Posted on February 7th, 2016

Dr. Daya Hewapathirane

A nation is a historically constituted, stable community of people, formed basically on the basis of a common culture, a common language, economic life, and psychological make-up.  From ancient times, Sri Lanka or Sinhale as the island was known in known to its people from historic times is the Nation of the Sinhala people who form the dominant community in the island and accounted for about 99% of its population in the early 16th century. Today they form about 75% of the island’s population. A nation is often defined as the descendants of the past, the  speakers of the same language. Besides a common language, members of a nation share a common identity and usually a common origin, in the sense of ancestry, parentage or descent. The fact that the ancestry is shared by the members of the nation unites them, and sets them apart from other nations, which do not share that ancestry and culture. A group of people with nothing in common cannot be a nation. At least some of the major characteristics must be exclusive – to distinguish the nation from neighboring nations.

Sinhala Buddhist Culture is the National Culture of Sinhale or Sri Lanka.            

The term nation is normally used as a synonym for an ethnic group or country, with a distinct culture and language. Almost all nations are associated with a specific territory, which for all purposes is the national homeland of the particular ethnic group. Traditionally a nation is monocultural. Most nations are defined by a common shared culture. A national culture is one that is unique to the nation concerned, and includes tangible and intangible characteristics that are widely followed and well evident in the country. A national culture is usually something that is shared with previous generations and includes a cultural heritage from these generations as a form of cultural inheritance. Invariably, Sri Lanka’s national culture is the Sinhala Buddhist culture which developed within this island during a period that exceeds 2500 years. The Buddhist religion is a defining factor for the Sinhala nation with its strong impact on the development of the culture and language of the Sinhala people.

The Sinhala Buddhist culture is one of the world’s oldest, continuous, unchanged cultures in existence. Buddhism and Buddhist cultural heritage, including the nationwide historic remains of Buddhist culture, provide a distinct character and identity to this island nation. Ours is one of the rare countries in the world with a well recorded history extending to over 2500 years. The Sinhala history as recorded in the Mahavansa is regarded as the second-most remarkable history in existence of an ancient and cultured civilization. It is second only to the records maintained by the Shu Chinese emperors. Being one of world’s exemplary cultures in existence, the Sinhala people do have their legitimate, traditional and historical right to Sinhale as a civilization unique to this island nation alone.

The most widely spoken language, exclusive to Sinhale or Sri Lanka, is the legitimate National Language of this island Nation for over 2500 years.   

A common language is the most significant defining feature of a nation.  This language is exclusive to the nation. As far as the Sri Lankan nation is concerned, Sinhala language is exclusive to this island nation. The Sinhala language originated in this island and is spoken only in our motherland as opposed to minority languages which originated elsewhere and are spoken in other countries also.  Therefore all other languages used in Sri Lanka – Tamil and English, are foreign languages which originated and evolved elsewhere outside Sri Lanka, in other nations. Tamil belongs to the Tamil nation – Tamilnadu in India. Sinhala language is the only language that is exclusive to this land and is therefore central to the national identity.

Although all Sri Lankans may not speak it, the Sinhala language is a rich and unique language  and is the most characteristic feature that helps to distinguish the Sinhala nation of Sri Lanka, the Sinhala people and Sinhala nationalism. People of different ethnic origins with their own cultures and languages may live in different nations or countries associated with different national cultures and languages. They are usually treated as members of separate nations . This applies to the ethnic minorities of Sri Lanka, basically the Tamils and Muslims.  Tamils of Sri Lanka live in a historical Diaspora, or mainly outside their national homeland which is the Tamilnadu.

 Sinhale  is where the Sinhala people naturally feel a sense of belonging and where they enjoy a true feeling of freedom, joy and security. It is here that generations of our forefathers lived and helped to develop a rich and exquisite culture and a wholesome way of life based on Buddhist principles. It is here where we share our common cultural norms and values including our Sinhala language which defines our identity as a unique nation. Our motherland is the only place on earth that we Sinhela people can call our own, our indigenous home, and our nation. All minorities in our country are settler communities who came from other countries. They have their own homelands elsewhere outside Sinhale. No individual or community of people living in Sinhale or Sri Lanka, is permitted to undermine the nation or the national culture —  the Sinhala Buddhist culture and heritage of this country under any circumstances.  Such subversive action should be considered as treason and proper legal action should follow.

 Strengthening The Sinhale Nation

Pitifully, the Sinhala people remain one of the most exploited and endangered communities in the world. They were subject to undue persecution, harassment and  exploitation during the period of some 500 years of European colonial rule starting in the early 16th century. In more recent years their survival has been threatened owing to a complex of reasons emanating from within and outside the country. These undesirable elements are exploiting the undue tolerance and patience which the Sinhala community in general tend to practice owing to the strong influence of Buddhism. However, there  signs of positive changes for the better, focused on safeguarding the interests of  the Sinhale nation, well exemplified by the elimination of terrorism that plagued the nation for some 30 years.

Economically strengthening the Sinhala community is a high priority if the Sinhale nation is to get ahead in the world. The Sinhala community is deprived of financial strength. It is time for greater investment on development ventures that have direct positive implications for the Sinhala community, and greater enhancement of gainful employment opportunities in predominantly Sinhala areas. Funds and other opportunities for improvement of the quality of life is available for the minority communities, through the foreign diaspora and NGOs, and the Middle Eastern countries. Gold, gems and drug smuggling known to be almost monopolised by the minority communities need to be curtailed. So are the various forms of exploitation of the nation’s natural resources, especially forests and fisheries. Special programs need to be developed focused on encouraging and assisting the Sinhala community with funds and skills development opportunities, to get into business ventures as a vocation. The Sinhala youth in particular should be provided with funds and opportunities to improve their skills in foreign languages such as English, Korean, Japanese and Chinese in particular enabling them to seek gainful and more satisfying employment in countries other than the problem-stricken Middle East.

Dr. Daya Hewapathirane

One Response to “THE SINHALE NATION”

  1. SA Kumar Says:

    THE SINHALE NATION- Please do not wake up ! Since 1948 to 2009 you were not sleeping .
    when you wake up a year or two time you will see three countries.

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