FOREIGN RULE IN ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL SRI LANKA
Posted on June 5th, 2016

KAMALIKA PIERIS

There were several instances of foreign rule in  ancient and medieval Sri Lanka .The Mahavamsa says that sometime after  reign of Devanampiyatissa ( 250-210BC),  two ‘damilas’  named Sena and Guttika, who were the sons of a freighter who brought horses to Sri Lanka , defeated  king  Suratissa and reigned together for twenty two years.  Historians cannot establish the exact period of rule. The records give confusing dates. It is argued that Sena and Guttika could not have been from south India since south India did not trade in horses.

Several Tamil chiefs ruled over sections of the island in the early Anuradhapura period. Elara ruled over the principality of Anuradhapura until he was defeated by Dutugemunu in 161 BC. Elara’s origins are not known. He was from south India but he was not a ‘Chola prince’. The good deeds attributed to him, such as the story of the bell of justice are not unique to Elara. They are standard stories that appear elsewhere. They are found in the Persian legend of the mythical hero Anosharvan.

In 103 BC, seven Tamil chiefs landed at Mantota with a powerful force. The reigning king, Vattagamani Abhaya ran away since his forces were inadequate. The Tamil chiefs continued to rule until Vattagamani Abhaya finally got rid of them in 89 BC. Six Tamils ruled Sri Lanka in succession from 433 to 459 AD. Inscriptions assigned to them have been found at Kataragama and at Aragama, in Hiriyala hatpattu, Kurunegala district. Their rule was not welcome and local forces kept trying to eject them. Dhatusena took the throne away from them in 459 AD.

There were many invasions from south India Cola king Parantaka I (907-955) invaded Sri Lanka during the time of Udaya IV (946-954) and took Anuradhapura, but could not hold it. The Sinhala king seems to have made a lightening raid to Tamil country in return. Parantaka II and Rashtrakuta king Krisna III invaded, without success, in the time of Sinhala king Mahinda IV (956-972). The Rashtrakutas ruled in Karnataka between the 8th and 10th centuries.

The longest period of foreign occupation was achieved by the Cholas. Nothing is known about the early history of the Cholas. The Cholas became prominent under the house of Vijayalaya (850-871) and held power from 850-1200.  Nilakanta Sastri says this was the grandest epoch in the history of South India. The greatest Chola king was Rajaraja I (985-1016). He expanded the Chola state into an extensive, well knit empire.  He had a powerful army and navy. He defeated the Pandya, Chera, Rashtrakutas and western Chalukyas. The eastern Chalukya were controlled through marriage alliances. Rajendra I, son of Rajaraja married an eastern Chalukya.  Kullotunga I, (1070-1122) took over the Chola kingdom, came from this line.

Rajaraja’s empire included territory from Godavari   to Kerala. His army went up to the Ganges, through Orissa but could not hold the territory for long. He also conquered the Maldives.  Rajaraja objected to Sri Vijaya’s strict control of the sea lanes on the route to China. He attacked Sri Vijaya in 1025. Kedah and Palembang were captured, and the king taken captive, but there was no permanent annexation of Sri Vijaya.

However, the Chola empire  and its supremacy at sea did not last long.  The Chola empire was continuously challenged by the other south Indian kingdoms. Rashtrakuta king Krisna III tried to wreck the empire ‘at birth’ in 950 AD. By the time of Kullotunga I,took over (1070-1122)  the Chola kingdom was under attack in India  by the Western Chalukyas, the Keralas, and the Pandyas. Kullotunga I was an Eastern Chalukya and not a Cola.

The Colas wanted to conquer the whole of Sri Lanka but were only able to rule over the Rajarata. .Cola king Parantaka I (907-955) invaded Sri Lanka during the time of Udaya IV (946-954) and took Anuradhapura, but could not hold it. The Sinhala king seems to have made a lightening raid to Tamil country in return. Parantaka II  and Rashtrakuta king Krisna III invaded, without success, in the time of Mahinda IV (956-972). Rajaraja I (985-1014) invaded, took Anuradhapura and chased the Sinhala king Mahinda V down to Ruhuna.  Rajendra I (1012-1044) completed the conquest.  Mahinda V was captured and taken to India, where he died. The Colas occupied Rajarata from 1017-1070 AD.

Colas attacked Ruhuna on several occasions, but failed to take over the territory. They also failed in their attempt to capture prince Kassapa, the heir to the throne. Ruhuna and Malayadesa continued under the Sinhala king. The Sinhala princes who ruled in Ruhuna after Mahinda died, tried to dislodge the Colas.  The Colas were  expelled  from Sri Lanka by Vijayabahu I (1055-1110).  Chola king Kullotunga I (1070-1122)  did not attempt to recapture Sri Lanka.  there were several Cola  invasions  in the Polonnaruwa period.. Cola invasions took place during the time of Queen Kalyanavati (1202 -1208), Anikanda (1209), and Lokesvara (1210-1211.) There were three Cola invasions during time of Queen Lilavati (1197-1212). These were repulsed.

There is little or no information on Chola rule in Rajarata. . We do not know who ruled on behalf of the Cholas. Chola princes were appointed to rule Pandya and Kerala kingdoms, but there is no evidence of any such appointment for Sri Lanka or the appointment of a viceroy. We do not know whether the administrators who ruled over Rajarata were those of high rank or lesser rank.

The Sinhala population of Rajarata did not like Chola rule . They became restive and around 1065 they rebelled against the Colas. Cola king sent reinforcements from India to quell the rebellion. The Colas are said to have plundered and destroyed Buddhist institutions in Sri Lanka. W.M.K.Wijetunga says that ‘Cholas were exceptional in their ruthlessness and the passionate desire to posses the wealth of their enemies even if it came from the centers of religious worship.” However, they gave benefactions to Velgam vihara near Gantale.

The Cholas seem to have focused on economic returns. There is extensive information on the land tax and the payment of produce as revenue. However, very few coins belonging to the Cholas have been found in Sri Lanka. These coins were discontinued once the Sinhala kings regained the Rajarata. Colas did not introduce any new administrative ideas. The records of Vijayabahu I and Parakrama bahu I show that they used the same administrative terms and institutions that were known before Chola rule. Wijetunga thinks that the Cholas continued the existing Sinhala system, and that locals were employed in subordinate positions. The administration of justice had been neglected. Vijayabahu restored the legal system and personally administered justice.

There was another occupation of the Rajarata from 1215 to 1232 by Magha of Kalinga, who came with Tamil and Kerala troops. Magha set up garrisons at Polonnaruwa, Kottiyar, Anuradhapura, Padaviya, Valikagama and Pulacccheri. The exact period of his rule is not certain. his rule ended either in 1247 or 1255. His rule was also resisted.   Sinhala rulers set up their own centers of power, at Minipe, Yapahuwa , Govindamala, and at a place about three miles east of present Maho. Magha was defeated in war by Parakrama bahu II (1236-1270)

From the ninth century onwards, Tamil kingdom was dominated by two rival dynasties, the Colas and the Pandyas. Power see-sawed between these two dynasties. Both dynasties attempted to bring Sri Lanka under their control. Unlike the Cholas, the  Pandyas were unable to dislodge the Sinhala king. Various Pandyas came to Sri Lanka during the ancient and medieval period. Pandya king Srimara Sri Vallabha invaded the island during the reign of Sena I (833-853).Srimara was after loot.  He plundered Anuradhapura, handed back the city to Sena and left.  During the Chola occupation, Vikkrama Pandya ruled at Kalutara till he was killed by Jagati pala of Oudh (Ayodhya, north India) , who was also ruling in the south.

Pandyas were in power in the Tamil kingdom in the 13th century. They were at their peak. Jatavarman Sundara Pandya II (1253-1270), the best of the Pandya kings, ruled over the Chola and Chera territory, as well as a part of today’s Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.  Pandya rule was shared by several princes of the royal family, with one having primacy over the rest. Jatavarman Vira Pandya ruled together with Jatavarman Sundara Pandya.

The Pandyas invaded Sri Lanka .Parakrama Pandya was ruling in Polonnaruwa around 1215-1232. Jatavarman Vira Pandya invaded around 1258 and Jatavarman Sundara Pandya invaded around 1263. These invasions   seem to have been short lived.  The Pandyas helped the Sinhala king to chase away Chandrabhanu when he attacked the Sinhala king in 1263 but they made sure that Jaffna stayed under the control of the son of Chandrabhanu. In 1284 Pandya king Maravarman Kulasekhara (1268-1310) sent Ariyachakravarti to Sri Lanka. Ariyachakravarti returned with the tooth relic. Later, Parakrama bahu III (1287-1293) went to south India, spoke to the Pandya king and got back the tooth relic.

The Pandyans eventually succeeded in establishing a strong base in Jaffna. Around 1286, the Pandya kings installed Ariyachakravarti in Jaffna. Ariya chakravarti was probably a leader in the Pandyan army. Under Ariya chakravarti Jaffna became a part of the Pandya kingdom of south India. P.A.T. Gunasinghe pointed out that unlike most kings, Ariya chakravarti left no inscriptions. The tradition of leaving inscriptions was there at the time, and there is one relevant inscription in Kegalle, but none in Jaffna, indicating that this kingdom was not an independent one but was a part of the south Indian Pandya kingdom. It became according to Vernon Mendis a Pandyan principality”.

The area under Ariyachakravarti grew in size and by 1344 the pearl fisheries around Mannar were in his hands. Pandyans then tried to annexe the rest of the island using their Jaffna base. Aryachakravarti invaded from Jaffna, defeated Vikramabahu III (1359-74) who ruled from Gampola and exacted tribute. The territory conquered by Ariyachakravarti included Colombo, Negombo, Wattala and Chilaw. Rajavali states that Tamil agents were stationed at various places including seaports to collect the tribute.

This situation did not last long. Nissanka Alagakkonara, a powerful minister in Vickramabahu’s court, challenged the Jaffna king. According to the Rajavali, he did so by hanging the king’s tax collectors. Ariyachakravarti attacked by land and sea. He was defeated and pushed back into Jaffna. After Alagakkonara died, Aryachakravarti attacked again during the time of Buvanekabahu V (1374-1408) but was defeated. The tribute ended.

This period of Tamil control did not exceed 29 years. It was probably much less. Historians are definite that there was no territorial annexation of the Sinhala kingdom by Jaffna, though revenue was obtained. Historians think that the Pandyans were interested in gaining control of the rich cinnamon resources in the west of the island.

The next threat came from the Vijayangara kingdom of south India. In the fourteenth century, the Sagama kings led by Harihara I (1336-57) and Harihara II (1377-1404) created the Kannada speaking Vijayanagara empire with its capital at Vijayanagara (near Hampi). From 1336 to 1646 this Vijayangara empire controlled the whole of south India, including Kerala, Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh

The Tamil kingdom was also under Vijayanagara from 1366 to 1646. Telegus and Kannadas came into the Tamil kingdom to administer it. Jaffna which was under the Pandyas went under Vijayanagara. Jaffna was made to pay tribute and when it tried to rebel, prince Virupaksha of the Vijayangara Empire invaded and brought Jaffna under control. This is indicated in his inscription dated 1365. Jaffna stayed under Vijayanagara control until the Portuguese took it over. [put this better, there is reference somewhere]

The Vijayanagara kings attacked the Sinhala king twice and were defeated on both occasions. They were defeated in 1390 by Buvaneka bahu V and in 1432 by Parakrama bahu VI. According to Valentyn, writing in the 18th century, this gave the Sinhalese a formidable name in the east, for ‘humbling the Kannadi’ (Vijayanagara).

There was one known invasion from south east Asia. Chandrabhanu, a Malay prince from the Buddhist kingdom of Ligor (now Nakon Sri Thammarat) arrived in Sri Lanka in 1247.  His followers had landed at various   seaports, probably in the south western seaboard. They fought with poisoned arrows. Chandrabhanu was defeated, but returned sometime between 1258 and 1262.  He landed at Mantota with Malay and Tamil mercenaries. He ruled over a large area of the north, including the Jaffna peninsula. This resulted in place names such as Chavakachcheri. Chandrabhanu then attacked Yapahuwa in 1263. He was defeated by the Sinhala king with the assistance of the Pandyas.

Foreign rule, which with the exception of Chandrabhanu, meant south Indian rule, was deeply resented in Sri Lanka. During the Chola occupation, there was ‘sullen opposition’ as well as revolt by the Sinhalese living in the Rajarata. The Sinhalese were not prepared to submit to foreign rule and no Tamil dynasty was allowed to take root.

Whenever Tamil kings or Tamil chiefs occupied Sri Lanka, the Sinhala royalty moved to some other part of the island and functioned from there. The Sinhala kings were very determined in this matter. Regardless of how long it took, they watched, waited and eventually pushed the Tamils and other invaders out. Dutugemunu eliminated Elara, Vattagamani Abhaya and Dhatusena got back their thrones, Vijayabahu I expelled the Colas and Parakrama bahu II got rid of Magha.

Sri Lanka was never fully under a foreign power during the ancient or medieval period. There was always a Sinhala king, ruling somewhere in the island, trying to get rid of the foreign invader.  He functioned as the rallying point for the Sinhala population. In its long history, the island of Sri Lanka came completely under foreign rule only in the period 1815 to 1948, when it was under the British.

The writings of A.L. Basham, D.G.B. de Silva, P.A.T. Gunasinghe, S. Kiribamune, A Liyanagamage, C.W. Nicholas, K.A. Nilakanta Sastri, S. Paranavitana, .L.S. Perera, W.I.Siriweera, R Thapar and W.M.K. Wijetunga were used for this essay.

6 Responses to “FOREIGN RULE IN ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL SRI LANKA”

  1. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    From the 13th century when migration of Vellalar to Jaffna took place, Tamil Nadu has seen a decline in the traditional power of Vellalar. Successive colonial powers in Sri Lanka found Vellalar useful where Brahmins were not forthcoming. The Vellalar were not only cultivators, but a section of them which had developed scribal skills, provided the local officials, interpreters and accountants. Vellalar took the advantage of the situation and submitted themselves as slaves to the colonials and in return colonials were more kind towards their loyal servants. That is how Vellalar became the civil service force to help rule of colonials.
In 1847, Kandar Arumukampillai(aka Arumuga Navalar) left the Jaffna Central College where he was a teacher because a ‘low caste’ Tamil student from the Nalavar caste was admitted to the school by the principal Peter Percival. Three decades later when a famine hit Northern Sri Lanka Kandar Arumukampillai worked tirelessly to provide food and medicine to Vellalar only.
The lower caste Tamil speaking Sri Lnakans were treated as stray dogs by Vellalar. Caste system among Tamil speaking Sri Lankans has given rise to serious social evils. It denied certain civil rights to a large number of people and let to the oppressions and exploitations by Vellalar, which paved a constant source of discontent or unrest.
Vellalar were the founders of the fascist culture in Jaffna. Despite the civilized veneer presented to the outside world Vellalar ran a fascistic regime reducing the depressed loer caste Tamil speaking Sri Lankans to slaves. Vellalar’s cruel caste system has no other parallel in any other part of Sri Lanka. Vellalar virtually had a free run of the Jaffna peninsula because the colonial rulers turned a blind eye to the subhuman Vellalar’s culture of violence. Thesavalamai legitimized slavery and the Vellalar ruled the land with an iron fist, with the colonial administrators often refusing to interfere in the laws and customs of the Vellalar.
In 1871, Caste clashes erupted between Vellalar, Dhoby caste and Barber caste in Mavittapuram when Dhoby caste people refused to wash the clothes of Barber caste people. Vellalar were blamed for the violence.
September 1923 in Suthumalai, Vellalar attacked lower caste people who had hired drummers for a funeral alleging that lower caste people had no right to employ drummers for their funerals as they were ‘low caste’. In 1931 a similar violent riot took place in Chankanai where Pallar were attacked by Vellalar people for hiring drummers for a funeral.
Do Tamil speaking Sri Lankans need to be reminded that they did not allow low castes to enter any place that Vellalar frequented? In June 1929 caste riots broke out again in Jaffna in response to the ‘equal seating directive’ of the government which was applicable to grant-aided schools. Under this directive ‘low caste’ students were allowed to sit on the bench. Until then they sat either on the floor or outside the classroom. This was how Tamil speaking Sri Lankans treated their own! Resultant riots bunt a large number of houses mainly of low caste Tamils. Their children en masse were stopped from attending schools. Repeated petitions were made to the government by Vellalar begging to cancel the directive! Ponnambalam Ramanathan went to request the Colonial Office in London to encode caste into legislative enactments. Ponnambalam Ramanathan led the opposition to democratization by opposing universal franchise proposed by the Donoughmore reformers in the 1920′ on the ground that it would give the lower caste Tamil speaking Sri Lankans the right to vote.
When Vellalar initiated their extremist demands it was the British who rejected them and not the Sinhalese. The British cultivated Vellalar as subservient and pliant agents of their regime. But this protection given to the privileges of the Vellalar was beginning to erode under the relentless invasions of modernity. The arrogant Vellalar reacted convulsively when the encroachments of modernity began to undermine Vellalar’s feudal and colonial privileges. Vellalar were reluctant to challenge the British whose patronage had made them the most privileged community in British Ceylon. Vellalar preferred to go along with the British colonialists, covertly aiding their white masters as complying agents in the legislature and in the administration. This political ploy was a common tactic, both under the Dutch and the British, to win a nudge-and-wink from the colonial masters to siphon off a disproportionate share of the state’s resources to Vellalar. The Dutch records categorically identify the need to win the Vellalar’s consent to be in command of Jaffna.
In 1931 the Vellalar attacked the lower castes for hiring drummers for funerals. The message of the Vellalar was clear – no low castes could hire drummers for funerals!
Even after Independence, the Sinhala speaking Sri Lankans hardly knew of the existence of the lowwe caste Tamil speaking Sri lankans. As far as the Sinhala speaking Sri Lankan leaders were concerned the Tamil speaking Sri Lankans whom they met in Colombo, the leaders of Tamil Congress and the Federal Party, the Tamil speaking professionals and academics, and the Tamil speaking public servants were the real Tamil speaking Sri Lankans, indeed they were only Vellalar!
G.G.Ponnambalam succeeded in burying the “aristocracy” of the old guard led by Arunachalam Mahadeva with his “50-50″ demand. Veluppillai Chelvanayakam buried G.G.Ponnambalam by taking “50-50″ to the next stage of separatism. And from the grave of Appapillai Amirthalingam rose Thiruvenkadam Velupillai Prabhakaran. Each death was a milestone in escalating racism. No other community has pursued and injected racism into an electorate as the Vellalar fighting for their survival, with Jaffna as their base.
It was S.W.R.D Bandaranaike who opened the doors for low caste Tamil speaking Sri Lankans to attend schools & temples – places that were taboo to them by their own Tamil speaking brethren.
The Social Disabilities Act No. 21 was passed in the parliament in 1957 giving lower castes of Tamil speaking Sri Lankans the right to attend schools & temples as the part of S.W.R.D Bandaranaike’s plan was to penetrate into the “low caste” votes of Tamil speaking Sri Lankans.
Lower castes Tamil speaking Sri Lankan children could attend school regularly only after this act. A reawakening happened in the north among previously marginalised lower caste Tamil speaking Sri Lankans.
No sooner Vellalar realized the dangers of SLFP government led by S.W.R.D Bandaranaike courting the low caste Tamil speaking Sri Lankans, Vellalar devised their response. It was to create the best division possible. A rift between the Tamil speaking Sri Lankans and Sinhala speaking Sri Lankans which would strike better success than low caste – Vellalar divisions among Tamil speaking Sri Lankans. It is important to note that the satyagrahas, the tarring of Sinhala letter “SRI” instead of English letters on vehicle licence plates launched by the Veluppilai Chelvanayagam led Federal Party and G.G Ponnambalam led Tamil Congress – both Vellala high class political parties happened a year after making Sinhala the official language. Why did Federal Party and Tamil Congress not cry foul over the Sinhala Only Act in 1956 but oppose the Social Disabilities Act on 1957 with such venom? It is because Tamil speaking Sri Lankans wanted to deprive their own.
Wijeyananda Dahanayake who was the Minister of Education in 1957, gave teaching appointments to many lower caste Tamil speaking Sri Lankans who had three credit passes in the S.S.C Exam (G.C.E O/L). Appapillai Amirthalingam who was an Federal Party MP then, opposed this move under the pretext that it would bring down educational standards.
Similarly, when the Sirimavo R.D.Bandaranaike led SLFP Government introduced university standardization in 1973 those that opposed were those who were against equitable distribution. The schools in thirteen out of twenty two districts did not produce a single engineering or medicine student until 1974. Students from Colombo and Jaffna who had been privy to education opposed opportunities that would be enjoyed by students from Mannar, Monaragala, Vavuniya, Ampara, Kilinochchi & other less developed districts. While the composition of the ethnicity did not change entrance, for Tamil speaking Sri Lankans it meant not only the Vellalar but lower caste Tamil speaking Sri Lankans too would gain university entrance. This was why Vellalar opposed the 1973 university standardization introduced by Srimavo Bandaranaike led SLFP Government.
Tamil speaking Sri Lankans who cry “discrimination” may like to recall how in the refugee camps during the 1983 riots Vellalar refused to share common toilet facilities with the low castes and a lot of problems arose inside the very camps housing only Tamil speaking Sri Lankans! 
From feudal and colonial times until May 18, 2009 Jaffna peninsula was under the jackboot of, Vellalar’s fascism followed by their equally brutal fascists in the LTTE. Both Vellalar and LTTE oppressed and subjugated their own people and denied their victims the fundamental right to live with even a modicum of dignity and self-respect. The LTTE took over from where the Vellalar left and perpetuated the cult of fascist violence which reduced the Tamil speaking Sri Lankans of the North and East to subhumans.

  2. plumblossom Says:

    Yesterday, the third largest arms storage facility of the Sri Lankan Army went up in flames. Is this sabotage by the Yahapalanaya Government itself to weaken our Armed Forces? Weapons worth millions of US dollars went up in flames. Was Ranil, Sirisena, CBK, Mangala, RAW, the US, the UK, the EU, Norway, Sweden, Canada behind this? Is this to weaken our Armed Forces so that the TNA separatist terrorists can get what they want via constitutional changes i.e. Eelam?

    A great danger facing Sri Lanka is the proposed constitutional changes. UNP MPs frequently come on discussion forums on TV and state that the policy of the UNP is maximum devolution of power within a unitary state. However, you cannot any longer call yourself a unitary state if you devolve too much power in the first place! Even now with the 13th amendment in force, Sri Lanka is no longer a unitary state. I would suggest that the Global Sri Lankan Forum write a press release suggesting that no more power should be devolved to the provincial councils than they have at present and especially not land, police and fiscal powers. The GSLF should demand unequivocally that North East Sri Lanka is definitely not a Tamil homeland as stated in the 13th amendment but the homeland of firstly the Sinhala Buddhists (as per the history and archaeology of the island) and subsequently and at present the homeland of all the people of Sri Lanka in total. The GSLF should absolutely demand this change be brought on as part of the13th amendment. The clause in the 13th amendment which says that any two provinces can be merged should also be deleted.

    GSLF, please write a press release and release this to the Sri Lankan press immediately before Ranil, Sirisena, CBK and Managla bring on a federal constitution (disguised as ‘unitary’) with extremely wide powers with the North East being merged (effectively an Eelam) as what the TNA separatist terrorists, the US imperialists, the UK, the EU, Canada, Norway, Sweden and India wants.

  3. plumblossom Says:

    Invaders and settlements are not the same thing. Definitely today’s Sri Lankan Tamils came during the Dutch and the British times to work on tobacco plantations during the Dutch and the British times and were brought over by the Dutch and the British. If you look at the history and archaeology of Jaffna, presuming it to be the oldest Sri Lankan Tamil settlement, it is very clear. Therefore it is best not to confuse invasions (which happens when powerful neighbouring kingdoms arise) and settlement. For example the Pandyas, Cheras, Kalingas also invaded Sri Lanka from time to time but you would not say that the Keralas or the Orissans and the Andra Pradeshians ‘settled’ here would you? Same goes for the Nissana Malala invasion or the Portugese, Dutch or British colonisations. Would you say that the Portugese, Dutch or British settled in Sri Lanka or were those simply colonisations for periods of time? Even the 10th century writing is that of an invasion, this time Chola, not a permanent settlement. Please do not confuse invasions which did not result in a any settlement with permanent settlement. The Sri Lankan Tamils were brought over during the Dutch and British times to work on tobacco plantations and that is what the archaeology also corroborates. Also the Cholas, Pandya, Cheras and Kalingas invaded Aunradhapura or Polonnaruwa again signifying invasions only not settlement of any sort.

  4. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    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.
Trincomalee
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.

  5. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    We don’t need books to prove/disprove these mythical kingdoms. We need bricks! Ancient bricks to be precise!
    Please show us an ancient tamil brick older than 500 years old. Oldest building in jaffna is old dutch fort.
    This has been proved by carbon dating.

    Not books please.
    BRICKS. BRICKS. BRICKS.
    ANCIENT BRICKS
    ANCIENT BRICKS
    ANCIENT BRICKS PLEASE!
    Like in Anuradhapura or Polonnaruwa.
    Then nobody will dispute your claims!

  6. plumblossom Says:

    Even if we accept that the Pandya, the Vijayanagar empires held onto the Jaffna Peninsula as part of their empires, it was only the peninsula, a small piece of land. it would have been sparsely populated since the Pandyas and the Vijayanagar empire would have been there simply to extract resources and to use the peninsula as a staging post to launch attacks to overtake the Sinhaladeepa (of which Jaffna too is a part but forcefully taken over by the Pandyan and the Vijayanagar empires). However, it is very clear that it is only during the Dutch and British times that the present day Sri Lankan Tamil people were brought over to work in the tobacco and indigo plantations which were sought after crops in Europe and with which a lot of profit would have been made. That is why they were called the Malabars by the Dutch and the British. Also all the ancient archaeological finds point to a Buddhist past with many ancient Buddhist temples, Buddha statues etc. being found not only on the Jaffna peninsula but also all over the North. In fact, the North was part of Rajarata, when you think of the extensive irrigation reservoir system built by Rajarata. So even if there is some claim for greater power, it should be confined to the Jaffna Peninsula only and not the vast majority of the Northern province which was part of Rajarata. Considering the Jaffna Peninsula, one of the largest structures is the Jaffna Fort built by the Portugese. There is also a fort at Kayts and also at Mannar island. The only other ancient structure, apart from all the Buddhist archaeology is King Cankili’s abode. Cankili was part of the Aryachakravarthi occupation. So let us face it, most of the Northern province was part of Rajarata apart from maybe the Jaffna peninsula (which was forcefully occupied by the Pandya and the Vijayanagar empires). So today, the whole of Sri Lanka is belongs to all its people as a whole and no bit part can be claimed by any exclusive group of people, when looking at the history and archaeology of the island. By the way, the Spanish, the French, the British, the Americans, the Portugese made enormous amounts of money growing tobacco, indigo, sugar cane, cotton and other commodities fetching high prices in the carribbean, brazil etc. using slaves etc. So this is why the Dutch and the British in Jaffna would have brought over a lot of people from the Malabar coast etc. to work on tobacco and indigo plantations which would have fetched high prices in Europe.

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