How many nations are there in this country?
Posted on January 20th, 2020

Dr. Sudath Gunasekara:  President Senior Citizens movement Mahanuwara.

In the present context of the debate on the language in which the national Anthem should be sung I am compelled to ask this question from all our politicians starting with former President Sirisena and all those  who either want to sing it in both Sinhala and Tamil or Sinhala only.

If we sort out what the jatiya of this country the matter ends there

This has been a very big puzzle for me for quite some time. I have no doubt that majority of you who read this note might have had the same problem.  This is mainly because very often people who mater in society, when they speak at public forum use to say ”me rate Siyaluma jatinta” meaning to all nations in this country” which obviously implies that there are many nations in this country. What baffle and confuse me is the question as to how many nations are there in this country. Because usually any given country anywhere in the world has only one nation. To give few selected examples Russia Russians, America Americans, Briton British, Canada Canadians, Italy Italians, India Indians, Japan Japanese, China Chinese, France French and Australia Australians. In this backdrop then why we describe this country only, as a country of many nations,

From the inception of history up to 1815, this country was called Sinhale or Sinhala deepa or Sinhala dveepa, meaning the land of the Sinhala people and its nation was Sinhala, going by the dominant race and the Language of the Bhoomiputra’s. This is why even the British called it Ceylon meaning the land of the Sinhala people. It also had a second name Lanka from very early times, probably given by the ancient Indians. The word Lanka had three meanings. Purana named it as Lanka in two contexts. Compilers of Puranas said ‘Bhumadyaye lankiiyatiti Lanka, meaning it was called Lanka as it is located at the centre of the world. It was also called Lanka by early Bharatians for example Ramayanaya. Valmiki fascinated by its unsurpassed beauty named it as Lanka the beautiful land” in Ramayanaya. Tamilian EElamists like Purnalingam Pille in his Ravana the Great King of Lanka assumes it to be a part of the main land later separated during the Great Biblical deluge and formed in to an Island at the southern tip of the Indian sub-Continent. Thus the word Lanka also has the meaning of the Island in the South Indian context though it appears to be an artificial invention of EELAMISts Tamils in their futile struggle to prove that this country  was a part of the their ancient imaginary EELAM . Either going by the Ramayana tradition or their own imagination the Sinhalese also called it Lanka for its beauty, the resplendent Isle. The Sinhala word Lake behe,’ also means what a beauty, aptly proves the authenticity of this argument. The word Lankika presently been used to designate its citizens means born in Lanka, just like sagarika which means born in the sea. It is important to note that one does not legally become a citizen of a country merely because he or she was born in a given country. To that extent he or she cannot claim citizenship in a country merely on the ground that he /she were born there. Nationality is a much wider concept than that. In this case the question arises as to what nationality one belongs. Obviously his or her nationality will be registered as a person of the country from which he or she come. Therefore obviously all those who are born in this country cannot be called citizens { Ratavesiyo) of this country merely because he/she was born here.

It is difficult to ascertain as to when the word Lankika that is now used to designate the nationality of this country came in to vogue. But I presume it must definitely be of recent origin invented either by those who were looking for an alternative to the word Sinhala which is hated by the Tamils as they are allergic to it or by those Anglicized Sinhala ‘scholars’ who were averse to been identified as Sinhala and promoting minority sentiments. Whatever the reasons may be certainly the invention of the word Lankika to designate all those born in this country as citizens of this country was a clever conspiracy to drop the word Sinhala being used to designate its citizens. 

Coming back to nationality I always thought there is only one Nation in this country too. You would have heard and noticed this lose utterance over the TV, Radio, and the press, at public meetings and even at private conversations. I have seen this happening very often. Our politicians starting from the President, Prime Minister downwards, academia in universities including even some professors of Sinhala and History, some religious dignitaries and some so-called intellectuals who have got disoriented or brain washed in the course of their political and ideological transformations and many more go on uttering these lose words repeatedly like parrots most probably without knowing the seriousness of the damage they do to the Nation that is Sinhala by doing so. In my opinion politicians who woo for minority votes to come to power, people who do not have that spiritual attachment that infuses the sense of nationality and  those who do not have a proper Jatakaya (birth) are the people who indulge in such nonsense. Of course those who really do not know the actual meaning also use it. But they could be corrected whereas the other categories cannot be ever corrected.

When all these big shots either driven by their personal agendas or in their ignorance of the real long term implications go on repeating it like parrots, minorities also begin to think they are separate nations. The most dangerous thing about this trend is the psychological transformation of the perception and attitude of the people that would settle down permanently in their minds and become irreversible. It gets settled in society by usage. In this instance I would like to draw a parallel between the division of the Sinhala people living on the hills and the lowlands, who were divided in to two rival groups as Kandyans and low country Sinhalese by the British. Until Robert Percival in 1803 divided them as Kandyans and cinhalese (those who lived in the lowlands) they were one nation. But since then these artificially created two groups behaved as if they were two different nations and at the early stages of political agitation for constitutional reforms they even asked for two separate federal states, one for the Kandyans and another for the low country people. Thanks to the fact they all belonged to one race, spoke the same language, professed the same religion and had common roots, the differences were patched up in the course of time by common bondage and emerging nationalism it went back to square number one. As such why can’t this band of ignoramus who talks of many nations understand that this country, like most other countries in the world has only One Nation’? They say jati bhedayak neti ekama jatiyak. How on earth can there be differences within a nation” which preciselyimplies one group of people.

So it is no wonder that the ordinary people get confused and also begin to think that this country has more than one nation. The situation is made even worse when top Politicians from high flat forms describe this country as a multinational society. Minority communal elements meanwhile make the maximum use of his confusion. It is like the famous saying panina rilawunta iniman bendeema.

As for me from my small days I thought we have only one nation in this country. That was how the teachers of our day have taught us in school. According to them we are called the Sinahala nation and the country Sinhale, meaning the land of the Sinhala people. They also told us that that could be either because we descend from Vijaya (a man from the Sinha race whose father Sinhabahu is said to have killed the lion father) who is supposed to have found this nation or because we descend from the Sivhela namely, yaksha, Raksha, Deva and Naga who had been living in this Island long before Vijaya arrived in the 6th century B

Since this Island had been known as Lanka or Lankadeepa or Lanka dvipa (the resplendent Isle) even from the time of legendary Ravana we were also called Lankan or Lankika Jatiya, meaning those who were born in Lanka. They also taught us that there had been north Indian invaders like Sena Guttika and Elara starting from 2nd century BC and South Indian invaders like Chola and Pandya in much later times, who had been trying to capture this country from time to time. But every time they attempted to do so they were defeated by the Sinhala Kings and they ruled this country continuously until 1815, when the British conquered it by deceit.

Those invaders who were left behind from very early times got absorbed and integrated in to the main stream and became Lankans or Sinhala people while some of them retained their religion and culture. Also in between there were others especially the Arab traders who came from time to time in small numbers, not as invaders but as traders who were later known as Muslims going by their religion. Most of them got married to local Sinhala women and even took Sinhala ge names and lived among the Sinhala people. But all these men got absorbed in to the main stream while retaining their religious identity only. In addition to the language of the country, that is Sinhala, they also spoke Tamil. This may be due to the fact that most of them came from South India and also they did business with both local and Indian Tamils across the sea.  But the important thing to note here is that almost all these people, both Tamils and Muslims knew the language of the Land. So, even today at least 95 % of the population in this country, if not more, is conversant in Sinhala. The estate Tamils who were brought by the British after 1840s, even though they were deliberately kept separated from the local people as a community also learnt Sinhala as they came in contact with the neighboring Sinhala villages.  So if you take the language as the dominant factor that unifies a nation, in this case Sinhala, what is the other name by which you should name this country and its people? Look at our immediate neighbor India, then countries like Thailand, Japan, China, Korea, Russia, Germany, France, Italy, Greece, Spain and England to name only a few. All these countries are named after the dominant language spoken in those countries.

 It is only at the Donoghmore reforms the Tamil politicians tried to establish a separate identity. With the growth of Tamil communal politics they assumed a Tamil National” attitude and Tamil nationalism emerged which in later years tried to assert as a separate nation within this country. No wonder these minions behave like goliaths when there are no statesmen of stature to draw the line and tell everybody that this country has only one nation and those who talk of many nations will be charged for treason or deported to their original places.

Although the idea of nationality is difficult to define the term nation in modern society is generally used to describe a community of race and language, geographic unity, community of religion, common political aspiration and, above all,  historical development over a long time. This is of course not universal. But however it is essentially a sentiment of unity, spiritual in character and the will of a people to live together as Laski put it. The unity is the outcome of a common history. The Sinhala people even in this context had been a nation at least from the 6th century BC in this country. Even the four groups who lived here previously got identified as one nation as Sivhela or Sinhala. That is why the land was called Sinhale meaning the land of the Sivhela or Sinhala. With the introduction of Buddhism in 307 BC they became Buddhists and ever remained as Sinhala Buddhists Nation’ in this country. With all the vicissitudes of history even in 1815 more than 90 % of the people in this country came within this category.

The other thing is Tamils have a motherland in South India and Muslims a motherland in Arabia, while this country had been the historical motherland of the Sinhala people from the dawn of history. Thousands of archaeological, epigraphical and literary evidence often running even to prehistoric times spread over the entire length and breadth of this country bear enough evidence to this conclusion that has been proved beyond all doubts. Therefore it is irrefutable and unchallengeable.

In this historical backdrop Tamils, Muslims and any other minor ethnic group in this country that forms a part of the Sri Lanka nation or the Sinhala nation is only an integral part of the ”Nation Lankan or Sinhala’ as this country had been known as the land of the Sinhala people right through out in history.  No man or woman can contradict it unless he or she is an incurable lunatic. Therefore at least now these minority ethnic groups should understand their limitations and  due role within the Lankan nation, and concede to this historical reality and learn to live with the major community without running to America, India and other countries asking to tame the Sinhala nation and thereby creating unwanted problems for us as well as for themselves. I am positive that the big majority, of both Tamils and Muslims who are sensible, are prepared to do so. For those who are not prepared to concede to this irrefutable reality, especially the Tamil and Muslim politicians, I think, it is high time that they should renounce their craving for this day dream and go back to their own motherlands without trying to dream of a motherland on somebody else’s country and claiming illegal ownership of someone else’s soil by going round the world just denigrating our country.

On the part of our politicians I think it is high time that first they should rise above present day party politics and assert and behave as statesmen and write this provision in to the Constitution of this country and declare that anyone agitating, behaving or instigating, aiding and abetting others to talk, act or behave as separate nations such as Tamils or Muslims who agitate for separation, contravening the law of the land, shall be charged for high treason.Furthermore the often spoken Bahujatika nonsense should stop. There is only one nation in this country of the Sinhalese, and that is Sinhala. Since all Tamils and Muslims are either invaders or intruders who are scheming to own this country belonging to Sinhalese. It is high time that a Sinhala politician should rise above petty politics and tell this stark truth to the whole world and make the clarion call that The name of this country is Sinhale as it had been from time immemorial up to 1815 and its nation is Sinhala.

2 Responses to “How many nations are there in this country?”

  1. DAYA HEWAPATHIRANE Says:

    NATIONAL ANTHEM SHOULD BE SUNG ONLY IN SINHALA  
    Our National Anthem should necessarily be sung only in Sinhala. Sinhalalanguage is  the defining element of ournation’s culture and heritage, from historic times. Sinhala language andliterature originated in Sri Lanka. All salient aspects of our national culture– tangible and intangible, either grew or evolved within the borders of ourcountry. The Sinhala language grew out of Indo-Aryan dialects and exists onlyin Sri Lanka and has its own distinguished literary tradition. Sinhala is oneof the world’s oldest living languages. All other languages used in SriLanka originated in other countries.  It is significant to note that theoverwhelming majority of people of Sri Lanka are distinguished by theirlanguage – Sinhala, which even today has a strong unifying effect in ourmotherland helping to reinforce the solidarity of our people as a uniquecultural entity in the world. Almost all place names of the country fromhistoric times, are in the Sinhala language – in the North, South, East, Westand Central regions. Indigenous national sovereignty of a country is aninalienable right based on profound justice. Sovereign national rights of SriLanka rests with the Sinhala people who are indigenous to this country, formingits dominant majority community for over 2500 years. Sri Lanka is the onlynational sovereign motherland of the Sinhala people. Their culture, way of lifeand their Sinhala language originated and developed inSri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s National Anthem should necessarilybe sung only in Sinhala.
     Tamils are asmall non-indigenous minority community of Sri Lanka amounting to a mere 15.4%(including the 4.2% of Indian Tamils), and the Muslims account for about 9% ofthe total population of Sri Lanka. The Sinhala community who form the historicmainstream community of Sri Lanka amounts to more than 75% of the island’spopulation. Tamils andMuslims are small communities in Sri Lanka who settled in the island atdifferent times in the past, coming from their own motherlands. The Tamils camefrom their motherland, the Tamilnadu where their culture and languageoriginated.  In many sovereign nations of the world,non-indigenous communities have settled down and have merged with the dominant,mainstream host nation into a single file. Those settling down in hostcountries have a bounden duty to merge with the host nation as a single coherentnation. This is facilitated by their learning the language of the host nation, and actively participating in singing the national anthem in that language. SriLanka wants all minority communities -Tamils, Muslims and others of whateverlabel, to become a part of the mainstream Sinhala Buddhist Nation, just the wayminority communities are expected to do in all other countries in the world, especiallyin places like Canada, Australia, USA, UK, Norway. All Sri Lankans irrespective of their ethnic origin, or other differences should sing the country’s well- established national anthem only in Sinhala, the authentic language of the island. .  Dr. Daya Hewapathirane 

  2. Vaisrawana Says:

    Totally agree with both Dr Gunasekera and Dr Hewapathirana. Incidentally, going out of this context, we may be happy that this time MR seems to be abandoning our Sinhalese politicians’ traditional policy of political correctness in dealing with unashamedly communal minded, invariably opportunistic Tamil and Muslim politicians (esp. the old ones); because of this policy, the progressive younger Tamil and Muslim politicians have always got sidetracked. At a meeting with Tamil medium journalists, he told them to their face that they were also joining in anti-government propaganda launched by Tamil racists; a Tamil paper published in the north had a headline calling upon India to solve their problems. In response to a question raised by a young Tamil media man about there being no Muslim in the Cabinet, MR said that it was because there is no Muslim MP in the Pohottuwa, and added: “People also must know this”, meaning that these minorities should not take things for granted hereafter. But he assured that the government is determined to develop the north and the east, and work to resolve problems faced by the minorities whether they vote for the SLPP or not. Asked whether this time the National Anthem will be sung only in Sinhala, he said no decision has yet been taken in that regard. I think that the government will stick to its original decision to sing it only in Sinhala as that is what is constitutionally allowed.

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