What happened in the history of Jaffna
Posted on May 26th, 2012

H. L. D. Mahindapala

The peninsular political culture which began with the occupation of the northern tip by Indian migrants who settled down as colonists in the 12th –13th centuries, can be periodised broadly into four distinct phases, focused exclusively on the internal imperatives, leaving aside the external factors, including the post-independent period that impinged on Jaffna:

1. the feudatory chieftains of Jaffna “”…” 19 in all from Kalinga Viyebahu (12401256) to Sankili Kumaran (1615 “”…” 1619) who claimed to have descended from a royal lineage and faded away with the invasions and conquest of the Portuguese colonialists in 1619;

2. the colonial period (1619 “”…” 1948) during which time the upper-caste Vellahlas, fought tooth and nail with rival castes, particularly the extinct Madapallis, and emerged as second-tier subalterns to the top-tier of colonial masters and dominated the casteist political culture till late into the 20th century;

3. the rise of G. G. Ponnambalam in the transitional thirties, with his over-determining communal cry of “50””…”50″, escalating later under his junior and political rival, S. J. V. Chelvanayakam into separatism disguised as federalism, which dominated post-independent era and finally

4. the Tamil Tiger terrorists who took over from the Vellahlas in the post-Vadukoddai Resolution period (i.e., from 1976) and dominated northern politics till May 2009, when they were comprehensively defeated on the banks of the Nandikadal Lagoon.

All four periods were marked by extremist violence bordering on abject cruelty, oppression, tyranny and denial of basic human rights by the ruling Tamil powers of the dayto the people of Jaffna. Sankili set the precedent when he marched down to Mannar in 1544 and massacred 600 Catholics for owing loyalty to the Catholic king of Portugal and not to him. Commenting on Sankili’s rule Mailvagana, the first historian of Jaffna wrote: “After the massacre of the Christians Sankili’s, insane fury longed for more victims and he fell upon the Buddhists of Jaffna, who were all Sinhalese. He expelled them (i.e., those who escaped his massacres) beyond the limits of the country and destroyed their numerous places of worship. Most of them took to the Vannis and the Kandyan territories.” ( p.33 — Yalpana Vaipava Malai, the earliest history of Jaffna authored by Mailvagana Pulavar in 1786 at the request of the Dutch Governor of Jaffna, Jan Maccara, translated by C.Brito in 1879.)

Throughout its brief history “the insane fury (that) longed for more victims” manifested in diverse forms to dominate the peninsular political culture. In Yalpana Vaipava Malai Sankili stands out as the first representative of this political culture: the culture of violence, massacre of dissident Tamils, ethnic cleansing, fascist tyranny, and a denial of basic human rights. This political culture of killing and persecuting Tamils that began with Sankili ended with Velupillai Prabhakaran on the identical pattern, except that the crimes committed against the Tamil people by Prabhakaran exceeded any other force that ruled Jaffna before him.

Initially, this “insane fury” was directed inwards towards its own people. For instance, the low-castes under the Vellahlas and all castes and classes under the Tamil Tiger terrorists were kept under the jackboots of the ruling Tamil casteists of the day who never had any respect for human dignity. The mass scale crimes committed by the Tamil rulers against the Tamils make Jaffna the darkest chapter in Sri Lankan history.

The Vellahla masters used the Hindu ideology to oppress their own people and deny them their basic human rights. After the subhuman subjugation of Tamils by the Vellahlas, the Tamil Tiger terrorists used Vadukoddai ideology to decimate “more Tamils than all the other forces put together” (S. C. Chandrahasan and V. Anandasangaree) and committed war crimes and crimes against Tamils with ruthless ferocity confirming the “insane fury “ƒ”¹…”longing’ for more victims” embedded in the Jaffna political culture.

The upper-caste Vellahlas, who treated the Tamils of the low-castes as virtual slaves (legitimized in Thesawalamai) in the feudal and colonial periods, realized in the dying days of the British raj that the outdated Hindu ideology that deified the casteist hierarchy could no longer sustain its Vellahla rule riding rough shod over the low-caste Jaffna Tamils. Consequently, it constructed the communal Vadukoddai ideology to patch up the internal divisions threatening to break-up Jaffna society on caste lines by diverting attention to the outsiders “”…” the Sinhalese. Directing attention to the “other” “”…” the Sinhala outsider “”…” was the only means of silencing the rebelling low-castes and holding them under the hegemony of the Vellahlas.

 The Vadukoddai ideology created the Sinhala bogey man who could be blamed for all the evils created by the feudal caste system. The Vellahlas who imposed the most painful and humiliating discrimination “”…” the low-castes were not even allowed to enter the Hindu temples, or schools, or draw water from the Vellahla wells “”…” accused the Sinhalese of discriminating against the English-educated Vellahla elite competing for jobs in the government service. This cry of discrimination was first raised in the thirties by G. G. Ponnambalam when the English-educated elite in Jaffna “”…” the most privileged community “”…” realized that the incremental devolution of power by the British on a territorial basis and not on a communal basis, as demanded by them, was eroding their privileged position both in the Legislature and in the public service.

By the thirties the writing on the wall was very clear to the Jaffna Tamil elite who boasted that the Sinhalese may govern but the Tamils will rule through the key positions they held in the administration. This claim is confirmed by disproportionate share of jobs held by the Vellahlas (most Tamil public servants were Vellahlas) in the colonial and post-colonial administrations. Even after independence the Permanent Secretary to the Prime Minister, D. S. Senanayake, was Sir Kandiah Vaithiananthan. The heads of the Treasury, Department of Health etc., were Jaffna Tamils. What is more, the first Sri Lankan Army Commander was Lt. Col. Anton Muttucumaru and the second Navy Commander was Rajan Kadirgamar, brother of the distinguished Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar. There was nothing wrong with Tamils occupying the highest posts except that the Jaffna Tamils cried discrimination despite the 12% of Jaffna Tamils occupying nearly 36% of the public service.

 By the thirties the Jaffna elite feared that the new constitutional arrangement under the Donoughmore Constitution was a serious threat to their grip on power both in the Legislature and the administration. Led by Ponnambalam they went on the offensive to retain their feudal and colonial privileges. One of the main underlying factors that prompted them to raise the communalism issue was that democratization, without the protective patronage of the British, was undermining the disproportionate power wielded by the 12% who came from Jaffna The crumbling fortress of a feudal/casteist Vellahla regime “”…” particularly after the democratization of the electorate by the Donoughmore Commissioners who introduced the universal franchise — could be saved and sustained only by inventing an evil bogeyman and the Sinhalese became the easy target, ideally suited for the Vellahla elite to maintain their supremacy within the peninsular political culture by whipping up anti-Sinhala racism.

From the thirties the Jaffna political platform contained nothing but fears about the Sinhala bogeyman. Anti-Sinhala racism sanctified in the Vadukoddai Resolution replaced the antiquated divine authority in Hinduism. Ponnambalam went before the Soulbury Commissioners and delivered an 8-hour marathon lecture on Sinhala discrimination against the Tamils which was dismissed as stuff and nonsense by the Commissioners.

 There were, however, three brief interludes in the post-Sankili Jaffna that unified the north-south communities: 1. from 1450 to 1467 when Jaffna came under the rule of the King of Kotte; 2. the first few years of the 1920s when Ponnambalam Arunachalam was the president of the Ceylon National Congress and his brother Ponnambalam Ramanathan was elected from the predominantly Sinhala electorate in the Western Province defeating Sir. Marcus Fernando and 3. from 1924 to 1934 when the English-educated Jaffna youth, coming out of American and British missionary schools, broke away from the traditional mould of feudal conservatism and Vellahla casteist oppression and openly campaigned against communalism and casteism, giving hope to a new era of communal amity and national unity.

In the pre-Marxist phase of Sri Lankan radicalism the Jaffna Youth Congress represented a broad liberalism mixed with nationalism “”…” not the narrow Jaffna Tamil “nationalism” but nationalism that transcended communalism — plus Gandhism focused on the elimination of the oppressive caste system. The liberal radicalism of Jaffna Tamil youth unreservedly rejected forces of northern communalism and committed themselves to a nationalism where all communities would co-exist sharing the ideal of one nation.

The Jaffna youth were pioneer radicals in Sri Lankan politics until the arrival of the LSSP Marxists in the south in 1935. The decade (1924 – 1934) in which the liberal Tamil youth dominated and steered the politics of Jaffna was an extraordinary period of hope and promise. But it was short-lived. After them no other liberal ideologues ever came up in Jaffna with multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-religious ideologies to hold the nation together. From the early thirties, with advent of Ponnambalam, the Jaffna leadership withdrew deeper and deeper into mono-ethnic extremism with disastrous consequences both to the Tamils and the rest of the nation.

The Jaffna youth movement, however, ran counter to the embedded casteist and communal culture that ruled Jaffna. They were way out of their feudalistic time and caste-ridden place. As subsequent events proved, an idealistic movement like theirs was doomed to lose to the more formidable and ingrained forces of casteism and communalism.

However, it must be mentioned that the Youth Movement overstepped its mark when they rejected the Donoughmore Commission report and called for the boycott of the first elections held under universal franchise in 1931. Though they won the battle and forced even G. G. Ponnambalam to move out of Jaffna and contest a seat in Mannar they lost the war. They lost their political compass in their over-enthusiasm for total and instant independence in the thirties, rejecting incremental devolution of power recommended by Donoughmore Commission. They were influenced by the more aggressive movement of the Indian nationalists. Gandhi and Nehru were their political idols. They were somewhat disdainful of the nationalist leaders who were mainly memorialists sending memorials by post to the Colonial Secretary “”…” one of whom was Winston Churchill — or by smuggling their memorials hidden in their shoes.

 Like most idealists/radicals they were far ahead of their time. Following the Indian nationalist movement as their ideal they emerged as the dominant force in the twenties — but not for long. While they were campaigning for “Swaraj” and abolition of casteism G. G. Ponnambalam was stoking the fires communalism nation-wide, as a means of beating electorally “the turbaned aristocrats of Jaffna” (Jane Russell) “”…” i.e., the Arunachalams and Mahadevas, who were the representatives elected from the Tamil electorates of the north at the time.

The boycotting of the first State Council elections in 1931 was a missed opportunity. Ponnambalam stepped in to fill the vacuumwith his venomous vilification of the Sinhalese. And the idealistic Jaffna Tamil Youth lost their political clout by 1934 with the rise of Ponnambalam’s virulent communalism. A weakened Youth Congress held its last session in 1939. With the decline of the Jaffna Tamil Youth Congress G. G. Ponnambalam, the new rising star of Jaffna politics, dominated peninsular politics beating the drum of mono-ethnic extremism “”…” a force that snowballed down the post-independence decades until it culminated in the Vadukoddai Resolution of 1976.

 He fathered and nurtured communalism in its most virulent form. The Hindu Organ, the leading newspaper of the Tamils in Jaffna, backing the Tamil youth, condemned the few Tamils “who in season and out of season trot out the bogey of Sinhalese domination.” (p.56 – Handy Perinpanayagam, A Memorial Volume, Edited by Santasilan Kadirgamar, 2012).

Ponnambalam is the first Jaffna Tamil leader who rode into power by whipping up anti-Sinhala communalism without any inhibitions. He opened the divisive Pandora’s box of vicious communalism which he could not control when the mono-ethnic extremism he engendered fell into the hands of his equally ambitious junior, S. J. V. Chelvanayakam. Tamil communalism after Ponnambalam was unstoppable. It gathered a momentum of its own until it ended in the Vadukoddai War declared in 1976. Ponnambalam represents the critical turning point where Jaffna abandoned the liberal, tolerant, multi-ethnic nationalism of Jaffna Youth Congress and aggressively pursued mono-ethnic extremism that eventually dragged the Jaffna Tamils to the Nandikadal Lagoon.


To be continued


29 Responses to “What happened in the history of Jaffna”

  1. Kit Athul Says:

    Let me add another name, where Mahindapala left out. Under D. S. Senanayake, the HANSAD writer was Sivasambo, who was a fair skinned Vellalan, from Jaffna.

  2. Dham Says:

    Cheating was the “way of life”. Howmany University places, Medal College places these inhuman bastards stole from poor Sinhala kids ?

  3. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    At the risk of losing the monumental support of the anti-Muslim Congress sympathizers, Mahatma Gandhi said ‘ No cabinet worthy of being representative of a large mass of mankind can afford to take any step merely because it is likely to win the hasty applause of an unthinking public. In the midst of insanity, should not our best representatives retain sanity and bravely prevent a wreck of the ship of state under their care?’

    Can anyone doubt that if this glorious principle of statesmanship had been applied to Sri Lanka, several riots and 30 years of blood bath could have been avoided?

    The authoritarian instinct of rulers which led them to believe that physically humiliating their opponents would bring them round. It brings those who ought to be statesmen down to the level of village thugs. The public emotions engendered in the process, and the actions of party members and hangers-on, tended to drive things out of control. In turn, the victims developed the same mindset: – viz. “The only thing that would work with the other side is a good whacking”. In the heat of the events, the elite, who ought to have understood the long term damage, were unable to command the conviction to condemn violence by their own side.

    This tendency among the Tamil speaking Sri Lankans was evident through the 1970s and had attained a certain fixity after July 1983. There was a lack of conviction about condemning the barbarous massacre of Buddhist pilgrims in Anuradhapura, in 1985.

    A classic example now fading from living memory is the attack on the strikers of June 05, 1947, on the eve of independence.

    The primary issue was the Left protest against the Soulbury Constitution for Independent Ceylon, for its failure to guarantee workers’ rights. Associated with it was the interdiction of T.B. Illangaratne, president, and 19 others of the Government Clerical Services Union for having held a meeting on Galle Face Green, in contravention of Public Service Regulations. 50,000 public servants prepared for trade union action.

    At this point there was a development of considerable historical interest. The State Council headed by D.S. Senanayake, the prime minister-in-making, hurriedly passed the Public Security Ordinance, taking barely 90 minutes over it. Perhaps the rulers in 1947 also thought it useful to have such an act on the statute book before independence, since, one is not surprised by such laws under colonial rule, while it would be awkward to present such legislation after independence. Interestingly, however, the most oppressive piece of legislation ever passed in Parliament – the one to make Tamil plantation workers non-citizens – could not have been passed under colonial rule!

    Following the passage of the PSO, the strikers made their way to the venue of the public meeting in Ralahamigewatte, Kolonnawa, marching through Dematagoda. The procession was blocked by the Police. Dr. N.M. Perera, the LSSP leader, went forward to Police Superintendent Robins, to explain to him that the meeting was authorized. He fell on the ground after being struck on the head by a baton, and had to run away to save himself. The Police fired 19 rounds of bullets into the strikers, killing one and injuring 19 others, 5 of them seriously.

    There were indeed many deficiencies in the Police of those times. But despite their prejudices and class affiliations, the Police as an institution had one saving grace. They were conscious of the Law as the standard and the ideal of enforcing it impartially. They were also sensitive to being seen falling short on professional standards. This in consequence had the merit of enabling the public to challenge them on the basis of the Law as the standard. But on the other hand the situation becomes quite hopeless when the Police acknowledge no standards, and for the most part become sycophants of the rulers.

    Another event in the episode of the police action in 1947 foreshadowed the future. The body of the innocent clerk V. Kandasamy, who was killed by police firing, was dispatched to his family in Jaffna by the mail train. G.G. Ponnambalam, famed criminal lawyer and leader of the Tamil Congress, stood by the coffin when it was placed on the platform of Jaffna railway station. He told the crowd that had come for the occasion that Kandasamy was killed by the Sinhalese government. It was still British rule and it had not entered into the minds of the crowd that Kandasamy’s death had anything to do with his being Tamil.

    The event was reflected upon many years later by a witness to it. This was in October 1986 when crowds filed past the corpses of nine Sinhalese soldiers killed in an encounter in the Mannar District and the two captured alive. They were exhibited near Nallur Kandasamy Kovil. The body of LTTE leader Victor killed in the same incident was carried from place to place in Jaffna while Kittu, the LTTE’s Jaffna leader, basked in Victor’s glory. From the time Kandasamy’s body was brought to Jaffna, Tamil politics has been ‘corpse politics’ – politics for death and destruction and not for life!

    Not long afterwards, the same Tamil Congress leader G.G. Ponnambalam who said Kandasamy had been killed by the Sinhalese government joined the same UNP government of D.S. Senanayake’s to become a cabinet minister. He also lent his support to the deplorable Acts which rendered the Tamil plantation workers (of recent Indian origin) without representation. This caused a split in his party, with the faction led by Chelvanayakam, Vanniasingam and Naganathan, continuing to oppose the Acts and forming in 1949 the Federal Party. Mr. I.R. Ariyaratnam, a Left party leader in Jaffna, later asked Ponnambalam why he had after initial opposition supported the Citizenship Bills upon being made cabinet minister? Ponnambalam replied, “India is a big country 50 times our size. Her prime minister, Nehru, does not care for these Tamils of recent Indian origin. Why should I bother about them?” It was again a mindset, educated and brilliant in a way, but tragically deficient in foresight and moral sense.

    The events of those two years in the late 40s which were centred about the country’s independence in 1948, contained many presentiments for what followed in the next half-century. While having the forms of democracy and legality, it was a political culture that was manipulative with few stabilising higher values.

    The same lack of conviction was evident in Prime Minister Bandaranaike in May 1958, and in President Jayewardene in July 1983. It was more damaging because they had state power. On both occasions, someone who could take decisions independently and act with firmness could have done a lot of good.

    In 1983 too it could have been done by the Army Commander, Chief-of-Staff or even the Commander-Operations, Colombo. It did not happen although it is unlikely that anyone would have risked trying to stop them. Finally we Sri Lankans have elected a true Statesman as a President who acts as the leader for every citizen of Sri Lanka.

    Although the State bears principal responsibility for the tragedy of this country, the descent of the Tamil polity into self-destructive internal terror cannot be understood without the circumstances surrounding the political murder of Alfred Duraiappah on July 27, 1975.

    Alfred Duraiappah who was Jaffna’s independent MP from 1960-65 and several times mayor was a popular figure. Although this is denied by many Tamil nationalists, the fact is that in all elections for the Jaffna seat, the votes were equally split between him, the Tamil Congress and the Federal Party. His appeal had nothing to do with his representing any great ideal or principle in politics. He knew his constituents individually and tried to make everyone feel that he was part of their family. He greeted people on the road and inquired about their studies and personal matters. He catered to the needs of people for the normal business of life to go on. He dealt in jobs, transfers, market buildings, public lavatories and streetlights. It suited him to have government patronage for his style of politics, and so he aligned himself with the SLFP.

    He had no interest in projecting himself outside the Jaffna electorate, but in that prestigious electorate, he posed a potent challenge to the nationalist TUF (Federal Party). He had a vote bank in the significant business, Muslim and Sinhalese communities and the urban poor. This popularity of Duraiappah’s irked the nationalists. This nationalism sought to impose on the very materialistic society in Jaffna, a hypocritical facade that the people were ready to sacrifice all ordinary needs and desires in life for some vague purist idea of Nation. Duraiappah exposed that hypocrisy.

    From 1972, the TUF (FP) launched vicious attacks on Duraiappah calling him a traitor worthy of death. At the beginning, it may have been a stunt to win the Jaffna seat. But the more they articulated it, the more they began to believe it to be only right and natural that his end should come. An important event in the vilification of Duraiappah was the International Tamil Research Conference of January 1974.

    The research forum series was launched by Fr. X. Thaninayagam, who was an eminent Tamil scholar. The first conference was held in 1966 in Kuala Lumpur and opened by Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahuman. It had been supported generously by the Malaysian government. The 1974 conference was, initially, expected to be held in Colombo, but the organisers decided to shift it to Jaffna.

    Once the conference was shifted to Jaffna, the TUF inevitably tried to make political capital out of it. (Note: The Federal Party (FP) joined a larger alliance, the Tamil United Front (TUF) which included the Tamil Congress and Ceylon Workers’ Congress on 14th May 1972. The TUF became the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) on 14th May 1976 after adopting the policy of separation from Sri Lanka. The CWC then dropped out saying that they cannot go along with separatism.) There were however good reasons for the shift of the conference to Jaffna and there is no reason to believe that the organisers connived with the TUF. But the Government was nervous and four delegates who came to Sri Lanka for the conference were sent back. But in Jaffna itself there was great public enthusiasm over the event. The scholarly conference was held in Veerasingham Hall from 3rd to 9th January. There was a popular demand to hear the foreign delegates and this public event was fixed for the evening of the 10th.

    The police permit to have the meeting, which ended on the 9th, was extended to the 10th on a gentlemen’s understanding between ASP Chandrasekera and Dr. Mahadeva, the chief conference organiser. The latter undertook to ensure that Janarthanan, a politician from Tamil Nadu who was not a delegate, would not speak. Janarthanan was seen at the TUF (FP) office on 2nd Cross Street that evening, according to a witness, talking to Amirthalingam. But the question of the legality of his presence had been raised neither by the de Kretzer nor Sansoni commissions and ASP Chandrasekera, according to Sansoni, had encountered Janarthanan the previous day and warned him not to speak in public.

    The organisers had earlier planned to hold the final meeting in the open-air theatre for which authorisation had been obtained from the Jaffna mayor, Mr. Duraiappah. But because there had been a shower on the 9th, the organisers decided to shift the final meeting to the Veerasingham Hall. But on the 10th the crowds started squeezing into the Hall and many had to be content listening from outside. Seeing there was no rain, the organisers at the last minute decided to go back to the open air theatre. They tried to contact the mayor (Duraiappah) and the municipal commissioner to gain access to the theatre, but were unsuccessful.

    The organisers quickly prepared an ‘ad hoc’ stage outside the Hall, but within the premises, facing the KKS Road and the Jaffna esplanade. An estimated crowd of about 50,000 sat on the roads and on the esplanade, right up to the moat of Jaffna Fort. The Police were helpful in redirecting, the city traffic via Clock Tower Road towards Main Street, so that the crowds could listen without being disturbed. The meeting started late at 8PM and the chairman, Dr. Vithyananthan, thanked the Police for their co-operation. The first speaker, Prof. Naina Mohamed from South India, held the audience spell-bound.

    A little later, to everyone’s surprise a police party in riot gear started moving into the crowd westwards towards Veerasingham hall from the Clock Tower side, assaulting and roughly ordering the crowd to move aside. Pandemonium broke loose and seven civilians died of electrocution when a power line came down.

    The crowd panicked and dispersed. There was not a shred of evidence that Alfred Duraiappah was in any way the cause of this tragedy. But the fact that he was with the Government made the city father a ready scapegoat. The SLFP office on the Main Street was that same night attacked by a mob led by a man identified as a TUF supporter.

    Very quickly an effective propaganda campaign was unloosed accusing Duraiappah of responsibility for the tragedy and the deaths of the civilians. This was again a case of ‘corpse politics’. It was later carried to new heights by Prabhakaran, the LTTE supremo. If anyone, it is the TUF and Amirthalingam who should bear a large share of responsibility for the tragedy as will become evident in the sequel. Janarthanan went back to India and claimed that he had seen hundreds of corpses of those killed by the Police. The Veerakesari, the largest Tamil Daily, then editorially condemned Janarthanan’s irresponsible statements.

    The government of the day could have cleared up the matter by appointing a commission to go into it. But the government of Mrs. Bandaranaike was so paranoid about it that it declined to do so. The matter was gone into by a three member unofficial commission headed by Justice O.L. de Kretzer..

    The Sansoni Commission Report (p. 25) quotes Mr. J.D.M. (Mitra) Ariyasinghe who was then SP, Jaffna, on a speech made by Mrs. Amirthalingam. She spoke to a gathering opposite Munniappar Kovil on the occasion of a hartal organised by the Tamil United Front on February 09, 1974 in protest against the police action above. She is said to have referred to ASP Chandresekera as the person responsible for the deaths on 10th January and to Mr. Duraiappah as being a traitor who was behind the incident on that day.

    What Mrs. Amirthalingam allegedly said is consistent with the politics of the TULF (i.e. TUF, FP) at that time. (E.g., on May 24, 1972 Kasi Anandan spoke at a meeting in protest against the new republican constitution. According to witnesses, Duraiappah was named by him as being among the traitors listed who should not die a natural death, but the nature of whose death should be determined by the younger generation. Chelvanayakam and Amirthalingam were then on the platform.) It may be noted that Duraiappah’s name did not crop up at the de Kretzer Commission hearings where the TUF had a role in producing witnesses, and Bishop Kulandran who was on the Commission was known for his leanings towards the Federal Party (TUF). Although Duraiappah as mayor may have preferred the organisers to have chosen the Jaffna Town Hall as the venue, there is no evidence to suggest that he was in any way hostile or uncooperative.

    Such was the nature of the build-up of hate towards Alfred Duraiappah. Those with nationalist sympathies had little difficulty in swallowing this propaganda and failed to ask where this was leading to. Planted in the minds of youth who were on the threshold of militancy, it was an instigation to kill.

    Testimony from one of Duraiappah’s companions is of interest. The assassins, Prabhakaran, Kalapathy & Patkunam who were waiting went towards the three passenger doors of the 4-door car as it halted. The intention was to kill Duraiappah and both his companions. One of the latter, as he alighted through a rear door, saw a short youth pointing a pistol towards him and shivering. This companion, Yoganathan, pushed the youth aside, toppling him flat on the ground and ran into a nearby kiosk selling soft drinks. Another companion, Rajaratnam, was injured but managed to run away.

    The assassins, who were evidently nervous, took off in Duraiappah’s car with Patkunam driving. No attempt was made to go for Yoganathan who was hiding in the kiosk. The woman who ran the kiosk called him out when the assassins were gone. He came out and found Duraiappah crying for water. Placing the dying man’s head on his lap, he poured some aerated water into his mouth. Duraiappah then breathed his last. Years later, upon seeing Prabhakaran’s picture, Yoganathan identified the youth, who had stood before him shivering, as Prabhakaran, and also became his admirer. Yoganathan’s identification points to Prabhakaran who, in July 1975, still retained a healthy inhibition against killing. But not long afterwards he was instrumental in the murder of Patkunam who drove the car. The direction of his movement was set.

    As to the TULF (then TUF) directly instigating Duraiappah’s murder, there is no evidence. We may say that the TULF pointed a pistol at Duraiappah and looked the other side, knowing that someone would pull the trigger. We do know that some TULF leaders had contact with these militant youth – which, from inside testimony, became semi-formal in 1976 after a meeting between Amirthalingam and the central committee of the LTTE. The indications are that Prabhakaran remained loyal to Amirthalingam into the early 1980s. This does not mean that the TULF played any role in the LTTE’s decision making. In July 1989, LTTE assasinated Amirthlingam too.

    Mrs. Yogeswaran, the TULF Mayor of Jaffna, was assassinated by the LTTE in May 1998. A columnist in the Sanjeevi published in Jaffna, later wrote that Mrs. Yogeswaran had told him that Prabhakaran called on her husband in Jaffna soon after murdering Duraiappah and she had served him tea. Yogeswaran became the TULF’s Jaffna MP in 1977 and was known to have been consorting with militant youth. Mr Yogeswaran was also assasinated by LTTE in July 1989.

    However the hate campaign against those who disagreed with nationalist claims and the very act of usurping the right to Duraiappah’s life, set the direction of Tamil politics on the course of tragedy. Grief over Duraiappah’s death brought forth an outpouring of tears. Today there are no tears left.

    The actions of Prabhakaran proved he was a real tiger. The only business he knew was killing. He killed Kalvian Kaadu Chetty, the person who named the group “Tigers” and the original leader of the Tiger group

    Then Prabhakaran tried to kill the next leader of Tigers, Uma Maheswaran in a shoot out in India . He killed the founding members of the Tigers, Michael and Patkunam. Prabhakaran himself tipped off the Police about the then leaders of Tigers, Kuttimani and Thangathurai and their whereabouts. This incident led to Kuttimani and Thangathurai’s incarceration until their terrible deaths in the Welikade jail.

    Several times Prabhakaran missed his targets. When he killed Alfred Duraiappah, he couldn’t shoot properly at Duraiappah’s companions. During the Neervely People’s Bank robery on March 25, 1981, Prabhakaran missed his one and only target. Fortunately Sri Sabarutnam shot at Prabhakaran’s target – Police Officer Banda who was almost pulling the trigger at Prabhakaran and saved Prabhakaran’s life. Prabhakaran assassinated Sri Sabaratnam in 1985. On May 19, 1982, at Pondy Bazaar in Madras Prabhakarn shot Uma Maheswaran then leader of Tigers at point blank, Prabhakaran missed his target.

    Prabhakaran killed all the persons he worked with before he became the leader of the Tigers. He even killed the last surviving Tiger group founding member Sabalingam who was residing in France, because Sabalingam started writing about Prabhakaran’s power hungry killings
    After Prabhakaran became the leader of the Tigers, he started killing all Tamil political leaders, elected mayors, university professors and many innocent Tamils who had criticized Tigers. Prabhakaran banned all Tamil political organizations for 20 years and finally the international community including USA, Canada, European Union, India and Australia banned the Tigers, mainly due to Tigers’ continuous use of child soldiers and their terror activities including numerous suicide bombing.

    Prabhakaran also killed hundreds of people who were members and supporters of Tamil political organizations. Ramachandran a.k.a MGR, former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu gave Pirabhakaran more than 1.25 billion rupees in 1985. Tamil speaking Sri Lankans provided their support to Tigers at gunpoint only and never helped Tigers to grow to this extent.
    Tigers were terror loving trigger-happy killers, created by MGR and Premadasa. In 1990 Prabhakaran wanted 100,000 Muslims in the North of Sri Lanka to get out within 3 hours, leaving their belongings and treasured valuables – that was a text book example of ‘ethnic cleansing’. Prabhakaran made Idi Amin look like an angel as Idi Amin had a heart to give the Asians in Uganda three months to leave the country and not 3 hours.

    Tigers who knew only one thing, which was killing another human. For 30 years, Tigers killed more Tamils than any body else. Also more Tigers were killed by Prabhakaran than any body else.

  4. Dilrook Says:

    A major problem in the Jaffna Tamil community, especially the Vellahlas is inbreeding over two hundred years.

    Since establishing as a separate community in the island two hundred years ago (previous Tamils integrated into the majority community), Vellahlas ferociously guarded their caste. No Vellahla was allowed to marry a non-Vellahla. That left only a small pool to marry. Population statistics show that in late 1800s only a relatively small number of Tamils and an even smaller number of Sri Lankan Tamils and even a smaller number of Vellahlas were in the country. They inter-married ever since.

    Inbreeding among other things raises community awareness to the extent of racism.

  5. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    For more information please visit

  6. Melbourne Patriot Says:

    There had never been a Tamil King in Jaffna. Unitl the Portugese conquored Jaffna, it was always ruled by a Sinhala Kingdom. Even Tamil historians accepted this until 1983 or so

  7. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    A little knowledge is dangerous. And a little historical knowledge is even more so.
    Around 500 BC Sri Lankans developed a unique hydraulic civilization. The spectacular feats of hydraulic engineering where the fusion of the Egyptian and Babylonian patterns achieved the most complete and subtlest form were found in Sri Lanka and not in the Indian mainland. Sri Lanka has the longest continuous history of Buddhism since Buddhism was introduced into Sri Lanka in the 2nd century BCE by Mahinda, the son of the Ashoka the Great, during the reign of Sri Lanka’s King Devanampiya Tissa. Buddhism came to South India before the 3rd Sangam period of Tamil literature. The full impact of Buddhism in South India is unmistakably shown in Silappadhikaram and Maṇimekhalai, which are two epic works of the 3rd Sangam period in Tamil literature (2nd century CE). Of these, Manimekhalai is a purely Buddhist work, which in addition to the narrative, contains also expositions of the Buddhist doctrine. Extracts from other poems written by the author of Manimekhalai, Sithalai Sattanar, are found in other Tamil literary works. Quotations from Ilambodhiyar, the Buddhist poet, are found in the Natrinai. Hindus continued to absorb Buddhist practices and teachings, such as Ahimsa and the renunciation of the material world.

    Persons interested in ethnicity in Sri Lanka should read the following:
    Abeysekera, C. and Gunasinghe, N. (1987) Facets of Ethnicity in Sri Lanka, Social Scientists Association
    Deraniyagala, Siran(1992) The Prehistory of Sri Lanka; an ecological perspective. Archaeological Survey Department of Sri Lanka
    Gunawardena, R.A.L.H. (1995) Historiography in a Time of Ethnic Conflict. Construction of the Past in Contemporary Sri Lanka, Social Scientists Association
    Indrapala, Karthigesu (2007), THE EVOLUTION OF AN ETHNIC IDENTITY — The Tamils in Sri Lanka, C. 300 BCE to c. 1200 CE
    Jayawardene, Kumari (1984) “Class Formation and Communalism” in Race & Class Vol. XXVI, No I Summer London.
    Jayawardene, Kumari (1990) Ethnic and Class Conflict in Sri Lanka, Sanjiva Books
    Jeganathan, P. & Qadri Ismail (1995) Unmaking the Nation: The Politics of Identity and History in Modern Sri Lanka, Social Scientists Association
    Liyanagamage, Amaradasa (1968) The decline of Polonnaruwa and the rise of Dambadeniya. Department of Cultural Affairs, Government Press
    Pieris, Paulus Edward (1918) Ceylon and Hollanders 1658-1796. American Ceylon Mission Press
    Pieris, Paulus Edward (1920) Ceylon and the Portuguese 1505-1658. American Ceylon Mission Press
    Roberts, M. (1979) Collective Identities Nationalisms and Protest in Modern Sri Lanka, Marga Institute

  8. Dilrook Says:


    Thanks for the links.

    Silappadhikaram, Maṇimekhalai and Natrinai are South Indian, not Sri Lankan (Tamil) works. They belong to South India and not Sri Lanka.

    Megasthenes (3 century BC) is considered father of history. He was very objective. He had no ulterior motives in writing down history.

    He called the only people living in Sri Lanka Palaeogoni a Greek word meaning Pali Putra meaning people who speak the Pali language. Sinhala is the closest language to Pali (both are Indo Aryan languages). Sinhala derives from mostly Pali than any other language. Ancient Sinhala historical accounts are also written in Pali.

    These facts indicate the total absence of Tamil as an ethnic community in Sri Lanka in ancient times before any historical book was written. Obviously Tamils lived in Sri Lanka in ancient times not as a distinct ethnic group but as part of Sinhalas.

    Agree with the rest.

  9. Dilrook Says:

    Melbourne Patriot:

    Sankili was a Tamil king.

  10. myopinion24 Says:

    For someone who with a genuine interest in a progressive SL , it is refreshing to have degree of conventional journlism emerging in this particular dialogue . Previosly these pages were prone to gutter journalism of the highest order. In fact time and time it used a thread/whiff of an idea/rumour as the fact base for whole strory. In addition the tendancy to rely on abusive and demeaning personal inuendo to make a point/story was arrogance /ignornace of the highest order

  11. Lorenzo Says:

    I like the names associated with the Tamil liberation struggle.

    1. Ponnambalam.
    2. VadaKundi resolution
    3. Vesavalami law
    4. King Sakkili Kumaran
    5. Valla-alla-la
    6. Pooppillai (actual name of the Canadian CTC leader)

    All these cannot be accidental.

    Cursed are those who plot against this unitary nation in anyway.

  12. Naram Says:

    To Mr Thyabaran’s list I would add few more essential books.

    Ancient Jaffna – Mudaliar Rasanayagam [published in 1926 and 1933] may be available in the internet studies into caste system in Jaffna also.

    Nobodies to Somebodies -Prof Kumari Jayawardena – traces the growth of Sri Lanka’s elite, who dominate the rich list in Sri Lanka including Wellawatta folks and Borah folks, and the formation of Schools in Jaffna 1820s

    The Separatist Conflict in Sri Lanka – Prof Asoka Bandarage – Traces the growth of Tamil consciousness andits counterpartawakening of Sinhalese

    Ceylon the Portugese Era Part I & II PE Pieris
    Sinhale and the Patriots 1815 – 1818P E Pieris

  13. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Idiyappam, Appam, Dosa, Pittu are Keralite dishes and not Tamil Nadu Dishes. Tamil speaking Sri Lankans’ culture has lot more in common with Kerala than Tamil Nadu.
    Kerala and Sri Lanka have close relations for thousands of years. 2nd Century AD Senguttuvan – King of Chera invited King Gaja Bahu for an occasion to honour “Kannaki”. King Gaja Bahu took a statue of “Kannaki” back home and introduced Kannaki worship in Sri Lanka. Kannaki is still known as Pattini goddess among Sinhala speaking in Sri Lankans. Keralites have many similarities with both Sinhala and Tamil speaking Sri Lankans. In fact the ancestors of many Tamil speaking Sri Lankans migrated from Kerala. Although they continue to speak Tamil, their accent has striking similarities with Malayalam. They still even use Malayalam words like monai, parainju, kunju, kutti etc. In fact Veluppillai Prabhaharan and Sarath Fonseka’s ancestors are from Kerala too. TULF leader Veluppillai (SJV) Chelvanayagam was not born in Sri lanka. Ceylon Tamil Congress leader G.G.Ponnampalam became a Malaysian Citizen in 1956.

  14. thurai Says:

    Tamil Refujee Millionaires from western countries have Business contacts in Kerala than in Tamilnadu.
    Propaganda of Terrorism depends on Tamilnadu Poliicians. The Double face activities of Tamil Terrorism
    is History of Tomorrow. The many persons and politicains who show they are voice of Tamils are cheaters.

  15. Melbourne Patriot Says:

    Sankili is a recent invention by the Tamils. Even if he was there (I doubt it), he was merely an administrator who took orders from the King in Kotte. Tamils were brought into Jaffna in large numbers wrere allowed into the country by Portuguese to cultivate tobacco (note they had a colony in Pondichery, Goa etc in South India). Before that the area was largely unhibited though Buddhist artefacts prove that the Buddhists lived there. There had never been Tamil Buddhists, Buddhists in Sri Lanka have always been Sinhalese. Tamil Buddhist is a misnormer. Now some Tamil Dailits are converting into Buddhism but it is a different issue.

  16. Dilrook Says:


    Yes; Tamils in Sri Lanka have a closer connection with Kerala because a very large number of Tamil labourers were illegally brought and settled in the north. They are still called Malabar Tamils because they came from the Malabar Coast of Kerala after the 17th century. Thesawalamei Law in it’s preamble says it is applicable to Malabar decendents.

    However, Sarath Fonseka is not a Kerala decendent unless he admits to it.

    Even Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan settled down in Tamil Nadu in his retirement until he was invited to compete for the top post which was a monumental mistake. What this shows is even Tamil leaders never considered Sri Lanka to be their permanant home.

    MG Ramachandran’s family also migrated (illegally) from Kerala to Sri Lanka unable to face caste discrimination particularly of his mother. After working as slaves in British administered plantations, they left to Burma and then to Tamil Nadu where they settled down.

    These facts highlight the enormous problems South Indian illegal immigration in the past 2 centuries casued in the once porsperous island nation. It is still a big problem.

  17. Dilrook Says:


    Sri Lankans don’t need racism at all. What is needed is to counter Tamil racism vigorously. Protecting the Sinhala identity is not racism. It is only a sign of legitimate decend endowed with all the qualities of a legitimate child.

    However, when one ethnic group treads the path of racism, it is very difficult to prevent the others from copying it. Ethnic integration is the way forward.

  18. Dilrook Says:

    Melbourne Patriot:

    Yes; there is very little evidence of Tamil Buddhists in Sri Lanka. South India is a different place altogether. We cannot mix the two.

    All Buddhist places of note in the north have Sinhala and not Tamil histories, names and writing.

  19. Dilrook Says:

    [Quote] King of Chera invited King Gaja Bahu [Unquote]

    This is true. However, it must be understood in the context at that time. King Gajabahu launched a military expedition against Tamilakam (modern Tamil Nadu). It was obviously beneficial for him to forge closer ties with Cheras.

    Kerala (among others including African merceneries) military commanders and armies were used by Sinhala kings to fight Tamil invaders.

    However, Sinhala-Kerala similarities are much less than Tamil-Kerala similarities. Sri Lanka had much closer ties with Burma and Thailand than with Kerala at all times after Buddhism was introduced.

    As with food items, traditional Sinhala foods include Kokis (cookies from Portuguese) and Aluwa (Halva from Arabic) cultures as well. Climatic and terrain similarities between Kerala and Sri Lanka better than Tamil Nadu also created some similarities in traditions, etc.

  20. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Dear Melbourne Patriot !

    I am a Tamil speaking patriotic Buddhist.

    Since ancient times various schools of Buddhism flourished in the present-day Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Laccadives, parts of Andhra Pradesh and some parts of Karnataka, as well as Sri Lanka and the Maldives .

    Buddhism played an enormous role in shaping the mindset of the ancient Tamil people, affecting their aesthetics, politics, literature and philosophy. The Pallava prince-turned-monk Bodhidharma from 5th-6th century Tamil Nadu founded the school of Zen Buddhism.

    The Tamil Literature, archaeological finds such as Brahmi, Tamil Inscriptions, coins, seals, earthenware, potsherds, statues, sculptures etc. of Tamil Nadu confirm that Mahayana Buddhism existed throughout Tamil Nadu from the ancient time.

    Literary and physical symbolization of Lord Buddha and Buddhism had been used scientifically by the Tamil Mahayana Buddhists.

    In the Tamil Literature, by placing stanzas that praise Buddha or the Triple Gem, they had been identified with the Mahayana Buddhism. In Kural, Silappathikaaram, Kamba Ramayanam, Aathisoodi etc. Lord Buddha or the Triple Gem are being praised at the beginning. Out of the four chapters that are placed at the beginning of Kural, the three chapters other than the ‘Excellence of Rain’ praise the Triple Gem. In Silappathikaaram and Manimekalai also, the Triple Gem is being praised.

    The Tamil Mahayana Buddhists only wrote the Tamil grammar book, Tolkaapiyam. In addition to the grammar book, they also composed Tamil lexicons. The twelve stanzas placed at the end of each of the twelve chapters confirm that ‘Seenthan Thivaakaram’ was composed by a Tamil Mahayana Buddhist.

    Physical symbolization of Lord Buddha and Buddhism had been utilized extensively by the Tamil Mahayana Buddhists. All the symbols found marked on the Brahmi and Vaddelutthu inscriptions of Tamil Nadu are Buddhist symbols.

    The historians who did not conduct a scientific study on symbolization, symbolization of Lord Buddha and Buddhism and the word – meaning relationship of the Tamil language faced immense problems in understanding what the symbols marked on inscriptions, seals, coins, earthenware, potsherds etc. severally and jointly symbolize or what are being said in the Tamil literature. As an example: nobody knows all the meanings of the Tamil word ‘Sivan’ or the meaning of ‘Siva.’ Though almost all the ‘learned’ say that the words ‘Sivan’ and ‘Siva’ denote the God Sivan, or Siva, in Sri Lanka two Brahmi inscriptions in the Eastern Province speaking about the Buddhist Monk by the name Siva. Also in some Brahmi coins discovered at Akurugoda in Ruhunu, we find ‘Sivaha’ written on one side of them. ‘Sivaha’means ‘of Siva.’ On the other side, we find a symbol that symbolizes ’12 Nithanas’ that determine the cycle of Birth and Death as preached by Lord Buddha.

    The animals lion, horse, bull and elephant have been used to symbolize Lord Buddha in the Tamil Nadu coins.A pair of foot, pair of fish and pair of conch also have been used. The ‘learned’ who say that a fish symbolizes the Pandya Dynasty could not explain what a pair of fish symbolizes.

    Thus, unless a scientific study is conducted on the subjects Symbolization, Symbolization of Lord Buddha and Buddhism and the word – meaning relationship of the Tamil language, studies on Tamil literature and archaeological finds would be unscientific, and histories of various things would be wrong and imaginary.

    The ancient Tamil Buddhist poem Manimekalai by the poet Seethalai Saathanar is set in the town of Kaveripattanam. Ancient ruins of a 4th-5th century Buddhist monastery, a Buddha statue, and a Buddhapada (footprint of the Buddha) were found in another section of the ancient city, now at Pallavanesvaram.

    The heritage of the town is found in the Burmese historical text of 3rd Century BCE, and gives evidences of a Budha Vihar built by the great Ashoka.

    Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu was a Buddhist centre of the 4th-5th century CE. Its stupa dates from this era. Buddhism disappeared from this city as of an unknown date, but was revided as of the 9th century. (H.P.Ray, The Winds of Change, Delhi 1994, p. 142) In the 11th century, Chudamani Vihara, a Buddhist vihara (monastery) was built by Javanese king Sri Vijaya Soolamanivarman with the patronage of Raja Raja Chola. “Animangalam Copperplate” of Kulothunga chola notes that “Kasiba Thera” [Buddhist Monk] Renovated the Buddhist temple in 6th century with the help of Buddhist monks of ‘Naga Nadu’. This ‘nagar annam vihar’ later came to be known as ‘Nagananavihar’. Buddhism flourished until 15th century and the buildings of the vihara survived until 18th century.

    Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu is one of the oldest cities in South India, and was a city of learning for Tamil, Sanskrit, and Pali and was believed to be visited by Xuanzang (Huan Tsang) also known as Yuan Chwang. It was during the reign of Pallava dynasty, from the 4th to the 9th centuries that Kanchipuram attained its limelight. The city served as the Pallava capital, and many of the known temples were built during their reign. The founder of Zen Buddhism, Bodhidharma was born here, as was the famous Sanskrit writer Dandin who wrote Dashakumaracharita. The Sanskrit poet Bharavi hailed from Kanchi and wrote the famous Kiratarjuniya here under the patronage of the Pallava king Simhavishnu. Great Buddhist scholars such as Dignaga, Buddhaghosa, and Dhammapala lived here too.

    The king of Kanchi, Pallava Mahendravarman was a great scholar and musician, a man of great intelligence and also a great Sanskrit satirist and playwright.

    Xuanzang, the great Chinese traveler, visited the city in the 7th century and said that this city was 6 miles in circumference and that its people were famous for bravery and piety as well as for their love of justice and veneration for learning. He further recorded that Buddha had visited the place.

    In the Jaffna peninsula and northern mainland, hundreds of Mahayana Buddhist coins,seals statues and other archaeological finds have been discovered for the last two centuries. However, all these years historians could not identify these as Mahayana Buddhist archaeological things as they did not conduct a scientific study on Symbolization of Lord Buddha and Buddhism. Also as they have not understood the word – meaning relationship of the Tamil language, they could not find all the meanings of the words written on the coins etc.

    A very good example for this is one type of the ‘Setu’ coins collected in the Jaffna peninsula.In this particular type of ‘Setu’ coin, on one side, a standing human figure is marked. The face is turned to our right and the human holds with his left hand a conch near its mouth. The elliptically shaped head of the standing human is divided into four equal parts with two perpendicular straight lines. On the head of the standing human. a three stepped head-wear is placed. The standing human holds with his right hand a vertical stick with 5 cross bars of equal size. Thus, 10 straight line bars jut out on either side of the vertical stick. On to the left of the standing human figure, a trisula with vertical limbs is kept vertically. On to the far left of the standing human figure, a long stick is placed vertically.

    On the other side of the coin, a bull facing to our left is in the sleeping position placed above the Tamil letters ‘Setu.’ A crescent and a dot inside the curved part is placed above the head of the Bull. There four groups of three dots placed in the form of an equilateral triangle.

    The historians, numismatists and the archaeologists who studied the particular coin have come to the conclusion that the standing human figure is the King of the Jaffna Kingdom. Some have specifically stated that it is Ariyachakkaravarthi.

    But none of them had explained why the King of Jaffna holds a conch near his mouth or why his head is divided into four equal parts or why he wears a head-wear with three steps.On the other hand they could not explain why the King holds a vertical stick with 10 straight small bars jutting on either side of the stick, or why a trisula and a vertical long stick are placed near him.

    A conch, like a bell, hand drum etc., makes sound that could be heard by everyone without any discrimination. Thus, a conch, a bell and a hand drum could symbolize making public announcement or preaching something to all.

    What being preached to all is symbolized by the head divided into four equal parts. It could be argued that the four equal parts of the head symbolizes the Four Vedas of ‘Hinduism,’ the Four Yogas of the Second Gem of the Triple Gem of the Jains and the Four Noble Truths preached by Lord Buddha.

    However, ‘the Four Vedas’ are not the thoughts of a single person. Also, it is not preached to all. The ‘Manu Dharma Sastra’ says that molten lead should be poured into the ears of a ‘sutra’ who eavesdrops chanting of ‘the Vedas.’ On the other hand, ‘the Four Yogas’ are actually a part of the Jain Preaching. Therefore, the head divided into four equal parts of the standing human with a conch placed near the mouth could symbolize ‘the Four Noble Truths’ preached by Lord Buddha only. Therefore, the standing human figure should symbolize Lord Buddha preaching ‘the Four Noble Truths’ to the world. This conclusion should be confirmed with the other symbols found marked near the standing human and the symbols found marked on the other side of the coin.

    Three steps are very important in the Buddhist Preaching. According to Lord Buddha, one must adhere to the Noble Eight-fold Path in three steps, namely Sila, Samadhi and Panna. This emphasized with the head -wear with three steps.

    The vertical stick with 10 small parts jutting on either side could symbolize ‘the Ten Precepts’of Buddhism. The trisula with straight limbs could symbolize ‘the Triple Gem.’

    The long stick placed by the side of the standing human figure could symbolize the reign of the person symbolized with standing human figure.

    Thus, the standing human figure symbolizes Lord Buddha preaching ‘the Four Noble Truths’ to the World. The symbols found marked on this particular side of the coin symbolize Buddhism severally and the Reign of Buddha Dhamma jointly.

    The conclusion arrived at would be correct if the same things are symbolized on the other side of the coin also.

    On the other side of the coin, a bull is placed in a sleeping position on the Tamil word ‘Setu.’ A crescent with a dot inside is placed above the head of the Bull. A crescent with a dot inside could symbolize the full moon. Normally a small curve and a dot inside is used to denote a circle. The full moon is associated with Lord Buddha, while sun with ‘Argha’ of the Jains. Therefore. the Bull could symbolize Lord Buddha. However. this should be confirmed with the other symbols found marked on this particular side of the coin and with the Tamil word ‘Setu.’

    A group of three dots placed in the form of equilateral triangle could symbolize ‘the Triple – Gem.’ The four groups of three dots could symbolize ‘the Four Noble Truths.’

    The Tamil word ‘Setu’ and ‘Seetu’ could mean ‘the’ and ‘Great’ also. To understand this, one should understand the word – meaning relationship of the Tamil language. Therefore, the Bull placed above the word ‘Setu’ does not symbolize the normal Bull, but ‘the Bull,Great Bull.’ Therefore, Bull had been utilized to symbolize Lord Buddha. A systematic study of the symbols utilized in India and Sri Lanka will reveal the truth that Lord Buddha had been symbolized with Lion, elephant, horse, bull and a pair of foot.

    Therefore, the symbols found marked on both sides of the coin confirm that the particular coin is a Tamil Mahayana Buddhist coin symbolizing Lord Buddha preaching ‘the Four Noble Truths’ to the world and establishing Buddha Dhamma.

    All the coins, seals etc. discovered in the Jaffna peninsula and the northern mainland belong to Mahayana Buddhism and designed by the Tamil Mahayana Buddhist Monks who studied ‘Symbolization’ scientifically.

    Nāka Tivu/ Nāka Nadu was the name of the whole Jaffna peninsula in some historical documents. There are number of Buddhist myths associated with the interactions of people of this historical place with Buddha. The two Tamil Buddhist epics of Kundalakesi and Manimekalai describe the islet of Manipallavam of Nāka Tivu/Nadu which is identified with the Nainativu islet of the Jaffna peninsula. This Tamil Buddhist shrine was located close to the ancient Nagapooshani Amman temple of Nainativu, one of the Shakti Peethas.

    The famous ‘Vallipuram” Buddha statue built with Dravidian sculptural traditions from Amaravati, Andhra Pradesh (Amaravati school) was found in excavations below the Hindu Temple. The language of the inscription is Tamil-Prakrit, which shares several similarities with script inscriptions used in Andhra at the time, when the Telugu Satavahana dynasty was at the height of its power and its 17th monarch Hāla (20-24 CE) married a princess from the island.

    Professor Peter Shalk (University of Uppsala), writes ” Vallipuram has very rich archaeological remains that point at an early settlement. It was probably an emporium in the first centuries CE. From already dated stones with which we compare this Vallipuram statue, we can conclude that it falls in the period 3rd-4th century CE. During that period, the typical Amaravati-Buddha sculpture was developed”. The Buddha statue found here was gifted to King of Thailand by the then British Governor Henry Blake in 1906.

    Dr K.Indrapala argued for a flourishing pre-Christian buddhist civilization in Jaffna, in agreement with Paranavithana, and Mudliyar C. Rasanayakam, Ancient Jaffna in an earlier work, 1965.

    This place is similar to Nagapatnam where all Asian vessels used it as a stopover point and the Buddhist and Hindu Dagobas are just a resting and worshipping places for the sailors and international traders. Both Nagapatnam and Vallipuram served the powerful kingdoms of China, Siam, Cambodia, Champa (Vietnam) and Java.

    A group of Dagobas situated close together at Kandarodai in Jaffna served as a monastery for Tamil monks and reflect the rise in popularity of Mahayana Buddhism amongst Jaffna Tamils and the Tamils of the ancient Tamil country in the first few centuries of the common era before the revivalism of Hinduism amongst the population.

    Thiriyai is referred to as Thalakori in the 2nd century AD map of Ptolemy. Pre-Christian-Buddhist Tamil Brahmi inscriptions have been found in the area, the oldest belonging to the 2nd century BCE. Thiriyai formed a prominent village of Jaffna’s Vannimai districts in the medieval period. The site is home to Mahayana Buddhist vatadage ruins worshipped by the locals during the rise of Tamil Buddhism in the area. During Paramesvaravarman I’s reign, the famous Tiriyai Pallava Grantha inscriptions of 7th-8th century Tamilakkam were recorded in the village. The inscription refers to Tamil merchant mariners from Tamil Nadu, their sea faring and commerce to Trincomalee.

    It details their endowment of this shrine dedicated to the Buddhist deity Avalokitesvara and his consort Tara. Dvarapala sculptures found at the ruins are early contributions of the Pallava school of art to the island.

    The Chola Dynasty patronised several religions amongst Tamils, including Saivism, Vaishnavism and Buddhism. They built Buddhist temples known as “Perrumpallis”. The famous Rajarajapperumpalli of Periyakulam was built by Rajaraja Chola I. Tamil inscriptions excavated from this site point to the attention the Cholas paid to the development of Trincomalee District as a strong Saiva Tamil principality and for their contributions to the upkeep of several shrines including the monumental Shiva Koneswaram temple of Trincomalee.

    Today, the Palk Strait which lies between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lankan land masses, is seen as a divider, separating two different distinct ethnicities, religions, cultures and political entities but there was a phase in history when Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka enjoyed very close ties, thanks to a shared interest in Buddhism.

    During the early period, the Palk Strait was not seen as a divider but it was a unifier. At that time Buddhism was a bridge between Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu.

    The fascinating story of the historical links – Golden threads between Buddhism in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka was narrated by Dr. Shu Hikosake, Director and Professor of Buddhism, Institute of Asian Studies in Madras in his book 1989 Buddhism in Tamil Nadu: a New Perspective.

    The earliest inscriptions in Tamil Nadu belong to the third century BC. They are written in the Brahmi character of the time, on the walls of the natural caves in the Tamil districts of Madura, Ramnad and Tirnnelveli. They are of considerable interest to students of South Indian Buddhism. It is learnt from these Brahmi inscriptions, which paleographically belong to the 3rd century BC, that Buddhism had come into Tamil Nadu even then. It was to Asoka and his son Mahinda that the introduction of Buddhism into Tamil Nadu may be attributed. Epigraphical evidence seems to confirm this statement. In his Rock-Edict No. 3, Asoka says that his Dharma Vijaya prevailed in the border kingdoms of the Cholas, Pandyans and at Tambapanni. But it was his son Mahinda who was responsible for the introduction of Buddhism in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka.

    In this task, he was helped by Maha Aritta, a nephew of the Sri Lankan king Devanampiyatissa. Mahinda is said to have erected seven viharas at Kaveripattinum while he was on his way to Sri Lanka. Some Indian scholars are of the opinion that Aritta or Maha-Aritta might have lived in the caves of the village of Arittapatti in Madura, which is in Tamil Nadu. According to Dr. Hikosaka, Buddhism might have gone to Sri Lanka from Tamil Nadu, contrary to the general impression.

    Buddhism might have gone to Ceylon from Tamil Nadu by sea-route, a route by which one can reach Ceylon easily. Since there existed very close cultural affinities between Ceylon and the Tamil country from time immemorial, the Buddhist activities in India could have easily influenced in some way or other the Buddhism of Ceylon, says Dr. Hikosaka.

    Although Buddhism has become almost extinct from Tamil Nadu, it has contributed a great deal to the enrichment of Tamil culture and has exerted a significant influence, both directly and indirectly, on the Tamil religious and spiritual consciousness, present as well as past.

    According to Historians, Buddhism began to make an impact on Tamil Nadu only in the 3rd century AD. During the period from 3rd Century AD to 6th Century AD, Buddhism had spread widely in Tamil Nadu and won the patronage of the rulers. The remains of a Buddhist monastery excavated at Kaveripattinum which could be assigned to the fourth century, are believed to be the earliest archaeological relics of Buddhism in Tamil Nadu. The major urban centers of Kanchi, Kaveripattinam, Uraiyur, and Madurai were not only centers of Buddhism, but these were also important centers of Pali learning.

    The Tamil Buddhist monks of South India used Pali languages in preference to Tamil in their writings. This is because the Buddha spoke in Magadi Prakrit (Pali) which was considered to be the sacred language of the Buddhists.

    It was at this time that Tamil Nadu gave some of its greatest scholars (both Theravada and Mahayana) to the Buddhist world. Tamil Nadu boasted of outstanding Buddhist monks, who had made remarkable contributions to Buddhism thought and learning. Three of the greatest Pali scholars of this period were Buddhaghosa, Buddhadatta, and Dhammapala and all three of them were associated with Buddhist establishments in the Tamil kingdoms.

    Buddhadatta or Thera Buddhaatta as he is called lived during the time of Accyutarikkanta, the Kalabra ruler of the Chola-Nadu. He was a senior contemporary of Buddhaghosa. He was born in the Chola kingdom and lived in the 5th Century AD. Under the patronage of this ruler, Buddhadatta wrote many books. Among his best known Pali writings are the VINAYA-VINICCHAYA, the UTTARA-VINICCHAYA and the JINALANKARA-KAVYA. Among the commentaries written by him are the MADHURATTHA-VILASINI and the ABHIDHAMMAVATARA. In the Abhidhammaratara he gives a glowing account at Kaveripattinum, Uragapuram, Bhutamangalam and Kanchipuram and the Mahavihara at Ceylon. While he was at Sri Lanka, he composed many Buddhist works such as Uttara-viniccaya Ruparupa Vibhaga Jinalankara etc. Buddhaghosha, contemporary of Buddhadatta also composed many Buddhist commentaries.

    Buddhaghosha is a Tamil monk, who made a remarkable contribution to Buddhism in Sri Lanka. He stayed and studied Buddhist precepts at Mahavihara in Anuradhapura. The Visuddhimagga was the first work of Buddhaghosha which was written while he was in Ceylon.

    After Buddhaghosha, the important Theravada monk from the Tamil country was Dhammapala. Dhammapala lived in the Mahavihara at Anuradhapura. He composed paramathadipani which was a commentary on Buddhaghosha’s work on Khuddaka Nikaya and Paramathamanjusa, which was a commentary on Buddhaghosha’s Visuddhimagga. A close study of the three Buddhist monks viz Buddhadatta, Buddhaghosha and Dhammapala shows that Tamil Buddhists were closely associated with the Sri Lankan Buddhists around the 5th century AD.

    The author of NETTIPAKARANA is another Dhammapala who was a resident of a monastery in Nagapattinam. One more example is the Chola monk Kassapa, in his Pali work, VIMATTI-VINODANI, this Tamil monk provides interesting information about the rise of heretical views in the Cola Sangha and the consequent purification that took place.

    There are so many other Tamil monks who are attributed to the Pali works some of them were resident at Mayura-rupa-pattana (Mylapore, Madras) along with Buddhagosha. The well known Tamil Buddhist epics, on the other hand, were MANIMEKALAI and KUNDALAKESI.

    The 6th century Tamil Buddhist work Manimekali by Sattanar, is perhaps the most famous of the work done in Tamil Nadu. It is a work expounding the doctrines and propagating the values of Buddhism. The interaction between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lankan monks finds mention in Manimekalai, which is set in the Tamil towns of Kaveipumpattinam, Kanchi, and Vanchi.

    There is mention about the presence of wondering monks of Sri Lanka in Vanchi, which was the capital of the Chera Kings of Tamil Nadu. The Chinese traveller, Tsuan Tsang, wrote that there were around 300 Sri Lankan monks in the monastery at the Southern sector of Kanchipuram.

    As Buddhism was one of the dominant religions in both Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, naturally there were very close relations between the two regions. The monks from Sri Lanka, too, went across to the Tamil kingdom and stayed in the monasteries.

    As Dr. Leslie Gunawardana says, `The co-operation between the Buddhist Sangha of South India and Sri Lanka produced important results which are evident in the Pali works of this period`. He also says that the Tamil Buddhist monks were more orthodox than their counterparts in Sri Lanka.

    Indeed, the relations between the Tamil and Sinhala Buddhist monks were so close that the latter sought the assistance of the former in political turmoil.

    In Sri Lanka, the Tamil Buddhists who followed Theravada Buddhism shared the common places of worship with the Sinhalese, but there were also Tamil Buddhists who were following the Mahayana Buddhism and they had there own Mahayana temples.

    There are still some Tamil Mahayana Buddhist establishments (Palli) in the east and in the Jaffna peninsula. The best known was Velgam Vehera, which was renamed Rajaraja-perumpalli after the Chola emperor. Another was the Vikkirama-calamekan-perumpalli.

    About 16 km northwest of Trincomalee off the Trincomalee – Horowupothana road is an ancient Buddhist shrine with origins dating back to the years before the second century. It is a historical fact that among the many ancient Buddhist shrines in Sri Lanka Velgam Vehera which was renamed Rajaraja-perumpalli, also called Natanar Kovil by the present day Tamils stands out as the only known example of a `Tamil Vihare or Buddhist Palli` or as the late Dr. Senerath Paranavithana described it in his book `Glimpses of Ceylon`s Past` as an `Ancient Buddhist shrine of the Tamil people`. Some of the Tamil inscriptions found at the site record donations to this shrine and are dated in the reigns of the Chola Kings, Rajaraja and Rajendradeva. It was his view that the date of the original foundation of the vihare was no doubt considerably earlier than the reign of King Bhatika Tissa II.

    The situation in Tamil Nadu, however, began to change towards the beginning of the 7th Century AD when the rise of Vaishnavism and Saivism posed a serious challenge to Buddhism and Jainism. There was a significant increase in Brahmanical influence and soon the worship of Shiva and Vishnu began to gain prominence.

    The Buddhist and Jain institutions in Tamil Nadu came under attack when they began to loose popular support and the patronage from the rulers. One result of this was the migration of Buddhist and Jaina monks and devoted lay members to kingdoms where they could find refuge. While the Jainas were able to go to Kannada and Telugu regions, the Buddhists turned to Sri Lanka and assimilated with the local Buddhist population.

  21. Dham Says:

    Nalliah Thayabharan ,
    Thank you very much for this invaluable information and I concur with your findings.
    Whther you agree or not, in fact,not only Tamil Nadu but whole India was practicing Buddhism for some time.
    It is Vaishnavism and Saivism who pioniered getting rid of Buddhism. Hinduism, which evolved from Brahminism borrowed so much good from Buddhism.
    Early Tamils and Sinhala people surely have mixed together to a certain extent form current Sinhalas.
    It is the recent migration malabar traders dominated Jaffna thus creating this unncessay big issue mainly by the British.

  22. Dilrook Says:

    There are a few inaccuracies.

    1. [Quote]Buddhism might have gone to Ceylon from Tamil Nadu by sea-route, a route by which one can reach Ceylon easily[Unquote]

    This cannot be so as historical accounts detail this event very well. It happened from north-eastern India which was under Emperor Asoka. There was a well established shipping link between these two places.

    South India (what consist of Tamil country) was not part of it. There is no need for estimation here because it is well documented.

    More importantly, Sri Lanka faced threats only from South India and not from other parts of India at that time. A few decades before the arrival of Buddhism and a few decades after the arrival of Buddhism, there were South Indian invasions. Kings Devanampiyatissa and Asela wiped out these invaders to save the nation according to history. Therefore it is very unlikely Sinhala kings would have had any good relations with South India during this time.

    2. Wilgam Vehera is not a [Quote]Ancient Buddhist shrine of the Tamil people[Unquote]. Historians’ accounts are not historical accounts when historical accounts actually exist! It was a Buddhist shrine irrespective of ethnicity.

    3. Cholas were mere invaders and not in any way Sri Lankans. History records the complete extermination of Cholas in the island.

    4. People of South Indian origin and speaking South Indian languages in the past integrated with the other islanders (Sinhalese) and never lived as a separate (Tamil) community. They became Sinhalese. Tamils lived as a separate community only after the forceful labour tranfer by Europeans.

    5. Tamil country refers only to South India and not to any part of Sri Lanka.

    Obviously there were close interactions between Tamil (South Indian ) and Sinhala (Sri Lankan) monks as they had interactions with many other nations more importantly with Burma and Thailand.

  23. Dilrook Says:

    Appreciate Nalliah’s good work.

    The cause of the LTTE problem was not the LTTE. LTTE was an organisation without a brain. IRA functions under Sinn Fein, Taliban under AQ, etc. But LTTE had no governing or connected political organisation. TNA was under LTTE not above. LTTE ideology comes from Tamil Homeland beliefs.

    The root cause is the innocent belief that there was a Tamil country, homeland, identity, state or unique community in ancient Sri Lanka. There never was any of them.

    The word Tamil Elam (meaning Tamil Sinhala) was invented by Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam, a very nice gentleman and at one point known as the best friend of the Sinhalese. But even he fell into the wrong belief that there was a distinct Tamil community in Sri Lanka in the past which is untrue.

    He tried to bargain with this view (there was a separate Tamil community in the past) in mind. When his views were rejected by non-Tamils (Buddhists, Christians, Europeans and Muslims) he resorted to separatism and racism. He too died in Tamil Nadu.

    Tamils were Sinhalas and Sinhalas were Tamils too in the past. The residue community of Sri Lanka was known as Sinhala who spoke not a Dravidian language but an Indo Aryan language which has many Dravidian, Arabic, European, etc. contributions.

  24. myopinion24 Says:

    Hello Nalliah Thayabharan – where have you been – you have brought meaninful discussion to this thread , i am also encouraged by the way others have joined in the spirit of open and fair dialogue. This has been extremley informative for someone such as i who unfortunately left SL many decades ago . keep it up guys

  25. aloy Says:

    It was only about coins Nallaih has been writing in his comment. How about any other things like ruins we see in Anuradhapura and Ayuthya in Thailand?. If they were raced to the ground at least the foundations should be there. If he can show some pictures or give some indication where we can find them, then we can believe what he says without any arguments.

  26. Naram Says:

    When people speak of religious convictions my mind returns to what I heard about1915 riots. In theaftermath it was Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan who most ably presented the case for Sinhalese. Low country and Kandyan SInhalese were represented at thetime in the State COuncil by Christians of GOvernor’s choice.

    Let me please add few extracts from ‘Ceylon and her people’ by H E Weerasuriya Vol IV page to show the attitude of the Low country Sinhala representative Sir Christoffel Obeysekere at the State Council to the riots of 1815.

    ‘These disturbances would not have taken place had it not been, as I believe, for the incitement of the ignorant villagers – poor Buddhist villagers, than whom I have never seen a better set of men – by a half a dozen misguided designing villains, who have been trying to pose as leaders of the Buddhists. Had it not been for this encouragement, these disturbances would never have occurred. I feel therefore most strongly that any of the proprietory peasant villagers – whom I regard as trueSinhalese gentlemen- shouldhave deluded into this trapfor personal aggrandisement of a few who are nobodies, but who hope to make somebodies of themselves by such disgraceful tactics.’

    He went on to state

    “They will see the utter ridiculousness of attempting to defy theEnglishGovernment, This is what they had in their heart of hearts, They dreamed that t was possible for them to have another Kingdom established here andthat they would have the control of the whole island. Nothing madder than that could have been thought of and they have received their just deserts.”

    Anagarika Dharmapala was out of the country at the time. His brothers were among those taken to custody and one of the a respected general practitioner Dr Hewavitharane died in prison, of a heart attack.

  27. Lorenzo Says:

    This says it all.


    Sri Lanka’s defence secretary has said it is not appropriate to view the north of the country, over which a separatist war was fought, as a predominantly Tamil area, BBC reports.

  28. Dilrook Says:


    That is true but only half the story.

    Things changed when he assumed political power. His opposition to universal franchise over petty racist and caste issues is just one tragedy. It was an attempt to continue the British divide and rule State Legislative Council where Tamils and Sinhalese were represented in equal number whereas their percentages were different. Among others Professor Nalin de Silva has written extensively on these.

    Arunachalam was even better. But he too only until he assumed political power.

  29. Fran Diaz Says:

    Jaffna peninsula : Caste & Cruelty have shaped it. Where is the human Heart in this place ? Don’t let the disease spread.

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