Reference the article of Dr Nirmala Chandrahasen ( The Island 12 June)
Posted on June 16th, 2020

RANJITH SOYSA

The Editor

The Island,

Reference the article of Dr Nirmala Chandrahasen (  The Island 12 June), I wish to draw the attention of the readers to the very important fact that the Presidential Task Forces was appointed for the survey and preservation of archaeological sites in the EAST. Therefore , any discussion on the Task Force should consider to concentrate to identify the geography and the history of the Eastern province, if one was to survey the historically important locations.

The term and the area of Eastern province was created by the British rulers in  1833.. Before that the area came under the rule of the Sinhalese kings ,but never under the invading forces from India except for very small areas for a short spell of time. The Portuguese did not posses any territory in the East other than a small port in Trincomalee. And ,the Dutch Governor Ryckloff Van Goens in his memoir in 1663 mentioned that ‘ the country between the Walwe and Tiriquenamalee is entirely inhabited by King Rajasinghe’s people” Until the Sinhala- British Treaty -the Kandyan Convention-the British administered only the Maritime Districts ‘ ( Colombo, Kalutara, Galle, Matara, Hambantotta, Chilaw, Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Jaffnapatam. Delft ,Wanni and Mannar).  Until, well into the nineteenth century we do not come across ‘ Tamils’ in the east but ‘Malabars’ who were from the Kerala coast.

Dr John Davy who served in the British army from Aug 1816 to February 1820  wrote in his ‘An account of the Interior of Ceylon and its Inhabitants’ , that Malabars and Moors are ‘foreigners naturalized ‘ and former are confined principally to Northern and Eastern maritime provinces.  Most of the Muslims living in these areas were settled down by King Senarath of Kandy when they were expelled by the Portuguese from the South-West.

The Eastern province was created to dismember the Kandyan province in order to weaken the ‘national feeling ’ of the Kandyans …The heartland of the old irrigation civilization of the Sinhalese was broken up ,and part of it-Anurdhapura region or Nuwaralalviya -was attached to Jaffna, Mannar and Mulative to form the Northern province . ..The other part Thamankaduwa was linked with Trincomleee and Batticoloa to form the Eastern province” (Dr K,M.De Silva)

In the reports on Forest Administration of Ceylon by F.D.A Vincent published as Sessional Paper XL 11 of 1882 the gradual spread of Tamils down the coasts especially in the East is mentioned. It is obvious from theses facts that there were hardly any Tamil settlements in the East before 19th century and therefore it is not scientific to ascertain that there are places of ancient archaeological importance of Tamils in the Eastern province. Of course , there may be the places which were constructed since the 19th century and an odd reference to a foreign -South Indian – king or an emissary in the inscription such as in the case of Velgam vehera. The inscription says that ‘the chola king’ made the offerings to the Lord Buddha While the inscription provides a vital clue, that  cannot establish the existence of a Hindu Kovil in Velgam vehera.

As Dr Chandrahasen asserts the Task Force should have the shared heritage which is a noble sentiment. But, at the same time the Task Force should seek the truth behind these archaeological places and try to preserve and restore same for the benefit of the posterity.

Some of the Sinhala Buddhist archaeological sites, out of many which had been wilfully damaged or are encroached upon by interested groups are given below specifically for the attention of the Task Force.1

1 Muhudu Maha Viharyra.  2 Diga Vaapi   3 Velgam Vehera 4 Siriwaddana Bodhi Tree – Klliveddi

4,Gokanna Vihara-Trincomalee  4 Monastery -Kuccveli  5-Monastery- Sembimalai

6 Monastery- Vilankulam 7  Cave Temple- Puliyankulama  8 Vihara – Ettama, Potuvil

9  Monastery -Sangamkande 10. Vihara – Kottadicolai   11. Buddha statues- Nilaveri

12 Monastery- Nellogala  13 Monastery – Taravakulam  14 Stupa –  Kirimeti Aru

15 Stupa- Samudragiri  16 Monastery – Snethrawewa  17. Monastery- Rahathgala or Santimalai

18. Monastery- Kanchikudichchi Aru

While sharing the noble expectations of Dr Chandrahasen as to the methods to be adopted by the Task Force to reduce the disturbance to the farmers and others who live in the concerned areas, we would like to request the Task Force to take due action to earmark, preserve and protect the sites as an important task to fill the unenviable void existing in the history of the East of the island.

PS Ven Buddhgosaha was not a member of the Tamil ethnic group but of a Telegu ethnicity.

RANJITH SOYSA

One Response to “Reference the article of Dr Nirmala Chandrahasen ( The Island 12 June)”

  1. Ratanapala Says:

    It is the customary practice of Tamil writers to creep into a conversation as if wanting to participate in good faith, but in the process take the conversation into areas that has no validity in the written history or in discovered archaeology.

    This is a ploy they have used time and again to distort history. Later others would take these as historical antecedents mischievously and write more untruths to distort the actual history. Some of these writings end up in foreign libraries as source material for future research. The unwary student will use these as research material and ends up citing these as sources of their research work and the process continues ad infinitum!

    Tamil history in Sri Lanka is full of these fabrications.

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