated to Sinhala.

    Perhaps our expert on Mahavamsa can shed some light on that.

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      Edward,

      The Mahawansa however acknoedges the existence of Damilas and describes them as half-human while consoling a dejected Dutu Gamini. I for one considers the Mahawansa in part the history. If not for the znagawannsa, I would not have known Parakrma Bahu’s wife was Sivakama Sundari. It also acknoedges that Vijaya and his friends imported 700 brides for themselves and their retinue from the Pandya Kingdom. Their offspring were already half-Tamil. Iit likely that the single men in the retinue married local Tamil women or imported them from Madurai and surrounding areas.

      Vijaya was the first importer of Tamils. Did the Tamils he imported learn to speak Bengali or did he and his friends learn to speak Tamil? A chicken or the question isn’t it?

      Further, the Mahavamsa was originally written in Pali. If I remember right it was first translated into German and thereafter into English and Sinhalese.

      Dr.RN

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        Mahavamsa was written in Sinhala script using the Pali language because Pali script less.

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          Pāli is the language of the scriptures of Theravada Buddhism, a canonical text written in Brahmi script. In India the Pali text was also written in Devanagari and other Indic scripts. Both Mahavamsa and Tripitaka were written in Pali using the Brahmi script. They were NEVER written in the Sinhala script.

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            From the 3rd century BCE onward, urbanisation and mercantile activity along the western and eastern coasts of what is today Kerala and Tamil Nadu led to the development of four large Tamil political states, Chera dynasty, Chola dynasty, Pandyan Dynasty and Pallava dynasty and a number of smaller states warring amongst themselves for dominance.

            Among languages spoken today, the Tamil language is the oldest written language among the world’s languages. Between the 3rd century BCE and the 3rd century AD, Tamil people produced native literature that came to be called Sangam literature.

            Tamils were noted for their martial, religious and mercantile activities beyond their native borders. Pandyas and Cholas were historically active in Sri Lanka. The Chola dynasty successfully invaded parts of Southeast Asia like Malaysia, Southern Thailand and Indonesia. Medieval Tamil guilds and trading organizations like the “Ayyavole and Manigramam” played an important role in the Southeast Asia trade. Pallava traders and religious leaders travelled to Southeast Asia and played an important role in the cultural Indianisation of the region. Locally developed scripts such as Grantha and Pallava script induced the development of many native scripts such as Khmer, Javanese Kawi script, Baybayin and Thai.

            Tamil visual art is dominated by stylised Temple architecture in major centres and the productions of images of deities in stone and bronze. Chola bronzes, especially the Nataraja sculpture of the Chola period, have become notable as a symbol of Hinduism. Tamil performing arts are divided into popular and classical. Classical form is Bharatanatyam, whereas the popular forms are known as Koothu and performed in village temples and on street corners. Tamil cinema, known as Kollywood, is an important part of the Indian cinema industry. Music too is divided into classical Carnatic form and many popular genres.

            Although most Tamils are Hindus, most practice what is considered to be folk Hinduism, venerating a plethora of village deities. A sizeable number are Christians and Muslims. A small Jain community survives from the classical period as well. Tamil cuisine is informed by varied vegetarian and non-vegetarian items usually spiced with locally available spices. The music, the temple architecture and the stylised sculptures favoured by the Tamil people as in their ancient nation are still being learnt and practised. English historian and broadcaster Michael Wood called the Tamils the last surviving classical civilisation on Earth, because the Tamil mainstream preserved substantial elements of their past regarding belief, culture, music and literature despite the modern globalised world.

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              “Among languages spoken today, the Tamil language is the oldest written language among the world’s languages.”

              hmmm… how did you come to that conclusion? See this, Chinese and Semitic languages which are still spoken today predate Tamil in written record:

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_languages_by_first_written_accounts

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          Devanagari reached the current form somewhere in the 13th century. about a 1000 years it might have became a writing format. By the 6th century it practically was not there for poets to use.

          Sinhala Brahmi uses Tamil Brahmi. It was developed somewhere around 13th century too. Unlike Devanagari, it might have had a quick and short birth.

          Mahavamsa was written by the Telugu Monks came from Tamilnadu during the religious riots of 6th century. They did know Tamil Brahmi and Telu form of it. But, it is extremely unlikely they used any of it to write Pali. It is unlikely Mahavamsa was written on the days it was composed. Writing might have took place long after the Sinhala Alphabet were developed from Tamil Brahmi.

          Do you have the date of the first manuscript anywhere? If you link it here I can check it out.

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        >Mahawansa in part the history.
        >I would not have known Parakrma Bahu’s wife was
        >Sivakama Sundari.

        Chapter please.

        I was under the impression/references that Parakrama Bahu’s mother was TilokaSundari (TriLoka) and of Kalinga. Dont think the reference was from the Culavamsa (Mahavamsa ended with Mahasen in 300 AD). I think it was from Sihala AtthaKatha which I have not read.

        Thats how Nissanka Malla (complete Kalinga) inherited the throne. Also Magha of Kalinga claim to Lanka was thru that connection.

        So with the Arya Chakravartis of Jaffna.

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        False by omission of certain commentators.

        Kalinga was the first to expand into SE Asia.

        Yes in the 10AD Chola invaded SriVijaya in Malaysia and Indonesia and the Tambralinga kingdom in Southern Thailand.

        Certain Brahmin commenters will ignore the role of Kalinga in Lanka (and SE Asia) with a reason.
        Cambodia (Angkor Wat fame), and Kamboja, coincidence?

        It is in consequence of the absence of Brahmanas from among them that the Sakas, the Yavanas, the Kamvojas and other Kshatriya tribes have become fallen and degraded into the status of Sudras. The Dravidas, the Kalingas, the Pulandas, the Usinaras, the Kolisarpas, the Mahishakas and other Kshatriyas, have, in consequence of the absence of Brahmanas from among their midst, become degraded into Sudras.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalinga_Kingdom

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          Last King of the Tamils

          Can someone tell us what Mahavamsa, Culawamsa or Demalawamsa or whatever says about the Last King of Tamils, Pirapaharan?

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    Early Tamil and Sinhala Rock Insciptions.

    1) Thonigala rock inscriptions dating back to the first century BC to the period of King Mahaculi Mahathissa (76-62 BC), who was a son of King Walagamba. The inscriptions reveal details about a grant of a lake and village to a Buddhist Monastery by the name of Achagirika Tissa Pabbata. Today this Monastery is believed to be the Paramakanda Raja Maha Vihara, which is located about 5 kilo meter from Thonigala.

    The Lankapura web site gives a picture of the inscription and text looks quite different from the Sinhala text of the era or soon after. The former consists of straight lines while the latter consists of curves.

    2) On the other hand the script in the Tamil rock inscriptions of the same or a few centuries earlier bear a remarkable resemblance to present day Tamil text.

    Thus we can logically conclude that Sinhala text and the language developed independent of Tamil. To say that Tamil was the language of Lanka is a fallacy of immense proportions and is only a weak attempt at distorting history.

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      Clown there was no Sinhalese language around this time. Whom are trying to fool? Tamil Paravan from South India now masquerading here is a Sinhalese Buddhist. Shameful creature. Another Lanka Web fairy tale

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        Sarma, I am trying to be decent in my comments. But if you want a slanging match, I can just turn you to dust. We may have different opinions but there is no need for insults.

        People insult for two reasons.

        1) Like me just for fun.

        2) Like you, when you have no case.

        It is not only in Lanka web. It is also found in many other sites.

        Go and see before I pull your sarama down and expose your Vanalingam.

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          There is nothing polite or decent about what you posts. Everything is rude racist and full of lies. Very offensive, always belittling Tamils, despite the fact that you are a Tamil now pretending to be a Sinhalese.
          It is we who are being decent and our patience tested. Not you, one nasty bit of low life works.

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            Sarama Temple of Thooththukudi

            Shanthi! Shanthi! I am determined to erect a temple for Sarama in Thooththukudi Tamil Nadu. Then I will get a Namboothiri Brahmin of Kerala (the highest of the high Brahmins) to open it.

            I know a Namboothiri, who worked for the 5th Fleet. He was an expert in retrofitting ships with new equipment. He used to drill the holes in the exact places, without referring to any diagrams, and fit the new equipment using screws with great precision.

            They say this skill of the Namboothiris comes from the tradition of doing similar work in the Kovils of Tamil Nadu for thousands of years.

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      EDWIN RODRIGO The zoophilia

      “Can someone tell us what Mahavamsa, Culawamsa or Demalawamsa or whatever says about the Last King of Tamils, Pirapaharan?”

      You will have to wait until the monks have completed writing their chronicle Chutiwamsa, mainly about MR and Goata.

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    EV

    Sama’s comments are like the composition of the regular shirt material available locally , 80/20, cotton polyester, similarly in this case 20%has some relevance but the balance 80% is bull crap and his wild imagination.

    80/20 Sharma would be more appropriate than RS Sharma.

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      You are not a concerned citizen just a biased Muslim, pretending to be a concerned citizen. You do not like the information provided by Siva, as it does not fit your agenda.

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    News for Kalaveddahs

    Hey, Gam Veddahs, Gal Veddahs, Kalu Veddahs and Kala Veedahs, There was a news item today about Sea Veddahs. They want water to cultivate on land. This is what happens when we have too much democracy and too many Kala vedddahs to enjoy that democracy.

    Imagine, the guys call themselves Sea Veddahs and they want water. have you heard of a bigger joke? Anyway, first time I heard of Sea Veddahs. Next they will say there are Hulang Veddahs (Air Veddahs).

    Don’t you see the trend? We had, land tigers, sea tigers and air tigers before the King was erased off the face of earth. Now we have all those Vedi types.
    a
    One good thing though, is that we do not have to worry about Sea Kala Veddahs urinating on our ceilings. The fish may be affected, but you cannot have everything can you?

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      EDWIN RODRIGO the Kallathonie Zoophile

      What are you ranting about?

      Now you are after sharks, eels, ….. whales, prawns, shrimps, ……….

      • 0
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        Will not read. Will not comment.

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          EDWIN RODRIGO

          “Will not read. Will not comment.”

          Why? Are you still maintaining TRUCE though I haven’t started a war?

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            No comment

  • 0
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    [Edited out]

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    Eureka! Eureka!
    I have found the answer to the question who is a Tamil ? All who shared with comments here are Tamils but one. And that one is me.

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      Mano,

      It would have been hilarious if more Sinhalese had come forward to define a Tamil!

      At one time many would have have said that they smelled of gingerly oil, had straight hair, were very dark, hard working ,frugal, clannish, bookish and docile.

      How would they define them now? Separatists, terrorists, murderers, suicide bombers and basket cases?

      Such an exercise would have been cathartic and help the Tamils understand the other’s perspective. Edward Rodrigo of course failed miserably in trying to define the Tamils as a package of lanuguage and religion, leaving out the human.

      Of course the Tamil definition of all Sinhalese has rarely extended beyond ‘ Sinhala-Buddhists with a Mahawamsa ‘ mindset, a majority with a minority complex and who want to purge the Tamils from this island by all means foul.

      The Muslims too should be brought into this process, as the definition of a Muslim is now assuming an explosive edge

      Let us examine our communal perceptions first to understand how superficial they are and understand how wrong we are in generalizing.

      How the Tamil neighborhood of Chavakachcheri responded to the recent accident in which eleven Sinhalese were killed has surprised many Sinhalese. They had thought the Tamils were heartless brutes until this event. They now know that Tamils can be as kind and sympathetic humans as they can be!

      Dr.RN

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    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran,

    I’ve seen the amazing lot of responses. Many comments were not worth looking at. Somewhere in the middle I saw lots of things about Tamils being people who speak English with a terrible accent, saying “yeggs” instead of eggs.

    A pity because Dr. S. I. Keethaponcalan’s article was a very sensible one.

    We, Sinhalese, speak English with a “Singlish accent”, I guess. I teach IELTS, and although my one year’s lecturing at Peradeniya University (1986) was mostly phonology, let’s leave that aside. I’ve taught phonology to lots of English teacher-trainees, and now I teach IELTS. Recording your own voice is so easy but almost nobody has done that, unless, perhaps recently when trying to configure Skype they use that “Echo Testing Service”. Non-standard Sinhalese speakers also have a problem ironing out first language interference.

    However, the question posed was “Who is a Tamil?”

    You look at a North Indian and a South Indian, they are obviously different, and all of us Sri Lankans resemble South Indians. Analysis of genes is recent; I don’t mind my genes being analysed. I’m pretty sure that they will prove that my forebears came mostly from South India. They’ll be very similar to the genes of Tamils.

    What about this Dravidian – Aryan thing? The nicest and most civilised Sinhalese people seemed to think that the best way to refer to a Tamil man was to say “Dravida manuussayek”. I’ve never done that. As far as I know, “Dravidian” and “(Indo-)Aryan” referred mainly to families of languages. Sanskrit (and Pali) are mostly Aryan: actually Sanskrit is a sort of “mother of all languages” and its grammar (mainly phonology) were codified by Panini in the 4th Century B.C. in a work that has been called “one of the greatest monuments of the human intellect”, and Noam Chomsky (now a very old man at MIT) is referred to as “the greatest linguist since Panini”. I think that my father knew this and gave me that as my first name, but, unfortunately, I’ve not lived up to expectations.

    Anyway, it looks as though Pali and Sanskrit have influenced Sinhalese slightly more than they have influenced Tamil, although the Hindu (and Jain) writings are in Sanskrit. Pali is a colloquial form of Sanskrit. A really sophisticated scholar may be able to refine what I have said. I believe that though the STRUCTURE of Sinhala is basically “Aryan”, much of the vocabulary is drawn from Tamil and other South Indian languages.

    Those comments about languages tell us nothing, really, about our ancestry. I’m pretty sure that most of my ancestors came to Sri Lanka about 2,000 years ago. For the last four or five generations, my forebears were those who lived a little in-land from Galle: the Baddegama-Urala-Wanduramba area, although I was born in the Hill Country. So, my feeling is that they are a little less likely than many other Sinhalese to have recently arrived from India. I mean not in Eurpoean times; but the evidence, drawn from names etc. is that they converted thrice to Christianity from Buddhism. They would first have converted to Catholicism, when the Portuguese were here, then to Presbyterianism when the Dutch ruled, and lastly to Anglicanism (and a few to Methodism because Richmond College was easily the best school in the Southern Province 150 years ago). And so, here I am.

    The Sinhabahu-Vijaya myth? The Lion part of it is too absurd for words. It may be that Vijaya was a brigand who was chased out of North India, and there may be a trace of his blood in all Sri Lankans (Tamils included). Does it matter?

    To me, who is a Tamil? A guy who speaks the Tamil language as his first language (or it may be that he, like me, is more fluent in English), but go back four or five generations, and the language was Tamil (in my case Sinhalese). Tamils today are mostly Hindus.

    I was in a small boarding school as a school-boy, and at that time mostly these were true of some Tamils: smelled of gingerly oil (only a few), were hard working, frugal, bookish and docile.” We explained it to ourselves in terms of their having to contend with harsh conditions up North.

    I, myself am pretty dark; my brother very much darker. One of my sisters is very fair. It’s no different among Tamils.

    We are one people who must ensure that our progeny grow up speaking both languages and a World Language (which has to be English for a variety of obvious reasons). I myself speak no Tamil. Unfortunate! If we can teach them before age four, it won’t be difficult for the kids, but where to find the adults to speak to them in three languages?

    Yes, Tamils fall in to three basic categories: those whose ancestors have been here for centuries, Up-country Tamils, and some whose religion is Islam and are moving gradually from “Tamilness” to “Sinhaleseness”.

    For God’s sake, let’s stop this mostly muddle-headed and pointless discussion. Thanks to Dr Keethaponcalan for a sound article.

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      Sinhala-man,

      Greetings and thanks for your objective comments.

      The Aryan-Dravidian racial divide is a myth and is increasingly being proven to be so. Please read the following link:

      http://world.time.com/2011/12/15/the-aryan-race-time-to-forget-about-it/

      Please google ‘Aryans and Dravidians’ and you will find a plethora of information on the subject.

      The Aryan myth was manufactured in Athens Ceylon of old during the Second World War. Nazi concepts and colonial interpretations me and coalesced. Sinhalese and Tamils swallowed this pill and made it The basis of their politics.

      It was a convenient myth to incorporate into our compendium of historical myths, to divide and rule us.

      Regards,

      Dr.RN

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    Dear Dr RN,

    Thanks for the link which took me to a readable article. There I found this sentence:

    ” . . . the full report is HERE and a cautious criticism of it HERE.”

    The two HEREs were in blue; not knowing to achieve that effect, I just put them in to capitals. Clicked on both myself, didn’t really follow up. Life, we now realise, is relatively short even for human beings who live longer than most other species. We really must learn that we can’t ALL be specialists in EVERY field. Let us try to be happy ourselves and let other life forms also get some joy out of living.

    We have only a few years more to live on this fantastic planet where we have been fortunate to have been born. Why not be patient about religious truths also until death reveals all or takes us in to oblivion. Those who want to personally worry about these matters, let them do so, without involving others.

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