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

KAMALIKA PIERIS

Tamils came into Sri Lanka in the ancient and medieval period as rulers and as soldiers. Several Tamil chiefs ruled over sections of the island in the ancient 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 cow and bell, are not unique to Elara.  They are  found in the Persian  legend of the mythical hero Anosharvan,.

Then 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.  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).

From the ninth century onwards, there were two rival Tamil dynasties in South India, the Pandyas and Colas. Both dynasties attempted to bring Sri Lanka under their control. There were several Pandya invasions during the Anuradhapura period, but the Pandyas were unable to dislodge the Sinhala king.  The Cholas were able to do so. Rajaraja I (985-1014) invaded, took Anuradhapura and chased the Sinhala king Mahinda V down to Ruhuna. Rajendra I (1012-1044) captured Mahinda V and completed the conquest. Colas wanted to conquer the whole country but were only able to rule over the Rajarata. They occupied Rajarata from 1017-1070 AD. This brought in Tamil traders, Tamil administrators and Tamil soldiers.

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 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 centres of religious worship.” However, they gave benefactions to Velgam vihara near Gantale. [used]

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.[ used]

Tamil invasions did not stop with this. Cola and Pandya invasions continued 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 repuled.  Between 1215-1232, Rajarata was occupied by Magha of Kalinga. He used Tamil and Kerala troops. Parakrama Pandya was ruling in Polonnaruwa when Magha arrived. There were two Pandya invasions after Magha. Jatavarman Vira Pandya invaded around 1258 and Jatavarman Sundara Pandya invaded around 1263. These invasions   seem to have been short lived. [used]

Tamil 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 Tamil rule. 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 out. Vijayabahu I (1055-1110) expelled the Colas and Vijayabahu III (1232-1236) got rid of Magha.  No Tamil dynasty was allowed to take root.  [ used]

However, the Pandyans eventually succeeded in establishing a strong base in Jaffna. Around 1286, the Pandya kings installed Ariyachakravarti in Jaffna. The area under Ariyachakravarti grew in size and by 1344 the pearl fisheries around Mannar were in his hands. This occupation   has been wrongly labelled the ‘Kingdom of Jaffna’. This was not a kingdom at all.  Ariyachakravarti was not a king. He left no inscriptions. He was probably a leader in the Pandyan army.  Under Ariyachakravarti Jaffna became a part of the Pandya kingdom of south India.  Vernon Mendis has called Jaffna ‘a Pandyan principality.’  [used]

Pandyans then tried to annexe the rest of the island using their Jaffna base. Aryachakravarti attacked and defeated Vikramabahu III (1337-74) He stationed officers in Colombo, Negombo, Wattala, Chilaw and exacted tribute. Revenue was obtained for a period which did not exceed 29 years.  However, historians are definite that there was no territorial annexation of the Sinhala kingdom by Ariyachakravarti.  The Sinhalese retaliated. The tax officials were   killed and Aryachakravarti was pushed back to Jaffna. Aryachakravarti attacked again during the time of Buvanekabahu V (1374-1408) but was defeated  The  Gampola kings of this time were weak, but the ministers and the army took over and saw to it that Jaffna did not rule over the rest of the island.  [used]

Thereafter, Jaffna went under South India for the second time. The powerful Vijayangara kingdom of south India defeated the Pandyans and ruled over the Tamil kingdom from 1366 to 1646. Jaffna was made to pay tribute. 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  the Vijayanagara kings till the Portuguese came. [used]

Tamils came into Sri Lanka not only as rulers but also as soldiers. Tamils were  brought into Sri Lanka to fight as soldiers (mercenaries) in the Sinhala king’s army. Sinhala princes who could not find military support in the island, went to south India for troops. The first to do this was Ilanaga (33-34 AD)  followed by Abhayanaga. (231-240) and Moggallana  ( 491-508). The  seventh century  saw a large influx of these Tamil mercenaries. They arrived on five occasions to participate in the power struggles of local princes. Three of these occurred in the reigns of Silameghavanna (619-628), Aggabodhi III (629-639), and Dathopatissa I (639-650).  [used]

The soldiers brought in during  the time of Silameghavanna by a general were either killed or distributed among the Buddhist temples as slaves. But soldiers brought in by Dathopatissa I and Aggabodhi I were spoilt by the kings and became difficult to control. They created trouble over payments and were encouraged to live on pillage and plunder. Those who served under Dathopatissa I are said to have plundered temples and burnt down the king’s palace and the temple of the tooth. Dathopatissa’s successor Kassapa II (650-659) tried to expel them. But the soldiers resisted the orders to return. They ‘seized the town’ and the palace had to give in.

The Tamils did not stop at that. Tamil generals like Pottahakuta, Potthasala and Mahakanda  had been given high office. They wanted a king they could control. They objected to Dappula I, (659 AD) therefore Dappula only lasted one year. Potthakuttha , then a powerful minister, nominated Haththadatha, a nephew of Dathopatissa I as king.. Hatthadata, who had fled to India, then returned with a Tamil army and took the throne with the support of the local Tamils. Great numbers of Tamils living in Rajarata joined him. Tamil power reached its highest point during his time. The senapati and chief minister were Tamils.  Haththadatha (659-667) was a puppet ruler. .

There were Tamil soldiers in the Polonnaruwa period as well. A set of professional Tamil soldiers known as Velaikkara were employed in the service of Vijayabahu I (1055 – 1110) according to one source, they looked after the tooth relic temple and the villages attached to it. The chief Buddhist monk of the time had asked for them. The Velaikkaras also were difficult to control. An invasion into South India planned by Vijayabahu I (1055-1110) had to be abandoned since the Velaikkara troops carried out an uprising. They were ‘thoroughly subdued.’ The Velaikkaras together with Kerala and Sinhala soldiers are said to have staged a rebellion during the reign of Parakrama bahu I. This was severely crushed. The Velaikkaras helped Vikramabahu I (1111-1132) to come to power. Gajabahu II (1132-1153) was also dependent upon them Vijayabahu I also had on his hands, a large body of captive Cola soldiers.

There is evidence to show that the Tamils arriving in the Anuradhapura period were treated as an alien people. They were segregated from the local population. There are references in the historical records after the 7th century, to ‘demel kuli’ (Tamil allottees) ‘demel kaballa’ (Tamil land allotments) and ‘demela gambim’ (Tamil villages). The village of Kinigama had a separate section that was called ‘demel kinigam.’  There was a ‘demela adhikari.’ in the time of Sena II (853-887) and Kassapa IV, (898-914).This officer was responsible for the promulgation of immunity grants to the Tamil lands. The position was held by a Sinhalese.

 There were strictures against the appointment of Tamils as district chiefs and giving daughters in marriage to them. The Tamils, in their turn, remained loyal to South India. When Pandya prince Srimara Srivallabha invaded Sri Lanka in the time of Sena I. (833-853), the resident Tamil population went over to the Pandya king. The Tamils left behind after the Chola occupation were employed in subordinate positions. Vijayabahu I employed Tamil clerks. Parakramabahu I, brought back Tamil prisoners from his campaigns in South India. They were used for the restoration of temples. Parakrama bahu I    employed Tamils who could sing and dance as spies.

In his book, The evolution of an ethnic identity: Tamils in Sri Lanka 300 BCE to 1200 CE  (2005)  K. Indrapala tries to show that there has been a separate and parallel Tamil ethnic group existing alongside the Sinhalese in ancient and medieval Sri Lanka. Indrapala says that though the Tamils originated in South India, they inhabited the areas of north, north-west and north-east Sri Lanka from the 4th century BC. He says they evolved as a second ethnic group, parallel to the evolution of the Sinhalese. He says that by the end of the 12 century, the Tamil element was dominant in the areas north, west and east of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. He says that after the 12th century, the island bifurcated into Tamil speaking and Sinhala speaking areas.

He says that in the 13 century, the Sinhalese were dislodged form the north, their lands and properties were confiscated. He says that north Ceylon became transformed into a Tamil region and that this led to a creation of an independent Tamil kingdom.  He says more Tamils migrated from south India and this led to the peaceful establishment of a Tamil settlement in the Jaffna district. He says that northern Ceylon was thus transformed into a Tamil region and there was a separate ‘kingdom of Jaffna’. He concludes that ‘It was peaceful migration that was largely responsible for the Tamil settlement of the Jaffna district. ‘ He is trying to prove that the present day Tamils have a historical right to the north and east.  (Eelam)

This is utter nonsense. There is no evidence to support any of this and Indrapala does not even attempt to provide evidence. He himself, points out that there is little information which can be used to prove that an indigenous Tamil ethnic group existed in north and east of Sri Lanka in the period 300 AD-900 AD. (p 170) He admits that there are few inscriptions in the east for this period, and none at all in the north, only a carnelian seal.(p370).

Further, Indrapala’s own research contradicts his current utterances. Indrapala, then a young historian, did research in the 1960s on early Tamil settlements in the Ceylon. He found that permanent Tamil settlements only appeared in the 10th century. There was no evidence of settlements before that. He also noted that until the 12th century, these settlements were outside Jaffna. P.A.T Gunasinghe says that the Tamil penetration into the interior on the east and west coasts of Sri Lanka was probably achieved in the 16th century and not the 13th century and that they settled only 8 to 16 miles inwards from the coast.

According to Kiribamune, the earliest inscription in Tamil found in Sri Lanka has been dated to a period immediately preceding the Cola conquest of the island at the end of the 10th century. It records a donation to a Hindu shrine. The bulk of the Tamil inscriptions fit into the Cola occupation. Rajarata was administered in Tamil during this period.  When the Sinhala king overthrew the Colas, he threw out  the Tamil language as well. There is only one Tamil inscription dated to Parakrama bahu I and that was for the benefit of south Indian traders who called at the port of Uratturai, (Kayts). None of the rulers who came after Parakrama bahu I set up inscriptions in Tamil, they are all in Sinhala. Nissanka Malla had only one Tamil inscription and that was  in  South India at Rameswaram. This indicates that the Tamil language was not permitted to take root in ancient and medieval Sri Lanka.

Sirima Kiribamune’s ‘Tamils in ancient and medieval Sri Lanka’   published in Ethnic studies reports 1986 was the primary source for this essay.  I have also used the writings of P.A.T Gunasinghe, T. Hettiarachchy, K. Indrapala, W.A. Jayawardene, V.L.B. Mendis, C.W. Nicholas, S. Paranavitana and W.M.K. Wijetunga.

13 Responses to “TAMILS IN ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL SRI LANKA”

  1. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    During the colonial time Vellalar and the Madapalli castes who provided most of the Mudaliyars to village headman who owned most of the arable land. Below the Vellalar were the Koviar who were also involved in agriculture. The people of the fishing castes, collectively known as the Karaiyar, were independent of this social structure to which the landed communities were bound. The Chettys were well known as traders and owners of Hindu temples and the Pallar and the Nalavar composed of the landless labourers who tilled the land. Other castes composed of traditional barbers, washers, potters and general service providers.

    In Jaffna Paraiyar lived in segregated settlements and were the untouchables, just as in the modern Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Under Tamil leadership in Jaffna Thurumbar – washers for toddy tappers and other low-caste families were not allowed to walk in daytime just in case their sighting would pollute the pure eyes of the Vellalar. The Thurumbar had to drag a branch behind to wipe the footsteps they leave when they walk at midnight so that the feet of the Vellalar would not be polluted next day by treading on low-caste footprints. Schools attended by low-caste children were burnt and low-caste students physically assaulted.

    Velupillai Prabhakaran perfected the fascistic culture of Tamil violence with his cult of violence that was not restrained by basic values of humanity. Torture, murder, incarceration, kangaroo courts, feeding Tamil dissidents to crocodiles in the Iranamadu tank, kidnapping teenage school children from the care of their parents and throwing them as sacrificial lambs to a war he could not win were all a part of his cult of violence which was glorified by the Tamil Diaspora. The Tamil Diaspora wallowed lustily in Velupillai Prabhakaran’s violence. The sadism of the Tamil Diaspora was demonstrated by the increase in the collection of funds abroad each time Velupillai Prabhakaran went on a killing spree. Their heroism was expressed in filling the war chests of Velupillai Prabhakaran led LTTE. Each time the Tamil Diaspora oiled the killing machine of Velupillai Prabhakaran led LTTE it was the Tamils left behind who had to pay with their lives. The Jaffna Tamil culture gave no choice to the Tamils: it was either fascism of Vellalar or fascism of Velupillai Prabhakaran.

    In the north the Jaffna Tamil leadership failed the Jagffna people under both regimes. They never qualified to be just and fair leaders/rulers of the Jaffna people. The violence directed against their own people has condemned the Jaffna Tamil leadership as the most unbearable, unacceptable Pol Pots of our time. With all its infirmities there was democracy and liberal space in the south. In the north, fascism and violence became a common existential experience of daily life.

    The evil in the Tamil culture, which was transmitted to Velupillai Prabhakaran, is represented precisely and accurately in the LTTE flag flown by the Tamil Diaspora as their symbol of pride and glory. It is the most obscene flag under the sun. There isn’t a single redeeming feature in it to project the Tamils as members of a civilized race. Its violent symbols – a snarling tiger putting his carnivorous head out of a ring of thirty-three bullets placed against two crossed guns fixed with bayonets – represent only a barbaric, blood-thirsty violence culture inherited from the Vellalar. Every inch of the LTTE flag questions the values of the Jaffna Tamils and their capacity to co-exist with other communities in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious world.

    The misguided Tamils might read it as a sign of their power. But where have their tigers, bullets, guns and bayonets taken them? It is a flag that is comparable only to the skull and cross-bones of the marauding pirates. It is a flag that can only lead the Tamils to further deaths and destruction under another fascist leadership. And yet the Tamil Diaspora continues to hero worship Velupillai Prabhakaran, the designer of the hideous flag. Tamil Diaspora seems to be possessed by the fascist DNA of their Tamil forefathers who despised their own people and kicked them around as if they were pariah dogs. In a sense, it is fitting that Tamil Diaspora should fly this flag because it not only exhibits their vile past but guarantees that the future will be no different.

    The confrontations, aggression and violence came only from the racist Jaffna Tamils, who exploited the issue to drag Jaffna deeper into mono-ethnic extremism. They succeeded in disguising their economic and class interests and promoting it as an act of discrimination against the Tamil-speaking Sri Lankans. The Tamil language issue was driven aggressively only by the racist Jaffna Tamils and not by the Tamil-speaking plantation workers, Tamil speaking Muslims or the non-Vellala Tamils of the eastern province.

    True to the barbaric character of the Jaffna Tamils they declared war on the rest of Sri Lanka by passing the Vadukoddai Resolution in 1976 – the period when Tamil supremacy was in its last legs.

    Racist Vellalar of Jaffna were the founders of the fascist culture in Jaffna. Despite the civilized veneer presented to the outside world, Jaffna Tamils ran a fascistic regime reducing the depressed Tamils to slaves. Jaffna Vellalar’s cruel caste system has no other parallel in any other part of Sri Lanka. Jaffna Vellalar virtually had a free run of the Jaffna peninsula because the colonial rulers turned a blind eye to the subhuman Jaffna Vellalar culture of violence. Thesavalamai legitimized slavery and the Jaffna Vellala slave-owners ruled the peninsula with an iron fist, with the Portuguese, Dutch and English colonial administrators often refusing to interfere in the laws and customs of the ruling caste and class.

    Thesa (land) walamai (laws and customs) legitimized the land-owning Jaffna Vellalar as the slave-masters of Jaffna peninsula. From feudal and colonial times until May 18, 2009 when the Tamil cult of violence sank in Mullivaykal, Jaffna peninsula was under the jackboot of, first, Vellala fascism followed, second, by their equally brutal fascists – Velupillai Prabhakaran led LTTE. Both Vellalar and Velupillai Prabhakaran led LTTE oppressed and subjugated Tamils 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 Jaffna Tamils to subhumans.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Tigers knew only one thing, which was killing humans. For 30 years, Tigers killed more Tamils than anybody else. Also more Tigers were killed by Prabhakaran than anybody else.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Most of the people of Sri Lanka migrated to the island from Indian more than 2,500 years ago, often in the interest of trade, war, religion, economic opportunity, or colonization. 
Sri Lanka’s history left the island with a diverse population composed of self-conscious ethnic groups, differentiated by religion, language, and social customs. Hinduism, the island’s first religion, came from India during its era of unrecorded history. Theravada Buddhism was introduced from India 2,300 years ago. Arab traders and western colonists brought Islam and Christianity in the tenth and sixteenth centuries.
Early in Sri Lanka’s history, education became associated with high caste status and privilege. The sweep of Buddhism from India into Sri Lanka in the 2,300 years ago converted kings and people. Monasteries were erected to educate monks. These monks built the first pirivenas, and temple schools, in the villages, educating the laity in religion and secular subjects. 
The Portuguese who arrived in 1505 with a gun in one hand and the bible in the other, occupied the coastal areas and soon became a constant source of aggression, annoyance and terror to the large mass of people. In the coastal areas that they occupied, almost all Viharayas and Privenas were destroyed, including the Kelani Raja Maha Viharaya, the famous Totagamuwe Vijayaba Pirvena, Padmavathi Pirivena of Keragala and Sunethra Devi Pirivena of Pepiliyana. Portuguese rule of Sri Lanka brought both Franciscans and Jesuits, who founded 41 parish schools, and 3 Franciscan and 2 Jesuit colleges. Converting the island’s diverse population was a primary focus of this educational mission. The Dutch who ousted the Portuguese in 1640 and were instrumental in destroying temples, monasteries including the royal palace at Hanguranketa. The Dutch replaced the Catholic parish schools with schools affiliated with the Dutch Reformed Church. Both the Portuguese and the Dutch used religious conversion to promote access to educational opportunity. Native Sri Lankans quickly realized that if they wanted to gain a public office or qualify as a schoolmaster, they had to convert to the Dutch Reformed faith, and did. A Dutch seminary in Colombo, the capital, provided additional higher education. The Dutch educational system in Sri Lanka continued to foster the public’s perception of a link between education and financial success.
The British who ousted the Dutch in 1796 had a well-planned program of activities, for a continuous period of about 150 years, led to the greatest damage to the country’s culture, social cohesion, unity and dignity. When the British began their occupation of Sri Lanka, they gave responsibility for the island’s education to Christian missionary societies who promoted an English, western-oriented education designed to “civilize” the Sri Lankan people. English schools charged fees and received British government grants. The island’s nonEnglish vernacular (secular) schools were taught in Sinhala or Tamil, Sri Lanka’s two principal languages. Vernacular schools were traditionally under financed because they were denied government educational grants. Without government subsidies, these schools could offer only the basics of an elementary education. Buddhist temple schools, primarily in rural areas, suffered the most: in addition to being denied government funding, they could not charge fees, the result of successful lobbying by the missionary societies who wanted the elimination of any rival religious schools. Under British rule, Sri Lankans who spoke English were eligible to become teachers. Colonial administrators only recruited only English-speaking Sri Lankans for government service. Thus the Sri Lankans who prospered under British colonial rule were more likely to be better-educated, high-caste Hindu Tamils, Tamils who converted to Christianity and were educated in English schools, or descendants of the Burghers.
Christians, the island’s smallest minority, were historically the best educated. In 1901, approximately 55 % of Christian males were literate, compared to only 35 % of Buddhist males, 34 % of Muslim males, and 26 % of Hindu males. Among Christian women, 30 % were literate, compared to 5 % among Buddhist women, 3 % among Muslim women, and 2 % percent among Hindu women. The lower literacy rates among Hindu males can be attributed to the inclusion of the uneducated and stateless imported Indian Tamil males who worked tea plantations. Cultural factors account for the low literacy rates among Buddhist, Muslim, and Hindu women. By 1921, within just 20 years, literacy rates among the island’s male population rose to 66 % for Christians, 50 % for Buddhists, 45 % for Muslims, and 37 % for Hindus. For women, 50 % of Christians were literate, while literacy rates among Buddhist, Muslim, and Hindu women rose to 17 %, 6 %, and 10 %, respectively. When independence was granted in 1948, Sri Lanka had 5,895 schools enrolling more than 1 million students. The nation’s literacy rate was 57 %, the highest among both Great Britain’s colonies and Asian nations. 
British rule had favored an English-speaking Tamil minority who benefited from better education, which led to higher incomes and more valuable careers. For centuries Sri Lankan Tamils used education to promote their social mobility. The Tamil region in northern and eastern Sri Lanka is arid and infertile compared to the rest of the island and is unsuitable for profitable farming. The Tamils depended on education to prosper. Under British rule the Tamil minority received a disproportionate share of university and government positions. Higher earnings among Sri Lankan Tamils plus the income sent home by overseas Tamils generated greater economic prosperity in the Tamil regions than in the rest of the country. But the Independence in 1948 changed the balance of power.
Sri Lankans should have retained their friendly, childlike nature and combined it with the inventiveness of their European conquerors. Sri Lankans inherited the power lust of their European colonisers, but none of their vision. Sri Lankans also inherited Portuguese lethargy, Dutch hedonism and British snobbery.The British left no room for the leadership to emerge from the truly indigenous people.
All colonial powers acted on pure and absolute “self interest”. British occupation of Sri Lanka was one of sheer exploitation and devastation. Whatever benefits that were derived by local inhabitants were merely incidental to their exploitation of the country’s natural and human resources in order to reap enormous benefits for the British government. The vast changes that they brought about in almost all areas of life in the country, led to the disruption of the long held culture, values and way of life of local inhabitants, particularly those of the main stream community the Sinhala Buddhists.
To serve their self interests the British practiced the “divide and rule” policy by setting communities against each other. The British gave special privileges to the Tamil minority and those of the Christian faith, by providing with better opportunities for education, employment and other government services to became privileged communities. Jaffna district had the highest density of schools per unit area. In 1870 there were only two Buddhist schools left in Sri Lanka – in Panadura and Dodanduwa, with an attendance of 246 children as against 805 Christian Schools with an attendance of 78,086 children. Several people went after the British and then started to follow their religion and culture in order to gain various positions and other material benefits.
Colombo assumed prominence as the commercial centre and also the center of learning and opportunities for better employment and better amenities for living. This created an outer-oriented, English-speaking urban sub-culture consisting mostly of Christians, with attitudes and behavior patterns seemingly akin to that of the British. Most of the outer-oriented urban elite which included the so called Sri Lankan leaders, held to half-baked foreign values, superficialities and strange ways of living. They were barely conversant with the plight of the majority of the ordinary people. They were not representative of the large mass of people, but they were the ones who became the trusted servants of the British administration. Almost all of the qualified professionals belonged to or subscribed to this sub-culture. The excessively poor living conditions of the large mass of rural youth led to migration to Colombo and other big towns. Some were subjected to the influence of the extremes forms of undesirable urban culture including alcohol abuse, crime and underworld activities that was gaining ground in urban areas.To make matters worse, power -political, administrative, and economic was inherited by those belonging to the westernized Colombo sub-culture.
Dr Ananda Coomaraswamy urged Sri Lankans to develop a sense of their own traditions and national culture. He challenged the intrusion on eastern values by the expansion of western society. Besides, he was one of the world’s greatest exponents of oriental art, comparative religion and aesthetics.
There were also fearless Buddhist monks who openly spoke out against British rule and the colonial mentality of our so called leaders. Prominent among them was Ven. Migettuwatte Gunananda Thera whose Panadura debate with the missionaries in August 1873 was a remarkable event in the country’s history.
Great Patriot Anagarika Dharmapala spoke of the superficiality of the lives of those of the Colombo sub culture who have joined up with the colonialists to run the country.
On February 4, 1948 we obtained the so-called Dominion Status with the Queen of England as the Head of State and with the British maintaining military bases in Katunayake and Trincomalee. Aging Englishmen became our first Governor Generals, whereas India became a free republic with an outstanding Indian Dr. Rajendra Prasad as its first President. It was in 1957 through the initiative of Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike that these British bases were taken over by the Sri Lankan government. Even though Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike became a Buddhist to please the masses, Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike was a christian till the day died. Dr. P.R. Anthonis testified that Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike was wearing a cross when he died.

  5. Senevirath Says:

    කාමලිකා එළාර ගැන හා තවත් දේ ගැන කියන්නේ මෙතෙක් අපට උගන්වා ඇති කරුණු පමනය් අවම වශයෙන් වසර 6500ක් මේ රටෙමිනිස්සු හිටියා අලුත් සොයා ගැනීම් අනුව එළාර පර්සියන් වෙන්න පුළුවන්

  6. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    We don’t need books to prove/disprove this mythical kingdoms. We need bricks! Ancient bricks!
    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! Like in Anuradhapura or Polonnaruwa.
    Then nobody will question.

  7. Christie Says:

    In the days you are talking about not many people could go over the sea, so the locals could always over run them. The things changed about 5 centuries ago. The large scale arrival of Tamils started with the British and the Indian colonial parasites went all over the place including Ceylon.

  8. Fran Diaz Says:

    We thank Kamalika again for a very valuable article.

    ———

    I had forgotten my Ceylon History lessons up to a point, some of the facts given in our history books for us to study during our young days.

    Kamalika’s article proves that Lanka is prone to invasions from South India, Tamil Nadu area especially. These invasions have gone on in some form or the other for over 2,000 yrs of recorded history. It is the DUTY of any GoSL in Lanka to provide permanent security to Lanka and her People to prevent such invasions.

    To this end :

    (1) Remove the 13-A which is illegal anyway. The UNP led Yahap govt can do this.

    (2) Do NOT build any sea tunnel to Tamil Nadu. The Caste lines on birth certificates of Tamil Nadu Dalits and the fact that INDIA does the Census on Caste bases ensures that the Tamil Dalits will always try to flee TN into vulnerable Lanka. Lanka is ony 25,000 sq miles in size and cannot accommodate over 15 Million disgruntled Tamil Dalit folk. We are asking for hundreds of years of trouble if any sea tunnels are built to link up with Tamil Nadu & the rest of INDIA which is the second most populous country in the world with 1.3 BILLION people, 200 Million of whom are classified as Dalit according to the 2011 INDIAN Census.

  9. Ratanapala Says:

    Whoever the invaders of Sri Lanka, they always ruled over the local Sinhalese, and didn’t leave any sizeable population of their own when leaving Sri Lanka. Sinhala Language remained from the earliest times to-date as the dominant spoken language of the people. Sinhalese was spoken throughout the length and breadth of the island without major variations or even a hint of dialects. Even the South Indians who came as traders and soldiers finally settled in Sinhale and eventually became Sinhalese and mostly Buddhist. The ge names of some of us reveal the ancestry – some going back to Kerala and may be other South Indian states.

    Even Elara, he ruled over a Sinhalese population and there was hardly any left over Tamils after his demise for a continued Tamil presence in the country. Any left over certainly assimilated and became Sinhalese over time. . This is similar to what happened after the Portuguese, the Dutch and the Britishers left.

    Invaders always have among their officialdom a minority of locals who work for them and speak the language of their masters. The result was, their language did not make any impact with the rest of the population for there was no need nor gain for the native population – invaders always left or were chased away after a few years!

    Apparently at the Royal Court of Kandy, language used was Tamil or Kannada. Just as most Sri Lankans affix their signatures in English, a majority of signatures of the Kandyan Chiefs were in Tamil; only exception was that of Monaravila Kappetipola DIsawas and one other if I remember right. It is said that even the British, Russian and many other European royal families and their royal courts used French as a symbol of status and apartness from the natives. French was their language of communications among themselves and with the royal court higher-ups. This is similar to use of English in Sri Lanka up until recent times and sometimes even now!

    Famous poet Alagiyawanna Mukaveti who composed Subhashithya wrote – “Demala, Saku, Magada nohasala sathata dada / Sihala basin sakavin liyami pada banda” – that is Subhashithaya was written to those foolish people who are ignorant of Tamil, Sanskrit and Pali ( Magada)! Even those days as it is now, the knowledge and ability to speak a foreign language was taken as a sign of learning and status in life!

    Tamil speaking regions are of recent origin; in the North and East from Portuguese and Dutch times for tobacco plantations and in the hill country from British times for coffee and tea plantations. Even Jaffna ruler Sankili’s dealings with the Portuguese were in Sinhalese – so they say. It is said that there were many “foreigners” in Jaffna than the natives during Dutch times, foreigners of course being the indented labour that was brought over from Tamil Nadu to tend the tobacco plantations. One only has to follow their customs to see that they are no different from the land they came from during recent times. Any left over population of Tamils from over 2000 years ago would now have distinct differences from those of South India!

    During the last 100 years Tamils have been writing “made up” history with large scale borrowing from the Sinhala Mahavamsaya to fill in gaps and show authenticity, Mahavamsaya being the ultimate historical document of authenticity in South Asia. It is only with Mahavamsaya that Indians were able to identify Deva-priya (Beloved of the Gods) Asoka as Emperor Asoka!

    Lack of proper historical records that could be verified have led Tamil “scholars” to re-invent history. Just as much as they are still trying to find a country to call their own, they too have been busy writing a history to suit their fancied and colourful imagination! These ‘scholars’ have in fact made and industry of it; younger ‘scholars’ researching and borrowing heavily from the older ‘scholars’ made up history thus perpetuating untruths. They too have been busy writing falsehoods into the history of Sri Lanka. One needs to go the British Encyclopaedia and recent Wikipedia to see the extent of this industry!

    Renaming of Sinhala King Devanam Piya (Beloved of the Gods – Title he received from Emperor Asoka – Same title as that of the Emperor himself ) Thissa as Devanampiyatheesan – Tamilized with no discernible meaning and King Sigiri Kashyapa as Kasiappan are some of their colourful handiwork!

  10. 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.

  11. Fran Diaz Says:

    Basically, it is the Plantations Industry (need for cheap Tamil Dalit Labor from Tamil Nadu area), & the Ports of Lanka, plus proximity to Tamil Nadu & INDIA, that has made Lanka vulnerable for take over by various aspirants.

    Now, as pointed out by writers to Lankaweb, the Tamil leaders of those brought in as Tamil Dalit Labor especially, are aspiring for their own country, stating to the International Community that they are being discriminated against by the ‘majority Sinhala community & Govt’.

    How can this be, when all rights are given to Tamils of Lanka ?

    Real HR violations take place in Tamil Nadu, where Caste is stated in Tamil folk’s birth certificates and the Census is done with a Caste base.

  12. 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.

  13. Fran Diaz Says:

    Main factors affecting Sri Lanka citizens :

    The Plantations Industry for lucrative tropical produce, other Resources such as Oil, Gas, Minerals, etc., brought in over one and half million Tamil Dalits as slave type labor, plus the Ports, makes Lanka vulnerable to neo-Colonisation, using the ‘divide & rule’ principle.

    Two world wars started in Europe. America guards Europe.

    Whenever Europe goes broke, the ex-Colonies of Empires suffer greatly ….
    In addition, with the effects of Climate Change, the tropics and coastal areas suffer greatly.

    Citizens of Sri Lanka are vulnerable on both counts ?

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