‘Distorting history could lead to dissension’
Posted on February 2nd, 2014

By Janaka Perera

Distorting Sri Lanka’s history could lead to dissension, warned speakers at a meeting held recently at the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress Hall, Colombo.  The occasion was the launch of a book titled, The Story of Sigiri & Pre-Portuguese Christianity in Sri Lanka?   Professor Nimal de Silva, Professor Emeritus of the Moratuwa University, former Head of the Post Graduate Institute of Archaeological Research (PGIRA) affiliated to the Kelaniya University and former Director General of the Cultural Triangle has edited the book published by the Centre for Buddhist Action which organized the well-attended meeting.

Its focus was on two theories of fabricated history found in school text books.  One is that Christianity in this country is nearly 2000 years old (Catholicism text book – Grade 8) and the myth that Arabs were in the island before the Sinhalese arrived (Islam Text Book ” Grade 11).

Among those who addressed the meeting were, Professor Nimal Silva, Venerable Ellawala Medhananda Archaeological Researcher, Professor Sirimal Ranwella, expert on stone inscriptions, Dr. Susantha Goonatilake, President of the Royal Asiatic Society Sri Lanka, Dr. Praneeth Abeysundera of the Sri Jayewardenepura University, Jagath Sumathipala, President of the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress, and the Ven.  Hegoda Vipassi, Head of the Dharma Research Institute, Ratmalana.

A panel of writers comprising Dr. Susantha Goonatilake, Dr. Nandani Karunathilake, B.A. Ariyatilake, Sirisaman Wijetunga, Prof. Sirima Ranwella, Dr. Ananda W.P. Guruge, Prof. Ranaweera Gunawardane, Rajiv Malhotra and Aravindan Nilakandan has contributed to The Story of Sigiri & Pre-Portuguese Christianity in Sri Lanka?

Prof. Nimal de Silva notes in the foreword although the world has seen the birth of many civilizations very few of them have recorded facts.  The Sinhala Buddhist civilization is one of them.

He says: “What is selectively recorded as history is what one experiences by reading and hearing. These written records of many writers relating to a particular period can be compared and even rectified after comparison.”

The inability of the Christian churches to identify themselves with Sri Lanka’s pre-colonial history posed no problem to them as long as colonial rule lasted, the speakers noted.  Their complacency had continued into the immediate post-independent years.  Their objective was to dilute in the name of multiculturalism the country’s predominantly Buddhist and secondarily Hindu culture which formed its national identity before the European encounter. No previous foreign intrusions caused such destruction to the country’s traditional religious environment as done by the Portuguese and those who followed them.

When Sinhala Buddhists after 1948 became increasingly aware of their past and realized the need to revive that true image of the island, the churches realized their survival depended on falsifying to their advantage the island’s history prior to the arrival of the Portuguese.

The participants in the meeting drew attention to the fact that a country’s history is built by the community which is the source of its predominant culture.  In the case of Sri Lanka it is the community which is identified with the island’s ancient name, Sinhale (Land of the Lions) and speaks that language.  The speakers emphasized that it is unethical for any other community to claim equal creator-status with regard to the island’s national identity although no one denies invaders, traders and explorers arrived in the country and some of them settled in the country during various stages of her history.

Venerable Ellawala Medhananda said that the conspiracy to distort Sri Lanka’s history had begun sometime back.  The false theory that there was a Sinhala Christian community in the pre-colonial era is being pushed forward like the so-called Tamil Homeland fiction.

He added that the ancient chronicles like Mahawansa and Deepawansa mentions ancient Lanka’s trade ties and diplomatic relations with even countries like Rome. But none of these mention a native Christian community in Sri Lanka before the Europeans arrived.   Ven. Medhananda regretted that such an eminent scholar and historian like Prof. Senarath Paranavithana lost his bearings towards the latter part of his life and referred to a Christian community based on archaeologically unsubstantiated information. Calling the deities associated with Sri Pada the ‘God of the Adam’s Peak’ was absurd when traditionally and historically the peak was known as Samanthakoota Parwatha or Samanala Kanda and the deity was known as Saman Deviyo.  The term ‘Adam’s Peak’ was obviously coined by Europeans.

Venerable Hegoda Vipassi said that the Sinhala book Lakdiwa Kithunu Puraanaya (History Christianity in Lanka) was written without factual evidence and without reference to irrefutable historical sources.  No religious harmony can be built up in this country if such distortions are promoted, he warned.

The Catholic Church is citing the discovery of Nestorian Cross in Anuradhpura to indirectly hint at a Catholic presence in Sri Lanka before the arrival of the Portuguese. B.A. Ariyatilleke in his contribution, ‘The Rise and The Demise of Nestorianism in Asia’ asks “Were the Nestorians, Catholics? Decidedly NOT! Because Nestorius and his followers were condemned as heretics, anathematized and banished from the Western Church.  A terrible damnation in the fifth century!”

The organizers stressed that history is history good or bad. If any foreign occupier was responsible for violent deeds that too become an indelible part of the country’s history which is a discipline which cannot be revised according to the likes and dislikes of interested parties. The preference of religious and ethnic minorities to be in water-tight compartments paying no heed to confirmed history would no doubt undermine National harmony in the long run.

This suppression of facts is seen in the Grade 8 text book on Catholicism. It refers to Dutch persecution of Catholics but makes no reference to Portuguese persecuting Buddhists and destroying Buddhist places of worship, according to The Story of Sigiri & Pre-Portuguese Christianity in Sri Lanka? It states that if there was a pre-Portuguese Christian community in Anuradhapura they were Persians.  The book notes that former Archbishop, His Eminence Oswald Gomis is silent on this aspect.

A representative of the Centre for Buddhist Action told the gathering that legal action had been filed against an extremist Christian Group for likening the Buddha to a pig and Ven. Sanghamitta to a prostitute.  He regretted that there was no really effective law to deal with these lunatics.

The Venerable Kirama Wimalajothi, Director of the Buddhist Cultural Institute and Head of the Bauddha Mandiraya was also present.

 

21 Responses to “‘Distorting history could lead to dissension’”

  1. Nimal Says:

    We must not take history of any country serious, as people like to gloss over it.It’s time people move forward. All histories are stained with blood,missarey of the lives of people where tyrants ruled regardless. We may fall into the trap calling former tyrants as heroes as years goby,where their truth his highly distorted for our convenience and even for gain. It’s not accurate as well, when one can’t remember one ate 2 weeks ago, let alone 2000 years ago. I can see it very much distorted for convenience for some to exploit. We must look forward without going back or we will be trying to re invent the wheel.

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    Nimal,

    I DISAGREE.

    “You” will remember what “you” ate 5,000 years ago if you documented it. Bible, Koran, Gita and Tripitaka are THOUSANDS of years old. But someone DOCUMENTED them so we know it.

    We CANNOT ignore or disregard history. It proves WHO THE OWNERS OF SL ARE. And SL must go to its owners not to present day DWELLERS.

    To move forward we have to reaffirm history. A tree grows UP AND UP by extending its ROOTS down and down. A building with a DEEPER foundation can go further UP than a building with a shallow foundation! Same thing.

    We must NOT explot history for benefit. MAHAVAMSA is a well documented OBJECTIVE history. ALL MUST ACCEPT IT as BIBLE TRUTH because it is. Just because it doesn’t favor Arabs and South Endians doesn’t mean it is wrong. This is the EXACT reason why it is TRUE!

  3. Nanda Says:

    “Its focus was on two theories of fabricated history found in school text books. One is that Christianity in this country is nearly 2000 years old (Catholicism text book – Grade 8) and the myth that Arabs were in the island before the Sinhalese arrived (Islam Text Book – Grade 11).”

    – Very simple. Summon those responsible for this crime ( brainwashing children using blatant lies) and punish. Some idiots have pocketed money to do this crime. Just catch them.

    These are deliberate crimes to STEAL our HERITAGE. This includes the hideous crime of calling DUTUGEMUNU a tyrant.

    Another deliberate action is the FOOLISH attempt to send all Sinhala Buddhists to jungle to meditate and become arahants and try to prove if you are a Buddhist you must call Parayaharan “my love”. Stupid Nuts.

  4. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    “Its focus was on two theories of fabricated history found in school text books. One is that Christianity in this country is nearly 2000 years old (Catholicism text book – Grade 8) and the myth that Arabs were in the island before the Sinhalese arrived”. That point is irregardless since the new world is defined by the people now living in them. No nation asks the remaining native Americans about US policies. No nation asks the aboriginal people of Australia of the future of that nation. Same can be said of central America, the Caribbean,to South America. One must add to this fabricated history the Tamil claim that they were in Sri Lanka before the Sinhalese arrived. Again it is academic since it is the Sinhalese culture that defined Sri Lanka and unlike any other ancient nation outside of China, Sri Lanka has an unbroken written history of herself documented in the Mahavamsa, Culavamsa, Dipavamsa, the Rajagilya and the Bhodivamsa.

    Even ancient India has a tribal population of 100 million who predate even the Harrapan civilization. If one is to take this opinion seriously then the Adivasis of India should have the last word. But that is not how the world works. Take the state of Hawaii, that state became part of the Union because the European landowners voted for joining the Union. Present day Hawaii shows nothing of the Hawaiian culture. The dance that so many tourists see is not even Hawaiian, it is from the island of Tahiti and the dancers are either Japanese or Taiwanese. Today Hawaii is a Christian White state and not a native Hawaiian State.

    Having stated that and exposed the hypocrisy of “who was first” theory. Sri Lanka’s documented history is sufficient enough to repudiate any claims upon that land. If the “Eelam Tamils” want Eelam based on ancestry the same can be claimed of Muslim Pakistan where most of its history is Hindu. That also goes for Bangladesh. That also goes for Singapore where the Polynesian native population has been eradicated to be replaced by Chinese and Indians. It is a pathetic excuse meant for the mentally impaired.

  5. Lorenzo Says:

    “Arabs were in the island before the Sinhalese arrived (Islam Text Book – Grade 11).”

    Then why SL is not an Arabic speaking country?
    Could only 701 Bengalis over power so many Arabs who are well known barbarians?
    Why Arabic practices like genitals chopping and other barbaric circumcision practices were NEVER found in SL?
    Why women in Sigiriya drawings are not wearing the YONIBILLA dress?
    Why ancient kings didn’t build ANY mosque?
    Why ancient SL people called the dog Ballah? If Arabs were living in SL such a word would NEVER be used for dog.

    I think there is a SPELLING problem. Instead of “C” the text book has an “A”.

    Crabs were in the island before the Sinhalese arrived (Islam Text Book – Grade 11).”

  6. Lorenzo Says:

    “Another deliberate action is the FOOLISH attempt to send all Sinhala Buddhists to jungle to meditate and become arahants”

    Absolutely!

    UNTIL each Buddhist VOLUNTARILY gives up desires and DECIDES to follow a high path they cannot be forced to do so. To UNDERSTAND the misery of living one has to ENJOY everything first. Only then can he see how FUTILE it is. It will take another few billion years for all SL Buddhists to go to nirvana. Until then SL MUST remain as it is.

    Abrahimic religions find it difficult to understand this VOLUNTARY part. In those faiths we either do as we are told or go to hell. There is NO voluntary action.

  7. Nanda Says:

    “UNTIL each Buddhist VOLUNTARILY gives up desires and DECIDES to follow a high path they cannot be forced to do so. To UNDERSTAND the misery of living one has to ENJOY everything first. Only then can he see how FUTILE it is. It will take another few billion years for all SL Buddhists to go to nirvana. Until then SL MUST remain as it is.
    Abrahimic religions find it difficult to understand this VOLUNTARY part. In those faiths we either do as we are told or go to hell. There is NO voluntary action.”

    Absolutely True and well done and my salute to you mate ! Saadhu Saadhu Saadhu.

    Buddha in fact mention this.
    Aasvada ( Enjoyement)
    Aadinawa (problems of enjoyment)
    Nissarana (going forth from enjoyment)

    It happens in sequence. Even Anglican Lorenzo has the wisdom to understand how it happens.

    Even Price Siddharta enjoyed all first.
    Without even knowing how good our country would be without Tamil problem we cannot understand how good it will be if Tamils rule !
    Whole our political history is tainted by evil Tamils.

  8. Nanda Says:

    “Why women in Sigiriya drawings are not wearing the YONIBILLA dress?” – The best one.
    How do you know ?
    This is how the Arabs dress like even now, when at home, competing with each other to get 3/4 genital attention !

  9. Nimal Says:

    Lorenzo
    Yes I agree to disagree. I am a man of science and a business man.I can’t look into history to find new solutions to today’s needs. One time people believed the earth was flat and on that assumption I and my colleagues can’t work on the very accurate GPS navigation systems, where we also think that the earth is not exactly round as there are uneven places and have to compensate to it to perfect the system. History only impedes progress to a better future. Any country belongs to people who pay taxes and work and too think otherwise is giving in to extremists that will try to exclude innocent new settlers like us, makes a bad precedence. This is exactly what the extremists are saying that England belongs to Anglo Saxons born before 1620.

  10. Lorenzo Says:

    Nimal,

    It is NOT to EXCLUDE anyone but to find a national IDENTITY. Every nation has one. So should SL.

    SL is NOT an extention of Pakistan or Endia. This is UNIQUE.

    ALL SL citizens have EQUAL RIGHTS – you and me included. NO ONE can take it away.

    Study of history and MAINTAINING the historical identity is a very good thing for peace.

    Not everything can be measured in MONEY and DEVELOPMENT. There are things that are far more PERMANANT than money and development.

    But I commend you for NOT DISTORTING history as you believe it is not relevent to you. That is the BEST you can do given the circumstances. So we can agree to disagree on a POSITIVE NOTE.

  11. Lorenzo Says:

    Nanda,

    That is AMAZING!

    Honestly I didn’t copy it from anywhere and I have NEVER studied Buddhism.

    It just follows LOGIC. (In my religion we CANNOT question certain assumptions.)

  12. Nanda Says:

    Yes. Buddha always respect those “who have wisdom” and if many such people say “that is not good”, he asked people to respect it. But to find out people with wisdom you have to question them.

    Again Buddha, in Kalama Sutta asked those have not yet come to Buddhism to question everything in their religions and traditions.
    Those who have already come can easily see whether what he said is correct or not and leave if they want.
    If “science and a business ” can make a person happy keep on following it. Science and Business should be their religion.

    BUT DON”T ASK OTHERS TO FOLLOW YOU or the government to follow your “science and business”.
    When it comes to politics USA, Australia, Britain, Russia all openly follow Christian values. Singapore follows “Asian values”. Singapore is a close ally of USA but they don’t do what they say. We don’t question them whether those religious or cultural values are in accordance with “science and business” or not.
    Why question your own country then ?

  13. Nanda Says:

    “Any country belongs to people who pay taxes”
    In that case most cities belong to Arabs. Their money has been invested majorly in every city in the world.

    Their is no need to claim OWNERSHIP to a country. Just live there and follow their rules , culture and enjoy whatever good there. If not go to another country.

  14. Lorenzo Says:

    This is FANTASTIC.

    SL should COPY this Saudi law except the king part.

    Actions that threaten Saudi Arabia’s unity, disturb public order, or defame the reputation of the state or the king – will be considered acts of terrorism under a new counterterrorism law which has come into force in the gulf kingdom.

    The new legislature was ratified by King Abdullah on Sunday after being approved by the Cabinet in December, following the initial proposal by the Interior Ministry and advisory Shura Council.

    It defines terrorism as “any act carried out by an offender … intended to disturb the public order…to shake the security of society… stability of the state… expose its national unity to danger… suspend the basic law of governance or some of its articles,” according to its text as cited by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

    Terrorists can also be considered those individuals who “insult the reputation of the state or its position… inflict damage upon one of its public utilities or its natural resources,” or those who attempt to force “governmental authority to carry out or prevent it from carrying out an action, or to threaten to carry out acts that lead to the named purposes or incite [these acts].”

    The legislation, made up of 40 clauses, allows the security forces to arrest and detain suspects for up to six months with the possibility to extend the confinement for another six months. Suspects are allowed to be held incommunicado for 90 days without the presence of their lawyer during the initial questioning.”

    – RT

  15. Nimal Says:

    Nanda
    Thinking ahead, democracy and selection of politicians and governments will belong to people who work and pay taxes and will be a fact of life.At present, with the curse of the benefit system in the west, majority who are the claimants call the shots and make the government policies, which are cockeyed. These claimants who seems to be a large number seems to have no urge to seek better sources of energy and they are pampered at our expenses and this will band together and oppose any scheme that produce alternative energy. Farmers and business want regular work force to keep their ventures running and when the desperate employers seek immigrant labour then they become paranoiac because they are not directly engaged. These idlers make a strong negative pressure group that impede progress, so giving them a vote is useless. In short they impede progress and an obstacle to the strivers and hard working people, and they should not be given an vote. This goes to bogus refugees that make a vote bank that put unfair influences on the politicians and it would be a difficult thing to solve.
    Sorry I can’t be on this thread for long as it is busy Monday.

  16. Fran Diaz Says:

    Janaka,

    Thank you for this important article.

    ————-

    HISTORY is important. We have to KNOW our TRUE History from writings & archeological evidence as DISTORTED History can be used to divide countries, divide the Land and its People. The British ‘Divide & rule’ principle will be rekindled.

    Distorted History is very damaging to any country, as is distorted Religion.

    It is far better to look for Common Ground in all Religions and live together in relative peace and harmony. Christ said ” ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is WITHIN YOU” and the Buddha said “Truth is WITHIN YOU”. The word “You’ refers ANY Human Being, irrespective of religion. The Bhagavad Gita (most important religious book of the Hindu people), speaks of the conquest of the Klesas (Anger, Greed, Lust false Ego, etc) to reach the Godhead WITHIN YOU. Almost all other religions have similar quotes. Therefore, all human life has to be treated with respect and care. That is what the Great Teachers & Gurus envisaged. They certainly did NOT intend wars and disharmony !

    Janaka,

    Thank you for this important article.

    ————-

    HISTORY is important. We have to KNOW our TRUE History from writings & archeological evidence as DISTORTED History can be used to divide countries, divide the Land and its People. The British ‘Divide & rule’ principle will be rekindled.

    Distorted History is very damaging to any country, as is distorted Religion.

    It is far better to look for Common Ground in all Religions and live together in relative peace and harmony. Christ said ” ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is WITHIN YOU” and the Buddha said “Truth is WITHIN YOU”. The word “You’ refers ANY Human Being, irrespective of religion. The Bhagavad Gita (most important religious book of the Hindu people), speaks of the conquest of the Klesas (Greed, Fear, speaks of the Therefore, all human life has to be treated with respect and care. That is what the Great Teachers & Gurus wanted.

    The KINGDOM WITHIN is accessed through attempts to lead a mostly calm and happy life with Meditation included.

  17. Fran Diaz Says:

    Editor,

    There is a distortion in my entry. Please remove the second part which starts with “Janaka, Thank you ….”

    Sorry.

  18. Fran Diaz Says:

    There certainly mud be laws enacted to prevent distortion of the History of Sri Lanka, particularly in the text books, in keeping with ancient writings and archeological evidence.

  19. Fran Diaz Says:

    read as “must be laws …. ”
    My computer is acting up today !

  20. Fran Diaz Says:

    read as “must be laws …. ”
    My computer is acting up today !

  21. Lorenzo Says:

    Copy Saudi’s terrorism definition in SL and punish all who violate it.

    The curse of Endian minorities will not go away otherwise. Unfortunately some Muslims are also firstly Endians and secondly Arabs. They too fall into this category.

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