Yes, The Sinhalese Have Their Origins In Bengal, Odisha

Filed under: Colombo Telegraph,Editor's Choice |

The genetic, cultural and linguistic relation that the Sinhalese population shares with the Bengalis and Odiyas, though of scholarly interest, has remained largely ignored by the popular masses, writes Indian Express’ journalist Adrija Roychowdhury.

One of the murals at the Ajanta caves carry an elaborate depiction of King Vijaya’s travel to the Sinhalese town. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

One of the murals at the Ajanta caves carry an elaborate depiction of King Vijaya’s travel to the Sinhalese town. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In a recent book, “The ocean of churn: How the Indian ocean shaped human history”, writer Sanjiv Sanyal remarks that the symbol of the lion that is so important among the Sinhalese is equally revered among the Odiyas and Bengalis. While the Narasimha (God Vishnu as half man and half lion) is worshipped in Odisha, among Bengalis the image of Goddess Durga is incomplete without the lion upon which she rides. In the opinion of Sanyal, the image of the lion on the Sri Lankan flag and the religious symbolism of the lion in Odisha and Bengal have the same cultural origins.

But it is not just mythology that reflects upon this connection. In his study titled “Genetic affinities of Sri Lankan Populations”, Gautam Kumar Kshatriya found that 25.41 per cent of the genetic make up on the Sinhalese population was contributed by the Bengalis. Linguistically too, scholars have for long remarked upon the Indo-Aryan origins of the Sinhalese speech.

In her celebrated account on the development of the Bengali language, Suniti Kumar Chatterjee comments upon the Indo-Aryan content in the Sinhalese speech in the following words: “The first immigrants who carried the Indo-Aryan speech to Ceylon seem to have been from the Western Indian coast. Later from 3rd century BC onwards Ceylon seems to have come in touch with Magadha through Bengal and traditions of intimate connections between Bengal and Ceylon are preserved in Bengali literature.”

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151 Responses to Yes, The Sinhalese Have Their Origins In Bengal, Odisha

  1. 13
    Ayubowan All Indians! India was never India during time of Viyaya. There is no sinhalese in india – no language called sinhalese and vijaya was not sinhalese nor did he speak sinhala There were 4 tribes who were known as sivu-hela which became sinhale. If these sivu-hela were the one’s who became sinhale how can we originate from vijaya. Sthuthiii (Thx),

    Dulara Gunathilake
    September 23, 2016 at 12:18 am

  2. 9
    It was found recently by a professor from university of Kalaniya a cemetery which is more than 3500 yrs old situated at DEwalapola Western province where pits are made with burned clay walls and the ashes of the dead placed in clay pots and buried in these clay walled pits which still can be seen neatly. This has happened 1000yrs prior to the birth of lord Buddha , which proves that SriLanka had a highly developed civilization.

    D Attanayake
    October 7, 2016 at 11:19 am

  3. 3
    How many are aware that the National Flag of Iran (before the revolution that toppled the Shah of Iran is almost exactly like our own Lion Flag?

    October 22, 2016 at 6:55 pm

  4. 6
    It doesn’t matter what we were and who we were but what matters is what we are today. So let’s look forward to a better tomorrow, but must put the country right by changing culture to suit the modern life. Our leaders want us to live in the past to cheat and rob us.

    January 11, 2017 at 5:51 am

  5. 2
    This is no new theory to explain where we came from .We who read history to tertiary level were told that boat people came from the Northern Parts of India from the North west and the North east ..So be it and later due to proximity traders and invading armies came over from South India .Well we were racist to the extent that we identified a pale skin as from the North of India a better connection than the South Aryan????..This type of identification would have been the fertile seeding bed for this attitude to grow.. and the resulting defense set in to out do each other based on ethnic context which I could conclude reading the contributions of many to the Wikepedia..Brag based on the numbers a who achieved in academics and sport co-related to a particular ethnic group or or Caste.. ..Reading the comments some far removed from the the Hypothesis make me think, ah well we are still stuck in that groove and the mental evolution is a very slow process.. .I am not a kshatriya nor am I a Brahamin but in the census I fill in the column of the Sinhalese and low country those days .. I wonder whether Vijaya brought any slaves in his sailing vessel for me to claim some connection ..I would like a smart slave as a far off ancestor better than Kshatriya who lived off others or who used some native maiden so that the the natives felt betrayed and gave in to the invaders ..why split hairs leave it to the anthropologist theories are coming up fast these days for more students love the subject ..

    January 19, 2017 at 6:09 am

  6. 0
    Since we all started with Adam and Eve, what does it matter where we have detoured here and there. Most important is where we are today and who we are. It is also important whose image we bare and where we are going and who will own us. Our destination specially after death of this short life span compared to eternity is important and the expectation of bliss in our eternal home. Let us not wake up too late. There are some folk who want to come back and it may not be sinhalese this time. I do not understand the doublemindedness of rebirth into a NEW legacy and the tracing of ancestral family lineages in the OLD way

    single mind
    March 28, 2017 at 3:56 pm

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