The Accretionary Model for the Origin of the Sinhala Race
Posted on May 8th, 2013

R Chandrasoma

 It is widely believed that the Sinhala people – the ‘autochthons’ of Sri Lanka – constitute a well-defined ‘race’ because the language they speak is unique and their religio-cultural traditions set them apart from their congeners in Asia and elsewhere. There is also a remarkable chronicle – the Mahavamsa -that purports to give a a full account of the history of the Sinhala people. No serious attempt has been made by historiographers and others to define the Sinhala race in terms of physical features or other biological attributes – because it is obvious to all but the purblind that the Sinhala man (and woman) are archtypically dark and mixed Caucasoids of the kind widespread in South Asia. Unlike Esquimos, Mongols and African Pigmies, the Sinhala man has nothing in his physiognomy that proclaims to the world that he is unique. It is a shared history, contiguity and religio-cultural commonality that binds physically similar people into a collective that leaves a clear trace in human history.

To illustrate this hypothesis, suppose a vibrant and well- established ‘nation’ with an entrenched and sophisticated religion and a distinctive language suffers ‘intrusions’ from neighbours near and far that have their own systems of belief and practice. It is not difficult to suppose that the ‘newbies’ – outnumbered and, to some degree, outclassed – will adopt the language and religion of their hosts. Being physically similar to the entrenched natives, they will ‘become’ one with them in a few generations at most. If peoples of like stock live together, worship the same Gods and speak the same language, they become one with the primary hosts. They are racially assimilated. This will not happen if the ‘intruders’ are physically different and notions of ‘ethnic distance’ prevent a full merger.

Let us turn now to the the ‘recent’ history of our country – in particular the Western seaboard which is the dominant and richly populated part of our Island. It can be safely said that the bulk of its inhabitants are descended from ex-soldiers, adventurers and indented labour from such parts of India as Orissa, Andhra, Mysore and latter-day Tamil Nadu. These people adopted the language, religion and cultural habits of the true natives and underwent a ‘metamorphosis ‘ that made them indistinguishable from the true Sinhalayas a few generations on. A popular aphorism has it that ‘if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and flies like a duck, it is, indeed, a duck. The newcomers turned Sinhala wonderfully illustrates this aphoristic truth. The history of the castes outside the Kandyan feudal system may be used to butress this line of argument but we will refrain from touching on matters that may offend some.

The wounded skeptic – indeed, patriotic citizens of every kind – may object that this analysis is biased in that it treats of a decadent period in our long history. Here, again, the true facts are obfusucated by the glamour and glory of key events in a narrative doctored by monkish dreamers. That the kings and nobles of ancient times made desperate attempts to distance themselves from the common people – the early ‘Sinhalayas’ – does not speak well of those shapers of Sinhala destiny. The true story is not very different from what we outlined above in connection with relatively recent events. Being an insular outpost in an ocean criss-crossed by naval and commercial adventurers, foreigners from afar – in great numbers in the Post-Polonnaruwa period – invaded our Island and mostly stayed put. These invaders included Malagasy types from East Asia and “”…” sporadically “”…” fair-skinned Nordics. To this amalgam we must add the aboriginal Australoid stock “”…” the Veddhas and other archaic variants of mankind. That they all contributed to a common gene-pool that defines the racial profile of the contemporary population of Sri Lanka needs no argument. (We have not imcluded the Tamils in this brief list because their “ƒ”¹…”genetic contribution’ is overwhelmingly evident).

Why have we indulged in this debunking of shibboleths of the racial kind pertaining to the people of our Island? Because even the learned are carried away by a myth that our Island produced a distinctive kind of human “”…” the descendents of a “ƒ”¹…”Balangoda Man’ “”…” that was the progenitor of the latter-day Sinhalayas. They are also deluded by fictions of the historical kind which speaks of a unique act of colonization “”…” the Vijayan adventure – that stamped for ever a racial archetype that is uniquely ours. This is simply untrue. The Sinhala people constitute a dynamic assembly of individuals in an historically shared territory with “ƒ”¹…”porous’ boundaries. They had (or adopted) a binding common language, professed a distinctive faith and defended a territory that was uniquely theirs for over twenty centuries. The gene-pool that defined this collective varied over history but the language, religion and culture of this dynamic assembly served to identify across history a nation that lives on today “”…” perilously as in the past.



12 Responses to “The Accretionary Model for the Origin of the Sinhala Race”

  1. Voice123 Says:

    I read somewhere that Chandrika Bandaranaike once claimed descent from a Tamil clan from South India and also a European colonial. True or not?

    In Malaysia, Singapore and Western Sydney, Sinhalese and Tamils are both referred to as “Indians” or “Orang Hindia”!

  2. herman Says:

    Voice123 in Malaysia and Singapore some Sinhalas are classified in official documents as ‘Others’ while some prefer to be listed as Eurasians and some as Indians – the choice is really left to the individual.

  3. Voice123 Says:

    Oh thanks for that information on choices in Malaysia Herman.

  4. Fran Diaz Says:

    Mr Chandrasoma speaks the truth, for which we thank him.

    We Sinhala people are from a mixed gene pool and therefore have a sound and healthy gene pool for survival. Let us stay that way – sound gene pool with good survival skills !

  5. Amarasiri Says:

    Very Good Information about the Sri Lanka Gene Pool.

    Here is some information as to where the gene pool originated, and as to how you can test to find your own genealogy.

    All,except the Africans, descended from Africans by way of Arabia, before they spread out.

    Africans stayed in Africa.



    The Genographic Project Confirms Humans Migrated Out of Africa through Arabia. New analytical method approaches the unstudied 99% of the human genome.

    WASHINGTON, D.C., – 02 Nov 2011: Evolutionary history shows that human populations likely originated in Africa, and the Genographic Project, the most extensive survey of human population genetic data to date, suggests where they went next. A study by the Project finds that modern humans migrated out of Africa via a southern route through Arabia, rather than a northern route by way of Egypt. These findings will be highlighted today at a conference at the National Geographic Society.

    There is a Table There that shows the gene diversity and original location of the genes.
    Mediterranean 4%
    Northern European; 2%
    Southwest Asian” 58%
    Southeast Asian 35%

  6. Amarasiri Says:

    Wonder, if the native Veddahs, Yakka, Nagas, Raksha, Rhodi, Sakklili, low-caste Tamils and other casres, Low Caste Sinhala, and other castes Karave, Goivama, Ceylon Moors, Indian Tamils and Burghers have a similar gene composition.

    Looks like the Karave may have originated from Kerala and South India much earlier.

    The plight of the Sinhala `DALITS`- Karava, Durava, Salagama, Berava and Rodi. Caste discrimination in Sinhala society.
    Friday, 9 September 2011 – 10:42 AM SL Time

    Gene diversity avoids inbreeding and birth defects. Is that the reason why, Vijaya’s grandmother mated with a Lion, according to Monk Mahanama?

    They have found that among the Pakistani Immigrants in Britain, due to inbreeding, the tradition of marrying cousins, close to 50% have birth defects.

    Hay Festival 2011: Professor risks political storm over Muslim ‘inbreeding’
    Prof Steve Jones, one of Britain’s most eminent scientists, has warned that the level of inbreeding among the nation’s Muslims is endangering the health of future generations.

    APRIL 21, 2009


    Denmark is once AGAIN considering banning cousin marriages due to the prevalence of serious and rare birth defects found in the children born to these muslim couples.

    “Cousin marriages is most common in families with Pakistani and Turkish roots. A Norwegian study from 2007 shows that a third of Pakistanis and a tenth of Turks are married with a cousin……According to Sygeplejersken (Nurse) journal, the risk for cousin couples to have children with a handicap or genetic disease is double the average.”

    This is much less common among the Muslims in Sri Lanka, but is found among the Sinhala, the Awasi Matsina, phenomenon, to preserve the land and the family name and status.

  7. Sunil Mahattaya Says:

    This is an interesting offer by Mr Chandrasoma in his attempt to debunk what he calls the myths about the origins of the Sinhala race. It is also interesting that there isn’t a single protest from our Sinhalese who are usually quick pounce on anything and everything anti-Sinhalese in a proud display of patriotism and oftentimes ptovide worthy diatribes. And ironically, almost across from the posting of this item there is a vivid portrayal captioned The Beginning and Growth of Civilization in Sri Lanka ~ where the gene pool theory becomes somewhat irrelevant as the purity of the Sinhalese race must surely be somewhat dilute due to multi faceted integration and a theory that might be invalid towards accuracy as it attempts to retrace purity in a nation that has evolved for milenia and perhaps if the facility for gene pool analysis was available in times more cinducive towards determining the purity of the Sinhala race at the very beginnings, a different perspective pointing towards what might be the salient truth albeit the term purity as applicable to any ethnic group seems a dinstinct impossibility.Incidentally would Mr Chandrasoma know the ethnic origins of Adam and Eve? or are we in a world surrounded by the myth that all humanity originated from one source in which case gene pools would surely prove to be worthless! Might it not be better if he retracted this attempt to sully the Sinhala race through scientific analysis remembering he is a Sinhalese himself and all he is doing in the minds of some is planting seeds of doubt about their true origins when in reality the credentials of the Sinhalese are etched in stone and stem from what many believe based on evidence is one of the oldest civilizations in the world.!

  8. Sunil Mahattaya Says:

    typos for the words “provide” and “conducive” are errors regretted.

  9. Amarasiri Says:


    Myths, Beliefs and Myths do not Mix Well and are not accepted by Myth believers, even in the face of facts and unbiased data.

    Examples abound.

    Corpernicus, Galileo, Darwin, Molecular Biology, Gene vorigin analysis etc.

    Adam and Eve are Myths, The closest to Adam and Eve is in East Africa about 70,000 years ago.

    There is NO such thing as the Sinhala Race. You can talk about a Southern Indian Gene pool.

    There is a Table There that shows the gene diversity and original location of the genes.
    Mediterranean 4%
    Northern European; 2%
    Southwest Asian” 58%
    Southeast Asian 35%


    1.Test the DNA samples of the so-called “High” Caste Tamils, “Low” Caste Tamils, “Sakkiliyas”, “High” Caste Sinhala, “Low” Caste Sinhala, “Rhodias”, Western Seaboard Muslims light-skinned and dark skinned, Eastern Seaboard Muslims light-skinned and dark skinned, Estate Tamils, Up Country Sinhala, Low Country Sinhala, Portuguese Descendants, Burghers light-skinned and dark skinned, Dutch Descendants and English descendants and Veddahs.

    2. Categorize the source of the gene pool, like the project below.

    This will give, with a sufficient number of statistically relevant samples, the truth.

    Now I speculate, what the results are likely to be

    Group 1: Predominantly South Indian

    The so-called “High” Caste Tamils, “Low” Caste Tamils, “Sakkiliyas”, “High” Caste Sinhala, “Low” Caste Sinhala, “Rhodias”, Western Seaboard Muslims dark skinned, Eastern Seaboard Muslims dark skinned, Estate Tamils, Up Country Sinhala, Low Country Sinhala,

    Group 2: Predominantly South Indian with high percentages of West Asian and Mediterranean.

    Light skinned Muslims from the Western and Eastern Seaboards.

    Group 3: Predominantly South Indian with high percentages of European and Mediterranean.

    Burghers from the Western and Eastern Seaboards.

    Group 4: Mediterranean and European
    Portuguese, Dutch and English

    Group 5: South Indian
    Native Veddahs

  10. Amarasiri Says:

    R Chandrasoma, thank you very much for bringing to the surface where we all originated, our ancestors, our cultures and our differences. This is very challenging for the Myth holders and Myth believers.

    “Voice123 Says:
    May 8th, 2013 at 2:28 pm
    I read somewhere that Chandrika Bandaranaike once claimed descent from a Tamil clan from South India and also a European colonial. True or not?”

    Here are some answers, and we all need to look at the mirror for more answers and get our DNA tested.

    Voice 123, Regarding Chandrika Bandaranaike, thre is a book, Relative Merits.written by Yasmine Goonaratne, St. Martins Press, New York, ISBN 0-312-67037-0

    Some Excerpts from the book,page 3.

    ” An Indian Officer of ‘high standing’ who, serving under the Kings of Kandy, and bearing the name Neela Perumal, was made high priest of the Temple of the God Saman, and commanded to take the name Nayaka Pandaram ( Chief Record Keeper) in 1454. If this tradition has truth in it, we may surmise that the Indian Name of Nayaka Pandaram came in time to adopt the form of Pandara Nayaka. By the time it had turned into the Sinhalese Bandaranaikw, the Hibduism of its bearershyad been replaced by Buddhism….”

    How true. The Southern Indian gene pool.

    By getting Chandrika Bandaranaike to test her genes using the DNA test kit, we can further trace back here ancestry to West Asia and Africa, about 70,000 years ago.

    DNA Kit

  11. Dilrook Says:

    I agree with an accretionary model.

    However, there is evidence there were anatomically modern humans living in Sri Lanka 34,000 years ago. World’s oldest anatomically modern man was found in Sri Lanka which means Sinhalese (unique Sri Lankans) must have a strong genetic connection indigenously. Race is as irrelevant to the modern world as gender. Only in specific cases race and gender becomes integral to the issue will it be even discussed.

    All human groups are mixed. However, out of the mix, there emerges some uniqueness. Sinhala community is a distinct group far different from South Indians. Most independent (emphasis added) genetic studies have found that Sinhalese most closely relate to Bengalis and Sindh populations than South Indians. If South Indians or Sri Lankans are involved in the study, I do not consider it independent.

    A Nature scientific study in 2003 concluded Sinhalese closely relate to Sindi Roma people. The most detailed genetic mapping 3 years ago by the University of Michigan shows the mixed race of Sinhalese is very different to South India and even unique in the entire region. The same map shows that most people in the north and east of the island to have the same genetic structure as South Indians.

    Last year’s find of complete skeletal remains of a human dated to 37,000 BP is most significant as it proves the uniqueness of Sri Lankans (Sinhalese being the only unique race in the island) at the time first modern humans emerged.

  12. Amarasiri Says:

    “Last year’s find of complete skeletal remains of a human dated to 37,000 BP is most significant as it proves the uniqueness of Sri Lankans (Sinhalese being the only unique race in the island) at the time first modern humans emerged.”

    Anthropology and skeletons will not tell the whole story. You do not know if they went extinct.


    1.They must have come from East Africa about 70.000 years ago, by way of western and Southern India

    2. Some other must have moved on to Orissa and Bengal, Eastern India.

    3, Some must have ended up in Sri Lanka. Who? Veddah, Yakka, Naga,

    The way to find out is to test the DNA.

    But, there is no need to mix up religion and myths here. Forget Monk Mahanama Myths.

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