The envious hate those whom they can’t help admiring
Posted on October 28th, 2018

By Rohana R. Wasala

As a fairly frequent contributor to Lankaweb I welcome feedback from discerning readers. My way is to accept decent responses with equanimity whether they are positive or negative. But I pay more attention to negative comments, because they usually reflect on aspects of an issue that I might have failed to notice. My last article titled Mahavamsa: the 2500-year history of the heroic Sinhalay people mellowed by humanity” (25-10-18) has prompted a number of comments from readers. Among these there’s one inserted by a person who writes under the pen name ‘Nimal’. His is a negative assessment that is unnecessarily insulting. Its asperity may have been provoked by this particular commenter’s misunderstanding of the word ‘Sinhalay’. The word can be interpreted as Sinha + lay (lion blood)by a chauvinist Sinhalese. Actually, ‘Sinhalay’ does not have that meaning; it only means the ‘country of Sinhalas’ in the same way as ‘Tamil Nadu’ means the ‘country of Tamils’, or ‘England’ is the ‘land of the English’. Be that as it may, the writer earns my gratitude for causing me to write this addendum to that Mahavamsa article.

My article is about the recorded history of the racial community known as the Sinhalese. Irrefutable archaeological evidence of a much longer history to the Sinhalese race prior to that covered in the Mahavamsa has begun coming to light recently. The original title I gave the article in question was ‘Mahavamsa: an account of the last two thousand five-hundred years of the long history of the Sinhalese’. On second thoughts, I decided to downplay the interest in the still scarcely known pre-Mahavamsa phase of history highlighted in a title worded like that, and settled for the title by which the article is now known. Nimal’s remarks strongly convince me that he is a non-Sinhalese nursing a personal grudge against the Sinhalese, writing under a pseudonym (which happens to be a name usually adopted by Sinhalese).  His ‘advice’ to Lankaweb readers not to ‘hallucinate about our” history…’ is a foolish joke in my opinion. This is not about any other racial community’s ancient history. It is about the history of ‘the heroic people of Sinhalay’ (the Sinhalese) that he seems to hate so much. This is not to claim that he is any less Sri Lankan than the Sinhalese. In his comments on my previous articles and on those of other writers, he has already revealed to the discerning reader his actual ethnic background. He can’t do anything about it now, except look for the tracks he’s accidentally left and try to explain them away, an exercise that he will find futile.

Nimal complains: I constantly deal and associate with Persians, Greeks, Italians and they too have a history but they don’t brag about it like us the Sinhalese. This is a national disease that had rammed down out throats by religious, cultural and political freaks that live a double life at the expense of the suffering people in our countries.” Sinhalese Buddhist monks, scholars, archaeologists, historians, and journalists who research, speak and write about their past are not what he calls them (freaks, rogues, etc). His derogatory terms are suitable for those who, like him, assume a false identity and attack people whose identities are publicly known.

Does he really believe that All histories on every country were cruel and only a very few rogues were ever benefited but the innocent people with no right to life were slaves, never lived beyond 30 years”? Who but a freak could thus rubbish the whole human civilization, whatever its shortcomings?

Only someone shackled by ‘mind forged manacles’, worshipful of the imperialists of the West, could claim that we did not know about public toilets, schools, hospitals, courts of law, and democratic institutions before their arrival. (If Nimal is a Sinhalese as he pretends, he cannot be unaware of the historical fact that we had all these, independent of Indian influence, in ancient Sri Lanka, something proven by written records, rock inscriptions and archaeological remains scattered throughout the island. The idea of democratic rule was praised by the Buddha two thousand five hundred years ago. This was implicit in the ‘dasa raja dharma’ code of ethics for the ruler (the Ten Kingly Virtues) that Sinhalese Buddhist monarchs observed. Kings who deviated from these principles were forced to reform (by the force of public opinion conveyed to any errant king through the monks); if they failed to do so, they were deposed by the people led by the monks. Rarely did kings risk incurring public opprobrium. Sinhalese kings’ reigns were often disturbed by invaders from South India in early times and from Europe in past five centuries. How the Sinhalay state survived their depredations forms a good part of our history. The invasion by Maga of Kalinga with his mercenary army in the 12th century delivered a death blow to the heart of the ancient sophisticated hydraulic civilization of the Sinhalese in the dry zone. The author of the Culavamsa (the Little Chronicle), the sequel to the Mahavamsa, also a Buddhist monk, does not express even a semblance of hatred towards the yamapallan or  the hell guards led by Magha of Kalinga who murdered people in their thousands and devastated the country. Another historical chronicle written in Sinhala named Rajavaliya (Line of Kings), dealing with the reigns of all the kings of the country from Vijaya to Vimaladharmasuriya I of Kandy (543 BCE – 1604 CE) was apparently done by a Christian author, and it maintains the spirit of tolerance, compassion, and equanimity that marks all the ancient classics dealing with the history of the Sinhalese.

No Sri Lankan with an iota of national pride will agree with Nimal when he writes:

What good the last colonials did was endless and we are in denial but these cruel freaks and rouges prefer to live in the countries of former colonials and write crap while we taxpayers in SL have to pay for it with our hard earned taxes.”

Only idle idiots, not respectable taxpayers like Nimal, could even imagine of asserting that ‘the last colonials’ did a lot of good to the Sinhalese, of which the latter are allegedly in denial. The truth is that the British and other European colonial powers treated the Sinhalese as their enemy, and the minorities as their allies, because it was the country of Sinhalay that they invaded and robbed. Only a minority of the Sinhalese cooperated with them, usually under duress, but the masses just laid low, hoping to be rescued by heroic leaders that emerged from time to time. Resistance to foreign invasions never relented . The Sinhalese always fought for the country, their homeland from time immemorial. Like other inhabitants of islands, the Sinhalese have historically been jealous of their independence and sovereignty, and always mindful of their national honour and dignity, though they are humble by nature, as a result of generations of cultural influence exerted by the inculcation of Buddhist moral values. The surrounding sea both threatens and fortifies the security of the inhabitants of an island.

The disguised racist taking cover behind a false identity gets so angry about the factual information included in the above (Mahavamsa) article as to describe it as ‘crap’.  This provides a redundant piece of evidence that he is not a Sinhalese, but a slavish parasitic descendant of a minority that had benefited from colonialism by feeding on crumbs fallen from their imperial tables. Nimal seems to belong to a business family that grudges having to ‘pay taxes’. He seems to despise the Sinhalese for not having to pay taxes as he obviously believes. But he must remember that it is not the only the business community that pays taxes.  Every citizen pays taxes in one form or another. The Sinhalese (75% of the population) also pay taxes, and they add more to government revenue by way of taxes than all the minorities put together (25% of the population). Taxes are not charity but mandatory payments in a duly  constituted sovereign state like Sri Lanka.

Finally, Nimal writes the following utterly irrelevant ‘example’ (for what?), betraying not only his confusion but his probable ethnic identity:

Here is a simple example of the cruel history that we constantly glorify is the Taj mahal built by 40 thousand slaves whose hands and eyes were cut off so that they could not do a similar thing elsewhere, only for the pleasure of a cruel king in the name of his wife. It was called the symbol of love, give me a break!”

What Nimal says here about the building of Taj Mahal may be true. This happened during the most celebrated phase of the Muslim occupation of India, the Moghul period (1526-1857). This was many centuries after the construction of ancient Sri Lanka’s engineering marvels such as the great dagabas, tanks, temples, and palaces the archaeological remains of which even today earn many millions of dollars for the country by attracting foreign visitors. The Sinhalese kings who had these edifices done did not use slave labour, contrary to what the early European scholars wrongly assumed. It is recorded in the ancient chronicles how conscientious the Sinhalese kings were about duly paying wages to the workers for their labour. The construction of Sigiriya complex took eighteen years. Much skilled labour was used. The engineers and artisans who worked on the royal project were not slave labourers; they were paid hands.

Nimal advises us not to look back in history but to look ahead and develop the country where there are many problems for the innocent people”. What inane comments! The Sinhalese have a glorious history to be proud about. Why should others get upset if the Sinhalese choose to revisit and revise their knowledge of their true past on the basis of authentic new research assisted by modern technology? It is the wicked, as the 19th century French poet and novelist Victor Hugo observed, who envy others for making achievements that they themselves cannot match, and hate them for that reason.

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